Yeehaw! The Round-Up: September 2014

How quick did September go? There is now less than three months until Christmas people!

I did think I would struggle with finding the time to read this month, what with going back to work and my granddaddy coming to visit. However, I did manage to get through more than I thought would. Go team me!

The ones that I read this month are:

Boy21 by Matthew Quick

Chelsea Bird by Virginia Ironside

The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Ten Songs by Marcus Greil

These Days Are Ours by Michelle Haimoff

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

The Wedding Speech by Isabelle Broom

Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel

Playing With Matches by Suri Rosen

My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Losing and Leaving Friends by Jessica Smock, Stephanie Sprenger, and Galit Breen

Poppy Does Paris by Nicola Doherty

Twitter Girl by Nic Tatano

Who is Tom Ditto? by Danny Wallace

Michael Jackson’s Dangerous by Susan Fast

Lily Does LA by Nichola Doherty

Whilst I got through quite a few of my September NetGalley review books there thirteen books that have now been added to my back log….frick!

I did manage to introduce a new feature this month. September saw the debut of Short Story Saturday. This has allowed me to clear a few short stories from my Kindle, free up some much needed space on it and also to have a quick read of something when I don’t have much time. Triple Win!

Now, if we thought last month’s review list was epic then wait until you see all the books due for review in October. It is overwhelming. Alas, I clicked on NetGalley therefore I must pay the price. Books cost, and right here is where I start paying in sweat…from my fingers…with all the review typing – you know, to paraphrase a line from 80s movie musical Fame!

An American Duchess by Sharon Page (382 pages)

Mademoiselle by Rhonda K Garelick (608 pages)

The Wonder of All Things by Jason Mott (304 pages)

A Pretty Mess: An Astonville Novel by Carla Caruso (260 pages)

How to Climb the Eiffel Tower by Elizabeth Hein (328 pages)

A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond (293 pages)

1,411 QI Facts by John Lloyd, John Mitchinson and James Harin (400 pages)

Ayoade on Ayoade by Richard Ayoade (400 pages)

Alice + Freda Forever by Alexis Coe (208 pages)

Fat Chance by Nick Spalding (289 pages)

Love and Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Lee Alexander (352 pages)

Seven Letters from Paris by Samantha Verant (288 pages)

Rocks by Joe Perry (432 pages)

Reunion by Hannah Pittard (288 pages)

Althea and Oliver by Christina Moracho (384 pages)

A Week in Paris by Rachel Hore (464 pages)

A Christmas to Remember by Jenny Hale (249 pages)

Say it with Sequins by Georgia Hill (256 pages)

This is Your Afterlife by Vanessa Barneveld (194 pages)

From Notting Hill with Four Weddings Actually by Ali McNamara (448 pages)

The Temp Complete Series by Emily Benet (289 pages)

The Hawley Book of the Dead by Chrysler Szarlan (352 pages)

Billy Joel by Fred Schruers (384 pages)

Beau, Lee, The Bomb & Me by Mary McKinley (352 pages)

So that is quite a lot of books to read…double frick! Well, let us give it a go and see what happens.

Thanks for reading,

L x x

My Weekly TBR Pile: 29.09.14 – 05.10.14

This has been a very exciting book week. Oh yes, I am a very happy bunny for this is the week of my birth and good book things happened during this week.

As part of my birthday presents (which are still coming even though my birthday was Saturday) I received:

Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossen

How to be Parisian: Wherever You Are by Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret and Sophie Mas

But even more exciting is that I was one of the lucky ten people to receive a signed hardback first edition copy of Us by David Nicholls from the wonderful people at BookBridgr. Seriously, I squealed at the postman and then nearly wept with happiness.

Now I did manage to get through a few books this week but not all of them were for review. Some were just books I wanted to read:

Revelation Space by Alistair Reynolds (I have a new found respect for science fiction writers byt it still is not my favourite of genres)

Michael Jackson’s Dangerous by Susan Fast

Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead

Who is Tom Ditto by Danny Wallace

Lily Does LA by Nichola Doherty

I am currently midway through The Supreme Macaroni Company by Adriana Trigiani. I’ve enjoyed all the books that I have read this week.

This week on my to-read list has to include Us by David Nicholls but the other books that are due for review are:

An American Duchess by Sharon Page (NetGalley Review) (382 pages)

Mademoiselle by Rhonda K Garelick (NetGalley Review) (608 pages)

The Wonder of All Things by Jason Mott (NetGalley Review) (304 pages)

A Pretty Mess: An Astonville Novel by Carla Caruso (NetGalley Review) (260 pages)

How to Climb the Eiffel Tower by Elizabeth Hein (NetGalley Review) (328 pages)

A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond (NetGalley Review) (293 pages)

1,411 QI Facts by John Lloyd, John Mitchinson and James Harin (NetGalley Review) (400 pages)

Ayoade on Ayoade by Richard Ayoade (NetGalley Review) (400 pages)

Let’s face it, I am probably not going to get through all of these but I will, as always, give it a go.

This week will see a new festive feature make its debut on LisaTalksAbout.com. Since there are only thirteen weeks until Christmas (thus making it twelve weeks until Christmas) I plan to review a seasonal book each week. Keep your eyes peeled this week for the list of books that will be read in this feature.

Anywho, I hope you all have an excellent book week.

L x x

Ps – I only managed to get my NetGalley review percentage up to 25.9% – that is only an increase of 0.7% – efforts must be doubled!

SSS Review: Lily Does LA by Nicola Doherty

Title: Lily Does LA

Author: Nicola Doherty

Pages: 76 pages

Synopsis

The life of an actor is never easy; it is even more difficult when you are an out of work actor whose biggest acting achievement is a two second walk on part on a sofa advert. Unfortunately, this is the situation that Lily finds herself in. When the opportunity comes up for Lily to travel to LA to be part of her cousin’s wedding she jumps on it. When she finds out her cousin’s future husband is a Hollywood agent it looks like Lily’s luck is about to change.

Review

I loved the first part of the Girls on Tour series – Poppy Does Paris. I did find Lily Does LA a little bit harder to get into.

Initially, I found Lily a little bit petulant. She was selfish and attracted the wrong kind of drama. I have to admit, she was really hard to like. Unlike Poppy – who seemed to make genuine mistakes, Lily caused her own drama and then didn’t really take responsibility for her actions.

However, once Lily had her life epiphany and had a complete character arc reveal she became quite likable, to the point that I am looking forward to reading more about her in the rest of the series.

So whilst I would say that Poppy Does Paris is more enjoyable do not give up Lily Does LA. Lily does become more likable and her story was actually very enjoyable.

Available Now:

Poppy Does Paris

Lily Does LA

Coming Soon

Maggie Does Meribel (released 4th December 2014)

Rachel Does Rome (released 5th February 2015)

Girls on Tour (released 2nd April 2015)

Follow Nicola Doherty on Twitter @nicoladoherty

Lily Does LA

Lisa Talks About…Turning 31

A little over a week ago I was asked for identification in my local shop. I had gone in to pick up a bottle of wine for my mum as a little thank you for just being awesome. When at the till I had to whip out my provisional license (no, I still cannot drive) and offer the photographic evidence of my age. As the title of this blog piece states, I indeed am above legal drinking age.

I cannot tell you how immeasurably happy I feel when I get ID’d.

It is not that I feel old and it is not that I look old or indeed my age. I like to believe that I am young of spirit. Pretty hippy-dippy but hey, I’m going with that.

So, why blog about turning 31? It isn’t a milestone birthday nor is it something most people want to celebrate…especially when they realise that the next big birthday is 40. However, I felt that I have been through a lot this year and it is time to celebrate.

The thought came to me when my mother came home from work quite teary eyed. She told me that she was thinking about the fact that my birthday was approaching and how she couldn’t have coped if I hadn’t made it to 31. Earlier in the year I became quite ill and whilst I am fine now it is all linked back to my chronic condition – Ulcerative Colitis. I told her to not be daft and that I am fine but you know how mothers’ do worry.

So instead of dwelling on the bad I am focusing on the good. The good things that have happened in this my 31st year in the great adventure we call life.

  • I can successfully travel to my boyfriend Matt’s house without questioning the route now. We do the long distance thing and the first however-many-times I travelled I would constantly be worried I was on the wrong train or platform. I know the route without thinking or worrying now and they makes me happy.
  • There is going to be a quick boyfriend theme – I’ll get them out the way so that people don’t vomit rainbows of happiness everywhere. This year Matt met the two most important people in my life – my mum and sister. He effortlessly charmed them and whilst there approval isn’t the most important thing to me I am happier knowing that they care about him because they like him not because they care about me enough to like him.
  • Ok and now for a huge sappy proclamation of love. I’m just thankful that I have such a brilliant man in my life. He makes me happy, not just for the big things that he does (which due to his generous nature he too often does) but for the little things like the cake and the picking the old toothpaste off my toothbrush. He really is amazing.
  • I’m thankful to the nurses and doctors and support staff in Aintree hospital who continue to look after me so well.
  • Finally, I am thankful to the book blogging community. I started writing reviews on a personal blog as a way to stave off the boredom whilst I was off recuperating. Through it I have become friends with some really lovely people. So for that I thank you all.

So yes, at 31 I can honestly say that I am happy. Long may it continue.

Happy birthday to me (and Avril Lavigne and Meatloaf) for tomorrow.

L  x

Review: Michael Jackson’s Dangerous by Susan Fast

Review

Having never read any of the 33/3rd series before I was both curious and apprehensive over what I was about to get myself into. My trepidation came from the poor experience I had reading the last book about music which to be quite honest was just self indulgent and at times boring (you can read the review for that here) but also because ever since I was a little girl I have loved the music of Michael Jackson.

I know that in this media saturated society in which we live it is hard to discuss anything to do with celebrities without looking at things from a gossipy angle. And with a life filled with controversy such as the one Michael Jackson led, I was convinced that I was about to read something which was more about the man than the music.

I was both wrong and also a little bit right. Let me explain.

Fast’s book focuses on the Dangerous album which was released in 1991. Admittedly, it is not my favourite album by Jackson and when listening to it I will often skip ahead to my favourite tracks. However, I have never before taken the album to be a social artefact. It is an album of its time looking at such large themes – isolation, loneliness, race, gender – themes you would find in the works of great literature, not what you would expect from an album released in the 90s.

Yet it is all there. There are songs that are an expression of anger over events that have taken place and songs that almost scream at you for making snap and often wrong judgements. It is more than just an album.

I can honestly say that after reading Michael Jackson’s Dangerous by Susan Fast I will never listen to the album in the same way ever again. This is a truly fascinating book for fans of Michael Jackson and social historians.

Michael Jackson’s Dangerous by Susan Fast is available now.

Dangerous

Review: Who Is Tom Ditto? by Danny Wallace

Synopsis

When Tom wakes up to a note from his girlfriend Hayley saying that she has left but not left him, Tom’s life is thrown into turmoil. With only a small suitcase of her belongings gone, Tom is left in limbo. He tries to carry on as normal but when he hears a strange message on his answer phone from the mysterious Andy mentioning “the place” Tom becomes determined to solve the mystery of Hayley’s departure.

What ensues is a series of wacky misadventures, growing friendships and dare I say it – personal growth.

Review

I have been toying with the idea of reading a book by Danny Wallace for a while. I have purchased a few and they sit on my shelf, tentatively and patiently waiting to be picked up and read. However, it was due to my desire to get my NetGalley percentage up that made me read Who Is Tom Ditto? Sorry Danny.

I’m awfully glad that I did read Who Is Tom Ditto? It is sharp, witty and a little bit bonkers. It is honestly like no book I have ever read before. The storyline came way out of left field. It has also made me a little curious as to whether there actually is a pocket of people who actually do follow people about. I will try to be a lot more aware of folks around me from now on.

Tom, bless him, was just a victim of circumstance. A too trusting guy who was dealt a massive bow by his girlfriend and it was endearing to watch him try to hold his life together and figure out what was going on in his life. The cast of characters around him all added to the story in colourful and interesting ways.

Strangely, even though the book tied everything up neatly at the end – which those of you who read my reviews know is often times my biggest bugbear – I really liked that there were no loose ends in Who Is Tom Ditto? Heroes became heroic and villains got there comeuppance.

One of the highest accolades I can give this book is that I read it in one sitting. I didn’t want to put it down. Danny Wallace has a new fan in Lisa Bentley. I will most definitely be pushing his other fictional work – Charlotte Street – higher up my personal TBR pile.

Who Is Tom Ditto? by Danny Wallace is available now.

Who is tom ditto

You can follow Danny Wallace on Twitter @dannywallace

My Weekly TBR Pile: 22.09.14 – 28.09.14

Yes people, it is that time of the week when once again I go through the books that I have read, the ones I want to read and often times throw in a random thought for the week. So here it goes.

This week I managed to get through a few books. I read:

Playing With Matches by Suri Rosen

My Other Ex: True Stories of Losing and Leaving Friends by Jessica Smock, Stephanie Sprenger and Galit Breen

Poppy Does Paris by Nicola Doherty (Technically I read this last week but my review was posted 20.09.14)

Twitter Girl by Nic Tatano

Lily Does LA by Nicola Doherty (Review to be posted 27.09.14)

And I am currently reading:

Who is Tom Ditto? by Danny Wallace

So it has been a pretty good book week.

Besides reading I also took in my first ever book event (I know, I’ve been reviewing books for a while now and loving reading a hell of a lot longer than that, how I have I only just managed to attend an event?). I took fifteen school children to see Charlie Higson. He was promoting the sixth book in his zombie series. It was quite an interesting experience.

Also, I have been rather fortunate this week in the fact that I won some book prizes. I received Blackfin Sky by Kat Ellis from the lovely Rachel O’Laughlin (you should all check out her blog) and I won The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks from the equally lovely Bronagh McAteer who used my blog comment in another of her posts.

All in all, it has been a not too shabby week for Lisa.

Now, time for a confession; I have been naughty. Well not too naughty really but I have broken a promise that I made to myself. I work in a school which is stacked with a beautiful library. I had promised myself I wouldn’t borrow any books from it this year. After being back at work for only three weeks I have broken said promise. I have loaned the following books:

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead

Love at Second Sight by Cathy Hopkins

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

Tease by Amanda Maciel

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

On the plus side I have managed to pull my NetGalley percentage up to 25.2%. A whole 3.4% higher than it was last week. Kudos to me. However, it does lead me to my next question (any help from Boook Bloggers would be appreciated here), if you review a book but you don’t want to post it for a few days do you still pass the information on to NetGalley straight away and inform them of when your review will be posted or do you not inform them until the post is live? It is something that has always been a mystery to me.

Anywho, here are the books that I intend to read this week:

Michael Jackson’s Dangerous by Susan Fast (NetGalley Review) (168 pages)

The Supreme Macaroni Company by Adriana Trigiani (NetGalley Review) (435 pages)

The Poet’s Wife by Rebecca Stonehill (NetGalley Review) (302 pages)

And once again I plan to read

The Dead Wife’s Handbook by Hannah Beckerman

Keep your eyes peeled over the next few weeks for my new feature “12 Weeks of Christmas” in which I will be reviewing a Christmas based book every Thursday to get me in the festive mood.

As always here are a few fabulous people’s blogs for you to check out. Besides the aforementioned Bronagh and Rachel, make sure you visit Matt Phil Carver, Clare over at A Book and Tea and award winning Blogger Sophie at Reviewed The Book.

Happy reading people.

L x

Review: Twitter Girl by Nic Tatano

Synopsis

When Cassidy Shea is fired by the news network that she works for her work life is sent into a spin. Sure, she wrote a slightly inappropriate Tweet but was it really worth firing her for. Where are her rights? Her freedom of speech?

Fortunately Cassidy’s luck is about to change. She is hired as a political commentator for Will Becker’s campaign. Hailed to be the next president, Becker employs Cassidy aka Twitter Girl to take down the competition with a snarky Tweet or two.

What Cassidy doesn’t bank on is the amount of beautiful and eligible men working on the campaign; including Senator Becker. She quickly finds herself embroiled in an office romance that could take her all the way to the most famous office of them all – the Oval Office.

One thing TG learnt as a roving reporter is that if things seem too good to be true then they probably are….

Review

I loved this book. I’m just going to get that out there now. It was the perfect read I needed to start my weekend. It was fun, frisky but still had heart. It wasn’t just a fluffy light rom-com; it had a message to it.

I loved the diverse range of characters. Alongside the main players – Cassidy, her brother Sam, best friend Ripley and friend Tyler – the tertiary characters didn’t seem throwaway. They all had a purpose. They were well rounded and more importantly – well written.

Having never read anything by Tatano before I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised when I got a good, interesting romp with a mystery. I will definitely be reading more by this writer…and you all should too.

Twitter Girl by Nic Tatano is available now.

Twitter-Girl1

You can follow Nic Tatano @NicTatano and her alter ego Twitter Girl @TwitrGrlCassidy

SSS Review: Poppy Does Paris by Nicola Doherty

Title: Poppy Does Paris

Author: Nicola Doherty

Pages: 65 pages

Synopsis

Poppy is going through a dry spell. It has been almost a year since she last…you know…had a romantic rendezvous with the opposite sex. And she is feeling that it is time to take matters into her own hands. On an upcoming working trip to Paris, Poppy decides she will seduce her co-worker Charlie for some no strings fun. However, life doesn’t always work out as planned as Poppy’s love life takes an unexpected twist in the world’s most romantic city.

Review

Poppy Does Paris, the first instalment in the Girls on Tour series was pretty much the ideal short story for me. I combined two of my favourite things; the world of publishing and the beautiful city of Paris.

What I loved about this short story is that the characters seemed fully developed. They didn’t appear as just brief snapshots. The story didn’t feel like scenes placed together, producing a domino effect. I was able to be charmed, amused and feel for the Poppy and romantic lead, Charlie.

Poppy’s mistakes felt like they could have been made by anyone. You genuinely wanted her not to screw up and felt the embarrassment – nay mortification – when she did. She was such a likable protagonist. Nicola Doherty has managed to create a character who I wanted to be – flaws and foibles included.

I’m very excited to read on with the rest of the Girls on Tour series.

Poppy does Paris by Nicola Doherty is available now.

poppy does paris

Coming Soon

Lily Does LA (released 25th September 2014)

Maggie Does Meribel (released 4th December 2014)

Rachel Does Rome (released 5th February 2015)

Girls on Tour (released 2nd April 2015)

Follow Nicola Doherty on Twitter @nicoladoherty

Review: My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Losing and Leaving Friends by Jessica Smock, Stephanie Sprenger and Galit Breen

Synopsis

My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Losing and Leaving Friends is a collection of stories that celebrates the powerful friendships between women and the sheer utter heartache of when those relationships end.

Review

I was drawn to this book based on its subject matter. This may seem a rather obvious thing to say but admittedly I do tend to pick up books based on their cover – sometimes over content.

You see, I too had a powerful friendship that ended and this book, I hoped, would provide me some solace. Thankfully, it did.

The book is made up of several writers experiences and whilst none of them were the same as mine, some of the views expressed by the writers hit a little too close to home.

Losing a best friend is hard. It is like someone has cut off a limb, in some respects it is like the person has died. The chasm of sadness is unbearable.

I won’t go into my tale of lost friendship here – even though after nearly three years I am still bruised by it – it is a story that probably does deserve to be told but open wounds are still raw.

One of the most poignant things that I took from this book was when one of the contributors said “friendship is a verb.” It is. It takes both people to work at it. It is not something that just happens.

If you have ever experienced the emotional turmoil of losing a best friend then give this book a read. It may just give you a sense of comfort to know you are not the only one.

My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Losing and Leaving Friends by Jessica Smock, Stephanie Sprenger and Galit Breen is available now.

For more information please visit www.herstoriesproject.com or follow on Twitter @herstoriestales

My-Other-Ex-final-3