The Beauty Thief: Rachael Ritchey

Good evening readers, currently settled on the sofa with my cosy jersey top and my sweats, legs crossed and the no makeup ‘au natural’ look. This is my favourite way to blog comfy and restful. This morning I opened up my email inbox and found a barrage of requests and they were still coming; ten, eleven, twelve. My phone was beeping and flashing oddly. It turns out that my request to be published on the book blogger list came true yesterday and according to the emails made top billing. My inbox has been going crazy and it is wonderful so expect lots and lots more reviews over the coming weeks. But today one that has been waiting a little while; without further delay today’s review is of the wonderful ‘The Beauty Thief’ by Rachael Ritchey.

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 In the Twelve Realms there lives a man who covets life. He lurks in the shadows, intent upon stealing that which sustains his perpetual existence: true beauty. Princess Caityn’s loveliness reaches from what the eye sees to the very marrow of her soul. The thief’s covetous heart desires the life her beauty possesses and will stop at nothing to take it all. So a little look at the bare backbones of the book; the narrative ultimately follows Princess Caityn a princess who understandably wants to marry the man of her choice however she ultimately gets paired with Prince Theiander. As the two warm and interact more closely with each other it seems they are destined to be together however as their wedding day nears The Beauty Thief is ultimately determined to steal Caityn’s beauty and ruin everything that she has ever dreamed of.

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 I must admit from the very first page I felt a sense of warmth rise from the pages of this book, it has a real sense of wit and humour created mainly through the beautiful understanding and creation of Caityns character. She’s blunt, honest, witty and a genuinely true character. This is brilliantly contrasted with the turnaround of Caityn’s character after the change; she has an empty soul and the author devises this wonderfully, it feels bare and naked and you can’t help but feel for the main character. The book hangs on this and therefore it is incredibly important that this distinction comes across with skill and understanding. I think what was additionally really well done was that Caityn doesn’t take on the weak or feeble female character profile but instead she still feels real and you can see the true Caityn despite her changing. I really think that Ritchey made this come forward and take centre stage and that takes real ability and dexterity. In terms of writing the book is told in third person past tense and does come from a number of different character perspectives and although the majority of the story comes from Caityn and Theiander there are a number of minor secondary characters who push through and take their place especially a number of the villains.

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What was additionally really carefully built up was the idea of the fictional world and the twelve realms with each known for a different landscape, family or export. It really helps to sink the world into a slot of reality and makes it feel genuine. It’s difficult sometimes with fantasy to get the balance between the two, magical and wonderful but additionally genuine and authentic. The language and the use of bows and arrow against swords and shields really helps to enforce the fantastical genre feel without it feeling to forced and to obvious; it’s a real skill and one that should really be emphasised in this review. The colourful land and the exciting characters kept me enthralled throughout. The dialogue is snappy and witty with colourful exciting language full of quips and comedic anecdotes. In contrast The Beauty Thief is dark and nebulous it’s definitely a thought through concept.

So would I recommend this? Yes, yes, yes. If you love YA fantasy fiction you need to pop this on your TBR straight away. If, like me, you’re not quite as much of a true fan of the genre I think this is a great breakthrough fantasy fiction read. It really made me sit up and think and the beauty thief concept, although I haven’t delved into it too much in the review because I want you to explore it for yourself, I think is really original and in the YA fantasy fiction world that isn’t all to easy to find. I honestly can’t wait to see what this author writes next!

A – Z of book blogging from mylittlebookblog!

Happy Sunday readers, I’ve had a wonderfully busy weekend and I’m snuggled up on the sofa watching The Big Painting Challenge and I thought I’d bring you something a little different. It’s an A-Z of all things book blogging.

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A is for assortment: I am a true believer in variety in blogging, especially book blogging. Different genres, publishers and authors amongst others help to bring mylittlebookblog to as many readers as possible.  This also includes different posts including quotes, images, guest posts, Q+A’s etc.

B is for bed: My favourite place to read is snuggled up in bed, with a hot chocolate, lots of blankets and pyjamas. I also favour the bath but the number of times my books get destroyed through my clumsy nature it’s better to stick to the latter

C is for classics: Recently I have got over my irrational dislike of classic literature and thrown myself straight in at the deep end reading as much as a I can get my hands on. So far it’s been rather eye opening

D is for Doyle: As a young reader, Arthur Conan Doyle was pivotal to the increase of my interest and love of reading. The adventures of Sherlock Holmes mean a lot to me sentimentally as a reader

E is for Email: My most useful tool in contact and communicating with authors, readers, bloggers and publishers. Setting up a separate email was a big step for me in my journey as a blogger and set this apart as being more than a hobby for the weekends

F is for Folded over Corners: I have a terrible habit of folding over the corners of pages when reading. I’m constantly losing bookmarks so often train or bus tickets are my go to. I try not too but it’s a habit I seem to have got into!

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G is for Guest Posts: Some people are terribly against guest posts, I’m all for it if done well and if it helps both blogs/authors/publishers reader base. Don’t just do for the sake of it I guess

H is for Hard Work: I know I’ve mentioned this before a couple of times but blogging is sometimes hard work. It doesn’t mean that it’s not worth it, not at all, but there is so much more that goes into blogging than just reading and reviewing.  

I is for Ink: When writing reviews I tend to tap them out on my old and tired red Dell ‘brick’ laptop. If I have time I like to plot out the review on paper and then type it up from there. It’s sometimes lovely to pen the words out first, to see how the review fits together

J is for Jigsaw: Book blogging is on the whole a little like a jigsaw. I am continually playing with the pieces finding different ways to put the different types of post together. Does this guest post work well next to this review, does this quote fit with the blog as a whole, will this review create some controversy? It’s a constant challenge!

L is for Lengthy journeys: The perfect time to get a chunk of reading completed. I love reading on the train down to Milton Keynes; it’s my time to de-stress from a busy week and get myself completely immersed in another world

M is for Messy: When I’m blogging I like to be fully submersed in what I’m doing. Books will be strewn around me, the notes on the book sitting in little piles, post-it notes stuck in the books, different pens in different colours pooling round me; for me it just helps the creative process.

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N is for New Authors: There is nothing better than discovering a new exciting author with bags of potential and then going out and purchasing everything they’ve written and devouring it.

O is for Organisation: Despite saying I like to be messy, I am going to be a little bit of a hypocrite. Book blogging in terms of planning needs to be organised; emails need to be answers, posts written to fit with deadlines of releases, or cover reveals.

P is for Proof reading: I am terrible for this, because I’m often half asleep or in a rush when I post my reviews so there are sometimes grammatical errors (my spelling is normally pretty good.) It’s so important to proof read posts to get the message across coherently

Q is for Quality: Consistent quality across the board in terms of posts is really important. Each review is unique and to let the ball drop is a constant fear for me as a blogger.

R is for Review Requests: One of the best things about blogging is receiving requests for book reviews. It’s a tiresome task sometimes going through them all and picking which to read first but the elation of coming home and seeing the books sat by the front door is such a pleasure

S is for Spreading the word: Whether it’s for readers or writers, book blogging is ultimately about recounting what you’ve read good or bad. It’s one to always remember when blogging because once you’ve said it, it’s very difficult to take it back

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T is for Tired Eyes: Even now at twenty one, and knowing my tiredness limit I still cannot resist the temptation of staying up all night to finish a good book

U is for Unbiased: This goes without saying; honesty must be followed to the T.

V is for vocabulary: Wonderful, vivid, chilling, distressing, worrying, content, ardent, notable, dire, splendid, unquestionable, thrilling, astounding, wretched, poignant, clement, blissful, sulky, gritty. Make sure you colour your book blogging with adjectives of every sound.

 W is for Well-wishers: I kept running out of letters and quite quickly had to start using the thesaurus. Blogging is all about community feel and although some claim that blogging can be lonely I am yet to feel that way. Since I started the support has been wonderful and the people I come into contact with have been lovely lovely people.

X is for Xanthippe: Now stick with me, this is a word. It actually means ill-tempered woman. Now obviously this isn’t pivotal but I think what is, is that you want to make everything as real and as brilliant as possible. If I can’t get the right feel to a review, or the post doesn’t sit well with the blog it only goes to show (male or female) that it really means something to you

Y is for Yearning: The constant and unending search for new incredibly books written by even more incredibly authors

Z is for Zero: The amount of time I wish that I wasn’t, reading, writing, blogging or making notes about books. Books just are everything to me

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So there you go, a little book-ish post about book blogging. If you have any comments, questions or queries as always pop them in the comments box!

How to Be a Woman: Caitlin Moran

TGIF is the only way I can truly describe my feelings at the end of this week. After being unreasonably ill at the beginning of the week, spending the next few days furiously packing to catch up with the days and evenings lost snuggled up in bed with a hot water bottle wailing over my bellies insistent pain and having a number of wobbles with my fellow lodgers over the bills, washing up, even toilet rolls I’m shattered. A surprise weekend for my dear friend Anna and a moving day set for Monday it’s fair to say I’m ready to leave this week behind. Today’s review comes  after reading a  Buzzfeed interview; the interview with Caitlin Moran was sarcastic and blunt in style and made me desperate to read some more from her. Spotting at the bottom of the article that she’d written two books I vowed to get my hands on copies. Last weekend trawling a quaint book market in London I stumbled upon ‘How to be a woman,’ a steal at £2.50. Other than buying a big mac on a hungover Saturday this may have been the best £2.50 I’ve ever spent and I’m going to let you know why.

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Upon opening the cover I was a little sceptical; buying the book purely on the tone of the article rather than finding out the contents of the book the headings, such as ‘I become furry,’ ‘I start bleeding,’ and ‘I encounter some sexism,’ threw me a little. Worry not, because upon finishing the first chapter I realised that as like I had upon finishing the article, I think if we met, Caitlin and I would become firm friends. She has the comedic, whimsical blunt and sharp tone that delivers a punch to the readers jaw in ever feminist fuelled gag/story/teaching she throws our way. Before you stop reading don’t panic at the F word, I know some of us pale at the mention but Moran puts it perfectly, the way my mother always taught me, ‘I’m neither pro-woman nor anti-men I’m just thumbs up for the six billion.’ I’ve had this argument with friends before over being a feminist but Moran finds a way to put it perfectly; in a nutshell, put your hands down your pants, do you have a vagina? If yes do you want to be in control of your vagina? If you answered yes to both, congratulations you’re a feminist. Now before we get all political as we often do around gender equality (rightly so) this is a self-confessed ‘part memoir, part rant’ and the lack of politics makes it all the more a good talking point and a book of basically bloody good common sense.

We start with Moran on her 13th birthday; weighing 13 stone, eating cheese lollipops (a hunk of cheese the size of your head on a fork eaten from said fork) and having stones thrown at her by boys on regular occasions. The book ultimately documents her story from that day to the current day. Taking the theme of personal politics we follow the author as she discovers masturbation, crazy dancing, wearing your own pants, getting to grips with wearing a bra and coming to terms with being the proud owner of a big hairy muff. So what’s the big deal? Why is it brilliant? It’s the way it’s written. It’s magnificent, both provocative and hysterical you could hear me giggling on the bus from Hanley to Newcastle unable to stop myself. She doesn’t throw in gags but they instead they are an integral part of the story woven continually throughout the narrative. Several parts stick in my mind; the stories of her family and their bond is beautifully but honestly described and her account of the birth of her first child is chillingly written and helps to perfectly describe the authors humility. However two sentences later she’s jesting that she will never get angry about Norwich Union changing its name to Aviva ever again. It’s a constant whirlwind that pulls the reader along, I couldn’t for love nor money put the goddamn thing down.

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The writing is full of swear words, angry shouty capitals and incredibly honest and often shocking confessions. You could easily be forgiven for thinking that this comes across as a grating and crass barking teenage writing style but it is handled with grace and hilarity which comes with the self-assured and utterly candid quality of writing that comes from this sublime author. However what spoke to me most is that this is a book of common sense; it makes feminism sagaciously simple. She speaks of feminism grounding to a hault and suggests us renaming ourselves as strident feminists and us and any male feminists getting up on chairs and screaming it from the rooftops. At one point she states

‘Feminism, as it stands, well stands. It has ground to a hault and no-one is tackling OK! magazine, £600 handbags, tiny pants, Brazilians, stupid hen nights or Katie Price. And they have to be tackled…rugby style, face down in the mud, with lots of shouting’

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Having grown up with five brothers and sisters Moran truly believes we’re all just ‘some of the guys,’ and feminism is simply the belief that women should be as free as men. Simple eh? It’s a cheerfully bright and honest concept that for someone that describes herself as feminist but has never been quite sure to say it, can honestly say I needed this book.

This is a brave, consistently clever, naughty, rude, blunt sarcastic book with wonderfully honest writing that I chowed down in huge hunks. I can honestly say everyone should get a copy of this book sit down and take a little read at a book that attempts and succeeds to answer the question; What do women want? Pretty much the same as everyone else.

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Piano from a 4th storey window: Jenny Morton Potts

Good evening readers, hope you’re all well unlike me, a little sick bunny. It seems I have caught a tummy bug which left me rendered completely useless yesterday. After being rudely awakened by my housemate, I heaved myself out of bed to go and purchase whatever it was she was complaining about. Hauling a sick ridden body out of bed dressing it in patterned black, red and white leggings, an orange t-shirt and a pair of blue fabric pumps and a massive coat with a fur hood I must have looked comical. I cannot wait to move away from the drama of where I live. Before I get too off topic there are a number of reviews that were supposed to be posted days ago but I’ve been so sick I haven’t had any time to sort them and amongst packing for the move last week. I’m hoping to get them written up ASAP so if you’re waiting for a review it’s on its way I promise. So, without further delay onto today’s review.

Lawrence Fyre and Marin Strang aren’t like other people. He is the eccentric owner of failing Sargasso Books in the Brighton Lanes. She is an ex-Jehovah’s Witness and isolated Spanish teacher. If they live together in his illegal, beautiful, rope laddered lock-up; can their love overcome their losses?  Original, sexy, very funny and deeply moving. An author in complete control of a number of unforgettable characters and emotional highs and lows, Jenny Morton Potts leaves the reader breathless, and wanting more.

So as the blurb suggests Marin Strang is a Spanish teacher whose life hasn’t quite gone the way she wanted it to; having to live on a wage from numerous temporary teaching contracts and coming out of a rather painful breakup she’s in a bit of a sticking point; in limbo as to what she should do next. An ex-Jehovah’s witness but with ties to her father who remains a loyal member, Marin finds her days wandering The Lanes in Brighton a shopping spot and ends up in the a café named Number 8. Here she meets Lawrence Fyre, the owner of the (failing) store Sargasso Books. The two, after a number of chance meetings enter into an intense relationship but a number of hiccups including his sister and the intriguing Nina could force their relationship to fail. Will their relationship rise or flounder? You’ll have to get hold of a copy to find out!

So, there’s the book in a nutshell; now you could be forgiven for thinking that this is a rather stereotypical boy meets girl style plot-line but it’s more than that. Firstly I have to commend the author for getting the feel of Brighton down so very well. I could feel the blustery wind and see the cobbled lanes full of brightly painted houses, it’s incredibly evocative of the little seaside town. The writing style is wonderful although a little difficult to get into to start with. It reads almost like a stream of consciousness, which we don’t experience all too often as a reader and when mixed with dialogue and narrative it was a little different at the start. However as you get more stuck in the words rise and fall in a very smooth almost lyrical prose which I thoroughly enjoyed.

In terms of plot line it is the perfect mix of both tragedy and love story and the whirlwind mix throughout is both tender and comedic. The two main characters are wonderfully written both quirky in their own rights but written with a real feel of human warmth and understanding. They come alive with each other and the conviction of their relationship is maddeningly exciting and euphoric. The pace is fast and forward thinking, it ricochets off with such breath taking speed that I found myself reading chapter after chapter without noticing.

I think what makes this book is the style; it is a unique and unforgettable writing quality that is both quirky and gripping. It also allows for the highs and the lows of the novel to really come alive and punch the reader in the jaw which is exactly what I wanted from this novel. It is a love story but it also intertwines personal growth, the pressure to conform to society or religion and trust in the relationships we have. It really made me sit up and listen and made me think about my own place in the world that I find myself in.  Overall a stylish and quirky read that was a wonderful mix; thoroughly enjoyable.

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A lovely little book market in London

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“If you take a book with you on a journey,” Mo had said when he put the first one in her box, “an odd thing happens: The book begins collecting your memories. And forever after you have only to open that book to be back where you first read it. It will all come into your mind with the very first words: the sights you saw in that place, what it smelled like, the ice cream you ate while you were reading it… yes, books are like flypaper—memories cling to the printed page better than anything else.”
Cornelia Funke, Inkheart