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!

Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Truman Capote

Good afternoon readers, hope you’re well and happy on this grey Friday morning. It’s been an odd week and I for one can’t wait for the weekend. I feel like I haven’t slept in months, my eyes feel like they’re coated in sawdust and although exhausted once I get into bed and snuggle down I’m bone awake, it’s been a nightmare. However, late nights wide awake lead to lots of hours available for reading and today it’s my seventh classic book review, this time of Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffanies

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There is something rather pensive and thoughtful about this novel, when reading I felt almost like I had read it before and yet of course I hadn’t. It feels nostalgic and hopeful, a beautiful place where parties storm through the night restless and unyielding, where love could be found and lost in an evening, where the stereotypical rules of life disappeared, where one could or should be living life to the full. I wanted to fall through the pavement and end up in Capote’s stunning reinvention of New York City. Before I get a little to whimsical, I didn’t actually know this was a book until I was browsing the shelves of my lovely little local library. One of my 101 things in 1001 days task was to watch an Audrey Hepburn movie and this was the one I chose, unaware of it being a novel. Despite this I loved both.

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The story is told from the point of view of “Fred”, a struggling young writer, who gets to know Holly when she moves into an apartment in his old brownstone in New York during the Second World War. Through her constant misplacing of her keys and her various parties the two become dear although unconventional friends. Over the course of the year and half that he knows her, Fred experiences the whirlwind that is Holly Golightly; a character that we later find out is hiding a number of skeletons in the closet. Her invented self is an outgoing, raucous and frank. However every so often we get to see the truly vulnerable and raw character she really is. The writing to describe this is beautifully done and makes Holly Golightly even more adorable. The book follows a number of plotlines, the visiting of the supposed mobster Sally Tomato in prison every week, Holly meeting a Hollywood agent named O.J. Berman, who once tried to get her into movies, an ill-fated holiday with a number of the supporting characters and a marriage (or two.) But it’s not really about the story, not for me anyway.

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I fell in love this book mainly because of the main character; although a walking contradiction she has the blazon confidence, a blasé approach to life, the idea that she’s passing through not really belonging anywhere. This is seen in her owning of a nameless cat that she houses and that although living in her apartment for almost a year she has no furniture and her belongings are instead stashed in boxes and crates. However with a beaming smile upon her face and her darkened sunglasses Miss Golightly goes out to face the world and find a place that makes her feel like she does when she’s in Tiffanies; her only solace.

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Technically the writing is sublime, the prose moves effortlessly, stringing together characters, events, descriptions and the bustling New York into a book that I simply couldn’t put down. The characters are built up delightfully and change based on the mood of Miss Holly and her effervescent character profile. It’s the delicate prose and narrative intertwined into such a short book it could be described as a novella. You get the feeling that ever single word matters, each perfectly placed to give just the right feel, the right personality and it does. The book sings to me as a reader and I loved it dearly. The ending does differ from the movie and it works well with the symbolism that is used throughout; the idea of a caged bird, being able to leave everything at the drop of a hat. Both work well, but I’m still deciding which I prefer of the two. A simple stunner of a book that you truly have to read.

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!

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

Exciting news here at mylittlebookblog

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Solstice Shorts hosted by Arachne Press

A celebration of National Short Story Day of the Winter Solstice and of the narrative power of folk music, bringing together story and song on the Greenwich Meridian- on the theme of time. The festival has grown in scope at it is now a marvellous mix of live short stories; chosen by our exquisite line up of judges and read by actors; and folk music from leading local professional and amateur musicians, backed up with writing and singing workshops, all of which will be BS: interpreted throughout, as we’d like to make the event as inclusive as possible. We also plan to live broadcast the performances, and podcasting them for future reference. We have  confirmed venues at the beautiful West Greenwich Library from sunrise (8.04) till 11.30 and at The Royal Observatory Greenwich in the Astronomy Centre from 11 till sunset (15.53) We have confirmed judges for the short story competition: Alison Moore (award-winning short story writer and novelist,) Imogen Robertson (writer of the acclaimed Crowther & Westerman historical crime series) Rob Shearman (Doctor Who and multiple short stories) and Anita Sethi (Journalist; reviewer and Broadcaster.) Each of the judges is contributing a story to the day and the book that will be published of the winning stories from the competition.

I, Lizzy Baldwin from mylittlebookblog will be shortlisting the stories for the short story competition with the lovely Cherry Potts. I could never have guessed that MLBB could have brought me so many incredible opportunities and I cannot wait to get stuck in reading and shortlisting. I am so incredibly excited to be part of this festival. If you are interested you can see more here! http://tinyurl.com/mxh849e. There is a little problem and that is that the festival is a little short on funding, I am currently adding some well deserved pennies and pounds but if you fancy donating anything to the cause of this lovely little festival then click here: http://www.sponsume.com/project/solstice-shorts-festival. I have never asked anything from my readers before and do not feel obliged or pressured to, I’m sure we will push this project through no matter what. If you are interested all the information is in the links above!