Monthly Archives

December 2012

Book Reviews, Books

Top 5 Books I Read In 2012

December 31, 2012

So the world didn’t end after all and it’s New Years Eve, which means one thing. No I’m not out on the town getting absolutely rat-assed, I’m sat here reviewing the best books I’ve read this year. 

After starting my apprenticeship I vowed to read more and set myself the goal of reading 12 books between May and December, I’ve surpassed that and managed 14, not brilliant but I reached my goal.

My top 5 books from 2012 

Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson – 5 out of 5 

Despite being a self confessed Apple fan-girl, I knew very little about Steve Jobs when I started the book, by the end of it I felt like I knew him as crazy as that might sound. Steve Jobs is by far the best, most detailed and most honest biography I’ve ever read, in parts he comes across as a real ass. But that’s nice you know, because it shows that as smart as he was he was human like the rest of us. It contains in depth stories and interviews from his friends, family and colleagues, even the ones he didn’t like.

Whether you’re an Apple fan or not, I’d recommend this to anyone.

To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee – 5 out of 5 

I was initially put off To Kill A Mockingbird because of the hype that surrounds it, concerned it wouldn’t live up to it and I’d only be disappointed by it. When I finally worked up the courage to read it, I wasn’t the least bit disappointed it, I loved it and can see why it’s a classic.

Fallen – Karin Slaughter – 4.9 out of 5 

Karin Slaughter was recommended  to me by a fellow blogger when I was searching for a good crime novel that kept me interested long enough to find out ‘whodunnit’.

Despite having never read any of Slaughter’s books before I was pleasantly surprised to find I didn’t struggle with any of the history between the characters. Slaughter conveys her characters emotions and feelings so well, making the reader really feel what they are going through. If you’re looking for a new crime novel, take a peek at Karin Slaughters work.

Plus, Karin Slaughter, what a brilliant name for a crime writer.

The Ice Cage – Olivier Nilsson-Julien – 5 out of 5 

The Ice Cage had me gripped right away with me reading it over the space of two evenings, leaving me looking forward to the next in the series which comes out at the beginning of 2013.

My heart was racing as I read about Magnus trying to escape Aland and being pursued by his fathers killers, just when I thought the action was over and my heart could relax for a moment, more action! The Ice Cage is a real thriller in every sense of the word.

New Moon – Stephanie Meyer – 4.5 out of 5

After deciding to try the Twilight series four years after my original attempt, I was surprised to find I enjoyed it. What surprised me even more was how much more I enjoyed New Moon.

Stephanie Meyer did a brilliant job of making the reader feel exactly what Bella is feeling, just a shame it’s self pity and wallowing. She also really began to develop Bella and Jacob, making them more likeable, just a shame she goes and destroys all that hard work in the next book.

Let Down of the Year

Game of Thrones – George Martin

I was really looking forward to reading Game of Thrones but found the sheer amount of characters an switching point of view each chapter difficult to keep up with. Characters were just introduced out of nowhere, only a few of which were memorable meaning I had to keep looking characters up on the internet to remember who they were.

Now, credit where credits due, some of the characters were brilliant, as were some of the chapters, but other chapters were so incredibly dull and it became a bit of a chore to read.

The entire series of books currently sits on my shelf, but I can’t see me reading them anytime soon.

What of 2013? 

I’ve already got the Life of Pi lined up to read as soon as I’ve finishing Breaking Dawn, but in 2013 I want to move out of my reading comfort zone. Reading the Twilight series has taught me (I can’t believe I typed that) that it’s possible for me to really enjoy something I thought I’d hate.

What are you looking forward to reading in 2013? 

Book Reviews, Books

Rosie Reads: Eclipse – Stephanie Meyer

December 29, 2012


After being reunited in New Moon, Bella and Edward are quite content, until they hear about a spate of murders in Seattle. The Cullens fear they’re not being carried out by your average murderer, rather a pack of ‘newborn’ vampires. 

Unfortunately they’re right and an army of vampires have been created by Victoria, who is still trying to avenge James’ death, and kill Bella.

Knowing they can’t take on a small army of vampires on their own, the Cullens and the werewolves are forced to work together and get along in order to save Bella’s life.

The Bella, Edward and Jacob love triangle really heats up during Eclipse, with Jacob seriously struggling to come to terms with her choosing Edward and choosing to become a vampire, as a result he’s continuously trying to win her over.

– – – –

I was absolutely gripped to New Moon, so I was really excited to start on Eclipse, but I felt let down and didn’t really find it as interesting as New Moon at all.

I had a couple of serious gripes with Bella in Eclipse. First off, she only agrees to marry Edward so that he will finally have sex with her, Perhaps I could understand if it’s so she will be turned into a vampire faster, but it appears it’s just for the sex. This just seems completely out of character for her given everything I’ve read during the past two books.

Secondly, her issue with marriage really annoyed me. We read that her parents marriages failed and she was scared that the same might happen to her, a fear I imagine quite common really, I have no issue with that. But she seems seriously against the idea of marriage but still says yes, again just for the sex.

If she doesn’t want her marriage to fail, maybe she should have said no? Or perhaps, yes because I love you lots and lots, not because I’m really horny and 50 Shades of Grey hasn’t been written yet.

Jacob really got on my nerves throughout the book, I really liked him in New Moon he seemed friendly and nice, but he comes across as so whiny and needy, for goodness sake Jacob, accept it and quit whining. He seems to spend the entire book trying to trick and convince Bella to go out with him instead. Maybe I’m just seriously Team Edward? He’s like a broken record throughout the entire book, ‘Oh Bella you do love me, you just don’t know it.’ that’s kind of stalker-ish Jacob, haven’t you heard of no means no?

My gripe with Edward, the only one I’ve had with him so far (apparently I love controlling vampires), is that he doesn’t beat the crap out of Jacob. Jacob kisses his fiancé and Edward blames himself? Oh come on, just punch him, just once, for me Edward he’s been annoying me for the last 500 pages!

I really enjoyed reading about the vampires and werewolves having to get along with each other, the tension was nice and it was nice that in the end a couple of them were friends instead of sworn enemies as they had been at the beginning of the book.

At the end of the book we read a chapter from Jacob’s point of view, which took a couple of pages to get into, but using something like that during the fight scenes would have been interesting. Since the fight was taking place in multiple locations it would have worked well.

I’ve just started reading Breaking Dawn and I’m hoping it will end the series well and won’t be a disappointment.

3. 5 / 5

What did you think of Eclipse?

Life

My Guilty Pleasures

December 18, 2012

Admit it, we all have our guilty pleasures, whether it’s liking Justin Bieber or watching Hollyoaks, we all have things we enjoy but are wary of telling people about. 

Today’s daily prompt is about guilty pleasures, so it’s time we came out and tell the world ‘I love my guilty pleasures’.

Here are a few of mine:

I know the dance to Gangnam Style: Admittedly, this is only because we do it at my Zumba class, but I quite like the song and the dance and look forward to doing it.

I like Ke$ha: Her music isn’t great but it’s a damn sight better than Nicky Minaj (who reminds me of a Pokemon) but I like things I can sing along to. If it makes it any better, I don’t actually own any of her music, thank goodness for Spotify and YouTube.

I love watching Casualty and Holby City: I’m sure I’m a middle aged person in disguise but I do seriously look forward to Casualty and Holby City. I would say it’s because there’s a fair bit of eye candy, but that’s just a brucey bonus. In fact, it’s Tuesday today so I will be glued to Holby City tonight.

Twilight: I started re-reading the Twilight saga a couple of weeks ago and I absolutely love it.

Crap TV: If it’s a documentary or real-life based, I’ll watch it, it doesn’t matter what the subject is, obviously I draw the line at The Only Way Is Essex and the like. I really enjoy American Pickers, and that’s just a show about two over enthusiastic guys sorting through rubbish people forgot they had stored in their out-buildings.

Jelly: I’m no longer 5, but I love jelly. It’s quick, easy and idiot proof to make.

I have a onesie: Who cares if I look like a Teletubby or a giant baby? It’s comfortable and it’s not like I go out in it.

I love Avril Lavigne: I’ve been an Avril Lavigne fan since Complicated first came out when I was 9, and even though her last two albums have been pretty rubbish, I still listen to her and buy her music. Maybe I’m just stupid?

Daily Prompt: Hate To Love

What are your guilty pleasures? 

Mwnt, Wales

Flashback Friday: The Church By The Beach

December 14, 2012

Mwnt Church

When I was younger, each year my cousin, sister and I would go on holiday to Wales with my Nan. Our favourite place was a little town called Mwnt in Cardigan.

Just 2 minutes down the lane was an incredibly steep hill, which offered spectacular views once you’d dragged yourself up there. There was a path which took you down to a beautiful little secluded beach. In between the two, stood this wonderful tiny white washed church.

It was a bit like a tardis, it looked so small on the outside but it seemed huge on the inside.

Everytime I look at photo’s from our holidays to Mwnt it always makes me smile, it’s probably my favourite place in the world. It’s just so quiet, beautiful and reminds me of happy times.

Where’s your favourite place in the World? 

Book Reviews, Books, Vampire, Young Adult

Rosie Reads: New Moon – Stephanie Meyer

December 10, 2012

New Moon Book CoverBella feels that all is right with the world, until the Cullens throw her a birthday party, which goes disastrously wrong, forcing Edward and his family to leave Forks, leaving Bella behind.

New Moon follows Bella’s utter devastation as she tries to come to terms with her vampire lovers disappearance, which leaves her questioning whether he ever existed at all.

She finds comfort and safety in an old childhood friend, Jacob Black. It turns out that like the Cullens, Jacob also has a dark and dangerous secret, he’s a werewolf. Boy does she know how to pick mythical friends.

Bella finds out that she is being hunted by Victoria, who is trying to avenge her mate James who was finished off in Twilight after he tried to kill Bella. Luckily for her, werewolves and vampires are sworn enemies (you can already see how this is going to cause problems), so Jacob and his pack vow to take down Victoria.

While the werewolves are trying to hunt Victoria, Bella gets bored and decides she quite likes the idea of jumping off a cliff during a storm, makes sense. This results in another near-death experience for her, which is ‘seen’ by Alice Cullen who misunderstands Bella’s new love for extreme sports as a suicide attempt.

Word gets back to Edward who decides he doesn’t want to live without her in the world (even though you know, he left her) and decides to go and provoke the Volturi, a sort of vampire royal family only their faces aren’t on stamps.

Alice and Bella head to Volterra and in movie-like fashion, manage to save Edward just in time. The Volturi are less than happy that a human knows so much and allow them to leave on one condition, Bella must become a vampire one day. This of course leaves Bella jumping for joy.

Bella and the Cullens return to life in Forks and Bella eager as ever to become a vampire, holds a vote and finds that the Cullens would very much welcome her into their family, after she’s finished school. What thoughtful and responsible vampires.

– – – –

I really enjoyed New Moon, more than Twilight. It was much more immersing and we got to know about Bella and Jacob in a lot of detail and I really feel like I know the characters.

Jacob comes across as really likeable and seems to spend a large portion of his time topless, probably attempting to win Bella over, even though he’s been firmly placed in the friend-zone. Unfortunately like Edward, he seems to suffer irritating mood swings. Perhaps that’s just a mythological creature thing.

There wasn’t actually anything that bugged me too much about this book, I really really enjoyed it. However, her school friends were pretty annoying; one moment they didn’t want to talk to her or care about how she was recovering from a devastating break up. The next thing, they’re her best buds and are talking to her at lunch again. What the hell is going on here!

There’s a hell of a lot of inner monologue in this book, which is pretty interesting, however towards the end of the book I found myself wondering how this works as a film? I’ve only seen the first Twilight film, and I fell asleep oops, so I don’t really know how well it transfers to film. I can see myself watching the films over Christmas, so I’m sure I’ll have my answer before long.

Something that really niggled me in Twilight was the repeated use of the word ‘incredulous’, thankfully it didn’t appear once during New Moon.

A few years ago I gave New Moon a go, however put it down about a quarter of the way in because it was so depressing. This time it made sense and while reading about Bella’s devastation was gloomy to read, isn’t that the point? When the author can get that point across so well that you can almost feel it yourself, I’d say that’s a job well done. Pat on the back for Stephanie Meyer.

I can’t believe I’ve written yet another glowing review about a book from the Twilight series, but I’m really enjoying them and looking forward to getting my teeth into Eclipse, see what I did there?

4.5 out of 5.

What did you think of New Moon?

Uncategorized

Gingerbread Christmas Trees

December 9, 2012

Gingerbread Christmas Trees

Tis the season to be jolly and we’re already 9 days through our advent calendars! Which means it’s time to try and test out Christmas recipes to make sure they’re not a disaster on the day! 

If there’s one thing I really look forward to about Christmas, it’s the food. There’s tasty and cinnamon flavoured food everywhere you look, so normal biscuits just don’t cut it at Christmas.

I found a brilliant gingerbread recipe on the BBC Good Food website, which was really easy to follow and was full of things you’ll probably have the cupboard anyway. The only things you might need to buy are the ground ginger and cinnamon  but that won’t break the bank.

Of course this recipe isn’t just restricted to Christmas tree shaped biscuits, you could have gingerbread cats, bats, fish, hearts, stars and cars, the list really is endless and you could have some real fun with it.

Instead of using golden syrup I decided to use dark treacle instead, as that’s just more Christmas-y and gingerbread-y in my opinion. The recipe recommended between 10 and 12 minutes in the oven, I found 10 minutes was more than enough cooking time, as it left the biscuits quite soft in the middle – I can’t stand gingerbread that breaks your teeth. Yes Greggs, I’m talking to you.

I then decided being as they were Christmas tree shaped, I may as well decorate them, otherwise they’re just regular shaped fur trees, which isn’t nearly as fun as eating a Christmas tree.

They taste delicious and just scream Christmas at you (not literally) as you’re eating them. I think I’ll be giving a few out as gifts as well over Christmas, aren’t my friends lucky?

Uncooked Gingerbread Christmas Trees

Oops, mind the extra flour. Don’t worry about that though, it didn’t taste all floury when it came to eating them.

Christmas Tree Gingerbread

I cooked them for 10 minutes, until they started to go slightly darker around the edges, leaving the inside nice and soft but still cooked and biscuity. 

Have you got any Christmas baking recipes to share? – Feel free to link back to blog posts as well! The more cinnamon-y they are the better! Oh and if anyone has ever made a gingerbread house, I’d love to see pictures. 

Uncategorized

Roxy, One Year On

December 8, 2012

This Thursday marked a milestone, it’s a year since our beloved German Shepherd, Roxy, passed away. At the time I felt like it was the end of the world, so I just wanted to share my thoughts and experiences in the hope that maybe I can help someone going through the same thing. 

Roxy

We’d had Roxy since she was eight weeks old and as any pet owner will understand, she wasn’t just a pet or part of the family, she was our best friend.

Last December she passed away, completely unexpectedly. In keeping with her awkwardness, it had frozen and snowed overnight and I will never be able to forget watching my Dad stand at the bottom of the garden digging her final resting place, it breaks my heart thinking about it, I don’t know how he did it.

As if the day wasn’t bad enough, we were also going to a funeral the same day, so it’s fair to say that it was the worst day of my life.

I was completely inconsolable for days, the house felt so much bigger and completely empty without her.I really struggled with it, because when my first dog died I was far too young to understand what was going on, so I’d never been through this before. I think what upset me more was not knowing what had happened to her, I just wanted to know that she wasn’t in pain.

It also didn’t help that I was studying Forensic Science at the time and we’d recently been talking about decomposition, and I didn’t want to think about my best friend going through that at all.

I can’t lie, a year on it still really hurts to think about, I think about Roxy every day and miss her. It’s slightly more bearable now, it doesn’t hurt all day everyday and I think I’ve come to terms with it.

If you’re going through the same thing, I’m afraid there’s no magic solution and it’s true that time is a healer. It’s okay to be upset and hurt, you lost someone (not thing, someone) who meant the world to you and don’t worry about forgetting about them, because you won’t.

Uncategorized

Flashback Friday: A Puppy’s First Car Journey

December 7, 2012

I thought I’d start taking part in Flashback Friday – which means each Friday I’ll post a picture and tell you all what it’s about and what’s going.

For the first one, I thought I’d talk about something which happened just under a year ago.

Dylan

This is our dog, Dylan, on the day we picked him up. 

We went to a farm up in the mountains in North Wales, it was freezing cold and there was snow on the ground. When we arrived, we were met by a lovely farmer and his wife and taken to a nice cosy barn, full of fluffy little puppies. We weren’t in there long before my Mum, my sister and I were awwing and planning to sneak them all away and have a herd of Border Collies and my Dad was stood there shaking his head.

My sister was cuddling this cheeky and attention seeking puppy, which refused to go back onto the floor and leave her alone, he’d decided he liked us and we were having him.

On the way back he sat on my sisters lap, not very happy with the idea of travelling in the car at all. My sister decided to try and calm him down by feeding him puppy treats, which he’d never had before but instantly decided he loved. Unfortunately first time in the car and handfuls of puppy treats don’t mix and he proceeded to be sick all over the button to release her seatbelt.

Needless to say, I chuckled as she sat there squirming and Dylan decided it was nap time. She sees the funny side of it now, don’t worry.

A year on and he seems to be a million times the size he was the day we picked him up and he’s as crazy as a bag of frogs, but we love him to bits.

What happened the day you bought your pet?