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Title: Rosemary and Rue (October Daye #1)
Author: Seanan McGuire
Genre: Paranormal
Rating: 3.5/5
# pages: 346
Date read: April, 2017

October "Toby" Daye, a changeling who is half human and half fae, has been an outsider from birth. After getting burned by both sides of her heritage, Toby has denied the Faerie world, retreating to a "normal" life. Unfortunately for her, the Faerie world has other ideas...

The murder of Countess Evening Winterrose pulls Toby back into the fae world. Unable to resist Evening's dying curse, which binds her to investigate, Toby must resume her former position as knight errant and renew old alliances. As she steps back into fae society, dealing with a cast of characters not entirely good or evil, she realizes that more than her own life will be forfeited if she cannot find Evening's killer.

I've loved everything I've read by Seanan McGuire under her Mira Grant pen name, and as this book came highly recommended, I figured it was time I gave her other 'persona' a shot. It's not really my usual fare, as I generally stay away from urban fantasy and fae novels and this was both! It was very well-written though, and kept me nicely entertained. It's fast-moving and as such a really good book for a readathon.

Though the first in a series, it's completely self-contained and can definitely be read as a stand-alone novel.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Hamilton: The Revolution
Author: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jeremy McCarter
Genre: Non-fiction
Rating: 5/5
# pages: 288
Date read: April, 2017

Lin-Manuel Miranda's groundbreaking musical Hamilton is as revolutionary as its subject, the poor kid from the Caribbean who fought the British, defended the Constitution, and helped to found the United States. Fusing hip-hop, pop, R&B, and the best traditions of theater, this once-in-a-generation show broadens the sound of Broadway, reveals the storytelling power of rap, and claims our country's origins for a diverse new generation.

HAMILTON: THE REVOLUTION gives readers an unprecedented view of both revolutions, from the only two writers able to provide it. Miranda, along with Jeremy McCarter, a cultural critic and theater artist who was involved in the project from its earliest stages--"since before this was even a show," according to Miranda--traces its development from an improbable perfor­mance at the White House to its landmark opening night on Broadway six years later. In addition, Miranda has written more than 200 funny, revealing footnotes for his award-winning libretto, the full text of which is published here.

Their account features photos by the renowned Frank Ockenfels and veteran Broadway photographer, Joan Marcus; exclusive looks at notebooks and emails; interviews with Questlove, Stephen Sond­heim, leading political commentators, and more than 50 people involved with the production; and multiple appearances by Presi­dent Obama himself. The book does more than tell the surprising story of how a Broadway musical became a national phenomenon: It demonstrates that America has always been renewed by the brash upstarts and brilliant outsiders, the men and women who don't throw away their shot.

A true 5-star read. It made me laugh, it made me tear up, and it made me (even more than I did already) wish I could get to see the play with the original cast.

I know I said earlier that I didn't think it was a book I needed to own... I may have to rethink that decision, because it really was awesome! I put it down and didn't want to pick up anything afterwards... I needed to just let it percolate.

Highly recommendable to any Hamilton-fan.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: The Darker Side (Smoky Barrett #3)
Author: Cody McFadyen
Genre: Suspense
Rating: 3.5/5
# pages: 379
Date read: March 2017

A lie, a long-ago affair, a dark desire—everyone has secrets they take to the grave. No one knew that better than FBI special agent Smoky Barrett. But what secret was a very private young woman keeping that led to her very public murder? And what kind of killer was so driven and so brazenly daring that he’d take her life on a commercial airliner thirty thousand feet in midair, a killer so accomplished that he’d leave only a small souvenir behind?

I think I've been reading too many of these too close to each other. It was still really good, but a) it gets a bit repetitive. b) it becomes increasingly difficult to find something new to write about the books.

But I liked it. It was a quick read, even if a rather disturbing one. I liked the extra insight into Stormy's psyche, even if I did think there ought to have been hints in the earlier books. It seemed a bit too much like it was just invented for this one.

I still want to read more books in this series, but think I may just take a small break before the next one.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: The Face of Death (Smoky Barrett #2)
Author: Cody McFadyen
Genre: Suspense
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 475 pages
Date read: February 2017

A sixteen-year old girl holds a gun to her head at the scene of a grisly triple homicide. She claims "The Stranger" killed her adoptive family, that he's been following her all her life, killing everyone she ever loved, and that no one believes her. But Special Agent Smoky Barrett does. Her team has been hand-picked from amont the nation's elite law enforcement specialists and they are as obsessed and relentless as the psychos they hunt; they'll have to be to deal with this case.

For another vicious double homicide reveals a killer embarked on a dark crusade of trauma and death: an "artist" who's molding Sarah into the perfect victim - and the ultimate weapon. To catch him, Smoky is going to have to put her own fragile, once-shattered life on the line. For The Stranger is all too real, all too close, and all too determined. And when he finally shows his face, Smoky had better be ready to face her worst fear.

Almost as good as the first book in the series! I had a few more problems with the ending than I did with the first book, but thought the plot as a whole every bit as tightly written and executed. No odd translation errors in this one either! ;)

What happened to Sarah broke my heart, which is probably why I didn't find the ending satisfying enough, but I hope to hear more about her in the next book - much like we did with Bonnie in this one.

It's a fast ride, and hard to put down. I've already gotten my hands on the next book in the series.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Shadow Man (Smoky Barrett #1)
Author: Cody McFadyen
Genre: Suspense
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 396 pages
Date read: January 2017

Once, Special Agent Smoky Barrett hunted serial killers for the FBI. She was one of the best - until a madman terrorized her family, killed her husband and daughter, and left her face scarred and her soul brutalized. Turning the tables on the killer, Smoky shot him dead - but her life was shattered forever.

Now Smoky dreams about picking up her weapon again. She dreams about placing the cold steel between her lips and pulling the trigger one last time. Because for a woman who's lost everything, what is there left to lose?

She's about to find out.

In all her years at the Bureau, Smoky has never encountered anyone like him - a new and fascinating kind of monster, a twisted genius who defies profilers' attempts to understand him. And he's issued Smoky a direct challenge, coaxing her back from the brink with the only thing that could convince her to live.

The killer videotaped his latest crime - an act of horror that left a child motherless - then sent a message addressed to Agent Smoky Barrett. The message is enough to shock Smoky back to work, back to her FBI team. And that child awakens something in Smoky she thought was gone forever.

Suddenly the stakes are raised. The game has changed. For as this deranged monster embarks on an unspeakable spree of perversion and murder, Smoky is coming alive again - and she's about to face her greatest fears as a cop, a woman, a mother... and a merciless killer's next victim.

Brilliant page-turner that made short work of the long commutes I had between Denmark and Sweden last week.

I'm very taken with crime shows like CSI, Criminal minds etc. and apparently that translates to books as well. I was instantly taken with Smoky and the rest of her team, and enjoyed reading about all the work that has to be done in order to investigate crime scenes, follow up on leads, analyse evidence etc. The crimes themselves were horrid and gruesome, but while absolutely fascinating, the book itself wasn't as scary as I'd thought it might have been... still very difficult to put down, however.

Very well written, and most of the time well translated as well, so mentally correcting the translator didn't constantly pull me out of the story - I mostly completely forgot I was reading a book in translation. There were two very obvious exceptions though, with some glaring mistakes that really ought to have been caught by the editor or proof-reader:

First the translator obviously didn't know the two meanings of "to start", meaning that "Smoky started and..." was translated with "Smoky began and..." instead of "Smoky was startled and..." - making for a rather confusing sentence until I puzzled it out.

At another point, Smoky and her best friend were described as having been each others' "ladies in waiting"... I'm pretty sure the original text said "maids [of honour]" instead.

Fairly minor issues though, and in the end didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book at all. And for once I wasn't too disappointed by the way the unsub was finally caught... in this case, it seemed like the only way it really could end.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: You Were Here
Author: Cori McCarthy
Genre: YA
Rating: 4.5
# pages: 400
Date read: January, 2016

Jaycee is about to accomplish what her older brother Jake couldn't: live past graduation.

Jaycee is dealing with her brother's death the only way she can - by re-creating Jake's daredevil stunts. The ones that got him killed. She's not crazy, okay? She just doesn't have a whole lot of respect for staying alive.

Jaycee doesn't expect to have help on her insane quest to remember Jake. But she's joined by a group of unlikely friends - all with their own reasons for completing the dares and their own brand of dysfunction: the uptight, ex-best friend, the heartbroken poet, the slacker with Peter Pan syndrome, and... Mik. He doesn't talk, but somehow still challenges Jayce to do the unthinkable-reveal the parts of herself that she buried with her brother.

This book caused ALL THE FEELS!!! I was a bit skeptical at first, as I wasn't sure how the format would work - being told part in prose, part as a graphic novel, and part through poetry - but it totally worked, and left me feeling completely emotionally exhausted near the end.

Jaycee is still reeling, trying to come to terms with the grief, anger and horror of having seen her brother die five years ago. Her parents aren't much better, and her primary reaction is to lash out at everybody.

But this summer - the last summer between high school and college - her old friends (and one new) once again attempt to reach out to her, and for whatever reason, she allows them to. Together they try to walk in Jake's footsteps, to understand him better... and along the line, get to understand themselves better as well.

A wonderful YA/coming-of-age novel that I didn't think would work, but totally did. It was heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time, but most importantly, it was true. Cori McCarthy grasped the emotions of teenagers perfectly, and was able to portray them in a way that didn't seem cloying, but instead reminded the reader of what it was like to be 18 and only just trying to find your feet in a grown-up world.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Harry Potter: Page to Screen
Author: Bob McCabe
Genre: Non-fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
# pages: 529
Date read: November, 2014

"Harry Potter: Page to Screen" opens the doors to Hogwarts castle and the wizarding world of Harry Potter to reveal the complete behind-the-scenes secrets, techniques, and over-the-top artistry that brought J.K. Rowling's acclaimed novels to cinematic life. Developed in collaboration with the creative team behind the celebrated movie series, this deluxe, 500-plus page compendium features exclusive stories from the cast and crew, hundreds of never-before-seen photographs and concept illustrations sourced from the closed film sets, and rare memorabilia. As the definitive look at the magic that made cinematic history, "Page to Screen" is the ultimate collectible, perfect for Muggles everywhere.

This book is filled with interesting tidbits about the making of the movies. The first part describes the making of the 8 movies, with a chapter dedicated to each movie. The second part describes the characters, the sets and the costumes.

I was really pleased to get my hands on this book, and though it is a MAMMOTH of a book, it was easily read and only heavy in the physical sense.

But if you've spent a lot of time online during the making of the movies, there actually isn't all that much new information to be gained from this book. And - more importantly - many of the anecdotes about the various characters that I'd found online and been looking forward to seeing in the book, had actually been left out. Of course I can understand that they couldn't include everything, so it is just a shame that I would have preferred that part of "behind the scenes" than descriptions of what went into making the costumes and sets.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: At Knit's End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much
Author: Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Genre: Crafts, Non-fiction
Rating: 3/5
# pages: Audiobook ~4hrs
Date read: December 2013

Knitting finally takes its rightful place on the spectrum of personal obsessions, alongside golfing, fishing, and gardening. The tangled life of the knitter is the subject of inspired nuttiness in these 300 tongue-in-cheek meditations from the self-proclaimed yarn harlot, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.

As any knitter can attest to, this is an activity fraught with guilt, frustration, over-optimism, sly deception, and compulsion, along with passionate moments of creative enlightenment. To soothe the unraveled knitter's soul, Pearl- McPhee has selected some of her favorite quotes to cast off from, and then, like the standup comic of the knitting world, she rants, raves, and reflects on common experiences that are sure to leave avid knitters in stitches.

Not a book I'd normally go for, but I've become really fond of the "Yarn Harlot"'s writing, so I thought I'd give it a chance. It was funny, and had me laughing out loud on several occasions, but it really is just a bunch of meditations. No plot, no story, no nothing... just some statements and situations to ponder over.

However, it did prove that while I do knit a lot - according to Stephanie's definition, I don't knit too much ;)

This version was read by Stephanie herself, which meant extra charm and a strong Canadian accent :)
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: All Wound Up
Author: Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Genre: Essays, Non-fiction
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 240
Date read: December 2013

...a sort of David Sedaris-like take on knitting - laugh-out-loud funny most of the time and poignantly reflective when it's not cracking you up.

In her trademark style, McPhee talks about knitting, parenting, friendship, and--gasp!--even crocheting in essays that are at times touching, often hilarious, and always entertaining.

Unfortunately by far the weakest of her essay collections. She might have discovered herself 'written out' when it came to craft essays, because there were a number that had othing at all to do with crafting, and two that I skipped entirely.

But when she's good, she's still good, so there were enough essays in this collection that I wouldn't consider it a disappointment.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Casts Off
Author: Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Genre: Non-fiction, Craft
Rating: 3.5/5
# pages: 218
Date read: November, 2013

Using a travel guide format as her launching pad, Pearl-McPhee acts as tour guide extraordinaire, displaying her trademark razor-sharp wit as she describes and critiques every aspect of this land she knows so well -- its people, native language, familiar phrases, strange beliefs, etiquette, and cultural customs. Readers will love her timeline of notable dates in knitting history and rarely celebrated knitting heroes, from the samurai warriors of Japan to the "Ter-rible Knitters of Dent." And, while the land of knitting is a peaceful place, it does have its political arguments, such as the acrylic versus natural fi bers and circular versus straight needles debates.

Knitting as seen through a traveler's guide. I thought the concept was very amusing and worked well. Besides, I was very pleased to see that I'm definitely not alone in bringing waaaaay too much knitting with me on vacation. It's always nice to have company in your madness.

I found out that I'm slightly more a product knitter than a progress knitter - but only very slightly - and that I'm definitely not a perfectionist... but the latter I could have told you already.

Amusing and fast read.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Knitting Rules!
Author: Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Genre: Non-fiction, Craft
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 224
Date read: November, 2013

Both a celebration of knitting and a sourcebook for practical information, this book is a collection of useful advice and emotional support for the knitter. Pearl-McPhee examines essential truisms of knitting, side by side with tongue in-cheek warnings, realities, and fantasies about the act of knitting and the people who do it.

In chapters on everything from yarn needles, gauge, and knitting bag essentials to hats, socks, shawls, and sweaters, Pearl-McPhee unravels the mysteries of what it is that makes knitting click, from the inside out. She dares to question longstanding rules and uncover the true essence of what makes a hat a hat, a sock a sock, and so on. Insights into why certain techniques work encourage knitters to take control and knit in the way that works best for them. As she says, "There are no knitting police."

The result is an illuminating, liberating (and hilarious ) look at knitting that will comfort the experienced knitter, surprise the mainstream one, and entice the beginner.

No clue how really to describe this book... but I loved it - so go figure :) An exploration into knitting and while it rules while explaining knitting rules. Especially the chapters on sock and hat knitting is probably something I can use in the future if I dare attempt my hand at non-pattern knitting :)

Besides, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee really has a way with words. I've enjoyed everything I've read by her so far. Her passion for knitting jumps out from every page and reminds me that I'm not really as abnormal as all that ;)
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: The Secret Lives of Dresses
Author: Erin McKean
Genre: Chick-lit
Rating: 3.5/5
# pages: Audiobook ~14hrs
Date read: October, 2013

Dora is in love with a man who barely notices her, has a job she doesn't care about, and dresses entirely for comfort, not style. All a far cry from her vivid, eccentric childhood, growing up with her beloved grandmother Mimi.

However, when disaster strikes, Dora knows she has no choice but to return to her childhood home and take over running Mimi's vintage clothing shop. And there she makes a surprising discovery - Mimi's been writing stories to accompany every dress she sells. Romantic, heartbreaking tales about each one's secret life before it got to her shop...

Dora starts to matchmake these lonely frocks with new owners, but will the stories help her as well? Trading her boring high street clothes for vintage glamour is one thing. What she needs to know is whether she can trade her safe old life - and love - for something better too?

Fun chick-lit. It wasn't quite as good as I had hoped for (too few secret lives), but it did have enough substance to keep me entertained, and the very last sentence had me laughing out loud - that's always a good sign :)

I found Dora a very relatable main character, and loved both Maux and Gabby. Con was great as well, even if I started out being really confused, because I'd somehow turned him out to be Mimi's age rather than Dora's! The ending was predictable, but comforting - after all, you usually know what you get when reading chick-lit.

Would have preferred more secret lives though!
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Close My Eyes
Author: Sophie McKenzie
Genre: Suspense
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 400
Date read: April, 2013

It's been eight years since Gen Loxley lost her daughter, Beth: eight years of grief in which nothing's really moved forward, for all that her husband, Art, wills it to. Gen, once a writer of novels, has settled in to a life of half-hearted teaching, while Art makes his name and their fortune - and pressures her into trying IVF once again. For Gen, it seems a cruel act of replacement; life without Beth is unthinkable, unbearable - but still it goes on. And then a woman arrives on Gen's doorstep, saying the very thing she longs to hear: that her daughter was not stillborn, but was spirited away as a healthy child, and is out there, waiting to be found...So why is Art reluctant to get involved? To save his wife from further hurt? Or something much more sinister? What is the truth about Beth Loxley?

Very unputdownable, and if it hadn't been for the epilogue I might even have given it a fifth star, but I didn't care for the epilogue at all, and it kinda ruined the rest of the book for me.

But ignoring the epilogue this is the psychological thriller genre when it's best. A woman knowing something is wrong, but being made to question herself and even her own sanity by everybody around her as she tries to figure out what is wrong. For a time I worried whether Sophie McKenzie could work out a decent ending, but she actually managed quite nicely on that account.

There were parts I didn't find completely realistic, but fortunately it was more a vague unease than actually asking me to suspend my disbelief altogether. I still don't really see something like this happening IRL though.

A thrilling book. I just wish she hadn't added (or I hadn't read) the last 2 pages.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: One Good Deed
Author: Erin McHugh
Genre: Memoir
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 384
Date read: March, 2013

"One Good Deed" is Erin McHugh's account of how she spent one year doing at least one good deed per day. The 'good deed' in question didn't have to be something big or elaborate - it could be something as simple as calling up a friend to let them know she was thinking of them, handing over a cup of coffee to somebody in need, or even just biting her tongue and letting something go.

While you could read "One Good Deed" in one sitting, it would really be doing it a disservice. To fully appreciate it, it is better read in small doses - a couple of days' worth here, a couple of days' worth there. That way the good deeds never get stale, and Erin McHugh is bound to put a smile on your face while reading it. It's such a breath of fresh air to read an entire book about somebody who's genuinely trying to be NICE - through no ulterior motive, but just because it seemed like a good idea.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Knit One, Pearl One
Author: Gil McNeil
Genre: Chick-lit
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 396
Date read: July 2012, April 2014

It's been a busy few years since Jo Mackenzie lost her husband. Life has brought adventure, surprises, unexpected pleasures and, of course, lots of knitting.

Jo's seaside yarn shop, with a brand-new cafe, has taken off, keeping her busier than ever. And being a single mum to two boys and a headstrong toddler, Pearl, is just as exhausting and enchanting as she thought it would be. On top of all that, celebrity diva Grace has a secret, Jo's firecracker best friend, Ellen, is launching a new television series, and lovable but hapless Martin continues his oft-misguided attempts to woo Jo. Just when Jo thinks she has about all she can handle, Daniel, Pearl's globe-trotting dad, turns up out of the blue...

With a little help from her friends and her beloved Gran, Jo is building a new life for herself by the sea, stitch by stitch.

I do hope Gil McNeil is planing more books in this series. It's comfort reading of the best kind. You really grow to love the characters with all their quirkiness.

I liked seeing a resolution with Daniel, and adored Pearl - she's a perfect description of a two-year-old with all their charms and horrors ;)

I wish I had a yarnshop like McKnit nearby!
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Needles and Pearls
Author: Gil McNeil
Genre: Fiction, Chicklit
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 371
Date read: June 2012, April 2014

A year after her husband's death, Jo Mackenzie is finally starting to get the hang of being a single parent. The boys are thriving in their new seaside home, the wool shop is starting to do well and despite two weddings, an in-school knitting project and Trevor the Wonder Dog coming to stay, she's just about keeping her head above water. But boys, babies and best friends certainly make life a lot more interesting. Can Jo cope when things get really complicated? Because if knitting truly does keep you sane when your life starts to unravel then it looks like Jo is going to need much bigger needles.

Lovely feel-good novel. I loved the first book in the series, and wanted to see if the sequel(s) lived up to it. This one definitely did. There's no real plot to it, just a description of 8 months in the life of Jo Mackenzie, but between her quirky neighbours, her energetic sons, her famous TV-speaker best friend and the local Diva, life is never dull.

I want a local yarn shop like Jo's though!
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club (Diva's Don't Knit)
Author: Gil McNeil
Genre: Chick-lit
Rating: 3.5/5
# pages: 404
Date read: June 2011, April 2014

When her husband dies in a car crash-not long after announcing he wants a divorce-Jo Mackenzie packs up her two rowdy boys and moves from London to a dilapidated villa in her seaside hometown. There, she takes over her beloved Gran's knitting shop-a quaint but out-of-date store in desperate need of a facelift. After a rough beginning, Jo soon finds comfort in a "Stitch and Bitch" group; a collection of quirky, lively women who share their stories, and their addiction to cake, with warmth and humor.

As Jo starts to get the hang of single-parent life in a small town, she relies on her knitting group for support. The women meet every week at the shop on Beach Street and trade gossip and advice as freely as they do a new stitch. But when a new man enters Jo's life, and an A-list actress moves into the local mansion, the knitting club has even more trouble confining the conversation to knit one, purl two.

A nice, cozy read. I was a bit dubious at first, as it could have ended up being rather depressing, but fortunately it was handled well, and ended up being an enjoyable, feel-good read. I especially loved the friendship that developed between Jo and Grace, and laughed out loud at Grace's manipulation of Jo's star-struck ex-in-laws.


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