The Time of my Life

Genre: Woman’s Fiction/ Chick Lit
Publisher : Harper Collins
By Cecelia Ahern

Summary
Lucy Silchester has an appointment with her life. Lying on her carpet one day when she returns from work is a gold envelope. Inside is an invitation – to a meeting with Life. Her life. It turns out she’s been ignoring it. She’s read about the Life agency in a magazine and now her’s wanted to meet with her. But Lucy’s life isn’t what it seems. Some of the choices she’s made – and stories she’s told – aren’t what they seem either. From the moment she meets the man who introduces himself as her life, her stubborn half-truths are going to be revealed in all their glory – unless Lucy learns to tell the truth about what really matters to her.

 

Review
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The reason I picked up this book was because I’ve enjoyed the Authors previous works. After “One Hundred Names” I wasn’t too keen on picking up another of her books but I got this one before that read and figured its no use just sitting on my shelf.

The book is an easy read as her previous works. I decided given its easy style I was going to take it with me on holidays for the plane and the lounging in the sun. It has a great uplifting feel to it. The story is very similar to her “How to Fall in Love” where as well as a romantic story she incorporates a story of self exploration and even therapy.

I really felt a connection to the main character and now because I lie as much as she does but more so because she feels very real like a non polished person you would meet in real life. It is the most real character I have read in any of my books. As well as the main character the rest are also well developed and play their part in a very realistic way.

One of the nice things about this book is that it is set in Dublin, just like many of her others. As I am from Dublin this helps plaint a clearer picture of the story and once again makes it all the more real.

Although it is a romantic book it is not a soppy one. There is plenty of humor and jokes. I had plenty of out loud laughs myself while reading it, possibly looking crazy as a result.

There is plenty of suspense too, the exciting kind which leaves you on the edge of your seat.

Conclusion
This was one of my favorites from Cecelia. This was a lovely story with an exciting pace. I would recommend this book to any woman in my life. I’d rate it a 5 out of 5.

5stars

Berlin

IMG_0584.JPGMy trip to Berlin was a Christmas present from my other half and it remains one of my favourite cities to this day. Its my favourite not because it was a present but simply because I didn’t realise the amount i will get to see and how thrown back into history you are and just how respectful Germans are of that history and of their city.IMG_0510.JPG

First and foremost what I liked was the simplicity of getting from the airport to the city. I know you can say that about a lot of different cities but it was the first thing that i noticed.

The hotel we were staying was right beside the Großer Tiergarten. It was a lovely way to start off our sightseeing by wondering through the park. In the middle of the park you can find the Victory Column. From the top of the column you can get the panoramic view of the entire city as well as the park. To get to the observation desk wont break the bank either as access is only 3euro. From the column we headed towards the famous Brandenburg gate but before we made it to the gate we came across the monument to the soviet soldiers. The Denkmal für die Sowjetischen Soldaten has plenty of reasons to visit if you are a history buff and if not there is also pretty cool large guns to pose with. From there we went onto the Brandenburg gate and then down towards the Murdered Jews memorial. IMG_0565.JPGMost of the memorials and monuments are all within close proximity and easily walkable. From that point though it is quite a walk towards checkpoint Charlie and the Berlin wall museum. At the museum you can see remains of the wall untouched as it stood, however there are many opportunities to see the wall regardless around the city including at checkpoint charlie.

One of the most memorable moments about my trip to Berlin was the tour we took down to the bunkers. Berliner Unterwelten e.V. do tours all through the week in different languages at different locations. We opted for the bunker tour under the railway station and it left us in awe. The feeling you get when you go down there, you can really get a glimpse of what it must have been like during the time of the great war.

2014-01-20-09-34-13As the last item on the itinerary we went to visit the Reichstag building. One thing that you must do if you are interested in going to the parliament building is you have to book it ahead of time, there is a tickets desk across from the parliament building where you have to register. You will need your passport with you too.

Make sure you do this first, if you are only going for a weekend it might be booked up. The glass dome and mirror center is amazing to walk around definitely a must.

The one thing we didn’t get to do during our trip wasimg_0657 to go to the top of the television tower due to heavy fog. However we spent the time walking around Alexanderplatz and went up to Berlin cathedral. There is plenty to see and more than you would expect museums.

This trip for me was different to any other city break and its all about the history, you really feel like you dive into it all with everything you get to see. I cant praise it enough. People are nice. Food is great. Plenty to see. Whats not to like.

The Girl in the Ice

Genre: Fiction/ Mystery/ Crime /Thriller
Publisher : Bloomsbury

Summary

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Lotte & Soren Hammer

Under the heartless vault of Greenland’s arctic sky the body of a girl is discovered. Half-naked and tied up, buried hundreds of miles from any signs of life, she has lain alone, hidden in the ice cap, for twenty-five years. Now an ice melt has revealed her.

When Detective Chief Superintendent Konrad Simonsen is flown in to investigate this horrific murder and he sees how she was attacked, it triggers a dark memory and he realizes this was not the killer’s only victim. As Simonsen’s team works to discover evidence that has long since been buried, they unearth truths that certain people would prefer stayed forgotten. Disturbing details about the moral standing of some of Denmark’s political figures are revealed and powerful individuals are suddenly working against the case. But the pressure is on as it becomes clear that the killer chooses victims who all look unsettlingly similar, a similarity that may be used to the investigators’ advantage—just so long as they can keep the suspect in their sights.

Review

screenshot_20161205-211904I was browsing through suggestions for me on the GoodReads.com website which I had only discovered at the time. Once of the books recommended to me was one called “The girl in the Ice” so when I came across the title in the book shop a few days later I picked it up straight away looking forward to get stuck into it. Little did I know at the time, and not until I had finished the book that the book suggested to me was written by someone else. My late realisation of picking up the wrong book was only one of very many disappointments when it came to this book.

Dont get me wrong I fell for that summary head over heels as many of you might, but it sucks you in just to disappoint you. Once you start reading the book, its far from captivating. I had to continuously reassure myself that this will get better, which is already a bad sign.
The language is hard to read. When i say that I don’t mean that i couldn’t understand the words, more like it was difficult to follow. Perhaps it was the translation but I suspect it was the style it was written. You cant put so much blame on a translation.
There is absolutely no suspense. None. Oh they try to create suspense alright but it doesn’t work for them. They leave the reader out of the loop of some conversations which only ads to the confusion and builds more irritation than suspense. In the opportunities where they could have created suspense they just gave it away in the next paragraph.
The background on the main characters is just not there. They describe scenes where its already expected that you know they characters big secret. I realise that this is actually a second book in a series but I have read many books from middle of a series and there was never an issue like this.

Conclusion

Its not the worst book I have ever read simply because the story had promise but the execution of it was terrible. It has felt like the biggest waste of time and I would definitely not recommend this to anyone. I was furious when I finished the book simply because I wasted so much time on a story that could have been so much more. I am giving this one star and the single star is only there because of the interesting premise and nothing else.

1star

London

To stick with the theme after my earlier book review of “In the Dark” this review will be on London. The trip to London was a Christmas gift for my other half, part of the weekend away was meant to be a day spent at Arsenal for a match and tour of the stadium so a little bit of football will be thrown in.

We had stayed in Peckham, at this stage i img_1136didn’t know anything about Peckham but apparently its not the best area of London to stay in. We had no trouble staying there at all and our hotel was lovely and at a very good price. The cost of public transport or taxi in London is one thing I was not prepared for as it cost us more than the hotel stay for the weekend. Perhaps for that reason if I was to go back I would try find something closer to the center however that also depends on what you are interested in since London is huge.

Sightseeing

We had dedicated a full day to sightseeing and a full day to football to keep it all fair and keep each other happy. img_1247
The sightseeing started off with the London Eye, what way to start you off than getting a birds eye view of the city from the river. The pods themselves were bigger than I had expected and the journey was lovely with plenty to see from the top. From the tourist desk we got the multi sightseeing ticket which is common in most European cities, with it we got London Dungeons and Madam Tussauds.

From the London eye we went on towards the parliament building and to get a wonderful view of the big ben. The two places are very close to each other and from there its only a short walk towards the Buckingham Palace to see the change of the guards. The guards are pretty far from the gate to get a closer look but if you walk down the mall towards trafalgar square you will walk past them on guard on your left which is close enough to take a selfie with.
From there we got the tube towards Baker street img_1108and Sherlock Holmes museum which just happened to be around the corner from Madam Tussauds anyhow. From there we had a little walk back down towards Piccadilly circus and then the London Dungeons.
I didn’t know at this stage what the London Dungeons were and what was involved, and this i think made the experience all the better. If i was asked what was the best part of my trip I will no doubt say the London Dungeons!! It was so much fun I wish I could have gone again a second time.

Arsenal

20140222_120713No i am not the football fan but my other half is and he supports arsenal which was part of the reason for the trip to London. The football club is in North London so we got the tube up to the stadium grounds. As well as going for the match which was (despite my lack of interest in the sport) really fun, we also went back the next day and done the tour of the stadium and the stadium museum. The tour itself allows you to go through the members box, the players changing rooms and onto the pitch itself and the managers seats. That day for me was even more interesting. The museum was also good as it went through all the history of the stadium, players and awards. I think if i was to come back i would definitely come back for this part.

Overall my impression of London wasn’t that great, and i know many people would claim that London is amazing but it just wasn’t for me. It wasn’t much different to what I’m used to here in Ireland just on a biggest scale. I definitely have other places that I would rather revisit than London. I found it insanely expensive for what it is. Im happy enough i got to see some of the famous sights but I doubt i would return again unless its for the London Dungeons ha.

In the Dark

Genre: Crime / Mystery / Thriller
Publisher : Sphere
Mark Billigham
By Mark Billingham

Summary

A Deadly Crash
A rainy night in south London. A gun is fired into a car which swerves on to the pavement and ploughs into a bus stop. It seems that a chilling gang initiation has cost an innocent victim their life. But the reality is far more sinister…
A Dangerous Quest
One life is wiped out and three more are changed forever: the young man whose finger was on the trigger; an ageing gangster planning a deadly revenge, and the pregnant woman who struggles desperately to uncover the truth. Two weeks away from giving birth, how will she deal with a world where death is an occupational hazard?
A Shocking Twist
In a city where violence can be random or meticulously planned, where teenage gangs clash with career criminals and where loyalty is paid for in blood, anything is possible. Secrets are uncovered as fast as bodies, and the story’s final twist is as breathtakingly surprising as they come.

 

Review

Screenshot_20160611-192136.jpgI decided to write this review as it goes well with my upcoming review of my trip to London as the story is set in the city. I wont lie the main reason i picked up the book was because the cover looked so cool with its 3D rain drops, and I’m very glad i picked it up. Once i read the summary on the back it hooked me in straight away.

 I really enjoyed this book and got hooked into it from the very start. The story being told from different perspectives is always something I enjoy in the books i read and especially if I’m not expecting it.
The main narrating done from the perspective of the pregnant woman felt so real that I almost started walking like I’m pregnant (and I wasn’t) after getting so sucked into it. Apart from just being a pregnant narrator I really enjoyed how well the character was established she was strong and smart and made the story very enjoyable to follow.
The book gave a very good impression of both the low gangs and high criminals as well as the police within London. The progressions and rules within the gangs and their lives and what leads them to this was very interesting.It was part of the story and not just a one paragraph summary of “this is how its done here”.
The fact that the main character is pregnant and close to giving birth gives you a feel of of a time limit in her investigation and there for giving you the reader the feeling of being at the edge of the seat that anything can happen at any minute.
The ending isn’t a huge shocking twist but personally I actually enjoyed that the twists unfolded gradually throughout the chapters coming to the towards the end of the book. The unfold of all the loose ends just kept you hungry for the next.

Conclusion

I really enjoying this book and found myself completely consumed by it. It was definitely a book i struggled to put down and was hungry for more with every chapter I read. I would give this book a  5 out of 5 stars without any hesitation. I would recommend this to any crime lover and I know I will definitely be interested in reading more of Mark’s work.

5stars

Northern Ireland (Co. Antrim)

Whats Antrim? Well its the country at the very top of Ireland if looking at a map but most importantly its home to one of the most impressive natural wonders the Giants Causeway. To top it all off there is so much more, as if driving along the coastal road wouldn’t be enough there is also Dunluce Castle, Carrick-A-Rede Rope bridge, Bushmills and the Dark Hedges. I find Antrim so impressive that I’ve went up more than twice and would definitely go again as it just doesn’t get old!!! 20160619_174616

Bushmills

Now to me Bushmills is Whiskey, I was not aware that there is a town in Antrim called Bushmills. I know its obvious that the whiskey must have come from somewhere, I just didn’t realise it was in Antrim. Its a quiet little town with some lovely pubs, restaurants, b&b’s and obviously the Old Bushmills Distillery itself!!! You can go for a tour of the distillery for just 7.50 pounds per person, now that is a bargain compared to Jameson Distillery tour. Most Distillery tours are the same but I still find them interesting to visit and the taster at the end is also worth it.

Giants Causeway

The main attraction itself and the purpose of every trip I’ve taken up to Antrim. Once you pay your 8.50 pounds per adult at the visitor center you can walk around and get more information on the place within the center. Once you get your audio guide you can be on your way. There is a bus available that will drive you down to the giants causeway basalt stones, however if you can walk then DO. As you walk down the scenery just gets more and more impressive, between the cliffs and the through the windiest gap in Ireland you step out to the rocks themselves. 20160619_174635Formed due to volcanic eruptions or the giant Finn, which ever story you believe the stones are like nothing you have ever seen and much much bigger than I expected anyhow. If you think this is the end of the tour you are very wrong. As you continue to follow the path you can reach the Organ of Reostan, the Organ like rocks are massive and just as impressive from up close as afar. If you continue your adventure up to the top of the cliff following the path you get a stunning view of the coast as well as some sheep. The trip is at least a half day venture but can be stretched to a full day with a lovely meal in the hotel right beside the visitor center.

Dunluce Castle1656394_10151955450872513_2033110700_n

We actually accidentally stumbled on this medieval castle. Perhaps i should have done some research before our trip because I’m really glad we came across it. Located along the coastal road the castle is accessible to the public for 5 pounds per adult which allows you to walk around the grounds while guided tours are also available. The castle is in great condition as far as medieval castles go and the size is very impressive.

Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge

1794769_10151955470392513_861980680_nI will not lie, it disappointed me a little bit. I guess i was just expecting a proper old school rope bridge that’s just about holding on and i might plummet to my death at any moment. I guess if that was the case they wouldn’t have tourists visit, so perhaps my disappointment is more so a problem with my wild imagination. The one thing I will say is, expect a walk. You cant just drive up to the bridge itself so you need to walk a few Km to it but the walk is along the cliff tops so pretty scenic none the less. The experience of the bridge itself lasts about 2 mins, also depends on how many tourists there are.

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Mystical and enticing!! Makes for a lovely picture too. Made famous by the t.v. show Game of Thrones this tree alley is pretty cool. Its also in the middle of nowhere and that its a road to a farm which is pretty much it. Drive up, stop, get out, take a picture and off you go. Don’t get me wrong I’m not disappointed with the trees but don’t get your hopes up if you think there is more to them then meets the eye.

All in all going to Antrim is definitely a weekend trip, between the time it would take you to drive between all the places you wont fit into one day especially if you want to properly enjoy all that Antrim has got to offer.

 

The Host

Genre: Fiction / Fantasy / Sci-fi
Publisher : Sphere
stephenie-meyer2
Stephenie Mayer

Summary

The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. An invading “soul” called Wanderer has been given a human body of a Melanie Stryder to try get information on the resisting humans. Wanderer didn’t expect to find Melanie refusing to give up control of her body or give up on her family.

As Melanie fills Wanderer’s thoughts with visions of humans who still lives in hiding, Wanderer begins to yearn for the humans and Melanies loved ones. Will the humans accept Wanderer or are they headed to their doom.

Review

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I bought this book after a work colleague couldn’t recommended it highly enough. I can completely agree with her now.
There seems to be a very big divide on what people thought of this book, a hate it or love it relationship but no in between. The main pitfall people fall into when reviewing this book seems to be that they focus so much on her previous work and everything is compared to Twillight. This is a stand alone novel and when you read it you would understand this.
Firstly, I really enjoyed the back story. The aliens and their way of life was interesting to read. It was well developed and described. You continue to learn about the race throughout the book. Although there is romance in the book it is not the focus point.
The characters were great, very well developed and interesting. Even though you had two characters in one body you can really feel for both and there is just no way to pick sides. Wanderer is compassionate, caring and very deserving of the name as simple as it may be. Melanie is strong, a fighter and caring but in a strong way. You can feel the hatred from humans towards the aliens, the longing to be understood, these are all very real issues that people can relate too.
The ending was full of hope and happiness which left me in a daze of warm and fuzzy for days. Who doesn’t love that feeling after reading a book.

Conclusion

This book is definitely in my top 5 favourite books. Perhaps it is because I’m a sucker for fantasy books or maybe the story was just that good. I enjoyed reading it and look forward to reading it again!! I would recommend this to everyone, boys/girls you name it. The one piece of advice I would give is don’t judge a book by the authors previous works, this book is worth giving a chance to.

5stars

Wicklow, Ireland

I’ve been to Wicklow a number of times and its definitely one of the most scenic counties in Ireland. Between Hikes in Glendalough and visiting Wicklow Town it is definitely a place to visit.

Glendalough

To those living in Wicklow it might not be all that impressive but for anyone else this would be a wonderful day trip. There are 9 marked walks around Glendalough each trail offers stunning views around the mountains. Maps and details are available on the following link Walking Trails. Apart from the trails Glendalough allows you to freely walk through the Medievil monastry grounds and graveyard and guided tours. One of the best trails and one of the longest is the White hill walk which brings you along the steps to the top of the hill which offers stunning views of the lake and grounds below.

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Wicklow Town

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I had lived in Wicklow Town for a while in 2001 and fell in love with it as simple as it was when compared to other major towns. As far as visits go there is plenty to see and do.

One of the main attractions is the Old wicklow Goal which is the jail located in the heart of the city. For the small price of 8euro you get a guided tour around the jail where you learn history of the place and the people who were imprisoned there.

Apart from the visit to the jail there is also the Wicklow pier and the remains of the Black Castle (below) on top of the hill which are free to walk around.

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Wicklow is perfect for a romantic weekend or just a getaway into nature and history. As its only a short drive from Dublin its perfect for those short breaks.

This is definitely a place I love to visit time and time again and each time discovering something new and feeling completely relaxed. I have always said that if i was to retire I would love to do so along the coast in Wicklow simply because it is so peaceful. Ideal for any time of the year.

The Birthing House

Genre: Fiction / Horror /  Thriller / Mystery
Publisher : Sphere
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By Christopher Ransom

Summary

When Conrad buys a big old house in Wisconsin, his wife Jo doesn’t share his enthusiasm, reluctant
at the idea of leaving their LA life. But Conrad’s new purchase is not all that it seems. Soon Conrad is hearing the ghostly wailing of a baby in the night, seeing blood on the floor & being haunted by a woman who looks exactly like Jo.

Review

I picked up this book from a discount table. I love horror and figured from the look of the book that it might be something I’d like. How wrong was I. This is a book that doesn’t deserve a space of my book shelf.

  1. The story has no depth to it, for a mystery it is very straight forward. There is no huge twist or big reveal.
  2. The characters are not well developed, if developed at all.
  3. The back story is not well described, not much information on it really. You are left with more questions than answers and not in a good way.
  4. The horror aspect is non existent there is nothing scary about this book.
  5. Wording in the book is basic there is no deep thought even though you can tell he is trying.

To be honest I found it hard to think of anything positive to say about this book. As much as i tried I couldn’t. I truly wish I’d read a review or two from actual readers.

Conclusion

I would not recommend this book to anyone. I personally didnt find it scary or mysterious, or well developed. The book lacked a lot for me. I am not giving this one any stars.

rating-star0

Neuschwanstein Castle

Right around the time of Halloween 7 years ago we went for a short trip to Germany, at that stage I didn’t know what there was to see and frankly as a teen i probably didn’t care much for it. However the whole point of the trip was to visit my distant cousin, who had more than enough plans for us as far as sight seeing. One of which was the amazing Neuschwanstein Castle. Saying its amazing is an understatement.

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Surroundings

The castle is by far not the only thing to see when you go to visit the area. With plenty of lakes, mountains and old Bavarian architecture you can spend a full day just in the surrounding area. As you walk through the main tourist area towards lakes Alpsee and Schwansee you come across another castle Schloss Hohenschwangau. Although smaller in size it is still worth taking a visit to. There are plenty of restaurants which have authentic German food once you get hungry from the trek to the castle and plenty of museums to visit too.

Neuschwanstein Castledscf1320

There are guided tours provided for the interior of the castle for just 12eu per adult. The tours are available in different languages and takes you through many architectural beautiful rooms. Personally I was more interested in the hiking trail, as you can imagine the views from these trails were out of this world. The trail brings you up to and around the castle. Along the trail there is a suspended bridge from which you can see the most popular view of the castle as seen in the initial picture of this post.