Tuesday, 27 August 2013

A MUST SEE Laura Knight at the National Portrait Gallery, London until Oct 13th

Laura Knight Portraits at The National Portrait Gallery, London until Oct 13th 2013
My musings

This is a wonderful exhibition by one of my favourite artists. I really admire her because she was a pioneer for women artists and painted a variety of fascinating subjects portrayed in her own strong style. she painted the theatre, circus, gypsies, ballet dancers and was even captured the ww11. In the exhibition you can see her style become more refined never losing her strong sense of line and design but her paintwork becomes more confident over the years. How lovely to see an exhibiton of storng drawing, pastel, watercolour and oil. These are mediums usually not exhibited but these for me are my favourite pieces of work. Laura captures the character and strenght of her subjects as well as showing their setting, cirsuc giving the auienc a glimse into their lives.

National Portrait exhibition
Dame Laura Knight (1877 –1970) was one of the most popular and pioneering British artists of the twentieth century. Her artistic career took her from Cornwall to Baltimore, and from the circus to the Nuremberg Trials. She painted dancers at the Ballets Russes and Gypsies at Epsom races, and was acclaimed for her work as an official war artist.
Knight used portraiture to capture contemporary life and culture, and her paintings are remarkable for their diverse range of subjects and settings. This exhibition of over thirty portraits will reveal Knight’s highly distinctive and vivid work, and also illustrate her success in gaining greater professional recognition for women in the arts.

Points of Interest

Laura Knight (1877-1970) was the first woman artist to be made a Dame of the British Empire.

* She was a figurative Painter who was renowned for her drawing and graphical art skills and her paintings of the ballet and theatre and portraits of people at war.

* She was an official war artist at the Nuremburg Trials after World War 2.

* She was the first woman to be honoured with a retrospective Exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1965.

This website provides links to all the available online material which tells the story of Dame Laura Knight and shows you where you can see her paintings
National portrait exhibition webiste

For up to date information on forthcoming books and exhibitions

Monday, 26 August 2013

Wicked Lovely Series by Melissa Marr

Wicked Lovely Series 1-5
Book 1. Wicked Lovely Description

“And he smiled at her, truely smiled- wicked and lovely...” 

The clash of ancient rules and modern expectations swirl together in this cool, urban 21st century faery tale.
Rule #3: Don’t stare at invisible faeries.
Aislinn has always seen faeries. Powerful and dangerous, they walk hidden in the mortal world, and would blind her if they knew of her Sight.
Rule #2: Don’t speak to invisible faeries.
Now faeries are stalking her. One of them, Keenan, who is equal parts terrifying and alluring, is trying to talk to her, asking questions Aislinn is afraid to answer.
Rule #1: Don’t ever attract their attention.
But it’s too late. Keenan is the Summer King and has sought his queen for nine centuries. Without her, summer itself will perish. He is determined that Aislinn will become the Summer Queen at any cost…
Suddenly none of the rules that have kept Aislinn safe are working any more, and everything is on the line: her freedom; her best friend, Seth; her life; everything.

Book 2 Ink Exchange

“What does it mean when nightmares dream of peace? When shadows wish for light?” 

Mortal affections and faery rivalries continue to collide in the town of Huntsdale, as New York Times bestselling author Melissa Marr takes urban fantasy to new heights.

After suffering a terrible trauma at the hands of her brother's dealer friends, Leslie becomes obsessed with the idea of getting a tattoo – it's the one thing that will allow her to reclaim her body, renew her self-confidence. And when Rabbit, her local tattoo artist, shows her a secret book of his own designs, she finds one of them irresistible.

Soon, her back is adorned with a pair of mysterious eyes, framed by black wings. Leslie feels good – more than good. Nothing bad can touch her. But what she doesn't know is that her new tattoo binds her tightly to the faery whose symbol she chose: Irial, the exquisitely dangerous king of the Dark Court…

Book 3 Fragile Eternity

“Loving someone meant letting them be who they were, not caging them” 

Mortal affections and faery rivalries continue to collide in the town of Huntsdale, as New York Times bestselling author Melissa Marr takes urban fantasy to new heights.
After the terrible events of Ink Exchange, the Dark Court has a new ruler. But will Niall’s kindness survive his new responsibility to the most violent of Faerie courts?
Meanwhile, Seth and Aislinn attempt to mend their relationship. But Aislinn is the Summer Queen and Keenan is her king – and as summer approaches, their chemistry sparks. Will Seth’s mortality lose him the one thing he loves above all others?
As Niall seeks to control his new Court, Aislinn attempts to resist the seduction of summer, and Seth searches desperately for the gift of immortality, a delicate balance is threatened, and a terrible plot is revealed…

Book 4 Radiant Shadows

“Like chaos in a glass cage.”

Melissa Marr’s New York Times bestselling Wicked Lovely series continues with the fourth – and penultimate – installment in the darkly seductive story about the collision of the mortal and faery worlds…

The events of FRAGILE ETERNITY have left the faery world off-balance, its key players fighting to maintain control over their world – and its secrets…

Devlin lives in a world where everything is beautiful, ordered… and cruel. As a prominent member of the High Court and half-brother to Sorcha, the High Queen, he’s one of the most powerful faeries of the old guard.

Ani lives in a world where every line is blurred. Half human, half faery, half in the dedadence of the Dark Court and half out of it, her life of dive bars, tattoos and street fights couldn’t be farther from the clean lines of the High Court.

But you can’t choose where your heart will take you, and when Devlin and Ani meet, two extremes of the faery world collide – with passion, violence and heat; for better – and for worse…

Book 5 Darkest Mercy

“Chase away sorrow by living”

The fifth and final breathtaking instalment in the darkly seductive and best-selling WICKED LOVELY series, about the collision of mortal and faery worlds…

The Summer King is missing; the Dark Court is bleeding; and a stranger walks the streets of Huntsdale, his presence signifying the deaths of powerful fey.
Torn between his new queen and his old love, Keenan left Huntsdale to wander aimlessly but after centuries of leading his court it was not long before the reality of being Summer King became too pressing. Violence seemed more inevitable by the day and the Summer Court was not yet strong enough to face conflict, so Keenan made a dangerous deal with the water fey. It is a desperate bargain he makes to strengthen his court against the coming war. Aislinn tends the Summer Court, searching for her absent king and yearning for Seth. She knows she must be a powerful queen to hold her court together, while Bananach becomes more and more dangerous, and she is losing faeries to her. Donia longs for fiery passion even as she coolly readies the Winter Court for battle. Her court is still powerful, but she must remain focused on keeping them that way and not get distracted by Keenan when he shows up at her door again. The Dark Court is thrown into chaos when they are rocked by tragedy. And Seth, sworn brother of the Dark King and heir to the High Queen, is about to make a mistake that could cost his life.

They all know what Bananach seeks – the raven-fairy is the embodiment of war and discord. She and her growing number of allies want mutiny and murder. Love, despair and betrayal ignite the Faeries Courts, and in the final conflict, some will win… and some will lose everything. The thrilling conclusion to Melissa Marr’s bestselling Wicked Lovely series will leave readers breathless.

My musings
I LOVED this series. The dark twisted world of the fae and the warring fairy courts. I loved the visual contrasting descriptions between the Summer and Winter courts, The extreme and vibrant characters. The first ,Wicked Lovely introduces us to Aislinn who is part fairy and can see the fae unlike normal humans. Through the series we journey with Aislinn , her first love Seth, a human and the gorgeous Summer King Keenan. We also meet in book 2 Ink Exchange Niall and the king of the Dark Court, Irial (My favourite). This is the darkest book and the most seductive. Book 3 is a  continuation of the aislinn and Seth story and introduces fully The High Court and its Queen Sorcha.  this one was my least favourite but still a great read. Book 4 Radiant Shadows, introduces Devlin and  Ani, a much darker story again and more twists and turns with an upsetting end. Book 5 Darkest Mercy I was very trepidatious about how she was going to tie up all the characters. I really thought I was going to be upset but Melissa is one clever writer and puts in a few curve balls into the plots to keep all her avid fans satisfied. I was upset to end the series and really loved all the characters. If fantasy fiction is your thing I can't recommend this highly enough.

Melissa was voted in school as most likely to end up in prison.
Official website
Twitter ‏@melissa_marr

If you like this try

The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa
Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J Maas

Films and TV
Vampire Diaries
Legend with Tom Cruise

Sunday, 25 August 2013

His Fair Assasin Series by Robin LaFevers

Book one, Grave Mercy
Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?
Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.
Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart

Book 2 Dark Triumph
Sybella’s duty as Death’s assassin in 15th-century France forces her return home to the personal hell that she had finally escaped. Love and romance, history and magic, vengeance and salvation converge in this thrilling sequel to Grave Mercy.
Sybella arrives at the convent’s doorstep half mad with grief and despair. Those that serve Death are only too happy to offer her refuge—but at a price. The convent views Sybella, naturally skilled in the arts of both death and seduction, as one of their most dangerous weapons. But those assassin’s skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to a life that nearly drove her mad. And while Sybella is a weapon of justice wrought by the god of Death himself, He must give her a reason to live. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for?

My musings
This is the start of a great and addictive series. A wonderful miz of medieval history and fantasy. The first book sets the scene and backround for future stories and the story of our first heroine, Ismae. One of a handful of young women taken into the convent of St Mortain where they are trained to become assasins. The second tells of the very unstable Sybella and really isa a new take on Beauty and the Beast. I loved this one even more than the first. Darker with sensitive issues a really gripping read as Sybella fights her own inner demons as well as trying to out manipulate her manipulators.
Swashbuckling romance this series hails a new voice for those with a more historical tastes but who also like a pinch of fantasy thrown in. A machiavellian setting. Who will they trust, what pather will they follow? Their heart oro their head.

For more on the author

If you like this you will like
Throne of Glass series, City of Bnes series. The Borgia Bride by Kalogridis, Pirate and Sovay by Celia Rees
Film and Tv

Game of Thrones, Alias, Xena Warrior Princess(sorry couldn't resist)

Christmas at Claridges by Karen Swan

This was where her dreams drifted to if she didn’t blot her nights out with drink; this was where her thoughts settled if she didn’t fill her days with chat. She remembered this tiny, remote foreign village on a molecular level and the sight of it soaked into her like water into sand, because this was where her old life had ended and her new one had begun.’Portobello – home to the world-famous street market, Notting Hill Carnival and Clem Alderton. She’s the queen of the scene, the girl everyone wants to be or be with. But beneath the morning-after makeup, Clem is keeping a secret, and when she goes too far one reckless night she endangers everything – her home, her job and even her adored brother’s love.Portofino – a place of wild beauty and old-school glamour, and where a neglected villa has been bought by a handsome stranger. He wants Clem to restore it for him and it seems like the answer to all her problems – except that Clem has been there once before and vowed, for her own protection, never to return . . .

My Musings
Another huge romantic novel from Karen Swan with larger than life characters we would( ok me) all like to meet set in impossibly glamorous places. A truelly escapist novel to curl up with in the holidays.  I adored Christmas in Tiffanys (remains one of my favourite of this genre) and this one does not disappoint. I found Clem, the heroine , at the start unbearably annoying, spoilt and selfish, which I suppose was the point. (She does improve) I also like you were thrown a red herring in the shape of the first hero on the scene. The man with no name! I was quite partial to him though and the romantic first scenes were delicious. All the characters are endearing and there are twists galore. My only niggle, and this is on behalf of Karen Swan, is that by adding Christmas to the title it will only be stocked in bookshops in Christmas which I do understand due to the success of the Tiffany book  but being that a majority of it is set in summer in Italy it also makes it a very good summer read. Its just a thought as I would definately read this all year round!
Regardless I am sure this will be as popular as her others and definately one for the Christmas stocking.

Published Nov 7th 2013

If you like this try
Books- Jilly Cooper, Jackie Collins, Destiny by Sally beauman, God Children by Nicholas coleridge.
Films- Thomas Crown Affaire (pierce Brosnan), Breakfast in Tiffanys, Meet Joe Black. To Catch a Thief with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly, High Society with Grace Kelly.

Follow Karen on Twitter KarenSwan1
Karen Swan began her career in fashion journalism - working at Tatler, Vogue and YOU magazines, as well as consulting to companies like Thomas Pink - before giving it all up to raise her three children and ADHD puppy, and to pursue her ambition of becoming a writer. She moved out of London in 2006 and now lives in the forest in Sussex, writing her books in a treehouse overlooking the Downs.

Friday, 23 August 2013

The Killing Woods by Lucy Chrisopher

SynopsisEmily's dad is accused of murdering a teenage girl in the woods behind her house, the place she played in as a child. She's sure he's innocent, but what did happen? Determined to find out \- and afraid of what she might discover \- Emily seeks out the boyfriend of the murdered girl. He also knows these woods. Maybe they could help each other. But Damon Hillary has his own secrets about the dangerous games that are being played in the dark .

My Musings
A very dark thriller dealing with controversial subjects. I actually was quite shocked at the outcome of the games and was honestly irritated this book had been written so well I really didn't want to like it I found the subject matter so dark. However the subjects of post traumatic stress, mental health, drug abuse and the <game. that was played( sorry don't want to spoil the story so can't mention the nature of it) have been dealt with well. I just really hope it doesn't give any daredevils any ideas but I suppose if they are of that nature you could say if not this it would be something else.

I don't know if that means I am not as edgy as I would like to think but the bottom line for this book is that Lucy creates a very sinister filmatic book with strong characters and a very twitsted storyline. I am not sure I 'enjoyed@ the book, however I did find myself captivated by what would happen next. I have already recommended this book to others although my one gripe is that the book has no warning on the back or age level and should definately not be read by those or a still young nature. I really really think the publishers should have put a warning of content ONLY because the back blurb is misleading in portraying it not as dark as it really is.

If you like this youl maybe like
Lord of the Flies by Williams Golding
The Hunger Games by

Review Kiss Me First by Lottie Moggach

Book Description

Leila has never met Tess, but she now knows more about Tess than anyone in the world. She’s read all of her emails, researched her past and asked Tess for every detail about her friends and family. Tess has never met Leila. But if she wants to slip away from the world unnoticed, she needs to trust Leila with her life. At first, Leila finds it easy to assume Tess’s identity, and no one has any reason to distrust her. But as Leila is soon to discover, there is much more to a person than the facts and there are things about life you can learn only by living it . . . Original, haunting and utterly gripping, Kiss Me First is an electrifying debut from a phenomenally gifted storyteller.
My Musings
I wasn't sure this book was for me when I started it as it is contemporary and has a very dark premise. Lottie is an extremely gifted writer and had me gripped from the start. Leila is clearly the heroine but not terribly likeable at first even though you feel for her dire circumstances. However as she is drawn into the sinister online chatroom where she is seduced by its pseudo intellectual debates and members you really start to wonder where this will lead. This was very topical for the fact that I hope it hightlight to people how easy it is to create a whole different persona online. People can become whatever they want and live their fantasy. Leila is a very bright but hopelessly naive young woman and vunerable to any charmer. She is persuaded to take over the life online of Tess, a glamorous wild  young woman who because of terminal illness wants slip away without notice because as far as her family are concerned she will still be alive on line. Leila arrogantly agrees not even contemplating the devastation and ripple effect it will cause. As She becomes Tess she starts to believe she can be tess and want to live her live. I  really wanted to shake her at times but Lottie still retains the readers sypathy for her because she has been so manipulated by the cult leader and a misguided Tess.
Things come to a head when the cult is exposed and Leila realised how loved Tess was and how devastated her disapperance is . It is a sharp wakeup call where she really begins to mature and appreciate what and who she is as a person.
I have friends who have said to me they have come of FB because they  can't bear to see everyone leading such fabulous lives. I still feel that with the internet we as a society are in our infancy and don't realise the scale of desception is can produce. what i stry and stress is no'one is gong to advertise the bad stuff about their lives, it s almost like marketing. I think this is insightful and hopefully really make people think twice before they trust what they read on the interenet. We are being shown what people wish us to see not the whole picture. Whats reallly scary is is so easy to become another person. A fascinating dark read that gives pause for though a long time after I finished it.
Darkly addictive and twisted, a book for the modern age. Very talented writer.
Fun Facts
Lottie's mother is Deborah Moggach who wrote Tulip Fever and The Marigold Hotel.
Lottie is nolonger on Facebook or twitter as she is unsettled by the falseness of it. My words not hers!
If you like this you'll love
Book-This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Scales, The Scarlett Pimpernal by Baroness Orczy
Films- The Talented Mr Ripley, Single White Femail, Catch Me if You Can

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Review Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas

 Book Description
Eighteen-year-old Celaena Sardothien is bold, daring and beautiful – the perfect seductress and the greatest assassin her world has ever known. But though she won the King’s contest and became his champion, Celaena has been granted neither her liberty nor the freedom to follow her heart. The slavery of the suffocating salt mines of Endovier that scarred her past is nothing compared to a life bound to her darkest enemy, a king whose rule is so dark and evil it is near impossible to defy. Celaena faces a choice that is tearing her heart to pieces: kill in cold blood for a man she hates, or risk sentencing those she loves to death. Celaena must decide what she will fight for: survival, love or the future of a kingdom. Because an assassin cannot have it all . . . And trying to may just destroy her.
Love or loathe Celaena, she will slice open your heart with her dagger and leave you bleeding long after the last page of the highly anticipated sequel in what is undeniably THE hottest new fantasy series

My Musings
I have been waiting for the second book of a Throne of Glass for a year, it seems like forever BUT was worth the wait!! I was trepidacious at first but was not disappointed by one of my favourite modern fiction heroines, Celaena Sardothian. She is tough but vunerable, a heart of gold who is capable of great ruthlessness. For this girl still waters really do run deep.  You will be put through every emotion, I laughed, cried and there are several OMG moments. The love/friendship triangle between her, the Kings Champion Chaol and The Evil Kings son Dorian still weaves a complex web and will pull at your heartstrings. The twists and turns are so numerous you catch your breath. Some scenes so beautifully described you can see it played out in front of you, just wait for the dinner scene.....
I am trying not to give spoilers as I don't want to ruin really great read but I did shed a tear at a really heartbreaking moment. After my initial outrage that a certain thing happened I realised what a Great writer Sarah is, Very brave and not frightened of making difficult decisions about some of her main characters as long as it stays true to the story. BRAVO.
Sarah has created a complex vivid world without losing focus on its central characters. Chaol and Dorian (I still don't know which is my favourite, I keep changing my mind, but edging towards the prince unlike most!!) continue to keep hearts fluttering and they are becoming much more indepth paving the way for future plots.  I really can't wait for the third book due out in 2014. Please write faster. My favourite YA fiction of 2013 so far!!

If you liked this try
I think I love this series so much because it has echoes of some of my all time favourite books of this genre.
The Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce
The Black Magician Triology Trudi Canavan
The Poison Study Trilogy Maria V Snyder

New out 2012-2013 but great reads
Grave Mercy and Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers
Daughter of Blood and Bone by Laini Taylor

Interesting Facts
Sarah started to write this book when she was just 16 publishing excerpts on!
She has signed a new series with out in 2015
Celeana is inspired by Cinderella
Sarah's website is
Will be promoting Crown of Midnight in the UK dates to be announced soon!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Review; This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales



Book Description

All her life, Elise Dembowski has been an outsider. Starting a new school, she dreams of fitting in at last – but when her best attempts at popularity fail, she almost gives up. Then she stumbles upon a secret warehouse party. There, at night, Elise can be a different person, making real friends, falling in love for the first time, and finding her true passion – DJing. But when her real and secret lives collide, she has to make a decision once and for all: just who is the real Elise? An irresistible novel about hope, heartbreak and the power of music to bring people together. Published Sept 26th 2013
My Musings
An addictive novel with an endearing and sympathetic heroine, Elise. A lot of readers will relate to Elise's feelings of being the outsider and trying to find her place in the world. Leila Scales really captures Elise's desperation to be popular at the same time as battling with her desire to stay true to herself. She constantly feels excluded and isolated in school. By chance she discovers a secret warehouse party, new friends and the opportunity to DJ which she loves. Eloise starts  to feel accepted as well as finding her own niche. Can she juggle her double life?  
Definately had echoes of great 80's films Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club but for the modern era!
Great Read 4/5 Stars
About the Author

Leila Sales grew up outside Boston, USA, and graduated from the University of Chicago. Now she lives in Brooklyn, New York, and works as an editor for Penguin Children’s Books.
She has a website:
Twitter @LeilaSalesBooks
Facebook: LeilaWrites.
She has published two previous novels, Mostly Good Girls and Past Perfect, which are not yet published in the UK.