Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova


BLURB
Joe O'Brien is a Boston cop whose stamina and methodical mind have seen him through decades policing the city streets. When he starts making uncharacteristic errors, he attributes them to stress until, finally, he agrees to see a doctor and is handed a terrifying diagnosis: Huntington's disease.

Not only is Joe's life changing beyond recognition, but each of his four grown children has a fifty-fifty chance of inheriting the disease. Observing her potential future play out in his escalating symptoms, his yoga teacher daughter Katie wrestles with how to make the most of the here and now, and connect with her dad, who is, inside, always an O'Brien.

PLOT
Lisa Genova is a formulaic author - she takes a neurological disease and shines a light on it by putting it in to an authentic situation any one of us could face in our lifetime. Her stories are very much the kind where you walk in the shoes of the characters, taking everything in, questioning how you yourself would react if you ever were put in those heart breaking situations.

In Inside the O'Briens we meet Joe, a middle aged policeman who is seemingly getting on with life - happy in his career, his family, and just life in general. When given the diagnosis of Huntington's disease, Joe's whole world is turned upside down and he has some hard decisions to make, decisions he never imagined he'd ever have to encounter.

The diagnosis of Huntington's disease doesn't just affect Joe however; he has a wife and four grown up children who are making their own way in life - fireman JJ, dancer Meghan, yoga teacher Katie, and the wayward Patrick. Being that Huntington's is a genetic disease, the four children themselves also have a lot to consider, namely whether to go through the genetic testing which would give them an early insight as to whether they would also face Huntington's.

Overall, I really enjoyed the plot of Inside the O'Briens, particularly how the story wasn't just told from Joe's perspective, but how it affected his children and family as a whole - I liked that wider picture and how it gave fresh eyes on certain aspects of the plot. I also quite liked the pacing of the story; although there are jumps in time, it didn't feel haphazard or like we were missing out on any information.

Without saying too much, as I don't want to share spoilers, I would have liked the ending tweaked a little as I'm very much someone who likes closure in books - needing answers to all the questions raised. I totally see why the book ended as it did however, and it was nicely done.

CHARACTERS
Whilst I loved the plot of Inside the O'Briens, the characters are where I found fault. Previously I've found Lisa Genova to write characters so well and realistically, especially main characters, however in this particular book I felt like all the characters were cardboard cut outs, fitting specific stereotypes to a T.

Having said that, whilst the characters personalities fell a little flat, I did feel enough of a connection as a reader to be invested in the O'Brien family.

WRITING
Lisa Genova is a wonderful writer, that's without a doubt, and the power and emotion put into her writing is breath taking. All of Genova's novels can be likened to a rollercoaster ride - you're gripped to your book the entire time whilst on this journey with the characters involved.

Whilst Inside the O'Briens isn't my favourite Lisa Genova book - Still Alice is holding strong on that one - I would still recommend this book to others, and would definitely return to it in the future.

OVERALL THOUGHTS
If you're looking for a powerful read, the kind of story that stays with you a lifetime, then I'd highly recommend checking out any one of Lisa Genova's books.

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Monday, 29 August 2016

BOUT OF BOOKS 17 | Day 7 (Wrap Up)

Running from Monday 22nd to Sunday 28th, Bout of Books is a week long readathon full of bookish challenges, chat and most importantly, reading. Read, read, read! This is my second time participating in Bout of Books, and this year I decided to update on my progress with mini wrap up posts at the end of each day.


WRAPPING UP
Over the duration of Bout of Books I managed to read a total of two books and began a third book in ebook format, reaching the 30% mark.

I started the week delving into Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova. I'd had this book on my TBR for a while and thought it would be a great starter book for the readathon as I've found all her other books to be gripping page turners. I was proven right and completed the book by the end of Day 2.

Next up I moved on to The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware - the pick for a new to me Twitter book club I've recently joined. Knowing the chat for the book club was to take place on the 28th, I wanted to read the book as close to the chat as possible. Although it did take me a little longer to read this title than I thought, I completed it in 3 days, I had an enjoyable read.

Having read The Woman in Cabin 10 in ebook format, I thought I'd stick to ebooks and picked up a recently purchased book of mine - It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover. This is my first reading experience of her work, and I am stepping out of my comfort zone a little, but I've heard so much admiration for the author's work I just had to check it out. As I mentioned above, I ended the readathon 30% in but I definitely see the book being finished by the end of August.

Overall I'm really happy with my Bout of Books experience, and eagerly await the next one!

How did your Bout of Books experience go?

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Friday, 26 August 2016

BOUT OF BOOKS 17 | Day 5

Running from Monday 22nd to Sunday 28th, Bout of Books is a week long readathon full of bookish challenges, chat and most importantly, reading. Read, read, read! This is my second time participating in Bout of Books, and this year I decided to update on my progress with mini wrap up posts at the end of each day.

You can find my Day 1 update here, and the updates for Day 2 + 3 here.

FRIDAY 26TH AUGUST
As you can see, I've opted to leave completing an update for day 4 of the readathon. I did get some reading in, and ended the day having read up to 48% of my ebook total. I didn't see a reason to do a full on update when I wasn't able to add my pages read until having finished the ebook (if you read the update for day 2 + 3, this makes more sense).
TOTAL PAGES READ | 687
TOTAL TIME READING | I've honestly lost count of time spent reading
BOOKS COMPLETED | 2

Today I managed to read the remainder of my ebook, totalling two books completed so far. Yay! I don't know if I'll have enough time to finish another book during Bout of Books, but I'm keen to keep up the reading! The next book I'll be moving on to is It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover - this will be my first reading experience of her writing.

I hope everyone is having a great readathon!

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Thursday, 25 August 2016

BOUT OF BOOKS 17 | Day 2 + 3

Running from Monday 22nd to Sunday 28th, Bout of Books is a week long readathon full of bookish challenges, chat and most importantly, reading. Read, read, read! This is my second time participating in Bout of Books, and this year I decided to update on my progress with mini wrap up posts at the end of each day.

You can find my Day 1 update here.

TUESDAY 23RD AUGUST
Having read close to half of Inside the O'Briens the previous day, I set myself the goal of completing it the following day.
TOTAL PAGES READ | 335
TOTAL TIME READING (APPROX) | 6 hours 30 minutes
BOOKS COMPLETED | 1

By end of day Tuesday, not only had I completed my current read, but I started another also. Switching format, I delved into an ebook... The only trouble with including ebooks in the readathon is the fact that my Kindle and me aren't getting on too well at the moment as it no longer shows me the page count of any given book. So I won't be updating the actual page count on ebooks until completed, just the percentage of said book. I just barely started The Woman in Cabin 10, with just 6% having been read.

WEDNESDAY 24TH AUGUST
We were out and about a fair bit on Wednesday, enjoying what is probably the last of the summer sunshine here in the Wales, which meant little reading time. Not only because we were having fun in the sun, but I felt a little 'meh' about reading to be honest. I feel like this every now and then, and some weeks I will go a day or two without reading in a week, which is why I tend to only read one book a week typically.

TOTAL PAGES READ | 335+
TOTAL TIME READING | 8 hours (ish)
BOOKS COMPLETED | 1

Being that I am partaking in a readathon currently, despite my mood, I did want to make a conscious effort to read at least once a day and so I did get in a little bit of reading on Wednesday - just an hour or so. I ended Wednesday with a total of 27% read in my ebook.

How is the readathon progressing for you?

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Monday, 22 August 2016

BOUT OF BOOKS 17 | Day 1

Running from Monday 22nd to Sunday 28th, Bout of Books is a week long readathon full of bookish challenges, chat and most importantly, reading. Read, read, read! This is my second time participating in Bout of Books, and this year I decided to update on my progress with mini wrap up posts at the end of each day.

MONDAY 22ND AUGUST
I kicked off my reading bright and early in the morning with a cup of tea and fresh unread book. Throughout the day I managed to squeeze in snippets of reading here and there, but my two main solid chunks of reading were at the start and end of my day.

PAGES READ | 145
TOTAL HOURS READING (APPROX) | 3 hours 30 minutes
BOOKS COMPLETED | 0

I've been enjoying my reading so far, and whilst I definitely want to get as much reading done as possible during the readathon, I do want to keep it fun and not feel like a chore. I could have read for more than three and half hours, but after sharing this post I'm choosing to watch an episode of Gilmore Girls, not continue reading when perhaps I should. I definitely think there is such a thing as over reading.

So far I'm enjoying the book I have chosen to start Bout of Books with, and feel confident that I will likely have completed it by the end of day tomorrow. It isn't my favourite Lisa Genova book, but as with all her other titles, it's proving to be a gripping read!

I hope the first day of Bout of Books has been successful for you!
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Saturday, 20 August 2016

WHAT I READ | August (Part 1)

| NOT ALL FOUR BOOKS ARE PICTURED AS THEY WERE ALL LIBRARY BORROWS AND SOME HAVE ALREADY BEEN RETURNED |

Typically, at the end of each month I share all the books I've read within that given period of time, however the month of August brings Bout of Books, and with the hopes of getting a good amount of reading in, I thought I'd share the books read in August in two parts (these posts can get lengthy on an average month, never mind one with a readathon in).

THE GIRLS BY LISA JEWELL (ALSO TITLED THE GIRLS IN THE GARDEN)
You live on a picturesque communal garden square, an oasis in urban London where your children run free, in and out of other people’s houses.

You’ve known your neighbours for years and you trust them. Implicitly.

You think your children are safe.

But are they really?

Midsummer night: a thirteen-year-old girl is found unconscious in a dark corner of the garden square. What really happened to her? And who is responsible?


MY THOUGHTS
I'd heard a good number of things in the run up to reading The Girls, and I feel perhaps my expectations were just a tad too high as I came away with a somewhat unsatisfactory reading experience. I enjoyed the overall plot of this story, however the ending did seem a little short and blunt for my liking. The community that the author built felt like it had depth and development, with the prominent characters being uniquely individual. Some of the elements in this book did feel a little romanticised in a way, and there were elements that irked me. I had a tough time rating The Girls and ultimately settled with three stars - it seemed the safest rating. I didn't dislike The Girls, but I wasn't blown away by it either.

OUR ENDLESS NUMBERED DAYS BY CLAIRE FULLER
1976: Peggy Hillcoat is eight. She spends her summer camping with her father, playing her beloved record of The Railway Children and listening to her mother's grand piano, but her pretty life is about to change.

Her survivalist father, who has been stockpiling provisions for the end which is surely coming soon, takes her from London to a cabin in a remote European forest. There he tells Peggy the rest of the world has disappeared.

Her life is reduced to a piano which makes music but no sound, a forest where all that grows is a means of survival. And a tiny wooden hut that is Everything.


MY THOUGHTS
I have shared a full review of Our Endless Numbered Days - you can find it here.

IN COLD BLOOD BY TRUMAN CAPOTE
Controversial and compelling, In Cold Blood reconstructs the murder in 1959 of a Kansas farmer, his wife and both their children. Truman Capote's comprehensive study of the killings and subsequent investigation explores the circumstances surrounding this terrible crime and the effect it had on those involved. At the centre of his study are the amoral young killers Perry Smith and Dick Hickcock, who, vividly drawn by Capote, are shown to be reprehensible yet entirely and frighteningly human. The book that made Capote's name, In Cold Blood is a seminal work of modern prose, a remarkable synthesis of journalistic skill and powerfully evocative narrative.

MY THOUGHTS
I've been wanting to read this true crime novel for quite a while now, but it was one of those books I kept putting on the back burner for no reason in particular. After organising the way in which I keep my wishlist, I learnt that my local library carried a copy. I read In Cold Bloog in drips and drabs, not because the book didn't hold my attention, but because that's just how I tend to read non fiction books of any nature. Being true crime, there are some graphic elements pertaining to the crime that the book is examining, however if crime is a genre that interests you reading wise then I'd recommend picking this one up.

FINDING AUDREY BY SOPHIE KINSELLA
An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.

MY THOUGHTS
I have read a little bit of Sophie Kinsella's writing previously, namely a couple of the books in her 'Shopaholic' series, and so knew I enjoyed her style of writing... Going in to Finding Audrey I was hesitant as to how anxiety would be treated, as someone with anxiety, and I came away impressed. The way in which the subject is handled was really well done - light but yet serious and knowledgeable at the same time. I really enjoyed the narrative from Audrey, particularly the observational comedy and style of voice, and found the book to be compulsive reading. Was it the best book I've ever read, no, but it is a YA book I'd recommend to others.

What have you read so far this August?
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Friday, 19 August 2016

BOOK TALK | How Do You Build Your Book Collection?


A book collection is a very personable thing.

The books we own, collect, and keep, can say a lot about us as people, and individually we all go about the way we curate our collections in different ways. Over the years the way in which I build my book collection has changed; to begin with this shift was due to surroundings, but has ultimately transitioned into a mind set. The collection of books I own now is without a doubt half the size it was say five years ago, and it's very much a quality over quantity situation.

From a young age, the books we read were borrowed from the library. Whilst we didn't have a lot of disposable income, there was no shortage of books. I was constantly borrowing books from the school library, and my sister and I visited the mobile library at the end of the road once every month.

I fondly remember World Book Day rolling around each year in school, and I'd be one of the first to get the catalogue in order to peruse potential bookish purchases come the day.

As I grew older, becoming a teenager, my love of books remained and I would often borrow books from my mum's limited collection - there was a good amount of crime fiction and Stephen King. I mean, I don't know if I should have been reading those in my early to mid teens, but hey!

With my teenage years came an increase in pocket money/allowance, and my book collection began. When I started buying my own books, there was a thirst to read - I spent the majority of my money on books and also asked for them (or vouchers for books) as birthday and Christmas presents. This is when my very own book collection began. I remember when my book count exceeded that of my mum's collection, and for some reason that made me very happy.

Naturally when I started working, and truly earning my own money, my collection increased further, to the point that they no longer fit on my little three shelf unit and were overflowing in to boxes (because along with lack of disposable income, we also had a lack of disposable space in our house). Yet despite the size of my collection, I refused to part with any of my books. I kept every single book I ever owned, and I constantly reread.

When I started building my own book collection, for one reason or another, I kind of fell out of using the library - I suppose there's just a different attachment to a book when you personally own it.

As life situations shifted, and I found myself in even smaller accommodation to that of my room in our family home, I knew I had to do some downsizing on my book collection. The way in which I went about this process was by getting rid of any books I had never reread, nor had any intention of rereading in the future. I no longer had bookshelves, with my books having to be stored in big plastic storage boxes, and I began visiting the library in my adult lifetime. Seriously, until this life shift, I didn't even own a valid library card as I hadn't visited since childhood!

I would like to say this is where my 'minimal' book collection began, and continued, but that would in fact be incorrect. When I started working in a department store on a local high street with a truly wonderful bookstore just across the road, you know damage was done to my bank account and my book collection grew - fast! I still had the minimal space in which to store books, but plastic storage boxes are easily stackable, and so my collection of boxes grew also.

And once again, as time passed, my life situation changed once more with a move across the country, shortly followed by another move across the country, and in this time I started the process (slowly) of building my collection to what it is today.

Currently, I have a 'if I won't return to it, it'll be donated' policy. I'm constantly weeding through the books that I own, and this year I put in place a book buying policy in which I only permit myself to buying four books a month - so far, this is going really well. I'm still very much a rereader, and the books I own are well loved. My relationship with the library is very much an on and off thing, but this is set to change, especially with a new book buying policy being implemented come the new year. I feel comfortable and happy with the amount of books I own, and perhaps even more importantly, I feel comfortable with the amount of unread books I own - at one point the books I owned but had not read were a stress to me, not a manageable objective like they are now.

I'm happy with the books I own, I'm happy with my book storage (they are no longer in boxes - yay!), and I am happy with my mind set regarding the growth of my collection. At one point in my life I think it was apparent that amassing books made me happy, but now I know that I don't need to amass books in order to enjoy, explore and experience the vast variety of books that are out there.

Quite simply, I don't need to own all the books!

I originally started writing this post as a little discussion piece, keen to hear how you grow your collection, and I am still keen to hear that, but if you've gotten this far I just want to say thank you! Because this post ended up being a rambly old thing detailing my life's book buying history!

How do you curate your own book collection? Has it shifted over time?
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Wednesday, 17 August 2016

BOUT OF BOOKS 17 | Sign Up + Pre Event Thoughts

Bout of Books is back - yay!

This will be my second time participating in this particular readathon, and although this time I will be focusing more on the books and keeping the challenges to a minimum, I'm super excited to be taking part again. I'm looking forward to interacting with some of my favourite bloggers taking part as well as hopefully discovering some new bloggers too!

If you're unfamiliar with Bout of Books, here's a message from the team:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 22nd and runs through Sunday, August 28th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 17 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

As with my first experience of Bout of Books, I'm taking a laid back approach with no specific goals or aims, but to read lots, chat lots, and have fun!

In the way of books, I have a tentative TBR as I have some library books that need reading, and a couple of e-books I'm keen to delve in to, but I don't really have any solid plans on what I hope to complete by the end of the readathon.

One thing I did learn from my previous experience of Bout of Books is that one update post really isn't going to cut it this time. First time round, I made several updates on the one post throughout the readathon duration, however this time round I will be aiming for daily updates as that just got way too lengthy.

Roll on Monday!!

Are you participating in Bout of Books?
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Monday, 15 August 2016

Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller


BLURB
1976: Peggy Hillcoat is eight. She spends her summer camping with her father, playing her beloved record of The Railway Children and listening to her mother's grand piano, but her pretty life is about to change.

Her survivalist father, who has been stockpiling provisions for the end which is surely coming soon, takes her from London to a cabin in a remote European forest. There he tells Peggy the rest of the world has disappeared.

Her life is reduced to a piano which makes music but no sound, a forest where all that grows is a means of survival. And a tiny wooden hut that is Everything.


PLOT
Based on the blurb of the book, I initially thought this story, in whole, would take place in the woods where Peggy and her father are living, with perhaps the end revealing an outcome of some sort - that wasn't the case however, and the way in which the story was actually told was something I quite enjoyed.

Of course, given the nature of this book, we do see a great number of scenes from Peggy's time in the forest, but the book actually begins with Peggy back at home, back in the London family home, after nine years in the wilderness with her father. So from the get go, we already know that Peggy does get back home, and from there the story unfolds in the form of glimpses from childhood and scenes leading up to the trek Peggy and her dad take to their 'new home', followed by her time in the European forest isolated from the world, with Peggy even believing that there is no world beyond that of the little cabin and surrounding woodlands. The story isn't told in a timeline order, but it doesn't feel haphazard and flows very nicely.

I think whilst talking of the plot, it is definitely worth mentioning that it is twisted in nature, treated delicately to an extent, and not something everybody will be able to stomach. I don't want to give the entire plot away, but there are scenes of woodland animal slaughter within this book, and there is also abuse of a child.

CHARACTERS
The prominent characters within Our Endless Numbered Days are naturally Peggy and her father. The development of both characters was really well written, especially when it came to how the isolation changed them as individuals over the years, and how that affected their behaviour and feelings towards one another.

WRITING
The narrative within this book is really well done, with a depth and richness of detail that envelopes you in the words and the world these two have created for themselves.

An element I greatly enjoyed in this book is how realistic it all felt. Perhaps with books like this, where people live off the land or are in a remote situation, there is a pinch of salt needed with the plot itself, but that isn't the case with Our Endless Numbered Days - you can tell the author has done her research and has made the story as authentic as possible.

One thing I will mention about the writing, that I know some people aren't always keen on but that I myself have no issue with, is a large amount of description used within the text. The description often pertains to the nature and woodlands in which Peggy is traversing through and living in, and some readers may not be bothered with that extent of description.

Prior to reading Our Endless Numbered Days I'd heard a lot of good things regarding Claire Fuller's writing, and having now read the book I can see where the praise comes from - this is an amazing debut novel and I look forward to seeing what else the author shares in the future.

OVERALL THOUGHTS
I borrowed Our Endless Numbered Days from the library, but loved the book so much I'll be purchasing a copy for my own book collection.

LINKS
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Wednesday, 3 August 2016

ONE YEAR ON | Five Reasons I Book Blog


Today marks my one year anniversary blogging about books on Reading With Jade.

I've been book blogging, on and off, for a lot longer than one year (roughly three or four), but I feel like I've really found my feet with my blog this time round, and I see quite the future ahead of us.

I'm not one for long, well worded, posts or speeches, so I thought to celebrate my first full year blogging here on Reading With Jade, I'd share five reasons why I love to blog about books.

ONE | The Community
Having been in and out of the book community for a good few years now, I've seen the book blogging community evolve and, for the most part, remain a welcoming and wonderful bunch of people. In particular, the little community I have here on Reading With Jade makes me very happy. A number of my readers are those who I've known since my very early days as a book blogger, and it has been amazing to see how not only their blogs have developed, but how the people behind the blogs have evolved in their personal lives too. I only have a small readership here on my blog, but I'd much rather that readership and the interaction than 100's of readers daily.

TWO | Talking About Books
In my personal life, I could count on one hand the number of people I can sit and chat about books with... And even those people don't entirely read on the same scale as I do. Connecting with like minded people within the book blog community is an amazing feeling, chatting back and forth with those who have similar genre interests, and discussing interesting topics that only really us bookworms care about. Book blogging has also helped open me up to variety - since getting in to book blogging again I've realised that it doesn't matter what I'm reading, so long as I'm enjoying it. Yes, a non book blogging person may judge me, as an adult, for reading a book that is aimed at a middle grade child, but I, as a reader, now no longer care! A story is a story at the end of the day.

THREE | In The Loop
Prior to re-entering the book blogging community, I hadn't quite realised just how out of the loop I really was. By no means am I one of those book bloggers who is up to date on all things bookish - I truly admire those bloggers - but I did miss knowing when certain books were going to be released, and when book to movie adaptations were coming out, and what books were getting a lot of hype at a given time... Because I feel like the book community is very different to general media publications in the sense that it is further ahead with some information, the opinions feel a lot more personable, and often times the two even differ in what is 'big news' at any given time. I'm very glad to be back in the bookish fold!

FOUR | Pushes Me Beyond My Comfort Zone
There are two ways in which being a book blogger pushes me beyond my comfort zone. The first being opening my eyes to books that I otherwise wouldn't have thought to pick up for myself - I've found a number of wonderful books and new favourite authors thanks to the book community. The second way in which being a book blogger pushes me out of my comfort zone is in the interacting. Naturally, in any type of blogging, being an interactive member of the community is essential, but as someone with social anxiety, interaction doesn't come easy to me. Of course there is a huge difference between interacting in real life, and that of over the internet, but I feel that forming connections here has really helped me to push myself outside of the community, and that is a truly great thing.

FIVE | It's Fun!!
Between meeting new people from all walks of life and corners of the world, to getting involved with bookish challenges and events, there really is something for everyone in the book blogging community, and no one could deny just how fun it is being a book blogger!

My first year on Reading With Jade has been really and truly wonderful, and that is largely thanks to my readers - so reader, yes you reading this, I just want to say a HUGE thank you!
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Monday, 1 August 2016

WHAT I READ | July


THE ART OF THE BOXTROLLS BY PHIL BROTHERTON
LAIKA, the studio behind the hit films Coraline and ParaNorman, introduces audiences to a new breed of family: the Boxtrolls, a community of quirky, mischievous creatures who have lovingly raised an orphaned human boy named Eggs in the amazing cavernous home they've built beneath the streets of Cheesebridge. When the town's villain, Archibald Snatcher, comes up with a plot to get rid of the Boxtrolls, Eggs decides to venture above ground where he meets and teams up with fabulously feisty Winnie to devise a daring plan to save Eggs' family. The Art of The Boxtrolls features the amazingly detailed artwork that went into this film's creation, including character sketches, puppets, textiles, set dressing, and 3-D printed facial models, alongside the story of the film's development.

MY THOUGHTS
Some of my all time favourite films are of the animated kind, and this year especially I've really gotten into the 'Art of' books. There are a whole host of films represented in these books from various production companies, and my collection of them is definitely growing.

I really enjoyed this particular book, taking us behind the scenes of 'The Boxtrolls'; an animated film adapted from a children's book and brought to life by the production company Laika (the same company that produced Coraline). I love how in depth this particular 'Art of' book was, and I felt like I came away with a wealth of knowledge regarding the production of the film. These books always tend to receive five stars from me.

THE GIRL OF INK & STARS BY KIRAN MILLWOOD HARGRAVE
Forbidden to leave her island, Isabella dreams of the faraway lands her father once mapped. When her best friend disappears, she's determined to be part of the search party. Guided by an ancient map and her knowledge of the stars, Isabella navigates the island's dangerous Forgotten Territories. But beneath the dry rivers and dead forests, a fiery myth is stirring from its sleep...

MY THOUGHTS
I have shared a mini review with my thoughts on The Girl of Ink & Stars - you can find it here.

LOVE ANTHONY BY LISA GENOVA
Olivia Donatelli's dream of a 'normal' life was shattered when her son, Anthony, was diagnosed with autism at age three. He didn't speak, hated to be touched, almost never made eye contact. Then, just as Olivia was learning that happiness and autism could coexist after all, Anthony was gone.

Now she's alone on Nantucket, desperate to find meaning in her son's short life, when a chance encounter with another woman, Beth, brings Anthony alive again in a most unexpected way. Together, two unforgettable women discover the small but exuberant voice that leads them both to answers they need.

MY THOUGHTS
I have shared a full review with my thoughts of Love Anthony - you can find it here.

BROTHER BY ANIA AHLBORN
Deep in the heart of Appalachia stands a crooked farmhouse miles from any road. The Morrows keep to themselves, and it's served them well so far. When girls go missing off the side of the highway, the cop don't knock on their door. Which is a good thing, seeing as to what's buried in the Morrows' backyard.

But nineteen-year-old Michael Morrow isn't like the rest of his family. He doesn't take pleasure in the screams that echo through trees. Michael pines for normalcy, and he's sure that someday he'll see the world beyond West Virginia. When he meets Alice, a pretty girl working at a record shop in the small nearby town of Dahlia, he's immediately smitten. For a moment, he nearly forgets about the monster he's become. But his brother, Rebel, is all too eager to remind Michael of his place...

MY THOUGHTS
I have shared a mini review with my thoughts on Brother - you can find it here.

THE BEES BY LALINE PAULL
Flora 717 is a sanitation worker, a member of the lowest caste in her orchard hive where work and sacrifice are the highest virtues and worship of the beloved Queen the only religion. But Flora is not like other bees. With circumstances threatening the hive’s survival, her curiosity is regarded as a dangerous flaw but her courage and strength are an asset. She is allowed to feed the newborns in the royal nursery and then to become a forager, flying alone and free to collect pollen. She also finds her way into the Queen’s inner sanctum, where she discovers mysteries about the hive that are both profound and ominous.

But when Flora breaks the most sacred law of all—daring to challenge the Queen’s fertility—enemies abound, from the fearsome fertility police who enforce the strict social hierarchy to the high priestesses jealously wedded to power. Her deepest instincts to serve and sacrifice are now overshadowed by an even deeper desire, a fierce maternal love that will bring her into conflict with her conscience, her heart, her society—and lead her to unthinkable deeds.


MY THOUGHTS
Going in to The Bees I had hopes, not necessarily high hopes, but having heard good feedback surrounding the book and with such a unique premise I thought I was in for a treat of a read. Whilst I did enjoy my reading experience of The Bees, it didn't quite deliver exactly as I was expecting. I had a hard time truly visualising the written words, envisioning the hive and all the goings on, and in turn I found I didn't connect with the writing enough to make me want to read the book.

I started The Bees in June, but did not actually finish reading it until near the end of July, and that was simply because I wasn't inspired to pick the book up. I enjoyed the general plot, and I was interested in how it would all end, but I didn't NEED to know how it ended, if you get what I mean.

The plot was cleverly written and well researched, and there is depth to the book, but The Bees and I just didn't meet at the right time for me to be blown away with the book. I am keeping the book though, and I do think a reread will be required in the future to see if I see the book differently, as I am surprised at my thoughts coming away from it.

What did you read in July?
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