Friday, 20 October 2017

Blog Posts I've Enjoyed Lately (2)


With so much content being shared within the blogging community - bookish and otherwise - it is impossible to keep up with everything (even your favourites), so with no fixed regularity I'll be compiling a list of links sharing a number of blog posts I've enjoyed lately.

BOOKISH
Running on Words and Wine | Thrilling Fall Reads
One Reader's Thoughts... | Favourite Female Detectives
Sarah's Book Shelves | When Questionable Editorial Decisions Torpedo Books (an interesting discussion post)
The Bookish Libra | Discussion Post: The Struggles of Blog Commenting and Why We Should Do It Anyway
Modern Mrs Darcy | 7 Free and Easy Ways to Support Your Favorite Authors
Book Riot | Life Advice from Little Women: 25 Uplifting Quotes To Live By (because Little Women is an absolute classic)
The Bandar Blog | Frightfully Awful: 10 Favorite Villians in Literature
Paper Fury | 10 Annoying Questions Bookworms Get Asked That Just Make No Sense
Lindsay's Library | Autumn Aesthetic: 14 Fall-ish Book Covers (all the autumnal vibes from these covers)
Novel Visits | Fall Favorites from Yesteryear
Goodreads | 24 Great New Paperbacks to Pick Up Now (paperbacks are my favourite to read)
Bustle | 12 Ways You Could Be Getting More Out Of Your Local Library
Smiling Shelves | Some of My Favorite Middle Grade Books

NON BOOKISH
Bookworm & Theatre Mouse | Glorious Guernsey
Read All The Things! | Rant: Can We Please Not Make Assumptions (sort of bookish but sort of not)
Novel North | Reasons to Love Autumn

Happy perusing!
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Monday, 16 October 2017

First & Foremost, Be A Reader


You may have looked at the title of this post and thought 'well I am a reader', especially if like me you're a bookworm who talks about books on the internet, however I think as book bloggers we can often fall into the trap of wearing our 'book blogger' hat all the time. I don't mean all day long of course, but when it comes to books and reading experiences.

I know this because of things I see in the community, but also because of my own experiences. It's safe to say we've all slumped at some point in our time as a book blogger; it's likely that you had one of many slumps just this year (doesn't it seem like each & every one of us book bloggers has had a slump this year?!). Reading slumps are normal; we all need a break sometimes. And sometimes that means a break from your book blogger hat also.

I don't want this post to be a long and ramble-y one as the point I want to make is quite simple.

First and foremost, be a reader.

As book bloggers we pick up specific books because they are due for review, we feel the pressure of a mounting TBR, some wish they had the current buzz book, you may analyse a book as part your review process, you need to take a photo before picking up that new paperback and delving in. I get it. I'm not saying these are bad habits & traits of a book blogger... I am a book blogger after all and have fallen foul to a few of these things. Just remember, you wouldn't be a book blogger if it wasn't for your love of reading in the first place.

Pick up a book every now and again that isn't for review or blog purposes. Reread those favourites without worrying how others may not want to hear about your fifth visit to a world and characters you know and love. Wander a bookshop or library without a list of books to hand that have been rec'ed by other bloggers - let the books seek you. Spend time reading the backlist books of an author you've just discovered and adore. Don't put undue pressure on yourself to get a post up because you have to stick to that schedule of yours.

Be a book blogger (it is great!) but first & foremost, be a reader.
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Wednesday, 11 October 2017

READING WITH MY THREE YEAR OLD | Library Book Haul (October)


For this month's instalment of 'Reading with my Son', I thought I'd share some of the titles he has recently borrowed from the library.

Here in the UK this week, 9th October - 14th October, is libraries week. The week is one for showcasing all the benefits and positives of our library systems and celebrating all the good a library can do for a community - whether that be a local town library or a school library etc. As many of you know, I do advocate the use of libraries here on Reading with Jade... As a reader I regularly borrow titles, new and old, from my local library and as a parent I make a point of visiting the library with my son every week or so.

Below you'll find five children's books we've loved and enjoyed over the past couple of weeks, all borrowed from the library, and also renewed as they were loved that much!

A traditional counting rhyme with awesome superhero powers (and a super shiny red foil cover!)
Evil super villain Monstro and his dastardly League of Bad Guys look set to destroy the city, will the Super Hero Kids have the super powers to defeat them?

This series offers familiar settings and popular characters, with lots of things to spot and count on every page in a variety of action packed settings, set within a clever reworking of a traditional counting rhyme, weaving a clever tale which provides a rich and effective first step to learning.

Fans of Thomas & Friends can experience all the action from the hit movie in this exciting storybook!

When Thomas travels off the Island of Sodor, he’s in for a big adventure … but what if he can’t make it back? Relive the excitement from the movie with Thomas, James and Percy, plus meet new engines Lexi, Theo and Merlin.

Tiger is fast asleep. But — oh dear! — she’s completely blocking the way. Just how will the animals get past without waking her up? Luckily, Frog has an excellent idea. Holding his balloon, he floats right over sleeping Tiger! Fox is next, followed by Tortoise, Mouse, and Stork, but it will be tricky for them all to get past without Tiger noticing. It’s good that the reader is there to help keep Tiger asleep, but where exactly are the animals going with all those big shiny balloons?

Whoever heard of a vegetarian T. rex?

Everyone knows that tyrannosauruses are big and scary, so when a placid duckbill dinosaur's egg ends up in the wrong nest confusion is sure to ensue! When the baby dinosaur hatches out, he's so out of place that his grisly big sisters call him Tyrannosaurus Drip. Poor little Drip: all he wants is a quiet life munching on water weed . . .

Written by the acclaimed Julia Donaldson and illustrated by the award-winning David Roberts, Tyrannosaurus Drip is a rhyming story that's full of fun!

Troll is fed up with eating boring old goats, so off he strolls in search of some scrumptious children. But the little boy on the bike insists that the four children in the car behind him would be FAR tastier than him. And - look! - those children in the school bus behind would be yummier still . . . But the children in the big digger are looking hungry, too. It's time for that terrible Troll to make a quick exit!

All of the titles I'm sharing today were well received by Alexander, but of the bunch, I'd definitely say Troll Stroll was his favourite.
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If you'd like to learn more about Libraries Week you can check the website out here. 

I want to end this post by saying wherever in the world you are, if you have local library system, then please support them in some way or other.
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Monday, 9 October 2017

Reading Middle Grade Fiction as an Adult


Today's post is a topic I've wanted to write about for a while... Adults reading middle grade titles.

I feel like nowadays it is definitely more 'acceptable' to be an adult reading YA fiction, however not quite so for an adult reading MG fiction.

'Oh, isn't that a children's book?'

Three years ago now I picked up my first middle grade book to read as an adult, and I distinctly remember the book also - The Girl Who Walked On Air by Emma Carroll. I was absolutely enthralled in the story and felt like it was filling a reading void that I'd been experiencing.

Having now read more and more middle grade books, I understand exactly why it is that I love MG so much.

Prior to picking up a middle grade title, alongside reading adult fiction, I read books aimed at a young adult audience.

Middle grade books have now replaced YA for me...

Whilst I do still read the occasional YA title, I had struggled with various genres within the YA bracket as so many of the books feature romance, and as a reader I'm just not that interested in that.

I'm a big fan of reading about relationships, however those of the friendship variety and family bonds also, and these themes play a large role in middle grade titles. There is so much more to MG than relationships of course, with the imagination, adventure and curiosity being other elements I enjoy.

There are some truly amazing books to be found within the middle grade section of a bookstore/library, and some really talented authors. Just because a book is aimed at a younger audience, that doesn't mean it can't be enjoyed by an adult - an adult wrote it after all.

Judgement and book snobbery are a real thing, sadly, however I'm a firm believer in reading what you want to read & what brings you joy... I'm an adult, and enjoy reading middle grade fiction.

And I'm not the only one! I took to the blogging community and here are what others have said about being adults who read middle grade fiction.

JENNIFER FROM BOOK DEN
'My favourite stories are the imaginative ones. Middle grade is old enough to have a strong plot and good characterization, but young enough to have a lot of heart and a lot of imagination.'
You can find Jennifer on her blog - Book Den - where she shares all things bookish as well as on Twitter.

BOOKWORMTHEATREMOUSE
'As an adult I don't consider the age group a book is for but simply if I'm going to enjoy the tale. Some wonderful authors are entering the world of fiction and I think it is only fair that we get to enjoy their writing too. Finally - as I am a teacher I am always looking to books that will inspire students to read, especially if they are books in my subject which is History.'
BookwormTheatreMouse blogs about books & more and can be found on Twitter too.

SUE FROM BOOK BY BOOK
'I started reading MG because I had young kids & wrote reviews for FamilyFun magazine, but my sons are now 19 and 23 now & I still read MG because many MG novels are wonderfully written with compelling stories. Being every bit as interesting & engaging as grown up books; I enjoy variety.'
Over on Book By Book Sue shares not only her own reads but that of her family too. She also regularly reviews MG titles, which you can find here. Sue can also be found on Twitter.

As well as having other readers of middle grade books contributing to this post, I'm incredibly honoured to also be sharing a few words by EMMA CARROLL - my favourite MG storyteller - on why she writes books for a middle grade audience.

'People still ask me if I'm going to write an adult book one day- as if this is what I should really be aiming for. My answer? Always an incredulous 'No, why would I?' Writing for middle grade readers is an absolute honour because you're shaping future readers. If we get it wrong, we're potentially switching off all those people who'll go on to read YA and adult books. It's also an age group I particularly love- on the cusp of complicated emotional stuff, yet still believing in magic. I'm fascinated by this, as I think my stories probably show!'
Emma Carroll is a former English teacher turned full time writer, with her most recent middle grade title - Letters from the Lighthouse - being published earlier this year.

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If you're an adult who reads, or writes, middle grade fiction, then I'd love to hear your thoughts!
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Thursday, 5 October 2017

Stories for Homes: Volume 2 (Blog Tour)


BLURB
A home is something most of us have the luxury of taking for granted but for many it is a grim struggle to obtain what should be a basic necessity. Stories for Homes is a collection of witty, poignant, funny and heartbreaking short stories by fifty five authors, both established and emerging, reflecting the connection between the immediacy of housing crisis and the stories people tell about their lives around and within it. Volume Two of the anthology includes stories, poems and flash fiction and again all proceeds will be donated to Shelter, the charity for housing and homelessness.  

MY THOUGHTS
Today it is an honour and a pleasure to be taking part in the Stories for Homes blog tour, showcasing this truly marvellous book - not only are the stories wonderfully well written, including some truly talented authors in this collection, with all proceeds from Stories for Homes going to an amazing cause: Shelter, a UK charity that assists with housing issues and homelessness.

This particular volume of Stories for Homes is dedicated to those affected by the horrendous Grenfell Tower fire.

Inside Stories for Homes there are fifty five tales, told through a few different storytelling methods, with something for everyone and every mood - comforting stories, uplifting ones, melancholy tales, stories with humour weaved in, those with happy endings and more.

The selection of writers within this story collection is phenomenal; I found myself enjoying each and every piece of fiction, for different reasons, ultimately concluding my read with a five star rating.

Some of my favourites include....
The Tiger Who Came Back to Apologise by Jan Carson
Maude's Bungalow by David John Griffin
Straw Houses by Caroline Hardman
Day 89 by Giselle Delsol
How Wonderful You Are by Many Berriman
Safi by Jacqueline Paizis
Real Comfort Food by Sal Page

Depending who you talk to, home will have a different meaning and feeling, something which is greatly highlighted in this book. That, and the fact that home isn't always an idealistic physical thing.

Stories for Homes: Volume 2 is a raw and emotive collection of written works, bringing to light issues surrounding housing and home, all for a good cause... I couldn't recommend this book enough!

Want to keep up with the Stories for Homes Blog Tour?

LINKS
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Sunday, 1 October 2017

WHAT I READ | September


September has been a crazy busy month for myself and my little family. We've officially moved house, after weeks & weeks of prepping the new house to be moved in to, and we still have a good amount of work ahead of us - ticking the tasks off at a slow but steady pace. Despite all that has been going on, I've tried to set aside time for myself every now and again - not necessarily daily - to read. Honestly that, and the thought of when the house will actually be finished, is what has helped me keep my sanity over this past month or so!

I started the month of September with a review title - House. Tree. Person. by Catriona McPherson. The book is of the mystery / suspense variety and although my reading experience was quite up and down, I'd be interested in more of the author's work. You can read my full review here.

Sticking with books darker in nature, I then moved on to Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire. This is definitely one of those titles I picked up because of buzz I'd heard surrounding it, and I'm happy I did so. The story itself is relatively short - I read it in a 24 hour time span - with an overall premise that leads me to look forward to more books by the author... With this title being noted on Goodreads as 'Wayward Children #1', I'm keen to see where else this world takes us.

In my autumn reading list I shared that some of the titles I hope to read this season include the Bill Hodges trilogy by Stephen King, and so Mr Mercedes was the next book I picked up. It took me a lot longer to get through this title than the previous two, but that has more to do with life busyness than the actual book itself.

Following on from Mr Mercedes, I moved on to the second book in the trilogy - Finders Keepers - as well as starting to dipping in and out of a short story collection - Stories for Homes - which I'll be sharing a little more about in the next few days as I'm taking part in the blog tour for this particular title.

I'm ending September part way through the third and final book in the Bill Hodges trilogy - End of Watch. I've been thoroughly enjoying this series of books, that can also be read as standalones, and would recommend them to those who read crime thrillers.

Happy reading in October!
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Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Ten Roald Dahl Quotes on Roald Dahl Day


Many of you know how much I enjoy the marvellous writing of Roald Dahl, so with today being Roald Dahl day, I thought I'd share with you ten of my favourite quotes taken from Dahl's children's fiction novels.


'So Matilda's strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.' - MATILDA


'There are a whole lot of things in this world of ours you haven't started wondering about yet.' - JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH


'Most of the really exciting things we do in our lives scare us to death. They wouldn't be exciting if they didn't.' - DANNY, THE CHAMPION OF THE WORLD


'A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.' - THE TWITS


'It doesn't matter who you are or what you look like, so long as somebody loves you.' - THE WITCHES


'A little magic can take you a long way.' - JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH


'Grown ups are complicated creatures, full of quirks and secrets.' - DANNY, THE CHAMPION OF THE WORLD


'A little nonsense now and then, is relished by the wisest men.' - CHARLIE AND THE GREAT GLASS ELEVATOR


'Somewhere inside all of us is the power to change the world.' - MATILDA


'So please, of please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall...' - CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY


You can learn more about Roald Dahl day here.
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Friday, 8 September 2017

House. Tree. Person. by Catriona McPherson

(I received my copy of House. Tree. Person. via Netgalley for review purposes)

BLURB
A year ago, she was happily married, running her beauty salon, raising her son, living in her dream house. Now Ali McGovern’s dreams are slipping away and all her old ghosts are rising.

A job at Howell Hall, the private psychiatric facility nearby, seems too good to be true. Why have they employed her? How can they afford her? And what are they hiding? When a body is discovered in a shallow grave on Ali’s first day at work, it feels like one last horror. But it’s just the beginning of her descent into a nightmare world she never imagined existed, far too close to home.

MY THOUGHTS
House. Tree. Person opens up with us meeting the McGovern family - mother, Ali, father, Marco and teenage son, Angelo. The dynamics of their family are laid out for the reader from the view point of Ali. We learn of the family's recent downfall, and how they ended up on hard times, as well as some mysteries beginning to show - namely a breakdown Ali experienced some years earlier.

Although they've had some hard times we meet the family just as everything seems to be on the up, with new jobs for both parents. Marco is starting work at a local builders yard and Ali has taken up a position at a nearby psychiatric facility as a beautician with a huge salary - perfect timing. Perhaps a little too perfect...

Some of my favourite scenes within the story are from Ali's work at Howell Hall - I loved the connections she was able to form with the patients, especially moments between her & Sylvie + her & Julia. In general I found the characters within this book to be really well written, but the three of the (Ali, Sylvie and Julia) really stood out to me.

For the first half of the book, I felt very confused at times but was also keen to know where all this was going, because trust me, at one point I had no idea! Part of this stems from Ali being the narrator, however she isn't the most reliable of narrators. I don't have a problem with unreliable narrators, but sometime they can make it a bit hard to truly get stuck into a story.

The second half of the book was definitely the strongest, in my opinion, and the way the entire plot comes together is really well done.

House. Tree. Person is a layered novel, with some strong characters, full of mystery & family secrets.

Please note: a psychiatric unit is at the centre of House. Tree. Person., with mental health disorders featured throughout.

LINKS
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Monday, 4 September 2017

My Autumn Reading List


A little while ago now - mid summer to be exact - I spoke about starting seasonal reading lists, so with the arrival of September I've compiled my autumn reading list.

My autumn reading list runs from September to the end of November.

All titles below have been linked via Goodreads

BOOKS FROM MY SHELVES
(The last three titles are the Bill Hodges trilogy by Stephen King, and I aim to read them all in one go)

BOOKS FROM MY KINDLE LIBRARY

BOOKS FOR REVIEW
(My review books may increase over the course of my autumn reading list)

BOOK BORROWED FROM THE LIBRARY

So that concludes my autumn reading list. If you've read any of these titles already, I'd love to hear your thoughts on them. Also, be sure to share any titles you plan to read over the next three months.
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Thursday, 31 August 2017

WHAT I READ | August


To be honest, I wasn't actually going to write one of these reading wrap up posts for the month of August, however I haven't missed a month so far and I do enjoy looking back on them.

I wasn't going to recap as I read only two titles in August - Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber and Cogheart by Peter Bunzl. I would say the 'only' in the previous sentence implies that I'm unhappy with my reading for the month, and yes, whilst I would have liked to have read a little more, I'm happy with what was read and fitting in the amount of reading I did.

Here on my book blog I don't often share much about life beyond the books... I am a little today though. August has been such a big month for our little family of three - not only did Nathan & I get married in a super simple ceremony, but we also become homeowners for the very first time. The house we have purchased requires some work doing before we make the official move, and so we've been juggling a lot of that stuff. To and froing from one house to another, working on the bits that we're able to, meeting with contractors & tradesmen to set up professional work, being present when said work takes place, all whilst entertaining a three year old and trying to maintain another household. Don't get me wrong, I'm incredibly grateful for being able to buy our own home (getting on the property ladder is getting harder and harder here in the UK), but I do feel like I'm juggling a lot at the moment... And it is only set to get crazier as deadlines draw closer and also when Alexander returns to preschool (he does half days) in a week or so.

For the most part, I'm tired by the end of the day and reading isn't on my mind - you'll find me slumped in front of YouTube or a movie etc.

So I am actually happy with having read two titles... And any reading is worth acknowledging, regardless of numbers.

Happy reading in September!
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Tuesday, 29 August 2017

READING WITH MY THREE YEAR OLD | A Week of Bedtime Stories (August)


At the start of summer I mentioned sharing more about the books I read with my son, and since then have yet to actually share more than that one post... So here's to more chatter about picture books!

Today I've collected together the books we've read each night over the past seven days, and I thought I'd talk a little about them.

MONDAY
How to Find Gold by Viviane Schwarz

Anna and Crocodile are two friends, full of imagination, who go on an adventure to find gold. Their antics include drawing maps, diving into the sea, uncovering treasure and then deciding what to do with their gains. As a parent reading this book to my child, I really enjoyed the humour that was weaved into the narrative.

TUESDAY
Gigantosaurus by Jonny Duddle

I can't even tell you how many times I have read this book now!

As four dino friends wander through their landscape, they keep an eye out for the Gigantosaurus, a fearsome dinosaur their parents have warned them about. One of the dinosaurs is a little bit mischeivious however, with elements of 'the boy who cried wolf' running through the story.

WEDNESDAY
The Wild Woods by Simon James

This is a newer book to Alexander's collection, gifted to him by a relative, but one he very much enjoyed. We follow Jess and her grandad as they have a woodland walk, with the young girl wanting to take animals home with her.

THURSDAY
Conker and Nudge by Adria Meserve

The two title characters within this book are anteaters and brothers, with big brother Conker finding himself bothered by his little brother, Nudge, as he is forever copying him and wanting to play. There is moral to the story when Nudge ends up saving the lives of Conker and his friends.

FRIDAY
This Book Just Ate My Dog! by Richard Byrne

A short but interactive book, the title says it all - Bella's dog gets lost inside the pages of the book and she needs the help of the reader to retrieve him again. A fun read!

SATURDAY
Ten Little Dinosaurs by Mike Brownlow & Simon Rickerty

Ten Little Dinosaurs is a counting book that's full of rhythm and rhyme which makes for a great introduction to numbers. Alexander is far beyond the number ten in his counting skills now, but he still loves picking this book up every now and again.

SUNDAY
Spinderella by Julia Donaldson & Sebastien Braun

Another counting book... I've spoken about Spinderella in a different post of mine, which you can read here.
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So there you have it, a week of bedtime reading with my three year old son.
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Sunday, 20 August 2017

BLOG TALK | Spoiler Comments


Yesterday I experienced something as a book blogger that I wanted to talk with others in the community about... A spoiler was posted in the comments of a book review of mine.

All in all I think of my blog as spoiler free. I never deliberately share any book spoilers here, and if I do think something could be deemed as a spoiler, I clearly state beforehand. Being someone who largely likes to go into books with a clear mind of what is to come, I know how frustrating stumbling upon a spoiler can be. I don't like to find spoilers elsewhere online, and for that reason I deliberately don't share them either.

Prior to this occasion, I'd never come across someone sharing spoilers in the comment section of my blog before, so when I did see the comment I wasn't quite sure what to do... Ultimately, I deleted the comment.

I don't like to delete comments. I delete spam. Of course. And I also delete comments if something has been shared multiple times by accident; it happens. I'm open to the opinions and voice of others, even when they differ from my own. I'm very much open to conversation here on Reading With Jade; in fact the social side of book blogging is one of my favourite things within this community.

In this instance though, I felt like I had no choice but to remove the comment.

This incident isn't a massive deal, trust me I'm very much aware of that... But I think what bothered me most about the comment was the fact that the spoilers (yes, there were more than one) were written on a review post where I had specifically stated about keeping my blog spoiler free and so for that reason I had been vague about the plot.

Such a small thing, but it really did bother me.

The point of this post wasn't for me to rant or vent however... I wanted to put a question to other book bloggers: how do you deal with spoilers in the comments section?
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Thursday, 3 August 2017

Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber

| I received my copy of Are You Sleeping via Netgalley for review purposes |

BLURB
Serial meets Ruth Ware’s In A Dark, Dark Wood in this inventive and twisty psychological thriller about a mega-hit podcast that reopens a murder case—and threatens to unravel the carefully constructed life of the victim’s daughter.

The only thing more dangerous than a lie...is the truth.

Josie Buhrman has spent the last ten years trying to escape her family’s reputation and with good reason. After her father's murder thirteen years prior, her mother ran away to join a cult and her twin sister Lanie, once Josie’s closest friend and confidant, betrayed her in an unimaginable way. Now, Josie has finally put down roots in New York, settling into domestic life with her partner Caleb, and that’s where she intends to stay. The only problem is that she has lied to Caleb about every detail of her past—starting with her last name.

When investigative reporter Poppy Parnell sets off a media firestorm with a mega-hit podcast that reopens the long-closed case of Josie’s father’s murder, Josie’s world begins to unravel. Meanwhile, the unexpected death of Josie’s long-absent mother forces her to return to her Midwestern hometown where she must confront the demons from her past—and the lies on which she has staked her future.

MY THOUGHTS
Firstly, I seriously debated with myself whether to rate Are You Sleeping a 3 star or a 4 star read... Ultimately opting for 3 stars.

I really loved the premise of Are You Sleeping, and was hooked from the get go. When a true crime podcast starts airing that focuses on her father's murder, Josie is forced to confront some realities she'd been putting off, as well return to her hometown and family. The plot was strong, and well paced, with the inclusion of excerpts from the podcast and also social media posts running alongside the narrative.

As well as the plot being strong, character development was also. Opening up we see Josie battling the emotions that come with her history resurfacing, soon following her across country to then see a family drama unfold. Not to mention the mystery of who exactly killed Charles Buhrman.

For me it was the ending that lead this to be a three star book. With a story that grips you like this one does, you kind of expect something big at the end, and that just didn't materialise. I had guessed the ending around the half way mark of the book, and it did all conclude rather quickly, given the build up prior.

Despite this, I would recommend Are You Sleeping to others, and will continue to keep an eye out for other works by debut author, Kathleen Barber.

LINKS
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Tuesday, 1 August 2017

WHAT I READ | June & July


Today I'm sharing the books that I've read so far this summer... Typically I compile this post monthly, however I did only complete one book in the month of June so I thought I'd group it with my wrap up of July.

Early on in June I returned to the works of Kate Morton, having my second reading experience of her writing by delving into The Lake House. Kate Morton is a relatively new to me author, but one whose books I have fallen in love with. I have shared a review of The Lake House, which you can find here.

Although I started and finished The Lake House early in June, I didn't complete another book during the month due to unsteady reading. Thankfully, I fully fell back into reading with the arrival of July.

I read a total of five books in July, including two rereads and two review titles.

After what felt like a hard reading month prior, I started July with the first of my review books that also happened to be a five star read: The Summer of Impossible Things by Rowan Coleman. The story features time travel and a plot driven by family drama, two elements I enjoy in a book. You can find my full thoughts on this title here.

Next I picked up The Island at the End of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. Much like her novel The Girl of Ink & Stars, this title is aimed at a middle grade audience with the story containing a strong female protagonist and fantasy elements. Kiran Millwood Hargrave is a children's author that I'll keep my eye on, with this particular book turning out to be a five star read.

Continuing on with books containing a fantastical element, I selected A Place Called Here by Cecelia Ahern to reread. The story follows Sandy Shortt, a woman who has a fixation on things that go missing, as she herself goes missing and ends up in 'Here' - a place that many missing things go. The journey to get home is a challenging one, and even life altering for Sandy, but also thought provoking as a reader. Many of you know that Ahern is one of my favourite authors, and this particular book holds many magical memories for me.

Switching up genre, I completed my next read in a 24 hour time span, being thoroughly gripped with Final Girls by Riley Sager. I know in the book community this book has been getting a bit of hype upon release, but well deserved in my eyes. I'm thankful to have had a review copy of this title, as I definitely think it's one of those books that is best read with minimal knowledge prior. If you did want to read more about Final Girls, then you can find my review here.

Concluding July, I spent a week savouring my reread of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.

Happy reading in August!
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Saturday, 22 July 2017

Final Girls by Riley Sager

| I received my copy of Final Girls via Netgalley for review purposes |

BLURB
Each girl survived an unthinkable horror. Now someone wants them dead...

They were the victims of separate massacres. Grouped together by the press, and dubbed the Final Girls, they are treated like something fresh out of a slasher movie.

When something terrible happens to Lisa, put-together Quincy and volatile Sam finally meet. Each one influences the other. Each one has dark secrets. And after the bloodstained fingers of the past reach into the present, each one will never be the same.  

MY THOUGHTS
Opening up Final Girls we meet Quincy, the sole survivor of the Pine Cottage Murders, a woman who has tried to leave the night she lost several friends firmly behind and forge onwards with a 'normal' life. Now a prominent baking blogger, Quincy lives in New York with her boyfriend, Jeff and attempts to go about her day to day business, without the title of Final Girl.

'Final Girl' is a movie phrase, used for the last surviving girl in a horror film massacre, with news outlets having assigned the name to three girls over the past years - Lisa Milner, Samantha Boyd and of course, Quincy. Despite having three separate traumas, the girls are linked and share a connection of sorts, not just through the media.

The life Quincy has made for herself is soon shattered when Coop, the policeman who found Quincy on the fateful night at Pine Cottage, shares with her the knowledge that Lisa Milner has died. With the death of Lisa comes the arrival of Samantha Boyd to New York, in search of Quincy and in search of answers.

Running alongside the current day plot of the aftermath of Lisa's death, there are also snatches and snippets of what occurred the night of Pine Cottage - memories that have been repressed for a long time are soon to surface, and all is not what it seems.

There's no doubt about the fact that Final Girls is an intense read - the plot is gripping, I was page turning in a frenzy, and I actually finished this book within a 24 hour time span. I picked the story up at every opportunity I had, and even though at points I thought I knew where the plot was going, I was left surprised by the conclusion.

Overall I rated Final Girls 4 out of 5 stars, with a couple of things leading me to knock a star off. The main reason being that there was a certain character I would've liked to have known more about, and following on from that, although the ending packed the shocker punch, I do feel like it wrapped up very quickly in comparison to the build up. Also the use of 'babe' by Samantha - she ended literally every sentence with it, and it ended up really jarring me. That's probably being nit picky, but I thought I'd share it anyway.

Despite those points, I did really enjoy the writing of Riley Sager, especially the use of short & sharp sentences and suspense filled chapters. I'll definitely have my eye out for future books by Riley Sager.

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Saturday, 15 July 2017

BOOK TALK | Seasonal Reading Lists (+ Blogging Update)


Lately I've been thinking a fair bit about seasonal reading lists... I've always had bumpy relations with TBR lists, often times with me not completing them, however with the way I've been reading of late I think I could really benefit from introducing seasonal reading lists into my life.

Seasonal reading lists... Not a TBR.

The way I approach things often has an impact on the outcome of any given task, as I'm sure it does for many, and that's why I'll be switching up my mind set from TBR (to be read) list to a reading list.

I get that they are basically the same thing - a compiled list of books that you hope to read over a certain period of time - however I associate TBR's with negative thoughts and feelings of failure.

By putting together a seasonal reading list, I'll have a stack of carefully selected books that I'm excited to read within a given season. There will be no pressure, no negativity involved, no feeling of overwhelm because these books need reading... The aim is to return to my favourite pastime of reading, taking comfort in books and enjoying the written word.

A large reason as to why I'm going to start taking on seasonal reading lists is because I want to enjoy reading once more, although I'm sure there will be other benefits too.

FINANCES
Allocating a set amount of money at the start of each season means I'll be able to keep the amount of money I spend on books to a minimum. As of right now I haven't set that figure, but I'm thinking somewhere between £30-£50 for a season. I wouldn't need to buy all of my books at the start of the season, but so long as it stays within budget over the entire three months - I would like to start each season with a base list of books though.

VARIETY
My reading list will include a variety of genres, as well as different target audiences. I read quite eclectically in general, but when I'm really feeling a particular genre, let's say crime, then I'll often burn myself out reading all the crime books, and this is something I want to avoid. I want to intentionally read more widely, and I think that'll be easier to do with a reading list, as I'll be carefully selecting the books that will be laid out for me in the coming months.

SLUMPS
This is has basically been the year of reading slumps for me - and I want to work on this. I think having a reading list will help for a couple of reasons, the first being briefly touched upon in the above section of variety. The second reason I think a reading list will help is the fact that I'll be giving myself reading perimeters almost, with a set list of books, and so I think that will help me to be less flitty and finicky with my book choices.

For the most part, I've always been someone who read freely, picking up books that suited my mood and going with the flow of feeling, however this year has been a funny old one for me in terms of books and I haven't been enjoying the experience - not of reading, but of the slumps and such. I want to read, I love to read, and by making it a little more low maintenance, I think I can find that joy once more.


Along with making reading a little more low maintenance - it doesn't matter if I don't complete a book within a set amount of days or a week etc - this approach will be taken to my blog also. I will still be sharing content here as I love book blogging and the community I've built here, but there will no longer be a set consistency to my posting. When there's a book I want to rave about, I'll share, or when I feel inspired to sit and write, I'll share.

I think putting a pressure on both reading and blogging, two of my favourite hobbies, has sucked a little of the fun out of them, and I'm keen to get that back.

I've been working on my mindset and improving the way I live my life for a while now, with a more mindful approach, enjoying the little things and taking note from the slow living movement, and this change goes hand in hand with that really.
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Thursday, 6 July 2017

The Summer of Impossible Things by Rowan Coleman

| I received my copy of The Summer of Impossible Things via Netgalley for review purposes |

BLURB
If you could change the past, would you?

Thirty years ago, something terrible happened to Luna’s mother. Something she’s only prepared to reveal after her death.

Now Luna and her sister have a chance to go back to their mother’s birthplace and settle her affairs. But in Brooklyn they find more questions than answers, until something impossible – magical – happens to Luna, and she meets her mother as a young woman back in the summer of 1977.

At first Luna’s thinks she’s going crazy, but if she can truly travel back in time, she can change things. But in doing anything – everything – to save her mother’s life, will she have to sacrifice her own?


MY THOUGHTS
When their mother dies of a tragic suicide, physicist Luna and her sister Pia travel to Brooklyn, New York in order to tie up some loose ends of their mother's, namely the sale of a property she jointly owned with her sister.

Whilst in Bay Ridge, their mother's hometown, demons she battled her entire life come to light, meanwhile scientist Luna starts to experience things that make her question all that she knows.

Visiting the home in which her mum, Marissa, grew up in, Luna is transported back to 1977; Luna time travels to the summer that changed her mother's life, and not for the better.

With the knowledge she now possesses and these newfound abilities, Luna sets out to save her mother and change the course of history.

I was initially drawn to The Summer of Impossible Things because of the time travel aspect, as I enjoy reading that merged with current day, however it was the theme of love within this book that captured me. The story showcases love in a variety of ways, with the sacrifices we make for loved ones being prominent throughout.

'"Love outlasts even death. It's present in every moment, even those filled with darkness; it's never exhausted, it never gives up or waivers. It's the one force of the universe that will never be captured by an equation or your science."'

The characters I met in this book have such deeply developed stories, and are ones that will remain with me for some time to come. The strength and courage possessed by the female leads (Luna, Pia and Marissa), all throughout, was something I admired and loved how strongly they were written.

Happily so, I've now discovered the beauty of Rowan Coleman's writing, and having now finished this five star read I'm keen to explore more of her works.

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Thursday, 15 June 2017

The Lake House by Kate Morton


BLURB
An abandoned house...
June 1933, and sixteen-year-old Alice Edevane is preparing for her family's Midsummer Eve party at their country home, Loeanneth. But by the time midnight strikes and fireworks light up the night skies, the Edevane family will have suffered a loss so great that they leave Loeanneth forever.

A missing child...
Seventy years later, after a particularly troubling case, Detective Sadie Sparrow retreats to her beloved grandfather's cottage in Cornwall. Once there, she stumbles upon an abandoned house, and learns the story of a baby boy who disappeared without a trace.

An unsolved mystery...
Meanwhile, in her elegant Hampstead home, the formidable Alice Edevane, now an old lady, leads a life as neatly plotted as the bestselling detective novels she writes. Until a young police detective starts asking questions about her family's past, seeking to resurrect the complex tangle of secrets Alice has spent her life trying to escape...

MY THOUGHTS
Spanning decades and entwining stories, The Lake House hooks you from the very beginning and transports you to Loeanneth; family estate of the Edevane's and home to a mystery that has remained unsolved for many, many years.

When police detective, Sadie Sparrow, finds herself on an enforced break from the police force, she leaves London with Cornwall and her granddad, Bertie, in her sights. Twiddling her thumbs, and wiling away the days isn't something Sadie takes to easily, and whilst out running in the nearby landscape she stumbles across Loeanneth; a beautiful but abandoned country home. Sadie soon learns of the history and mystery surrounding Loeanneth, and gets stuck in to a new investigation.

Back in London, crime writer Alice Edevane is working on her newest detective novel, when a letter from Sadie Sparrow draws the author back into a time she had long since been trying to distance herself from.

The unfolding story is told in both past (1930's) and present (2003) with a third person narration, however the chapters are told from varying view points with each character having a distinct and clear voice. I think the story telling method worked well here, with potential discoveries and revelations soon being addressed with a look back in time.

As I mentioned above, each character has a distinct and clear voice, as well as having a believable backstory and personality - I like realistic characters, individual traits, people with flaws, and that's how the characters are written in The Lake House. As well being well written, I felt a connection with the characters and cared for them; wanting conclusions and empathising in certain situations.

There are a couple of themes running through The Lake House, with the main one being the loss of a child, which is highlighted in a number of ways through different plot points. The nature of this subject, and others that are touched upon, make for an emotional read although I didn't find the story to be a tear jerker.

Plot wise, a fair bit is going on within The Lake House, my copy being nearly 600 pages long, however I never once felt lost, with the story flowing smoothly and being perfectly paced coming together in an ending I didn't quite see coming.

Whilst there is a lot to cover in the plot, I think another reason why the story runs so long is because of Kate Morton's wonderful use of description. I know this style of writing puts off a lot of people, however done right I think it pulls a story together nicely, offering an immersive reading experience, which proved to be the case here.

I had such an enjoyable reading experience of The Lake House; meeting the characters, visiting Cornwall and Loeanneth, piecing together the puzzle, and most importantly, returning to the writing of Kate Morton. This was the second book of Kate Morton's that I've read, and I'm super excited to delve into more of her backlist.

If you like family sagas, carefully crafted characters and a mystery that keeps you on your toes, then I highly recommend checking out The Lake House by Kate Morton.

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Tuesday, 13 June 2017

READING WITH MY THREE YEAR OLD | Book Haul (June)


As well as books being a large part of my life, they also play quite the role for all three of the family members in our little family: mummy, daddy and our three year old son, Alexander. Having read with Alexander from day one, he seems to have become quite the bookish child, and so I thought I'd start sharing a bit of Alexander's book journey here on my blog.

Today I'm sharing with you a mini book haul of Alexander's - two new titles for his ever-growing book collection. We're big library borrowers in our household, especially when it comes to books for Alexander, but we do try to take a trip to the bookshop once a month and pick out a new book (or two).

Spinderella has a passion for football, but she's not sure how many spiders should be on each team or how to count the goals! Luckily Spinderella's Hairy Godmother is on hand to help...

Loosely based around the tale of Cinderella, the story follows Spinderella as the learns to count to the number 20. I think Alexander opted for this book as he's interested in spiders (although a little scared of them at times) and was happy to learn of the counting element upon reading as he absolutely loves numbers. This book would be great as an introduction to numbers, especially as it involves counting to twenty, not ten like a lot of counting books do. We love Julia Donaldson in our household, and whilst this isn't our favourite books of hers, we do enjoy the story overall.

Nibbles, the book-eating monster, has nibbled his way out of his own book and now he's causing mischief and mayhem in other people's stories. Look out!

At the time of writing this post, we haven't read this with Alexander, although I did give it a read myself and absolutely loved it! Nibbles is a book monster who escapes the confines of his own book and ventures in to some well known fairy tales wreaking havoc. There are a number of flaps and interactive elements inside this book, which I'm sure will make it a fun read with little hands and curious minds. I'd highly recommend this picture book; one of my recent favourites.
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If you have any picture book recommendations, I'd love to hear them!
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Monday, 12 June 2017

CURRENTLY READING | 024


Last week turned out to be a good reading week - I finished The Lake House by Kate Morton and absolutely loved the story, with a review coming up later on this week. Upon finishing The Lake House, I tweeted about the book having the perfect ending, and have since been recommended The Forgotten Garden to read next of Kate Morton's books. Although I've read just two of her books, I'm definitely calling Kate Morton as a new favourite author.

I gave myself a little reading breather after completing The Lake House, and a day later picked up Ned's Circus of Marvels by Justin Fisher which is proving to be an adventurous middle grade read. Although I'm still in the early stages of this title - first quarter - I do hope to finish it before the week is out and move on to a review book; I'm currently eyeing Final Girls by Riley Sager as my next read.

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Thursday, 8 June 2017

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King


BLURB
Since his first collection, Nightshift, published thirty-five years ago, Stephen King has dazzled listeners with his genius as a writer of short fiction. In this new collection he assembles, for the first time, recent stories that have never been published in a book. He introduces each with a passage about its origins or his motivations for writing it.

There are thrilling connections between stories; themes of morality, the afterlife, guilt, what we would do differently if we could see into the future or correct the mistakes of the past.

Magnificent, eerie, utterly compelling, these stories comprise one of King’s finest gifts to his constant fan—“I made them especially for you,” says King. “Feel free to examine them, but please be careful. The best of them have teeth.”

MY THOUGHTS
Stephen King is an author I've wanted to read more of for some time, however I felt a little overwhelmed by his extensive backlist. I have read a couple of novels by King, a few years ago now, but thought returning to his work with a short story collection would be a great way of dipping my toe back into his style of writing.

As with any short story collection, there are going to be some stories enjoyed more than others; I found that to be the case here, however overall thoroughly enjoying The Bazaar of Bad Dreams.

In total there are 21 stories, with the book running at a chunky 507 pages. The stories all vary in length, ranging from under ten pages to just over sixty, all with an introduction from Stephen King himself sharing a little insight as to how the story came about.

There was one story that I didn't read: Afterlife. My reasons for not reading this particular story are because I have a deep set fear of death (in particular the afters of death) and I tend to avoid certain things that I know will get the thoughts going and such like. I read plenty of books that deal with death, and in fact my favourite story within this collection also involved such a subject, it just depends on the context that it is being addressed. I don't know if that makes sense... I hope it does!

My favourite story within the collection is titled Under the Weather - relatively short in length, the story is well paced and a little bit sad, but a stand out from the collection.

Both of the stories I mentioned involved the sensitive subject of death, but there are a bunch of elements running through the collection, and as with Stephen King's other works, no one specific genre; there is something for everyone.

If you're already a fan of King's writing, then of course pick this up, but if you're like me and wanting to explore Stephen King's writing style a little more before fully committing to reading a bunch of backlist books, then The Bazaar of Bad Dreams is the book for you.

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