Thursday, 3 August 2017

BOOK REVIEW | 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.

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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

BOOK REVIEW | 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

BOOK REVIEW | 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

BOOK REVIEW | 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

BOOK REVIEW | 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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Tuesday, 6 June 2017

BOOK REVIEW | Secrets of Southern Girls by Haley Harrigan

| I received by copy of Secrets of Southern Girls via Netgalley for review purposes |

BLURB
Ten years ago, Julie Portland accidentally killed her best friend, Reba. What's worse is she got away with it. Consumed by guilt, she left the small town of Lawrence Mill, Mississippi, and swore nothing would ever drag her back. Now, raising her daughter and struggling to make ends meet in Manhattan, Julie still can't forget the ghost of a girl with golden hair and a dangerous secret.

When August, Reba's first love, begs Julie to come home to find the diary that Reba kept all those years ago, Julie's past comes creeping back to haunt her. That diary could expose the shameful memories Julie has been running from, but it could also unearth the hidden truths that Reba left buried…and reveal that Julie isn't the only one who feels responsible for Reba's death.

MY THOUGHTS
I was super excited to read Secrets of Southern Girls, the debut novel of writer Haley Harrigan, however I came away from my reading experience with really mixed feelings... The story itself wasn't quite what I was expecting, but I loved the writing style of the author.

Having lived with the guilt of killing her best friend, Julie agrees to do something she promised herself she wouldn't ever do - return to the town she spent much of her childhood in, the town she accidently killed her best friend in, the town that holds many dark secrets from youth. Julie isn't heading back to Lawrence Mill on her own; she has been convinced to return with her best friend Reba's first boyfriend, August. The two of them have existed since the passing of Reba, but never really had any closure on her death... Closure being in the form of a diary Reba kept during her last year of life.

Overall I thought the general gist of the storyline to be intriguing, not quite as suspenseful or thrilling as I anticipated, but definitely mysterious in nature. There were parts of the storyline I wasn't a fan of though, with some elements being cliché and others kind of clumsy in use. Also, racism is a part of Secrets of Southern Girls, however I think it could have been dealt with on a deeper level than it actually was. Racism is relevant to the story but it was kind of just there.

I didn't connect with main character Julie, however I did want to know where all of this was going, and wished closure for both her and August.

The diary of Reba was interspersed within the narrative of the book, and whilst I enjoyed this inclusion, at times I didn't feel like I was reading the diary of a teenage girl - there was a distinct voice to the character of Reba, but not one I imagined from all that the reader knows of her.

As I mentioned above, I enjoyed the writing style of the author, and would definitely be on the lookout for more work from her. I rated Secrets of Southern Girls 3/5 stars on Goodreads and would recommend this title to others who enjoy this genre of book.

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Monday, 5 June 2017

CURRENTLY READING | 023


I'm starting the first full week of June with Kate Morton's 2015 release - The Lake House. I started my reading adventures with Kate Morton last year, really enjoying The House at Riverton, and knew I'd find myself working through her backlist of novels. The Lake House is my second book of hers, so as you can see I'm not actually working through them in publication order, but I'm really enjoying it so far; an intriguing story that I'm currently a little under half way through.

As well as The Lake House, I'm reading a travel guide focusing on The Cotswolds here in the UK. I read travel guides quite frequently, even if I know I won't be visiting the destination anytime in the near future, however I don't actually track them on Goodreads. I've decided to start mentioning them in my 'Currently Reading' posts, however I still won't add them to Goodreads. If you're curious as to why that is, I don't feel like I read them the same as I do a novel or other non fiction titles, more of a browse or leaf through. If you're interested, the travel guide I'm reading is from the Slow Travel range by Bradt and is a great guide for those of us who are non drivers - I'm keen on reading others from the range as exploring the UK more is high on our family travel bucket list.

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Thursday, 1 June 2017

WHAT I READ | May


I'm ending the month of May having completed four books total, however some of them were started before the month itself began - I managed to clear up some books that had bookmarks sitting in them for a while. Yay!

I started May on the right footing by reading a review book that is due to be published this month, in June: Secrets of Southern Girls by Haley Harrigan. My experience whilst reading this title was a mixed bag, ultimately rating the debut novel 3 out of 5 stars. I'll be sharing a full review next week.

Having thought by starting the month in a productive manner, feeling like I was over my reading slump and also getting ahead with review books, I imagined May to be a great reading month for me... However that turned out not to be the case, as I didn't pick up another book for a week or so after completing my first read. I thought my reading slump had returned, which wasn't a great feeling, however ultimately I think I just needed to relieve myself of some pressure. I didn't push myself to blog here, despite wanting May to be my month of returning and consistently blogging, and I also decluttered my bookshelves for the third or fourth time this year. I was brutal with this declutter and my minimal book collection is now even smaller. I felt better for it though, and happily returned to reading the very next day.

I know I've been going on about this slump of mine - reading & blogging - for a while now, and I am sorry for harping on about it so often. Not only the slump but also the negativity I've been feeling with books and my own book collection, however I think it important to document these thoughts for my own record, as well as acknowledge when something you know and love just isn't feeling right for you in a given moment.

Anyway... Back to the other books I managed to read in May.

The next book I completed was Tales of the Peculiar by Ransom Riggs. I was drawn to this book and its stunning book cover in a bookshop, and was a little hesistant about buying it having not finished the series of Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children, but those worries were not warranted as this book is readable even if you have next to no knowledge of the series. The stories were short but well told and are akin to the fairy tales we know from childhood, with beautiful illustrations peppered throughout. Overall I rated Tales of the Peculiar 4 out of 5 stars.

Another short story collection I read in May was The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King - I'd had a bookmark in this title for a couple of months now, picking it back up at the 80 page mark (so very little read). As with any short story collection, some of the stories were enjoyed more than others, and I do hope to write a full review in the coming weeks. Another 4 star read.

I ended the month, and by ended I mean literally finished this yesterday evening, with The Secret Library by Oliver Tearle. This is a non fiction title that I've had a bookmark in since February, but one I wish I had finished a lot sooner. Much like other books mentioned here, I do intend to share a full review of this title, however if you're keen on books about books then this is one for you. 5 out of 5 stars.

Happy reading in June!
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Monday, 8 May 2017

CURRENTLY READING | 022


Now that I'm well and truly over my reading slump (YAY!), I'm keen to get back into blogging, especially my participation in 'It's Monday! What Are You Reading?'.

This week I've started reading Tales of the Peculiar by Ransom Riggs - I haven't actually finished the entire series of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children just yet, however this title is an accompanying book to the world, not the plot as such. Tales of the Peculiar is a collection of short stories, and I've been enjoying dipping in and out of them.

As well as this physical book, I've also been reading some of the review books I have lined up on my Kindle. I've got a bunch of titles for the summer months and am currently reading Secrets of Southern Girls by Haley Harrigan, which is proving to be a mysterious read so far.

I do have bookmarks in a few other books from when I was flitting around with books during my reading slump, however these two titles are the ones I'm focusing on this week.

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Tuesday, 2 May 2017

WHAT I READ | April


In the month of April I completed four books, which is an outcome I'm pretty happy with given the state of my reading in the month. Throughout March and April I have been experiencing a reading slump, but I do feel like I'm over the worst of it now - thankfully so!

The first book I finished was our book club pick for the month: The Breakdown by B.A. Paris. I had only read Behind Closed Doors by the same author back in February, and was blown away by that, so was keen to delve into her newest novel. Overall I had an enjoyable reading experience of The Breakdown, and was still captivated by the writing style of the author, however it didn't entirely live up to the experience I had with her first novel. I will keep an eye out for more writing by B.A. Paris. You can read my full review of The Breakdown here.

Although it was my first book completed in April, I didn't actually finish reading The Breakdown until the 21st of the month. Knowing the month was soon ending, and Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon was not far off, I wanted a short book to delve into next and opted for We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson. I'm currently working through the writing of Shirley Jackson, and this particular title didn't disappoint.

The last two books I read in April were my readathon titles, and both completed within a 24 hour period. Cecelia Ahern is one of my all time favourite authors, and I'd saved her newest YA read specifically for the readathon; being that it was second in a duology I knew I would need my memory jogging on the finer points of the first. I started the readathon with Flawed by Cecelia Ahern, and breezed through it, following up with Perfect by Cecelia Ahern. I thoroughly enjoyed both of the reading experiences, and getting reacquainted with Celestine (main character of the dystopian YA series). I rated both of these titles four star reads, however I haven't reviewed them currently.

I've ended April with bookmarks in Pride & Prejudice (a reread) + The Secret Library by Oliver Tearle (a non fiction read).

Happy reading in the month of May!
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Saturday, 29 April 2017

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon (Master Post)

Today I'm taking part in Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon - one of my favourite events in the book community - and thought I'd kick of the day by sharing my TBR for the event. This will also be my master post, with updates noted here and on Twitter throughout the readathon.


This time around I'm keeping my books, as well as goals, pretty simple: I want to make good progress with Perfect by Cecelia Ahern. This is Ahern's newest release, and the sequel to her first YA book, Flawed. I have actually read Flawed, however I am rereading it in the run up to Perfect as a bit of a memory jogger (I have to do this with any series I read).

Due to time zones, the readathon officially starts at 1pm here in the UK, but I decided to get a bit of a head start this morning by beginning my reread of Flawed... At the time of writing this, and most likely the start of the readathon also, I am just under half way through this. If I could finish both of these titles today, then that would be amazing, but we'll see how it goes.

I don't read for the full 24 hours of the readathon, but I do block out solid chunks throughout the day itself and read, read, read. It is unlikely that I'll read right up to 1pm on Sunday, to make the full 24 hours, however I will go to bed normal time here and wake up with a little extra reading in the morning.

So those are my plans!

UPDATE ONE: 4.00pm (End of hour 3 / Start of hour 4)
I started the readathon on page 185 of Flawed by Cecelia Ahern, and by the start of hour 3 I had completed it... Meaning I read 217 pages in the first two hours. For the third hour I actually took a reading break, because I had been reading a lot longer than just two hours of the day so far. We're at the start of hour 4 now and I'm back in the reading zone... Although I may be deviating from plan slightly!
Hours read: 2
Pages read: 217
Books complete: 1 (Flawed by Cecelia Ahern)

UPDATE TWO: 9.45pm (9th hour)
I'm calling it quits for the day, with hopes of reading more upon waking up tomorrow. Ending the day on page 159 of Perfect by Cecelia Ahern. I did hope to read a bit more today, however I have a nasty dry cough at the moment, and I'm at the point of day now where I can't focus on anything but the pain in throat. Lame excuse, right?! Anyway, I mentioned deviating from plan in update one, and that's because I dipped into Pride & Prejudice, which I've been rereading all month long. I managed just 30 pages there though before my family returned from the tabletop gaming event they had been at. I stopped reading for a good chunk of the evening once they returned, and got back to books when my son went to bed.
Hours read: 5
Pages read: 406
Books complete: Still 1 (Flawed by Cecelia Ahern)

FINAL UPDATE
I finished my participation in the readathon at 11.00am UK time - having read for 8 of the 22 hours that had passed. Overall I'm really happy with how the readathon went; I finished both Flawed & Perfect by Cecelia Ahern.
Hours read: 8
Pages read: 834
Books complete: 2 (Flawed & Perfect by Cecelia Ahern)

If you also took part in the readathon, then a big bookish congrats to you!
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Thursday, 27 April 2017

BOOK REVIEW | The Breakdown by B.A. Paris


BLURB
If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside―the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.

But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.

The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…

MY THOUGHTS
Going into The Breakdown, I didn't know too much about the book itself but not long had passed since reading B.A. Paris's debut novel. I was blown away with the first book, and keen to read the second, actively avoiding spoilers and the such like. I went into The Breakdown blind plot wise, but had heard a couple of people say it wasn't as good as the first... And I came away with that exact experience myself.

After driving by another car in a lay by on a rainy night, Cass feels terrible the next day when she learns that the driver of the car had been murdered that night. To make the situation even worse, Cass had just been getting to know the murder victim in the weeks prior. This in itself is a big situation, but Cass also has other issues going on, including the possibility of early on set dementia. The book itself follows Cass as the tries to lead her life with a sense of normality, all while struggling with the stress and worry of these circumstances.

For the first half of the book, I felt very underwhelmed by the unfolding story, and wasn't able to form a full opinion on all that was going on as it felt like as a reader we weren't privy to everything... And we weren't. Once I reached the 70% mark, the plot really picked up and I found myself furiously page turning; as with her debut novel, the author knows how to write a captivating conclusion!

As with all my reviews, I try to keep them spoiler free, however I will say I did guess a part of the storyline right from the very beginning which kind of disappointed me a little, as it seemed pretty obvious. There were parts of the ending that I didn't see coming, twists at every corner, but also a part or two where I had to suspend my disbelief.

Overall I enjoyed my reading experience of The Breakdown. I would recommend this book to others who enjoy thriller reads, and I'll be on the lookout for future works written by B.A. Paris.

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Thursday, 20 April 2017

UPDATE | Where I'm At With Reading & Blogging


It has been almost two weeks since my last blog post... It seems a lot longer. This has been an unintentional break; with my reading not being very consistent at the moment, naturally my platform to talk about all things bookish has gone a similar way.

There isn't a real purpose behind this update other than to let the readers of my blog know what is happening here currently, where my head space is at, and of course, what I've been reading.

As I mentioned in my March reading wrap up, reading is all over the show for me at the moment. I'm having trouble concentrating, I go days without picking up a book, and for the most part I've been in an on and off reading slump for well over a month now. It sucks! I miss reading. I miss blogging. I miss interacting about books. I miss the stories.

I've been trying all my 'pull yourself out of a reading slump' tips and tricks, however none of those are succeeding greatly at the moment. I've picked up a reread (Pride & Prejudice). I've turned to short stories (The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King). I've picked up a book I'd usually breeze through, in this case a psychological thriller (The Breakdown by B.A. Paris). And I still have bookmarks in all of these books... And then some!

I'm in a bit of a reading pickle really.

At the end of the month I will be taking part in Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon, which I was super excited for and now I'm worried it'll be a total failure! I've already got my books picked out and I'm excited to read the books, but I don't know how the readathon will pan out still being in this place with reading.

As well as missing reading, and the enjoyment I once got from it, I'm also missing blogging. I haven't been posting here consistently for a while, and I also haven't been reading other blogs within the community either.

I don't really have much else to say update wise. I want to read, but I'm not enjoying it. I want to blog, but I'm not reading so have nothing to share. I want to be active in the book blogging community, but the other two points are stopping me for some reason.

I wish I had something positive to end this update with, but bookish wise, there really isn't anything. So instead, please share what you've recently enjoyed reading in the comments below!
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Friday, 7 April 2017

BOOK REVIEW | The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling


BLURB
The Tales of Beedle the Bard have been favourite bedtime reading in wizarding households for centuries. Full of magic and trickery, these classic tales both entertain and instruct, and remain as captivating to young wizards today as they were when Beedle first put quill to parchment in the fifteenth century. There are five tales in all: 'The Tale of the Three Brothers' Harry Potter fans will know from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; 'The Fountain of Fair Fortune', 'The Warlock's Hairy Heart', 'The Wizard and the Hopping Pot' and 'Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump' complete the collection. These narrative gems are accompanied by explanatory notes by Professor Albus Dumbledore (included by kind permission of the Hogwarts Headmaster's archive). His illuminating thoughts reveal the stories to be much more than just simple moral tales, and are sure to make Babbitty Rabbitty and the slug-belching Hopping Pot as familiar to Muggles as Snow White and Cinderella.

MY THOUGHTS
Perhaps best known for playing host to 'The Tales of the Three Brothers', The Tales of Beedle the Bard is a collection of five short stories written by J.K. Rowling as an accompaniment to the Harry Potter series. The tales found inside can be likened to the fairy tales we would hear during childhood, however these have a magical twist to them.

Alongside 'The Tales of the Three Brothers', you'll also find inside: 'The Wizard and the Hopping Pot', 'The Fountain of Fair Fortune', 'The Warlock's Hairy Heart' and 'Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump'. All of the stories are well written and remain in my mind weeks after reading, with my two favourites being 'The Tales of the Three Brothers' (obviously) and also 'The Fountain of Fair Fortune'.

The book itself isn't too long, just over 100 pages, and I read through it quickly. I felt immersed in the wizarding world once more, and was full warm fuzzies whilst reading - the kind of feeling you get when you return home from a holiday.

Something I really enjoyed, besides the stories, was the fact that each story has commentary by Dumbledore at the end of it, with some insight into the perception of the story and how they have changed over time etc. I thought this a nice inclusion. The same can be said for the illustrations in this particular edition - they are just stunning!

This book is a much needed addition to the bookshelves of any Harry Potter fan. I can't believe it took me so long to buy!

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Sunday, 2 April 2017

WHAT I READ | March


I started the month of March by finishing off my reread for February: The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I thoroughly enjoyed rediscovering the story of Henry and Clare (the main characters), and I fell in love with the book all over again.

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz was my next read... I didn't enjoy this title as much as I expected to, and I've definitely read better thriller type reads this year so far. The Passenger isn't a bad read; I had a very 'meh' reading experience - the kind of book you don't recall a whole lot from once you've moved on to another title.

From here in on, my reading picked up greatly, which was really nice as I have been having on and off slumpish moods throughout the entire year so far. The next three titles I picked up all turned out to be five star reads for me.

I decided I needed a book short in length to read next, and so I opted for a new book purchase of mine: The Tales of Beedle the Bard. I've been meaning to read these accompanying books to the Harry Potter series for a long time now, especially this title, and I'm glad I now have it in my book collection. I see myself picking this collection of short stories up every now and again in the future. I did hope to review this book, and another title from this month, however I've yet to write any words on them. It's currently up in the air as to whether a full review will be written or not.

Up next was a review book I'd requested on Netgalley: Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney. This was such a good book - I was totally gripped and blown away by the fact that this is a debut novel. I saw on Twitter (confirmed by the author) that the book has been commissioned for a TV series, and I'm excited to see how it translates to screen. If you're interested in my full review, you can read it here.

The last book I finished in March was Strange Star by Emma Carroll. I'd been all over the show with my reading since finishing my review book, and all I wanted to do was get lost in a book. Emma Carroll is my favourite middle grade author, and I'd had her newest title on my shelves unread for a while waiting for the perfect moment to delve in - this was that moment. I loved so much about Strange Star, but especially the way in which Mary Shelley and her novel Frankenstein was incorporated in the unfolding story.

Whilst I ended the month having read five books, I do still have bookmarks sitting in a couple of titles. Most notably, I have a bookmark sitting in our book club pick for the month of March, and I also wasn't able to pick up my reread for the month either.

I'm going into April with the aim of reading just the one book at a time, hoping that this will help me with the on and off reading slump, and fall back in love with the act of reading again.

Happy reading in the month of April!
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Monday, 27 March 2017

BLOG TALK | On Reviewing Books...


Today I wanted to have a little discussion about reviewing books... Not an essential part of book blogging, but definitely a prevalent one.

Within the book blogging community we all have our own approaches to blogging, and in that our own approaches to the content we share. I know of bloggers who don't share book reviews at all, and others who review every single book they read - I think for the most part a happy medium of both of those is common in the community.

Personally, I don't review every single book I read... I write reviews of books I want to rave about and recommend, or discuss with others who have read it also. For the most part, the reviews I share are of books I have a positive reading experience of. That's not to say I only review books I rate five stars, or books I have nothing bad to say about, but just that the reading experience is one I want to remember.

I know some people would have a gripe with that... Why don't I talk about the books I didn't enjoy? Or the books I rate as 1 or 2 star reads? It isn't that I'm purposefully not reviewing these books because I don't want to offend or anything; I don't review these books as I don't want to spend more time on a book that didn't provide me with a positive reading experience. Also, if I'm not enjoying a book very much, chances are that I'll DNF it anyway.

This year, instead of entirely glazing over titles like that, I've decided to talk about them a little in my monthly wrap up posts. I think it's important to address books you didn't enjoy, and until recently I didn't know how to incorporate them in blog posts, however the solution of including them in my wrap up is working well for me so far.

Now you know how I approach reviewing books, I'd love to know how you go about reviewing the books you read.
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Friday, 24 March 2017

BOOK HAUL | First Book Buys of 2017


This title is our book club pick for the month of March.

A must for any Harry Potter loving book collector. I've been meaning to pick this book up for a while now, and love the illustrations within this edition.

I'm slowly working my way through Shirley Jackson's writing.

If you want to read more about the books mentioned, then the title will take you to Goodreads
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Thursday, 23 March 2017

BOOK REVIEW | Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

| I received by copy of Sometimes I Lie via Netgalley for review purposes |

BLURB
My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:

1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.
3. Sometimes I lie.

MY THOUGHTS
Wow! I don't even know where to start with this review - on the one hand I want to spew out all my thoughts and on the other I just want you to go and pick up the book yourself and discover the brilliance of it.

We meet Amber, the narrator of the story, in hospital. As the blurb indicates, she is in a coma, and a portion of the narrative is told via Amber's thoughts in her coma. This in itself makes for pretty eerie reading, add to that the unfolding mystery of how Amber ended up in a coma, as well as diary entries from many year priors and you've got yourself one serious page turner. 

The plot of Sometimes I Lie seemed pretty straight forward to begin with, but as with any good psychological thriller, you shouldn't get comfortable in your knowledge and what you think is happening, especially with an unreliable narrator.

I know some dislike an unreliable narrator, but in this book it totally makes the complex story that is unfolding. All of the characters within Sometimes I Lie have substance, however as you reader you do feel like you get to know Amber the most and connect with her even. You are lured in by her words, and you forget that third point from the blurb - 'sometimes I lie'.

The plot is amazing. The characters are so dark and deeply developed. Alice Feeney has a writing style that is not only detailed but also a beauty to read at times, lyrical even. I would definitely be on the look out for more work by Alice Feeney; it is kind of hard to believe that this is her debut novel!

The year is still quite young, but I expect to see this title in my top ten of the year.

If you're looking to get stuck into a good psychological thriller that'll keep you on your toes, then I highly recommend picking up Sometimes I Lie.

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Friday, 17 March 2017

BOOK TALK | Spring Clean Your Bookshelves


I don't know about you, but I love a good spring clean. Whilst I have a regular cleaning routine, and try to consistently declutter my home, there is something very freeing about setting aside time in a season where new life surrounds us. Now you may be thinking, well that's nice Jade, but what does this have to do with books?

I have one question for you... Are your bookshelves on your spring cleaning list?

STEPS TO SPRING CLEAN YOUR BOOKSHELVES

SET ASIDE A CHUNK OF TIME
I think this is one of the things that definitely puts people off spring cleaning their bookshelves, as well as completing book inventories - you need to commit a solid chunk of time to undertake the task. If you're going to begin cleaning your shelves only to be distracted, needed elsewhere, or just plain fed up in an hour or so, then there isn't any point beginning. Spring cleaning your bookshelves is a lot easier when done all in one fell swoop.

TAKE EVERYTHING OFF
Whether you have 50 books, 105, or even 550, you need to pull them all out. Every single one of them. The ones from your primary shelves, the ones sitting on your bedside table, the one you keep in your bag for those just in case moments. Every single book. If you have multiple bookshelves in various rooms, pick the one in which to complete this task, with all books coming together in one big pile. Whilst you're taking each book off, dust it... This is going to make the task easier in the long run.

DUST YOUR SHELVES
Having dusted your books individually, it's now time to dust off your shelves. And just like your books, that's every single one of them.

DECLUTTER
Spring cleaning isn't just about the act of cleaning; it is also a time to look at what you have and evaluate what to keep and what not to keep - do you need everything you own? Of course, books aren't just something you measure by 'do you need it' and so I have a few helpful questions to ask yourself regarding your book collection.

UNREAD BOOKS
How long have you owned the book?
If you've owned an unread book for more than two or three years... It's likely time you let go of it. Set up two piles of your unread books - those you've only owned a short period of time and those that have sat collecting dust longer. Place the unread books you've owned less time in your pile of keep books, and then come back to your other stack. You can either automatically place these books in a donate pile, or you can comb through them one more time and see if there are any titles you know you want to read, and soon.

If you find you have books in your unread pile that you've owned a good amount of time and still hold on hope of reading, then by all means keep them, but I'd recommend putting a time limit on them. Say, if they haven't been read in the next six months then there's a high chance you won't get round to reading them and it's time to let them go to someone else who may love and enjoy them.

READ BOOKS
Did you enjoy your reading experience of the book?
If the answer to this question is no, then what are you even holding on to the book for?! If you didn't enjoy the book the first time, then you certainly aren't going to revisit the book in the future. Give the book a new home.

Am I going to reread it?
This is my number one question. After I've read any book, I ask myself this question before placing it into my book collection. If I don't see myself rereading a book in the future, then it gets placed in my donations bag... And the key here is to not look back. If you answer this question with a no, then place it in your very own donation pile.

But it has sentimental value you say. So and so gave me this book as a gift, I met the author at an event, I have a signed edition. Whilst this task is about being honest with yourself and decreasing the amount of books you own, we aren't being ruthless! Whilst the examples I mentioned are valid and true points, don't be trying to find excuses for each and every book.

REVIEW THE STACKS
You'll now have either two or three stacks of books: one pile of books to keep, one pile of books to donate, and one pile of unread books you aren't sure about. I would recommend going over that last pile of books just the once more before fully committing to all the titles there.

BUILDING YOUR COLLECTION
Now it's time to replace all those books you intend to keep. You may be tired at this point, so over seeing books upon books upon books, but have fun with this step. Take a book inventory, switch up the way in which you previously stored your books, look to Pinterest for ideas and inspiration. If you have that third pile, a collection of unread books that you aren't ready to donate yet, then I recommend keeping these books to one side as opposed to interspersing them with the rest of your collection - not only are you more likely to read them sooner, but you'll also be reminded to get rid of them after your chosen period of time has passed.

DONATE
Last, but by no means least, is the task of donating your books - the sooner you get these books out of your house, the better. There are a multitude of places that'll happily take your unwanted books: friends and family, your local library or even school, charity shops / thrift stores, book swap or even give them away on social media. If you'd rather make a little extra cash from your books as opposed to donating them, then you can always sell them on eBay or other market place sites.

Now you can step back and admire your hard work and dedication, feeling lighter for it.
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