Tuesday, 28 February 2017

WHAT I READ | February


As February began, I found myself finishing the last few chapters of a review book: Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller. Having loved Fuller's debut novel, Our Endless Numbered Days, you could say I had high expectations for her second novel, and whilst I didn't come away disappointed from the book, I did have a gripe or two. I ended up rating Swimming Lessons 4 out of 5 stars, and you can read my full review here.

The next book I found myself completing was a library borrow, and totally unfitting of the current season, however I'd reserved Monsters by Emerald Fennell way back last summer and it only just came in this year! Crazy! Monsters is a darker read, focusing on two teenagers who are a bit obsessed with death and all things morbid. When deaths start occurring in the village where they are spending their summer holidays, the two decide to play detective. The book itself is really well written and I loved the humour that was injected into this horror of a read. Monsters seems to be marketed as a YA book, however I wouldn't agree with that myself, especially the younger end of the YA scale. I rated Monsters 4 stars on Goodreads; if you're looking for an alternative to the typical 'beach reads' this summer, then I recommend this title.

I picked up a non fiction title in February: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo. I've had this book on my radar for while, having been intrigued by some of the techniques I'd heard from others who'd read it, and so borrowed a copy from the library. Whilst I didn't agree with all the sentiments that go into the KonMari method and definitely won't be implementing it into my own lifestyle, I did find the book to be very motivating and I have decluttered a little more since my reading experience.

After two library books, I took to my Kindle and got stuck into Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris - I'd heard so many positive reviews of this book, and it was definitely one of the titles I was most excited to get round to this year. Behind Closed Doors ended up being my first 5 star read of 2017. It's close to two weeks since finishing this book and I'm still thinking about it! You can read my full review here.

Our book club pick of the month was A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart. I had expectations for this title, after hearing some glowing reviews, however unfortunately I wasn't able to connect with the narrator of the book and so it ended up being a DNF for me. There are others in the book club who completed the story and absolutely loved it though, so I wouldn't let my experience put you off if you were thinking of reading it.

I'm ending February on page 359 of my February reread, The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I started my reread quite near the beginning of the month, however I've been savouring it and I just adore this story - I've loved every minute of revisiting Henry and Clare. I'm writing this on Tuesday morning, so there is a chance I'll get more reading in throughout the day, however it's unlikely I'll complete the book as a whole.

Happy reading to you all in March!
SHARE:

Sunday, 26 February 2017

READING RECORD | 002


SUNDAY 19th FEBRUARY
1.58pm - 2.24pm: Read from page 19 - 46 of A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart

9.20pm - 9.54pm: Read from page 47 - 79 of A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart

MONDAY 20th FEBRUARY
7.18pm - 8.03pm: Read from page 159 - 197 of The Time Traveler's wife by Audrey Niffenegger

9.45pm - 10.20pm: Read from page 80 - 129 of A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart

TUESDAY 21st FEBRUARY
10.30am - 11.00am: Read from page 197 - 237 of The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

2.00pm - 2.30pm: Read from page 7 - 23 of The Secret Library by Oliver Tearle (NEW READ)

7.59pm - 8.14pm: Read from page 238 - 272 of The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

WEDNESDAY 22nd FEBRUARY
7.45pm - 8.03pm: Read from page 273 - 291 of The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

THURSDAY 23rd FEBRUARY
No reading

FRIDAY 24th FEBRUARY
9.50am - 10.25am: Read from page 23 - 49 of The Secret Library by Oliver Tearle

7.30pm - 7.45pm: Read from page 292 - 308 of The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

DECIDED TO DNF A BOY MADE OF BLOCKS (WILL DISCUSS MORE IN MONTHLY WRAP UP)

SATURDAY 25th FEBRUARY
No reading

NOTES | Compared to last week, I feel like I had a slow reading week. The amount I read definitely fluctuates week to week, and I think umming and ahhing whether to DNF or not put me off reading a little this week.
SHARE:

Thursday, 23 February 2017

BOOK TALK | Five Ways To Organise Your Bookshelves


I've spoke before about how I'm constantly reorganising and changing up my bookshelves. When I look at my bookshelves I like to feel happy at the sight before me, and for that reason I make my shelves visually pleasing to my eye, however there are a great number of ways in which you can organise your bookshelves... Today I'm sharing five of those.

ALPHABETICALLY
One of the most common ways to order your books is alphabetically - this is a great way of organising for those who are keen on having a proper system in place that helps you to keep track of all your books, with each title being easily locatable. It works well for libraries, so why not your own book collection?!

CHRONOLOGICALLY
Deep down I absolutely love this idea, and had I been someone who tracked their reading from very early on, I would be tempted to organise my books chronologically. Ordering books in chronological order - starting from your first read book and onwards - is basically a visual reading record. I think this system would be particularly great for those who have a hard time getting rid of books and keep pretty much all the books they read.

BY GENRE
Taking even more inspiration from the library, you can organise books by genre. If you're someone who reads quite widely, as opposed to sticking to the same two or three comfort genres, then this system would be wonderful for you. You could even transform your book collection into your very own library by organising by genre, and then alphabetically within said genre.

BY COLOUR
In the past couple of years organising your books by colour has become a bit of a trend of sorts, but there is no denying how beautiful colourful bookshelves look! Organising your books by colour is a perfect method for those who aren't fussed on a fully functioning system, but are keen on visually appealing shelves.

STYLE THEM
Lastly I want to touch upon styling your bookshelves, which in itself can cover a multitude of elements. Styled shelves are perfect for the visual and creative types, plus also those who don't own too many books as you can fill out your bookcase a bit. Elements for styling your shelves can include stacking your books both horizontally and vertically, adding trinkets + ornaments + photo frames, placing your favourite cover front facing in order to highlight them, painting the backboards of your case in order to have colour peeking through, and even adding life to your shelves with flowers and greenery.

I don't organise my shelves specifically in one way, as you'll see from my picture above: I have a shelf for books by one of my favourite authors, I have some arranged by colour, some aren't even 'technically' organised I just liked how they looked. I'm keen to hear how you organise your books, whether that be the one method or a mixture.
SHARE:

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

TUESDAY INTROS | A Boy Made of Blocks


BLURB
Meet thirtysomething dad, Alex.
He loves his wife Jody, but has forgotten how to show it. He loves his on Sam, but doesn't understand him. Something had to change. And he needs to start with himself.

Meet eight-year-old Sam.
Beautiful, surprising, autistic. To him the world is a puzzle he can't solve on his own.

When Sam starts to play Minecraft, it opens up a place where Alex and Sam begin to rediscover both themselves and each other... When life starts to tear one family apart, can they put themselves back together, one piece at a time?

A Boy Made of Blocks is a beautiful, funny and heartwarming story of family and love inspired by the author's own experiences with his son.

FIRST LINES
I am estranged.

This is the first thought that hits me as I leave the house, cross the road and limb into our battered old estate car. I guess the correct term is we are estranged, but then mostly, I suppose, this is my fault. I look back through the rear-view mirror and see my wife, Jody, in the doorway, her long hair dishevelled and knotted. Burying his head into her side is our eight-year-old son, Sam. He is trying to simultaneously cover his eyes and his ears, but I know it's not because he doesn't want to see me go. He is anticipating the sound of the engine, which will be too loud for him.

WOULD YOU CONTINUE READING?

SHARE:

Monday, 20 February 2017

CURRENTLY READING | 020


Last week I managed to wrap up reading two books - Behind Closed DoorsThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying - as well as make a good dent in my February reread.

The Time Traveler's Wife (my February reread) was my primary book last week and whilst I do still have a bookmark in that title, it isn't my main read for this week. Somehow February seems to have flown by and I have yet to start the book pick for the twitter book club I take part in (#BookClub140), and so with the chat looming my attention this week is focused on that. Our February pick is A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart - I'm really happy about this as the book of the month is often picked through a poll, and I voted for this title.

SHARE:

Sunday, 19 February 2017

READING RECORD | 001


SUNDAY 12th FEBRUARY
8.52am - 9.17am: Read from page 137 - 177 of Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

2.15pm - 2.40pm: Read from page 150 - 180 of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo

8.00pm - 8.35pm: Read from page 72 - 106 of The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

MONDAY 13th FEBRUARY
8.10pm - 9.00pm: Read from page 177 - 259 of Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

TUESDAY 14th FEBRUARY
No reading

WEDNESDAY 15th FEBRUARY
8.45am - 9.25am: Read from page 180 - 240 of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo (FINISHED THE BOOK)

7.30pm - 8.37pm: Read from page 259 - 350 of Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris (FINISHED THE BOOK)

THURSDAY 16th FEBRUARY
7.15pm - 7.55pm: Read from page 107 - 129 of The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

9.23pm - 9.35pm: Read from page 40 - 61 of A Poem for Every Night of the Year (CATCHING UP ON FEBRUARY POEMS)

FRIDAY 17th FEBRUARY
No reading

SATURDAY 18th FEBRUARY
11.00am - 11.35am: Read from page 129 - 158 of The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

7.15pm - 7.30pm: Read from page 1 - 18 of A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart

SHARE:

Friday, 17 February 2017

BOOK TALK | My Library List


The other week I had a really wild Friday night... I spent my evening cross referencing the books on my wishlist with my local library catalogue. Wild, right?! Well, my reasoning behind this task was to cut down my wishlist in a bid to continue buying minimal books this year, and for the future in general. I figure if I keep the books I hope to read bound by what my library stocks, then I have no reason to purchase books really. That's not to say I'll never purchase another book again, but that way when I do buy books I'll be buying them with intention whilst still being able to browse and soak up the atmosphere found in bookshops - as I spoke about late last year.

Today I thought I'd compile a list of all the books I hope to read, that my local library currently carries.

If you've read any of these books and think I NEED to read them, and soon, be sure to leave the title below.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly
Public Library and Other Stories by Ali Smith (CURRENTLY BORROWED)
Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
Collected Ghost Stories by M.R. James
The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango
Florence & Giles by John Harding
The Girl Who Couldn't Read by John Harding
It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
Burton on Burton by Mark Salisbury
The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy by Tim Burton
Ghostly: A Collection of Ghost Stories by Audrey Niffenegger
When We Collided by Emery Lord
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker
Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi
The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
Love from Boy: Roald Dahl's Letters to His Mother by Donald Sturrock
Blame by Simon Mayo

My reading isn't confined to these titles however, this is just books I know I want to read that my library carries. I'll still continue reading from my unread shelf, wander the library for books to borrow and browse the bookstore every now and again.
SHARE:

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris


BLURB
Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You'd like to get to know Grace better. But it's difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.

Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace's friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn't Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?

MY THOUGHTS
I want to start out this review by saying I did not like the plot of this book, and yet it is my first five star read of 2017. The story within the pages of Behind Closed Doors is one of the most disturbing and twisted I've ever read. It is also one of the most well written psychological thrillers I've read. At times this book was incredibly difficult to read, and yet such a page turner at the same time.

Told through a dual storyline of past and present, we meet Grace and Jack, a couple who seem to have it all but with a very different life playing out behind closed doors - hence the title. I don't really want to say too much more about the plot as it is the kind best read first hand, however I will say there is a darkness to it that I didn't even imagine when picking up this book.

The use of telling the story through both present day and the past adds a element of mystery to the narrative, leading to some very tense reading moments, and I really enjoyed that format. From the narrative, I feel like I was able to get into the mind of Grace the most of all the major characters, however each and every one of them is amazingly crafted. 

Behind Closed Doors is perfectly plotted, with the last few lines of the book wrapping everything together in the best way - I literally read the last page multiple times because it was just perfect.

I debated rating Behind Closed Doors lower than five stars, feeling uncomfortable with the plot, however the book was so well written, held my attention throughout, contained developed character with an amazing ending overall, and because of this I've given five stars. And the fact that Behind Closed Doors is a debut novel, just wow!

On Goodreads the author has confirmed that the movie rights have been sold for Behind Closed Doors, and I really hope it translates as well in film format. To be honest though, I don't know if I'd have the stomach to watch the story unfold, it was hard enough reading it.

I would recommend Behind Closed Doors to those who enjoy mystery + thriller type reads, however it definitely isn't for the faint hearted.

*Sorry if this review is a little all over the place - it was kind of hard to formulate articulate thoughts on this book*

LINKS
SHARE:

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

BOOK TALK | My Four Favourite Harry Potter Theories


I love reading conspiracy theories... I like the depth to them and seeing how others interpret certain things. There are some wild theories out there, and some pretty plausible ones also. There isn't a specific subject I like to read theories on, however those surrounding the Harry Potter stories always draw me in and hold my attention for way longer than I intended. Today I thought I'd share a few of my favourite theories.

The theories I'm sharing aren't things I necessarily believe myself, just theories that have intrigued me.

THE HARRY POTTER SERIES IS ABOUT MENTAL ILLNESS
There is a pretty in depth theory that the story of Harry Potter is actually based on him being institutionalised in a mental hospital, and the goings on within the book are all delusions and fantasy. There is so much thought that goes into this theory, and whether you believe it to be true or not, I think it makes for an interesting read nonetheless.  

MUGGLES AND WIZARDS HAD A WAR
I've kind of always given thought to this theory myself, but there is a theory that long ago the muggles had a war with those from the magical world, and the muggles won. Evidence of this includes the Minister of Magic having to report to the Prime Minister at certain times, seeming as if the Ministry of Magic is a department of the government, not a government in itself. Also, the wizarding world is kept highly secretive, with wizards wanting to keep their abilities hidden from muggles. There is some more depth and evidence to this theory, and I'd highly recommend reading up on it if you're a Harry Potter fan.

HARRY POTTER IS NOW IMMORTAL
Taking a look at the prophecy, this theory suggests that Harry made the ultimate sacrifice and will forever be 'The Boy Who Lived'.

'either must die at the hand of the other, for neither can live while the other survives'

Having killed Voldemort, Harry is now immortal as his only means of achieving death was at the hand of Voldemort. I personally don't interpret the prophecy in this way, but the concept is an interesting one.

MARY POPPINS ATTENDED HOGWARTS
Okay, so this theory is a little out there... Mary Poppins was a student at Hogwarts long before Harry Potter's time. This is one of those theories that just kind of amuses me, with coincidences being drawn from the two stories, but it does make me think.

I know this isn't my usual kind of post, and not wholly relating to books, but hopefully somebody enjoyed this type of post! If you're at all interested in Harry Potter conspiracy theories, I'd love to hear about your favourite.
SHARE:

Monday, 13 February 2017

CURRENTLY READING | 019


Whilst I haven't shared content here on Reading With Jade in over a week, I have been reading in that time - happily so! I will admit though that my reading is a bit all over the show at the moment. I'm trying to work on getting back to focusing on just the one book at a time, and am hoping to start tracking my reading a bit more thoroughly with a reading record for the remainder of this month.

As the picture above shows, my current main read is The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger - this is my reread for the month of February. In case you didn't know, I've assigned myself a reread title for each month of the year, and you can read the full list here.

Alongside this book I'm also reading an e-book and dipping in and out of a non fiction title too.

On my Kindle I'm currently breezing through Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris - I'd heard a lot of positive things about this title, and being over half way through the book, I can see why! Such a page turner!

I'm also reading all about the KonMari method at the moment, having picked up The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying from the library. I feel like I'm probably one of the last people to pick up this book, and whilst I know I wouldn't fully implement the method into my own life, I'm finding the theory really insightful and it is giving me that push I need right now.

SHARE:

Friday, 3 February 2017

Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

| I received my copy of Swimming Lessons via Netgalley for review purposes |

BLURB
Ingrid Coleman writes letters to her husband, Gil, about the truth of their marriage, but instead of giving them to him, she hides them in the thousands of books he has collected over the years. When Ingrid has written her final letter she disappears from a Dorset beach, leaving behind her beautiful but dilapidated house by the sea, her husband, and her two daughters, Flora and Nan.

Twelve years later, Gil thinks he sees Ingrid from a bookshop window, but he’s getting older and this unlikely sighting is chalked up to senility. Flora, who has never believed her mother drowned, returns home to care for her father and to try to finally discover what happened to Ingrid. But what Flora doesn’t realize is that the answers to her questions are hidden in the books that surround her. Scandalous and whip-smart, Swimming Lessons holds the Coleman family up to the light, exposing the mysterious truths of a passionate and troubled marriage. 
 

MY THOUGHTS
I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I picked up Swimming Lessons... I'd read the blurb, as well as the author's debut novel, and knew this was the kind of book that piqued my interest.

Told through a duel narrative, we are welcomed into the Coleman family. The story is told through a present time narrative, and the letters Ingrid has written for her husband, Gil. After receiving news that her father has had an accident, Flora heads back home to be with him and older sister, Nan. This is where the present day narrative takes place, with the letters being from many years prior. Of the two, I adored the unfolding story in the letters, however both narratives have their place and play a part in piecing together the details of the dysfunctional Coleman family.

Whilst the family as a whole are the focus of the story, it is the marriage of Ingrid and Gil that is at the heart of the story. It is what drew me and kept me reading. The portrayal of their marriage was real and raw, and at times the letters felt too intimate for us readers to be reading. What I mean by that is that there are some things you tend to keep to yourself, and the marriage of Gil and Ingrid is laid bare, warts and all.

Through the letters I felt like we really got a sense of who Ingrid was, seeing how marriage and family life changed her. How Gil changed her. At times she felt vulnerable, at times she angered me, and overall, Ingrid felt like the most fleshed out character within this book.

The letters run up to Ingrid's disappearance, and this is a mystery that runs throughout the book. No one knows what happened to Ingrid, she just upped and left one day with no one knowing what happened to her. At the start of the book, Gil believes he has seen his wife in town, and this only fuels the mystery further.

I would recommend this book to others in general, but I do think the way in which books heavily feature in the plot draw in bookworms that little bit more. Not only does Gil have a huge (I mean HUGE) collection of books, but the letters Ingrid writes to her husband are stored in books, with the titles in which she leaves those letters associating with what she has written in the letter. It is very cleverly done.

There is a sadness, but also hope, in Swimming Lessons. I feel I read this book at a much slower pace than usual, but it needed that dedicated time to fully absorb the beauty of the story.

LINKS
SHARE:

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

WHAT I READ | January


I started January with one of my all time favourite authors, Cecelia Ahern, picking up her newest release as my first book of the year. Whilst I enjoyed the development of Lyrebird as a character, and always love Ahern's way with words, I didn't entirely love the story as a whole. I rated Lyrebird four out of 5 stars, and you can read my full review here.

Secondly, I picked up my first reread of the year: Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. Whilst this is a melancholy read, I came away from this book with a number of life affirmations, as I recall doing the first time also. An inspiring read that I rated four stars, and a title I'd recommend all to read at least the once.

Next up I opted for another reread, unplanned, but very much enjoyed, and that was The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell. I love returning to this title every now and then, and it makes a delightful read for any bookworm. At five stars, The Bookshop Book was my highest rated read of the month, and if you take anything away from this post, then it should be to pick this book up!!

My fourth read of January was a book for review: Life in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos. I was super excited about the concept of this book, focusing on reality TV, however the story itself wasn't quite what I expected. I rated this book three stars out of five, and you can read my full review here.

Delving into a short story collection next, I visited the works of Rachel Joyce when picking up A Snow Garden & Other Stories. Previously I'd read Perfect by this author and enjoyed her writing style, and know The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is a much loved read however I haven't read it myself. In the story collection I did enjoy the writing style, however some of the stories felt a bit all over the show for me. Also, the stories are all connected, however I kind of wish they were a little more subtly connected. Three out of five stars for A Snow Garden & Other Stories.

My next read was the book club pick of the month: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. I had been so keen to delve into this book, not only because of all the buzz surrounding this title, but because I read each and every Picoult novel... Unfortunately, I didn't love this title as much as I thought I would. I think the message she is trying to get across with this novel is so important and powerful, especially given current times, but the story itself wasn't all that for me. I ended up rating Small Great Things 3 stars, and you can read my full review here.

I ended the month of January so very nearly finishing up Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller, but not quite. It shall be finished in the next couple of days. I absolutely love this book - Claire Fuller is definitely one of my new favourite authors.

Happy reading to you all in February!
SHARE:
Blog Layout Designed by pipdig