Thursday, 29 December 2016

BOOK TALK | Most Popular Book Reviews of 2016


For my last post of the year I decided to compile a list of my most popular book reviews written within the year of 2016.

I read a total of 74 books over the past twelve months, with 23 reviews being written. As you can see, I don't review all the books I read. I don't really have a formula to which books I do review here on my blog, and which I don't, however I would say I tend to write reviews for the books I want to shout about and recommend to others.

Below is a list of my ten most viewed book review posts from 2016.


WISHING YOU ALL THE HAPPIEST OF NEW YEARS, WITH WONDERFUL READS TO BE HAD!
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Tuesday, 27 December 2016

BOOK TALK | Favourite Books of 2016


As the year draws to a close, it is time we reflect upon all that transpired in the rather unexpected year of 2016, and whilst there are a number of things to look back on (both good and bad), here in the bookish community it means time to reflect upon all the stories and authors we discovered in the year.

Reading wise, 2016 was a pretty good year for me. I was able to delve into the world of Narnia for the first time, revisit Hogwarts and the wizarding world, as well as devour the words of tried and true favourite authors of mine whilst also discovering new to me authors I'd like read more of... Goodreads informs me that more than 50% of the books I read this year were 4 & 5 star reads - as I said, a pretty good year, right?!

Often times it can be hard recollecting the books you read within a year, without consulting Goodreads, and whittling those titles down to just ten near impossible, but I found compiling my list of top ten books of the year pretty easy. The books I've shared below were all stand out reads for this year, and titles + authors I'd happily recommend others pick up and read.

Books are not listed in a ranking system, but in the order in which I read them.


WISHING YOU ALL THE HAPPIEST OF NEW YEARS, WITH WONDERFUL READS TO BE HAD!


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Tuesday, 20 December 2016

BLOG TALK | A New Look For Reading With Jade


I've been talking about wanting to smarten up the look of 'Reading With Jade' for quite some time now, and I've finally gone and done just that!

Whilst I love and admire the beautiful illustrated designs on other blogs, bookish and otherwise, I knew with my design change I still wanted to keep things pretty minimal around here. I like having a monochrome design, and keeping the general look of my blog pretty 'basic'... Honestly one of those reasons is largely because too much fuss is a bit rough on my eyes as I have sensitivity to certain colours and lights etc.

Being very non technical, I decided to look about for a company in which to purchase a Blogger template from... The one name that kept popping up was Pipdig - the company offers templates for both Blogger and Wordpress, and all of them are super reasonably priced. After talking to a fellow blogging friend, who also used Pipdig for a new blog design, I purchased a template and as they say... The rest is history. I opted to have my template installed for me for free, as I literally know nothing about the technical side of blogging, and within 48 hours I had my new swanky blog design.

I know the basic monochrome look isn't for everyone - but feel free to share your thoughts on the new look in the comments.

This was just a little post to acknowledge the change. There will be no new content up here until after Christmas now, so I wish you all a wonderful Christmas! I will be back on the 27th with my favourite reads of 2016 - I'm so excited to read these posts from other bloggers also!!
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Friday, 16 December 2016

READING GOALS (2017) | Five Authors I'd Like to Read in 2017


With each passing year I try step outside my reading comfort zone by picking up some new to me authors, and every now and then new to me genres also. In doing so, I don't typically have anything specific in mind, just to reach outside my reading realms, however for this coming new year I've put together a little list of authors whose work I hope to discover for the first time and also some I'd just like to read more of.

PHILIPPA GREGORY
I've been meaning to pick up the historical fiction works of Philippa Gregory for the longest time now, seriously years! More specifically, I hope to delve into the Cousins's War series. I've actually already bitten the bullet and own the six books within the series... Now just to read them! Historical fiction isn't something I read often, but when I do I tend to enjoy it, and I've heard many great things about Philippa Gregory's writing.

NICHOLAS SPARKS
Most known for his romantic fiction, it's safe say that Sparks is a well known author with a large number of books under his belt. I feel like I've read at least one of his books, although I'm not 100% certain on that as I could just be confusing it with having watched a film adaptation of his writing - I know I have definitely watched a film version. Again, romantic fiction isn't something I typically pick up as I can find it to be a bit cheesy, but I know many people who are fans of his work.

STEPHEN KING
Now King is an author that is more within my reading comfort zone - reads of a darker nature - but I've barely scratched the surface of his impressive list of books. I currently have the first two books in the Bill Hodges trilogy on my unread shelf, and so of course I'd like to read those, but I'm also keen on seeing what Stephen King books my local library carries.

TANA FRENCH
I've been wanting to read the Dublin Murder Squad series for quite some time now, and I've decided 2017 is the year in which I'll finally delve into Tana French's work.

MAGGIE STIEFVATER
Some of you may know that YA can be very hit and miss for me, but one YA author I'm really keen to read the works of is Maggie Stiefvater. I'm hoping my library carries some of her books, as it isn't the kind of thing I'd buy, but I'm interested in the Shiver trilogy as well as The Raven Cycle.

ARE THERE ANY AUTHORS YOU HOPE TO READ IN 2017?

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Wednesday, 14 December 2016

READING GOALS (2017) | Rereading in 2017


As the year draws closer to an end, I've started thinking about my goals for the new year, including the way I'm approaching reading in 2017. I've already shared about my shift in mind set that will largely play a part in my reading and book buying, and today I'm sharing about my plans to reread a book a month in 2017.

In terms of bookish goals, 2016 was very much about making a dent in my unread shelf, and tackling my ever expanding book collection. Due to this, I didn't really get to do much of one my favourite bookish things - reread. Don't get me wrong, I did reread a good amount, just not as much as I'd have liked to. I thought about picking up certain books from my shelves, but ultimately didn't delve into them as I wanted to continue checking books off my unread shelf.

Whilst taking a more minimalist approach to reading, book buying, and pretty much all things bookish in the new year, it seems like the perfect time to pick up those books I didn't get round to rereading.

I plan to reread one book from my shelves every month in 2017.

JANUARY

FEBRUARY

MARCH

APRIL

MAY

JUNE

JULY

AUGUST

SEPTEMBER

OCTOBER

NOVEMBER

DECEMBER

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Monday, 12 December 2016

READING GOALS (2017) | Reading in the New Year...


WARNING: A RAMBLE OF A POST AHEAD

I feel like this past year has been one I will look back on fondly, and remember it as the year I definitively changed the way I saw books, reading, book buying, book blogging - basically all the bookish things.

Back in August I shared a post titled 'How Do You Build Your Book Collection?', in which I talked about how the way in which I curate my book collection has evolved over time, and I have a different way of looking at book buying now. Throughout the years in which I've built my book collection, it is at one of its smallest sizes, and I feel the most happy about it. Something that I feel really helped me with this is the fact that I implemented a book buying limit in 2016 - I was to buy just four books a month.

Prior to this year I was very much someone who amassed a lot of books. I browsed book buying sites often - purchasing regularly, I spent the majority of my own personal money on books, I couldn't leave a bookshop without a new book in hand, I happily popped a book or two in my shopping trolley whilst getting the groceries - I wouldn't say I was obsessively buying books, but I would say I bought far too many books.

2016 was my year to tackle all those unread books on my shelf, as well as do something about that book buying of mine. I did think I would struggle with the book buying ban, but honestly, I surprised myself! There were a couple of months where I bought eight books instead of four, and there were months where I bought no books at all. But I'm drawing 2016 to a close happy with how I've handled the goal - because whilst to some it would seem I failed having bought more than four books some months, to me the goal was there as a guide not a rule.

In the new year, I'm going to be taking things one step further. It isn't a goal, guide, or rule - it is something that I know will happen as my mindset on all things bookish has evolved and I'm in a really good place now with books and reading.

There is no limit, no number to abide by, I won't be buying x amount of books a month - I will be more intentional in my book buying. This coming year I'm going to be focusing more on the reading, not the amassing of books, but the experience of reading and books, and sharing in that with my bookworm son.

Once a month - no set time within the month - we will head on out to a bookshop and immerse ourselves in books. We'll pick them up, we'll have a read, we'll wile away some time in all things bookish, and we'll come away from the shop with a book or two. Not a pile, not a stack, not a whole bag full but a book or two. I may buy the occasional book elsewhere, I may not.

I want to focus more on the act of reading and the experience of being enveloped in words and stories. This is why I fell in love with reading. This is why I spend most of my spare time reading. This is why I share reading - both here on my blog and in real life with my son. It all began with the act of reading, and this is where I hope to return.

In many ways I'm returning to my reading roots, and in doing so, I will also become more active in borrowing books from my local library system.

It will be a shift of sorts visiting the bookshop only once a month, but I won't feel like I'm missing out - if anything, I'll find it enriching more than anything, being able to share in the pleasure of a bookshop with my son, and it being a meaningful activity.

Whilst I love book blogging, I feel like at times it can put a pressure on us bloggers as readers - I've heard many people within the book blogging community voice such an opinion, and I definitely get that. This past year has taught me that there is no need for the pressure, for a toppling TBR that is uncontrollable, for wishing you had the newest titles out, for wanting to own all the books.

I read because I love it - I love falling into the lives of fictional characters, of returning to worlds that bring me comfort and joy, discovering new to me truly talented authors, and being blown away by words on a page.

I read, and then I write. I write here on my blog about books because I want to shout about a given author or book, I want to share thoughts on books that others may like also, I want to connect with other bookish people who are passionate about reading too.

These are two activities I love and enjoy - reading and blogging - and I don't want unnecessary pressure taking away from them.

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Friday, 9 December 2016

BOOK REVIEW | Winter Magic by Abi Elphinstone + More


Winter Magic is an anthology of short stories all revolving around the winter season, written by a number of children's authors. The collection was curated by Abi Elphinstone, who also has a story of her own within the book, alongside ten other authors. The author that drew me to the book initially was Emma Carroll, who is my favourite middle grade author, and her story within definitely didn't disappoint. Although going in knowing only the one author, I've come away wanting to read the entire works of all the authors inside!

Captivating from the very introduction, Winter Magic is the kind of book that's great to dip in and out of, enveloping you in warm winter fuzzies with every page you turn. Naturally, with a collection of short stories like this, certain stories are going to be favoured over others and below I'm sharing with you my favourite five stories from within the book.

A NIGHT AT THE FROST FAIR BY EMMA CARROLL
After leaving her Grandma in a care home, and travelling back through a busy London on a winter's night with her family, Maya soon finds herself in a very different kind of busy London... A London from many, many years ago. Having travelled through time with a gift given to her by her Grandma, Maya's world is turned upside down but ultimately changed for the better. A Night at the Frost Fair was a lovely opening to the eleven stories, and such an atmospheric read. Emma Carroll does winter so well.

SOMEONE LIKE THE SNOW QUEEN BY BERLIE DOHERTY
Inspired by the renowned story of the Snow Queen, Orla finds herself on a journey of discovery after allowing her younger brother to fend for himself and ultimately be lead away by the 'Snow Queen'. This is one of those stories that has a strong core and leaves you with a  message concluding in a happy ending.

THE ROOM WITH THE MOUNTAIN VIEW BY LAUREN ST JOHN
The Room with the Mountain View is a mystery read that's packed full of adventure and a little reminiscent of the film Rear Window by Alfred Hitchcock (as is noted within the story itself).

SNOW BY MICHELLE MAGORIAN
The only poem with this anthology, Snow is definitely one of the pages that wraps you up in those warm winter fuzzies that I mentioned before.

THE SNOW DRAGON BY ABI ELPHINSTONE
On the eve of Christmas, Phoebe is the only child left in a not so nice orphanage, with a rather horrible lady in charge who does nothing but put Phoebe down and belittle her - seriously, this woman is vile! Locked in a dog kennel outside of the orphanage building itself, Phoebe is greeted by a snow dragon who is about to take his annual Christmas Eve flight, and Phoebe is welcomed along for the ride. This story is such a heart warming one and a wonderful ending to the collection as a whole.

There are a variety of themes, other than being centred around winter, running through the stories in Winter Magic and I loved that each story had its own personal message or moral portrayed to the reader. There really is something for everyone in this book - whether you're looking to time travel, play a leading role in the production of The Nutcracker, meet a Snow Queen, fly over land and sea on a Snow Dragon, or be transported back to the nostalgia of childhood and be full of wonder and curiosity as we all are as youngsters.

Winter Magic is one of those charming winter reads that I know I'll return to in the future... And one I also look forward to sharing with my son in a good few years.

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Tuesday, 6 December 2016

MINI BOOK REVIEW | A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg


BLURB
Deep in the southernmost part of Alabama, along the banks of a lazy winding river, lies the sleepy little community known as Lost River, a place that time itself seems to have forgotten. After a startling diagnosis from his doctor, Oswald T. Campbell leaves behind the cold and damp of the oncoming Chicago winter to spend what he believes will be his last Christmas in the warm and welcoming town of Lost River. There he meets the postman who delivers mail by boat, the store owner who nurses a broken heart, the ladies of the Mystic Order of the Royal Polka Dots Secret Society, who do clandestine good works. And he meets a little redbird named Jack, who is at the center of this tale of a magical Christmas when something so amazing happened that those who witnessed it have never forgotten it. Once you experience the wonder, you too will never forget A Redbird Christmas.

MY THOUGHTS
If you're looking for a cosy, heart warming, slightly cliché read this Christmas, then A Redbird Christmas is the book for you.

As the book begins we meet Oswald T. Campbell, a lonely man who is coasting along living in Chicago, when he is informed that he doesn't have much time left and that another frigid winter in the windy city could very well be his last. After his diagnosis, and getting his very few affairs in order, Oswald finds himself in Lost River, a small town in the sunny south - doctors orders.

A Redbird Christmas is the kind of book that doesn't have a plot as such, more a character driven book where you're enveloped in a town and watching everything unfold. In this case, we see how Oswald's life changes drastically over the course of a year, as well as the other residents you come to know and love within Lost River.

Short and sweet, A Redbird Christmas is the kind of book that is full of wonder and charm, and that I see myself returning to in Christmases to come. I'm so glad to have started my Christmas reading with this title, and it has definitely put me in a festive mood.

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Friday, 2 December 2016

BOOK TALK | Six Non-Fiction / Coffee Table Books I'd Gift


With Christmas approaching, naturally I've got to thinking about what I'll be gifting my nearest and dearest this year - although Christmas isn't about the gift giving for me, it is about the festive family time, I like to gift thoughtful presents to my loved ones as a way of showing that I'm thinking of them and appreciate them.

I don't have that many people to gift books to at this time of year - I just don't have many bookish family and friends - but I have been having a nosy at my own bookshelves and been thinking about which of those books would make good gifts.

Today, I'm sharing six of the non-fiction / coffee table books I own that would make great presents for others.

THE BOOKSHOP BOOK BY JEN CAMPBELL
If you have a fellow bookworm in your life, or even fancy gifting yourself something this Christmas, then The Bookshop Book is the book for you! Jen Campbell takes us on the most magical of world tours, stopping off and hearing the stories of a variety of booksellers and their uniquely different bookshops. As the blurb on the book states: 'The Bookshop Book is a love letter to bookshops all around the world.'

DAILY RITUALS BY MASON CURREY
I'm a very routine driven person, and I also happen to be quite a nosy person (I'll admit it!) and that combination lead me to love Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey. The book features the routines and daily rituals of 150+ artists, ranging from playwrights, novelists, scientists, philosophers, and many more creatives, opening your mind to how they produced some of their best work and the working conditions in which they thrived.

VERY BRITISH PROBLEMS BY ROB TEMPLE
Most suitable for Brits, given the title, Very British Problems is an amusing and relatable read that would make a good gift for the person in your life who loves a good chuckle. As I said in my intro, I don't have many bookish people in my life, but this is the one title on my list that I will actually be gifting this Christmas.

LOST IN TRANSLATION BY ELLA FRANCES SANDERS
Lost in Translation is an illustrated book featuring a collection of words from around the world that aren't directly translatable into English, but that have unique and beautiful meanings. Much like the meanings, Lost in Translation is a unique and beautiful book. With the combination of new to you words and stunning illustrations, this charming little book would make the perfect gift. At some point I would like to sit down and do a more thorough post on this book, perhaps even sharing some of my favourite words from the unusual dictionary.

THE ART OF... BY VARIOUS
I've linked all of the books featured in this gift guide on Goodreads, however 'The Art of...' encompasses more than one book - I have linked up to The Art of Up, one of my favourite books of this kind. The Art of books offer a behind the scenes look at the art of a number of animated films and TV shows. I own a couple of these books now, with my eye on a few more, and they would make a great gift for someone you know who has a favourite animated film.

CITY ATLAS BY GEORGIA CHERRY & MARTIN HAAKE
Last, but by no means least, is City Atlas: Travel the World with 30 City Maps - a great book buy for a kid you know who loves geography and travel, or it would also make a nice family gift aiding them in finding their next adventure. I have a full review of this book, which you can find here, with the next paragraph being a snippet from said review: 'This non fiction book aimed at children, but just as well received on the shelves of an adult, showcases thirty of the best loved cities from around the world by pouring the personality of a city on a double spread page using beautiful illustrations, a few facts about the given city as well as a variety of activities and attractions within the city.'

WILL YOU BE GIFTING ANY BOOKS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON?

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Wednesday, 30 November 2016

WWW WEDNESDAY | 005


WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?
I'm still working through my Harry Potter reread; currently reading Order of the Phoenix. Being the longest of the HP books, with my copy standing at a whooping 800+ pages, I see this book being my main read for a while to come! I'm still very much enjoying my reread, however this is the point where my pace typically slows down as books 4 and 5 are quite chunky and I don't do too well with chunksters.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?
The book I most recently finished reading is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - my least favourite of the seven books. I have also been dipping in out and of Winter Magic, a collection of winter themed short stories aimed at a middle grade audience. I've read 4 or 5 stories so far, so one of those would count towards something I recently finished.

WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'LL READ NEXT?
My reading is going to look much of the same for the month of December to be honest - Harry Potter and festive reads. I should, fingers crossed, finish my HP reread in the month of December. As I mentioned above, a bookmark is in Winter Magic, and I'm also still working through Dickens at Christmas.

WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN READING RECENTLY?

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Tuesday, 15 November 2016

BLOG TALK | Unexpected November Hiatus


As the title states, me taking a break from my blog in the month of November is something quite unexpected, especially after getting back in to the rhythm of blogging in October and feeling connected with my blog once more.

There is nothing bad behind the hiatus; it is simply that the reading I am doing right now isn't exactly conducive to blogging... Which sounds kind of silly really when you think about it, given that book blogging is largely about the reading. Here I share the things I'm currently reading by taking part in various link up posts, as well as reviewing books, and whilst I have started making a dent in my festive season reading, this month so far (and the rest of the month to come) has largely been dedicated to rereading my Harry Potter collection.

I started November having this urge to delve into a reread of my Harry Potter collection, and I was happy to oblige said urge, despite that not being the plan for the month. I'm very much a mood reader, and my moods take me to my books as opposed to just reading what is there. I'm very much enjoying my HP reread - it is very comforting; like returning home after a holiday - however there isn't really much I want to blog about it. I'll definitely share some kind of wrap up post after the reread, but I'm so into the pages of my book at the moment and I don't want to bore you all with endless Harry Potter posts all November long!

It took me a little while to sit down and write this post... Not because my nose was in a book, but because I kind of didn't want to take this break, however it feels like the right thing to do and I didn't want to leave the readers of my blog in the dark.

Wherever November is taking you in the world of books, I hope you're enjoying!

HAPPY READING!

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Tuesday, 8 November 2016

TUESDAY INTROS | Dickens at Christmas

This week I have my nose in a festive book - I'm currently reading Dickens at Christmas. This title has been on my wishlist since its release and I'm glad to finally be delving into some festive works of Charles Dickens. I have read a number of his novels, and also A Christmas Carol prior to this collection of stories and essay snippets.

The first lines I'm going to share today are taken from A Christmas Carol, undoubtedly his most notable festive work.


FIRST LINES
Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it: and Scrooge's name was good upon 'Change, for anything he chose to put his had to. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

WOULD YOU CONTINUE READING?
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Monday, 7 November 2016

CURRENTLY READING | 015

(My festive reading has begun! I'm also currently working on a reread of HP)

WHAT ARE YOU READING THIS WEEK?
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Thursday, 3 November 2016

WHAT I READ | October

TOTAL BOOKS READ - 8
TOTAL PAGES READ - 2051



This was a reread title for me; a ghost story I return to often. I thoroughly enjoy Susan Hill's writing and The Woman in Black is probably my most recommended ghost story. Check it out!


The first in a Swedish detective novel series, Roseanna introduces us to detective Martin Beck as he works on solving a case involving an unidentified woman's body that has shown up under suspicious circumstances. I quite enjoyed this read, and would continue with the series as a whole. I'm intrigued by the detective.



Enid Blyton's writing is somewhat quintessential childhood reading here in the UK, however as a child I never read any of her books - this was my first time experiencing her writing.

After their family move to the country, three siblings find The Enchanted Wood with The Faraway tree and adventures ensue. With peculiar characters living in the tree and a variety of revolving lands being reached by climbing to the top of the tree, imagination and creativity are poured into this book.

Having done some research since reading this title, it appears that the story has been edited since the original edition, with names changes for the children as well making it generally more policitally correct. I can't comment on these things as I never read the original, but I really would have liked to.

Overall, The Enchanted Wood is a fun, light, children's book and I look forward to reading more within The Faraway Tree series.

WHAT DID YOU READ IN OCTOBER?

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Monday, 31 October 2016

BLOG TALK | 100 Book Blog Post Ideas


This post marks my completion of blogtober- I have blogged every single day in October! On Monday's I usually share the book I'm currently reading, but I wanted to end October on something a bit more special than that.

Blogging in general isn't the easiest thing - it takes time, commitment and creativity. Book blogging can be a little harder as you need to be reading your books alongside sharing content, and any book blogger will tell you how time consuming both of those hobbies can be... Time consuming, but heaps of fun!

Compiling a post calendar for the month of October really got me thinking about all the different kinds of posts you can share as a book blogger, and that concluded in this list of 100 book blog post ideas!

I hope this list proves to be of use to others within the book blogging community, and feel free to add to the list by sharing some other post ideas in the comments.

GENERAL
1. Currently reading 2. Review of recent read 3. Book haul 4. Author spotlight 5. Character case study 6. Book cover love 7. Beautiful book spines 8. Naked books - hardbacks without dustjacket 9. Colouring book pages 10. Literary eats - foods based off of reads or that could accompany a book 11. TBR 12. Monthly reading wrap up 13. New releases - what is coming out, what you're personally anticipating 14. Bookish buys - book related items that aren't books, cups, tees etc 15. Reading goals - monthly, yearly 16. Take part in a readathon 17. FAQ's 18. Reflecting on your time blogging so far 19. Start a tag, bookish event, book club 20. A list of book blog post ideas

FAVOURITES
21. Favourite bookstores 22. All time favourite books 23. Top favourite authors 24. Favourite book to movie adaptations 25. Favourite book bloggers 26. Favourite book vloggers 27. Favourite bookish Instagrams 28. Favourite book quotes 29. Favourite book genres 30. Favourite literary locations/worlds 31. Favourite childhood books 32. Favourite series 33. Favourite bookish photo props 34. Favourite books to recommend 35. Favourite auto buy authors 36. Favourite seasonal reads 37. Favourite book couples 38.  Favourite book parents 39. Favourite books to reread 40. Favourite book illustrators 41. Favourite underhyped books 42. Favourite bookmarks 43. Favourite book blog community events / memes 44. Favourite character names 45. Favourite new to me authors

DISCUSSIONS
46. What I look for in a books 47. How I became a bookworm 48. How I read 49. How I build my book collection 50. Why I reread / don't reread 51. Character traits I dislike 52. How I read audiobooks 53. Bookish pet peeves 54. Why I prefer physical / ebook / audiobook 55. Why I book blog 56. Elements I enjoy within a given genre 57. How I organise my bookshelves 58. How I acquire books 59. What makes me add a book to my wishlist/TBR 60. Judging books by the cover - do you or don't you 61. Why I do / don't lend out my books 62. What makes me DNF a book 63. What I look for in a book blog 64. Share an author interaction or event 65. How I rate and review books 66. Thoughts on signed books 67. Bookish stereotypes I dislike 68. What I want to see more of in books 69. How I stay organised with blogging 70. How I overcome a reading slump 71. Why I do / don't preorder books 72. Why I do / don't write in my books 73. How I use Goodreads 74. Why I'll never read - insert author, book title, book genre 75. My bookish confessions

LINKYS / MEMES

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Sunday, 30 October 2016

MINI BOOK REVIEW | The Wonder by Emma Donoghue


BLURB
An eleven-year-old girl stops eating, but remains miraculously alive and well. A nurse, sent to investigate whether she is a fraud, meets a journalist hungry for a story.

Set in the Irish Midlands in the 1850s, The Wonder—inspired by numerous European and North American cases of “fasting girls” between the sixteenth century and the twentieth—is a psychological thriller about a child’s murder threatening to happen in slow motion before our eyes. Pitting all the seductions of fundamentalism against sense and love, it is a searing examination of what nourishes us, body and soul.

MY THOUGHTS
I'd only read one book of Emma Donoghue's prior to picking this title up, and that was Room - a book vastly different in genre and premise. I thoroughly enjoyed Room, and whilst The Wonder got of to a slow start for me, the same can be said of it too.

We meet nurse, Lib, as she arrives in Ireland and is given more details regarding the job she has been employed in - Lib is to effectively be a watcher of eleven year old, Anna, a young girl who proclaims to have not eaten for four months. The reason for the two week watch in which Lib, alongside a nun, is to undertake, is to see whether or not Anna really and truly is fasting.

The characters of both Lib and Anna evolve through the story, and we see a friendship of sorts form over the duration of the watch. Lib has a bond with the girl, and only wants what is best for her, even when those around young Anna are refusing to do more for her.

Alongside forming a bond with Anna, Lib also makes acquaintance of a journalist covering Anna's fast, and a connection is soon formed there also.

I found The Wonder to be a little bit of a slow starter, with the beginning chapters feeling quite repetitive. I think it's somewhat understandable though, given the nature of Lib's duties being to watch this young girl, however once I hit the half way mark in the book it all picked up and I couldn't put the book down!

Going in to the book you kind of form assumptions of sorts, as with any book, and I had thoughts regarding Anna's fast - namely that they were perhaps of a religious nature, and I was very much surprised by the twisted conclusion of the book.

Emma Donoghue set the scenes within the book wonderfully, and her prose are atmospheric and heartfelt - in particular I really felt Lib's frustrations. The author seems to have the ability to write a vast variety of fiction, whilst remaining to have her way with words; by which I mean her prose being beautifully written with phrases you can read over and over.

The Wonder is a historical fiction book, with an emphasis on religion, as well as containing themes that some may find disturbing. Having said that, the story is quite a powerful one, and the kind of book that makes you think about a thing or two.

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Saturday, 29 October 2016

BOOK REVIEW | Black Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin


BLURB
I am the star of screaming tabloid headlines and campfire ghost stories. I am one of the four Black-Eyed Susans. The lucky one.

Left with three other girls in a grave shrouded by black-eyed Susans, Tessa alone survived, her testimony helping to put a killer behind bars.

Now, sixteen years later, he is about to be executed. But Tessa feels no relief.

Because someone is planting black-eyed Susans outside her window. Someone is sending her daughter sinister messages. And there's a lawyer telling her the man about to be put to death is innocent.

Which can mean only one thing: the wrong man has been sentenced, the real killer is still out there and Tessa might not be the last Black-Eyed Susan...
 

PLOT
There is so much that goes into the plot of Black Eyed Susans, with a good deal of it not quite being what you expect.

The story is told in three parts, however the main narrator in each part of the story is Tessa. Having survived the clutches of a serial killer in her teens, Tessa's life has very much been defined by being the surviving Black Eyed Susans girl. As a teenager she testified in court and her testimony is largely what put a man behind bars for the crime... But is it the right man?

For years Tessa has been seeing signs that perhaps the wrong man is set for the death penalty, and as the story opens, we meet her as she is aiding solicitors in halting the death sentence of said man. The narrative alternates between Tessa present day, and her as a teen in the aftermath of being found alive in the Black Eyed Susans grave. The other two parts of the story are told in a slightly different format, however detailing those would include spoilers of sorts.

The way in which the plot of this book is pieced together is really well done, and keeps you on your toes throughout - you'll be page turning like no other, and thrown curveballs along the way.

CHARACTERS
With Tessa being the main character, I found her to be the most well developed within the book, and I really enjoyed the way in which her backstory unfolded. Tessa has a young teenage daughter, and I thought the dynamics between them, as well as their interactions and Tessa's over protectiveness of her felt authentic.

There are a number of other characters within the story who are also quite developed, and the characters feel very much like living beings. I think that's why the twists in the story are all the more surprising, as you feel like you knew these people only to have the wool pulled over your eyes in some cases.

I couldn't write this review without touching upon Tessa and Charlie's neighbour, Effie - I loved that dear old woman!

WRITING
This is my first time reading a book by Julia Heaberlin, and I don't see it being my last.

The story was so well crafted and formatted, not to mention the narrative being full of suspense in the most perfect way. With every few pages a new layer of the story was revealed, only leading you to keep on reading. The last part of the story in particular was super suspenseful with such an intense conclusion.

OVERALL THOUGHTS
This book is the kind that I find hard to put in articulate words; I just want to scream and shout about how amazing it was! Black Eyed Susans is categorised as a thriller - and a thrilling read it is!

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Friday, 28 October 2016

BOOK TALK | Elements of Ghost Stories


I don't know about you, but during the autumn and winter I find myself reading more and more ghost stories - cosying down with blankets, a hot drink, and ghost story in hand is one of my favourite ways to spend the longer, darker nights. I've read a few ghost stories recently, and it got me thinking about the elements within ghost stories that really make the story for me, and today I thought I'd talk about them.

| ALLURE OF A GHOST |
Although I've read, and enjoyed, many ghost stories with the actual physical presence of a ghost, I find that just the allure of a ghostly being to be a lot more frightening than a physical being. The unknown, and your own imagination, can be quite a terrifying thing.

| A HAUNTED BUILDING |
I'm sure we've all read a ghost story that features a haunted building or house of some kind, in fact it's quite a cliché within the genre really, but I love a foreboding building that turns out to be haunted. I think the setting itself really lends to the story, and done in the right way, often a haunted house can be a character in its own right.

| OLDER TIME PERIOD |
When it comes to the time period of a ghost story, I find books set during olden time periods - especially the Victorian time period - tend to be a little creepier than reading books set during a modern age.

| SETTING DURING A/W |
The seasonal setting really sets the tone for a ghost story - I mean, how many ghost stories have read that took place during a summer heatwave?! The colder, darker months are the perfect backdrop for a ghost story, and often the chillier weather elements only add to the atmosphere enveloping you whilst reading.

| ATMOSPHERE |
Speaking of atmosphere, I think it's important to build up a chilling atmosphere through words and unfolding story - often a mysterious writing style can do this, as well as the setting of the story, and the feeling of a build up to an event.

| NARRATED |
Having read a good number of ghost stories during my lifetime, I've read ghost stories told from varying points of view, however when a ghost story is being narrated to someone else, or being told in first person after the fact, I instantly find that chilling. I think it's something to do with the fact that I know something sinister is to come, and I'm trying to figure it out along the way.

| SPINE CHILLING |
I want chills whilst reading a ghost story. I want that hair standing on end feeling. I want to feel so creeped out that I'm looking around myself and surroundings feeling suspicious, as if someone is watching me.

ARE YOU A FAN OF GHOST STORIES? WHAT ELEMENTS MAKE A GHOST STORY FOR YOU?

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Thursday, 27 October 2016

MINI BOOK REVIEW | Slade House by David Mitchell


BLURB
Keep your eyes peeled for a small black iron door.

Down the road from a working-class British pub, along the brick wall of a narrow alley, if the conditions are exactly right, you’ll find the entrance to Slade House. A stranger will greet you by name and invite you inside. At first, you won’t want to leave. Later, you’ll find that you can’t. Every nine years, the house’s residents — an odd brother and sister — extend a unique invitation to someone who’s different or lonely: a precocious teenager, a recently divorced policeman, a shy college student. But what really goes on inside Slade House? For those who find out, it’s already too late...

Spanning five decades, from the last days of the 1970s to the present, leaping genres, and barreling toward an astonishing conclusion, this intricately woven novel will pull you into a reality-warping new vision of the haunted house story—as only David Mitchell could imagine it.

MY THOUGHTS
I've heard some mixed things regarding David Mitchell's writing, and knew he was an author I was keen to experience for myself. I wasn't entirely sure where to start - Cloud Atlas is far too intimidating, I had interest in The Bone Clocks, but then when I read the premise of Slade House I knew it would make great October reading, and I was right! I have since found out that The Bone Clocks and Slade House intertwine in a way, and for that reason I'm sure I'll check that title out at some point anyway.

Slade House is five stories that all connect through the presence of Slade House - a building that really and truthfully is a character in its own right. Slade House belongs to brother and sister, Norah and Jonah, who are essentially using the house as a life support machine. The siblings have paranormal abilities, and only those with similar abilities are able to identify and see the elusive Slade House - there is good reason for this though.

Within the paranormal communities there is much talk of Slade House and the strange goings on there, which is what leads a number of the 'guests' to the house in the first place. The five individual's whose stories we encounter within the book all have a distinct voice, are well developed and have their own reasons for being attracted to Slade House. Layers surrounding the house and its occupants, Norah and Jonah, are pulled away with each individual story and I really liked how that was written.

The way in which everything is weaved together in this book is amazingly well done, and I really enjoyed the conclusion.

I haven't alluded to much in this review as Slade House is the kind of book where the little you know, the better. You just need to read it for yourself. If you're looking for a quick read this Halloween, or the last Saturday of October (book reference), then I recommend checking out this title.

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Wednesday, 26 October 2016

WWW WEDNESDAY | 004


WWW Wednesday is a linky hosted by Sam over at Taking On A World of Words with the idea being that you share a little bit about your current reads, recent reads, and also what you hope to read next.  I do take part in 'It's Monday' and so I do share my current reads in that way, but I like the idea of having an update too, as a way of looking back on my thoughts from a given week to see if they shifted etc.

WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?
This week I'm reading The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley - a title that I featured on my autumn TBR. It seems to be one of those books that are read at a slower pace, however I'm sure I'll have it finished by the end of the week.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?
Last week I finished reading Black Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin and also completed two books during the 24 hour readathon - if you would like to read more about my readathon experience I have a master post here. I completed The Wonder by Emma Donoghue and The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton during the readathon; vastly different in content, but both books I'd recommend reading if you haven't already.

WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'LL READ NEXT?
It's likely that I'll be returning to my autumn TBR for me next read, although I do have a couple of ebooks I could pick up. We shall see what grabs me in the moment.

WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN READING RECENTLY?
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