Tuesday, 28 June 2016

BOOK HAUL | June

Going in to June I wasn't intending to buy any books, but after receiving a little bit of money for my birthday I decided to treat myself to a few titles (as well as a Cath Kidston backpack and mug)... I'm happy that I didn't go over the top however, spending only a little more than £10, and still sticking to my four books a month rule.



MY GRANDMOTHER SENDS HER REGARDS AND APOLOGISES | This book hadn't been on my wishlist very long before I picked it up - I discovered it early on in June when Jamie from The Perpetual Page-Turner shared her thoughts in a mini review but knew the concept was something of great interest to me. I actually almost walked straight passed the book though due to a title difference in the US and UK editions; in the US the book is titled My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry.

FINDERS KEEPERS | I'm aware this is the second book in the Bill Hodges trilogy by Stephen King, and I have yet to own the first, but I'm super keen to explore this trilogy so the first will be joining my shelves very soon I hope... Although I may well wait until the paperback version of the final instalment is released before I delve in because then I'll have no waiting to do; reading the books one after the other. Fun fact: I've read Stephen King before, but this is the actually the first book of his that I own.

THE GIRL OF INK AND STARS | I don't tend to buy newly released books, but I've heard so much about The Girl of Ink and Stars in the past month that I knew I couldn't not pick it up. This was solidified even more when I noticed that one of the snippets of praise on the cover is actually from one of my favourite MG authors (Emma Carroll). The book itself is just stunning, and the plot sounds like a fun middle grade fantasy.

What books did you acquire in June?
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Friday, 24 June 2016

BOOK TALK | Wishlist Organisation


A couple of weeks ago now I shared a post discussing the use of the term TBR and gathering thoughts on how others keep check of their TBR. I enjoyed all the conversation that came from that post, but specifically I enjoyed hearing about the organisation systems that other bloggers used for their own TBR's; this got me thinking about how we organise our wishlist books. Today I'm going to be sharing how I organise my wishlist, and hopefully I'll hear from you in the comments below.

Prior to earlier this year, I didn't really have a system in place to organise the books I wished for - I was very much somebody who jotted books down here and there and had far too many loose pieces of paper. I decided to get my act together and put a system in place when I realised I wanted to make better use of my local library once I'd worked through my own books. Whilst I very much enjoy a wander in the library, picking up books on a whim, there are times when I'd like to reserve them online and just going to pick them up. I wasn't able to easily seek out the titles however as I had papers all over the show.

The system I have devised is super simple, but super effective - exactly what I was looking for!


Title + author name is written on the left hand side. To the right hand side there are three columns - B meaning 'Buy', L meaning 'Library' and N/A meaning I've read it, I've shelved it, or I no longer wish to read it. L gets a tick if I know my library holds it, and another tick when I've borrowed and completed. B will only have a tick in the box as and when I have purchased a book.

I took an unused A5 notebook and created a table system that allows me to see my wishlist at a glance, but not only that, whether my local library carries said book. Being able to see whether my local library holds certain titles in stock has really helped to cut down on the number of books I'm buying, as I'd rather borrow than buy. If I love a library book enough I will ultimately add it to my own collection, but prioritising borrowing over buying not only helps support our library system but it is also great for my bank!

Keeping a paper and pen wishlist system has also helped me to keep down the number of books I add to my wishlist - I can't just jot down a title in my phone, I have to specifically write it in the notebook and for a multitude of reasons that isn't always possible, and so I've found since keeping this system the number of books on my wishlist has grown at a slow but steady rate, as opposed to multiple books being added a day.

How do you organise your wishlist?
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Tuesday, 21 June 2016

REVIEW | The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf


BLURB
'Two little girls are missing. Both are seven years old and have been missing for at least sixteen hours.'

Calli Clark is a dreamer. A sweet, gentle girl, Calli suffers from selective mutism, brought on by a tragedy she experienced as a toddler. Her mother Antonia tries her best to help, but is trapped in a marriage to a violent husband.

Petra Gregory is Calli's best friend, her soul mate and her voice. But neither Petra nor Calli have been heard from since their disappearance was discovered.

Now Calli and Petra's families are bound by the question of what has happened to their children. As support turns to suspicion, it seems the answers lie trapped in the silence of unspoken secrets.

PLOT
When best friends Calli and Petra are found to be missing by their parents very early in the morning, missing person reports are filed and a case begins to find these two young girls in a small American town, the kind of town where everyone knows everyone, but a town that also has dense woodlands. Whilst the story itself takes place in a short fraction of time, there are a number of glimpses in to the past which help to build the plot and dynamics between the key players of the story.

The story itself is told from the perspective of multiple people, and whilst that could get a little confusing, that wasn't the case in The Weight of Silence. I didn't find the multi perspective to dampen the mystery for the reader either, whilst we were very much in the know regarding certain elements of the story, that knowledge only helped to build the suspense and tension within scenes.

Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed the plotting of this book, there is an element of the plot which actually marked down The Weight of Silence for me - throughout reading I was sure to give the book a 5 star rating, but nearing the end that dropped to a 4.5. I don't want to say too much, and it isn't the ending that decreased the mark, but the reason for Calli's muteness is known early on in the book and yet by the 300+ page mark, there appeared to be a revelation regarding just that as if her own mother had not known the entire past couple of years why her daughter did not speak, and yet it should have been blatantly obvious. It just seemed like a bit of an inconsistency to me.

CHARACTERS
Overall I really enjoyed the characterisation in this book... I felt a connection with those in the book, and felt invested in their emotions and plight. I would like to have seen a little more of the Gregory's as a family, with a lot of emphasis put on the Clark family, but the impression given is that the Clark's (Calli's family) were the focus from the get go.

More than the characterisation, I loved the dynamics created within The Weight of Silence. There are a number of relationships and bonds within this book, but the connections in the Clark family really stood out to me - in particular the bond between Calli and her older brother, Ben. Even after having completed the book, I think about the way unconditional love was portrayed in this brother-sister relationship. Whilst there are so many ways in which the love and understanding between Calli and Ben are played out, one scene in particular stays in my mind. I don't want to say too much with how the book concludes, but there comes a time when Calli is needed to talk, explain, and Ben coaxes the words out of her via story telling. It sounds like such a simple thing perhaps, but the scene is so beautifully written and I feel like it depicts how they work together as brother and sister wonderfully. These are the sibling bonds I love to read about.

If family dynamics are something that appeals to you when reading, The Weight of Silence should be on your TBR.

WRITING
As with the other Heather Gudenkauf novels I've read, I thoroughly enjoyed the writing style as well pacing within the book. The author has a wonderful way of drawing you in and then leaving you with bated breath needing to know more; that's exactly why The Weight of Silence is a real page turner. I'm not the fastest reader but managed to finish this book over the space of a weekend.

The multi person perspective within this book was a really good story telling tool, and what I loved about that most was the way in which the author portrayed Calli's mutism even through her narrative. Whilst the narrative of the other story tellers is written in first person, Calli's is written in third - I think that was really cleverly done.

OVERALL THOUGHTS
If you're a fan of crime mysteries driven by family then The Weight of Silence is well worth picking up.

LINKS
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Monday, 20 June 2016

CURRENTLY READING | 006

PHYSICAL BOOK | THE BEES BY LALINE PAULL 
(note the sticky patch in the left hand corner - boo; I hate stickers!)
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EBOOK | NOTHING CURRENTLY
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Thursday, 9 June 2016

REVIEW | The Other Me by Saskia Sarginson


BLURB
Eliza Bennet has the life she's always dreamed of. She's who she wants to be, and she's with the man she loves.

But Eliza is living a lie. Her real name is Klaudia Myer. And she is on the run. She's escaping her old life, and a terrible secret buried at the heart of her family.

This is the story of Eliza and Klaudia.

One woman. Two lives.
And a lie they cannot lie hide from.

PLOT
Opening up The Other Me is a prologue in which we learn of an unidentified individual wondering as to how they can kill another unidentified individual - quite the hook. The resolution of this prologue isn't revealed until the very end of the story, but this is the kind of book where beginning, middle and end are equally well told and keep you captured throughout.

Growing up, Klaudia found herself bullied in high school for having a German father, a Nazi for a father, and so when the time comes for her to head off the university she finds it an opportune time to start afresh and become the person she has always wanted to be. Klaudia turns in to Eliza; making friends, pursuing her passion of dance, falling in love, all away from the eyes that followed her during childhood, including her overbearing father.

But just when everything is going right, when Eliza feels happy with her life, a series of unfortunate events leads to the new life she built come crashing down.

The plot of this book has great depth to it, with the narrative full of various time periods including Klaudia's childhood, Eliza's time at uni, and even portions from the Second World War. All of these passages come together to form a story that can only be described as beautifully tragic.

CHARACTERS
There are a couple of focal characters within The Other Me - Klaudia/Eliza, parents Otto and Gwyn, as well as Otto's brother Ernst - and each of them have their own personality, as well as narrators Klaudia and Ernst having individual and authentic voices.

I feel as a reader I was very caught up in Klaudia's conflict; understanding why she chose to be someone else, and how difficult things were when it was time to come clean. The conflict was felt in Ernst's narrative also.

The Other Me is the kind of book where a connection to the characters is vital in order to fully appreciate the plot. It is also the kind of book where the actions of certain characters make you think about actions in day to day life. In the case of The Other Me there is a fair bit of deception in order to protect loved ones.

WRITING
This my first experience of the author's writing, however I've come away from The Other Me wanting to read the other books published by Saskia Sarginson.

Not only has Saskia Sarginson created a compelling plot, but the way in which she has told the story captures you - you find yourself wrapped up in the lives of these people, needing to know how everything pans out in the end, hoping that all will be alright, even finding yourself think about the characters after the book has finished and where they could be now.

The Second World War is often wrote about in fiction, but I had yet to read a book featuring the Second World War in this manner. Whilst the war isn't the focus of the book, it is definitely crucial to the unfolding story.

OVERALL THOUGHTS
An emotive read; The Other Me is definitely one of my favourite books of the year so far.

LINKS

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Tuesday, 7 June 2016

BOOK TALK | (Update) Ten Books I Hope To Read Before Summer

At the start of the year I compiled a list of ten books I hoped to read before the beginning of summer, and now with June very much here, I thought I'd share an update on how the challenge of mine progressed.

I mention 10 books however with one of the listed titles being the entire Chronicles of Narnia series, it was actually 16 books total.

| You by Caroline Kepnes |
DNF. I had high hopes for You, however I ended up DNF'ing because the story telling format was just too creepy for me. Not scary creepy, but stalker creepy. Obviously the blurb alludes to the stalking within the book, but the depths of the narrative just gives you the chills as a reader and I found I couldn't continue.

| Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Year of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami |
DNF. As I found with another Murakami book previously, I just couldn't connect with the story.

| The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton |
TBR. The Miniaturist is still sitting on my unread shelf, and I'm looking forward to reading it in the future.

| A Suspension of Mercy by Patricia Highsmith |
Read + enjoyed. This was my third Patricia Highsmith book, and just as with the previous books of hers, I thoroughly enjoyed the unfolding story. Patricia Highsmith is great at keeping you hooked on the chase.

| The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North |
DNF. Another book I had high hopes for, and whilst I did make it to the 100+ page mark in this book, I just didn't feel compelled to pick it up and want to read. For that reason, I ended up giving up on the book. I'm not somebody who forces myself through a book I'm not enjoying.

| Left Neglected by Lisa Genova |
Read + enjoyed. I'm really falling in love with Lisa Genova's writing, and whilst Left Neglected wasn't on par with Still Alice, the book itself was a powerful read and I look forward to reading more of  her work.

| The Complete Collected Short Stories: Volume One: 1944-1953 by Roald Dahl |
Bookmarked. I have a bookmark in the middle of this collection of short stories. When compiling my list of ten books originally I kind of anticipated not having this one completed by the deadline anyway. I still have a bookmark within the book because I'm not making enough time for it, not because I don't want to read - I'm thoroughly enjoying discovering Roald Dahl's adult fiction.

Conclusion
5 (11) read + 3 DNF + 2 TBR.

I'm really happy with the progress I've made on my unread shelf, and this list was definitely motivation to read my own books. I think I'll be compiling another list of this kind sometime soon with books I hope to complete before the end of the year.
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Friday, 3 June 2016

WHAT I READ | May

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She's even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. 'Jess and Jason', she calls them. Their life - as she sees it - is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy. And then she sees something shocking. It's only a minute until the train moves on, but it's enough. Now everything's changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she's only watched from afar. Now they'll see; she's much more than just the girl on the train...
MY THOUGHTS
I have written a full review of The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, you can find that here.
THE UNSEEN BY KATHERINE WEBB
England, 1911.

When a free-spirited young woman arrives in a sleepy Berkshire village to work as a maid in the household of the Reverend and Mrs Canning, she sets in motion a chain of events which changes all their lives. For Cat has a past - a past her new mistress is willing to overlook but will never understand...

This is not all Hester Canning has to cope with. When her husband invites a young man into their home, he brings within him a dangerous obsession... During the long, oppressive summer, the rectory becomes charged with ambition, love and jealousy - with the most devastating consequences.
MY THOUGHTS
The Unseen is the kind of book that envelopes you in its tale whilst reading, but when you come away from the book you realise many things you perhaps didn't whilst reading... One of those being how slow the story was. Once all is said and done, the book could have been compacted in to something smaller than it is. I'm not the biggest fan of books longer than 350 pages, and that's probably why this is the aspect of the book that stands out to me the most.
US BY DAVID NICHOLLS
Douglas and Connie: scientist and artist, and for more than twenty years husband and wife until suddenly, their marriage seems over.
But Douglas is going to win back the love of his wife and the respect of Albie, their teenage son, by organising the holiday of a lifetime.
He has booked the hotels, bought the train tickets, planned and printed the itinerary for a 'grand tour' of the great art galleries of Europe.
What could possibly go wrong?
MY THOUGHTS
I have written a full review of Us by David Nicholls, you can find that here.
One morning a librarian finds a reader who has been locked in overnight. She begins to talk to him, a one-way conversation full of sharp insight and quiet outrage.
As she rails against snobbish senior colleagues, an ungrateful and ignorant public, the strictures of the Dewey Decimal System and the sinister expansionist conspiracies of the books themselves, two things shine through: her unrequited passion for a researcher names Martin, and an ardent and absolute love for the arts.
A delightful divertissement for the discerning bookworm...
MY THOUGHTS
At just under 100 pages, The Library of Unrequited Love makes for a speedy read, however I didn't find the book to be of the page turning variety as I wasn't entirely invested in the main character. When the book is basically a monologue from the one character, librarian in this instance, I find you'll need to like her in some sense or other. It isn't that I disliked her... I kind of just felt nothing for her.
I thought it would be great having an insight in to life as a librarian, but I think the role portrayed here is a little outdated or cliché even. Any librarians who have read this, could you fill me in on that please?
I found the book amused me some what, despite my thoughts above, and I did rate his one at three stars on Goodreads.
Judith has been visiting her mother, Stephanie, in prison once a month for the last eight years. Even now, they find it impossible to talk about what brought them here - Stephanie's transformation under the influence of a charismatic yet manipulative man, and the horrifying act of violence that changed everything. Some say that Stephanie was a victim too, that she wasn't responsible for her actions. But Judith's own life is in pieces and she's not so easily convinced.
Do you have to love a parent unconditionally? And can you forgive the things you will never forget...?
MY THOUGHTS
I was really quite intrigued by the premise of The Followers when picking it up on a whim in the bookshop, but unfortunately it didn't deliver like I had hoped. The plot itself is good and keeps you page turning but it's the kind of book you read once and then disappears from memory. I found the book to be slow starting initially, with depth starting to form after the 50 page mark, but I feel like so much more could have been explored. I didn't feel a connection with the characters, I thought Stephanie was taken in by the religious cult way too soon, and the writing was a little bit simple. I found it hard rating The Followers as there were some good elements, and some not so good, but I also saw where the author was trying to go with it all - ultimately I gave The Followers the middle ground of a three star rating.

THE HOUSE AT RIVERTON BY KATE MORTON
The House at Riverton is a gorgeous debut novel set in England between the wars. Perfect for fans of "Downton Abbey," it's the story of an aristocratic family, a house, a mysterious death, and a way of life that vanished forever, told in flashback by a woman who witnessed it all.

The novel is full of secrets -- some revealed, others hidden forever, reminiscent of the romantic suspense of Daphne du Maurier. It's also a meditation on memory and the devastation of war and a beautifully rendered window into a fascinating time in history.

MY THOUGHTS
Over the years I've heard many great things surrounding Kate Morton's books, and having now had my first experience reading her work I can definitely see why. You'll be sure to see more Kate Morton books coming up on my blog in the future, that's for sure!

The House at Riverton is a really well paced novel, with depth and detail that keeps you guessing right up until the very end, but rest assured, everything is tied into a neat little bow at the end. I absolutely loved this book... So much so that I read it in Kindle format but will be purchasing in paperback, plus all her other books over a period of time!!
What did you read in May?
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