Friday, 29 July 2016

MINI REVIEW | Brother by Ania Ahlborn


BLURB
Deep in the heart of Appalachia stands a crooked farmhouse miles from any road. The Morrows keep to themselves, and it's served them well so far. When girls go missing off the side of the highway, the cop don't knock on their door. Which is a good thing, seeing as to what's buried in the Morrows' backyard.

But nineteen-year-old Michael Morrow isn't like the rest of his family. He doesn't take pleasure in the screams that echo through trees. Michael pines for normalcy, and he's sure that someday he'll see the world beyond West Virginia. When he meets Alice, a pretty girl working at a record shop in the small nearby town of Dahlia, he's immediately smitten. For a moment, he nearly forgets about the monster he's become. But his brother, Rebel, is all too eager to remind Michael of his place...

MY THOUGHTS
Brother is not a book for the faint hearted - in fact, I think this is probably the most twisted and disturbing book I have ever read! I don't really know how to talk about the book without going in to spoiler review depth, so that's why I'm writing a mini review on the book instead.

The Morrow's are a very sick family, not in the physical sense but in the mental sense, and within that family is Michael, a na├»ve young man who does as he is told, typically by his older brother Rebel, which leads to some tragic circumstances.  There are more members of the Morrow family but I'm only touching upon Michael and Rebel as they are the most developed characters within the story and the primary focus of the plot.

A lot goes in to the plot that is taking place at the heart of the story, with a deep history reflected upon and some dark secrets long kept. From the way in which the story is told, you know you are waiting for something tragic to happen, and you're keeping your eyes peeled, and yet you still don't quite seeing it coming just as it does, and I absolutely love that element of the plot. The way in which the story is pieced together is really well done and allows the book to be quite a page turner - I finished the book in two days, very unlike me!

There is no doubt that Brother is a dark and disturbing read, but it is also the kind of book you just can't put down. I think the author's writing and pacing makes for the need to read, but also the empathy you feel for Michael as a character, knowing in some way that this isn't going to end well... Because even though Michael has done some terrible and bone chilling things, you can't help but feel for him as an outsider in the Morrow family home. He didn't ask for this life, and that makes it all the more cruel, and heart breaking even.

If you are someone who can stomach these horror type books, I'd highly recommend checking out Brother... But as I said at the beginning, it isn't for the faint hearted!

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Monday, 25 July 2016

BOOK HAUL | July (Including Library Loot)

This month I've managed to acquire eight books in total - four of which I purchased and the other four being books I borrowed from the library. Toddler and I have been making a lot more use of our local library this month and I'm hoping that will continue, especially now that I've signed my son up for the summer reading challenge.

MR MERCEDES | Last month I shared that I had purchased the second book in the Bill Hodges trilogy by Stephen King, knowingly so, in order to acquire the entire trilogy which I'm keen to read. So when I was looking for books on Amazon's three paperbacks for £10 deal, I knew I had to snap this one up.

THE LONEY | This is a book I've been hearing a lot of feedback about for quite a while now and I've always put off getting it as the feedback is of the kind that you don't really know what to make of it... If that makes sense. Well, really, that's the feeling some people come away from the book with, a sense of not really knowing what to make of it. I knew I did want to experience the story for myself though, and given that my local library doesn't carry it I decided to purchase it.

TIME TO SAY GOODBYE | Whim purchases can end up being very hit or miss, and this title was somewhat of a whim purchase. I've been seeing it in practically every establishment I enter that sells books for a good few weeks now, and have picked it up to nosy at the blurb on one or two occasions, but always left it behind for one reason or another. I think a large part of me kept putting it back as it's a book I have heard nothing about, and I tend to buy books that I know something of. Prior to book blogging I made most of my bookish purchases with no prior knowledge and it was always interesting to see how it would pan out - I want to try and do that more often.

HARRY POTTER: THE ARTIFACT VAULT (not pictured) | I love Harry Potter. I love behind the signs knowledge of films I greatly enjoy. I mean, I couldn't pass this one up really. If you're in the UK and interested in this kind of read, I bought it for just £10 from ASDA, which is a pretty good deal for a book of this depth.

THE GIRLS | Titled The Girls in the Garden in other countries, I've been seeing The Girls a lot in the book community of late and with an intriguing blurb I knew I wanted to give this one a read. The Girls is actually my current read.

BROTHER | Another one of those 'the book community made me do it' reads... Brother is quite a dark read, but the premise and feedback I had heard surrounding the book made me want to check it out. It isn't the kind of book I'd own, and so as soon as I saw my library carrying it I reserved it. Once the reservation came in I immediately picked it up and delved in - I finished Brother in less than two days and will be sharing a mini review on the book shortly.

OUR ENDLESS NUMBERED DAYS | This was a book that kept cropping up in the community, and on booktube, a good few months back and after hearing a podcast with the author herself I added this one to my wishlist.

IN COLD BLOOD | As a fan of crime novels, and true crime books and shows, In Cold Blood is a book I've been wanting to read for quite some time now, as well as being recommended a lot, so I'm glad to finally have the opportunity to read this modern classic.

What books did you acquire in July?
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Friday, 22 July 2016

BOOK REVIEW | Love Anthony by Lisa Genova


BLURB
Olivia Donatelli's dream of a 'normal' life was shattered when her son, Anthony, was diagnosed with autism at age three. He didn't speak, hated to be touched, almost never made eye contact. Then, just as Olivia was learning that happiness and autism could coexist after all, Anthony was gone.

Now she's alone on Nantucket, desperate to find meaning in her son's short life, when a chance encounter with another woman, Beth, brings Anthony alive again in a most unexpected way. Together, two unforgettable women discover the small but exuberant voice that leads them both to answers they need.

PLOT
As with the other books I've read by Lisa Genova, the plot of the book is well explained within the blurb, but yet it only touches upon the surface level of what is to unfold.

We come in to both Olivia and Beth's lives at crucial, even life changing, periods of time, and as a reader we watch them fall apart and over time gather themselves back together once more. 

Olivia is a mother who has recently lost her son, and in turn her marriage, now trying to find her feet in the world once more. Taking herself away to Nantucket during the winter time, she is really trying to isolate herself, escape from the realities of life off the island.

Nantucket resident, Beth, is shocked to discover her husband has been unfaithful, and with the guidance of her girlfriends and her own heart she has some tough decisions to make regarding her future and that of her family.

Other than living on the same island, Beth and Olivia's lives are seemingly unconnected, but the way in which these two women entwine is cleverly done, and the inclusion of young Anthony even more so.

CHARACTERS
Naturally, the two characters with the most development in this book are Beth and Olivia, as well as Anthony to a degree. I feel like both Beth and Olivia had enough background and build up to them in order for me, as a reader, to connect with them. They both feature in the book at defining moments in life, but yet we still see beyond these times and get to know them for them.

Living on an island that loses a good portion of its population once summer ends, Beth and Olivia encounter a lot of the same faces and same people. One set of people that feature quite a bit in Love Anthony is Beth's group of girlfriends; I love that she had this support network in her time of need, but I do wish I saw a little more personality from them as opposed to being told what their individual personalities are.

WRITING
I've been a fan of Lisa Genova's work since picking up her very first book, Still Alice, and three novels in I'm still thoroughly enjoying her writing.

Lisa Genova's touch is evident in the richness of detail: I found myself enveloped in Nantucket's dreary winter, as I was there when it came to life come the summer season; I was invited into cosy homes and apart of friendships; I felt the passion in Beth's writing and the despair of Olivia in her dark times... The author's writing really draws you into the story; you aren't just reading words on paper. 

Whilst talking about the writing of Love Anthony, I did just want to touch upon the ways in which books and storytelling were weaved in to the novel. As a reader and book lover myself, I liked that a book club had a prominent part in the story, and that Olivia worked as a book editor, and how storytelling brought both female lead characters together. The inclusion of Anthony's story within the narrative was the highlight of this book for me.

The way in which the author dealt with the topic of autism felt sensitive and yet authentic too.

OVERALL THOUGHTS
Still Alice holds the number one space as my favourite Lisa Genova book, but Love Anthony is up there in second.

LINKS
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Thursday, 14 July 2016

BOOK TALK | Five Reasons To Complete A Book Inventory


Before getting into this post I thought I'd share my 'definition' of a book inventory - I'm well aware of what a book inventory is, as I'm sure all of you are, but I would just like to clarify that when I refer to a book inventory in this post I'm not talking a professional book inventory, I'm just talking about taking stock of books within a personal book collection.

A couple of months ago I decided I wanted to complete a book inventory on my collection; I'd never undertaken such a task previously and I was really excited to get going, despite being oblivious to the size of the task before me. The act of performing an inventory, even on my minimal book collection (I came away with 140 titles total), was time consuming, and I do wish I had done a little more research on where to keep stock of the books I own - ultimately I wrote them all down in a big list, and will be transferring them to Goodreads (as of yet I have not done this).

Despite the little troubles I encountered, I would 100% complete another book inventory, and today I'm sharing five reasons why you should too!

TAKE STOCK
Having knowledge of the books you own, especially if you have a larger than average book collection, is beneficial for many reasons. One of the reasons I decided to undertake my book inventory was simply because I was curious of the number of books I owned, and I mean if I'm going to count them all I might as well go the extra step of taking stock properly, right? Detailed knowledge of the books you own is also great if you're someone who keeps stats of what you read.

PERSPECTIVE
Leading on from the above point, having all your books gathered in the one place (not confined and looking pretty on your shelves) can be quite a reality check - I had no idea I owned 140 books until they were there before my eyes, and my collection looked a lot larger when scattered on my bed and floor. One thing you can do when your books are all laid out is put them into piles of read and unread - that in itself can be eye opening!

DECLUTTER SHELVES
It is so much easier to weed through the books you own when they are a. off of your shelves and properly arranged before you, and b. when you realise just how many books you do own. I'm quite good at decluttering my shelves personally, but I know for many they have great difficulty parting with books; I think this method could be quite useful to those.

DUST IT OFF
I don't know about you, but one of my least favourite tasks when it comes to my book collection is the dusting off. Of course I clean my shelves regularly, but I don't pull out my books and dust the books themselves nor the space under the books as often as I probably should be doing. When taking stock of your books, it is prime dusting time.

REORGANISE
My bookshelves help me to feel inspired, inspired to discover and explore, inspired to pick up the books on them, inspired to read, and because of that I find I'm often reorganising them. Much like decluttering, I think book collectors can fall in to the two categories - those who organise often, and those happy with their collection as is. Neither is right or wrong, but the next time you decide to have a reorganise, just think whilst all your books are off your shelves you could be completing a book inventory.

Have you ever completed a book inventory? If not, does the idea appeal to you?
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Tuesday, 12 July 2016

MINI REVIEW | The Girl of Ink & Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave


BLURB
Forbidden to leave her island, Isabella dreams of the faraway lands her father once mapped. When her best friend disappears, she's determined to be part of the search party. Guided by an ancient map and her knowledge of the stars, Isabella navigates the island's dangerous Forgotten Territories. But beneath the dry rivers and dead forests, a fiery myth is stirring from its sleep...

MY THOUGHTS
The Girl of Ink and Stars is the kind of book where little can be said about the plot without making a review entirely full of spoiler, hence this being a mini review.

The story takes place on an island, Joya, that has a bit of a history and some mythical stories surrounding it. The backstory of the island is detailed simply and we are thrown straight in to the story that is taking place - solving the mystery of sudden unexplained instances taking place on the island. Main character Isabella is drawn in to the action when her best friend, Lupe, decides to take matters in her own hands and prove herself to Isabella. As adventure unfolds, we explore further afield on the island, discover more about the mythical stories passed down generations, and learn about love and friendship along the way.

I really enjoyed The Girl of Ink and Stars... There were things I would have liked to have seen developed a little more, such as the world building, however I did really enjoy the story that was told, the way in which it was written, and the family dynamics portrayed within. Not the mention the book itself is absolutely beautiful - inside and out!

The style of writing used within this book is really wonderful, and there is a particular quote that my mind keeps returning to upon having finished the book and so I thought I'd share it here in my review...

'EACH OF US CARRIES THE MAP OF OUR LIVES ON OUR SKIN, IN THE WAY WE WALK, EVEN IN THE WAY WE GROW.'

If you're looking for an adventure packed middle grade read with a female protagonist, then this is the book for you.

LINKS
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Thursday, 7 July 2016

BOOK TALK | Five Story Collections I Hope To Finish This Year

Earlier this year I compiled a list of ten books I hoped to read before summer arrived, when updating that post I realised how motivating holding myself accountable was and decided to create a list of books I hope to finish by the end of the year. With my TBR at a minimum now, I thought I'd focus on the collected story editions I own, many of which have bookmarks residing in them.



I'm not entirely sure how attainable it is to have completed all of these by the time the year draws to a close, especially with The Snow Queen and Other Winter Tales being quite the chunkster, but I'm going to make a conscious effort to pick these books up and make a good dent in them at least.

What books do you have on your TBR?
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Tuesday, 5 July 2016

BOOK TALK | Favourites So Far (2016)

Being over half way through 2016, I thought I'd take a look at the books I've read so far this year and share a few of my favourites so far. I've come up with a total of eight books, and interestingly enough over half of them are actually very recent reads. I definitely feel like I'm in a good place with my reading content right now - I hope that continues!

Be sure to share any of your favourite books from the year so far in the comments below.



Happy reading!
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Friday, 1 July 2016

WHAT I READ | June

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 Klaudia 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 hide from.

MY THOUGHTS
I have written a full review of The Other Me by Saskia Sarginson, you can find it here.

Arthur Pepper gets up every day at 7.30am. He eats his breakfast, waters his plant, Frederica, and does not speak to anyone unless it is absolutely necessary. Until something disrupts his routine.

On the first anniversary of his beloved wife Miriam's death, he finally sorts through her wardrobe and finds a glistening gold charm bracelet that he has never seen before. Upon examination, Arthur finds a telephone number on the underside of a gold elephant. Uncharacteristically, he picks up the phone.

And so begins Arthur's quest - charm by charm, from York to Paris to India - as he seeks to uncover Miriam's secret life before they were married. And along the way, find out more about himself.

MY THOUGHTS
This book is as whimsical as the title sounds!

Telling the story of Arthur Pepper, a man who has been living a life of routine since the death of his dear wife, breaks from routine and begins an adventure in the hopes of learning more about his deceased wife... Learning about a life she kept from him their entire marriage.

Arthur Pepper is endearing, the plot thought provoking, and the ending will be sure to leave you with a smile.

'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.

MY THOUGHTS
I have written a full review of The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf, you can find it here.

What did you read in June?
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