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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Tuesday, 25 October 2016

TUESDAY INTROS | The Loney

I'm reviving my participation in the First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros linky hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea. I used to take part in this particular linky earlier on in the year, but then things got busy and my participation fizzled; but I'm back at it! The premise behind Tuesday Intros is to share the first paragraph or so of the book you're reading. I love the premise behind this linky as it's great for book recs, but you also get a feel for an author's writing style.



FIRST LINES
It had certainly been a wild end to the autumn. On the Heath a gale stripped the glorious blaze of colour from Kenwood to Parliament Hill in a matter of hours, leaving several old oaks and beeches dead. Mist and silence followed and then, after a few days, there was only the smell of rotting and bonfires.
I spent so long there with my notebook one afternoon noting down all that had fallen that I missed my session with Doctor Baxter. He told me not to worry. About the appointment or the trees. Both he and Nature would recover. Things were never as bad as they seemed.


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Saturday, 22 October 2016

READATHON | Master Post


This is my master post for all things to do with Dewey's 24 hour readathon. If you're taking part - have fun!

OPENING MEME
What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
UK - Wales

Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

Which snack are you most looking forward to?
Tea and chocolate covered rice cakes

Tell us something about yourself!
I'm never very good at sharing things about myself, but earlier this year I shared 25 bookish facts about me, so you can check that out if you wish

If you participated in the last readathon, what's one thing you'll do different today?
Pace myself and take regular breaks. Last readathon I read for total of 7 hours and completed 1 and half books
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UPDATE ONE
I've been updated here and there over on Twitter, but now that we're a quarter of the way through the 24 hours, I thought I'd update here on my blog.

In total I've read for half the time - 3 hours, with over 150 pages read, which is a pretty average reading speed for me. I'm currently reading The Wonder by Emma Donoghue; I'm quite enjoying it, however some elements seem a little repetitive. I'm hoping to finish this title tonight, but I don't know if that's actually feasible - I don't know if I have another 3 hours in me! I would like to think so, but whilst I love reading, it is an activity that makes me feel tired, and that's why I have to take frequent breaks.

It's likely I'll be sleeping at the half way mark - as I'm not a hard core 24 hour readathoner, and that'll be 1am here in the UK, however I do hope to update here on the blog at around the 18th hour - 7am UK time.
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UPDATE TWO
Make that 8am UK time, as opposed to 7... I had a bit of extra sleep.

Anyone who is still reading from the beginning of the readathon - you are amazing bookish people!!

Last night I read for a further two hours and managed to finish reading The Wonder by Emma Donoghue. As you can tell by my reading hours - 3 hours to reach the half way point, but 2 hours to finish from there - the book was a bit of a slow starter for me but the second half definitely made up for it. So I've totalled 5 hours and one book read so far.

Morning now, and the plans are to have some brekkie, and read, read, read for the remaining hours!
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UPDATE THREE
I ended my participation in the readathon at a little before 12.30pm, despite the readathon officially ending at 1pm here UK time.

I read on and off in the morning period, with another two hours added on to my total reading time as well as finishing another book.

Overall I read for a little over 7 hours (the same duration as my first readathon) and completed two books from the stack I picked. This is exactly what I hoped for to be honest - a successful readathon!
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END OF EVENT SURVEY
Which hour was most daunting for you?
I didn't read for the entire 24 hours, so I don't think this question really applies to me. I read on and off for the first nine hours, slept my usual time, and then woke to read for a further two hours out five.

Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a reader engaged next year?
I read Slade House by David Mitchell a few days before the readathon, and thought about how it would have been a great title to have kept aside for the event; especially given that this particular event took place in October around Halloween time.

Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the readathon next season?
Nope.

What do you think worked really well in this year's readathon?
Although I wasn't there the entire duration, I kept an eye on the readathon hashtag and there was a lot of interaction and encouragement there.

How many books did you read?
Two.

What were the names of the books you read?

Which book did you enjoy most?
I enjoyed them both, but for various reasons, given their genre and target audience. The Wonder was a slow starter for me, but imagination in The Enchanted Wood held me throughout.

Which did you enjoy least?
See above.

How likely are you to participate in the readathon again?
I'm very likely to participate as a reader in the readathon again. This was my second of many readathons to come, I hope!

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READATHON | TBR

I'm taking part in Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon today!



April was my first time taking part in the 24 hour readathon, and I had such a great experience - I interacted with a bunch of new to me bloggers, took part in some challenges, and also read for a total of 7 hours in which I finished 1 and a half books.

This time around I'm keeping things a little more low key, and will be focusing very much on the reading. I'm aiming to update here and on Twitter, and hoping to connect with some new to me bloggers in that way.

If you're taking part in the readathon today - good luck, and enjoy!

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Friday, 21 October 2016

BOOK TO MOVIE | The Woman in Black


'I had seen the ghost of Jennet Humfrye and she had had her revenge.'

If you know me, or my blog, even just a little bit, then you know I talk about The Woman in Black a good deal... In fact, I probably bang on about it far too much, especially at this time of year. One post I've been keen to do in relation to The Woman in Black is a book to movie post - wherein I give you a brief description of the premise and then share a bit about both the book in written format as well as visual. Also sharing which format I prefer. If you're interested in hearing further thoughts of mine, then carry on reading!

GENERAL PREMISE
The Woman in Black is the story of Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor who is put in charge of dealing with the papers of Alice Drablow. Alice Drablow is a long time client of the firm in which Kipps works, and he is sent to attend her funeral in the small village of Crythin Gifford, as well as deal with the paperwork and loose ends surrounding her home, Eel Marsh House.

Whilst attending to his work in the village of Crythin Gifford, Arthur senses something ominous surrounding the Drablow house and this is further fuelled by his sighting of the woman in black. Keen to garner a better understanding of Alice Drablow, the woman in black, and the village stories, Arthur forges onwards with the work he is in charge of, however there is a consequence to these actions and his short time in Crythin Gifford leads to life changing matters.

BOOK
In book format, the story of Arthur Kipps is narrated by the man himself; recalling the story after a frightful night in which ghost stories are told between family and one is asked of him. Having the story narrated by Arthur Kipps definitely lends to a feeling of foreboding throughout, and makes the story feel all the more powerful to the reader.

The Woman in Black is of novella length, so neither particularly long nor short, and is perfectly well paced to keep the reader engaged. The prose are atmospheric and immersive, with the words of Kipps being enchanting even, holding your attention throughout. Because of the length of the story, I personally feel it is best read all in the one go, and is very much easily doable if you have a few hours spare.

MOVIE
I had forgotten how creepy the film adaptation of The Woman in Black is - much like the book, it is atmospheric and gothic in its approach.

The film starts at a different point than the book, as in the adaptation we do not meet Kipps as an older man, only in his 20's working as a junior solicitor. There are also a couple of lifestyle differences that impact on the story, including the fact that he already has a child and his wife has passed on. In the book, this is not the case - he is engaged to Stella, and they are working out plans for their future. This small little difference actually has a large impact on the story overall, and in fact, without saying too much, the stories differ in conclusion because of this. The way I word it to others is that the film very much has a 'Hollywood' stamp.

The plot of The Woman in Black has been altered slightly for the big screen, but the darkness of the story and the general premise relating to the woman in black remains.

One thing that I think translated really well for the big screen is the relationship between Arthur Kipps and Samuel Daily (a villager in Crythin Gifford).

Regarding the film, I was a little uncertain at the main role being played by Daniel Radcliffe, of Harry Potter fame. Often times, when an actor has played an iconic character in film, it is hard for them to step away from that and been seen as a different identity all together. I thought I would experience this with Daniel Radcliffe after being such a fan of the Harry Potter films, however there was no need for worries. Daniel Radcliffe played the actor of Kipps perfectly, and I couldn't imagine another actor in his place.

CONCLUSION
It is the premise itself, in varying formats, that I love so much about The Woman in Black. Having to pick a format, be it book, film, or even theatre show (which I would highly recommend also), I'd always pick the original, the book. I revisit the story often, and I've actually reread it twice this year alone!

As I said above, it is the premise itself that I love so much about this story, and I highly recommend you check it out in one format or other. Now is an especially good time, be it book or film, to discover the haunting story of The Woman in Black.

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Thursday, 20 October 2016

BOOK TALK | To Read, Or Not To Read: Wuthering Heights


Wuthering Heights and I have a bit of a history... Not the kind of history where I read it a good many years ago, fell in love with the story, and have revisited it time and time again; not the good kind of history. Of all the books on my unread shelf, Wuthering Heights has sat there the longest... For the most part, literally collecting dust. And yet, I can't seem to part with it.

As many of you may know, I enjoy classic literature, and have read a good many titles in the seven or so years in which I've really gotten into it. One of the books I find most recommended to me is Wuthering Heights. However, if you were to ask me what title intimidates me the most, I would answer Wuthering Heights.

To be honest though, I don't entirely know what I'm intimidated by. I have never gotten further than reading the first page of the book, so I don't even really know what is in store for me, other than the brief premise of the book I know. So, what's so intimidating about it?!

Very recently, I rescued Wuthering Heights from my donation pile. For weeks I was set on ridding myself of the copy I own, the book had been in my book donation bag for some time, and yet when it came to actually donating the book, I saved it the day before they were due to be picked up.

I think the fact that the title was recommended as a classic to read this A/W kind of aided in my rescue mission, if I'm being honest. But now I'm questioning whether I made the right decision or not.

I don't really know where I was going with this post, other than to ramble about Wuthering Heights - a book I still have not read yet despite owning my edition for four years.

DO YOU HAVE A BOOK YOU'RE INTIMIDATED BY? OR A BOOK YOU JUST CAN'T PART WITH?

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Wednesday, 19 October 2016

WWW WEDNESDAY | 003


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 Black Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin - this is a title that has been on my wishlist for a while and I'm glad to get stuck in to this suspense novel.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?
I've finished a couple of titles this past week, and DNF'ed the book I was hesitant about: My Grandmother Sends Her Regards & Apologises.

The two titles I finished reading were Roseanna and also Slade HouseRoseanna made for interesting reading, and I hadn't read a police detective novel in a while so made a change for me - I would continue with the series. Slade House was a really quick read for me; I finished it in just over 24 hours. I'm hoping to a do a review of this title before the end of blogtober. I'd recommend picking it up as a quick Halloween read though, and see myself revisiting it in future years.

WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'LL READ NEXT?
I'm not too sure what book I'll be picking up next, but I'm taking part in Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon this coming Saturday, and need to get started on putting a TBR together.

WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN READING RECENTLY?


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Tuesday, 18 October 2016

TUESDAY INTROS | Black Eyed Susans

I'm reviving my participation in the First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros linky hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea. I used to take part in this particular linky earlier on in the year, but then things got busy and my participation fizzled; but I'm back at it! The premise behind Tuesday Intros is to share the first paragraph or so of the book you're reading. I love the premise behind this linky as it's great for book recs, but you also get a feel for an author's writing style.


FIRST LINES
Thirty-two hours of my life are missing.
My best friend, Lydia, tells me to imagine those hours like old clothes in the back of a dark closet. Shut my eyes. Open the door. Move things around. Search.
The things I do remember, I'd rather not.


WOULD YOU CONTINUE READING?
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Sunday, 16 October 2016

BOOK REVIEW | The Travelling Bag and Other Ghostly Stories by Susan Hill


I think it's safe to say that my love of Susan Hill's ghost stories is well known here on my blog - I bang on about The Woman in Black, in various formats, constantly, and if you were to ask me for a ghost story rec, it would likely be something by Susan Hill. So, naturally, when her newest collection of ghost stories was released, I snapped a copy up.

The Travelling Bag and Other Ghostly Stories is a collection of four short ghost stories, including the title story, The Travelling Bag, as well as Boy Twenty-One, Alice Baker and lastly The Front Room. All of the stories have that classic Susan Hill stamp with simple prose but suspenseful writing, although I wasn't entirely blown away by the collection as a whole. Surprisingly, it wasn't the title story that I was most impressed with in this book, but the last story titled The Front Room; for me it felt very much like saving the best till last.

THE TRAVELLING BAG
In the title story, on a murky evening in a club in St James', a paranormal detective recounts his most memorable case, one whose horrifying denouement took place in that very building.

MY THOUGHTS
The overall premise of The Travelling Bag is something I enjoyed, especially the character of the paranormal detective which I thought was a little surprising from the author personally, however I wasn't entirely keen on the execution of the story and that's why the title story was not a favourite of mine.

BOY TWENTY ONE
A lonely boy makes a friend in 'Boy Twenty-One', but years later is forced to question the very nature of that friendship.

MY THOUGHTS
Honestly, I was a little confused by the story Boy Twenty-One. I don't know if perhaps I rushed my reading of it and a reread would open my eyes a little more, but it kind of just flew over my head. I don't know. I know that's a vague review, but I don't want to spoil the story.

ALICE BARKER
'Alice Barker' tells the story of a mysterious new office worker who is accompanied by a lingering smell of decay.

MY THOUGHTS
By the time I reached the third story in this collection, I was feeling a little disappointed if I'm honest, however Alice Barker pulled me back into the collection. I really enjoyed the story, although a little long, and I think the conclusion was really well written.

THE FRONT ROOM
And in 'The Front Room', a devoutly Christian mother tried to protect her children from the evil influence of their grandmother, both when she is alive and afterwards.

MY THOUGHTS
The last of the stories, and my favourite of the bunch. The Front Room is what I look for in a Susan Hill story - a dark but deceptive force, a gripping story, and a conclusion you think you see coming but are proven wrong at the last turn.

Although I didn't thoroughly enjoy all four stories within the collection, I'm glad to have this book on my shelves, and definitely see myself returning to them in the future. If you're looking to delve into Susan Hill's ghost stories, then I'd highly recommend doing so, however I wouldn't start with this collection.

LINKS
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Saturday, 15 October 2016

BOOK TALK | Classics To Read This Autumn/Winter


For me, autumn and winter is the time of year when I love to cosy down with a good book and get lost in realms I otherwise can't - I'm very much an escapist reader, but more so during these colder days and longer nights.

Once upon a time the books I'd escape to were classics... Although not always happy stories, escaping for me is very much about experiencing something I otherwise can't, which is easily done when delving into a work of classic literature. Today I wanted to share five books I'd happily escape into this A/W season, as well as share a little community feedback I received when posing a question on Twitter.

FIVE CLASSICS TO READ THIS A/W
| JANE EYRE |
The story of Jane Eyre is quite widely known nowadays. With an understandable large focus on the life of Jane Eyre, there are many themes that run through this book, with the love story of Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester being a prominent one. The reason I include Jane Eyre on my list is because it's a Victorian gothic classic, and those are the very best kind to read on these darker days. Jane Eyre is some what of a chunkster (anything over 300 pages is chunky to me!), which is another great thing for autumnal reading.

'You can't get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me.' - C. S. Lewis
(This quote very much screams me during the A/W season)

| THE STRANGE CASE OF DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE |
It's fair to say that most people have an awareness of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, with the story having been recreated in various other formats, however if you haven't read the original then I recommend you do this season - a perfect Halloween read. The themes are dark, and at the time of publishing, the story quite a shocking one. The story itself is relatively short; with the well crafted characters and a horror of a plot, there really is no reason not to pick this title up.

| REBECCA |
Daphne du Maurier has a number of published works, but it is without a doubt that the story, Rebecca, is her most notable work. The story also possesses one of the most well known  first lines in literature - 'Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.'

Much like Jane Eyre, there is a romance that features heavily in the plot of Rebecca, but the story is so much more than that. Atmospheric and suspenseful, Rebecca is another gothic classic that you need to read.

| SHERLOCK HOLMES |
I love a good mystery read, that is quite well known, and one of my all time favourite genres is crime fiction, with the sub genre being detective novels. I love detective novels, and they make perfect 'cosy down with a book and tea' reads. There are many fictional detectives out there, but of course Sherlock Holmes is one of the most popular in written word. The stories themselves are the perfect length, with a vast number to choose from, and the dynamic of Holmes and Watson being so readable. I really like the unique way in which Holmes solves cases; I like the detail in the detail.

| A CHRISTMAS CAROL |
The last book on my list of five is very much one for the winter season, as opposed to autumn. A Christmas Carol is an iconic story by Charles Dickens, and one I try to return to every year on Christmas Eve.

A Christmas Carol isn't your traditional Christmas story, but after some spooky goings on and lessons learnt, there is a happy ending to be enjoyed.
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Although I greatly enjoy classic literature, I am no expert and I have not read all the books, and that's why I took to Twitter to find out what classics others within the community would recommend this A/W season.

Louise Marie from the blog A Novel Haul recommended the Bronte sisters as perfect drizzle reads, especially Wuthering Heights, a title I'm actually intimidated by myself.
TWITTER | @ANovelHaul

Philippa of The Little Book Owl also shared the Bronte sisters as A/W reading material, as well as including North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell and Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen.
TWITTER | @philippamary_94

Chantal from the mummy / lifestyle blog Milk and Nappies shared Little Women by Louisa May Alcott as a classic she'd recommend, and I quite agree with her!
TWITTER | @milkandnappies

Marsha from The Belle of the Book also recommends Wuthering Heights as a book to read this A/W season, which pretty much solidifies it as a must read!
TWITTER | @belleofbook

Christine of Buckling Bookshelves shared that she'd like to pick up some Sherlock Holmes books this autumn season, as it seems the right time of year to, and as you can see above, I quite agree!
TWITTER | @bucklingbkshelf

WHAT CLASSIC TITLES DO YOU LIKE TO PICK UP DURING THE A/W SEASON?

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Friday, 14 October 2016

BOOK HAUL | October

AKA BOOK HAUL |  I Purchased More Than 4 Books - Oops!


The last time I shared a book haul was in July, so it's been a few months since sharing books I've purchased. I have been buying books, just not sharing them as they were the odd book here or there. This month I knew I wanted to share the new additions to my book collection because I've bought some titles that have been on my wishlist for a while, as well as some newly released titles.

And yes, I have acquired more than four books this month. You may, or may not, remember that one of my bookish goals this year was to buy no more than four books a month, however this month I've purchased double that! There is no real reason other than the fact that I wanted to splurge on some books. I'm not beating myself up about the goal, as I've stuck to four books or less every month up until now, and I've got some great titles coming up - yay!
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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.
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An abandoned house...
June 1933, and sixteen-year-old Alice Edevane is preparing for her family's Midsummer Eve party at their country home, Loeanneth. But by the time midnight strikes and fireworks light up the night skies, the Edevane family will have suffered a loss so great that they leave Loeanneth forever.

A missing child...
Seventy years later, after a particularly troubling case, Detective Sadie Sparrow retreats to her beloved grandfather's cottage in Cornwall. Once there, she stumbles upon an abandoned house, and learns the story of a baby boy who disappeared without a trace.

An unsolved mystery...
Meanwhile, in her elegant Hampstead home, the formidable Alice Edevane, now an old lady, leads a life as neatly plotted as the bestselling detective novels she writes. Until a young police detective starts asking questions about her family's past, seeking to resurrect the complex tangle of secrets Alice has spent her life trying to escape...
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What if you had said yes? The moments that change everything... One Day meets Sliding Doors in this outstanding debut that is causing a buzz across the publishing world
Some moments can change your life for ever. Have you ever wondered, what if...?

A man is walking down a country lane. A woman, cycling towards him, swerves to avoid a dog. On that moment, their future hinges. There are three possible outcomes, three small decisions that could determine the rest of their life.

Eva and Jim are nineteen and students at Cambridge when their paths first cross in 1958. And then there is David, Eva's then-lover, an ambitious actor who loves Eva deeply. The Versions of Us follows the three different courses their lives could take following this first meeting. Lives filled with love, betrayal, ambition but through it all is a deep connection that endures whatever fate might throw at them.

The Versions of Us explores the idea that there are moments when our lives might have turned out differently, the tiny factors or decisions that could determine our fate, and the precarious nature of the foundations upon which we build our lives. It is also a story about the nature of love and how it grows, changes and evolves as we go through the vagaries of life.
 
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Cornwall, 1947. Marvellous Ways is a ninety-year-old woman who's lived alone in a remote creek for nearly all her life. Recently she's taken to spending her days sitting on the steps of her caravan with a pair of binoculars. She's waiting for something - she's not sure what, but she'll know it when she sees it. Freddy Drake is a young soldier left reeling by the war. He's agreed to fulfil a dying friend's last wish and hand-deliver a letter to the boy's father in Cornwall. But Freddy's journey doesn't go to plan, and sees him literally wash up in Marvellous' creek, broken in body and spirit. When Marvellous comes to his aid, an unlikely friendship grows between the two. Can Freddy give Marvellous what she needs to say goodbye to the world, and can she give him what he needs to go on?
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As a sixteen-year-old, Tessa Cartwright was found in a Texas field, barely alive amid a scattering of bones, with only fragments of memory as to how she got there. Ever since, the press has pursued her as the lone surviving “Black-Eyed Susan,” the nickname given to the murder victims because of the yellow carpet of wildflowers that flourished above their shared grave. Tessa’s testimony about those tragic hours put a man on death row.

Now, almost two decades later, Tessa is an artist and single mother. In the desolate cold of February, she is shocked to discover a freshly planted patch of black-eyed susans—a summertime bloom—just outside her bedroom window. Terrified at the implications—that she sent the wrong man to prison and the real killer remains at large—Tessa turns to the lawyers working to exonerate the man awaiting execution. But the flowers alone are not proof enough, and the forensic investigation of the still-unidentified bones is progressing too slowly. An innocent life hangs in the balance. The legal team appeals to Tessa to undergo hypnosis to retrieve lost memories—and to share the drawings she produced as part of an experimental therapy shortly after her rescue.

What they don’t know is that Tessa and the scared, fragile girl she was have built a  fortress of secrets. As the clock ticks toward the execution, Tessa fears for her sanity, but even more for the safety of her teenaged daughter. Is a serial killer still roaming free, taunting Tessa with a trail of clues? She has no choice but to confront old ghosts and lingering nightmares to finally discover what really happened that night.
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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.
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It only took one night to tear a family apart. 

Artist and illustrator Edwina Spinner used to have a busy family life. Now she lives alone, in a house that has grown too big for her. She has decided to sell it. As Edwina takes the estate agent from room to room, she finds herself transported back to her life as a young mother. Back to her twins, Rowena and Charlie, and a stepson she cannot bring herself to mention by name.

As the house reveals its secrets, Edwina is forced to confront her family's past, and a devastating betrayal that changed everything. But Edwina doesn't know the whole story. And to discover the truth, she will have to face the one person she vowed never to see again.
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Walter Craig was a clever scientist. As a young man he took away all the honours and prizes and some of his work was ground-breaking. But after he became seriously ill, his genius faded, and he needed the help of an assistant. When Silas Webb was appointed to the job he seemed the perfect choice, but he always preferred to work alone, even in secret. Then, quite suddenly, Webb disappeared.

Why ?

Later, Craig opens a prestigious scientific journal and finds a paper, containing his own work, in detail, together with the significant results he had worked out. The research is his and his alone. But the author of the paper is Dr Silas Webb.

Craig determines that he will hunt Webb down and exact revenge.

Were it not for a terrifying twist of circumstance, he might have succeeded.
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WHAT AM I MOST EXCITED TO READ?
Well, I delved into the collection of ghost stories by Susan Hill pretty much as soon as my package arrived - I love her ghost stories, and these didn't disappoint. A review will be up some time soon. I'm also really keen to read Black Eyed Susans and A Year of Marvellous Ways; quite different stories, but two titles I've had my eye on for a while now.

WHAT BOOKS HAVE YOU RECENTLY ACQUIRED?

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