Monday, 19 June 2017

CURRENTLY READING | 025


Well, it seems like starting my reading month with a bang, so thoroughly enjoying my first read of the month, has meant it's down hill from there... I didn't complete a book at all last week; in fact I DNF'ed two.

As I mentioned in my last 'Currently Reading' post, I was enjoying a middle grade read (Ned's Circus of Marvels by Justin Fisher), however I did end up DNF'ing it a couple of days later. There was nothing wrong with the book itself, just the reader. I was looking for a book to get really lost in and that particular title just wasn't working. I would return to the book another time if the opportunity arose (it was a library borrow).

Next up I decided to tackle a review book I had sitting on my Kindle. I knew Diasters of the First World wasn't the kind of book I could get lost in, as it is a collection of short stories, but I had been keen to read it and thought it would fill that space until the end of the week when I could start anew. Unfortunately, I ended up DNF'ing that also! Five stories in to thirteen, I opted to quit reading as I just couldn't connect with the writing. Except one of the five stories I read, I didn't have much of a clue as to what was going on. The stories were just flying over my head. I thought perhaps it was the reading mood I was in, but after taking to Goodreads, it seems a few others experienced the same thing.

So I didn't have the greatest reading week, but with Monday comes a fresh start and I'm picking up another library read; a book I can get lost in and fulfil that reading want: Miss You by Kate Eberlen.

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Thursday, 15 June 2017

BOOK REVIEW | The Lake House by Kate Morton


BLURB
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...

MY THOUGHTS
Spanning decades and entwining stories, The Lake House hooks you from the very beginning and transports you to Loeanneth; family estate of the Edevane's and home to a mystery that has remained unsolved for many, many years.

When police detective, Sadie Sparrow, finds herself on an enforced break from the police force, she leaves London with Cornwall and her granddad, Bertie, in her sights. Twiddling her thumbs, and wiling away the days isn't something Sadie takes to easily, and whilst out running in the nearby landscape she stumbles across Loeanneth; a beautiful but abandoned country home. Sadie soon learns of the history and mystery surrounding Loeanneth, and gets stuck in to a new investigation.

Back in London, crime writer Alice Edevane is working on her newest detective novel, when a letter from Sadie Sparrow draws the author back into a time she had long since been trying to distance herself from.

The unfolding story is told in both past (1930's) and present (2003) with a third person narration, however the chapters are told from varying view points with each character having a distinct and clear voice. I think the story telling method worked well here, with potential discoveries and revelations soon being addressed with a look back in time.

As I mentioned above, each character has a distinct and clear voice, as well as having a believable backstory and personality - I like realistic characters, individual traits, people with flaws, and that's how the characters are written in The Lake House. As well being well written, I felt a connection with the characters and cared for them; wanting conclusions and empathising in certain situations.

There are a couple of themes running through The Lake House, with the main one being the loss of a child, which is highlighted in a number of ways through different plot points. The nature of this subject, and others that are touched upon, make for an emotional read although I didn't find the story to be a tear jerker.

Plot wise, a fair bit is going on within The Lake House, my copy being nearly 600 pages long, however I never once felt lost, with the story flowing smoothly and being perfectly paced coming together in an ending I didn't quite see coming.

Whilst there is a lot to cover in the plot, I think another reason why the story runs so long is because of Kate Morton's wonderful use of description. I know this style of writing puts off a lot of people, however done right I think it pulls a story together nicely, offering an immersive reading experience, which proved to be the case here.

I had such an enjoyable reading experience of The Lake House; meeting the characters, visiting Cornwall and Loeanneth, piecing together the puzzle, and most importantly, returning to the writing of Kate Morton. This was the second book of Kate Morton's that I've read, and I'm super excited to delve into more of her backlist.

If you like family sagas, carefully crafted characters and a mystery that keeps you on your toes, then I highly recommend checking out The Lake House by Kate Morton.

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Tuesday, 13 June 2017

READING WITH MY THREE YEAR OLD | Book Haul (June)


As well as books being a large part of my life, they also play quite the role for all three of the family members in our little family: mummy, daddy and our three year old son, Alexander. Having read with Alexander from day one, he seems to have become quite the bookish child, and so I thought I'd start sharing a bit of Alexander's book journey here on my blog.

Today I'm sharing with you a mini book haul of Alexander's - two new titles for his ever-growing book collection. We're big library borrowers in our household, especially when it comes to books for Alexander, but we do try to take a trip to the bookshop once a month and pick out a new book (or two).

Spinderella has a passion for football, but she's not sure how many spiders should be on each team or how to count the goals! Luckily Spinderella's Hairy Godmother is on hand to help...

Loosely based around the tale of Cinderella, the story follows Spinderella as the learns to count to the number 20. I think Alexander opted for this book as he's interested in spiders (although a little scared of them at times) and was happy to learn of the counting element upon reading as he absolutely loves numbers. This book would be great as an introduction to numbers, especially as it involves counting to twenty, not ten like a lot of counting books do. We love Julia Donaldson in our household, and whilst this isn't our favourite books of hers, we do enjoy the story overall.

Nibbles, the book-eating monster, has nibbled his way out of his own book and now he's causing mischief and mayhem in other people's stories. Look out!

At the time of writing this post, we haven't read this with Alexander, although I did give it a read myself and absolutely loved it! Nibbles is a book monster who escapes the confines of his own book and ventures in to some well known fairy tales wreaking havoc. There are a number of flaps and interactive elements inside this book, which I'm sure will make it a fun read with little hands and curious minds. I'd highly recommend this picture book; one of my recent favourites.
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If you have any picture book recommendations, I'd love to hear them!
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Monday, 12 June 2017

CURRENTLY READING | 024


Last week turned out to be a good reading week - I finished The Lake House by Kate Morton and absolutely loved the story, with a review coming up later on this week. Upon finishing The Lake House, I tweeted about the book having the perfect ending, and have since been recommended The Forgotten Garden to read next of Kate Morton's books. Although I've read just two of her books, I'm definitely calling Kate Morton as a new favourite author.

I gave myself a little reading breather after completing The Lake House, and a day later picked up Ned's Circus of Marvels by Justin Fisher which is proving to be an adventurous middle grade read. Although I'm still in the early stages of this title - first quarter - I do hope to finish it before the week is out and move on to a review book; I'm currently eyeing Final Girls by Riley Sager as my next read.

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Thursday, 8 June 2017

BOOK REVIEW | The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King


BLURB
Since his first collection, Nightshift, published thirty-five years ago, Stephen King has dazzled listeners with his genius as a writer of short fiction. In this new collection he assembles, for the first time, recent stories that have never been published in a book. He introduces each with a passage about its origins or his motivations for writing it.

There are thrilling connections between stories; themes of morality, the afterlife, guilt, what we would do differently if we could see into the future or correct the mistakes of the past.

Magnificent, eerie, utterly compelling, these stories comprise one of King’s finest gifts to his constant fan—“I made them especially for you,” says King. “Feel free to examine them, but please be careful. The best of them have teeth.”

MY THOUGHTS
Stephen King is an author I've wanted to read more of for some time, however I felt a little overwhelmed by his extensive backlist. I have read a couple of novels by King, a few years ago now, but thought returning to his work with a short story collection would be a great way of dipping my toe back into his style of writing.

As with any short story collection, there are going to be some stories enjoyed more than others; I found that to be the case here, however overall thoroughly enjoying The Bazaar of Bad Dreams.

In total there are 21 stories, with the book running at a chunky 507 pages. The stories all vary in length, ranging from under ten pages to just over sixty, all with an introduction from Stephen King himself sharing a little insight as to how the story came about.

There was one story that I didn't read: Afterlife. My reasons for not reading this particular story are because I have a deep set fear of death (in particular the afters of death) and I tend to avoid certain things that I know will get the thoughts going and such like. I read plenty of books that deal with death, and in fact my favourite story within this collection also involved such a subject, it just depends on the context that it is being addressed. I don't know if that makes sense... I hope it does!

My favourite story within the collection is titled Under the Weather - relatively short in length, the story is well paced and a little bit sad, but a stand out from the collection.

Both of the stories I mentioned involved the sensitive subject of death, but there are a bunch of elements running through the collection, and as with Stephen King's other works, no one specific genre; there is something for everyone.

If you're already a fan of King's writing, then of course pick this up, but if you're like me and wanting to explore Stephen King's writing style a little more before fully committing to reading a bunch of backlist books, then The Bazaar of Bad Dreams is the book for you.

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Tuesday, 6 June 2017

BOOK REVIEW | Secrets of Southern Girls by Haley Harrigan

| I received by copy of Secrets of Southern Girls via Netgalley for review purposes |

BLURB
Ten years ago, Julie Portland accidentally killed her best friend, Reba. What's worse is she got away with it. Consumed by guilt, she left the small town of Lawrence Mill, Mississippi, and swore nothing would ever drag her back. Now, raising her daughter and struggling to make ends meet in Manhattan, Julie still can't forget the ghost of a girl with golden hair and a dangerous secret.

When August, Reba's first love, begs Julie to come home to find the diary that Reba kept all those years ago, Julie's past comes creeping back to haunt her. That diary could expose the shameful memories Julie has been running from, but it could also unearth the hidden truths that Reba left buried…and reveal that Julie isn't the only one who feels responsible for Reba's death.

MY THOUGHTS
I was super excited to read Secrets of Southern Girls, the debut novel of writer Haley Harrigan, however I came away from my reading experience with really mixed feelings... The story itself wasn't quite what I was expecting, but I loved the writing style of the author.

Having lived with the guilt of killing her best friend, Julie agrees to do something she promised herself she wouldn't ever do - return to the town she spent much of her childhood in, the town she accidently killed her best friend in, the town that holds many dark secrets from youth. Julie isn't heading back to Lawrence Mill on her own; she has been convinced to return with her best friend Reba's first boyfriend, August. The two of them have existed since the passing of Reba, but never really had any closure on her death... Closure being in the form of a diary Reba kept during her last year of life.

Overall I thought the general gist of the storyline to be intriguing, not quite as suspenseful or thrilling as I anticipated, but definitely mysterious in nature. There were parts of the storyline I wasn't a fan of though, with some elements being cliché and others kind of clumsy in use. Also, racism is a part of Secrets of Southern Girls, however I think it could have been dealt with on a deeper level than it actually was. Racism is relevant to the story but it was kind of just there.

I didn't connect with main character Julie, however I did want to know where all of this was going, and wished closure for both her and August.

The diary of Reba was interspersed within the narrative of the book, and whilst I enjoyed this inclusion, at times I didn't feel like I was reading the diary of a teenage girl - there was a distinct voice to the character of Reba, but not one I imagined from all that the reader knows of her.

As I mentioned above, I enjoyed the writing style of the author, and would definitely be on the lookout for more work from her. I rated Secrets of Southern Girls 3/5 stars on Goodreads and would recommend this title to others who enjoy this genre of book.

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Monday, 5 June 2017

CURRENTLY READING | 023


I'm starting the first full week of June with Kate Morton's 2015 release - The Lake House. I started my reading adventures with Kate Morton last year, really enjoying The House at Riverton, and knew I'd find myself working through her backlist of novels. The Lake House is my second book of hers, so as you can see I'm not actually working through them in publication order, but I'm really enjoying it so far; an intriguing story that I'm currently a little under half way through.

As well as The Lake House, I'm reading a travel guide focusing on The Cotswolds here in the UK. I read travel guides quite frequently, even if I know I won't be visiting the destination anytime in the near future, however I don't actually track them on Goodreads. I've decided to start mentioning them in my 'Currently Reading' posts, however I still won't add them to Goodreads. If you're curious as to why that is, I don't feel like I read them the same as I do a novel or other non fiction titles, more of a browse or leaf through. If you're interested, the travel guide I'm reading is from the Slow Travel range by Bradt and is a great guide for those of us who are non drivers - I'm keen on reading others from the range as exploring the UK more is high on our family travel bucket list.

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Thursday, 1 June 2017

WHAT I READ | May


I'm ending the month of May having completed four books total, however some of them were started before the month itself began - I managed to clear up some books that had bookmarks sitting in them for a while. Yay!

I started May on the right footing by reading a review book that is due to be published this month, in June: Secrets of Southern Girls by Haley Harrigan. My experience whilst reading this title was a mixed bag, ultimately rating the debut novel 3 out of 5 stars. I'll be sharing a full review next week.

Having thought by starting the month in a productive manner, feeling like I was over my reading slump and also getting ahead with review books, I imagined May to be a great reading month for me... However that turned out not to be the case, as I didn't pick up another book for a week or so after completing my first read. I thought my reading slump had returned, which wasn't a great feeling, however ultimately I think I just needed to relieve myself of some pressure. I didn't push myself to blog here, despite wanting May to be my month of returning and consistently blogging, and I also decluttered my bookshelves for the third or fourth time this year. I was brutal with this declutter and my minimal book collection is now even smaller. I felt better for it though, and happily returned to reading the very next day.

I know I've been going on about this slump of mine - reading & blogging - for a while now, and I am sorry for harping on about it so often. Not only the slump but also the negativity I've been feeling with books and my own book collection, however I think it important to document these thoughts for my own record, as well as acknowledge when something you know and love just isn't feeling right for you in a given moment.

Anyway... Back to the other books I managed to read in May.

The next book I completed was Tales of the Peculiar by Ransom Riggs. I was drawn to this book and its stunning book cover in a bookshop, and was a little hesistant about buying it having not finished the series of Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children, but those worries were not warranted as this book is readable even if you have next to no knowledge of the series. The stories were short but well told and are akin to the fairy tales we know from childhood, with beautiful illustrations peppered throughout. Overall I rated Tales of the Peculiar 4 out of 5 stars.

Another short story collection I read in May was The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King - I'd had a bookmark in this title for a couple of months now, picking it back up at the 80 page mark (so very little read). As with any short story collection, some of the stories were enjoyed more than others, and I do hope to write a full review in the coming weeks. Another 4 star read.

I ended the month, and by ended I mean literally finished this yesterday evening, with The Secret Library by Oliver Tearle. This is a non fiction title that I've had a bookmark in since February, but one I wish I had finished a lot sooner. Much like other books mentioned here, I do intend to share a full review of this title, however if you're keen on books about books then this is one for you. 5 out of 5 stars.

Happy reading in June!
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Monday, 8 May 2017

CURRENTLY READING | 022


Now that I'm well and truly over my reading slump (YAY!), I'm keen to get back into blogging, especially my participation in 'It's Monday! What Are You Reading?'.

This week I've started reading Tales of the Peculiar by Ransom Riggs - I haven't actually finished the entire series of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children just yet, however this title is an accompanying book to the world, not the plot as such. Tales of the Peculiar is a collection of short stories, and I've been enjoying dipping in and out of them.

As well as this physical book, I've also been reading some of the review books I have lined up on my Kindle. I've got a bunch of titles for the summer months and am currently reading Secrets of Southern Girls by Haley Harrigan, which is proving to be a mysterious read so far.

I do have bookmarks in a few other books from when I was flitting around with books during my reading slump, however these two titles are the ones I'm focusing on this week.

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Tuesday, 2 May 2017

WHAT I READ | April


In the month of April I completed four books, which is an outcome I'm pretty happy with given the state of my reading in the month. Throughout March and April I have been experiencing a reading slump, but I do feel like I'm over the worst of it now - thankfully so!

The first book I finished was our book club pick for the month: The Breakdown by B.A. Paris. I had only read Behind Closed Doors by the same author back in February, and was blown away by that, so was keen to delve into her newest novel. Overall I had an enjoyable reading experience of The Breakdown, and was still captivated by the writing style of the author, however it didn't entirely live up to the experience I had with her first novel. I will keep an eye out for more writing by B.A. Paris. You can read my full review of The Breakdown here.

Although it was my first book completed in April, I didn't actually finish reading The Breakdown until the 21st of the month. Knowing the month was soon ending, and Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon was not far off, I wanted a short book to delve into next and opted for We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson. I'm currently working through the writing of Shirley Jackson, and this particular title didn't disappoint.

The last two books I read in April were my readathon titles, and both completed within a 24 hour period. Cecelia Ahern is one of my all time favourite authors, and I'd saved her newest YA read specifically for the readathon; being that it was second in a duology I knew I would need my memory jogging on the finer points of the first. I started the readathon with Flawed by Cecelia Ahern, and breezed through it, following up with Perfect by Cecelia Ahern. I thoroughly enjoyed both of the reading experiences, and getting reacquainted with Celestine (main character of the dystopian YA series). I rated both of these titles four star reads, however I haven't reviewed them currently.

I've ended April with bookmarks in Pride & Prejudice (a reread) + The Secret Library by Oliver Tearle (a non fiction read).

Happy reading in the month of May!
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Saturday, 29 April 2017

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon (Master Post)

Today I'm taking part in Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon - one of my favourite events in the book community - and thought I'd kick of the day by sharing my TBR for the event. This will also be my master post, with updates noted here and on Twitter throughout the readathon.


This time around I'm keeping my books, as well as goals, pretty simple: I want to make good progress with Perfect by Cecelia Ahern. This is Ahern's newest release, and the sequel to her first YA book, Flawed. I have actually read Flawed, however I am rereading it in the run up to Perfect as a bit of a memory jogger (I have to do this with any series I read).

Due to time zones, the readathon officially starts at 1pm here in the UK, but I decided to get a bit of a head start this morning by beginning my reread of Flawed... At the time of writing this, and most likely the start of the readathon also, I am just under half way through this. If I could finish both of these titles today, then that would be amazing, but we'll see how it goes.

I don't read for the full 24 hours of the readathon, but I do block out solid chunks throughout the day itself and read, read, read. It is unlikely that I'll read right up to 1pm on Sunday, to make the full 24 hours, however I will go to bed normal time here and wake up with a little extra reading in the morning.

So those are my plans!

UPDATE ONE: 4.00pm (End of hour 3 / Start of hour 4)
I started the readathon on page 185 of Flawed by Cecelia Ahern, and by the start of hour 3 I had completed it... Meaning I read 217 pages in the first two hours. For the third hour I actually took a reading break, because I had been reading a lot longer than just two hours of the day so far. We're at the start of hour 4 now and I'm back in the reading zone... Although I may be deviating from plan slightly!
Hours read: 2
Pages read: 217
Books complete: 1 (Flawed by Cecelia Ahern)

UPDATE TWO: 9.45pm (9th hour)
I'm calling it quits for the day, with hopes of reading more upon waking up tomorrow. Ending the day on page 159 of Perfect by Cecelia Ahern. I did hope to read a bit more today, however I have a nasty dry cough at the moment, and I'm at the point of day now where I can't focus on anything but the pain in throat. Lame excuse, right?! Anyway, I mentioned deviating from plan in update one, and that's because I dipped into Pride & Prejudice, which I've been rereading all month long. I managed just 30 pages there though before my family returned from the tabletop gaming event they had been at. I stopped reading for a good chunk of the evening once they returned, and got back to books when my son went to bed.
Hours read: 5
Pages read: 406
Books complete: Still 1 (Flawed by Cecelia Ahern)

FINAL UPDATE
I finished my participation in the readathon at 11.00am UK time - having read for 8 of the 22 hours that had passed. Overall I'm really happy with how the readathon went; I finished both Flawed & Perfect by Cecelia Ahern.
Hours read: 8
Pages read: 834
Books complete: 2 (Flawed & Perfect by Cecelia Ahern)

If you also took part in the readathon, then a big bookish congrats to you!
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Thursday, 27 April 2017

BOOK REVIEW | The Breakdown by B.A. Paris


BLURB
If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside―the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.

But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.

The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…

MY THOUGHTS
Going into The Breakdown, I didn't know too much about the book itself but not long had passed since reading B.A. Paris's debut novel. I was blown away with the first book, and keen to read the second, actively avoiding spoilers and the such like. I went into The Breakdown blind plot wise, but had heard a couple of people say it wasn't as good as the first... And I came away with that exact experience myself.

After driving by another car in a lay by on a rainy night, Cass feels terrible the next day when she learns that the driver of the car had been murdered that night. To make the situation even worse, Cass had just been getting to know the murder victim in the weeks prior. This in itself is a big situation, but Cass also has other issues going on, including the possibility of early on set dementia. The book itself follows Cass as the tries to lead her life with a sense of normality, all while struggling with the stress and worry of these circumstances.

For the first half of the book, I felt very underwhelmed by the unfolding story, and wasn't able to form a full opinion on all that was going on as it felt like as a reader we weren't privy to everything... And we weren't. Once I reached the 70% mark, the plot really picked up and I found myself furiously page turning; as with her debut novel, the author knows how to write a captivating conclusion!

As with all my reviews, I try to keep them spoiler free, however I will say I did guess a part of the storyline right from the very beginning which kind of disappointed me a little, as it seemed pretty obvious. There were parts of the ending that I didn't see coming, twists at every corner, but also a part or two where I had to suspend my disbelief.

Overall I enjoyed my reading experience of The Breakdown. I would recommend this book to others who enjoy thriller reads, and I'll be on the lookout for future works written by B.A. Paris.

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Thursday, 20 April 2017

UPDATE | Where I'm At With Reading & Blogging


It has been almost two weeks since my last blog post... It seems a lot longer. This has been an unintentional break; with my reading not being very consistent at the moment, naturally my platform to talk about all things bookish has gone a similar way.

There isn't a real purpose behind this update other than to let the readers of my blog know what is happening here currently, where my head space is at, and of course, what I've been reading.

As I mentioned in my March reading wrap up, reading is all over the show for me at the moment. I'm having trouble concentrating, I go days without picking up a book, and for the most part I've been in an on and off reading slump for well over a month now. It sucks! I miss reading. I miss blogging. I miss interacting about books. I miss the stories.

I've been trying all my 'pull yourself out of a reading slump' tips and tricks, however none of those are succeeding greatly at the moment. I've picked up a reread (Pride & Prejudice). I've turned to short stories (The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King). I've picked up a book I'd usually breeze through, in this case a psychological thriller (The Breakdown by B.A. Paris). And I still have bookmarks in all of these books... And then some!

I'm in a bit of a reading pickle really.

At the end of the month I will be taking part in Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon, which I was super excited for and now I'm worried it'll be a total failure! I've already got my books picked out and I'm excited to read the books, but I don't know how the readathon will pan out still being in this place with reading.

As well as missing reading, and the enjoyment I once got from it, I'm also missing blogging. I haven't been posting here consistently for a while, and I also haven't been reading other blogs within the community either.

I don't really have much else to say update wise. I want to read, but I'm not enjoying it. I want to blog, but I'm not reading so have nothing to share. I want to be active in the book blogging community, but the other two points are stopping me for some reason.

I wish I had something positive to end this update with, but bookish wise, there really isn't anything. So instead, please share what you've recently enjoyed reading in the comments below!
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Friday, 7 April 2017

BOOK REVIEW | The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling


BLURB
The Tales of Beedle the Bard have been favourite bedtime reading in wizarding households for centuries. Full of magic and trickery, these classic tales both entertain and instruct, and remain as captivating to young wizards today as they were when Beedle first put quill to parchment in the fifteenth century. There are five tales in all: 'The Tale of the Three Brothers' Harry Potter fans will know from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; 'The Fountain of Fair Fortune', 'The Warlock's Hairy Heart', 'The Wizard and the Hopping Pot' and 'Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump' complete the collection. These narrative gems are accompanied by explanatory notes by Professor Albus Dumbledore (included by kind permission of the Hogwarts Headmaster's archive). His illuminating thoughts reveal the stories to be much more than just simple moral tales, and are sure to make Babbitty Rabbitty and the slug-belching Hopping Pot as familiar to Muggles as Snow White and Cinderella.

MY THOUGHTS
Perhaps best known for playing host to 'The Tales of the Three Brothers', The Tales of Beedle the Bard is a collection of five short stories written by J.K. Rowling as an accompaniment to the Harry Potter series. The tales found inside can be likened to the fairy tales we would hear during childhood, however these have a magical twist to them.

Alongside 'The Tales of the Three Brothers', you'll also find inside: 'The Wizard and the Hopping Pot', 'The Fountain of Fair Fortune', 'The Warlock's Hairy Heart' and 'Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump'. All of the stories are well written and remain in my mind weeks after reading, with my two favourites being 'The Tales of the Three Brothers' (obviously) and also 'The Fountain of Fair Fortune'.

The book itself isn't too long, just over 100 pages, and I read through it quickly. I felt immersed in the wizarding world once more, and was full warm fuzzies whilst reading - the kind of feeling you get when you return home from a holiday.

Something I really enjoyed, besides the stories, was the fact that each story has commentary by Dumbledore at the end of it, with some insight into the perception of the story and how they have changed over time etc. I thought this a nice inclusion. The same can be said for the illustrations in this particular edition - they are just stunning!

This book is a much needed addition to the bookshelves of any Harry Potter fan. I can't believe it took me so long to buy!

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Sunday, 2 April 2017

WHAT I READ | March


I started the month of March by finishing off my reread for February: The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I thoroughly enjoyed rediscovering the story of Henry and Clare (the main characters), and I fell in love with the book all over again.

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz was my next read... I didn't enjoy this title as much as I expected to, and I've definitely read better thriller type reads this year so far. The Passenger isn't a bad read; I had a very 'meh' reading experience - the kind of book you don't recall a whole lot from once you've moved on to another title.

From here in on, my reading picked up greatly, which was really nice as I have been having on and off slumpish moods throughout the entire year so far. The next three titles I picked up all turned out to be five star reads for me.

I decided I needed a book short in length to read next, and so I opted for a new book purchase of mine: The Tales of Beedle the Bard. I've been meaning to read these accompanying books to the Harry Potter series for a long time now, especially this title, and I'm glad I now have it in my book collection. I see myself picking this collection of short stories up every now and again in the future. I did hope to review this book, and another title from this month, however I've yet to write any words on them. It's currently up in the air as to whether a full review will be written or not.

Up next was a review book I'd requested on Netgalley: Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney. This was such a good book - I was totally gripped and blown away by the fact that this is a debut novel. I saw on Twitter (confirmed by the author) that the book has been commissioned for a TV series, and I'm excited to see how it translates to screen. If you're interested in my full review, you can read it here.

The last book I finished in March was Strange Star by Emma Carroll. I'd been all over the show with my reading since finishing my review book, and all I wanted to do was get lost in a book. Emma Carroll is my favourite middle grade author, and I'd had her newest title on my shelves unread for a while waiting for the perfect moment to delve in - this was that moment. I loved so much about Strange Star, but especially the way in which Mary Shelley and her novel Frankenstein was incorporated in the unfolding story.

Whilst I ended the month having read five books, I do still have bookmarks sitting in a couple of titles. Most notably, I have a bookmark sitting in our book club pick for the month of March, and I also wasn't able to pick up my reread for the month either.

I'm going into April with the aim of reading just the one book at a time, hoping that this will help me with the on and off reading slump, and fall back in love with the act of reading again.

Happy reading in the month of April!
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Monday, 27 March 2017

BLOG TALK | On Reviewing Books...


Today I wanted to have a little discussion about reviewing books... Not an essential part of book blogging, but definitely a prevalent one.

Within the book blogging community we all have our own approaches to blogging, and in that our own approaches to the content we share. I know of bloggers who don't share book reviews at all, and others who review every single book they read - I think for the most part a happy medium of both of those is common in the community.

Personally, I don't review every single book I read... I write reviews of books I want to rave about and recommend, or discuss with others who have read it also. For the most part, the reviews I share are of books I have a positive reading experience of. That's not to say I only review books I rate five stars, or books I have nothing bad to say about, but just that the reading experience is one I want to remember.

I know some people would have a gripe with that... Why don't I talk about the books I didn't enjoy? Or the books I rate as 1 or 2 star reads? It isn't that I'm purposefully not reviewing these books because I don't want to offend or anything; I don't review these books as I don't want to spend more time on a book that didn't provide me with a positive reading experience. Also, if I'm not enjoying a book very much, chances are that I'll DNF it anyway.

This year, instead of entirely glazing over titles like that, I've decided to talk about them a little in my monthly wrap up posts. I think it's important to address books you didn't enjoy, and until recently I didn't know how to incorporate them in blog posts, however the solution of including them in my wrap up is working well for me so far.

Now you know how I approach reviewing books, I'd love to know how you go about reviewing the books you read.
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Friday, 24 March 2017

BOOK HAUL | First Book Buys of 2017


This title is our book club pick for the month of March.

A must for any Harry Potter loving book collector. I've been meaning to pick this book up for a while now, and love the illustrations within this edition.

I'm slowly working my way through Shirley Jackson's writing.

If you want to read more about the books mentioned, then the title will take you to Goodreads
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Thursday, 23 March 2017

BOOK REVIEW | Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

| I received by copy of Sometimes I Lie via Netgalley for review purposes |

BLURB
My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:

1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.
3. Sometimes I lie.

MY THOUGHTS
Wow! I don't even know where to start with this review - on the one hand I want to spew out all my thoughts and on the other I just want you to go and pick up the book yourself and discover the brilliance of it.

We meet Amber, the narrator of the story, in hospital. As the blurb indicates, she is in a coma, and a portion of the narrative is told via Amber's thoughts in her coma. This in itself makes for pretty eerie reading, add to that the unfolding mystery of how Amber ended up in a coma, as well as diary entries from many year priors and you've got yourself one serious page turner. 

The plot of Sometimes I Lie seemed pretty straight forward to begin with, but as with any good psychological thriller, you shouldn't get comfortable in your knowledge and what you think is happening, especially with an unreliable narrator.

I know some dislike an unreliable narrator, but in this book it totally makes the complex story that is unfolding. All of the characters within Sometimes I Lie have substance, however as you reader you do feel like you get to know Amber the most and connect with her even. You are lured in by her words, and you forget that third point from the blurb - 'sometimes I lie'.

The plot is amazing. The characters are so dark and deeply developed. Alice Feeney has a writing style that is not only detailed but also a beauty to read at times, lyrical even. I would definitely be on the look out for more work by Alice Feeney; it is kind of hard to believe that this is her debut novel!

The year is still quite young, but I expect to see this title in my top ten of the year.

If you're looking to get stuck into a good psychological thriller that'll keep you on your toes, then I highly recommend picking up Sometimes I Lie.

LINKS
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Friday, 17 March 2017

BOOK TALK | Spring Clean Your Bookshelves


I don't know about you, but I love a good spring clean. Whilst I have a regular cleaning routine, and try to consistently declutter my home, there is something very freeing about setting aside time in a season where new life surrounds us. Now you may be thinking, well that's nice Jade, but what does this have to do with books?

I have one question for you... Are your bookshelves on your spring cleaning list?

STEPS TO SPRING CLEAN YOUR BOOKSHELVES

SET ASIDE A CHUNK OF TIME
I think this is one of the things that definitely puts people off spring cleaning their bookshelves, as well as completing book inventories - you need to commit a solid chunk of time to undertake the task. If you're going to begin cleaning your shelves only to be distracted, needed elsewhere, or just plain fed up in an hour or so, then there isn't any point beginning. Spring cleaning your bookshelves is a lot easier when done all in one fell swoop.

TAKE EVERYTHING OFF
Whether you have 50 books, 105, or even 550, you need to pull them all out. Every single one of them. The ones from your primary shelves, the ones sitting on your bedside table, the one you keep in your bag for those just in case moments. Every single book. If you have multiple bookshelves in various rooms, pick the one in which to complete this task, with all books coming together in one big pile. Whilst you're taking each book off, dust it... This is going to make the task easier in the long run.

DUST YOUR SHELVES
Having dusted your books individually, it's now time to dust off your shelves. And just like your books, that's every single one of them.

DECLUTTER
Spring cleaning isn't just about the act of cleaning; it is also a time to look at what you have and evaluate what to keep and what not to keep - do you need everything you own? Of course, books aren't just something you measure by 'do you need it' and so I have a few helpful questions to ask yourself regarding your book collection.

UNREAD BOOKS
How long have you owned the book?
If you've owned an unread book for more than two or three years... It's likely time you let go of it. Set up two piles of your unread books - those you've only owned a short period of time and those that have sat collecting dust longer. Place the unread books you've owned less time in your pile of keep books, and then come back to your other stack. You can either automatically place these books in a donate pile, or you can comb through them one more time and see if there are any titles you know you want to read, and soon.

If you find you have books in your unread pile that you've owned a good amount of time and still hold on hope of reading, then by all means keep them, but I'd recommend putting a time limit on them. Say, if they haven't been read in the next six months then there's a high chance you won't get round to reading them and it's time to let them go to someone else who may love and enjoy them.

READ BOOKS
Did you enjoy your reading experience of the book?
If the answer to this question is no, then what are you even holding on to the book for?! If you didn't enjoy the book the first time, then you certainly aren't going to revisit the book in the future. Give the book a new home.

Am I going to reread it?
This is my number one question. After I've read any book, I ask myself this question before placing it into my book collection. If I don't see myself rereading a book in the future, then it gets placed in my donations bag... And the key here is to not look back. If you answer this question with a no, then place it in your very own donation pile.

But it has sentimental value you say. So and so gave me this book as a gift, I met the author at an event, I have a signed edition. Whilst this task is about being honest with yourself and decreasing the amount of books you own, we aren't being ruthless! Whilst the examples I mentioned are valid and true points, don't be trying to find excuses for each and every book.

REVIEW THE STACKS
You'll now have either two or three stacks of books: one pile of books to keep, one pile of books to donate, and one pile of unread books you aren't sure about. I would recommend going over that last pile of books just the once more before fully committing to all the titles there.

BUILDING YOUR COLLECTION
Now it's time to replace all those books you intend to keep. You may be tired at this point, so over seeing books upon books upon books, but have fun with this step. Take a book inventory, switch up the way in which you previously stored your books, look to Pinterest for ideas and inspiration. If you have that third pile, a collection of unread books that you aren't ready to donate yet, then I recommend keeping these books to one side as opposed to interspersing them with the rest of your collection - not only are you more likely to read them sooner, but you'll also be reminded to get rid of them after your chosen period of time has passed.

DONATE
Last, but by no means least, is the task of donating your books - the sooner you get these books out of your house, the better. There are a multitude of places that'll happily take your unwanted books: friends and family, your local library or even school, charity shops / thrift stores, book swap or even give them away on social media. If you'd rather make a little extra cash from your books as opposed to donating them, then you can always sell them on eBay or other market place sites.

Now you can step back and admire your hard work and dedication, feeling lighter for it.
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Tuesday, 7 March 2017

TUESDAY INTROS | The Passenger


BLURB
Tanya DuBois doesn't exist. At least not after an accident leaves her husband dead and thrusts her into the uncomfortably familiar position of Suspect No. 1. She has only one choice: Run.

As "Tanya" watches her life recede in the rearview mirror, we realize she was never real to begin with. And neither is Amelia Keen, Debra Maze, Emma Lark, Sonia Lubovich, or a girl called only Jo. Or almost any of the things she tells us about herself, her past or where she is going next. She is "Amelia" when she meets Blue, another woman with a life she'd rather not discuss, and thinks she's found a kindred spirit. But their pasts and futures clash as the body count rises around them.

Shedding identities like snakeskins, it becomes impossible for the people in Tanya's life - and even herself - to know exactly who they're dealing with. It's only as she comes closer to facing her past that she can start to piece together the truth about not only who she was but who she can still be. THE PASSENGER inverts the traditional thriller, bypassing whodunit for the larger mysteries of who are you, and what is forgivable, and what is not?

FIRST LINES
TANYA DUBOIS
When I found my husband at the bottom of the stairs, I tried to resuscitate him before I ever considered disposing of the body. I pumped his barrel chest and blew into his purple lips. It was the first time in years that our lips had touched and I didn't recoil.

WOULD YOU CONTINUE READING?

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Monday, 6 March 2017

CURRENTLY READING | 021


Putting it plain and simply, last week happened to be my worst reading week of the year so far - I barely picked up my books at all. There wasn't a particularly stand out reason for this, I wasn't busy or otherwise occupied, my attention wasn't elsewhere, and the books I'm reading are of an enjoyable nature. I just didn't read. This picked up a little over the weekend and I dipped in and out of my February reread, having completely finished it just this morning.

I have missed reading. I'm hoping to pull it back this week.

I'm starting the week with a fresh read, opting for a go to genre, in the hopes that I'm pulled into the story and ultimately back into reading.

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz is a library borrow for me, but a book I've been keen to read. I love the fast paced nature of thrillers, especially when in a reading slump of sorts, so I'm hoping this is a good one. I'm also hoping to pick up another of my library borrows this week (can you tell my lending deadline is coming up?): Public Library and Other Stories by Ali Smith. I've been wanting to try out Ali Smith's writing for a while now, and a short story collection is always a good way to get a feel for the writing style of a new author.

I'm also reading a non fiction title about books - The Secret Library by Oliver Tearle - which is proving to be a really insightful read.
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Thursday, 2 March 2017

BOOK TALK | Favourite Words From Lost In Translation


Back in December I shared a list of Six Non-Fiction Books I'd Gift, and in that post I mentioned my love of Lost In Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World by Ella Frances Sanders. In that same post, I mentioned sharing a separate post on a few of my favourite words from the book, and here that is.

And by a few words, I mean ten.

COMMUOVERE
Italian verb
To be moved in a heartwarming way, usually relating to a story that moved you to tears.

KILIG
Tagalog noun
The feeling of butterflies in your stomach, usually when something romantic or cute takes place.

FIKA
Swedish verb
Gathering together to talk and take a break from everyday routines, usually drinking coffee and eating pastries - either at a café or at home - often for hours on end.

KOMOREBI
Japanese noun
The sunlight that filters through the leaves of the trees.

KUMMERSPECK
German noun
Literally mean 'grief-bacon', this word refers to the excess weight we can gain from emotional overeating.

BOKETTO
Japanese noun
Gazing vacantly into the distance without really thinking about anything specific.

WABI-SABI
Japanese noun
Finding beauty in the imperfections, an acceptance of the cycle of life and death.

TIÁM
Farsi noun
The twinkle in your eye when you first meet someone.

YA'ABURNEE
Arabic noun
Meaning 'you bury me', a beautifully morbid declaration of one's hope that they will die before another person, as it would be too difficult living without them.

TSUNDOKU
Japanese noun
Leaving a book unread after buying it, typically piled up together with other unread books.

This isn't a review of the book, however if it were, I'd highly recommend having this charming little book on your shelves.
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Tuesday, 28 February 2017

WHAT I READ | February


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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy reading to you all in March!
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Sunday, 26 February 2017

READING RECORD | 002


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THURSDAY 23rd FEBRUARY
No reading

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

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

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

SATURDAY 25th FEBRUARY
No reading

NOTES | Compared to last week, I feel like I had a slow reading week. The amount I read definitely fluctuates week to week, and I think umming and ahhing whether to DNF or not put me off reading a little this week.
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Thursday, 23 February 2017

BOOK TALK | Five Ways To Organise Your Bookshelves


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

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

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

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

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

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

I don't organise my shelves specifically in one way, as you'll see from my picture above: I have a shelf for books by one of my favourite authors, I have some arranged by colour, some aren't even 'technically' organised I just liked how they looked. I'm keen to hear how you organise your books, whether that be the one method or a mixture.
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Tuesday, 21 February 2017

TUESDAY INTROS | A Boy Made of Blocks


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

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

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

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

FIRST LINES
I am estranged.

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

WOULD YOU CONTINUE READING?

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