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.

LINKS
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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.

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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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Monday, 20 February 2017

CURRENTLY READING | 020


Last week I managed to wrap up reading two books - Behind Closed DoorsThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying - as well as make a good dent in my February reread.

The Time Traveler's Wife (my February reread) was my primary book last week and whilst I do still have a bookmark in that title, it isn't my main read for this week. Somehow February seems to have flown by and I have yet to start the book pick for the twitter book club I take part in (#BookClub140), and so with the chat looming my attention this week is focused on that. Our February pick is A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart - I'm really happy about this as the book of the month is often picked through a poll, and I voted for this title.

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Sunday, 19 February 2017

READING RECORD | 001


SUNDAY 12th FEBRUARY
8.52am - 9.17am: Read from page 137 - 177 of Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

2.15pm - 2.40pm: Read from page 150 - 180 of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo

8.00pm - 8.35pm: Read from page 72 - 106 of The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

MONDAY 13th FEBRUARY
8.10pm - 9.00pm: Read from page 177 - 259 of Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

TUESDAY 14th FEBRUARY
No reading

WEDNESDAY 15th FEBRUARY
8.45am - 9.25am: Read from page 180 - 240 of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo (FINISHED THE BOOK)

7.30pm - 8.37pm: Read from page 259 - 350 of Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris (FINISHED THE BOOK)

THURSDAY 16th FEBRUARY
7.15pm - 7.55pm: Read from page 107 - 129 of The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

9.23pm - 9.35pm: Read from page 40 - 61 of A Poem for Every Night of the Year (CATCHING UP ON FEBRUARY POEMS)

FRIDAY 17th FEBRUARY
No reading

SATURDAY 18th FEBRUARY
11.00am - 11.35am: Read from page 129 - 158 of The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

7.15pm - 7.30pm: Read from page 1 - 18 of A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart

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Friday, 17 February 2017

BOOK TALK | My Library List


The other week I had a really wild Friday night... I spent my evening cross referencing the books on my wishlist with my local library catalogue. Wild, right?! Well, my reasoning behind this task was to cut down my wishlist in a bid to continue buying minimal books this year, and for the future in general. I figure if I keep the books I hope to read bound by what my library stocks, then I have no reason to purchase books really. That's not to say I'll never purchase another book again, but that way when I do buy books I'll be buying them with intention whilst still being able to browse and soak up the atmosphere found in bookshops - as I spoke about late last year.

Today I thought I'd compile a list of all the books I hope to read, that my local library currently carries.

If you've read any of these books and think I NEED to read them, and soon, be sure to leave the title below.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly
Public Library and Other Stories by Ali Smith (CURRENTLY BORROWED)
Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
Collected Ghost Stories by M.R. James
The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango
Florence & Giles by John Harding
The Girl Who Couldn't Read by John Harding
It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
Burton on Burton by Mark Salisbury
The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy by Tim Burton
Ghostly: A Collection of Ghost Stories by Audrey Niffenegger
When We Collided by Emery Lord
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker
Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi
The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
Love from Boy: Roald Dahl's Letters to His Mother by Donald Sturrock
Blame by Simon Mayo

My reading isn't confined to these titles however, this is just books I know I want to read that my library carries. I'll still continue reading from my unread shelf, wander the library for books to borrow and browse the bookstore every now and again.
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Thursday, 16 February 2017

BOOK REVIEW | Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris


BLURB
Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You'd like to get to know Grace better. But it's difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.

Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace's friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn't Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?

MY THOUGHTS
I want to start out this review by saying I did not like the plot of this book, and yet it is my first five star read of 2017. The story within the pages of Behind Closed Doors is one of the most disturbing and twisted I've ever read. It is also one of the most well written psychological thrillers I've read. At times this book was incredibly difficult to read, and yet such a page turner at the same time.

Told through a dual storyline of past and present, we meet Grace and Jack, a couple who seem to have it all but with a very different life playing out behind closed doors - hence the title. I don't really want to say too much more about the plot as it is the kind best read first hand, however I will say there is a darkness to it that I didn't even imagine when picking up this book.

The use of telling the story through both present day and the past adds a element of mystery to the narrative, leading to some very tense reading moments, and I really enjoyed that format. From the narrative, I feel like I was able to get into the mind of Grace the most of all the major characters, however each and every one of them is amazingly crafted. 

Behind Closed Doors is perfectly plotted, with the last few lines of the book wrapping everything together in the best way - I literally read the last page multiple times because it was just perfect.

I debated rating Behind Closed Doors lower than five stars, feeling uncomfortable with the plot, however the book was so well written, held my attention throughout, contained developed character with an amazing ending overall, and because of this I've given five stars. And the fact that Behind Closed Doors is a debut novel, just wow!

On Goodreads the author has confirmed that the movie rights have been sold for Behind Closed Doors, and I really hope it translates as well in film format. To be honest though, I don't know if I'd have the stomach to watch the story unfold, it was hard enough reading it.

I would recommend Behind Closed Doors to those who enjoy mystery + thriller type reads, however it definitely isn't for the faint hearted.

*Sorry if this review is a little all over the place - it was kind of hard to formulate articulate thoughts on this book*

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Tuesday, 14 February 2017

BOOK TALK | My Four Favourite Harry Potter Theories


I love reading conspiracy theories... I like the depth to them and seeing how others interpret certain things. There are some wild theories out there, and some pretty plausible ones also. There isn't a specific subject I like to read theories on, however those surrounding the Harry Potter stories always draw me in and hold my attention for way longer than I intended. Today I thought I'd share a few of my favourite theories.

The theories I'm sharing aren't things I necessarily believe myself, just theories that have intrigued me.

THE HARRY POTTER SERIES IS ABOUT MENTAL ILLNESS
There is a pretty in depth theory that the story of Harry Potter is actually based on him being institutionalised in a mental hospital, and the goings on within the book are all delusions and fantasy. There is so much thought that goes into this theory, and whether you believe it to be true or not, I think it makes for an interesting read nonetheless.  

MUGGLES AND WIZARDS HAD A WAR
I've kind of always given thought to this theory myself, but there is a theory that long ago the muggles had a war with those from the magical world, and the muggles won. Evidence of this includes the Minister of Magic having to report to the Prime Minister at certain times, seeming as if the Ministry of Magic is a department of the government, not a government in itself. Also, the wizarding world is kept highly secretive, with wizards wanting to keep their abilities hidden from muggles. There is some more depth and evidence to this theory, and I'd highly recommend reading up on it if you're a Harry Potter fan.

HARRY POTTER IS NOW IMMORTAL
Taking a look at the prophecy, this theory suggests that Harry made the ultimate sacrifice and will forever be 'The Boy Who Lived'.

'either must die at the hand of the other, for neither can live while the other survives'

Having killed Voldemort, Harry is now immortal as his only means of achieving death was at the hand of Voldemort. I personally don't interpret the prophecy in this way, but the concept is an interesting one.

MARY POPPINS ATTENDED HOGWARTS
Okay, so this theory is a little out there... Mary Poppins was a student at Hogwarts long before Harry Potter's time. This is one of those theories that just kind of amuses me, with coincidences being drawn from the two stories, but it does make me think.

I know this isn't my usual kind of post, and not wholly relating to books, but hopefully somebody enjoyed this type of post! If you're at all interested in Harry Potter conspiracy theories, I'd love to hear about your favourite.
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Monday, 13 February 2017

CURRENTLY READING | 019


Whilst I haven't shared content here on Reading With Jade in over a week, I have been reading in that time - happily so! I will admit though that my reading is a bit all over the show at the moment. I'm trying to work on getting back to focusing on just the one book at a time, and am hoping to start tracking my reading a bit more thoroughly with a reading record for the remainder of this month.

As the picture above shows, my current main read is The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger - this is my reread for the month of February. In case you didn't know, I've assigned myself a reread title for each month of the year, and you can read the full list here.

Alongside this book I'm also reading an e-book and dipping in and out of a non fiction title too.

On my Kindle I'm currently breezing through Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris - I'd heard a lot of positive things about this title, and being over half way through the book, I can see why! Such a page turner!

I'm also reading all about the KonMari method at the moment, having picked up The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying from the library. I feel like I'm probably one of the last people to pick up this book, and whilst I know I wouldn't fully implement the method into my own life, I'm finding the theory really insightful and it is giving me that push I need right now.

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Friday, 3 February 2017

BOOK REVIEW | Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

| I received my copy of Swimming Lessons via Netgalley for review purposes |

BLURB
Ingrid Coleman writes letters to her husband, Gil, about the truth of their marriage, but instead of giving them to him, she hides them in the thousands of books he has collected over the years. When Ingrid has written her final letter she disappears from a Dorset beach, leaving behind her beautiful but dilapidated house by the sea, her husband, and her two daughters, Flora and Nan.

Twelve years later, Gil thinks he sees Ingrid from a bookshop window, but he’s getting older and this unlikely sighting is chalked up to senility. Flora, who has never believed her mother drowned, returns home to care for her father and to try to finally discover what happened to Ingrid. But what Flora doesn’t realize is that the answers to her questions are hidden in the books that surround her. Scandalous and whip-smart, Swimming Lessons holds the Coleman family up to the light, exposing the mysterious truths of a passionate and troubled marriage. 
 

MY THOUGHTS
I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I picked up Swimming Lessons... I'd read the blurb, as well as the author's debut novel, and knew this was the kind of book that piqued my interest.

Told through a duel narrative, we are welcomed into the Coleman family. The story is told through a present time narrative, and the letters Ingrid has written for her husband, Gil. After receiving news that her father has had an accident, Flora heads back home to be with him and older sister, Nan. This is where the present day narrative takes place, with the letters being from many years prior. Of the two, I adored the unfolding story in the letters, however both narratives have their place and play a part in piecing together the details of the dysfunctional Coleman family.

Whilst the family as a whole are the focus of the story, it is the marriage of Ingrid and Gil that is at the heart of the story. It is what drew me and kept me reading. The portrayal of their marriage was real and raw, and at times the letters felt too intimate for us readers to be reading. What I mean by that is that there are some things you tend to keep to yourself, and the marriage of Gil and Ingrid is laid bare, warts and all.

Through the letters I felt like we really got a sense of who Ingrid was, seeing how marriage and family life changed her. How Gil changed her. At times she felt vulnerable, at times she angered me, and overall, Ingrid felt like the most fleshed out character within this book.

The letters run up to Ingrid's disappearance, and this is a mystery that runs throughout the book. No one knows what happened to Ingrid, she just upped and left one day with no one knowing what happened to her. At the start of the book, Gil believes he has seen his wife in town, and this only fuels the mystery further.

I would recommend this book to others in general, but I do think the way in which books heavily feature in the plot draw in bookworms that little bit more. Not only does Gil have a huge (I mean HUGE) collection of books, but the letters Ingrid writes to her husband are stored in books, with the titles in which she leaves those letters associating with what she has written in the letter. It is very cleverly done.

There is a sadness, but also hope, in Swimming Lessons. I feel I read this book at a much slower pace than usual, but it needed that dedicated time to fully absorb the beauty of the story.

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Wednesday, 1 February 2017

WHAT I READ | January


I started January with one of my all time favourite authors, Cecelia Ahern, picking up her newest release as my first book of the year. Whilst I enjoyed the development of Lyrebird as a character, and always love Ahern's way with words, I didn't entirely love the story as a whole. I rated Lyrebird four out of 5 stars, and you can read my full review here.

Secondly, I picked up my first reread of the year: Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. Whilst this is a melancholy read, I came away from this book with a number of life affirmations, as I recall doing the first time also. An inspiring read that I rated four stars, and a title I'd recommend all to read at least the once.

Next up I opted for another reread, unplanned, but very much enjoyed, and that was The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell. I love returning to this title every now and then, and it makes a delightful read for any bookworm. At five stars, The Bookshop Book was my highest rated read of the month, and if you take anything away from this post, then it should be to pick this book up!!

My fourth read of January was a book for review: Life in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos. I was super excited about the concept of this book, focusing on reality TV, however the story itself wasn't quite what I expected. I rated this book three stars out of five, and you can read my full review here.

Delving into a short story collection next, I visited the works of Rachel Joyce when picking up A Snow Garden & Other Stories. Previously I'd read Perfect by this author and enjoyed her writing style, and know The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is a much loved read however I haven't read it myself. In the story collection I did enjoy the writing style, however some of the stories felt a bit all over the show for me. Also, the stories are all connected, however I kind of wish they were a little more subtly connected. Three out of five stars for A Snow Garden & Other Stories.

My next read was the book club pick of the month: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. I had been so keen to delve into this book, not only because of all the buzz surrounding this title, but because I read each and every Picoult novel... Unfortunately, I didn't love this title as much as I thought I would. I think the message she is trying to get across with this novel is so important and powerful, especially given current times, but the story itself wasn't all that for me. I ended up rating Small Great Things 3 stars, and you can read my full review here.

I ended the month of January so very nearly finishing up Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller, but not quite. It shall be finished in the next couple of days. I absolutely love this book - Claire Fuller is definitely one of my new favourite authors.

Happy reading to you all in February!
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Saturday, 28 January 2017

BOOK REVIEW | Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult


BLURB
When a newborn baby dies after a routine hospital procedure, there is no doubt about who will be held responsible: the nurse who had been banned from looking after him by his father.

What the nurse, her lawyer and the father of the child cannot know is how this death will irrevocably change all of their lives, in ways both expected and not.

Small Great Things is about prejudice and power; it is about that which divides and unites us.

MY THOUGHTS
Unpopular opinion, but I didn't love this book...

In her latest release, Jodi Picoult tackles a very prevalent and timely social matter - racism and prejudice against people of colour. When labour and delivery nursery, Ruth, is removed from caring for a patient due to a request by the baby's white supremacist father, Turk, and his wife, she has no other option than to follow the orders of her higher up. Following these orders, baby Davis soon passes away whilst left under the eye of Ruth. Turk is quick to point the finger at Ruth being a part of his son's death, and the unfolding story sees Ruth's life entirely rocked by these allegations.

The story is told from three viewpoints - Ruth, Turk, and also Ruth's lawyer, Kennedy, and follows events all the way from Ruth being removed from the case, covering the trial that unfolds, and ends with a look at the lives of Ruth and Turk six years down the line.

I was so looking forward to reading Small Great Things. Jodi Picoult is an author whose books I've enjoyed for a very long time now, honestly I haven't loved them all, but I make a point of reading her newest release each year and tend to come away with some thought provoking thoughts. It is without a doubt that I've come away from this book with many thoughts, but I've also been left a little disappointed in the writing of this book.

Don't get me wrong, I think it is amazing that Picoult has tackled this issue that many would shy away from, and the fact that she has not only got many people talking about racism, but also acknowledging it. My issue lies in the execution of the story at hand... To begin with I was pulled into the story, getting to know Ruth, watching events unfold, but the further I got into the book, the more and more I disliked.

I didn't like any of the characters. Now, I don't need to like a character in order to enjoy a book, however I didn't like these characters as they all felt like stereotypes to me. Every single one of them.

The book dragged on a little in my opinion, with some scenes seeming to be there just for dramatic effect, as opposed to successfully getting a message across. I also thought there was some hypocrisy within the narrative that was never addressed.

When the case came to trial, the book really came alive for me. Whilst I wasn't keen on her as a character, I thought Kennedy really shone in the courtroom. I think perhaps this part of the book spoke to me most as the stories that heavily involve the courtroom (namely her earlier work) are the stories of Jodi Picoult's that I absolutely love and reread to this day.

I highly recommend reading the 'Author's Note' at the end this book, as it really gives you an insight into what Picoult was hoping to achieve with this novel of hers. As I've said above, I think it is amazing that many people are talking about and really thinking about racism having read this book and the message she is trying to put across quite a powerful one, but the story itself fell a little short for me.

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Saturday, 21 January 2017

BOOK TALK | Bookshop Bucket List


If you followed my Bout of Books updates earlier on in January then you'll know that I returned to one of my favourite bookish books: The Bookshop Book. I was looking to get lost in a book, in a story even, and cosy down after a long day; nothing was grabbing me until I decided to delve into many stories, the stories of hundreds of bookshops from around the world.

Author of The Bookshop Book, Jen Campbell, literally covers the world in this book with some very remote and unique booksellers all over, however it is the Europe and North America sections that interest me most. I love reading all the stories, especially those who have fought to keep selling books as they have such powerful messages, as do books themselves, however it is the Europe and North America sections that I connect with most as they include some of the bookshops I was already aware of and would love to visit someday.

Here in the UK, there are a good number of independent bookshops, however personally I've never visited any. I now live in a location where my nearest bookshop is a high street store, Waterstones, and takes over 30 minutes to get to on a bus, however I kick myself when I think about having lived in London for 21 years and never stepping foot in a single independent bookshop.

Today I wanted to share with you a few bookshops, that are featured in The Bookshop Book, and that I'd like to visit myself some time. I've put serious thought into this list, and I've compiled a list of places that are feasible and tangible destinations.

HAY-ON-WYE, Wales
At the top of my bookshop bucket list is actually a bookshop town - Hay-on-Wye. Not only is this little town at the top of my list because there is an abundance of bookshops, but because Hay-on-Wye is the National Bookshop Town of Wales (and in case you didn't know, I now live in Wales). The town itself is a small market village, and along with the books being a draw, there appears to be some lovely landscape and walking routes within the town. Given that we're less than 50 miles away from Hay-on-Wye, and that it seems quite easily accessible without a car (neither me nor my partner drive), I think we'll be sure to take a little break here in the future.

EDINBURGH, Scotland
Edinburgh is a city I've wanted to visit for a good while now, and it is definitely on our travel bucket list as a family. Something I'm sure we'll do when we visit is wile away some time in the many bookshops dotted in and around the city, especially seen as collectively we are a book loving family. Featured in The Bookshop Book is The Edinburgh Bookshop, however there are many other bookish gems to be found also.

FOYLES
In the world of books and bookshops, Foyles is an iconic independent bookstore with an extensive but interesting backstory. Starting out as the one shop on Charing Cross Road, London, Foyles now has seven shops across the UK and is known as being a progressive company within the book industry. If, and when, I get round to visiting a Foyles store it'll likely be in London or Birmingham.

SHAKESPEARE AND COMPANY, Paris
I feel like Shakespeare and Company is a bookstore that needs no introduction really. The independent bookstore, based in Paris, is renowned within the bookish community and I'm sure on the bookshop bucket list of many fellow bookworms. Paris is also high on our travel bucket list, and so I think this a feasible addition to my list. As well as Shakespeare and Company, Paris is known for a great number of bookstores and a thriving literary community - I imagine it would be an amazing atmosphere to be enveloped in.

POWELL'S, Portland
Across the pond from me, over in the US, is Powell's - an independent bookstore predominantly based in Portland, Oregon. There are a number of large cities across the US that I'm keen to visit in my lifetime, and Portland is high up there (not just because of Powell's). Regarding Powell's, the famous flagship store, Powell's City of Books, is the store I have my heart set on visiting.

I'd love to know what books would feature on your own bookshop bucket list, as well as any independent bookshops you think others should know about.

LINKS TO THE BOOKSHOP BOOK
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