Confessions of a Reader

'Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.' – Mason Cooley


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January Wrap-Up

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I have never done a wrap-up post before but thought it would be interesting to look back at the month. So , here goes..firstly, where did January go? I cannot believe we are heading into February, my Little P is getting bigger every minute it seems!

Books Read in January

I feel like I had quite a good reading month during January, considering I have a baby that needs my full attention. I am really loving reading again now that Parker is getting into more of a routine. I didn’t review one of the books because I didn’t feel like I had enough to say about it.

The Selection by Kiera Cass (Review)
Summer with my Sister by Lucy Diamond (Review)
The Enemy by Charlie Higson (Review)
Apocalypse Bow Wow by James Proimos III
The Fault in our Stars by John Green (Review)
Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell (Review)

                               The Selection SummerWithMySister  TheEnemy  FrozenCharlotte TFioS ApocalypseBowWow

Book of the Month:
Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell – I absolutely loved this book and totally gushed about it here. Really got me in the mood to read more YA horror  – recommendations welcome.

Reading Challenge 2015:

I read three books towards my 2015 reading challenge.

  1. A book turned into a movie
  2. A book that scared me
  3. A book by an author I’ve never read before

 

British Books Challenge:

I linked up three reviews to this challenge during the month of January.

  1. Summer with my Sister by Lucy Diamond
  2. The Enemy by Charlie Higson
  3. Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell

 

Bought, Borrowed, Received:
I have been so good this month and haven’t purchased ANY new books. GO ME! Although, I have reserved some books at the library and will be picking these up in the next few days. Look out for a library haul next month.

What I’ve been watching and enjoying this month:
I actually haven’t been watching a lot this month. I am loving Hollyoaks  – don’t hate me, it’s my guilty pleasure! I’ve also discovered Silent Witness, I had forgotten how much I love programmes like this. I am also looking for a new series – or two – to start. We have Amazon Prime, any recommendations? I’m liking the look of Under the Dome, Grimm and Revenge.

Other things that happened on the blog in January:
I hauled some clothes for Parker here and here – I have a slight problem with buying him things, I just cannot resist. I went to a local charity shop and got some great little items, I will share those next month. I also reviewed our Tranquil Turtle here. We love this product and highly recommend it. This was my first product review too.

Looking forward to February:
These are the things I want to achieve/have a go at in February.

  1. Start writing monthly posts about Parker and his development. These will be lovely to look back on in years to come.
  2. Improve photography – and take more photos!
  3. Use my library – reserving, browsing and baby groups!
  4. Go to some baby groups in the local area.

 

I have really enjoyed getting back into blogging this month and participating in challenges. I have quickly learnt to blog about what I want, when I want – not to worry about views, comments and stats so much. If you have any wrap-up posts please leave a comment with the link below – I love reading them!

Love,

Stacie and Grant

 

 


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Book Review // Frozen Charlotte – Alex Bell

FrozenCharlotte

Format: Kindle Edition
Published: 5th January 2015
Publisher: Stripes Publishing
Pages: 368
Series/Standalone?: Standalone
Genre: YA Horror

BUY: Amazon | Book Depository

This book is counting towards the British Books Challenge and my 2015 Reading Challenge.

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Synopsis taken from Goodreads:

We’re waiting for you to come and play. Dunvegan School for Girls has been closed for many years. Converted into a family home, the teachers and students are long gone. But they left something behind…Sophie arrives at the old schoolhouse to spend the summer with her cousins. Brooding Cameron with his scarred hand, strange Lilias with a fear of bones and Piper, who seems just a bit too good to be true. And then there’s her other cousin. The girl with a room full of antique dolls. The girl that shouldn’t be there. The girl that died.

My Thoughts:

Wow, wow, wow! I have had to give myself a few days in order to be able to write this review coherently. This book has given me a complete book hangover!

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. As a free Kindle download, I thought it could go one of two ways – but at least I hadn’t paid a huge amount for it just to be disappointed. Boy, was I totally surprised – I absolutely devoured this book and it is my favourite of 2015 (so far!).

I enjoy horror movies, the jumpier the better. I have never really read anything remotely horror though, so this was (surprisingly) a first for me. I don’t think the Goosebumps series that I read as a kid can really count 😉

Frozen Charlotte is creepy, really creepy. It is based on dolls – Frozen Charlottes – and man, did they give me the shivers. I had never heard of or seen a Frozen Charlotte doll before, so had to do an internet search. So blinkin’ creepy *shudders*. I hate dolls at the best of times, let alone tiny, talking, giggling, murderous porcelain ones.

The setting really lends itself to the eerie nature of the plot. The Isle of Skye is completely atmospheric, the vivid imagery that Bell creates is captivating. The old boarding school is a great ‘venue’ for a horror story. A huge, old house with lots of rooms and old photos of the past lives held there add lots of suspense and drama.

Sophie was a great narrator – dealing with loss and grief, she heads to her cousins house for some answers. She was headstrong and gutsy – a little too much at times. I found myself willing her not to go looking around the house in the dark, alone, with only her camera flash to illuminate the rooms. Eek! Scared me half to death. Cameron, Lilias and Piper are also very strong characters. Each display bizarre behaviour, something which kept me wondering right to the end what was really going on.

I loved the fast paced action throughout Frozen Charlotte. I couldn’t put the book down and finished it within two days (even with an 11 week old baby to look after!). It was a brilliantly paced novel that kept me wanting more after every page. The plot just seemed to come together so well, everything fitted into place – one thing after another.

I cannot wait to delve into other books by this author. Luckily for me, she has a few to explore.

I cannot really do justice to this book through a simply review, you have to read it for yourselves. I enjoyed it so much (can you tell?!) I know there are more in the ‘Red Eye’ series, I may check them out soon – although I don’t want to be disappointed if they aren’t as good as this one was. If you like horror and want a truly scary YA read then look no further. It is still free on Kindle (at the time this post is published) – what are you waiting for?

Now please excuse me whilst I try to remedy the hangover that this book has left me with….

Website: www.alex-bell.co.uk
Twitter: @alex_bell86


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Top Ten Tuesday – 10 Books I’d love to read if I had a book club!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted buy The Broke and The Bookish. Each week they post a new topic and invite everyone to share their lists.

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Top Ten books I’d love to read if I had/was part of a book club.

The first five books on my list are ones that I have already read but would love to read again, with other people to discuss and enjoy all over again.

TheBookThief

1. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will be busier still.

By her brother’s graveside, Liesel’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, left behind there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery.

So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordian-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.

But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jewish fist-fighter in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up, and closed down.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.

TheColorPurple

2. The Color Purple – Alice Walker
Set in the deep American South between the wars, THE COLOR PURPLE is the classic tale of Celie, a young black girl born into poverty and segregation. Raped repeatedly by the man she calls ‘father’, she has two children taken away from her, is separated from her beloved sister Nettie and is trapped into an ugly marriage. But then she meets the glamorous Shug Avery, singer and magic-maker – a woman who has taken charge of her own destiny. Gradually Celie discovers the power and joy of her own spirit, freeing her from her past and reuniting her with those she loves.

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3. The Light between Oceans – M.L Stedman
Richard and Judy summer bookclub read 2013, Goodreads category winner, and longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2013, stunning story of a lighthouse keeper and his wife who face a life-changing moral dilemma. A boat washes up on the shore of a remote lighthouse keeper’s island. It holds a dead man – and a crying baby. The only two islanders, Tom and his wife Izzy, are about to make a devastating decision. They break the rules and follow their hearts. What happens next will break yours.

TheHungerGames

4. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
Winning will make you famous.
Losing means certain death.

In a dark vision of the near future, twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live TV show called the Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed.

When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her sister’s place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

May the odds be ever in your favour.

HarryPotter

5. Harry Potter – J.K Rowling
Harry Potter has never even heard of Hogwarts when the letters start dropping on the doormat at number four, Privet Drive. Addressed in green ink on yellowish parchment with a purple seal, they are swiftly confiscated by his grisly aunt and uncle. Then, on Harry’s eleventh birthday, a great beetle-eyed giant of a man called Rubeus Hagrid bursts in with some astonishing news: Harry Potter is a wizard, and he has a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. An incredible adventure is about to begin!

The next five novels are ones I haven’t read yet. I think these would be great for a book club.

AThousandSplendidSuns

6. A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini
Mariam is only fifteen when she is sent to Kabul to marry Rasheed. Nearly two decades later, a friendship grows between Mariam and a local teenager, Laila, as strong as the ties between mother and daughter. When the Taliban take over, life becomes a desperate struggle against starvation, brutality and fear. Yet love can move a person to act in unexpected ways, and lead them to overcome the most daunting obstacles with a startling heroism.

Wonder

7. Wonder – R J Palacio

‘My name is August. I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.’

Auggie wants to be an ordinary ten-year-old. He does ordinary things – eating ice cream, playing on his Xbox. He feels ordinary – inside. But ordinary kids don’t make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. Ordinary kids aren’t stared at wherever they go.

Born with a terrible facial abnormality, Auggie has been home-schooled by his parents his whole life. Now, for the first time, he’s being sent to a real school – and he’s dreading it. All he wants is to be accepted – but can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, underneath it all?

Speak

8. Speak – Laurie Halse Anderson
From her first moment at Merryweather High, Melinda Sordino knows she’s an outcast. She busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops – a major infraction in high-school society – so her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t know glare at her. No one knows why she called the police, and she can’t get out the words to explain. So she retreats into her head, where the lies and hypocrisies of high school stand in stark relief to her own silence. But it’s not so comfortable in her head, either – there’s something banging around in there that she doesn’t want to think about. But, try as she might, it just won’t go away..

Room

9. Room – Emma Donoghue

Jack is five. He lives with his Ma. They live in a single, locked room. They don’t have the key.

Jack and Ma are prisoners.

Unbroken

10. Unbroken – Laura Hillenbrand

In 1943 a bomber crashes into the Pacific Ocean. Against all odds, one young lieutenant survives. Louise Zamperini had already transformed himself from child delinquent to prodigious athlete, running in the Berlin Olympics. Now he must embark on one of the Second World War’s most extraordinary odysseys. Zamperini faces thousands of miles of open ocean on a failing raft. Beyond like only greater trials, in Japan’s prisoner-of-war camps.

Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini’s destiny, whether triumph or tragedy, depends on the strength of his will.

 

Have you read any of these?

Happy Reading,

Stacie and Grant


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Book Review // The Fault in Our Stars – John Green

TFioS

Format: Kindle Edition
Published: 3rd May 2012
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 337
Series/Standalone?: Standalone
Genre: YA Contemporary

BUY: Amazon | Book Depository

This book is counting towards my 2015 Reading Challenge.

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Synopsis taken from Amazon:

“I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once.”

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

My Thoughts:

Now, this book has been on my TBR pile for a looonnnggg time, maybe even a couple of years. I decided to pick it up thanks to my 2015 reading challenge and #ProjectTBR. I’m certainly glad I did. It made me smile, feel joy and love, sadness and grief – all in the space of a few days.

I haven’t actually read a book in which a character is dealing with the pain and torment of cancer, so this was a first for me. Hazel was the perfect person for me to follow on this ‘journey’. She was  blunt, opinionated, brutally honest, witty and particularly strong-willed. Her description of living with the illness had me laughing and nearly crying. I loved how John Green didn’t sugar coat anything – it was gritty, raw and completely honest. It really hit home how cancer can affect any one, any time, any place. A close work colleague of mine passed away at the end of last year, at the tender age of 28, after a long, painful battle with the disease. This novel helped me to understand how patients must feel living with it – even though it was a work of fiction – an honest reflection that wasn’t all sunshine and daisies.

Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.

The relationship between Augustus and Hazel was beautiful. Seeing them grow and develop together was lovely, whilst being completely heart-breaking. Although I knew the inevitable would happen, I still didn’t see it panning out the way it eventually did.

The only – very minor – thing that irritated me slightly throughout the novel was the incessant use of the word ‘Okay’. I understand that this is a poignant phrase, used as a term of endearment but I found myself rolling my eyes every time it was used. Believe me, it was a lot!

I am SO glad I finally read this, I would definitely recommend it to students I teach (if they haven’t read it already!). I will definitely check out the film adaptation at some point too.

I am looking at picking up some more John Green – any recommendations?

www.johngreenbooks.com
@johngreen

 

 


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Top Ten Tuesday – Favourite Kids Films!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted buy The Broke and The Bookish. Each week they post a new topic and invite everyone to share their lists.

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This week is a freebie so I’ve decided to list my Top 10 favourite kids films – this was SO hard, I could make a list of 50 that I love – every Disney film, like, ever! These are in no particular order.

LionKing

The Lion King

Tangled

Tangled

MaryPoppins

Mary Poppins

DespicableMe

Despicable Me

Shrek

Shrek

TheWitches

The Witches

Matilda

 Matilda

HarryPotter

 Harry Potter

HocusPocus

Hocus Pocus

FreeWilly

Free Willy

What are your favourite kids films?

Stacie and Grant


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Book Review // The Enemy – Charlie Higson

TheEnemy

Format: Kindle Edition
Published: 3rd September 2009
Publisher: Penguin UK
Pages: 406
Series/Standalone?: Series (#1 of 6)
Genre: YA Horror

BUY: Amazon | Book Depository

This book is counting towards my British Books Challenge & my 2015 Reading Challenge.

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Synopsis taken from Goodreads:

In the wake of a devastating disease, everyone sixteen and older is either dead or a decomposing, brainless creature with a ravenous appetite for flesh. Teens have barricaded themselves in buildings throughout London and venture outside only when they need to scavenge for food. The group of kids living a Waitrose supermarket is beginning to run out of options. When a mysterious traveller arrives and offers them safe haven at Buckingham Palace, they begin a harrowing journey across London. But their fight is far from over-the threat from within the palace is as real as the one outside it.
Full of unexpected twists and quick-thinking heroes, “The Enemy” is a fast-paced, white-knuckle tale of survival in the face of unimaginable horror.

My Thoughts:

Overall, I found this to be an enjoyable read. It was fast paced with lots of action right from the start. A great book for teenagers, reluctant young readers and those who love anything ‘zombie’.

There are a lot of characters to get your head around in this one. This was confusing for me at the start, but once the plot had kicked in it became easier to determine who was who. I think this was actually an advantage to the novel – there were lots of different things happening all the way through, to keep you engaged and ‘on your toes’. Each character definitely has their own voice – I particularly liked Maxie & Ollie. The author portrays kids from all different age groups and backgrounds well, I liked the diverse mix.

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I loved the gore throughout this whole novel. Right from the start the author throws you in to a world of blood, guts and sticky endings – something which I loved! There is always something lurking around the corner, ready to surprise you. Killing off a few of the main characters was also a shock – I love authors who do this (and do it well). I didn’t see the deaths coming, it was great how the author took a risk and wasn’t afraid to do it!

This is part of a six book series, and although I enjoyed it I’m not in any rush to complete the series. If I wanted – at some point – to finish these I would probably pick them up at the library, or on my Kindle. I’m glad I got around to it, as I love a good zombie novel, but I am in no rush to finish them off.

This book would be a brilliant one for reluctant boy readers – the blood and gore is great. I could think of a few boys I teach that would love this book, so will definitely be recommending it to them.

www.charliehigson.co.uk
@monstroso

Happy Reading!
Stacie and Grant

 

 


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Baby Boy Haul

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Hello!

So today I thought I would show you some items that I recently picked up for Little P. My little one is growing super fast, at 9 weeks he weighs nearly 13lb. It won’t be long before he is wearing 3-6 month clothes, so I thought I’d get him some cute bits from Next with a gift card I had. I can’t resist shopping for baby bits!

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Vests // Next £8
Muslin Squares // M&S Sale £3.99

 First of all I purchased some essential short sleeved vests. These ones from Next are really good quality, they wash and dry really well, soft for baby too. I got the muslins from M&S, in the sale – £14 reduced to £3.99 and I love the little robot design. I use muslins for pretty much everything, these are super soft – the softest ones I have come across so far. I would totally pay full price for these now that I have them and know what good quality they are.

I then got Little P an outfit – jumper, trousers and shoes.

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 Basic Crew Jumper // Next £9

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Navy Chinos (with adjustable waistband) // Next £9

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Shoes // Next £5
(They look pink here but they are actually a light grey)

Thanks for stopping by – have a lovely day!
Stacie and Grant