Confessions of a Reader

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


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Book Review // Stardust by Neil Gaiman – ‘Random Reads’

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Format: Paperback
Published:  19th September 2005
Publisher: Headline Review
Pages: 194

This is a non-spoiler review. This was also my #RandomReads pick from Maia over at Maia Moore Reads.

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Synopsis:

In the sleepy English countryside at the dawn of the Victorian era, life moves at a leisurely pace in the tiny town of Wall. Young Tristran Thorn has lost his heart to the beautiful Victoria Forester, but Victoria is cold and distant as the star she and Tristran see fall from the sky one evening. For the prize of Victoria’s hand, Tristran vows to retrieve the star for his beloved. It is an oath that sends the lovelorn swain over the town’s ancient wall and into a world that is dangerous and strange beyond imagining.

First Sentence: There was once a young man who wished to gain his Heart’s Desire. 

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this so much more the second time around. I found myself completely immersed in the world that Neil Gaiman has created, it was a truly magical read.

The language used in this novel is wonderful. The prose is so poetic, it was a total joy to read. Everything flowed so well and the imagery was so vivid – I could picture it all with such intensity. Neil Gaiman’s world building is phenomenal, he manages to create a place that is so far away, yet feels like you live right next door.

This is a brilliantly crafted fairytale with some dark twists and turns for good measure. The different storylines combined together keep the story alive. It was refreshing to read about so many different characters, in various stages of their lives – it kept my attention.

The characters – for me – were just okay. I wasn’t really attached to any of them, I didn’t love them. My favourite, if asked to choose, would probably be Yvaine. I felt that being an outsider looking in on this world was part of the reason I wasn’t able to connect with the characters so well. It didn’t enable me to get to know them, I felt like I wanted to be inside their heads – not just observing their actions from above.

For some reason, the whole plot read much easier the second time around. The first time round I wasn’t intrigued, I didn’t care about what happened. This time I wanted to see where Tristran, Yvaine and Victoria ended up, how their stories unfolded. I was satisfied with the ending, I felt it was well done and stayed true to its fairytale roots. 

I have only read this and The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I have Neverwhere sat on my TBR shelf. Re-reading Stardust has made me want to delve into Neil Gaiman’s story writing and world building even more, so I am aiming to do that pretty soon.

Thank you to Maia for choosing this book for me as part of our #RandomReads feature. Check back for a discussion post in a week or so.

You can also hop on over and see Maia’s review of my monthly pick here.

StarRating4 out of 5 stars

Website: neilgaiman.com Twitter: @neilhimself

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The Weaning Journey of a First Time Mum!

Hello!

As a first time mum I am constantly learning – and worrying! – when it comes to bringing up Parker. There is SO much information out there that at times it can feel overwhelming. I wanted to do some different posts here on the blog, so I am intending to document Parker’s weaning journey.

Parker is currently 5 months old and very independent. Although here in the UK our Health Visitors tell us that weaning doesn’t need to take place before 6 months, I feel that he is completely ready for it.

For today I thought I would simply share with you the equipment I have purchased over the last few months. I aim to give Parker homemade baby food – obviously we will use the pouches when convenient, probably the Ella’s Kitchen ones.

I’ve tried to find links to each product for you. I haven’t been sponsored in any way for this post. Of course, I’m not saying that you need all of these items, these are just things I have purchased.

 

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1. Nuby Fruitsicles
I saw these on Mrs Meldrum’s YouTube channel and had to get them. I thought these would be perfect for Parker in the Summer, to make fruity/yogurt ice lollies. Great for small hands!

2. Tommee Tippee Weaning Cups
The blue one was a bargain at 99p from Aldi, again in a baby event. I thought it would be good to have two, incase one is being sterilised etc.

3. Oogaa – Silicone Baby Spoon
This is quite gimmicky really, but I loved it! A train spoon 🙂 I got it in the sale from Mothercare, I wouldn’t have paid full price for it.

4. Nuby ‘The Nibbler’
A friend actually recommended this to me, as she used one with her little girl. I’ve bought one for my mum’s house too, from Asda.

5. Tommee Tippee Explora Spoons
Just some simple, basic, silicone feeding spoons.

6. Nuby Feeding Bowls
Again, from an Aldi baby event (my mum got these so not sure on price). Simple, basic bowls.

7. Disney Bib – Tigger
From George @ Asda, £3. It is like a jacket at the front, with no back. I’m hoping this will save some clothes…here’s hoping! Ha.

8. Griptight Bib
Another Aldi bargain. Silicone, easy to roll and store – has a food catcher bit. I can’t find a link for this one, but I’m sure you can get them from other places – Boots, Mothercare, Tesco, Asda.

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1. Munchkin Mini Blender
I picked this up during one of Aldi’s Baby Events earlier in the year, for £8.99. We do have a food processor, but as this is smaller (and was pretty cheap) I thought I’d give it a go.

2. Tesco Freezer Weaning Tray
A really simple freezer tray, slightly bigger portion sizes. I probably won’t use this straight away.

3. Tommee Tippee Weaning Pots
I got these on eBay for 99p! (with a little dunk in some Milton, they will be fine!) Again, they have a silicone base to make them easy to pop out – I could also carry these in my changing bag with some snacks in.

4. Nuby Wash ‘n’ Toss pots.
Another Aldi bargain (honestly Aldi’s baby event is fantastic for saving money on branded products!). These are re-useable or disposable. Simple little pots – again great for travelling and storing snacks.

5. 2 x Silicone Ice Cube Trays
These are from B&M Bargains for £1.49 each. I got these to freeze purees – these have silicone bases so I can pop them out and store them in bags to save space.

6. Ikea Storage Bags
I LOVE these Ikea food bags. I use them for everything in our house, they are great and so cheap! I aim to freeze purees in the ice cube trays, pop out and store in these bags – labelled and dated with a sharpie (I like to be super organised!). You can re-use these really well too, as they are completely resealable.

Ella’s Kitchen First Foods Cook Book – £4.99
I pre-ordered this as I love the look of Ella’s Kitchen products and feel that the popular Annabel Karmel can be a little dated. After briefly flicking through it I can tell Parker is going to love some of the meals (I think mummy and daddy might too!). The recipes look fab, and super easy to do!

Have you used any of these products? Do you have any words of wisdom when it comes to weaning? Or are there any products that you couldn’t have lived without?


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Birthday Book Haul!

Hello!

I recently celebrated my Birthday and naturally got some lovely new books. I may add more to this pile – I still have some money left and I might venture into a few charity shops. Here is what I have (so far!) –

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His Other Life by Beth Thomas // The Day We Disappeared by Lucy Robinson // The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld // Me Before You by JoJo Moyes // Half A King by Joe Abercrombie //Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

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The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry

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Wailing Ghosts by Pu Songling // The Terrors of the Night by Thomas Nashe

I haven’t gone completely overboard, as I am still trying to cut down my TBR pile. I don’t actually have physical shelves for these books at the moment either, so they are all stored in a huge box – not very practical.

Have you read any of these? Are there any new releases that you would recommend?


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Book Review // All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

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Format: Paperback
Published: 8th Jan 2015
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 400

This is a non-spoiler review.

Synopsis:

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him. 

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the ‘natural wonders’ of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself – a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink. How far will Violet go to save the boy she has come to love?

First Sentence:
Is today a good day to die?

My Thoughts:

I actually found this review quite difficult to write – for what reason I’m not sure. 

I wasn’t sure on this book at first, I picked it up a few weeks back and put it back down as I just wasn’t feeling it at the time. I wanted to try again as I’ve heard so much about it and actually borrowed it from the library and had already renewed it twice! I was so glad I finally read it!

The story is essentially very character driven. We follow Finch & Violet on their journey through life, and the discovery of themselves. I loved the build up of their relationship over time, they just clicked – even though they were so different from each other.

The novel is split into two narratives, Finch & Violet’s. I felt that this really helped me get to know them as individuals, yet displayed their love for one another perfectly. Their adventures and wanderings were charming – I throughly enjoyed reading about them – especially the mobile bookstore!

Jennifer Niven deals with two serious topics so well, I admired that she didn’t attempt to sugarcoat. The characters seemed real to me, their struggles genuine. Finch’s narrative was hard to read at times, it is a true reflection of his thoughts and ongoing battle with his mental state. After reading the Author’s Note it became clear that Niven had lost a loved one to suicide. Knowing this made me love this book even more, she had truly lived and breathed the situation. It must have been a difficult novel to write.

This book had me rooting for both characters, loving Finch’s quirks and Violet learning to live again. I knew it would break my heart, that there would be tears and sadness – I just didn’t know it would affect me as much as it did. I loved so many parts of this book – the love, the loss, the struggle, the fear, the strength and I would read it all over again.

I really want to pick up some more of Jennifer Niven’s books now – luckily there are a quite a few!

StarRating5 out of 5 stars

Website: jenniferniven.com
Twitter: @jenniferniven


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A New Blog Feature: Stacie & Maia’s Random Reads

Hello!

Today I am sharing some exciting news. I am teaming up with the lovely Maia over at Maia Moore Reads to start a new monthly feature on the blog!

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Each month we will be randomly picking a theme/genre of book. We will then decide on a book from that theme/genre that we would recommend the other reads. We aim to read a recommended book each month, posting a review and discussion post. Feel free to join us and read along with one of us, if you like. You can use the hashtag #RandomReads.

So, we have already picked the theme for this month, which is….

‘A book which has been made into a film’

I had three books that popped up straight away for me. It was a really hard choice because I adore all three of them, but the book I have chosen for April is….

The Book Thief
Markus Zusak

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I adored this book when I read it in 2014, and I’m really hoping that Maia does too! You can read my review of it here. If you want to see what Maia has picked for me then you can by hopping over to her blog.

I am really looking forward to starting this monthly feature, it is great to team up with a fellow book blogger and something that I’ve never done before. I love reading and reviewing and think that this will certainly add a bit of variety to the blog. I am also looking forward to what Maia is going to choose for me, I may find books I love that I wouldn’t have usually picked up.

So, we will be posting our reviews in two weeks time, followed by a discussion post. I’m really looking forward to sharing our reviews with you!

Happy Reading!


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Top Ten Tuesday

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 that I’ve added to my TBR recently

Again, this Top Ten Tuesday has been a little rushed this week. I’ve been so busy that I actually forgot all about it. I’ve simply picked the last ten books that I’ve added to my TBR pile via Goodreads.

Half a King by Joe Abercrombie
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
The Cage by Megan Shepherd
Liar Liar by M J Arlidge
The Doll’s House by M J Arlidge
The Asylum for Fairytale Creatures by Sebastian Gregory
The Boy in the Cemetery by Sebastian Gregory
This Book is Gay by James Dawson
Say Her Name by James Dawson

Sorry for the short and sweet post, but it has been a manic few days!

Happy Reading!

 


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Book Review // The Breeders by Katie French

IMG_2363Format: eBook
Published: 31st July 2012
Publisher: LuLu
Pages: 256

This is a non-spoiler review. I will also be adding this to my 2015 Reading Challenge.

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Synopsis:
Sixteen-year-old Riley Meemick is one of the world’s last free girls. When Riley was born, her mother escaped the Breeders, the group of doctors using cruel experiments to bolster the dwindling human race. Her parents do everything possible to keep her from their clutches– moving from one desolate farm after another to escape the Breeders’ long reach. The Breeders control everything- the local war lords, the remaining factories, the fuel. They have unchecked power in this lawless society. And they’re hunting Riley.

When the local Sheriff abducts the adult members of her family and hands her mother over to the Breeders, Riley and her eight-year-old brother, Ethan, hiding in a shelter, are left to starve. Then Clay arrives, the handsome gunslinger who seems determined to help to make up for past sins. The problem is Clay thinks Riley is a bender– a genderless mutation, neither male nor female. As Riley’s affection for Clay grows she wonders can she trust Clay with her secret and risk her freedom?

The three embark on a journey across the scarred remains of New Mexico– escaping the Riders who use human sacrifice to appease their Good Mother, various men scrambling for luck, and a deranged lone survivor of a plague. When Riley is shot and forced into the Breeder’s hospital, she learns the horrible fate of her mother—a fate she’ll share unless she can find a way out.

My Thoughts:
I had so many mixed feelings about this book. There were elements that I thought were really good and others not so much.

The story follows our ‘heroine’ Riley, who lives in world where women and girls are kept in captivity and used in experiments; their main purpose is solely to have children. After a family tragedy Riley goes on the run with Clay, who doesn’t know she is a girl. To cut a long story short, chaos ensues and Riley in thrown head first into some rather tricky situations.

This book was definitely fast-paced, from the very start I was hooked and the writing kept the story moving pretty quickly for me. You dive straight into the action, the author didn’t hang about. One of the more significant characters dies early on in the novel; something which I always feel is a very brave decision for an author to make.

I was in a huge reading slump before reading this book, yet now I feel like I am over that hurdle. This book has to take some of the credit for that. Although I felt it had some major flaws, I read it in few days – it gripped me enough and was a relatively easy read.

Now, onto the problems I had with this book. Firstly, the grammar is horrendous. It is such a shame but every page has some sort of typo or grammatical error. It really frustrated me, I was re-reading sentences in order to decipher what was actually being said. I’m not sure if this was just a problem in the eBook version.

The main character – Riley – was irritating. She seemed so keen to be respected and valued more, yet made really stupid decisions ALL of the time. I kind of wanted her to step up to the plate and learn some valuable skills for on the run – like shooting or knife-throwing. Everything seemed pretty easy for her – there was always someone or something around to save her.

I purchased this book after reading the novella – ‘Nessa: A Breeders Story’. Unfortunately, this was nowhere near as good as the novella I read, but I was still gripped enough to finish it. It has been on my TBR pile forever so I’m really glad I can now cross it off.

If you like YA Dystopian then you may like this book – although it wasn’t the best I’ve read it was still fast-paced enough for me to finish.

StarRating3 out of 5 stars

Website: katiefrenchbooks.com
Twitter: @katielfrench