Confessions of a Reader

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


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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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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.

Top10

Top Ten Books I would classify as all time favourites from the past 5 years

I had to throw this post together really quickly this week – sorry about that. I have been teaching most nights so ‘free’ time is limited.

These are the books I would consider to be my all time favourites, from what I’ve read over the past 5 years. There is a real mixture here – fantasy, dystopian, romance, historical and crime/thrillers.

1. Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

2. The Hunger Games, Catching Fire & Mockingjay

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

4. Throne of Glass & Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas

5. The Light Between Oceans by M.L Stedman

6. Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

7. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

8. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

9. Pretty Little Things by Julianne Hoffman

10. PS I love you by Cecelia Ahern

Have you read any of these?

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.

Top10

Ten things I like/dislike when it comes to romance in books

Okay, so I found this topic really quite tricky this week. I don’t really think I read too many ‘romance’ novels, although I read books that have romantic relationships in them (obvs!).

I have split this in half, firstly 5 things I love in romances:

1. I adore it when an author builds a relationship from a friendship first. I have rarely come across this in novels – I enjoy reading how two people who have a great friendship learn to love and cherish each other. I think this is so much more realistic. I know that my relationship with my husband was built up on friendship first.

2. It has to be realistic. Don’t give me relationships that are clearly false, pretentious and would never, ever happen. I think this is more important in chick-lit/contemporary novels as opposed to dystopian/sci-fi worlds.

3. Chemistry! There has to be chemistry in the relationship. I want that sparkle and fizz, the fitting together of two people like they should have always been together.

4. I like a gradual build up of feelings and emotions, that develop over time (linking back to #1 here slightly). Show me how two people get to know each other, however turbulent that journey might be.

5. Swoon-worthy, genuine male characters. I do love a bad boy, but not to the point of aggression/abuse. I think this is such a touchy topic, I know that important issues need to be written about. Give me a tall, dark, dreamy protagonist any day of the week.

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Things I dislike:

1. Insta-love! Cringe. I hate it when there is no build up in a relationship, I want to get to know them as individuals and follow their relationship as it blossoms.

2.When relationships cross the line into abuse/aggression (see #5 above).

3. Females that lose their identity because of a man. I like independent female characters, who stay true to themselves even when sucked in to the world of love and romance.

4. When relationships are unrealistic.

5. I’m not a huge fan of the New Adult type of genre/description of romance (think Fifty Shades of Grey, which I haven’t read as I couldn’t bring myself to). I cannot work out why – I am by no means a prude. It just makes me uncomfortable. I know that it is realistic, sex in relationships happens – I just find it difficult to read about it in graphic detail. I know that some people love this, it just isn’t for me.

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I actually found this week pretty tough but was determined to participate as I have done every TTT so far in 2015.

Happy Reading!

Stacie and Grant


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Book Review // Summer with my Sister – Lucy Diamond

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Format: Kindle Edition
Published: 7th June 2012
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Pages: 400
Series/Standalone?: Standalone
Genre: Chick Lit

BUY: Amazon | Book Depository

This book is counting towards my British Books Challenge.

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

Polly has always been the high-flier of the family, with the glamorous lifestyle to match. Clare is a single mum with two children, struggling to make ends meet in a ramshackle cottage. The two sisters are poles apart and can’t stand each other. But then Polly’s fortunes unexpectedly change and her world comes crashing down. With no money and nowhere to go, she’s forced back to the village where she and Clare grew up, and the sisters find themselves living together for the first time in years. With an old flame reappearing for Polly, a blossoming new career for Clare and a long-buried family secret in the mix, sparks are sure to fly. Unless the two women have more in common than they first thought?

My Thoughts:

OMG, how have I not picked up a book by Lucy Diamond before?! I bloomin’ loved this book and was gutted when the story came to an end.

The story centres around two sisters, who live very different lives. I loved both of them, for very different reasons. Polly was a little frustrating at first – snobbish, workaholic, self-centred and inconsiderate – I think this was the whole point, she really grows as a person throughout the novel. I really liked the way she changed and developed, being true to herself and finding her way in life. Clare, on the other hand, I could relate to more, right from the start – down to earth, humble, working hard to provide for her children.

Although this story has romance galore, the main theme was not about relationships between men and women but the importance of family, building broken relationships and changing perspectives. I really enjoyed this aspect and found it refreshing to read a story from the point of view of two, headstrong, independent females that were not relying on men to ‘mend’ their lives. It conveys the importance of families, siblings and sticking together through thick and thin – definitely true girl power!

The story also deals with grief and loss – both women are suffering and coming to terms with a tragedy, that they actually blame themselves for. This part of the plot was also delicately dealt with, yet still realistic – a good balance of funny, light-hearted moments combined with a more serious tone. It was a great addition to the story enabling me to really get to know Polly & Clare as individuals.

I loved following all of the characters, the writing style makes you feel like you are a member of the small, village community. I felt like I was part of the ‘team’. The characters are believable and realistic, funny and charismatic. I routed for them all the way and was desperate for them to find their ‘happy ending’.

I am really, really looking forward to reading more of Lucy Diamond’s work. I am SO pleased that there are so many more to catch up with – I might start with her first and work my way right through.

www.lucydiamond.co.uk
@LDiamondAuthor

 

 

 


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Grimm Tales for Young and Old – Philip Pullman

“Magical…This wonderful retelling is set to become a classic in its own right – Sunday Times”

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Synopsis taken from Amazon:

In this beautiful book of classic fairy tales, award-winning author Philip Pullman has chosen his fifty favourite stories from the Brothers Grimm and presents them in a’clear as water’ retelling, in his unique and brilliant voice.

From the quests and romance of classics such as ‘Rapunzel’, ‘Snow White’ and ‘Cinderella’ to the danger and wit of such lesser-known tales as ‘The Three Snake Leaves’, ‘Hans-my-Hedgehog’ and ‘Godfather Death’, Pullman brings the heart of each timeless tale to the fore, following with a brief but fascinating commentary on the story’s background and history. In his introduction, he discusses how these stories have lasted so long, and become part of our collective storytelling imagination.

These new versions show the adventures at their most lucid and engaging yet. Pullman’s Grimm Tales of wicked wives, brave children and villainous kings will have you reading, reading aloud and rereading them for many years to come.

My Thoughts:

A great collection of the Brother Grimms Fairy tales, in one penguin classic edition. A wonderful addition to any readers shelves, a book that can be kept for years to come and re-read to children and grandchildren alike.

The book is made up of over 50 fairy tales. Some well-known and loved traditional tales such as Rapunzel, Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel. Discovering old fairy tales that I was not so familiar with made this book a real treat for me. There are many stories in this compilation that I had not come across, or had heard of but not read/been told, which have now become firm favourites.

Philip Pullman has made these fairy tales easy to read and memorable. Each one is told with precision, clarity and a sense of magic. Some of the tales are actually rather dark and twisted – arms and legs being chopped off, thieves being nailed into barrels and left to drown in ponds, eyes being pecked out by birds.

After each tale there is a small notes section. Pullman discusses where the tale originated from and when, how much the tale has developed through various retellings and what he as an author has changed and why. I thought this was a nice touch, it was surprising just how old some of these tales actually are!

Overall, a great read for any one who loves fairy tales or wants to re-discover them. Perfect for adults and children, a nice collection which will stay on my shelf for years to come.

Source: Paperback       First Published: 5 Sept 2013

Pages: 448                            Score: 3.5 out of 5

‘A magical collection full of wonderful tales of royalty – gorgeous princesses, handsome princes, wise old women and wicked queens, farmers, millers, and the faithful servant. A great bedtime read for children and adults alike. These fairy tales have been given a new life, with clarity and precision.’


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Pushing the Limits – Katie McGarry (#1)

“Because growing up means making tough choices, and doing the right thing doesn’t necessarily mean doing the thing that feels good.”

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Synopsis taken from Amazon:

They say be a good girl, get good grades, be popular. They know nothing about me.

I can’t remember the night that changed my life. The night I went from popular to loner freak. And my family are determined to keep it that way. They said therapy was supposed to help. They didn’t expect Noah. Noah is the dangerous boy my parents warned me about. But the only one who’ll listen. The only one who’ll help me find the truth.

I know every kiss, every promise, every touch is forbidden. But what if finding your destiny means breaking all the rules? A brave and powerful novel about loss, change and growing up, but most of all love.

My Thoughts:

I actually read this book in Nov 2013 but thought I’d still review it on my blog. I had heard lots of good things about this novel on BookTube, so when I saw it in The Works (a bargain bookstore here in the UK) I snapped it up quick.

The story is based around two teenagers, Echo and Noah. Once a popular girl Echo is suddenly battling with memories of the most horrific night of her life. Noah is fighting for his visitation rights to his younger brothers. Echo believes Noah is a girl-using, angry guy with nothing better to do but get high. Noah thinks Echo is a strange, mysterious girl – but very attractive – with no social life. Their paths cross and they find that they have a lot in common.

There were many good elements of this novel. Firstly, the relationship build up between these two characters – believable, exciting with the ability to keep you guessing.  The character building was also brilliant. Both characters had a good, strong back story – the events in the book make perfect sense, everything moulds together successfully.

There were good elements of romance throughout. There are some ‘steamier’ moments. I certainly felt the passion and angst between the characters through Katie McGarry’s dialogue and attention to detail. I felt that I knew the characters well throughout the novel, their decisions were true to their individuality.

My favourite character was Noah. Katie McGarry managed to create a strong, bad-ass male protagonist with an underlying caring and vulnerable edge. The chemistry between him and Echo was evident from the start, the way this built up over time made it more engaging.

This book is a great YA read, full of teenage angst and drama. I have given it 3.5 stars for this reason. At times the teenage angst and drama got a little too much for me. Overall, an action-packed easy read with two great protagonists and a well developed plot.

     Source: Paperback       First Published: 3rd Aug 2012

Pages: 416                            Score: 3.5 out of 5

‘An action-packed, easy read – perfect for those interested in YA fiction. A great plot, mixed with well developed characters and a high-energy, passionate young romance.’