Confessions of a Reader

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


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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 All Time Favourite Authors

I actually found this weeks TTT really difficult. I am a mood reader, so only pick up books when I fancy reading them. This means that although I may have really enjoyed a book by an author, I may not read another one by them for a few months, or even sometimes a year!

When the following authors release books, or I see one in a bookstore, charity shop or at the library I know that I am going to enjoy it. Although I may not have read all of their works – the ones that I have read I loved!

  1. Sophie Kinsella – my go-to chick lit author. I have such good memories of reading I’ve Got your Number whilst sipping a cocktail in Mexico. All of her books are fun and make perfect beach/holiday reads!
  2. Sarah J Maas – only discovered in the last year or so. I love the Throne of Glass series, it really got me back into fantasy. I need to get on to Heir of Fire now.
  3. M J Arlidge – also writes Silent Witness (a UK crime drama). His books are just so easy to read, gripping from the first page. I have The Doll’s House on my kindle waiting for me to read it.
  4. J K Rowling – do I need to explain?! I am ashamed to say that I haven’t read The Casual Vacancy or The Robert Galbraith books.
  5. Louise O’Neill – a relatively new addition. I read Only Ever Yours this year and loved it, seriously loved it. Even though this was a debut novel I’m really excited to see what Asking for It is like, due to be published in September 2015.
  6. Roald Dahl – a childhood favourite. I still love all of his books now, I hope Parker will one day too.
  7. Sara Gruen – I have only read Water for Elephants but it has stuck with me since I read it a few years back. I am desperate to read some more of her work as I am sure I will love it.
  8. Lucy Diamond – I picked up one of Lucy’s books in January this year. Again, the perfect chick lit author and perfect for reading at the beach. I am so pleased that there are so many more books to read.
  9. Neil Gaiman – Now, I have only read three books by Neil Gaiman. Two children’s books and a YA/Adult Novel. I enjoyed all three of them, and I’m sure that when I manage to pick up some more I will feel the same.
  10. Brandon Sanderson – I read Steelheart last year and really, really loved it! A fantastic fantasy book that I read in a few sittings. I have Book 1 in the Mistborn Trilogy on my kindle and am yet to read it, but I am sure that I will love it.

Happy Reading!

Stacie 🙂

 

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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 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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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 from my childhood and teen years that I would love to revisit

Ah, I loved making this list! Although it was hard to narrow the list down to just ten. I will start with the books I read as a kid, and then move on to my teen years.

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 Milly Molly Mandy Stories by Joyce Lankester Brisley // My Naughty Little Sister by Dorothy Edwards
These books were a bit part of my childhood. I remember these being books I came back to again and again as I learnt to read. They were also read to me a lot, before bedtime – this is probably one of my fondest memories. The copies above are my original copies (that has sadly had a sticker added for embellishment, by my younger sister) that I will treasure forever.

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The Secret Seven by Enid Blyton
I loved anything, absolutely anything by Enid Blyton. I even encouraged my younger sister to enjoy her books as a kid too. I loved the magical world she created, I always wanted to be in a secret society after reading these. The copies above are my collection that I made my husband rescue from the loft. I desperately want to re-read all of them! I am over the moon that I’ve found them, and that I chose to keep them in the first place.

        Jezebel             OscarGotTheBlame

                 JollyPostman

Super Duper Jezebel & Oscar got the Blame by Tony Ross // The Jolly Postman by Janet & Allan Ahlberg

I loved other books by Tony Ross but these are the two that really stick in my mind. I loved the illustrations, and the comeuppance that Jezebel got in the end!

 Now, for my teen years;


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Goosebumps by R.L Stine
I absolutely loved this series, all of them were fantastic. They were the first ‘scary’ books that I ever really read. My mum used to buy me a new one every few weeks, I’m absolutely gutted that I don’t still have my copies.

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Harry Potter Series by J.K Rowling
Now, I know I mention this all the time, but seriously this was my childhood and teen years all rolled into one. I absolutely devoured this series, it has stayed with me and I would absolutely love to re-discover every book for the first time. I am currently introducing my 10 year old brother to the world of Hogwarts. Every time he reads one of the books (in the new gorgeous editions) I buy him the next one. He has just started The Goblet of Fire, my personal favourite. J.K Rowling is incredible, how does a mind work this creatively?!

Junk by Melvin Burgess
This was such a dark, poignant story for me. It really opened my eyes to the darker side of life, some of the scenes in this book I can still remember vividly now.

Angus, Thongs & Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison
These books were absolutely hilarious to me as a teen. I loved the awkward situations Georgia found herself in, and hoped to God I didn’t find myself in a similar one. They were so true to life, and yet provided the perfect escape for me.

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Coram Boy by Jamila Gavin
This is an absolutely fantastic book that I am determined to re-read one day. Jamila Gavin does not hold back as you are transported back into the 18th century. I suppose this was my first taste of historical fiction.I would highly recommend this book to everyone, please read it!

Have you read any of these? Do you still have any of your original childhood books?


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Book Review // Confessions of a Murder Suspect – James Patterson

Confessionsofamurdersuspect

Format: Paperback
Published: 1st Jan 2012
Publisher: Arrow (Young)
Pages: 400
Series/Standalone?: Series
Genre: YA Mystery

BUY: Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis taken from Goodreads:

On the night Malcolm and Maud Angel are murdered, their daughter, Tandy, knows just three things: 1. She was one of the last people to see her parents alive. 2. She and her brothers are the only suspects. 3. She can’t trust anyone – maybe not even herself. Having grown up under their parents’ intense perfectionist demands, none of the Angel children have come away undamaged.

Tandy decides that she will have to solve the crime on her own, but digging deeper into her powerful parents’ affairs is a dangerous game. As she uncovers haunting secrets and slowly begins to remember flashes of disturbing past events buried in her memory, Tandy is forced to ask: What is the Angel family truly capable of?

My Thoughts:

I picked this book up on a whim, spotting it on the shelf in the library. I have never read a book by James Patterson, so thought I’d give this one a go.

Firstly, this book is odd. I have taken a while to write this review purely because I have found it difficult to bring together my thoughts.

The writing style is very easy to read (maybe a little too easy?) and the short, punchy chapters help to move the plot along. I found myself want to read ‘just one more chapter’ each time, being only 4 pages or so each. The plot takes a while to really get going, but I did feel satisfied with how it progressed.

Although the novel deals with a double murder first and foremost, it also delves deeper into the trials and tribulations of life with the Angel family. The family are high flying, wealthy citizens. There are four living children (an older sister died a few years ago), all with their own talents and flaws. Therefore there are many suspects in the case of Maud & Malcolm’s murder, including all four Angel children. The story explores all the different options and I enjoyed making up my own theories, trying to guess who did it based on a possible motive. The ending didn’t actually come as much of a surprise – I was a little disappointed in it, considering the build up beforehand. Looking back it makes perfect sense and I cannot believe I didn’t see it coming! The book did well to lead me on a completely different path.

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The novel is narrated by Tandy – a high-flying, smart girl who tries to play detective. I really enjoyed how she spoke to me, the reader. It was very personal, addressed to me I felt like I got to know her character better. I trusted her, she was more reliable. I understood her more than I ever would have because of this, she is somewhat ‘different’. Her full name – Tandoori – I mean, come on?!

The family are somewhat….how can I say it? Special? Their parents, Maud & Malcolm have extremely high expectations of all their children, each having their own special skill or talent. They administer severe punishments also known as ‘Big Chops’. One involved Tandy standing on her head, reciting landmarks in Bhutan. In the Dzongha national language —- exactly. Severe! The other siblings are talented, intelligent, mature and a little robotic. I really didn’t know who had committed the crime – each one of them could have easily done it.

A variety of characters, mixed with unusual family dynamics, suspense and mystery created a quick page turner. I enjoyed this one in the end and will probably pick up the second instalment, at some point.

StarRating4 out of 5 stars

Website: www.jamespatterson.com
Twitter: @JP_books

 

 


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Book Review // Vendetta – Catherine Doyle

Vendetta

Format: Paperback
Published: 1st January 2015
Publisher: Chicken House Ltd
Pages: 384
Series/Standalone?: Series (Blood for Blood)
Genre: YA Contemporary

BUY: Amazon | Book Depository

This book is counting towards my 2015 Reading Challenge.

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Synopsis taken from Amazon:

When five brothers move into the abandoned mansion next door, Sophie Gracewell’s life changes forever. Irresistibly drawn to bad boy Nic, Sophie finds herself falling into an underworld governed by powerful families. When Sophie’s own family skeletons come to life, she must choose between two warring dynasties – the one she was born into, and the one she is falling in love with. When she does, blood will spill and hearts will break…

My Thoughts:

After hearing so many great reviews about this book I was really looking forward to it. I was so excited when I saw it in the library! I enjoyed it, but I have to say I didn’t love it as much as other people have – I can’t really put my finger on why.

The premise of this novel is exciting – a kind of modern twist on the classic Romeo & Juliet tale, warring families, dark secrets and lots of action. I did get a sense of the Romeo & Juliet vibe throughout the novel – Sophie & Nic’s relationship is definitely turbulent! I loved that they were completely different yet very similar, if that makes sense.

The brothers themselves were rather dreamy. The mystery surrounding them makes them even more appealing in my eyes, I was left wondering about them the whole time. I will say that the author did a very good job at keeping me on my toes, I didn’t guess the plot twist towards the end at all. The imagery and description within the novel is brilliant. The author does a really good job at describing every image, scene and emotion so vividly – you do feel like you are really there.

I felt like the last third of the book was certainly the best. It was the bit that I sped through, wanting to know what happened next. The novel itself – for me anyway – felt like more of a ‘setting the scene’ book. Being the first in the series I can see that the second instalment may provide us with lots more action and the idea of the ‘family legacy’.

Vendetta

Parts of the story did feel a little unrealistic to me. Towards the end Sophie finds herself in a very sticky situation. I would be very surprised if a girl of 17 was able to react in the way that she did – adrenalin kick or not. I also preferred Luca to Nicoli. Nic’s reactions irritated me – I felt he blew hot and cold all the time, Luca was true to himself throughout.

I think the series will definitely improve as the series moves forward. I am curious as to what Catherine Doyle will bring us in book 2.

StarRating3 out of 5 stars

Website: www.catherinedoylebooks.com
Twitter: @doyle_cat

 

 


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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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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