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 // Jane, The Fox & Me by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault

JaneTheFox&Me

Format: Hardcover
Published: 6th February 2014
Publisher: Walker Books UK
Pages: 104

This is a non-spoiler review. I’ve never reviewed a graphic novel before, I will do my best – although it will be a slightly shorter one than usual. Also, this is a part of my 2015 Reading Challenge.

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Synopsis:
Hélène has been inexplicably ostracized by the girls who were once her friends. Her school life is full of whispers and lies — Hélène weighs 216; she smells like BO. Her loving mother is too tired to be any help. Fortunately, Hélène has one consolation, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. Hélène identifies strongly with Jane’s tribulations, and when she is lost in the pages of this wonderful book, she is able to ignore her tormentors. But when Hélène is humiliated on a class trip in front of her entire grade, she needs more than a fictional character to allow her to see herself as a person deserving of laughter and friendship.

Leaving the outcasts’ tent one night, Hélène encounters a fox, a beautiful creature with whom she shares a moment of connection. But when Suzanne Lipsky frightens the fox away, insisting that it must be rabid, Hélène’s despair becomes even more pronounced: now she believes that only a diseased and dangerous creature would ever voluntarily approach her. But then a new girl joins the outcasts’ circle, Géraldine, who does not even appear to notice that she is in danger of becoming an outcast herself. And before long Hélène realizes that the less time she spends worrying about what the other girls say is wrong with her, the more able she is to believe that there is nothing wrong at all.

This emotionally honest and visually stunning graphic novel reveals the casual brutality of which children are capable, but also assures readers that redemption can be found through connecting with another, whether the other is a friend, a fictional character or even, amazingly, a fox.

My Thoughts:
I heard about this graphic novel through Mercedes over at MercysBookishMusings on YouTube. Whilst browsing at the library during the week I saw it and knew I had to borrow it – I’m glad I did.

Firstly, I loved the presentation of this novel. The book itself is gorgeous, extremely good quality. The idea of the story encompassing Jane Eyre also intrigued me, as I love the original.

The artwork is lovely. Part of it is drawn in black and white and the other part in vibrant colours. I will let you discover for yourselves what this symbolises.

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The story is wonderful. It is so touching, one of the most touching graphic novels I’ve read. It is a story about loneliness, friendship, bullying and ultimately hope. The story would be relatable to any reader, young or old.

StarRating5 out of 5 stars

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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 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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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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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

 

 


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Book Review // Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

DangerousGirls

Format: eBook
Published: 18th July 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s UK
Pages: 401

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This is a non-spoiler review.

My Thoughts:

I read this book whilst in a massive reading slump, so it took me forever. I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as I normally would have for this reason.

Dangerous Girls is a YA Thriller that tells the story of a group of friends on vacation in Aruba. A tragedy happens – one of the group is murdered – and we are consequently led through Anna’s trial as she is the main suspect. I really liked the style of writing and the little ‘extras’ that the author gave us – a 911 transcript, TV interview etc. It made me feel like I was truly part of the plot, always guessing what was going to happen next. I never knew who to trust!

I loved the intensity and mystery throughout this book. I was constantly judging people, forming my own opinions of what could have happened. It was fast-paced, with lots of twists and turns. I was completely gripped!

The ending confused the hell out of me. I mean, what just happened? I still don’t really get it, if I’m honest. It shocked me, I was so sure of the outcome – so it threw me completely. As a reader, we don’t actually get to ‘see’ the murder scene, we never know the full details of that night. Although this was an unusual decisions, I liked this– it added to the mystery.

There wasn’t one character I trusted in this book. Tate frustrated me so much, I thought he was sly and conniving – I think this was intended. His relationship with Anna raised so many questions for me from the start, there were so many little hints that it wasn’t all what it seemed. I still felt that he was completely besotted with Anna, again raising so many questions.

Anna and Elise’s relationship was a little uncomfortable for me at times, again I think this was intended. I never really knew what their true ‘status’ was, but I could feel the intensity the whole time – it was compelling to read.

I felt sorry for Anna, her friends seemed to totally abandon her. Although, as the story is told from her POV I do think that I ‘bonded’ with her differently. There were lots of ‘red herrings’ in the book, that kept steering me in completely different directions.

Overall, a fast-paced enjoyable read. I think I will aim to re-read this at some point, as I feel like my head wasn’t really in it. A great YA thriller, with lots of twists and turns to keep you guessing again and again.

Dangerous Girls is currently only 99p in the kindle store, click here (price correct at time of posting).

StarRating4 out of 5 stars

Abigail Haas is a pseudonym for Abby McDonald.

Website: abbymcdonald.com
Twitter: @abbymcdonald

 

 


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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 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?