Sunday, 27 September 2015

The Bookshelf Tag!

Yes, at long last I am finally getting round to uploading this post - The Bookshelf Tag - which the lovely Laura invited me to complete a little while ago.

1. Is there a book that you really want to read but haven't because you know that it'll make you cry? 
For the most part I don't know how a book is going to affect me emotionally until I actually start reading it, but I think that the answer to this question has got to be After You by Jojo Moyes. This book was only released on the 24th September 2015 and, truth be told, I haven't yet obtained a copy of it but I just know that given how Me Before You recently affected me that After You will do the same.

2. Pick one book that helped introduce you to a new genre
I'm going to say the Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella. I think I first started reading this series when I was 15 or 16 and these books helped introduce me to the world of Chick-lit - a genre I now absolutely love. I also found that these books helped me make the transition from reading teenage fiction to reading adult fiction. Even now I still enjoy reading these books and always look forward to the next book being released in the Shopaholic series!

3. Find a book that you want to reread
As a rule I don't tend to reread books, mainly for the reason that there's so many new books being published that I want to read and not enough time to get through them all. However, I think the answer to this question would have to be To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Since studying this book for GCSE English I've reread this book several times - there's something about it that I just love - but I haven't read it in a while. I have, however, got Go Set a Watchman sat on my bookshelf and feel that to appreciate this I should reread To Kill a Mockingbird first.

4. Is there a book series you read but wish that you hadn't?
I've not a read a lot of series I'll be honest but those which I have read I've really enjoyed and so I wouldn't say that I wish I hadn't read them.

5. If your house was burning down and all of your family and pets were safe, which book would you go back inside to save?
This is such a difficult question to which I'd love to answer all of them but as I don't think that's allowed I'm going to have to say McFly - Unsaid Things...Our Story. For those that don't already know I am a massive fan of McFly and to lose this book without knowing for certain whether I would be able to obtain another copy of it would absolutely break my heart.

6. Is there one book on your bookshelf that brings back fond memories?

Yes. There's actually two books (which I'm counting as one because they are a series) and they are Solomon's Tale and Solomon's Kitten by Sheila Jeffries. These will be books I will keep and treasure forever and which every time I look at them will bring back fond memories - of my mum who gave them to me for Christmas and also of my cat, Socksie, who is pretty much identical to Solomon and has a similar story to tell.

7. Find a book that has inspired you the most
It's not your typical book but I'm going to say my Wise Words notebook. Basically it's a notebook but on every page directly adjacent to the page for notes there is a quote. I absolutely love this book and feel that the quotes are both inspirational and uplifting. I was actually given this as a present from someone and am so glad I was as otherwise I don't think I would ever have come across this gem!

8. Do you have any autographed books?
I've got two - a signed copy of Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell which I won earlier this month in a competition and Tremor by Ryan Mark. Tremor was one of the first books I reviewed on my blog back in May and I'm really excited to announce that I will be taking part in the blog tour for the second book, Fracture, in October.

9. Find the book that you have owned the longest
A lot of the books that I owned as a child have been taken to charity shops, minus a few which I absolutely refuse to be parted with. But, to answer the question, I think the book that I have owned the longest is my now, rather battered copy, of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone which I remember being very excited to get my hands on all those years ago.

10. Is there a book by an author that you never imagined you would read or enjoy? 
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green - I never thought that I would read or enjoy this book mainly because of the subject matter but I did. Despite how I approached this book I actually found that I completely fell in love with it and thought that it was touching and beautiful, one that I know I will remember for a long time to come.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post. I'm not going to tag anyone specific to complete it but if you'd like to do so, go ahead - I'd love to read your answers!

Happy reading! :)

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Review - Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

With the release of After You set for the 24th September I thought that it was about time I picked Me Before You by Jojo Moyes up from my bookshelf. This novel is easily the most powerful, incredible and beautiful novel that I have read this year that had a massive impact on me. It’s an important story that everyone should read and one which I know will stay with me, one that I will remember for a long time to come. 

In this book we meet Louisa Clark, a young woman who still lives at home with her parents and who, after being made unemployed, is desperate for a job so as to contribute towards the upkeep of the family home. She eventually accepts a position as a private carer for a young quadriplegic named Will who, prior to the accident he was involved in which resulted in him becoming disabled, was a successful business man who lived a life full of action and adventure. Knowing that he will never again live the life he used to or have the opportunity to do the things he so desperately wants to do, Will has made a massive decision which, it transpires, Louisa is to try to get him to change his mind on in just a few short months. 

Well what can I say that will do this absolutely amazing, heartfelt and thought-provoking novel justice? First and foremost I loved reading of the relationship and friendship that blossomed between both Louisa and Will and thought that it developed at a perfect, logical pace. That is to say that at first they were both uncertain of and unsure how to act around eachother - Louisa thought she had bitten off more than she could chew by accepting the job in the first place and Will didn’t think he’d be able to get used to or trust someone else, a stranger, with his care. Gradually, however, as they spend more time with one another we see them both overcome the worries and barriers that are between them with the result being the creation of a real connection between the pair. 

Then there’s the real-life issues that Jojo Moyes has incorporated into her book and has dealt with so superbly. It certainly made me really think about how I would feel if I was in Will’s position, if my life was changed in an instant and I was unable to fulfil the hopes, dreams and aspirations that I want to. It also made me think of how I would react and what I would do if I was in the position of Louisa and I was responsible for looking after someone in Will’s position who had made his wishes crystal clear. 

This is the first novel that I have read by Jojo Moyes and is one that touched me a great deal. It fully deserves every five star review that it has received since it was published a few years ago and I am now very much looking forward to picking up my copy of After You when it is released on the 24th. What a truly unforgettable novel and what an undeniably outstanding author to have crafted such a fantastic work of fiction!

Monday, 14 September 2015

Review - The Misadventures of a Playground Mother by Christie Barlow

Little did I know when I sat down to start reading The Misadventures of a Playground Mother by Christie Barlow one Sunday afternoon that I would not be moving or putting the book down until I had finished it. There is absolutely no doubt about the fact that this is one of those books that readers will fall in love with and be left with smiles on their faces. I, personally, thoroughly enjoyed it and thought that it was a delightful read. 

Rachel Young, mum of four, is the narrator of this novel and we accompany her on her journey through the school year which sees her come face-to-face in the playground with many mothers who she’d much rather not. One mother who she is particularly keen to avoid is Penelope but it’s clear from the outset that due to Penelope’s rather manipulative ways this is not going to happen. However, luckily for Rachel there’s a new mum, Melanie, on the scene who is one of the very few down-to-earth faces in a sea of competitive, eccentric and sometimes crazy playground mothers. 

Throughout the novel a very good friendship developed between Rachel and Melanie and for this I’m glad because Rachel was such a likeable character who was so easy to connect with and I would have hated to witness her putting up with all of Penlope’s antics on her own. Indeed, I would not have tolerated Penelope with the patience that Rachel did, particularly given the outrageous and somewhat unbelievable activities Penelope dragged Rachel into. One of the most memorable and hilarious event was the holiday to Spain which was intended just for Rachel and her family but was then gatecrashed by Penelope, her children and on-off husband. 

Only after reading this book did I become aware of the fact that there was a book which preceded this called A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother. Although if I had known that there was a first book I would most certainly have read it first, I didn’t feel that I was lacking information or had any unanswered questions in any way. This is without a doubt testament to the fact that the author set the scene perfectly and provided plenty of background information within the opening pages. 

The Misadventures of a Playground Mother was a perfectly crafted novel with a whole cast of characters who all had a part to play and whose paths all crossed at one point or another. This was an unforgettable novel and one which I would highly recommend to those looking for something to cheer them up and brighten their dark autumn nights. 

I’m already very much looking forward to reading more by Christie Barlow in the future and would just like to end this review by thanking the team at Netgalley and Bookouture for allowing me to review this book. 

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Review - Fairytale Beginnings by Holly Martin

After hearing so much about it, I have finally read Fairytale Beginnings by Holly Martin. Not only did I read this truly beautiful, heart-warming fairytale in a day, I read it in a day whilst sitting in the glorious Spanish sunshine on holiday and completely fell in love with it. Everything about it was just perfect! 

We first meet Milly as she maneuvres a very old car, which is on the verge of breaking down, up a steep and windy road to the village of Clover’s Rest where she has been sent by the company for which she works to find Clover Castle and investigate its origins. Upon arriving at Clover Castle she is absolutely blown away by the sight of the castle before her eyes with its turrets and drawbridge and she becomes even more so when its owner - Cameron - makes an appearance. As together they work to find out everything there is to know about Clover Castle, secrets are uncovered and an unforgettable relationship develops and grows between the two. 

I’m a massive Disney fan and I think the thing I liked most about this book was that it just screamed Disney at me. There was our main character, Milly, who if it’s even possible loved Disney even more than I do, numerous references to Disney characters and even our very own Cinderella’s castle. As I was reading it, I could even see and imagine it working really well as a Disney film. 

With the stunning and beautifully descriptive writing I was captivated and transported into another world, so much so, that I could really imagine myself being there with the characters experiencing the sights and sounds that they were. Having just mentioned the characters, I thought there was a really great cast of them who all complimented eachother really well, all had their own roles to play and all fit into the story superbly - no character ever felt like they shouldn’t be there. 

Throughout the novel there were moments that made me laugh and also some “aww-inducing” moments which I found myself welling up at.

Despite my mentions of Disney in this review I should make it clear that this is not, by any means, a children’s story but is, instead, an accomplished and stunningly-written adult fairytale. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a heartwarming, romantic novel and to be transported away from day-to-day life into what can only be described as a magical paradise. 

This was the first Holly Martin book I’ve read and I can definitely say that it won’t be the last. I’ll definitely be catching up with her previous books and am already eagerly anticipating her Christmas novels that are coming out over the next couple of months. Keep writing Holly Martin! 

Review - Letting You Go by Anouska Knight

Letting You Go is Anouska Knight’s third novel and, having loved her previous two, I was so excited to receive a copy of this book from the lovely people over at Mira UK in exchange for an honest review. It was a beautiful, touching and unforgettable novel that I know will stay with me for a long time to come and one which I can tell will, without a doubt, be on my top ten reads of 2015 post. 

When the novel first opens the reader immediately learns of what happened to Dillon on a September day in 2004 which completely changed the lives of his parents, Ted and Blythe, and older sisters, Alex and Jem. For reasons that are made clear as the novel progresses, Alex blames herself for what happened to her little brother and escaped her hometown, Eilidh Falls as soon she possibly could. After several years away Alex might never have returned had it not been for a phonecall she received from her sister, Jem, informing her that their mother, Blythe, had suffered a stroke. Upon returning back home to a house without Blythe who is still in hospital and who, by all accounts, was the rock of the family, Alex is greeted by her father, Ted, who has not forgotten what happened in 2004 and her sister, Jem, who it’s clear has several issues of her own to deal with. Of course I couldn’t write this review without mentioning Finn, a face from Alex’s past who leaves her feeling more than a little bit unsettled.  

Letting You Go is a book which I thought was absolutely incredible and fantastically written with plenty of description included to really set the scene and draw the reader into the story. Throughout the novel we meet and go on a journey with characters who have lived in the past for many years. From reading what I did about the characters and their ways I have a suspicion that had Blythe not fallen so ill the family might have carried on living in the past for the foreseeable future. Blythe’s illness however prompts them all into stopping, thinking, re-evaluating their lives and trying to re-connect with one another as they realise that, actually, life really is too short to not appreciate those that surround you. 

Despite the fact that this was a novel based around a family tragedy it wasn’t all doom and gloom and there were several moments that brought a smile to my face. I particularly liked to see the way that Carrie, who thought she was something really special and behaved abysmally towards Jem whilst they were at school together, got her comeuppance. 

Letting You Go, released on the 10th September 2015, is a novel which I would highly recommend. I found that it was not only very easy to get into and immersed in but also very easy to read and follow - I very much enjoyed it. I am already looking forward to reading whatever else Anouska Knight writes in the future and, once again, would like to end this review by thanking Mira UK for sending me a very beautiful copy of Letting You Go. I hope this review has done Letting You Go the justice it deserves and wish it every success!