Sunday, 30 June 2013

Stacking the Shelves and Showcase Sunday (56)


Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's ReviewsShowcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea.
These memes are a replacement of The Story Siren's In My Mailbox.

Stacking the Shelves and Showcase Sunday make a place to showcase your new books,
whether you obtained them through the post or otherwise.



This week I received two books for review, one adult and one young adult. The adult book I received was The Keeper by Luke Delaney (unfortunately there is no released cover for this one yet!) and the young adult book was Scissors, Sisters and Manic Panics. Although I do actually own both of the first books that come before these, I haven't started reading either series, though I must! I am especially looking forward to seeing what the young adult series is like as it looks like a lot of fun!

I hope you've all had a good week!

Thursday, 27 June 2013

From the Review Pile (57)

From the Review Pile is a meme hosted by Stepping Out of the Page every Thursday.
The aim of this meme is to showcase books that you've received for review (or if you don't receive review books, any book that you own and really want to read/review) but haven't yet got around to reading, in order to give the book some extra publicity.

I know that a lot of you have a huge pile of books that you want to read/review, but it understandably takes a while to get around to reading them all - here you can give a book (or two!) some of the publicity that it deserves, even if you haven't read it yet!

-----------------------------------
This week, I'm going to showcase The Moon and More!

I have read a couple of Sarah Dessen's books in the past and I really enjoyed them. She has quite a large fan-base and I can understand why, what with the books that I've already read. This one looks like it will be a perfect read for this summer, so I will certainly pick it up soon.


The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen
435 Pages
Published 4th June 2013 by Puffin

Luke is the perfect boyfriend: handsome, kind, fun. He and Emaline have been together all through high school in Colby, the beach town where they both grew up. But now, in the summer before college, Emaline wonders if perfect is good enough.

Enter Theo, a super-ambitious outsider, a New Yorker assisting on a documentary film about a reclusive local artist. Theo's sophisticated, exciting, and, best of all, he thinks Emaline is much too smart for Colby.

Emaline's mostly-absentee father, too, thinks Emaline should have a bigger life, and he's convinced that an Ivy League education is the only route to realizing her potential. Emaline is attracted to the bright future that Theo and her father promise. But she also clings to the deep roots of her loving mother, stepfather, and sisters. Can she ignore the pull of the happily familiar world of Colby?

Emaline wants the moon and more, but how can she balance where she comes from with where she's going?

Sarah Dessen's devoted fans will welcome this story of romance, yearning, and, finally, empowerment. It could only happen in the summer.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

The Son-in-Law


The Son-in-Law by Charity Norman
Paperback, 304 pages

Expected publication: 4th July 2013 by Allen and Unwin UK

Shelves:  
adult-fiction, books-i-own, favourites, lasting-impression, mental-health, read, read-in-2013, realistic-fiction, really-good
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:
For three years Joseph Scott has been haunted by one moment-the moment that changed his life forever. Now he is starting over, and he wants his family back more than anything.
This is the story of Joseph and his wife, Zoe; of their children, Scarlet, Theo and Ben, for whom nothing will be the same; and of Zoe's parents, who can't forgive or understand.
A compelling, moving and ultimately optimistic story of one man who will do almost anything to be reunited with his children. And of the grandparents who are determined to stop him.

Wow. I read Charity Norman's After The Fall last year and loved it. This year, I was offered the chance to read an advance copy of The The Son-in-Law and I've just been blown away. I do love books and reading, but it takes a lot for me to say I love one book in particular, but I can honestly say that I really did love this one. 

To be honest, because I really enjoyed Norman's previous novel, I quickly accepted this book for review even before reading the blurb - I liked her writing and ideas enough last time to be sure enough that I would enjoy her latest release. After reading the blurb, I was even more excited as it definitely sounded like a book I would enjoy, even though the description was quite vague. The premise of this book is a compelling one, and I can't help but think of it turned into a serial-drama or short film. The descriptions were vivid - it was not at all difficult to imagine yourself there with the characters. Norman made a fantastic job of setting the different scenes and using them to add to the formation of an atmosphere surrounding the characters.

This is the story of a family which has been torn apart after the death of Zoe, a mother, a daughter and a wife. We follow Joseph after his release from a prison, where he was held for killing his wife. We also follow Hannah and Frederick, Zoe's parents and the main caregivers of Zoe and Joseph's children, Scarlet, Theo and Ben. We don't know the full story of Zoe's death from the beginning of the book, but as we progress in the book, we start to see what happened and why it happened. As always, not everything is as it first seems. As aforementioned, the book is written in two points of view, from Joseph and Hannah's thoughts, which are strongly in contrast. Nothing is clear-cut, everything has you thinking and wondering who you're most in support of - at no point did I know who I really supported, I almost continuously had conflicting emotions. Norman has done a wonderful job of getting two differing points across fairly and believably. 

The children play a very large part in this book, and I think that as a reader, Scarlet was probably easiest to connect with in the sense of conflict of thoughts and feelings - it often felt like the reader was also one of the children, being pushed and pulled by the two different sides. The children were vital in this book and they were so well written. Norman didn't hold anything back, and the kids felt so real, their thoughts and feelings often openly displayed, or painfully suppressed. The psychological aspect of the book was obviously very well thought through and did seem very real. I especially liked reading about Scarlet, the oldest child and a very visceral character. You could really sense the torment inside her and I could never really predict what she was going to do, how she would react to her father or her grandparents. 

Another relationship that I'd like to mention and praise, without giving any spoilers, is that of the two grandparents, Hannah and Frederick, which was truly heartbreaking at points. Their bond was incredible and the other issues they had to face at the same time as the release of Joseph Scott really did show their strength and courage.  This book is just packed with emotion and Norman has done a stellar job of portraying several struggles and portraying each individual's unique reactions to the issues. This author really has a way of getting through the paper and into both your head and heart.

Overall, I really loved this book and I would recommend it to anyone, especially fans of authors such as Jodi Picoult. I really hope that Norman gets the praise and recognition that she deserves for not only this book but for her writing in general. Her writing feels so natural and believable - I really can't fault her in any way. I thought that After the Fall was a huge hit, but I honestly think that this book is even better. This is her best release to date and it will definitely be one of the top books I read in 2013. I can't wait to see what Norman releases next!


Sunday, 23 June 2013

Stacking the Shelves and Showcase Sunday (55)


Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's ReviewsShowcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea.
These memes are a replacement of The Story Siren's In My Mailbox.

Stacking the Shelves and Showcase Sunday make a place to showcase your new books,
whether you obtained them through the post or otherwise.


 I received two books this week, both adult fiction and both pleasant surprises! 
The books that I received were The Killing Game and By My Side.

Have a lovely weekend!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Dot

Dot by Araminta Hall
Hardback, 288 pages

Published 23rd May 2013 by HarperCollins

Shelves:  
arc-or-review, books-i-own, really-good, realistic-fiction, read-in-2013, cover-appeal 
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:
The remarkable new novel from the bestselling author of Everything and Nothing is a warm and heartbreaking tale of three generations of women.

In a higgledy-piggledy house with turrets and tunnels towering over the sleepy Welsh village of Druith, two girls play hide and seek. They don’t see its grandeur or the secrets locked behind doors they cannot open. They see lots of brilliant places to hide.

Squeezed under her mother’s bed, pulse racing with the thrill of a new hiding place Dot sees something else: a long-forgotten photograph of a man, his hair blowing in the breeze. Dot stares so long at the photograph the image begins to disintegrate before her eyes, and as the image fades it is replaced with one thought: ‘I think it’s definitely him.’

DOT is the story of one little girl and how her one small action changes the lives of those around her for ever.

Though I did purchase Araminta Hall's first novel, I didn't get around to reading it, despite how intriguing the plot sounded. When I read about her latest offering, Dot, I was even more intrigued by this writer and I knew that I had to pick this book up as soon as possible - no excuses. I didn't learn that much about the contents from the blurb, but this actually made me even more eager to start reading.

This book has a very distinctive feel to it from the start - it is unlike anything I had ever read before. I won't lie - I wasn't entirely sure whether or not I liked it at first, it just felt so different to me, but after a very short while, I was absolutely absorbed into this book and I realised that I loved the uniqueness of the writing. I am in awe of Hall's talent - it takes a lot for an author to be so individual in their style, to offer something new, but she's managed it extremely well and it comes across so naturally. 

Though the blurb does sound like the book could be a little peculiar, a little fantastical even, it is actually a book that is very down to earth and a book that is unashamedly realistic. The book is fascinating, not just because of the setting,  a "higgledy-piggledy house with turrets and tunnels", but rather because of the characters inside the house and their actions, past and present. The setting is a really just a base point, a common ground - something shared between the three generations of women who live in the house, Dot, her mother (Alice) and her grandmother (Clarice). I thought it was interesting to see the differences in thoughts and feelings between the three generations and to see how they interacted with each other. Family is an important element of this book and I can't praise Hall enough for how she writes these relationships. Hall takes us through different narratives, weaving in and out of the past and present so naturally that it is so easy to just keep on reading and reading, learning more about this family.
It is important to note that though the story is mainly about these three women, it's also about a lot of other people - the people around them, their friends, their past loves - everything and everyone who has had an impact on their lives. 

There is not much more that I can say about this book other than I loved the individuality of it and how Hall's writing stands out from the crowd. I can really see this appealing to a lot of people - If you're just into 'women's fiction' or if you're into any type of fiction, this is definitely something that you don't want to miss. This has definitely made me want to catch up and read Everything and Nothing, and I can't wait to see what Hall delivers next!

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Stacking The Shelves and Showcase Sunday (54)

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's ReviewsShowcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea.
These memes are a replacement of The Story Siren's In My Mailbox.

Stacking the Shelves and Showcase Sunday make a place to showcase your new books,
whether you obtained them through the post or otherwise.


I had two unexpected book deliveries this week - I hadn't heard of either of these, but they definitely look appealing to me. I received a copy of Brock at the beginning of the week, and a copy of Brooklyn Girls at the end of the week.

Hope you've all had a great weekend, happy reading!

Thursday, 13 June 2013

From The Review Pile (55)


From the Review Pile is a meme hosted by Stepping Out of the Page every Thursday.
The aim of this meme is to showcase books that you've received for review (or if you don't receive review books, any book that you own and really want to read/review) but haven't yet got around to reading, in order to give the book some extra publicity.

I know that a lot of you have a huge pile of books that you want to read/review, but it understandably takes a while to get around to reading them all - here you can give a book (or two!) some of the publicity that it deserves, even if you haven't read it yet!

-----------------------------------
This week, I'm going to showcase Everything and Nothing!

I bought this book a long time ago, when it was first released in paperback, but never got around to reading it. I've just been reading Hall's latest novel, Dot, and enjoyed it, so I'd really like to read her previous novel too.


Everything and Nothing by Araminta Hall
336 Pages

Published  1st September 2011 by HarperPress

A gripping psychological suspense read

Cupboards were sticky from spilt jam and honey, and the oven smoked when you turned it on because of the fat that had built up over the years. Agatha would never, ever let her future home end up like this. She would never leave it every day like Ruth did. She would never put her trust in strangers.

Ruth and Christian are – just – holding their marriage together, after Christian's disastrous affair a year ago. But chaos beckons, and when the family are suddenly left without any childcare, Agatha comes into their lives to solve all their problems. But Agatha is not as perfect as she seems and her love for the children masks a deeper secret.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Dusk


Dusk by Eve Edwards
Paperback, 400 pages

Expected publication 6th June 2013 by Penguin

Shelves:  
arc-or-review, better-than-expected, books-i-own, cover-appeal, historical, read, read-in-2013, realistic-fiction, really-good, series-or-companions, ww1, young-adult
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:

Dusk by Eve Edwards is a beautiful love story set against the brutal back drop of WWI.

A love worth fighting for.

When Helen, a young hard-working nurse, meets aristocratic artist Sebastian, she doesn't expect to even like him, let alone fall in love. But against the troubled backdrop of wartime London, an unlikely but intense romance blossoms. And even the bloody trenches of the Somme, where they are both posted, cannot diminish their feelings for each other.

But Helen is concealing a secret and when a terrible crime is committed there are devastating consequences for them both.

When lives are being lost, can true love survive?


Upon hearing about Dusk, I was really eager to read it. It's no secret that I'm a huge geek when it comes to World War One. I've been to the actual battlefields  (including the Somme) about seven times, so to read a book with this interesting subject, set in a location that is well known to me was a real treat. I can't think of any WW1 young adult fiction off the top of my head, so I was really looking forward to this! 

The first thing to mention is that although I am quite knowledgeable on the subject of the First World War, I allowed myself to relax with this book - I was definitely not being analytical with all of the facts, dates etc. The book doesn't feel all that heavy on the history, yet we still get to learn a lot about the circumstances of those who worked in during the war, especially our main characters, a medic named Helen and a soldier named Sebastian. Rather than giving long descriptions of things, the reader learns about the surroundings through the characters, it's simple to get a feeling for where we are and what's happening. Though it's a difficult task, Edwards has managed to create a very gritty atmosphere in this book - she has managed to put so many emotions on paper and allowed us a glimpse into the mind of someone at war.

It did take me a little while to really get into this book and to adjust to the historical aspect, but that's normal for me when reading historical books. There is a reasonable amount of moving backwards and forwards through time and switching between narratives, both of which I often struggle with, but it felt natural in this book and everything seemed to flow well. All of my worries concerning possible confusion were gone when I was quarter of the way into the  novel and the more I read, the more I sunk deeply into the setting of pre-war England and the development of World War One.

As aforementioned, our main characters are Helen and Sebastian. Helen is a somewhat reserved girl with a troubled past, who seems to come to life when she meets Sebastian,  an aristocratic and very charming artist living in London. It doesn't take all that long for both Helen and Sebastian to become accustomed to each other, soon we both get to see deeper layers of both of the characters as a romantic bond forms between them and they start to become less reserved and more open. Unfortunately, that's when the War begins and threatens not only their relationship, but their lives. Helen and Sebastian are both very likeable characters, who I found only to become more endearing as the book progressed. Helen appears to be a little shy, but it's very clear that she's also determined and can become quite fiery and passionate. Sebastian was simply, in one word, charming. 

So, as I hope you can tell, I really enjoyed this book and I'm definitely looking forward to the next instalment, Dawn. I do have to warn you that there is a bit of a cliffhanger at the end of this one, so it's definitely going to be difficult to wait to see what happens!  I'd really recommend this to anyone who wants to get a feel for the Great War, or who is just interested in historical fiction. I think this would be a great book for anyone who is studying this particular period of history at school, too. It's great to read about the people at home and the people behind the front lines, as well as those who are right at the front.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Stacking the Shelves and Showcase Sunday (53)


Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's ReviewsShowcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea.
These memes are a replacement of The Story Siren's In My Mailbox.

Stacking the Shelves and Showcase Sunday make a place to showcase your new books,
whether you obtained them through the post or otherwise.


I received three books this week, all adult books, all with a chick-lit feel about them! The first I received is the sequel to The Devil Wears Prada, aptly named Revenge Wears Prada. The second books I received were The Runaway Princess and Wonder Women

I hope that the sun is shining where you are and you all manage to get some reading done in the sun this weekend!
.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

From The Review Pile (54)


From the Review Pile is a meme hosted by Stepping Out of the Page every Thursday.
The aim of this meme is to showcase books that you've received for review (or if you don't receive review books, any book that you own and really want to read/review) but haven't yet got around to reading, in order to give the book some extra publicity.

I know that a lot of you have a huge pile of books that you want to read/review, but it understandably takes a while to get around to reading them all - here you can give a book (or two!) some of the publicity that it deserves, even if you haven't read it yet!

-----------------------------------
This week, I'm going to showcase The 5th Wave!

There has been so much hype surrounding this book, the first in the Fifth Wave series, so I feel like I'm really missing out having not read it yet! It definitely sounds different, and I'd like to see what I think of it. I really hope it lives up to all of the rave reviews that I've seen!

The 5th Wave
457 Pages

Published 7th May 2013 by Puffin

The Passage meets The Hunger Games in a gripping new series from Carnegie-shortlisted Rick Yancey. After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one. Now, it's the dawn of the 5th wave. On a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth's last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, until Cassie meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan may be her only hope for rescuing her brother and even saving herself. Now she must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up. Cassie Sullivan gets up. 

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

The Great Gatsby


The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Paperback, 202 pages

Published 1992 by Abacus (First published 1925)

Shelves: 
1001-books, adult-fiction, better-than-expected, books-i-own, classics, historical, movies-or-tv, read, read-in-2013, realistic-fiction, really-good
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:

Jay Gatsby is the man who has everything. But one thing will always be out of his reach ...

Everybody who is anybody is seen at his glittering parties. Day and night his Long Island mansion buzzes with bright young things drinking, dancing and debating his mysterious character. For Gatsby - young, handsome, fabulously rich - always seems alone in the crowd, watching and waiting, though no one knows what for. 

Beneath the shimmering surface of his life he is hiding a secret: a silent longing that can never be fulfilled. And soon this destructive obsession will force his world to unravel.



After leaving school, I've always put off reading classics, most probably because of all of the essays I had to write about them in English classes. However, The Great Gatsby is a classic that I did want to read due to all of the good things I've heard about it, plus as it's relatively short, the idea of picking it up wasn't so daunting. Seeing as the the latest film adaptation of The Great Gatsby is now out in the cinemas and gaining a lot of attention, I thought it was time to finally get the book off the shelf and read it!

When I first picked the book up, I only had a (very) vague idea of what it was about - well, actually, I hardly knew anything about it at all. The copy I have doesn't have a very descriptive blurb, so I basically went into the book only knowing to expect lots of 1920's glitz and glamour. Whilst there is some, this is not all fancy parties and cocktails - it's multilayered. It is hard to describe the plot of this book because it does encompass so many different things, including some more complex themes which are apparent even if you're not deeply analysing the story. The Great Gatsby is a story of passion, of sadness, of envy, of loss, of greed, of wealth of all kinds, of the American dream, or the problems facing it. 

Though there is so much you could take from this novel, it never seems overwhelming. I certainly did get caught up in the 1920's, but in the best way - I found it very easy to get absorbed into the whole atmosphere of this book, it didn't take me all that long to start enjoying the story. It's very easy to follow yet it still has good complexity. The setting is very easy to imagine - from the extravagant parties at Gatsby's house, to the bleaker highways of everyday, post First World War America. 

I especially enjoyed meeting all of the characters in this novel - For me, it was Gatsby himself that was certainly the most interesting, though not the most likeable character throughout. Gatsby was probably one of the most intriguing characters that I have read about. There is a depth to him that seemed never ending, there always seemed to be something else to know, another layer to peel away to get to the true Gatsby. I loved reading about his relationship with Daisy, along with his relationship with every other character, seeing how he interacted with everyone really helped us to get a little insight into who Gatsby was, or at least how he wanted to portray himself. Like aforementioned, I did really like reading about the other characters too, and I especially had a fondness for our narrator, Nick, who was perhaps the only person I could connect with, or who I (and he) felt was honest in this book. Nick was a contrast to all of the other characters, he was... just Nick. He felt like he could be any one of us, at any time, which is something amazing to achieve.

Overall, I'm glad that I finally managed to pick this book up and give it a go. I would urge anyone to pick this up - young adults, adults, those who love classics, those who haven't had much experience with them - this is a book which has, and hopefully will continue to appeal to a wide audience. I have tried to be quite vague with my review, as I think that is a positive way to go into this book - don't expect anything, just pick it up, devour and enjoy.

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