Friday, 4 September 2015

It's Time for a Change

For those of you who are regular readers, you will have noticed how sporadic my posting is. Sometimes there will be a couple of posts within a week, but more often than not there will be a two week gap between posts. This isn't because I'm not reading - I am, even if I'm a bit slower than before. It's because I don't always have a lot to say about what I'm reading, and, more often than not, it's because I want to write about other things too.

I want to share my thoughts about films I've seen, places I've visited, recipes I've tried and some of the other daily trivial things. In essence, I want to share more of my life and of myself.

There are a few big reasons behind why I've decided to take this step.

Firstly, we live a distance away from most of our family, and combined with work schedules, it makes it difficult to see each other often. Keeping a record of our lives through blogging will allow them to see us grow and develop on a more regular basis.

Another reason is because I'm writing about books for an online magazine called Those London Chicks. Which is exciting and fantastic, of course, but it means that I am spending less time on content for this blog and has led me to want to write about different things too.

Lastly, I want to be more open and share more- to write about things that are difficult and to share my personal experiences. I hope that by doing so I can help others to see that they are not alone in their challenges, that we all have obstacles in life to overcome and that through talking, helping and supporting one another we can get through anything.

It's time for a change.

If you want to join me in my journey, you can follow me on my new blog.

I hope to see there.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Review: Not by Sight by Kate Breslin



Not by Sight

by Kate Breslin

 
 


Received from the publishers Bethany House Publishing through Netgalley for an honest review.



Grace Mabry, determined to help the war effort after seeing her brother go to fight in the trenches, decides to hand out white feathers to conscientious objectors at a party with her maid and friend, Agnes. However, when she hands out a feather to Jack Bennington, she unravels a thread of danger and betrayal that she could never see coming.

Not by Sight is the second novel from the award-winning Kate Breslin, her first being For Such a Time. I have not read her first novel, so this is my first foray into Breslin's Christian fiction.

This book lured me in with a beautiful cover and an intriguing premise - romance, friendship, forgiveness, faith and espionage; what more could a girl want? I have to say I wasn't disappointed while reading, the plot kept me engaged and I finished the novel quite quickly. Breslin gives us flawed characters, hidden agendas and a swoon-worthy lead in a plot that recalls Beauty and the Beast, The Phantom of the Opera and even a little Jane Eyre.

As this is Christian fiction, the subject of faith was an underlying theme throughout the novel; however, I do not think that it was overdone. Throughout Breslin's writing, we see the different characters suffering with types of blindness and the journey some of them are able to take through darkness into the light - to walk by faith and not by sight.

All in all, this was an enjoyable easy read. My only complaint is that sometimes Grace seemed a little too good. I would recommend this to those who enjoyed Julianne Donaldson's Edenbrooke or other Christian historical fiction novels.


Not By Sight is currently available in Kindle Edition and comes out in paperback in the UK on 4 September 2015. It is available in both formats in the US.


Thursday, 13 August 2015

Sisterhood of World Bloggers Award

I was so surprised and delighted to have been nominated by the wonderful Jane at greenishbookshelf.wordpress.com She's a fantastic book blogger who delves into different genres depending on her mood, much like myself. Go check her out!

Thank you so much for nominating me, Jane!! :)
 
 
 



The Rules
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site.
 
2. Put the Award logo on your blog.
 
3. Answer the ten questions sent to you.
 
4. Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer.
 
5. Nominate ten blogs.



 
Jane's Questions to Me:
 
 

1. What books might you include on a list of your top 5 favorites?


 I'd have to say Anne of Green Gables, Jane Eyre, The Forgotten Garden, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and Matilda as they are some of my all time favourites.

 
2. If you could live in a book, which would it be and why?
 
Definitely Harry Potter - who wouldn't want to live in Hogwarts?
 
3. Favorite genre to read?
 
I generally read different genres depending on my mood, but I'd have to say my favourite at the moment is historical fiction. I love diving into a different era!
 
4. How many books are you currently reading?
 
I'm currently reading three books - a novel, an essay collection and a biography.
 
5. Name 2 books you mean to read but keep putting off.
 
There are so many books that I've been meaning to read for the longest time. Gone with the Wind and Vilette are the ones that come to mind.
 
6. If you taught a literature class, what would be on your syllabus for the class?
 
I could choose so many for this as I tend to love books I have studied and think that you can learn something from every book. I would likely choose Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea, both of which I studied during my A Levels.
 
7. Do you prefer paperback, hardcover, or ebooks?
 
I find paperbacks easier to read but love how hardbacks look on my shelves... Physical books over ebooks every time though, you can't beat the smell of a new book!
 
8. What’s the most memorable bookstore you’ve visited?
 
I've visited a ton of bookstores. One of the most memorable has to be Troutmark Books in Cardiff, the books line the walls from floor to ceiling 
 
9. Favorite place to read?
 
I love to read curled up on the sofa.
 
10. If you’re not reading, what do you like to do?

 If I'm not reading then I like to study, write, watch Netflix and spend time with my family.


My 10 Nominees:

Entomology of a Bookworm
Grazing Pages
Chapter by Chapter
I Am A Reader, Not A Writer
Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf
Awesome Book Nuts
Follow The Yellow Book Road
Jess Hearts Books
Peace Love Books
Reads and Recipes




10 Questions for My Nominees:

1. How many books do you own that are unread?

2. If you are not liking a book, for whatever reason, do you continue reading, put it to the side and come back to it, or give up on it entirely?

3. If you were to write a novel, which genre would you write?

4. What are your 5 favourite literary characters?

5. What are your 5 least favourite literary characters?

6. If you had to read one book for the rest of your life, which would you pick?

7. Where is your favourite place to buy books?

8. What is your fondest memory of a book?

9. Which 3 books would you like to see adapted to film?

10. Which works of children's fiction would you like your children to read?

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Waiting on Wednesday

 
 
 
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted on Breaking the Spine, that highlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly awaiting.
 
 
I recently discovered Kate Morton and have since begun to collect each of her novels, so this one should come of no surprise: 
 
UK, US and Australian covers

The Lakehouse

by Kate Morton

 

Release Date: 22 October 2015

 
Goodreads Description:
 
 
An abandoned house...

After a particularly troubling case, Sadie Sparrow is sent on an enforced break from her job with the Metropolitan Police and retreats to her beloved grandfather's cottage in Cornwall. There she finds herself at a loose end, until one day she stumbles upon an abandoned house surrounded by overgrown gardens and dense woods, and learns the story of a baby boy who disappeared without a trace.

A missing child...

June 1933, and the Edevane family's country house, Loeanneth, is polished and gleaming, ready for the much-anticipated Midsummer Eve party. For Eleanor, the annual party has always been one of her treasured traditions, but her middle daughter, Alice, sixteen years old and with literary ambitions, is especially excited. Not only has Alice worked out the perfect twist for her novel, she's also fallen helplessly in love with someone she shouldn't. But by the time midnight strikes and fireworks light up the night sky, the Edevane family will have suffered a loss so great they leave Loeanneth and never return.

An unsolved mystery...

Seventy years later, in the attic writing room of her elegant Hampstead home, the formidable Alice Edevane leads a life as neatly plotted as the bestselling detective novels she writes. Until a young police detective starts asking questions about her family's past and seeking to resurrect the complex tangle of secrets Alice has spent her life trying to escape...

 
 
 
 
I'm also waiting on the second book in the Queens of Conquest series by Joanna Courtney which will be about the Viking Harald Hardrara's wife Elizaveta of Kiev. As yet the release date is unknown.
 
 
 
Which books are you waiting on?
 

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Top Ten Books I've Read so far in 2015


Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

I've decided to do a Top 5 rather than a Top 10 as I've only read 24 books this year so far - on track for my Goodreads goal of 50 this year but it's not really an outstanding total. These books aren't in any particular order as I couldn't bring myself to decide on one
 

 
Still Alice is one of the books I read at the beginning of the year and I absolutely adored it! It is about Alice who has early onset dementia and how her and her family live with that knowledge.
 
 
 
And the Mountains Echoed is another book I read at the start of this year. This was a book club read (though we never actually got round to discussing it and since then book club has ceased to exist!) and I'm really glad that I picked it up. It's heartbreakingly beautiful and I'd recommend it to everyone!
 
 
 
The Well of Ascension is the second in Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy. This is fantasy at it's best! I was engaged in the plot from start to finish and can't wait to read the final book in the trilogy - once I get round to purchasing it!
 
 
 
 
The Forgotten Garden is a book I read just last month and was a bit of an impulse buy. I loved it. Kate Morton is a masterfully storyteller and the mystery in this book kept me hooked. This book made me fall in love with books and reading all over again. I've since gone on to purchase all of her released novels.
 
 
 
The Chosen Queen is a book I read at the start of this month after winning a copy that the author was running a giveaway for. It's the first in a new historical trilogy about the women behind the battle of 1066. This book focuses on Edyth, the only woman who was ever Queen of England and Queen of Wales. I loved how Joanna Courtney tells Edyth's story and really look forward to the second in the trilogy that comes out later this year. If you like Phillipa Gregory and Elizabeth Chadwick you'll love this book too! 
 
 
 
 
 
 
What have been your favourites this year so far? 

Monday, 29 June 2015

Big Bargain Book Haul

 
I have accumulated quite a number of books over the course of this year so far. Here are some of the ones I could find amongst my stacks. The best part is I didn't spend a ton on these, any I bought were under £2 and any books I didn't buy I either won.

There's an excellent local charity bookstore a couple of towns over in Thornbury who sell all their paperbacks for 50p each. My husband and I often find ourselves wandering in there for as long as our son will let us without getting bored. Here are the books I've bought from there:

 

Names for the Sea: Strangers in Iceland

by Sarah Moss

After previously seeing Mercy from Mercy's Bookish Musing haul this in a video last year, it went straight to my to-read list. I feel very lucky to have found it for 50p! This non-fiction is about Sarah and her family moving to Iceland and their experiences there.
 

Wake

by Anna Hope

I've been interested in this novel since I saw the advertisements for it on goodreads just prior to its release. This copy I found new and unused, total bargain! It's a book about the effects World War 1 on three women.
 

The Forgotten Garden

by Kate Morton

I've seen Kate Morton books floating about but had never picked one up myself but after curiously reading the blurb I just had to buy it. The Forgotten Garden is a mystery about how an English girl ends up abandoned on an Australian port.
 
 


The Joy Luck Club

by Amy Tan

This was just a book I stumbled on and decided was finally time to read. This novel follows four recently emigrated Chinese women who have settled in San Francisco and their daughters know little about their Chinese heritage and think that it is irrelevant to their American lives.

Falling Leaves

by Adeline Yen Mah

I read my mother's copy of this when I was about 11 and found myself intrigued by the Chinese culture and how different it was from any I had ever experienced. This is a memoir about an unwanted Chinese daughter in communist China.


 

Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China

by Jung Chang

I felt the need to buy this after buying myself a copy of Falling Leaves as it is a critically acclaimed history of China. The book follows three generations of women in the author's family and covers China's twentieth century in a masterful way.
 

American Gods

by Neil Gaiman

I have never read anything by Neil Gaiman before, though I have been meaning to, so when I saw it I knew it was the perfect opportunity. This is a story about some ancient gods and their struggle to survive in the modern world as their followers have abandoned them for modern technology and consumerism. Shadow, after being released from prison, gets thrown into a journey travelling across America in an effort to help the gods win and return to their former glory.
 

The House at Riverton

by Kate Morton

After a previous visit to this bookstore where I bought The Forgotten Garden and loved it, I returned solely with the purpose to purchase any Kate Morton novels I could lay my hands on! I found this, her first book, where I had found her second. This is a pretty beat up copy but I don't mind. The House at Riverton is about a retired previous housemaid of Riverton and the secrets of the house that she kept. Secrets begin to unravel and long forgotten memories resurface as a filmmaker comes to ask about the tragedy at the lake.
 
 
 
 

Innocent Traitor

by Alison Weir

I saw this on my first visit to the bookstore but didn't pick it up. When returning for the second time I was on a bit of a historical fiction kick so this inevitably was bought. This is historian Alison Weir's first historical fiction. It focuses on the life story on the Tudor heroine Lady Jane Grey who was born into dangerous times as Henry VIII grand-niece.

 

The Kindness of Strangers: The Biography

by Kate Adie

For a time in my teenage years I wanted to be a journalist, in particular a foreign affairs correspondent, this is when I heard about Kate Adie and how marvellous she is. Obviously this book is about Kate's life from her post-war childhood to her days reporting from all over the world, notably from trouble spots. 




There is another good charity bookshop a couple of towns away in the other direction. It is more pricey but you can find some gems there.


 
 

The Secret Keeper

by Kate Morton

As explained above, any Kate Morton novel is now an instant buy for me. I picked this pretty decent copy up for £1.80. A novel about wartime secrets and family loyalty that moves between the 1930s, 1960s and the present.
 
 
 
On a sunny May bank holiday Monday, my little family all walked down to the local car boot sale for a browse. There wasn't a whole lot there but I did come back with this:
 
 
 
 

The Storyteller

by Jodi Picoult

I had previously lent this from the library but had to return it before I was able to finish it. I was planning on purchasing it new at somepoint, but when I found it for 30p I couldn't resist! In this novel we meet Josef Weber, pillar of his community, who has been hiding a secret. After seventy years he decides to confess to a new friend, Sage Singer and it shatters all she thought she knew about him.
 
 
 
Now here are some books I have won over the past few months:
 
 
 
I received both of these books from Goodreads First Reads
 

A Memory of Violets

by Hazel Gaynor

A historical novel set in two eras about two long-lost sisters who have ended up living very different lives and a young woman who will be transformed by their experiences.
 
 

The Enchanted

by Rene Denfeld

 
This story is told from the perspective of a prisoner on Death Row who sees the enchantment in his bleak surroundings and uses his imagination as a way to stay sane. He also tells the stories of other people he encounters in the prison; the priest, the lady investigator and York, a fellow inmate. Through this novel Denfeld shows us that monsters are created, not born.






 
Both of these were won from Twitter
 
 

The Water Book

by Alok Jha

 
This is a non-fiction about water and how important it actually is. The first part focuses on how water is crucial to our survival and the second about how water has shaped the world we live in. Its purpose to change the way we see water and to appreciate it more.
 

 

The Chosen Queen

by Joanna Courtney

The author hosted a giveaway on her twitter page and I was delighted to have won. The Chosen Queen is part of a new historical fiction trilogy about the women behind the battle of 1066. This, the first novel, is about Edyth - the only woman who was queen of both Wales and England.
 
 
 

 

Outline

by Rachel Cusk

Another twitter win. This novel was on the Bailey's Fiction Prize Shortlist this year. It is about a woman who arrives in Athens to teach a writing course and the narratives she becomes audience to from the people she meets.
 
 
 
So those are the physical books I have bought/received over the past several months. I have acquired some Kindle books and children's books lately too, so I may do posts on them too.
 
There will likely be another physical book haul over the next month too - as it's my birthday! I'm not asking for many books this year (as I still have loads on my shelves to read!) so will likely be a small haul post.
 
 


Which books have you bought lately?

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Unexpected Blogging Hiatus

Sorry that it's been so long! I took an unexpected hiatus after my laptop decided to shut down permanently. I tried blogging on my iPad but found it more than a little difficult. So having finally replaced my laptop, I'm back and ready to recommit to more frequent posting.

In my absence I have read quite a bit, with a few book slumps scattered throughout; and have discovered that my son loves books just as much as I do. So over the next week or so I'll catch you up on what I've been reading and buying, and maybe a little bit on the books my son loves too.
 
Hope you're all having a good week and that you have lots of exciting reads lined up for the summer!
 
Beth Marie xx