Thursday, 28 January 2016

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts | 002

One | I initially thought I'd take part in this linky weekly, but then I realised how little I had to share, and so instead of boring you all I scaled it back to posting one of these every other week.

Two | I've had my first DNF of 2016 - You by Caroline Kepnes. Last year I think I may have abandoned books a little too quickly, so this year I'm trying to make sure I give a book a fair chance before setting it aside. It used to be a 50 page thing, but this year I'm aiming for 100 pages plus. If I'm really not feeling a book after that point, then I'll be abandoning it. I know some people don't give up on books, even when they really dislike a book, but I'm of the theory that there are far too many books out there that I want to read so why waste time on those I'm not enjoying. What are your thoughts on DNF'ing a book?

Three | General life observation: Pyjamas are never quite the same after that first initial wear.
Four | We took Alexander, our toddler son, for a speech therapy assessment last Saturday. I came away from the appointment with very mixed feelings. I feel we got a little out of the appointment, but at the same time brushed off too. Of all the milestones Alexander should be at in speech, he isn't meeting any of them. He understands things perfectly well, up to level on those as well as practical and social skills, it's just the words aren't coming out plus he talks the majority of the time with his mouth closed. The lady herself was really nice, and shared a few techniques that for the most part seemed like common sense to me and things we already put in to practise, but we're going to implement these further and see how he progresses over the next two months. If Alexander is still not up to date then she recommends returning to her. My issue isn't with the lady, nor the advice given, it's just I think I expected more. Not like an overnight answer, of course, but I feel like Alexander is just getting further and further behind his peers and this is going to impact things further down the line - hence why we're trying to get this sorted now. The speech is putting us behind in other areas and as a parent it's all just really frustrating.

Five | I don't know if I'm behind on the Netflix uploads or something, but I discovered Season 6 of The Good Wife on Netflix this past weekend and managed next to no reading in my spare time over the weekend period because of that. I'm still working through episodes, but balancing watching and reading a little more efficiently now.
Six | The slow cooker has been broken in with its first meal this week - on Monday I made chilli. I've always been familiar with slow cookers, both my mum and nan using them growing up, but this was my first cooking experience myself. I love it. I see it being used at least once a week. What I love about it in particular is having leftovers. We all have those nights where we just don't have the time, or just don't feel like cooking and so it's nice to have a wholesome homemade meal ready to heat up and go. Also, this was actually my first time making chilli - I think it's more popular in the US than UK - and it went down a treat!
Seven | I've been so tired this week; truly feeling sleep deprived. I'm someone who always struggles with sleep on and off but I just can't catch up this week. I'm lucky in the sense that I'm not run ragged from a job whilst feeling like this, but a toddler isn't that much better!! I've been doing very little in my spare time other than vegging... Which means I'm lacking on blog posts this week because not only have I not finished a book (which would be Friday's post) but I also haven't had the concentration level to sit and sort through my jumbled mind which means no Sunday post either. I'm not too fussed by this - blogging is just a hobby so why force posts out, right? I just wanted it noted that this will be the last post for this week.
Eight | I'm going to end it with this one... It's actually February next week... How? Just, how?!


Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Book Haul | January

If you read my 2016 | Bookish Goals post, then you'll know I'm aiming to buy only 4 books a month in order to achieve the goal of just 15 books on my TBR by the end of 2016 - well, I've succeeded in the first month - woo! - and I hope it continues.
I've two books to share with you today, both of them purchased in the same shopping trip at the start of January. I haven't purchased a single book since then despite have two books still remaining - I'm thinking a lot more about my purchases now that I'm limited.
When first walking into the bookshop I gravitated towards The Girl On The Train. I hadn't seen this particular cover before and it really caught my eye. I don't know if I'm going to enjoy The Girl On The Train, I have yet to read it, so was contemplating going with the original cover art edition but when I discovered they were both the same price there was really no option. I'm a sucker for a pretty cover!
As I continued to peruse the shop I stumbled upon the classic literature section. I'm fond of reading classics, however my local library, nor my local bookshop, have a particularly large section, so I took advantage of being in a city bookstore and had a good old browse. I ended up coming away with this beautiful collection of Edgar Allen Poe stories. I've never read any of Poe's work, but I've heard such good things and being a lover of darker/gothic classics his always been on my to read list.
I've linked both books to the shop I bought them from - Waterstones, the main high street book shop in the UK - but for some reason on their website the cover of the above book is a lot darker than in actuality; the picture I've shared is a better representation.
Alongside these two physical books I also signed up for Audible in January - I'm not classing that as a book purchase this month as the first book is a free credit, but future months will be included as an actual book purchase. The book I picked to use my first credit on was Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. If you know me, then you know I have read the entire Harry Potter series multiple times before, but given I'm a newbie to audiobooks I wanted to start with something familiar, and that's what felt right. I've really been won over by the audiobook format and will be continuing to read books by that method, although they will never replace a physical book. I'm going to be doing a post in February specifically focusing on audiobooks.
What books did you purchase in January?

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesdays Intros | The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

The premise behind First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros is to share the first paragraph or so of the book you are currently reading or intending to read soon. The book I shared last week, You, ended up being a dud for me so I'm hoping for better luck with this week's read. I'm already part way through my current book of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August. I had a bit of difficulty this week with this post as there is an 'Introduction' before 'Chapter One', so I'm sharing both the short introduction as well as the starting paragraph or so of the first chapter.

I am writing this for you.
My enemy.
My friend.
You know, already, you must know.
You have lost.

First Paragraph(s)
The second cataclysm began in my eleventh life, in 1996. I was dying my usual death, slipping away in a warm morphine haze, which she interrupted like an ice cube down my spine.

She was seven, I was seventy-eight. She had straight blonde hair worn in a long pigtail down her back, I had bright white hair, or at least remnants of the same. I wore a hospital gown designed for sterile humility; she, bright-blue school uniform and felt cap. She perched on the side of my bed, her feet dangling off it, and peered into my eyes. She examined the heart monitor plugged into my chest, observed where I'd disconnected the alarm, felt for my pulse, and said, "I nearly missed you, Dr August."

Would you continue reading?


Monday, 25 January 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

So you know how I've been raving about how great my reading has been going this year so far, yeah, well, that's kaput now - I've had my first DNF of 2016. If you read last week's 'It's Monday' post then you'll know I was delving into You by Caroline Kepnes, a book that received a lot of buzz last year and I was excited to get stuck in to. Well, I only made it to page 107 and it took me four days to get there.
Honestly, it was that creepy narrator! If you've read You, or my First Chapter First Paragraph post featuring You, then you'll know what I'm talking about. I don't mind a darker, verging on creepy read, in fact they're some of my favourite books, but that was a whole other level of creepy. That's not to say I didn't like the writing style or progressing plot, because those were interesting, but as I read further and further I just felt really uncomfortable with the narrative and that made me not want to pick the book up - hence just over 100 pages in four days. Also, I don't entirely know what I was expecting, and get the context of the book is a stalking situation, but You was a lot more highly sexualised than I imagined it would be. It just didn't work out for me.
On Thursday I picked up my current read, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North. I'm not that far in to it at the moment, despite quite a few days passing since starting, but I've been focusing on my audiobook a bit more of late (I'm going to be doing a separate post on my audio book reading very soon). I really like the premise of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August and so far it's proving to be a good read.

No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, every time Harry dies, he always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life lived a dozen times before.

Nothing ever changes - until now.

As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside. 'I nearly missed you, Doctor August,'she says. 'I need to send a message.'

This is the story of what Harry does next, and what he did before, and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow.


Sunday, 24 January 2016

A Couple of Counting Books

Today I'm sharing two books that my little one has been loving lately, and they bother pertain to counting. Of course we practise counting together without the use of books, but being the book lover that my son is, he greatly loves both the books I'm sharing below. Counting is one of Alexander's new favourite things - he can count to ten all by himself, as well as a few numbers after but that's as far as we've got. Alexander counts the stairs of a morning, he counts cars when he plays with them, he counts with the aid of puzzles and flash cards, he counts when building his duplo, sometimes he just counts for the sake of it. Counting is a thing right now! Although I hear numbers a million and one times a day, I love listening to Alexander count because he is actually a little behind in his speech so it's nice to be hearing words.
The first book I'm sharing features ten little dinosaurs that cheekily adventure off when their mummy goes to sleep. Finding themselves in mischief, the dinosaurs slowly dwindle down in number, ultimately all coming back together when the mummy dinosaur rounds them up. Within Ten Little Dinosaurs there is the opportunity to count backwards from ten to one as well as in the regular order of one and upwards.
Tip | When looking for books to aid in teaching a toddler - in this instance, wanting to help with counting - going down the route of a pre-existing interest is a great idea. Alexander has a thing about dinosaurs and so I opted for a counting book involving dinosaurs.
The other book that has helped us with counting is Spot A Lot Animal Escape. As the title suggests, a number of animals has escaped from the zoo and in the following pages the reader discovers animals within different scenes - 1 very tall giraffe trying not to laugh, 2 elephants in socks playing peek-a-book in the rocks etc. What I really like about this book in particular is the fact that whilst we count the animals page by page, there is also the aspect of spotting various animals throughout. This is the kind of book that'll stay in your collection for a while as there are varying challenges inside. Aside from the content, I really like the illustrations in Spot A Lot Animal Escape, not only the style of art work but also the scenes on each page are full of fun and frolics with something new to be found each reading, by both adult and child!
If you have any counting book recommendations then be sure to leave them in the comments below.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Life or Death by Michael Robotham

| Title: Life or Death | Author: Michael Robotham  | Publisher: Sphere |
With his release date imminent, Audie Palmer shocks all when he makes a prison escape just one day before he is due to walk out of prison a free man. This raises many questions with those inside the story, naturally, but as a reader this kind of situation grabs you from the get go; you have questions too.
Sentenced to ten years in a prison for a crime he didn't commit - a notorious armoured van heist in which seven million dollars goes missing - Audie Palmer has endured more than most inside the confines of a prison, with attempts on his life being made more than once. It's easy to assume these death threats were made from criminals wanting a piece of the millions, but there is a lot more to Audie's story than some stolen money. Audie holds secrets, secrets that could ruin the lives of many high powered men, but he has one life on his mind, the life of a person he holds dear, a person he promised to take care of. It's because of this promise that Audie compromises his freedom by escaping a day before his release.
The story that takes place in Life or Death is well crafted with pieces of a puzzle being slotted together at the perfect pace. A lot goes in to the unfolding story, it is well layered, with the story being narrated in third person meaning the reader gets a glimpse of all that is going on. In this kind of book, a crime thriller, that is often the best story telling route to go down as we're on the edge of our seat wanting to shout at the characters through the page. This kind of narration was perfect for Life or Death; we are able to see Audie grappling through his escape, the police investigation that ensues, as well the FBI involvement.
I don't really want to share too much more about the plot of Life or Death as it is the kind of book that needs to be experienced first hand, with minimal prior knowledge. I will say that I loved the character development of Audie throughout the book, and as a main character I felt a connection to him, as if I actually knew him. You can see he is a genuinely nice guy who wears his heart on his sleeve, but he also happens to be the kind of guy that the phrase 'being in the wrong place at the wrong time' rings true with.
There is a love story that takes place in Life or Death, and I thought that was beautifully told in a believable manner - not always easily done with books of this genre. Sticking with the writing style, I really enjoyed discovering Michael Robotham's writing; it was gritty and gripping with the perfect amount of suspense. A lot of the time you have a rough idea of where the book is going, and you'd be right, but that isn't dragged out, the pace of suspense is perfect. I'll definitely be looking out for more of Michael Robotham's novels because this one proved to be a real page turner.
If you follow me on Goodreads, you'll know that I rated this novel four stars and yet from all I've written it sounds more like a five star review. There's a simple reason for that - if Goodreads allowed for 4.5 ratings, Life or Death would be there, the only reasoning I'm marking it down a little is because this isn't the kind of book that can be re-read. I'm a big re-reader, and that is important to me in a book. I loved the story that took place in Life or Death, but the nature of it means once you've read it, it'll no longer have the same impact as the very first reading.
Being somebody who loves crime fiction, I'd recommend Michael Robotham's writing to those of a similar bookish taste.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

TAG | Unpopular Opinion Book Tag

I was tagged by Ashley from Book Junkie: Not-So-Anonymous (thanks!) to do the Unpopular Opinion Book Tag. The tag was originally created on YouTube by The Book Archer and I guess it transitioned to the book blogging community too.  
This is actually my first tag on Reading With Jade, but I see more featuring here in the future. On to the questions...
One | A popular book or series you don't like.
Some people are surprised that I didn't much enjoy The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. There was just so much hype and I fell in to all of it which resulted in my expectations not being met. Originally I kept the book on my shelves to reread in the future, but I ultimately donated it because I just didn't think it would work out a second time round either.
Two | A popular book or series everyone hates, but you love.
I wouldn't necessary say 'loved' as I know it has had some mixed reviews, but late last year I gave The Maze Runner series a go and we just didn't connect. The first book was captivating enough, but it rapidly went down hill after that. I much preferred the film, although I have only seen the first.
Three | A love triangle where you don't like who the main character ended up with.
I'm taking it back a good few years here, but that would definitely be in Twilight. I was 100% Team Jacob.
Four | A popular genre you hardly read.
Definitely fantasy and science fiction. Fantasy in particular is pretty big in YA right now, but a lot of fantasy novels just don't translate well for me. Books that involve a lot of world building and looking outside the normal realms are hard for me to imagine with words; I much prefer them in movies. This applies to dystopian novels too, although I do give those a try now and again.
Five | A popular or beloved character that you hate.
I honestly can't think of one. I don't think I've ever really 'hated' a character, because even when I strongly dislike a character there is still an element of appreciation to the writing skill, especially if its a villainous character, and so I don't hate any character really. Even one I strongly dislike doesn't come to mind.
Six | A popular author you can't seem to get in to.
The first author that springs to mind is Haruki Murakami. I'm sure there are more, because it just isn't possible to love every author, but he is the first that comes to mind because I'm hoping to give his work another try this year - a last ditch attempt if you will.
Seven | A popular trope you're tired of reading.
There are a lot of things that we see repeated in books, naturally so, but one thing I would like to see change or just in a light than what I've read is the ever popular love triangle. I get it, it's a conflict, it's a talking point, it can be done really well in some instances, but not all instances. Sometimes it's present in a book for no real reason at all.
Eight | A popular series you have no interest in reading.
The Hunger Games series. The Mortal Instruments series. Just generally a lot of the popular YA series... Although the two I've mentioned are 'older' now. Only because I don't keep up with very many YA series, so I don't even know what ones are new/relevant. I find YA series in particular to be everywhere, and that alone puts me off reading them. Also, there seems to be an emphasis on fantasy right now, and I've already shared my thoughts on that above.
Nine | A movie that you liked better than the books.
Atonement. I read the book when I was a far bit younger... Perhaps a little too young to fully appreciate it, I don't know, but I love the film (which I watched a couple of years after my reading of the book) and felt very underwhelmed by the book at the time. I have said that I would like to reread the book now that I am that bit older.
Thanks again to Ashley for tagging me - I tag anyone who wants to take part!

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

My TBR | Ten Books I Hope To Read Before Summer

Even with a mounting TBR I tend to have an idea of what books I want to read in the near future, although I am very much a mood reader so I don't set anything in stone; I make a stack of books that I think I'll read soon. Today I want to share ten of those books from the stack - ten books I hope to read before summer rolls round.

| The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell |
There were a lot of highly talked about and much anticipated book releases in 2015, but one that stuck with me is The Wolf Wilder - I purchased my copy in December and hope to get round to this middle grade adventure very soon, whilst winter is still upon us. I feel like the cosy winter weather will only add to the atmosphere of this book.
(As of posting this I have read and reviewed The Wolf Wilder)
| The Marvels by Brian Selznick |
Sticking with children's historical fiction we move on to Brian Selznick's 2015 release, The Marvels. I very much enjoyed The Invention of Hugo Cabret by the same author, and look forward to seeing how this book plays out being told in a similar format.
| The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis |
Why I've put off reading this children's classic for so long, I don't know, but 2016 is the year I rectify not having read any of The Chronicles of Narnia.
| You by Caroline Kepnes |
I love a good mystery thriller and You was probably one of the most talked about within the genre in 2015. I did actually pick up my copy a couple of months ago, I just haven't got round to reading it yet.
(I'm currently reading this book)
| Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Year of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami |
I've tried reading some of Murakami's work before, starting with 1Q84, but I just really couldn't connect with the story. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts, I abandoned the book, however I didn't write off the author entirely - I'm hoping to have better luck with this novel. If you've read Murakami, I'd love to know which books of his you've read and enjoyed.

| The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton |
The Miniaturist has been sitting on my shelves for a good few months now and I feel like it's time I get round to reading it really - I hope it's as wonderful as I've heard.

| A Suspension of Mercy by Patricia Highsmith |
I discovered Patricia Highsmith's writing early last year by reading The Talented Mr Ripley, and now I just want to devour all her work because she is my kind of author - I wish I had took the time to read her stories sooner!

| The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North |
Another much talked about book of the past year or so, I'm really intrigued by the premise of this one.

| Left Neglected by Lisa Genova |
In 2015 I read the much acclaimed Still Alice and was totally blown away by Lisa Genova's writing. Since then I've acquired a couple more of her books and have opted for Left Neglected to be my next read by her.

| The Complete Collected Short Stories: Volume One: 1944-1953 by Roald Dahl |
I've a few of Roald Dahl's short story collections sitting on my bookshelves, and am actually a part way through this particular one. I'm making it my mission to finish this collection in the first half of the year because I honestly think my bookmark has been in the same place for close to a year now, which is pretty terrible, especially seen as I am enjoying the stories!

If you'd like to see what other books I have sitting on my TBR, then be sure to check out the tab page up the top of my blog where I have a full detailed list of my TBR as it currently stands - I update it on the first of each month.

What books do you hope to read in the first half of 2016?

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros | You by Caroline Kepnes

The premise behind First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros is to share the first paragraph or so of the book you are currently reading or intending to read soon. This week, my second week linking up - thank you all for such a lovely welcome last week - I'm sharing the first paragraph of You by Caroline Kepnes. You was much talked about last year so I wouldn't be surprised if some of you have already read it.
First Parargraph
You walk into the bookstore and you keep your hand on the door to make sure it doesn't slam. You smile, embarrassed to be a nice girl, and your nails are bare and your V-neck sweater is beige and it's impossible to know if you're wearing a bra but I don't think that you are. You're so clean that you're dirty and you murmur your first word to me - hello - when most people would just pass by, but not you, in your loose pink jeans, a pink spun from Charlotte's Web and where did you come from?

Would you continue reading?


Monday, 18 January 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

I hope you all had a great reading week last week!
I finished up reading Life or Death by Michael Robotham, my planned book for the week, as well as made a start on the second book within The Chronicles of Narnia series - The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Whilst I'm working my way through The Chronicles of Narnia, the books might not always feature here on 'It's Monday!', but I am steadily working through all seven books. In the way of reviews, I'm planning to share a week long feature once all the books have been read, with a review for each book - I'm writing the reviews as and when I read them though.
My primary book for this week is You by Caroline Kepnes. There was so much talk about this thriller last year, but I'm only just getting round to it now. I'm kind of funny with books that are talked about often, not necessarily hyped but just a lot of buzz, and so in many ways I intentionally waited until all that had died down in order to read You. I've hopes for this one, not exceptionally high hopes, but I've had a lot of good luck with my books so far this year (all 5 and 4 star reviews) so I hope that'll continue with this book.

When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Peep Inside The Zoo

| Title: Peep Inside The Zoo  | Author: Anna Milbourne | Illustrator: Simona Dimitri | Publisher: Usborne |
| Purchase Links: Amazon UK | Amazon US | The Book Depository |
Animals are one of Alexander's favourite things - he loves for us to read about animals, watch them on shows, as well as actually see them. We have a tree just behind our back garden that clusters of birds like to perch on and he can spend ages at the windowsill watching them. We tend to watch them from indoors because Alexander is no light foot and they tend to fly away when we go out the back.
I'm not here to talk about birds however; I'm going to be sharing a book that features animals you'd commonly find in a zoo. Currently, Peep Inside The Zoo is one of Alexander's favourite books, we go through it more than once a day, honestly. It's funny because he loves this book but yet when we went to an actual zoo a couple of months back he wasn't so interested - it's amazing how much children's interests can change month to month.
As the title suggests, there is no real story inside this book, it is more of a visit at the zoo - or peeping inside. There are a variety of animals featured, all doing various activities, with little snippets about the animal itself. You'll find lions, pandas, giraffes, elephants, penguins, monkeys, gorillas and more. Each page has an interactive element, but the focus is very much lifting of flaps, it adds to the 'peeping' aspect of the book.
Below are a couple of images from the book, showcasing the beautiful artwork and creativeness of the books design. The two pages shared are favourites of ours - the butterfly page is my favourite, and the monkey and gorilla page Alexander's. If you look closely at the butterfly page, you'll see the a corner of the page has been munched by the caterpillar - I love details like that in a book.
Peep Inside The Zoo is a more recent purchase of ours, but I see more of the 'Peep Inside' line being added to Alexander's collection over time. Alongside the zoo, the range also carries - Dinosaurs, The Castle, The Garden, The Farm, Night Time and Animal Homes.
I think the concept behind these books is really great, educating a little one whilst remaining fun. The 'Peep Inside' collection is perfect for little hands - children from 18 months upwards - but Usborne have extended the concept further by having two other similar lines - 'Look Inside' for children aged 4+ and 'See Inside' aimed at those over the age of 6.
Usborne are one of my favourites when it comes to books for children, if not the favourite, and I'd highly recommend checking them out when adding books to your little one's collection, especially if looking for books that your little one will learn from whilst enjoying themselves too.

Friday, 15 January 2016

The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell

| Title: The Wolf Wilder | Author: Katherine Rundell | Illustrator: Gelrev Ongbico | Publisher: Bloomsbury Children |
| Purchase Links: Waterstones | Amazon UK | Amazon US | The Book Depository |
Set against the backdrop of Russia, we follow Feodora as she adventures across snow strewn woods heading towards the city in order to help her mother, Marina, who has been imprisoned by the slightly unstable General Rakov.
As the story starts we meet Feo and her mother. Living together in an isolated part of the woods, the duo have only each other and the wolves they tame. Feo and Marina are wolf wilders; their job is to tame wolves that were once kept as pets by wealthy people but no longer have a purpose for them. It's not an easy job - it's unexpected and dangerous - but the two love what they do and the passion they have for the wolves is admirable. 
Things take a darker turn when General Rakov involves himself in their business after the death of an elk in his territory. After some events unfold, Feo finds herself separated from her mother, the only home she knows reduced to ashes, and on the run from the Russian Army after assaulting and escaping the General.
Feo doesn't fall with fear when many others would; she fights. Not only for her mother, and her wolves, but ultimately the oppression taking place in Russia.
Joining Feo on her journey is a young solider boy, Ilya, who she befriended prior to the fateful day her mother was taken away. Ilya doesn't want to be a soldier, he was made to become one, and with insider information he is mighty helpful to Feo in a number of ways. The friendship they forge is progressive and wonderful to follow.
As well as Ilya, Alexei, another young boy but older than both Feo and Ilya, joins the pair and plays a crucial role in the aim of the journey - to save Marina, Feo's mother.
The plot of The Wolf Wilder is a relatively simple one, slow in some places, but packed with observations, adventure and little parcels of wisdom. Enhancing the plot written by Katherine Rundell are the illustrations by Gelrev Ongbico. The whole time I was reading this book I kept stopping and telling my partner about the beauty of these illustrations; they are captivating and atmospheric.
Feodora is the kind of protagonist I love in middle grade books - she's fierce, fiery, full of spirit and a determined young girl - but for me there was very little character development in The Wolf Wilder. Although the development of character was a little lacking, the development of relationships was not, with the closeness between Feo and her mother being gleamed from the get go. There is a relatively short period of time for this to be build, but it is well done and lends to the entire story.
Running alongside the relationship between Feo and her mother is the bond shared between young girl and wolves. Growing up around wolves, Feo has no fear of the animals; in fact she even has her very own pack - White, Grey and Black. She acknowledges herself that wolves aren't pets, but I'd say the bond we see between animal and human is almost that of family. Some pretty devastating things happen with the wolves, and I'm keeping this spoiler free, but there are some rather emotional scenes. 
So much is packed in to this middle grade book - family, animals, friendship, passion, determination, freedom, adventure - but it it's well done and well worth a read, whether you're the intended target audience, or older. Despite trials and tribulations, The Wolf Wilder is the kind of story that'll you'll leave with a smile.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts | 001

One | I've started reading the much loved series that is The Chronicles of Narnia for the very first time. It may well be shocking to some that these classic children's books were not a part of my own childhood, but so far I'm loving the whimsy of it all, even as an adult. I love exploring new to me books that I hope to share with my own son one day.
Two | If you're a regular reader here on Reading With Jade you'll notice that I've been including actual photos in my posts so far this year, as opposed to book graphics. I've experimented with my own photos here before but always returned to graphics because I felt my photos weren't on par with the standard of many other book bloggers. This year I'm letting that feeling go - I can't improve my skills without actually taking photos after all. I love photography - I actually have a separate photography blog where I share some nature type snaps, but I'm really bad when it comes to pictures indoors. It's good to work on things you enjoy, but perhaps aren't so good at. Step outside your comfort zone.

Three | Sticking with book blogging things... I've been using an adapted version of bullet journaling to keep all my bits and bobs in order for my blog and am loving the system so far. I only discovered bullet journaling towards the end of last year but immediately purchased a suitable notebook to get myself started. I'll probably share more about my own personal system in the future, when I've been using it a bit longer, but I see myself carrying this style of organising over to general day to day life too.

Four | We've booked a holiday! Okay, it's more of a little trip, but we're off to the seaside town of Brighton in May for a few nights. This will be our first official family holiday - we had one booked last year but were unfortunately not able to go in the end - and I'm super excited. I'm not sure how travelling with a two and a half year old is going to be, especially seen as it's quite the journey, but I'm looking forward to exploring a place that holds many childhood memories for me with my own family.
Five | With the winter break over, it means all toddler's classes are back on - yay! The downside to that, we didn't actually get to go to any classes. Alexander woke up on Tuesday morning full of cold and has been poorly since. Our days have been full sleep (him, not me, unfortunately), cuddles and snotty tissues.

Six | I bought a crockpot (more commonly known as a slow cooker here in the UK). I've been wanting to get one for a while now but always put off purchasing due to lack of space in the kitchen, but something clicked towards the end of last year - probably one too many takeaways due to laziness some days - and I was just like, I'm getting one. I'm doing it. I love how I'm making buying a crockpot sound like a monumental decision. Anyway, I haven't used it yet because I only got it yesterday, but I'm sure you'll hear about all the Pinterest recipes I've been making in due course.  
Seven| Netflix UK has Still Alice available to watch... I'm umming and ahhing about watching it. I read the book last year and it was probably my standout favourite of the year, but I just don't know how the adaptation is going to fare. If you've read the book as well as seen the film, let me know your thoughts.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

City Atlas by Martin Haake + Georgia Cherry

| Title: City Atlas | Illustrator: Martin Haake | Author: Georgia Cherry | Publisher: Wide-Eyed Editions|
| Purchase Links: Amazon UK | Amazon US | The Book Depository |
This non fiction book aimed at children, but just as well received on the shelves of an adult, showcases thirty of the best loved cities from around the world by pouring the personality of a city on a double spread page using beautiful illustrations, a few facts about the given city as well as a variety of activities and attractions within the city.
Although I'm not the intended audience of this book, I still thoroughly enjoyed flicking through, appreciating the art and learning a little more about some of the destinations I have on my own travel bucket list - with featured cities including, Paris, Rome, Athens, Toronto, New York, San Francisco, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Sydney.
| A sneak peek inside - London; my home city |
City Atlas is an interactive book - each city has five iconic items hidden within its spread and the reader is to find those items - and one that is sure to spark discussion among the children who read it, especially if it is explored by a family as a whole.
If you know a budding adventurer, a youngster who loves to discover new places, or are planning to visit any of the thirty cities with your own family, then this book is for you - it's the kind of non fiction book children will love, with unique illustrations, packed full of knowledge and perfect for the curiosity children may hold for cities other than their own.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros | Life or Death by Michael Robotham

I recently discovered this meme hosted by Diane of Bibliophile By The Sea and I knew I had to start joining. The premise is to share the first paragraph or so from the book you are currently reading or thinking of reading soon. I'm particularly interested in this linky because one of my favourite things to do when book buying is picking up a book and reading just that, the first paragraph. Of course the cover and blurb come first to my attention, but if I'm intrigued enough by those I move on to the first page. That's why I'm interested in this meme, it's like shopping for books but without the leg work! I hope to discover some new to me bloggers, authors and books through participating.

First Paragraph
Audie Palmer had never learned how to swim. As a boy when he went fishing with his father on Lake Conroe he was told that being a strong swimmer was dangerous because it gave a person a false sense of security. Most folks drowned because they struck out for shore thinking they could save themselves, while those who survived were found clinging to the wreckage.
Would you continue reading?


Monday, 11 January 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

I'm back to linking up with one of my favourite memes here in the book blogging community, sharing what I'm currently reading with 'It's Monday! What Are You Reading?'.
I hope you've all had some great reading experiences so far this year, especially for those who participated in The First Book of the Year linky! My pick of The Marble Collector by Cecelia Ahern was an absolute hit and it's now up there with some of my other favourite novels of hers. I've also read a couple of other books since my first title, and so far 2016 is proving to be a great reading year - not only have I read some amazing books, but I'm maintaining a consistent reading pace too.
In bookish blog news, I've added some extra features to my blog in the past couple of weeks which are helping me to keep track of reads as well as organise my review posts in a more accessible manner. Firstly I correlated a 'Review Index', where you can find an up to date list of all books reviewed on Reading With Jade, categorised by author's name. Alongside that I've also made a page sharing all the books on my TBR list. Previously I posted updates in the form of blog posts for my TBR progress, but I thought updating it by way of a subpage on the blog makes a lot more sense as it doesn't take away from other content, and of course TBR's aren't everybody's cup of tea so it's there for those who wish to keep up with it. Lastly, I added a 'Read In 2016' page, which is pretty self explanatory - as and when I finish a book I update that page; kind of like an extension of Goodreads really.
With our catch up out the way, we can move on to the books!
On Sunday night I finished reading The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell, which means I'm starting the week afresh with a new to me author and book I've heard next to nothing about - Life or Death by Michael Robotham.
Why would a man escape from prison the day before he's due to be released?

Audie Palmer has spent a decade in prison for an armed robbery in which four people died, including two of his gang. Five million dollars has never been recovered and everybody believes that Audie knows where the money is.

For ten years he has been beaten, stabbed, throttled and threatened almost daily by fellow inmates and prison guards, who all want to answer this same question, but suddenly Audie vanishes, the day before he's due to be released.

Everybody wants to find Audie, but he's not running. Instead he's trying to save a life . . . and not just his own.
What are you reading this week?


Sunday, 10 January 2016

Introducing Children's Books on Reading With Jade

As I mentioned in my 'Bookish Goals' post, I'm going to start sharing children's books here on Reading With Jade. I have a toddler aged son (2) and we are constantly reading so it only seems natural to transition some of those titles here on to the blog. Whilst I love sharing the books that I enjoy, I also think it's quite important to encourage reading from a young age, and with children variety is essential. I mean, yeah, sure, he wants to read Were Going On A Bear Hunt a million and one times, but there are plenty more books to pick from... I can recite that book word for word now. Variety in books is good for little ones as not only does it help with learning words and forming sentences but books are their very own portal in a way, building them as a person, finding out what things they do and don't like, discovering experiences in life they have yet to come across, and paving the way for a creative imagination. I'm always on the look out for new books, and so I figure others are too - just as we as book bloggers look for recommendations - and so thought I'd share a few of my own.
I don't want my readers who have no interest in children's book to think that this is in anyway going to take away from my current content as that won't be the case. As and when I want to share about a particular book that post will go up on a Sunday, just as this post has, a day I didn't post on previously.
As a way of introducing children's books here on Reading With Jade, I thought I'd share the books that formed the foundation of my son's ever growing book collection, but more importantly the first books bought that we still read now to this day.
It's safe to say that in the past year I've gone a little crazy on the book buying front for my son, but well warranted when he loves to read - now is prime time to encourage that - he even has his own little reading corner in the living room, arm chair included! I don't know if my son will always be bookish - he is still very young after all - but he does have two bookish parents and so naturally books were to be a predominant part of childhood. When we first started a book collection for him, it was pretty small, but gradually grew to the point where his book count probably rivals my own! Today I'm sharing seven of those initial books as well as a box set.
When building a book collection it made sense to go down the route of familiar, even classic children's books. A number of the above titles I remember reading as a youngster myself, so being able to discover those adventures with my own little one is pretty amazing. On the theme of familiar is nursery rhymes, they're something forever being sung to children and so books of your child's favourite nursery rhyme is a great way to get them reading if they aren't particularly interested in story books.
Many people find making reading a part of the bed time routine a good way to introduce books. Initially we went down this route, but we no longer read books at bedtime - it just doesn't fit with our child as reading is something that interests and excites him so even the most lulling story doesn't aid in drifting off. If you are looking for a lovely bedtime read though I would recommend checking out the 'Sleepytime Stories' I've linked above - the illustrations are fun and vibrant, even playing with texture a little, and the stories all revolve around animals and friendship.
Interactive books are always a winner, regardless of age I think. Books with flaps, or buttons to press, or the punched holes in The Very Hungry Caterpillar all draw a child in to the book more than just reading words. Feeling involved and a part of the book naturally makes the reading experience more enjoyable.
Lastly, and briefly, I'm going to talk about the collection of Peter Rabbit books. I snagged this box set on a really great deal and am so happy to have! Beatrix Potter is a quintessential part of childhood, especially a British childhood, and her tales of animals frolicking in the outdoors teamed with simple yet stunning illustrations are sure to be a hit. I think some people often overlook the darker elements of her books - i.e. Peter potentially being made in to a pie if he is seen in a human's garden once more - but I think it is this semi accurate portrayal of the outdoors, the food chain and such that contributes to the success of the stories even to this day. A box set like this of some classic children's stories is great to keep hold of even when your little one grows out of it because you can pass them to their future children, which I think is really nice.
What books do you remember fondly from your child's childhood, or even your own?

Friday, 8 January 2016

The Marble Collector by Cecelia Ahern

| Title: The Marble Collector | Author: Cecelia Ahern | Publisher: HarperCollins |
| Purchase Links: WaterstonesAmazon UK | Amazon US | The Book Depository |

In Cecelia Ahern's latest release, and one of my favourite novels of hers, we follow Sabrina as she discovers a part of her father's life that she had no idea about; a part of himself he kept from many in his life for quite some years.

Told from the perspective of both Sabrina, and her father Fergus, we watch as they both piece together parts of his life that are unknown to them - unknown to Sabrina as they have been cleverly concealed by her father, and unknown to Fergus himself as he has suffered memory loss due to a recent stroke.

The story that unfolds is intricately woven with a deep history, starting with a large collection of marbles and ending with just a single marble. With her father in a full time care home, Sabrina receives a number of boxes of her father's belongings that will take her on quite the mystery and journey of discovery, taking place in just the one day, when she finds a rather large, and valuable, collection of marbles in her father's belongings. From all the memories she can recall, there is no recollection of her father owning a marble collection, much less a collection worth thousands of dollars. Having fallen in to the abyss of the marble inventory, she discovers a number of items missing, valuable items missing, and sets out to find where those marbles have got to. The simple task soon turns in to a much more complex adventure, with Sabrina learning things about her father, and herself, that would never have come to light had it not been for some missing marbles.

I love Cecelia Ahern's stories, I've made no secret of that, but this particular plot and meaning behind the story really sticks with me as a favourite. It's the kind of book that makes you think and leaves you with lingering thoughts. It forces you to take a deeper look at yourself and those around you. We all have secrets, or things we chose not to communicate - whether we're protecting someone, or embarrassed to share something, or haven't found the right time, whatever the reason - The Marble Collector shows the problem with that, exploring the consequences of bottling something up and just how much it can affect us personally as well as those around us.

Another thing to note with this Cecelia Ahern novel is the beauty and rawness in such a simple and yet layered plot. The Marble Collector is rife with these sweet and tender moments that draw you in to your own memories of family, conjuring your very own nostalgia and sentiment. More than once whilst reading I found myself lost in thought and putting the book down, not because I wasn't interested in where this was all going, but because I wanted to hold and treasure that memory that had come to mind.

Something I really enjoyed, but hadn't entirely expected, was the heavy involvement of marbles in this book. I know, the title is kind of a give away, but often times with books these days the title has very little to do with the actual book, or just something that happens in passing - perhaps the discovery of marbles at the start of the book being as mentionable as it gets - but that wasn't the case with this. Marbles are an intrinsic part of The Marble Collector, each chapter, memory, story, they are there and ever present. The way in which marbles feature is cleverly done and wonderfully so.

Character wise, we truly only get to grips with Sabrina and Fergus, but I'm okay with that. We didn't need to know anyone else on a deeper level than we did, and had we got to know them a little more it would have only taken away from the two narrators. There were many other characters present, all of which had their place and personality, but they were not on the same level as father and daughter. The depth with which we got to know Fergus was pretty amazing, going all the way back to his childhood, with many scenes from his youth, learning just how important those days were to him and how much they shaped his future. One thing I always admire in Cecelia Ahern's novels is her imperfect characters, they have flaws, as we all do, and that in itself makes them perfect.

I'm sure you've heard me gush enough, so I'll wrap up this post by saying I highly recommend picking up The Marble Collector - it would make a great book club read too!

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

My TBR | Updated Edition

In the time since October, when I shared my original TBR list, I've accumulated a few more books in my collection but thought I'd wait until the new year in order to properly update that list here on my blog. The list below contains only the books that I have yet to read sitting on my bookshelves (so not including e-books).
You by Caroline Kepnes
More Than This by Patrick Ness (this was on my TBR last time but forgot to add to list)
Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark by Alvin Schwartz
The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
Life or Death by Michael Robotham
Inside The O'Briens by Lisa Genova
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
The Marvels by Brian Selznick
The Other Me by Saskia Sarginson
Unspeakable by Abbie Rushton
The Case of the Imaginary Detective by Karen Joy Fowler
City Atlas by Martin Haake and Georgia Cherry
Animalium: Welcome to the Museum by Jenny Broom & Katie Scott
Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories
The Chronicles of Narnia Box Set by C.S. Lewis
How It All Began by Penelope Lively
Making It Up by Penelope Lively
The Photograph by Penelope Lively
The Glass Cell by Patricia Highsmith
Those Who Walk Away by Patricia Highsmith
A Suspension of Mercy by Patricia Highsmith
Edith's Diary by Patricia Highsmith
The Marble Collector by Cecelia Ahern (first book of the year)
The Snow Queen & Other Winter Tales (Barnes & Noble Leatherbound)
Dickens at Christmas by Charles Dickens
A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg
Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
Winter Holiday by Arthur Ransome
Christmas Holiday by W. Somerset Maugham
If on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino
Miss Smilla's Feeling For Snow by Peter Hoeg
So, as you can see, my TBR has grown a far bit since I first started tracking it back in October, but I've found that detailing in this way really helps me to keep on top of it and not spiral out of control - as I'll admit it has done on a fair few occasions previously. Books stack up easily, and whilst it's true I have quite the stack, it's a manageable stack that I'm consistently working through.
From the list above you can see I have a good few books by the same author - (i.e. Penelope Lively, Lisa Unger and Patricia Highsmith), the reason for this is that I buy them in collections from The Book People because not only does it work out cheaper in cost, but it's a great way to try out a new to me author. I have actually read Patricia Highsmith's work before, but because I loved her writing so much I bought some new material to try. I also picked up a wintery Christmas collection early in December, I read a few of those but didn't get through the entire collection so that will be something nice to look forward to next winter. There are also a lot of standalone novels on my shelves that I'm really excited to get to including, The Marble Collector, You, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, The Marvels, and The Wolf Wilder.
I've decided that instead of making a post every so often to update my TBR, I'll be making a separate page on my blog dedicated to it, so those who are interested in my TBR progress can just take a look at that page every now and then which can be found up the top of my blog alongside the other header pages.

Monday, 4 January 2016

2016 | Bookish Goals

I don't tend to do New Years Resolutions as such, more goals - I don't know, I just find the thought of goal setting more achievable than resolutions. I've a funny old mind. Anyway, today I wanted to share a few of the things I hope to achieve in 2016.

| Stick to my book buying challenge of 4 books to be bought a month |
I've been toing and froing as to whether the books should be carried over each month if no books were bought, but I've ultimately decided not to. It'll be a use it or lose it policy.

| Read more new to me authors |
For a long time I used to only read tried and true authors, sticking within my reading comfort zone, but I've been working on reading more new to me authors for a year or so now and it has been working out quite well. I've discovered some new favourite authors by doing this, and hope to continue.

| Make better use of Goodreads |
I've never been that great at tracking my reading, but in the new year I hope to improve on that. I know it'll take a while to get in the habit of, but I hope to update Goodreads as and when I start and finish a book. I don't do a Goodreads reading challenge, and so I don't think to automatically update Goodreads like some others perhaps do.

| Participate in a read-a-thon |
This is kind of a scary one for me, but I'm going to bite the bullet this year and participate in a read-a-thon.

| Make note of more book quotes |
This is something I picked up recently, and I have no idea why I didn't start it sooner. Some of my favourite quotes come from books and this year I hope to write down quotes that particularly speak to me.

| Delve in to the world of second hand books |
This probably sounds a little crazy to some of you, but I don't own any second hand books. I don't know why, I have no prejudice against preloved things, I donate plenty of my own books to charity shops and such like, but have yet to make space for any on my own shelves. Also, other bloggers seem to find some really great deals when thrifting books. The trouble I have with this particular goal is a lack of independent / second hand bookshops locally. I have an idea up my sleeve for this one so we'll see how it pans out.
| End the year with no more than 15 books on my TBR |
If you haven't been able to tell already, I'm becoming much more conscious about my book buying and how many books I accumulate. I think we've all been there at one time or other where our collection is a little out of control. I think this is a doable goal, so long as I keep on top of my reading for the year, and stuck to my very first goal too!
| Start including children's books on my blog |
I don't know if all of you know, but I do have a toddler aged son and we read - A LOT! In the new year I hope to include more of the books we read together here on the blog. Don't worry though, it won't affect my current content or the days that I currently post, children's books will featured on an additional day.
| Continue participating and interacting within the book blogging community |
I'm quite an indecisive person, and along with that comes being flitty - I jump from one thing to another - but one thing I always return to is the book blogging community. I hope to remain present here for the year, and many more to come, because honestly I just love it here!
Happy New Year to you all - I'd love to know about your goals for the new year!
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