Thursday, 29 December 2016

Most Popular Book Reviews of 2016

For my last post of the year I decided to compile a list of my most popular book reviews written within the year of 2016.

I read a total of 74 books over the past twelve months, with 23 reviews being written. As you can see, I don't review all the books I read. I don't really have a formula to which books I do review here on my blog, and which I don't, however I would say I tend to write reviews for the books I want to shout about and recommend to others.

Below is a list of my ten most viewed book review posts from 2016.


Tuesday, 27 December 2016

BOOK TALK | Favourite Books of 2016

As the year draws to a close, it is time we reflect upon all that transpired in the rather unexpected year of 2016, and whilst there are a number of things to look back on (both good and bad), here in the bookish community it means time to reflect upon all the stories and authors we discovered in the year.

Reading wise, 2016 was a pretty good year for me. I was able to delve into the world of Narnia for the first time, revisit Hogwarts and the wizarding world, as well as devour the words of tried and true favourite authors of mine whilst also discovering new to me authors I'd like read more of... Goodreads informs me that more than 50% of the books I read this year were 4 & 5 star reads - as I said, a pretty good year, right?!

Often times it can be hard recollecting the books you read within a year, without consulting Goodreads, and whittling those titles down to just ten near impossible, but I found compiling my list of top ten books of the year pretty easy. The books I've shared below were all stand out reads for this year, and titles + authors I'd happily recommend others pick up and read.

Books are not listed in a ranking system, but in the order in which I read them.



Tuesday, 20 December 2016

A New Look For Reading With Jade

I've been talking about wanting to smarten up the look of 'Reading With Jade' for quite some time now, and I've finally gone and done just that!

Whilst I love and admire the beautiful illustrated designs on other blogs, bookish and otherwise, I knew with my design change I still wanted to keep things pretty minimal around here. I like having a monochrome design, and keeping the general look of my blog pretty 'basic'... Honestly one of those reasons is largely because too much fuss is a bit rough on my eyes as I have sensitivity to certain colours and lights etc.

Being very non technical, I decided to look about for a company in which to purchase a Blogger template from... The one name that kept popping up was Pipdig - the company offers templates for both Blogger and Wordpress, and all of them are super reasonably priced. After talking to a fellow blogging friend, who also used Pipdig for a new blog design, I purchased a template and as they say... The rest is history. I opted to have my template installed for me for free, as I literally know nothing about the technical side of blogging, and within 48 hours I had my new swanky blog design.

I know the basic monochrome look isn't for everyone - but feel free to share your thoughts on the new look in the comments.

This was just a little post to acknowledge the change. There will be no new content up here until after Christmas now, so I wish you all a wonderful Christmas! I will be back on the 27th with my favourite reads of 2016 - I'm so excited to read these posts from other bloggers also!!

Friday, 16 December 2016

READING GOALS (2017) | Five Authors I'd Like to Read in 2017

With each passing year I try step outside my reading comfort zone by picking up some new to me authors, and every now and then new to me genres also. In doing so, I don't typically have anything specific in mind, just to reach outside my reading realms, however for this coming new year I've put together a little list of authors whose work I hope to discover for the first time and also some I'd just like to read more of.

I've been meaning to pick up the historical fiction works of Philippa Gregory for the longest time now, seriously years! More specifically, I hope to delve into the Cousins's War series. I've actually already bitten the bullet and own the six books within the series... Now just to read them! Historical fiction isn't something I read often, but when I do I tend to enjoy it, and I've heard many great things about Philippa Gregory's writing.

Most known for his romantic fiction, it's safe say that Sparks is a well known author with a large number of books under his belt. I feel like I've read at least one of his books, although I'm not 100% certain on that as I could just be confusing it with having watched a film adaptation of his writing - I know I have definitely watched a film version. Again, romantic fiction isn't something I typically pick up as I can find it to be a bit cheesy, but I know many people who are fans of his work.

Now King is an author that is more within my reading comfort zone - reads of a darker nature - but I've barely scratched the surface of his impressive list of books. I currently have the first two books in the Bill Hodges trilogy on my unread shelf, and so of course I'd like to read those, but I'm also keen on seeing what Stephen King books my local library carries.

I've been wanting to read the Dublin Murder Squad series for quite some time now, and I've decided 2017 is the year in which I'll finally delve into Tana French's work.

Some of you may know that YA can be very hit and miss for me, but one YA author I'm really keen to read the works of is Maggie Stiefvater. I'm hoping my library carries some of her books, as it isn't the kind of thing I'd buy, but I'm interested in the Shiver trilogy as well as The Raven Cycle.



Wednesday, 14 December 2016

READING GOALS (2017) | Rereading in 2017

As the year draws closer to an end, I've started thinking about my goals for the new year, including the way I'm approaching reading in 2017. I've already shared about my shift in mind set that will largely play a part in my reading and book buying, and today I'm sharing about my plans to reread a book a month in 2017.

In terms of bookish goals, 2016 was very much about making a dent in my unread shelf, and tackling my ever expanding book collection. Due to this, I didn't really get to do much of one my favourite bookish things - reread. Don't get me wrong, I did reread a good amount, just not as much as I'd have liked to. I thought about picking up certain books from my shelves, but ultimately didn't delve into them as I wanted to continue checking books off my unread shelf.

Whilst taking a more minimalist approach to reading, book buying, and pretty much all things bookish in the new year, it seems like the perfect time to pick up those books I didn't get round to rereading.

I plan to reread one book from my shelves every month in 2017.














Monday, 12 December 2016

READING GOALS (2017) | Reading in the New Year...


I feel like this past year has been one I will look back on fondly, and remember it as the year I definitively changed the way I saw books, reading, book buying, book blogging - basically all the bookish things.

Back in August I shared a post titled 'How Do You Build Your Book Collection?', in which I talked about how the way in which I curate my book collection has evolved over time, and I have a different way of looking at book buying now. Throughout the years in which I've built my book collection, it is at one of its smallest sizes, and I feel the most happy about it. Something that I feel really helped me with this is the fact that I implemented a book buying limit in 2016 - I was to buy just four books a month.

Prior to this year I was very much someone who amassed a lot of books. I browsed book buying sites often - purchasing regularly, I spent the majority of my own personal money on books, I couldn't leave a bookshop without a new book in hand, I happily popped a book or two in my shopping trolley whilst getting the groceries - I wouldn't say I was obsessively buying books, but I would say I bought far too many books.

2016 was my year to tackle all those unread books on my shelf, as well as do something about that book buying of mine. I did think I would struggle with the book buying ban, but honestly, I surprised myself! There were a couple of months where I bought eight books instead of four, and there were months where I bought no books at all. But I'm drawing 2016 to a close happy with how I've handled the goal - because whilst to some it would seem I failed having bought more than four books some months, to me the goal was there as a guide not a rule.

In the new year, I'm going to be taking things one step further. It isn't a goal, guide, or rule - it is something that I know will happen as my mindset on all things bookish has evolved and I'm in a really good place now with books and reading.

There is no limit, no number to abide by, I won't be buying x amount of books a month - I will be more intentional in my book buying. This coming year I'm going to be focusing more on the reading, not the amassing of books, but the experience of reading and books, and sharing in that with my bookworm son.

Once a month - no set time within the month - we will head on out to a bookshop and immerse ourselves in books. We'll pick them up, we'll have a read, we'll wile away some time in all things bookish, and we'll come away from the shop with a book or two. Not a pile, not a stack, not a whole bag full but a book or two. I may buy the occasional book elsewhere, I may not.

I want to focus more on the act of reading and the experience of being enveloped in words and stories. This is why I fell in love with reading. This is why I spend most of my spare time reading. This is why I share reading - both here on my blog and in real life with my son. It all began with the act of reading, and this is where I hope to return.

In many ways I'm returning to my reading roots, and in doing so, I will also become more active in borrowing books from my local library system.

It will be a shift of sorts visiting the bookshop only once a month, but I won't feel like I'm missing out - if anything, I'll find it enriching more than anything, being able to share in the pleasure of a bookshop with my son, and it being a meaningful activity.

Whilst I love book blogging, I feel like at times it can put a pressure on us bloggers as readers - I've heard many people within the book blogging community voice such an opinion, and I definitely get that. This past year has taught me that there is no need for the pressure, for a toppling TBR that is uncontrollable, for wishing you had the newest titles out, for wanting to own all the books.

I read because I love it - I love falling into the lives of fictional characters, of returning to worlds that bring me comfort and joy, discovering new to me truly talented authors, and being blown away by words on a page.

I read, and then I write. I write here on my blog about books because I want to shout about a given author or book, I want to share thoughts on books that others may like also, I want to connect with other bookish people who are passionate about reading too.

These are two activities I love and enjoy - reading and blogging - and I don't want unnecessary pressure taking away from them.


Friday, 9 December 2016

Winter Magic by Abi Elphinstone + More

Winter Magic is an anthology of short stories all revolving around the winter season, written by a number of children's authors. The collection was curated by Abi Elphinstone, who also has a story of her own within the book, alongside ten other authors. The author that drew me to the book initially was Emma Carroll, who is my favourite middle grade author, and her story within definitely didn't disappoint. Although going in knowing only the one author, I've come away wanting to read the entire works of all the authors inside!

Captivating from the very introduction, Winter Magic is the kind of book that's great to dip in and out of, enveloping you in warm winter fuzzies with every page you turn. Naturally, with a collection of short stories like this, certain stories are going to be favoured over others and below I'm sharing with you my favourite five stories from within the book.

After leaving her Grandma in a care home, and travelling back through a busy London on a winter's night with her family, Maya soon finds herself in a very different kind of busy London... A London from many, many years ago. Having travelled through time with a gift given to her by her Grandma, Maya's world is turned upside down but ultimately changed for the better. A Night at the Frost Fair was a lovely opening to the eleven stories, and such an atmospheric read. Emma Carroll does winter so well.

Inspired by the renowned story of the Snow Queen, Orla finds herself on a journey of discovery after allowing her younger brother to fend for himself and ultimately be lead away by the 'Snow Queen'. This is one of those stories that has a strong core and leaves you with a  message concluding in a happy ending.

The Room with the Mountain View is a mystery read that's packed full of adventure and a little reminiscent of the film Rear Window by Alfred Hitchcock (as is noted within the story itself).

The only poem with this anthology, Snow is definitely one of the pages that wraps you up in those warm winter fuzzies that I mentioned before.

On the eve of Christmas, Phoebe is the only child left in a not so nice orphanage, with a rather horrible lady in charge who does nothing but put Phoebe down and belittle her - seriously, this woman is vile! Locked in a dog kennel outside of the orphanage building itself, Phoebe is greeted by a snow dragon who is about to take his annual Christmas Eve flight, and Phoebe is welcomed along for the ride. This story is such a heart warming one and a wonderful ending to the collection as a whole.

There are a variety of themes, other than being centred around winter, running through the stories in Winter Magic and I loved that each story had its own personal message or moral portrayed to the reader. There really is something for everyone in this book - whether you're looking to time travel, play a leading role in the production of The Nutcracker, meet a Snow Queen, fly over land and sea on a Snow Dragon, or be transported back to the nostalgia of childhood and be full of wonder and curiosity as we all are as youngsters.

Winter Magic is one of those charming winter reads that I know I'll return to in the future... And one I also look forward to sharing with my son in a good few years.


Tuesday, 6 December 2016

A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg

Deep in the southernmost part of Alabama, along the banks of a lazy winding river, lies the sleepy little community known as Lost River, a place that time itself seems to have forgotten. After a startling diagnosis from his doctor, Oswald T. Campbell leaves behind the cold and damp of the oncoming Chicago winter to spend what he believes will be his last Christmas in the warm and welcoming town of Lost River. There he meets the postman who delivers mail by boat, the store owner who nurses a broken heart, the ladies of the Mystic Order of the Royal Polka Dots Secret Society, who do clandestine good works. And he meets a little redbird named Jack, who is at the center of this tale of a magical Christmas when something so amazing happened that those who witnessed it have never forgotten it. Once you experience the wonder, you too will never forget A Redbird Christmas.

If you're looking for a cosy, heart warming, slightly cliché read this Christmas, then A Redbird Christmas is the book for you.

As the book begins we meet Oswald T. Campbell, a lonely man who is coasting along living in Chicago, when he is informed that he doesn't have much time left and that another frigid winter in the windy city could very well be his last. After his diagnosis, and getting his very few affairs in order, Oswald finds himself in Lost River, a small town in the sunny south - doctors orders.

A Redbird Christmas is the kind of book that doesn't have a plot as such, more a character driven book where you're enveloped in a town and watching everything unfold. In this case, we see how Oswald's life changes drastically over the course of a year, as well as the other residents you come to know and love within Lost River.

Short and sweet, A Redbird Christmas is the kind of book that is full of wonder and charm, and that I see myself returning to in Christmases to come. I'm so glad to have started my Christmas reading with this title, and it has definitely put me in a festive mood.


Friday, 2 December 2016

BOOK TALK | Six Non-Fiction / Coffee Table Books I'd Gift

With Christmas approaching, naturally I've got to thinking about what I'll be gifting my nearest and dearest this year - although Christmas isn't about the gift giving for me, it is about the festive family time, I like to gift thoughtful presents to my loved ones as a way of showing that I'm thinking of them and appreciate them.

I don't have that many people to gift books to at this time of year - I just don't have many bookish family and friends - but I have been having a nosy at my own bookshelves and been thinking about which of those books would make good gifts.

Today, I'm sharing six of the non-fiction / coffee table books I own that would make great presents for others.

If you have a fellow bookworm in your life, or even fancy gifting yourself something this Christmas, then The Bookshop Book is the book for you! Jen Campbell takes us on the most magical of world tours, stopping off and hearing the stories of a variety of booksellers and their uniquely different bookshops. As the blurb on the book states: 'The Bookshop Book is a love letter to bookshops all around the world.'

I'm a very routine driven person, and I also happen to be quite a nosy person (I'll admit it!) and that combination lead me to love Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey. The book features the routines and daily rituals of 150+ artists, ranging from playwrights, novelists, scientists, philosophers, and many more creatives, opening your mind to how they produced some of their best work and the working conditions in which they thrived.

Most suitable for Brits, given the title, Very British Problems is an amusing and relatable read that would make a good gift for the person in your life who loves a good chuckle. As I said in my intro, I don't have many bookish people in my life, but this is the one title on my list that I will actually be gifting this Christmas.

Lost in Translation is an illustrated book featuring a collection of words from around the world that aren't directly translatable into English, but that have unique and beautiful meanings. Much like the meanings, Lost in Translation is a unique and beautiful book. With the combination of new to you words and stunning illustrations, this charming little book would make the perfect gift. At some point I would like to sit down and do a more thorough post on this book, perhaps even sharing some of my favourite words from the unusual dictionary.

I've linked all of the books featured in this gift guide on Goodreads, however 'The Art of...' encompasses more than one book - I have linked up to The Art of Up, one of my favourite books of this kind. The Art of books offer a behind the scenes look at the art of a number of animated films and TV shows. I own a couple of these books now, with my eye on a few more, and they would make a great gift for someone you know who has a favourite animated film.

Last, but by no means least, is City Atlas: Travel the World with 30 City Maps - a great book buy for a kid you know who loves geography and travel, or it would also make a nice family gift aiding them in finding their next adventure. I have a full review of this book, which you can find here, with the next paragraph being a snippet from said review: '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.'


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