Friday, 27 October 2017

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

Everyone wants to be a Roanoke girl.

But you won't when you know the truth.

Lane Roanoke is fifteen when she comes to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin at the Roanoke family's rural estate following the suicide of her mother. Over one long, hot summer, Lane experiences the benefits of being one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls.

But what she doesn't know is being a Roanoke girl carries a terrible legacy: either the girls run, or they die. For there is darkness at the heart of Roanoke, and when Lane discovers its insidious pull, she must make her choice...

Initially, I wasn't sure whether to write a full review of The Roanoke Girls, or even how to whilst keeping it spoiler free to be honest, however this book totally blew me away; it is just the kind of book I want to review and rave about here on Reading with Jade.

I'd heard some things about this title before going in, namely that the plot is pretty twisted and that there was one dysfunctional family in store for me - both of which being very much true. The Roanoke Girls is by far one of the darkest books I've read in a long while.

Having spend one life changing summer at the Roanoke family residence in Kansas, Lane Roanoke begrudgingly finds herself back there again years later following the disappearance of her cousin, Allegra. The secret of the Roanoke family is well guarded, but Lane knows all too well what happens to the Roanoke Girls and is determined to find out exactly what happened to her cousin. Allegra and Lane formed quite the connection that summer a number of years ago, and she just can't let her disappearance be.

The story is told through Lane's eyes with alternating 'Then' and 'Now' chapters, plus snippets interspersed regarding other generations of Roanoke Girls. Personally I think this story telling method worked well with the unfolding of the plot, especially the mystery, however I do feel like it meant one side of the story was told more than others, leaving me wanting more information on certain aspects of the plot... This is what dropped my rating of The Roanoke Girls to a four star read.

I don't want to spoil the plot, however with a book such as this covering a sensitive topic, I think it important to state that abuse & incest run deep in this book. It is not an easy read by any means, but definitely a page turner that will leave you feeling all the negative emotions (but in a good way). I think the way in which the plot is handled is a credit to Amy Engel's writing, and I was captivated by her words - there are so many passages within the narrative of The Roanoke Girls that are painfully beautiful.

The characters are strong but flawed, the plot is bold and yet subtle with writing that is grippingly uncomfortable.

The Roanoke Girls is not a light read, nor one you go into lightly, however if you're someone who regularly reads dark books then I recommend this title to you.


Wednesday, 25 October 2017

The Treatment by C.L. Taylor

| I received my copy of The Treatment via Netgalley for review purposes |

"You have to help me. We’re not being reformed. We’re being brainwashed.”

All sixteen year old Drew Finch wants is to be left alone. She's not interested in spending time with her mum and stepdad and when her disruptive fifteen year old brother Mason is expelled from school for the third time and sent to a residential reform academy she's almost relieved.

Everything changes when she's followed home from school by the mysterious Dr Cobey, who claims to have a message from Mason. There is something sinister about the ‘treatment’ he is undergoing. The school is changing people.

Determined to help her brother, Drew must infiltrate the Academy and unearth its deepest, darkest secrets.

Before it’s too late.

The Treatment is a thriller novel written for a young adult audience. As many of my readers know, YA can be pretty hit or miss for me, however C.L. Taylor nailed it with this one. Although all in all I landed on a four star rating instead of a five, I would happily recommend this book to others.

I'm not going to lie though, I think one of the main reasons I enjoyed The Treatment so much is because of the genre in which it falls, but also because there was next to no romance involved.

Intriguing the reader from the get go, we are pulled into the mysteries of Norton House, a residential reform school, and are left paging turning from there on out as Drew tries to unravel exactly what is happening there as well as to her brother, a pupil at the school.

Characters within The Treatment are well plotted, especially that of main character Drew, and the story itself is quite well paced. Having said that, there were parts of plot that I did think were either rushed over in resolution or rather convenient to the goings on... This is where my four star rating comes in.

The book is kind of dark in nature; Drew being bullied in school, a dad who has disappeared, some pretty shady government involvement, and that's all before mentioning 'the treatment' that is referenced in the title. Without giving away too much, some scenes are quite heart pounding, and Drew finds herself on quite the rollercoaster, however regardless of the emotion being depicted the scenes feel authentic and well written.

I would be interested in reading more titles by C.L. Taylor... I don't know how I've managed to miss her adult fiction!


Friday, 20 October 2017

Blog Posts I've Enjoyed Lately (2)

With so much content being shared within the blogging community - bookish and otherwise - it is impossible to keep up with everything (even your favourites), so with no fixed regularity I'll be compiling a list of links sharing a number of blog posts I've enjoyed lately.

Running on Words and Wine | Thrilling Fall Reads
One Reader's Thoughts... | Favourite Female Detectives
Sarah's Book Shelves | When Questionable Editorial Decisions Torpedo Books (an interesting discussion post)
The Bookish Libra | Discussion Post: The Struggles of Blog Commenting and Why We Should Do It Anyway
Modern Mrs Darcy | 7 Free and Easy Ways to Support Your Favorite Authors
Book Riot | Life Advice from Little Women: 25 Uplifting Quotes To Live By (because Little Women is an absolute classic)
The Bandar Blog | Frightfully Awful: 10 Favorite Villians in Literature
Paper Fury | 10 Annoying Questions Bookworms Get Asked That Just Make No Sense
Lindsay's Library | Autumn Aesthetic: 14 Fall-ish Book Covers (all the autumnal vibes from these covers)
Novel Visits | Fall Favorites from Yesteryear
Goodreads | 24 Great New Paperbacks to Pick Up Now (paperbacks are my favourite to read)
Bustle | 12 Ways You Could Be Getting More Out Of Your Local Library
Smiling Shelves | Some of My Favorite Middle Grade Books

Bookworm & Theatre Mouse | Glorious Guernsey
Read All The Things! | Rant: Can We Please Not Make Assumptions (sort of bookish but sort of not)
Novel North | Reasons to Love Autumn

Happy perusing!

Monday, 16 October 2017

First & Foremost, Be A Reader

You may have looked at the title of this post and thought 'well I am a reader', especially if like me you're a bookworm who talks about books on the internet, however I think as book bloggers we can often fall into the trap of wearing our 'book blogger' hat all the time. I don't mean all day long of course, but when it comes to books and reading experiences.

I know this because of things I see in the community, but also because of my own experiences. It's safe to say we've all slumped at some point in our time as a book blogger; it's likely that you had one of many slumps just this year (doesn't it seem like each & every one of us book bloggers has had a slump this year?!). Reading slumps are normal; we all need a break sometimes. And sometimes that means a break from your book blogger hat also.

I don't want this post to be a long and ramble-y one as the point I want to make is quite simple.

First and foremost, be a reader.

As book bloggers we pick up specific books because they are due for review, we feel the pressure of a mounting TBR, some wish they had the current buzz book, you may analyse a book as part your review process, you need to take a photo before picking up that new paperback and delving in. I get it. I'm not saying these are bad habits & traits of a book blogger... I am a book blogger after all and have fallen foul to a few of these things. Just remember, you wouldn't be a book blogger if it wasn't for your love of reading in the first place.

Pick up a book every now and again that isn't for review or blog purposes. Reread those favourites without worrying how others may not want to hear about your fifth visit to a world and characters you know and love. Wander a bookshop or library without a list of books to hand that have been rec'ed by other bloggers - let the books seek you. Spend time reading the backlist books of an author you've just discovered and adore. Don't put undue pressure on yourself to get a post up because you have to stick to that schedule of yours.

Be a book blogger (it is great!) but first & foremost, be a reader.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

READING WITH MY THREE YEAR OLD | Library Book Haul (October)

For this month's instalment of 'Reading with my Son', I thought I'd share some of the titles he has recently borrowed from the library.

Here in the UK this week, 9th October - 14th October, is libraries week. The week is one for showcasing all the benefits and positives of our library systems and celebrating all the good a library can do for a community - whether that be a local town library or a school library etc. As many of you know, I do advocate the use of libraries here on Reading with Jade... As a reader I regularly borrow titles, new and old, from my local library and as a parent I make a point of visiting the library with my son every week or so.

Below you'll find five children's books we've loved and enjoyed over the past couple of weeks, all borrowed from the library, and also renewed as they were loved that much!

A traditional counting rhyme with awesome superhero powers (and a super shiny red foil cover!)
Evil super villain Monstro and his dastardly League of Bad Guys look set to destroy the city, will the Super Hero Kids have the super powers to defeat them?

This series offers familiar settings and popular characters, with lots of things to spot and count on every page in a variety of action packed settings, set within a clever reworking of a traditional counting rhyme, weaving a clever tale which provides a rich and effective first step to learning.

Fans of Thomas & Friends can experience all the action from the hit movie in this exciting storybook!

When Thomas travels off the Island of Sodor, he’s in for a big adventure … but what if he can’t make it back? Relive the excitement from the movie with Thomas, James and Percy, plus meet new engines Lexi, Theo and Merlin.

Tiger is fast asleep. But — oh dear! — she’s completely blocking the way. Just how will the animals get past without waking her up? Luckily, Frog has an excellent idea. Holding his balloon, he floats right over sleeping Tiger! Fox is next, followed by Tortoise, Mouse, and Stork, but it will be tricky for them all to get past without Tiger noticing. It’s good that the reader is there to help keep Tiger asleep, but where exactly are the animals going with all those big shiny balloons?

Whoever heard of a vegetarian T. rex?

Everyone knows that tyrannosauruses are big and scary, so when a placid duckbill dinosaur's egg ends up in the wrong nest confusion is sure to ensue! When the baby dinosaur hatches out, he's so out of place that his grisly big sisters call him Tyrannosaurus Drip. Poor little Drip: all he wants is a quiet life munching on water weed . . .

Written by the acclaimed Julia Donaldson and illustrated by the award-winning David Roberts, Tyrannosaurus Drip is a rhyming story that's full of fun!

Troll is fed up with eating boring old goats, so off he strolls in search of some scrumptious children. But the little boy on the bike insists that the four children in the car behind him would be FAR tastier than him. And - look! - those children in the school bus behind would be yummier still . . . But the children in the big digger are looking hungry, too. It's time for that terrible Troll to make a quick exit!

All of the titles I'm sharing today were well received by Alexander, but of the bunch, I'd definitely say Troll Stroll was his favourite.
If you'd like to learn more about Libraries Week you can check the website out here. 

I want to end this post by saying wherever in the world you are, if you have local library system, then please support them in some way or other.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Reading Middle Grade Fiction as an Adult

Today's post is a topic I've wanted to write about for a while... Adults reading middle grade titles.

I feel like nowadays it is definitely more 'acceptable' to be an adult reading YA fiction, however not quite so for an adult reading MG fiction.

'Oh, isn't that a children's book?'

Three years ago now I picked up my first middle grade book to read as an adult, and I distinctly remember the book also - The Girl Who Walked On Air by Emma Carroll. I was absolutely enthralled in the story and felt like it was filling a reading void that I'd been experiencing.

Having now read more and more middle grade books, I understand exactly why it is that I love MG so much.

Prior to picking up a middle grade title, alongside reading adult fiction, I read books aimed at a young adult audience.

Middle grade books have now replaced YA for me...

Whilst I do still read the occasional YA title, I had struggled with various genres within the YA bracket as so many of the books feature romance, and as a reader I'm just not that interested in that.

I'm a big fan of reading about relationships, however those of the friendship variety and family bonds also, and these themes play a large role in middle grade titles. There is so much more to MG than relationships of course, with the imagination, adventure and curiosity being other elements I enjoy.

There are some truly amazing books to be found within the middle grade section of a bookstore/library, and some really talented authors. Just because a book is aimed at a younger audience, that doesn't mean it can't be enjoyed by an adult - an adult wrote it after all.

Judgement and book snobbery are a real thing, sadly, however I'm a firm believer in reading what you want to read & what brings you joy... I'm an adult, and enjoy reading middle grade fiction.

And I'm not the only one! I took to the blogging community and here are what others have said about being adults who read middle grade fiction.

'My favourite stories are the imaginative ones. Middle grade is old enough to have a strong plot and good characterization, but young enough to have a lot of heart and a lot of imagination.'
You can find Jennifer on her blog - Book Den - where she shares all things bookish as well as on Twitter.

'As an adult I don't consider the age group a book is for but simply if I'm going to enjoy the tale. Some wonderful authors are entering the world of fiction and I think it is only fair that we get to enjoy their writing too. Finally - as I am a teacher I am always looking to books that will inspire students to read, especially if they are books in my subject which is History.'
BookwormTheatreMouse blogs about books & more and can be found on Twitter too.

'I started reading MG because I had young kids & wrote reviews for FamilyFun magazine, but my sons are now 19 and 23 now & I still read MG because many MG novels are wonderfully written with compelling stories. Being every bit as interesting & engaging as grown up books; I enjoy variety.'
Over on Book By Book Sue shares not only her own reads but that of her family too. She also regularly reviews MG titles, which you can find here. Sue can also be found on Twitter.

As well as having other readers of middle grade books contributing to this post, I'm incredibly honoured to also be sharing a few words by EMMA CARROLL - my favourite MG storyteller - on why she writes books for a middle grade audience.

'People still ask me if I'm going to write an adult book one day- as if this is what I should really be aiming for. My answer? Always an incredulous 'No, why would I?' Writing for middle grade readers is an absolute honour because you're shaping future readers. If we get it wrong, we're potentially switching off all those people who'll go on to read YA and adult books. It's also an age group I particularly love- on the cusp of complicated emotional stuff, yet still believing in magic. I'm fascinated by this, as I think my stories probably show!'
Emma Carroll is a former English teacher turned full time writer, with her most recent middle grade title - Letters from the Lighthouse - being published earlier this year.

If you're an adult who reads, or writes, middle grade fiction, then I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Stories for Homes: Volume 2 (Blog Tour)

A home is something most of us have the luxury of taking for granted but for many it is a grim struggle to obtain what should be a basic necessity. Stories for Homes is a collection of witty, poignant, funny and heartbreaking short stories by fifty five authors, both established and emerging, reflecting the connection between the immediacy of housing crisis and the stories people tell about their lives around and within it. Volume Two of the anthology includes stories, poems and flash fiction and again all proceeds will be donated to Shelter, the charity for housing and homelessness.  

Today it is an honour and a pleasure to be taking part in the Stories for Homes blog tour, showcasing this truly marvellous book - not only are the stories wonderfully well written, including some truly talented authors in this collection, with all proceeds from Stories for Homes going to an amazing cause: Shelter, a UK charity that assists with housing issues and homelessness.

This particular volume of Stories for Homes is dedicated to those affected by the horrendous Grenfell Tower fire.

Inside Stories for Homes there are fifty five tales, told through a few different storytelling methods, with something for everyone and every mood - comforting stories, uplifting ones, melancholy tales, stories with humour weaved in, those with happy endings and more.

The selection of writers within this story collection is phenomenal; I found myself enjoying each and every piece of fiction, for different reasons, ultimately concluding my read with a five star rating.

Some of my favourites include....
The Tiger Who Came Back to Apologise by Jan Carson
Maude's Bungalow by David John Griffin
Straw Houses by Caroline Hardman
Day 89 by Giselle Delsol
How Wonderful You Are by Many Berriman
Safi by Jacqueline Paizis
Real Comfort Food by Sal Page

Depending who you talk to, home will have a different meaning and feeling, something which is greatly highlighted in this book. That, and the fact that home isn't always an idealistic physical thing.

Stories for Homes: Volume 2 is a raw and emotive collection of written works, bringing to light issues surrounding housing and home, all for a good cause... I couldn't recommend this book enough!

Want to keep up with the Stories for Homes Blog Tour?


Sunday, 1 October 2017

WHAT I READ | September

September has been a crazy busy month for myself and my little family. We've officially moved house, after weeks & weeks of prepping the new house to be moved in to, and we still have a good amount of work ahead of us - ticking the tasks off at a slow but steady pace. Despite all that has been going on, I've tried to set aside time for myself every now and again - not necessarily daily - to read. Honestly that, and the thought of when the house will actually be finished, is what has helped me keep my sanity over this past month or so!

I started the month of September with a review title - House. Tree. Person. by Catriona McPherson. The book is of the mystery / suspense variety and although my reading experience was quite up and down, I'd be interested in more of the author's work. You can read my full review here.

Sticking with books darker in nature, I then moved on to Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire. This is definitely one of those titles I picked up because of buzz I'd heard surrounding it, and I'm happy I did so. The story itself is relatively short - I read it in a 24 hour time span - with an overall premise that leads me to look forward to more books by the author... With this title being noted on Goodreads as 'Wayward Children #1', I'm keen to see where else this world takes us.

In my autumn reading list I shared that some of the titles I hope to read this season include the Bill Hodges trilogy by Stephen King, and so Mr Mercedes was the next book I picked up. It took me a lot longer to get through this title than the previous two, but that has more to do with life busyness than the actual book itself.

Following on from Mr Mercedes, I moved on to the second book in the trilogy - Finders Keepers - as well as starting to dipping in and out of a short story collection - Stories for Homes - which I'll be sharing a little more about in the next few days as I'm taking part in the blog tour for this particular title.

I'm ending September part way through the third and final book in the Bill Hodges trilogy - End of Watch. I've been thoroughly enjoying this series of books, that can also be read as standalones, and would recommend them to those who read crime thrillers.

Happy reading in October!
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