Tuesday, 18 December 2018

2019 Book Releases I'm Looking Forward To

Today I wanted to share with you all some book releases I'm looking forward to in 2019 (how is 2019 just around the corner?!). 

I'm not usually one to make these kinds of posts - honestly, I'm often behind on book news, especially releases - but with a list that currently stands at ten I thought I'd write about these upcoming books that I'm excited about. 

I would love to read all ten of these in the new year, however, as a person who reads largely in paperback, I'll likely be waiting a little longer to pick some of these up... But keen and eager to read them nonetheless.

All title links will take you to Goodreads

It is no secret that I love Emma Carroll's books - she writes middle grade historical fiction - and that she is an auto buy author of mine. Her newest release is a short story collection, set in WW2, in which she will be introducing new characters, but also returning to some of her of other works, which I'm really looking forward to. 

Earlier this year I read Lucy Strange's debut novel - The Secret of Nightingale Wood - and was honestly in awe. Not only was it a stunning read that held me throughout, but it would be a contender as favourite book of the year, so of course when I heard she was releasing a new book I was all ears. From what I know of Our Castle by the Sea, it is a MG book set in WW2 with a female protagonist... It also has a really beautiful cover, much like her first release.

As a reader of Cait's blog (Paper Fury) for a good number of years now, I was keen to support her debut release of A Thousand Perfect Notes... And it was amazing! Strong characters, an emotion fuelled plot, little details that really made the story, and as a reader of Paper Fury there was Cait's writing stamp also. I loved it, and instantly knew I would auto buy her next release - The Boy Who Steals Houses.

I read The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw not too long ago - it is atmospheric, and enthralling, and the kind of book you find yourself wrapped up in. So of course, when I heard she had another book to be released in 2019, I was keen to hear more about it... I've actually been unable to find much out about it, other than the fact that it is to be a fantasy with a very short synopsis on Goodreads reading - '... an eerie forest deep in the snowy mountains, haunted by mystery and magic, where a boy thought dead suddenly returns.' I cannot wait... Except I have to, until at least autumn of next year.

Honestly, this is the book that gains the title of 'My Most Anticipated Book of 2019'. If, like me, you simply adored The Night Circus (an all time favourite book of mine), then I'm sure you're feeling the same way... And also a little nervous, because of expectation. I'm trying to not have expectations. But The Night Circus is phenomenal!!

I have come to absolutely love Michelle Paver's ghost stories, and am looking forward to being able to enjoy another from her. I wish I heard more about her books... It was only by chance that I stumbled upon this release.

Writer of gripping mystery thrillers, Riley Sager is set to release another such title this coming summer. I've read both of his previous novels, and I'd say he has become an auto buy author of mine.

When I heard Jane Harper was releasing a new book, I was keen for another in the Aaron Falk series, however The Lost Man is a standalone and one I will pick up regardless. I do believe this title is already out in Australia, but set for a February 2019 release here in the UK... June 2019 for me, as I'll be wanting paperback.

I know very little of this book, having only heard about it earlier on this month, but I've loved a couple of other David Nicholls titles and would be keen to read this new release of his coming in summer 2019. I love the way that David Nicholls writes ordinary lives.

I don't have much to say about this release, other than the fact that its one of those books I'm drawn to and feel like I need in my life.

What book releases are you looking forward to in 2019?

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Reading Record | Pages & Co: Tilly and the Bookwanderers by Anna James

My reading record posts are a way for me to document all things bookish and reading in my life - typically you will see these posts on a monthly basis, however readathons and certain books will have their own specific reading record.

Today I'm sharing with you the thoughts I jotted down whilst reading: Tilly and the Bookwanderers by Anna James. The thoughts I'm sharing below are of my reading experience, and whilst there is some detail to my thoughts, I have attempted to keep this post spoiler free as I do maintain a spoiler free blog.

When I first heard of Pages & Co I knew it was a series I would be keen to read. I do love a good middle grade read, especially one with magical elements and heavily focusing on books.

'"Be brave, be curious, be kind."'

A few thoughts... I love Tilly's grandparents. Also, it'll be fun deciphering all the books and characters referenced in passing. I believe Lizzie from Pride & Prejudice has just been featured. I'm craving a hot chocolate now too.

'"The books we love when we're growing up shape us in a special way, Tilly. The characters in the books we read help us decide who we want to be."'

This feels, and is proving to be so far, the kind of book you read from start to finish with a smile on your face because of the sheer beauty in pulling the plot together and the writing style in which it is told. 

Tilly, short for Matilda, is on her October half term (coincidentally, I've picked this book up during this exact school holiday of my son's) and it is looking like she is going to find an adventure in the bookshop - Pages & Co - owned by her grandparents (who are also her guardians as her dad died before she was born & her mum disappeared soon after her birth). 

There is a distinct warm, cosy and all-the-fuzzy-feels feeling when reading this book. I don't want to put it down!

PAGE 132
The bookish adventures have begun!

We have also been introduced to a new character in the form of Enoch Chalk... And with him mysteries have also arose.

PAGE 172
"What does that mean?" Tilly said, pointing. 
"It's Latin," Grandad explained. "It doesn't have an easy English translation, but the verb peregrinor means to travel about, to roam or to wander, so it essentially means "to read is to wander". It's the motto of the Underlibrary."'

PAGE 219
Alongside Till & Oskar (her friend), readers have just had an introduction in to the art of book wandering - and what a beautiful thing it is.

'"We are talking about book magic. Book wandering is, at its core, the magic of books and imagination pushed to its limit, and then tipped over a little bit further. There are millions of readers across the world and throughout time who have loved books, who can vividly imagine their favourite scenes and characters, who have real and important relationships with books, but there are only a handful of us who can wander. I'm afraid there aren't any spells or magic words, and limited numbers of dragons and witches, but we are definitely dealing with magic."'

And so this beauty of a book has finished, sadly. I look forward to seeing how this series progresses.

Tilly and the Bookwanderers was a delight to read - with family, friendship and the magic of books at its core.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

November Reviews | Winter Cottage, The Light Between Worlds + We Are All Made of Stars



- source: for review -
Still grieving the loss of her wandering, free-spirited mother, Lucy Kincaid leaves Nashville for the faded town of Cape Hudson, Virginia. She goes to see the house she's inherited - one she never knew existed, bequeathed to her by a woman she's never met. At the heart of this mystery is the hope that maybe - just maybe - this 'Winter Cottage' will answer to the endless questions about her mother's past... including the identity of her birth father.

Rather than the quaint Virginian bungalow Lucy expected, Winter Cottage is a grand old estate of many shadows - big enough to hold a century of secrets, passions, and betrayals. It also comes with a handsome and enigmatic stranger, a man next in line to claim Lucy's inheritance.

Now, as Lucy sifts through the past, uncovering the legacy of secrets that Winter Cottage holds, she'll come to discover as much about her family history as she does about herself. In searching, she could finally find the one thing she's never really had: a home.

The story begins with us meeting Mrs Buchanan, a wealthy elderly lady from a small Southern town - being 100 years of age, she has been a resident for a long time and has seen it all. Which is why high school student, Beth Jessup is focusing on Mrs Buchanan for a high school project looking at living history. As the opening chapter continues, Mrs Buchanan shares that she would like her story heard, and for a price Beth agrees to continue videoing her and her story. 

In the next chapter, after a timespan of thirty years, we are introduced to Lucy Kincaid - the daughter of high schooler Beth we met in the previous chapter. After the passing of her mother, some family secrets are uncovered and Lucy finds herself back in Beth's hometown - not only to scatter her ashes, but also to receive some inheritance she knew absolutely nothing about. That inheritance being Winter Cottage.

With the story set, we then continue alternating between past and present with many characters being met and stories unfolding. Winter Cottage is definitely one of those books that needs your sole focus and good concentration - keeping up with the characters, the plot, noticing the ties between people - but it is also the kind of story you find yourself falling into very easily. 

Unravelling long held secrets, in a town that keeps them so well, isn't easy - but through the pages of Winter Cottage we come to learn Lucy Kincaid's family history and about the power, strength and courage that comes with loving another.

- source: my bookshelf -
Five years ago, Evelyn and Philippa Hapwell cowered from air strikes in a London bomb shelter. But that night took a turn when the sisters were transported to another realm called the Woodlands. In a forest kingdom populated by creatures out of myth and legend, they found temporary refuge. 

When they finally returned to London, nothing had changed at all - nothing, except themselves.

Now, Ev spends her days sneaking into the woods outside her boarding school, wishing for the Woodlands. Overcome with longing, she is desperate to return no matter what it takes.

Philippa, on the other hand, is determined to find a place in this world. She shields herself behind a flawless exterior and countless friends, and moves to America to escape the memory of what was.

But when Evelyn goes missing, Philippa must confront the depth of her sister's despair and the painful truths they've been running from. As the weeks unfold, Philippa wonders if Ev truly did find a way home, or if the weight of their worlds pulled her under.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't initially drawn to The Light Between Worlds because of the cover - have you seen it?! Its a beauty! However, I soon read the synopsis and knew it was a book I wanted to read.

Having spent a number of years in the fantasy land of the Woodlands, the Hapwell siblings find themselves back in London during the WW2; the exact time and place in which they had left. It was as if nothing had happened at all... And yet so much had.

We meet Evelyn Hapwell at a turning point in her life - she has tried to settle back into life at home, but her home isn't post war London or her boarding school or even being surrounding by her family, Evelyn's home is the Woodlands. Having been supported & protected by her elder sister, Philippa, for so long, Evelyn struggles even more when Philippa heads off to America in search of her own life.

The concept of seeing an individual return to the regular world after having experienced a fantasy one is what intrigued me about the plot of The Light Between Worlds. Although we see small snippets of the Woodlands, I would personally categorise this book as YA historical fiction, as opposed to YA fantasy... Although of course it is a little mix of both.

The Light Between Worlds is an incredibly sad book, and hard to read at times, with depression and self harm being deep rooted to the plot. Having said that, it is also an incredibly beautiful story - the author has a very poetic/lyrical writing style, telling the story in a way that you easily get wrapped up in it.

I really liked the way in which all three main characters (the Hapwell siblings) were written, and the sibling dynamic between them. I also enjoyed the supporting characters of Tom & Jack - I guess you'd call these two young men Evelyn & Philippa's love interests, but I feel like they were so much more than that. In particular, Tom (& his family) have lingered with me long after finishing this book.

Laura Weymouth has weaved a wonderfully compelling read in the form of The Light Between Worlds - she has delicately & authentically tackled plot points darker in nature, crafted a story in which themes such as identity can be relatable to readers, created characters you care for, and written in the most beautiful tone... This is Laura Weymouth's debut novel, and I look forward to reading future work of hers.

- source: library borrow -
Stella Carey exists in a world of night. Married to an ex-soldier, she leaves the house every evening as Vincent locks himself away, along with the scars and the secrets he carries.

During her nursing shifts, Stella writes letters for her patients to their loved ones - full of humour, love, and practical advice, others steeped in regret - and promises to post these messages after their deaths. 

Until one night Stella writes the letter that could give her patient one last chance of redemption, if she delivers it in time...

Okay, I'm putting a statement out there: Rowan Coleman has fast become a new favourite author of mine. I've read just two of her books now - with plans to steadily work through some more of her backlist - and I've totally fallen in love with her writing style, but especially the way in which she writes her characters; the depth of them, the actions they undertake, the emotions they feel. Rowan Coleman writes characters with such love, care and attention - you can feel that when reading.

In We Are All Made of Stars we meet Stella, a nurse who works the night shift at the Marie Francis hospice, a woman who ploughs her love and attention into those around her whilst almost neglecting herself. There are three quite different plotlines and protagonists in this book, with Stella's story being tied up in Hope & Hugh's also. I don't want to say too much about the plot itself, as it is one that hits you the most when reading for the first time with little to no impression.

What I will say though is that at the core of We Are All Made of Stars you'll find grief and kindness - two contrasting themes, but a pair that go hand in hand, as this story perfectly highlights.

As the story unfolds, with each passing chapter being in the voice of one of three protagonists I've mentioned above, you'll find interspersed letters that Stella has been writing for patients - last words to loved ones - and they are one of my favourite things about this book, making it in so many ways. Each letter is distinct and diverse, whilst being thought provoking and life affirming.

I'm going to wrap up this review by sharing two quotes that I noted down from We Are All Made of Stars - one is in reference to letter writing, and the other to the theme of kindness that runs through this book.

'I learned that what people say has a thousand times more meaning when it's written down. On the page, the words become immortal, beautiful, personal, heartfelt and special. They are words that will always be there, to be read again and again, and again. A letter is a memory that will never be lost, will never fade, or be forgotten.'

'"Kindness changes everything,' Grace said. 'You can't worry about the rest of the world, never mind the rest of the universe. All you can do is look to your left and your right and try to be kind to whoever is there. When I stopped thinking only about myself, and started to see all the people in the world who didn't have anyone to make sure they mattered, that's when life started to mean something."'

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Reading Record | Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

My reading record posts are a way for me to document all things bookish and reading in my life - typically you will see these posts on a monthly basis, however readathons and certain books will have their own specific reading record.

Today I'm sharing with you the thoughts I jotted down whilst reading Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend. The thoughts I'm sharing below are of my reading experience, and whilst there is some detail to my thoughts, I have attempted to keep this post spoiler free as I do maintain a spoiler free blog.

A big THANK YOU to Bookworm & Theatre Mouse for kindly sharing her copy of Nevermoor with me!

I have heard a lot of great things surrounding this book, with nothing but praise from those who have read it. What I know of Nevermoor is that it is a magical middle grade adventure - the first in a new series - and I have often heard it likened to Harry Potter... Which intrigues me, but also scares me a little expectation wise.

I'm finding it captivating so far, wanting to keep page turning and learn more about this fantasy world the author has created. I'm really liking the characters so far, especially the wackiness & whimsy of Jupiter North. I'm also enjoying the humour that is interspersed throughout. First impressions: we're off to a great start. 

PAGE 120
We're now learning a little more about the world of Nevermoor and Morrigan's (main character) place in it. We already knew that Jupiter North put in a bid to be Morrigan's patron - with his plan being to induct her into the Wundurous Society, however that isn't as straight forward as it sounds and Morrigan is now starting to get answers to questions.

In order to be a part of the Wundurous Society, Morrigan must go through four trials that are spaced out over a year. The final trial is the Show Trial, where you present and show your knack (a talent, a skill, your unique selling point). Having been known as a cursed child for so long, Morrigan is certain she has no such thing - unless her knack is her curse. 

Following on from finding this out and processing her thoughts, there is a lovely scene in which Jupiter assures Morrigan she has a knack - she need not worry about the Show Trial yet - and he tells her about his own knack (being a Witness - Jupiter sees things on a much deeper level than you or I would). There is a touching moment between Jupiter and Morrigan here; he truly believes in her and she feels like she has someone championing her.

PAGE 131
'"I've been told our candidates this year number more than five hundred. With so many talented young people in our midst, I feel certain we will find nine new Society members who will impress us, make us proud and make us glad to know them for the rest of their lives."'

PAGE 132
'"Joining the Wundurous Society is a privilege granted to the few and the special. Among our members are many of the Free State's supreme thinkers, leaders, performers, explorers, inventors, scientists, sorcerers, artists and athletes. We are the special ones. We are the great ones. And there are times when some of us are called upon to do great things, to protect these Seven Pockets against those who would do us harm. Against those who would seek to take away our freedom, and our lives."'

PAGE 142
I don't like this Noelle girl who has been introduced - she has such an attitude and rudeness towards others.

PAGE 187
I feel like I'm playing detective, trying to figure out what Morrigan's knack could be.

PAGE 254
Ooo… I had questions and theories surrounding Mr Jones, but I did not see that coming.

PAGE 276
Throughout I've really enjoyed the portrayal of the seasons within this book - they are comparable to our own, but unique and slightly elevated in a way. 

In the chapter I've just read, it is Christmas time and I just love all that the author has encompassed in that - especially the duel between Saint Nick and the Yule Queen; it was magical, festive and a whole lot of fun.

PAGE 299
Ooo… Things are getting interesting. Well, more so than they already were.

PAGE 371
Great ending. Questions were answered, but there is still some mystery and intrigue present. I look forward to reading about what's next for Morrigan Crow.

I really enjoyed this book! Author, Jessica Townsend, has done an amazing job of creating a magical world, building characters, and also filling her story with the pull of emotion. With the magical elements, cosiness you feel when moving through the realms of Nevermoor, as well as the amazing world building here, you can see why many have given the comparison between Harry Potter and Nevermoor. As an older reader of a MG book, and one who has had Harry Potter in her life for many years, I wouldn't put them on the same level, however that is because of nostalgia and a deep formed connection with HP - do I see the potential of this being a NEW 'Harry Potter' for the current generation of younger readers? Definitely!

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Nonfiction November | Wrap Up + Reviews

Here on Reading with Jade, the last four or so weeks have been dedicated to the bookish event that is Nonfiction November - this was my first year taking part, and I've had an amazing experience. I've loved taking part in the weekly post prompts and talking all things nonfiction with other readers, as well as reading (& discovering) some brilliant nonfiction titles. Today, to wrap up the month & this event, I thought I'd share a few thoughts on the nonfiction titles I've read.

In total I read 7 nonfiction books, meaning I completed my personal challenge of reading more nonfiction than fiction in the month of November - I read 4 fiction books. Below I will be talking about all 7 books I read, however in order to keep this post from being extremely lengthy (taking this moment to forewarn, it probably will be a little lengthy) I've opted to not share the blurb of each individual book, only my thoughts - all book titles will be a Goodreads link though, so you can read more about them there.

I've always had an interest in the historic tragedy that was the sinking of the Titanic, however up until this point I had only watched documentaries on the event - never once having picked up a book on the subject. Although there are a fair few books published about the Titanic, I opted to pick up this recent release by Nicola Pierce. 

Inside you'll find comprehensive and in depth knowledge on a number of aspects surrounding the Titanic, and its sinking. The book is split into sections, with each one delving into a specific area - the building of the ship, the timeline of events, meeting the captain and so on.

Something I quite enjoyed in this book is the fact that when looking the people - crew & passengers - Nicola Pierce shares their backstory, not just a snippet pertaining to the ship. Those who were fortunate enough to have survived, the author has gone on to write about how they continued to live out their life. 

Multifaceted and brimming with information, this book would make a great place to start for those looking to learn more about the Titanic. 

Wow! What a brave, strong and courageous woman Tara Westover is. 

I feel like I have so many words and thoughts I want to share regarding Educated, but yet none of them will do this memoir justice, nor fully convey the connection and reading experience I had with this book. As a reader, Tara's story gave me hope. For that alone I am thankful to have read this book.

I'll start out by saying that I'm not entirely sure I am the intended audience of Hired... Being someone who grew up in a low income family, and has gone on to be a worker in low wage Britain. Currently, I am a stay at home mum, but when I do return to work it'll be in a job that is deemed low wage/low skill (I work in the retail industry, quite happily so actually). Also, within this book James Bloodworth spends part of his time working in a call centre in the South Wales Valleys - this is where we live, and this is a similar job to which my husband works. So going into this book - knowing that we live a life he was to experience - I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. 

My reading experience of Hired was an interesting one. There were some great insights in this book - I particularly enjoyed learning about the jobs, experiences, towns and their history that he visited - and I came away with a lot of thoughts also. One of many being the fact that I definitely think that there are classes within classes. I'm not one who thinks in social classes, at all, however with the author taking a look at the working class in this book, you kind of have to whilst reading. This book has provoked a lot of thought on social classes for me, especially regarding how even within the bracket of being working class (or any class for that matter), I believe there are levels of division also.

Going in unsure of what to expect, and what I'd personally garner from this book, I found Hired to be a compelling read, and one that really gets you thinking.

After owls, butterflies are my favourite animal, and I loved discovering new to me species within this book.

Each of the butterflies included - 40 in total - has their own double page spread, with one page being a stunning illustration, and the other detailing information on that specific butterfly such as habitat, lifespan, wingspan and more.

A great little book for any butterfly lover.

This is the third book in this seasonal series I have read now, and as with the others, I thoroughly enjoyed being immersed and transported to the various parts of the UK through the evocative essays that are compiled and presented.

I have shared more about this series as a whole earlier on in Nonfiction November, which you can read about here.

I do like nature, the outdoors and a good walk, however I should maybe preface this review by saying I didn't pick up this book (or read other such types of books) as a research tool with the hopes of enjoying one of these many walks... Quite the opposite. I'm no long distance walker - honestly, my body probably wouldn't withstand that - but I do love reading and learning about walks, travels and adventures. I find all that the world encompasses to be an amazing thing, and so I love to read about it. That's why I read these types of books... To learn and to explore, through words.

In this book, I found Barry Stone's writing style to be perfect for the reasons why I picked up this book - it was informative and knowledgeable, whilst remaining engaging and personable.

Of course this book is Barry Stone's words and experiences, and with that in mind, it is worth mentioning that over 30 of the 50 walks featured are actually in the UK. Personally, I had anticipated a little more variety location wise, but obviously this book is the work of one individual and their experiences.

All in all, an enjoyable read - especially if you like to read nonfiction writing regarding travel/outdoors, and are looking to learn a little bit of history surrounding some of the most traversed places in the world.

As a reader of Roald Dahl's stories - for children and adults - I was keen to pick up this book as I thought it would give an insight into how Roald Dahl came to be Roald Dahl, master storyteller. I have previously read his own autobiographical titles (Boy & Going Solo), so I was already vaguely aware of his own personal story, however there is something different to be learnt when reading the letters to his mother from youth to far beyond that.

The book is split up into chapters via the period of time in Roald Dahl's life, spanning from 1925 when Dahl was send off to boarding school, right up until 1965 when he was settled with a family of his own. I like how each chapter is a chapter in Dahl's life also, with Sturrock prefacing each one with a gist of what Dahl's life looked like then.

I think it is so wonderful and touching that his mother kept these letters this entire time, through war and all, and I think it shows a snippet of Roald Dahl's life beyond story teller also - Roald Dahl led a fascinating and varied life. Having now read this, I would be keen to pick up the biography of Roald Dahl written by the same author.
So that concludes my nonfiction reading within the month of November... I look forward to Nonfiction November next year already!

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Nonfiction November | Nonfiction Wishlist

Throughout the month of November I'm taking part in the bookish event of Nonfiction November - a month dedicated to, and encouraging the reading of, nonfiction titles.

There are a number of content creators who host events surrounding this initiative to promote nonfiction in the month of November, and I'm combining (& taking part in) two. One of which is hosted on YouTube by booktuber abookolive - I have compiled my TBR using her challenges. Secondly, I'm taking part in an event hosted here in the book blogging community by five wonderful bloggers - Katie at Doing DeweyRennie at What's Nonfiction?Julie at JulzReadsKim at Sophisticated Dorkiness and Sarah at Sarah's Book Shelves. Each week I'll be sharing a new post that relates to the topic of nonfiction books, with post prompts being provided by those five bloggers I've mentioned above.

New to my TBR hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey

After what has been an amazing month of reading nonfiction & connecting with other readers of nonfiction, November is now drawing to a close... And I have a list as long as my arm (& then some!) of new to me nonfiction titles I'm keen to check out. 

Today I'm sharing with you 10 books I have discovered this month through #NonficNov, that I hope to get to sooner rather than later. Initially I tried to keep track of who the titles came from, but as the list grew that got harder to keep track of. So, if you've mentioned any of the titles below this month - thank you!! 

Listed in no particular order, and all titles will take you to Goodreads

Quite an eclectic mix of titles - eclectic is a great description for my reading as a whole though, both fiction & nonfiction! I think it'll be interesting to see if I've gotten to any of these titles by time Nonfiction November rolls around next. 

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Nonfiction November | Nonfiction That Reads Like Fiction

Throughout the month of November I'm taking part in the bookish event of Nonfiction November - a month dedicated to, and encouraging the reading of, nonfiction titles.

There are a number of content creators who host events surrounding this initiative to promote nonfiction in the month of November, and I'm combining (& taking part in) two. One of which is hosted on YouTube by booktuber abookolive - I have compiled my TBR using her challenges. Secondly, I'm taking part in an event hosted here in the book blogging community by five wonderful bloggers - Katie at Doing DeweyRennie at What's Nonfiction?Julie at JulzReadsKim at Sophisticated Dorkiness and Sarah at Sarah's Book Shelves. Each week I'll be sharing a new post that relates to the topic of nonfiction books, with post prompts being provided by the five bloggers I've mentioned above.

Reads Like Fiction hosted by Rennie at What's Nonfiction?

When I initially saw the prompt for this week, I started to think about nonfiction titles I'd read that were memoirs and such, perhaps life tales that you could only quite believe (or even want to believe) were works of fiction... I'm sure we've all read one such book. However, in the end I settled on sharing a collection of four books that are presented as a series with each one taking a look at one of the four seasons experienced. More specifically, they take a look at the self titled season, with essays written by various people sharing their own personal experiences of said season. The books highlight nature writing, and take a look at the many ways in which a given season presents itself in the United Kingdom.

Of course nature is a very real thing - the world we live in, the seasons we experience; it is all real. The reason I'm sharing this Wildlife Trust seasonal series as nonfiction that reads as fiction is the fact that when living day to day life, many of us plough on through a day without looking at the small details and truly immersing ourselves in the beauty of our world - with all that goes on around the world on a daily basis, is it easily done, to focus on the negatives and not seeing the beauty. But that's what this series has done for me, it has taken me outside the world I live in - being from the UK, even specific places I've been and visited - and seen it from a different view point. A perspective where there is still magic, and beauty and good in the world, if only we hone our senses a little bit more. 

Personally, I read fiction to step outside my own world confines; to travel, explore, and experience in ways I don't in my own everyday life. This seasonal series (worth noting I have yet to read the Winter anthology) has taken me away and allowed me to do that... But it has also put into perspective that this is also my world, my seasons, my great outdoors.

I hope I've articulated well why I recommend this nonfiction as reading like fiction, but also would recommend this series as a whole to anyone who enjoys nature writing, and more specifically nature & wildlife in the UK. The book encompasses many nooks and crannies across the country, featuring some truly magnificent writing on the changing of seasons.


Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Nonfiction November | Bookish Nonfiction Recommendations

Throughout the month of November I'm taking part in the bookish event of Nonfiction November - a month dedicated to, and encouraging the reading of, nonfiction titles.

There are a number of content creators who hosts events surrounding this initiative to promote nonfiction books in the month of November, and I'm combining (& taking part in) two. One of which is hosted on YouTube by booktuber abookolive - I have compiled my TBR using her challenges. Secondly, I'm taking part in an event hosted here in the book blogging community by five wonderful bloggers - Katie at Doing DeweyRennie at What's Nonfiction?Julie at JulzReadsKim at Sophisticated Dorkiness and Sarah at Sarah's Book Shelves. Each week I will be sharing a new post that relates to the topic of nonfiction books, with post prompts being provided by those five bloggers mentioned above.

Be the Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert hosted by Julie at JulzReads

As some who has only really gotten into reading nonfiction in the last few years, I'm by no means an expert on any one specific area, however today I did want to talk about something I read fairly often, and the genre/type of books that helped me find my footing within the nonfiction realms - books about books.

I have three titles I want to share with you today.

Every bookshop has a story.

We're talking about bookshops in barns, disused factories, converted churches and underground car parks. Bookshops on boats, on buses and in old run-down railway stations.

From the oldest bookshop in the world, to the smallest you could imagine, The Bookshop Book explores the history of books, talks to authors about their favourite places, and looks at more than three hundred weirdly wonderful bookshops across six continents. (Sadly, we've yet to build a bookshop down in the South Pole).

This book is a love letter to bookshops all around the world.
The Bookshop, Wigtown, is Scotland's largest second-hand bookshop. It's a booklover's paradise, a Georgian townhouse full of twisting corridors and roaring fires, set in a beautiful town by the edge of the sea. A rummage on its crooked shelves can produce anything from a sixteenth-century leather-bound Bible to a first edition Agatha Christie. 

But behind the scenes of this slice of literary heaven, things are very different. Meet Shaun Bythell, owner of The Bookshop, bibliophile and misanthrope extraordinaire. Seen through his honest and wryly hilarious diaries, we get a very different view of bookselling: one beset with malfunctioning heating, eccentric customers, bad-mannered, bin-foraging employees and a perennially empty till. 

As Shaun takes us with him on buying trips to old estates and auction houses, recommends books (both lost classics and new discoveries), introduces us to the thrill of the unexpected find, and evokes the charms and horrors of small town life, we gain an inside look at the trials, tribulations and joys of life in the book trade.
Britain by the Book is a fascinating literary travelogue around writers' unusual haunts and the surprising places that inspired some of our favourite fictional locations. We'll learn why Thomas Hardy was buried twice, how a librarian in Manchester invented the thesaurus as a means of coping with depression, and why Agatha Christie was investigated by MI5 during the Second World War. The map of Britain that emerges is one dotted with intriguing literary stories and bookish curiosities.
All three of these books take a different look at the world of books - with The Bookshop Book being a staple for any bookworm who finds joy and comfort in wandering a bookshop, The Diary of a Bookseller being a witty read whilst also taking a look at book buying and selling, and lastly with Britain by the Book exploring Britain and sharing small literary snippets that you perhaps otherwise wouldn't know. 

I highly recommend all of these titles for those of you who, like me, enjoy books about books... However, if you were to read just the one from this list, then The Bookshop Book is one of the nonfiction titles I recommend the most. 

Monday, 5 November 2018

Nonfiction November | Pairing Nonfiction & Fiction Titles

Throughout the month of November I'm taking part in the bookish event of Nonfiction November - a month dedicated to, and encouraging the reading of, nonfiction titles.

There are a number of content creators who hosts events surrounding this initiative to promote nonfiction in the month of November, and I'm combining (& taking part in) two. One of which is hosted on YouTube by booktuber abookolive - I have compiled my TBR using her challenges. Secondly, I'm taking part in an event hosted here in the book blogging community by five wonderful bloggers - Katie at Doing DeweyRennie at What's Nonfiction?Julie at JulzReadsKim at Sophisticated Dorkiness and Sarah at Sarah's Book Shelves. Each week I will be sharing a new post that relates to the topic of nonfiction books, with post prompts being provided by those five bloggers I've mentioned above.

Nonfiction/Fiction Book Pairings hosted by Sarah at Sarah's Book Shelves

Of all the post prompts included, this is the one I've been feeling iffy about... Don't get me wrong, I'm absolutely looking forward to reading all the posts from others taking part, as I love when people pair books up, however I felt a bit stumped myself. After much thinking, I've come up with a (rather loose) pairing!

At the very end of last year I read the fictional beauty that is The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. There are many elements that make up The Snow Child - its historical setting, magical realism, a focus on the connections & relationships we form - with one of the things I recall quite enjoying within this book being more simple - the day to day life of main characters Jack & Mabel. The couple uproot themselves to an isolated home and farmland in Alaska; I found following their everyday routines and seeing how they passed each day in such a remote place to be fascinating and even comforting to read in a way.

With this I'm choosing to pair a nonfiction title that I read a good few years ago now - Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey. As I mentioned in my opening, I'm pairing these two titles very loosely as they do differ slightly (in the fact that Jack & Mabel aren't exactly what you'd call artists or creatives), however both books take a look at the way in which people move through their day, and in turn, how that impacts on all that they do.

Inside Daily Rituals you'll find just that - the daily routines and rituals of some of the most renowned creatives, achievers, and great thinkers... Some of my favourites are those of writers: Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Agatha Christie, P.G. Wodehouse, Charles Dickens, Stephen King and more. If you're someone who is keen on routine, interested in how others thrive in a day, or are curious as to how some of the most notable artists, writers, philosophers (and more) used their time efficiently and effectively, then this is the book for you.

The Snow Child is one of my all time favourite books, and Daily Rituals is one of those nonfiction books I've found myself pick up a number of times since initially reading it - even if just reading a passage about a specific person here and there. Although a loose pairing, both of these books are ones I'd highly recommend.

Monday, 29 October 2018

Nonfiction November | My Year in Nonfiction (So Far)

Throughout the month of November I'm taking part in the bookish event of Nonfiction November - a month dedicated to, and encouraging the reading of, nonfiction titles. 

There are a number of content creators who host events surrounding this initiative to promote nonfiction in the month of November, and I'm combining (& taking part in) two. One of which is hosted on YouTube by booktuber abookolive - I have compiled my TBR using her challenges. Secondly, I'm taking part in an event hosted here in the book blogging community by five wonderful bloggers - Katie at Doing DeweyRennie at What's Nonfiction?Julie at JulzReadsKatie at Sophisticated Dorkiness and Sarah at Sarah's Book Shelves. Each week I will be sharing a new post that relates to the topic of nonfiction books, with the post prompts being provided by those five bloggers I've mentioned above.

This is my first time taking part in Nonfiction November, and I'm super excited to be doing so. 

Your Year in Nonfiction So Far hosted by Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness

Totalling it up, so far this year I've read 17 books that would be categorised as nonfiction - these come from varying subgenres of nonfiction, including titles that would be deemed coffee table books, essays, nature writing, memoirs and more.

Links in this list will take you to Goodreads
1. The Color of Pixar by Tia Kratter
2. The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell
3. The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane
4. Silence: In the Age of Noise by Erling Kagge
5.The Light Book of Lykke: The Danish Search for the World's Happiest People by Meik Wiking
6. Britain by the Book: A Curious Tour of Our Literary Landscape by Oliver Tearle
7. The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store by Cait Flanders
8. Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer by Wendell Berry
9. Inside the Magic: The Making of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Ian Nathan
10. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
11. The 50 Greatest Train Journeys of the World by Anthony Lambert
12. Spring: An Anthology for the Changing Seasons by Melissa Harrison
13. Cider With Rosie by Laurie Lee
14. One Woman Walks Wales by Ursula Martin
15. Summer: An Anthology for the Changing Seasons by Melissa Harrison
16. The Joy of Forest Bathing: The Mysterious Japanese Art of Shinrin-Yoku by Melanie Choukas-Bradley 
17. Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident by Donnie Eichar

Looking at that, on the one hand I'm surprised I've already read so much nonfiction this year, and on the other I'm not - reading more nonfiction was one of my reading goals for 2018, and I can clearly see I've been succeeding in that.

Something this list of books tells me is that I'm picking up more nonfiction relating to nature and the great outdoors, which I love & am so happy about. Prior to this year, I read a lot of nonfiction that related to people and also books, so it is great to be branching out into another area that brings me joy in my day to day life.

All of these titles I would rate quite highly, and in all honesty, I would recommend them all for very different reasons. If I had to pick just the one though, I think it would be Silence: In the Age of Noise by Erling Kagge - I know this book isn't for everybody, especially based off the mixed reviews on Goodreads, however there was just something about this book that truly spoke to me & I connected with it. I definitely think I read it at just the right time in my life, when I needed it, but also that it makes a great start of the new year read (which is also when I read it). Silence: In the Age of Noise is a collection of thought provoking essays - the kind that really make you aware and wonder, allowing (& pushing) you to take a deeper look at your own life. 

I'd love to hear about any nonfiction titles you love recommending to others - in particular, one you've read this year.

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Nonfiction November | TBR

This November I'm taking part in Nonfiction November - I know of a few events and readathons (across social media platforms) associated with promoting the reading of non fiction titles in the month of November, and I've chosen to take part in an event hosted by BookTuber abookolive.

Nonfiction November is a month long reading initiative, with the aim of reading more non fiction than you typically do. Personally, I read non fiction titles fairly frequently - at least one every couple of months - and so my personal aim for Nonfiction November is to read more non fiction books than fiction within the month of November. 

Whilst the main focus of Nonfiction November is encouraging readers to pick up more non fiction, there are also four challenges that add an extra element to the event. There is no one specific way in which to interpret them, there is no need to fulfil a certain amount of challenges, there are no requirements surrounding the challenges at all - they are simply in place to add a fun dynamic to Nonfiction November.

1. Past time/Pastime
2. Self/Shelf
3. Wander/Wonder
4. Micro/Macro

Even before the announcement of Nonfiction November, I knew I was interested in taking part (having been aware of it from previous years) and already had a few books I hoped to put towards my TBR. When first seeing the challenges, what I did was look at how I could work those titles I had into the challenges provided... I was successful in doing so.

Past time - I'm choosing to read a book that focuses on an event that took place in the past

Self - I'm choosing to read a book that says something about myself

Wander - I'm choosing to read a book that explores our world through wandering

Micro - I'm choosing to read a book that hones in on a micro part of an individual's life

As well as these four titles, I have one book that I would call my main read for Nonfiction November, as well as one book I started a month or so ago and still has a bookmark in.


Main read (not pictured above as I have been waiting for paperback version - which comes out Nov 1st)

I'm super excited to get stuck in to these books next month! If you're taking part in Nonfiction November also, I'd love to know what you plan on reading. 

Saturday, 20 October 2018

READING RECORD | Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon

Today I'm taking part in Dewey's 24 hour readathon - YAY (I love this bookish event). This post will be my master post for the readathon, and will follow the format of my usual reading record posts, except that it'll be times that I check in as opposed to days. 

Being in the UK, we're reading in a different zone, meaning the readathon begins at 1pm here and will run into the next day. I've spoke about this before, but I do love that - I admire & applaud all of you who power through the 24 hours, but that isn't for me; I need a good nights sleep!

The picture opening this post is my readathon TBR. I don't anticipate completing all three titles, but I'm looking forward to getting stuck into them. I've gone with variety in my reads, including one fiction novel (Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter) , one non fiction book (Dead Mountain by Donnie Eichar), and a short story collection (Ghostly by Audrey Niffenegger) - all of which already have bookmarks in. 

What fine part of the world are you from?
South Wales, UK

Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident

The other two books within my stack are titles I'm reading for Spookathon (a week long readathon I've been taking part in this week), but I picked out Dead Mountain specifically for the 24 hour readathon.

Which snack are you most looking forward to?
Does a beverage count? Because all the tea!!!

Tell us a little something about yourself!
Erm… I spent a good couple of hours before the readathon putting together Lego packs. I find putting together Lego super relaxing.

If you participated in the last readathon, what's one thing you'll do differently today? If this is your first readathon, what are you most looking forward to?
I have taken part in Dewey's before, but it has been a while - so actually putting aside the time to read & participate is doing something differently! More specifically than that though, having variety in my TBR.
Kick starting the readathon with Pretty Girls, of which I'm currently 184 pages into.

We're coming up to the end of hour four now, so I thought I'd share a little update. Of the four hours, I've read for a total of two of those, now finding myself on page 384 in Pretty Girls. The book itself is pretty intense and dark, and I'm enjoying the pacing. At 533 pages, I shouldn't have too long until completion of the book. I have been reading on & off, as my amount of time read shows, with the next hour being taken away entirely from books for a food break.

Turns out I had a half hour food break, and read a short story within Ghostly at the very end of hour 5.

I completed my first book - YAY! Pretty Girls was a lot more dark & disturbing than I had anticipated, but happy to have finally experienced Karin Slaughter's writing for myself.

HOUR 8&9
I've been working through Ghostly, with a further three stories read within these hours. Ghostly is a collection of short stories centred around ghosts, the paranormal and such. I've really been enjoying the variety within, and have yet to come across a short story that I have read elsewhere in another collection (something I often find to be the case with short story collections of this nature).

It is close to 10pm here in the UK now, and I'm calling it a night on the readathon - for now... Looking forward to the morning in which I hope to get a lot more reading in.

6.40am UK time. Bleary eyed, but jumping back into the readathon - after an almost 9 hour break - with Dead Mountain.

Although I jumped back into reading during the morning - now finding myself half way through Dead Mountain - I did actually bow out from the readathon at about 10ish UK time, so three hours early... Enjoying family time instead.

I've had great fun taking part in Dewey's this time around, and once again I've come away with so much love and fuzzy feels for the book community.

I tracked my reading with a timer this time, seeing how long I read for within the 24 hours as opposed to page count/book count; I read for 411 minutes and 44 seconds - so 6 hours and 51 seconds. I'm happy with that outcome, and my overall readathon experience.

To everyone else who took part in Dewey's, and just bookish people in general - you are amazing!! 

Tuesday, 16 October 2018


I started sharing reading record posts this year, documenting all things reading and bookish in my life, posting them on a weekly basis - moving forward with this style of post, they will be shared typically on a monthly basis, however readathons & occasionally specific books will have their own dedicated reading record.

Fraterfest took place between 11th-16th October.

Starting Fraterfest readathon with The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw. Regular readers of my blog will know I've been branching out more in the world of YA this year, having finally discovered my niche/genre of choice within that area. Typically, I enjoy YA books with a family focus and tend to avoid love being a central plot element... Having said that, going into The Wicked Deep I was aware of a potential love story, and yet still found myself really drawn to this book, with the premise having me intrigued. 

Two centuries ago, in small, isolated Sparrow, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery and drowned in the waters surrounding the town. Now, each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three girls and seeking revenge by dragging boys to their watery deaths. 

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the town's fate. Then, on the eve of the sisters' return, Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into or the fact that his arrival will change everything...

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty rain-soaked streets. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.

Given that this book is set in summer, and we're very much in autumn now, I was unsure if I was picking this book up at the right time - despite the season it is set in, there is a distinct cosy feeling to the story so far (I'm writing this whilst on page 94 of 308). I think the setting of Sparrow, as well as the dark and unsettling nature of the Swan sisters story, lends to that feeling.

Yesterday I whizzed through The Wicked Deep, having completed the book by the end of the night - the plot gripped me, I fell in love with Shea Ernshaw's writing style, and I found myself picking the book up at every opportunity. 

There is a lot I like about The Wicked Deep - how the plot pieced together, the way in which the story was told with excerpts from the time of the Swan sisters also, the town of Sparrow and main character Penny's home of Lumiere Island, the relationship between Penny & Bo, but most of all I came to thoroughly enjoy the writing style and story telling of Shea Ernshaw. Below I'm sharing just one extract that I particularly enjoyed. 

'Memories can settle into a place: fog that lingers long after it should have blown out to sea, voices from the past that take root in the foundation of a town, whispers and accusations that grow in the moss along the sidewalks and up the walls of old homes.

This town, this small cluster of houses and shops and boats clinging to the shoreline, has never escaped its past - the thing it did two hundred years ago. Ghosts remain.'

You know those books that you read and just get the warm fuzzy feels throughout your reading experience - The Wicked Deep was that for me. My copy of this book was actually borrowed from the library, and I've already decided I'll be buying my own for my YA shelf at home. 

Upon finishing The Wicked Deep I learnt two things that pleased me... Firstly, Shea Ernshaw has another book in the works that I'm super interested in (Winterwood - Goodreads link) and is likely to be released next autumn. Second, I couldn't help but think throughout my reading of The Wicked Deep, as it played out in my mind, how great this story would translate to screen - turns out that Netflix have acquired the rights to the book; I only hope they do the story justice. 

Great start to Fraterfest!

I was awake super early this morning (5am) and begun my day by starting my second book for this readathon: His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet. I had hoped to start this yesterday, given that I read The Wicked Deep in the one day, however I was still processing my thoughts on The Wicked Deep and just knew it was too soon for me pick up another book. Sometimes you just need that breathing space when you finish a book you've had a really positive reading experience with.

So, His Bloody Project - I read a total 127 pages, which is a little under half way as the book itself is 280 pages in full. The story is about Roderick Macrae, a young man, who in the summer of 1869, committed a triple murder within the small Scottish community he has always lived. The book is really cleverly written, as the author tells the story in a non fiction format - having discovered this crime whilst reaching his own family, and is presenting the memoir of Roderick Macrae alongside other articles and documentation regarding the crime and its subsequent trial. The story itself is a work of fiction, but reads very much as fact.

I finished the remainder of His Bloody Project today. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and am glad to have finally picked it up after it having been on my radar for a while now.

Having briefly shared the plot above, I just wanted to make note of a couple of things I really enjoyed in His Bloody Project - firstly, the presentation of the story was quite unique and something I haven't come across or read before, I liked the way the documentations put forward to the reader leave you feeling conflicted, unsure, and really makes you think about the psychological aspect of the crime that has taken place, and I also liked the historical aspects within the book too (particularly learning about the Highland settlement on which Roderick grew up, and the justice system at that time).

Given the nature of His Bloody Project, the story is pretty gruesome at points, especially when detailing the crime scene and such, but overall a book I would recommend to avid readers of crime who are perhaps looking for something different, and also regular readers of true crime looking to pick up a fiction novel.

Today I've tried reading the third, and final, book on my original Fraterfest TBR - The Haunting of Henry Twist - but I'm just finding that I can't quite get on with the writing... For that reason, I've chosen to bow out of Fraterfest a little early. Of course I could have just picked up another book fitting the readathon theme, however with the readathon itself ending very soon, and with me beginning another readathon for this coming week, this just seems to be the logical decision.

I've had a great time taking part in my very first Fraterfest! A big thank you to host Kimberly over at Caffeinated Reviewer.
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