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!
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