Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Nonfiction November | Ask The Expert (Journeys)

Last year one of my favourite bookish events here in the blogging community was Nonfiction November; it was my first time taking part but I quickly fell in love with it, for many reasons. Concluding the month, I just knew I had to take part again next year... And here we are!

This year I will be taking part in the weekly prompts (on a Wednesday), as well as posting reading record posts each week (on a Monday). My intention for the month of November is to work through some of the unread nonfiction titles currently sitting on my shelves, and to read more nonfiction books within the month than fiction.

For those unfamiliar, the weekly post prompts are linky style, and hosted by one of the five hosts of the event. You can see the host of this week's prompt written below, and all five hosts linked at the end of this post.

Three ways to join in this week! You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you'd like to read (become the expert).

This week I'm opting to ask the expert, and am looking to you all for recommendations... Please! 

Something I've come to learn that I quite enjoy reading is books about journeys, in three different ways.

Firstly, I enjoy books about journeys that are quite fact based & informative.

Secondly, I enjoy books about journeys that are of a person's experience journeying but still knowledgeable.

Lastly, I enjoy books that are memoirs with people on a journey, but also a path of self discovery.

I feel like the topic of journeys is quite broad, but hopefully by sharing specifics & examples of books I've enjoyed there will be a few new to me recommendations coming my way.

Monday, 11 November 2019

Reading Record | The Starless Sea + Nonfiction November

My reading record posts are a way for me to document all things bookish and reading in my life - I aim to post them consistently with them most often being in a weekly format, however readathons & certain books have their own specific reading record. 

In this reading record you will see snippets of reading for Nonfiction November and I also received my most anticipated read of the year.

Starting the month with bookmarks in the very early stages of two books:
The Binding by Bridget Collins (two chapters in - 36 pages read)
The Call of the Wild by Jack London (two chapters in - 34 pages read)

I often have a few books on the go at the one time, including a nonfiction. I finished my last nonfiction read a couple of days ago now and have been waiting on starting a new one... With Nonfiction November now here - I was keen to begin the month fresh with an unopened book - I can start a new nonfiction read.

The book I've chosen to start Nonfiction November with is The Salt Path by Raynor Winn. This is a book that I added to my NF wishlist this time last year during Nonfiction November, and I am happy to now be getting to it. 

I had heard so many positive things regarding this book, and having read the first two parts (99 pages) today, I can see why!

Raynor and her husband are at an immensely low point in life, and yet they have strength, hope and one another pushing them on as they traverse the South West coastline here in the UK. Reading about another's hardship is never an easy or pleasant experience, however Raynor's writing style means that the reader is emotionally invested in the couple, and kept easily engaged as she shares the highs & lows of their journey. I've found it hard putting this book down today.

In the evening I read (listened to) the first 52 minutes of The Shepherd's Hut by Tim Winton via the borrowing audiobook service through my library. I haven't really formed any solid impressions of this so far.

No reading.

Book one of NF November - complete! I finished the remainder of The Salt Path today (just under 200 pages), and what a great start to the month of immersing myself in NF it was.

Repeating the same reading routine as Friday, I listen to some more of The Shepherd's Hut in the evening once again - just over 50 minutes. I think the first person narration - stream of conscious almost - is really easy to listen to & fall into via audiobook.

I popped to the library today to return two books, and came home with four - isn't that always the way?! I borrowed one fiction & three nonfiction (will I get to them this month with my already stacked TBR?).

Reading wise, I focused on my fiction books today, with just under 100 more pages read in The Binding and also further listening of my audiobook.

This morning I read to the end of part 1 in The Binding (which was only about 30 pages) and decided it was a good place to take a brief break in my reading of this specific book as in the post today I had book mail: my preorder of The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. 

The Starless Sea is honestly my most anticipated book of the year (or ever!), and I just know I couldn't wait to complete my current fiction read before delving into Erin Morgenstern's newest release.

The reason I'm putting a pause on The Binding is not only because I want to focus solely on The Starless Sea when I read it (fiction wise), but also because both of them have a bookish theme to the story, and whilst I often read multiple books at a time, I like the plots to be vastly different as it makes following along a lot easier.

Ending the day having read 74 pages of The Starless Sea.

No reading.

After not getting any reading done yesterday, I did get a little bit done today with just over another 50 pages read in The Starless Sea.

Today I started my next NF pick for the month - The Secret Barrister - and have read the introduction + first two chapters, meaning I'll be continuing from page 85 when I next pick it up.

I did also read a little more of The Starless Sea today, with my bookmark now sitting at page 170. If I'm being honest, I definitely thought I'd have made more progress in The Starless Sea by now. It isn't the fault of the story - I'm absolutely loving being back in a world imagined by Erin Morgenstern - but the fault of the reader. This week has been quite a busy one personal life wise (& will continue so in to the weekend), and so reading hasn't been a main focus as it usually is in my spare time.

The Starless Sea is proving to be AMAZING (all that I could of hoped for, and more!), I just need to prioritise reading a bit more.

I managed to carve out a small amount of reading time today, with my bookmark now on page 236 of The Starless Sea.

Much less reading done today than yesterday, however I did finish the next chapter of The Secret Barrister. This NF book takes a look at the court system here in the UK, and I am really enjoying it so far - accessible and easy to read, as well as insightful.


Happy reading!

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Nonfiction November | Nonfiction / Fiction Book Pairing

Last year one of my favourite bookish events here in the blogging community was Nonfiction November; it was my first time taking part but I quickly fell in love with it, for many reasons. Concluding the month, I just knew I had to take part again next year... And here we are!

This year I will be taking part in the weekly post prompts (on a Wednesday), as well as posting reading record posts each week (on a Monday). My intention for the month of November is to work through some of the unread nonfiction titles currently sitting on my shelves, and to read more nonfiction books within the month than fiction.

For those unfamiliar, the weekly post prompts are linky style, and hosted by one of the five hosts of the event. You can see the host of this week's prompt below, and all five hosts linked at the end of this post.

BOOK PAIRINGS hosted by Sarah's Book Shelves
This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. It can be a "If you loved this book, read this!" or just two titles that you think would go well together. 

Of all the weekly prompts, this is one of my favourites. I find I come away with quite the list of pairings, and I enjoy seeing the ways in which other bloggers have decided to interpret the prompt & pair books. However, for me, it is also the hardest to write. 

I've only really gotten into nonfiction books properly in the last few years, and so naturally my knowledge of nonfiction is limited to that time frame; I think the more I continue to read nonfiction & widen my nonfiction net, the easier these posts will get to write... At least I'm hoping so!

Today I've decided to pair two sets of books, rather than specific titles. I'm pairing a nonfiction nature anthology series with the fictional writing of Kate Morton.

One of my favourite fictional authors is Kate Morton, there is such a depth & beauty to her historical fiction writing, and I find myself immersed in her stories so easily. One of the reasons I fall into her books with such ease is because of her writing style, and the picture she paints of the surroundings & settings. A number of her books feature the great British landscape in one way or another (titles that spring to mind: The Lake House, The Forgotten Garden, The House at Riverton, and The Clockmaker's Daughter), and that is why I'm pairing her books with a seasonal nature anthology edited by Melissa Harrison. With each of the four seasons being represented within the collection, the books reflect on a specific season and how it greets us here in the UK, with the reader being able to watch the season unfold in the eyes of a number of individuals through essays and such.

Although the link between my pairing isn't immediately obvious, I do think that if you enjoy the books of Kate Morton, then you'll enjoy some British nature writing also. 

Side note: for those who followed along with me last year during Nonfiction November, the seasonal anthology will be familiar to you as I mentioned it in the prompt of books that read like fiction.


Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Nonfiction November | My Year in Nonfiction... So Far

Last year one of my favourite bookish events here in the blogging community was Nonfiction November; it was my first time taking part but I quickly fell in love with it, for many reasons. Concluding the month, I just knew I had to take part again next year... And here we are!

This year I will be taking part in the weekly post prompts (on a Wednesday), as well as posting reading record posts each week (on a Monday). My intention for the month of November is to work through some of the unread nonfiction titles currently sitting on my shelves, and to read more nonfiction books within the month than fiction.

For those unfamiliar, the weekly post prompts are linky style, and hosted by one of the five hosts of the event. You can see the host of this week's prompt written below, and all five hosts linked at the end of this post.

Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions - What was your favourite nonfiction read of the year? Do you have a particular topic you've been attracted to more this year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven't read enough of yet? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

All the nonfiction books I've read so far this year (+ Goodreads links)

Going into the year, I had hopes of reading at least one nonfiction book a month - aside from the month of May when I set myself a challenge to read only from my unread middle grade books - and I have successfully achieved that. 

I've read some wonderful nonfiction this year - books about books (The Enchanted Hour + Why You Should Read Children's Books...), books with heart & strength (The Choice + No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference), books with lifestyle at the centre (The Minimalist Home) and books that have stirred wanderlust (Trekking Beyond + Around the World in 80 Trains + Tip of the Iceberg). I have enjoyed each and every one of the nonfiction titles I've completed so far this year.

There is one stand out book within the list of sixteen that I not only connected with the most, but would recommend the most - The Wild Remedy: How Nature Heals Us - A Diary by Emma Mitchell. You know those books that just speak to you on a different level, and you can relate to in many ways, The Wild Remedy has been that for me this year.

One area of nonfiction I do wish I had made time for this year is the topic of witches, witch hunts in the UK, and also the Salem witch trails. I have actually read a couple of fictional books surrounding these topics this year, but I haven't read any nonfiction. 

So that pretty much concludes my year in nonfiction so far. I don't have a specific TBR for the coming month of November, however I do have a significant stack of unread books already on my bookshelves that I'd like to make my way through. 

I've already shared my intentions for Nonfiction November above, but I would also like to add to that I am looking forward to meeting some new to me bloggers (I met so many last year!) & building my nonfiction wishlist.

To you all, happy reading this month!

Monday, 21 October 2019

Reading Record | Spookathon (My Lovely Wife + The Terror)

This past week I have been taking part in Spookathon, a week long readathon hosted by Kayla (of BooksandLala). I have taken part in Spookathon a couple of times now and it is such a fun event timed well, being so close to Halloween. 

Spookathon has been running for a good few years now, originally beginning to highlight & promote thriller books in the booktube community as they were not as widely read and recommended back then. Of course the book community has expanded greatly since then, however I love that Kayla keeps this event running as it is a great time to pick up some books that are slightly darker in nature. 

There are challenges in place, however this is quite a low pressure event, with reading a thriller being the overriding challenge. Going into the event I knew I would not meet all of the challenges outlined, however I did use them to form my TBR.

1. Read a thriller
2. Read a book with red on the cover
3. Read something with a spooky word in the title
4. Read something with a spooky setting
5. Read something you wouldn't normally read

Today I made a start in two books - My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing (102 pages read) and also The Terror by Dan Simmons (94 pages read). For now I am focusing on these two books as my TBR books, however I do have a third book I'd quite like to get to if possible... However, The Terror is nearly 950 pages, so we'll see how that goes!

My Lovely Wife is being counted towards the challenge of 'Read a thriller' and The Terror is being counted towards the challenge of 'Read something with a spooky word in the title'.

I focused solely on making progress in The Terror today and read to page 289, so nearly 200 pages read in total today. I think I could be further in this mammoth book by this point - even so early on in the readathon - however I'm happy to be reading at a steady pace with it, given I have been reading slower than usual for me lately. 

For those who may not be familiar with The Terror, it is historical fantasy horror fiction, focusing on the historical event of the failed 1845 Franklin Expedition to explore the Arctic, with a fictional spin. I chose this as my book with a spooky word in the title, but I would say the setting of trapped isolated ships & the polar regions, with it being unimaginably cold, is not only atmospheric but spine chilling & spooky too.

Wednesday is usually my busiest day of the week, so I anticipated getting little to no reading in today, however a number of things didn't quite go to plan today - just one of those days - which meant I actually got a really good amount of reading done.

I read over 100 pages in The Terror this morning, with my bookmark now sitting at the 400 page mark. I also picked up my thriller - My Lovely Wife - a couple of time throughout the day; I managed to read 136 pages on and off, now being on page 238 in the book.

I read a further 50 pages in The Terror & finished reading My Lovely Wife - book one of the readathon complete. YAY!

I feel quite conflicted in my thoughts of My Lovely Wife. 

The book follows a husband & wife who are murdered woman for pleasure, whilst continuing with their seemingly happy, normal life with a nice house, good jobs, and two teenage kids. Obviously I picked this book up because I was intrigued by the premise, but I had also heard a lot of positive feedback surrounding My Lovely Wife. 

I'm conflicted because I figured all the plot points (main points & sub plots) out along the way, quite a while before reveals, and I was also a tad unsure about the actual ending - I feel like elements were unrealistic/glossed over. However, I loved the writing of Samantha Downing - absolutely amazing for a debut novel - and did feel engrossed in the unfolding story. 

I am happy to have read this book though, and experienced it for myself.

Today I read just 20 pages of The Terror. I just wasn't in the reading mood, and I think it is so important to honour your feelings when it comes to reading - especially during a readathon!

Just two days left of the readathon and I have quite a big chunk of The Terror left to read. I did work out that I would need to read 233 pages each on both Saturday & Sunday to finish this book by the end of the readathon... Knowing that, I actually didn't end up reading my 233 pages for the day. I started on 470 and ended on 589. Bear in mind there are 936 pages in this book. I am a little worried about completing this solely tomorrow, but I am determined to finish The Terror during the readathon - whilst still giving it quality time - so I predict a BIG reading day tomorrow.

I did it! I finished The Terror - book two of the readathon complete! I had a couple of pretty intense chunks of reading time throughout the morning, and ended up finishing The Terror in early afternoon (much earlier than I would have anticipated).

Not only am I so happy to have finished this book during spookathon as I had hoped, but I feel a sense of achievement in general to have finished such a large book. I don't usually read chunksters - with this definitely being one of the longest books I've read - however I did find myself well invested in The Terror.

Despite the size of the book, the length of time in which passes throughout the book, the large cast of characters, and the varying POV that the story is told from, I did find The Terror to be an easy to follow read, with the plot holding me throughout. I didn't feel like any of the book was filler, with every chapter having its place and purpose. The multiple POV's really lent to a wider understanding within the book, and gave the plot great depth.

If you're someone who doesn't read horror books but is interested in starting, I think The Terror would be a good place to start.

(Goodreads links)

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

LibraryLoves Book Tag

Throughout the month of October I'm taking part in the Library Loves challenge - an event hosted by Jess (of Read by Jess) and a number of co hosts. The concept behind this month long reading event is to encourage those within the book community to show their local libraries some love & support. Here in the UK, libraries just don't have the support & funding they once did, so as a big library user myself, I'm all for showing the library love.

As part of the event, Jess has come up with a new book tag - you can watch her video here.

I don't know exactly, but quite young. I have such fond memories of using the mobile library (remember those?) during my childhood; it stopped at the end of our road and me & my sister would go along together.

Pretty regularly - more than once a month, but not quite weekly. It all depends on my reading pace & how many books I have out.

Yes... I've had late fees a couple of times - this is only when I've got the return date muddled and gone over by a day or two, so a few pennies or so.

Our local library is quite a small one, only open three days a week, but it has really good services on those days and brings the community together. There are great groups for all demographics (I have been to many groups with my son for varying kids ages) and there is just a lovely welcoming atmosphere whenever you pop in.

A bit of both. Often times I'll have reserved a book or two online and then browse when picking them up - this is at my local library. We have another library that is a couple of villages away in a town and I love browsing in that library as there is much more choice.

For this question (and the next) I thought I'd just focus on books I've borrowed this year. My answer would be All The Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry.

Again, honing in on just this year, I have two: The Way of All Flesh by Ambrose Parry & The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain.

I don't believe so.

There was a time when a short story collection I was reading felt so familiar - like I'd read those stories before - but there was no record of me having borrowed that book before so I think it was just a case of the same stories being grouped together in more than one collection. I didn't finish that book though as I knew everything that was happening, so stopped after the first five stories or so.

Not that I recall... Any recommendations would be welcome!

I actually haven't, no. I'm much more of a physical book reader, so those are the ones I borrow. I think it is great that books are available in varying formats though.

I honestly haven't been to that many libraries in my life... For the most part just small local libraries.

Our immediate local library (the village over from ours) is quite small and is only open 3 days a week, so if it was open more I'd probably use it more often - especially if it was open on weekends.

I don't often do tags, but I enjoyed this one. I'd love to hear about your library usage in the comments below!

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Currently Reading | Start of October

With a new month now here (how is it October already?!), I thought it would be the perfect time to sit down and talk about the books I'm currently reading and just general reading plans for the upcoming month.

I have four books (pictured above) that I'm reading at the moment - three fiction and one nonfiction. Of the four books, two are from my own shelves and the two are from the library.

For the month of October I'm taking part in #LibraryLoves, which is a month long event run by YouTuber Jessikah (of Read by Jess) and a number of co-hosts... If you're interested in the event, then you can find the announcement video here. As the title suggests, the concept of this reading event is to show libraries some love and encourage others to do so too. I'm a regular library user myself, and love that they are being shown more support in the bookish community. 

Given that I read a number of books a month from the library, naturally there would be some library borrows that I'm currently reading.

The Witchfinder's Sister is a totally new to me book that I picked up on a whim when browsing the library. I have read one Kazuo Ishiguro before (Never Let Me Go), and have heard good things about The Buried Giant, so picked that up when I saw it shelved at the library. I'm in the early stages of these books, but first impressions are proving to be positive. 

Next up I have the two books from my own bookshelves.

I've owned The Wolves of Winter for a little while now, having heard some good feedback in the book community regarding this title, and started reading it on the back of finishing a book similar in terms of being post apocalyptic (Moon of the Crusted Snow). I would say of the three fiction books I'm currently reading, The Wolves of Winter is my primary read.

Last, but by no means least, is my current nonfiction read. I quite enjoy nonfiction that relates to travel, our environment, and nature, with Arctic Dreams being quite a renowned book in this area, especially if you enjoy reading about polar settings (which I do). I have been reading this book for a good few weeks now, and am at the 119 page mark. My plan is to focus a little more on it now, given that I have more than half way left to go, as I intend to finish it before the arrival of Nonfiction November next month.

So there you have it, my current reads. What book(s) are you seeing the new month in with?

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Reading With My Five Year Old | Spring + Summer

Earlier on this month I shared my own little reading wrap up for the summer months, so I thought I'd sit down and do the same for Alexander (my son whose book journey I also document here on Reading with Jade)… Well, it's actually a two season wrap up, as although I wrote notes for his spring reading, I didn't actually write up the whole post. This is what spring & summer has looked like for my five year old, with regards to books.

Each spring World Book Day is celebrated (on the first Thursday of March), and here in the UK it is a pretty big deal with the schools. Each school has its own way of celebrating the event, with Alexander's school asking them to bring in their favourite book this year. 

Alexander's favourite book is everchanging, however he opted to share Sam Who Went to Sea with his classmates - this is a book about a river rat who fulfils his dream of sailing the seas.

Another event that is well loved & treasured within the schools here is the annual book fair. I still have fond memories myself of flicking through the leaflet of books available from my own childhood... The leaflets aren't sent home anymore, at least not at Alexander's school, however the children are able to have a sneak peek of the books that'll be there on the day a couple of days beforehand. On this sneak peek Alexander spotted a book called Catch A Dinosaur (a nonfiction book including a see & spot section) and was really set on picking this up at the book fair. When the book fair arrived, he made a beeline for the book (remembering where it was in the layout) and we also bought another book in the Zoe's Rescue Zoo series. Alexander had been talking just that morning about how he'd like another book in this series (as we've completed all the ones owned), and it just so happened that the one being stocked at the book fair was one he didn't already own. We had one happy boy coming home from the book fair.

Alexander has started referencing his books for information, as opposed to always asking us a question to get an answer. He absolutely loves learning about things from his nonfiction/informational books, but he'd never really reached for them before to answer a question until early this year. Also, if we're watching an animal documentary (he loves these!), he'll often ask to pause it if a certain animal intrigues him and looks to see if he can find it in this big book of animals he has (1000 Animals).

Recently my husband and I were talking about Alexander progressing with books, especially with regards to transitioning from picture books to chapter books. Of course Alexander can read picture books as long as he wishes, but there will come a point where chapter books are more prevalent and preferred... To which Nathan asked about decluttering the picture books in the future. This will of course be done at some point in the distant future, but I found myself so emotionally struck by the thought of it.

Many of the books Alexander owns he has had since very, very young, with his bookshelf still containing a number of books from when he was a baby. Alexander is very lucky to have the book collection he has, and I feel so privileged to have nurtured a reader (so far anyway) and share in the beauty of storytelling with him. I have so many wonderful & fond memories of us cocooned in the magical world of children's books... Because of this, I think parting with books of his will be harder than even parting with my own books (which I do on a regular basis). Of course the time will come, and when it does I will just have to remind myself of these things, as well as be thankful in the knowledge that the books will be being passed on to other children and foster their own reading journey.

Alexander took part in, and completed, the Summer Reading Challenge for the fourth year now.

The Summer Reading Challenge is run throughout the UK library system, with the aim of getting children to read, borrow books from the library, and generally be bookish.


Tom Percival (Bubble Trouble & Perfectly Norman) + Little Explorers (Dinosaurs & In the Rainforest & When I Grow Up)
Reading with Alexander is one of my favourite things to do, and I love that I'm able to document that here.

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Summer Reading Highlights

It has been a couple of months since I last blogged, and am now returning from my little break with some of my reading highlights from the summer months. I do tend to take a couple of months off blogging mid year, usually when the summer school holidays start to approach here in the UK, as I find my summer runs a lot more smoothly when I reduce the things I am wanting/needing to do. Although I stop posting here on my blog during that time, I do still keep up with my Twitter, as that definitely requires a lot less commitment - I've updated reading over there, shared book mail, and taken part in a couple of readathons (which I'll be talking more about in my highlights). 

So, here's all things bookish with me for the last two months... 

I read a total of 17 books during July & August - 13 fiction & 4 nonfiction.

I took part in two readathons during the summer months - in July I took part in 24in48 (a weekend event) and in August I took part in Bout of Books (a week long event).

If you're unfamiliar with 24in48, the main aim for the readathon is to read as much as possible with the goal of 24 hours read time within the 48 hour time period. I've never actually 'completed' the readathon as such by reading for a whole 24 hours, but it isn't a win or lose type of thing - just have fun reading more than you usually would.

I read for a total of 14 hours & 55 minutes and completed 4 books!

Much like the last readathon, the gist of Bout of Books is to read more than you usually would in a given time period - a week - and just have some bookish fun really with challenges, chats and being immersed more in a bookish community. This time around I didn't do any of the challenges, keeping it low pressure with my focus being reading.

Even though the event is a longer one, I technically read less than the 48 hour event, but of course circumstances & mood play a large part in any readathon - I ended Bout of Books having completed two books fully & reading 918 pages.

I think both readathons were successful in their own way, and I thoroughly enjoyed returning to these tried & true reading events for me.

Before my summer break, I briefly mentioned my Harry Potter reread - I'm still rereading them, but not as a primary read.

I initially started my reread in physical book format, switching between my regular paperbacks & the illustrated editions, however I soon turned this reread into an audiobook only one. I have never listened to the audiobooks in full as a reread, and so it has been a lot of fun returning to the wizarding world in this way.

I'm currently on the 4th book in the series... So a way to go yet!

I've found this summer that I have read at a much slower reading pace than in previous years - at one point going two weeks without having finished a book - and yet I didn't worry about it or think a slump was coming on... I just embraced the pace.

Just as with other areas of life, there are seasons to things: reading slow this summer just felt like the right thing to do. Savouring the books I was reading, and also sitting with them - absorbing them fully before moving on to another. I read quite a few books this summer that I found deeply thought provoking, as well as a couple of books that sent me on research projects having become fascinated with a topic.

As readers we are everchanging, and I do think the pace at which we read is something that adapts as we do. For now, I'm continuing with this slow pace.


I hope you all had a great summer of reading!

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Favourite Books of 2019 | First Half

With the conclusion of June, we are now officially half way through the year (I have no idea how! I swear time flies the older you get), and I thought it would be a good idea to reflect on my reading so far this year as well as share some favourites.

I don't typically wrap up my year with a favourites post, as many do within the blogging community, however for the last two years I have shared a 'Recommended Reading' post as a wrap up - highlighting books that I think others should read for a variety of reasons. For me, there is a difference between my favourite books, and my recommended reading. Of course I'd recommend all my favourite books (& some may even end up on my recommended reading), but my recommended reading isn't made up of my favourite books.

When I think about the books I recommend, it is often to do with the book itself - enjoying a specific plot element, the characters were incredibly well written, or I enjoyed the message behind the story, etc. When I think about the books I'd call favourites, it is more about my feelings and the overall reading experience. I hope I've explained that well!

Anyway, on to my favourites for the first half of 2019. I have three nonfiction titles and seven fiction - I wasn't aiming for ten in total, but it is a nice round number.

The Lost Man by Jane Harper (library borrow)

Trekking Beyond: Walk the World's Epic Trails (I was gifted my copy of this book in exchange for an honest review)
The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction (I was gifted my copy of this book in exchange for an honest review)

To me it has been interesting looking back on my reading year so far as I can notice shifts in my reading preferences... For example, I've been reading a lot more historical fiction this year, and a lot less thriller fiction. I do wonder how the second half of the year will pan out.

What has been your favourite book(s) of the year so far?

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Currently (Re)Reading | End of June

I have returned to Hogwarts.

This wasn't in my reading plan, in fact just last weekend I went to the library and borrowed a bunch of new books... However, I'm very much a mood reader, as I express a lot here on Reading with Jade, and right now I just need something familiar & comforting. 

I don't know where I'm going with this reread - will it be the whole series, or just a couple of the books (likely the former), but what I do know is I love being back in this world & with these characters.

Happy reading!

Monday, 10 June 2019

Recently Read Fiction + Currently Reading | June 10th

Throughout the month of May I had a self imposed reading challenge - to work through my unread middle grade books throughout the month - and whilst I really enjoyed the majority of the books I read (two titles being highly anticipated ones for the year), I have been happy to return to a regular reading pattern... A regular reading pattern being pretty much reading whatever I feel like!
I ended 'Middle Grade May' on the 29th of the month, and promptly devoured a whole fictional adult novel the following day, reading The Lost Man by Jane Harper. I've found with all three of Jane Harper's novels now that I'm able to fly through them, wanting to pick the story back up at any and every possible opportunity. 

Having been really quite invested in the Aaron Falk series, I was a little unsure about a standalone from Jane Harper... But at the same time this newest release of hers was one of my most anticipated titles going into the new year. There was no need for hesitation however, I came away from The Lost Man concluding it be my favourite of the three books Jane Harper has released.

The Dry & The Force of Nature are both books that are quite crime driven, whilst developing the character of Aaron Falk, whereas The Lost Man felt more character driven, with a crime/mystery tying everything together. I really enjoyed this slight variation, and felt the characters (especially that of main character, Nathan Bright) to be really well crafted - detailed backstory, life events that feel true to life, authentic reactions in certain situations, and more. The setting of outback Australia was really well presented, with the remote landscape lending to the desperation and isolation of certain characters. Also, the dynamics of the Bright family were really interesting to follow, although hard to read at times.

The Lost Man is quite a dark story, with abuse themes running throughout, however there were glimmers of light to be found within, and as a reader, it was nice to see that it wasn't all doom & gloom for characters you had connected with. 

Before finishing my talk about The Lost Man, I did just want to touch upon the title of this book - something I actually thought about quite a lot whilst reading - as it felt like such a fitting title for the book. The Lost Man could have applied to a handful of characters within the book, and I appreciate how appropriate of a title it is.

(Goodreads link)
Following on from The Lost Man, I picked up The Drowned Village by Kathleen McGurl; a new to me book & new to me author, I went in knowing very little about both.

The Drowned Village is told from a duel perspective, with the narrative being told in a present day timeline as well as a historic timeline largely from the 1930's.

Stella Walker grew up in a small village - an everybody knows everyone, we take care of our own type village - in The Lake District, however at the age of eleven the place she had always called home - Brackendale Green - is emptied and demolished making way for a new reservoir. This year, 1935, is significant for Stella in many other, including the death of her mother, and a long held mystery that still haunts Stella to this day, as an old woman in her 90's. 

When a heatwave arrives, and leaves areas of the Lake District dried up, Stella encourages her granddaughter, Laura, to visit the place she once called home, and to help her clear up & conclude a part of her own history.

The mystery is definitely what held me the most in The Drowned Village; it was intriguing and I really liked the little details that wove the modern day narrative & historic narrative together. I wasn't too keen on the romance side of this book (as it felt a little cliché at times), but it didn't deter me finishing the book, nor ruin my reading experience as a whole. I was held and engaged throughout my time with The Drowned Village, and would be interested in reading more books by Kathleen McGurl.

(Goodreads link)
Having just really enjoyed the historical elements of The Drowned Village, I decided to pick up another book steeped in history, heading to my shelves and deciding on The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola. 

In The Story Keeper we follow Audrey Hart, a young woman who is fleeing London in the hopes of securing a job as an assistant to a folklorist in Scotland - specifically on the Isle of Skye. Audrey has some of her own history with the island, and is keen to help out, and assist, Charlotte Buchanan, as a means of becoming independent of her family. 

There is a lot of change happening on the Isle of Skye, and Miss Buchanan is hoping to finish her book of folklore very soon, as more and more residents of the island are moving away. 

'"Every group of people have their own stories that they create to make sense of their world. Therefore, in folk stories, in fairy tales, we see the reflection of humankind: its strength, flaws, hopes, fears. They tell us what it takes to survive. That, Miss Hart, is why the stories are important, and why they must be protected."'

As Audrey settles in and adjusts to the island, young girls start going missing... Feeling invested and connected with the disappearances, Audrey sets out to discover exactly where these girls going, and what is happening on the island. Are the disappearances linked to the folklore the locals talk of, or is it something much more sinister?

Anna Mazzola has a beautiful writing style, and has pieced this story together so well.

The Story Keeper is an atmospheric mystery, with the backdrop and characters only lending to the darkness of the tale. If I were describe this book in one word, eerie would be it. I highly recommend this book if you're looking for an absorbing historical fiction read.

(Goodreads link)
Start as you mean to go on they say... And I did, with another historical fiction book, this one being a family saga: The Garden of Lost and Found by Harriet Evans. 

I first read a book by Harriet Evans last summer, and upon completion, knew I'd be keen to read more books of hers. The Garden of Lost and Found is her newest release, and I borrowed my copy from the library. At 480 pages, in hardcover, it is a chunkster, but a story I'm happy to have committed to. 

In the beginning, I did find it quite hard to fall into the story as present day main character, Juliet, leads a rather chaotic life which put me on edge a little, but also a lot of characters were being introduced in a short space of time and piecing together the threads was a little tricky at times... But once I got to grips on all of that, around the 100 page mark, I flew through this book quite quickly. 

The story centres around Nightingale House, a house that has been in the family for generations, with possession falling to Juliet at a time in her life when she is very much in need of a change. Once there, family history and long held secrets soon unravel.

I do quite enjoy books like this: family sagas that often focus around a house/building, and think that in itself is one of the main reasons I enjoyed this book as much as I did.

(Goodreads link)
Last, but by no means least, I want to talk about my reading experience of The Hiding Places by Katherine Webb... And I'm sure you've already guessed that it's another historical fiction. What can I say, I'm very much a mood reader and have clearly been on a historical fiction kick of late.

I came across The Hiding Places by chance, whilst placing reservations for other books from the library online. The Hiding Places came up as a recommendation - I was drawn to the cover, and have read and enjoyed two other books by Katherine Webb, so I took a chance and reserved this one also.

Katherine Webb is a wonderful writer, and that shines through in The Hiding Places - she sets the scene of the story so vividly that you feel as if you are there yourself, with well crafted characters that you feel you know, and a story that you want to savour but also want to get to the end of to unravel the mystery; I find her stories truly engage and absorb a reader.

I don't know how to talk about the plot of this book, as it is so cleverly done and best left going in knowing little, as I did. I will say though, that if you have ever wanted to pick up a Katherine Webb book, do with this one, and dedicate yourself to the story and her writing... Pay attention; it is very important. 

The Hiding Places is my favourite Katherine Webb book I've read so far, and also one of my favourites for the year too.

(Goodreads link)
As of posting this, I'm not currently reading any fiction books at the moment... Today I'm going to pick up some new books from the library (& return old ones) that I've put aside for the next round of the Buzzword Readathon which starts on Wednesday 12th. If you want to find out more about this readathon then you can check the Twitter page - here.

Happy reading!

Friday, 31 May 2019

Reading Record | Middle Grade May (Week 4)

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 monthly, however readathons and certain books will have their own specific reading record.

During the month of May I had challenged myself to read largely from my middle grade shelf, wanting to make a good dent in the unread books sitting on it. This post is sharing how I got on during my final week (& a few extra days).

All in all, I'm really happy with the amount of middle grade books I read in May - 12 books in total. 

Today I finished reading Frostfire by Jamie Smith - what I would describe as a high fantasy middle grade book. Whilst I appreciated the story, and greatly enjoyed certain elements such as the history, surroundings and world building, I didn't find myself as engaged with this book as much as others I've read this May.

In the evening I started Explorers on Witch Mountain (5 chapters read), which is the second book in a series by author Alex Bell. Although it has been a good number of months since I read the first book - The Polar Bear Explorers' Club - I found myself falling back into the story & returning to the characters so easily. 

Further reading done in Explorers on Witch Mountain - I'm now on page 122. 

I actually started reading a nonfiction book today that doesn't fall into the MG category, so I'm not going to talk about it a lot here in this reading record - but I did want to acknowledge it; this is the first time I have deviated from middle grade reading this month.

No reading done.

I read a further 70 pages in Explorers on Witch Mountain today, which means I have now passed the half way mark.

I finished reading Explorers on Witch Mountain by Alex Bell. I thoroughly enjoyed returning to the world of explorers, and the ending of this book definitely alluded to another adventure being in the works - which is exciting!

If you're looking for a fun middle grade read then I highly recommend this series. Not only are the plots and adventures engaging, but the dynamics of the friendship group are written well & authentically, the humour weaved throughout is wonderful, and there are morals and messages to be found along the way which I always appreciate in books written for this audience. 

Before bed today I read the first 5 chapters of the next book in the Find-Outers series by Enid Blyton - The Mystery of the Strange Messages (book 14).

I read up to page 182 in The Mystery of the Strange Messages by Enid Blyton.

Today I finished book 14 in the Find-Outers series. I have just the one to go now before completing the entire series - I think that is totally doable in the remaining days of May.

Moving on to the final book of the series, today I read just under 100 pages of The Mystery of Banshee Towers by Enid Blyton - with this book being 190(ish) pages (one of the shorter ones in the series), I'm already half way through.

Today I finished book 15, and the Find-Outers series as a whole. This is the second series I have completed of Enid Blyton's now... The first series was The Adventure series, which had 8 books, and that I think I enjoyed perhaps marginally more. I'm happy to have read the Find-Outers series and been involved in all the fun mysteries, however it seemed to lose focus a bit towards the end, in my opinion. 


Happy reading!

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Reading Record | Middle Grade May (Week 3)

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.

Throughout the month of May I've challenged myself to read through the numerous unread middle grade books I have on my shelves; this post shares how I got on during week three.

I'm going into this new week having gone over the remaining books on my TBR, and roughly pulled together a timeline of as and when I hope to complete specific books. Overall, I'm happy with the rate at which I'm reading and the progress I'm making.

I started The Secret of the Night Train by Sylvia Bishop today; it is proving to be a really fun mystery read.

The Secret of the Night Train is one of those books you have a hard time putting down - not only is it an easy read, but engrossing also... Which is why I managed to finish it today. This was my first reading experience of this author, and I'll definitely be on the lookout for more books by her.

In The Secret of the Night Train we follow main character, Max, as she journeys from Paris to Istanbul - via 4 trains - in order to visit her great aunt. On route, Max finds herself mixed up in a mystery: a prominent jewel thief also appears to be taking the same journey as Max, and alongside the unlikely accomplice of a nun, Max is determined to detect & uncover the criminal. 

The story itself is engaging, funny, and also a little random at times, which amounted to a really enjoyable story. I would liken The Secret of the Night Train to Agatha Christie, but for a younger audience. 

I don't often read too much on a Wednesday as it is usually my 'busy day', however I did manage to read a handful of chapters in Frostfire by Jamie Smith - a fantasy adventure book that I actually started at the very beginning of May, and am slowly making my way back to.

Ended today on page 130 of Frostfire by Jamie Smith.

You know those days when it's grey and dreary outside, and all you want to do is hibernate with a good book and copious amounts of tea... That's how I felt this Friday morning, and after dropping my son off to school, I did just that - finding myself consumed in Our Castle by the Sea; I finished it in just a few hours.

Our Castle by the Sea is the second middle grade novel by Lucy Strange - I read Lucy's debut MG novel last year (The Secret of Nightingale Wood) and was totally blown away by it. This newest release hones in on the Smith family, lighthouse keepers on the English Coast, during the beginning of World War 2. Although middle grade fiction, Lucy Strange focuses on slightly darker matters in her writing, with the characters facing life changing, and often times devastating, events; she writes these with such delicacy though. 

I did really like Our Castle by the Sea, however it did feel slightly familiar to me as I read, with Letters from the Lighthouse by Emma Carroll springing to mind at times when reading.

Read a further few chapters in Frostfire today.

I had hoped to finish reading Frostfire today, however that didn't happen and I'm okay with that! I'm ending the week with 70 pages left in this book, and just under a handful of unread books left on my TBR for May.


Happy reading!
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