Tuesday, 29 January 2019

January Nonfiction Reviews | Trekking Beyond + The Minimalist Home



- source: for review -
I was gifted my copy of Trekking Beyond for free via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
A stunning photographic journey to the world's most iconic walking destinations.

Discover the epic drama of mountain trails, windswept coastal paths, dense forest walks and the immense canyons, glaciers and ocean vistas only your feet can take you to.

Vivid essays introduce the world's best trekking regions - from the Himalayas to the Andes, the wilds of the Scottish Highlands to the dusty Australian Outback - exploring the challenges of walking these paths, the history of their formation and the sense of exploration and wonder to be found along these distinctive routes. Each route is accompanied by stunning photography, showcasing the variety of terrains and their magnificent vistas.

Whether you're a seasoned & well travelled walker, or just enjoy exploring via an armchair, Trekking Beyond is the book for you. Sure to inspire and evoke wanderlust, this book strikes the balance between description, information, and visuals perfectly. 

In this coffee table travel book we traverse the world on foot, exploring some of the most well trod treks and trails, as well as those that see barely 100 hikers a year. You'll find 40 walks within Trekking Beyond, with them being split up and grouped together based on location. I found the formatting of this really well done, and was impressed with the variety of destinations included. 

I couldn't share my thoughts on Trekking Beyond without mentioning the stunning photography that runs alongside the text; stunning is an understatement to be honest. My reading of this book was done via an e-galley copy, however I will definitely be adding a physical copy of Trekking Beyond to my own book collection; it is one of those books I see myself picking up and poring over time & time again. 

Full of history, knowledge and expert insight, Trekking Beyond is an amazing catalogue of awe inspiring adventures.

- source: for review -
I was gifted my copy of The Minimalist Home for free via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
One of today's most influential minimalist advocates takes us on a decluttering tour of our own houses and apartments, showing us how to decide what to get rid of and what to keep. He both offers practical guidelines for simplifying our lifestyle at home and addresses underlying issues that contribute to over-accumulation in the first place. The purpose is not just to create a more inviting living space. It's also to turn our life's HQ - our home - into a launching pad for a more fulfilling and productive life in the world.

Going into The Minimalist Home I was already aware of the author - Joshua Becker - and his approach to minimalism, having followed his online content for a good few years now. He was one of the first minimalists I followed, at the beginning of my decluttering journey, and found his approach to be one that resonated with me - especially with regards to minimalism as a family & with children.

In The Minimalist Home we are introduced to a well thought out and methodical process in which to declutter a home - working room by room (side note: many of the spaces included aren't in your average UK home, especially if you live in an older property, as we do), starting with the easiest and working up to the hardest. I think this process of decluttering would be especially great for someone who is reluctant to declutter, or is perhaps overwhelmed by the amount of possessions they actually own. You aren't thrown in at the deep end!

As well as sharing a successful decluttering method, inside The Minimalist Home you'll also find case studies, tips, and inspirational quotes littered throughout that are sure to motivate you regardless of what stage you're at in your minimalist journey. Speaking of the journey that comes with decluttering, Joshua Becker doesn't just advise you on a method in which to declutter and leave you there, he also talks about how you can maintain all that hard work you've put into your house and the decluttering process - this is super helpful.

The Minimalist Home is a great book for those looking for an accessible and achievable approach to minimalism - it isn't about getting rid of all your things, but asking yourself choice questions in order to cultivate a home that reflects and aligns with your own personal beliefs and values.

Monday, 28 January 2019

Reading Record | 24in48

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.

This reading record is for my participation in 24in48 - which took place between Saturday 26th January - Sunday 27th January.

One of my reading goals for this year is to take part in more readathons and bookish events (something I already love doing), and although I already have a few favourites which I enjoy participating in, I knew I want to give some new ones ago also - 24in48 was the event at the top of my 'new to me readathons' list.

Going into 24in48 I knew I wouldn't be able to read for the full 24 hours, however I specifically blocked out 24 from my weekend, so the possibility was there. I split my 24 hours into 6 blocks of 4, with 3 blocks on each day (Saturday & Sunday). I also decided to run my readathon during my own time zone, as opposed to the official time zone - being in the UK, this makes it easier on myself. So I had a plan, a TBR (see opening photo), and book filled weekend on the cards... Here's how it all panned out.

Block One: 6am - 10am
I got stuck in straight away with what I would deem my main read for 24in48: The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley, and read 134 pages. 

I also started a collection of short stories by Agatha Christie (titled The Listerdale Mystery). I really enjoyed the first, which is the titled story, and then moved onto the second, which felt distinctly familiar to me - and it very quickly transpired that I had read this short story before. I read another short story collection of hers last year, so perhaps it was included in that also.

In total I read for 3 hours and 5 minutes.

Block Two: 12pm - 4pm
I read a further 150 pages in my main book, with my bookmark now sitting on page 286 in The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley. 

Again, to break up my reading, I thought I'd dip back in to the Christie short story collection again... I read the third, then moving onto the fourth - well, I'd read that one previously too. Was this the short story collection I read last year, and just did not realise?! Well, nope. I looked in my reading journal, checked Goodreads, and even did a search of the title on my blog, all of which yielded no results of having read this collection prior. The collection I read last year was titled differently. Interesting...

In total I read for 2 hours and 23 minutes.

Block Three: 6pm - 10pm
I actually didn't even make it to the end of this block, heading to bed before the 10pm mark, however I did complete my main read for the event, with all 475 pages of the Samuel Hawley book read. I quite enjoyed this book, and will share my thoughts in a fiction review post very soon.

I ended up DNF'ing the Agatha Christie short story collection. I'm 100% convinced I haven't read this book before, but I've definitely read many of the stories inside - I moved on to story 5 within the book, which was all new to me, but then story 6 was oh so familiar again. Every other story I have read before. I do enjoy Agatha Christie's writing, but I don't want to continue with a book that I've largely read previously, only just last year. A bemusing situation though.

In total I read for 2 hours 7 minutes.

Block One: 6am - 10am
The plan for today is to read my three Enid Blyton mysteries from the Find-Outers series (book 8, 9, 10 in the series) - one book for each block of time. I think that's pretty doable.

In total I read for 2 hours 16 minutes and completed book 8 - The Mystery of the Invisible Thief.

Block Two: 12pm - 4pm
Going strong, with book 9 of the series complete - The Mystery of the Vanished Prince; not my favourite of the series so far, but enjoyed nonetheless.

In total I read for 2 hours 4 minutes.

Block Three: 6pm - 10pm
I actually didn't start reading until gone 7 in this final block of time, but I still achieved my goal of reading all 3 Enid Blyton books today, having finished book 10 - The Mystery of the Strange Bundle.

In total I read for 1 hour 52 minutes. I find it interesting how as I progressed with these three books, although they technically got longer in length (they are all less than 250 pages though), I sped through them quicker. 

TOTAL AMOUNT OF TIME READ DURING 24IN48: 13 hours and 47 minutes.
With that as a time, and four books read in total, I'm more than happy with that for a weekend of reading!


You can find more information about 24in48 here. The next event takes place July 20th - July 21st.

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Reading With My Five Year Old | Winter

Well... It has been a while since I last documented my reading with Alexander - proof of that being that in my last post he was four, and I'm now reading with a five year old!

Seasonally I sit down and share a little about the books Alexander and I have been reading of late... I love documenting my own reading journey here on Reading with Jade, and I think it'll be great to look back on Alexander's and see how his reading preferences change over time also. For some reason, I honestly have no idea why, I skipped sharing an autumn edition of these posts, but I'm back now with some winter reads.

Since I last spoke about Alexander's books, he has begun reading himself. Now in full time school, Alexander has been delving further than ever before in to the world of phonics and reading, using the books I myself learned to read with way back in the day. We are in the early stages of learning to read, but I am absolutely loving watching Alexander read and form words on a page; although a reluctant reader in a sense (he'd rather be read to than read himself), he can indeed read well. This was one of the many milestones I have been looking forward to as a parent, and I just feel such pride at his progression, knowing all that he is unlocking.

As always, we've been enjoying a good number of picture books, with us reading one every night before bed; often times we're reading the same ones time and time again, which hey, I can't complain - I love to reread also! I wanted to share a few that I don't think I've mentioned on here before, and that were definitely loved: Penguins Can't Fly by Katherine SullyLittle Bear and the Wishing Tree by Norbert Landa, and Perfectly Norman by Tom Percival.

For Christmas one of the things we got Alexander was a big bag full of books, including a boxset of Zoe's Rescue Zoo titles. Alexander loves books with animals being a focal feature, and so these have gone down well - we have steadily been working our way through them. As soon as we finish one, Alexander puts his bookmark ready in the next one he wants to read! Meep, Zoe's lemur best friend, is Alexander's favourite character (he says he is adorable), and he loves guessing what the name of each new animal will be.

I am loving seeing Alexander so engaged and enthused with a book series!

Alexander loves nonfiction books, and learning more about the things he has great interest in. There are two things in particular he is most curious, and knowledgeable, about - polar regions and prehistoric animals. Our recent nonfiction reads reflect these interests greatly, with us having taken from & garnered vast amounts of information from: It's all about... Freezing PolesSea Monsters, and Land Roamers.
And so that concludes a snippet of our reading during these winter months. Reading with Alexander is one of my favourite things to do, and I love that I'm able to document that here.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

January Fiction Reviews | When All Is Said + The Smell of Other People's Houses + More


When All Is Said by Anne GriffinThe Lightkeeper's Daughters by Jean Pendziwol |
All The Truth That's In Me by Julie BerryThe Smell of Other People's Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

- source: for review -
I was gifted my copy of When All Is Said for free via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
A tale of a single night. The story of a lifetime. 

If you had to pick five people that sum up your life, who would they be? If you were to raise a glass to each of them, what would you say? And what would you learn about yourself, when all is said and done?

This is the story of Maurice Hannigan, who, over the course of a Saturday night in June, orders five different drinks at the Rainford House Hotel. With each he toasts a person vital to him: his doomed older brother, his troubled sister-in-law, his daughter of fifteen minutes, his son far off in America, and his late, lamented wife. And through these people, the ones who left him behind, he tells the story of his own life, with all its regrets and feuds, loves and triumphs. 

Beautifully written, powerfully felt, When All Is Said promises to be the next great Irish novel.

We begin When All Is Said by meeting 84 year old Maurice Hannigan, a man who has lived quite the life and is about to share snippets of it with us readers, sitting at the bar of a local hotel, ready to raise five toasts to five very important people through the course of the evening. 

The premise of this book sounds simple to an extent, and yet I was engaged throughout - wanting to know more about Maurice's life, and those he loved & trusted. Maurice shares stories of his life with regards to the people he toasts, and talks with such honesty and candidness through it all; the good & the bad. I felt like I knew Maurice, as an old friend, and the feelings he conveyed filled me with emotion. The toasts to his brother, Tony, and his wife, Sadie, truly hit me the most. 

Anne Griffin has written a touching and thought provoking read, with you recalling the own moments and memories that have shaped your life, just as Maurice does. They way in which she writes connects you to the story of Maurice, but your own also.

As you get comfortable in Maurice's story, you know how it is going to end, and yet the ending still hurts; once finished, I put this book down with a heavy heart, however Maurice Hannigan is a man well worth meeting.

- source: my bookshelf -
Elizabeth's eyes have failed. She can no longer read the books she loves or see the paintings that move her, but her mind remains sharp and music fills the vacancy left by her blindness. 

When her father's journals are discovered on a shipwrecked boat, she enlists the help of a delinquent teen, Morgan, to read to her. As an unlikely friendship grows between them, Elizabeth is carried back to her childhood home - the lighthouse on Porphyry Island, Lake Superior - and to the memory of her enigmatic twin sister Emily. 

But for Elizabeth, the faded pages of her father's journals reveal more secrets than she anticipates.

Mystery runs deep throughout The Lightkeeper's Daughters, as the lives of Elizabeth and Morgan serendipitously intertwine. Elizabeth is an elderly lady living in a care home, and Morgan a troublesome teen assigned to community service at the care home in which Elizabeth resides. As the two cross paths, an unexpected bond is formed.

The story itself is, for the most part, told in alternating chapters between Elizabeth and Morgan. This storytelling method is an effective way in which to get to know both main characters individually, as well as seeing the relationship between them evolve from both sides. Once you settle into the book and follow the flow, as well as identifying the two distinct voices of Elizabeth and Morgan, The Lightkeeper's Daughters is a truly captivating read.

Elizabeth tasks Morgan with reading her dad's journals from when he worked as a lighthouse keeper, with Elizabeth sensing some long held family secrets may be being stored within. It is through these journals that the two connect, with life long mysteries slowly being revealed. I really enjoyed the pacing of this book, as well as the overall plot, and the way in which the author wrote surroundings and landscape was atmospheric at times.

The Lightkeeper's Daughters is the kind of book where the little you know going in, the better. I will say though, if you're a fan of historical fiction & family sagas, this would be a great pick for you.

For me, this was one of those books you find yourself  buying on a total whim, but I'm happy to have done so as I've discovered a gem of a read.

- source: library borrow -
Four years ago, Judith and her best friend disappeared from small town Roswell Station. Two years ago, only Judith returned, permanently mutilated, reviled and ignored by those who were once her friends and family. Unable to speak, Judith lives like a ghost in her own home, silently pouring out her thoughts to the boy who's owned her heart as long as she can remember - even if he doesn't know it - her childhood friend, Lucas. But when Roswell station is attacked, long-buried secrets come to light, and Judith is forced to choose: continue to live in silence, or recover her voice, even it means changing her world, and the lives around her, forever.

Going into this book, I knew literally nothing about it other than the short blurb on the back, so reading it definitely came with a few surprises - the first being just how much I enjoyed All The Truth That's In Me. The other surprises include the fact that this book is historical fiction, as opposed to contemporary which I had initially thought it was when borrowing from the library.

All The Truth That's In Me is the story of Judith, who not so long ago returned to her hometown after being missing; when she arrives home she is without a portion of her tongue. The traditional tight knit community, largely governed by religion, doesn't take kindly to Judith's return, especially as she isn't sharing about her time away from the town.

The book is told from Judith's perspective, often flitting between day to day life and the years in which she was missing, in short, sharp chapters. I would say it took me the first 50 pages in order to get into Judith's mind, what with the story telling method, but once in I felt compelled to keep reading.

Judith is a character you quickly come to like - you can feel her love for Lucas, her frustrations at many a thing, the heart & kindness that she has for others. Watching Judith transform over the course of the story is a beautiful thing (in fact my favourite thing within the pages).

Although a dark read at times, there is hope & light in the unfolding story. I'm happy to have stumbled across this book.

- source: library borrow -
Alaska, 1970: growing up here is like nowhere else. 

Ruth wants to be remembered by her grieving mother.
Dora wishes she was invisible to her abusive parents.
Alyce is staying at home to please her parents.
Hank is running away for the sake of his brothers.

Four very different lives are about to become entangled. Because if we don't save each other, how can we begin to save ourselves?

Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock's extraordinary, stunning debut is both moving, and deeply authentic. These intertwining stories of love, tragedy, wild luck and salvation on the edge of America's Last Frontier introduce a writer of rare and wonderful talent.

The Smell of Other People's Houses is four stories in one, with four teenage narrators whose lives all connect in some way or other. We meet all four - Ruth, Hank, Dora and Alyce - at crucial life moments, and follow along as life plays out over the course of four seasons in 1970's Alaska.

I sped through this book in just two days - it is short in length, with my copy being just over 250 pages, and yet the author has packed so much into it... But in a good way! I found myself quickly invested in the lives of these kids, especially that of Ruth & Hank.

Ruth, Hank, Dora and Alyce have such depth to them as characters; they are complex with flaws and vulnerabilities and felt like such genuine people. Not only were the four main characters really well written, but the entire cast were too. The dynamics of various relationships throughout the book were well crafted also - especially the intricacies of familial relationships.

I definitely couldn't review this book without mentioning Alaska - the setting of The Smell of Other People's Houses, with it reading like an extra character at times. The portrayal of Alaska was insightful and explorative; I felt as if I had been transported... You can definitely tell that the author was born & raised within this environment.

I think this quote - taken from the pages of this book - makes for a nice conclusion to my thoughts, and sums up The Smell of Other People's Houses quite nicely...
'Sometimes you can be inserted into another person's life just by witnessing something you were never really supposed to be a part of.'

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Reading Record | Bout of Books

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.

This reading record is for my participation in Bout of Books 24 - which took place between Monday 7th January - Sunday 13th January.

I'm starting this readathon unsure of a full TBR (I'm usually more prepared than this), but beginning on page 40 of The Lightkeeper's Daughters (I started this book yesterday). 

Today I read 90 pages in total. 

I also popped to the library this morning, and picked up a couple of books that I intend to read this week... So I started the day without a TBR, but ended it with one. The two books I picked up: All The Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry and The Smell of Other People's Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock. I have had my eye on The Smell of Other People's Houses for a good while now, and picked up the other title on a total whim when I saw it in the YA section at the library. I haven't read a book that I know literally nothing about in some time, so that'll be interesting.

87 pages read today. I'm hoping that with the pace I'm progressing at, I should finish The Lightkeeper's Daughters tomorrow. It is a captivating read, but also one that I'm keen to savour.

Book 1 complete! 

I finished reading The Lightkeeper's Daughters in the afternoon, and so after many hours of letting the story sink in and settle with me, I then picked up my next book late evening - All The Truth That's In Me. 

By the end of the day I read 130 pages - the remaining 90 pages I had of The Lightkeeper's Daughters, and also the first 40 pages of my next read.

54 pages read today.

I found myself quite distracted today, and came across a readathon (yes, another one!) that may help me with combating the distraction - Off The Grid Readathon. I was already aware of this readathon, following them on Twitter, but hadn't yet taken part in an event, and combining it with Bout of Books over the weekend seems like a great idea. The aim behind Off The Grid Readathon is to put down your devices and distractions, and read as much as possible - starting Friday. Will it increase the amount I'm reading? We shall see.

Book 2 complete!

Today I finished reading All The Truth That's In Me (totalling 172 pages read) - and wow, what a book. One of the reasons I love using the library is finding backlist gems like this book.

After some much needed breathing space with my last book, today I started reading The Smell of Other People's Houses. 

In total today I read 133 pages, which brings me to just over half way through this book already. Can I keep this pace and have completed 3 books during Bout of Books? I hope so! And it is likely, as I'm so drawn to The Smell of Other People's Houses.

Book 3 complete! YAY!

I read the remaining 121 pages of The Smell of Other People's Houses today. Taking part in the Off The Grid Readathon definitely helped towards finishing 3 books during Bout of Books, but great reads played a part also.
All in all, I read 787 pages, and finished 3 books.
If you're interested in hearing my full thoughts on any of the mentioned titles, I will be sharing my book reviews for the first half of January this week.

You can find more information about Bout of Books here. The next event takes place May 13th - May 19th.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Recommended Reading | Read in 2018

With the new year now here (wishing you all a wonderful one), I thought I'd sit down and write my 'Recommended Reading' post. Last year was the first in which I concluded the year with a 'Recommended Reading' post, and which saw the introduction of a new page on my blog with the same name (you can see the tab above). 

Many wrap up the year by sharing their favourites reads, or their top rated titles, understandably so, however my recommended reads aren't necessarily my absolute favourites from the year - but books that I read, enjoyed, and would recommend to others for a whole host of reasons; perhaps I enjoyed the message being put forward, found amazing world building, loved a strong character found within, or happily discovered a new favourite author. For one reason or another, I recommend these fourteen books to you!

All books are listed in order of when I read them, and all title links will take you to Goodreads

What book(s) did you read, enjoy, and would recommend, from 2018?

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

All The Books I Read in 2018

I know this is going to be an already SUPER (and I mean SUPER) long post, so I won't be doing my usual ramble of an intro... Here are all the books I read in 2018.

Books listed in order of reading, with all titles linked to Goodreads

82. Dolly by Susan Hill (reread)

108 of them! I am blown away! I've never read so many books in a year, and am so happy with this accomplishment of mine.

Happy 2019 to you all & happy reading!
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