LIFE!

This year has been a very taxing one for me in many different ways. Personally, it has been a rollercoaster not knowing from one day to the next where my life is heading. Health wise it has sucked with constant illness. As for reading and blogging, it has been mediocre and disappointing.

I have read over 30 books which is a feat in itself with the year I have had plus I decided in my infinite wisdom to actually pay for this blog so it would be seen by a wider audience.  Yet I think I miss the mark. I want to bring thoughtful, interesting and helpful reviews to the world but it seems that people are more interested in the long drawn out reviews that delve deep into the soul of the person who has read the book rather than the actual book itself. Call me cynical but it is true. You only have to see the people on Goodreads (as an example) who write paragraph after paragraph about how the book was so horrid that they now need therapy to get over it. Instead of writing that they didn’t like it and state the reasons why in a polite and helpful way to their fellow readers. Instead, we are forced to read about how the book and author have scarred them for life and they hate the book and want everyone else on their friend’s list to hate it too.

Sure people are going to think I am having a moan and that there are some deep seeded reasons behind the above paragraph but the simple fact is the majority do not want simple anymore. They crave drawn out, complicated and spite filled subjects to read about.

I often sit and ponder what can I do to draw more people to my blog? Do I write more about myself in a non-book related way?  Or am I just wasting time in a world where everyone has a blog in this digital jungle?

 

Reciting From Memory by Jim Landwehr

reciting from memory

My Review:
Reviewed for author for honest review

Jim’s poems were an eye-opening experience for me. As a person who does not read poetry very often and only for reviewing purposes, I always thought of poems being things that have to rhyme to make sense. This collection of poems are more like mini stories. They are beautifully written, giving the reader a great insight into one man’s life. It has not been an easy life by all means but the overwhelming love for family and faith shine through the sadness and brings light where darkness once prevailed.

If you are a lover of poetry with a difference. Prose that paints a very clear and vivid picture of life with all it’s joys and heartaches then this collection is definitely one worth reading.

Written Life by Jim Landwehr

written life

My Review:

Reviewed for author for honest review

A beautiful collection of quirky and sometimes abstract poems give the reader a glimpse of the world from the perspective of the author. A world that is filled with love, loss, grief, joy and ultimately, faith.

Lovers of poetry will read this collection with a smile on their lips, and a tear in their eye. A strong theme throughout is that life has not been easy for the writer of these poems. Suffering loss on a scale that some would never experience, but through it all there is hope and faith.

 

The book consists of 10 different sections:

On Home containing 5 poems
On Place containing 6 Poems
On Pets containing 5 Poems
On Life containing 7 Poems
On Family containing 7 Poems
On Love containing  5 Poems
On Death containing 9 Poems
On Youth containing 6 Poems
On Religion containing  8 Poems
On Writing containing  5 Poems

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa De La Cruz

 

P and P and Mistletoe

Story Outline:

Darcy Fitzwilliam is 29, beautiful, successful, and brilliant. She dates hedge funders and basketball stars and is never without her three cellphones—one for work, one for play, and one to throw at her assistant (just kidding). Darcy’s never fallen in love, never has time for anyone else’s drama, and never goes home for Christmas if she can help it. But when her mother falls ill, she comes home to Pemberley, Ohio, to spend the season with her dad and little brother.

Her parents throw their annual Christmas bash, where she meets one Luke Bennet, the smart, sardonic slacker son of their neighbor. Luke is 32 and has never left home. He’s a carpenter and makes beautiful furniture, and is content with his simple life. He comes from a family of five brothers, each one less ambitious than the other. When Darcy and Luke fall into bed after too many eggnogs, Darcy thinks it’s just another one night stand. But why can’t she stop thinking of Luke? What is it about him? And can she fall in love, or will her pride and his prejudice against big-city girls stand in their way?

 

My Review:

Reviewed for Netgalley and Hachette Australia

Publication date: 31st October 2017

When the title of this book caught my eye, I was interested in reading it to see what it was like. Being a huge fan of the original Pride and Prejudice I thought it would be interesting to see how the author handles the re-telling in a modern setting. Another thing that enticed me to read it was the role reversals of the main characters Darcy is a female and the male is Luke Bennet. I have previously read books based on Pride and Prejudice which I have enjoyed. This re-telling did not disappoint either. 

With a storyline that flows well keeping the reader engaged and wanting to find out the fate of Darcy and Luke. Although I had a fair idea how the story would finish, it had a few interesting twists to keep the reader guessing to the end.

The characters were a delight to get to know. I found myself wanting things to work out for Darcy when it looked like her fate was sealed with Carl. I absolutely loved the banter between Darcy and her best friend Bingley Charles. At one point when Darcy was giving dating advice to Bingley, it felt like the author was paying homage to another Jane Austen classic “Emma.” Whether this was deliberately done or not I do not know.

All in all, a great read. I believe that fans of the romance genre and Jane Austen will really enjoy it.

Spooky October Reading

Having never been a “theme” based reader before, I decided this year that October should be a month for reading spooky, scary stories. I am not a huge fan of horror movies I just can’t seem to get my head around them. However, when it comes to scary books I am less of a chicken. Having said that I still occasionally gaze over the top of my book to see if I am alone.

I have so far in 9 days managed to read 4 books. Three of them were from my own collection and one was a book I was given from Netgalley. For me, this is a record in itself. I have never been a fast reader but reading books with the purpose of providing a review has seen my ability to finish a book in a few days compared to a week or so in the past.

But I have strolled from my point.

As I stated above, I have finished 4 books, I was expecting by now to be scared out of my wits and want to read only children’s books for the rest of my life. But the opposite has happened. Sure some of the books have creeped me out slightly but, in general, what I have found are stories that whilst have a scary edge to them, they offer something more. Characters that find a way to get through dire situations or solve a mystery and storylines that are both interesting, confronting in some circumstances and heartwarming in others.

I am so pleased that I decided to do this whole themed reading idea so I have discovered some great stories that have been sitting on my bookshelves waiting patiently for me to realise how great they are. Hopefully, before the end of October, I will have discovered many more.

 

Books read so far:

The Hoarder – Jess Kidd (Netgalley)

Creepers – Joanne Dahme

The Greatcoat – Helen Dunmore

Red Hill – Jamie McGuire

 

Red Hill by Jamie McGuire

red hill

Story Outline:
When the world ends, can love survive?

For Scarlet, raising her two daughters alone makes fighting for tomorrow an everyday battle. Nathan has a wife, but can’t remember what it’s like to be in love; only his young daughter Zoe makes coming home worthwhile. Miranda’s biggest concern is whether her new VW Bug is big enough to carry her sister and their boyfriends on a weekend escape from college finals.

When reports of a widespread, deadly “outbreak” begin to surface, these ordinary people face extraordinary circumstances and suddenly their fates are intertwined. Recognizing they can’t outrun the danger, Scarlet, Nathan, and Miranda desperately seek shelter at the same secluded ranch, Red Hill. Emotions run high while old and new relationships are tested in the face of a terrifying enemy—an enemy who no longer remembers what it’s like to be human.

Set against the backdrop of a brilliantly realized apocalyptic world, love somehow finds a way to survive. But what happens when the one you’d die for becomes the one who could destroy you?

Red Hill grabs you from page one and doesn’t let go until its stunning conclusion. This is #1 New York Times bestselling author Jamie McGuire at her unforgettable best.

My Review:
When I first started reading Red Hill, I was not convinced that I would like or even enjoy it. I had never read a “zombie” story before. Halfway through I was still not sold on the whole flesh-eating creatures but the characters that the story was based on had started to catch my attention more. With less than a hundred pages to go did not want the book to finish and had become completely compelled to know how it would all end for them.
The story is told from the point of view of three characters, Scarlet, Nathan and Miranda. It was this factor that made the story a lot strong in my opinion. Seeing how each of these characters reacted to and dealt with the horrid situation they all now found themselves in was interesting. I also like how the minor characters had impacts on the main characters. It brought another level to the story. Writing stories that weave people together is a talent Jamie McGuire exudes.
Has the author convinced and converted me to like zombie stories? I am not sure but, it has proven to this reader to never say never.

The Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore.

the greatcoat

Story Outline:

A terrifyingly atmospheric ghost story by the Orange-prize-winning Helen Dunmore.
 
In the summer of 1954, newlywed Isabel Carey arrives in a Yorkshire town with her husband Philip. As a GP he spends much of his time working, while Isabel tries hard to adjust to the realities of married life. Life is not easy: she feels out-of-place and constantly judged by the people around her, so she spends much of her time alone.

One cold winter night, Isabel finds an old RAF greatcoat in the back of a cupboard that she uses to help keep warm. Once wrapped in the coat she is beset by dreams. And not long afterwards, while her husband is out, she is startled to hear a knock at her window, and to meet for the first time the intense gaze of a young Air Force pilot, handsome, blond and blue-eyed, staring in at her from outside.

His name is Alec, and his powerfully haunting presence both disturbs and excites Isabel. Her initial alarm soon fades, and they begin a delicious affair. But nothing could have prepared her for the truth about Alec’s life, nor the impact it will have on her own marriage.

My Review:

The Greatcoat is more a story of lost love. Yearning for the past than it is a traditional scary ghost story. People from the past coming to the present stuck in a loop that will forever hold them.
The story did not scare me as such but, Isabel’s isolation as the newcomer in town weighed heavily on me. Her husband Philip fell comfortably into his role as the new doctor. However, Isobel found life a lot harder having to endure stares and whispers from nosy women. I also felt the suffocation of realisation when she finally figured out who Alec was and what had brought him to her. Having the world you know fall away from you with no one to turn to or confide in only made her already miserable life worse.

Despite the heaviness, Isobel’s story was a very easy and enjoyable read. The author’s ability to weave a story that draws the reader into the lives of her characters became apparent to me. I was unable to put the book down until I had discovered the fate of Alec and Isabel. A hauntingly beautiful tapestry of the past and the present intermingling.

At the conclusion of the book, there is an Afterword section from the author on how the book came into being. It was very interesting reading and brought more depth to Isabel and Alec’s tale.