Weekend Reads #83

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Happy Friday Readers!

I am very excited that this is the last weekend I will be working until the New Year! Next week I will be getting married and having a long and well deserved holiday with my then-husband. As well as this, I will be spending the weekend putting up the Christmas decorations in time for the big day so despite the fact I am working I am very excited about this weekend.

If I get the chance over the next two days I hope to continue reading The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez. This is a book I started a few weeks back on one of my reading indulges but haven’t had the time to commit. During the week I wrote in my Daily Reads post how I am hoping to finish up some books before the wedding because I have a specific TBR pile that I want to take on my holiday and for that I want a clean slate. Therefore the next two days any free time I have will be dedicated to this book.

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Over the next week I will be finalising some details for the wedding and wrapping up some work commitments so I may or may not be able to upload to the blog but I can assure you that I will be back the week after. So in the meantime keep on reading, remember we are so close to the end of the year with only a month and a half left to smash our reading challenges. I am so determined to reach my goal this year so hopefully the motivation stays.

Happy Reading!

 

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The Muse – Jessie Burton

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I pre-ordered this book a few months before its release date and was very excited to order a signed edition of the book. After reading Jessie Burton’s debut novel The Miniaturist I was very excited to read her next book hoping that it would be just as intriguing as the first. I was fearful to pick up this book at the start and hesitated in case it didn’t live up to the standard of The Miniaturist but in ways I enjoyed this book more.

Burton has the talent to construct a novel in such a way that the reader feels part of it. It’s almost like you have been picked up from the sofa and dropped into this world. For most of the book I felt a level of intrigue and suspense as the book began on a mystery that unravelled with every chapter. Jumping from the 1930’s to the 1960’s this plot intertwines two stories and their characters. I found it hard to put the book down after spending some time in the setting of the 1960’s before jumping back to the past; I was dying to know what was going to happen next.

This plot contains many interesting characters from people of colour, different cultures, nationalities and class. It really has it all including the tensions imaginable from the themes mentioned above. Burton didn’t hold back on any of the conflicts within the plot and the end result is a very honest and true story, possibly even a reflection of historical records and real events.

Without giving away too much of the plot this book looks at the civil unrest in Spain during the 30s partnered with the changing views of London in the 60s. This book has all of this with a touch of art and distinction. One of the biggest mysteries in the plot looks at several pieces of art and their origins, not just who painted them but what the inspiration was. As many people will know when you look at a piece of art, most of the time you are developing your own opinion of it and what you see. Yet most of the time we are not seeing what inspired the creation of the piece or what the artist had intended, it’s more of an emotional outlet and even at times a reflection of their mental state or being. This plot hones in on the artistic license, the inspiration and of course the muse.

With what I am seeing as a consistent theme in Burton’s writing, the plot tackles many different ideas and another that can be picked up on in the first few pages is relationships. This book has mother/daughter relations along with friendship, love, desire, convenience and many of the other themes apparent in each personality which add to the complication and human qualities of Burton’s characters. They project many feelings, struggles and aspirations that readers can empathise or sympathise with even if the situations are not identical therefore I think Burton’s novels have a maturity that is attractive to different readers.

I would highly recommend this novel as it has so much to offer and yet is just over 400 pages. As I was reading it I was so addicted to the plot and what was going to happen next. Although the reader is omniscient in some respects, there are surprises, twists and turns with every page. I suffered from a pretty huge book hangover when I finished this book because although it isn’t very long there is so much packed in and the reader is taken on such a journey that it feels like a longer experience regardless of the time it takes to read.

This book has depth, meaning and a unique storyline that is worth venturing into and therefore I gave it a 5 out of 5 stars on goodreads. I can honestly say that I will be pre-ordering Jessie Burton’s next piece of work as soon as it is available and with hesitation, the next time around I am confident  it will be an extraordinary read.

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Daily Reads #98

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Hi Readers, 

It is exactly 10 days until the wedding so I am super busy making sure everything is in place before the big day and before the honeymoon. I am however making time for my reading because I want to get some books finished before going away. I have created a holiday TBR so I want a fresh start on it the minute I step foot into the airport.

Over the next week there are two books I am hoping to concentrate on and one is The Never Ending Days of Being Dead by Marcus Chown. This is a book I started months ago but because of it’s scientific and sometimes complicated topic it has taken me time to get through. It’s also a book that I can set down and come back to as it is laid out in sections starting with the creation of the universe and continuing on. I really enjoy reading this book so I am hoping to give it the attention it deserves and get a review up for it soon. 

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On this note I have also finished reading The Muse by Jessie Burton over the weekend so I want to get a review for this up over the next few days. I don’t want to say much about it here because I will go into more depth in my review but The Muse was an extraordinary read and just like The Miniaturist I was sad to see the book end. Jessie Burton has become one of my favourite authors because of her writing abilities, her creations of plots and characters and the sheer addiction to her books once I open the cover. If you haven’t already, check her out. 

Well I hope you are having a great reading week and don’t forget to check back in the next few days. 

 

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Where to Find Me…

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Hi Readers,

I thought I would do a little update about where you can find me these days as I am not just active here on the blog. If you want to follow me elsewhere I am also on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads and my new favourite is Litsy which is essentially a bookish Instagram. If you do want to follow me on these be aware that I post photos of my life and not just books although reading does dominate all of my social media. I tend to post photos of my pets and my daily life, so don’t be scared and come say hi, it would be great to see you on other platforms.

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      littlejotter              mrsmamfa         @xo_Mamfa_xo          mrsmamfa        MrsMamfa

 

Happy Reading!

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Hollow City – Ransom Riggs

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Hollow City is the second book in the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series, following on from where the first book left of. Set in 1940, the children have escaped from the island with Miss Peregrine in tow; they are on the run and trying to stay safe from the wights and the hollows that hunt them. Meeting new and unusual characters along the way the children must trek to London and receive the help they need. It is a fun and exciting read with unexpected situations around every corner. It would be hard to find a novel like it, a true one of a kind reading experience.

It was tough getting back into this world and getting to know the characters again since I read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children last year. It was a unique world to wrap one’s head around with peculiar children exhibiting immense powers and capabilities, a world of good and evil and even a world parallel to our own. It opened the doors of fantasy that I had never walked through before and gave me a taste of something I thoroughly enjoyed. I took my time with the first few chapters but it wasn’t long before I was hooked and drawn into battle.

Riggs takes intriguing to an entirely new level with his imagination and writing, constructing a fast paced plot that takes the reader on a journey through the countryside and the bustling city of London during World War II.  One of my favourite scenes is how he describes the setting in a central London station during the time of evacuation when children were sent to the countryside. Riggs has a way with words, a talent to painting the scene in a readers mind so vivid it plays out like a motion picture. I felt that each page flowed into the next with helpful breaks throughout the chapters and the layout of two parts.

I found revisiting the characters an enjoyable part of reading Hollow City, this series contains some of the most vibrant and interesting characters I have ever read about. I particularly like Hugh and how his character had some substantial roles in this plot. As the children travel together there is a good chance for readers to see what the children can actually do with their abilities. The first book was a great introduction to the characters and their abilities but this plot tests them and their skills.

This plot has so much feeling and action that I found it hard to put down. It felt like with every page turn there was uncertainty to what would happen next, the pages were filled with action and meetings, drama and movement. Jumping from different worlds filled with magic and wonder and then back to a war ridden England balanced the fantasy with reality making an exciting plot for the reader. The final few chapters really blew me away with an unsuspecting twist and I was very tempted to pick up the third book and delve back into the story however I had to refrain because of the time at night.

I gave this book a 5 out of 5 stars on goodreads as I found it was an extraordinary read and in some respect I enjoyed it more than the first one. I can’t say whether this is because I was familiar with this world and from the first few pages the plot jumped straight into the action but either way I think it will make a very good on-screen adaptation. I can’t wait to open the pages of the third book and see where the story goes. If you haven’t read this series yet it’s not to be missed!

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Digital Fortress – Dan Brown

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Once again and with no surprise it’s another Dan Brown review. I am determined to make my way through all of his books, especially now that I have pre-ordered his new release for next September entitled Origin. I am already intrigued to see where this suspense thriller will go and what characters it will contain.

Digital Fortress is one of Dan Browns older pieces of work; it was actually his first published book back in 1998 although I have to say reading through this plot it could well be relevant in today’s society. Based on the intelligence organisation the NSA, this book is set in America and follows Susan Fletcher a lead cryptographer and mathematician who has been called into work on the weekend to solve a multi- billion problem. The NSA’s powerful code-cracking machine TRANSLTR has encountered a code that cannot be broken and it falls on her shoulders to find out why. Involving a worldwide hunt, guns, lies and codes this book is fast paced, exciting and harbours all the usual traits of a Dan Brown thriller.

I picked this book up wanting to go back to Brown’s roots and the foundation of his notoriety in the book world. I didn’t know what to expect having originally read his Langdon novels, The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. However I have to say this book was equally exciting and hard to put down. I did miss the religious and cult-like aspects of the Langdon novels but this book held its own with symbolism and cryptography. I particularly enjoyed the strong female character, Susan who was independent, intelligent and confident, I had no doubt that Dan Brown could write a female character like this but I have to say I was a little surprised having only focused on Robert Langdon narratives.

This book is filled to the brim with intelligent and complex characters that all seem to specialise in different areas showcasing the necessity of different niche areas to make such a powerful system work in a government organisation. Of course across two areas of the organisations the directors are male which doesn’t annoy me but highlights the reality of the situation in these careers.  With that aside I felt the characters within the NSA were built on the stereotypical personalities that one would expect to find in this area. As well as this there were characters from across the globe and again adopting the expected characteristics of their cultures. I feel like this plot had a patriotic or American feel to it, not in a bad way but in the strength of the mysterious NSA, the powerhouse security system and the unimaginable thought of the security system being penetrated by an outside source. It had a ‘save the day’ feel to it that I have seen in many movies…and yet I loved it as always.

The writing in this book flowed from page to page and being consistent with Brown’s style the chapters jumped from one characters situation to another encouraging the reader to continue and reveal what lay ahead. As the plot thickened the pace increased as well as the suspense and I had no option but to keep turning the pages. Unfortunately while reading this book I had a lot of wedding plans to keep on top of so I couldn’t give the book the attention it needed but either way I found it hard to put down once I had opened the cover.

I am hoping to move on to Deception Point in the next few weeks or maybe even the new year as this is another novel with a strong female lead, but already I can’t help but wonder why Digital Fortress wasn’t picked up as a movie deal as well. It seems like a great action plot with twists and turns perfect for the big screen. I can understand as an earlier novel that Brown has fine-tuned his writing process through the years but there is no denying that this a great piece of work that doesn’t receive the recognition it deserves.

I gave this book a 4 out of 5 stars on goodreads, it was a great read and one I would highly recommend if you are a fan of Dan Brown. Don’t limit yourself to Langdon novels when he can write characters as compelling and riveting. This book was filled with suspense and twists right to the end, I can’t fault it.

 

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Halloween Reads 2016

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Good Evening Readers,

We’re back at that spooky time of the year when the nights are starting to get darker and it’s almost like the world is in a permanent shade of orange. Halloween is on its way in so I have composed a list of my favourite reads around this time, some scary, some magical and others thrilling. So settle down in your favourite reading spot, gather the candy and pick up one of these chilling reads.

 

The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman

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Anything by Neil Gaiman is a winner at Halloween, I see him as the Tim Burton of the pages and vice versa. If these two ever got together to write and direct a movie it would be on all levels of epic. Neil Gaiman manages to construct a plot so unique and spin tingling that from the first page I always imagine his worlds as grey and ghostlike. The Graveyard Book is one of my favourite reads following a young boy called Bod who is brought up by the spirits in the graveyard. A story like no other and a perfect read as the witching hour drawers nearer.

Coraline – Neil Gaiman

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Another Neil Gaiman book but hey who didn’t see that coming! Coraline is a short read just over 100 pages but it is packed with spooky twists and turns, buttons for eyes and another dimension. I loved the movie and despite it being for children even I was a little scared, the book is equally as chilling so be sure to read it when there’s someone else around.

172 Hours on The Moon – Johan Harstad

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Warning: this book freaked me out…and I loved it. I am a massive fan of astronomy and space travel so I needed this book in my life. I would also like to see a return to the Moon but after this plot I think I’ll stay grounded on Earth. Returning to the Moon after 40 years a competition is created that will allow teenagers to accompanying the returning astronauts. A great way to win publicity but also a dangerous move, there is a reason they didn’t go back to the Moon before and they could encounter this unexplainable scenario again.

Practical Magic – Alive Hoffman

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I LOVE the movie adaptation so I was disgusted with myself that I hadn’t picked up this book sooner. I only turned to it earlier this year but I devoured it page for page. Not a lot like the movie but equally a gripping and addictive plot. A family with the ability to do some magical things but sometimes you can’t help drawing attention to yourselves and then again it’s not always a good thing. Lends itself not just to the magic and mystery of Halloween but also a good read for those who want an adult plot and a book to accompanying a good glass of wine.

Love Letters to the Dead – Ava Dellaira

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This book is fantastically written, first of all appreciate its structure and how the story is told. Centred on Laurel who writes letters to celebrities who died young just like her sister May. This book won’t have you hiding under the covers but it does examine the power of healing through writing whilst uncovering a deeper and thought provoking plot. This book is a charming read exploring the power of the mind, grief and death.

The Halloween Tree – Ray Bradbury

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This is a stable at this time of the year and the fact ‘Halloween’ is in the title should be a giveaway. This book is aimed at a younger audience but it is an extraordinary read as a group of young boys stumble upon a Halloween tree and travel back through to significant times in history that celebrated this time of the year. This plot has druids, Egyptians and the day of the dead…need I say more?!

I can’t end this post without giving a special mention to two of my all-time favourite thrilling classics; Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and Dracula by Bram Stoker. I don’t just enjoy these books because of their plots and story lines which are at a standard of their own but also the background stories for these authors just give the books an added twist of darkness. If you haven’t already read these books, devour every page and then revel in the stories of the geniuses that created them. They are classics for a reason and without them society wouldn’t have two of our favourite Halloween characters making an appearance every year…Blah Blah Blah.

Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

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Dracula – Bram Stoker

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Daily Reads #97

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Welcome back readers, normally I try and upload my daily reads post on a Monday but I had a very busy weekend and a very busy Monday. Yesterday marked the end of an era, the group I volunteer with ended after existing for over 30 years. It ran purely on the support of volunteers and when we ran out of committed helpers we had no option other than to end the club. It didn’t seem real until the end of last night when people looked around at each other and wondered if they would see each other again, great friendships were made and it was hard to say goodbye to everyone. I was only part of it for 5 years but I’m glad that in that short time I helped to make a difference and participate in a truly rewarding service.

Due to last night feeling like the end of something I am starting my week off today, a new and fresh start. I am finding it hard to believe that the end of the month is looming, so I am making a point of catching up on my reading and starting one final book in October. I want to read this book as soon as possible and especially before the movie is released. infernoOver the past few months I have become a massive fan of Dan Brown and hope to read most of his books before the end of the year. This month marks the release of the movie-adaptation of Inferno, and all I know about it is the play on Dante’s Inferno. Therefore I want to make sure I know as much about this book before I see lots of information about it popping up over the internet. I am very excited to start this book however I want to make sure I finish reading Dan Brown’s Digital Fortress first.

I am reading quite a lot of books which is no surprise as I tend to get excited about starting a particular book and can’t wait to finish another before picking it up. Over the next few days I will be trying to finish up a few books as well as reviewing them so keep checking back.

Happy Reading!

 

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Weekend Reads #82

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Happy Friday Readers!

I’m sure you are glad to see the weekend come around unless of course you work weekends which is true for so any individuals. I’m very lucky as I am off this weekend however I have lots of meetings scheduled for the wedding and a dress fitting to go to. I am looking forward to sitting down on Saturday night with a glass of wine and relaxing after a long week of planning and working.

 

img_3073This week I have been reading a few books and I am hoping to spend a bit of time on Sunday evening writing up reviews and finishing up some books. I will be continuing with The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez which I am really enjoying. It’s an insightful read into the world and customs of Afghan life. The opening pages really put into perspective the inferiority of woman in this culture and not just how they’re treated but how trapped woman are into accepting this treatment and their limitations in what they can do. I am really looking forward to reading the rest of the book and reviewing it at the end.

 

I also want to get further into The Muse by Jessie Burton, I only got reading the first few pages before so I might go back and start it again in case I missed any details. After reading The Miniaturist I have become a massive fan of Jessie Burton and I want to devour this book and savour every detail because she is a very talented writer.

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend!

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Dorothy Must Die – Danielle Paige

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When I picked up this book I didn’t know what to expect, I assumed it would be a parody of the Wizard of Oz, one of my all-time favourite movies and books by Frank L. Baum. When I was a child I watched this movie on repeat and fell instantly in love with Judy Garland and her ruby slippers. This book was on a new level compared to the movie and book I know well. Oz has been ripped apart by Dorothy who is draining the land of it’s magic, she has created her team of horrific officials made out of the scarecrow, the lion and the tinman and the only person who can stop them is Amy and the wicked witches.

There are some minor plot details below so continue with caution.

This book doesn’t hold back, opening with the tumultuous relationship between Amy and her mother. Amy’s mother is depressed and depends on drugs to get through her day, they live in a trailer park and Amy isn’t very popular at school, with her fellow classmates or teachers. At first I was interested in Amy, she didn’t have it easy but within a few pages it’s easy to see she isn’t a character that gets pushed around and stays quiet about it. Amy has her guard up, her attitude ready for anyone who challenges her and her strength both physical and emotionally had me hooked; I’m a sucker for a strong female protagonist.

As I said earlier this book did not hold back and some of the details were much darker than I expected; animals dying, torture and a lot of death. To be honest Dorothy was a right bitch in this book and even the descriptions of her and what she wore painted the picture of the queen bee from high school. One of my favourite characters in the book was Star, Amy’s pet rat, being an owner of two rats I was really proud to see Star feature in the plot and for her to have an important part.

I did find it a little strange that Amy landed in Oz after a tornado and within a day befriend people, believe what they say and fit in with only a grumble of confusion and disconcertion. There are points in the plot where she wonders how she ended up there, why this is happening and when she finds herself in a sticky situation she takes the only opportunity she can to get out. She weighs up her options to go home but then she faces an inside battle whether she even wants to go home? The fact that she comes from a single parent family, low income and a mother fighting her own demons brings this ‘fairytale’ and magical retelling into the real world. I enjoyed the fact it started with a realistic family representation even if it wasn’t expected. However I will be greatly disappointed if we get to the end of the series to find out the whole scenario is in Amy’s head as a form of escapism from a tough family life. It better not go all ‘Lost’ on us!

Overall there were parts of the plot that were slow, I did struggle sometimes to get through the book and as much as I wanted to read what happens next I found it equally as difficult to pick the book up at the start. Towards the middle the action started to unfold but it did take a long time to settle into the plot.

Although I want to know what will happen in the rest of the story I have a feeling it will be a while before I rush out and buy the next books in the series. I am also a little hesitant because I know this is a long series and I do wonder how many books have I to get through before Dorothy gets what she deserves. The ending to this book was exciting, fast paced and left me wanting more but a great ending didn’t compensate for a tedious beginning.

I gave this book 3 and a half stars out of 5 on goodreads because overall the plot was interesting even if I do harbour a little bit of resentment for darkening one of my favourite movies/classics. However I found the last third of the book intriguing and I was interested to see what was going to happen. I’m going to keep a lookout for the next book in the series and depending how I feel on the day, they may get added to my collection.

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