True Loaf by L. Austen Johnson

True Loaf by L. Austen Johnson

*I received a free copy of this audiobook through NetGalley in exchange for a review.

Rating: 3/5

This (very) short story by Johnson is inspired by Balkan Folklore, it follows Riley a bakery worker, who there she receives a strange request from an unusual man. Whilst seeking out the uncommon ingredient he requested she learns that things are not always as they seem to be and that fae may in fact be real.

As a nice touch the author partnered with One Tree Planted, meaning for every audiobook sold within the first year of release, one tree will be planted in North America.

The first thing that struck me was the beautiful cover, which at first glance I assumed to be a children’s book although it is actually aimed at teens, YA, and new adult readers. It was a very short story, and as a result it left me with more questions then it answered. I didn’t particularly enjoy the narration, although I did get used to it after a few minuets, for me the tone of voice the narrator chose to use didn’t match the feel of the book. It was an interesting story, with a fairly simple plot, the ending was not hugely predictable but it left the novel feeling unfinished for me.

Overall I really liked the idea behind this novel, and it is marketed as a short story which it certainly is, however, I do feel with a little bit of expansion this novel could have truly been brought to life.

Book Review: The Taste of Apple Seeds by Katharina Hagena

Book Review: The Taste of Apple Seeds by Katharina Hagena

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Rating: 3/5.

When Iris assumes her grandmothers home in the country, an unexpected inheritance, it brings back a lifetime of memories. Unsure whether to keep the home or sell it she decides to visit the house, staying for a week to make her decision. The move is bittersweet and Iris finds herself torn between forgetting and remembering, with a chance encounter with a childhood friend leaving her wondering if they could become more.

The Taste of Apple Seeds is Hagena’s debut novel and bestseller. Although I actually had not heard of this novel before, when I noticed it on my local libraries app I was initially captured by the cover and the feelings of autumn and warmth it conquered up for me. I greatly enjoy novels that have a historical element, even if it is more recent history, anything that hints at nostalgia is an instant to-read in my mind. Hagena utilised creative imagery to bring her story to life, although I did find myself feeling a bit lost in the plot from time to time, and I did not particularly relate to the main character Iris, who was written in such a way to make her appear larger than life but to me, that left her feeling unrealistic.

Overall I enjoyed reading this novel, I didn’t feel much of a connection to the characters, but that’s not always necessary for me to enjoy a book. I am rating it three stars because although I think this is a good overall novel, it was missing something for me.

Falling in Love with Reading All Over Again.

Falling in Love with Reading All Over Again.

It has been a while since I have updated this blog, as many of you know I lost someone incredibly close to me, and she was my sister. She passed suddenly, and with her all certainty I felt about myself and the world around me vanished. I was lost in an ocean of grief, confusion, despair and fear. I feel it is a great privilege to have loved and been loved so much that it hurts this bad to lose her, and I feel that privilege every day.

During my grieving process I continued to read, not as often as I used to, but when I felt able to I lost myself in a world of someone else’s creation. Literature has always been pure magic to me, from back when I was a kid excited to visit the library, maxing out my library card and devouring page after page of novels into the early hours of the morning, flashlight in hand. I have always enjoyed escapism, having the chance to visit places I’ve never been too all from the comfort of my own bed. It has taken time to feel ready to come back to reviewing, to be able to fully digest my emotions around everything, to put down on paper how a book made me feel, when some days I didn’t even know how I felt.

I started this blog because I was passionate about reading, about writing, about books. I wanted the opportunity to explore new titles, share my thoughts and read others too. I have changed so much since I started this blog, but my passion for literature is one thing no amount of pain could ever truly take away. Now I’m back and I’m excited to fall in love with reading all over again.

All my love,

E x

Book Review: Hazards of Love Vol 1 by Stan Stanley

Book Review: Hazards of Love Vol 1 by Stan Stanley

*I received an ebook copy of this graphic novel for free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Hazards of Love follows the story of a queer teen from Queens who makes some mistakes, gets dragged into a fantastical place, and tries to hustle their way back home.”

Rating: 5/5.

This beautifully illustrated graphic novel follows Amparo as he navigates the horrifying and vivid place known as Bright World to try and find his way home, following an unfortunate encounter with a not so friendly cat.

I really enjoyed this graphic novel, it was unique, gripping from start to finish, and answered just the right amount of questions to keep readers waiting for more without feeling sold short. The author included relatable characters, even if they were in some unrelatable, yet entertaining, situations. Every character was distinct, the words and images bring them to life making me feel connected to someone I had never met. The plot was full of twists that keep you guessing and wanting more, the narrative was easy to follow, the storyline flowed from page to page merging seamlessly with the imagery that helped bring it to life.

A Personal Note

A Personal Note

Hello, you may have noticed I have been much less active recently. A few months ago I lost someone very suddenly who was incredibly close to me, the grief I have felt has been overwhelming, but during this time I have found comfort in the little joys of life, one of which is of course books. I have delved between the pages of childhood comforts, explored new novels and revisited old haunts. How I feel as a person has shifted, is continuously shifting, and with that my reading tastes are too. With that being said, I would love to hear your favourite comfort reads, those books you can go back to time and time again and it feels like coming home.

All my love,

E.

December Reads

December Reads

Happy New Year everyone! This post is obviously coming late, it’s been a tough month here. I’m excited to re-visit my last reads of 2020, the year so much changed for so many.

The Queens Gambit by Walter Tevis

Rating: 4/5.

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Many of you will be familiar with the Netflix adaptation of this book, and I was pleased to see that they kept very close to the original novel. The Queens Gambit follows Beth Harmon, a chess prodigy, on her journey from amateur chess matches to professional ones, but her journey is not a smooth one, and she has her own demons to face along the way.

I really enjoyed this novel, I wonder if I would have enjoyed it more or less had I read it before the show. The imagery in the adaptation was exquisite and brought it to life, the characters Netflix formed were the ones that stuck in my mind as I read the book. To me this was a raw portrayal of the cost of life, intelligence and perfection.

Breathing Underwater by Julia Green.

Rating: 4/5.

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This novel follows Freya, returning to visit her grandparents on the remote island they live in, a trip she normally shares with her brother, who one year ago died in a boating accident. We follow Freya as she explores her grief, and comes to terms with life without him.

Perhaps a strange read to start in December, but the cold bleak streets of England made me crave a little sun. I really enjoyed this novel, it was emotional, it was raw, and it was real. Grief is never a simple process, and in just over 200 pages this story allows the reader to feel it all, the good, the bad and the after.

The Nursemaid’s Secret by Sheila Newberry.

Rating: 3/5.

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This novel follows Tilly, a young maid who has been sent to care for a sick child far away from home. She hopes her new home will be a place of happiness, and a place to escape her past, but when tragedy strikes and she has no choice but to return to London, she must leave her new life behind.

I wanted to enjoy this novel a lot more than I did, the beginning was great, but as the novel continued I found myself less and less drawn into the plot. I really enjoyed the Winter Baby by Newberry, it was one of those books that will stay with me for a lifetime, perhaps I have been spoilt by that. As usual Newberry’s strong writing styles shines throughout, I just didn’t fall in love with this one.

Now onto 2021, and not long until I will be back going over the books I have read this month.

What are your must reads this year?

November Reads

November Reads

Sitting down to reflect on what I read last month and it seems unreal it’s December already. This year has passed in a Covid fuelled blur. In a year where everything felt scary and bleak I have rekindled my love for reading. Books are not only a hobby for me but an escape as I know they are for so many of us. With that in mind, here are my November reads:

Dashing Through the Snow by Debbie Macomber.

Rating: 5/5.

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This short story follows Ashley a graduate student living in California and her journey home to spend Christmas with her family in Seattle. Unable to get a flight back home she opts for the rental car, the only issue Dash a former intelligence officer has his eyes on the car too. Luck is on her side as Dash is also heading to Seattle, they decide to share the ride and this is where their journey truly begins in more ways than one.

I really loved this short novel, it was so cleverly written and kept me engaged throughout. I certainly started off my Christmas reads on a high this year.

Dear Mrs. Bird by A.J. Pearce

Rating: 5/5.

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Set in 1940 London, Emmy is doing everything she can for the war effort, she dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent a dream she had all but given up on until she sees a chance to get the perfect job, or so she thinks, at the London Evening Chronical. There she works as a typist to Mrs. Bird, an advice columnist with very strict rules on what she will and will not advise on but Emmy’s conscience won’t let her ignore.

I really enjoyed this novel, getting a glimpse into what women’s live were like during the war was fascinating. Whilst the men were fighting on the battlefield women too were fighting their own battles back home. Overall a great novel, well written, gripping and engaging throughout.

After the Fire by Will Hill.

Rating: 4/5.

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“The things I’ve seen are burned into me, like scars that refuse to fade. Before, she lived inside the fence. Before, she was never allowed to leave the property, never allowed to talk to Outsiders, never allowed to speak her mind. Because Father John controlled everything—and Father John liked rules. Disobeying Father John came with terrible consequences. But there are lies behind Father John’s words. Outside, there are different truths. Then came the fire.”.

I really enjoyed this novel, the blurb didn’t give much away which is why I chose to copy it for you all to read above, but I liked that I was going into the book learning new things with every page. I had no clue where the story was going or what would happen, it was full of twists and turns, and so well researched that it felt real. The only reason I gave this 4/5 instead of 5/5, was because there were pages I sped through more interested in getting to the more juicy ones.

No One Here Is Lonely by Sarah Everett.

Rating: 3/5.

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Meet Eden, a typical teenage girl on the crisp of adulthood, she had her best friend Lacey and the guy she’s had a crush on forever, Will. When Will dies, and Lacey and Eden begin growing apart she finds solace in “In Good Company” a digital service offering AI companions fuelled by the audio uploaded by it’s users, one of them being Will. Although he’s not here anymore she can call up the line any time and here his voice, even talk to him as if he was.

I honestly didn’t know how to feel about this one, it was a great original idea, but I must admit I found it a little creepy. I also grew frustrated with Eden as the novel went on. However I did enjoy it overall, and I think it taught me some things I didn’t know about grief too.

Another Cup of Christmas by Jenny Kane.

Rating: 3/5.

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Set in the cosy Pickwicks café in Richmond we follow those who work their as they prepare for a Christmas fundraiser to help support the hospital that helped their cook and part-owner Scott when he was injured in an accident. Waitress Megan is in charge of organising the event alongside Nick the ward administrator, so far they’re co-workers but could they be more?

This was a lovely short story, full of all the good things, and by that I mean food, Christmas and romance. It was a very short read at 65 pages long but it didn’t feel rushed and was full of character.

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen. M. McManus.

Rating: 2/5.

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Set in the small town of Echo Ridge, where Ellery’s aunt went missing at seventeen, and just five years ago the homecoming queen was killed. An outsider Ellery moves to the town to live with her grandmother, but it’s a town filled with secrets, some more deadly than others.

I have really enjoyed other novels by this author so I had high hopes for this one, sadly I just couldn’t get into it, I didn’t find the plot particularly engaging but the authors strong writing style helped me see it through.

October Reads

October Reads

Wow, how is it November already? This year has been a blur. As we get further into the academic year I haven’t been able to spend as much time reading as I would like to. My goal for this month is to find more time to relax with a good book. I had planned for this post to go up yesterday but thanks to a monster migraine all my plans got put on hold. Anyway it’s here now, without further ado here are my October reads.

The Woman in the Wood by Lesley Pearse.

Rating 5/5.

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This was the first book I read this month and wow did I start the month off with a bang. This is book is haunting, mesmerising, thrilling, I can’t even put into words how much I loved this. It does tackle some dark topics, but it does so with realism and sensitivity. The novel is set in the 1960’s and follows twins Maisy and Duncan, at the being of the book they are sent to live with their grandmother after there mother is sent to an asylum. They are given freedom and make new friends, everything’s going fairly well, until one day Duncan doesn’t come home. Soon after the bodies of other young boys are found in the local area, crushing the polices hope of finding him alive. Again, such a great read.

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery.

Rating 5/5.

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Another five star read, the blue castle follows Valancy Stirling an unmarried twenty-nine year old striving to escape her strict household and fine the true love she has waited her whole life for. This novel has been on my reading list for far too long, and I regret not reading it soon. It’s an enchanting tale, a really cosy read for cool Autumn nights.

Miss Clare Remembers by Miss Read.

Rating: 4/5.

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This is another novel in the Fairacre series, in which Miss Clare looks back on her life growing up in the countryside. I really enjoy these novels, they’re the ones I go to when I wanted to feel comfort, something that I feel often since the pandemic started. It’s nice to just escape reality for a while.

The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas.

Rating 3/5.

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Two cheerleaders were killed in an driving accident, then two more were murdered but since the man who committed the crime was shot at the scene, the families are left with no answers. Then the last death, Monica’s sister, who took her own life. Everyone around her wants to remember but Monica just want’s to forget, but things aren’t what they seem and soon everything starts to unravel around her. I actually started this novel back in March, read a few pages and tucked it away in my bookshelf. I enjoyed this novel, it was well written, and an interesting plot.

Thanks for reading! What novels have you read this month? Would you recommend them? x

September Reads

September Reads

September was a busy month for me, and I enjoyed lots of amazing novels. Autumn is my favourite time of year, cool walks watching the leaves fall from the trees is paradise for me.

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton.

Rating:5/5.

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The Miniaturist was by far my favourite read this month. We follow eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman who travels to Amsterdam to start her life as the wife of a very successful merchant. I really enjoyed the storyline and the strength of our main character, she was witty and determined. She receives a dollhouse replica of her home, but when she enlists a miniaturist to furnish it she ends up getting more than she bargained for.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.

Rating: 5/5.

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First a big thank you to Mridula over at ecstaticyetchaotic.wordpress.com, for this recommendation. A Monster Calls is a heartfelt, raw and honest tale of grief, of acceptance and of guilt. It forces us to re-examine our own judgements and understandings as we hear the story of Conor, a thirteen year old boy who’s mother is battling cancer. Every night he has a dream, but one night something changes, when he wakes the dream doesn’t end, and a visitor is at his window. This book honestly blew me away in so many ways, I cried at many times and just wanted to reach out and hug Conor.

Storm in the Village by Miss Read.

Rating: 5/5.

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Another heart-warming read in the Fairacre series. This time theres trouble in the village as Farmer Miller’s Hundred Acre Field is slated for a real estate development. A familiar cast of characters, a story filled with hope, community and love.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness.

Rating: 4/5.

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Another by Ness, if you haven’t noticed he is becoming a firm favourite of mine. This novel is focused on Todd Hewitt, the only boy in his town, a town filled with men who can hear each others thoughts after becoming infected with the so called Noise germ. He has lived there his whole life, and yet they are hiding something. Forced to flee with only his dog by his side, he makes his way into the outside world where he stumbles across the one thing he never thought he would see, a girl. This was a great read I felt really engaged with the story, it really packed a strong emotional punch. It’s the first in the series, and I am very much looking forward to reading the rest.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark.

Rating: 4/5.

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I started reading this novel back in March it took me a while to really get into it. I actually ended up watching the film which ironically made it easier for me to really understand and get into the book. It is brilliantly written, I love to read the classics because they are so varied, it’s interesting to see which novels have been favoured by readers over the years. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, is as the name suggests centred around a Miss Jean Brodie in her prime. She teaches at a school for girls in Edinburgh, Scotland. There she has her most cherished students and confidants, the Brodie Set.

Aria’s Travelling Book Shop By Rebecca Raisin.

Rating: 3/5.

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This was a fun read that dealt with grief and loss with great respect and understanding. Aria Summers lives the perfect life free with her best friend on the open road. She travels in her campervan book-shop making enough to live the life she loves. After her husband died she swore she would never love again, but when Jonathan enters her life will all that change?

August Reads

August Reads

Check out my August reads below, ranked highest to lowest rating:

The Girl from Galloway by Anne Doughty

Rating: 5/5.

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It’s 1845, in County Donegal, Ireland and one day Hannah McGinley’s daughter comes home disheartened that her school may have to close as one of the teachers is moving away. Despite her busy schedule, Hannah steps up, but times are tough and can she support her family and the school?

This was my favourite read this month, it was beautifully written and filled me with the sense of nostalgia I constantly search for within the pages of novels. Strength and determination underpin every chapter, as we watch this family, this community fight to not only survive but to thrive.

 

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness.

Rating: 5/5.

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The Rest of Us Just Live Here asks readers the question, “what if you aren’t the chosen one?”. It follows Mikey a normative kid about to graduate highschool who’s trying to muster up the courage to ask out his friend Hanna.

I loved this book, it was a very close second favourite of the month. Some people get drawn in by book covers, but I am by titles. “The Rest of Us Just Live Here” rolls of the tongue, it speaks to readers or at least to me. I haven’t read anything like this before, it explores the narrative of  fighting the bad guys, but from the eyes of bystanders.

 

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

Rating: 3.5/5.

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Little Women follows sisters, Meg, Jo and Beth taking the reader on a journey of their lives, those in it and where it leads them.

This is a novel that I have been meaning to read for a while, I had high expectations of it and whilst it was not a bad book, it was amazingly written and Alcott brought the characters to life, I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would.

 

The Market Square by Miss Read.

Rating: 3/5.

The Market Square (The Caxley Chronicles, #1) by Miss ReadThe Market Square gives readers an insight into the history Caxley and the lives of those who live there. Caxley is a market town close to Fairacre where Miss Read’s Fairacre novels are set. It is also often referenced within her Fairacre novels as a place the people there travel to occasionally.

I really enjoyed the novels I have read so far by Miss Read so was excited when I saw this pop up on my local online library. It was well written but for me didn’t have the spark of the Fairacre series.

 

Heavily Meditated by Caitlin Cady.

Rating: 2/5.

48848535. sx318 This is a book about Meditation, from the perception of Cady. I personally have been meditating for four years now, so I like to think I know a bit about it, but still you can never know too much.

What first interested me about this was the idea it was a beginers guide, a way to help introduce more people to meditation, which is amazing. If you have never tried meditation I would recommend giving it a go, it’s not for everyone but if it works for you it can bring meaningful peace and change into your life.

I personally didn’t enjoy this book, it does provide some infomatiom but I found it felt empty, the book lacked substance for me. I don’t dislike Cady’s writing style and I did enjoy hearing about how meditation has enriched her life. Overall this just didn’t resonate with me, and that’s okay, it’s not a bad book, it just wasn’t for me.