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.

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.

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?

Athena’s Choice by Adam Boostrom

Athena’s Choice by Adam Boostrom

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

My rating: 3/5.

44404178. sy475 “What if a viral pandemic put women in charge of the planet?”

This novel is set in 2099 and follows our main character Athena Vosh. When the novel begins it has been nearly fifty years since an experimental virus accidentally wiped out all the men on earth. Yet a controversial project aims to change that, they want to bring men back, but they are not without opposition. Now their project has been sabotaged, and it seems like Athena might just know more about it than she lets on.

Dystopian novels have always appealed to me, and I was very excited to read this when I stumbled across it. It has been out for a while now and initially I was drawn to it when searching through Netgalley’s new audiobook option. I really enjoyed listening to it in audiobook form and I think the narrator Alex Ford did a brilliant job bringing this novel to life.

Athena is a fairly relatable character, despite the unrelatable setting, although we are in the midst of a global pandemic right now, but I don’t think this one will wipe out all the men on earth, at least I hope not. Athena has a strong voice throughout the novel, and a lot of us will relate to coming of age and finding out who we are.

The plot is well thought out, I really felt how passionate the author was about the topic. Especially with all the feeling and energy, he put into writing both sides, those for men coming back and those who aren’t. He created a futuristic utopia, peace on earth but at a huge cost. I liked that this novel portrayed a strong world lead by women, and the independence and freedom that came along with it.

This was Boostrom’s first novel, and it was a solid one with well thought out characters that tackled difficult topics while asking us, what if we could have a life full of peace and how much would we be willing to sacrifice for it. I love a story that makes me think, and forces me to look outside myself and my own experiences and consider the wider picture.

Overall, this was a stand out first novel, the author has already expressed he wishes to write a sequel which I think would be a great way to build on the story as this novel left me with so many questions, in the best possible way.

 

July Reads

July Reads

I can’t believe it’s August already! Despite everything this year seems to have flied by. Take a look below at the books I have been reading this month starting with my favorites.

Village Diary by Miss Read.

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Miss Read is one of my favorite discoveries of this year, luckily she has a sizable selection of published works I can sink my teeth into.  This is part of the Fairacre series, the vibe is still very wholesome and makes me nostalgic for a time I never knew.

Rating: 5/5.

 

Quentins by Maeve Binchy.

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When I first started this novel I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get into it. The novel is focused around the restaurant Quentins and the lives of those intertwined with it. Ella Brady seeks to capture Dublin from 1970  to the current day, through the eyes of Quentins. This novel is filled with twists and turns, full storylines and believable characters.

Rating: 4/5,

The Girl With No Home by Sheila Newberry.

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This novel follows Jerusha Carey, abandoned at seven years old by her mother. We watch as she comes to terms with the abandonment and the understandable feelings that follow. It was a pleasure to read, Jerusha’s strength was unwavering despite all the challenges she endured.

Rating: 4/5.

 

The Late Bloomers Club by Louise Miller.

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This novel follows too passionate sisters, Nora and Kit. They live different lives Nora runs the family diner, and Kit spends her time creating movies and writing scripts. I really enjoyed this novel, I have been reading quite a few historical ones recently so it was a refreshing change to read something contemporary.

Rating: 4/5.

 

Alice Taylor Across the River and House of Memories by Alice Taylor.

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After reading the first book in this trilogy I couldn’t wait to read more, and I was not disappointed. Each page drew me deeper and deeper into the lives of our characters. Farming was a constant theme throughout, as the author guided us through the highs and lows, tackling topics such as domestic abuse and sexual assault with understanding.

Rating: 3/5.

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The third and final book in the series offered closure to the readers, showcasing the growth of the characters, how they overcome diversity and thrive.

 

Rating: 3/5.

 

When Comes the Spring by Janette Oke.

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To avoid any spoilers, this novel is a follow on from the first in the series “When Calls the Heart”. I did enjoy the first novel despite it being very different from it’s tv adaptation, however I personally couldn’t get into or connect with this second book. It was published in 1985 and it definitely shows it’s age, although of course it is set further back still. There were some parts I enjoyed, especially learning about day to day life in that time peroid, but I found the main character hard to like in this novel, especailly in comparison to the first. She seemed very disempowered, and especially at the begining lost a lot of her independance and voice. Of course some of the view points in this novel are thankfully outdated, but I did find it frustrating and the injustice and discrimination people face both today and in the past sickens me. My rating for this novel is 2/5.

Overall I read a lot of great books last month, as things start to get more fast paced in my life I expect I won’t be able to read as many. I feel really greatful to have been given some space in my life to reconnect with reading. It is such a challenging time right now, and it’s scary, people I love have gotten sick or are at significant risk if they do catch Covid. I think most of us have had our lives touched in someway by this pandemic. Reading is and always has been, an escape for me.

What did you read in July, and what are your plans for August?

My favorite “cosy” reads.

My favorite “cosy” reads.

To begin with, I’m back! I have been away for a while but I am super excited to be back in the book blogging community. Lockdown here in England has given me a chance to reflect and spend more time reading. I love reading, it has always been such a big part of my life, I haven’t had much of a chance to really sit down and enjoy a good book for a while. It’s such a good feeling to be able to make time for myself and immerse myself in a good novel.

Here are my favourite “cosy” reads that I always reach for when I need a hug in book form:

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.  

8127I adore this book series, it has that cosy feel-good vibe that always makes me feel at home. Anne is so free-spirited she reminds me of myself growing up. Green Gables will always have a special place in my heart. Some of these books are also in the public domain and can be picked up in ebook format from many online retailers, I highly recommend Librivox to anyone who enjoys audiobooks, they have a great selection of public domain novels you can listen to. 

 

 

Village School by Miss Read. 

611240. sy475 Although I have only recently had the pleasure of discovering this author and book series, this novel was published in 1955. It has all of that small village vibe I can’t get enough of, I blame Stardew Valley for my love of all things quaint, and if you haven’t played the game yet you should definitely check it out. This novel follows Miss Read’s experiences working as a schoolmistress, you get to watch the village change and grow, with all the adorable mishaps along the way, and not all by the school children!

 

When Calls the Heart by Janette Oke.

389827Has anyone else been watching the Hallmark show When Call’s the Heart? If so this book was the inspiration for it, although I must confess the two are not very alike. However, this novel is still enjoyable and I loved that it gave me a different perspective on the story too. This is similar to the last in that it follows Elizabeth who takes a teaching position on the Candian frontier.

 

 

The Woman of the House by Alice Taylor.

1598508This novel is set in a rural area in Ireland, and the lives of those within it. A lot of this novel focuses on Mossgrove farm, and how far the characters will go to keep that land in the family after it gets put up for sale. I have always been fascinated with farm life, there’s a real sense of hard work and drive to it that I find inspiring, the idea of working the land to be able to grow food for those around you has always appealed to me. Although I am sure there are many hardships farmers faced that made it feel less than ideal to them at times, in particular before modern farming machinery.

Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery. 

3562. sy475 I’m finishing this list off with another of my favourites from L.M. Montgomery. This novel has similarities with Anne of Green Gables, it follows orphan Emily who moves to New Moon to live with her mother’s family. It’s a real heartwarming tale of growing up, grief, love and self-discovery.

 

 

 

I hope you can discover some heartwarming cosy tales from the ones I have suggested here, I am always looking for recommendations and would love to know what your favourite cosy reads are, feel free to drop them in the comments.

Until next time, stay safe and happy reading!