Monday, November 13, 2017

Reading // October 2017

books read:
~ The Little Library Cookbook by Kate Young (review)
~ The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking
~ The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
~ The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis (read with my husband)
~ The Land of Neverendings by Kate Saunders (review)
~ Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
~ The Abundance of Less by Andy Couturier
~ Chasing Christmas Eve (Heartbreaker Bay #4) by Jill Shalvis

currently reading:
~ The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar (review)
~ The Murderer's Ape by Jakob Wegelius (review)

This month was a little all over the place for me. Lots of health stuff being dealt with, as best I could, and then other things coming up for processing. Review books have taken a bit of a back seat while I deal with stuff, and I am just trying to catch up a little now.

Stand outs for this month include: Turtles All the Way Down which just blew me away and I related to it so much - dealing with mental health issues can be so complex and frustrating at times; The Land of Neverendings was pretty amazing, giving some moments of laughter and others of a little weeping; and The Abundance of Less which picked my brain up, shook it, and made me look at things completely differently, whilst also reminding me of what is really important to me.

Whilst I read a little less this month, I'm still pretty happy with the overall spread of what I read - but a little more nonfiction and maybe some literary fiction in November wouldn't go astray.

Happy reading!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Book Review: The Land of Neverendings by Kate Saunders

Title: The Land of Neverendings
Author: Kate Saunders
Publication Date: 5th October 2017

Synopsis: "What if there exists a world powered by our imagination...

A world where silliness is the norm, where the fashion-conscious wear hats made of cake, where a stuffed bear and penguin strut around like they own the place.

A world where humans and toys live on, long after the leave the Hard World?

And what if the door between that world and this one was broken?

Welcome to the Land of Neverendings."

My thoughts: Oh. This book was sweet, glorious, and heart-breaking. It looks at grief and loss from a child's perspective, trying to make sense of the world through stories and 'adult things'. It looks at play, and fun, and imagination, and what happens when those aren't very balanced. It looks at love, and how sometimes we will do whatever we can to get even a hint of someone we love back in our life.

The humour in this is pretty great - yes, sometimes a little childish (there are many children involved, after all), but sometimes I was surprised into laughing out loud. I also cried a little with this book - let that be your warning. It does deal with some pretty heavy topics at time, particularly the weight that grief can have on someone's life, so it can hit you right where you feel it most.

Emily, the main character, is absolutely wonderful. Flawed and yet curious and real. She asks the hard questions at times, and takes other things in her stride. When things go wrong, she doesn't try to hide away from it, and she tries to stay present. I loved her character, and could happily read other books with her as the main. The other characters - particularly Ruth, Toby, and Smiffy - delighted me almost as much, and the connections that Saunders forms with other children's classics was amazing.

This book was heart-warming and wonderful. I cannot recommend it enough if you have a child, or if you are a child at heart.

{I received a review copy of this book from Allen & Unwin in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!!!}

A favourite line from the book: "'Would you mind telling me why you're wearing those moustaches?'
Both toys looked surprised.
Smiffy said, 'It's the latest fashion in Pointed End - everybody's got a false moustache.'"

You would like this book if: You enjoy wonderful, deep, charming children's stories.

Tea to drink while reading this book: Cocoa would be best, I think.

Rating:  10/10

If you'd like to keep up to date with what I'm reading, follow me on Goodreads here!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Author Interview: Jay Kristoff

Following the publication of the second book of The Nevernight Chronicles, Godsgrave,  I had the chance to catch up with author Jay Kristoff and ask him a few questions. A big thank you to Jay for answering my questions, and to Lara Wallace for facilitating the interview!

1)      The Nevernight Chronicles are extremely dark, with a deft touch of morbid humour. Do you have any books or writers that have particularly inspired this taste for the shadows?
I started reading Stephen King when I was ten, so it’s all his fault, really. I was a big horror fan in my youth, I read a lot of Clive Barker, Dean Koontz, those kind of guys. I was a mad Anne Rice fan, too. The morbid humor is all me, though.

2)      Mia's world seems to be quite inspired by Italy - could you talk about the importance of Italy to you?
Italy is one of my favorite countries in the entire world. My wife and I got married in Rome, we go back there every 5 years. Venice is probably my favorite city on the planet, and studying Ancient Roman history is one of my favorite pastimes. If you need someone to bore your dinner party guests with hour long conversations about the Julian dynasty, I’m your guy.

3)      Throughout Nevernight and Godsgrave, there is a narrator of sorts stringing things together, giving the reader little asides and footnotes. Is this narrator based on you, or perhaps another character of your own creation?
The narrator is a character you’ve already met in the books. No clues as to who it might be though – you find out in book 3!

4)      You have talked before about letting your characters take the lead sometimes - do you find Mia, in particular, to be fairly... headstrong in how she wants her story to be told?
Definitely. Writing the end of Nevernight was one of the hardest experiences of my career. I struggled with it for months. I had a definite idea of how the book should end, but I couldn’t make it work. But as soon as I threw that idea away and let Mia go where she wanted, I finished the book in a couple of weeks.
She knows what she wants :)

5)      If you were Darkin (for all I know, you are... perhaps I will keep a sharp eye on your shadow if I ever meet you!), what form do you think your shadow-friend would take?
Awesome question. I’d like to say Wolf, because that’s kinda badass. But I imagine it’d be something like a Jack Russell Terrier :P

6)    I really REALLY want to talk about things that happen in Godsgrave, because ARGHHH, but in the interests of not spoiling the ride for readers, let me just ask: are you enjoying your time with these characters? (I am so excited and sad that there is one more book to go...)
GODSGRAVE was amazing to write, yes! Normally book 2 is a struggle to write, but for some reason, GG was just great fun. I think changing the setting helped, and I knew I had some massive revalations in the pipeline that would make a big ending. But the characters I met along the way, and watching Mia grow as a character was enormous fun.

And finally, some quick questions!
What are your current favourites?
I’m currently reading WARCROSS by the amazing Marie Lu!
Jack Daniels for life.
...loving about the current season?It’s spring down here, so it’s pretty badass all the way.

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions Jay!

Godsgrave: The Nevernight Chronicles, Book #2 is published by HarperCollins Australia and available at all good bookstores and online.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Book Review: The Little Library Cookbook by Kate Young

Title: The Little Library Cookbook
Author: Kate Young
Publication Date: 1 October 2017

Synopsis: "Paddington Bear's marmalade, a Neapolitan pizza with Elena Ferrante, afternoon tea at Manderley... The Little Library Cookbook provides over 100 delicious recipes inspired by the author's favourite works of fiction.

Beautifully photographed and divided into chapters to take you through the day - from Before Noon breakfasts and Around Noon lunches, Family Dinners and Midnight Feasts - food writer Kate Young captures the magic and wonder of meals enjoyed by some of our best-loved characters. This is an essential addition to any fiction-lover's kitchen."

My thoughts: To borrow from the synopsis, Kate Young most definitely does capture the magic and wonder of all of these foods, and the characters. The photography is so spot on in this book that it accompanies the recipes and words so well. The overall feeling of the book is thus ridiculously wonderful and cozy and just... LOVELY.

Each recipe is introduced using a small part of the book it has come from, usually the part that mentions the food itself, so you have this little bit of connection to the book at the start of each recipe to sigh over. Young's little bits of writing throughout the book also really brings the whole thing together - from talking about baking disasters she has had, to memories of her own from reading (p.s. Kate, if you're reading this, I definitely grew up with my face in a book, so I feel like we have had similar educations...), she really creates an atmosphere of reflection and nostalgia. Even for books that I haven't actually read yet.

Speaking of that, I have now added quite a few books to my to-be-read list because of this cookbook. Young's celebration of writing and food and the memories that both can evoke is contagious, and I can see myself referring back to this book not just for a recipe, but for a book recommendation. Highly, HIGHLY recommend.

{I received a review copy of this book from Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!!!}

A favourite line from the book: 'I have always been a highly suggestible, hungry reader. When discovering a new book, or revisiting an old favourite, my mind wanders, imagining what the food the characters are enjoying would taste like. A passing mention of a ripe summer strawberry, a fragrant roast chicken, or a warming mug of hot chocolate sends me straight to the kitchen, book still in hand.'

You would like this book if: You love bookish recipes, or cooking from books of your past; you love absolutely beautiful books that make you feel cozy-comfy.

Tea to drink while reading this book: I would say a nice black tea, perhaps with the Hunny & Rosemary Cakes from Winnie-the-Pooh?

Rating:  10/10

If you'd like to keep up to date with what I'm reading, follow me on Goodreads here!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Spoonie Musings: An Unusual Moment

I am sitting at my desk, reading blog posts (by other people, for once), and I just realised something - at this moment in time, I am experiencing no pain. I am almost always in some level of pain: usually from my stomach, sometimes my back or neck, sometimes my head or my eyes. Right now, I feel quite tired, and a little strained in my eyes from looking at a screen without my glasses (I really should go get them...), but I am experiencing no pain.

This is a really bizarre moment for me to realise, and I am not sure what to make of it. I feel like it is just a case of 'this too shall pass' - pain passes on or changes, no pain can change to much pain later on. Practising non-attachment seems to be a good way to go. But it is still nice to notice, and to be grateful for this moment.

Being sick for sixteen years (yes, it has been that long) has shown me quite a lot of things. And I still feel like I am confused as ever. But moments like this, where I can just sit back and recognise how far I have come - to be able to recognise that I'm not in pain, to be able to be grateful for that instead of raging against the world for not making it like this all the time, to recognise that it will most likely pass on - this is a really lovely thing.

Sometimes life feels like a selection of windows, connected together by a great long hallway. Snapshots of things that happen in my life that are drastic or huge. But I am finding space now to recognise the times in between those windows (when I am just in hallway, if you will keep following me down this rather odd analogy) and to appreciate them. Yes, I have been very sick in the last couple of months, but I've still been doing things. I've still been educating myself about diet and fertility, I've still been thinking about what my dreams are and, if not actively being capable of moving towards them, managing to keep them in my mind instead of dismissing them out of hand.

The in between moments can be really gorgeous, if you can stop and take a moment to see them. Thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings.

Love to all who read.

Book Review: The Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellowes

Title: The Mitford Murders
Author: Jessica Fellowes
Series: Mitford Murders #1
Publication Date: 14th September 2017

Synopsis: "Christmas 1919
Louisa Cannon dreams of escaping London, and most of all her dangerous uncle. Her salvation is a position within the Mitford household at Asthall Manor. There she becomes nursery maid, chaperone and confidante to the Mitford sisters, especially sixteen-year-old Nancy - an acerbic, bright young woman in love with stories.

But then a nurse - Florence Nightingale Shore, goddaughter of her famous namesake - is killed on a train in broad daylight, and Louisa and Nancy find themselves entangled in the crimes of a murderer who will do anything to hide their secret..."

My thoughts: This book was such a fun ride. The writing creates such a lovely, cozy atmosphere, even when there is tension occurring during the scene (seriously, Jessica Fellowes, how do you do that?). The characters are all really interesting, and I absolutely loved Guy and Louisa - their characters in particular made me feel so happy and intrigued.

Honestly, I only kind of knew that the Mitfords were an actual family before I went into this book. But, rather than taking me away from the family or making them seem like caricatures, I am quite interested in reading more about them, and giving Nancy Mitford's books a go. I think this book (this series of books, too) come across as a really nice homage to the Mitford family, and build the reader's interest in them. [Of course, with so little knowledge about the Mitfords, perhaps others may have a different experience.]

Overall, this book comes across as the epitome of the 'cozy mystery'. I highly recommend it if you are in the mood - particularly you Northern Hemispherians, with your autumnal weather (not that I am at all jealous).

{I received a review copy of this book from Hachette in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!!}

You would like this book if: You enjoy a nice cozy mystery; you want to read a little bit of historical fiction with the Mitfords in it!

Tea to drink while reading this book: Oh, just a nicely made Darjeeling, I should think.

Rating:  7/10

If you'd like to keep up to date with what I'm reading, follow me on Goodreads here!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Book Review: Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend

Title: Nevermoor
Author: Jessica Townsend
Series: Nevermoor #1
Publication Date: 10th October 2017

Synopsis: "Morrigan Crow is cursed.
Born on an unlucky day, she is blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks - and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on Eventide.

But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away to a secret, magical city called Nevermoor.

To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to pass four difficult and dangerous trials - or she'll have to leave the city and confront her deadly fate."

My thoughts: This book was so magical, so beautiful, so... wundrous. (Nevermoor jokes... they shall soon be a thing.) I was unexpectedly sent a proof copy of this and I honestly could hug the person who did that - I was in a bit of a slump at the time, not really seeing magic anywhere, and this book lifted me up, dusted me off, and then thrilled and beguiled me with tales of smoking rooms, changing walls, chandeliers that grow, and dragon-riding best friends.

Be honest - just that little description there has you a little intrigued, am I right?

What Townsend has created her is a beautiful book full of whimsy and delight, and just a little bit of underlying threat and fear. Morrigan Crow is such an interesting main character, one struggling to understand the sudden turn her life has taken, and I found that I related to her so easily. The trials, and Jupiter North, and the other characters that appear in this book are just all so ...I am running out of words. They are larger-than-life and most (most) are absolutely huggable.

Townsend's writing style is smooth and a dream to read - nothing jarred me out of my experience of reading this. I found myself thinking about it when I wasn't reading it, and being eager to get back to it pretty much all the time. Even now, as I write this, I am gazing at its beautiful cover thinking about how long I should wait before I read it again, because maybe I missed something or didn't appreciate it fully the first time round...

This book is a charming romp, and I highly recommend it. I have already talked it up to basically anyone who will listen. Please give it a look!

[I received an unsolicited copy of this book from Hachette in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!!!]

A favourite line from the book: ''And is your room all right?'
'Y-yes, of course!' she stammered. 'At least it was when I left it. I swear.''

You would like this book if: Magical, comfortable, cozy reads filled with whimsy and wonder. (If you don't like those kinds of things, I am not entirely sure we can be friends.)

Tea to drink while reading this book: Ohh a cozy hot chocolate, or some quite milky tea for comfort.

Rating:  10/10

If you'd like to keep up to date with what I'm reading, follow me on Goodreads here!
All content owned by Bethwyn Walker unless otherwise stated. Simple theme. Theme images by gaffera. Powered by Blogger.

butterfly elephant

creating a place where rest and rejuvenation are paramount