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Friday, 22 April 2016

APRIL MID-MONTH READING WRAP UP



Surprise! I bet you weren't expecting a wrap up this early in the month, were you? Nope, didn't think so.

For some reason this month I've been an absolute reading machine; and I've already managed to read quite a few books so I thought instead of doing one giant wrap up at the end of the month I'd split it into two easily-digestible chunks.


Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery | ☆☆☆☆.5
First of all, will you just look at how beautiful this Puffin in Bloom edition is? I absolutely adore these little hardbacks and I want to collect the whole set. Anne of Green Gables is one of those classic children's books which you're just supposed to read and I admit that I was nervous to read this because it's so many people's favourite book. Well, I needn't have worried because I really loved it. It drew me in right from the beginning and it was just such a light and comforting read. L.M. Montgomery's writing is so lovely and it really immerses you in Anne's rural idyll. I can't wait to carry on and read the entire series!

The Big Lie by Julie Mayhew | ☆☆☆☆
What if the Nazis had won WW2 and successfully invaded England? Julie Mayhew answers that with The Big Lie; an alternative YA historical fiction dystopian set in present-day Nazi England. Jessika Keller is a thoroughly-indoctrinated good girl with a bright future ahead of her of national ice-skating followed by being an upstanding, strong wife and mother to continue the 'Greater German Reich'. Her best friend and neighbour, Clementine, isn't so submissive. She is outspoken, radical and downright 'dangerous'. Will Jessika choose her beloved country or her best friend?

This premise had me hooked from the outset and Julie Mayhew's contemporary Nazi England was chilling, shocking and utterly compelling. I just couldn't put it down and it pretty much blew me away. The only thing that let it down slightly was that the final third was a little flat compared to the gripping and explosive first two thirds, but I still loved it. 

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert | ☆☆☆
I picked up Big Magic from the library after hearing quite a buzz around it both on book blogs and social media. I'm up for reading anything to do with living creatively so this seemed like the perfect book for me. When it comes to non-fiction, especially psuedo-self-help books, I'm pretty open minded, I've read enough books of this type to be prepared not to agree with everything the author says and to pick and choose what I take away from it. That's what it was like reading Big Magic. I really enjoyed the fact that Elizabeth Gilbert doesn't put too much emphasis on traditional forms of creativity (i.e. writing, painting etc.); she maintains that living a creative life means a lot of different things to different people and she offers anecdotal examples from people she has known as well as herself. The one thing that I did have an issue with, in that I just didn't quite get it, is that Gilbert proclaims creativity to be actual, literal magic. She approaches creativity in a very spiritual way that although I'm open to, just doesn't really work for me. Overall, I enjoyed reading Gilbert's thoughts on creativity but I just didn't get all that much out of it. But I wouldn't discourage anyone else from reading Big Magic, as I think everyone will interpret it differently.



Calm by Michael Acton Smith | ☆☆☆☆
A few weeks ago I was contacted by Penguin Random House and they asked me if I would like to take part in the re-promotion of Calm by Michael Acton Smith. Of course I said yes and you can read my post about Calm and practicing mindfulness here. It's a beautifully presented book with some really helpful ideas on how to incorporate mindfulness into your everyday life and I really enjoyed poring over all the detail in every page. I think this book would be an extremely helpful introduction to someone who's never practiced mindfulness as it really makes you stop, think and take a breather.

Psycho: Sanitarium by Chet Williamson | ☆☆☆
Earlier this month I was kindly sent an early e-copy of Pyscho: Sanitarium by Chet Williamson before it's release on 12th April by Canelo books via ED pr.  This is the authorised sequel to Robert Bloch's original Psycho and follows Norman Bates during his time in a hospital for the criminally insane. It's a creepy, fast-paced murder-mystery thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat. I seem to read ebooks quicker than physical books anyway but I just couldn't put this down and had it finished in a couple of sittings. It was slightly predictable but I enjoyed it nonetheless and it's made me really want to watch the tv series Bates Motel!

You by Caroline Kepnes | ☆☆☆☆
I was clearly still in a thriller mood so I picked up the much raved about You by Caroline Kepnes. I've heard so many people rave about this on booktube so I just had to read it. You is a stalker-thriller told from the point of view of the stalker, but the interesting thing about this book is that it's told in the second person:
"You walk into the bookstore and you keep your hand on the door to make sure it doesn't slam. You smile, embarrassed to be a nice girl, and your nails are bare and your V-neck sweater is beige and it's impossible to know if you're wearing a bra but I don't think that you are."
- which is so creepy it's unreal.
This book freaked me the fuck out. It's so twisted and messed up but it's so incredibly written that at times Kepnes actually had me sympathising with the stalker - not okay! The plot was perfectly paced and it was so intensely gripping, when I wasn't reading it I was thinking about reading it, I literally couldn't get the story and the characters out of my head. This book was so brilliant that I probably would've given it five stars but I think it was just a bit too messed up even for me, the girl who watches murder documentaries back to back. That's how creepy it is. You should really read this if you haven't already.

So those are the books that I read in the first half of the month and I'll be back again with part two of my wrap up soon!

What are you reading right now?

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