Showcase Sunday #93

Inspired by Pop Culture Junkie and the Story Siren, the aim of Showcase Sunday is to highlight our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders each week. For more information about how this feature works and how to join in, click here.

Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s Showcase Sunday! How are we all? Did you have a nice week? Is there anyone who’s on their Christmas break already? We still have two and a half more days to go but I’m really looking forward to 8 days of reading and relaxing next week!

Incoming

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Wonder | 365 Days of Wonder

I got two wonderful books this week (in fact, they arrived last week but I didn’t have the time to show you guys), both giveaway wins from Georgia at The Bibliomaniac. I’m already about halfway through Wonder and it’s absolutely beautiful. I love the characters and Palacio’s writing and I can’t wait to find out what happens in the second half of the book. 365 Days of Wonder is a collection of (inspirational) quotes from Wonder‘s English teacher, Mr. Browne. I love books like this so I can’t wait to pick it up!

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Catalogue Highlights: Transworld Books – Spring/Summer 2015

Transworld Books

Hello everyone! As we’re edging closer to the end of the year and we’re all starting to think about what bookish delights 2015 will have in store for us, it’s time to bring back one of my favourite blog features. Curling up in bed with my favourite publishers’ catalogues and jotting down the books I want to read next year has become almost like a Christmas tradition for me, and this year is no exception.

And, as always, I want to share the books with you. Just like last year, I’m starting with Transworld Books whose novels, as regular blog readers will know, never fail to amaze me. They’re usually my first stop when I’m looking for a good thriller or a new women’s fiction author and they rarely disappoint. So, here are my top 5 Transworld books I’m looking forward to reading in 2015!

 

The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin
Publication date: 1 January 2015
Goodreads | Pre-order
The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin

Here is a truth that can’t be escaped: for Mia ‘Rabbit’ Hayes,
life is coming to an end…

Rabbit Hayes loves her life, ordinary as it is, and the
extraordinary people in it. She loves her spirited daughter, Juliet; her colourful, unruly
family; the only man in her big heart, Johnny Faye.

But it turns out the world has other plans for Rabbit, and she’s OK
with that. Because she has plans for the world too, and only a
handful of days left to make them happen.

Here is a truth that won’t be forgotten: this is a story about
laughing through life’s surprises and finding the joy in every
moment.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Publication date: 15 January 2015
Goodreads | Pre-order

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens.

She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough.

Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar.

Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…

The A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah
Publication date: 12 March 2015
Goodreads | Pre-order

The A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah

I’m lying here in a bed, my head full of regret, with only a little bird flitting through a tree to comfort me.

Friends want to visit, but I refuse them. So my carer Sheila has given me a task to keep me occupied.

An A-Z list. Think of a part of my body for each letter. Tell a little tale about it.

When I reach H for Heart, what will I say?

How we loved to string crocheted hearts in trees? How our hearts steadily unravelled?

So I begin with A. Adam’s apple.

Will you be there to catch me when I fall?

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Review: Hyperbole and a Half – Allie Brosh

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
Publication date: 23 April 2013
Publisher: Square Peg
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780224095372
Length: 369 pages
Genre: Humour
Age group: Adult
Source: Purchased
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository
My rating: 5 Stars

Hyperbole and A Half is a blog written by a 20-something American girl called Allie Brosh. She tells fantastically funny, wise stories about the mishaps of her everyday life, with titles like ‘Why Dogs Don’t Understand Basic Concepts Like Moving’ and ‘The God of Cake’. She accompanies these with naive drawings using Paint on her PC. Brosh’s website receives millions of visitors a month and hundreds of thousands of per day.

Now her full-colour debut book chronicles the many “learning experiences” Brosh has endured as a result of her own character flaws. It includes stories about her rambunctious childhood; the highs and mostly lows of owning a mentally challenged dog; and a moving and darkly comic account of her struggles with depression. Poignant and uproarious – think Cyanide and Happiness but with story-lines, cake and dogs.

Hyperbole and a Half has been on my wish list ever since I saw it on Ellie’s blog this time last year. Although I wasn’t familiar with the Hyperbole and a Half blog at the time, I love all types of humour, from books to TV comedies and everything in between, so I knew it would be right up my street. But for some reason, I never got around to buying a copy.

However, I went to Foyles a couple of weeks ago and saw the book near the counter. I picked it up and started reading the back cover. And I literally laughed out loud. Three sentences in, I knew I’d love it.

And I did.

It was just as funny as I expected it to be and it had me laughing all the way through the end. I don’t know what’s funnier, Brosh’s illustrations (drawn in Paint – which, for me, makes them even more hilarious) or her memoirs that accompany the images. The whole thing is just brilliant as it is.

Although I’m not a dog person (I’ve never been), her dog stories were definitely my favourite. This one in particular had me choking with laughter for days and it still makes me giggle if I look at it. It was a story about Helper Dog, a slightly neurotic German shepherd, who was nearly impossible to train. People suggested giving her a treat every time she does something they like or simply when she stops doing bad things. However, as Allie says, “the only thing they managed to accomplish was to teach the Helper Dog that if she starts doing something they hate, and then stops that thing very briefly, she can get a treat”. And then she went back to doing the thing again.

The Simple Dog - Hyperbole and a Half

Do you know that feeling when you’re literally crying with laughter and when, after ten minutes, you manage to stop and go ‘it’s not even that funny’ – and then it starts all over again? That’s pretty much what happened.

But Hyperbole and a Half is not just about dogs, cake and the author’s mischievous childhood. Her stories about depression and what she’s been through are just as brilliant as the funny bits, but in a completely different way. She describes the illness perfectly and without making it too depressing. She adds a bit of humour to the more serious topics as well, so they blend in with the rest of the book perfectly.

Whether you or your loved ones have been suffering from depression or you’re simply looking for an entertaining read, I simply cannot recommend this enough. Although it’s a relatively quick read due to all the drawings, I know it will stay with me for a long time and I will re-read it from time to time. It’s absolutely brilliant. 

Book & a Brew – A Monthly Mystery Box for Book Lovers

Book and a Brew

I’ve always enjoyed curling up in bed with a good book, a nice cup of tea and a warm blanket. For me, these three – or books and tea, at least – go hand in hand. A good book is not the same without a nice hot drink and vice versa. Although my tea supply is not nearly as big as my book collection (it’s quite impressive, mind you), I’m known for my obsession with both. If you can relate to anything I’ve said so far – or you simply enjoy reading – you will love today’s post.

Last month I discovered a website dedicated to book lovers, whether kids or adults, which is so brilliant I don’t even know why it hasn’t existed before. Book & a Brew is a monthly subscription service for book lovers and everyone who appreciates a nice brew. Basically, the aim of the website is to deliver a mystery box filled with a good book and healthy, delicious drinks straight to your door every month. As someone who loves both books and tea, I was literally jumping up and down with joy that someone finally made this happen.

As you can see, the books arrive in a simple yet elegant packaging with the Book & a Brew logo on them (which is incredibly cute). My November mystery box was hiding a hardback copy of Lauren Beukes’ The Shining Girls and a package of chocolate and mint tea.

Book and a Brew Package

Teapigs Chocolate and Mint

Boxes are always shipped from the 15th of each month and are always of a greater value than what you are paying. Each box contains a hardback book and either a box of tea or a package of ground coffee to go with it, but they do kids boxes for younger readers as well.

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Review: Oh Yeah, Audrey! – Tucker Shaw

Oh Yeah, Audrey! by Tucker Shaw

Oh Yeah, Audrey! by Tucker Shaw
Publication date: 14 October, 2014
Publisher: Amulet Books
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781419712234
Length: 256 pages
Genre: Contemporary
Age group: Young Adult
Source: Won
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository
My rating: 2.5 Stars

It’s 5:30am on Fifth Avenue and sixteen-year-old Gemma Beesley is standing in front of Tiffany & Co. wearing the perfect black dress with her pastry and coffee held tightly in a brown paper bag — just like Holly Golightly. As the co-founder of a successful Tumblr blog — Oh Yeah Audrey! — devoted to all things Audrey Hepburn, Gemma has travelled from Pennsylvania to New York in order to meet up with her fellow bloggers and friends, Bryan and Trina, for the first time. She has meticulously planned out a 24-hour adventure for the trio in homage to Breakfast at Tiffany’s; however, her plans become quickly sidetracked when a glamorous boy sweeps in and offers her the type of New York experience she’s always dreamed of. Gemma soon learns who her true friends are and that, sometimes, “no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself.”

I absolutely loved the idea behind this book. Breakfast at Tiffany’s is such an iconic film and I was intrigued by how the author would turn it into a contemporary novel for young readers. Oh Yeah, Audrey! is a fun and very quick read, even for a slow reader like me – but it wasn’t memorable enough for me.

My first and biggest problem was that I couldn’t connect with the characters. At all. I didn’t really like Gemma or her “friends”. The only person I liked was the girl who used to post mean comments on the Oh Yeah, Audrey Tumblr page – at least she wasn’t fake.

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Showcase Sunday #92

Inspired by Pop Culture Junkie and the Story Siren, the aim of Showcase Sunday is to highlight our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders each week. For more information about how this feature works and how to join in, click here.

Hello everyone! How was your week? I’m sorry for the lack of updates last weekend – I was in London with Katja from Cautious, who was visiting from Denmark, and didn’t have time to sit down and write my post. BUT! I have lots of brilliant books to show you today so sit down, pop the kettle on and… here goes.

Incoming

Bird Box

Hyperbole and a Half

 Bird Box | The Shining Girls | The Ice Twins | Mad About the Boy | Hyperbole and a Half

Katja and I went to Foyles last weekend and I bought a copy of Bird Box. I’ve seen a lot of people tweet about it when it came out and I’ve been intrigued ever since. (It sounds like Hitchcock’s The Birds, which is one of my favourite films – and that’s a completely valid reason to buy it, right?) Plus, I’ve heard great things about it, so I couldn’t resist grabbing a copy!

The Shining Girls was a gift but that’s all I’ll say for now – I have a very special post scheduled for next week and I don’t want to spoil the surprise! ;)

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Event Recap: An Evening with Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult Waterstones event

Since the middle of October, New York Times best-selling author Jodi Picoult has been touring the USA, Canada and the UK with her latest novel, Leaving Time. The first stop of Jodi’s tour was an event at St James’s Church, near Piccadilly, and when Waterstones asked me if I wanted to come along, I knew I had to say yes.

Although some of them have been on my to-be-read list for a long time and my friends keep recommending them to me constantly, I haven’t got round to reading Jodi’s books yet. (I will guys, I promise.) But I was interested to hear more about her new novel and see why people fall in love with her stories on the very first page. And, after hearing her talk about the research, the preparation that came before the book, and stories I have to say I get it.

Even within a 90-minute talk, you could hear she’s an amazing storyteller. I don’t know if it’s possible to fall in love with an author’s books before you’ve actually read them but if it is, I’m pretty sure I just did.

And since I know a lot of you live too far away from London and couldn’t make it to the event, I wanted to write a short recap and tell you how the evening went. I don’t want to go into details about the plot and what happens in the book for obvious reasons, but Jodi’s speech about its background was so fascinating that I wanted to share it with you.

Jodi Picoult Waterstones

Waiting for Jodi at St James’s Church, Piccadilly

The book’s original title was Elephant Graveyard but, as Jodi said, her publisher wasn’t too happy about the word elephant… or graveyard, so they changed it to Leaving Time. Since the book is very scientific and elephants feature heavily in the story, Jodi talked a lot about her research on elephants’ behaviour, which I found fascinating.

One of the things I found the most interesting was how elephants deal with death and mourning. According to Jodi, elephants remember and mourn their loved ones even many years after their death. When an elephant walks past a place where another elephant died, he or she will stop and become quiet for a while. They remember this spot and return to it even years after the other elephant’s death. Interestingly, they don’t do any of these with any other animals, only elephants.

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