How To Stop Time By Matt Haig; Release And Review.

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Disclaimer: I was sent this proof copy for a review by Canongate, at my own request. What follows is my honest opinion.

How To Stop Time is (finally) out today. Whew! Take it from me; this is a great book. And I really enjoyed it. Take it from me, if you like time travel, fiction, and just a little sprinkle of humour, you’ll love this book. (Oh, and if you’re a fan of the eighties classic Highlander, you’ll love this book. Like me!)

As not to give too much away, I’ll tell you the very basic plot line, in spite of the fact that there are many layers to dissect: Tom Hazard has an ailment, meaning that he ages not as fast as other humans. In fact, he has been alive for centuries. And it costs him dearly. But who would suspect this from a London history teacher?

I really like the structure of the book, it that there are continual flashes forward and backwards in time-perfect for somebody who loves history like me! There are appearances from Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, the Bard, Captain Cook, Witch Hunters, and many more. They interact with Tom, whilst he contemplates his own ailment. And the way that they are characterised is just so vivid-which makes the novel somewhat alive. Because that’s what you’d want in a history teacher, isn’t it?

My only real feedback is that the protagonist of Tom Hazard isn’t always in touch with reality-obviously, being somebody who has been alive for over three centuries, you wouldn’t be. But I feel that this lets the book down, just a little bit. For example, when interacting with boys in his class, he almost seems as if to not comprehend the situation-even during a mugging incident. He is seemingly away in the clouds, and not focused at all. The plot line could have been a little bit snappier as a result. (But then again, dear readers, that’s just my humble  opinion. Each of us are different in our tastes, after all.

I will admit that the end had me just a little bit teary. This book is innately human to the core, which can teach us a lot about ourselves. to anyone reading this, it’s worth reading. And I give it a rate of 14/15.

Click here to buy How To Stop Time. 

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I am pleased to announce that I am working with Basic Beauty Tools. If you go to their website via this link , and order the Spongedry, you can get an extra free foundation blender by adding under ‘Note To Seller’ your colour code: LYDIAPINK for pink, LYDIAPURPLE for purple, and LYDIABLACK for black.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mensa Book Review.*

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Disclaimer: at my own request, Chloe Moss, on behalf of Carlton Books, sent these to me to review. What follows constitutes my own opinion.

Three things I admire are common sense, logic, and a good sense of humour in people. But when paired in a book? I love it.

These two books were sent to me; they are riddles and brainteasers-as you can see from the above photos-which are Mensa-esque. I’m not sure if the actual organisation had any say in the development or formation of this book; needless to say, as I rarely understood the puzzles, I have come to the conclusion that I’m simply not clever enough for this organisation.

The product:

I really liked this product, as it had quite a simple layout, which ‘spoke to me’ as a reader.  As a paperback, it is also small enough just to fit into your bag. For any long haul flight-I wish I had had this going to the US-this is perfect, because it would keep you occupied. There’s also solutions in the back, so you’re not banging your head in frustration.

Packaging:

I really liked that this package arrived with a personalised note-as I’ve said before, I’m all for a brand that makes this effort-and that there was not a lot of packaging for these books. (There was a package of four!)

Feedback:

Maybe there could have been far easier puzzles? I understood maybe one out of the two books!

Click here to buy the books.

The Summer Of Impossible Things By Rowan Coleman: Release And Review. 

Disclaimer: On the announcement of release, I requested the proof of this book to review. What follows is my honest opinion, having been a fan of Rowan Coleman for a while now. 

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Excuse my language, but what a bloody brilliant book this is! (You can also have some tripled alliteration along with that.) Having arrived in the post, I was surprised at the bulk-more that three hundred pages, and presumably longer than any other volumes written prior. Eagerly, I got stuck in. (A long car journey warrants this. At twelve hours, I needed a long book!)

Firstly, I was a little bit bewildered at the ‘voice’ of Luna, the protagonist of the book. She, at thirty, seems a little bit childish, almost idealistic, in repeating the same mistakes, over and over again. (Apart from that, she’s really cool in that she works in a male-dominated environment, dressing to reflect this.) But with the revelation that she can travel through time, Luna begins to change-meaning I developed more empathy towards her. (The mother of the story has died, but her two daughters have to uncover the secret she leaves behind in Brooklyn. )

Trust me, this is a very tense book, as well as highly emotional. In the end though, I loved the twist. And I promise that I won’t spoil it for you.

However, at times I did feel that this book is too weighty-in that the depth of description often goes against the plotline. It can take a little while to get going, fully immersed into the story. (It could do with maybe cutting some of this?) But once I did, I was completely captivated by this book. Immersed fully. And I was disappointed once it ended. It’ll be a firm favorite on my bookshelves from now on.

It’s released today, and I encourage you all to buy it.

Rate: 14/15

Click here to buy The Summer Of Impossible Things. 

Revolution Review. *

Disclaimer: this book was sent to me, at my own request, for me to review. What follows constitutes my own opinion. Thank you to Chloe Moss at Carlton Books for sending me this! (I think it also worthwhile to note that I am not a Communist, and do not plan on any revolutionary activities.)

Revolutions are a controversial subject, aren’t they?

There was Mcarthyism, as well as the red scare, meaning that the subject almost could not be publicly addressed. As a form of semi-scaremongering, it was used as an accuse, seemingly. But this book is great for exactly that reason. It ignores the issue of the impact, and analyses whatever Revolution it’s talking about, thus relating it objectively. (For a point of reference, I have yet to finish this book, but I do plan to-eventually.) As somebody who is currently studying history, I find the disdain given to these ideas a little bit illogical, and the fact that they are often taught-as in, passing it down generation to generation-odd, because there is still some contempt. (Rant over, I promise.) But this is why I really admire this book!

Plus, it is beautiful when you pull it out of the casing-almost akin to a newspaper. Just have a look at this:


All the clippings seemingly relate to the contents of the book.

For anyone studying politics, even history, this is such a useful reference guide; virtually any revolution of the last century is covered-some I didn’t even know that existed. (Famous ones are also referred to-Castro and Cuba, for instance.) There’s even photos to illustrate, plus pull out documents-always useful for hands on learning.

My only real feedback is that this book is quite cumbersome; not only for its shape-larger than most books-the depth of details inside means that it is also heavy. (Imagine this at the end of the day: you have all of your textbooks, exercise books, pens, etc. But you have to additionally carry something else; it will get heavy, won’t it?)

Rate: 10/15

Click here to buy a copy of the book.

Radical Self-Love By Gala Darling. (Book review!) 

Disclaimer: This is a book that I bought for my own personal consumption, and has not been endorsed by any publisher. I am reviewing this for myself, and not in exchange for a proof copy. 

Ever since I read a post over at Oberjean by Jean about Filofaxes, having clicked an external link to Gala Darling’s website, I’ve been fascinated. Here was somebody with a very relatable writing style, a back story to listen to, and so much colour! For a long time, I’ve wanted to read her book-Radical Self Love-so I thought I could review this for today’s post. (At The time of writing, I haven’t finished it yet.)

First of all-and this will probably sound a little bit odd-but I really liked the feel of the book. It’s a paperback, yet it has a different feel to the average version-and is possibly more glossy. It’s also pink-as in, Gala Darling Pink. (Yes, that version of pink has to be capitalised!) Every time I look at this book, I can’t help but smile. It’s bold, ballsy, and just a little bit enviable-and differs to the average paperback in that respect.

To be honest, I haven’t finished this book yet-simply having not had the time-but at times it seems just a little bit too simple. 

One of my favourite sections has to be Tapping; I’ve heard of this practice before, but have always been a skeptic-“how can tapping a part of the body be at all helpful when you’re talking to yourself?” was my general line of questioning. But now it makes sense-to admit to yourself what you can change, etc. Additionally, the section on How To Infuse Your Day With Magic is just pure brilliance.

Gala Darling, thank you for writing this. This is part of a facet that I’ve found that speaks to me as an individual, and that I have come to admire. This book is brilliant. And we could all read it. 

What do you think-would you read this?

Lydia

XO

Click here to buy Radical Self-Love by Gaka Darling. 

Beat The Blacklist TBR Challenge: Crossing The Water #1

 

Sylvia Plath. Sylvia Plath. I was first introduced to her back in 2013, when Company Magazine, now defunct, featured The Bell Jar in their monthly A-Z. It was the 50th anniversary of publication. And they were raising a “dirty martini” to Plath in celebration. Fast forward four years, and Plath is still very much part of my life.

This was a Christmas gift-thanks Mum!-and contains a good few poems that I am unfamiliar with. As the blurb notes, these were collected by Plath’s husband, Ted Hughes, and constitute the transitional period between The Colossus and Ariel. Needless to say, I was intrigued.

What’s lacking is Sylvia over reaching influence; these lack order, and aren’t necessarily as meaningful as later verses, such as Daddy and Lady Lazarus. But the one that stuck out most to me was Parliament Field Hills-the poem documenting Plath’s miscarriage. It’s sad beyond words. But it’s a moment in time that impacted the rest of her literary career.

What do you think? Do you read poetry?

Lydia

XO

Currently I’m reading: Small Great Things By Jodi Picoult.

 

Disclaimer; Kerry Hood, a publicist at Hodder and Stroughton, sent me this. I had requested the book myself. What follows is my honest opinion. Thank you very much for sending this to me!

I do love a thought provoking book; a moral dilema at the core, needing reflection, some sort of resolution. Jodi Picoult may have a formula-event, court, resolution. But, damn,  she’s good. Small Great Things, what I’m reading, is an epic read. It’s released today.

What I liked:

Two things, really; alternating view point and language. This is a book about race relations-a baby of a white supremacist dies,  with a black nurse ostensibly implicated for murder. Yet, we hear from her, as well as Turk, the man who lost his first son.

The narrative voice, through language, is also quite distinct. There’s clearly distinct dialect – Mamma for the nurse, the N-word for Turk. It’s refreshing to almost see it vividly before your eyes. I’m tired of ‘correct ‘ authors; those who censor words like that, thus skirting round the issue.

What I didn’t like:

Obviously, to make a book, you need retrospective forward and back flashes. It informs characteristics. But it wasn’t entirely laid out clearly-at times I had to really concentrate. 

Conclusion:

Can you #readwithoutpredjudice? I think everyone should read this. What a great book.

Click here to buy.

Review: Andree’s War By Francelle Bradford White. *

(Disclaimer: Elliott And Thompson sent me this,to review, at my own request. What follows is my full, honest, uncensored opinion about the book.)

I love any sort of Third Reich History-those stories of hero’s, really. And that goes for this book, which I’m currently reading, and have yet to finish.

With the occupation of France, Andree was virtually trapped; classed as a civil servant, she was forbidden to leave. Yet detested the Nazi Occupation.

As a young women-nineteen when the occupation began?-the juxtaposition between youth and frivloity, war and constraint, is quite astounding. And it’s a virtually a recounstucted book-from Andree’s diary, for instance. Her daughter should be highly commended. It must have been painstaking with the sheer amount of epic detail it holds within its pages.

It’s incredible this book. And something to go along with the following-not by theme, but by book that stands on its own merit:

  • Reasons To Stay Alive
  • The Book Thief
  • The Diary Of Anne Frank
  • I Capture The Castle
  • Boys In The Trees
  • The Memory Book

I can’t really fault this book. Really, I can’t.

I have yet to finish this book, at home of writing, but when I do, I know that I will want to re-trad it again.

Have you read any impactful books lately?

Review: Another JFK book! *

(Disclaimer: Chloe at Carlton books sent me this, at my request. What follows is my opinion, in its truest form. Thank you very much for sending me this! This is also part of a new series of blog posts, just for the week-about books…)

If you’ve read this blog, you’ll know that I’m fascinated by the Kennedy’s. This even cumilated in me visiting the presidential library (click here to view.)  It’s just  the glamour of the era, what was accomplished in terms of Civil Rights. Never mind conspiracy,  or what illegally may have happened in the Oval Office.

This book is a lovely, heavily-inclusive photography volume: there’s even pull-outs of historical documents. The accompanying text is also simple to read, and packed with revelations that even the most seasoned reader may not have heard of.

The two authors-one who I’ve interviewed-have also managed in recreating the atmosphere of Camelot. Despite not being alive at the time of the Kennedy presidency, I felt almost transported back to that time. To me, any book that manages that is one well worth reading.

However, I do wish, that as the book proceeds towards the end of Kennedy’s life, that there was less of a speculative tone. Almost like a “we know Oswald was the official killer, but we’re not agreeing” without explanation. If it’s a factual biography, then I’d far more prefer the facts of the day-I.E Lee Harvey Oswald was the leading suspect in President Kennedy’s murder, but was never trialled. He died whilst I’m police custody, without having made a confession. 

What do you think? Would you read this biography?

Click here to buy the book on Amazon.

Review: Reasons To Stay Alive By Matt Haig. *

Honestly? This was the most searing book I’ve probably read in a while-up with The Bell Jar, The Book Thief..

I still find myself unable to explain what it’s about-in the sense of trying to be sensitive, and not disrespectful. Therefore, I let Amazon do that for me. This is the blurb, taken from the book page:

“WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO FEEL TRULY ALIVE?

Aged 24, Matt Haig’s world caved in. He could see no way to go on living. This is the true story of how he came through crisis, triumphed over an illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again.

A moving, funny and joyous exploration of how to live better, love better and feel more alive, Reasons to Stay Alive is more than a memoir. It is a book about making the most of your time on earth.”

I like that, really, I do. A modern writer who can frame the onset of his Depression, aged twenty four, in a way that’s truly authentic, riveting, and above all, a comfort. The book also deals with anxiety-what it is, a sort-of how-to-deal, and a plot line around that. If you ever read just one book this year, I think you should make it this. And I feel that if I wrote any more, my point would be lost…

Click here to buy.

Review: The Memory Book By Rowan Coleman. *

Rowan. Coleman. I do love her books-the easily understandable books, dealing with intense issues such as Cystic Fibrosis. They’re emotionally tense, with utterly relateable characters. For any bookworm, what more could you possibly want?

Claire, the mother in the story, is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, at an incredibly young age: maybe forty? And in the prime of her life: an English teacher to a local secondary, dressed in red, with a young family. It’s a shock, needless to say. And that is where the story truly takes flight.

Gran moves in.

The elder daughter comes home.

Claire slowly falters, little by little, every day.

What I found to be most endearing is how Claire, despite this horrible condition, is a Mother, despite everything. She attempts to care for her elder daughter, on a shock revelation. She writes out memories, whilst she still has them, for the family. She plays with her toddler still. It made me want to cry, knowing what’s going to happen eventually.

The character of the grandmother really annoyed me, however; she’s angry at her daughter, somebody now virtually unable to defend herself. Just a little tolerance would have worked well for the relationship. She also encaged Claire, with a Toddler’s gate. Surely that’s going to be a trigger, for something to overcome? They could have had further help from medical professionals, instead of being angry. Stupidly, almost, that really upset me.

And then the ending. Oh, the ending…

I loved that best of all.

And I think you should all read it.

Click here to buy.

Review: Off The Page By Jodi Picoult And Samantha Van Leer. *

(Thank you to Kerry Hood, the kind publicist at Hodder, who sent me this.)

If you’ve heard of Jodi Picoult, you’ve probably heard of My Sister’s Keeper, or maybe even The Storyteller. She writes fictional novels, dealing with issues, that are often ethical, and where boundaries are often blurred. These include School shooting, Teen Suicide, Aspergers Syndrome, and Same-sex marriage. But what is truly magic is when she writes with her daughter, Samantha Van Leer.

Off The Page is the stunning sequel to Between The Lines; Prince Oliver has come out of his book, to be with his true love, Delilah. However can it truly last?

I liked the quips best of all-all to do with Fairy tales. Oliver has to pretend to be an ordinary High School Student, sitting SATS, thinking about girls. It’s NOT easy when your head is filled with only the stuff of Far Far Away. For example, during a test that has the potential to make or break him going to college, he draws a dragon. An elaborate one at that. All during a Maths test.

It all comes to ahead when the fairy tale has trouble accepting new characters, and confuses different wishes. But will they be discovered?

Above all, I particularly loved the twist at the end, meaning that one of the characters is saved. Having felt that these characters were almost real in the four days reading, I could feel myself grinning, as the book finally closed. I just wished that there were far more characters who were allowed to tell the story; that way, it could have had just a little bit more depth.

This is a book that I particularly think that teenagers will enjoy; why? There’s a certain sense of empathy to teens of the book.

Click here to buy.

Review: Sylvia Plath In Devon By Elizabeth Sigmund and Gail Crowther. *

(Thank you Jay for sending me this.)

If you’ve read this blog for a while, or are familiar with older posts, I am fascinated by Sylvia Plath, and the academic areas of study surrounding her.Therefore, I felt incredibly lucky to have been sent this to review. (I’ve interviewed one of the authors-Gail-which you can read by clicking here.)

Some of Plath’s greatest poetry-those of the notorious Ariel-were written whilst living in Devon,from September 1961 to December 1962.Plath whilst there had to undergo several things-her marriage breaking up, the birth of a child, and decorating her new home. Whilst there, events were put into motion, impacting the poetry. She’d also finished the Bell Jar.

Elizabeth Sigmund recalls how she met Sylvia, and their subsequent friendship; that’s what I think is truly remarkable about the book. One of Plath’s friends goes on record-instead of just being silent. It paints a better picture of her, one that’s far more balanced. The scholarly tone is also incredibly articulate; something that I always look for in a tome.

Gail is also a great scholar-and I found myself reminiscing about the email interview. So many things seemed anew-something that I hadn’t known before; for example, if she had lived, it may have been possible that Sylvia may have become a politically active women. As someone studying that, it was simply refreshing to hear: in an era when that was a little unconventional at the time. The biography was my favorite part of the book.

And the pictures, the pictures..instead of a usual biography having them at specific chapter points, they are interspersed throughout. It also almost ignores Plath, with pictures of the external reality that inspired her poetry-such ass statues, her home. That’s what fascinates me about this book, and why I know that I’ll be re-reading this book for a while.

I’d have only have improved the book by just being a little more snappy in style..

Click here to buy from Amazon.

Review: Moranifesto By Caitlin Moran.*

Caitlin. Moran. Ever heard of her? If you like funny, occasionally sweary feminist writing, added with a thrice weekly column, you love this lady.

Moranifesto is a collection of her columns from The Times, added together with new essays. (Because you just have to have something bonus, right? Like on a ‘Collection album’-your greatest hits and new songs mixed in between.) It deals with everything serious such as the Syrian refugee crisis, and the utterly hilarious, such as benefits of a Muppet Face. (Because you look far more ‘alive’-not just someone blankered and unemotional.)

What I like best is how utterly irreverent the whole book is-including accidentally trespassing on Kate Moss’ house, whilst lunching with Benedict Cumberbatch. Yes, really.

My only real criticism is that the subjects of the columns can at times be a little dull; I’m a reader without an interest in housing , or even something that vaguely resembles accounting. To have whole sections of the book like this made my head swim. It may be what you prefer, but it just wasn’t for me.

I like how this however takes Politics seriously; rather than just being condescending, it has a real way of just talking about things. The logic is astounding; the evidence compelling. This is a gem of a book, worthy of being read everywhere. It should be on everyone’s shelf, on the basis that Politics is everywhere; we can’t go on being apathetic. Change needs to happen, yet it doesn’t have to be revolutionary. We can change our country by just one idea at a time. It doesn’t even have to be very serious.

Meanwhile, Caitlin is on her book tour. You can book tickets to see her read live from the book. It’s well worth the while, with her irreverent attitude to every little thing.

Click here to buy.

Review: I Capture The Castle By Dodie Smith. *

(Thanks to Vintage Random house for sending me this!)

I first remember reading I Capture The Castle, at about age eleven, wanting to follow in the footsteps of Jacqueline Wilson. (A favorite author at the time, there was a passage in My Secret Diary about how she had read this.) I have been lucky enough to reread this recently, thanks to Vintage Random House sending me a copy.

Cassandra, the teen narrator, along with Rose, her sister, their father and stepmother, live in an old and abandoned castle. They live in poverty, with hardly any materialistic possessions. Everything begins to change when two Americans arrive in the village.

It has been a while since I read this book; on first reading, all those years ago, I hadn’t realized that this was a love story. A very  bittersweet one at that. However, at times I found the characters a little one dimensional, and tooth faced at that. It seemed unrealistic at times, the anger and jealousy at times.

The plot I enjoyed far more, with all the dynamic twists and turns; for something conceived as a two year project, written in the US during world war two, this book cements Smith’s legacy.

Click here to buy.