Thursday, 7 July 2016

Word By Word // Quarterly Book Review

Guys, I'm not going to lie, I've been having a blast lately with the books I've picked up. I just seem to be on a lucky streak with book after book being high raters and with my reading motivation in the zone, I've got through a ton!

It's been a great time for page turners and I'd love to share my thoughts with you but since this is quite a list I won't torture you with full reviews and summaries, plus I always worry about spoiling plots and important content, but if you are interested in learning more about the synopsis and hearing more of my opinions then please feel free to visit my goodreads page, where there is lots and lots of bookish stuff and you can keep up to date with what I'm currently reading!

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon      5 * {850 pages}

An epic historical drama set in the misty highlands of Scotland mostly around the year 1743, Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

What. A. Novel. Being a fan of ginormous historical tomes filled with adventure I should have known that I would love this book and yet it took me an age to pick it up but man oh man, I wasn't disappointed! This book couldn't be wedged with any more story if it tried, this was intrigue and adventure from cover to cover following the story of Claire Randall and her tangled web of lost love, foreign lands, the moral struggle of conscience and the responsibilities that come with knowledge, and allowing herself to re assess who she is and to follow her heart where ever and whenever it may take her.

Beautifully written, deliciously detailed, full meaty characters, muscles and kilts- this book has it all!

Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape by Jenna Miscavige Hill      4 * {402 pages}

Beyond Belief is a fascinating insight into the darkest depths of Scientology, an honest and shocking account, right from the core of the organisation. This follows the upbringing and life of Jenna Miscavige Hill, niece of the Church of Scientology's leader David Miscavige and the trials and tribulations that come from familial ties and the heavy weight of this religion.

This book really made me stop and think. It is all too easy to forget, whilst reading about this sci-fi esqu belief system and unbelievable way of life, that this is actually the story of a real woman, and real people across the world today, restricted and swamped by this completely bizarre organisation they see as a regular daily life style. To say I enjoyed reading this sounds rather odd, considering it's subject matter, but I do highly recommend this work for anyone with intrigue and curiosity of life outside of their own walls, however uncomfortable.

Nine Women: Short Stories by Frances M. Thompson      5 * {273 pages}

Such a gorgeous book! This heartfelt collection of short stories offers an honest insight at the varying lives of women, the joys of friendship, the complexities of those relationships, the strengths found during times of loss and the harsh truths we all face at some point or another in our lives.

This sweet book is divided into nine individual tales, a perfect way to enjoy many stories within one binding, wonderfully written with a gentle yet no- holds- barred hand. I sincerely look forward to discovering more from this author!

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes      5 * {481 pages}

Now, I'm not going to lie, I avoided this one for a while due to the over done hype, the cover, the title and the genre itself, none of it was working for me, yet something made me eventually reach for this sweet story and I am so happy I did.

This book tackles a controversial topic with grace, thoughtfulness and compassion and shows an inspiring array of points of view, opinions and just shows how different people react to life changing situations. I loved the development of the relationship and found it humble, funny, sweet and incredibly British!

Not sure I will be reaching for the follow up novel, as this book read perfectly fine as a stand alone, and was so fully rounded as a story that I feel satisfied enough with this one book. I will however, be fighting the crowds to watch the film adaption, but most certainly shall be attending alone with a hankie close at hand!

The Book of Fires by Jane Borodale      4 * {406 pages}

This gorgeously written debut novel from Jane Borodale is set in England 1752, following the story of seventeen year old Agnes Trussel, her childhood cut dramatically short and the obstacles she strives to overcome as she makes her way through the hedonistic streets of London.

Delightfully detailed descriptions of this grimy, lonely world, untrustworthy characters, exciting discoveries in alchemy and chemistry all work together to create a tense atmosphere accurate of how life for a young woman travelling alone in 1700s would be, treacherous and frightening at every turn in the road. My only grievance was that I felt short of story. That there seemed to be room enough for more, to go further with the romance aspect and the fire play. Call me greedy, I just want more!

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick      5 * {289 pages}

Upon arriving home after a stay at a mental health facility, Pat faces the confusion and difficulties of having to piece ones life back together, bit by bit, after the break up of a marriage and the disjointed feeling of separation after spending time away from his family and friends. Oh, whilst being haunted by Kenny G.

Despite tackling such a tricky and misunderstood subject, I found this story joyful and endearing and incredibly tender. The raw emotions and sheer transparency of the character's suffering gave such vulnerability to the book, whilst offering a fascinating view of such situations, told with hilarity and wit.

Complex yet stunning, this honest and funny story will captivate you till the very last page.

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon      5 * {743 pages}

I could simply resist no longer. The second instalment of the Outlander series was perfectly satisfying with so much story, new intriguing characters, thickening of plots, whilst the emotional thread ran continuously, giving tenderness to the relationships and complexity and softness to an otherwise harsh and gritty setting.

In this book we travel across lands and time frames, working back and forth allowing the tale to unravel beautifully, leading us carefully through adventure and scandal ending in quite the revelation at the closing of the story. Let me put it this way; I can't wait to read the third novel!

Burnt Tongues by Chuck Palahniuk      3.5 * {329 pages}

Although his name adorns the cover, this is actually a collective work from The Cult, a writers workshop made up of fans of Chuck Palahniuk. Twenty grotesque and twisted tales, hand picked by Palahniuk, thrown into this book, craving to be read.

Anything labelled 'not for the faint of heart' has my immediate attention. Call me curious or just plain perverted, I can't explain it but there is a morbid fascination with the gritty, gross and down right weird, and what better ingredients for a bind up of short stories?! If you're a fan of Chuck Palahniuk, especially if you dared to read Haunted, or just love a shocking bit of fiction then this book is for you!

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson      3.5 - 3.75 * {182 pages}

This is a clever take on a classic ghost story with just enough suspense and spookiness yet retaining it's grace and style. This book also eloquently tackles the mucky waters of mental illness, respectfully woven into the novel alongside the boasting paranormal aspect.

I enjoyed reading my first piece of work by Shirley Jackson and found the story spine tingling, the characters sweet and the dialogue simply gorgeous and hugely resonant of when it was written in 1959. No gore or rushing, this isn't a high thrill, slasher tale, but a beautifully told story taking it's time to make each and every hair stand upright on the back of your neck!

What larks we have here whilst sharing our favourite books of the season! Please let me know what gems you've picked up over the last few months and what you're currently reading, or if you have any recommendations for me I'd love to hear them! If you fancy a snoop at my previous quarterly book review then be sure to check out this link, or if second hand books are more your thing then head over here and over here for some serious treasure!

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