Right Book, Right Time

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Hi everyone! Happy Spring! I hope you’re all having a great year so far and that the weather is finally starting to get warmer where you are (it’s still freezing in Scotland!). Last week I finished reading a book and it occurred to me that perhaps if I had read that book at a different time then I may not have enjoyed it as much as I did. So this post is going to be a kind of discussion of that mixed with a relaxed review of the book, so let’s see how this works!

The book in question is On the Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher. I love Carrie and have reviewed her non-fiction book All I Know Now on this blog previously. I watch her videos on youtube and am even lucky enough to be going to see her perform as Wednesday in The Addams Family Musical next month with my best friend so I was very excited when I heard that she was writing a fiction novel. On the Other Side is a story about a woman called Evie who has passed away in old age and has found herself unable to get into her own heaven without first ridding her soul of three secrets she kept her whole life. The story has elements of magical realism which were subtly done apart from one. In order to avoid spoilers for those of you who may want to read the book I won’t say which part it was but the instance seemed, to me, a bit out of tune with the rest of the magical realism system used and therefore it came across as a tad far-fetched. However, that being said I very much enjoyed the other touches of magic in the book, something that usually I may have found a bit distracting as I tend to enjoy more realistic stories.

The characters in the novel were written excellently, each with flaws and quirks that made them very real and easy to warm to. Evie was a great heroine, kind and unafraid to be herself while also putting the needs of others before her own desires. A shared trait between most of the characters was that they were sweet, again something which may have irritated me slightly in other novels or even if I’d just been reading this at a different time.

This is why I think it is so important to read what you feel like you really want to read instead of what you feel others think you should read or forcing yourself to read your TBR in a pre-set order. Reading and books are to be enjoyed and to enjoy them to their full potential we must read them when we feel the time is right and when we’re in the right head space for them. Do you feel like you want to pick up a book set at Christmas time in the middle of June? Do it! Do you feel like you want to read a fluffy contemporary instead of that non-fiction that’s been sitting on your shelf for months? Do it. Read what makes you happy when it makes you happy.

I hope you enjoyed this post and that maybe it made you pick up something to read that will make you happy like On the Other Side made me happy! Leave your comments below to tell me what you think!

See you soon,

Shannon 🙂

Goals for 2017

Hi everyone, Happy New Year! I hope that you’re doing well and that 2017 is going smoothly so far! As I’m sure you all know, at the beginning of every year many people like to make resolutions for the year ahead to try and improve certain elements of their lives. Personally, I feel like resolutions is quite a strong word that implies that the things you’re going to work on were wrong or bad and that if you don’t ‘fix’ them they’ll stay wrong or bad which seems like quite a negative and strict ideology to place yourself under. However, like most people, I do want to improve myself and certain aspects of my life over the next year so I have set myself some goals to aim towards, and if I reach them that’s great and if I kinda reach them but not quite then it’s great that I tried! So without any further rambling here are my goals for 2017!

1. Read 10 Books

Every year for the past few years I have set myself a reading goal on Goodreads. I love the process of tracking the books I’ve read and seeing how many pages I’ve done and my average rating at the end of the year. However, last year and the year before I didn’t quite manage to reach my goals, in 2015 it was 50 books and 20 in 2016, and it left me feeling a bit deflated. Therefore this year I have set myself a target that I know I will manage to reach (I’m already one down!) and probably surpass so at the end of the year I can feel a little more accomplished in the reading department. I’m also feeling really excited about the books I’d like to read this year so here’s hoping they’ll be great!

2. Write More

I love to write. I particularly like to write about books on this blog and general goings on in my diary. Both of these came to a bit of a halt last year as I found myself really busy with University and all of the things that come with that, studying and an amazing group of friends (old and new) that I love hanging out with. In the last month or two I’ve begun to write again, and read again, and I’ve been reminded how much I love being able to look back at what I was reading or what I was feeling and also how much it clears and calms your mind. So I’d love to post more regularly here and write more regularly in my diary this year so that next year I can look over everything I’ve done and be able to set new goals!

3. Say Yes More . . .

I’m the kind of person that worries a lot, mainly about tiny things that don’t need to be worried about, it’s how I’ve always been. Unfortunately, because of these worries I tend to say no to opportunities or experiences that may have been amazing because I’m scared or worried about them and I think it’s not worth the hassle. For example, I almost said no to coming to Edinburgh (my dream city!) for university because I was too worried. Thankfully I came to my senses and moved but the moral of the story is that it was the best decision I’ve ever made! So this year I want to say yes to volunteering opportunities that might be useful in my career, I want to say yes to nights out even though I can’t really be bothered and I want to say yes to getting out of my comfort zone. Who knows where it’ll lead!

4. Get Up Earlier

If I’m being totally honest when I don’t have to be up for University I rarely get up before 12pm. That’s not to say that I sleep until then, I usually wake up naturally around 9.30am but I can spend a whole lot of time just staring at my phone browsing various social media apps, then when I do get up I feel like I’ve wasted half of the day and get a bit grumpy. So it’s time to break out of this pattern and get up and be productive, even if being productive just means reading my book or going into town to look at the shops its better than lying in bed! So here’s hoping that 2017 Shannon will find the willpower to get up earlier more regularly and see how much she can achieve!

5. Meditate

In the past few years the idea of mindfulness and meditation has become increasingly popular, and for good reason! Just ten minutes of meditation a day can do so much good to both your mind and your body. I’ve tried meditation before but never really stuck to it, however I’ve read up on it and discovered that doing it in the morning works best for me so I’m giving it another go in the hopes of finding a calmer and more creative mind, I’ll let you know how it goes!

I hope that you’ve enjoyed hearing about a few of my goals for 2017 and I’d love to know what yours are, feel free to share!

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Until next time,

Shannon 🙂

Top 5 Books Of 2016

Hi everyone! I hope you’re enjoying the festive season whether you celebrate or not and that you’re looking forward to 2017! At the beginning of this year I set my Goodreads Reading Challenge at 20 books thinking that this was a low number that I’d easily achieve as the year before I had read almost double this, however the truth is that it is much harder to find the time to read when you’re at University, at least it is in my experience. Not only do you always have something that you should be working on but in my case you live with friends and therefore there are long evening conversations, TV show marathons and Taylor Swift singalongs that fill the time that I’d previously spend reading. That being said, I did not reach my reading goal this year. It is 4 days until the end of the year and I’ve read 15 books, but I’ve made my peace with it and ultimately it’s not the end of the world. So many of the books that I read this year were amazing and I really wanted to share that on this blog so without further ado here are my top 5 favourite books that I read in 2016!

5 – Forgive Me Leonard Peacock By Matthew Quick

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Genre: YA Fiction

Forgive Me Leonard Peacock is a great young adult novel that features important issues such as suicide. This was the second book that I read in the year and it has stuck with me for the rest of 2016 due to the haunting writing style and the emotions that it caused me to feel towards the main character Leonard. I feel that this novel tells a very important story while also remaining thrilling and readable and therefore it has made it to my favourite reads list! If you’d like to know more about this book I’ve written a full review here.

 

4 – You Before Me By Jojo Moyes

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Genre: Adult Fiction/Romance

I’m sure that many of you are aware of or have read this novel or maybe you’ve seen the movie (I haven’t yet!) but in case some of you haven’t I’ll tell you about it anyway! The best way that I can describe the contents of this book is that it is a rollercoaster of emotions, as in I shed tears of happiness and sadness more than once while reading! It focuses on Louisa Clark, a quirky young woman as she loses her job and finds a new one, deals with family stresses at home and supports her boyfriend Patrick. However, this story is so much more than just another romance novel featuring a cardboard cut-out female character; the characters and relationships are so real and well-written that it’s impossible not to have real emotions towards them. It is engaging and funny while also managing to break your heart, in short I highly recommend Me Before You, it’d be a great start to your 2017 reading!

 

3 – Code Name Verity By Elizabeth Wein

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Genre: YA Historical Fiction

Code Name Verity is a historical fiction novel set during World War 2 and follows two girls and their contributions to the war effort. I cannot even tell you how much this book blew my mind, the writing is incredible and the plot is so fantastically twisty that you just lose yourself completely. The strange thing about my love for this book is that it needed two attempts to grow, earlier on in the year I had tried to begin reading this book but I just could not get into it, to the point where I thought I would never attempt to read it again. However, I kept it around and when I had nothing else to read I picked it up again and totally fell in love with it which just proves that sometimes you need to give books a second chance. This novel is interesting as it focuses on two young women who are employed by the military which not only helps to shine light on the fact that women were essential to the war effort in more roles than just looking after the children at home but also provides an exciting and elusive perspective to read about. The pace of the novel starts off quite slow but increasingly picks up throughout the novel which builds anticipation and interest. Of all of the young adult historical fiction I’ve read this is without a doubt one of the best, one of those books that I just want to shove at people and shout “Read this please!!”.

 

2 – The Nightingale By Kristin Hannah

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Genre: Historical Fiction

Just in case you hadn’t guessed, I think it’s fair to say that I love historical fiction! I just feel that there are so many amazing books in this genre that don’t get the attention and praise that they deserve, also history is so interesting! The Nightingale is set in France during World War 2 and follows two sisters and their different experiences and approaches to the war. I can honestly say that this is one of the most beautifully written novels I’ve ever read, everything from the descriptions of the houses to the food was gorgeous but the relationships featured in the story take the crown for the most beautiful aspect. Whether it is a friendship, a romantic relationship or that between a mother and daughter Kristin Hannah writes it perfectly. Due to the time period of the novel there are a lot of events that cause the reader to feel a wide spectrum of emotions giving the book a very realistic tone. I cannot think of enough good things to write that would do this novel justice, purely a stunning read.

 

1 – A Man Called Ove By Fredrik Backman

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Genre: Adult Fiction

A man called Ove is a fiction novel set in Sweden following an elderly gentleman named Ove and his experiences with his new neighbours. If you’re looking for a heart-warming novel full of warm and real characters then this is a story for you. This book gave me such a warm feeling in my chest while I was reading it (and when I remember reading it) but that’s not to say that this is a sugary sweet read because it certainly is not. There are sad moments in the novel that are so real and relatable that you feel as though the story could be set in your very own neighbourhood. As with all of the books on this list I cannot recommend it enough and I’m so excited to hopefully read more from this author soon! If you’d like to read more about this novel I have a full review here.

 

Phew that was a long post! I really hope that you enjoyed it and that you’ll want to check out some of these amazing books! Please feel free to comment your favourite books of the year, I’d love to hear them!

Until next time,

Shannon 🙂

A Man Called Ove Book Review

 

 

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Published by: Washington Square Press

Genre: Fiction

Pages: 337

Hi everyone! I hope that you’re all well and that at least some of you are still interested in reading this blog! So, last night I finished an amazing book, so amazing in fact that it inspired me start writing about books again! Over the past few weeks I’ve read this book on the bus on the way into uni while the sun is rising over Edinburgh (It’s beautiful, trust me!) and before I go to sleep and I can honestly say that every page induced so many emotions, it was a rollercoaster for sure! The book that I’m talking about is A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. It is a heart-warming tale of an elderly Swedish man named Ove and I can honestly say that it is without a doubt going straight into my all-time favourites!

There are so many elements of this novel that are exceptional but the one that stood out to me the most was the characters. Every single character in this book is so realistic with good and bad qualities; there are no cardboard cut-out characters in this book! Of course we have to talk about Ove, the main character, on first appearances he is a stereotypical grumpy old man who harasses his neighbours about driving in their residential area and is stuck in his ways but as the novel progresses we discover that he is so much more complex than this. It could be said that the reason that Ove is such an endearing character is that he is certain to remind us of someone in our own lives, he certainly reminded me of my own Grandad in more than one way! The hidden qualities to Ove’s character are revealed through his relationships with those around him, namely his neighbours. One neighbour who has a particular impact on Ove is Parvaneh, a pregnant Iranian woman who brings out all aspects of Ove. The whole cast of characters in this novel have a fantastic range of diversity, featuring characters of differing nationalities, sexualities and body-shapes which I think we can all agree is how all books should be!

The writing style of Fredrik Backman is exceptionally warm, with the words somehow managing to give you the comforting feeling of being at home while also inspiring a whole range of emotions with the turn of every page. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that this book had me laughing out loud and crying in the same chapter such is the beauty of the authors writing. Similarly to the creation of his characters, the settings and situations in the novel are so realistic and reminiscent of so many suburban lives that it is bound to provide something that every reader can relate to. I would encourage everyone to pick this fantastic novel up and give it a read as I really believe that we can all learn from the love, kindness and light it holds within its pages.

I hope that you all enjoyed this book review and that it won’t be long until I am posting here again. Thanks for visiting and have a great day!

 

Shannon 🙂

Summary

Rating: 5/5

Recommend? YES

 

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick Book Review

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Published by: Headline

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Pages: 273

Hi everyone! Today I’m back with my first book review of 2016, how exciting! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and a happy new year and are looking forward to all of the good times this year is sure to bring. This book is one that I received as a gift for Christmas (I gave my mum a huge list of books I’d like so that she could pick a few and it would still be a surprise for me on Christmas day) and I was so excited to read it, and I’m really glad I did. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is one of those YA books that I feel are just so important. It contains themes of suicide, mental health, sexual assault and parental neglect but these issues are dealt with in an appropriate and sensitive way by the author, and I commend him for this.

The main character, Leonard Peacock, was well-written and interesting. He was a teenage boy with mental health issues but also so much more than that (as all people who suffer from mental issues are) which is another accomplishment of Matthew Quick’s writing as many authors tend to zoom in so far on these traits that their character ends up having no other qualities. Leonard is in a seemingly hopeless situation and portrays himself as having no hope but throughout the novel we repeatedly see this ever-present fragment of hope in his actions, that someone will stop him from committing suicide or even just wish him a happy birthday and this characteristic is one of the things that made me love Leonard. My favourite character in the novel is Walt, Leonard’s next door neighbour who is obsessed with Humphrey Bogart movies and smokes like a chimney. Walt is one of the only people who seem to really care for Leonard and he’s just such a sweet old man that you’d be strange not to love him. Besides this, the relationship between Walt and Leonard is one of the only things keeping them both alive; they are kindred spirits despite their difference in age. Then there is Herr Silverman, Leonard’s holocaust class teacher, one of the most well-written and caring teachers that I’ve ever read in YA. Herr Silverman’s character is one that will resonate with anyone that reads this novel, we all have that one teacher that went the extra mile and changed our lives for the better, and it warmed my heart that this character represented all of those wonderful teachers so well.

The plot of this novel is fast paced and exciting with everything leading up to the murder-suicide that Leonard has planned to carry out on his 18th birthday but despite the fast pace you don’t feel that anything has been missed out. The plot is well thought-out and an emotional rollercoaster – you may need tissues and a cup of tea to help with both happy and sad tears. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book; however, I did feel that the ending could have had more detail and information as we are so emotionally invested in the storyline but apart from that, an excellent and important read for fans of YA fiction.

Hope you enjoyed!

Until next time,

Shannon x

Rating: 4/5

Recommend? YES

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The Real Neat Blog Award

Hi Everyone! Here I am with the first of my catch-up book tags! I was nominated for this award way back when by the very lovely Audrey @ ForwardsAndBookwords, thank you Audrey! I am still so humbled and excited when I get tagged to write anything! Now let’s get on with it, shall we?

The rules of this award are:

1. Thank and link the blogger who nominated you.

2. Answer the seven questions your nominator provided.

3. Nominate seven other bloggers.

4. Create seven questions for your nominees.

Audrey’s Questions for me are:

  • What author would you most like to have as a best friend? 
  • I have to go with the clichéd answer of J.K Rowling; not only does she seem up for talking about Harry Potter at pretty much any time but she is super knowledgeable and full of wisdom which I think would make her a very compassionate best friend and someone you could really learn from.

 

  • What’s the biggest goal you want to achieve in your lifetime?  
  • The biggest goal that I would like to achieve in my lifetime is to be truly happy and fulfilled and to make as many other people as possible feel this way too. I feel that in the materialistic world that we live in happiness is underrated and often overlooked but what is better than making others happy and being happy in the process? For me, nothing.

 

  • Would you rather be the published author of an incredibly successful book or be best friends with all of your favourite authors of incredibly successful books? 
  • This is a tough one but I think I’d rather be an author. It was always a dream of mine when I was little to write and publish my own novel someday and I was always starting novels that never got finished so it would be amazing if one day I had an idea good enough to write a whole novel on! Also my best friend Eilidh @ Turning The Faucet On is going to be an incredibly successful author one day, it’s inevitable, so if I were to be an author too I’d have the best of both worlds!

 

  • Do you prefer paperbacks or hardbacks? 
  • Ooh another tough one! I love those really floppy paperbacks that you get because they’re just so floppy y’know? But then I always feel that hardbacks are so luxurious and fancy because we don’t generally buy hardbacks that often here in the UK so I guess I see them as a treat? However when it comes to actually reading them I find hardbacks quite tricky to read and also they’re heavier.   Do you see my struggle? So basically I love both, any book will do for me!

 

  • Do you collect anything (beside books)? 
  • I guess you could say that I collect photographs, I am always looking through old photos when I’m at home or my granny’s, I absolutely love that you can catch a moment in time and keep it forever like how amazing is that?! So I love photos and keep even silly ones. One day I hope to have the funds to collect guitars because guitars are beautiful and I need them all, thank you very much.

 

  • When is your favourite time to read? 
  • My favourite time to read is just before bed when I am snuggled up in bed, with the only light being my lamp that casts a warm glow over my whole room. I feel like this is such a magical time to read and it makes me feel really calm and happy. That being said I like to read anytime and anywhere!

 

  • How many books would you estimate you’ve read in your lifetime? 
  • This is something I would absolutely love to know, imagine being able to know exactly how many books you’ve read in your lifetime and what each of them were! I would estimate that I’ve read between 200-400 books in my lifetime which I know is quite a wide range but I’m just not sure!

 

Thank you to Audrey for the awesome questions!

I nominate:

Eilidh @ Turning The Faucet On

Simon

Erika @ Erika In Bookventureland

My 7 Questions for you are:

  1. What is your favourite word?
  2. If you could go on holiday anywhere on earth or somewhere in space where would you choose?
  3. What is your favourite type of cake? (a tough one I know)
  4. Tea or Coffee? Explain your choice.
  5. What is the last film you saw in the cinema and did you enjoy it?
  6. Do you write in your books?
  7. What do you love most in the world besides your friends and family?

I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Until next time,

Shannon 🙂

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Remember Me?

Hi everyone! It’s been a wee while hasn’t it! Firstly I’d like to say welcome back, it feels good to be back writing again. Secondly, I’m very sorry for all of the unanswered comments and tags that I have left undone over the past few months, it has all just been a bit crazy. So, where have I been?

Well, at the beginning of September I moved to the beautiful city of Edinburgh to begin studying at university. This is a massive step and I was very nervous but I’m happy to report that so far everything has been great! One of my biggest fears was meeting my flatmates but I had nothing to fear as they are some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met and we’ve become a little family in no time at all. So as you can imagine I’ve been pretty busy getting to know people, going to university, exploring the city, studying, learning how to use the washing machine and even partying a little bit (ok maybe more than a little bit). Because of this I haven’t really had time to blog, or read for that matter, but now that I’m settled in and have completed my first semester (eek) I hope that I can jump right back in!

Can I just say I have seriously missed you guys, and for anyone reading this thanks for sticking around during this unexpected and lengthy hiatus. I’m going to try and catch up with all the tags I have kindly been tagged in over the next few weeks and hopefully have some serious quality reading time!

Damn it feels good to be back!

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Shannon 🙂