Wednesday, 14 June 2017

May Reads ǀ Books & Reading

May is typically our busiest time of the year so I was surprised to find that I had managed to read so much this month.  I had obviously needed to escape a little more than unusual from the every day stuff!

I actually had a pretty good reading month too, enjoying most of what I picked up:-

I've mentioned a few times now about my re-read of the Harry Potter books and this is just a continuation of that.  I just have the final book to go now and I am really enjoying the re-read so far.  There are so many details which just can't be included in the films which I had forgotten all about and it's almost like reading them for the first time in many ways.

Half of a Yellow Sun - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This was my second Adichie book and I really enjoyed it, if enjoyed can be the right word.  It is about the war in Uganda in the late 60's when Biafra was struggling for independence.  We follow five different characters in various stations of life and how they were affected both in the run up to the war and during the war.  There were parts of this story which were a little over dramatic and soap-opera like for me but it's a period in history that I knew next to nothing about before picking up the book and for that reason alone, I think it was a very important read and one I'm glad I picked up.

Wintersong - S. Jae-Jones
This is a YA fantasy book which I picked up believing it was a re-telling of the much loved Labyrinth story.  I actually discovered after picking it up, that it was originally written as an adult fantasy but was changed and a lot of the more graphic content was cut out which was certainly interesting to know.  This is a very, very loose Labyrinth re-telling and I would say that if you are a big Labyrinth fan that you might want to go in knowing that it only takes its inspiration from the film in the vaguest sense.  

This was probably my least favourite read of the month; it was a little stilted and some of the interactions were very odd, particularly between the Goblin King and our protagonist Liesl which I think stems from the adjustments made to the book as above.  I also thought that the Goblin King was a little bit of a let-down.  I had imagined him as a much darker and mysterious character and he fell flat for me.  Don't get me wrong, I will be picking up the second instalment as I am intrigued enough to see where the story goes and I am hoping the writing will develop into something a little more as the story continues.

Wonder - R.J. Palacio
Then onto what was probably my absolute favourite read of the month: Wonder.  This is a middle-grade story about a young boy called August, who has a severe facial disfigurement.  This facial disfigurement has meant August has been home-schooled up until the book begins when he is about to join a mainstream school.  We read from many different perspectives in the book which I adored and I fell into this book so hard I read it in one sitting.  This is a story about friendship, acceptance, family, forgiveness and ultimately kindness.  I would highly, highly recommend it.

I read quite a few heavy books this month so The Hundred-Year-Old Man made a welcome change.  It was an amusing and enjoyable read literally about a Hundred-Year-Old man who climbs out of the window of the old people's home on his 100th birthday and subsequently gets up to all kinds of high jinks.  We follow the present time and then the man's past where he was supposedly involved in some of the world's biggest political events.  There are some laugh out loud moments, some interesting political observations and although I feel it could have been shorter and was a little long-winded in places, this was very much a 'does what it says on the tin' type of book for me.

Seas of Snow - Kerensa Jennings
I was sent a copy of this book for review
This is a psychological-drama about a young girl called Gracie, who lives in the North East of England with her Mam.  Gracie's life is thrown off course by the arrival of her mum's brother, Joe.  Joe is a psychopath who begins a long torment of Gracie and her mother for many years.  Gracie finds relief through the discovery of poetry and her friendship with their neighbour, Billy.  There are definite trigger warnings in this book for domestic abuse, sexual abuse and child abuse and this is a very dark story.  However, the writing is also incredibly uplifting in places and Gracie's friendship with Billy is very charming. 

Pacing was something of an issue for me, as you flick between past and present and read from a number of different points-of-view.  I also wasn't a huge fan of the ending and I guessed the big 'twist' way before it was revealed but there was definitely something about the book which drew me in and kept me returning again and again.

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Happy Reading!

Friday, 9 June 2017

The Italian Edition... ǀ Little Loves

Happy Friday from Italy!!  I can only apologise that this week's Little Loves post is going to be pretty much focused around one thing but we have had a lot to love this week and I am excited to share a snippet with you.  Of course there will be vlogs and blog posts in more detail to come but this is just a little insight.  By the time you read this, I will no doubt be landing back on English soil but it has been good, no, it has been amazing whilst it has lasted and Tuscany truly has a place in my heart now.

I haven't had as much time to read this week as I thought I would as we have really tried to eke out every hour we've had.  I picked the first book in a new trilogy to bring along, Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb; one of my all-time favourite fantasy authors.  With the book being almost 900 pages I had hoped to make a fair indent in it, but I'm only 200 or so pages along!  Robin Hobb is truly the queen of epic fantasy and I have yet to pick up a book by her that I haven't fallen head over heels in love with.

On Sunday we got to watch two amazing people get married at my brother in law's wedding.  It was such a beautiful day in Liverpool and the kids behaved so well.  Meg had to walk down the aisle first (and there were a few tense moments when the music started and she didn't appear!) and then Eli followed with his cousin, holding a sign for their Uncle.  There were a lot of tears, let me tell you!  It was just an all round fantastic day and I am so thrilled to welcome his new bride into our family.

Well, there is really only one option for this and that is that we made the trip to Tuscany.  We came for five days as a combined birthday and anniversary trip and although I have missed the kids like crazy, we've just had a brilliant time.  We sat and tried to think about our favourite moments from the holiday last night and just couldn't pinpoint one thing.  From the food to the people, the sights to the weather, it's just been one of those trips which we will always remember with fondness.

I shared my favourite outfit from the trip over on Instagram last night but it is this playsuit from Oasis.  I love the bright colours and the high neck detail, and it is so light that it was perfect for the 30 degree plus weather we have had.

We didn't get around to making a play list for our trip but we couldn't have come all the way to Italy and not enjoyed a little Il Divo.  We've done a fair amount of driving over the last five days so we've managed to make our way through quite a few of their albums!

And Lastly...
I just cannot put into words how fantastic our trip has been.  There were definitely times when we didn't think we were going to be able to get away and then times of worrying about leaving the kids for so long but I'm really glad we came.  It was so lovely to be able to spend some quality time with each other, and to celebrate 10 years of being married in style.  I'm really looking forward to seeing the kids again and giving them a big squeeze and I'd love to bring them back here one day as there is just so much to see and do, and I think that they would absolutely adore it.

But there...I will stop gushing now enough to wish you all a wonderful weekend!

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Friday, 2 June 2017

Sunsets, Tuscany & Jumpsuits... ǀ Little Loves

Happy Friday everyone!  We are enjoying the first week of our half term break and although the weather has been a little hit and miss, not having to get up and out to school has been a welcome break.  Best of all, we still have one more week to go!

As always, I am joining in with Morgana's Little Loves this week so here are mine:-

I have been reading two books this week; Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier.  I got a whole load of new books for my birthday which was amazing and I had a bit of a debate over whether to abandon my current TBR and pick up a new book or stick with it.  In the end I decided that I've wanted to read Cold Mountain for the longest time so I'd stay with my original plan.  CM is beautifully written with a very poetic and lyrical flow that I just fell right into.  I would highly recommend it and I'm intrigued to watch the movie now.

Despite living by the coast for the last 3 and a half years, we've never actually stayed out on the beach until sunset but last Friday we met up with some friends, grabbed some chippy chips and settled ourselves in.  It was absolutely stunning, helped of course by the gorgeous weather and I'm really glad we watched the sun set.

This is tentative at best but we made some progress with a possible house.  I don't want to say too much at this point as a lot is still up in the air but we might actually have somewhere to live by the end of July.  Thank goodness.

That jumpsuit.  We went into Liverpool last night to celebrate my sister-in-law's 21st birthday and it was the perfect excuse to finally wear it.  I didn't manage to get a full shot (there was a lovely mixer of champagne and sangria flowing...) but you hopefully get the idea.

We went a little old school this week and have been enjoying some 'classic' tunes.  This includes such diamonds as Ridin' Solo by Jason Derulo and Umbrella by Rihanna.  It actually boggles my mind that so many of the songs I remember so well are 10 years old or more.  Where did the time go?!

And Lastly...
This time next week I will hopefully be bringing you my Little Loves post from Tuscany.  Please keep your fingers crossed for beautiful sunshine and lots of opportunities to relax!  This is our first break away without the kids and we are going to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary.  Hopefully everything will go smoothly for us.

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