Favourite Childhood Book

The Very Hungry Caterpillar !

the very hungry caterpillar.jpg

The artwork is literally glorious. It’s simply satisfying watching this caterpillar eat his way through every food he comes into contact with until he makes his transition into a butterfly. And I didn’t only enjoy this when I was at school, I read this to my nephew last week and realised I still 100% love it unashamedly! For some reason unknown to man, I love this very hungry caterpillar. Maybe it’s because I’m a snacky person who eats her way through life – me and the caterpillar are one!

What’s your favourite children’s book? And if you don’t like the very hungry caterpillar shame on you, you’re missing out!

Book Review: In a Dark, Dark Wood

 

img_4822

My thanks to Random House UK, Vintage Publishing and NetGalley for the copy in return for an honest review.

A hen party gone wrong. Nora, a crime fiction writer, comes across an e-mail inviting her to a hen party. But she hasn’t spoken to the hen in ten years. Why has she been invited? Nora decides to go and she finds herself with an odd group of people; she realizes she’s made the wrong decision – and then there is a murder. Waking up in hospital and unable to remember what happened, she has to dig deep and try and fit the missing pieces of the puzzle together…

For me, the ending was the best part of the book. It brought together loose ends, with all my lingering questions being answered.

I just didn’t understand or connect with some of the characters, quite a few of them feeling one dimensional. I did find Nora’s character likeable but I struggled with the idea of a six month relationship causing so much heartache ten years on. I also found it strange Nora would feel compelled to accept an invite from someone she’d had such little contact with for a number of years.

The motive for murder made sense to me when everything came together and there were elements of suspense which kept me turning the pages. I had fun imagining each character as the killer as there were quite a few possibilities so the reveal was a good surprise!

Ruth Ware managed to build tension really well throughout but I wasn’t captivated by this thriller like I have been with others in the genre.

Rating:
three stars

Have you read this book? Let me know if you had a different opinion to me!

Books I Wish I Could Read Again For The First Time…

Watership Down
Watership Down – Richard Adams

‘All the world will be your enemy, Prince of a Thousand enemies. And when they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you; digger, listener, runner, Prince with the swift warning. Be cunning, and full of tricks, and your people will never be destroyed’

Set in England’s Downs, a once idyllic rural landscape, this stirring tale of adventure, courage and survival follows a band of rabbits on their flight from the certain destruction of their home.

Simply wonderful storytelling – I fell in love with these rabbits and I rooted for them from the bottom of my heart to find the home they are dreaming of. Bigwig had me in hysterics with his short temper and steely determination. You can tell how much research Richard Adams had to do in advance to get this perfect and boy did he get it bang on! To read this again for the first time and journey along with these brave rabbits would be a special thing – I adore this book.

I let you go
I Let You Go – Clare Mackintosh 

It only takes one moment for Jenna Gray’s world to fall apart. A tragic accident. Desperate to escape the nightmare, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast but grief and memories taunt her with no relief. As DI Ray Stevens works to uncover the truth, the past begins to catch up her and the consequences will be devastating.

An outstanding book. I felt the grief wrap itself around me as though it was actually happening. I can’t remember the last time I felt so deeply for a character; I literally could not put this book down once I’d started. To read again for the first time and have my mind blown by the twist (which I did not see coming in a million years!!!) would be unreal!

Nineteen Minutes
Nineteen Minutes – Jodi Picoult 

Sterling is an ordinary New Hampshire town – until suddenly it’s not. When Sterling High School is devastated by an act of violence normal is replaced by shock and grief. This book asks what it means to be different in our society, who has the right to judge someone else and whether anyone is ever who they really seem to be.

A serious ‘wow’ book. I was stunned when it ended. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book which made me question myself and my beliefs the way that Nineteen Minutes did. Absolutely gripping I just flew through the book, only pausing to go to work, and even then all I thought about was getting back to the book to finish it! I would love to read again for the first time, feel that utter shock and ponder all those questions I had bouncing around in my head.

Let me know if you have read any of these books and what would be on your list to read again for the first time?

Book Review: The Girl in 6E

The Girl in 6e

This novel by Alessandra Torre follows nineteen year old Deanna Madden, a girl who changed her name to Jessica Reilly and is working full time as a camgirl. Jessica hasn’t left apartment 6E for three whole years – not once – oh, and she also hasn’t killed anyone in this time either. After seeing on the news that a young girl named Annie has gone missing, Jessica realises how uncomfortably familiar the details are to a dark fantasy one of her clients has divulged during their sessions. Certain that her client is behind the abduction, Jessica has a decision to make. Remain hidden in 6E or risk it all and go outside?

I was hooked within the first few pages. This book is outstanding – racy, disturbing, vivid, thought-provoking and I just adored it.

I instantly liked Jessica Reilly, with her straight talking attitude and determination. That, intertwined with her unique role as a popular ‘camgirl’, made for a gripping read. The storyline is ridiculously intriguing with Jessica working tirelessly to suppress her urge to kill – very clever writing.

‘I have to remind myself that “out there” is normality. Something that I am not’

As Ms Torre writes in the Acknowledgements, ‘it takes a certain type of person to “get” it’ this is very true, as there is a lot of sexually explicit content. But in my opinion, the way this is incorporated to the story is fascinating and I couldn’t stop reading because I was hungry to understand more of Jessica – why does she lust after death, how did she come to be this way, could she ever recover and come out of hiding?

‘I am content, in these four walls, without normality. Lonely? Yes. Miserable? At times. But that is what being content is. Comfortable enough with the situation not to prompt change’

When Jessica comes to the realisation that the safety of 6 year old Annie is in her hands, my heart was in my mouth as I followed her dangerous journey. Emotional, compelling and the definition of a thriller. The characters you meet along the way are so well thought out, gave me reason to smile and root for Jessica to confront her demons and find her happy ending. I just can’t imagine you being disappointed if you throw yourself in to this book – it just might surprise you.

Rating:
five stars

Book Review: The Memory Book

The Memory Book

Rowan Coleman’s tender novel tells the story of Claire, a vibrant, confident and quirky mother of two who fell in love with and married Greg after years of independent living. However, time is running out. Claire is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease and begins her battle to live every moment as though it’s the last one. The story follows moments of joy, sadness and comfort as Claire and her family deal with the news; they begin a memory book, the entries capturing precious moments and leaving a legacy.

I found The Memory Book moving and quite simply stunning.

The moments of sadness are effectively combined with moments that will bring a smile to your face throughout. Rowan’s stunning storytelling explores a wonderful relationship between Claire and her family members as she struggles with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. The relationships portrayed between family members – Claire to her husband Greg, mum Ruth and daughters Caitlin and Esther are just enchanting. In particular Claire and Greg had me gripped, shedding tears, laughing at their old memories and absolutely aching for there to be some kind of positive outcome even though the odds are stacked against them.

“I turn and look at the receptionist for one last moment, and I know this is absolutely the right time for me to come out with a witty and stinging one-liner that will make her see I am not a pitiable person and not just a disease. But nothing comes to mind, which reminds me, only too clearly, that I am both.”

The mother-daughter bond between Claire and Caitlin felt so real – two strong, determined and hilariously stubborn females who love one another so deeply it made for some lump-in-the-throat reading and also made me realise how fortunate I am to have such a wonderful relationship with my mum who is still here creating memories with me. A book that can remind you how important family is and make you want to leave your home to go and tell your parents how lucky you feel to have them is a special one and I have to thank Rowan for writing a book that is so touching.

The entries in to the memory book were inspirational, sharing light-hearted memories and showing the strength of a family going through a terribly difficult time. It shows the reader how Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t only affect the sufferer but the family and friends who surround them and the story is so clever in being life-affirming for the reader. You can’t help but care about the characters, feeling part of the family as you read their treasured memories which are going to last a lifetime after Claire’s will be brought to an end.

Read this book – laugh, cry, fall in love with the characters, feel angry at the cruelty of life and finish the story feeling lucky for everything you have.

Rating:
five stars

Follow Rowan Coleman – @rowancoleman

Follow the Publisher – @eburypublishing

Have you read The Memory Book? Please let me know what you though in the comments below!

Book Review: The Girl in the Red Coat

The girl in the red coat
This debut novel by Katie Hamer has the trappings of a thriller. Eight year old Carmel, an imaginative and curious young girl, is lured away by a man who claims to be her estranged grandfather after becoming separated from her mother, Beth, at a local children’s festival. As time passes, Carmel begins to realise that this man believes she has a special gift…

Told through the voices of the grieving mother and the missing daughter, it keeps you turning pages to find out if they will ever be reunited.

I am so glad that I gave this book a go. I started to get a sense of what it means to be brave, and how the definition isn’t limited to the ‘knight in shining armour’ stereotype. Bravery is lots of things, and sometimes it simply means taking that step towards moving forward in a difficult period of time and not letting time stand still.

‘Courage, I told myself, courage. Courage, I made one foot go in front of the other. Courage, up the steps. I found the room number, courage, I opened the door’

This beautifully written novel gives you an imaginative insight into the world as an 8 year old might see it. It is incredibly moving and I felt protective of Carmel throughout her extraordinary journey, which in turn fuelled my sense of how Carmel’s mother, Beth, was feeling as the days turned in to months and months turned in to years.

Is it important to feel so strongly about the characters in a book? Of course it is, you can’t fall in love with every character and I think your sense of like and dislike can teach you things about yourself based on your decision-making. I despised Dennis from start to finish, for his way of manipulating his actions to make them seem just. Tension crackled through the pages as Carmel struggled to adjust to fit in as part of a new and unusual ‘family’. My only wish was for a more solid and just end to the novel; I wanted to see punishment for Dennis stealing years that should have been for Beth to share with Carmel as she blossomed from a girl in to a young woman.

‘As he grows up her name will be that of a girl from a fairy tale. He’ll grow up and the world moves on, and on and on. I glimpsed something, the future moving in a blur ahead’

I believe we read to books to find out about who we are. The writing is open and honest and the thoughts running through the minds of the characters are realistic, the characters could just walk off the page. The essence of the book isn’t the classic ‘whodunnit’ and why, it’s a story and love and loss and how a mother and daughter cope with their separation.

Rating:
stars for review

Have you read The Girl in the Red Coat? Let me know what you thought in the comments below!