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Win a SIGNED copy of A Darker Shade of Magic

March 30, 2015 in Bookish Posts, Current Giveaways

In celebration of recently hitting 1000 followers on bloglovin’ I thought I’d do a wee giveaway.

Earlier this month I posted my review of A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. I loved it so much that I’m giving away a copy to one of you lovely readers. Not just any copy, a SIGNED copy!

As I managed to purchase a signed copy for myself from Transreal Fiction last month, I decided to place another order for a second signed copy. It was signed by Victoria on Friday, posted by Transreal Fiction on Saturday and arrived here today! This is the copy one of you will be winning.

giveaway prize 2

Please excuse the awful lighting – it’s a horrible day here!

 

I know that a lot of followers are international, so this giveaway is open internationally (except where prohibited by law). Full T&Cs in the rafflecopter widget. As always all entries will be verified.

To enter the giveaway just fill in the rafflecopter entry form below. The only mandatory entry is that you are a follower of strupag.com on bloglovin’.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

The Keepers: The Box and the Dragonfly

March 28, 2015 in Book Reviews, Fiction, Middle Grade

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Keepers: The Box and the DragonflyThe Box and the Dragonfly by Ted Sanders
Series: The Keepers #1
Published by Hot Key Books on 5th March 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-half-stars
From the moment Horace F. Andrews sees the sign from the bus - a sign with his name on it - his whole life changes. It leads Horace to the House of Answers, a mysteriously hidden warehouse full of curious objects and peculiar people, as well as a treasure of his own... a marvellous box, full of wonder and power and magic.

But terrors stalk his city too - shadowy figures who would hurt Horace to steal his remarkable gift. Horace's path is about to become a battleground where nothing is as it seems, and where friendship, loyalty and trust are the greatest powers of all.

 

 

In Brief

 

5 words

SECRETS, MAGIC, SCIENCE, ACTION & DANGER.

Things I liked

* The main characters

* A well rounded story

* Fantastic concepts, well executed

* SCIENCE

* The glossary at the back

Didn't Like

* At times I found it a little hard to keep up, but that’s just me and my fog-addled brain.

Who Should Read It

* Fans of fantasy.

* Anyone who likes an adventure.

Rest of the series

I’ll definitely be reading the rest of the series!

My Thoughts

The Box and the Dragonfly is the first book in The Keepers series. It’s a middle grade book, but don’t let that deter you from picking it up; it’s a brilliant middle grade book!

When I picked up this book I really didn’t know much more than what the blurb and the synopsis on Goodreads said. Honestly I think that was for the best. I had no real idea what I was going in for, I just expected a magical adventure, and that’s what I got…and a whole lot more!

Horace is 12. He’s thoughtful, rational and enjoys science and chess. One day his bus home from school takes a different route from usual, and leads him to see a sign that he’s sure has his name on it. Being the curious boy he is he investigates this sign.

His investigation leads him to a mysterious warehouse, a powerful box and a world he had no idea existed. A group of people known as Wardens, another group known as Rivens and a battle to control/protect mysterious instruments known as Tanu.

There’s so much depth to this story. A whole world of people, instruments and magic that is really thorough, well thought out and very engaging.

There were times in this book when I had nagging doubts over who were actually the “good guys”. There were other times when I could almost feel the creepiness of a certain 4-knuckled character leaping from the book.

There are friendships and parental relationships. There are mysteries, magic and scientific explanations. There’s plotting and scheming. There’s danger and destiny. There’s everything!

Admittedly I found the start rather slow, I think that was just me adjusting to this being a Middle Grade book. Once I got used to the writing style I was off! As for the writing itself, somehow Sanders’ words manage to create the most clear images in my mind. Plus the scientific explanations, which are intrinsic to the story, are put across very clearly.

I definitely recommend it. I know it’s a book I’ll be gifting to the middle-grade readers in my life. I think it’d be a great book to read with your kids, or for them to wander off to read alone. I’m just desperate to get my hands on book two, but I’ll have to wait until next year for that.

One final note for parents – I don’t know if people care about such things, but just in case… there’s a mention of flipping someone off, the words pissey and crap appeared once but I can’t think of anything else that anyone may find “controversial”. An American author using an American style of speech, but I know we Brits can be a bit funny about such things.

What We’re Loving – March Favourites

March 27, 2015 in What We're Loving

After a rather long break What We’re Loving is back.

What We're Loving Badge

This month I’ve been loving…

my Foreo Luna Mini

foreo

I bought this with Christmas money and it’s fantastic. As regular readers know I struggle for energy and this wee device gives my face a fantastic clean in just 1 minute. I love it.

 

my window birdfeeder

Lying in bed day after day can get pretty tiresome so hubby set up a wee birdfeeder in our bedroom window and I’m just loving it. It’s attracting lots of beautiful garden birds and warms my heart!

 

Hausfrau

HausFrau

Check out my review here.

 

chocolate almond milkshake

milkshake

So simple. Unsweetened almond milk, raw cacao powder & some honey. Whizz it up in the blender. Delicious.

 

Top 10 Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday Strupag

I’m really enjoying joining in with Top 10 Tuesday every week. Great fun & I’ve discovered loads of great blogs too.

 

That’s it for March!

What have you been loving this month?

Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum

March 25, 2015 in Book Reviews, Fiction, Psychological Thriller

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Hausfrau by Jill Alexander EssbaumHausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum
Published by Mantle on 26th March 2015
Genres: Psychological
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-half-stars
Anna was a good wife, mostly...

Anna Benz lives in comfort and affluence with her husband and three young children in Dietlikon, a picture-perfect suburb of Zurich. Anna, an American expat, has chosen this life far from home; but, despite its tranquility and order, inside she is falling apart.

Feeling adrift and unable to connect with her husband or his family; with the fellow expatriates who try to befriend her; or even, increasingly, her own thoughts and emotions. Anna attempts to assert her agency in the only way that makes sense to her: by engaging in short-lived but intense sexual affairs.

But adultery, too, has its own morality, and when Anna finds herself crossing a line, she will set off a terrible chain of events ending in unspeakable tragedy. As her life crashes down around her, Anna must then discover where one must go when there is no going back...

 

In Brief

5 words

Marriage. Fidelity. Loneliness. Depression. Sex.

Things I liked

* The writing – absolutely stunning.

* The Swiss culture & language.

* The psychoanalysis.

Didn't Like

* How uncomfortable it was to read – I loved & hated it in equal measure!

Who Should Read It

* Fans of psychological reads.

My Thoughts

I finished this book a couple of days ago and I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s so powerful, emotional and beautifully written.

Anna Benz is a 30-something housewife living in Switzerland. She’s an American expat married to a successful Swiss banker, Bruno. On the surface Anna seems to have it all – the husband, the three children, the house, but as we all know, appearances can be deceptive.

Anna has been living in Switzerland for 9 years but has a limited command of the German language, and her Schwiizerdütsch is almost non-existent. She feels isolated and alone in a country that she doesn’t feel is home.

Struggling with depression, Anna visits an English-speaking psychoanalyst, she starts taking a German class, and she has extramarital affairs.

There is something deeply uncomfortable in the reading of this book. The narrative is broken, jumping from past to present, between sessions with the psychoanalyst to sordid affairs and family days. I really like this about the book, although it did take some getting used to. It feels like we are in Anna’s head, dissociated as she appears to be.

It’s the sign of an accomplished writer that although I disliked Anna, I found myself feeling for her. At times I wanted to hug her! To watch such self-destruction through her sordid sexual affairs can be so frustrating.

Being the linguaphile I am, I loved the incorporation of German in this book. At times I learned things, but largely I felt the inclusion of the German words and phrases added something to the reading of this book. I felt that reading words that I didn’t understand actually helped me to connect more to Anna and her trouble with speaking the language.

The psychoanalysis in this book is fantastic. It helps to create a fuller picture of Anna and an understanding of her mindset.

Then there’s the sex. There’s a lot of it in the first half of the book especially. The language and descriptions used, well it’s safe to say I’ll never look at a pocket watch or dinner knife the same way again. Anna’s attitude to sex is quite eye-opening and again the psychology of this is fascinating.

From the start this book feels like it is building up to something, but personally I had no idea what that thing might be. The crescendo is brilliant. Despite the uncomfortable nature of the reading, I felt compelled to read on, I couldn’t stop.

I was honestly lost for words when I finished this book. The beautiful writing, the emotions, the narrative journey has left me in awe. This is a debut novel, a DEBUT novel. It’s quite simply brilliant.

Hausfrau is out in hardback tomorrow, 26th March 2015. It’s available to download to your Kindle now.

about the author

 

About Jill Alexander Essbaum

Jill Alexander Essbaum is the author of several collections of poetry and her work has appeared in The Best American Poetry, as well as its sister anthology, The Best American Erotic Poems, 1800-Present. She is the winner of the Bakeless Poetry Prize and recipient of two NEA literature fellowships. A member of the core faculty at the University of California, Riverside's Palm Desert Low-Residency MFA program, she lives and writes in Austin, Texas.

Top Ten Tuesday #7: Books From My Childhood I Want To Revisit

March 24, 2015 in Bookish Posts

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. If you’d like to participate too, see here.

Top 10 Tuesday Strupag

This week the topic is…

 

10 Books From My Childhood That I’d Love To Revisit

 

I really enjoyed this week’s TTT, I remembered books that I’d totally forgotten about!

 

 

1

GoodnightMisterTom

 Goodnight Mister Tom was the first book that came to mind. I remember our teacher reading it to us in primary school. It’s definitely a book I’d love to revisit.

 

2

Just So Stories

I used to read Just So Stories with my Dad. I seem to remember The Elephant’s Child being my most-read of the stories.

 

3

The Witches

The first of two Roald Dahl books I want to reread, The Witches. I don’t remember much from it to be honest and that needs to be rectified!

 

4

The Borrowers

Another book we read as a class in primary school, another story that I remember very little (no pun intended *groan*) about, The Borrowers.

 

5

Sunset Song

A book from my teenage years, we studied Sunset Song in school. I’ve read it once since then but I’d love to read it again, along with the rest of the A Scots Quair.

 

6

George's MM

The second of my Roald Dahl picks, George’s Marvellous Medicine is a book I remember reading to myself at bedtime. I loved it!

 

7

Flowers for Algernon

I read Flowers for Algernon in English class in my teenage years. If I’m honest, I hated reading literature for English, it put me off reading for pleasure for several years. I feel I owe it to this book to read it again.

 

9

Flour Babies

I recall Mum buying a copy of Flour Babies for me on the recommendation of her friends. It’s another book that I remember surprisingly little about, except that I enjoyed it.

 

10

Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men is the first book that I remember taking everywhere with me as a teenager. Any chance I got to read it, I did. It was one of the rare exceptions of books I had to study for school that I didn’t irrationally dislike.

 

So that’s it, my Top 10. I could have filled the list with 10 Roald Dahl novels but I restrained myself!

 

What books from your childhood would you like to revisit?