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Top Ten Tuesday #53: Best Books I’ve Read In 2018 (So Far)

July 10, 2018 in Bookish Posts, Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created and hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. If you’d like to participate too, see here.

Top 10 Tuesday Strupag

This week the topic is…

Top Ten Books I’ve Read In 2018 (So Far)

It has been altogether far too long since I last participated in Top Ten Tuesday. I’ve missed it! So, I decided to reintroduce myself via this week’s topic and share some of my favourite reads of the year (so far) with you.

 

A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews aka Paper Fury is an emotional rollercoaster. Cait’s writing is brilliant and although I don’t read many YA contemporaries these days, I couldn’t put it down. Find my full review here.

 

Having said that I don’t read many contemporary YAs these days, here’s another that has made the list! Dear Martin by Nic Stone is such a powerful novel. It is inspired by the heartbreaking cases of racial profiling by police in the US. I urge you all to read it. You can find my review here.

 

Scythe by Neal Shusterman is the first book in his Arc Of A Scythe series and was finally published here in the UK in February 2018. It’s a YA dystopian where the earth is pretty much perfect and humans are immortal. The only real problem is the overcrowding as a result. So, a very select group of people called Scythes are employed as the only people permitted to take a life. The story follows two teenage characters who find themselves in the position to become Scythes, only they must prove themselves first. I loved this book and the entire concept surrounding it. You can find my review here. I have the second book, Thunderhead, lined up to read soon.

 

Ok, so technically I read The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris last year but it didn’t come out until 2018 so that counts, right? This is such an incredible historical novel that is based on a true story. It’s a story that I can’t and won’t forget. I’ve been buying this book as gifts this year as I just want to share it with my family and friends. You can find my review here.

 

It’s no secret that I love Sarah Hilary’s writing, and the fifth book in her DI Marnie Rome series, Come and Find Me, was another fantastic read. If you enjoy a well-written crime novel that will keep you reading then I recommend you check out this series if you haven’t already. You can find my reviews of the series here.

 

G.X. Todd’s DEFENDER was one of my favourite books of 2017. The second book in The Voices series, HUNTED, is high on my list of 2018 favourites. A dystopian world with fantastic writing, packed action and great characters, I just adore this series. Find my reviews of the series so far here.

 

Raymond E. Feist’s latest book, the first in his new Firemane Saga, King of Ashes,  made me stop and question why I haven’t read beyond his Riftwar Saga. It’s an epic fantasy with fantastic world building (naturally), engaging characters and plenty of action. Find my full review here.

 

I don’t tend to dip into series mid-way through, but the premise of Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh had me so intrigued I couldn’t resist. A crime novel where the serial killer isn’t the person on trial; he’s on the jury! You don’t need to have read the rest of the series to enjoy this – I haven’t, but I do intend to read the rest now! Find my review here.

 

Like most of the world, I was a fan of The Dry by Jane Harper, so Force of Nature, her second Aaron Falk book was high on my 2018 wishlist. Harper has an incredible ability to transport you to the scene of her novels and that was no different with her latest mystery. You can find my full review here.

 

The Displaced is a collection of essays written by refugee writers and edited by Viet Thang Nguyen. It’s an easy book to dip into, with 19 different pieces to read, each of which with a powerful story to tell. I’ve written more about The Displaced here so if you’re interested pop on over.

 

Well, that Top Ten Tuesday has actually surprised me! I had no idea that I’d loved so many crime, mystery, thriller types and less fantasy! I think I’ll need to up my fantasy game in the second half of 2018.

What have been your favourite books of 2018 so far?

Review: Wonderbook: An Illustrated Guide To Creating Imaginative Fiction

July 3, 2018 in Book Reviews, Non-Fiction

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Wonderbook: An Illustrated Guide To Creating Imaginative FictionWonderbook: An Illustrated Guide To Creating Imaginative Fiction Published by Abrams on 3rd July 2018 (revised edition)
Genres: Non-Fiction
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Since its release in 2013, Wonderbook has become the definitive guide to writing imaginative fiction by offering an accessible, example-rich approach that emphasises the importance of playfulness as well as pragmatism. It also exploits the visual nature of genre culture and employs bold, full-colour drawings, maps, renderings and visualisations by Jeremy Zerfoss to stimulate creative thinking. On top of that, the book features sidebars and essays from some of the biggest names working in the field today, including George R. R. Martin, Lev Grossman, Neil Gaiman, Michael Moorcock and Karen Joy Fowler.

Writers such as the wonderful V.E. Schwab have ignited in me an interest in the craft of writing (Schwab’s YouTube and Instagram accounts are definitely worth watching).

With this new flame of interest, I came across the revised and expanded, 5th-anniversary edition of Wonderbook: An Illustrated Guide To Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer that is published today by Abrams.

It truly is a Wonderbook – packed full of advice, stunning illustrations and easy to digest chapters.

Let me first say that I haven’t read many books about writing, so I can’t compare Wonderbook to other books on the market. However, I can share my thoughts and experience with the book.

Content

Jeff VanderMeer has incorporated so much into the pages of this book (including an additional 50 pages of diagrams, illustrations and writing exercises in this anniversary edition), with chapters on:

  • Inspiration and the Creative Life
  • The Ecosystem of Story
  • Beginnings and Endings
  • Narrative Design
  • Characterisation
  • World Building
  • Revision

Wonderbook has an interactive feel with ‘guides’ Myster Odd, the Little Aliens, the Devil’s Advocate, the All-Seeing Pen-Eye and the Webinator popping up throughout its pages. These guides expand upon the text, highlight important sections, suggesting counterpoint views, challenging you to a writing exercise, or referring you to the Wonderbook website for further information.

For me, I loved this quirky, informal style. I’m all about having fun while learning so this was right up my street.

A book describing how to create imaginative fiction may seem intimidating, but VanderMeer breaks everything down for us. It’s a book that is possible to dip into for fifteen minutes a day, or lose yourself in for several hours.

Illustrations

The illustrations in this book are stunning as well as thought-provoking. For me, they helped to reaffirm that which I’d read in the text. I’m quite a visual person so the colourful diagrams and illustrations are a much-appreciated addition.

I can’t tell you how much this book has taught me. As a reader, I find myself paying far more attention to writers’ styles, choices, and structures now. Wonderbook has provided me with the tools to identify these aspects of craft and start to analyse why and how they have been used.

Contributions & Appendices

I must mention the sidebar essays that have been contributed by such authors as Neil Gaiman, Ursula K. Le Guin, and George R. R. Martin (his interview on the craft of writing is very interesting). These are fascinating interludes offering different perspectives and some insight into the writing of such accomplished authors.

Finally, I must mention the Workshop Appendix, which has a plethora of resources and challenges.

It just so happened that I have been reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie while simultaneously working my way through Wonderbook. So, the appendix analysing Americanah and Adichie’s creative decisions such as Point of View switched in the novel has been fascinating to me. I’m still working through this appendix, but this is just an example of the gems that are included within Wonderbook.

Conclusions

This book is not only educational and enlightening, but it’s entertaining too. VanderMeer has packed SO much into this book. He’s evidently spent considerable time and thought on not only the content itself, but its delivery and structure. It’s a beautifully produced book.

This is an incredibly useful and insightful book that you don’t need to be a writer to enjoy. As a reader, I’ve learned so much and will take it with me into every piece of fiction that I read.

four-half-stars

Summer Wishlist Giveaway

June 30, 2018 in Bookish Posts, Current Giveaways

It has been a wee while since we’ve had a giveaway in these parts. So I thought it was time to rectify that!

If you’re anything like me, your book wishlist is ever-growing, so why not give you the chance to win one of the books on your list?

The winner will get to select a book of their choice (up to the value of £10), including pre-orders. What will you choose? To enter, simply use the rafflecopter form below.

The giveaway is OPEN INTERNATIONALLY as long as The Book Depository ships to your location for free (check here).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you need help entering via Rafflecopter, check out this guide from Super Lucky.

Good luck!

Review: How To Be A Grown-Up

June 26, 2018 in Book Reviews, Non-Fiction

I received this book for free from bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: How To Be A Grown-UpHow To Be A Grown-Up by Daisy Buchanan
Published by Headline on 28th June 2018
Genres: Non-Fiction
Format: ARC
Source: bookbridgr
Goodreads
four-stars

Have you ever felt lost, anxious, panicky about adulthood?

Have you ever spent a hungover Sunday crying into a bowl of cereal?

Have you ever scrolled through Instagram and felt nothing but green-eyed jealousy and evil thoughts?

Award-winning journalist, Grazia agony aunt and real-life big sister to five smart, stylish, stunning twenty-something young women, Daisy Buchanan has been there, done that and got the vajazzle.

In How to be a Grown-Up, she dispenses all the emotional and practical advice you need to negotiate a difficult decade. Covering everything from how to become more successful and confident at work, how to feel pride in yourself without needing validation from others, how to turn rivals into mentors, and how to *really* enjoy spending time on your own, this is a warm, kind, funny voice in the dark saying "Honestly don't worry, you're doing your best and you're amazing!"

Sometimes it’s just nice to read a book that you can relate to. I might be in my thirties and been through a lot in my three and a bit decades on the planet, but I think How To Be A Grown-Up is a phrase I’ll forever ponder (won’t we all) and so Daisy Buchanan’s book called to me.

Ok, full disclosure, I didn’t actually know who Daisy Buchanan was before I picked up this book (if you’re wondering she is an award-winning journalist and Grazia agony aunt), but I now feel like she’s my pal.

Buchanan shares her life with such honesty; the lessons shes’s learned, mistakes she’s made, emotions she has tackled, such that by the end of this book I felt I knew her.  From Instagram jealousy to fear of the financial, panic attacks to body image, Daisy writes with honesty, humour, and wit. Her anecdotes are relatable, and I can’t tell you the number of times I felt less alone reading this.

Going through major changes at this stage in my life isn’t something that I ever expected or wanted, but although Daisy’s story is very different to mine, her kindness and advice on being kind to yourself shine through. It has helped me.

Sometimes I fear a book like this can come across a bit ‘preachy’ but that isn’t the case here. Daisy lifts the lid on her life with seemingly nothing off limits – sharing her more difficult times with us as well as the happier times.

I enjoyed Daisy’s writing, her way with words and turn of phrase often appealing to my sense of humour.

Perhaps I related to a lot of this book as I was raised in the same era as Daisy. However, I do feel that those in their 20s will get a lot from this book, maybe a bit like an older sister sharing advice.

20s, 30s or 40s – do we ever really know how to be a grown-up? If this is a question that you often ponder then Daisy’s book is one for you. A perfect easy-to-read book for your Summer TBR.

P.S. I just noticed that the Kindle edition is only 99p on Amazon right now! (Not an affiliate link)

four-stars

Refugee Week & The Displaced Review

June 18, 2018 in Biography, Memoir, Book Reviews, Non-Fiction, Other Books

This week is the 20th anniversary of Refugee Week. With World Refugee Day occurring on Wednesday 20th June 2018, it feels that this week is the perfect time to share with you one of my most recent reads, The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives.

The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Refugee Week & The Displaced ReviewThe Displaced: Refugee Writers On Refugee Lives by Various
Published by Abrams on 10th April 2018
Genres: Essays, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Anthology
Format: Hardback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-half-stars

In January 2017, Donald Trump signed an executive order stopping entry to the United States from seven predominantly Muslim countries and dramatically cutting the number of refugees allowed to resettle in the United States each year. The American people spoke up, with protests, marches, donations, and lawsuits that quickly overturned the order. But the refugee caps remained.

In The Displaced, Pulitzer Prize–winning writer Viet Thanh Nguyen, himself a refugee, brings together a host of prominent refugee writers to explore and illuminate the refugee experience. Featuring original essays by a collection of writers from around the world, The Displaced is an indictment of closing our doors, and a powerful look at what it means to be forced to leave home and find a place of refuge.

Abrams published this anthology of essays back in April and were kind enough to send me a copy. With contributions from 19 prominent refugee writers from around the world, each with their own stories to tell, this is a timely, thought-provoking book that everyone should be reading.

These stories are insightful and emotional. The writers share their lives and experiences – from leaving family behind, to being reunited with parents that they don’t recognise. From finding their identity to carving out a new life in an unknown country.

As one would expect, these essays are all beautifully written. Edited by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Viet Thanh Nguyen, himself a refugee, all of these pieces pack a punch, in many different ways.

This book is a sadly all-too-needed reminder of the humans who are at the heart of the hideous, fear-inciting stories we see in the mass media.

These stories need to be read. As the world faces an enormous refugee crisis, I have no doubt that these essays will raise awareness of the real-life experiences of refugees and their families. If only we could get copies of this book into the hands of those who need educating most!

For every purchase of this book, Abrams will donate 10% of the cover price (a minimum of $25000 annually) to the International Rescue Committee (IRC) who are a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to providing humanitarian aid, relief and resettlement to refugees and other victims of oppression and violent conduct.

This is a collection that will stay with you long after you close the back page – and well it should!

Refugee Week 2018

 

 

As part of the 20th anniversary of Refugee Week, we are being invited to partake in at least one of 20 simple acts.

 

You can find the full list of Simple Acts here. Might I encourage you to participate in number 9, read a book about exile.

 

Obviously, The Displaced fits this description perfectly and I urge you all to read it.

If you are interested in further books on this subject, check out the links provided on the Refugee Week website. Of course, please also feel free to share any title suggestions below.

Remember to share your read online using the hashtag #SimpleActs.

 

four-half-stars