Saturday, 17 January 2015

What Kind of Book Buyer Are You?

As a book lover I tend to visit a lot of bookshops regularly (as we do) and I’m also friendly with a few booksellers. Over time I’ve come to find that there are six (to my knowledge) types of people who buy books from a book shop. I thought that it would make a fun post to share with you my findings today.

The Researcher:- 
First off we have the category that I myself fall into. The Researcher knows what they like and what they want from their books. They spend hours reading reviews and have a carefully selected wish list. The Researcher rarely picks up books on a whim and they tend to know an awful lot about a book before reading it. The Researcher goes to a bookshop on a mission with a list of books in mind. Nothing beats the satisfaction of finding the book that they want in stock nor the disappointment on discovering that they don’t carry the book in question.

The Browser:- 
The Browser is my personal favourite kind of book buyer. They treat bookshops as their own personal cave of wonders. They can lose hours perusing the bookshelves, occasionally pulling out books that catch their attention. You can often find them sitting in one of the comfy chairs flicking through their findings before deciding if they want to buy. The Browser loves bookshops and the art of book shopping almost as much as they love reading itself.

The Cover Lover:- 
Whilst it’s true that the cover lover will often fall victim to a beautiful cover design it’s also the marketing on the outside of the book that can catch their attention. I’m talking about a snappy synopsis, a quote from a favourite author and award winner stickers. Cover Lovers can often be found in bookshops near public transport looking for a cover that catches their attention with promises from the press to be a great read. After all, they don’t have time to investigate much further; they have somewhere to be and are looking for a good book to pass the journey with.

The Bargain Hunter:-
The Bargain Hunter is perhaps the most easily recognisable type of book buyer. They are the ones clutching tightly to their smartphones blatantly looking for a cheaper offer online and comparing prices. If they are shopping in a group or with another person you may overhear them say “I think I’ll leave it, it’s cheaper on Amazon.”

The Newbie:- 
The Newbie can be a person of any age who has just discovered a book (or new genre) they love for the first time. Wide eyed they’ll excitedly dash over to the area in the store where they discovered their first love looking for something similar. Booksellers are the newbies new best friend as they ask for more books by the same author or similar titles.

The Wanderer:- 
The Wanderers are a diverse bunch. They usually exclude book lovers altogether and tend to come into a bookshop with their last intention being to buy a book. I’m talking about the civilians off the street looking for free Wi-Fi, coffee, shelter, and a toilet amongst other things. You know the type. They’ll do a full rotation of the shop whilst exclaiming to their friend that they “don’t really read.”

 So there you have it. The six types of people I’ve encountered whilst book shopping. Which group do you fall into? Have you ever come across a different type of book buyer?

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Review for Can’t Look Away by Donna Cooner

Can’t Look Away by Donna Cooner 
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Release: 8th January 2015
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Grief, YouTube
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

"Torrey Grey is famous – at least, she is on the internet. Thousands of people watch her beauty vlog for tips on how to be popular and pretty. But when Torrey’s sister is killed in an accident her world implodes, especially as she feels partly to blame. And that’s when the trolling starts . . .

How can Torrey mourn her sister in private, when her bubbly public persona is all over the web? Then she meets Luis, whose family owns the local funeral home, and he challenges all that Torrey thought she knew about love, life, and loss."

Torrey Grey’s beauty channel 'Beautystarz15' is a YouTube sensation. Her online reputation is built on having the perfect life; every viewer either wants to be her or feels like she’s their best friend, so when Torrey’s younger sister Miranda dies it’s impossible for her to keep up that perfect carefree image anymore. Her thousands of followers once made Torrey happy but now the internet is watching her grieve and the haters are harder than ever to ignore. Can’t Look Away is Torrey’s journey as she figures out who she is now that she’s no longer that perfect girl and discovers that beauty can be found in the ugliest of times.

At the beginning of the book Torrey is not the most likeable character to read about. She’s very vain and cares way too much about what other people think of her which is understandable as her whole YouTube channel is based on people liking her. Personally I’m okay with unlikeable characters especially if there is character development throughout the story. Torrey definitely goes on a journey to find out who she is so my advice is to stick with her.

The turning point in Torrey’s grief is when she meets Luis whose family run the local funeral home. Luis is a guy who has lived with death his whole life and so he shows Torrey how to live with it too. Luis was my favourite character and I loved his and Torrey’s relationship. There were some deep moments where he’d show her a different side to death but they were also balanced out with some really cute scenes.

What impressed me most with Can’t Look Away was how perfectly Donna Cooner captures Torrey’s grief in her writing. Not only did I physically feel Torrey’s loss as I was reading but I also felt her feelings change as she grew. All of the relationships were done so well here but seeing how Torrey’s relationship with Miranda in both life and death affects her as a person was the real highlight for me.

Overall I thought that Can’t Look Away was a brilliant read that covers a lot of important current themes.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Review for The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Publisher: Transworld
Release: 15th January 2015
Genre: Fiction, Thriller
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

"Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. 
Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar.

Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…"

People watching is a pastime that most people indulge in on their daily commute. When you see the same faces every day it’s easy to imagine what their lives might be like.

Rachel’s train stops outside the same row of houses every day and so a couple who live at one of the houses who Rachel has named “Jason and Jess” have come to feel familiar to her as she watches them live their lives for a couple of minutes each day.

Then one day Rachel witnesses Jess kissing somebody who isn’t Jason and when she sees Jess – whose real name is Megan- is missing in the news the life that she’s observed for so long collides with her own as she becomes obsessed with unravelling the mystery.

It becomes apparent early on in the book that Rachel is an unstable character. In the last two years her marriage has broken down after her ex-husbands affair, she’s had to leave her beloved home and she’s been fired, all the while becoming more and more dependent on alcohol to get through each day. She uses the mystery surrounding Megan’s disappearance as a distraction from her own life and the lengths she’ll go to to be involved are certainly unhinged.

I think that a lot of people who pick this book up will find Rachel unlikeable but I was sympathetic towards her situation and found her such a compelling character to read about. The fact that she often experiences blackouts in her memory when she’s been drinking made her a very unreliable character who kept me guessing.

I have to admit that I did see where the book was going when I was about half way in but there was also a lot of new information uncovered throughout the book that made me question myself. I really struggled to put this book down because I had to know if I was right!

Overall The Girl on the Train was a well written and original thriller that I think would translate beautifully to the big screen. With the age old moral of never knowing what goes on behind closed doors it also shines a chilling light on the fact that we never really know those closest to us either.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Review for All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven 
Publisher: Penguin
Release: 8th January 2015
Genre: YA, Mental Illness, Grief
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

"Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister's recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it's unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the 'natural wonders' of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It's only with Violet that Finch can be himself - a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who's not such a freak after all. And it's only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet's world grows, Finch's begins to shrink. How far will Violet go to save the boy she has come to love?"

All The Bright Places is a book that has received a lot of advanced hype and I can certainly see why! It’s a hugely important book and is one of the best books I’ve read about mental health. Within the first few chapters I found myself quickly jotting down passages that stood out to me. Fans of books like “The Fault In Our Stars” and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” are going to love wandering with Finch and Violet as they explore life, death and love.

For me, Finch was the brightest part of this story. He doesn’t like to put labels on who he is but it quickly becomes apparent that something is wrong. His moods are either ridiculously high or very low and he has an unhealthy obsession with death and suicide. To me it was clear early on that Finch has bipolar but it’s a label he struggles to accept throughout the book.

As somebody who has had a lot of experience with mental health I thought that All The Bright Places handled the topic incredibly well. Finch really questions how much of his actions and feelings are his illness and how much is just Finch. As well as seeing bipolar through Finch’s point of view we also get to see how society deals with mental illness which is where this book really shines. I found myself nodding along as Jennifer Niven examines how mental illness is perceived compared to physical illnesses, from ignorant classmates who’d call Finch a “freak” to parents who put his behaviour down to being a typical teenager. This book portrays the sadly all too common story of somebody struggling alone and in silence with a mental illness. Seeing how badly Finch was let down by the people around him completely shattered my heart.

The only reason this book is just shy from a 5 star rating from me is because as much as I liked Violet’s character I didn’t think that her side of the story was as strong or as developed as Finch’s chapters. Throughout the book we see Violet learn to live again after the death of her sister but her overcoming her problems felt very forced to me. I didn’t feel like we got to see her thought process behind the changes and so they felt quite random to read rather than a natural development. I felt like this got better towards the end of the novel but I would have liked to have seen it throughout.

Overall All The Bright Places made a huge impact on me and I think it’ll be a real eye opener on what it’s like to live with a mental illness for a lot of readers. Although it’s still early on in the year I can see this one still being a favourite of mine come the end of 2015.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Review for The Year of Taking Chances by Lucy Diamond

The Year of Taking Chances by Lucy Diamond 
Publisher: Macmillan
Release: 1st January 2015
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Chick-lit
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

"It's New Year's Eve, and Gemma and Spencer Bailey are throwing a house party. There's music, dancing, champagne and all their best friends under one roof. It's going to be a night to remember.

Also at the party is Caitlin, who has returned to the village to pack up her much-missed mum's house and to figure out what to do with her life; and Saffron, a PR executive who's keeping a secret which no amount of spin can change. The three women bond over Gemma's dodgy cocktails and fortune cookies, and vow to make this year their best one yet.

But as the following months unfold, Gemma, Saffron and Caitlin find themselves tested to their limits by shocking new developments. Family, love, work, home - all the things they've taken for granted - are thrown into disarray. Under pressure, they are each forced to rethink their lives and start over. But dare they take a chance on something new?"

I started reading The Year of Taking Chances on New Year’s Eve and it was the perfect book to start 2015 with! The book follows three characters who meet at a New Year’s Eve party and whose lives intertwine as we follow them throughout the year.

My favourite character, and the main character of the story, is Gemma who has a picture perfect life until her husband is in a terrible accident that leaves him both depressed and unable to work. Now Gemma’s struggling to make ends meet and to be the glue that holds her family together during such a hard time. Next up is Caitlin who lost the two most important people in her life in one day when her mum passed away and she returned home looking for comfort only to find her boyfriend cheating on her with a friend. Then there’s Saffron who has just discovered that she’s pregnant. The baby’s father doesn’t want to know and she’s dreading telling her sister who is undergoing IVF trying to get pregnant. All three women are going through an awful time but are hopeful that a change will soon come.

What I really enjoyed about The Year of Taking Chances is how the book is about ordinary acts of bravery. All too often New Year is seen as a time for a dramatic lifestyle change and a strict list of resolutions but this book shows that a far better approach is to take small baby steps and make gradual changes towards the life you want. It made the book that much more relatable and inspiring to read and it was great to see each character slowly grow in confidence throughout the year.

Despite being busy with New Year celebrations I flew through this book because I was so caught up in the characters’ lives. The Year of Taking Chances is a brilliant new year, new me book and is one that I’d recommend to anyone who is going through a tough time and hoping for a better year ahead.

Monday, 5 January 2015

December Round Up and My Favourite Books of 2014

December's Book of the Month is The Girl on the Train 
by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train is one of the first 2015 proofs that I read last year and it absolutely blew me away! 2014 was the year in which I rediscovered my love for adult thrillers and I have to say that The Girl on the Train is up there as one of my favourites next to the likes of Gone Girl and Little Lies. I think that this is going to be one of the big thriller releases for 2015. Luckily you don't have long to wait as it's published on the 15th of this month and my review for it will be up very soon!

Read in December
101.) My True Love Gave To Me edited by Stephanie Perkins (4*)
102.) Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates (4*)
DNF - Winterspell by Claire LeGrand
103.) It Must Have Been The Mistletoe by Judy Astley (3.5*)
104.) The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (4.5*)
105.) Can't Look Away by Donna Cooner (4*)
106.) Inspire by Cora Carmack (4*)
107.) Ed Sheeran: A Visual Journey by Ed Sheeran (3*)
108.) Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A.S. King (3.5*)

December Book Awards
Best Plot: Inspire by Cora Carmack
Best Writing: My True Love Gave To Me edited by Stephanie Perkins
Best Cover: My True Love Gave To Me edited by Stephanie Perkins
Best Characters: My True Love Gave To Me edited by Stephanie Perkins
Best Ending: Inspire by Cora Carmack
Best Romance: My True Love Gave To Me edited by Stephanie Perkins
Most un-put-down-able: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Most Memorable: Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates
Best Moral: Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates

Top 3 Most Recommended Books: The Girl on the Train, Everyday Sexism and My True Love Gave To Me

Books I’m Looking Forward to Being Released/Reading in January 
Alice and the Fly by James Rice
I Was Here by Gayle Forman
Three Amazing Things About You by Jill Mansell
The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin
Vendetta by Catherine Doyle
Breaking The Rules by Katie McGarry
The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell
The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

Now moving on to my 14 favourite books read in 2014, some yearly awards and the all important 2014 book of the year!

 My Book of the Year for 2014 is Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

It's funny because the first book in this series Daughter of Smoke and Bone was my book of the year back in 2011 and here we are again for the last book in this series. I read a lot of amazing books in 2014 that could easily have won but Dreams of Gods and Monsters (and the whole series in general) is just everything. It has everything I love and look for in books and Laini Taylor's writing is otherworldly in how good it is. One of my highlights for 2014 was actually getting to meet Laini and getting this series signed. She's a lovely lady and a huge talent and this is easily one of the best series I have ever read. Ever.

 My Favourite 14 Books Read in 2014 
(In Order) 
1.) Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor 
2.) The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes 
3.) Little Lies by Liane Moriarty 
4.) Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas 
5.) Half Bad by Sally Green 
6.) Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers 
7.) The Dead Wife's Handbook by Hannah Beckerman 
8.) Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins 
9.) Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch 
10.) A Hundred Pieces of Me by Lucy Dillon 
11.) It's Not Me It's You by Mhairi McFarlane 
12.) To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han 
13.) A Kiss in the Dark by Cat Clarke 
14.) Lobsters by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison 

2014 Book Awards 
Best Plot: Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
Best Writing: Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
Best Cover: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
Best Characters: The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes
Best Ending: A Hundred Pieces of Me by Lucy Dillon
Best Romance: To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
Most un-put-down-able: Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Most Memorable: Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
Best Moral: A Kiss in the Dark by Cat Clarke

 Happy New Year everyone! I hope 2015 has been good to you so far. 
I'm so excited for a brand new year of books and blogging!
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