review

The Labyrinth of Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

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(Not sure how to do accent over letters in the post title, apologies 😦 )

I love Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s books. I love the world of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. I was so excited when I found out about this one. I requested it on Netgalley straight away. But then I seen that Waterstones were selling signed copies 🙂 So I had to get one!

I’ve had this copy since November and I finished it the beginning of this month. Partly because it’s such a massive tome (I love big books) but also because I wanted to savour it. Netgalley must get tired of waiting for reviews from me (I’m not sure they are waiting really). It’s signed! It’s a gorgeous book with red pages and where the book is divided into parts there are pictures:

 

My thoughts

I always enjoy books by this author. This was no exception. The Labyrinth of Spirits starts in the first person viewpoint of our old friend Daniel who featured in the other books. His story continues but we also learn Alicia’s story and there are many stories woven into this book, so many threads of pasts and people come together, like many links on the spider’s web that make up one amazing story. We are back with our old friends from the previous books and the stories told in them are elaborated and concluded in this huge novel.

So how can I put into words how wonderful this book is?

It’s violent, beautiful, dark, intense, scary. There was a character who chilled me! As only real people and not fantastical monsters can! I  wonder how much of this is based on fact, the truth is always a lot more scarier than the fiction.

Reading this book you feel as though you are actually there, it’s a immense sense of place. The style is mesmerising, riveting and the writing is poetic:

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The best way to describe how beautiful the writing is would be to use a quote from this book:

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This is true of this book and is how I felt reading it.

 

I love it! It’s made me want to reread all the other books in the series. You don’t really need to read these books in any particular order,  (had a perfect quote from the author about that I since can’t find!) But this might suffice:

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I hope that this I’ve managed to explain my feelings about this book. I urge you to read it. Or maybe start with something smaller and try one of Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s other books, you can find more about them here.

This is one of those books that I wanted to write down so many quotes,(I really need to start doing that.) in my laziness I took pictures instead:

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A quote for writers
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About destiny/life

What more can I say? Have you read any books by this author? If you’ve written a review please leave your link in the comments below, share your favourite quotes.

Thanks for stopping by 🙂

 

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review

Amy Cole is Zen as F*ck by Elizabeth McGivern

Amy Cole is Zen as F*ck (Amy Cole, #2)

This is the second Amy Cole book and I’ve been looking forward to reading it ever since I finished the first one, you can find my review for Amy Cole Has Lost Her Mind here. 

I had a copy of this ebook for review from the author, because I was part of the blog tour for the first.

Synopsis from GoodReads:

“It’s been almost two years since Amy Cole walked through the door of her therapist’s office and now she’s ready to emerge as the sane, zen-like woman she has always wanted to be. Unfortunately for Amy, life has the nasty habit of not playing along.

There’s no time for a quiet life with a business to run, family life to balance and a newly-single best friend to keep an eye on.From getting embroiled in a feud with a maniacal diet guru, making sure Elle isn’t murdered by strangers from the internet and dealing with the mother-in-law from hell, mayhem always seems to find a way into Amy’s life.

Elle De Bruyn is on the cusp of finalising her divorce and is ready to jump, head-first, into dating once again. She soon learns that finding love in the 21st century is a tricky business. She lives in hope that somewhere in between the liars, cheats and unsolicited dick pics there’s still a chance for one more great love affair.

With life in a constant state of chaos, it doesn’t take long for Amy to realise that therapy was the easy part and now it’s time for the real work to begin.

Is sanity really all it’s cracked up to be?”

My thoughts

I loved reading about Amy and her escapades in the first book and couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book. She still manages to get herself into some scrapes and every time she tries to get things on the right track things tend to go wrong… but hey that’s life!

The messes she gets herself into! Only Amy Cole could manage it! She’s so funny. 

This book made me burst out laughing a few times. But it’s also a book about love, friendship and has some serious issues like Amy’s mental health.  I like how even though there are serious issues in the book it’s still lighthearted.

It’s a riveting read. Reading this book is like catching up with old friends, I love the characters and can’t wait to read the next book to find out what Amy and her friends will get up to next. The next book is called Amy Cole Has It All Figured Out and is due to be released this year.

If you want something lighthearted with realistic characters this book is for you 🙂

 

About the author

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Elizabeth McGivern is a former journalist turned hostage-in-her-own-home surrounded by three men and a horrible dog named Dougal.

In an effort to keep her sanity she decided to write a parenting blog after the birth of her first son so she can pinpoint the exact moment she failed as a mother.

In an unexpected turn of events, the blog helped her to find a voice and connect with parents in similar situations; namely those who were struggling with mental health issues and parenting. It was because of this encouragement – and wanting to avoid her children as much as possible – her debut novel, Amy Cole has lost her mind, was born.

Elizabeth lives in Northern Ireland although wishes she could relocate to Iceland on a daily basis. To witness her regular failings as a parent you can find her on:

www.mayhemandbeyond.com 

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/mayhemandbeyond

Twitter – https://twitter.com/MayhemBeyond

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/mayhemandbeyond/

Picture credited to Jess Lowe

 

review

The Mysterious Affair At Styles

The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Hercule Poirot #1)

“Who poisoned the wealthy Emily Inglethorpe, and how did the murderer penetrate and escape from her locked bedroom? Suspects abound in the quaint village of Styles St. Mary–from the heiress’s fawning new husband to her two stepsons, her volatile housekeeper, and a pretty nurse who works in a hospital dispensary. Making his unforgettable debut, the brilliant Belgian detective Hercule Poirot is on the case. The key to the success of this style of detective novel, writes Elizabeth George in her Introduction, lies in how the author deals with both the clues and the red herrings, and it has to be said that no one bettered Agatha Christie at this game. ” – From Goodreads

This is my first Agatha Christie read and for me it didn’t live up to the hype. In the books defence I was reading it at a time when I was a scatter brain and your mood can affect your enjoyment of a book I’ve found. I enjoyed the mystery and figuring out whodunnit but there were a few twists at the end that got me into a tangle.

It reminded me a bit of Sherlock Homes, with the narrator being a friend of Poirot and telling the events of the story. He also didn’t seem  to have a clue, like Watson in Sherlock Holmes, the author makes him appear very dense!

I will read another Agatha Christie one day but I think I prefer Sherlock Holmes and feel it’s a shame that there is a similarity as Holmes is better :)
Sorry if you don’t agree. My mother likes Marple so maybe I should give her a go one day.

Do you like Agatha Christie? Disagree with me please 🙂

review

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

Description from GoodReads:

“The Tattooist of Auschwitz is based on the true story of Lale and Gita Sokolov, two Slovakian Jews who survived Auschwitz and eventually made their home in Australia. In that terrible place, Lale was given the job of tattooing the prisoners marked for survival—literally scratching numbers into his fellow victims’ arms in indelible ink to create what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust. Lale used the infinitesimal freedom of movement that this position awarded him to exchange jewels and money taken from murdered Jews for food to keep others alive. If he had been caught, he would have been killed; many owed him their survival.”

My thoughts

What can you say about a book based on someone’s experience whilst at Auschwitz? Written simply with no inapproriate flowery language Heather Morris tells us Lale’s story from boarding a train with no idea where he was going, to the end.

At times I had to stop reading and take a break, the horrors were too much. I know about the Holocaust, who doesn’t? But this is different, reading an account of life inside the camp is more intimate than watching a film like Schindler’s List.

I kept reading in the hope that the people who Lale befriends would survive, knowing of course the outcome, knowing the history. I did dread what the ending would tell me and wondered at times if I should stop and just not pick the book up again. But if people can survive this then it would be disrespectful if I could not read it. It’s important to know what happened, to know the story of these innocent people even though it’s so hard to read about.

I wish this wasn’t a true story!

 

review

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

“Just days after Raynor learns that Moth, her husband of 32 years is terminally ill, their home and livelihood is taken away. With nothing left and little time, they make the brave and impulsive decision to walk the 630 miles of the sea-swept South West Coast Path, from Somerset to Dorset, via Devon and Cornwall.

They have almost no money for food or shelter and must carry only the essentials for survival on their backs as they live wild in the ancient, weathered landscape of cliffs, sea and sky. Yet through every step, every encounter, and every test along the way, their walk becomes a remarkable journey.”

I was instantly intrigued after reading the premise of this book online. I love the coast and inspiring stories so this book was perfect for me. The cover is gorgeous (designed by Angela Harding) you could frame that image and put it on your wall. I was fortunate to find this signed edition in a bookshop in Padstow whilst on holiday in Cornwall, I had to buy it! When I started reading I knew it was going to be one of those books I would not be able to stop.

It’s a sad story but it’s also inspiring reading about Raynor and Moth who despite losing their home and finding out that Moth has a terminal illness they get up and carry on. They go through so much and it’s a pleasure to read their true story and share it with them.

The style of the writing is breathtaking, it made me feel like I was right there by the coast, my favourite place to be, listening to those annoying gulls and breathing in that gorgeous sea air.

This book is about “coming to terms with grief and the healing power of the natural world,” but I feel that there are a lot of life lessons too:

This book reminds us of the importance of appreciating the world around us, many people go through life never appreciating  it:

“However cosy ‘He’ was in the big house he didn’t have this, he couldn’t hear the beat of an owl’s wing through the oak branches, or the scratch of his talons against the bark of a beech tree. He wasn’t breathing the sweet scent of nettles or the sharp tang of gorse as he put his head on a pillow.”

This book reminded me of our connection with the world around us and the healing powers it gives us, walking outside and allowing our minds to stop is something we can all enjoy. Reading this book is as restorative as walking along a coastal path, I’d love to do something amazing like that but I probably never will and have the utmost respect and awe for those who do.

“I could feel the sky, the earth, the water and revel in being part of the elements without a chasm of pain opening at the thought of the loss of our place within it. I was a part of the whole. I didn’t need to own a patch of land to make that so. I could stand in the wind and I was the wind, the rain, the sea; it was all me, and I was nothing within it. The core of me wasn’t lost. Translucent, elusive, but theere and growing stronger with every headland.”

There were so many parts of this book that I wanted to quote, but I was so absorbed I forgot to made a note of them all. One day I will reread this book!  No matter how I write this review I know it won’t do justice to the honest story and great writing. I tried so hard to convey how I feel but I am falling short.

I will be looking out for future books by Raynor Winn.

You can read an extract of this book here  

Have you read this book? Share your thoughts and link to your review in the comments 🙂

review

Just A job by Patsy Collins

Just A Job: A collection of 25 short stories by [Collins, Patsy]

A collection of 25 Perfect short stories to read on your lunch break ‘Just a Job‘ is a delightful read. I enjoyed them so much I was surprised to get to the end. My favourite was Fred’s Hat. I did intend a long review with notes about the individual stories but I didn’t want to give away spoilers.

There’s a good mix of poignant heart warming tales, tales with a twist and stories with lessons at their core. The characters are as intriguing as the plots. I loved all the stories and will have to give this a reread one day.

Patsy Collins often has her stories published in women’s magazines, you can check out all her collections and novels here don’t just take my word for it read this collection or one of the others yourself. You can see my review for ‘Not A Drop To Drink’ here.

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Disclaimer: Just felt the need to add that whilst I follow Patsy on Twitter I have bought this ebook and read it because I am a fan. The author had no idea, until I shared this post. I love supporting indie authors and getting the message out about how good their stories are. 🙂

review

Jezebel’s Daughter by Wilkie Collins

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I was encouraged to read this book by the read-along-a-classic on readitswapit book forum. I’d just finished watching the recent tv adaption of A Woman In White by Wilkie Collins so I was intrigued to start reading this book.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

“‘The power that I have dreamed of all my life is mine at last!’ 

How far is a mother prepared to go to secure her daughter’s future? Madame Fontaine, widow of an eminent chemist, has both the determination and the cunning to bring young Minna’s marriage plans to fruition, with dangerous consequences for anyone who dares to stand in her way. But has she met her match in Jack Straw, one-time inmate of Bedlam lunatic asylum? It will take a visit to the morgue to find out who triumphs—and who comes out alive. 

Reminiscent of Collins’s blockbusters The Woman in White and Armadale, this suspenseful case study in villainy is set against the financial world of 1820s Frankfurt and tells the story of two widows, one of them devoted to realizing her husband’s social reforms, the other equally devoted to the pursuit of her daughter’s happiness”

My thoughts

This book was compelling from the start: Wilkie Collins has a brilliant way of drawing you into the story, taking you to various places and introducing you to various characters, all adding to a suspenseful mystery that unfolds as the story progesses.

It’s unusual to read a classic book that features a character devoted to encouraging women to work during this time, but this one does.

I enjoyed reading about the character of Madame Fontaine and trying to figure out her mind. Wilkie Collins does not hold anything back, there are no loose ends and in doing so you get an accurate picture of the characters and an interesting read. Although there is so much going on and insight into various ideas: the treatment of the patients in the asylum, the idea of women working and the story of a couple in love with impediments to their marriage, it is a book that is always interesting and riveting.

There in one chilling well-wrought scene towards the end of the novel! I’d never heard about Wilkie Collins until recently but I’m going to be reading more soon.