Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Things That Make Your Life As A Reader/Blogger Easier

Another good topic this week from The Broke and The Bookish, out Top Ten Things That Make Life As A Reader/Blogger Easier. I have to admit I don’t quite have 10 things again this week but I’ve a few things that make both loving reading and blogging just that bit more accessible. 

Reader

  • Goodreads – discovering this website has been amazing for my OCD about reading. I can now keep track of what I’ve read in a year, what I thought of books and discover new ones.
  • Kindle – for me the kindle is a good thing and that’s because I travel, so it saves me a lot of space and weight in my case. and it also saves me a little money but it will never replace a good old fashioned book.
  • Library – again this one is mainly for the money, I couldn’t have afforded to by half the books I’ve read but I also love that the library is full of great books that no-one else really knows about and discovering them is always a pleasure. 
  • Reviews – with so many books out there to choose from and a mind that would happily devour them all it’s good to be able to read others peoples opinions of them so can rule some out and stop the To-Read list reaching the moon. 
  • Friends Who Read – you need to have friends who read as a reader because sometimes when you finish a book you have to talk about it and if you’re friends don’t read the can’t understand that emotionally connection never mind run read the book too so you can feel the pain together.

Blogger

  • Scheduling – this is a vital tool for keeping on top of any weekly posts you like to do, particularly if you have a busy life or like to travel and I love that on a good day I can be on top of my blog for when those weeks come around and I have too much to do 
  • Other Blogs – I still don’t feel very confident in my blogging even though it’s been almost a year and a half so I like to check other blogs out to see how they do things
  • Book Memes – this kind of ties in to the last point as it gives me some content for those weeks I’ve not finished a book but I also enjoy getting involved in them, as it fuels and satisfies my passion for books
  • Comments – I’m not sure if this makes it easier as such but I love comments, reading although everyone does it alone is actually such a social thing because there is always discussion to be had and comments allow us to share out passion as well as feeling a little pleased people like our blogging. 

What Things Help You With A Life Of Reading/ Blogging?

Massive

Book Blurb

I’m fat,” I hear myself saying. I look in the mirror. My face has gone hot and red; I feel like I’m going to explode. “I’m fat.” It sizzles under my skin, puffing me up, pushing me out, making me massive.

Weight has always been a big issue in Carmen’s life. How could it not? Her mom is obsessed with the idea that thin equals beautiful, thin equals successful, thin equals the way to get what you want. Carmen knows that as far as her mom is concerned, there is only one option: be thin.

When her mother sweeps her off to live in the city, Carmen finds that her old world is disappearing. As her life spirals out of control Carmen begins to take charge of the only thing she can — what she eats. If she were thin, very thin, could it all be different?

My Synopsis

Carmen’s mum is obsessed with dieting and worse she expects her to be too. Carmen likes food though and her Dad agrees with her and so he makes sure she is fed but when her mum takes her off to Birmingham things are about to change. Carmen’s gran is the opposite of her mum, she eats loads and is round as a result of it. Carmen can tell her mum doesn’t really want to be around her family again, particularly her sister but they are here for her job and it doesn’t matter that Carmen wants to go back and live with her dad. When she starts back at a new school things don’t get any better and eventually Carmen begins to feel like getting thin is the only way to be happy. However to get there she is about to turn to extreme measures and the consequences of her actions are about to be shown to her. 

Review

With weight and dieting being such a central focus so often in the media at the moment this is a really interesting and powerful book highlighting just how people can become so obsessed with fo0d. Between her Gran and her mother Carmen is experiencing both ends of the scale and she doesn’t know what is best and I think this reflects how a lot of people are feeling with the media coverage of weight we are often faced with.

The attitude of Carmen’s mum is this book really hit me. Having your own mother trying to force you into a diet and telling you you are fat must be one of the worst feelings in the world. I really felt like she didn’t really care at all for Carmen there points I wanted to shout at the book. There were other characters in the book though that helped round out the experience many people are having. At school there are the thin popular bullies and that one fat girl who they bully that help fuel the idea thin is better whilst her Dad and Auntie just wants her and her mum to be healthy.

This is a really worthwhile read and one I think many teenagers should get there hands on. It highlights the dangerous of dieting and how our feelings towards food can effect those around us not always for the better.

Re-Read Review – Pandemonium

The second book in this series is a lot better than the first one in my opinion. I feel there is a much stronger plot to the story and the characters have stronger personalities. I also prefer the way it is written. The chapter alternate between Lena’s experiences when she initially enters the wilds and a few years down the line and this give the story an extra boost to keep you turning pages. I think that what also appeals to me in this one is you really start to get into the active rebellion that dystopian fiction is just now and it’s that feeling of being part of fighting for the right thing that makes the book engaging.

Dirty Work

Book Blurb

Hope’s mum doesn’t get her. In fact, Hope knows that as far as her preoccupied parents are concerned, she’s hope”less.” She may be spoilt – but money doesn’t buy happiness.

Oksana doesn’t even have a mum. And her dad and brother are miles away, left behind in Russia. She thought Europe would offer a better life – instead, bought and sold into prostitution, she feels dirty and used.

Then Oksana and Hope are thrown together in the most terrifying circumstances imaginable. Their only real chance of escape lies with each other, but how do two teenagers with so little in common find the way . . . ?

A tense, shocking novel – with a hint of hope.

My Synopsis

Oksana is stuck looking after her brother now her mother has gone and she can’t wait to get out of Russia. When her best friend gets a job with the mysterious rich Tommy she thinks he can get her out too. It takes a long time for him to agree and when he does things don’t turn out how she expected. The very night she leaves she is met with the horrible truth about Tommy’s buisness and as time has gone on he hope of finding her best friend again is fading.

She about to find hope again in unexpected way however. She meets her own the ferry to England. Hope is English and the daughter of a rich man. Sent to trap her Oksana chickens out when she discovers how innocent Hope is but it seems their fates are connected. When   the pair get caught it seems Hope has ended up in trouble anyway and Oksana can’t help feeling guilty but Hope still got the will to get free and she although she is angry at Oksana she also can’t bare to leave he in that world. 

Review

This book caught my attention because of it’s cover and it’s name. I tend to go for books that are a bit controversial and on often uncomfortable topics and the blurb of this one (slightly different from that above) was why I read it. 

The books tells us the story of two girls and how the end up being sold as sex slaves. It is set right now and shows just how easy it is for girls often from Eastern Europe get themselves caught up in this horrible world hoping for a better life. For me this is would stands out from the book. There isn’t countless scenes of abuse and action as they try to escape it’s about being in a constant state of fear, trapped in a situation that makes you hopeless when all you wanted was a better life. 

I think there was maybe something missing from the book. I’m not sure exactly what it was but it don’t have that power I thought it would. That’s not to say it isn’t worth reading as I think it is important to be aware how these thing can happen and are happening and I’m sure it reflects someones story somewhere. This is something going on that we have to stop and reading books like this can open our eyes to the situation. 

Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Books When I Need Some Light And Fun

I found this weeks topic from The Broke and The Bookish particularly difficult. We are supposed to list our Top Ten Books When I Need Some Light and Fun however I don’t really read a lot of books that fall under that title. My mum especially goes on about the depressing nature of my books and so I only a few books for this weeks list.

  • Vegan Virgin Valentine by Carolyn Mackler
  • Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling
  • The Poison Apples by Lily Archer
  • Holes by Louis Sachar

If I am in the need of something more light though rather than pick up a particular book I tend to go look in either;

  • my local libraries – There are two I can walk to, one is really close but don’t have a big collection and the other takes longer to get too but has a better choice of books. 
  • or on Amazon in the Kindle Freebie section – I don’t know if it’s just the type of books the make free or because it doesn’t matter if they are good because they were free but kindle freebies are always a bit more light hearted 

What Books Do You Pick Up When You Need Something Light And Fun?

Before I Go To Sleep

So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep?

Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love–all forgotten overnight.

And the one person you trust may be telling you only half the story.

Welcome to Christine’s life.

When Christine wakes up she doesn’t remember who the man lying next to her is. When she looks at herself in the mirror she it isn’t what she expects. She has lost her memory. The man tells her his name is Ben and he is her husband.

However when he goes to work she receives a call from a man saying he is her doctor. She agrees to meet him and he gives her a journal telling her she has been writing in it for the past few weeks and had given it to him to read.

Christine is about to learn about her life. All the things that she has forgotten over the many years. How everyday she has been reading the journal and being reminded of the not just the pains of her past but also that everything as it is now might not be quite as it seems. A realisation that is about to completely change her life, again.

This book had been recommended to me from a view people but I wasn’t really fussed about reading it because I have read a few books about people loosing their memory and presumed it would be the same. However I must admit now that I was wrong. This book is not like any others I have read about a similar topic. As you read you are drawn in by the fact that everything just doesn’t seem quite right. As the story progresses and we learn more about Christine’s pass and the characters you start to come up with idea’s that might explain what is going on but you are always left with that little bit of doubt that makes you think you are wrong. I was really impressed by this book, it was a unique take on the idea and the story really had you gripped and guessing the whole way through.

 

Pandemonium

I’m pushing aside 
the memory of my nightmare, 
pushing aside thoughts of Alex, 
pushing aside thoughts of Hana 
and my old school, 
push, 
push, 
push, 
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence, 
behind a wall of smoke and flame.

In this exciting sequel to Delirium Lena finds her initiated into the resistance. In the then chapters we find out how she when she was found when she first escaped into the wild. She finds herself in a settlement with lots of people and food and rooms. She learns about how they are run and their system to communicate with the sympathisers in the inside. However things don’t always go to plan, things are changing and they are driven deeper in to the wilds to meet both challenges from nature and the scavengers.

In the now chapters Lena is in on the outside in a new town. After spending time trying to blend in she is given a strange task of watching a boy at an event. This however is about to lead her into all new dangers. Stuck with this boy, who is the son of the group for a Deliria Free America, she tries to keep up her role for the inside but events will soon lead them together and him to change his attitude. However there are other ghost in Lena’s past that still need dealt with.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I was disappointed by the first one however this one felt like it had more of a story to it and there were lots of interesting additions to keep you hooked. I also like that the chapters alternated between now and then giving you an idea of how Lena got into the situation she was in in an interesting way. There was lots going on in this book that gave you a better understanding of the world Oliver has created and reasons to have opinions about the characters. I look forward to seeing what is going to happen next.

The Fault In Our Stars

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs… for now. 

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault. 

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

Hazel has a unique outlook on life. She wants to hurt as few people as possible when she comes to her inevitable end but her parents want her to get out and live. When she meets Augustus she begins to do just that. He too has his own philosophy on life too, he likes metaphors and he to start with isn’t quite as ill as Hazel. As the two become closer they try to for fill a dream to find out the end of what becomes both their favourite books and although Hazel wanted not to they fall in love. Of course it is also about dealing with a death they know is coming too soon and how in the end you can make your life worth something.

I think that this book is about life. About how we deal with what it gives us and what we really should be getting out of it. There are a lot of really good quotes throughout this book that make you think and question both how you feel and possibly how you think about seeing sick people. Although I think this is a really good book about life and dealing with illness and although I wouldn’t put it above similar stories such as ‘Before I Die by Jenny Downham’ it is of equal quality.

The Auschwitz Violin

I have been wanting to read this book for a while now and as I am going to visit the camp in a couple of weeks I thought now would be the perfect time. I had expected this story to be a sad one, due to it’s setting but it was actually more about hope and the power of music.

When playing in Poland in 1991 Regina meets a fellow musician who is interested in her beautiful violin. After the concert she meets with the man and tells him all about how the violin came to be and how she ended up with it.

Imprisoned in Auschwitz Daniel is dealing with a brutal and unpredictable life. However having told them he was a carpenter he feels fortunate to be able to work in the house of the sadist commandant and have a few extras. One evening after an incident with musicians playing for a party Daniel reveals that is in fact a violin maker. The commandant then gives him the task of making him a beautiful violin that should rival a Stradivarius and Daniel begins to have a little more hope. Working on the violin gives him something to carry on for and he take pleasure in his work and how it distract him for the cruel situation he is in. Later however he finds out that there is a bet going on between the commandant and the doctor over how long it will take him to finish for a case of Burgundy wine.

Back in 1991 we learn about what happens in the end and how Regina came to have the violin.

The book is very short and I can’t decide if it is missing something or not. The idea is a lovely one, that the task is what keeps him going in unimaginable circumstances but I felt like it could have been a bit more powerful. However there are some very beautiful sentences within the story and I think that I appreciate that it is not a story about how terrible the war was but it is about how humans can be saved by having passion for something.

Entangled

Entangles is set in a totally white room with a pill of paper and pens set out for Grace to write. She doesn’t remember why she is there but the mysterious Ethan is keeping her fed and encouraging her to write about the events of the past few months leading to where she is now. As she writes we learn about her life. She writes about her best friend Sal and how their friendship is tested after one Easter holiday. We learn about her rocky relationship with her mother after her beloved father’s death and she talks about fallen in love for the first time. Things are tough for Grace though and her way of dealing with the many issues that are being thrown at her isn’t healthy. It is as she pushes herself to write about her past that we learn about how what all seemed good fell apart for her and she finally remembers exactly what happened to her and where she really is.

When I first started reading this book I was interested by how it was written. Grace talks about her situation in the white room with Ethan, who she seems to remember and be close to but can’t quite understand, and about her past. Ethan encourages her to remember and although it is hard she pushes herself to allow us and her to understand what has happened. It is a story about dealing with the hardships of life. She is struggling with her fathers death and her insecure relationships, all these things lead her into a depression she can’t deal with.

This book deals with very intense issues and shouldn’t be read by younger readers but I think it is well written and a very interesting approach to complicated issues.