Do Your Bookshelves Spark Joy?

Do Your Bookshelves Spark Joy?

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So I know I’m a little late to the party but I finally watched Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. I saw a lot of discussion about this show on Twitter, particularly people not agreeing with the idea of getting rid of books that don’t ‘spark joy’.

I am a complete and utter book hoarder. I love wandering through bookshops and I adore second hand book shops and charity shops. I currently have six full length book shelves that are bursting at the seams with easily 1300/1400 books. (There’s also quite a few stacks in the spare bedroom). I am also known to buy special editions of books I already own and if a publisher kindly sent me an ARC I often go out and purchase a finished copy too.

So sitting down to watch Tidying Up with Marie Kondo I was very much in the ‘you should keep your books forever’ category. I watched a few episodes and it really did get me thinking.  My house has kind of been taken over by books and I don’t often see my favourites sitting on the shelf because they are jammed in by so many others, I started to wonder if I’d be able to part with some of them and if I could rid myself of a bit of clutter.

Completely shocking to my boyfriend and all my friends, taking them all off the shelf and looking through them actually worked. I found books I read for University that I know I won’t read again, books I didn’t even like and books that I did enjoy but I know I’m going to pick up again – so why am I holding onto them?

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Now I’m not saying I got rid of all of my books. I still am very much in the hoarder section but I did manage to take 348 books off my shelves! It meant all the stacks on the floor are now actually on shelves and I can see my favourites as well as all the books I’ve still got to read – some that I was really excited for that then got lost in the abyss.

After decluttering my shelves I also made a catalogue of all my books (which currently sits at 960 books), meaning I could much better keep track of how many I had and how many I have to read.

My shelves definitely look so much better and it’s so much easier to find things, so if you’re skeptical about the Marie Kondo method I absolutely recommend giving it a go. I never thought in a million years I would be the person passing 300+ books to my local charity shop! I’m probably still going to buy tons of books but hopefully now I can periodically remove the ones I’ll never read again or have lost interest in and someone else can love them instead.

If you do regular book unhauls or you’ve tried the Marie Kondo Method definitely let me know how you got on or what your secrets are for keeping your shelves in order!

Book Review: The White Hare – Michael Fishwick

Book Review: The White Hare – Michael Fishwick

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Release Date:
March 9th 2017
Publisher: Heads of Zeus
Pages: 256
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 2..5/5

Synopsis

A beautifully written coming-of-age novel from an acclaimed literary voice.

A lost boy. A dead girl, and one who is left behind.

Robbie doesn’t want anything more to do with death, but life in a village full of whispers and secrets can’t make things the way they were.

When the white hare appears, magical and fleet in the silvery moonlight, she leads them all into a legend, a chase, a hunt. But who is the hunter and who the hunted?

In The White Hare, Michael Fishwick deftly mingles a coming-of-age story with mystery, myth and summer hauntings.

Review

book cover - 2019-03-17T225218.697This book is a quick and interesting read that touches on that difficult topic of grief. The book follows Robbie, a young boy who’s dealing with the death of his mother and the remarriage of his father. The book is a short one – under two hundred pages and most likely you’ll get caught in this fascinating story and read it in one sitting.

The White Hare is a bit of a strange book, it is at times eerie, and I wasn’t always 100% sure what was going on, or where the plot was heading. I enjoyed the mixture of folklore, magic and realism, but I did feel like the ending left me with quite a few questions. That being said, it is a lovely read, watching the characters grow as they deal with the grief of losing their loved ones – Robbie’s friend Mags is dealing with a death also.

I really liked the characters in The White Hare – Robbie who acts out because he misses his mum, best friend Mags who knows more than anyone else about the white hare myth, and Robbie’s dad who’s just trying to do his best. They are very realistic characters, each trying to deal with their grief in the best way they know how.

I loved the idea of the white hare legend – which I won’t say too much about so as not to spoil the story – but I would have loved to know more about this myth and where it all started. I thought The White Hare had a really nice satisfactory ending, and overall the book is a good read. If you’re stuck in doors on a wintery Sunday this month, The White Hare is that perfect magical and heartwarming read to get caught up in.
3 stars

February Wrap Up!

February Wrap Up!

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February was a great month and I managed to read fifteen books despite it being the shortest month of the year. It was a pretty mixed lot with some books I really loved and a few I was more than a little disappointed by. I’m not going to go too much into them because there’s quite a few books to get through!

book cover - 2019-03-17T114531.3091. The Calling – Cate Tiernan
This is the seventh book in the Sweep/Wicca series and I’ve been having such a good time revisiting this series. I’m so pleased that I still love them as much as I did when I read them the first time. It’s such a fun and addictive series and I really enjoyed this instalment as Morgan and the gang travel to New York and unravel secrets from her past. (4/5 stars)

book cover - 2019-03-17T114313.4972. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games is a series I haven’t revisited since I first read it as a teenager so I thought it might be fun to listen to the audiobook version. After struggling with the narrator in the edition I was listening to I found another on Scribd and I really enjoyed it. It was great to revisit a book I really loved and I’m looking forward to continuing the series. (4/5 stars)

vassa3. Vassa In the Night – Sarah Porter
This was a fairyloot book quite a long time ago and I recently heard someone talk about it because it’s a reimagining of the story of Baba Yaga. I love the cover design and thought it would be a great atmospheric read but it really wasn’t for me. I struggled with the writing style, I didn’t like the characters and I found the plot a bit chaotic. (2/5 stars)

4. Shadowscent: The Darkest Bloom – P. M. Freestonebook cover (39)
Shadowscent: The Darkest Bloom is the first in an all new fantasy series in which the magic system is made up through scent. It was a brilliant read and one of my favourites of the month. It ended on such a cliff hanger and I’m dying to read book two. You can check out my review here, and my guest post from P. M. Freestone here! (5/5 stars)

book cover25. The Familiars – Stacy Halls
I love historical fiction that focuses on witches and I ended up completely devouring this book in one day. It was a dark and beautiful told story based on real events in history. It’s a book I still think about even though I finished it a while ago. I ranted a bit about how much I enjoyed this book here, so you can check that out if you want to know more. (4.5/5 stars)

book cover - 2019-03-17T113810.1376. Queenie – Alice Munro
This was a short piece of fiction about a young girl who goes to stay with her sister that ran away with their neighbour. It really delves into the relationship between Queenie and her husband and was quite an emotional and powerful read. It’s a really quick read and it’s definitely one that makes you think about the nature of relationships.(3/5 stars)

book cover - 2019-03-17T113823.2377. And Of Clay We Created – Isabelle Allende
This was another piece of short fiction based on the real events of a volcanic eruption that happened in Columbia in 1985. 23,000 people died and the story follows the media outpouring about a little girl trapped in a mudslide caused by the eruption. It’s a very heart wrenching piece and it really made me think. (3.5/5 stars)

blood and sand8. Blood and Sand – C. V. Wyk
This was another book that I got in a subscription box and was really intrigued about this gender bent re-imagining of Spartacus.  I found this book quite difficult to rate because I wanted to love it, I loved the idea and I enjoyed the plot but it was much more romance focused than I had hoped it would be. I wanted Attia to spend more time reclaiming her home than developing her romance with Xanthus. I still want to continue the series but I was a little disappointed overall. (3.5/5 stars)

9. The Last – Hanna Jamesonbook cover (38)
This was a fascinating look at a world in which nuclear bombs have caused the end of the world, but what happens when a group of people staying in a hotel survive? It was quite slow paced and definitely more of a character driven book but it was a really fresh perspective on this type of tale. (4/5 stars)

bosdfsr10. The Year After You – Nina de Pass
This YA debut is a beautiful story about grief, loss and forgiving yourself for the mistakes you’ve made. It was set in a remote boarding school in the snowy Swiss alps and I fell in love with the characters, the story and the setting. If you’re looking for a gripping and moving tale this is definitely one to try. You check out my full review here! (4.5/5 stars)

12. Master of Sorrows – Justin Callmos
This is the first in an all new fantasy series that I completely fell in love with. It has so many things that I love, the magical academy trope plenty of action and adventure and it was just such an exciting read. This is a series I will definitely be continuing. You can check out my stop on the blog tour here! (5/5 stars)

Untitled design (40)13. The Glass Spare – Lauren DeStefano
Quite a long time ago I read Wither by Lauren DeStefano and I loved it. The Glass Spare has been on my TBR for quite a long time so I finally decided to pick it up and I did have quite high expectations because I loved her previous series. I struggled a little with this one because I found the pacing a bit off and it felt a little repetitive. I did still enjoy it and will look to read the next book in the series, but it won’t be a priority. (3/5 stars)

book cover - 2019-03-17T113630.47714. Two Can Keep A Secret – Karen M. McManus
Thrillers are something that I don’t read an awful lot of but have found myself rather enjoying them recently. I read One Of Us Is Lying last year and did quite enjoy it so I decided to pick Two Can Keep A Secret up. While I did really enjoy this it didn’t really feel like anything new (in fact it reminded me quite a lot of the TV series Riverdale), but if you like twisty and fun thrillers this is definitely one to pick up. (4/5 stars)

book cover - 2019-03-17T113618.75215. Rogue Protocol – Martha Wells
This is the third instalment in The Murderbot Diaries series. These novellas are fun and fast reads, following the adventures of Murderbot as he tries to uncover mysteries and not get caught in the process. I’ve had mixed feelings about this series because some of the books have been a little slow but overall I really enjoyed this third instalment. (3/5 stars)

So those are the books I read in February! Let me know some of the books you read in February below!

Book Review: A Pocketful of Crows – Joanne M. Harris

Book Review: A Pocketful of Crows – Joanne M. Harris

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Release Date:
19th October 2017
Publisher: Gollancz
Pages: 240
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

I am as brown as brown can be,
And my eyes as black as sloe;
I am as brisk as brisk can be,
And wild as forest doe.
(The Child Ballads, 295)

So begins a beautiful tale of love, loss and revenge. Following the seasons, A Pocketful of Crows balances youth and age, wisdom and passion and draws on nature and folklore to weave a stunning modern mythology around a nameless wild girl.

Only love could draw her into the world of named, tamed things. And it seems only revenge will be powerful enough to let her escape.

Beautifully illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins, this is a stunning and original modern fairytale.

Review

book cover - 2019-03-14T052617.195I was so excited to read this little beauty because I loved The Gospel of Loki and have always wanted to read more of Joanne Harris’s books. The story follows a young woman who lives in the woods, She has magical powers which she loses when she falls in love with a local lord’s son. Based on The Child Ballads, this book is beautifully written in a lyrical and poetic style.

The book is a short one and can probably be read in one sitting. I couldn’t put it down, The story is fairy tale like in nature, but in many ways more dark and twisted. The story is full to the brim with magic and folklore, and makes for a breath taking read. The story is told in the space of a year, encompassing birth and death, love and revenge. It might only be a couple of hundred pages long but it contains a lot within those beautiful pages. I’d love to see Joanne Harris write more of these beautiful stories.

If you’ve read any of her other books, you are bound to love A Pocketful of Crows. The book is also beautifully designed, which made me fall in love with it even more. If you’re looking for a book that will capture your imagination and leave you wanting more, A Pocketful of Crows is definitely the book you need.
4 stars

What’s On My Netgalley Shelf?

What’s On My Netgalley Shelf?

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Welcome to a new feature on The Bibliophile Chronicles! One of my reading goals for 2018 was to try and get my Netgalley ratio in a better state as currently I’m not anywhere near the recommended 80%. I struggle with ebooks as I sometimes get migraines when reading from screens but that doesn’t stop me from seeing books I’m dying to review and requesting them.

I thought I could do a feature every few months about what’s on my Netgalley shelf and hopefully hold myself accountable a bit more. My current feedback ratio is 48% so the next instalment of this feature should be an improvement on that. I’m just going to mention some of the books on my shelf and if anyone has read any of them definitely let me know what you thought so I can get reading them!

Current Stats:
Feedback Ratio – 48% 
Approved – 90
Feedback Sent – 41
To Read – 43

1. Ash Princess & Lady Smoke – Laura Sebastian
Yes I have requested both Ash Princess and Lady Smoke and I haven’t gotten around to either of them yet. I even now have a physical copy of Ash Princess and still haven’t read it yet so please if you’ve read it let me know if I should make this a priority!

book cover - 2019-03-11T210645.722Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia’s family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess–a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner.

For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She’s endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.

Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn’t always won on the battlefield.

For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here.

2. Last Bus To Everland – Sophie Cameron
I read Sophie Cameron’s Out of the Blue and gave it five stars so when this popped up I immediately requested a copy. If it’s anything like her first book I know I’m going to love it.

book cover - 2019-03-11T210746.085Brody Fair feels like nobody gets him: not his overworked parents, not his genius older brother, and definitely not the girls in the projects set on making his life miserable. Then he meets Nico, an art student who takes Brody to Everland, a “knock-off Narnia” that opens its door at 11:21pm each Thursday for Nico and his band of present-day misfits and miscreants.

Here Brody finds his tribe and a weekly respite from a world where he feels out of place. But when the doors to Everland begin to disappear, Brody is forced to make a decision: He can say goodbye to Everland and to Nico, or stay there and risk never seeing his family again. 

3. Stepsister – Jennifer Donnelly
I absolutely love retellings so this really drew my attention. It also has such a stunning cover!

book cover - 2019-03-11T210836.240Isabelle should be blissfully happy – she’s about to win the handsome prince. Except Isabelle isn’t the beautiful girl who lost the glass slipper and captured the prince’s heart. She’s the ugly stepsister who’s cut off her toes to fit into Cinderella’s shoe … which is now filling with blood.

When the prince discovers Isabelle’s deception, she is turned away in shame. It’s no more than she deserves: she is a plain girl in a world that values beauty; a feisty girl in a world that wants her to be pliant.

Isabelle has tried to fit in. To live up to her mother’s expectations. To be like her stepsister. To be sweet. To be pretty. One by one, she has cut away pieces of herself in order to survive a world that doesn’t appreciate a girl like her. And that has made her mean, jealous, and hollow.

Until she gets a chance to alter her destiny and prove what ugly stepsisters have always known: it takes more than heartache to break a girl.

Evoking the darker, older versions of the Cinderella story, bestselling author Jennifer Donnelly shows us that ugly is in the eye of the beholder, and uses her trademark wit and wisdom to send an overlooked character on a journey toward empowerment, redemption, and a new definition of beauty.

4. The Furies – Katie Lowe
This was getting lots of attention on Twitter and I love books with culty/witchy vibes so I was really excited to read this but I just haven’t gotten around to picking it up yet.

book cover - 2019-03-11T211035.250In 1998, a sixteen-year-old girl is found dead on school property, dressed in white and posed on a swing, with no known cause of death. The novel opens with this image, as related to us by the narrator, Violet, looking back on the night it happened from the present day, before returning to relate the series of events leading up to the girl’s murder.

After an accident involving her Dad and sister, Violet joins Elm Hollow Academy, a private girls school in a quiet coastal town, which has an unpleasant history as the site of famous 17th century witch trials. Violet quickly finds herself invited to become the fourth member of an advanced study group, alongside Robin, Grace, and Alex – led by their charismatic art teacher, Annabel.

While Annabel claims her classes aren’t related to ancient rites and rituals – warning the girls off the topic, describing it as little more than mythology – the girls start to believe that magic is real, and that they can harness it. But when the body of a former member of the society – Robin’s best friend, with whom Violet shares an uncanny resemblance – is found dead on campus nine months after she disappeared, Violet begins to wonder whether she can trust her friends, teachers, or even herself.

5. Dracul – Darce Stoker and J. D. Barker
Dracula is one of my all time favourite books so anything relating to Bram Stoker’s classic is pretty much a must read for me. I was really fascinated with the idea of this book but haven’t really heard much about it so far.

book cover - 2019-03-11T211247.937Dracul reveals not only the true origins of Dracula himself, but also of his creator, Bram Stoker . . . and of the elusive, enigmatic woman who connects them.

It is 1868, and a 22-year-old Bram Stoker has locked himself inside an abbey’s tower to face off against a vile and ungodly beast. He is armed with mirrors and crucifixes and holy water and a gun – and is kept company by a bottle of plum brandy. His fervent prayer is that he will survive this one night – a night that will prove to be the longest of his life.

Desperate to leave a record of what he has witnessed, the young man scribbles out the events that brought him to this point – and tells an extraordinary tale of childhood illness, a mysterious nanny, and stories once thought to be fables now proven true.

So those are some of the books currently on my Netgalley shelf. Let me know which ones I should be getting to and what your Netgalley feedback ratio is like!

Book Review: The Bloodprint – Ausma Zehnat Khan

Book Review: The Bloodprint – Ausma Zehnat Khan

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Series:
The Khorasan Archives #1
Release Date: October 19th 2017
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Pages: 400
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.
Rating: 4.5/5

Synopsis

Celebrated crime author Ausma Zehanat Khan takes her first foray into fantasy with this stunning new quadrilogy which sees female scholar and warrior Arian risk everything in a totalitarian society to reclaim the legacy of her people.

In the lands of Candour, the Talisman threaten the authority of the Council with their growing indoctrination of the masses based on their rigid, oppressive interpretation of the Claim; a text orally transmitted from generation to generation, which they have appropriated in order to gain power. Tasked by the Council to fight this is Arian, aided by companion Sinnia and young boy Wafa, who must find the Bloodprint, legendary manuscript the Claim is based on, in order to stop the Talisman and re-establish the truth.

Review

book cover - 2019-03-10T231702.583The Bloodprint is the first in a new series by crime author Ausma Zehanat Khan. I confess I’ve always wanted to read The Unquiet Dead and haven’t quiet gotten around to buying a copy (that has since been rectified). Going into The Bloodprint I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but from the get go I was absolutely hooked, and I loved this book from beginning to end.

This book is steeped in blood and action – there is plenty of fast-paced plot to keep the fantasy fan happy, but The Bloodprint is so much more than that. With women living in a male dominated world – they are treated like slaves and not allowed to speak unless permitted by their husbands – is in many ways relevant to today’s media.

One of things I did love most about this book was the immense detail that Ausma put in. The book is very finely crafted, with the history and mythology really bringing the book to life. I’d love to spend an hour picking Ausma’s brain to find out where all these fascinating ideas came from. Her research must have taken a really long time to complete, and it really adds to this excellent story. The Claim is similarly a really fascinating aspect of this book. A magic that celebrates the written word is not something that I’ve come across before, and I really loved this unique concept.

Characters can make or break a book, and The Bloodprint is no exception. Our two main characters Arian and Sinnia are fabulous. Warrior women fighting to break slave trains and save the land from Talisman rule, their sense of companionship and friendship is a wonderful aspect of this book. I also similarly loved Wafa, the young child that Arian and Sinnia rescue. There is also a romantic element of the book (which I won’t say too much about so as not to ruin anything) but it is not in your face, and adds to the story without taking over.

There;s also plenty of mystery, and the reader is left with more than a few questions (I needed book two yesterday). There’s also a few shock twists a long the way, and not everything is as it seems. It really strikes home that in a world fraught with danger, who can you really trust? Each person is often out to further their own gains. I must also say that the cover design is gorgeous, my proof copy is beautiful but I cannot wait to go and buy a finished one for my favourites shelf. This is a truly superb read, and definitely sits in the top of my favourite books ever.
5 stars

Book Review: The Silent Companions – Laura Purcell

Book Review: The Silent Companions – Laura Purcell

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Release Date:
March 6th 2018
Publisher: Raven Books
Pages: 305
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this at my local Waterstones.
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

When newly widowed Elsie is sent to see out her pregnancy at her late husband’s crumbling country estate, The Bridge, what greets her is far from the life of wealth and privilege she was expecting . . .

When Elsie married handsome young heir Rupert Bainbridge, she believed she was destined for a life of luxury. But with her husband dead just weeks after their marriage, her new servants resentful, and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie has only her husband’s awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. Inside her new home lies a locked door, beyond which is a painted wooden figure–a silent companion–that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself. The residents of The Bridge are terrified of the figure, but Elsie tries to shrug this off as simple superstition–that is, until she notices the figure’s eyes following her.

A Victorian ghost story that evokes a most unsettling kind of fear, this is a tale that creeps its way through the consciousness in ways you least expect–much like the silent companions themselves.

Review

Untitled design (17)This book has instantly become one of my favourite books ever. Dark, unsettling and beautifully descriptive, it will keep you up late on these cold winter nights. Elsie is grieving for the unexpected death of her new husband when she moves into his old country estate, but not everyone welcomes her arrival. The Bridge is full of secrets and servants who do not like her, not to mention something more sinister that hides behind locked doors.

This book genuinely gave me the fear. I love ghost stories and horror novels, but I find it pretty rare to be actually frightened by them. Throughout The Silent Companions I felt that pervading sense of unease, The story is wonderfully written and keeps you gripped right from the start – I couldn’t put it down even when I wasn’t sure I wanted to know what happened next.

I loved the characters too. They were so well written – complex characters who all held their own motivations – and often weren’t quite what they seemed on the surface. The story is told in several different narratives – Elsie in a hospital as she recovers from the traumatic events at The Bridge, Elsie as she relives her experiences with the silent companions as well as a diary from Anne Bainbridge, an old ancestor who lived at the estate 200 years before. I loved the different narratives as the were so multi-layered and each had their own exciting story line that I wanted to hear more from. When you have multiple points of view you tend to prefer one over the other, but I was completely engrossed in both Elsie and Anne’s story.

This book is atmospheric, chilling and will definitely send a shiver up your spine. What more could you want from a Gothic ghost story? If you love books by the likes of Shirley Jackson then The Silent Companions will make for perfect reading.
5 stars