3rd Blogiversary Celebrations + Giveaway (INT)

2yr AnniversaryWhere does the time go? Today marks my third anniversary of this blog. It has been an absolute joy, every year has been so different and I am still learning and working out the kinks, and in between that I get to read fantastic books from fantastic authors and share them with the world, literally the world. That’s pretty awesome if you think about it.

Because of this blog I have discovered some amazing authors, some of which have fast become favourites and I am so pleased to have a platform where I can share a few of my all time favourite books and newly discovered ones as well. I am also forever grateful to the numerous authors and publishers who ask me to review for them. It’s an absolute joy and privilege to share your work and read your amazing stories.

To celebrate and to say a big enthusiastic THANK YOU to you all I am giving TWO lucky people the chance to win a book from the selection below.  The books I’ve chosen are some of my all time favourites that I’ve read in the past three years. Some I have reviewed others I haven’t, if you want to check out the books in more detail I’ve included some links below.

Because I’m in a celebratory mood I am opening it up internationally — the only condition being that bookdepository.com must ship to your country. If they do, then go ahead and enter!

Thank you again for a great three years, good luck to all the entrants, and happy reading!

Books

The Selection

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

Sunshine (#1) by Nikki RaeReview

Are We There Yet by David Levithan

Siren’s Song (#1) by Heather McCollum  – Review

Looking For Alaska by John GreenReview

The Book of Lost Things by John ConnollyReview

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The Child Thief by Brom

Giveaway

To enter: For a chance to win one of the pictured books simply enter here and complete the Rafflecopter form.

 Please note: This giveaway is international on the basis the Book Depository ships to your country . To see if you are eligible you can check their website.

Giveaway runs until midnight AEDT on Friday 5th February 2016

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Top Five of 2014

Top 5 2014After a little searching and hard decisions I have created the new list for Top Five books of 2014. The books read last year were a mix of review requests, book club books, and personal choices. Something from all three categories made it into the list this time around and I included a few honourable mentions as well that were pretty spectacular reads as well but just missed the cut.

In the past some books have stood out from the start. They are immediate choices and they have been books that had a strong impact on me in some form or another, they were amazing reads that blew my mind while I was, and when I had finished, reading them. This time I picked books again that stayed with me in some way or that were really wonderful to read but 2014 did not have many books that truly stood out like the past. But I am a strong believer in that not all 5 star books are the same, and the reason for giving one book five starts can and often is totally different than the reason you gave them to another.

Many of the books on the list (both lists really) I think were very profound. They demonstrated so many remarkable things about its characters that say so much about people in general and each of these authors told a brilliant story. Superbly written each of these books were a joy to read, and while not always overly exciting or adventurous, they offered instead a wonderfully told story that astounds you in the writer’s capabilities and results in a complete admiration for their ability to tell such a story that you very rarely were expecting when you picked up the book.

1. The Weight of a Human Heart by Ryan O’Neill

This is the book of short stories that resulted in me tweeting the author after the reading the first two stories to tell him how much his book had already changed my life. These are not your usual stories; O’Neill tells his brilliant stories in so many unique ways. He tells many of his stories with graphs, diagrams, and peculiar layouts BUT IT WORKS! And once you adore him and are astounded by his creativity of making such a strange writing system make sense, you have to admire him for the truly heartbreaking and heart-warming and gorgeous stories that he tells with so few (sometimes barely any) words. He is a master at challenging how a short story, or any story really, needs to be presented.

2. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The reason this book made it on to the list this year is because it is such a beautiful story. It is simple but it is astonishingly gorgeous in how Gaiman presents it. He uses Bod beautifully as a character and the characters tell this story as much as the narrative does. There is such honesty and simplicity, and such love and sincerity that even when the everyday is happening it remains a wonderful story.

3. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

I was not sure what to expect from this book but it was not long before I realised just how magical this book is. What Haddon has done in a magnificent fashion, is that he has managed to explain and describe what it is like to be a person who has behavioural difficulties. But this is in no way the focus of the book, set as a mystery Haddon explores how 15 year old Christopher sees and explores the world while trying to solve the mystery about the curious incident of the dog in the night-time. It is a beautiful book and one that needs to be read because it opens your eyes but also gives you a fantastic story with a mystery, humour, and compelling characters.

4. Tears of the River by Gordon Rottman

This was one of the books I was asked to review and I was amazed and captivated early on and in love with it by the end. Rottman tells an amazing story, one that is real and unforgiving at times, and demonstrates the power of determination and just what humans are capable when they have no other choice. It is filled with adventure, the unknown, and drama that comes from being in impossible situations, with language barriers, and no one but your wit and your knowledge to rely on to make sure everyone comes out the other side.

5. Siren’s Song by Heather McCollum

What I loved about this book is a combination of the characters, the story, and the way McCollum writes. The characters are complete and determined, and fascinating in their own way, and the balance and expression of the real and the paranormal is ideal and they interact really well. The story grips you and you cannot put the book down once you start, always wanting to find out what is going to happen, eager and excited to see where the story could possible go next. It is a story filled with suspense, secrets, and a bit of magic for good measure.

Honourable Mentions

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

Nocturnes by John Connolly

The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman

The Sunshine Series by Nikki Rae

 

Library Loot #2

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

I am learning to control my borrowing recently knowing I have so much uni work to do that getting too many may be a stretch for two weeks. That and I bought a whole stack of new books from the writers festival I should read, not to mention the books I’ve been asked to review. But I had to get a couple, especially the John Connolly books that I have been trying to find for months. Why is it that libraries have every other number in a series but one?

My Little Library Loot

The Fire Eternal by Chris d’Lacey

The Gates by John Connolly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fairytales for Wilde Girls by Allyse Near

Every Dead Thing by John Connolly

 

Nocturnes by John Connolly

Published: February 28th 2007
Goodreads badgePublisher: Hodder
Pages: 486
Format: Book
Genre: Short stories/Horror/Fantasy
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

 A dark, daring, utterly haunting anthology of lost lovers and missing children, predatory demons, and vengeful ghosts. In these stories, Connolly ratchets up the tension to almost unbearable — and irresistible — levels. Nocturnes is a deliciously chilling collection from “one of the best thriller writers we have” (Harlan Coben)

John Connolly’s short stories in this book are dark and magical and monstrous, in so many different ways. All monsters are different, not all monsters can be seen, and there is always something lurking in the dark. There are 17 stories in this collection, each of them revealing something terrifying and eerie. The variety Connolly comes up with are amazing, and the fact we do not always find out what exactly is hiding in the shadows is what adds to the delight. What isn’t told leaves a lot to your own imagination to fill in the gaps, and what is told is just haunting enough to stay with you even as you move onto the next story.

With the opening story, The Cancer Cowboy, you know that these stories may not be entirely pleasant or uplifting, but with the other stories varying from being less dark and tragic to being simply eerie, or on occasion humorously tragic, you are given a wide variety in which to challenge your nerves and keep you awake at night.

Connolly writes with a wonderful descriptive simplicity. We are given details and basic information, but there are things we aren’t told as well. What we are told is what we need to be told for the story to progress and for us to understand. Anything else is revealed gradually in conversation, or implied through something else, or we don’t need to know it at all. The joy of the short story, and the art I suppose, is trying to capture a life within less space than normally provided. Connolly gives us characters that are as developed as they have to be for the roles and situations they are placed in. You do not always need to know everything about them, but we are not left with any husks of characters that we have no sympathy for and for what is happening to them or around them.

The title Nocturnes comes from one of the stories within the book, a story about things that come out in the dark, that haunt you, and hide in the shadows; the very name suitable to cover the nature of these stories. Nocturnes can be defined as “a work of art dealing with evening or night”, something these stories do, mixed together with the creepy and scary.  Connolly draws you in as you read with the mystery and unknown, but also compassion for the characters involved; of the innocent parties, the guilty, and even an admiration for the monsters. The extent of what he has created is of such variety it must be said it isn’t all darkness and shadows, but the daylight monsters are no less unnerving than anything that Connolly creates in the night time shadows I assure you.

One stand out addition was the Charlie Parker novella The Reflecting Eye towards the end. Even this manages to suit the theme Connolly has going rather well. Charlie Parker is from Connolly’s detective series, with this novella being between the fourth and the fifth in the series.  I have yet to read any of the Charlie Parker novels; I suppose with this novella I have had a taste now to reignite my desire to start reading them.

From the man who wrote the beauty of The Book of Lost Things, seeing the darker side was very revealing. The Book of Lost Things had its own darkness certainly, but the darkness and monsters hiding inside Nocturnes, whether they are treated with a distracting light heartedness like some, a mysteriousness that remains not entirely revealed, or one that brings a twist, is something that I found very exciting, and a wonderful surprise. Perhaps it was because we don’t always know what is happening, we only see snippets of events and what happens, or perhaps it is because it shows that darkness can breed anything and anywhere, and no one is exempt from its talons.

News and blog tours!

NewsI’ve been back at Uni for six days now. It has gone fairly ok. The typical first week bludge is in full swing, we tried hard to first two days and then we wandered off again. But with 7 years of uni under my belt I know how the system works, all unis are the same online or not. Next week we can get serious. This is the time to check all the bits and pieces then go off and finish the three books I’m reading and trying to create memories so I can remember what free time and fun feel like when I am stressed and have assignments coming out my ears.

I say that, but I must say one of my courses is so super interesting. It’s one of my electives called “History of the Book” and even in the first week it has taught me so much and so many interesting things about the origin of books and where the change from scrolls and tablets to books and manuscripts occurred. I was actually thinking of doing a post on it because it was truly a great read, and so relevant!

In other news, I am currently on a short stories run, I am reading Ryan O’Neill’s collection The Weight of a Human Heart (which is flipping awesome!), plus John Connolly’s Nocturnes, and they could not be any different from one another but I am getting a lot of good ideas for my own stuff which is fun.

In actual news, Monday marks the first unofficial stage of Nikki Rae’s Sun Damage blog tour and the start of the goodies that I’ll be having in helping to promote it. The official tour starts on March 14th and runs until April 6th but I’ll be doing a cover reveal on Monday to spark your interests, if you look at the past covers in the series you see just how excellent they have been and how good the third one is going to be.

As part of her tour Nikki is going to be doing a guest post for me, as well as an interview, and I’m also going to be hosting a giveaway and posting my review of the excellent Sun Damage to entice you further.  Those are for a bit later in the month though so for now the cover reveal must suffice.

 

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