Book Haul/In My Mailbox/Christmas Books

I hope everyone has had a fantastic Christmas, or whatever holiday’s you celebrate. I had a lovely time and was spoilt rotten, and spoilt other family members rotten.

I have not posted recently about my book acquisitions, however, that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been any! Many British bloggers talk about The Works – a discount book store, and one I frequent often! Many of my purchases since my last IMM post are from The Works and from their 3 books for £5 deal! Which is a fantastic offer!

Circle of Shadows (Crowther and Westerman #4) By Imogen Robertson

Island of Bones (Crowther and Westerman #3) By Imogen Robertson

Unfortunately when picking up these two Imogen Robertson novels I did not realise they were books in a series, however, I do plan to pick up the first two novels in the series at some point in the coming year.

The Madness Underneath By Maureen Johnson

Since The Madness Underneath is the second book in The Shades of London Series my mum bought me the first book for my Christmas.

The Name of the Star By Maureen Johnson

I am really looking forward to getting into these books, they seem right up my street!

Reckless By Cornelia Funke (Mirrorworld #1)

Cornelia Funke wrote The Inkheart Trilogy, and I have read the first two books in The Inkheart Trilogy which I really enjoyed. So when I saw this I decided it would be a safe bet I would enjoy it!

Sisters Red By Jackson Pearce

Sweetly By Jackson Pearce

Ultraviolet By R. J. Anderson

Stealing Phoenix By Joss Stirling (Benedicts #2)

The Eyre Affair By Jasper Fforde (Thursday Next #1)

Lost in a Good Book By Jasper Fforde (Thursday Next #2)

The Well of Lost Plots By Jasper Fforde (Thursday Next #3)

Something Rotten By Jasper Fforde (Thursday Next #4)

For Christmas my fantastic boyfriend bought me:

I love Dr Who and CANNOT WAIT to drive in! Plus they look so beautiful all together on the book shelf! LOVE LOVE LOVE THEM!

I also got a gift card from a friend and invested in a couple of kindle books from Amazon.co.uk, from their 12 days of Kindle deal (all at 99p!!!!).

Four New Words for Love By Michael Cannon

Finding Sky By Joss Stirling (Benedicts #1)

Alice in Time By Penelope Bush

Angelfall By Susan Ee (Penryn & the End Of Days #1)

The Universe Versus Alex Woods By Gavin Extence

Defending Jacob BY William Landay

A Monster Calls By Patrick Ness

The Little Old Lady Who Broke all the Rules By Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg

Human Remains By Elizabeth Haynes

Watchers By Philip Caveney

Dance of Shadows By Yelena Black

I was also gifted, by the author for review:

The Reflections of Queen Snow White By David Meredith

I am looking forward to getting into this and telling you all what I think!

So that is my HUGE haul. I am so happy with everything I have bought myself or was given. I am very happy! I also have a lot of reading and reviewing to do!

If you have read any of these books please let me know what you think, and leave links to your reviews as I always love hearing peoples opinions!

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The Hangmans Daughter By Oliver Potzsch

Title: The Hangman’s Daughter

Author: Oliver Potzsch

Translated: Lee Chadeayne

Publisher: Amazon Crossing

First Published: 1st April 2008

Blurb:

Germany, 1660: When a dying boy is pulled from the river with a mark crudely tattooed on his shoulder, hangman Jakob Kuisl is called upon to investigate whether witchcraft is at play. So begins The Hangman’s Daughter–the chillingly detailed, fast-paced historical thriller from German television screenwriter, Oliver Pötzsch–a descendent of the Kuisls, a famous Bavarian executioner clan. (From Goodreads, 23rd December 2013)

Review:

It is not often that I read historical fiction, but when I do I really do enjoy it. This year, I have read two books set in the 1600’s and I think I will read more fiction books set in this time period. I feel that dipping into historical fiction, now and again, gives me a nice change in scenery, shall we say, compared to my typical reads.

‘The Hangman’s Daughter’ was another book that I came about by chance – whilst trying to remember the name of another book! I am glad I did. ‘The Hangman’s Daughter’ is a novel that is fast paced and perplexing. The death of a young boy is being blamed on witchcraft, however, the hangman, an intelligent man whom is interested in the way the body works, does not believe in witchcraft. Therefore, when the midwife of the village is incarcerated, the hangman begins to look into finding the true murderer, before it is too late.

This is a crime novel, just set in a different time period to most crime fiction that I have read. The story jumps right in, and keeps getting more and more intense right to the end. A simple death blamed on witchcraft quickly becomes complex and perplexing. The hangman joins forces with the doctors son, who is ironically in love with the hangman’s daughter, in an attempt to find out what is really going on in their town. Soon the two men become entangled in a mystery that may take their lives.

This is a gripping, edge of the seat read, and one I would recommend to those who enjoy crime novels but are needing something different, and a crime novel set in the 16oo’s is different to most crime novels out there that I know about!

4 out of 5

Saving Max By Antoinette van Heugton

Title: Saving Max

Author: Antoinette Van Heugten

First Published: 28th September 2010

Publisher: Harlequin

Blurb:

Max Parkman – —autistic and whip-smart, emotionally fragile and aggressive— – is perfect in his mother’s eyes. Until he’s accused of murder.

Attorney Danielle Parkman knows her teenage son Max’s behavior has been getting worse—using drugs and lashing out. But she can’t accept the diagnosis she receives at a top-notch adolescent psychiatric facility that her son is deeply disturbed. Dangerous.

Until she finds Max, unconscious and bloodied, beside a patient who has been brutally stabbed to death.

Trapped in a world of doubt and fear, barred from contacting Max, Danielle clings to the belief that her son is innocent. But has she, too, lost touch with reality? Is her son really a killer?

With the justice system bearing down on them, Danielle steels herself to discover the truth, no matter what it is. She’ll do whatever it takes to find the killer and to save her son from being destroyed by a system that’s all too eager to convict him.

Review:

I really enjoyed ‘Saving Max’ much more than I thought I would. This was a book I came about by accident really, hadn’t heard anything about, had not read any reviews, and had not seen anyone talking about it. I had never heard of the author, or any of her other books, books that I will now be checking out!

The primary aspect which attracted me to ‘Saving Max’ was that it was a book about a boy with Autism. I find Autism a fascinating disorder, and mixed with murder, well that is not something you come across so often. If you are worried that this is a book that reflects negatively on people with Autism and associates their behaviour with violence please don’t. The author has dealt with this issue in a sensitive yet realistic way. People with Autism can be violent, but more often can be violent to themselves, rather than others and this is captured well.

Max is a teenager who is struggling with life and when his mother finds out he is planning to commit suicide their psychiatrist sends them to a specialist hospital. Here Max’s behaviour begins to dramatically change and the son Danielle once knew is gone. When Max is found next to another patient, both covered in blood and Max the only one still alive, we witness the frantic love of a mother attempting to save her son and prove his innocence. But has her son changed so far beyond the boy she once knew?

Once we get to the murder trial we are thrown about in all directions, and completely gripped. The novel becomes so bizarrely dramatic that it is just hard to believe but so fascinating! I absolutely loved it. It just had so many twists and turns and moments where you really don’t know what has happened.

If you are wanting a light read, do not read this. If you are wanting a gripping, hard hitting, drama filled, crime novel with a mental health aspect this is perfect!

Antoinette van Heugten is a skilled writer and story teller. An author everyone must add to their collection!

5 out of 5

Marina By Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Title: Marina

Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Publisher: W & N

First Published: 1999

Blurb:

In May 1980, 15-year-old Oscar Drai suddenly vanishes from his boarding school in the old quarter of Barcelona. For seven days and nights no one knows his whereabouts. His story begins in the heart of old Barcelona, when he meets Marina and her father German Blau, a portrait painter. Marina takes Oscar to a cemetery to watch a macabre ritual that occurs on the fourth Sunday of each month. At 10 a.m. precisely a coach pulled by black horses appears. From it descends a woman dressed in black, her face shrouded, wearing gloves, holding a single rose. She walks over to a gravestone that bears no name, only the mysterious emblem of a black butterfly with open wings. When Oscar and Marina decide to follow her they begin a journey that will take them to the heights of a forgotten, post-war Barcelona, a world of aristocrats and actresses, inventors and tycoons; and a dark secret that lies waiting in the mysterious labyrinth beneath the city streets. (From Goodreads, 1st December 2013)

Review:

I was very excited when I won a copy of ‘Marina’ By Carlos Ruiz Zafon after entering a Goodreads competition. I was a huge fan of ‘The Shadow of the Wind’ and ‘Angels Game’ both by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

Marina is a dark Gothic style novel that will make your hair stand on end. This is a novel aimed for young adults but was still very chilling in my opinion, and many adults will enjoy this macabre novel. One of the reasons I really enjoyed ‘Marina’ was that the story was new to me. Many novels I read nowadays are either similar to ones I have read before or new takes on fairy tales. ‘Marina’ had a fresh new mystery, with new demons, new monsters, and a new setting. Maybe for Spanish readers this may not be the case, and some of this story reflects local folklore, but maybe not. But as an British reader, the ideas in ‘Marina’ were new to me.

Carlos Ruiz Zafon is a fantastic author, whose prose just draws you in. His writing style is high class, and simply beautiful. I cannot express how fantastic his writing is. If you haven’t read a novel by Carlos Ruiz Zafon you must pick one up. ‘Marina’ is maybe not as expressive as ‘Shadow of the Wind’ but I believe that to be due to the target audience of each book.

‘Marina’ is a fast paced novel and a quick read. We have love, loss, tragedy, mystery, horror, death, everything, it has everything. It is a book I suggest reading for Halloween, and a book I want everyone to get there hands on. I feel that I cannot really do justice in reviewing a book by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, as his books sing to me. I love them. I simply love them.

5 out of 5

Looking for Alaska By John Green

Title: Looking for Alaska

Author: John Green

Publisher: Speak

First Published: 3rd March 2005

Blurb:

Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (François Rabelais, poet) even more. Then he heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same. (From Goodreads, 1st December 2013)

Review:

‘Looking for Alaska’ is a coming of age novel following Miles Halter aka Pudge when he moves to Culver Creek Boarding School. Pudge’s roommate befriends him and introduces him to Alaska Young, a young girl with an explosive personality. We follow these characters through the school year, we follow the highs and lows, the pranks, the pay back pranks.

I enjoyed ‘Looking for Alaska’, but it did not live up to the hype. After reading ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ multiple people recommended ‘Looking for Alaska’ so I was really looking forward to jumping into it. I loved the premise, I loved the characters, and I did generally enjoy the book, but it didn’t blow me away by any means. It is a well written book, and one I would suggest to many young adults and teenagers to read.

‘Looking for Alaska’ is a good novel with multiple layers, but lacked the ‘wow factor’ that I some how expected. However, although this sounds like I didn’t enjoy ‘Looking for Alaska’, that is not true, I did enjoy it. I enjoy John Greens writing style and I enjoyed this book. It is a book about a young boys relationships, and his journey towards adulthood, along with the good and bad that comes with this journey. But as an adult reader this book didn’t connect to me as it may once have.

A skilled author, that deals with difficult subjects, and an author for teens and young adults to try if they have not already. But for me, I would say I read this book too late.

4 out of 5

The Silver Linings Playbook By Mathew Quick

Title: The Silver Linings Playbook

Author: Mathew Quick

Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books

First Published: 2nd September 2008

Blurb:

Meet Pat. Pat has a theory: his life is a movie produced by God. And his God-given mission is to become physically fit and emotionally literate, whereupon God will ensure a happy ending for him — the return of his estranged wife Nikki. (It might not come as a surprise to learn that Pat has spent time in a mental health facility.) The problem is, Pat’s now home, and everything feels off. No one will talk to him about Nikki; his beloved Philadelphia Eagles keep losing; he’s being pursued by the deeply odd Tiffany; his new therapist seems to recommend adultery as a form of therapy. Plus, he’s being hunted by Kenny G! (From Goodreads, 1st December 2013)

Review:

I initially saw ‘The Silver Linings Playbook’ film adaption, and thus the film will have barged it’s way into my reading experience, despite my attempts to avoid this happening. So I will say my review is slightly contaminated with the film adaption, and please keep that in mind!

When Pat returns to his parents home he must begin to deal with his time in a mental health facility, what instigated his stay and how to move forward in his life. The problem is, Pat’s main focus is in trying to win back his ex wife. He starts reading all the novels she teaches her school kids, has become athletic and has attempted to make himself the husband he thinks will bring his wife back.

I really enjoyed ‘The Silver Linings Playbook’ due to the fantastic characters. Firstly, Pat and his true determination to improve himself, despite the slightly misguided intentions. Tiffany, as damaged as Pat, with an abrupt personality that continues to shock. Pat’s therapist is a man who entertains and is an avid Eagles fan just like Pat. It is these characters that make the book. If it wasn’t for them I don’t think I would have enjoyed it.

The book is written in quite a simplistic style, with Pat as the narrator, and sometimes it is slightly monotonous as it sometimes appears to be lists of activities. However, I think this is Mathew Quick (the author) trying to emulate the childish nature of Pat, in which case it is a good narrative tool. My other issue was the constant talk about the Eagles matches. Being female, with little interest in sport, this just causes frustration. But, it is Pat’s character and is integral to the culture in which Pat belongs.

A book that deals with multiple issues, brings humor into some dark situations, shows determination, and strength of character.

Again I must reiterate that I saw the film first, and that has affected my reading of this novel. However, I really enjoyed this novel, despite the film taking away my ability to use my imagination.

A book that many will enjoy.

4 out of 5

Wonder By R. J. Palacio

Title: Wonder

Author: R. J. Palacio

First Published: 10th January 2012

Publisher: Knopf

Blurb:

I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances? (From Goodreads, 1st December 2013)

Review:

I was unsure about Wonder when I first heard about it. I was unsure for two reasons. Firstly, this is classed a children’s books, in America it would be aimed at ‘middle grade’ as far as I understand. I was skeptical because I thought that it would maybe be too childish for me. Secondly, despite a lot of people talking about this book on book tube and the book blogging world, and the numerous awards this novel has been given, I worried it was over-hyped. Hyped up books often end up being a let down for me. So I am often wary of such books.

However, Wonder was a wonder. It was simply fantastic. Well written, well planned, touching, breathtaking. Simply wonderful.

August is a boy with with a extreme facial deformity, and he is about to start School for the first time in his life, after being home schooled for the the first 4 grades. Starting school is tough. Starting school is hard when you are the new kid. But being the new kid who looks like August does, starting school is tougher. Will his classmates see past his face and accept him? Will they show kindness? Will they show fear? Anger? Friendship?

Wonder is a story about a journey, but written from multiple characters perspectives we begin to understand the journey much better. Wonder is a beautiful book, that would be fantastic in classrooms. There is so many topics that you could discuss with this novel, and it can teach all of us lessons no matter what age we are.

Wonder is a novel for everyone. It deals with a subject that I have never come across in the fiction world. The multiple narration throughout the novel keeps it fresh and allows us to understand different perspectives.

A book everyone should have on their shelves.

A book that is wonderful for discussion.

A book you must read.

5 out of 5