Sunshine Blogger Award

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Wow, so this made my day! I’ve not been up and running for long but I was nominated for a Sunshine Blogger Award. This certainly was a little ray of sunshine on a tough day! Thank you to Wholeheartyhappy for the nomination, I greatly appreciate it! You all should go and check her out, I love her #Fridayfoodie segment! Leave lovely Shawna a comment and give her some love and feedback to help her blog continue growing! I am always looking for feedback and so are other bloggers!

Rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

Questions for me:

What is a quirky habit that you have?

I’m pretty sure this is a habit but I’ve kind of grown up with it so who knows… we’ll give it a go! I actually bounce when I walk. I cannot walk normally at all. My dad calls me Tigger ’cause I bounce basically! I’ve also always walked on my tiptoes whenever I don’t have shoes on. I think these are related.

What is something that you cannot live without?

Definitely my kindle. I would say sentimental pieces and stuff but my kindle is my lifeline. I don’t own a phone and it has all of my books on it so I wouldn’t be able to do this if I didn’t have that!

Favourite food or dessert?

Salted caramel anything!

What is your favourite book?

Wow, as a reviewer this is not an easy question. I will have to name a few: “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, “Jurassic Park” by Michael Crichton, “Furiously Happy” by Jenny Lawson, and “Dark Matter” by Michelle Paver. They all span different genres too!

What kind of music do you listen to?

Mainly broadway and Disney but if I am going for genres then there would be indie and 70’s/80’s hits.

Why did you start your blog?

I have always been a bookworm for as long as I can remember. I have also always loved reviewing things. I used to run a reviewing everything blog but college took over. This year, I decided that I was stuck in a rut in life and in reading. I was reading the same genre over and over again so I set a challenge of reading 50 books I would not normally read. I have read up to 41 (that’s with work and socialising) and have found so many gems. I have found new loves and new hates. I found myself within my love of different books and I wanted a way to talk about and write about these books! That’s how ‘foxtrevert’ came about!

Do you use any social media platforms for your blog?

Yep! I have a Goodreads and I have a Facebook.

If you have a blog/site focused on certain topics, but are suddenly inspired to write a post on something different, do you do it? 

No, I want my blog to focus on books and literature.

If you could live anywhere, where would you live? 

London.

Favourite quote?

“You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think” – A.A Milne, Winnie the Pooh.

Any advice for other bloggers?

No matter how small your blog or how hard it is to get recognised, keep going. Call in your friends, recruit family to share your page, share and share and share but no matter what, keep writing what YOU want to write and don’t change your page for others.

Nominees:

Fraukeisonline

Booksareonlythebeginning

Restingbitchpersonality

Sprout&sprig

Racefortheironthrone

Joy The Witch

Lucybird’s Book Blog

Cherryberrycrochet

Diary of a Wiener Dog

Themochiskin

Readingeverynight

Questions for the nominees

What animal is your spirit animal and why? 

Describe your blog in 4 words.

Would you like to make your blog a job or just a hobby?

Do you have any phobias?

Are you a film buff, bookworm or both?

What’s your favourite film of all time? 

What are you most looking forward to this year? 

Where would you like your blog to be in 5 years?

Do those close to you know about your blog or do you keep it private from them?

What are your favourite types of blog to read?

Favourite actor/actress/author and why? 

Thanks again and have fun!

A Dog’s Way Home

dog's way homeAnyone who knows me in real life knows how much W. Bruce Cameron’s trilogy mean to me. I was going to start off with a review of A Dog’s Purpose but this book is the one I read recently from the trilogy and honestly, I am in love with these books. I am a massive animal lover and the majority of my ‘want to read’ list or ‘read’ list feature animals. I have Peter Rabbit tattooed on my wrist! If that doesn’t say something, I don’t know what will.

Anyway, the first two books of this trilogy were devoured within several days between work and socialising (goddamn social life!) and when this book came out, I was so excited for months and my friends (and boyfriend) were incredibly annoyed at how much I went on about this book before I had even read it!

The book focuses on Bella, a pit bull. Told from her perspective, the reader is left on the edge of their seat as Lucas, her owner, struggles to keep the dog undercover in a home that doesn’t allow dogs and in a state that doesn’t allow pit bulls! Animal welfare is something very close to my heart and I could argue about banned breeds (and why they should not be banned) for years and so I can tell you, this book gets pretty infuriating because you see the close mindedness of some of the characters.

Due to these bans, Bella is cast out and she must find her way home and back to her beloved owner, Lucas.

It’s an incredibly beautiful tale of love and devotion. I have told everyone that I will never see my dog in the same light after reading this trilogy.

So now instead of gushing about the book, I will honestly review it!

You do not need to have read the other books in the trilogy to read this one. The first and second one are slightly linked but the third has few -if any – links to the originals. So you can always just pick this one up if the pit bull storyline interests you!

The storyline is beautiful and really simple. I would say this story could captivate any level of reader. However, the writing style is simple too. Told from Bella (the dog’s) perspective, it does read as if a dog could write in English. Items from our every day lives are given simple terms, limiting the dog’s vocabulary. I know this is a complaint from a few reviewers but I became so immersed in the story it wasn’t an issue for me.

This story has heart to it and there is a heartwarming feel about it. If you’re an animal lover, dog owner or simply love a feel good (and sometimes heartbreaking) novel then this book is a book you will enjoy!

To be honest, I think a negative about this book is that there is not much I can actually say about it. Character development isn’t really a ‘thing’ here and I’ve covered everything pretty basic here. As I said, it’s simple but beautiful!

I gave this book 4 stars! The first two both got 5 so if you want to see those reviews, let me know!

Be My Killer

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Be My Killer by Richard Parker was a book I picked up after I saw my Goodreads friends and suggestions go crazy for this book! The cover claims that it is an “unputdownable crime thriller” so let’s see what my thoughts were on it.

When an online prank goes viral and triggers a spate of gruesome murders, documentary maker Hazel Salter watches in horror. But then Hazel’s childhood friend, Meredith Hickman, is the next victim and Hazel knows she has to find out what happened to her.

Is it one killer or more? Random acts of violence, or part of a bigger, twisted plan?

The police have no leads, but Hazel has a theory – one she’ll stop at nothing to prove – and she also has a film crew. She’ll make a documentary, catch the killer, and give Meredith justice.

The novel claims to be a crime thriller but I definitely would not class it as a ‘crime’ novel. I would put this novel in the ‘thriller’ and ‘horror’ genre as it is pretty gruesome and there are some extremely tense moments that will have you on the edge of your seat. Saying that, there are also some chapters that are a snooze-fest. If I had been looking for a crime novel, I would have been disappointed with the way this book played out but honestly, it’s pretty cool and pretty intense.

First of all, the premise of the book is interesting and unique. In the digital age that we live in it does happen that social media can become the death of some people. Richard Parker uses Twitter in this book. Twitter users use #bemykiller and write witty taglines. The antagonist then chooses some of these taglines and butchers the authors in the manner that they chose themselves. When the film-making team decide to use the hashtag, will any survive or will they all be targets of the menace lurking on the web?

As I have said previously, the book is gruesome and should be classed as a horror. It reminded me of the 80’s and 90’s slasher movies that I used to binge watch as a child. If you liked Scream the TV series, this book reminded me of that. If you are squeamish then this is not the book for you. The deaths feature from the first chapter to the last and it is difficult to think that someone actually came up with these fictional acts of violence. I loved it all though – this book was right up my street.

For a horror/thriller/crime, this is quite well written. Many ‘slasher’ books I have read seem to be unedited, sloppy and difficult to read. Richard Parker’s book is eloquent and interesting but I must say the ending was a bit of a let down. I expected more of a POW ending – it was still good but I was left a little disappointed and to be honest, I cannot remember who the killer turned out to be!

Another thing you must look out for in this book is the fact that the chapters do skip to different people’s perspectives occasionally and sometimes this can take you by surprise but once you get into the fast pace of the novel, there is no getting out of it.

Four stars for me! I will definitely be looking up more of Richard Parker’s novels!

Go Set a Watchman

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Go Set a Watchman is the sequel of Harper Lee’s most beloved To Kill a Mockingbird. Set two decades after the novel that stole the hearts of millions, Go Set a Watchman focuses on the return of twenty-six year old, Jean Louise Finch (Scout). Told through Jean Louise’s perspective, everyone’s favourite tomboy comes back to Maycomb County to find that her hometown is struggling with civil rights tensions and political issues. Her discovery leads to her finding some hard-hitting truth about the people she most loves.

This novel left me so torn. Like many others, I put this at the back of my bookshelf as I had heard negative reviews on it and I did not want a classic to be spoiled. This summer, I sucked it up and decided to plow through, and I did. I actually read it very quickly.

The first half of the novel is quick and easy-to-read as one catches up with their favourite characters. This ‘getting to know you again’ stage leads the reader disillusioned as they find out about heartbreaking deaths and upsetting truths from their favourite characters. Maycomb has a different feeling this time. The atmosphere of To Kill a Mockingbird, that familiar feeling of home, family, childhood, triumphs and losses, have all disappeared. Go Set a Watchman leaves you feeling disillusioned and quite frankly, annoyed.

The writing is sloppy. It is not fine tuned or easy to understand, like it’s predecessor. Now of course, Harper Lee never intended to publish the ‘lost manuscript’ but an editor and publisher could have quickly fixed some errors that bugged me throughout. Long scenes of dialogue became confusing after several pages as you lose who is saying what.

Questions you want answered and endings you want to see do not happen in this book. I am actually annoyed I read it as I don’t feel the same knowing what I know about Jean Louise, Atticus, Dr. Finch, and Jem. Not to mention that there is no Arthur ‘Boo’ Radley, who I know many fans wanted to know the fate of.

The book speaks of important political times and of issues still being raised in the world today but it has most certainly lost the ‘Mockingbird magic’. It doesn’t feel like a safe place, it doesn’t bring warm and fuzzy feelings, and it doesn’t make you continue to love the characters. Now, I know everything is not always warm and fuzzy but I feel the book was severely detached from it’s predecessor. Of course, they were written at different times with different thoughts and feelings but to me, a sequel usually fits with the introductory novel.

In light of all of this, I did enjoy the novel. The flashback scenes of teenage Scout were some of my favourites of the book and some hard-hitting quotes bring one down to earth. For this, I give it a 3 star. I did enjoy the reading of the book, just not the content.

I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere but the Pool

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Before I begin, I would like to say a big thank you to St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley for an early reading copy. I greatly appreciate it for my start-up blog!

I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere but the Pool is a collection of short stories and thoughts by mother-daughter duo, Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella. I was surprised to find that this is actually in the parenting and family section on a few websites I visited but who am I to question that?

Anyway, before I requested an early copy, I read a few reviews and realised that the majority of reviewers had already read books by Lisa and Francesca. I have not. I am just being introduced to the mother-daughter duo. As others were smitten by their work, I was not won over entirely by them.

When I read a book that claims to be ‘hilariously funny’, I normally fly through that book in a day or two. I lap those books up, I love a good laugh – I read far too many serious books. However, I have found this book difficult to get through. I think the main reason behind this is how mismatched the stories are. There doesn’t seem to be much unity or a blend as one minute the authors could be talking about animals and the next would be the election or technology. Perhaps I just do not know the authors’ style well enough but this did throw me but anyway, here is my review.

Some of the stories are gold. At first, I was worried that I would like one of the duo more than the other as I reacted more to Francesca’s writing than Lisa’s but as I got further into the book I found myself relating to both of them. Lisa has hilarious stories about animals, especially her dogs and the snakes in her garden. Her truck buying and her conversations on home improvements are very funny and definitely relatable but those damn snakes and the way Lisa writes about them had me beaming. I loved that. One thing that must be noted is their humour can be quite blunt and odd, it is not a stereotypical style of humour but you can get into it for some of the stories.

Francesca’s stories were similar, some were great, such as her love for perfume and her attempts at running, and I could personally relate to them. However, I did find that a lot of the stories left me wanting more as they seemed to not have an ending or even a purpose sometimes. Some of them just sat there or seemed like a stream of consciousness which to me, left it slightly disjointed and mismatched.

Now, I am unsure if this is because of my lack of experience with these two authors but this book had been highly recommended to me (they hadn’t read it yet but they had seen the description and thought of me) and it just didn’t seem to live up to the hype that people were generating.

The book is most certainly aimed at women of all ages (especially if in their 20’s and over) as there are some strong feminist messages there but I also feel that Americans probably can relate to this book more than me (an English woman). Bridal showers (not a big thing here) and the election are not hot topics for us so the humour was lost there. Some of the conversations on the election were also a bit serious and seemed to not fit into the collection of stories. I think if I could have related a little further I would have given it an extra star.

Another point was that there are quite a few empowering speeches in the stories and I have ever been a fan of reading that kind of work.

However, there is a positive to my experience, I will be picking up another one of these books as I do not want to write them off just yet! I also have some friends (mainly American actually) who I know will definitely appreciate this book more than I did so I will be pointing them in the authors’ direction when the book is released!

I definitely think if you are a fan of mother-daughter duo’s, very short (as in 2-3 page) life stories and can appreciate some odd humour about life then this book is for you. If you are American or more aware of American politics than I, you may also enjoy this book more than I did.

For me, because I enjoyed quite a bit of the book, I give it 3 stars.

The Girl with all the Gifts

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The Girl with all the Gifts by M.R. Carey was a book I had desperately wanted to read for a number of months. I found it hidden at the bottom of a box filled with my dad’s books. After many, many attempts at bribery, I finally pried it away from him and found my chance to read it.

The Girl with all the Gifts is a surprising book. Usually, readers get a good sense of what a book is about through the blurb and/or the cover. M.R. Carey’s blurb tells little to nothing about the plot of the novel – only about its main character. The same goes for the cover. My initial idea of the plot content was that it would be an X-Men type of book (I would have also loved this). However, this book took a surprising spin, far from an X-Men kind of novel.

Before I start to discuss the book, here is a disclaimer – this is not a spoiler-free edition of a review. If you haven’t read the book, read it and then come back to me!

The beginning of the novel starts with the introduction of our protagonist, Melanie, a young girl who is transported around an institution, strapped into a wheelchair and who is surrounded by other kids, army men, teachers, and a deranged ‘doctor’. To be honest, the beginning is slow. I felt like it took me ages to get into the novel. I was not entirely interested in the first quarter of the novel but I have always struggled with books that focus on establishing a feeling of insecurity in an institution and introducing is to the people inside of it. However, the institution is eventually broken into by a bunch of ‘hungries’ and this is when the novel picks up pace and we finally learn about the type of novel this is going to be – a zombie novel!

I love zombie television, film, books – anything, so I was pumped when I finally learned about the novel’s plot, albeit slightly disappointed about the lack of X-men knockoffs.

When the main characters finally hit the road,  Carey brings us into an post-apocalyptic England that has seen better days. As an English person, I loved hearing about the dilapidated state of some places I knew – that, to me, is always thrilling. From Carey’s descriptions, the apocalypse was definitely harsh but the reader does not find out about it’s origins – a slight pet peeve of mine. However, Carey has published a prequel book called The Boy on the Bridge – now, I am not sure if this actually tells us the origins but it still sounds good!

It took me a long time to get into Carey’s writing style. The descriptions are brilliant and you really get the grotesque sense of how the ‘hungries’ look and act. However, I found that sometimes tenses were switched randomly and the constant jumping from character perspectives made it a confusing read. There were a few times when I had no clue who the author was talking about, which is frustrating.

The characters were okay, to me they were nothing special. Melanie, as our young protagonist, was intriguing, especially as the reader learns about ‘hungries’ and the apocalypse alongside of her. We learn about humanity and love through the eyes of the young, hungry girl and it is really authentic and beautiful. However, she is the only female character that I liked. Miss Justineau and Dr. Caldwell were irritating. Miss Justineau couldn’t make her mind up about anything and her moods changed every sentence or two, and Dr. Caldwell’s scientific manner of talking was sometimes too confusing, or too boring. The two male characters, Parks and Gallagher, were great. I enjoyed their dynamic with the other characters and the way they handled the post-apocalyptic landscape. I was very sad to see them tragically fall.

In all, the book is well-written and has a unique and interesting idea. Some chapters had me gripped whilst others, I yawned all the way through. Some descriptions made my stomach churn whilst others confused me. The characters were sometimes difficult to relate to and equally as difficult to like but humans cannot always relate to everyone, and certainly they do not like everyone so this is not a major issue.

What I enjoyed most in this book was the message of humanity, of love, and of life. Although the ending was quite a let-down, the messages of the novel come through loud and clear and do make you think for a while after putting the novel down.