The Bookshelf Tag

So today I’m sick, sick, sick. I’ve just managed to pull my hacking body out of bed and into the living room and I found this bookshelf tag post on a lovely blog called The Book Coop I’ve been following for a little while and thought it was an adorable post to fill out for you. I’m going to split the answers between my two book shelves. Most of you know that after attending university in Stoke-on-Trent I stayed around, got an internship and have been here the past almost four years now. Many of my books are back in Silvy however the number in my rented room is growing higher each day so I’ll try and work it for both. If you fancy tagging yourself and writing your own book shelf post a comment below or tweet me @littlebookblog1

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1. Describe your bookshelf (or wherever it is you keep your books-it doesn’t actually have to be a shelf!) and where you got it from.

So at home I have eight shelves, stacked on top of each other. The shelves are heaving but I’ve run out of space for any more and they’re starting to get piled on top of each other on the shelves. Book storage is a constantly battle.

In my rented room in Newcastle under Lyme space is even more limited but the solution is rather adorable. Six months ago I was at a market and bought an adorable vintage leather suitcase. It’s now stuffed full of review copies of books, a couple I’ve given in and bought and my library copies.

2. Do you have any special or different way of organizing your books?

Nope, haphazard is the best way to describe my book organisation although trilogies or sets of books I try(ish) to keep together.

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3. What’s the thickest (most amount of pages) book on your shelf?

I guess it would have to be a throw up between Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix that’s a pretty hefty number in terms of pages, or I recently got given (to borrow) by a friend three books all sandwiched into one paperback by Murakami. I haven’t picked it up to read yet but I remember thinking it was pretty daunting.

4. What’s the thinnest (least amount of pages) book on your shelf?

I think some of my Roald Dahl classics are quite thin in terms of pages. I know I have quite an old copy of Charlie’s Marvellous Medicine that has a really beautiful cover and doesn’t have that many pages. It’s still a wonderful read!

5. What’s the smallest (height and width wise) book on your shelf?

I have a pocked sized copy of Alice and Wonderland through the looking glass which I have never read, it’s a really lovely book and it’s so goddamn cute I think I’m going to have to go find it and read it.

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6. What’s the biggest (height and width wise) book on your shelf?

It’s going to have to be one of my non-fiction books; I have book full of photographs of animals in the wild and it’s a giant weight of a book. My non fiction shelf is right at the bottom of the line of shelves because I’m terrified it’s going to fall of the wall; mainly because it’s stacked full of books like this one. I can’t remember the name of it but it’s a photography style book.

7. Is there a book from a friend on your shelf?

Being a book blogger lots of my books come from friends, but a really thoughtful book given to me for my 21st Birthday was If No One Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor. It’s a very stylish and lyrical book that I loved and it means a great deal that it was given to me with such understanding of my bookish favourites.

 8. Most expensive book?

I honestly have no idea; in terms of me buying books I tend to get them from Amazon or I buy sporadically from Waterstones or independent book stores. Saying that for Christmas last year I received a non-fiction book on all things Titanic and it’s a whopper of a book, I think it may have cost around £25.00 so I’m going to go with that.

 9. The last book you read on your shelf?

Oh, that would be If No One Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor, but I’ve already spoken about that one so I’ll go for Breakfast at Tiffanies by Truman Capote. It’s not actually mine but one I borrowed from the library but it’s sat in my little suitcase after being read a week or so ago; actually is that due back now? *groans*

10. Of all the books on your shelf, which was the first you read?

So many books have come and gone from my book shelves but I think it would have to be Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets. It came about in 2002 and I would have been ten then. I know that there are obviously books that came before that but maybe the first I read myself, that’s still on the shelf, would be this one.

11. Do you have more than one copy of a book?

Intriguing, I think I must do but for the life of me I cannot remember. I went through a stage of thinking I should rebuy copies of books because mine get so bent and creased but then it only means that they are loved. Thinking about it I’m not sure there are any more, I think I passed them onto friends?

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12. Do you have the complete series of any book series?

Yes, three I believe. Quite obviously the Harry Potter series, I think I have all of the Lord of the Rings books and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials.

13. What’s the newest addition to your shelf?

I try not to buy too many books because I already have so many to read, but I think it would have to be ‘How to be a woman, by Caitin Moran.’

14. What book has been on your shelf FOREVER?

I have so many books that lots of them have been there forever, I think it would have to be Eva Ibbotson’s Monster Mission. It’s cramped on a shelf right at the end nearest to the window and it’s becoming a little blanched in the sunlight.

15. What’s the most recently published book on your shelf?

I think it would have to be Elizabeth is Missing by
Emma Healey published June 2014.

16. The oldest book on your shelf (as in, the actual copy is old)?

I think I have an old and withered copy of What Katie Did which on researching was published in 1872. I’m 100% sure my copy is not that old however it’s looking a little tired and I assume it’s the eldest.

17. A book you won?

I’m not sure I’ve ever won a book; that’s a little sad.

18. A book you’d hate to let out of your sight (aka a book you never let someone borrow)?

An interesting one because I do like to lend out my books and let other people read and discover them for themselves. I think one that I would always like to keep near me is On Mystic Lake by Kristin Hannah. I bought it at a book fair for around fifty pence but it is one of my favourite romance style books; it’s a wonderful little book and it’s one I would hate to not be able to get my paws on when I needed a little pick me up.

19. Most beat up book?

My copy of The Chocolate Run by Dorothy Koomson; I’ve read it so many times including in the bath which it’s been dropped in a number of times and it’s looking a little wearied. However its wear and tear only goes to show how much I love it as a novel.

20. Most pristine book?

Most of the books give to me by my darling parents or by friends. I do have a copy however of Any Human Heart by William Boyd that I loved so much whilst reading that I made sure to have bookmarks at any given point as in to stop me from folding the pages over. It is still a very neat and tidy book.

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21. A book from your childhood?

As a child I loved the stories of Little Mollie Mandy. I think my parents still have nightmares about the inane stories told however I thought they were wonderful and the tales are still propped up waiting to be told.

22. A book that’s not actually your book?

I have a number of books on my shelves that aren’t mine because I’m always squirreling them away with me but at the moment in my book suitcase I have a copy of The Good Plain Cook by Bethan Roberts which is actually my sisters that I am yet to read. I think it was on a Monday morning when I needed something to read on the train home but ultimately feel asleep and therefore I never got round to; I will give it back Char I promise!

23.  A book with a special/different cover (e.g. leather bound, soft fuzzy cover etc.)?

Not that I know of?

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24. A book that is your favorite color?

Although I love pink, I think a mix of duck egg and turquoise blue is my ultimate favourite colour and the book Elsewhere has a wonderfully blue sea on it which is almost the perfect colour so I’m going to go with that.

25. Book that’s been on your shelf the longest that you STILL haven’t read?

The Philip Pullman His Dark Materials books; I wrote a post about this over a year ago now (nope they’re still not read!)

26. Any signed books?

As a book blogger every so often authors sign the fronts of the books with a little message to me which is rather darling. I think Diary of an intuitive by Vera Gibson was almost definitely signed and that has an utterly beautiful cover also.

So a rather long post on my bookshelf from yours truly. If you do write your own please let me know, would love to hear your answers.

Two Year Anniversary of mylittlebookblog!

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Afternoon readers, a little news from my little book blog. On the 29th of April 2015 I will be celebrating the two year official anniversary of mylittlebookblog.com. I can not believe how much this blog has given me in terms of confidence in my writing and reviewing, the sheer number of authors, readers, publishers and book bloggers I have met who have been such a joy to get to know and the number of books I’ve read and been introduced to. I will be celebrating the two years blogging between the dates of the 29th of April and the 3rd of May and would love as many of you to get involved as possible. Whether that’s a guest post, helping me with a give-away in terms of prizes or just sharing my blog posts on the day. If you would like to get in touch please comment or email me at mylittlebookblog2014@gmail.com

Thank you

x

Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Truman Capote

Good afternoon readers, hope you’re well and happy on this grey Friday morning. It’s been an odd week and I for one can’t wait for the weekend. I feel like I haven’t slept in months, my eyes feel like they’re coated in sawdust and although exhausted once I get into bed and snuggle down I’m bone awake, it’s been a nightmare. However, late nights wide awake lead to lots of hours available for reading and today it’s my seventh classic book review, this time of Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffanies

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There is something rather pensive and thoughtful about this novel, when reading I felt almost like I had read it before and yet of course I hadn’t. It feels nostalgic and hopeful, a beautiful place where parties storm through the night restless and unyielding, where love could be found and lost in an evening, where the stereotypical rules of life disappeared, where one could or should be living life to the full. I wanted to fall through the pavement and end up in Capote’s stunning reinvention of New York City. Before I get a little to whimsical, I didn’t actually know this was a book until I was browsing the shelves of my lovely little local library. One of my 101 things in 1001 days task was to watch an Audrey Hepburn movie and this was the one I chose, unaware of it being a novel. Despite this I loved both.

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The story is told from the point of view of “Fred”, a struggling young writer, who gets to know Holly when she moves into an apartment in his old brownstone in New York during the Second World War. Through her constant misplacing of her keys and her various parties the two become dear although unconventional friends. Over the course of the year and half that he knows her, Fred experiences the whirlwind that is Holly Golightly; a character that we later find out is hiding a number of skeletons in the closet. Her invented self is an outgoing, raucous and frank. However every so often we get to see the truly vulnerable and raw character she really is. The writing to describe this is beautifully done and makes Holly Golightly even more adorable. The book follows a number of plotlines, the visiting of the supposed mobster Sally Tomato in prison every week, Holly meeting a Hollywood agent named O.J. Berman, who once tried to get her into movies, an ill-fated holiday with a number of the supporting characters and a marriage (or two.) But it’s not really about the story, not for me anyway.

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I fell in love this book mainly because of the main character; although a walking contradiction she has the blazon confidence, a blasé approach to life, the idea that she’s passing through not really belonging anywhere. This is seen in her owning of a nameless cat that she houses and that although living in her apartment for almost a year she has no furniture and her belongings are instead stashed in boxes and crates. However with a beaming smile upon her face and her darkened sunglasses Miss Golightly goes out to face the world and find a place that makes her feel like she does when she’s in Tiffanies; her only solace.

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Technically the writing is sublime, the prose moves effortlessly, stringing together characters, events, descriptions and the bustling New York into a book that I simply couldn’t put down. The characters are built up delightfully and change based on the mood of Miss Holly and her effervescent character profile. It’s the delicate prose and narrative intertwined into such a short book it could be described as a novella. You get the feeling that ever single word matters, each perfectly placed to give just the right feel, the right personality and it does. The book sings to me as a reader and I loved it dearly. The ending does differ from the movie and it works well with the symbolism that is used throughout; the idea of a caged bird, being able to leave everything at the drop of a hat. Both work well, but I’m still deciding which I prefer of the two. A simple stunner of a book that you truly have to read.

A – Z of book blogging from mylittlebookblog!

Happy Sunday readers, I’ve had a wonderfully busy weekend and I’m snuggled up on the sofa watching The Big Painting Challenge and I thought I’d bring you something a little different. It’s an A-Z of all things book blogging.

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A is for assortment: I am a true believer in variety in blogging, especially book blogging. Different genres, publishers and authors amongst others help to bring mylittlebookblog to as many readers as possible.  This also includes different posts including quotes, images, guest posts, Q+A’s etc.

B is for bed: My favourite place to read is snuggled up in bed, with a hot chocolate, lots of blankets and pyjamas. I also favour the bath but the number of times my books get destroyed through my clumsy nature it’s better to stick to the latter

C is for classics: Recently I have got over my irrational dislike of classic literature and thrown myself straight in at the deep end reading as much as a I can get my hands on. So far it’s been rather eye opening

D is for Doyle: As a young reader, Arthur Conan Doyle was pivotal to the increase of my interest and love of reading. The adventures of Sherlock Holmes mean a lot to me sentimentally as a reader

E is for Email: My most useful tool in contact and communicating with authors, readers, bloggers and publishers. Setting up a separate email was a big step for me in my journey as a blogger and set this apart as being more than a hobby for the weekends

F is for Folded over Corners: I have a terrible habit of folding over the corners of pages when reading. I’m constantly losing bookmarks so often train or bus tickets are my go to. I try not too but it’s a habit I seem to have got into!

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G is for Guest Posts: Some people are terribly against guest posts, I’m all for it if done well and if it helps both blogs/authors/publishers reader base. Don’t just do for the sake of it I guess

H is for Hard Work: I know I’ve mentioned this before a couple of times but blogging is sometimes hard work. It doesn’t mean that it’s not worth it, not at all, but there is so much more that goes into blogging than just reading and reviewing.  

I is for Ink: When writing reviews I tend to tap them out on my old and tired red Dell ‘brick’ laptop. If I have time I like to plot out the review on paper and then type it up from there. It’s sometimes lovely to pen the words out first, to see how the review fits together

J is for Jigsaw: Book blogging is on the whole a little like a jigsaw. I am continually playing with the pieces finding different ways to put the different types of post together. Does this guest post work well next to this review, does this quote fit with the blog as a whole, will this review create some controversy? It’s a constant challenge!

L is for Lengthy journeys: The perfect time to get a chunk of reading completed. I love reading on the train down to Milton Keynes; it’s my time to de-stress from a busy week and get myself completely immersed in another world

M is for Messy: When I’m blogging I like to be fully submersed in what I’m doing. Books will be strewn around me, the notes on the book sitting in little piles, post-it notes stuck in the books, different pens in different colours pooling round me; for me it just helps the creative process.

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N is for New Authors: There is nothing better than discovering a new exciting author with bags of potential and then going out and purchasing everything they’ve written and devouring it.

O is for Organisation: Despite saying I like to be messy, I am going to be a little bit of a hypocrite. Book blogging in terms of planning needs to be organised; emails need to be answers, posts written to fit with deadlines of releases, or cover reveals.

P is for Proof reading: I am terrible for this, because I’m often half asleep or in a rush when I post my reviews so there are sometimes grammatical errors (my spelling is normally pretty good.) It’s so important to proof read posts to get the message across coherently

Q is for Quality: Consistent quality across the board in terms of posts is really important. Each review is unique and to let the ball drop is a constant fear for me as a blogger.

R is for Review Requests: One of the best things about blogging is receiving requests for book reviews. It’s a tiresome task sometimes going through them all and picking which to read first but the elation of coming home and seeing the books sat by the front door is such a pleasure

S is for Spreading the word: Whether it’s for readers or writers, book blogging is ultimately about recounting what you’ve read good or bad. It’s one to always remember when blogging because once you’ve said it, it’s very difficult to take it back

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T is for Tired Eyes: Even now at twenty one, and knowing my tiredness limit I still cannot resist the temptation of staying up all night to finish a good book

U is for Unbiased: This goes without saying; honesty must be followed to the T.

V is for vocabulary: Wonderful, vivid, chilling, distressing, worrying, content, ardent, notable, dire, splendid, unquestionable, thrilling, astounding, wretched, poignant, clement, blissful, sulky, gritty. Make sure you colour your book blogging with adjectives of every sound.

 W is for Well-wishers: I kept running out of letters and quite quickly had to start using the thesaurus. Blogging is all about community feel and although some claim that blogging can be lonely I am yet to feel that way. Since I started the support has been wonderful and the people I come into contact with have been lovely lovely people.

X is for Xanthippe: Now stick with me, this is a word. It actually means ill-tempered woman. Now obviously this isn’t pivotal but I think what is, is that you want to make everything as real and as brilliant as possible. If I can’t get the right feel to a review, or the post doesn’t sit well with the blog it only goes to show (male or female) that it really means something to you

Y is for Yearning: The constant and unending search for new incredibly books written by even more incredibly authors

Z is for Zero: The amount of time I wish that I wasn’t, reading, writing, blogging or making notes about books. Books just are everything to me

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So there you go, a little book-ish post about book blogging. If you have any comments, questions or queries as always pop them in the comments box!

How to Be a Woman: Caitlin Moran

TGIF is the only way I can truly describe my feelings at the end of this week. After being unreasonably ill at the beginning of the week, spending the next few days furiously packing to catch up with the days and evenings lost snuggled up in bed with a hot water bottle wailing over my bellies insistent pain and having a number of wobbles with my fellow lodgers over the bills, washing up, even toilet rolls I’m shattered. A surprise weekend for my dear friend Anna and a moving day set for Monday it’s fair to say I’m ready to leave this week behind. Today’s review comes  after reading a  Buzzfeed interview; the interview with Caitlin Moran was sarcastic and blunt in style and made me desperate to read some more from her. Spotting at the bottom of the article that she’d written two books I vowed to get my hands on copies. Last weekend trawling a quaint book market in London I stumbled upon ‘How to be a woman,’ a steal at £2.50. Other than buying a big mac on a hungover Saturday this may have been the best £2.50 I’ve ever spent and I’m going to let you know why.

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Upon opening the cover I was a little sceptical; buying the book purely on the tone of the article rather than finding out the contents of the book the headings, such as ‘I become furry,’ ‘I start bleeding,’ and ‘I encounter some sexism,’ threw me a little. Worry not, because upon finishing the first chapter I realised that as like I had upon finishing the article, I think if we met, Caitlin and I would become firm friends. She has the comedic, whimsical blunt and sharp tone that delivers a punch to the readers jaw in ever feminist fuelled gag/story/teaching she throws our way. Before you stop reading don’t panic at the F word, I know some of us pale at the mention but Moran puts it perfectly, the way my mother always taught me, ‘I’m neither pro-woman nor anti-men I’m just thumbs up for the six billion.’ I’ve had this argument with friends before over being a feminist but Moran finds a way to put it perfectly; in a nutshell, put your hands down your pants, do you have a vagina? If yes do you want to be in control of your vagina? If you answered yes to both, congratulations you’re a feminist. Now before we get all political as we often do around gender equality (rightly so) this is a self-confessed ‘part memoir, part rant’ and the lack of politics makes it all the more a good talking point and a book of basically bloody good common sense.

We start with Moran on her 13th birthday; weighing 13 stone, eating cheese lollipops (a hunk of cheese the size of your head on a fork eaten from said fork) and having stones thrown at her by boys on regular occasions. The book ultimately documents her story from that day to the current day. Taking the theme of personal politics we follow the author as she discovers masturbation, crazy dancing, wearing your own pants, getting to grips with wearing a bra and coming to terms with being the proud owner of a big hairy muff. So what’s the big deal? Why is it brilliant? It’s the way it’s written. It’s magnificent, both provocative and hysterical you could hear me giggling on the bus from Hanley to Newcastle unable to stop myself. She doesn’t throw in gags but they instead they are an integral part of the story woven continually throughout the narrative. Several parts stick in my mind; the stories of her family and their bond is beautifully but honestly described and her account of the birth of her first child is chillingly written and helps to perfectly describe the authors humility. However two sentences later she’s jesting that she will never get angry about Norwich Union changing its name to Aviva ever again. It’s a constant whirlwind that pulls the reader along, I couldn’t for love nor money put the goddamn thing down.

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The writing is full of swear words, angry shouty capitals and incredibly honest and often shocking confessions. You could easily be forgiven for thinking that this comes across as a grating and crass barking teenage writing style but it is handled with grace and hilarity which comes with the self-assured and utterly candid quality of writing that comes from this sublime author. However what spoke to me most is that this is a book of common sense; it makes feminism sagaciously simple. She speaks of feminism grounding to a hault and suggests us renaming ourselves as strident feminists and us and any male feminists getting up on chairs and screaming it from the rooftops. At one point she states

‘Feminism, as it stands, well stands. It has ground to a hault and no-one is tackling OK! magazine, £600 handbags, tiny pants, Brazilians, stupid hen nights or Katie Price. And they have to be tackled…rugby style, face down in the mud, with lots of shouting’

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Having grown up with five brothers and sisters Moran truly believes we’re all just ‘some of the guys,’ and feminism is simply the belief that women should be as free as men. Simple eh? It’s a cheerfully bright and honest concept that for someone that describes herself as feminist but has never been quite sure to say it, can honestly say I needed this book.

This is a brave, consistently clever, naughty, rude, blunt sarcastic book with wonderfully honest writing that I chowed down in huge hunks. I can honestly say everyone should get a copy of this book sit down and take a little read at a book that attempts and succeeds to answer the question; What do women want? Pretty much the same as everyone else.

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Piano from a 4th storey window: Jenny Morton Potts

Good evening readers, hope you’re all well unlike me, a little sick bunny. It seems I have caught a tummy bug which left me rendered completely useless yesterday. After being rudely awakened by my housemate, I heaved myself out of bed to go and purchase whatever it was she was complaining about. Hauling a sick ridden body out of bed dressing it in patterned black, red and white leggings, an orange t-shirt and a pair of blue fabric pumps and a massive coat with a fur hood I must have looked comical. I cannot wait to move away from the drama of where I live. Before I get too off topic there are a number of reviews that were supposed to be posted days ago but I’ve been so sick I haven’t had any time to sort them and amongst packing for the move last week. I’m hoping to get them written up ASAP so if you’re waiting for a review it’s on its way I promise. So, without further delay onto today’s review.

Lawrence Fyre and Marin Strang aren’t like other people. He is the eccentric owner of failing Sargasso Books in the Brighton Lanes. She is an ex-Jehovah’s Witness and isolated Spanish teacher. If they live together in his illegal, beautiful, rope laddered lock-up; can their love overcome their losses?  Original, sexy, very funny and deeply moving. An author in complete control of a number of unforgettable characters and emotional highs and lows, Jenny Morton Potts leaves the reader breathless, and wanting more.

So as the blurb suggests Marin Strang is a Spanish teacher whose life hasn’t quite gone the way she wanted it to; having to live on a wage from numerous temporary teaching contracts and coming out of a rather painful breakup she’s in a bit of a sticking point; in limbo as to what she should do next. An ex-Jehovah’s witness but with ties to her father who remains a loyal member, Marin finds her days wandering The Lanes in Brighton a shopping spot and ends up in the a café named Number 8. Here she meets Lawrence Fyre, the owner of the (failing) store Sargasso Books. The two, after a number of chance meetings enter into an intense relationship but a number of hiccups including his sister and the intriguing Nina could force their relationship to fail. Will their relationship rise or flounder? You’ll have to get hold of a copy to find out!

So, there’s the book in a nutshell; now you could be forgiven for thinking that this is a rather stereotypical boy meets girl style plot-line but it’s more than that. Firstly I have to commend the author for getting the feel of Brighton down so very well. I could feel the blustery wind and see the cobbled lanes full of brightly painted houses, it’s incredibly evocative of the little seaside town. The writing style is wonderful although a little difficult to get into to start with. It reads almost like a stream of consciousness, which we don’t experience all too often as a reader and when mixed with dialogue and narrative it was a little different at the start. However as you get more stuck in the words rise and fall in a very smooth almost lyrical prose which I thoroughly enjoyed.

In terms of plot line it is the perfect mix of both tragedy and love story and the whirlwind mix throughout is both tender and comedic. The two main characters are wonderfully written both quirky in their own rights but written with a real feel of human warmth and understanding. They come alive with each other and the conviction of their relationship is maddeningly exciting and euphoric. The pace is fast and forward thinking, it ricochets off with such breath taking speed that I found myself reading chapter after chapter without noticing.

I think what makes this book is the style; it is a unique and unforgettable writing quality that is both quirky and gripping. It also allows for the highs and the lows of the novel to really come alive and punch the reader in the jaw which is exactly what I wanted from this novel. It is a love story but it also intertwines personal growth, the pressure to conform to society or religion and trust in the relationships we have. It really made me sit up and listen and made me think about my own place in the world that I find myself in.  Overall a stylish and quirky read that was a wonderful mix; thoroughly enjoyable.

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