Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books That Would Be On Your Syllabus If You Taught life 101

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*Sighs* this might be my favourite Top Ten Tuesday post so far. The actually topic is Ten books that would be on your syllabus X 101. Examples include YA, fantasy, classic literature, feminist literature, you get the idea. I’ve picked ‘life 101’ and I mean it, not in a literal way, but more of the way in which books teach you something. These books include teaching you how to pick yourself up, get over heart-break, family strains. These are the books that have given me something back.

1)       The Last Lecture by Randy Pauch

This book, honest to the word, has helped in ways that I could have never expected it to. It talks of life in such an honest, wonderfully light and subtle way, but it talks of death, love and family too. The fact that author is dying as we read along makes it feel all the more destructive but it has a calming presence. It talks of never wasting time, living every day the way we want to and to take control. I haven’t really looked back since finishing this book.

2)       Skin by Adrienne Maria Vrettos

I’ve never reviewed this book for mylittlebookblog, but I think I might soon. The book follows the main character as he comes to terms with his sister’s death from anorexia. It highlights the struggle of family life, the tough decisions we have to make, and the loss of people close to us. It’s a tale that I always dip into now and again and it’s written in a wonderfully lyrical style. My and sister and I rarely got on a couple of years back but now we’re a solid pair of besties. She’s one in a million.

3)       ‘Giovanni’s Lover by James Baldwin

When I first started this book I didn’t think I would finish it let alone make its way onto this list, but this book taught me that there are some things, we cannot take back. I went through a lot of time not caring how I made other people feel because I barely cared about myself, at all. This book taught me that our decisions, our words, our actions towards others can be detrimental to people that we love. I know it seems trivial but I needed this to speak to me and tell me I needed to stop being an ass.

4)       Eat, pray, love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Maybe a controversial choice, but this book helped to change the perception that I needed to plan out, almost exactly, how my life was going to pan out. I panicked about too many different elements in my life; relationships, career, where I was going to live etc. The mother bought this and told me to read it, get some perspective and calm the hell down. This was the starting blocks to letting go a little more and trusting me more.

5)       Remember to breathe by Simon Pont

I have written about this book many, many a time but reading this really helped to break through my wailing and make me think that the collapse of my relationship was merely a blip in the road. I’ve met someone who is miles better for me, and just gets me and this book helped to smooth over all the feelings that were raging at the time.

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6)       Factotum by Charles Bukowski

Another maybe, odd choice? I’ve always worried a lot about where I’m going to be, in terms of career and this book made me think. I know that what I’m doing right isn’t right for me, it’s not challenging me but the main character in this book is all over the place. He’s changing jobs every second, turning up late, drunk, forgetting things falling asleep. Although quite obviously isn’t the way to do it, the way that you can change your life and do something else, even something polar opposite,  made me positive that I’m never stuck. I can always go a different way.

7)       The Fault in our stars by John Green

This also wasn’t going to make the list but I thought, fuck it. It’s a book about adoration, love, belief and pain. But it’s a tale that teaches us that pain and hurt exist, but to live in the present, in the moment you might say if you’re feeling all gushy. This book is worth a bloody read.

8)       The Chocolate Run by Dorothy Koomson

I know this appears in all my lists but I couldn’t help myself once again. As I’ve come to terms with my anxiety many things I thought were ‘control-freak,’ tendencies were in fact my anxiety. I’ve struggled with losing friends in the past, holding on despite deceit, awkward silences and their brush-off manner. This book taught me it is okay to lose people, not because you want to but because it’s better, often for both of you.

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9) Pearshaped by Stella Newman 

Another tale about relationships but taken from the other side this book looks at the problems of unhealthy, manipulating and downright awful relationships. We are allowed to say when something is not up and stand up for ourselves. This books says that, loud and clear.

10)       Finally, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol

I picked this because, some of the quotes features are so profound and special. I often like to ask people if they would like to be friends with Alice or be Alice, because her sudden change in perception is mind-blowingly beautiful. There are so many twisted bits of knowledge woven in and we see Alice grow as a person. It’s a classic book that means a lot to me and many readers and I’m glad it’s made the list.

I wrote a lot more here than I thought I would surprisingly but I thought this was a list where you really needed to explain why they made the list. This isn’t an extensive list (obviously) and when I read Wild, which I will do, I might have to include that as a bonus book because I think it might just change my outlook on everything but we’ll see. Another day another book.

I do love it when people comment and ask me and the choices, the reasons, and just hearing what you would add so if you have anything pop in down in the comments below. Lots of love and hugs, lizzy. X

Super Sporty 3: The Mechanical Menaces by Ellie Firestone

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I love children’s books because they are always such a lot of fun to read. I think that sometimes books for adults become a little too serious and lack fun which authors that write for the younger age groups get to play with so much. For me children’s books, as I say a lot, are so important in kick-starting that reading love that is so important in a child’s development and if I can help parents out there with suggestions for certain books I’ll try my best. Just a side note if you’re waiting for Amazon and Goodreads reviews, they will be up there soon, I’ve been on a bit of go slow since the festival but they will be up there soon I promise. For now another fun and snappy story for your little ones.

Sporty and her best friend, Harley, are two young horses who play basketball for Horsecitty’s professional team called the Shorthorns. They’re also superheroes.

In this book their adventures continue as they go back in time to save the young Sporty from an alien attack that will leave both superheroes powerless. But with evil robots that are programmed to seek out their targets at all cost, how will Sporty and Harley stop the mechanical menaces?

If you like horses, if you like superheroes, if you like adventure and aliens, then you’ll love Super Sporty and the rest of the Horsecitty gang.

The first thing to note is that I’m coming into this series on the third book so I was a bit confused on starting this because it does just throw you in at the deep end but if I’m right the book follows Sporty and Harley who are trying to save the world from the terribly evil Blarg and Splatt. In this instance our heroes find out that the evil duo are planning to travel back in time to take away baby Sporty’s super powers. If they succeed Sporty will be unable to show Harley her super powers and all will be lost and our heroes will be unable to save the world in the future. Sporty and Harley have no choice but to travel back in time to protect baby Sporty and stop the villains taking over the world. *insert dramatic noooooooooooo.*

I thought this book was a lot of fun; it’s a mix of vivd imagination, funky and childlike illustrations and a real understanding of how to keep a younger audience engaged wholly in the story. The writing is packed with little punchy tit-bits and ways of making your little one smile. The chapters are short enough to hold the attention span of both child and adult and you won’t find yourself getting lost in the story or needing to explain lots of bits. It comes across really well and has a very amusing and entertaining vibe throughout. In terms of content the main characters are talking, flying super hero horses who can time travel, there are both aliens and villiains and a whole barrage of other interesting and exciting characters. What more could you want?

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In terms of the age of the reader it does need to be a slightly older child unless they’re nine or ten because there are a few more difficult words interspersed but I can see this being a great book for children to take in to school and read aloud or at home before bed. It’s got enough intrigue to keep their attention but isn’t too complicated to stop their attention from sticking to the book. I think these books would be just as good being read aloud to a slightly younger child because voices could be added to the different characters to help distinguish and it could be made 6/7/8 year old friendly in that way. My only slight wobbles were one it does get a little ridiculous but I think as you continue it becomes almost like a caricature of a book; it is over the top, it is silly, it is complicated but only in the way that a child can bumble through picking up little bits. Additionally Icky and Troy do speak in what I would call baby voices which could be misconstrued; such as “Drakk say he turn good!” said Icky. “He just now unfreeze you. So maybe he be good.” As an adult I might worry that a child might pick this up as a copy cat style of talking but it’s only a small wobble.

Overall this is quite a complicated but easy to read book with some strong characters a real understanding of how to draw a child in and capture their imagination and pull them in. It has a humorous feel, some feel-good characters and a good use of heroes and villians. The speech may worry me as a parent but maybe I’m being a little picky. Definitely one for your burgeoning readers book shelf.

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Storm Rising by Rachael Richey

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Helllllllo readers and welcome to another review|*cheers*| I made a blunder the first time writing this review stating Rachael Richey wrote The Beauty Thief when in fact Rachael Richtey wrote it! How close are those names, that’s crazy! Anyway back to this review, this is my first review from this author on the back of reading it I really want to read more from her. Brilliant writing and one I think you will utterly adore.

Frontman of the grunge rock band NightHawk, Gideon Hawk has had enough of the rock star life. He is jaded, disillusioned, and haunted by the memory of an unresolved heartbreak. On a whim, he leaves the band in New York and heads to England in search of answers.

After attending the funeral of her estranged mother, Abigail Thomson makes a shocking discovery in her parents’ attic. The still-raw memories that surface, along with even more startling discoveries, force Abi to face a devastating truth that leads to a series of life-changing events. She and Gideon must race against time to reclaim the life stolen from them a decade before.

The book jumps between two periods of time, from 2005 to flashbacks of 1994/5 when both Abi and Gideon were teenagers.

We begin the tale at the funeral of Abigail Thomson’s estranged mother who Abi has not seen let alone spoken to in ten years. Meeting her father again, feelings begin to unravel and when stashes of undelivered letters addressed to Abi are found in the attic, our story really begins. The letters are from Abi’s teenage first love, Gideon Hawk who just so happens to be the frontman of the band Night Hawk, but in an attempt to ditch the limelight after a concert held in New York he sensationally quits the band. The book flits between the burgeoning relationship between Abi and Gideon set a decade before and the present day as we see the two very different lives begin to become parallel once again.

I really enjoyed this lovely little tale; although it may appears to take the stereotypical girl meets rock-star, their relationship crumbles, he attempts to escape the limelight, throughout there is a mysterious secret that builds from the very beginning. Why were the letters undelivered? Why did Abi have to tread on eggshells around her mother? Was her father also involved in the traumatic event that happened? The book twists and turns between the two time periods allowing the writer to give us dribs and drabs causing the story to intensify and made me gabble through the pages.

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The characters are written with style and warmth; Abi is a darling character, warm and bright I found her an unforgettable character. Determined, and charming and then suddenly a little helpless I really felt for her. Additionally witnessing her rebellious teenage years reminded me a lot of my own. Telling my parents I would be in one place when I would be stealing away to another. I thought that Gideon was a hot mess; a diamond in the rough, his charming and gentleman like character mixed with his rock-star attributes made me have a serious character crush. Judy and Chris make superb supporting characters who I also found really brilliant to read about.

I only have two little wobbles with the book as a whole; firstly at the beginning the book lacks some pace. It does take a while to get into the book and to be fair the secretive nature of Abi’s dislike at having to attend her own mother’s funeral really pulled me in but the writing could have been snappier and flowed quicker I think. The second I thought that Gideon’s sudden upheaval from the states could have been toyed with more just because it felt a bit quick or overly easy? For me I would have liked to have seen that played with a bit more and in the relationship and the bond between him and Abi in the present tense.

Despite this, I couldn’t put this down. Lyrical writing style, strong characters, a good solid plot-line and a smattering of well-built up characters (main and supporting) this book has everything going for it. A strong tale, one that I really enjoyed and one I think you will to.

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Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent

Good afternoon readers and a happy Monday to you all. I have so many things to tell you about Copenhagen however for now a really exciting book review. It’s the first time since starting a book blogger that a publishing house of such calibre has got in contact with mylittlebookblog to ask for a review.  Little old me blogging from my tiny terraced house in my sonic pyjamas and a my over-washed woolly jumper was approached by Penguin. Now, for some of you this may be a daily occurrence, but for me this is one of the most exciting things that has happened all year. What adds to this, is the book they sent was fantastic and a total knock-out and I adored it. I read it in two sittings, one snuggled up in the car from Silvy to Nottingham and the second on the journey from Nottingham back to Stoke-on-Trent and it is absolutely brilliant. I am so nervous to bring you this today but I cannot help but sing praises for this superb book.

 Oliver Ryan is a handsome and charismatic success story. He lives in the suburbs with his wife, Alice, who illustrates his award-winning children’s books and gives him her unstinting devotion. Their life together is one of enviable privilege and ease – enviable until, one evening after supper, Oliver attacks Alice and beats her into a coma. In the aftermath, as everyone tries to make sense of his astonishing act of savagery, Oliver tells his story. So do those whose paths he has crossed over five decades. What unfolds is a story of shame, envy, breath-taking deception and masterful manipulation. Only Oliver knows the lengths to which he has had to go to get the life to which he felt entitled. But even he is in for a shock when the past catches up with him.

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 The first thing to point out is that I have not read a book with such a suitable title for a little while now but Unravelling Oliver works perfectly here. It is the book in a nutshell; we read through whilst unknotting the stories that lead to the terrible event that leads to us now. See, Alice and Oliver appear to have the flawless relationship. He writes terribly successful children’s books under a pseudonym and she expertly illustrates them. However, one evening, Oliver cracks and he hits Alice. He beats her savagely and without abandon. From this moment on we unravel the man that is Oliver from numerous and differing points of view and from different points in history. We begin to build the real picture of Oliver and the path that his life has taken and the relationships he has been a part of until we turn the final few pages and find out the final shocking secret.

 This book is sublime; utterly riveting and unspoiled throughout. The first thing to mention is the outstanding writing style. From the very first paragraph, even the first line I knew I was going to enjoy this. The writing has a way of curling itself around you and pulling you so deeply into the plot you know you won’t be able to stop reading till the very, very end. The story weaves a number of strands that clot an overall perspective of Oliver woven from a discussion of his childhood, his relationships, his affairs and his dark and cold personality. These are told by people that know Oliver. However, the author juxtaposes this with Oliver’s own view of himself, a look into his own psyche and the differences are mind-blowing. I was continually on the edge of my seat trying to understand this character. You realise early on that Oliver is not going to be a character you admire, respect or like at all however you can’t quite stop yourself wanting, no, needing to know more about him. His speech his brutal, his ideals and his way of speaking often blunt and rude, he is a chilling but stunningly written character.

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 I don’t want to give too much away about the supporting characters because you meet them along the way and their subtle differences help to paint a more succinct picture of Oliver. They slowly, chapter by chapter tell us more and more about this dangerous character. Each is written with true style and strongly built character profiles. I could easily describe each of them one by one which is a testament to the authors ability to build characters but I’ll let you discover that for yourselves. In some ways this book is a thriller but for me it comes across more as a psychological drama. I thought the contrast between what the supporting characters gave away was done with maturity and an understanding of how to give the book pace but not leave the reader constantly in anticipation. Some of the reveals could be guessed however a number were truly shocking.

 So, this book is not a happy read, no, not in the slightest but it was an all-consuming tale of neglect, hatred, and need. It moves fluidily pulling the reader deeper and deeper into the tale until the final pages have turned. Reading the epilogue which is a brilliant addition I realised that I had been holding my breath for some time and had to let all out at once. It deals with uncomfortable issues but it does it with such skill and understanding I could hardly believe this was a debut. A truly inspiring read that will stay with me a long time into the future: Definitely, definitely worth a read.

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A thank you from mylittlebookblog

So, it’s Sunday and the end of this celebration of mylittlebookbookblog. I’m going to keep it short because I’ve waffled enough this week.

I’ve learnt a lot blogging and I’ve learn a lot about myself in doing so and to be honest with you, I think that this blog has ultimately saved me from a number of cripplingly scary moments. My life right now is a little in limbo and it’s terrifying. I’m not sure what I want to do let alone where I want to be and in the last ten months I’ve seen the worst of myself and the panic that comes from graduating and feeling a little lost. But this blog has brought out the best of me. 

I have felt so wonderfully supported and this blog has been a life saver and I just wanted to really say thank you. From my mushy emotional and slightly whimsical heart. Because you are the best people that I could have ever wished for. All the authors, the bloggers, the tweeters, the likers the commenters and the emailers (these are not words) but all of you. Thank you. Thank you so much and here’s to another year of this pretty goddamn wonderful tiny space of the internet that I have found I’m able to call home.

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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

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