The Year of Slumps [A 2014 Round Up of Sorts]

Sunday, 28 December 2014
Unfortunately, 2014 hasn't been my best year for blogging and reading. I was pretty much in reading and blogging slumps periodically throughout the year and if I wasn't in a blogging slump, then I'd be in a reading slump and vice versa. Bleugh. I also had some bad anxiety issues - struggling with exam stress and stuff - but let's not get in to that.

However, 2015 is looking up already and I'm planning on diving into it head first! I received an unconditional for the university I was most wanting to get in to (which will alleviate some exam stress when the time comes, I'm sure!), got a job which will hopefully help me get through said university and there's a puppy on the way to join my family! Though I'm excited for all these things, I'm also very anxious. I hope I'll be able to juggle everything!

I will also be leaving school in 2015 (seeing as I'm in the last year of secondary school right now) and that, in itself, is absolutely terrifying. I'M JUST NOT READY.

Anyway, moving on.

I've read 29 books and (counting this one) written 56 blog posts so far this year. However, I still have time to get these pitiful numbers up in the remaining few days. ;) I'm only one book away from reaching my Goodreads goal after all (yes, I only aimed to read 30 books this year 'cause I knew it'd be a stressful year). However, even though I'm 'on track', my current read is a chunky one so I don't know if I'll have it finished in time!

Out of these 29 books, only 2 received a full five stars from me. The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood and Co. #1) by Jonathan Stroud and City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments #6) by Cassandra Clare. I think I've become incredibly stingy with dishing out five star ratings.

Click HERE to view my favourite post I wrote this year and HERE to view my most viewed post of 2014.

Okay, so I'm not very good at these round up posts. Maybe 'cause this year's just been such a flop in terms of reading and blogging so... yeah, I'm gonna go.

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

PS: Any name suggestions for this puppy?!

How Reading Has Impacted My Life...

Wednesday, 24 December 2014
It's going to be hard for me to express how much reading has impacted my life but, in this post, I'll try my best.

My mum introduced me to books at a very young age and I quickly fell in love with the pastime. I was quite an independent child in the way that, when I was old enough to hold a book, I wanted to read it by myself. The same way I had wanted to hold my own fork and feed myself when I was still in a high chair.

The earliest books I can remember reading are the Rainbow Fairies books. It was through these books that I first realised how absorbed you could become in a story. The two main characters in these stories were named Rachel and Kirsty, and, at that time, it was very easy for me to become a part of the story because, hey, my name's Rachel. And guess what? My big cousin (only older than me by about three years) is called Kirsty. I found it very easy to imagine myself into the pages because of that reason. I was Rachel and Kirsty was Kirsty - easy. These books truly introduced me to the extent of which you could immerse yourself in to a completely different world.

As I grew up and grew out of the Rainbow Fairies series, I progressed on to the Nancy Drew books, the Alex Rider novels, Eva Ibbotson's works and Harry Potter. Not only did these fuel my passion even more for reading but they introduced me to brave and curious characters. Characters who helped me align my own morals and never failed to empower me during the time I was reading their stories.

When I was about nine years old, I became quite ill. I missed about six weeks of school. The doctors weren't sure what was up with me - I was never diagnosed with anything. I was constantly feeling unwell and had no energy. For someone who was quite outgoing and always on the look out for adventure, it wasn't fun. During the time I was ill, I started suffering from anxiety. So my outgoing nature became timid, and I was scared of a lot of things. When my mum and dad tried to send me to school, I'd only be sent home again - half because of how ill I felt and half because I had an anxiety episode over it. I developed a fear of being sick and was too scared to go to school. I very much lived at both my grans' houses during this period.

I started reading a lot during this time. I wanted to lose myself completely in different worlds and not think about my current situation and anxiety. I was more or less too scared to even leave the house (even being without my mum or going to either of my grans' houses at the beginning was too hard) and I replaced real life adventures with fictional ones. It soon dawned on me how timid and scared I was in comparison to the characters I read about. They were all so fearless. It saddened me when I compared myself to them. I wanted nothing more than to be like them but it just felt impossible to me then. Looking back now, I will always be thankful to books for helping me to escape my situation at that time.

I truly believe that reading has made me who I am today. It was very hard transitioning from primary school to secondary school with my anxiety (let's just say I missed a lot of secondary school in the first two years) but I feel like books and characters empowered me and encouraged me to discover my own bravery. Now I look back and see how far I've come and it makes me smile. Everything seemed impossible back then but, with the help of inked pages and strong characters, everything seems possible to me now. These days, when I'm faced with a situation, I don't shy away like I once did. I ask myself, what would Tris do?

Sure my anxiety is still with me and I'm not as Dauntless as I'd like to be at times but I know now, with the help of books, I'm strong enough to overcome it.

On another note, I also wouldn't have created this blog if I didn't read. I mean, it is a book blog after all. And book blogging has affected my life in its own ways too.

I'll forever be thankful for books and reading.

Huge thank you to Cambrie from ...and so the book begins for tagging me to share my own story about how reading has impacted my life. I'd now like to tag Holly, Cat and Vivian to share theirs. :)

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

PS: I hope you have a wonderful Christmas tomorrow, everyone!

Review: The Kneebone Boy

Sunday, 21 December 2014
Author: Ellen Potter
Edition: Square Fish Paperback
Released: 20th December 2011
Series: n/a (standalone)
Pages: 280 approx.
Links: Goodreads | Author's Website | Buy the book!

Some say he’s part animal, covered with hair, with claws for hands and ears like a bat's. When his mother first laid eyes on him she fainted dead away...

Life in a small town isn’t any fun for the Hardscrabble children; their father is always leaving them home while he travels and people in town avoid them for being peculiar. When their father inadvertently sends them to London to stay with an aunt who’s away on holiday in Germany, the children are presented with a rare opportunity for adventure — all by themselves. The streets of London are fascinating, but not so great for sleeping. So the Hardscrabbles make their way to another small town — but this one has a mystery. Legend has it, there’s a monstrous creature roaming the woods, half boy and half animal. Surely such nonsense couldn’t possibly be true, could it? 

The Kneebone Boy is an unusual book. When I read the synopsis all those years back, it really struck me. The premise of it sits parallel with the kinds-of books I loved the sound of when I was a kid. I unearthed it from the back of a bookshelf a few days ago more or less* on a whim (*less referring to the idea I had that, because of it's short length, there was a slightly above average chance it could get me out of my reading slump). Though I'd say it certainly gave me a one-off reading experience, it didn't quite connect with me the way I'd hoped, or expected, maybe.

We all know by now that at the mention of the word adventure, you've got me. I live for adventure - whether in the printed world or the real one. I truly adore the way Lucia holds on to the idea of adventure in this book. It reminds me of myself and the way I held on to the concept of it as a child, especially. As a whole, the siblings in The Kneebone Boy are perfectly imperfectly child-like. Potter hasn't created characters who read like adults. Otto, Lucia and Max read like children. Children who are too big for their boots and don't know what they want aside from storming a castle and saving the distressed captives. They're so realistic. You don't need to love them - I've not yet formed my own opinions on them - but their child-like flaws and objectives will make you come around to them by the end.

I can't mention too much about why this book didn't quite connect with me as I'd have to go into spoilers, but I can say they're pretty plot related. Had I been younger and not so set in my ways with requiring a strong storyline like I do now, I wouldn't have felt as (albeit, slightly) deflated as I did reading the last paragraph. (Let's just leave it at that.)

Overall, The Kneebone Boy is a hard one for me to express my feelings on. Though the characters intrigued me and the child-likeness of this book kept some part of me hooked, the (let's say) climax/resolution of it caused me some confusion in my feelings towards it. However, I feel like, in this case, the fact my feelings are confused adds to the endearment of this novel. Not every book is written to be the next bestseller, some are simply written because the tale is just too much of an odd one not to be shared. Though I didn't love it, I sure do want other people to read it because it truly is something.


Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

My No. #1 Underrated Book Recommendation!

Friday, 19 December 2014
I'm really in the mood to spotlight one of my favourite books right now and, heck, I'm going to do it! Though I love this book to pieces, when I think about it, it makes me just a little bit sad. Why? It is so underrated. There aren't many people out there that have read it - not enough, anyway! - and I really feel like everyone is truly missing out on something. This book, to me, is incredible. I really want it to get the recognition it deserves!

Also, since Christmas is coming up, you could always just add it on as a last minute addition to your Christmas list (pfft, your parents won't mind!) or use some of the money you'll receive from relatives to buy it!

The book in question?

Welcome to Tamarind, where fish can fly, pirates control the waters, jaguars lurk, the islanders are at war, and an evil, child-stealing enchantress rules the jungle. Thirteen-year-old Maya, her younger brother, Simon, and her baby sister, Penny, have just landed their boat here after a terrible storm washed their parents overboard. After spending their entire lives at sea, it's a relief just to be on dry land. But Tamarind is unlike anything Maya could have imagined - a place both magical and terrifying. Now Maya will be lucky just to make it to tomorrow.

I can't help but feel so strongly about this book. I seriously just want everyone to buy it. If you love being fully whisked up and immersed in a completely different world full of endless possibilities and a breathless adventure, read this. It is literally the definition of a hidden gem. It's priceless and amazing and fast paced and entrancing and perfect.

Do NOT be put off by the fact Maya is 13. She does not come across as that horrible childish character.

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo