Friday, 25 September 2015

This Term's Reading!

So, here I am, back at uni for my final year! It's really strange to be back in the city which used to feel like home, but now it feels so big and scary with all my friends having graduated! I'm going to try to limit the time I spend sitting in my room reading this year, as I have new house-mates to hopefully befriend! :) But my room would never feel complete without a nice collection of books, so I tasked Charlie with picking 25 books from my TBR jar to bring with me. 

I really like how they all sit on my fireplace! 

Here is the list:
(The Girl with All the Gifts - M.R.Carey, chosen before the 25)
1. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
2. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
3. The Missing Husband - Amanda Brooke
4. The Girl with the Pearl Earring - Tracy Chevalier
5. Belle de Jour
6. The Snapper - Roddy Doyle
7. Dream a Little Dream - Giovanna Fletcher
8. The Diary of a Nobody - George Grossmith
9. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
10. The Radleys - Matt Haig
11. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
12. The Game - Mandasue Heller
13. It Started with Paris - Cathy Keller
14. The Woman He Loved Before - Dorothy Koomson
15. Cold Heart- Lynda la Plante
16. The Secret Gardener - le Carre
17. Hector and the Search for Love - Francois LeLord
18. Masters of Sex - Thomas Maier
19. Love and War in the Apennines - Eric Newby
20. Us - David Nicholls
21. 1984 - George Orwell
22. Ketchup Clouds - Annabel Pitcher
23. The Dice Man - Luke Rhinehart
24. Eleanor and Park - Rainbow Rowell
25. Tipping the Velvet - Sarah Waters

I think Charlie did a great job, there is a really vast and different mix of things here, so there should be something to suit any mood I may have! I can't wait! :) 
Have you read any of these? I'd love to hear your views in the comments :) 

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Top 5 Wednesday: Books About Mental Health

Hello everyone, and welcome back to my first T5W post in what seems like ages! (It probably is ages...) I think I needed a great topic to kick my bum back into these posts, and what better one than this: books about mental health, so thank you GingerReadsLainey for choosing it! For those of you who follow my blog, I am sure you will know that I read A LOT of books about mental health. I think they play such a fascinating and crucial part in our society, as they raise awareness covertly. People who don't know that much about it may not want to sit there and read a science text book, but they will happily read a novel...never underestimate how much you can learn from a novel! The LGBTQ community has been getting fantastic coverage in fiction recently, and I think now the mental health community is at a stage where the stigma is low enough to allow for really honest accounts to find their way into mainstream fiction.

So, as you can guess, there are a lot of books for me to choose from! But here they are, my top 5 books on mental health:

5. The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat - Oliver Sacks

Oliver Sacks was an incredible neurologist, who sadly recently passed away. He leaves behind my favourite non-fiction book about mental health. This book contains case studies of patients Sacks dealt with who presented with extraordinary mental illness. These accounts were absolutely fascinating, and really opened my eyes to how delicate our brain is, and therefore how easily it can go wrong. Not only that, but when people think of mental illness they think of it quite closed-mindedly: depression, anxiety, schizophrenia - but there is so much more out there which is rarer, so never gets the same level of awareness. An absolutely fantastic read.

4. Henry's Demons - Patrick and Henry Cockburn

I read this book a long time ago, but it has always stuck with me as it was incredibly powerful. It is a dual point-of-view autobiography, written by Henry who suffers with schizophrenia, and his father Patrick. Henry describes what goes on in his head during his episodes, and how he feels, but what made this book so powerful was the effect that these episodes had on his father, and how his behaviour looked from outside his own head. A really great book which I am sad didn't get the publicity it deserved!

3. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

A classic, and rightly so, as this is an extremely important book! Plath wrote this when stigma shrouded mental health to a much greater degree than it does now, which made it an extremely brave thing to do at the time. It is such an observant, honest tale of mental health which I found to be extremely powerful. It is the only book I have ever read which left such an anger inside me that didn't disappear when I closed the book. It just made me so angry to read about the treatment of mental health patients in such recent history. Some of the imagery used, particularly 'the bell jar' itself was really thought-provoking and I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

2. The Shock of the Fall - Nathan Filer

What I loved most about this book is the important question it provokes. The story of a boy who loses his brother and lives with the (unfounded) guilt that it was his fault. Bereavement is normal, to be expected, and of course, everyone deals with it differently. But at some point in his bereavement process, he descended into a poor state of mental health, culminating in schizophrenia. Where and when did that happen though? At what point do we draw the line between someone who is bereaved and not dealing with loss very well, and someone who is mentally ill? I thought this was really fascinating. Filer himself was a mental health nurse, so the account is also spot-on and very well-written. Another fab book!

1. Reasons to Stay Alive - Matt Haig

Critics were so right about this one - it really could save lives! There was no doubt in my mind that this book had to have top spot. I knoww I have raved about this book before, but I don't think there are enough words in my vocabulary to explain quite how incredible I think this book is, so I shall just struggle on with repeating the words I have! This is Matt Haig's open and incredibly honest account of his struggle with depression and anxiety. It has everything - what seemed to trigger it, how it felt, and most importantly, what helped him to struggle on. It is a beacon of hope for anyone struggling with their mental wellbeing. There is a reason for everyone to read this book, as it contains short lists which could completely change your outlook. There are lists of things to say, and not to say, to people struggling with mental illness (and everyone, whether they know it or not, is living in close proximity to someone with mental health issues), and there is the list of 'reasons to stay alive' for people who are struggling. It would have those struggling screaming at the book saying "yes, yes, that's exactly how I feel!!" I seriously think this book should become part of the GCSE curriculum or something, just so that it forces everyone to read it! I cannot applaud Haig enough for being so brave as to share his story with the world :)

So there we have it, my top 5 books about mental health! Have you read these? Are there any others you think I should read? Please get in touch in the comments below. 

Honourable mentions also go to:
All the Bright Places - Jennifer Niven
The Silver Linings Playbook - Matthew Quick

Monday, 14 September 2015

Ludlum's Bourne Trilogy

Hello my fabulous readers! I have been very busy this week reading the Bourne trilogy! 

There may be some confusion over why I am calling them 'the trilogy'. From what I understand, the fantastic Robert Ludlum wrote the first three books: The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. After this, Eric van Lustbader took over. I have never seen the Bourne films, so I thought that just to tackle the first three would be a good starting point, sticking to the original author. I was quite glad I made this choice, as I ordered them online, and when they arrived, they turned out to be HUGE! They are 550, 650 and 730 pages...that's a lot of Bourne! So after that, I have to say I was quite reluctant for the Bourne trilogy to be plucked out of my TBR jar! However the day came, and Charlie looked very sheepish as he had to show me that he had picked it out! But not one to argue with the jar, I plunged straight into them!

The Bourne Identity got off to a great start. The story is of Jason Bourne in a journey to rebuild his life and memories after a head trauma. In the meantime, a trained assassin is hot on his trail, and his own people think he may have turned. It is a really dangerous story and is really exciting! 

The Bourne Supremacy took a completely different direction, this was a lot more political! Robert Ludlum is probably a lot more clever than I can give him credit for, as a good proportion of his intricate political plots fly straight over my head. Yet again though - a very enjoyable read!

The Bourne Ultimatum went back to what I loved - the battle between Bourne and Carlos, like in the first book. I really like that storyline as it's such a clever idea - using one assassin to lure out another. It was extremely long, but nevertheless another great read.

I should point out at this point, for those of you who have seen the films but not read the books and are completely confused, that the second and third books are a completely different story to the films! Personally, this seemed both weird and a disappointment to me! Why would you use the same name as the book but make a film with a completely different storyline? Also, I was hoping the film might make some of the complicated political themes in the second book more easy to understand, so was disappointed to find out that I wouldn't be able to see a film version!

All in all, the Bourne books are great. They have everything: crime, fraud, thrills, romance, friendship and there are constant twists and turns. The reader becomes frustrated along with the characters as allies become enemies and secrets holding the most elaborate plans become leaked and render the plan useless. I have to say that this did start to get a bit repetitive by the end of the third book as every single secret from Bourne or Carlos got leaked to the other one, but I guess that was my fault for reading all three in a row! The constant battle to establish his own identity is so powerful: is he Bourne, a cold assassin, or Webb, a family man who has enough affection to shower over his wife and children? 

I really recommend these books to anyone who loves a good thriller! Have you read the books? Although they are not the same, I'm still intrigued to watch the films!

I hope you have enjoyed my is the Lorien Legacies: all 6 in order, including the latest instalment from 10th September - The Fate of Ten! I cannot wait! 

Monday, 7 September 2015

Epic Book Haul!

Hello my lovely readers! :) I am sorry for the lack of posts recently, I have been pretty busy moving back home from my intern year before heading off to uni in a few weeks! I have however been reading a lot, and have been making my way through the first of the 3 Bourne novels, written by Ludlum. So once I have finished those, I will do a joint review. I have also recently received the latest instalment of the Lorien Legacies, so will soon be reading that, which I am very excited about! 

In the meantime, I have also been buying a fair amount of books! I would like to share them with you, as their names have gone into my TBR jar, so I may not be reviewing them for quite some time! So at least I can share the excitement in this list:
You - Caroline Kepnes
Oooh I do like to get my teeth into an epic thriller. The words "unrelenting", "terrifying" and "perversely clever" are used, which sound totally up my street! Very excited!

Am I Normal Yet? - Holly Bourne
A YA book I have heard a lot about. I am intrigued by it because what is 'normal'? It is clear there is some sort of mental health theme, which is all I need to make me pick a book up! I have heard great things, which I really hope are true as it sounds fantastic.

The Missing Husband - Amanda Brooke
Those who know me won't be surprised to hear that I picked this book out because of the adorable baby on the cover! Cover aside, the synopsis gives the story of a wife keeping a terrible secret from her husband, who then disappears. I like family-style mystery stories, so am very intrigued by it!

Do No Harm - Henry Marsh
I have wanted this for ages! I am sure people have twigged that I am fascinated by neuroscience, and this book is written by a neurosurgeon, describing his experiences and his work. I am sure this will be a great non-fiction read!

The Bone Clocks - David Mitchell
Charlie and I are so in love with this cover! I have started to notice this pattern in myself - I always seem to read books by popular authors, but never their most popular book. Don't ask me why, but it seems to be working well for me if I continue to do it. Everyone knows David Mitchell for Cloud Atlas, so I am hoping this is as good!

Not that Kind of Girl - Lena Dunham
This is one of those books that I have been waiting to come out in paperback, and it finally has! I really like funny women writing funny rants/life observations, so I am looking forward to this! :)

The First Bad Man - Miranda July
The quite literal 'dark horse' in my collection, this book has no synopsis on the back and the cover gives nothing away, which is quite a clever tactic because it made me want to discover its mystery! The reviews say things like "heartbreakingly sad, thoughtful, disgusting and hilarious", or "fills you with the urge to tell the whole world about it" or "confidently out-there and emotionally convincing"...I just hope they're right!

The Other Me - Saskia Sarginson
"Eliza Bennet has the life she's always dreamed of. She's who she wants to be, and she's with the man she loves. But Eliza is living a lie. Her real name is Klaudia Myer. And Klaudia is on the run. She's escaping her old life, ans a terrible secret buried at the heart of her family. This is the story of Eliza and Klaudia. One woman. Two lives. And a lie they cannot hide from." I really like storylines along this genre, they mystery really intrigues me, so I am looking forward to this!

We Were Liars - E.Lockhart
I have heard so much about this book from excited bloggers and booktubers that when I saw it in my local bookshop, I just had to pick it up! :)

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl - Jesse Andrews
I'm sure many people have heard of this book thanks to the film's incessant advertising on TV! The story really intrigued me: two boys' friendship with a girl with cancer. I am not usually the biggest fan of movie covers for books, but seeing as I wouldn't be reading the book without hearing of the story in film form, I didn't think it was so bad!

It Started with Paris - Cathy Kelly
Oh every girl has got to allow herself a guilty pleasure every now and then! I really love Paris, and as I may be going there soon, I thought this'd be an enjoyable read! :) PS it also has such a pretty cover!

Second Life - SJ Watson
I absolutely loved 'Before I Go to Sleep', and have wanted this ever since I was aware it was being released. However I usually wait for the paperback. Luckily for me, Charlie offered me a gift card he needed to use, so I just couldn't resist using it to get my hands on SJ Watson's next work!

Fate of Ten - Pittacus Lore
Saving the best until last...the new instalment of the Lorien Legacies from Pittacus Lore! As you may know, I am completely obsessed with this series, I am excited to read this, and as always I shall be reading all the preceding books before finishing my run with this. I have to say, although I am glad that they have finally settled on a cover design for the series, I am not the biggest fan. I will go into this more in my Lorien Legacies post once I have read it, but I think they should have stuck to one of the other designs!

So that's it, as you can see I have been a bit of a prolific buyer of books in the last two weeks! Have you read any of them - what did you think? What are you reading at the moment, or what are you excited to read? I'd love to hear in the comments below :) 

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

'I Mustache You Some Questions' tag

Hello everyone, and sorry for the lack of posts in the last month! Thanks to Ria @ Lilac Diaries, my blogging life has been resurrected! She has very kindly tagged me in the 'I mustache you some questions' tag, which really makes me giggle and I'm very excited to get started, so let's hop straight to it! :)

Four jobs I would like to have:
1. Scientific researcher
2. Science teacher/lecturer
3. Psychiatrist
4. Bookseller (been there, done that, would love to go back!)

Four movies I have watched more than once:
1. Bridget Jones
2. Harry Potter
3. The Ugly Truth (Gerard Butler = hilarious)
4. Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging

Four books I would recommend: 
1. The Humans - Matt Haig
2. Before I Go to Sleep - SJ Watson
3. Two Brothers - Ben Elton
4. The Lorien Legacies - Pittacus Lore

Four places I have visited:
1. SO many places in France
2. Vietnam and Cambodia
3. Morocco
4. Florida (Disney - woo!)

Four things I don't eat:
1. Egg, bleurgh
2. Almonds
3. Coconut
4. Any weird organs e.g. liver, kidney

Four of my favourite foods:
1. Raspberries
2. Sorbet
3. Lemon cake
4. Pasta (any sauce, really)

Four TV shows I watch:
1. TOWIE (sorry!)
2. The X Factor
3. The Big Bang Theory
4. How I Met Your Mother

Four things I am looking forward to this year: (I'm taking this as this 'academic' year)
1. Hopefully going to study in France
2. Applying for PhDs (hopefully getting interviews!)
3. Graduating
4. Seeing what happens when I leave uni! :)

Four people I tag:
1. You - anyone reading this! Please link me your tag in the comments so I can have a nosey! :)
2. Ben @ Ben Sawyer's bookshelf
3. Opal @ Opal Swirls
4. atimethatflies
I hope I haven't embarrassed myself by tagging someone who has already done it! :)

I hope you have all enjoyed reading my tag! I think this is the first time I have done a post which isn't uniquely bookish, so it makes a refreshing change! I'd love to read everyone else's tags, so please comment below with your links! :)