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Title: Love and Laughter in the Time of Chemotherapy
Author: Manjusha Pawagi
Genre: Memoir
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: 288
Date read: May, 2017

Manjusha Pawagi, a successful family court judge, has written a not-so-typical memoir about her experience with cancer. Wryly funny and stubbornly hopeful, this is her quirky take on what it's like to face your own mortality when, to be honest, you thought you'd live forever. She describes how even the darkest moments of life can be made worse with roommates; details how much determination it takes to ignore the statistics; and answers the age-old question: what does it take to get a banana popsicle around here?

An excellent book! I'd recommend this to anybody, no matter whether or not they've had their lives touched by cancer.

It's a very poignant and real book. Manjusha allows the reader an insight into an experience they will hopefully never have to go through themselves, and while Manjusha is undoubtedly one of the lucky ones (she survived!) it still served as a chilling reminder of how cancer effects not just the patient, but everybody around.

I find it wrong to say that I "liked" the book, but I had a very hard time putting it down, and it is one of those powerful books that stay with you for a long time after finishing it.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Behind Closed Doors
Author: B.A. Paris
Genre: Suspense
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 351
Date read: November, 2016

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do.

You'd like to get to know Grace better.

But it's difficult, because you realise Jack and Grace are never apart.

Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn't work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of the bedroom windows.

Sometimes, the perfect marriage is the perfect lie.

This is one of those books that's almost impossible to rate. It was ridiculously well-written, and I could neither put it down, nor stop thinking about it when I finally did. I read it in two days flat.

At the same time, it was incredibly disturbing. Parts of it made me physically sick to my stomach, others I had to skim through, as I couldn't handle reading them. At one point I seriously considered just leaving it, as it made me feel so awful to read.

But I had to know what happened.

Fortunately it improved. Reading about a person being broken is never fun. Reading about a broken person learning how to fight back immensely more satisfying. I wouldn't go as far as to say I enjoyed it, and I certainly cannot recommend it in good faith, but I'm glad I stuck with it, and was happier with the ending than I'd expected to be.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Knitlandia: A Knitter Sees the World
Author: Clara Parkes
Genre: Essays, Crafts
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 160
Date read: March, 2016

Awesome book to live vicariously through! Clara Parkes takes the reader to Rhinebeck, Knitting Vogue, the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, Maryland Sheep and Wool and a number of other places where there's yarn and knitting to be found.

The most common criticism of this book is that there's a lot of name-dropping going on, and that is very true. But as I was interested in reading about most of the people whose names Clara dropped, that didn't bother me at all.

"Knitlandia" is a nice combination of essays about going to festivals (both as a participant and a teacher), and behind-the-scenes insight into websites like Ravelry and Craftsy.

I wouldn't expect a non-knitter to like the book much (and possibly not even a knitter who wasn't part of the online knitting community), but for somebody like me, who's a member of Ravelry and Craftsy, and who loves knitting podcasts with all the background given there, it's a trip through my knitty bucket list.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories
Author: R.J. Palacio
Genre: YA
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: 380
Date read: October, 2015

AUGGIE & ME is a new side to the WONDER story: three new chapters from three different characters - bully Julian, oldest friend Christopher and classmate Charlotte - giving an insight into how Auggie has touched their own lives.

It didn't blow me away the way "Wonder" did, but I still really, really, really liked it.

I've wanted to read this ever since I finished "Wonder" two months ago, and thanks to an exceptionally well timed birthday present, I was able to read it for my October read-a-thon. It totally lived up to my expectations, and I'd be hard pressed to say which short story I liked the best. It was good to see things from Julian, Chris and Charlotte's point of view, and I liked that Auggie was just a minor characters in these stories.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: One Wizard Place
Author: D.M. Paul
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 3/5
# pages: Audiobook ~6hrs
Date read: October 2015

It's time to right magic that has gone wrong. Young Justin Kasey Hobskin (known as Kase) and his faithful partner Murdox (who just happens to be a talking wolf-dog) are agents for the Incantation Enforcement Agency, Counter-Curse Division. In a world were magic and technology are intertwined; they have the unpleasant job of righting magic that has gone wrong. Following the completion of the difficult task of rousting some pesky nixies (wily little blue vermin), they learn that their next assignment involves saving an elf king who is slowly turning to stone after drinking a mystical afternoon tea. What begins as a typically quirky assignment turns out to be a quest that takes them to forbidden lands where they encounter magical beasts and unique challenges destined to test all their skills and intelligence.

A sweet and short story. There wasn't much to it, but I liked it well enough. In style it reminded me a lot of "The Last Dragonslayer" by Jasper Fforde, which isn't a bad thing at all.

I'd probably have liked it even more if I'd read it as a book-book instead of an audiobook, as I kept getting distracted (through no fault of the book) and probably missed details.
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Title: Wonder
Author: R.J. Palacio
Genre: YA
Rating: 5/5
# pages: 316
Date read: August, 2015

"I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse."

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?

Definitely not a book for everybody. I can easily see how it could be too twee for some and just too much for others, but personally, I absolutely adored it! Without a doubt one of the best books I've read this year. It had me both laughing and crying with joy, and I had tears - happy tears - running down my cheeks as I read the last page. It was probably a too perfect ending, but it worked for me, and I just wanted to gather everybody up and give them all huge hugs.

A wonderful comfort read I'm certain I'll return to many times in the future.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society
Author: Beth Pattillo
Genre: Christian fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: 352
Date read: November 2009, March 2014

On the third Friday of each month, Eugenie, Ruth, Esther, Merry, and Camille meet at the Sweetgum Christian Church to enjoy the two things that connect them: a love of knitting and a passion for books. Their camaraderie remains unthreatened until Eugenie, the town librarian, introduces an angry teenager into their midst. Eugenie also gives them a new reading list: the classic novels of girlhood that young Hannah has never read. Little Women. Pollyanna. Heidi. Books that remind the women of the hopes and dreams they have lost along the way.

With each click of their needles, the ladies of the Knit Lit Society unravel their secrets: A shadow from Eugenie's past haunts the controlled order of her life. Merry's perfect little family is growing again - but will she continue to feel her identity slip away? Camille dreams of leaving town but is bound by ties of love. And the sisters, Ruth and Esther, must confront a lie they have lived with for over thirty years.

As Hannah is reluctantly stitched into their lives, the women discover the possibility that even in sleepy Sweetgum, Tennessee, they can still be the heroines of their own stories.

I read the sequel, The Sweetgum Ladies Knit for Love, earlier this year, not realising that it was a sequel. However, I loved it, and wanted to know what came before.

TSKLS didn't disappoint. I was just as charmed by it as I had expected to be. In atmosphere it could best be compared to Mitford, as the reader is introduced to some of the characters of a small village - none of them perfect, but all of them human.

TSKLS is not a literary masterpiece, but it's a very cozy book that's the perfect comfort read.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: The Sweetgum Ladies Knit for Love
Author: Beth Pattillo
Genre: Christian fiction
Rating: 5/5
# pages: 354
Date read: June 2009, March 2014

Six very different women meet once a month to knit, talk and socialise. Each month they try out a new knitting project inspired by one of the books the group leader and master librarian, Eugenie has picked out.

This year Eugenie thought she'd try something new. Inspired by her recent marriage, she thought it would be interesting to have "Classic love stories" as the common book topic. What she hadn't stopped to think about, was that these books of love might not seem quite as easy reads to the others... Esther, who'd just lost her husband... Camille, who desperately wants to get away from Sweetgum - even now that her old beau has returned... Hannah, the 13-year-old girl Eugenie agreed to foster after her mother skipped town... Merry, who's discovering that love can be quite overwhelming... and newest member Maria, who sorely resents having to sell her family property to a new-comer and his arrogant business partner.

Still, all six women find something to relate to in the different novels, and from Shakespeare to Brontë, they find they can apply the literary experiences to their own lives, and either learn from them... or make the same mistakes themselves.

In style as well as genre Beth Pattillo's novel most of all reminded me of the Mitford series by Jan Karon with a touch of a Jane Austen thrown in (okay... sometimes more than "a touch"... it was occasionally glaringly obvious, but I love P&P, so I'll let that slide ;) - a small tranquil town, a pastor and his wife, and the coming and goings of the people around them. The atmosphere of Sweetgum appealed to me, and I enjoyed reading about the friendships that grew between the ladies of the Knit Lit society.

The Sweetgum Ladies Knit for Love is the sequel to The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society, but can easily be read on its own. I didn't feel like I missed any inside information that would have been beneficial, but will go ahead and read them in reverse order - I want to read more about these lovely ladies, even though I already know "what happens next".

Definitely one of the cosiest reads I've had so far this year. I couldn't put it down, and ended up going to bed much too late in order to finish it.

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