Book Review: Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

Book Review: Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

Adult fiction (contemporary, mystery)
Buy: Hive
More: Goodreads

Jenna Metcalf is a young teenager tired of not knowing what happened to her mother ten years ago. Why did she disappear when Jenna was only a few years old? Is she alive – or dead? Everyone around Jenna has accepted that Alice Metcalf ran away and doesn’t want to be found, but Jenna refuses to believe that her mother would leave her, so goes in search of someone who can find out what really happened. Jenna is joined by Serenity Jones, a psychic who specialises in finding missing people and Virgil Stanhope, a private detective who originally worked on the case.

I am always impressed with the amount of research that goes into Jodi Picoult’s novels. She clearly isn’t someone who is comfortable saying that something or someone simply ‘is'; she immerses herself in the world of her characters, making them as real as possible. Before Jenna was born, Alice Metcalf was a young woman working on an elephant sanctuary as a research scientist. We hear about Alice’s past through her journals, showing how devoted she is to her career and how she came to meet Thomas, Jenna’s father. Because she is so passionate, there is an incredible amount of detail about the behaviours of elephants, such as they stay with a calf for days after it has died, outwardly expressing grief. If you’ve ever been wonderstruck by a David Attenborough documentary, you’ll probably be fascinated by just how much there is to know about the cognitive and emotional intelligence of elephants. Leaving Time is in some ways both an accessible documentary and the means by which we come to understand Alice Metcalf and the events that lead up to her disappearance.

Jodi Picoult tries something a little different in Leaving Time – something I won’t reveal – and whether you enjoy the ending will depend on what else you’ve read recently. Leaving Time is narrated by 13-year-old Jenna Metcalf, a wise and mature teenage protagonist. She was such a sensible and determined character that I couldn’t help hoping her world wouldn’t be destroyed in the process of finding her mother. Jenna is a little more pro-active in Alice’s disappearance than a regular teenager would be, but this is why she is forced to enlist the help of two adults, especially as her grandmother refuses to talk about her daughter and her father is in a psychiatric hospital. Although they make an unlikely but workable team, Serenity was a character I couldn’t quite get behind because I’m unconvinced by psychics, but Jodi Picoult does an excellent job of drawing us into Serenity’s abilities from a position of doubt.

Leaving Time is Jodi Picoult’s latest and it’s exactly what you’d expect – a mystery that tackles themes of loss, grief, relationships and love, but this time all is not as it seems. It’s not one of my favourites, but there were moments where I was completely absorbed in the mystery and couldn’t figure out where it was going, although I did try! Jodi Picoult will always be one of my favourite contemporary mystery writers, so bring on the next one!

Published: 14th October 2014 (US) 4th November 2014 (UK)
Publisher: Ballantine Books (US) Hodder & Stoughton (UK)
Pages: 416

Thoughts on Roald Dahl: The BFG, The Witches & Fantastic Mr. Fox

Roald Dahl Collection

Roald Dahl Collection

I’m currently working my way through the Roald Dahl Collection and for every three books I read, I’m going to let you know what I thought of them! I’ve now read Matilda, Esio Trot, The Twits – which you can read about it here – The BFG, The Witches and Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Thoughts on Roald Dahl: The BFG, The Witches & Fantastic Mr. FoxThe BFG
The BFG is my second favourite Roald Dahl novel after Matilda. I watched the animated film as a child and now I realise it’s a flawless adaptation. I adored fearless Sophie and the Big Friendly Giant, and their friendship, although that moment when The BFG first sees Sophie still gives me the chills! The BFG is a classic Roald Dahl story, full of dark humour – the other giants really are brutal, especially as they love to eat poor innocent children. It’s magical, whimsical and the broken English was the perfect touch. It doesn’t matter how ‘silly’ the worlds are, Roald Dahl still pulls you into his fantasy creation and makes it believable. I just wish I had the adaptation on DVD so I could watch it again!

Don’t gobblefunk around with words.

Thoughts on Roald Dahl: The BFG, The Witches & Fantastic Mr. FoxThe Witches
The Witches was chosen as part of this year’s Halloween Reads and it was a perfect children’s book for October! It was everything I hoped it would be from the very first page. Again, it made me think how spot on the adaptations are – they capture the tone of each book perfectly. The Witches is morbidly funny, terrifying and brilliantly inventive, and it’ll make any child wonder whether witches really exist; they’ll certainly know how to spot them after reading this book. If only Roald Dahl had written much longer stories. Can you imagine how fantastic these books would be if they were full-length novels? The Witches is perfectly creepy, but as with most Roald Dahl stories (I haven’t read them all yet!), with an edge of dark humour. You don’t see many characters like the boy’s grandmother in children’s literature now! She may be unconventional, but she adores her grandson and will do anything to help him save himself from the Witches’ horrendous plans.

I am not, of course, telling you for one second that your teacher actually is a witch. All I am saying is that she might be one. It is most unlikely. But – here comes the big “but”– not impossible.

Thoughts on Roald Dahl: The BFG, The Witches & Fantastic Mr. FoxFantastic Mr. Fox
I wasn’t sure know why, but Fantastic Mr. Fox felt the most festive to me, so I thought it’d be appropriate as my sixth Roald Dahl read. Now that I’ve read it, it’s a little festive (gathering together with friends for a celebratory meal), but it’s most likely because the film adaptation seems to always be on around Christmas – and now I cannot wait to watch it. Fantastic Mr. Fox is a charming, quick little read; a much less gruesome Watership Down. When three nasty men (Bean, Boggis and Bunce) put the home and lives of Mr. Fox, Mrs Fox and their four Small Foxes at risk, he comes up with an ingenious, masterful plan. It’s full of smart characters  – I loved the adorable four Small Foxes and their courageous determination – and it’s also the first Roald Dahl book I’ve read, I’d say, with an obvious underlying moral message.

Mr. Fox looked at the four Small Foxes and he smiled. What fine children I have, he thought. They are starving to death and they haven’t had a drink for three days, but they are still undefeated. I must not let them down.

Have you read any of these Roald Dahl books recently? Let me know what you thought!

Next up… Danny the Champion of the World or George’s Marvellous Medicine?

Books Are For Life | The Re-Read Challenge 2015

Re-Read Challenge
Is it ludicrous to buy and keep books if I’m not going to re-read them? I love re-reading, but I don’t do it as often as I think I should (I’ve re-read 3 books this year). I used to be an avid re-reader when I was a young teenager, but when you’re a blogger – for this is the main reason! – you find out about a lot of books and consequentially buy, borrow and accept a lot of books, meaning that it’s difficult to find time to read books you’ve already read. I have books I’ve bought and borrowed, books I’m reading for work, and books I’ve accepted for review. But I really miss reading my favourite books and it’s easy to forget why they became a favourite in the first place.

Thank you Laura @ Scribbles and Wanderlust for telling me about this challenge, hosted by Hannah @ So Obsessed With and Kelly @ Belle of the Literati. It’s common for bloggers to mostly review newly published books, yet there’s a whole wonderful world of older books just waiting to be talked about. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve enjoyed reading classics (even though I haven’t read as many this year): I’ve loved talking about books that so many people have read before. If you wish you were able to re-read your older books, join in and stop feeling guilty about it! If you would like to blog about books you’ve re-read, but don’t want to write a typical review, Hannah and Kelly have put together fun questions you can answer each time:

WHEN I First Read
WHAT I Remember
WHY I Wanted to Re-Read
HOW I Felt After Re-Reading
WOULD I Re-Read Again

Easy! I can’t commit to a specific number of books (too much pressure!), but here’s a selection from the 669 books I’ve read, that I’d love to re-read:

The Girl from the Sea by James Aldridge (read aged 14)
Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman (read aged 16)
The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook by Joyce-Lancaster Brisley (read aged 6)
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray (read aged 16)
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (read aged 24)
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot (read aged 13)
Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy (read aged 17-18)
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (read aged 22)
Paper Towns by John Green (read aged 22)
The Time-Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (read many times, but first aged 16)
Northern Lights by Philip Pullman (read aged 17)
Book of Shadows by Cate Tiernan (read aged 13)
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (read aged 23)

It also reminded me of this lovely video my colleagues and friends at Bloomsbury made… Books are for life, not just for Christmas!

From My Bookshelves / December Reads

It’s December tomorrow! I have two weeks off at Christmas (hooray!) and one of the best things about having time off is curling up with a book all day and not feeling guilty about it. I’ve been a slow reader this year; I’ve mostly read around 4-5 books per month. However, it’s not really about the amount that I’m reading. I wouldn’t mind reading a few books per month if I didn’t have so many on my TBR! But I have a lot of books on my shelves (and Kindle!), so this does mean there’s many brilliant books that I haven’t yet read and really want to. But don’t worry! I usually read 10-11 books in December, so I thought I’d put together a list of books that I’d like to read next month – I’m sure I can get to most of them!

From My Bookshelves / December Reads
My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories
edited by Stephanie Perkins because I’ve been waiting ALL YEAR for this. I’ll be reading it for my book club next Sunday, but it’s one I’m most excited to read this winter.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens because I have a poster of the Penguin English Library edition cover on my wall, which I won earlier this year, and I promised myself I’d read it this winter, otherwise I feel like a bit of a fraud!

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens because even though it might be a bit of a Dickens overdose, I’ve only ever studied A Christmas Carol rather than reading it for fun, so I’ve never really enjoyed it. Hopefully I can learn to love it as much as everyone else?

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott because this is another classic I’ve been meaning to read for such a long time. The adaptation is on Netflix but I’ve refused to watch it until I’ve read the book. If read all the classics in this post, it’ll also mean I’ll have read 8 books for my 2014 Classics Challenge and it’ll make me feel much better about it!

Unlocked: The Christmas Collection by Various because I bought this a few weeks ago, ready for Christmas. It’s actually five YA novellas – so I’ll of course be counting it as five books ;)

From My Bookshelves / December ReadsThe Bone Clocks by David Mitchell because I wanted to read this before his Waterstones Piccadilly event earlier this month, but I didn’t get round to it. I feel like it’s the sort of book I need to dedicate time and attention to (it’s very meta-physical!), so I’ve asked for it for Christmas so I can read over the break. I really enjoyed the extract that David Mitchell read at his event, so I’m looking forward to starting it.

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson because I’ve had the eBook of this popular YA contemporary novel for a while. Walker Books will be publishing the new cover edition next year and they sent a surprise copy of the book to me, so I’d like to read that as it has little illustrations, rather than my eBook.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson because we also received the new book at Walker’s Bookish Blogger Brunch yesterday. I feel like these are two books that you become completely absorbed in, so I can’t wait.

Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl because I only need to read one more book before I can ‘review’ three Roald Dahl books for you! I’ve seen that the adaptation of Fantastic Mr. Fox is on Sky Movies, so I’ve opted to read this one.

From My Bookshelves / December Reads
And here’s a few that I’ll be reading for work:

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale because it’s the 10th anniversary next year and I’m looking forward to seeing what I’ve missed out on all these years!

Poppy by Mary Hooper because the sequel, Poppy in the Field, is published next year and you all know how much I love YA/children’s world war fiction.

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Chris Riddell because it’s utterly beautiful and I’m looking forward to delving into this beautifully illustrated fairy tale.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas because we’re all so excited about Sarah’s new series!

Mistletoe and Mr. Right by Lyla Payne because it’s the perfect Christmas novella to curl up with and a mug of hot chocolate.

There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake because this is a huge book for us next year and I like the sound of a ‘twisty thriller’.

Have you read any of these? What are your top books for this winter?

Top Ten / Sequels I Can’t Wait to Read

I participate in Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, and this week the theme is Top Ten Sequels I Can’t Wait To Get. I much prefer standalones to series, but that doesn’t stop me from reading them! Here’s ten sequels I’m really looking forward to reading.

Top Ten / Sequels I Can't Wait to Read

Rose Under Fire (Code Name Verity #2) by Elizabeth Wein because I read Code Name Verity earlier this year and loved it, due to my obsession with YA/MG WWI and WWII fiction. I was going to review both books together but I never got round to picking up the companion novel. Now I need to re-read Code Name Verity. Next year?

The Whispering Skull (Lockwood & Co. #2) by Jonathan Stroud because I’ve just finished The Screaming Staircase and thankfully I really enjoyed it. I tend to not read much paranormal, but there’s something about ghost stories that appeals to me. Plus, I’ll start to miss Lockwood, George and Lucy (and their witty banter!) if I wait too long.

Days of Blood and Starlight (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2) by Laini Taylor because it’s been over three years since I read Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I’ll be getting the third book, Dreams of Gods and Monsters, for Christmas, so I’ll have no excuses.

Kentucky Thriller (Laura Marlin Mysteries #3) by Lauren St. John because even though the second book, Kidnap in the Caribbean, didn’t leave me as thrilled as I was when I read the first book, Dead Man’s Cove, I want to see Laura Marlin solve a mystery in the USA! And the fourth book, Rendezvous in Russia, sounds fab too.

Hollow City (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children #2) by Ransom Riggs because Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was so enjoyable and unique, and I’ve been looking forward to the sequel a lot. I just haven’t picked it up yet! However, this is another case where I have to re-read the first book as it’s been 2 years!

Top Ten / Sequels I Can't Wait to Read

Silver Shadows (Bloodlines #5) by Richelle Mead because this series is my guilty pleasure – Sydney Sage is such a relatable character.

The Infinite Sea (The 5th Wave #2) by Rick Yancey because The 5th Wave is one of my favourite young adult science fiction novels. I’m a little sad that it seems to be a lot shorter than the first book, but it’s still one of my most highly-anticipated sequels! I bought a copy over the Books Are My Bag celebrations.

Sorry About Me (Darcy Burdock #3) by Laura Dockrill because I read the second book, Hi So Much, earlier this year (I still haven’t read the first book!) and thought that Darcy was such an enthusiastic, quick-witted and imaginative character. I can’t wait to see what else she gets up to!

Rebel Angels (Gemma Doyle #2) by Libba Bray because it’s been so long since I picked up A Great and Terrible Beauty, sometime between 2005 and 2007. It could be nearly 10 years ago, folks! (Obviously another one for a re-read!).

Lair of Dreams (The Diviners #2) by Libba Bray because I’m reading The Diviners now and even though I’m not too far in because it’s a huge hardback that’s difficult to carry around, I just know that I’m going to be looking forward to the sequel.

Behold the Pretty Books! / September & October Book Haul

Behold the Pretty Books! / September & October Book Haul

Here’s most of the books I acquired over the past two months!

Violet and the Pearl of the Orient by Harriet Whitehorn and illustrated Becka Moor
Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher
The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard
Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
The Time In Between: A Memoir of Hunger and Hope by Nancy Tucker
Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates
My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins
Thirteen at Dinner, The ABC Murders & Funerals are Fatal by Agatha Christie
Us by David Nicholls

I know it looks like I went on a crazy book-buying spree, but actually I just have very kind friends (although I did buy books for Books Are My Bag!). Laura gave me a lovely old 1970s edition of a collection of three Agatha Christie novels as a gift because she stayed at my house over the summer, and she sent me To the Lighthouse because I mentioned I hadn’t read any books by Virginia Woolf. I stayed at Kate’s house for #DisneyWeekend (we watched 5 movies!) and she gave me Afterworlds (I’m intrigued that it’s about publishing!), Violet and the Pearl of the Orient (a beautifully illustrated and charming middle grade novel) and Everyday Sexism (an important book that we’ve all heard a lot about this year).

Jim gave me The Perfectionists, which I’m intrigued by even though I haven’t read Pretty Little Liars. Charlie invited me to a screening of This Is Where I Leave You a comedy about a dysfunctional family, where we received a copy of the book – and her housemate Beth gave me her spare copy of Ketchup Clouds – one of my favourite YA books. I won a copy of Us by David Nicholls, which I’m sharing with Daphne because we both desperately wanted it! I started it on the train back home and can’t wait to continue reading. I also received The Time In Between from Icon Books, where I used to work, which is a memoir of a young girl dealing with eating disorders. I adore the cover and cannot wait to see a finished copy.

Lastly, I did buy a book! I couldn’t resist pre-ordering My True Love Gave to Me, which is a collection of YA Christmas short stories edited by Stephanie Perkins. I’m most excited about her story and Rainbow Rowell’s, but I’ll be saving this for December.

Behold the Pretty Books! / September & October Book HaulBehold the Pretty Books! / September & October Book Haul
by Abbie Rushton
Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer
The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion
Quarter Past Two On A Wednesday Afternoon by Linda Newbery
Every Ugly Word by Aimee L. Salter
Unlocked: The Christmas Collection by Various
Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell
Sleepless by Lou Morgan

I also downloaded a few eBooks for review. They are all contemporary novels, which appears to be my favourite at the moment. I’ve already read Belzhar, which I thoroughly enjoyed and you can read my review here. I haven’t yet read The Rosie Project but I’m more inclined to now that I can jump straight to the sequel, The Rosie Effect. Charlie recommended Unspeakable, about Megan, who hasn’t spoken in months. I was also attracted to Quarter Past Two On A Wednesday Afternoon because of the title and Every Ugly Word because of the cover, both very different books but both ones I’m looking forward to reading. And lastly, I bought two eBooks in the new YA crime fiction line, Red Eye: Frozen Charlotte and Sleepless, plus a Christmas novellas eBook, ready for December! The Red Eye books are not officially published until next year but are 59p on Kindle at the moment to introduce people to the new series.

Behold the Pretty Books! / September & October Book HaulBehold the Pretty Books! / September & October Book Haul

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A Tour of London Bookshops: Book and Kitchen

A Tour of London Bookshops: Book and Kitchen
I visited Book and Kitchen on the same day I went to Portobello Market and Holland Park last July. Why it has taken me over 15 months to write about Book and Kitchen, I couldn’t really tell you, except I did accidentally delete 100+ photos I took inside the bookshop shortly after visiting (because I thought I had them backed up. I hadn’t). Luckily, I did save the best ones below! I can’t be sure that the bookshop still looks exactly the same, so you’ll just have to visit yourself and find out!

I first came across Book and Kitchen on This Is Your Kingdom, a lovely blog all about the wonderful things you can do in the UK, often little-known. It sounded like the perfect bookshop for me so I made sure it was next on my tour of London’s bookshops.

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Books Are My Bag / Bookshop Haul

Books Are My Bag / Bookshop Haul
Books Are My Bag
ran from 9-11th October and is a nationwide campaign to celebrate bookshops and the importance of buying books on the high street. I celebrated by buying books from two bookshops: Waterstones Gower Street and Waterstones Covent Garden (last year I visited Foyles). I really do love indies – and I do support them – but I wanted to visit two bookshops that were easy for me to get to, and I knew would have the books I wanted, as it’s a busy, busy month in publishing.

I like that Gower Street and Covent Garden are both quite large bookshops. I always enjoy this quote from The Great Gatsby because I believe it to be true: “I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.” I do enjoy tiny bookshops – their charm, passionate booksellers and curated stock – but I actually never feel that comfortable in them. I prefer large stores that I can get lost in and browse without feeling watched.

I originally wanted to visit a Big Bookshop Party on Saturday, but unfortunately two friends (non-readers!) rescheduled our pancake-eating date and I couldn’t bring myself to travel after such a busy week, but I did manage to buy some really wonderful books on Thursday and Friday that I cannot wait to get stuck into. Here’s what I bought for Books Are My Bag:

Books Are My Bag / Bookshop Haul
Goth Girl and the Fete Worse Than Death by Chris Riddell
Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders
The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey
The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

I bought Chris Riddell’s stunning Goth Girl last year, and although I haven’t read it yet, I though I’d treat myself to the sequel: Goth Girl and the Fete Worse Than Death. It sounds like it may feature a bake-off so I couldn’t really ask for more. (And it still has a mini book in the back!). I attended a seminar on children’s classics earlier this year and Kate Saunders was on the panel. She spoke a little about her book Five Children on the Western Front because it’s a sequel to E. Nesbit’s classic Five Children and It. As I adore wartime children’s novels, I cannot wait to get started. I’m happy that the sequel to The 5th Wave The Infinite Seahas finally been published, and as it’s one of my favourite YA science fiction novels, I hope the sequel is just as good. And lastly, I bought the science fiction-horror thriller that everyone’s been talking about, The Girl with All the Gifts.

Books Are My Bag Reading Survival Kit
And here’s the books the lovely people over at Books Are My Bag sent me part of the Reading Survival Kit (I didn’t notice that all the authors’ names began with ‘J’ until now!):

The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell
Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
All the Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry

I was super excited to read The Bookshop Book! Jen Campbell’s official Books Are My Bag book looks at “three hundred weirdly wonderful bookshops across six continents” and it sounds absolutely wonderful. Five Quarters of the Orange (recipe books, memories of war and a mysterious lady) and Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (an exploration of religion and sexuality) are two books I’d heard of but didn’t know too much about. All the Truth That’s in Me – about a young girl whose tongue has been cut out and so she cannot speak about the horror she has seen – is a YA novel that I actually already have a copy of, so I passed it onto a friend to enjoy.

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