Wednesday, 19 October 2016

My #Hallowreadathon 3 TBR!

Apologies for the delay in posting, I've got a really mean case of sinusitis at the moment. Luckily audiobooks exist, and my cat is keeping me company while I type! Now, when I wrote last years #Hallowreadathon TBR it was a little ridiculous. Since then I've discovered the beauty of small seasonal TBR posts and how much easier it is to pick your next read from a smaller selection. This year I'm going in with a TBR of just four...

So how do I plan to complete the challenges?

1. Read a book about a monster!
When I was coming up with this years challenges, I was looking at my copy of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. It was on my Hallowreadathon TBR last year as well. It's the ultimate monster story! Thus- read a book about a monster.
My other pick is The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor by Robert Kirkman and Jay Banansinga. By the time the Hallowreadathon is on, The Walking Dead will be back on TV and I'm really looking forward to finally finding out who died in the finale. Cliffhangers are garbage writing, kids! And since it not only has zombies, but also has the Governor, that's two kinds of monster.

2. Read a book with purple on the cover!
I thought the Welcome to Night Vale novel by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor. It's also perfect for Halloween because it's a little strange, a little creepy and the cover is super purple. And although I love the podcast, I've not read the book yet!
The other book I'm thinking about reading is Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse by Chris Riddell would make a perfect Hallowreadathon read since it's set in a creepy house and about ghosts. Plus, it's a children's book with images so a fast read. Not only does it have purple on the cover, it has metallic purple edges to the pages.

3. Read two books!
Everyone likes options though. So if it hits the 30th and I want to read something else, I'll be looking to my Autumn TBR.

As for the giveaway, not only can you win the first three Aurora Teagarden books in a #Hallowreadathon preparation box in this post. I'll also be giving away the first book from the Harper Connolly series; Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris to a random person who uses the hashtag over the 30th/31st!

Will you be joining the readathon? What do you plan to read?

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Book Review: If You Go Away by Adele Parks!

Sometimes it's good to wait on reading a book until it feels right, because when you read the right book at exactly the right time, it's beautiful. This was one of those occasions for me. I'd had If You Go Away* on my shelves for about a year and admittedly, reading about war in Europe during the Brexit debacle was a whole lot of negative. However, the hope in this book was exactly what I needed at that time.

1914. Vivian, a young, impassioned debutante is hurried into a pedestrian marriage to cover a scandal. War breaks out on her wedding day - domestically and across Europe. Quick to escape the disappointment of matrimony, her traditionalist husband immediately enlists and Vivian has no alternative than to take up the management and running of his estate - after all, everyone is required to do their bit. Even pretty, inadequately-educated young wives.

Howard, a brilliant young playwright rushes to the front to see for himself the best and the worst of humanity; he cannot imagine what the horror might be. In March 1916, when conscription becomes law, it is no longer enough for him to report on the War, it's a legal requirement that he joins the ranks. Howard refuses, becoming one of the most notorious conscientious objectors of the time. Disarmingly handsome, famous, articulate and informed, he's a threat to the government. Narrowly escaping a death sentence by agreeing to take essential work on Vivian's farm, it's only then Howard understands what is worth fighting for. 

Set during the first world war, If You Go Away follows two characters over 9 years. This was, by far, one of the most beautiful books I've ever had the good fortune of reading. As a reader, I'm a liberal user of sticky notes. When I like a section of writing, I put a sticky note next to it and at the end of the month when I usually write up reviews, I read over these sticky noted sections and write down my favourites in an inspiration journal. Normally books have three or four quotes. If You Go Away had seventeen.

With Howard being a writer, his thoughts are full of beautiful prose, "He wasn't a soldier; his pen was his weapon." And while I don't think you can tell the difference between the characters chapters that explicitly, it's third person so I'm not particularly bothered. The subject matter is so different because men and women lived such different lives back then, that it's easy to tell when you're reading about Howard or about Vivian.

As a conscientious objector, Howard Henderson makes a lot of brilliant points about the nature of war and how unnecessary it is. To borrow his words; "Why would the biggest and bloodiest war turn out to be the one that stops it all?" I do love a logical character. And again, I think it is still relevant today, there are only 10 countries in the world not currently 'in conflict'. I've already said that this is one of my favourite books, but I'll add to that and say Howard is one of my favourite male characters.

The other character that this book focuses on is Vivian, and she grows so much in this book. From being a spoilt, vapid girl to an inspirational woman, she is possibly one of my favourite female characters! I'm a broken record about this book but it's the truth. This is a surprisingly hard review to write because of how much I loved it.

Both main characters feel the effect of their morals on their social standing, and I think the reason that I connected so deeply with both of them is that my morals matched theirs. I was inspired by them. Enid Henderson too, she's a social pariah. Kind, but on the outskirts of the town because her husband left and she kept on going as an independent mother. Comparing her to Vivian's own mother is like chalk and cheese.

And the love story. Oh, the love story. My heart hurt in the best way as I read through the years. If the insta-love you see in a lot of books these days is wearing you down, If You Go Away will be the hearty meal you need to build yourself back up.

There was no such thing; for a writer it was impossible to overthink. That was his oxygen; to foresee, to second-guess, to imagine.

This was more of a rave, then a review as I just can't think of anything remotely bad about this book. I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for more Adele Parks books in the future. And if you want to pick up a copy, you can find it here!

Have you read If You Go Away?

*I was sent a proof of this book by the publisher. I'm not obligated to talk about it.

Monday, 3 October 2016

#Hallowreadathon 3!

This is halloween. This is halloween. Books are read in the dead of night.
It's October again, halloween approaches and with it, the Hallowreadathon returns for it's third year! The Hallowreadathon is a 48 hour readathon on Halloween and is a low-key way of celebrating the holiday by reading books. There are challenges, giveaways and it's all themed around the spooky, scary season.

This year the dates are going to be a little different. It'll still be on Halloween, Monday the 31st. But rather then All Saint's Day, it's going to start on Sunday the 30th to give people more time to read at the weekend. And the challenges this year...

1. Read a book about a monster!
2. Read a book with a purple cover!
3. Read two books!

As for the giveaways, there will be one that will be picked from people using the #Hallowreadathon hashtag on Instagram and Twitter after the weekend. The prize will be announced in my TBR post on the 17th because I haven't actually bought it yet, but this year I wanted to add a little extra prize.

I call it, my Hallowreadathon preparation box. It'll contain the first three Aurora Teagarden books by Charlaine Harris, perfect readathon reads as they're spooky, 200 pages and contain murderers that could count as monsters. It'll have chocolates/ sweets/ snacks that fit your dietary requirements so if you're Vegan, please mention it. And a few surprises!
The winner will be chosen on the 23rd to give it time to get to the winner before the readathon starts. And all you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Will you be joining the Hallowreadathon?

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Books I Read in September!

This is the saddest reading month I've had since January. Only two books! I did get 98% through another but not even my sad little pile of two could make me read any faster. Luckily, I'm feeling really positive about October and my Autumn TBR even with my degree starting back up. And, of course, the Hallowreadathon!

Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth
Did I actually pick up a book from my Autumn TBR shortly after posting about it? I did! And I loved it. Honestly, I was surprised at how much I loved it because non-fiction generally isn't something that keeps my attention. But the way this was written, in short chapters, made it an easy read to pick up whenever I had some spare time. I love the BBC show, midwifery and the 1950s in general so it was a win all round. It was so interesting seeing how things used to be done, I can't imagine so many people having home births these days.
I saw a lot of comments on Goodreads about a chapter in the middle that got a little graphic when Worth described prostitution and maybe I'm desensitised after Asking For It but it was pretty tame in my opinion.
My one issue, and the reason I had to knock a star off my rating was actually how gosh darn negative Worth could be about people. While she had some really wonderful things to say about midwifery and the women who moved the occupation forward, she rarely said a nice thing about individuals. In fact, she could be downright mean about women's appearance and that just makes me sad. Some of the things were downright cutting and everyone was so ugly from her point of view. I wouldn't want to know her in real life if that's the way she views people.
We midwives often had to pick our way through a forest of flapping linen to get to our patients.

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
I listened to this on audiobook after seeing Ben Aaronovitch talk at YALC and my mother having the entire series on her Audible. I liked it! The narrator was good and I don't think I'm ever going to be able to un-hear the bad guy, that shit is going to haunt me.
But the story didn't really jump out to me. Again, I worry that this has to do with the fact that I read it in audiobook format but I just found some of it kind of- eh. The plot felt both busy, and not enough. I wasn't hooked so despite the diverse characters, the cool magical system and how charming Ben Aaronovitch it, it took me a while to get through. I have already started the second audiobook though so it wasn't all bad.

What did you read in September?

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