Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Books I Read in April!

I read two really big books in April! I'm not one for big books in general so this is actually pretty exciting. Probably helped by the fact that I went on holiday in April and took some real chunky books. But overall it was a good month; I liked everything I read and I covered a wide range of genres!

Cat next to The Coffin Dancer by Jeffery Deaver, Summer Lightning by P.G. Wodehouse, Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen by Alison Weir and The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams.
Yes, these books did get knocked down about 0.2 seconds after this picture!




The Coffin Dancer by Jeffery Deaver
I started this series with The Bone Collector back in September of last year, which I adored so I have no idea why it took me so long to get to the next in this series! I picked it up and put it down a couple times over the past few months but holidays always get me in the crime-reading mood and it eventually got its hook in me.
This is Deaver at the beginning of his long writing career and I did find a few things in this book that show that; the most amusing being someone pointing their "alarmingly long thumb" which... what?But also, Sachs, who is a wonderfully fleshed out character in the first book, is weirdly jealous of another woman in this book and responds to that by thinking about how unattractive she is. Other characters mention this womans looks over and over which is icky and a little disappointing.
It's the second book in the series and, for the first time, I think I understand the whole second-book-is-tough mythology. Following up from The Bone Collector must've been a challenge, but I'm hoping these kinks get ironed out in book three.
On another note, I struggle with slurs in books when the intention isn't to be racist and it's a slightly older book. The Coffin Dancer was first published 20 years ago so the use of g*psy is, I guess, understandable- but still uncomfortable.


Summer Lightning by P.G. Wodehouse
Lord Emsworth has very bad luck in houseguests because in every book, someone comes in and uses his castle as the setting for some nefarious plot or other. This time, someone has stolen his pig.
I'm sure I'm a broken record at this point but Wodehouse has the most charming writing, I smile as I read these books and as we enter Spring, I find myself reaching for them more than ever.
Before, he would gladly have murdered Beach and James and danced on their graves. Now, he would be satisfied with straight murder.


Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen by Alison Weir
You all know my love for this series by now. Book one and book two were incredible, and while I enjoyed this one slightly less, it was still great and I'll be giving it a full review soon!


The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams
Do you ever read a book and get totally turned around on an entire genre? I was starting to think that fantasy wasn't the genre for me because even though I love it in theory, in practice it's what I ever reach for. And now I'm completely convinced that it's not fantasy I don't like, it's male-written fantasy. I'll be doing a full review rave soon but I can hand-on-heart say that I think Jen Williams is a blessing to the fantasy genre.


Have you read any of these books? What have you been reading lately?

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Books I Took to Mallorca!

I had long decided Mallorca was going to be my 'reading' holiday where I do almost nothing but eat, read and rest. I was determined to get some good pages turned, mainly of review copies since I found myself with a pile of seriously exciting upcoming releases. Unfortunately it ended up being less relaxing then I hoped, but hey- lets talk about the books that made their way to Mallorca with me!



The Coffin Dancer by Jeffery Deaver
I planned my packing list of books carefully this time and I still winded up shoving The Coffin Dancer in my backpack on my way out the door. I'm ridiculous! In my defense though, I was about 50 pages in and it's so little. I read a good chunk of this while I was away and finished it soon after I got back!

The Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon and The Emigrants by W.G. Sebald
Both of these were in my 'Required Reading' haul and that's why they were both packed. My next assignment is a choice between the two of them. I started The Emigrants but it's a tough read and I just wanted a week without university stress so I put it down again.

Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh*
I missed the initial Flame in the Mist hype but with the new cover and the upcoming release of the second book, I'm hopping on that hype. Plus, the main character in this dresses like a boy and I'm named after a Shakespeare character who does the same thing. I didn't get round to it on the trip but it's top of my TBR.

Six Tudor Queens: Jane Seymour, The Haunted Queen by Alison Weir*
This is one of my most anticipated reads of this year. So delaying reading this when I got it about two weeks before my holiday was killing me. As I pack, I change my mind of what I want to take a lot, but this was the first thing in my suitcase. I powered through this on my trip and I liked it!

The Ninth Rain and The Bitter Twins by Jen Williams*
I really wanted to finish The Ninth Rain before I went on holiday so I could take The Bitter Twins but I didn't. So I brought both along because the idea of ten days without Jen Williams writing seemed like torture. I don't think I can go back to male written fantasy after this, Williams has opened my eyes!

Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio*
This is a science fiction book that Gollancz are putting out in July and I'm so excited. I haven't read a good and thick space war book in so long. I didn't end up picking it up but I've since started it and dang, it's going to be an interesting read!

Have you read any of these? What do you think of my holiday picks?

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Books I Read in March!

I didn't do a lot of reading in March! I had a pretty interesting February in reading but it was the beginning of a bit of a slump which continued through March, helped along by a really stressful deadline. I did manage to listen to two audiobooks and read one physical book though, so I didn't give up completely.

American Housewife by Helen Ellis and Blandings Castle.. And Elsewhere by P. G. Wodehouse


American Housewife by Helen Ellis*
So, I read this in a couple hours which is unusual for me. I haven't read a whole book in one day for a while! But this might have something to do with this being big print on 185 pages with 32 being blank or title pages.
Now, I'm not sure I actually enjoyed it no matter how fast I read it. It's a strange mish-mash of twelve stories within the theme of the American Housewife and while I think if any of these stories was fleshed out into an actual book, I could be convinced to pick them up... In short short story form they felt like the flash fiction that would be written from writing prompts of the titles.
On the other hand, her sister is one of the hosts of the podcast One Bad Mother which I adore! I'd reccomend that any day.


Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty
I listened to the audiobook of this because it's read by the author and I adore her YouTube about death positivity. She's taught me a lot about grief over the year or so I've been subscribed and has helped me through grieving in my personal life. With the audiobook though, I actually found her voice quite hard to concentrate on, it's too soothing! But fall asleep to a book about death and expect weird dreams.
As for the actual book, I really liked it. I learnt a lot but it was an enjoyable learning experience filled with personal stories on a topic I don't think I've spent a lot of time thinking about. From the obsessive compulsive rituals she developed as a kid after seeing a young child die, to a suicide attempt, this book doesn't shy away from anything on Doughty's death journey.
I'm definitely going to buy a physical copy of this, and her newer book when I'm not on my book-buying-ban because I think they'll be a good physical read.
Note: There is use of the term 'hermaphrodites', rather than intersex which is really something writers and editors need to pick up on more. This isn't the first time I've read this outdated term in a contemporary book.
If the American optimist led to the 'prettying up' of the corpse... British pessimism led to the removal of the corpse and the death ritual from polite society.


Blandings Castle... And Elsewhere by P. G. Wodehouse
I'm not a big lover of short stories, I don't know why, maybe because I don't get the same sense of immersion. So while P.G. Wodehouse is fast becoming a favourite and these stories were good, I didn't love them as much as I hoped. His mastery of the English language and comedic timing is evident in everything he writes though.
There were six Blandings Castle stories, one concerning Bobbie Wickham who features in two of Wodehouse's other series as a bit of a side character, and five about the Mulliners of Hollywood- telling tales of old Hollywood from the point of view of a rather unreliable narrator. I prefered the Blandings ones as I'm rather fond of the family by now but they were all fun enough.
A ray of sunshine, which had been advancing jauntily along the carpet, caughts sight of his face and slunk out, abashed.

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Book Review: Anne Boleyn: A King's Obsession by Alison Weir!

When I finished Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen I was convinced. Yes, she was the true Queen. And Anne Boleyn? Nope, I did not like her and never would, she was the villain of the story. Well- obviously Henry VIII is the villain but Anne Boleyn was a minor villain and while not deserving of being beheaded, wasn't going to get my sympathy. Well, enter Alison Weir and A King's Obsession! By the end of this, I ended up crying for a Queen long since dead. Again.




It is the spring of 1527. Henry VIII has come to Hever Castle in Kent to pay court to Anne Boleyn. He is desperate to have her. For this mirror of female perfection, he will set aside his Queen and all Cardinal Wolsey’s plans for a dynastic French marriage.

Anne Boleyn is not so sure. She loathes Wolsey for breaking her betrothal to the Earl of Northumberland’s son, Harry Percy, whom she had loved. She does not welcome the King’s advances; she knows that she can never give him her heart.

But hers is an opportunist family. And whether Anne is willing or not, they will risk it all to see their daughter on the throne…


Oh, Anne Boleyn. Did you know that decapitation isn't an immediate death? I went on a Google deep-dive after this and science has some buck wild thoughts on the matter. I totally cannot un-read some of the details of experiments. But, even before this terrible end, I was feeling sorry for Anne Boleyn. She wants to marry for love, against her father's wishes, and ends up with just the worst man so that the family can gain points. Reading her whole story from childhood, you connect with her as a character and it feels all the more brutal when she's treated so badly.

There's also the blending of contemporary ideas with the thoughts of the time. Anne was surrounded by women leaders and was a strong independent woman who thought that women could rule. She was taught- at least in this fictionalised world- that she had the feminine power to flirt and lead men that way. This endeared me to her and I just wanted her to get a happy ending, goshdarnit. The author's note goes into feminism in 16th Century Europe and the women leaders Anne served, and it's so so interesting.

And that Author's Note. Obviously, any historical fiction is going to be that, fiction. But Weir's Author's Note at the end of these books show the detail of research and are often the most interesting part of the read for me- these books are fantastic so this isn't a slight. I just love reading about how she went about writing. There is much less source material to use when it comes to Anne, in comparison to Katherine, and a lot of the material comes from a hostile source. This just makes the depth of the story all the more impressive.

Alison Weir continues to amaze me. She completely turned my opinion on Anne around, my emotions were all over the place and even with 500+ pages, I always want more when it comes to this series.

-she added her name, so that anyone finding the inscription in years to come would know who had written it. By then she would either be famous or forgotten.

Have you read any good books about Anne Boleyn?

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