Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Books I Read in May!

My laptop is finally fixed so here is my May reading wrap-up, soon to be followed by June and July! May was the month of my last essay for this term of university so I didn't get as much reading done as I wanted. That, and I was hate-reading for the first time in a long time. I'm a big fan of putting a book down if you're not enjoying it, so why I decided a 800-page monster needed to be finished, I'll never know. But hey, here are the books I loved and loathed in May.



The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Y'all, I hated this book. People I know have similar tastes to me kept saying it was great and a slow-burn. So I listened to the whole 32-hour audiobook and y'know what? Hated it.
I understand that this story is from the point-of-view of the main character many years later, and therefore he can be the strongest, handsomest, best-at-everything kind of guy and it's a narrative choice- but boy, male wish-fulfilment is so boring. So boring.
I also have no interest in a book with such low regard for women. 1/10 of the students at the magic university are women, literally no reason is given for this. Sex workers are "whores" but you should call them ladies because "their lives are hard enough". A female student is asked to cross her legs by a professor who: "Now the gates of hell are closed" can begin his lecture. This was prompted by her being a few minutes late and nobody says anything.
This was the highest rated book on my Goodreads TBR. What the heck did I miss?!


The Emigrants by W.G. Sebald
I read this for an essay I was writing and it was one of those required reads that I want to come back to in the future because it was a good book, but I couldn't enjoy it as much as I think I will when I'm not reading under pressure. The language was truly beautiful.
The pine forests were black on the mountainsides, the windows gleamed like lead, and the sky was so low and dark, one expected ink to run out of it at any moment.


The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Finally reading The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is like showing up to a party late and deciding to just go with it. Everyone else is having fun, jump in and enjoy it. Would I have enjoyed it as much if I didn't love the movie so much? Who knows. But I saw a lot of comparisons online to the Terry Pratchett-style humour which I didn't really enjoy, so was glad that the audiobook had me laughing out loud several times.
The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't.


The Empty Chair by Jeffery Deaver
Lincoln Rhyme leaves his New York apartment in this book which I felt was a really interesting choice; the case they investigated was very not-Manhattan and really changed up the feel of the book. Sometimes crime series can get a bit same-y, but not here. Especially because he and Amelia Sachs went to the South, where I have a few friends and therefore find super interesting.
This was also the first time I've seen "able-bodied" used in a book, and this came out in 2000. I really like the fact that one main character is a quadriplegic and one has terrible arthritis and chronic pain because it's really relatable to me as a disabled reader. This book also deals with Rhyme wanting a surgery that could make things better, but more likely not, or worse, or kill him. The way this is dealt with shows both sides of the coin when it comes to treatment and disability; either risking making it worse, or acceptance.
However, a very 2000's thing was one of the characters being afraid to catch HIV from a gay man who had been shot so... swings and roundabouts?
The best criminalists [...] were like talented novelists, who imagined themselves as their characters- and could disappear into someone else's world.



Can you remember what you read all the way back in May?

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

18 Books I Want to Read in 2018: 180 Days Left!

I had to do some maths to figure out when there was 180 days left of 2018 and I'm still not completely convinced I'm right. But I love matching numbers so I tried. At the beginning of the year, I wrote a list of 18 books that were a priority for me this year and it seems like a good enough time for a check-in on how that's going!



Starting with the ones I haven't read (yet); Sense and SensibilityMansfield ParkNorthanger Abbey and Persuasion by Jane AustenI read Emma and Pride and Prejudice in 2017, and was in such an Austen mood at the beginning of the year. I started both Sense and Sensibility, and Mansfield Park but didn't get very far at all though. 

Same with Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. My audiobook listens have been more lighthearted lately but I'm not writing any of them off yet!

I'm actually really feeling like reading Empire and Dominion by Jennifer Ridyard and John Connolly as I write this, its so easy to forget about books with the constant flow of new releases but my YA craving will hopefully mean these are on my read shelf soon.

I can't believe I didn't read Coming Out Under Fire by Allan Bérubé during Pride month! I must get to this soon!

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin and Never Greener by Ruth Jones are those kind of books that I picked up then put down again because I know in the future, I'll be really in the mood for a specific type of story and they will be incredible reads.

I'm actually currently reading Please Take Me Home: The Story of the Rescue Cat by Clare Campbell on-and-off-again whenever I can get my current foster kittens to sit still long enough on my lap, but 8-week-olds very rarely sit still so I'm not very far in! I can already tell its going to break my heart though.

Despite now owning the Folio Society copy of the sequel, and the fact that I literally named three kittens I fostered in March after the characters- I didn't re-read Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome while I had them! It's a very Summer-y book though, so maybe this will distract me from this horrible heatwave we're having.



And the ones I've read, like The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas AdamsI listened to the first book in May and continued with the second book in June so really I'm overachieving with this one. I did feel the pressure of hype with this one a little and it did have a bit of an effect on my enjoyment but these books are great and I'm glad I've finally started this series!

The Fear Within by J.S. Law was the first book on this list that I picked up but it took me a long time to finish! Despite loving the first book in this series; Tenacity (now called The Dark Beneath), it really was a bit of a letdown which you can read a bit more about here

I was a little let down by The Coffin Path by Katherine Clements too. Probably because I loved Katherine Clements debut; The Crimson Ribbon and her second book The Silvered Heart. But this one just wasn't for me. I liked it, but I really wanted to love it.

I was dreading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling when I added them to the list after having such an awful time with the fifth book, but these were both pleasant surprises and I had them ticked off by the middle of February. I don't think I'll re-read the Harry Potter series again for a long time though.



And the one I won't be reading; Villette by Charlotte BrontëI started this and got a good way in but I really don't like Charlotte Brontë's writing so I'm giving myself a pass on this one. Maybe in a few years but I can't see myself getting to it in the next 180 days.

What books do you want to read in the second half of 2018?

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Book Review: The Haunting of Mount Cod by Nicky Stratton!

It's been a while since I dipped my toe into the cozy crime genre. It's a genre that I truly love but, like romances, it seems to be sold primarily in Ebook form which I can't read. So when I got an email about a paperback copy of The Haunting of Mount Cod by Nicky Stratton* for the blog tour, you can bet I was waiting by my the letterbox for its arrival.


Lady Laura Boxford lives with her pug, Parker in the retirement complex of Wellworth Lawns, formerly her family home. One day she and her friend Venetia see the ancient actor, Sir Repton Willowby arriving. He’s Venetia’s cousin by marriage and Venetia says he murdered his wife. He lives at the Edwardian pile, Mount Cod and he says he’s being haunted by the ghost of an eighteenth century serving wench called Rosalind.


Laura is convinced he’s a charlatan using the ghost as a ruse for finding a new wife. She determines to get to the bottom of the mystery on account of Venetia’s daughter who stands to inherit Mount Cod. But did Sir Repton murder his wife and is the house haunted?


Something I really appreciated from the get-go was the age of the main characters! It's very rare to read a book with older characters that aren't just there to give wise advice to the youth. The Haunting of Mount Cod is not only jam-packed with older people, it's set in a care home. And Laura, Venetia, Repton- the whole cast are still having adventures, going out and about, solving crime. It made me realise how much I want to read from this different perspective, and how many of my books seem to be unspoken dystopias where everyone disappears at 40.

As for the crime, it did get a little confusing as more and more characters got involved but I was flip-flopping back and forth about who did it and why until the big reveal. And then, of course, everything made sense! That's the kind of experience I want with any kind of crime novel, cozy or not. I want to know everything the narrator knows and figure it out with them. Laura was the best kind of cozy crime narrator; nosey and determined!

One thing that let the book down for me was the representation. There is Bulgarian maid who leaves words out of her sentences, an "OCD headcase", and g*psy is used a lot, which isn't great- but these characters are older and I think its unfortunately a fairly accurate representation of the older generations. It's a slur that some people don't see as damaging but since they are portrayed as heavy drinkers and thieves, it's something to consider. However, a character does describe themselves as Gender Queer which is pretty rare to see, and the female MC calls out a sexist comment made by a man.

Overall, I enjoyed my trip back into cozy crimes and I'm going to have to explore more into the genre as they're such lighthearted reads that I can fit between the Victorian tomes that fill my reading list right now. If The Haunting of Mount Cod sounds like your kind of read, you can pre-order it for Thursday here! And make sure to check out my fellow blog tour hosts for their opinions and extracts!



"This toing and froing of ideas in her head was like windscreen wipers going full tilt in a snow storm."

Do you have a favourite cozy crime? What is it?

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Book Review: Oblivion by Jennifer L Armentrout!

While pondering my shelves, I realised that despite buying the whole five-book Lux series by Jennifer L. Armentrout, I had never got past the first book. And I liked the first book! But over a year has passed and heck if I can remember the plot details. Luckily for me, Oblivion* exists which is the first book from the male protagonist's point of view!



I liked it a little less than Oblivion, probably because Daemon as a character is a lot less likeable than Katy and hearing him justify being a jerk to her gets tired after a while. But there's kind of a terrible but understandable-for-a-teenage-boy-right-now explanation for it all: "I was surrounded by people who looked to me to have all the answers, to protect them, to never show fear. And so I put on a big front and swaggered around like nothing frightened me." Toxic masculinity ahoy!

There was some weird body shaming as well which was disappointing because one of the things I loved about Obsidian is that Katy managed to be realistically happy with how she looked, for a teenage girl. But here's Daemon, glad that Katy isn't "one of those skinny girls [he] hated" and making transphobic comments wishing she looked like "a girl who looked like a dude" to lessen his attraction to her. And I understand that teenage boy-aliens can be garbage but: "all this thinking about my feelings and hers was probably going to give me a period". Yikes!

The story was basically the same, and it is a good story that's fun to read. Armentrout is a writer that knows what her story is, who her audience is, and writes it well. But I think that the brooding YA hero is a lot less heroic when you're reading about why he's so broody, because rationally it's just putting on a tough-guy face and being mean, and while I understand that within todays society, it's not a good look. Give me a nice guy any day.

Overall, I don't think Oblivian is a must read but I'm glad I got to refresh my mind on the first book without having to re-read. I'd definitely be interested if more authors wrote these types of books, like the gender-swapped Twilight book. I'd love the Aurora Teagarden series from the point-of-view of the police she is constantly solving cases for.



Every time she picked up a book, her entire face transformed into a wide, brilliant smile-

Have you read Oblivion? Or anything by Jennifer L Armentrout?

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