Monday, 29 February 2016

Books I Read in.. February!

After a pretty disappointing January in reading, I read a lot more this month. I wanted to get through some of the review copies I've been sent and I'm hoping to continue in March because the TBR pile is getting a little intimidating! But I did good this month, I re-read for the first time since I've started my blog, finished a series and did a little required reading...

This Raging Light by Estelle Laurie, the Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown, Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe and The Widow by Fiona Barton!


This Raging Light by Estelle Laurie*
This was a majorly hyped book, the proof cover is literally quotes from people at the publishers raving about how good it is. It's a powerful story idea about a daughter abandoned by her mother after her father has a breakdown and is sent away, with her little sister to care for and I was so ready to dive in but unfortunately it just didn't work for me.
It was a quick read because for a book where the main character was 17, the narration was really juvenile mixed with flowery descriptions and I struggled to believe that Lucille wasn't a 13 year old who just discovered Keats for the majority of the story. Things kept happening with no conclusion and by the end of the book I would have expected 100 more pages to reach a satisfying ending. I was stuck between wanting more, and just wanting it to be over.
"How does a barely noticeable star become your very own sun?"


Red Rising by Pierce Brown**
In preparation for the third and final book in the trilogy, and meeting Pierce Brown, I decided to re-read the first two books. I'll be doing a series review soon but this book didn't really live up to my original feelings.


Golden Son by Pierce Brown**
I wrote a full review of this book when I first read it and found that I didn't enjoy it as much as Red Rising. That flipped when I re-read the two and Golden Son ended up being the one I enjoyed more. Again, look out for my series review because I have a lot to say!


Morning Star by Pierce Brown**
Full review here!


The Widow by Fiona Barton**
You can read my full review here!


Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlow

This was required reading for my degree but I ended up really enjoying it unlike the required reading from my past. I went to see Doctor Faustus performed years ago and I really enjoyed it so maybe that had something to do with it. But the script is just as good as I remember, and I read along to an audio dramatisation. It's hard not to mention the language since I'm currently halfway through an essay about it but Marlowe has written something that could really appeal to a contemporary audience even 400 years later. If you like a good story about selling your soul, the ideas of good and evil or just the pursuit of knowledge through questionable means then Faustus is for you.
I would've liked one female character though who wasn't the ghost of Helen of Troy or an unnamed pregnant duchess. Just one that had some lines and character definition but I guess that's the 1600's for you.
"Why, this is Hell, nor am I out of it."

What did you read this month?

*I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway.
**These books were sent for review. This has not affected my opinion

Friday, 19 February 2016

Book Review: The Widow by Fiona Barton!

I've got a book review for you today that has sprung out of my mind, through my fingers and into this blog post in barely any time at all. I've mentioned it before when I took it to Germany but I didn't get around to reading it until a couple weeks ago when I picked it up and flew through it in days.


The Widow by Fiona Barton
Apologies for the proof copy photo!


We've all seen him: the man - the monster - staring from the front page of every newspaper, accused of a terrible crime. But what about her: the woman who grips his arm on the courtroom stairs – the wife who stands by him?
Jean Taylor’s life was blissfully ordinary. Nice house, nice husband. Glen was all she’d ever wanted: her Prince Charming. Until he became that man accused, that monster on the front page. Jean was married to a man everyone thought capable of unimaginable evil. But now Glen is dead and she’s alone for the first time, free to tell her story on her own terms.
Jean Taylor is going to tell us what she knows.


I have a pretty unsure relationship with this book. On one hand, I don't think I've ever read a book focusing on the wife of a potential murderer, as most books focus on the person that did the crime. I've always questioned people who can stay with their partners after something like that so reading about it was a way of seeing at least one reason why someone would. 

I'm writing a cosy crime novel with a journalism aspect so it was really interesting to read some of the more insider details from an author who knows that world. If journalism interests you, especially interviewing, then this might really appeal.

However, it also left me with a weird feeling of incompleteness. The ending felt like it dropped off out of nowhere, like the story was done and wrapped up but there was no ribbon or gift tag. I'd have liked a little more at the end to really round out what happened beyond the immediate reveal but that's just me.

Switches between character points of view can be really badly handled, but Barton managed to give each character their own voice. The thing about this I didn't like was the switches between first, third limited and third omnipresent person. This with the time switches of now, over the investigation and when the crime took place just jumped about a little too much and could be jarring enough at times that I was brought completely out of the story.

But the story. Oh, the story. I'm pretty good at seeing twists and turns in plots, I've been reading mysteries since I was a kid, but Barton had me fooled. I constantly flip-flopped on who did it and what happened. Never once did I peg it completely and that is a good read. I can see this book being a book for someone who isn't a 'reader' or a really great holiday read because I challenge anyone not to get a sunburn when you're half-way through and can't. stop. reading.

Fiona Barton has grabbed my attention with her first novel and I'll be keeping an eye out for future books. Want to buy a copy of The Widow? You can do so here!


Have you heard of The Widow? Will you be reading it?

Monday, 15 February 2016

Books I Want to Buy and Why #9

It's that time again! Books I Want to Buy and Why time, where I show you eight books that I want to buy in the future and tell you what it is about them that appeals to me. Please let me know if you've read any of these, what you thought and what books you want to buy and why!

Covers of eight Books I Want to buy


Let's do this!



Illuminae by Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman
Pretty much everyone and their mother has been talking about this book over the last couple of months. I have almost no idea what the plot is, but I know it's presented as emails, images, and documents rather than regular prose which is how one of my favourite books; World War Z by Max Brooks is written.

Storm Front by Jim Butcher
Another Reddit recommendation that I can make appeal to you too in three words: Wizard Private Investigator. How am I supposed to not read this? This is pretty high priority for me actually because I love magic books, and private investigators are so interesting to me.

Disobeying Hitler: German Resistance After Valkyrie by Randall Hansen
I'm making more of an effort to read non-fiction this year and my favourite subjects to read are about the time of WWII, George VI and the German Resistance. I know a lot about Valkyrie, and have visited Bendlerblock in Berlin, the headquarters of the group, but I don't know much about resistance after that failed. I'd like to though!

Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton
I'm sure by now everyone who reads this blog on a semi-regular basis knows that I'm a sucker for contemporary supernatural series. This is the first book about Anita Blake in a world similar to Sookie Stackhouse where vampires are out of the coffin and in society. But unlike Sookie, Anita is a vampire hunter.



Strong Looks Better Naked by Khloé Kardashian
I'm not a hugely consistent Kardashian fan but I binge watch it from time to time and I really like Khloé so when I saw that she had a book, I added it to my to-buy list. I'm all about strength, health and positivity when it comes to appearance so I think I'll like this one.

Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs by Molly Harper
Another book about vampires. Don't judge me. As far as I can gleam from the blurb; nerdy librarian gets fired, goes on a bender, get shot and gets turned into a vampire. I love books about vampires. I love books about librarians. It doesn't take a lot to convince me I need the first book in this series.

Jessica Jones: Alias Volume 1 by Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Gaydos
Who else has watched Jessica Jones on Netflix? Everyone? Good, because it was an absolutely amazing show. I watched the whole series in about three days and I'm a big fan of reading the original comics of shows I love.

Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb
I haven't even touched a high fantasy novel since I didn't get along with Game of Thrones but this is one of my personal trainers favourite series and she's pretty insistent I start it. I keep hearing great things about Robin Hobb as well so hopefully I like this a little more than GoT!

What books are you thinking about buying?

Friday, 5 February 2016

Series Review: The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris!

Thirteen books. This is officially the longest series I've ever read. The Southern Vampire Mysteries, also known as the Sookie Stackhouse series or the True Blood series is set in Bon Temps, Louisiana and follows a Telepath; Sookie in a world where vampires have just 'come out of the coffin'. All my original reviews for the books are here; Dead Until Dark, Living Dead in Dallas, Club Dead, Dead to the World, Dead as a Doornail, Definitely Dead, All Together Dead, From Dead to Worse, Dead and Gone, Dead in the Family, Dead Reckoning, Deadlocked and Dead Ever After.
Thirteen books of the The Southern Vampire Mysteries/ True Blood/ Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris!


Sometimes it's hard to see the wood through the trees, or in this case, the overarching great bits of a series when you're reviewing individual books. This is why I like to do series reviews sometimes when I complete a series because I'm not quite finished talking about them yet. I'll keep it spoiler-free though!

I really like this series, it's not my favourite and there are definitely some books that are better than others but I don't regret the time I spent in Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse world. It's not for everyone and unlike some series I wouldn't shove the first book into anybody's hands, but here are a few of my favourite things that might convince you to pick the series up.

The World.
You're sometimes left with such a belief in the world that it takes a second after putting the book down to realise- nope, vampires aren't real. Or are they? Either way, that's the great thing about the mix of contemporary, domestic drama and fantasy, it puts together the everyday with the extraordinary. Harris manages the delicate balance really well for the majority of the books with the completely believable main character. Leading onto...

The Realistic Problems.
Sookie deals with money issues, friendship problems, men problems. Harris even approaches the issue of sexual assault, something faced by 1 in 6 of American women. Don't let the fact that there are vampires and werewolves distract you from the fact that this is based in a contemporary world where being a barmaid doesn't always pay well.

The Romance.
These are not the books for people who don't want a little lovin' between the pages, and probably not for people that want a character to settle down with the first guy because Sookie plays the field. The same way most 20-somethings do. She may not end up with who you want- I was a little iffy on that myself- but she goes through relationship problems most women do. The wrong guy, the right guy at the wrong time, the guy your friends hate, the clingy ex. You know the types.

The Supernatural.
I couldn't not mention this when it's literally a series about vampires but I really like the mythology in the books. Yes, there are some classic vampire ways: drinking blood, can't enter a house unless invited, general stuff. But there's also things like the werewolves can only have werewolf babies when it's the first child, and that bites just turn people into weird wolf/human hybrids on the full moon. And the main character can hear peoples thoughts, it's a neat dynamic.

Overall, I really like the series and I'll probably read it again in a couple years. But I have other Charlaine Harris books to read before then!
Have you read the Southern Vampire Mysteries?

Monday, 1 February 2016

Books I Read in.. January!

So I've hit a little bit of a slump. Probably because I decided to start Orange is the New Black from the beginning and my new university module has started so I've been focusing on things other than reading. I did manage to finish two books in January though, both the continuation of the series I started in December!

The books I read in January; XO and Solitude Creek by Jeffery Deaver!


XO by Jeffery Deaver
I have to admit, this is probably my least favourite Deaver I've read. I love his writing, and I love Kathryn Dance but the main character in this novel was her singer friend; Kayleigh Towne, who reminded me of Beth from The Walking Dead in all the worst ways. I missed Kathryn being on her normal stomping ground, I missed her interactions with her kids and I was bored by the plot. It did feature a little cameo from Lincoln Rhyme though which has me looking forward to re-reading that series in the near future. Overall I'm glad I read it because it lead on to Solitude Creek but if I re-read the series in future, I might skip over this one.


Solitude Creek by Jeffery Deaver
You may recall this post where I saw Jeffery Deaver talk about his writing and read from this book that I hauled soon after. After XO I was a little hesitant to jump into this one but Deaver was back on form and I really enjoyed it. The antagonist was really original and the idea of murder via mass hysteria wasn't something I had read about before. It did feel like there was a lot going on though, with at least four plot lines intersecting each other in an overly-busy, and there was a weird feminism put-down that felt really out of place but overall I really enjoyed the book. The romantic side of the plot is finally going the way I want it to as well so I'm really looking forward to the next book to see where that goes.
"Islands—of times when you’re content, you don’t think about the loss. Now it’s like your world’s underwater. All of it. But the water goes down and the islands come up. The water’ll be there always but you’ll find dry land."

What did you read in January?

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