Sunday, 13 August 2017

Books I Took to Norway!

In a little bit of a last minute decision, I ended up spending the last two weeks of July in Norway. I'd never been before and it really is such a beautiful country! Of course, I had to overpack on the books as well. I ended up reading quite a bit- I finished six books while I was out there, but five of them were digital because I discovered my local library has an app and went a little out of control. But these are the books I intended to read...

Books I Took to Norway in a pile with the Norwegian flag in the background

Othello by William Shakespeare
In an attempt to get as far ahead as I can in my next module before it starts and I inevitably fall behind, I brought one of my set texts away with me so I could really get my head around it. I mean, it's Othello, what can I really say? He actually made a two hour flight go by in a flash!

Farewell to the East End by Jennifer Worth
This was actually the first book I finished on my holiday, reading it on the train from Oslo to Bergen. After starting this series in October of last year and really enjoying the first book, then being really disappointed by the second book in May, I wasn't sure what to expect. I just really wanted something with short chapters that I knew I could put down and pick up a lot without losing too much of a continuing plot.

My Mothers Shadow by Nikola Scott
This is a slow, savouring read that I've been really enjoying for a while now. I didn't want to leave it at home for a fortnight. I even saw a woman in the airport looking at a copy in WHSmith and after dithering about in shy anxiety for a minute, was that person and told her it was really good.

Night Shift by Charlaine Harris
Now, I took this to Corfu along with the first two books in the trilogy and read those. But I didn't get around to this one and decided to save it as a holiday treat. But it didn't fit with Norway. I know, I know, mood reader nonsense! I adore this series so I'll finish it soon I expect.

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
There's a tiny reference to Norway in The Hithhikers Guide to the Galaxy. But also, this is one of those books that I haven't read yet but know that I'll really enjoy. I was just delaying reading it for some reason or another. And with one of my reading goals for 2017 being to stop this, why not bring it along? I didn't get around to it, but I have one more holiday this year and this is coming with me.

Empire and Dominion by Jennifer Ridyard and John Connolly
I am determined to finish this series this year. 2017. The year Imogen finally finishes the Chronicles of the Invaders. Even if I have to drag them all around the world with me.

Yesterday by Felicia Yap
This is being released in a couple days and I am so excited! I actually headed down to London last week for the launch after meeting Felicia in February and getting a sampler of her debut. I wanted to finish it after starting it at home but couldn't find the focus while I was away. This of course, came back as soon as I touched down on British soil but the book went on a nice holiday I guess!

The Swimmer by Joakim Zander
So, out of the 800+ books I own, none of them are set in Norway! The closest I could get was this, which is a mystery/spy/thriller that starts off in Sweden then continues around Europe. I've been meaning to read this for a few years but still haven't. Maybe a trip to Sweden is in order.

Have you ever been to Norway? What do you think of the books I packed?

Monday, 7 August 2017

Book Review: The White Road by Sarah Lotz!

The publication of any new Sarah Lotz book is cause for celebration in my mind, and The White Road is no exception. Ever since staying up way past my bedtime to read The Three, it's been my go-to recommendation for a book that will hook new readers. And while I didn't love Day Four as much, I recently went on a boat trip and it freaked me the heck out. So thanks for that Sarah Lotz!

Adrenaline junkie Simon Newman sneaks onto private land to explore a dangerous cave in Wales with a strange man he's met online. But Simon gets more than he bargained for when the expedition goes horribly wrong. Simon emerges, the only survivor, after a rainstorm trap the two in the cave. Simon thinks he's had a lucky escape.

But his video of his near-death experience has just gone viral.

Suddenly Simon finds himself more famous than he could ever have imagined. Now he's faced with an impossible task: he's got to defy death once again, and film the entire thing. The whole world will be watching. There's only on place on earth for him to pit himself against the elements: Mt Everest, the tallest mountain in the world.

But Everest is also one of the deadliest spots on the planet. Two hundred and eighty people have died trying to reach its peak.

And Simon's luck is about to run out.

I'm a fan of the 'found footage' genre, more the horror movie type than the sometimes more disturbing real ones.  It's always fascinated me that your last moments could be caught on film forever. The video of the man running in a panic around the catacombs, only to drop the camera with his only light source and continue on into the dark? Terrifying. Well worth a Google deep dive if you're in the frame of mind to be spooked. So I was interested to see how Sarah Lotz would take a very visual medium and adapt that for a novel. 

However, it's pretty difficult to transfer an event from one media to another- comic books work well as movies because they're very visual, book adaptations on film don't generally work because they lack detail, and a describing a viral video in words... I'm not sure it worked seamlessly. The writing didn't manage to put me in the shoes of Simon. It's definitely a book based on plot and that creepy vibe that's hard to pin down. That is definitely where Sarah Lotz excels, she is the master of the prickling at the back of your neck, from a cave in Wales to the top of Mount Everest.

Another thing that hooked me from the blurb was the fact that Simon is a blogger. He's more of a Buzzfeed kind of clickbait content creator than anything I would follow personally (yeah, I said it) but- I'll take it. At the beginning, when he's struggling for page views, oh boy did I empathise. 

And lastly, the OCD representation in the book was interesting to me as it's manifestation was similar to how my OCD is. And I appreciated that when Simon says it's "quite sweet", the character gives him a "'don't patronise me' look", because real mental health problems are anything but sweet. Later when Simon's own mental health deteriorates, he takes on the same coping mechanism. The representation is accurate, but shallow, showing only the surface of the problem with no conclusion which I know some readers don't like. But for me, I took this at face value. Sometimes mental health problems have no conclusion. I've read books before where OCD has been given to characters to make them more 'interesting' and that's gross, but this felt to me like a well-rounded but background character who has an obsessive compulsion disorder. 

Unless you're a climber, in which case your hobby might be ruined forever, The White Road is out now and can be bought here!

I was certain I could make out words hidden in the watery clamour; it was tantalising like listening to a conversation through a wall.

Will you be picking it up? Who's the author who gets you really excited? 

Friday, 4 August 2017

Books I Read in June!

Ever forget to post something and don't remember until you look for the post to link in next months wrap-up? Yeah, less said about that, the better. My reading in June can be categorised into two; kids books and Charlaine Harris. And it was a really good reading month! Everything I read, I gave a four stars or more and I'm always excited to get some more Charlaine Harris in my life. Even if they is the last series I have to read before I've finished her entire works, I took them to Greece and they were exactly what I needed.

Wonderboy by Nicole Burstein
You can read my full review of this on Sabrina's blog here!
They looked like the kind of school kids I read about in old adventure books, who drank ginger ale and solved mysteries in their half-term holidays.

Goodknyght! by Steve Barlow and Steve Skidmore
Hello very battered copy! I find it so funny that I'm so protective of my books now whereas young-me just did not care about anything. Ah youth. This has been so obviously dropped in the bath as well as losing the cover.
Anyway, this is a fun kids book where you can also tell that great care has been put in so that adults reading to kids can be entertained too. Humpfrey the Boggart completely went over my head as a kid, as did the reference; "I think thish ish the beginning of a beautiful friendship." But as a grown-up? Loved it!
This also isn't a straightforward one-adventure-and-done kind of tale. The twists and turns of this rival some plots of the fantasy books I've read for the YA/adult market. And it had been so long that I had forgotten how this ended, so even I was surprised by the ending. I remember the reason I liked these books so much when I was younger was that while I read a lot of fantasy and adventure as a kid, there wasn't a lot of female characters that were physically strong and involved beyond using their wits. It's great to use your wits- I just wanted the occasional fight too. And this gives me at least one female character, and she's super strong and regularly gets the main male character out of all sorts of bother. So, not superb but overall, it's a great little book from its time.
"Well, the fact is, I don't want to be eaten. It's bad for my health."

Midnight Crossing by Charlaine Harris
I took the plunge. I finally started Charlaine Harris's latest and only series I haven't yet read, starting with Midnight Crossing. And unsurprisingly, I loved it. Since I've read everything else she's put out, I know a few of the characters and a lot of the lore already. Because of that, reading this was like getting into clothes fresh out of the dryer; soft, warm and fits like a glove.
The story is a murder mystery which is, in my opinion, what Charlaine Harris revolves her best books around. However, as always, it's much, much more. I fell in love with this little community in this tiny roadside Texan town. It's very early Welcome to Night Vale feeling with more neighbourly caring. I loved getting to know the inhabitants and seeing how they deal with a murder in their midst. And as always, I loved the writing. It might not be to everyones taste but the cosy crime paranormal domestic drama thing Harris has going on is exactly what I need to curl up with at the end of the day.
I will say, my one issue, and this is more an editing thing, is the use of the word 'hermaphrodite' which is wildly outdated. That should've been picked up by someone because the character clearly meant intersex and it wasn't being used as an insult, just a little note to future readers. These are decidedly anti-hateful books which is why it's so out of place, as Bobo says; "I'm pro-gay marriage, pro-choice, pro-environment, pro-whales and tuna and wolves and every damn thing you can think of." Are book boyfriends still a thing? Can Bobo be mine?
-their lives altering as this body toppled all their pursuits in a domino effect, and she was profoundly sorry that she was the finger pushing the first tile.

Day Shift by Charlaine Harris
I think it took me all of twenty seconds after finishing Midnight Crossing to pick up Day Shift. I was on a roll while I was in Corfu.
This was another murder mystery, but had a mini side-plot that doesn't really come to a conclusion and another side-plot that put a bit of pressure on the story. And that might've been what made this slightly less enjoyable to me then the first book. I like the slow pace that Charlaine Harris can take with her cosy mysteries. I like the fact that this small town is generally not busy- so making it busy feels very strange. However, it's very much more of the same. The little Texan community pulling together to support their own, domestic drama and it was good to meet an old favourite from the Sookie Stackhouse books again!
I think the side plots will end up playing out in the third book as well, and just thinking about it has me itching to pick up the last book in the trilogy. I can't believe after Night Shift that I'll have read every series by Charlaine Harris. I need recommendations for an author that can fill the gap ASAP.
He's too much rose, not enough thorn-

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
What is there to say about the Harry Potter books that hasn't already been said?
For those who don't follow me on Twitter, I tweeted some thoughts as I re-listened to this and can basically sum up my entire experience into a complete confusion of how the wizarding world works. And also, I forgot how scary the monster was in the Stephen Fry audiobook! I'm a grown-up and was spooked, kid-me must've been much braver.

What did you read way back in June? Can you remember?

Sunday, 23 July 2017

My 5 Reading Goals for 2017: 6 Months In!

2017 is going by pretty fast, huh? I'm genuinely surprised we've managed to make it this far without any major international incidents! I've been pretty quiet over here on the blog, my personal life has been kind of a bummer and my university life has been keeping me busy- but I'm on Summer holiday now and just found out I passed first year! So why not start hopefully posting regularly again with a catch-up on my reading goals?

My 5 Reading Goals for 2017: 6 Months In!

1. Stop delaying.
This was all about reading what I want to read, when I want to read it. I think I'm actually doing pretty well with this one. I've read some amazing books this year that I've wanted to read for years and years; like Catch-22 and Lolita, and I'm currently reading my first Jane Austen! On the other hand, I've also found myself looking at the books I own and not wanting to read them. My tastes are changing and I can't pin-point where they're going to land yet.

2. Goodbye comfort zone.

I wanted to say hello to classics, non-fiction and longer books and welcome them into my life. Well- I'm doing okay on this one but I feel like I could definitely push the boat out further. My English Literature module starting in October is definitely going to bring more classics and books I wouldn't necessarily have picked up into my reading though. Othello, Wuthering Heights, Frankenstein; it's going to be fun!

3. Read a book in German.

I've finished my German module but I still don't think I could read and understand a whole book in German yet... Maybe I should just try and see how I go but I'm feeling really German-ed out at the moment. Hopefully the motivation to actually do this comes back once the stress of essays wears off.

4. Replace.

This was also part of my 2017 goals, with the hope of 'curating' my bookshelves a little. I've been following a bring in one book, for every ten that go out- rule and it's been working pretty well. By which I mean, I've unhauled ten books and bought one that I really wanted, so far. And I have about four drafted unhaul posts waiting in the wings for me to be organised enough to photograph them and ship them off to Oxfam.

5. Read 80 books.

Oh boy. I really jinxed myself with this one! I had this idea that since I read 80 books in 2015, but only 62 in 2016, that I should push myself back up to 2015s amount of reading. Makes sense, until I go back and realise that I was reading vastly different kinds of books that year- easier books! And that I was healthier, less stressed, less busy, etc. But hey! I'm only 13 books behind schedule, I could still bring it back around.

Did you have any reading goals for 2017? How are you doing with them?

Friday, 7 July 2017

Book Review: The Child by Fiona Barton!

On the 19th of February 2016, I wrote; "Fiona Barton has grabbed my attention with her first novel and I'll be keeping an eye out for future books." So when I got an email about her new book, you can bet I jumped at a chance to read it! I'm not sure about it though...

As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it's a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but at a loss for answers, she can only pose a question: Who is the Building Site Baby? 

As Kate investigates, she unearths connections to a crime that rocked the city decades earlier: A newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward in a local hospital and was never found. Her heartbroken parents were left devastated by the loss. 
But there is more to the story, and Kate is drawn house by house into the pasts of the people who once lived in this neighborhood that has given up its greatest mystery. And she soon finds herself the keeper of unexpected secrets that erupt in the lives of three women and torn between what she can and cannot tell.

I wasn't as immediately drawn to The Child the way that I was drawn to The Widow. How a woman stays with her husband when he's accused of being a child murderer is a question I'm much more interested in the answer, than whose bones are these. After all, I've watched a good eight seasons of Bones. But I also think Fiona Barton is aware of this. Her journalist character, Kate, is constantly fighting to keep working the story throughout the book and it's an interesting writing choice to actually let the story lag at times with this one determined character trying to keep it going.

The story itself was interesting, and when I finished it I could see how intricately wound together it was. This is no A-to-B mystery. This was a tangle like headphones that are left at the bottom of your bag for a week!

My main issue when I was reading The Child was that all the characters kind of blended in with each other. There was no explicit POC or LGBT+ representation, but even beyond that I had no idea that two of the characters had about 30 years difference between them until the very end of the book. The characters read like cutout paper dolls with a few words added; anxiety, journalist, writer, wants marriage, lost baby. This is so strange to me because when I went back to my review of The Widow, I had made a point to mention how each character had a voice in that book!

I also could've done without the line "Kate preferred virgin territory to sloppy seconds." Even when talking about interview subjects, that phrase is just so gross and slut-shaming. 

This one just didn't work for me in the end. The problems I had with The Widow: the lack of ending, the switches between first and third person and jumping all over weren't there. But neither were the parts I fell for in the first place. 

If you want to try The Child for yourself, you can get it here!

Did you read The Widow? Will you be reading The Child?

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Books I Took to Corfu!

I went to Corfu for a week and only took nine books! Yeah, that probably only sounds like an achievement for people who have read my past blog posts about books I've taken on holidays... I have a tendency to overpack. I didn't end up reading a lot because, without going into it, my cat passed away a few days before we left. But I thought I'd still do a post showing the books that made the cut of airline baggage restrictions.

The Midnight Trilogy by Charlaine Harris
I've been saving this trilogy up and after finally buying myself the final book (after unhauling these ten), I thought they'd be the perfect holiday read. And I wouldn't have to worry about running out mid-series because it's only a three book series; Charlaine Harris' shortest! These were the books I ended up reading while I was away, I needed comfort and she's the author that gives me that.

Poison City by Paul Crilley
This arrived in the post the day of my flight after I won it on Goodreads, so I took that as a sign. Into my hand luggage it went and I did start it on the flight out but it didn't grab me and I knew I wanted to read the Midnight books first. I'll come back to it because it was a really fun beginning.

My Mother's Shadow by Nikola Scott*
This was on my Spring TBR and has been sat on my bedside table for months. Being a mood reader sucks sometimes! Strangely, although the paperback isn't being published until September, I saw copies in the airport. Weird. I have since started reading this since I came home though.

Empire and Dominion by Jennifer Ridyard and John Connolly*
I keep saying I'm going to finish this series and then not finishing it! I've never had this problem before and I think it's because I genuinely love the story and the world so much that I don't want it to be over. Maybe I should try the audiobooks...

Cartes Postales from Greece by Victoria Hislop*
I'm every tourist cliché that reads a book based in the country they're visiting while they're there. Or would've if the mood struck them. I didn't get around to this, but I did flick through it and think I'll be picking it up soon. I liked Corfu, and Greece, and I'd like to read more about it.

Yesterday by Felicia Yap*
I met Felicia Yap in February and heard about Yesterday so I've had a lot of pent-up excitement about this book. But I wasn't planning on taking it on this trip until I passed it on my shelf and grabbed it at the eleventh hour. Even though I didn't end up reading it, that told me a lot about my TBR priorities and this has been bumped up the list.

What do you think of the books I packed? What are your favourite holiday reads?

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Books I Read in May!

I had a pretty good reading month in May! I was completely expecting to come back with another two or three book month because I had deadlines and health stress, but I think after having such a disastrous April, I needed to read some good books! Three of the eight were audiobooks which might've helped too because I can listen to them when I'm really poorly.

A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Who got taken in by the new Audible audiobook editions of the Sherlock Holmes books read by Stephen Fry? I did! I snapped those babies up as soon as my monthly credit came through and immediately dived in.
The thing is- I'm not sure I like the books as much as I like the idea of the the characters? A Study in Scarlet was definitely the most interesting account of how Sherlock solved the case of the two novels and the bunch of short stories I've listened to so far. I'm always interested in the observations and deductions. There was such a tangent to tell the backstory though. It was just a weird anti-Mormon tirade that kept going, and it didn't even add anything. Motive is important. But I didn't understand why I needed the history of the Mormon religion with it.
"One's ideas must be as broad as nature if they are to interpret nature."

The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Oh boy, the racism. I get it, it's the time period that it was written in but it was really uncomfortable. And the quote from Sherlock; "Women are never to be entirely trusted", at least Watson brushes this off but it really held no purpose to the story apart from alienating me as a reader.
As far the story though, it was pretty interesting. The motive tangent in this one wasn't as long or as monotonous as A Study in Scarlet at least.
"-I never guess. It is a shocking habit- destructive to the logical faculty."

Shadows of the Workhouse by Jennifer Worth
I've been reading this for months. I checked my Goodreads and I started it in February. That's a long time to be reading the same book, but it's also a long time for me to not completely give up and relegate it to my 'paused' shelf.
I really enjoyed the first book. But it had a lot to do with the format; short chapters encompassing a whole experience, while the book itself slowly moves forward along in time. This second book was written in such a different way that I looked in the acknowledgements, and even Googled, to find out if there was a ghostwriter. If there is, it hasn't been talked about but this is written like a fiction book rather than a collection of memories. It just didn't work for me in the same way. There was so much obviously fabricated because I really doubt that some of the people written about talked about their stories, and definitely not in the amount of detail this book wants you to believe. It's a shame because I want to know about Jennifer Worths life and how that was affected by the people she treated, not fictionalised histories where she plays a minor background role.
However, I've flipped through the next book and it does seem to go back to the format of the first book so I'm not put off yet!
"-The more I read, the more ignorant I realised I was. I devoured history like other chaps devoured booze."

The Bronze Key by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
This is the only book I ended up reading from my A to Z Readathon TBR and it really deserves a full review like book one and book two because I loved it and have so many thoughts and feelings!

Not Your Average Nurse by Maggie Groff*
I wrote a full review here!

Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation and GPS Technology by Caroline Paul and Wendy MacNaughton
Lost Cat was so cute and I have a review coming with pictures posed with my cats. Because of course.

The Child by Fiona Barton*
I read and reviewed The Widow by Fiona Barton last year. This is being published at the end of June and I'll be writing a full review to follow that trend!

The Martian by Andy Weir
I listened to the audiobook of The Martian at the beginning of May and I liked it. The protagonist Mark Watney was funny and totally the type of guy whose diary log I can listen to for eight hours. I much preferred his first person segments to the prose style when Weir wrote of the characters back home, but maybe that's the podcast-fan in me. I listen to a podcast similar to this and it's just kept going, no ending in sight. Whereas all I get are feelings of disappointment that the ending was so abrupt from The Martian, it could've given us way more. Watney is also living my best life with all those potatoes, I don't know what he's complaining about!
The thing is, I listened to this at the beginning of May and now that it's a month later- I know I'm never going to listen to it again which is rarely my experience with audiobooks!
"How come Aquaman can control whales? They're mammals! Makes no sense."

What did you read this month?

Friday, 26 May 2017

Books I Read in April!

Please don't look at the date because this is extraordinarily late. But that accidentally rhymed so- it all evens out, right? I finished four books in April and three of them were one/two-day-reads. Most of my reading time was taken up listening to the audiobook of my new favourite, Lolita. And boy, I'm going to need an entire post to unravel that one!

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
I loved this book. I loved it. And I have a lot of feelings about it that I need to write so look out for that.

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend
So it got to the 19th and I realised I hadn't finished an entire book so far in April. So I looked at the 500+ books I have on my TBR and picked out something I knew I could read fast and would probably enjoy. I might've been a little off with my choice.
Don't get me wrong, I read this fast (in a day) and it was entertaining to a degree but I got to the end of the book and was like- okay. Even now, I really can't really think of anything to say. It's a diary by a 13 year-old boy who is just a real rat bag. It has some really dated and offensive terms considering it's only 30+ years old. For example, Adrian wishes his father wouldn't wear an apron while cleaning because "he looks like a poofter in it". And Pandora has long hair "like girls' hair should be". Urg.

The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend
I'm not one for continuing series if I don't love the first book but something about book one taking me a day to read, pushed me to pick up the next. It would've taken longer if I didn't enjoy it a little, right? This also didn't take long to read and it was amusing, but not laugh-out-loud funny. Adrian gets a little more self-aware but also more pompous. I get that he's supposed to be an immature teenage boy but he's just utterly unlikable.

True Confessions of Adrian Albert Mole by Sue Townsend
Say hello to my breaking point! This was the last Adrian Mole book that I owned from the series, and also the only one I hadn't read as a kid. It doesn't have just the usual diary format. It starts with a letter from Sue Townsend talking about the book as if Adrian is real (he's not) which is very strange? It then goes onto diary entries, letters and essays that he's 'written' and therefore wasn't as quick or easy to read. Even as an adult, he is still the worst kind of pompous man. For example; "I never read bestsellers on principle. It's a good rule of thumb. If the masses like it them I'm sure that I won't." Can't you just imagine him mansplaining what a metaphor is to an English professor?
That goes on for 90 pages, then turns over to a diary from Sue Townsend. That's 50 pages of no-plot. Then we get 20 pages of a fictional teenage Margret Thatcher diary. Now, I'm from the North and therefore I was born disliking Thatcher. But I have no interest in reading a diary written by someone who clearly doesn't like her either and needs to villainize her as a teenager. It was just strange. A weird end to a chaotic 160 page mess that was still priced at £7.99.

What did you read in April?

Monday, 15 May 2017

Book Review: Not Your Average Nurse by Maggie Groff!

My non-fiction shelf is dominated by medical memoirs; be it a doctor from the 1800s or a midwife from the 1950s, I can't get enough of the mix of medicine and drama. So when the opportunity to be on the blog tour for Not Your Average Nurse by Maggie Groff* came up, I jumped! Based in the 1970s? Covering student nursing? In London? It sounded right up my alley, and I couldn't wait.

Not Your Average Nurse by Maggie Groff!

To a young girl the life of a student nurse sounds exciting, but with long hours and short shrift it's never easy. So when Maggie Groff embarks as a student nurse at London's King's College Hospital she must quickly get to grips with the demands of her chosen career. It's sink or swim.

In a delightful romp through time, played out against the march of feminism and the fashion, music and movies of almost half a century ago, we follow Maggie's highs and lows as with trial and much error she becomes a highly skilled nurse and sets sail for a new life in Australia.

From the watchful gaze of stern ward sisters and the ordeals of nursing at a poor housing estate to becoming an industrial nurse at the iconic Sydney Opera House, Maggie shares her stories of mistakes and mayhem, tea and sympathy, and the life-affirming moments that make it all worthwhile.

This book is a wonderfully written memoir covering 1970 to 1985 and has some brilliantly written parts, as one would expect from an award-winning novelist. What I didn't expect was to be whipped away to Switzerland, Australia and Ibiza, and to be shown the differences between hospital nursing, industrial nursing and even elderly nun nursing. All while staying pretty charmingly British and cosy to read.

Maggie Groff has had a truly amazing life. She shows the up and the downs of nursing- and life at the same time. While I don't think I could handle the night duty and the emergencies, I'm totally jealous. I was quite close to looking into a nursing career while reading! But I think what this memoir really shows is what you can do with a strong attitude and determination. Maggie Groff knew what she wanted and she did it, be it quitting an underpaying job or flying out to live across the globe all alone.

The comparison to Call the Midwife has to be made because they're both memoirs about UK based nursing in the past, although set 20 years apart. I get the same comforting feeling I get from the books, and the slightly-less-so-but-still-there judgement of women by their appearance, but Maggie Groff has had a much more varied career. If you liked one, I think you'd like the other.

One thing I did raise my eyebrows a little at the one racist paragraph, where she tells the reader about a rumour implying the Chinese nurses were eating ducks from the park; "I never believed the rumour, especially as I had started it." It was obviously the 1970s and we all say things when we're young, but this was never addressed again which is unfortunate.

Overall though, this is what it says on the cover, an entertaining true story of a student nurse in 1970s London. And so much more. Prepare to see the effects of Feminism in nursing, a family lose a mother to cancer and a great balance of a polished story and the raw real-life events.

If you want to read it, you can pre-order here for it's release on Wednesday. And there will be more blog tour posts from KellyDeeJoLorraineCarly and Adele during the week!

"It wouldn't matter if he was a thief or a prince. Everyone who walks through the hospital doors receives the same respectful treatment. It's what underpins King's, Maggie. It's what's right."

 Where do you put memoirs on your shelf; fiction or non-fiction? Will you pick this one up?

*I was provided a copy of the book for the blog tour, this hasn't changed my opinion.

Monday, 1 May 2017

My #AtoZReadathon TBR!

Everyone joins the odd readathon the day they start, right? Denise has created an amazing readathon and I wanted in! You can hear all about it here but in short, there are three levels: Easy, where you use the titles and authors names to get all the letters A-to-Z. Medium, where you use the titles. And Hard, where you just use the first letter of the title. I so want to try that hard version but I have deadlines galore in May and I occasionally have to chose to be responsible. So- medium! I had a blast picking out my books and using a little excel spreadsheet to make sure I hit all the letters. Here's my TBR...

My #AtoZReadathon TBR!

The Light Fantastic and Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
I haven't had the best time with Terry Pratchett in the past, but I've read enough on the internet to be reassured that his work gets better. And books with Q in the title are super hard to find. So, I'm going to give books two and three again. Especially since book three; Equal Rites is the first of the Witches books. They're what I'm super interested in getting to.

The Devil You Know by Mike Carey
I'm really excited to get to this book! I bought it years ago and it's about a gritty London paranormal detective. I completely forgot about it until I searched for books with a V in. I've seen a lot of comparisons to the Harry Dresden series by Jim Butcher, which I wanted to read a while ago and have since discovered it's pretty misoginistic, so I'm hoping this will fill the gap!

The Bronze Key by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Despite loving the first book and the second book in this series, and being really excited for the third book to come out- I completely forgot about The Bronze Key. I ended up buying it months after it was released and still haven't read it. I'm not good with current series apparently. It's time I finally read it.

Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides
There were a couple of different books I could've picked to get the letter X but I've never read a book with an intersex character before. I think it's about time I did. Plus, I've been listening to a couple of modern classics on audiobook lately so I kind of want to see what happens when I try to read-read one.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
This was actually the last book I added because J was the hardest letter to find and I still needed P. So why not read my first Jane Austen? This has been mentioned over and over on my blog so I'm glad to get that final push to start it! Plus, maybe after reading this I'll stop trying to spell Prejudice like 'Predjudice'.

My #AtoZReadathon TBR spreadsheet
Sneaky view of my spreadsheet for the curious!
So that's my TBR! I think I have a pretty neat little selection too, and a couple of books to read that I hadn't thought about in a while. I love that about readathons with interesting challenges.

Are you joining the #AtoZReadathon?

Friday, 21 April 2017

Book Unhaul #1

One of my 2017 Reading Goals was to replace some of the books in my collection that I'm no longer interested in, with books I am. My thought process so far is to have a one in, ten out kind of balance to really refine down my shelves so today I'll be showing you the first 10 books I'm saying goodbye to. I don't know what I'll be replacing them with yet but I'm starting a post-it note with a proud little count of how many books I owe myself.

Book Unhaul #1

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Don't panic! This is one of about four copies I own and I really don't need a pilfered school edition that I never actually read and dates back to 1987.

Private, Invitation Only, Untouchable, Confessions and Inner Circle by Kate Brian
I lived the horrors of all-girls school so I have no idea why I felt the need to read about it in my youth. Enid Blyton just made me idealise boarding schools, I guess. These are being passed on to Lauren who is in the mood to read a trashy teen book.

This Raging Light by Estelle Laurie
I read this almost a year ago and didn't really rate it. I'm also passing this onto Lauren and I'm really interested to hear her thoughts though. She's an elder sister like the character in the book and might empathise more than me, a younger sister.

Local Girl Missing by Claire Douglas
I rarely re-read mysteries, and I can't see myself re-reading this mystery since I really didn't think it was that good. I hate when things that the first person narrator knows are kept from the reader deliberately to create a twist.

The Glam Guide by Fleur De Force*
I liked this book! But it's one of those instructional books that once you've read it and adopted the parts that you want to into your life, you don't need the book anymore. So I'm also passing this onto Lauren who I'm sure will like it.

The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola*
As beautiful as this book is, and seriously- look at that cover, I didn't connect with the characters in any real way. I have to balance out books that are pretty with books that I want to read but don't own yet. My sister-in-law is kindly taking this off my hands as she likes the occasional historical fiction so I'm looking forward to hearing her opinion.

Do you unhaul books? What do you do with them?

*These books were sent for review

Monday, 17 April 2017

Books I Read in March!

So I actually read some books in March! After my first no-book month of the three years of Imogen's Typewriter back in February I was pretty ready to read some dang books. Admittedly, three isn't the best number but heck, the Alison Weir novel is over 500 pages. I'm happy with my little pile.

Southern Spirits by Angie Fox, The White Road by Sarah Lotz and Anne Boleyn: A King's Obsession by Alison Weir

Southern Spirits by Angie Fox
I hate reading ebooks. I get migraines so I try to avoid looking at tiny words on my phone screen for very long. However, I had a migraine-free day in March and decided to risk it and try to start an ebook. Night Shift on, brightness turned way down, I was ready. And I ended up reading Southern Spirits in one day. One dang day. I flew through it. I've had it for a while as it was free on iBooks but never really dived in. But it was so fun and hit those paranormal cosy crime vibes for me, while still being a super imaginative set-up for the main character and the rest of the series. I'm not sure if I'll pick up the next book- just because I'm trying to cut down my TBR and read books that I already own, but this really made a boring day very fun.

The White Road by Sarah Lotz*
Oh boy. Sarah Lotz is back and knocked this one out of the park! It wasn't quite The Three, which I hold up to impossible standards, but it was miles above Day Four. A welcome addition to my shelves and my full review is here!

Anne Boleyn: A King's Obsession by Alison Weir*
This is being published on the 18th of May so I'll post my full review around about then. But in short,  Alison Weir blew it out of the park again for me and I'm counting down the days until I can get my hands on the beautiful hardcover to match Katherine of Aragons.

2017 Reading Challenge: 9/80 (I really need to catch up!)

What did you read in March?

Friday, 14 April 2017

On being Busy and Lost

It's been pretty quiet on this blog of mine for the past couple months, eh? In fact, between this blog and my previous blog- four blog posts in two months may actually be my least in over six years. So I thought about all the posts I could write today; the books I read in March, or the ones I took on holiday, my recent unhaul, or a review. But instead, I wanted to write this...

I told you in my 2017 goals that I wanted to find a balance with everything in my life, and to update you more, so I can say pretty honestly that I haven't found that balance yet. In fact, I've felt even more out of centre. I've fallen behind on university work so working on assignments is harder than it needs to be, I'm in a reading slump, I have a throat infection and I'm just generally feeling lost. I know logically that I want to do things like blog, study, write and read. It's just hard.

So this isn't an apology, because realistically I don't think bloggers should apologise for taking breaks or not posting. It's a- hey, stuff is kinda happening right now and I'm working on it. And commiserations if you're going through the same thing.

"The Past is gone and can no longer hurt you. And though the Future is fast coming for you, it always flinches first and settles into the gentle Present." - Welcome to Night Vale

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Book Review: Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse? by Max Brallier

Anyone who knows me, knows that Zombies are kind of my thing. I find them fascinating. In The Walking Dead, it's been said that the zombies outnumber the survivors 5000:1 so by that logic there would only be 13,000 people left alive in the UK. The answer to the question- Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse? For me, is no. But I wanted to explore every option...

Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse? by Max Brallier

Hours of bone-crunching zombie action with 100 paths and 50 endings to choose from. Inside these pages lies unspeakable horror. Bloodsplattering, brain-impaling, flesh-devouring horror. You’ve probably read your fair share of zombie stories. 

But this time it’s different. No longer can you sit idle as a bunch of fools make all the wrong moves. All hell is about to break loose—and YOU have a say in humanity’s survival.

In Max Bralliers Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book, you're a 25 year old male in Manhattan. And it's time for you to take control. Much like the Walking Dead video game, every decision has consequences down the storyline. But it's more obvious than the game, where every little thing might come back to bite you. The decisions can be a little ham-fisted with their obviousness of good/ bad/ silly. 

There was definitely a lot of enjoyment to get out of this book though. I liked a lot of the secondary characters that were introduced- from the Hells Angels to the childhood sweetheart. It really did vary wildly depending on what path you took, but there was probably 4-5 main branches of the story that then had their own offshoots.

I would've liked a little more fear- the writing didn't really hit that note for me, and a little more of that long-run survivalist side to zombies that World War Z by Max Brooks does so well. But hey!  Overall, this was a fun read! 

But a tricky one. If you're like me and want to know how every storyline ends then I recommend you arm yourself with some sticky notes and a method of keeping track. For that reason, I'm not sure I'll be looking out for more of this style of book. At least not until I read one of those infuriating books where every choice the main character makes is so obviously wrong and I need to take back some control! As the book says; "no longer do you get to sit back and watch as a bunch of fools make all the wrong moves."

Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse? by Max Brallier
To stay alive you need to think. One mistake, you're history. And not the good history- not the kind that ends up in a middle school textbook- the bad kind, the forgotten kind.

Have you read a Choose-your-own-Adventure book?

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