Monday, 30 October 2017

Books I Read in September!

September was a good reading month! I feel like I hit a good balance of contemporary and classics, literary reads and genre, and I actually sailed through all of the books I 'read'-read with some cute foster kittens on my lap so that's always a win. So here's what I read and what I thought of them...



The Bone Collector by Jeffery Deaver
I've been wanting to re-read this series for a while. Well, years actually. But I've been actively thinking about it since last year, and I can tell because I took it to Northumberland and Munich!
The main character of this series is Lincoln Rhyme, a quadriplegic, and the disability representation in this book actually really impressed me. The research that Deaver put in shines through, and Rhyme isn't a cliché of a disabled person. There's no angelic patience, he's not there to teach an important lesson and he's not pitied- or at least, when he is, he finds it really annoying. In fact; "It infuriated him when people talked to him through others, through healthy people." Rhyme as a character feels real and it's one of the reasons this series stands out to me. If you, like me, like reading academically styled journals on current literature; here's a really interesting entry in the Disabled Studies Quarterly about this series that I found really interesting.
I love this book, I love the crime scene methods and the way the story unfolds so carefully. And I love that I am always surprised by the ending of this book, no matter how many times I read it. I always remember the ending wrong so I'm always remembering how I'm always surprised, as I'm surprised. It's just really clever.
Jeffery Deaver is one of my most owned authors and a lovely guy, and yet I hadn't read one of his books since last January! I'm so glad to be back on the bandwagon.


The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King
It was Stephen Kings birthday in September, and I was already currently-reading a fair amount of books so I picked up my shortest King on my shelves. I could get my fix, then go back to what I was reading. Plus, I'd never actually read The Girl who Loved Tom Gordon before! It was all a new experience, made even cuter with having a foster kitten on my lap.
I enjoy survival books. Give me a girl lost in a forest, a group in the apocalypse, a man lost at sea, I'm there. But I expect spooks from Stephen King. I was a third into the book before I had even a hint of a spook. The spooks were quality, don't get me wrong, they just came too late. Besides that, I did really enjoy it. It hit me right in that soft spot where she's nine, there's no GPS, nobody knows where she is and she's all alone trying to survive.
I'm not a baseball fan, so that part just flew right over my head as well. If you have at least a little knowledge of baseball and you don't mind a short book but a slow burn, you'll probably enjoy this a lot!
How could anyone have such a cold and scary voice inside them? Such a traitor to the cause?


Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Look at me, getting all ahead of my required reading for university! I wanted to like this book so much. Mary Shelley is so highly thought of, she wrote it at 19 and basically created a genre. And I like science fiction- but in reality, I just didn't enjoy Frankenstein. Hopefully, this changes once I study it but for now; I was dreadfully bored. The writing didn't really blow me away and all of the characters points of view were identical, but more than that, so little of the book was actually action. It was a lot of sitting around being melancholy, and especially in audiobook form, I fell asleep more than once.
Also, I really disagree with that ol' saying; "Knowledge is knowing that Frankenstein is not the monster. Wisdom is knowing that Frankenstein is the monster." For me, a monster is someone that goes around killing people. He's literally a serial killer; having killed three or more people, taking place longer than a month with a break in-between them. I don't know if that's knowledge or wisdom, but it doesn't make me sympathetic...
-for nothing contributes so much to tranquillise the mind as a steady purpose- a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye.


Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
I really didn't have a great time with classics this month! After adoring The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë, I really wanted to go on and read another book by the sisters. And instead of starting Wuthering Heights like I probably should've since it's one of my required reads, I read Jane Eyre.
Jane Eyre and I don't get on, I'm afraid. I have a lot of thoughts that I'm collecting up in a different blog post, but as far as a review? Eh. I think I've been spoiled by The Tenant of Wildfell Hall because I don't find Jane as endearing, as feminist, or as good as other readers. For me, it reads more like a tale of a woman so mistreated in her youth that she ends up in an abusive relationship. I can't understand the love story aspect. And boy, when Jane tells Mr Rochester about her dreams, that's just boring.
I will say though, when Charlotte aims to spook, she spooks! Listening to the audiobook in the dead of night, I certainly had chills down my spine. I would've much prefered an all-out fearful tale, like the images of Cathy at the window in Wuthering Heights, or an all-out liberated woman like Helen in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. In the middle, Jane Eyre has my attention but not my affection.
"I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will, which I now exert to leave you."


Yuki Means Happiness by Alison Jean Lester*
I was first drawn to this book because of the unbelievably beautiful cover. And I wasn't sure what I expected. I don't read a lot of 'literary' type books so it was a new experience and one I enjoyed.
It feels very autobiographical for a story that isn't, written from a first-person perspective looking back at memories. Honest, brutal, it completely benefits from having a relatable main character in a unrelatable experience. Although I'm not sure the vague blurb really prepared me for a story that is, at its core, about sexual assault and the effects on the main character further on in her life. If I was searching for books about that, I wouldn't have found this. If I was avoiding books about that, I wouldn't have known. I was doing neither but it can be quite a tough read anyway.
The writing though. This is a fairly short book at under 300 pages, with a larger than average font. It's simplistic which makes it all the more powerful when it talks about such serious and complex topics. I sailed through it, and I'm going to have to return to this at a later date because I feel it could benefit from a second read when the character development, not the storyline, is my focus.
The nicest man in the world is still a man, and once you're taught that men are circling sharks, you're on the lookout for fins.


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

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

My Hallowreadathon 4 TBR!

It's getting close to the Hallowreadathon and I'm getting excited! I prefer Halloween to any other holiday. I love the atmosphere with kids out trick-or-treating and carved pumpkins flickering while I stay in, curled up on the couch with a bowl of candy, a steaming cup of tea and a good spooky book. I've got a few choices for each Hallowreadathon challenge so if you're looking for inspiration, look no further...



1. Read a book with a ghost!
It actually took me a while to come up with a decent list on this one! Especially since I'm the one who set the challenge, I expected it to be easier. The book that prompted the theme was The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell which I won in a Goodreads giveaway and has been tempting me from my shelf ever since. I might not make it to Halloween for this one.
Another option is Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. I'd have to really get my read on to get through this and another book in 48 hours, but it's one of my required reads for this term at university and from what I've listened to on audiobook, it really captures that spooky spirit.
And finally The Shining by Stephen King! This is the book to fill this challenge in my Hallowreadathon Preparation box and I've never read it. Don't tell anyone. It was on a list of books with ghosts in it and I really really need to get to this soon.




2. Read a book with red on the cover!
My immediate thought on this one was my beautiful copy of Carrie by Stephen King that I haven't read since my teens. But red is a popular colour on my book covers so I tried to pick some other spooks...
I love cosy crime, but I've never read an Agatha Christie book. Terrible. So I might pick up The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie, it's a standalone thriller but introduces Colonel Race who features in some of her other books.
Poison City by Paul Crilley has splatters of red and I've been meaning to read this since summer, it's an urban fantasy type of book that I normally fly though so a good pick!
One book that my dad recommended that I shouldn't read because it freaked him out, was The Collector by John Fowles. So obviously I have to read it, right? Reading about a woman kidnapped is true horror.
Since reading Jane Eyre in September, I've been eying up Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye*. A homicidal retelling that's a little on the long side for a readathon (418 pages) but looks so good!



3. Read two books!
I always like to throw up a couple shorter options because I know two books in two days is a real challenge.
Starting with my last mention of Stephen King; American Vampire, written by Scott Snyder and Stephen King and drawn by Rafael Albuquerque. I've read this before but it's been a while and it's really great. A super fun 1920s vampire read with red on the cover. 
I mentioned in my post about Teen Creeps, a podcast I adore about YA pulp that I wanted to read one of those types of books! The only one I have is The New Year's Party by R.L. Stein, which might be better saved for New Years, but it has red on the cover.
Wailing Ghosts by Pu Songling is one of the Penguin Little Black Classics so it's around 60 pages, and 'ghosts' is right there in the title. Perfect for if you're cramming your second read in right at the end.

The winner of the Hallowreadathon Preparation Box has been announced so don't forget to check to see if you won here


What's on your Hallowreadathon TBR? Have you read any of my picks?

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Podcast Love #2: Teen Creeps!

I've never read a Christopher Pike book in my life. But boy, I know a lot about his body of work! I started listening to Teen Creeps over the summer and I haven't really stopped since. When I finally finished the backlog of over a year's worth of episodes, I just started right back at the beginning!



I love this podcast for a whole host of reasons; firstly, I never read teen YA pulp as a teen, I skipped right over it and terrified myself with some Stephen King so it's nice to actually experience that. One of my Hallowreadathon reads is probably going to be the only R. L. Stein book I own; a never-returned-to-the-school-library copy of The New Year's Party, because I'm starting to feel like I missed out. Although, I never had to read about a perfume bottle that possesses you with some sort of evil twin from ancient Egypt. So- you win some, you lose some.

The hosts are great. Kelly Nugent and Lindsay Katai are the kind of people you want in your earholes, on your Twitter feed and just generally around the internet. They don't just talk about the books. They go off on tangents, prompted by the plot or characters, about their past, feminism, love, depression, politics, relationships, racism, a little bit of everything! There are times when they will say something like; I can't believe I'm about to say this then share something super personal that totally resonates, or I'm crying laughing.

Teen YA pulp from the 90's can be a real mix of the good and the bad. There are teenage clichés, a lot of rape culture and so much incest. And Kelly and Lindsay don't shy away from critiquing the books they read. Which led to my favourite sentence from the podcast ever (not including all Kelly's creepy baby talk):

"There is that story out there, there is that story somewhere, but that needs to come from someone who has experienced it."

I started listening to this podcast because I love listening to people talk about books they're passionate about even if I've not read them. But what I got was so much more. It's like listening to two people become best friends over hours of conversation, like eavesdropping but you're welcomed in to listen. Kelly and Lindsay are my favourite hosts of all the podcasts I listen to, and Teen Creeps is my go-to when I'm having a hard time and need to laugh.

So check Teen Creeps out! Start at the beginning, or if a lot of swearing endears you- try the episode with Jackie Johnson. It's my top pick episode with a guest. You can listen on iTunes, they have a website and a Twitter. And keep it creepy.

Did you read YA pulp as a teen? What did you think of it?

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Book Review: Magisterium: The Bronze Key by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare!

This review might have slight spoilers for The Iron Trial and The Copper Gauntlet!



Magic can save you.
Magic can kill you.

Students at the Magisterium are supposed to be safe. Under the watchful eyes of the mages, they are taught to use magic to bring order to a chaotic world.

But now the chaos is fighting back. Call, Tamara, and Aaron should be worrying about things like pop quizzes and magic contests. Instead, after the shocking death of one of their classmates, they must track down a sinister killer… and risk their own lives in the process.


As Call, Tamara, and Aaron discover, magic can only be as good as the person who wields it. In evil hands, it has the capacity to do immeasurable harm, unless it is stopped in time.

Oh boy. This book just tugged at my gosh darn heartstrings with its twists and turns. Just when you think everything is fine- it's not! The plot of this series is brilliantly unfolding in each book, slowly revealing its depths while you get attached to the characters, discover the world, and find yourself attached. It takes a lot for me to tear-up as I read, I don't really show my emotion in that way, but you can bet I was rubbing at my eyes.

Jasper and Callums relationship remains a treat. I think every protagonist should have a person who calls them on their nonsense. It would prevent so many plot lines where you just can't believe what a character is doing. Their dialogue reads exactly like a conversation between two not-quite-friends teens should sound. Every friendship feels believable, and the first romance of the series is so teenage-awkward that I related with all of my own cringe-filled memories.

I haven't mentioned this in my past two reviews but I do think it's important to note that this series is not only diverse, but has a main character with a physical disability. And the magic doesn't really help. Yeah, he can float rather than climb down steep stairs but that also requires physical strength and mental energy in a way that interacting with an able-bodied world can be like. Personally, I really appreciate that and really hope that it continues to be represented in the future books.

I am really hoping for some of the background female characters to take a main role in the coming books since adding Jasper to the circle of trust does make a big male majority. It does look like it's going in that direction as far as I can tell from the ending though, so we'll see.

That ending though- oh the ending. Unlike the previous books, this did end with a little bit of a cliffhanger and after putting the book down I was immediately looking into release dates. Plus pulling out books to unhaul, so I know what happens next as soon as humanly possible without breaking my 10-out-1-in book buying ban. My pre-order arrived today and you can bet I started it as soon as I pulled it out of the box.

This series is just incredible and represents what middle grade/ YA books should be like. I'm even debating buying the U.S. covers since they come in hardcover and I like to have my favourites in hardcover.

Have you read this book? If not- why not?!

Monday, 2 October 2017

Books I Read in August!

August was a pretty interesting reading month! I only read-read one book and audiobook-read four, since figuring out my library app means I can listen to quick YA audiobooks while playing Sims 4 without having to 'waste' an Audible credit. Unfortunately, they weren't great. But I read an incredible classic that made up for it, and a really interesting thriller.



Point Blanc by Anthony Horowitz
The thing is ever since the first book had some questionable bits, I was on alert. So I noticed things that might slide by other readers, heck, I didn't notice them first time around. But things like that even though the villain is a white-supremisist and that's described as "disgusting" by the main character, the same boy also described a South-African woman as having an "ape-like face". And how the book also keeps using the term 'lunatic asylum', which is super outdated.
I really think I should've stopped there with this series (I didn't. I gave up at book five when Alex does black-face at a fancy-dress party).


Skeleton Key by Anthony Horowitz
Despite the garbage second book, I strode on and found myself in okay territory. The bad guy was anti-capitalist rather than a racist, which was a nice change. A female character was introduced, even though her name was Sabina Pleasure. And hey, Alex had some actual emotions about what happened to him!
But I can't rile up the enthusiasm I had for these books as a kid, even though I've managed for other YA series. And boy, the description of a disfigured character (a bad guy, of course) was super not-great.


Eagle Strike by Anthony Horowitz
I will say, this book contains one of the most memorable fictional deaths from my childhood, including the droves of dead from Harry Potter. But apart from that it's the usual high-speed chases, explosions, spy stuff that fills the rest of these books. It even has the ol' villain explaining his whole evil plan to the protagonist.
12-year-old me liked them, so I can't hate them that much. I can't remember any racism, sexism or anything too awful like the others and it sets up the rest of the series well, but by this point I was hanging on by a thread. The scissors to that thread was book five. Nostalgia can only get you so far.


The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë
I'll be writing a full review for this one. I adored it, and started a '6-stars' shelf on Goodreads just to honour it!


Yesterday by Felicia Yap
Full review is here!

What did you read last month?

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