Sunday, 16 September 2018

#Hallowreadathon 5!

It's that time of year again!



I'm going to be hosting my annual halloween readathon again this year! It'll run from the 31st of October to the 1st of November and it's a pretty chill readathon. There's no sprints, no failure, just a couple people spending halloween with their nose in a book or two! The challenges, just to spice up your TBR, are:

1. Read a book with a magic world!
From Hogwarts to Narnia, Middle Earth to the Magisterium, this Halloween I'm going to be picking up a book that'll take me into a world where magic exists and away from the reality of trick-or-treaters making my chocolate supply dwindle!

2. Read a book with Green on the cover!
I actually picked this years colour before dying my hair bright green but if you can't tell- green is my favourite colour, and I'm excited to get some of my green covered books down from my shelf!

3. Read two books!
I believe in us! We can do this.

As for the giveaways! You can enter to win the Hallowreadathon Prep box, with two books fitting the readathon challenges and everything you need for two days of spooky reading, by going to this tweet and RTing!
And anyone who uses the #Hallowreadathon hashtag during the readathon will be automatically entered into a random draw for a Christmassy themed box of goodies that will be picked when the readathon ends!

Will you be joining the Hallowreadathon?

Friday, 14 September 2018

Book Unhaul #5

This unhaul has a theme of just questionable content. Not only do I not want these books on my shelf, I feel weird about taking them to the charity shop where I normally unhaul books. While everybody has the right to read what they want and I believe that no book is for everyone and people have different experiences with reading, these books are where I struggle with that.



Marked, Betrayed, Chosen, Untamed, Hunted, Tempted and Destined by P.C. Cast and Kristen Cast
Oh boy. I read at least a few of these as a teen, and way back in 2014 I actually hauled one of these! But in June I decided to get the audiobook of Marked from my library and ended up listening to the whole thing (in 2.5x speed) with a grimace on my face. I went into it in my June wrap-up but I have no interest in reading these.

Mercury Striking by Rebecca Zanetti*
I was pretty excited about this because a post-apocalyptic romance? Heck yes! However, the fact that sexual assault is sandwiched between repeated claims that nothing will happen without the main character's consent and some other bogus gaslighting just made me close this book with no intention of picking it up again.

How to be a Woman and How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran
I'm a Feminist, and I like reading about Feminism and I know other feminists who have read and enjoyed these books. But I have trouble with feminism that includes ableism, transphobia, xenophobia, or the exclusion of POC. I just have no intention of spending my time reading them when my TBR is at 432.

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

Friday, 7 September 2018

Books I Read in June!

June was such a strange reading month. I'm still catching up on my reading wrap-ups and looking at this pile of books three months later, most of my thoughts are how there was no pattern to my reading in June. After May I was determined to not hate-read, but I did that again! As well as continuing two series and starting another!



Marked by P.C. and Kristen Cast
I truly believe that all books that I don't like, have an audience that I'm not a part of and that's fine. I liked this book as a teen and it has an unbelievable sales record. But here's the thing, everything you don't want a teenage girl thinking is in that book: Racism, fat-shaming, joking about eating disorders, homophobia, slurs (everyone is called a r*tard or a f*g), weird references to "ancient Cherokee magic", Slut-shaming. And just the oddest comments on sex. I had to pause and read aloud to several friends, the paragraph about "the blow job issue", where the MC tells us that: "those of us with functioning brains that it is not cool to be used like that"... I have no idea how to even start to unpack that.
I don't think a book has to have a likeable MC, or even an unproblematic MC, but damn. I wouldn't want a teenage girl reading this. I feel bad for past!Imogen for reading this and thinking badly about herself and others because of the narrative.
Spoiler Alert for my next unhaul: all the books I own from this series.


Kitty Steals the Show by Carrie Vaughn
It's been two years since I last read a Kitty Norville book but returning to this series felt like coming home, especially since this one was set in London! I love this world and these characters so much. 
It is different from past books, with the different setting meaning little interaction with the pack and the radio show that I love so much, but I liked the change- there's 9 previous books chocked full of that. Seeing Kitty gain status through the radio show, enough to be invited to a conference of  paranormal studies, shows the world adapting to the news that werewolves and vampires are real. And I'm always interested in that kind of thing.
✮✮

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams
After reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in May, I thought I was going to love this entire series but this is such an odd sequel. I enjoyed the book just fine when I was listening to the audiobook, although Martin Freeman isn't as good as Stephen Fry when it comes to narrating. But by the end I couldn't tell you what happened in those eight hours!


The Haunting of Mount Cod by Nicky Stratton
You can find my full review for this here!


What have you been reading lately?

Friday, 31 August 2018

5 Books I Want to Re-Read!

I'm not a re-reader. I was when I was a kid and it used to irritate everyone that I would read the same ten books on rotation. But now, I guess I'm just more aware that new books are coming out every week! So in the last four years of book blogging, I've re-read a bunch of books from my childhood but only five books have been read twice within that time. So I thought I'd make a list of the five books I want to re-read next!



Lolita by Vladamir Nabokov
I read Lolita in April of last year, it was even one of my favourite books of 2017, and I've had a review in my drafts since then. But I've never finished it, because along with reading a book this challenging is that a lot of my views were challenged- like how books can be about bad people and still be good books, and that a book with a 'problematic' main character can have value. So I'd like to re-read it, and think more about my opinions before I talk about them.
Plus, the language is beautiful and I want to experience Nabakovs mastery of the English language again.

Real Murders by Charlaine Harris
I really want to re-read the Aurora Teagarden series since I get desperately nostalgic for the world for days at a time. However, even though they're short, 10 books is quite an undertaking! There's a new Charlaine Harris book coming out in October (An Easy Death) but when I'm back in a Charlaine Harris drought, I'm going back to Lawrenceton, Georgia!

Empire by John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard*
I bet if I collected up all the time I've spent talking about wanting to re-read this book on my blog, I could've actually re-read it! I loved Empire but I have that eternal fear of ending a series you love. I know, I know, I need to just bite the bullet. I've just invest in the audiobook so I'll hopefully get to this soon!

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
As soon as I finished this, I wanted to start it again. Finishing up the review in February has only increased this need to read Catch-22 knowing exactly how the structure works and how everything is interwoven. Then, maybe, I'll get to the less-liked sequel: Closing Time.

The Three by Sarah Lotz*
This was the first book since I started reading again that I lost myself in. I was completely taken in, to the point where I lost time and stayed up way too late to finish it. I don't experience that very often and since it's been four years since I read it, I'm hoping that I don't remember enough to experience that again. I've read three other Sarah Lotz books since then and enjoyed them, but none have some close to The Three.

Are you a re-reader? What books are your favourite to re-read?

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Book Review: The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams!

I don't know if I had ever read adult fantasy written by a woman before this but I never want to go back. All of the problems I have with adult fantasy written by men; token female characters, rape as a plot point, self-inserts and self-congratulatory writing- Jen Williams has none of that. Instead, you get fantasy that feels real, and accessible, and just bloody great.


The great city of Ebora once glittered with gold. Now its streets are stalked by wolves. Tormalin the Oathless has no taste for sitting around waiting to die while the realm of his storied ancestors falls to pieces - talk about a guilt trip. Better to be amongst the living, where there are taverns full of women and wine.

When eccentric explorer, Lady Vincenza 'Vintage' de Grazon, offers him employment, he sees an easy way out. Even when they are joined by a fugitive witch with a tendency to set things on fire, the prospect of facing down monsters and retrieving ancient artefacts is preferable to the abomination he left behind.

But not everyone is willing to let the Eboran empire collapse, and the adventurers are quickly drawn into a tangled conspiracy of magic and war. For the Jure'lia are coming, and the Ninth Rain must fall...


If you like quests for knowledge, daring escapes, dusty castles and monster corpses, have I got a book for you!

The Ninth Rain* doesn't take itself too seriously. Jen Williams realises the narrative doesn't have to be doom and gloom all of the time and you don't have to study up on a thousand years of family trees and maps spanning entire worlds to know what's going on. She welcomes you in with arms wide open and you're there for the ride.

Don't get me wrong though, this is a complex world. There's dreamwalking, fire-witches, a sea-cult, a race of former immortals that are now dying out, and a vast history with different cities and regions. But it's written in a way that eases you into it and doesn't require a cheat-sheet to keep everything straight. You're in the world and everything you need to know is explained in time. It took me a little while to visualise it, because it had been a while since I had read fantasy, but Ebora is my new fictional home.

The cast of characters is so wonderfully diverse and I love all of them. Queer people, POC, older characters that aren't cast in the 'wise elder' role- you could play diversity bingo with this book but it never feels forced. It's never shoved in there for the purpose of ticking a box. It's as natural as, oh I don't know, living in the real world.

I forced myself to not read the sequel, The Bitter Twins, until I published this review. So if you're reading this anytime within the week of its posting, I'm probably back in Ebora and wishing away my life for the publication of the third book. I try to keep my reviews balanced but this is a complete rave. Jen Williams skyrocketed to my favourite authors in one book and I regret nothing.

"There is, it seems to me, a certain type of man who is terrified of the idea of a woman weilding power, of any sort; the type of man who is willing to dress up his terror in any sory of trappings to legitimise it."


Have you read The Ninth Rain?

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?

Friday, 8 June 2018

Book Unhaul #4

It's been a few months since my last unhaul so it seemed time to scan those shelves again! I'm still doing my ten-out, one-in book buying ban and I bought a new book prematurely. I couldn't help myself, I needed some Kitty Norville in my life. This unhaul will hopefully make me feel less guilty as I'm truly trying to own less stuff.



The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket and Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
I have two copies of these two- that's literally it! I have two copies and that feels unnecessary considering that I didn't much like The Bad Beginning. And now that I'm done with the Wuthering Heights part of my degree course, I don't need this specific edition anymore. I'm not a big collector of multiple copies, I can only think of a couple books where having two copies isn't just an accident!

American Housewife by Helen Ellis*
I read this in March and immediately put it on the pile of books to unhaul. You can read my wrap-up review here but in short, I'm never going to read this again and don't feel the need to keep it on my shelf until some unguessable future when I will take it off and unhaul it.

Popular: A Memoir by Maya Van Wagenen
While clearing out my shelves, I pulled this out and had a flick through since I have literally no idea where it came from. It looks like a fine book but I'm twenty-four now and really have little interest in going back to the horrors of school. I bet a teenager will get a kick out of it though so I'll take it to my local charity shop.

The Final EmpireThe Well of Ascension and The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson
Remember when everyone and their mother was reading this series?! I jumped on that dang bandwagon and actually really enjoyed book one! But here's the thing, I tried book two. I did. I got maybe 100 pages in, then tried again with the audiobook, but the writing quality just wasn't there for me. I did think I might give it another go but then I saw Lianne's video where she unhauls Sandersons books and she gave me the push I needed.

The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid*
I think the moment I decided to unhaul this was when I saw the sequel available from my library and realised I didn't want to continue the series. I did a whole review and I think I should've just donated this then and there!

The Widow and The Child by Fiona Barton*
I liked The Widow but The Child kind of let me down and since I rarely re-read thrillers anyway, I'd rather let these go and free up some space on my ever-overflowing bookshelves! I'm learning- and I love that my shelves are starting to reflect books that I adored, rather than just everything I've read.

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

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Books I Read in April!

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

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




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


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


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


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


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

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Books I Took to Mallorca!

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Books I Read in March!

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

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


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


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


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

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

Saturday, 14 April 2018

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

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




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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Have you read any good books about Anne Boleyn?

Saturday, 7 April 2018

What's your Favourite Book? Feat. Rebecca Reads!

Welcome back to my cruel, cruel interview series where I ask book people the most difficult question of all- what's your favourite book? I've loved seeing everyones reaction to Jenny's answer and I love Beckys answer. I think it's fascinating how people answer this question and the reasonings they have behind their choices.

Becky blogs over at Rebecca Reads with a focus on childrens literature as she is a trainee teacher. I think this is such a wonerfully unique perspective, as most people reading this age group probably don't spend as much time around so many different kids. I know when I read MG, I haven't got a clue what kids these days would think! So, Becky, what's your favourite book?



Becky: As a reader, whenever someone asks me the question, what is your favourite book? I panic. It’s one of the most difficult questions you could ask me. It’s like asking a parent who is their favourite child! So when faced with this question for this blog post, I had a really long think about my answer. So I decided to narrow it down a little more, to just children’s literature. And how could I choose between two?

As a trainee teacher, I love reading children’s literature, and over the past couple of years it’s brought me so much joy! I have two favourites in children’s literature, Wonder by R.J Palacio and The Secret of Nightingale Wood by Lucy Strange.



I first discovered Wonder 2 years ago thanks to Twitter! I thought it sounded interesting and I very quickly added it to my tbr list! It’s about a boy called Auggie, who has a facial disfigurement and is going to school for the first time. The book follows his early experiences in school and how those around him react to this transition. I love this book, because it covers such unique and difficult topics to discuss with children, but in a way that makes it more accessible for them and allows them to connect with a character who is experiencing difficulties. The lessons that can be learnt from this book are immense! You can read a full review here.



The other book, the secret of Nightingale Wood, is a book about a young girl, Henry, in 1919 who has experienced great loss and her father has gone away for work. She is at home with her mother, who is seriously ill. Doctor Hardy wants to take care of her, but Henry suspects that the doctor isn’t treating her mother correctly. Then she discovers that there is a fire lit in the woods just beyond her house, which may hold all the answers she needs. I again loved this book because it dealt with such difficult topics, such as loss and mental health, but in an accessible way. Lucy’s writing style is so lovely and the book flows really well. You can read a full review here

I have never really had favourites in other genres, I don’t know why, I just don’t think I’ve found ‘that book’ yet. The one that really sticks with me and I want to re-read constantly. Obviously Harry Potter is another favourite, and whilst I watch the films all the time, I don’t have the urge to constantly re-read the books, maybe the length puts me off a little!



As a child, my favourites were the famous five series by Enid Blyton, I couldn’t get enough of her books, and constantly re-read them, but now I struggle to get into them as much, maybe it’s because the writing style is quite old fashioned, and I’m used to a more modern writing style. My favourite books are ever changing. Who knows if these two books will be my favourite this time next year?

Make sure to check out Becky's wonderful blog here and her Twitter too! I'm definitely going to have to pull out my old Enid Blyton books, she was such an influence on my childhood so I wonder if I'll still like them now!

What do you think of Beckys choices? Were you an Enid Blyton fan?

Monday, 2 April 2018

Fostering: The Kittens of Wildfell Hall!

I tend to focus on books when it comes to my blog, but today I want to take a minute and talk about something that goes hand in hand with books- Cats! More specifically, the first foster cats that I had for longer than 24 hours. You can read about that experience and what I learned here! But if you love pictures of cats, this is the post for you.



So, let me introduce to you: The Kittens of Wildfell Hall. Gilbert and Esther were named for characters from my favourite book of 2017, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë.






I fostered Gilbert and Esther after they were spayed/ neutered for a little over a month before a place opened up for them in the nearby Cats Protection adoption centre. My task was to socialise them because they had been feral for the first six months of their lives. Feral life is not easy. Along with finding food, unless these ferals are TNR'd (trap, neuter, return) they won't be vaccinated and will constantly be reproducing. Not to mention that around 80% of feral kittens die in their first year.

Socialisation is a sooner-the-better kind of deal. It takes longer the longer they're out there and not interacting with humans. And the general idea is that six months is about when it stops being effective. So Gilbert and Esther got taken in just in time, the vet that neutered them aged them at about six months! It's actually pretty lucky that Esther wasn't pregnant as cats can start reproducing at four months.



It was a long and tough journey socialising these two. Esther was much more amiable and loved to play, but Gilbert was frightened half to death by humans. He spent the first few days hidden under a side table in the corner, creeping out for food and occasionally batting at the toys. I even heard him having a nightmare one night, whining in a way that made my heart break.

But persistence, spending every spare second holding and stroking, and even hand-feeding (jelly cat food is gross to touch) softened up both of them to the point where I think both of them could be definied as lap cats! When they were taken to the adoption centre, I'll admit, I shed a tear! I was constantly refreshing their pages on the site, keeping an eye on the centre's Facebook and double-checking my emails. In the end, they were adopted seperately.



Esther is now called Dotty. Her adopter was lovely and sent me a couple updates. She has settling in nicely and they adore her. She'll always be Esther to me though!



Gilbert took a little longer to be adopted. They found a heart murmer at the vet check that happens when a cat is taken in to the adoption centre. You can imagine that a pre-existing condition, unable to be covered by insurance, can be a major consideration for someone! He was eventually adopted, but not before I was seriously considering foster failing (a term for when you just can't give them up).

So that was my experience with the Kittens of Wildfell Hall! I'll be posting a little more about cats I foster but don't worry, lots of book posts too!
Aren't they just the cutest? 

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