Friday, 23 March 2018

Books I Read in February!

February was a weird reading month for me, in that I read a lot but I stopped getting a lot of feelings from reading about half-way through the month. As you can imagine, that kind of pumps the brakes. But this had me testing out a lot of different genres and continuing series, starting new series and jumping around which can be fun.

The Fear Within by J. S. Law*
I really liked the first book in this series; Tenacity. I felt that the female main character was written wonderfully, the plot worked for me and there was LGBT+ representation in a military setting which- yay! The Fear Within was good but didn't hit all the high spots of Tenacity.
The plot was great and while the links to the first book were a little heavy-handed, I can see where the narrative is going with that overarching plotline while the book deals with a new case. And Dani was as wonderful as she was in book one.
However, I felt like this slipped into gratuitous violence, specifically towards women. The characters talk openly about Feminism and even reference the misogyny rife on Twitter so I don't think this is the issue. I think it's just a norm in this genre that women are often victims of physical and sexual assault. But I'm not really sensitive to these kinds of things, so for me to feel uncomfortable- that's quite a level to reach.
I'll read the next book, but I'll definitely be going with my guard up.
"If I want to hear childish, misogynist crap like this I'll go and speak my mind on Twitter."

I have to say, I didn't find the cast of characters that breifly inhabit Blandings Castle as charming as the ones from Something Fresh, which I read in January. But the wit and charm of Wodehouse stay constant and is super refreshing. I can't think of any modern books that quite manage the same vibe and it's genuinely calming. When I want a book that isn't life-and-death, with low stakes but great plot, Wodehouse is my new go-to.
Situated in the middle of one of those districts where London breaks out into a sort of eczema of red brick-

Recently I've been un-hauling a lot of the series I read as a teen because I tended towards not-great YA. It turns out that teen-Imogen had some taste after all though because, while I'm pretty sure I only read one of these books, I bought eight of them. And they're not half bad!
The whole thing is very mid-2000s. You get words like 'skank' and the idea of 'girl games'. But even though she sees it as 'abnormal', I like having a narrator that loves school and learning. She's smart and her intelligence is useful in a way that makes her a strong female character without having her take on male sterotypes of strength.
For the second time since starting my Twitter thread of 2017 reads, this was a book I originally gave four-stars and marked down to three while writing my wrap-up and thinking it over. I'll still read the next one but whether I buy into the whole 15-book series is hanging on that. I don't want anymore women called skanks, but I do want to dive into more of Rachel Caine.
She resented being scared in a library! Books weren't supposed to be scary. They were supposed to... help.

Full review coming soon!

I've really liked Katherine Clements historical fiction books in the past! The Crimson Ribbon and The Silvered Heart were my first foray into the genre and convinced me to keep giving it a chance. But The Coffin Path is a historical ghost story and maybe historical ghost stories aren't for me... For example, I didn't like The Woman in Black by Susan Hill at all. And while I liked this better, it wasn't something I was reaching for whenever I had a free minute. The setting and vibe were great, super creepy, but I didn't click with the characters or plot that much.
Although this is set in Yorkshire, my Greater Manchester town got a mention for being rebels against the King. That was pretty neat.
The truth weighs heavy on my. If only my purse did the same.

Oh boy, I cried. I don't think I've read this one since the original release day so it was kind of wild to listen to the audiobook for the first time. Stephen Fry could read the phone book and make it wonderful.
As for the story, I'd say everything was resolved okay but, much like the ending of Lost, I'm not sure I completely get it? But the whole book felt much more densely plotted, full of action and emotion, it didn't drag like some of the other books in the series. I feel like JKR knew exactly what needed to happen to get from A to B and that was a lot. So it was all packed in.
Overall, I'm glad that I've gone from start to finish with this series as an adult. But I have a lot of complicated feelings about the diversity, or lack of, and seperation of author and story can be hard.
There was a brief silence in which the distant sound of Hagrid smashing down a wooden door seemed to reverbarate through the intervening years.

What did you read in February?

Saturday, 3 March 2018

What's your Favourite Book? Feat. Jenny in Neverland!

A question I get asked a lot when people find out I like to read is: 'oh! What's your favourite book?' and I never have a great answer. I can narrow it down to top ten, I can give you my favourites within genres, I can tell you my top-rated. But my favourite? Not a chance. So I'm starting a new series of blogger interviews with one question: What's your favourite book? In hopes of finding new favourite books, introducing my readers to my favourite bloggers, and seeing how other people answer this impossible question.

I'm starting the series by asking Jenny, from Jenny in Neverland. She was one of the first book bloggers I ever followed when I started and is one of the most hardworking women I know. I was super nervous when I first internet-spoke to her but you'll not find a bigger champion for small bloggers anywhere. So, Jenny, what's your favourite book?

Jenny: I have so many books that I would consider favourites. I have a shelf dedicated to my favourite books (which is slowly getting more and more full with the more books I read!) and when someone asks what my favourite book is, I usually find myself rolling off book after book after book. Some of them include; The Beach by Alex Garland, The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson-Walker, Wild by Cheryl Strayed, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky and basically everything that John Green has written.

But when I think about it, there’s only one book that I come back to time after time after time. I’m sure we all have them; that one book we slip into conversation at whatever chance we get. That one book we reference to all the time. That one book that holds the largest part of our bookish hearts. So that being said, although there are tons of books I would consider favourites and all of them are incredible and beautiful in their own way, there’s only one book which for me, is endless and timeless in my little world of “favourite books”. That’s The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. 

I think Markus Zusak is an incredible writer anyway as his other novel, I Am the Messenger is also up there amongst my favourites. They’re both very different books but The Book Thief holds a very special place in my heart. I may sound presumptuous here but I honestly don’t think another book will compare to that one for me for my entire life. It’s so beautifully written, such a unique way to read a book (if you’re not familiar with the book, it’s narrated by Death and Death is very much personified throughout the book so it’s really unusual but gives you a massively different insight and perspective) and the characters… My gosh. The characters. 

The Book Thief is my favourite book for so, so many reasons if I were to list and talk about them all I’d be here all day. I love the writing style, the unique approach, the setting, the storyline but most of all I think I love the characters, their relationship with each other and what that all means. I love Liesel, the main character. I love her passion for books and reason and her deep desire to know more, read more and learn. I know stealing isn’t condoned (she does literally steal books in the book) but I would confidently say that Liesel is quite a role-model, considering everything she goes through in the book. Everything she loses, everything she has to see and witness in a time where tragedy tore through the streets. Despite being so young, she’s definitely someone to look up to. 

I’m going to wrap it up here but above all else, I love The Book Thief because it shows and teaches you what the power of books and words can do. They’re magic. They can pick you up, lift your soul, even in times of absolute desperation. Books are there to save you and The Book Thief definitely portrays that perfectly.

Check out all the pages Jenny has turned over for quotes she loves!

Make sure to check out Jenny's wonderful blog here for book, lifestyle, travel and blogger tips posts! And follow her on Twitter. I'm off to find my copy of The Book Thief and add it to my immediate TBR. Thank you Jenny!

Have you read The Book Thief? What did you think?

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Books I Read in January!

I read five books in January which is pretty good for a busy month! Four of the five were audiobooks which I think is going to be the trend for this year unless I find a treatment that works for my chronic migraines. But for now, audiobooks are amazing it's great to have an option to read that doesn't include me opening my eyes!

Pile of books: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Women and Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard, Something Fresh by P.G. Wodehouse and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
I've had a long relationship with this book; I started reading it in January 2016, then again in May 2017, and now finished it in January 2018 via the wonderful Stephen Fry Audible audiobook! I read two Sherlock Holmes novels between starting these stories and ending them.
I find the Sherlock Holmes short stories a mixed bag in general. On individual ratings, they literally ranged from one to five stars. But I like the various television adaptations of the stories and it's always interesting to read the source material. Some of them really show how impressive the retellings are because while the story is familiar, the modernisation is masterful to keep the same 'vibe' in a current-day setting.
"Crime is common. Logic is rare. Therefore it is upon the logic rather than the crime that you should dwell."

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Another collection of short stories and the same experience. I liked some, I didn't like others.
I did find the death of Sherlock quite moving, especially when it sounded like Stephen Fry was getting a little teary at the end! Moriarty is one of the better villains I think, and I really can't wait to listen to the next book.
"I am afraid that I rather give myself away when I explain," said he. "Results without causes are much more impressive-"

Women and Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard
This is the second year that the first book I've read has been a Feminist non-fiction. Last year is was We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and this year the historian Mary Beards manifesto. She is a wonder. Again, I got this for Christmas and again I loved it! By looking at the classical world, which is her speciality, she brings something fresh to the movement. It was empowering, and the perfect way to start the year that is the anniversary of some women getting the vote for the first time. It was such a unique way of looking at the subject and I really recommend it as a short burst of energy if, like me, the world weighs on you at times.
I'll definitely be continuing this little fledgeling tradition of starting the year with a Feminist book. Now what to read next January...
When it comes to silencing women, Western culture has had thousands of years of practice.

Something Fresh by P.G. Wodehouse
I originally bought a collection of P.G. Wodehouse's Blandings Castle series back in March 2014. And I just read the first one, which is pretty ridiculous. But, I really enjoyed it so maybe the wait wasn't all bad!
It was completely charming, and I really loved all the characters introduced. I didn't immediately understand the way the cast all fit together but once it clicked, I was surprised at how brilliantly everything weaved together. It might've been easier if I have been reading the physical book, but the audiobook was narrated by Jonathan Cecil who has the most perfect posh British accent that made the characters really come to life and the sharp wit of Wodehouse really sparkle.
Plus, originally written in 1915, there is a wonderful commentary on the idea of women getting the vote that ends up being in favour. Even if the male character does struggle with it a little, the female character refuses his unwanted chivalry and is determined to be treated equally.
It was with the sullen repulsion of a vegetarian who finds a caterpillar in his salad that he now sat glaring at them.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling
Continuing my journey through the Harry Potter books as an adult has been eye-opening. But I'm glad that book six brought me back to solid ground. After a terrible read of book five, I was actually dreading this book. But hey, that page count got lower and I got happier.
There's still ableism, the common-of-the-time use of mental illness as an insult but there's only one occurrence. And for the first time, I had no quotes to write out. Don't get me wrong, I love sassy Harry as much as the next person, but he has the only memorable lines in the whole book.
Although I initially gave it 4 stars, I've now knocked it down to three because writing is one of the main factors in a book for me, and if I haven't got any examples of thinking- wow, what a good sentence/ paragraph/ expression, then that lets down the whole book for me.

What did you read in January?

Blog design by aleelilydesigns