No books today.

I normally post on Fridays and was planning to write this morning but last night, my relationship ended and I’ve had one hour of sleep. Adding this to my pounding head and puffy eyes, I can’t think of anything and certainly not anything positive to say about any books today.

Literature has been a stable thing for me to turn to throughout my life. I’ve studied and read extensively over years but in the past year, my love of it has returned and I’m grateful to Toby for helping me with this. I told him this yesterday and if you’re reading this, hi, but he helped my mental health so much and allowed me to find my enjoyment of reading on my own without pressure from lecturers or deadlines and I’m so thankful. This isn’t a nice time right now but I don’t regret our time together even if the thought makes me cry now. It’s a shame that we want different things in life and that we had to both be hurt by the outcome but this has been the most caring break up that I’ve experienced and I hope that one day we will both find what we want.

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Top 5 Tuesday: Ravenclaw Reads!!

Top 5 Tuesday is a tag hosted by Bionic Book Worm (link here), and this month the theme is Harry Potter houses! The second week is Ravenclaw and my picks are based on the traits set out by Shanah which are:

They are analytical, intelligent, logical yet impractical, curious, inquisitive, creative, witty, wise, interested in understanding things, cynics, fond of  intellectual discussion, introspective, independent, wordy, and self entertaining. They observe rather than participate, are fond of learning for the sake of learning, and good at school (or really anything that they have an interest in!)

Vox by Christina Dalcher

Vox is a dystopian/speculative fiction novel in which women are not allowed to speak more than 100 words per day. The protagonist is a scientist specialising in neurological processes/disorders and of course has to save the day. The intellectual focus of the novel and the importance of her expertise in the novel as well as how wordy this word-focused novel actually is made this the first book I thought of for this week. Also, it’s amazing.

Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbot

Maybe it’s because it’s still fresh in my mind but this is a murder mystery (kind of but not really) that centres around very smart smart people and I have no doubt that most of these characters would be Ravenclaws if given the change. Then again, none of them would be scientists if they were wizards…

James Acaster’s Classic Scrapes by James Acaster

I want to pick at least one non-fiction for these prompts because I’m trying to read more non-fic and this is a wonderful collection of his stories/takes. The description ‘analytical, intelligent, logical yet impractical, curious, inquisitive, creative, witty, wise, interested in understanding things, cynics, fond of  intellectual discussion, introspective, independent, wordy, and self entertaining’ IS JAMES ACASTER, so he’s an obvious pick for this, he literally fits every description set out.

Utopia by Thomas Moore

I don’t even really know what to class this as, maybe philosophy. Moore’s work on the ideal society not based on a hierarchy or patriarchy as every society has operated is one of the works that most impacted my studies on dystopian literature. Moore wrote this and very likely understood the ramifications of writing something that basically said how pointless monarchs were – WHILE HENRY VIII WAS THE KING. Logical yet impractical, independent and wise. This is a very Ravenclaw essay that I still think about a lot and I really think that more people should read it.

Other Minds by Peter Godfrey-Smith

Ok so I put 3 non-fiction texts on this post but maybe it fits the Ravenclaw theme? I want to see Ravenclaws studying the Giant Squid as Godfrey-Smith does in this book, this is a genuinely fascinating book and makes octopuses seem like mystical beings and if they were… I’m sure that Ravenclaw would be all over these things.

January Reading Wrap Up

This year I’ve set my Goodreads goal for 70 books since I read 52 last year and now understand the magic of audiobooks which is cutting my TBR down massively as I can read passively while doing busy work 🙂 In January, I managed to finish 10 books (and DNF 1, I’m very sorry but tbh there were nearly a couple more…)

1. The Little Snake by A.L.Kennedy

This is a little book about a little snake as he appears in the lives of humans and watches as they grow up, fall in love, grow old and move on. It was quite a nice read, a quick fable to start off my reading year but ultimately I think I’ll forget it quite easily (it’s been nearly a month and I’m struggling to remember a lot of the plot, apart from the lovely scene between a married couple dancing).

Format: Audiobook. Rating: ***

2. Good Muslim Boy by Osamah Sami

The memoir of a muslim man (or boy really, depending on the time you’re considering him) growing up in Australia. This was interesting and funny but still just a bit concerning, concerning in the same way that watching Big Mouth will make you look at every male in your life just a bit differently because boys are weird. That’s my official stance. I’ve never read a memoir from an Australian-Iranian boy’s perspective and so it was interesting to see.

Format: Audiobook. Rating: ***

3. Melmoth by Sarah Perry

I was looking forward to this. I waited for my library hold for 3 months. I started it straight away. I wanted to die.

There was only one part of this book that I really enjoyed and it started about 250 pages into the novel. The shifting perspectives/narratives in the novel sort of ensured that there is a story that will suit each reader but I wanted to be invested in each part of this story but the supernatural element was barely there which the blurb/reviews had kind of hyped up in my experience. There was more focus on the historical narrative then the Melmoth narrative which means a lot about pre and mid WW2 Prague and then something else and something else which I couldn’t stay interested in. I really struggled until Helen’s story of her ‘crime’ (in quotes for some reason even though it’s an actual crime to do what she did but ok) which I found was really interesting and then the climax of the novel took place and it was…ok? Birds hitting the windows so that was a bit supernatural but it was kind of a let down. If you like historical fiction then it might be for you but I definitely struggled to get into the story.

Format: eBook. Rating: **

4. Odd Spirits by S.T Gibson

I thought I’d pick this up after seeing it on Twitter and it was on offer on Amazon kindle, I read it on my work commute and before my meeting took place as it was only short. I was not a fan. This is a contemporary-magical short story about a couple of magic practitioners that have a spirit/thing in their home that turns out to be a manifestation or conjuration based on their ill intent/pent up feelings. The wife’s pent up feelings are revealed when she shouts that she doesn’t like that her husband is bisexual and this was obvious before based on her interations with David and his ex. This biphobia is then just brushed over, never apologised for or worked through, there is no suggestion that maybe this is a part of her husband that she needs to accept because HE IS HER HUSBAND and she knew about it before they got married but yeah, biphobia isn’t something that I want to read, even if the character acknowledges that she doesn’t want to feel that way there is no condemnation of this or any suggestion that HEY MAYBE DON’T MARRY SOMEONE IF YOU HAVE AN ISSUE WITH A PART OF THEIR IDENTITY.

Format: eBook. Rating: *

5. The Corset by Laura Purcell

I LOVED THIS and want to do a full single review on this. The Corset is a Victorian gothic mystery centred around the trial of a young seamstress for the murder of her mistress. Shifting perspectives between Ruth (who is on trial) and Dorothea (an upper class woman who is studying phrenology and wishes to study Ruth’s skull), Purcell’s writing is beautiful and suspenseful all the way through. This book is wonderfully paced and mysterious until the end, I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone.

Format: Audiobook. Rating: *****

6. Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton

A collection of essays by journalist/column writer Dolly Alderton about dating, growing up and how friendships change as you get older and your lives change. This was uncomfortably relatable. If you’ve been on Tinder/Bumble/any dating thing then you’ve experienced some of what Dolly writes about and it’s skin-crawlingly uncomfortable but so funny. Wonderfully written essays and really engaging throughout.

Format: Audiobook. Rating: ****

7. The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

Holy mother of G-d I loved this book. The laddish and extremely British language of the soldiers was jarring at times and the shift to Achilles’ perspective a few times throughout the book was unneeded but over all, this was PHENOMENAL and I’ll be doing a full review of this book at some point soon!

8. Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott

I was listening to Reading Glasses (podcast on reading that I love) and Mallory mentioned that Megan Abbott is an author that she will always return to and pick up any new releases straight away so when I saw her name on my library app in the new section I thought I’d have a look. Since reading Into the Water by Paula Hawkins last month, I’ve wanted some more mystery/thriller books and this one definitely delivered. In this, Kit is a student working on a clinical trial for what is essentially an extreme version of PMS that makes women homicidal and then whoops there’s a body and her relationship with her former friend who is also working on the trial but is (spoiler alert) weird AF and the subsequent cover up of the body and then the uncovering. There was a lot going on and it was all really good and enjoyable, I definitely want to read more Abbott since I enjoyed this as much as I did with Paula Hawkins’ books.

Format: Audiobook. Rating: ****

9. Zodiac by Sam Wilson

This was the book that I DNF’d this month. I started off really interested in the story, the first chapter really worked on me but it dropped off significantly when the world building just didn’t make sense to me at all and I just ended up lost. I made it about 40% of the way through then had to let it go because I wasn’t enjoying the experience at all.

Format: Audiobook. Rating: DNF.

10. Nonsensory Overload by Ross Noble

This was a stand up show recorded and released as an audiobook that I really enjoyed listening to. Ross Noble was one of my favourite comedians years ago and I haven’t seen much from him in recent years although he is still touring quite regularly. His comedy style is observational, heavily improvised and absolute nonsense. I listened to this at work sometimes but had to stop because I was trying not to laugh out loud.

Format: Audiobook. Rating: ****

11. Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot

YES. I FINALLY READ THIS. I WAS SO HAPPY ALL THE WAY THROUGH. YES. MIA AND MICHAEL FOREVER. I’m still feeling a lot about this book/series at the moment so would like to do a full review at some point later and I might even reread the first ten books (although I do think that I donated them a few years ago).

Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot

Top 5 Tuesday – Gryffindor Reads!

Top 5 Tuesday is a tag hosted by Bionic Book Worm (link here), and this month the theme is Harry Potter houses! The first week is Gryffindor and my picks are based on the traits set out by Shanah which are:

They are experience oriented, honest, practical, blunt, passionate, playful, funny, trusting, idealistic, stubborn and procrastinators. They live in the moment, don’t take themselves seriously, are wary of manipulators and liars, have a strong moral centre, and are unafraid to seize opportunities and make changes.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here – Patrick Ness

This book focuses on the people that surround a traditional adventure or fantasy story, with the ‘indie kids’ or ‘Chosen One’ characters being pushed out of the spotlight for this story. This really made me think of what the lives of characters that are on the sidelines in Gryffindor like Fay Dunbar who have no story lines, no drama in the narrative at all but have the main focus of the books running through scenes of their lives.

The Princess Diaries – Meg Cabot

Mia Thermopolis is a Gryffindor and is committed to ruling Genovia as an ethically and environmentally responsible nation while also not liking homework and procrastinating. Undeniably Gryffindor.

The Lunar Chronicles – Marissa Meyer

Maybe it was the fantasy element of both books that forced this comparison but everyone is running into fights in this and there seems to be very little strategy discussed beforehand so it seems very Gryffindor.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck – Mark Manson

Here’s a bit of non-fiction for a self-help loving Gryffindor because I think that it’s the most relevant for this house. A big part of this book is accepting that there are good and bad parts in life and that you have to accept it all, Harry could have used this in The Half Blood Prince, just saying.

Twilight – Stephanie Meyer

Blasphemy? Maybe. Just as the Lunar Chronicles focuses on rushing into the fray and hoping for the best, Twilight is just a sequence of events in which Bella Swan acts rashly and it works out. I’m not sure if I want to reread this series actually just because of how much I loved it (I liked it before I liked HP to be honest but HP has more staying power).

January Book Haul

I bought some new books in January and I can’t wait to read them! In fact, some of them jumped to the top of my TBR and I’ve already read them so you’ll be reading about them soon in a future post on here 🙂

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo pictured next to pasta with kale and broccoli.

Books purchased:

Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot

The final book in The Princess Diaries series that I adored when I was a teenager. Mia is now 26 years old and living in Manhattan, this novel focuses on her relationship with Michael and her family (no spoilers unless you know about the new middle grade series from Cabot). I thoroughly enjoyed this book (I’m a big MiaxMichael shipper since I was 12) and this was a perfect end to the series for me.

You by Caroline Kepnes

I finished watching You on Netflix and the next day ordered the book on my Kindle (it was 99p and I am weak). I haven’t read this one yet but I’m hoping to get to it soon, maybe over a weekend when I know that I won’t be going home to my flat alone (even though I do have blinds on my windows unlike a certain main character in this…).

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Book Twitter went into a panic when the Grisha trilogy Netflix series was announced so I thought ‘Hey I’ve been wanting to read some of these so I might as well’ and then found out this one was about a heist (YES) and can also be read as a standalone (double YES).

The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris

I haven’t read ANYTHING about Norse mythology which was a big surprise to me because I’m a huge dork. Anyway, Joanne M. Harris wrote Chocolat which means I’m a little bit familiar with her writing so I’m interested to see how that translates into a retelling of Loki’s story. All I know of Norse mythology comes from the Marvel movies and reading Wikipedia at 2am so I want to read a novelisation of the myth very soon.

9780349010328

Deep Water by Patricia Highsmith

I read The Talented Mr Ripley in 2011 (while applying for university so it was a very memorable time apparently) then decided that I wanted to read more Highsmith and then started a Literature degree and all personal reading time went out the window. This story is about a couple who are unhappy after a few years and then the wife’s lover (how rude of her) is murdered (how dramatic) and I just want some intrigue and mystery and murder which I think that this book will deliver! (Note – the edition pictured above is the one that I picked up in Waterstones on Deansgate in Manchester which is HUGE and really nice! Of course the Leeds Waterstones is my home and my love but this one is sprawling and really nice to browse.)

 

Review copies received:

The Quaker by Liam McIlvanney

A novel based on the Bible John murders in Glasgow, Scotland in the late 1960’s, this is a Tartan Noir novel (a genre that I didn’t know had a name but I love it so much) following DI Duncan MCCormack as he investigates a series of murders and according to Goodreads, this is the first in a series. I listened to the Glasgow episode of My Favorite Murder recently in which they discussed Bible John as well as some of the suspects in the case so I’m interested to see how closely this novel is based on the true story.

A Serial Killer’s Daughter by Kerri Rawson

There was a definite theme with the books that I received for review this month. This is a non-fiction book written by Kerri Rawson who is known as the daughter of the BTK killer (don’t really care about his real name because he’s not someone I want to focus on), from what I’ve read about her, she is an advocate for victims and survivors of abuse and trauma which I think is quite an admirable thing to devote your life to, especially considering that the actions of her father had nothing to do with her at all and I’m interested to see how the world’s reaction to his actions have impacted her.

Reading Wrap Up: December 2018

Start off February by wrapping up what I read in December…sounds like a good plan. I read some GOOD books and some meh so I’ll get right to it!

1. Sawkill Girls – Claire Legrand

Young girls in Sawkill are going missing and have been disappearing for years and when Marion’s little sister is the latest disappearance, a group of friends try to find out and put an end to the root of this small town’s troubles. To be honest, this book reminded me of Stephen King’s writing because of the small town/secluded/supernatural setting and that was what kept me interested a lot of the time (I’m not a big King fan but this had similar elements that I enjoy from his works). I really enjoyed the Collector character and was surprised by how grotesque it seemed, the relationship that he has with the Mortimer family was really interesting and I would have liked more inclusion of that in the storyline. The relationships between the girls really takes centre stage towards the end of the novel, in the face of a paternalistic group that has ‘kept the problem at bay’ (in quotation marks because they absolutely didn’t) the girls band together tighter and fight quite scrappily which I feel is uncommon in works like this. +points for LGBTQIA representation, especially asexuality which I don’t think I have ever seen in a book such as this!

Rating: ***

2. Milkman – Anna Burns

I had some issues with this one if I’m being honest. Burns won the Man Booker Prize 2018 for this novel and I can completely understand why, my issue with books like this is that I think they are not always accessible for readers that want to enjoy their literature experience. By that, I mean (and I’m not intending to be patronising) that I struggled to read this book based on the punctuation style, vocabulary and narrative style and I have studied literature extensively and come from a family from Northern Ireland that spoke similarly to these characters. I would not read this book for a nice reading experience and only persevered because I wanted to see if the Man Booker Prize is something that I will use to gauge whether or not I will like a book. If I hadn’t read articles prior to picking this up, I would have no idea that this was set in Northern Ireland during the Troubles (to be honest I’m still not sure). I still don’t understand a lot of what happened but I stuck around to see what happened with The Milkman, with maybe-boyfriend (which OMG it made me so mad, I was on the train and so furious that I almost missed my stop) and her family of complete morons.

Based on my reactions to the characters and events in the book (which every book review ever does, wow I’m so revolutionary), I gave it 4 stars after finishing it. This isn’t a book that I will ever revisit but once I got into the storyline (which took me a WHILE), I did want to know what happened and wanted to carry on. Also I started reading it in my Grandma’s accent which made it easier to comprehend.

Rating: ****

3. If Cats Disappeared from the World – Genki Kawamura

I borrowed this from my boyfriend’s mum and it was ok. I read a few translated Japanese short stories a while ago and there’s a similar cadence that I’m not sure if it’s a translation thing or a style common with Japanese authors that I’ve read but this is a very straightforward short novel (I’m not sure if it’s short enough to be a novella) with a very straightforward cast of characters. Where American or British authors attempt to write characters like this, it often falls flat as they end up having excruciating inner conflicts that make narratives messy, the characters in this are clean and I enjoyed that very much.

Rating: ***

4. The Unaccompanied – Simon Armitage

I wanted to read some poetry because I feel that I’ve neglected that since leaving university. I chose Simon Armitage because I was scrolling through my library app and this collection had just been added. It was ok.

Rating: *

5. The Girls – Emma Cline

Ok I loved this one. Set during 1969 in California, Evie attaches herself to a group of unkempt young women and of course, it’s a cult. Her relationship with the girls, her affection for Suzanne (I really thought this book would go there but alas, no deeper look at her obvious obsession with this girl), her weird relationship with Russell who is the charismatic leader of this cult are all key features of this book and I really enjoyed it. I’m not sure why I waited this long to read it since it’s been on everyone’s radar for a while but I’m very glad that I did get a chance to read it now. I’d be very interested to read more books about similar situations (cults, etc) as I haven’t seen many fictionalised accounts of these types of things, even this is very clearly based on the Manson family.

Rating: *****

6. How to Deal with Stress – Stephen Palmer

An audiobook about affective stress management techniques and how to work appropriately under pressure. Had some very useful insights into where problems can occur and how to navigate these.

Rating: ***

7. Punslinger – Tim Vine

This was an audiobook downloaded from my library app of a Tim Vine stand up show and if you like one-liners, ridiculous songs and straightforward gags instead of long winded bits then please please please watch or listen to Tim Vine, he’s a wonderful comedian.

Rating: ***

8. Into the Water – Paula Hawkins

I realised that I hadn’t read this book yet and it came out a while ago! I read The Girl on the Train over 2 years ago and I was late on that hype as well! I think that Paula Hawkins is one of the most accessible thriller writers that I’ve ever experienced and her characters are gritty and unlikeable but so so good to read as they do awful things.

Into the Water focuses on an investigation into deaths that occurred at the Drowning Pool, past and present going back to the witch-hunts. Those scenes were some of my favourites and really set up the idea that there was no paranormal or superstitious pull towards the pool for the women that drowned there but essentially a cycle of abuse echoing through time. This was such a fascinating novel and kept me guessing up to the very end, much like The Girl on the Train did. The relationships between the characters are completely vexing at times and some of them are downright stupid (student-teacher romance trope alert) but ultimately all pay off for a fantastic novel.

Rating: ****

9. Anecdotal Evidence – Wendy Cope

My final read for 2018 was a collection of Wendy Cope’s poetry that I once again found by scrolling through my library app. After my meh experience earlier in the month, I wanted to have another go at some poetry and selected Anecdotal Evidence.

I enjoyed this so much. Cope’s poetry was beautifully and elegantly written, her experiences of love and loss were at times excruciatingly relatable but ultimately just brilliant. I absolutely loved this collection and I’m glad that I had such a nice ending to my reading last year.

Rating: ****

 

It’s 2019!

I decided not to blog in January because everything has been *MAD* this month and I’m still not unpacked after moving house in December, I didn’t unpack but at least I had some time to get things sorted which means I now have internet at home and can actually blog!

In January I had a cold, a recurrence of said cold, some kind of three week version of motion sickness, sorted utilities, spent a total of 7 hours speaking to various customer service advisors, visited a cat cafe, done nice things, had tricky moments, my first counselling appointment, booked a holiday and read a lot of books. The books are why you probably found my blog though.

I do plan to post regularly in 2019 (January not included) and I was able to post at least once a week last year so I would like to post a couple of times per week in this upcoming year. I have a lot of ideas for posts and want to do more solitary book reviews in order to be able to talk about the books that I read in more depth and actually have conversations about them as there are limitations on this when I do wrap up posts.

This post is just a quick update to explain that I’m still blogging (I’ll be posting again today too)! Just taking a little hiatus to settle in to my new home and relax for a while. I’ve been reading A LOT this month so I’ve got plenty to write about and I hope that you enjoy my blog in 2019 🙂