Tuesday, 31 May 2016

#2016ClassicsChallenge: North and South

Originally published in 1855 by Chapman and Hall. Initially serialised in ‘Household Worlds’ between 1854-5.

My edition: The 2012 Penguin English Library paperback.

WHEN I Discovered This Classic
I don’t really remember not knowing about North and South. My mum was a big Gaskell fan and it was a book she re-read every few years, but I didn’t really take much notice of it until I started to watch lots of booktubers who focus more on classics. They gushed about it and the Richard Armitage adaptation – I was sold!

WHY I Chose to Read It
I read Gaskell’s Cranford last year completely on a whim and I really enjoyed it. I knew I wanted to read more of her work so I figured I'd go for her most famous novel next! Plus, I really want to watch the adaptation, but of course I need to read it first!

WHAT Makes It a Classic
Gaskell was a contemporary of the Brontës and a successor of Austen and has elements of both. In fact, she was a great friend of Charlotte Brontë and even wrote the first biography of her.

WHAT I Thought of This Classic
Unlike with Cranford it took me a while to warm to North and South. This is the first classic novel I've come across that is set in the industrial north and while it was fascinating and I love how different it made everything feel, I did think Gaskell got a little bogged down in the politics and explanations of mills, the strikes and the discontent between the owners and the workers. I found myself skimming these parts and hoping there wouldn’t be another for a good while, but these scenes were rather frequent. Though I never came to like them, I did end up being able to look past them and enjoy the story anyway.

I did enjoy the northern setting, however, especially the contrast between Margaret’s life in the south and her new home in Milton. Society has no function in Milton: it won’t achieve a successful marriage, no one has the time for society as everyone works and society doesn’t feed anyone or make anyone money. It was cool to see this side of life in the mid-1800s, especially the harshness of life for the lower closes. The dirt, the illnesses, the smoke and fog and weariness of the north show on the characters and it really was startling when comparing them to the upper class characters of lots of other Victorian novels, all set in the south or in the respectable parts of London.

Mr Thornton is a mill owner who has worked himself up from poverty to prosperity and when he becomes involved with the Hales and is the student of Margaret’s father a Pride and Prejudice-eque courtship begins between him and Margaret. I couldn’t believe the parallels between the two! Not so much in other elements of the novel, but in the way they interact, the misunderstandings and the course of their romance. There are also characters that resemble Mr Collins, Mr Wickham and Margaret’s parents are rather reminiscent of Mr and Mrs Bennet, however. That was a lot of fun.  

I have to admit that I was totally cheering Margaret and Mr Thornton on. As we got towards the end of the novel and nothing had been resolved between them I genuinely started muttering to the cat about how worried I was that they wouldn’t end up together (she didn’t care), but all was well. I was surprised at how much I'd fallen for these characters without even realising it. I ended up ordering two more of Gaskell’s novels – Wives and Daughters and Mary Barton – very soon after finishing North and South!

WILL It Stay a Classic
Gaskell’s connection with Charlotte won't be forgotten quickly, and nor will her explorations of the industrialisation of the North of England – North and South is said to be one of the first!

WHO I’d Recommend it To
- Fans of Pride and Prejudice!
- People interested in seeing a different side of Victorian England.
- Those interested in the industrialisation of northern England.

Fun Fact
- ‘Household Words’ which North and South was originally serialised in was owned and run by Charles Dickens. He edited North and South and recommended the title over Gaskell’s choice of Margaret Hale.


Sunday, 29 May 2016

Letterbox Love #134

Letterbox Love is a way to give all of the books I receive for review some exposure. Summaries are taken from the cover, or Amazon/NetGalley/Goodreads in the case of e-books, unless otherwise stated. All of the books are in exchange for an honest review.

The Shadow Hour, Melissa Grey (eproof)

Everythin in Echo’s life changed in a blinding flash when she learned the startling truth: she is the firebird, the creature of light that is said to bring peace.

The firebird has come into the world, but it has not come alone. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and Echo can feel a great and terrible darkness rising in the distance. Cosmic forces threaten to tear the world apart.

Echo has already lost her home, her family, and her boyfriend. Now, as the firebird, her path is filled with even greater dangers than the ones she’s already overcome.

She knows the Dragon Prince will not fall without a fight.

Echo must decide: can she wield the power of her true nature – or will it prove too strong for her, and burn what's left of her world to the ground?

Welcome to the shadow hour.

The first book in this series was a lot of fun so I’m looking forward to this. Thanks NetGalley and Atom.

The Whispers of Wilderwood Hall, Karen McCombie (paperback)

Ellis is losing track of time…

After leaving her friends to move to a crumbling Scottish mansion, Ellis is overcome by anxiety and loneliness. Then she hears whispers in the walls…and finds herself whisked back in time to 1912.

At first, she feels like she's finally home. But the past may not be as perfect as it seems – and is there more to hope for in the present than she first thought?

Look out for a blog tour stop soon! Thanks Scholastic!

Strange Star, Emma Carroll (paperback)

The year of 1816 felt extraordinary, and all because of a strange sort of star in the sky…

Lake Geneva, Switzerland

Early one summer’s morning, a servant boy named Felix delivers an invitation. Tonight, at the mysterious Villa Diodati, there will be ghost stories that promise to ‘freeze the blood’.

As darkness falls, the guests arrive. The storytelling begins. Then comes an unexpected knock at the door. Felix discovers a girl on the doorstep. She's travelled a long way to tell her tale, and now he must listen.

But be warned: hers is no ordinary ghost story. Sometimes the truth is far more terrifying.

I am SO excited to read this! Thanks Faber!

The Graces, Laure Eve (proof)

Meet the Graces

They were waiting for someone different.
All I had to do was show them that person was me.

Just like everybody else in her small town, River is obsessed with the Graces. Just like everybody else, she's been seduced by their wealth, their exclusivity, their beauty, and their glamour.

But unlike everybody else, River knows exactly what she’s doing.

Doesn’t she?

AHHH! Thank you Faber!

The Other Alice, Michelle Harrison (proof)

There was something odd about her eyes. They looked different to normal, but I couldn’t figure out why … I waited for her to answer, but instead she took out a pen and wrote something in the notebook. She held it up to show me.

I’m not Alice, it said.

When Midge’s sister Alice goes missing and a talking cat appears in her bedroom. Midge realises that Alice’s stories contain the clues he needs.

But every tale has its villains – and now that they are leaping off the page. Midge and two new friends must find Alice and work out how this story ends. Before a more sinister finale threatens them all…

Thanks S&S!

Stealing Snow, Danielle Paige (proof)

A queen will rise…

17-year-old Snow lives within the walls of a high security mental hospital in upstate New York. Deep down, she knows she doesn’t belong here, but she has no memory of life outside, except for in her strangest dreams. So when a mysterious, handsome man leads her to open a door, Snow shows that she has to leave…

She finds herself is icy Algid, her true home, with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai. Secret after secret is revealed and Snow discovers that her choices of the heart will change everything. Heroine or villain, queen or broken girl, frozen heart or true love, Snow must choose her fate…

This sounds like so much fun. Thanks Bloomsbury!


Thursday, 26 May 2016

20th Century Book Tag

The 20th Century Book Tag is actually a Booktube tag created by Leslie from Words of a Reader, but it’s one I find really interesting to watch and, for once, should actually translate to a blog post pretty well! So here we are.

The idea is that for each decade of the 20th century you pick a book that you’ve read, but because I’ve got a ridiculously long classics TBR I figured I'd also add in a book from that decade that I want to read!

1900 – 1909

READ: I read Heart of Darkness for my A-levels and I hated it. Like, violently hated it.
WANT TO READ: I read EM Forster’s A Room with a View and enjoyed it, but not as much as I wanted to, so I’m going to try again with Where Angels Fear to Tread.

1910 – 1919

READ: Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden was one of my mum’s favourite children books so I had it read to me a lot. It was probably the first classic I read myself.

I want to read Sons and Lovers and Lady Chatterley’s Lover by DH Lawrence mainly because I'm fascinated by the controversy that he caused with his books. I can't help but wonder if they’ll seem so salacious today.

1920 – 1929

READ: I took a module solely on Virginia Woolf in my final year of university and Jacob’s Room was the first book we studied, and my first Woolf.

WANT TO READ: We didn’t manage to get to all of her novels and I'd love to try and complete them all, even though I admittedly enjoy her non-fiction more than her fiction. I'm hoping that having more experience with classics now will make her easier to read and understand.

1930 – 1939

READ: Jamaica Inn is my most recent Du Maurier read and though I enjoyed it – Du Maurier’s writing is always flawless – it hasn’t been my favourite so far.

WANT TO READ: I watched the TV adaptation of And Then There Were None earlier in the year and became convinced that I need to finally read Christie. I've been told that this is the one to start with!

1940 – 1949

READ: I discovered Shirley Jackson last year and quickly wanted to read her entire backlist. The Lottery and Other Stoies was my first foray into her short stories and I thoroughly enjoyed the collection, especially the chilling title story.

WANT TO READ: I couldn’t even tell you how many times I got The Diary of a Young Girl out of the library only to not read it. Intimidation, maybe? I’ll get to it eventually.

1950 – 1959

READ: I read Catcher in the Rye for the Classics Challenge last year and really enjoyed it. I was a bit worried that Holden would annoy me as I’m no longer a teenager, but I still empathised with him a lot.

WANT TO READ: The idea of burning books is horrifying to me, and that makes me really want to read Fahrenheit 451. I have it, and have had it for years. One day!

1960 – 1969

READ: Roald Dahl was my childhood hero and my copy of Charlie and the Chocolate factory is barely still in one piece I re-read it so many times! It’s pure magic and I wanted Willy Wonka and his factory to be real so very badly.

WANT TO READ: This is a sci-fi classic that I'm so eager to read, I'm just hugely intimidated by the heft of it! I'm still a sci-fi newbie and I'm a little worried Dune might be too big of a leap for me.

1970 – 1979

READ: I picked up The Hitchhicker’s Guide to the Galaxy on a whim one afternoon in my college library after I'd finished the book I had with me and needed something for the train ride home. I honestly don’t remember much about it, just that I really enjoyed it.

WANT TO READ: I'm not sure what made me pick An Interview with a Vampire up, but I'm really feeling picking this up lately. I've not read much adult genre fiction and I'm incredibly curious to see how vampires were handled before YA took them over.

1980 – 1989

READ: Following Terry Pratchett’s death, the wonderful Viv of Serendipity Reviews organised a blog tour to celebrate his life and I took part, reading The Colour of Magic – my first Pratchett – for my stop. It was a lot quicker and easier to read than I had imagined. I’d like to return to Discworld soon.

WANT TO READ: This is another book I've been meaning to read for years! The Handmaid’s Tale is a legendary speculative, feminist novel and I'm so excited to read Margaret Atwood for the first time. It's on my 2016 hit list!

1990 - 1999

READ: I devoured The Secret History last year and it turned out to be one of my favourite reads of 2015. It’s tense and unsettling and so exquisitely written. I immediately bought her next two books to be devoured too!

WANT TO READ: Oh, Outlander, I promise I’ll get to you eventually, you’re just so huge! I love the TV series and that’s what actually made me want to read this. I'm not usually a huge historical fiction fan, but I love Jamie and Clare’s story.
If you’d like to do this, consider yourself tagged! I'd love to see your choices!


Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Mystery & Mayhem, The Crime Club

Pages: 300
Publisher: Egmont
Release Date: 5th May 2016
Edition: UK paperback, review copy

Twelve dastardly crimes have been committed…
They seem impossible…
But can you solve them?

The twelve stories in this collection contain murder, mayhem, poison and plot, dognapping, safe-breaking, sabotage and biscuits.

Only the intrepid young detective – and the reader – can crack the cases and save the day. Are you up to the Crime Club challenge?

As soon as Mystery & Mayhem was announced I knew it was one for the TBR and it definitely lived up to expectations – I loved it!

This is the perfect collection to dip in and out of on a lazy Saturday and that’s exactly what I did! The variety in these stories just makes it a delight – the setting, the time period, the crime – I was definitely kept on my toes. But it’s also a really quick and easy read and I think Mystery & Mayhem is the perfect choice for a reluctant or less confident reader. It’s hard to stop turning the pages! Though I loved all twelve stories, I did have a few favourites:

‘The Mystery of Diablo Canyon Circle’ by Caroline Lawrence

I was so surprised by how much I loved this one! Darcy and her family have moved from England to a small California town. It’s scorching hot, coyotes are on the prowl and a dog from their neighbourhood is missing. Darcy takes up the case and ends up finally meeting and making friends with her neighbours in Diablo Canyon. It’s so much fun! Plus, the three kids in the family are called Darcy, Heathcliff and Rochester. Amazing.

‘Mel Foster and the Hound of the Baskervilles’ by Julia Golding

Mel lives at the Monster Residence in London with a house of monsters, including Eve Frankenstein who was made by Frankenstein’s monster himself! Set in Victorian England, Mel and Eve take up the case of the returning Hound of the Baskervilles after the original is dispatched by Sherlock Holmes. This story was funny and clever and I’ll definitely be looking into the series about Mel.

‘The Murder of Monsieur Pierre’ by Harriet Whitehorn

When Angelica arrives at the hairdressers she works at and finds her boss, Monsieur Pierre, dead, she immediately starts trying to figure out what happened. She soon starts to notice things and make connections that the policemen doesn’t and becomes his assistant, solving the crime in the end! I loved Angelica!

All of the stories in this collection feature children and young teenager who are ignored by adults but then triumph over them by solving the mystery and it's so fun to read! I loved this collection and I’m desperately hoping for another in the near future.

Thanks to Egmont for the review copy.


Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Litsy: Where books make friends

A few months ago, the ever-lovely Jim of YA Yeah Yeah tweeted about a cool new app called Litsy that he’d found. He said it was a cross between Goodreads and Instagram and my love for both of those social media sites meant I downloaded it immediately! I’ve been using it ever since.

So when I got an email from the lovely people at Litsy introducing me to the app and asking if I fancied sharing my thoughts on it, I obviously said yes! Here are some awesome things about Litsy:

  • You can review a book, add it to a ‘stack’ (read and to-read), add a picture, add an update and a quote – it really is a mishmash of Instagram and Goodreads!
  • You get Litfluence points for everything you add and every time someone interacts with your updates!
  • It’s ridiculously easy to use. It only took me minutes to figure it out, add a profile and upload a pic and mini-review of my first book!

  • It’s still a new app so it’s easy to get your pictures and reviews seen and interacted with! 
  • The reviews have a 300 character limit. I love the brevity of it and the pressure to make sure you only include your strongest feelings about a title.

  • Litsy has already got big book communities like Epic Reads, Strand Bookstore in NYC, Book Riot and US publishers on their feed. I really hope it’ll spread to the UK soon!
  • I also think their logo is really cute…

There’s only one thing left to say: follow me on Litsy! I’m SophieWaters. You can download it from the App Store!

Disclaimer: This wasn’t sponsored and I’m receiving nothing in exchange for this review. Just sharing a cool bookish app!


Monday, 23 May 2016

The Unexpected Everything, Morgan Matson

Pages: 519
Publisher: S&S
Release Date: 5th May 2016
Edition: UK proof, review copy

Other Titles from this Author: Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour, Second Chance Summer, Since You’ve Been Gone

Before the scandal, Andie had important plans. And zero of them involved walking an insane amount of dogs, being in the same house as her dad or hanging out with Clark. Now there’s a whole summer stretching out ahead of Andie without a plan. And Andie always sticks to the plan.

But here’s the thing – if everything’s always mapped out, you can never find the unexpected. And where’s the fun in that?

I’m a big fan of Morgan Matson’s so I always get excited for a new books from her. Enjoying The Unexpected Everything definitely wasn’t unexpected!

Morgan Matson has a way with writing friendships. As much as The Unexpected Everything is about Andie falling for Clark and Andie and her dad rediscovering their relationship, there is a lot of focus on friendship. The dynamic between Andie, Toby, Bri, Palmer and Tom is amazing. The in-jokes, the bets, the challenges, the traditions and the surety of them all being there – it’s the kind of friendship you can only hope you’ll get one day. But I also loved that it wasn’t impervious to fracturing and changing as they all grew and changed. It just felt so real and tangible and I 100% want to be a part of their group.

During the summer of The Unexpected Everything, Andie changed just as much as her friendship group did. As the daughter of a congressman her everything is strictly controlled and she always errs on the side of caution. I loved seeing her let it all go and crawl her back to opening herself up to new experiences and to the adorable Clark. They were just so cute together! SPOILER! Having Clark be a famous fantasy novelist who published young and now has writer’s block was so brilliant and it made me laugh out loud. It was a really cool thread to have running through the story and I loved how the excerpts from Clark’s books related to the main story. Very clever and a lot of fun! SPOILER OVER!

I actually think that the most interesting dynamic of the novel is Andie’s relationship with her dad, though. Since her mother’s death five years ago and her dad’s career as a congressman, they barely know each other. Watching them close the gaps, talk about Andie’s mum and share their lives with each other again was so lovely. Andie’s fear of losing him to his work again made my heart ache.

I loved The Unexpected Everything and it's made me so eager to go back and devour Since You’ve Been Gone!

Thanks to S&S for the review copy.


Thursday, 19 May 2016

Authors I'm Reading Completely: Part One

As I've begun to delve into classic and adult fiction I’m coming across lots of authors that I'm falling head over heels for, only to realise that they’ve got an epic backlist. Being so firmly entrenched in the YA world, that doesn’t happen too often!

So, here are a few of the authors that I’m planning on reading the complete works of:

 I've only read Wyndham’s most famous novel, ‘The Day of the Triffids’, but it was enough to get me to buy two more before I'd even finished my first and add the rest to my TBR. He was one of the original apocalyptic novelists and his stories also have a dose of science thrown in there. They’re very readable and feel remarkably modern considering Wyndham wrote during the 50s and 60s.

Ah, the Brontes, my new obsession. I read ‘Jane Eyre’ and ‘Wuthering Heights’ last year for the #2015ClassicsChallenge, and while I enjoyed ‘Wuthering Heights’, I wasn’t the biggest fan of ‘Jane Eyre’. I was a bit underwhelmed. And then I’ve read ‘Agnes Grey’ and ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’ over the past few months and fallen in love with Anne Bronte. Now I’m determined to finish off Charlotte’s remaining novels – ‘The Professor’, ‘Shirley’ and ‘Villette’ – so I can officially call Anne my favourite.

Late last year I devoured ‘We Have Always Lived in the Castle’ in only two sittings. It was a creepy, unsettling, psychological twist of a novel and I adored every page of it. Though Jackson’s novels are short, they pack a serious punch. I've also read her short story collection ‘The Lottery and Other Stories’ and I'm eager to carry on with her novels. There aren’t a huge number though, so I’ll be taking my sweet time!

All I'd read from Adichie was ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ until I picked up her short story collection ‘The Thing Around Your Neck’ with my Christmas book tokens. I was blown away by her skill with creating characters with deep emotional depths and histories in only 40 pages. I immediately knew I'd have to read her novels too and bought a boxset of all three!

Daphne du Maurier is another author that I fell in love with during the #2015ClassicsChallenge! (You really should sign up for the #2016ClassicsChallenge – who knows what you’ll fall in love with!). My first of hers was ‘Frenchman’s Creek’ and I was really apprehensive, but honestly? Pirates, an 18th century woman rebelling against her society and position and a gorgeous romance. Winner. Now I've read ‘Rebecca’ which blew me away and ‘Jamaica Inn’ which I thoroughly enjoyed. Luckily, du Maurier was really prolific and I have a good 17 novels to go!

I almost feel like I've grown up with Elizabeth Gaskell even though I only read ‘Cranford’ last year. My mum was a huge fan of her novels and the adaptations were a staple in our house on lazy Sundays. I’m hugely excited to read ‘North and South’, ‘Mary Barton’ and ‘Wives and Daughters’, and I’m sure she has a few more that are harder to get your hands on too! She wrote between Austen and the Brontes and I love her gentle romances and explorations of the industrial north of England.

These six authors are only just scratching the surface so look out for part two of the authors I’m reading completely coming soon!


Wednesday, 18 May 2016

The Loneliness of Distant Beings, Kate Ling

Pages: 358
Publisher: Little, Brown
Release Date: 19th May 2016
Edition: UK e-proof, NetGalley review copy

It is that quick, that strong, that beautiful. And it is also totally impossible.

Even though she knows it’s impossible, Seren longs to have the sunshine on her skin. It’s something she feels she needs to stay sane. But when you’re hurtling through space at thousands of kilometres an hour, sometimes you have to accept there are things you cannot change.

Except that the arrival of Dom in her life changes everything in ways she can barely comprehend. He becomes the sun for her, and she can't help but stay in his orbit. To lose him would be like losing herself.

In the dark, can a heart still hope?

I’ve been dying to read Kate Ling’s debut ever since I heard about it, and while I enjoyed it, The Loneliness of Distant Beings didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

Reading The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet last year rebooted my eagerness to get into sci-fi and it's set my expectations for all the whole genre through the roof. And The Loneliness of Distant Beings didn’t meet them. I was hoping for a romantic, clever and fun space opera, and while it was all of those, it was also melodramatic and I found myself rolling my eyes constantly. This book features some of the worst instalove I've read in a very, very long time.

Seren and Dom were making sweeping declarations and risky decisions in the name of love only days after meeting. It's all very dramatic and I just couldn’t buy into it – therenwas no grounding for their feelings other than physical attraction and they blatantly ignored the harsh repercussions of their relationship.

Seren lives aboard Ventura. She’s never seen land and she never will because she’s part of a 700-year round trip mission to trace the origin of a mysterious signal found on Earth. And they’ve only been travelling for 84 years. To ensure the ship makes it to Epsilon, everything is rigidly controlled: education, duties and work roles, marriage and breeding. Seren is chaffing against the restraints and Dom is the final straw.

I really liked the set up of Seren’s world. I loved how bleak and inevitable everything seemed, even as she and Dom fought against the people in charge. Is it weird to say that I was actually hoping for the ending that felt inevitable – the failure to overcome such a powerful system? It would have been bleak af, but it would have been realistic and instead we got a happy ever after, albeit a tricky one to attain. It was like the tone of the middle section set one thing up, then someone thought ‘Nope, this needs a HEA!’ and everything sharply changed direction. It just felt a little disjointed. I do have to admit that the very end was super intriguing and I'd definitely be interested in seeing what happens to these characters next. There’s such a lot of possibility in the position we left Seren.

The Loneliness of Distant Beings is a fun and easy read, but I was disappointed by the intense instalove and disjointed tone.

Thanks to Little Brown for the review copy.


Tuesday, 17 May 2016

#2016ClassicsChallenge: Daisy Miller and The Turn of the Screw

Originally published in 1878 by Harper & Brothers (Daisy Miller) and 1898 by William Heinemann (The Turn of Screw)

My edition: The 2012 Penguin English Library paperback.

WHEN I Discovered This Classic
I don’t remember not knowing about this classic, but it was only recently (in the last few months) that I realised it was two novellas rather than one novel…

WHY I Chose to Read It
The Turn of the Screw was the Audible Daily Deal a few weeks ago and so I snapped it up. It’s a very short audiobook and there’s nothing like a short audiobook to get me to finally read something I've been meaning to for ages! So I decided to just go for it, and I might as well read Daisy Miller while I’m at it – it’s even shorter!

WHAT Makes It a Classic
I’m honestly not sure.

WHAT I Thought of This Classic

Daisy Miller
Daisy Miller is a short story, coming in at only around 65 pages, and I devoured it in about an hour. It tells the story of an American man, Winterbourne, who meets New Yorker Daisy in Italy as she travels around Europe with her mother and younger brother.

It soon becomes clear that Daisy’s flirting with Winterbourne was a sport rather than the serious nature which that kind of affection would be taken for in the 1850s. She's precocious and flighty, breaking the rules of society and polite conduct with ease and no one to stop her. Henry James brings in some really interesting discussions about how societal rules and conventions differ between Europe and America, and I think he was more on the side of Europe.

This clear intention became really obvious with the ending of the story. I'm about to discuss spoilers so if you want to steer clear, skip to the next paragraph! Okay. The story took a didactic turn with Daisy’s behaviour becoming more and more unacceptable by the members of English and European society that they were among in Rome. When ignoring common knowledge to not walk around the city after dusk, she visited the Colosseum and subsequently contracted malaria and died from it. It didn’t quite sit well with me, but I could also see how it would have made Daisy Miller a significant story young women would have been made to read in the tight-laced Victorian era.

I'd heard a lot about how difficult James is to read: his sentences are long and overwrought and his points rambling and hard to grasp, but I actually found it easy to follow and become absorbed by Daisy Miller. I actually much preferred the directness of the narration to how it was done in The Turn of the Screw.

The Turn of the Screw
The narrative set-up is convoluted in a way I'm coming to expect from mid-19th century novels. A nameless narrator is listening to his friend, Douglas, read an account of a former governess of her experiences at Bly, looking after a boy and a girl who are in the custody of an uninterested uncle. I find this style a bit tiresome and unnecessary, but I reckon it was probably an early version of split or dual narration?

I was glad when we got into the governess’s story. I actually listened to the audiobook read by Emma Thompson and I think that was the only reason I continued reading it. She really is quite an actor. I basically want every audiobook I listen to for the rest of time to be narrated by her – that’s possible right? I loved how everything became more and more taught and intense as the story went, but I wasn’t hugely interested.

The ghosts haunting Bly never felt particularly sinister and I wasn’t creeped out at all. I was just a little underwhelmed, really.

WILL It Stay a Classic
Probably, though I don’t think it’ll stick with me. The Turn of the Screw is thought by many people as the first ghost story!

WHO I’d Recommend it To
- People intimidated by full-length classic novels.
- Fans of Gothic short stories and explorations of the differences between the Europe and US during the Victorian era.


Monday, 16 May 2016

The Crown, Kiera Cass

Pages: 352
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: 19th May 2016
Edition: UK e-proof, NetGalley review copy

Other Titles by this Author: The Selection, The Elite, The One, The Heir

35 suitors entered the Selection. Only 1 will win her heart. The fifth and final captivating novel in Kiera Cass’s #1 New York Times Bestselling Selection series!

In The Heir, a new era dawned in the world of The Selection. Twenty years have passed since America Singer and Prince Maxon fell in love, and their daughter is the first person to hold a Selection of her own.

Eadlyn didn’t think she would find a real partner among the Selection’s thirty-five suitors, let alone true love. But sometimes the heart has a way of surprising you…and now Eadlyn must make a choice that feels more difficult – and more important – than she ever expected.

The Crown is the final book in The Selection series and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I know this series it criticised for the fluff, the lack of character growth and the general annoyance of the characters, but I felt like that all changed a lot in The Crown. Everything changed for Eadlyn in this finale. Her future as the Queen of Illea finally dawned on her; she realised who she loved, had to choose and end the Selection; and she learned a lot about herself and what she needs to be for her family and the people. It was the most character development in all five books and she ended up far surpassing America in the first trilogy.

The whole book seemed to reach a little further than ever before, moving beyond the palace and into the wider world, but I still don’t feel like I know anything about Illea or the people outside of the royal family. Even the boys in the Selection didn’t really have the chance to give any insight into their lives. I feel like there’s such a lot of potential in this world and after five books it still hasn’t even been touched on which is such a shame. 

BUT this series is ridiculously fun. Each book is quick, easy and enjoyable to read, especially on a rainy afternoon. I got swept up in Eadlyn’s torment over who to choose and whether to prioritise her heart or her duties and I was eager to get back to it each time I had to put it down.

The Crown was a really satisfying ending to a fun and enjoyable series. I will actually miss having a new Selection novel to read every year.

Thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins for the review copy.