Thursday, 13 July 2017

Books I Couldn't Finish (14): The Girl on the Train, Good Me Bad Me & My Cousin Rachel

I used to finish every book I started, whether I was enjoying it or not. But life is short. I’ve realised that I don’t have time for books I’m not fully involved in any longer so if I don’t like something or don’t connect with it as much as I want to, I’ll put it aside. It still makes me feel guilty though, especially if I received them for review so I still want to talk about them, explain why I didn’t like them. Here are the most recent books I DNF-ed.

The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins
This is one of the most hyped books of the last few years and I eventually caved in to the pressure, but I was totally unmoved by it. I was so surprised by how slow this was. SO SLOW. I got so frustrated that I ended up Googling what happened so I could DNF it and be done. Whoops. I really, really wanted to like this and buy in to the hype, mostly so I could watch the film, but I think I'll just watch the film instead.

Good Me, Bad Me, Ali Land
After reading and loving CJ Skuse’s Sweetpea I was desperate for something similar, and sadly this wasn’t. I was suitably horrified by the things going on, but I also felt no compulsion to keep reading or really find out what had happened and what was going to happen. Maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t just finished something I really, really loved.

My Cousin Rachel, Daphne du Maurier
I am officially gutted that I didn’t fall in love with this. I picked it up so I could see the movie, but i just never found myself wanting to get back to the audiobook - I was perfectly happy to do my chores and walk around town without it. That for me is a sign that my audiobook just isn’t working. I’ll be giving this another go when Autumn hits and prime du Maurier weather is back again.


Tuesday, 4 July 2017

47 Once and For All, When It’s Real & Built

I rated Once and For All 4.5 stars, When It’s Real 4 stars and Built got 3 stars.

Once and For All, Sarah Dessen
368⎟ Penguin ⎟ 8th June 2017

As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine.

Louna spends her summers helping brides plan their perfect day and handling every kind of crises: missing brides, scene-stealing bridesmaids and controlling grooms. Not surprising then, that she's deeply cynical about happy-ever-afters, especially since her own first love ended in tragedy.

When handsome girl magnet Ambrose enters her life, Louna won't take him seriously. But Ambrose hates not getting what he wants and Louna is the girl he's been waiting for.

Maybe it's not too late for a happy ending after all?

Mini Review
Sarah Dessen is my hero and that’s definitely not a secret.

Once and For All has everything I’ve come to love and expect from a Sarah Dessen novel, but it also had that extra feeling that made it feel like my favourite of her novels. Even when I wasn’t reading this my mind was in Lakeview and wanting to dive back into Louna and Ambrose’s story. I fell head over heels for them. If you’ve still not read anything by the Queen, seriously, do yourself a favour.

When It’s Real, Erin Watt
313⎟ HQ ⎟ 30th May 2017

Under ordinary circumstances, Oakley Ford and Vaughn Bennett would never even cross paths.

There's nothing ordinary about Oakley. This bad-boy pop star's got Grammy Awards, millions of fangirls and a reputation as a restless, too-charming troublemaker. But with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley needs to show the world he's settling down–and who better to help him than Vaughn, a part-time waitress trying to help her family get by? The very definition of ordinary.

Posing as his girlfriend, Vaughn will overhaul Oakley's image from troublemaker to serious artist. In return for enough money to put her brothers through college, she can endure outlandish Hollywood parties and carefully orchestrated Twitter exchanges. She'll fool the paparazzi and the groupies. She might even start fooling herself a little.

Because when ordinary rules no longer apply, there's no telling what your heart will do…

Mini Review
I’m a huge fan of Erin Watt’s Royals trilogy so I pre-ordered this beauty as soon as I knew it was a thing and i gobbled it right up.

I did the whole, ‘I’ll read a chapter or two before bed’ and ended up reading 75% of the book! Then I finished it before i got out of bed the next morning. It is THE perfect weekend reading and I loved it. Sweet, sassy, funny and completely swoony - I really enjoyed it. I’m so glad there’s only a few months until Erin Watts’ new book. Bring. It. On.

Built, Jay Crownover
353⎟  Harper⎟ 5th January 2016

Sometimes you have to tear everything down to build something new…

Sayer Cole is frozen inside. At least, that’s what it’s felt like for as long as she can remember. She’s yet to let anyone past her icy exterior – and the one guy she thinks might melt her heart couldn’t possibly be interested in someone so uptight.

Rough, hard and hot-as-hell, Zeb Fuller has rebuilt his life and his construction business since protecting his family sent him to jail all those years ago. His elegant client, Sayer, makes him feel like a Neanderthal in denim, but despite the many hints that he’s been dropping to get to know her better, she seems oblivious to his charms.

Just as things finally start to heat up, Zeb’s past comes back to haunt him and he needs Sayer’s professional help to right a wrong and to save more than himself. As these opposites dig in for the fight of their lives, fire and ice collide in an unstoppable explosion of steam…

Mini Review
Jay Crownover’s Marked Men series is light, fun and easy to read and that’s exactly what you get with this new spin-off series. But sexy and swoony with tough topics woven through the middle wasn’t quite enough this time. It was fine, but I had very little attachment to the characters themselves. It just didn’t do it for me, unfortunately.

I do have book two in the Saints of Denver series so I may pick it up and hope it gets better - we’ll see!


Thursday, 22 June 2017

Meet 'The Copper Boom'

At the beginning of June, myself and the most excellent Sarah from Behind on Books launched a brand new bookish website: meet 'The Copper Boom'.

We are beyond excited about it.

What are you going to find on TCB? A bit of everything:

  • YA
  • Classics
  • Adult fiction
  • New adult
  • Random bookish musings
There's a bit fo soemthing for everyone and we'd really love it if you'd come and pay us a visit. 

You can also find us on Instagram and Twitter

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Mini Reviews: Warbreaker, All Our Wrong Todays & The End We Start From

I rated Warbreaker 4 stars, All Our Wrong Todays 5 stars and The End We Start From got 3 stars.

Warbreaker, Brandon Sanderson
672⎟ Gollancz ⎟ 29th December 2011

WARBREAKER is the story of two sisters - who happen to be princesses, the God King one of them has to marry, a lesser god, and an immortal trying to undo the mistakes he made hundreds of years ago.

Theirs is a world in which those who die in glory return as gods to live confined to a pantheon in Hallandren's capital city. A world transformed by BioChromatic magic, a power based on an essence known as breath. Using magic is arduous: breath can only be collected one unit at a time from individual people.

But the rewards are great: by using breath and drawing upon the color in everyday objects, all manner of miracles and mischief can be performed.

Brandon Sanderson proves again that he is a master of what Tolkien called 'secondary creation,' the invention of whole worlds, complete with magics and myths all their own.

Mini Review
I can’t resist Brandon Sanderson’s epic fantasy stories. The world-building, the magic system, the epic character growth and the connections the characters form never fail to blow me away.

Of everything i’ve read by Sanderson so far, warbreaker was probably the one that was slowest to get going. It’s a long book and I have to admit that I wasn’t really sure how the magic system worked for a good while, but once it was properly explained I loved it - as always.

It’s not my favourite Sanderson but I still really, really enjoyed and I’m excited/sad that i’ve only got Elantris and the Way of Kings series left to go.

All Our Wrong Todays, Elan Mastai
400⎟ Michael Joseph ⎟ 2nd March 2017
Audiobook read by: Elan Mastai

So, the thing is, I come from the world we were supposed to have.

That means nothing to you, obviously, because you live here, in the crappy world we do have.

But it never should've turned out like this. And it's all my fault - well, me and to a lesser extent my father.

And, yeah, I guess a little bit Penelope.

In both worlds, she's the love of my life. But only a single version of her can exist.

I have one impossible chance to fix history's greatest mistake and save this broken world.

Except it means saving one Penelope and losing the other forever - and I have absolutely no idea which to choose . . .

Mini Review
I freakin’ LOVED this book. It’s easily one of the best books I’ve read this year and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I finished it.

In sitting here trying to find the words to make you rush out and read it, I actually don’t really want to say much about it. All I knew about the novel before diving in was from reading the first few pages of a Kindle sample where i promptly fell in love with the narrative style and  and Tom’s voice. I was so intrigued by the world he was born into and what he did that could have changed so much. That fascination and interest in everything lasted even beyond the last page. It was completely wonderful.

All Our Wrong Todays is cinematic and intimate, funny and sad, fascinating and horrifying - it’s all I could want in a story.

The audiobook is also read by the author and I can’t recommend it enough - Elan Mastai did an excellent job.

The End We Start From, Megan Hunter
140⎟ Picador ⎟ 18th May 2017
Thanks to Netgalley and Picador for the review copy.

In the midst of a mysterious environmental crisis, as London is submerged below flood waters, a woman gives birth to her first child, Z. Days later, the family are forced to leave their home in search of safety. As they move from place to place, shelter to shelter, their journey traces both fear and wonder as Z's small fists grasp at the things he sees, as he grows and stretches, thriving and content against all the odds.

This is a story of new motherhood in a terrifying setting: a familiar world made dangerous and unstable, its people forced to become refugees. Startlingly beautiful, Megan Hunter's The End We Start From is a gripping novel that paints an imagined future as realistic as it is frightening. And yet, though the country is falling apart around them, this family’s world – of new life and new hope – sings with love.

Mini Review
I loved the concept of the flooded Britain of The End We Start From and the sparse, distant writing style, but it didn’t 100% work for me.

It’s an incredibly short book - I read it in around an hour - and it really felt short too. I didn’t feel like I had a chance to fully connect with the characters - who are only referred to by their initials - and I just wanted MORE about what was happening to the world around them. London was flooded, water levels high enough to force people from even the tallest tower blocks, but there was no why or how or anything really. It had a much more internal focus, but without the chance to connect with the main characters.

It was an interesting read though and I really did like the beautiful writing, I just wanted more.


Friday, 16 June 2017

Exploring Classics: The Invisible Man

Originally serialised in Pearson’s Weekly in 1897

My edition: the Penguin English Library paperback

WHEN I Discovered This Classic
I had read and studied The Time Machine and The Island of Doctor Moreau at school, but I didn’t really didn’t know about any more until I stumbled across the four HG Wells’ books in the Penguin English Library series and the sheer volume of his other novels in other editions.

WHY I Chose to Read It
Though I don’t remember much about The Time Machine other than the Morlocks, I grew to love Doctor Moreau while studying it at A-level and I’ve wanted to read more of Wells’ books since. After finishing War and Peace I wanted a quick and easy classic to get my back in my groove, The Invisible Man seemed to fit the bill!

WHAT I Thought of This Classic
Honestly? Not a lot, really.

I had pretty high expectations for The Invisible Man but I was actually pretty disappointed. The story of a scientist turning himself invisible and then turning to violence, theft and murder on his mission to find the cure and keep his condition from becoming public knowledge was strangely boring.

Told in third person, I felt a weird distance from Griffin (I just had to look up his name which speaks volumes really…) and for a long time I didn’t really understand what he was doing and why. I’m all for unlikeable characters, but Griffin is an awful person and I really struggled to care about anything that he did or that happened to him, especially as he turned increasingly to violence. I ended up reading The Invisible Man purely to finish it, and I only did that because it’s short.

Something I really do like about HG Wells’ novels is that his science fiction really is scientific fiction. It’s fun and interesting and I loved the bit where Griffin explained what he did to make himself invisible. It was as smart and fascinating as I’ve come to expect, but I just found the rest of the story lacking.

I will give HG Wells another shot though - I’d really like to finally read The War of the Worlds.

WILL It Stay a Classic
Hmm, I’m not sure. It’s not the most popular of HG Wells’ novels, but it’s not the least popular either.

WHO I’d Recommend it To
- Fans of classic sci-fi
- Those interested in science

Review format from Stacey at The Pretty Books as part of the Classics Challenge.


Tuesday, 13 June 2017

45 Not Just Jane, Ghachar Ghochar & The Last Piece of My Heart

I rated Not Just Jane 3.5 stars, Ghachar Ghochar 3 stars and The Last Piece of My Heart got 4.5 stars.

Not Just Jane: Rediscovering Seven Amazing Women Writers Who Transformed British Literature, Shelley DeWees
336⎟ Harper Perennial ⎟ 12th January 2017

Jane Austen and the Brontës endure as British literature’s leading ladies (and for good reason)—but were these reclusive parsons’ daughters really the only writing women of their day? A feminist history of literary Britain, this witty, fascinating nonfiction debut explores the extraordinary lives and work of seven long-forgotten authoresses, and asks: Why did their considerable fame and influence, and a vibrant culture of female creativity, fade away? And what are we missing because of it?

You’ve likely read at least one Jane Austen novel (or at least seen a film one). Chances are you’ve also read Jane Eyre; if you were an exceptionally moody teenager, you might have even read Wuthering Heights. English majors might add George Eliot or Virginia Woolf to this list…but then the trail ends. Were there truly so few women writing anything of note during late 18th and 19th century Britain?

In Not Just Jane, Shelley DeWees weaves history, biography, and critical analysis into a rip-roaring narrative of the nation’s fabulous, yet mostly forgotten, female literary heritage. As the country, and women’s roles within it, evolved, so did the publishing industry, driving legions of ladies to pick up their pens and hit the parchment. Focusing on the creative contributions and personal stories of seven astonishing women, among them pioneers of detective fiction and the modern fantasy novel, DeWees assembles a riveting, intimate, and ruthlessly unromanticized portrait of female life—and the literary landscape—during this era. In doing so, she comes closer to understanding how a society could forget so many of these women, who all enjoyed success, critical acclaim, and a fair amount of notoriety during their time, and realizes why, now more than ever, it’s vital that we remember.

Rediscover Charlotte Turner Smith, Helen Maria Williams, Mary Robinson, Catherine Crowe, Sara Coleridge, Dinah Mulock Craik, and Mary Elizabeth Braddon.

Mini Review
I was so looking forward to learning about some of the pioneering women who wrote in the 18th and 19th centuries and I was blown away by some of the things these women achieved, how they were treated and the tragedy in them being forgotten.

The stories of all 7 women in this book were fascinating and I loved learned about the things that they achieved, but even more fascinating may be the glimpse Shelley DeWees gave us into a different side of Victorian society - the darkness, the persecution, and the unfairness of living in that time as a woman, regardless of social position. I did sometimes struggle to go back to it as it was a collection of biographies rather than a narrative non-fiction, but it’s a brilliant read for every literature fan.

Ghachar Ghochar, Vivek Shanbhag
192⎟ Faber & Faber ⎟ 20th April 2017

In this masterful novel by the acclaimed Indian writer Vivek Shanbhag, a close-knit family is delivered from near-destitution to sudden wealth after the narrator's uncle founds a successful spice company. As the narrator - a sensitive young man who is never named - along with his sister, his parents, and his uncle move from a cramped, ant-infested shack to a larger house and encounter newfound wealth, the family dynamics begin to shift. Allegiances and desires realign; marriages are arranged and begin to falter; and conflict brews ominously in the background.

Their world becomes 'ghachar ghochar' - a nonsense phrase that, to the narrator, comes to mean something entangled beyond repair. Told in clean, urgent prose, and punctuated by moments of unexpected warmth and humour, Ghachar Ghochar is a quietly enthralling, deeply unsettling novel about the shifting meanings - and consequences - of financial gain in contemporary India.

Mini Review
After reading a short sample of this, I was captured by the simple style and the reviews of the book. I snapped it up!

Ghachar Ghochar is the story of a family as it almost becomes corrupted by wealth. The relationships change, the goals and attitudes of the family members, the way life is altered beyond recognition - but not in a good way. I loved watching the clashing of family dynamics and the distinct lack of agency the unnamed narrator of the novel has and the effect that has on the family. It’s a very short novel - I read it in under two hours - and the ending was a bit of a shock. I felt like there was a lot more to the story and I’m not really sure what happened in the end. I even popped into a bookshop to double check that my Netgalley proof hadn’t been cut short!

Thanks to Faber and NetGalley for the review copy.

The Last Piece of My Heart, Paige Toon
432⎟ Simon & Schuster ⎟ 18th May 2017

When life feels like a puzzle, sometimes it's the small pieces that make up the bigger picture... Join Bridget on a journey to put her world back together.

A successful travel journalist, Bridget has ambitions to turn her quirky relationship blog about the missing pieces of her heart into a book. But after a spate of rejections from publishers, she accepts an alternative proposition.

Nicole Dupré died leaving behind a bestselling novel and an incomplete sequel. Tasked with finishing the book, Bridget is thankful to have her foot in the publishing door, even if it means relocating to Cornwall for the summer and answering to Nicole's grieving husband, Charlie...

Mini Review
My love for Paige Toon’s novels in no secret. I’ve followed her career since Lucy in the Sky debuted 10 years ago and loved every one, but The Last Piece of My Heart is one of my favourites in a long while.

I’ve loved Bridget from her side roles in a few of Paige Toon’s other novels, but she quickly became one of my very favourite heroines - she’s the type of person I’d love to be friends with. I felt like I was following her every step of the way on Bridget’s journey and I fell in love with her, Charlie and little April. One of my favourite elements of Paige’s books is always the locations and I thoroughly enjoyed my virtual trips to Cornwall, Ireland, Sydney and Thailand - I wonder where she’ll take me next!

I laughed, cried and didn’t want the book to end. Why do I have to wait another year for her next book?!