Sunday 30 November 2014

Letterbox Love #68

Letterbox Love all of the lovely, lovely books I’ve gotten in the post, bought and everything else. Summaries are taken from the cover, or Amazon/NetGalley/Goodreads in the case of e-books, unless otherwise stated. Hosted by Narratively Speaking.

For review:

All the Bright Places, Jennifer Niven (e-proof)

The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park, All the Bright Places is a compelling and beautiful story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him. 

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the ‘natural wonders’ of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself – a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink. How far will Violet go to save the boy she has come to love?

I’m already hearing wonderful things about this. Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House for this!


The Jewel, Amy Ewing (ebook)

Violet Lasting is no longer a human being. Tomorrow she becomes Lot 197, auctioned to the highest royal bidder in the Jewel of the Lone City. Tomorrow she becomes the Surrogate of the House of the Lake, her sole purpose to produce a healthy heir for the Duchess. Imprisoned in the opulent cage of the palace, Violent learns the brutal ways of the Jewel, where the royal women compete to secure their bloodline and the surrogates are treated as disposable commodities. Destined to carry the child of a woman she despises, Violet enters a living death of captivity - until she sets eyes on Ash Lockwood, the royal Companion. Compelled towards each other by a reckless, clandestine passion, Violet and Ash dance like puppets in a deadly game of court politics, until they become each other's jeopardy - and salvation.

This sounds really interesting. I just hope it's as good as it sounds!


Thursday 27 November 2014

My Modern Classics TBR List

I believe that one of the easiest ways into classic fiction is through the slightly more recent classics, but those written far before even my parents were old enough to read. They have the complexity and the literary standing of the traditional classics but with language that’s easier to access and a setting that is more familiar. Here are the ones I’m hoping to read in the next year:

The Handmaids Tale, Margaret Atwood
I actually read the first third of this a few years ago and I was really enjoying it, but I had to take it back to the library before I had a chance to finish it. It was engrossing and a fascinating world that I need to get back to soon.

Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
This was one of the options that we got to choose between to read for my A-Levels and it wasn’t picked – I was so disappointed! One of the original dystopias, I’m dying to see how much the genre has changed an developed over the last 80-odd years to what we know of it now.

Farenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
In all honesty, the thing that draws me to this novel is the book burning. I want to discover the world, the people, the events that put this horror in motion.

The Color Purple, Alice Walker
This is an important and powerful novel that I bought ages ago with the intention of reading straight away, but you know, time flies away and all that... I think I’d have to be properly prepared and in the mood for this or it might be a little too much. But I’ll eventually get around to it.

Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
I recently saw Non Pratt (I think...) talking on Twitter about how she has bypassed this for so long and then fell head over heels in love with it when she finally got around to it. It reminded me how long I’ve been meaning to read it for. It’s one of my classics TBR books for 2015.

The Secret History, Donna Tartt
This is a chunky book so I keep putting it off but I’ve only heard amazing things about it. With the recent release of The Goldfinch my awareness of The Secret History has gone back into high again.

The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
A teen classic that I’m ashamed I haven’t read. I worry that I’ve missed the prime moment of reading this, but then again, I’m still pretty angsty, world-weary and terrified of adulthood so I’ll probably still love it!

Lolita, Vladimir Nabikov
I have a worrying enjoyment of forbidden love stories, but this, between a  much older man and a teenager, has the potential to squick me out. I want to read this so bad, though.  

It’s shameful that I haven’t read some of these, especially as I own most of them...


Wednesday 26 November 2014

Positively Mine, Christine Duval

Pages: 204
Publisher: Bloomsbury Spark
Release Date: 19th December 2013
Edition: e-book, purchased

It is four weeks into her freshman year of college, and Laurel’s first test is unexpected. Discovering she’s pregnant isn’t exactly what she had planned for her first semester, and while she intends to tell her emotionally-distant father, being away at school makes it all too easy to hide.

An imperfect heroine plagued by bad choices and isolated during what should be the best time of her life, readers are sure to identify with Laurel as she confronts teen pregnancy, in secret.

I went into Positively Mine with no expectations other than for a quick, easy read, and that’s what I got, but it was also a thoughtful story about the struggles of teen pregnancy.

Stories set at university are ones I crave and I was really pleased to see university life portrayed for more than just the partying and the social side of it. From the beginning the academic rigour of Laurel’s school, the occasional loneliness of living in dorms with people you don’t know and the distance from home is emphasised. As Laurel’s denial of the reality of her pregnancy continues throughout the novel, so does the strength of these often ignored aspects of university life. It was refreshing to see them in YA.

There’s a lot of family politics in Positively Mine and it was all fairly standard: dead mother, dad pushed only daughter away because it was daunting, lack of communication, new family that Laurel isn’t a part of – and yet I still really felt for Laurel. It was the worst timing for lots of the things that she faced with her dad during her pregnancy!

I was a little disappointed about how little there was to do with the identity of the father. There was very little back story, no dramatic reveals or awkward and timely meetings, and I think that they could have worked brilliantly, especially with the presence of Mike or Audrey. moments like that would have added some spice to Positively Mine which I think it was a little lacking in for me, seeing as the family drama was expected and not really surprising.

Duval’s debut is a short, engaging read that enjoyed enough to seek out her future work. Worth a read on a rainy afternoon.


Tuesday 25 November 2014

My Clothbound Classics Addiction

I first stumbled across the beautiful fabric-covered, hardback Penguin Clothbound Classics in Waterstone’s Bath where a table at the front of the store had all different editions of Jane Austen’s novels a few years back. I’m pretty sure it was during the Jane Austen celebrations that take place all over the city every September.

I ended up buying my Mum the clothbound copy of Persuasion, her first Austen novel, and now mine too, as her cheap 70s paperback was falling to pieces. When she passed away, I took on the beautiful edition and my collection began. I went on to buy the rest of Austen’s novels one at a time – I only allow myself to buy one a month (they’re fairly pricey!). I now have the full collection and it ended up tying into my 2014 reading goal to read the three Austen novels that I hadn’t yet – Northanger Abbey, Emma and Mansfield Park. I’m currently reading my final Austen, Mansfield Park, so the challenge will be complete!

But I couldn’t stop with the Jane Austen. Next came my favourite non-Austen classic, Frankenstein, and the beloved classics that I plan to read over the coming months – Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Dracula.

I still have loads more on my list to collect – Great Expectations, Metamorphoses, Anna Karenina, Cranford, Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Vanity fair, Little Women, Tess of the D’Urbervilles...yeah, I have a problem. 

And this isn’t taking into account the newly discovered Penguin English Library for the smaller, more modern classics like HG Wells, EM Forster, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edith Wharton. They’re beautiful, well-priced paperbacks that I’m betting are going to make another gorgeous collection.

You really can smell an English Lit grad from miles away can’t you...

(P.S. Apologies for the terrible photos, both my phone and iPod are dead and my iPad was the only option...)

Do you collect any special editions?