A Numbers Game

I realised last night, as I wrote Burned by Ellen Hopkins onto my paper copy of The List, that I’ve almost equalled my number of books read last year. Burned was book number 188, and I read 189 books last year.

My biggest year ever was 2017, in which I read 192 books.

I don’t know why I put such store in the number of books I read. It’s not like reading more books makes me a better bookworm. Actually, it probably means that I absorb less of the books that I read.

With, for example, dystopian books, I’ve read so many that they all blend together. I can no longer remember the details of the main characters from the Bumped duology or the Matched trilogy, or of their love interests, because they’ve blended into one indefinable soup of dystopia. Whereas someone who reads more slowly, savours their reading experience more, really connects with the books they’re reading, probably has a better understanding of the books and would be better able to discuss their books than I can my books.

And yet even though I know that, I still take a perverse pleasure in seeing the number of books that I’ve read tick upwards, and in outdoing what I’ve done in previous years. I’m hoping to read more than 200 books this year, and given my track record so far, I can’t see why I wouldn’t manage that. The likelihood of me not reading eleven more books this year is so small that I would think it nigh on impossible. But you never know. I might suffer a terrible accident and lose all my linguistic skills. Or some kind of rising movement might forbid women speech, or permission to read, like in the Handmaid’s Tale and Vox.

But failing that, it’s pretty much a given that I’ll read more than 200 books this year. And I’m really weirdly proud of that fact. But I don’t really understand why. It’s not something to be proud of. Nobody would go around boasting that they’d watched 200 films in a year. Nobody would be delighted to say that they’ve watched 200 episodes of a tv series. So I don’t understand why I have this internal glee at managing something which, really, isn’t all that remarkable. Especially when you consider that I don’t generally watch tv or films (with the odd exception), so reading really is what I do with my leisure time. Well, that and mindlessly browsing the internet.

At any rate, I’m still racking up the numbers on books read. My current read (or actually, listen) is Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, which I’ve been listening to for 23 hours, and in which nothing has really happened yet. I have another nine hours to go, and can’t really see that changing. It’s more of a musing on human nature and a social commentary, with some magic thrown in there for good measure. But… I don’t know. It’s just not doing it for me.

Also, footnotes, in an audiobook, are weird.

We continue onwards and upwards to books 200+ this year. I know I shouldn’t be, but I’m still excited about it.

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Born A Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood – Trevor Noah

I can’t remember what it was that made me think I’d enjoy this book. Perhaps I saw a clip of Trevor Noah’s stand-up, or saw him interviewed while promoting it? At any rate, I knew when I saw the synopsis of this book that it was something I would be really interested to read. I don’t know a whole lot about South Africa, and a book written from the perspective of a mixed South African was something I really wanted to know more about. It took me a couple of months from then to actually buy it, and get around to downloading it, but eventually I got there, and I’m really glad I did.

Born A Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood – Trevor Noah

29780253The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime New York Times bestseller about one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The eighteen personal essays collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.

I’ve led a very sheltered life. Growing up in a middle-class family, in a mostly white town in the suburbs of Dublin, the understanding I had, and indeed to some extent still have, was limited to my own perspective. As I’ve gotten older and realised the privileged life I’ve had, I’m actively seeking out more stories of and by marginalised voices, people with disabilities, neurodivergent authors, and authors of colour. Although I largely read fiction, I was really interested to read this story of a childhood as a mixed-race child growing up in the twilight of apartheid in South Africa. Trevor Noah’s frank, funny, and searing account of stories from his childhood is compelling and hilarious, and well worth the time it took.

I listened to the audiobook of this, which was read by the author himself. I think this added a lot to the joy of the book, as the stories were being delivered with the cadence, pacing, and emphasis that Noah himself wanted, and had written, not being interpreted by another. Humour ran through the book in droves, and interlaced each story.

Noah is an extremely funny man. His stand-up is massively entertaining, and this seeps through into his memoir. But what I didn’t expect was how emotionally compelling the book would be also. Stories of growing up with his mother’s family, of stepping away from the unconditional love they gave him, and of turning to his mother when he needed her all resonated with a depth of love which seeped through every word of this book, and resonated deeply with me.

Plus, I didn’t know much about apartheid and post-apartheid-era South Africa, and this book was really informative.

Like many memoirs, it’s a collection of anecdotes, rather than having a solid narrative arc, but that’s something you kind of expect in these circumstances, so it’s not a major difficulty.

Thoroughly recommended, especially the audiobook version.

Four Stars
****

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August Roundup

Another month over. This keeps happening. Time marches on while I, bewildered, insist that surely it’s still April? The new school year is starting, all my siblings (they’re ALL teachers) are back at school, and I’m really feeling like I haven’t gotten any of my summer writing goals completed (I totally haven’t). This may explain why the blog has had no posts recently – I’m busy freaking the frack out.

Books

  1. The Dazzling Heights (The Thousandth Floor #2) – Katharine McGee
  2. That’s Not What Happened – Kody Keplinger
  3. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea – Jules Verne
  4. The Iron Chariot – Stein Riverton
  5. Sadie – Courtney Summers
  6. Don’t Close Your Eyes – Holly Seddon
  7. The Burning Maze (Trials of Apollo #3) – Rick Riordan
  8. Tradition – Brendan Kiely
  9. This Could Change Everything – Jill Mansell
  10. All Rights Reserved – Gregory Scott Katsoulis
  11. The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) – Rick Riordan*
  12. One Dark Throne (Three Dark Crowns #2) – Kendare Blake
  13. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Philip K Dick
  14. The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #2) – Rick Riordan*
  15. The Titan’s Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #3) – Rick Riordan*
  16. The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #4) – Rick Riordan*
  17. The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #5) – Rick Riordan*
  18. The Wish List – Jane Costello
  19. Peter Pan – JM Barrie
  20. The Summer Guest – Emma Hannigan
  21. Overheard in Dublin – Gerard Kelly
  22. You Only Live Once (Gracie Dart #1) – Jess Vallance
  23. The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1) – Alexandra Bracken

Short Stories

None this month

Cover Art

 

Favourite Book This Month

34810320

I really loved Sadie by Courtney Summers. It published this week, so should now be freely available, and I thoroughly recommend it. It was hugely enjoyable, dark, infuriating, confusing, and enthralling.

 

 

 

Least Favourite Book This Month

 

33507There were actually loads of books this month that I didn’t really like. However, the one which tops the list for me has to be Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. I think it’s largely because the majority of the book was great, but it was padded out with interminable lists of marine life. One of the characters was a classifier, and he just reamed out lists of classifications of fish, fish, more fish, seaweed, fish, and more fish. Nobody wants to read a list of fish, do they? I know I certainly didn’t.

 

 

Favourite cover art

This was a tough one, because none of this month’s cover art really jumped out at me. In fact, I think most of them are quite dull, and not worth shouting about. My eventual pick was Tradition, by Brendan Kiely, because the clean image does convey something of the plot of the book, but I don’t think it would’ve won if the field hadn’t been so poor.

39903711

 

Other…

I bought a new bookcase, and put it together this weekend. I should have bought oak, which I realised when I unpacked the beech bookcase, but by the time I had humped it up the stairs to my flat and unwrapped it, I was overcome with apathy, so now I’m just dealing with slightly mismatched bookcases. It’s not the end of the world. Next, I need to sort my books, so this has involved comparing quicksort and merge sort to see which is more efficient. I blame my sister, the nerd, for giving me links to these kinds of things.

I also watched To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, on Netflix, and loved it. So cuddly, so pure, so enjoyable.

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Sadie – Courtney Summers

I picked an ARC of this up at YALC, but with only two weeks to go until publication, I figured it was close enough that I could post my review of it.

Sadie – Courtney Summers

34810320.jpgSadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meagre clues to find him.

When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

I really, really enjoyed this book. Told in alternating chapters, one half tracking Sadie as she journeys to solve a mystery, and the other told in podcast scripts as West McCray tries to solve the mystery of another missing girl, the story unfolded together and I was utterly hooked.

Sadie is dark, mysterious, utterly compelling, and packed with sisterly love and compassion. It paints a portrait of a young woman who’s had an incredibly difficult life, lost her mother, her sister, and is on her way to resolve things the only way she knows how.

This entire book was electric. It was packed with tension, clever plotting, mysteries unravelling, and a main character with a stutter for no reason other than she had a stutter. That kind of representation, and a book about a complex, layered female character who’s come from the wrong side of the tracks was so refreshing to read. Sadie hasn’t had an easy life, but she’s in no way one-dimensional or lacking in complexity.

It’s hard to put into words just why I liked this book so much. I think Courtney Summers is a brilliant writer, who really gets into the head of complex, nuanced, and sometimes utterly unlikeable characters, brings you with her, and makes you see out of their eyes.

I absolutely devoured this book, staying up late and sitting in the car to read it, and I don’t regret a second of it.

Interestingly, West McCray’s chapters (which are presented as a podcast in the book) have been adapted into an actual podcast, which is available on iTunes/Stitcher/whatever. Having read the book first, the podcast is all the more interesting, but if you need something to tide you over until release day, I suggest you listen to the podcast, and have a think about what parts of the story you might be missing, and what you’ll see when you experience the book as a whole.

Sadie is fantastic, dark, gritty, true crime, true to life, and beautifully presented. The stark white of the cover against the popping red of Sadie’s hoodie, the lack of facial features as they’re obscured by her hair – everything about this book is carefully thought out, and extremely well-presented. I thoroughly recommend this one.

Five Stars
*****

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Tuesday Musings – Sequels I am stoked for

I often try not to pick up any books until the full series has been published, because I am beyond terrible at being patient enough to wait for the sequel. But sometimes you accidentally read a book and it’s just SO GOOD that you’re stuck waiting and waiting and waiting for the follow up. So here are a few upcoming sequels that I am raring to read.

Kingdom of Ash – Sarah J Maas (Throne of Glass #6)

13541056.jpgI mean, really? Does this even need introduction? This series finisher seems to have been on the horizon for decades, while we get fluff and porn in the ACOTAR series. C’mon Maas. Finish this series off with some kickass action. And please ACTUALLY kill some of the main characters. None of that resurrection nonsense that you keep pulling out of the bag!

Queen of Air and Darkness – Cassandra Clare (The Dark Artifices #3)

I tried not to love Cassandra Clare’s books. There’s a lot of muttering in the book world about her ethics, about her behaviour, about fanfiction, and about her characters – there are plenty of snarky reads of The Mortal Instruments and I cannot help but confess that The Infernal Devices have the same three main characters as TMI, but I still got suckered in. I can’t wait to see how this trilogy ends, especially after the shock deaths at the end of Lord of Shadows. Plus, how GORGEOUS is that cover art?

The Wicked King – Holly Black (Folk of the Air #2)

26032887.jpgI really enjoyed The Cruel Prince, so I am on my knees waiting for the sequel to come out. I can’t wait to see how Jules and Cardan’s relationship develops, and how she schemes and twists to get Oak out of danger. The last few chapters of The Cruel Prince had me gasping, so I’m hoping for more twists and turns and excellent cleverness from Jules, the human in a Faerie world. Come on publication!

Children of Virtue and Vengeance – Tomi Adeyemi (Legacy of Orïsha #2)

I’ll admit, I have absolutely no clue what happened on the last page of Children of Blood and Bone. At the time, it left me annoyed and confused, but now I’m sure that whatever Adeyemi has in store for the second installment in this trilogy is going to be absolutely whopper, so I am terribly impatient for this to arrive.

A Girl Called Shameless – Laura Steven (Izzy O’Neill #2)

41054515.jpgThe title and cover for the sequel to The Exact Opposite of Okay were only announced last week, and Electric Monkey is shouting from the rooftops about it. I’m really excited to see how this story develops, and how Izzy deals with the fallout of the slutshaming events of the first book. It’s not out til March 2019, so I am going to have to learn to be a little more patient, though.

The Towering Sky – Katharine McGee (The Thousandth Floor #3)

Okay, again, I did not mean to love this series. But I really do. The drama! The society! The forbidden relationships! The oh-so-normal but totally not normal lives of the super-rich and those who surround them! Plus murder and conspiracies! I am so stoked for the finale of this trilogy.

and, of course, the ever-present

The Winds of Winter – George RR Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire #6)

It’s been so long. So long. And this won’t even be the final book in the series. It might never happen. Martin is just teasing us. There are things going on behind the scenes that we don’t understand or know about. I’m just going to have to cling on to the TV show to keep me going until Martin dies and Brandon Sanderson comes along to pick up the pieces.

 

So those are the sequels I’m currently salivating for… Any others I should be aware of?

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All Rights Reserved – Gregory Scott Katsoulis

I picked this up at YALC because it looked so interesting. A world where every word is restricted, and you have to pay for any form of expression? Plus it talks about copyright? I am sold. I also wanted a dystopian standalone, which the staff at the Harper stand said it was. Actually, it does have a sequel, but it doesn’t read like it’s reliant on the sequel, so I’m still happy with what I got.

All Rights Reserved – Gregory Scott Katsoulis

33257478.jpgIn a world where every word and gesture is copyrighted, patented or trademarked, one girl elects to remain silent rather than pay to speak, and her defiant and unexpected silence threatens to unravel the very fabric of society.

Speth Jime is anxious to deliver her Last Day speech and celebrate her transition into adulthood. The moment she turns fifteen, Speth must pay for every word she speaks (“Sorry” is a flat ten dollars and a legal admission of guilt), for every nod ($0.99/sec), for every scream ($0.99/sec) and even every gesture of affection. She’s been raised to know the consequences of falling into debt, and can’t begin to imagine the pain of having her eyes shocked for speaking words that she’s unable to afford.

But when Speth’s friend Beecher commits suicide rather than work off his family’s crippling debt, she can’t express her shock and dismay without breaking her Last Day contract and sending her family into Collection. Backed into a corner, Speth finds a loophole: rather than read her speech–rather than say anything at all–she closes her mouth and vows never to speak again. Speth’s unexpected defiance of tradition sparks a media frenzy, inspiring others to follow in her footsteps, and threatens to destroy her, her family and the entire city around them.

I was probably expecting more from this than I should have. The premise is really interesting, but flimsily constructed. It felt a lot like Vox, with its emphasis on communication, but without the underlying gender-based discrimination. But it lacked the subtlety and understanding of Vox, instead going for a general ‘capitalism is terrible and has gotten out of control’ vibe.

That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy this. I definitely did. I think the original premise could have been much better explained or supported – but I suppose being an intellectual property nerd does mean that I was much more critical of this than most would be. But once you got past that, this was an interesting, and well-constructed story which followed a typical dystopia arc.

Young girl does something which unintentionally sparks a revolution, discovers the power within herself to break down the system, meets new people and learns new things along the way… It’s been done, but this was certainly an interesting way of doing it. The underlying musings on communication and the need to express oneself were also pretty well drawn, and kept me entertained.

Overall, I think this book didn’t work for me specifically because a) I’ve read so much dystopia I’m tired of it and b) I’m an intellectual property nerd already, but if you were lacking those two factors, this would be a great read. It’s certainly an interesting and entertaining entry into the dystopian genre, and I would definitely be interested in reading other works by this author.

Three Stars
***

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That’s Not What Happened – Kody Keplinger

BKMRK gives a different proof away every day of YALC. Friday, the first day, they gave away copies of That’s Not What Happened via raffle. I was actually not lucky enough to win one of them, but I saw it on NetGalley a few days later, and was approved for an eGalley, which I was delighted about.

It’s probably a little morbid to say that I like books about school shootings, but I do. This Is Where It Ends was one of my absolute favourite books the year I read it, and I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed Hate List, Nineteen Minutes, We Need to Talk About Kevin… do I sound enough like a psychopath yet? So That’s Not What Happened was always going to be a winner for me. Especially since it approached a school shooting from a very different perspective. Rather than being about the immediate aftermath, That’s Not What Happened meets the survivors several years after it happened, and explores the impact of that dreadful day on their lives in the years that followed.

That’s Not What Happened – Kody Keplinger

40186317.jpgSix survived to tell the story, but who knows the truth? The next hotly anticipated YA novel from bestselling US sensation Kody Keplinger, author of THE DUFF and RUN

It’s been three years since the Virgil County High School Massacre. Three years since my best friend, Sarah, was killed in a bathroom stall during the mass shooting. Everyone knows Sarah’s story – that she died proclaiming her faith.

But it’s not true.

I know because I was with her when she died. I didn’t say anything then, and people got hurt because of it. Now Sarah’s parents are publishing a book about her, so this might be my last chance to set the record straight . . . but I’m not the only survivor with a story to tell about what did – and didn’t – happen that day.

Except Sarah’s martyrdom is important to a lot of people, people who don’t take kindly to what I’m trying to do. And the more I learn, the less certain I am about what’s right. I don’t know what will be worse: the guilt of staying silent or the consequences of speaking up . . .

I massively enjoyed this look at a school shooting three years down the line. Lee, our main character, was only fourteen when a lone gunman razed her school, killing nine, including two teachers and her best friend, Sarah McHale, as they held hands and hid in a bathroom. I’ve read a lot of school shooting books, and this one took a really interesting approach. Not only did it have next to no details about the shooter (not even his name), the actual plot of the book is set three years after the shooting occurred.
Based somewhat on the story of Cassie Bernall, who was mistakenly identified as having declared her faith before her death in the Columbine massacre, this book focuses on Lee’s search for the truth, and for healing, three years on from the events that changed her life.
It’s told as a giant letter to an unnamed reader, incorporating stories of the other survivors, the victims, and their stories in the years after the shooting. It’s really delicately drawn, with each of the survivors changed in both huge and tiny ways, and strong bonds forged between many of them who went through this thing together.
The focus of the book is on Lee’s attempts to set the record straight about what actually happened, and who the Cross Necklace belonged to. Commonly attributed to Sarah, who was then killed, Lee knows that’s not how it happened, but hasn’t told anyone. When Sarah’s parents plan to publish a book, Lee feels compelled to get the truth out there. This book then looks at what the truth is, the impact of telling the truth, whether truths can be individual, and lots of other really interesting stuff around that.
I also loved that this book had plenty of representation. Lee, the main character, is ace, and several of the other victims are repping in their own ways. Denny is blind and Black, Ashley is a wheelchair user, Eden is a latina lesbian (shades of This is Where it Ends there), and Miles is in a non-traditional family setup. What’s really lovely is that none of these things are the defining parts of these characters’ stories. Not even the shooting is. They’re all more than the sum of their parts.
There was probably space to investigate more how Kellie was affected, and I would have loved more from Denny. Overall, this book was compelling, touching, and really sensitively written. I stayed up late to finish it, and don’t regret it at all!

Four Stars

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Quick Classics Reviews

As I mentioned at the start of the year, I’m still working my way through a list of classics (mostly on audiobook) and slowly ticking them off my list.

I don’t feel like I have a huge amount to say about most of them, which is why they aren’t getting their own reviews, but I may as well collect a few of them here:

Around the World in Eighty Days:

This was the first time I’ve ever given up on an audiobook. I actually went back to Librivox and downloaded an alternate edition because the narrator was so horrendously irritating. Once I got past that issue, the book itself was quite enjoyable, with an interesting circumnavigation story, and high-stakes racing through the last few days. I was really surprised, however, that none of the journey was done by hot air balloon. Isn’t that the image which has permeated the collective consciousness? Phileas Fogg in a hot air balloon? Somewhat disappointing that it never actually happened!
Four Stars

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde:

I feel like the impact of this story was somewhat lost on me, since I already knew that they were the same person, but at the time this story of the horror of human nature must have been quite something. It didn’t hold up massively well because of how often it’s been reworked. Much like I found with Dracula, because there have been so many reimaginings of it, the original lacks something.
Three Stars

Robinson Crusoe:

Crusoe is incredibly unlucky, and should have stopped getting on ships. I quite enjoyed this story of human survival in the most desolate of conditions, but the racism throughout is hard to stomach at times.
Three Stars

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea:

I was hoping to enjoy this as much as I had enjoyed Around the World in 80 days, but was disappointed. Large chunks of this book were just lists of fish. Who wants to read lists of fish? If I wanted to do that, I could just pick up a book about fish. When not reeling off lists of classifications of fish, there was some great story in here, and a real adventure to it, but it was really bogged down in pointless detail.
Two Stars

The Call of the Wild:

Not for me, this book. I think I might have loved it when I was a child, but reading it as an adult it lacked anything to actually draw me in. Disappointing.
Three Stars

The Secret Garden:

I read this so many times as a child, and loved it. Now, as an adult, I still love it. This story of sour, lonely little Mary growing up and becoming a friendly, loving child, finding her place in the world, and reviving her cousin and uncle is really timeless, and hugely enjoyable.
Five Stars

Wuthering Heights:

Everyone in this book was a terrible person. All of them. Not a single exception. As well as that, the framing device was strangely interwoven into the story, so that we read a story within a story within a story. I can’t see how or why Catherine and Heathcliff loved each other, and see nothing admirable in their horrendous treatment of each other and everyone around them. Cathy, too, is despicable. They’re all horrible, and I’m glad they all died.
Three Stars

A Tale of Two Cities:

Man, you can tell that Dickens was paid by the word. This book meanders. But, strangely, despite its overlong form, I really did enjoy this one. I was eager to sit into the car and hear where things were going next for the imprisoned Frenchman, the dour lawyer, and the beautiful young woman and her child. I have three other Dickens books on my list, and I’m not dreading them the way I’m kind of dreading the other Jules Verne.
Four Stars

Next up on my list are Jane Eyre and Oliver Twist, then I’m going to have to download some more audiobooks. But we’ll see how I get on with those first!

What classics do you want to read, or which do you wish you never had? Maybe I should just buy the book Abridged Classics, and save myself the time!

https://wronghands1.com/2016/01/08/abridged-classics/

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Reviewing the Unreviewed – March&April 2018

Hey, I’m back, with more books I didn’t have time to review on their own!

  • King Lear – William Shakespeare
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Fantastic Beasts #1) – JK Rowling
  • Beside Myself – Anne Morgan
  • Wonder – RJ Palacio
  • Northern Lights (His Dark Materials #1) – Philip Pullman*
  • What Fresh Hell – Lucy Vine
  • Love, Hate & Other Filters – Samira Ahmed
  • Stardust: Radio 4 Dramatisation – Neil Gaiman
  • Forever in Love (Montana Brides #2) – Leeanna Morgan
  • They Both Die At The End – Adam Silvera
  • Forever After (Montana Brides #3) – Leeanna Morgan
  • Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl #1) – Eoin Colfer*
  • Safe Haven (The Protectors #1) – Leeanna Morgan
  • After Alice – Gregory Maguire
  • Moonrise – Sarah Crossan
  • Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
  • Small Steps (Holes #2) – Louis Sachar
  • Lola’s Secret (The Alphabet Sisters #2) – Monica McInerney
  • Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons #1) – Leigh Bardugo
  • Sightwitch (The Witchlands #0.5) – Susan Dennard
  • Marrying his Best Friend (The McKinnon Brothers #3) – Jennifer Gracen
  • Thief’s Magic (Millenium’s Rule #1) – Trudi Canavan
  • The Extinction Trials (The Extinction Trials #1) – SM Wilson
  • The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials #2) – Philip Pullman*
  • To Kill A Mockingbird (To Kill A Mockingbird #1) – Harper Lee*
  • The Nowhere Girls – Amy Reed
  • Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Much Ado About Nothing – William Shakespeare
  • All of Me (The Bridesmaids Club #1) – Leeanna Morgan

1200x630bbMuch Ado About Nothing and King Lear – William Shakespeare

Working my way through the Shakespeare catalogue, I decided it was probably time I read the play that inspired my blog name. Again, it’s clear why the Bard is the king. However, neither was as enjoyable as Macbeth.

King Lear – Three Stars
Much Ado About Nothing – Three Stars

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Fantastic Beasts #1) – JK Rowling

The screenplay of the first film with Eddie Redmayne, it lacks the visual oomph of the film, and loses out on Rowling’s general warmth of her actual books. Plus, is the stuff in here canon? Surely that’s not how legilimens work? Still though, massively entertaining. How did they do that?
Four Stars

Beside Myself – Anne Morgan29507207

A really interesting musing on the nature vs nurture aspects of twins, and what one can achieve when others place constraints or assumptions on you. Plenty of space to expand on the more interesting aspects of this, but they were lost under the thriller aspects, which fell kind of flat.
Three Stars

Wonder – RJ Palacio

Just lovely, a story about finding yourself, finding friends, and some good disability rep for MG readers.
Four Stars

Northern Lights (His Dark Materials #1) & The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials #2) – Philip Pullman*

Rereading these so that the story is fresh in my mind when I begin The Book of Dust. The Amber Spyglass followed shortly after. I LOVED these as a child, and love them still. Lyra and Will are my ultimate starcrossed lovers, and I wish I knew what my daemon was.
Five Stars for both

What Fresh Hell – Lucy Vine

A comedy about bridezillas, it wasn’t as sharp, as witty, or as entertaining as I thought it would be, and the main character was a total pushover. Would be willing to pick up another by this author, but wouldn’t be wildly excited about it.
Three Stars

Love, Hate & Other Filters – Samira Ahmed36329508

Relatively short, but very enjoyable story of finding yourself when your identity is more than one thing.
Four Stars

Stardust: Radio 4 Dramatisation – Neil Gaiman

I assumed this was a straight audiobook, but it was actually an adapted radio play. This is clear from what I’ve called it here, but I made a mistake when getting it from the library, so this wasn’t what I expected. I don’t see what the adaptation did for it that improved it from an audiobook, but I don’t love Stardust anyways. The film is better.
Three Stars

Forever in Love (Montana Brides #2) Forever After (Montana Brides #3) Safe Haven (The Protectors #1) – Leeanna Morgan

These all just kind of blend together for me. Generic romances with an unavailable main man who is brought around by the gorgeous girl he let get away before. And they’re all set in Montana. What is the deal with Montana, is it just the romance capital of the world? I can no longer separate the happenings of each of these books from each other, they’re just an unrealistic mush. Which is fine, if that’s the kind of mindless escapism you’re looking for. And sometimes it is, in fairness!

Two Stars for each

34522656They Both Die At The End – Adam Silvera

Um, spoilers? Very enjoyable for the most part, the death of both main characters left the narrative feeling a little…. unfinished.
Three Stars

Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl #1) – Eoin Colfer*

I love this. So snarky. So witty. Such subversions of fairy tropes. A classic of Irish children’s lit.
Five Stars

After Alice – Gregory Maguire26245183

What the hell was going on in this book? I understand the principle of writing around an established classic, but this ticked no boxes for me. Pity, as Wicked is compelling.
Two Stars

Moonrise – Sarah Crossan

Lyrical, beautifully written free verse. Interesting choice of topic, very US-centred, which is notable for an Irish writer living in the UK. Didn’t quite hit the mark for me, but I think that’s very much my issue, as it’s a beautifully written, thoughtful book.
Three Stars

Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

Everyone in this book is a terrible person, and I dislike them all greatly.
But I do like the word Wuthering. So it gets bonus points for that.
Three Stars

Small Steps (Holes #2) – Louis Sachar

I had forgotten everything that happened in Holes, but enjoyed this return to the lives of two of the characters from it. Not quite a sequel, it was an interesting diversion, but didn’t really work for me. Again, probably me, not the book.
Three Stars

12690454Lola’s Secret (The Alphabet Sisters #2) – Monica McInerney

Not a worthy sequel to the glory that was The Alphabet Sisters, this was lacking much of the warmth, the joy, and the depth of the first. I probably would’ve enjoyed it more if I wasn’t comparing it to its predecessor.
Three Stars

Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons #1) – Leigh Bardugo

I love the way Bardugo writes, and this story of Diana, Princess of Themiscyra, rescuing a stranded sailor and the trouble that follows was great. I also loved the way it focused on female friendship.
Four Stars

Sightwitch (The Witchlands #0.5) – Susan Dennard

35481848This companion book to The Witchlands is a big departure from the style of the previous two, as a notebook belonging to a Sightwitch. It didn’t work for me as well as the Witchlands novels did, but it was certainly enough to bridge the gap before the publication of Bloodwitch next year!
Three Stars

Marrying his Best Friend (The McKinnon Brothers #3) – Jennifer Gracen

I particularly dislike silly romance books set in Ireland, because I’m familiar enough with it to recognise the daftness of it. This one specifically – where the hot McKinnon guy suggests marrying his best friend to avoid her child’s abusive ex gaining custody – was particularly egregious. Also the wilful obliviousness of two characters who are so clearly in love with each other. The FRUSTRATION of reading this book!
Two Stars

Thief’s Magic (Millenium’s Rule #1) – Trudi Canavan17302559

Two parallel narratives in this book follow two characters in two different worlds who NEVER. MEET. Why? Why not just write two books? Maybe they’ll meet in later books in the series. I don’t care. I’m not going to buy them to find out.
Three Stars

The Extinction Trials (The Extinction Trials #1) – SM Wilson

Dinosaurs! An island! Training! This was fun, but lacked the depth of some other dystopias I’ve read. The sequel, Exile, is available now, and I’ll probably pick it up eventually.
Four Stars

To Kill A Mockingbird (To Kill A Mockingbird #1) – Harper Lee*

A classic for a reason!
Five Stars

28096541The Nowhere Girls – Amy Reed

Yessss, brilliant, read it immediately. Great story, great writing, I don’t know why I didn’t review this in full!
Five Stars

Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson

No muppets. Disappointing.
Three Stars

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All of Me (The Bridesmaids Club #1) – Leeanna Morgan

Although the other three Leeanna Morgan books in this post blend together for me, this one stands out because it’s not about a couple falling in love. Or so I thought. Turns out I had this mixed up with another book, so it is just another ‘unavailable couple overcomes their issues’. Not memorable. Great cover art though!
Three Stars

 

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July Roundup

It’s August already! Summer is on the way out, Autumn is on the way in, and hopefully this heatwave will calm down a little, so that I can breathe again. My highlight of July is always YALC, and this year was no different. I had a wonderful three days in the Olympia, although they were extremely sweaty at times, and now I’m getting down to the serious business of getting some real writing done for work. Reading is going to have to take a back seat this month, because I have SO MUCH work to do. But I can do it! I’ve got the plans in place, and I am ready for anything.

Books

  1. Am I Normal Yet? (The Spinster Club #1) – Holly Bourne
  2. Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe
  3. Thirteen (Eddie Flynn #4) – Steve Cavanagh
  4. The Next Together (The Next Together #1) – Lauren James
  5. Still Me (Me Before You #3) – Jojo Moyes
  6. Floored – Sara Barnard, Holly Bourne, Tanya Byrne, Non Pratt, Melinda Salisbury, Lisa Williamson, Eleanor Wood
  7. About Last Night… – Catherine Alliott
  8. Undercover Princess – Lenora Worth
  9. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett*
  10. The Trip of a Lifetime (The Alphabet Sisters #3) – Monica McInerney
  11. The Last Beginning (The Next Together #2) – Lauren James
  12. Geek Girl (Geek Girl #1) – Holly Smale
  13. The Godfather – Mario Puzo
  14. Alex, Approximately – Jenn Bennett
  15. The Hundredth Queen (The Hundredth Queen #1) – Emily R King
  16. The Novice (Summoner #1) – Taran Matharu
  17. Cuckoo Song – Frances Hardinge
  18. Second Best Friend – Non Pratt
  19. A Midsummer Night #nofilter (OMG Shakespeare #4) – Brett Wright, William Shakespeare

 Short Stories

  1. His Blushing Bride (Montana Born Brides #3) – Dani Collins
  2. Another Beginning (The Next Together #2.5) – Lauren James
  3. Another Together (The Next Together #1.5) – Lauren James

Cover Art

 

Favourite Book This Month

This one was fairly easy. It wins not only because I read it and really enjoyed it, but also because both my sisters and my dad also read and enjoyed it, which means basically that it’s got loads going for it (and it’s led to lots of conversations between us). My favourite book of July was Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh.

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Least Favourite Book This Month

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Marietta, the fictional, wedding-obsessed town in Montana, is a place that I have revisited multiple times, through many different authors. I don’t know what it is about this place that I keep wanting to revisit. Perhaps the books are just so easy to read? And they keep being free on iBooks. Generally, I like books set in Marietta, but His Blushing Bride didn’t do it for me this time. Not enough romance, too much jumping into marriage. Why are they so obsessed with getting married so quickly??

 

 

Favourite cover art

I bought this book largely based on the cover art, so it was always going to be a winner for me the month I eventually read it. The Hundredth Queen was fun and interesting, albeit a little predictable, and I have two of the three sequels lined up to read, but coverwise, the designer is on fire *snort*.

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Other…

I have yet to actually sort out what to do with the books in my new flat. I had almost all of them shelved, but then I went to YALC, and now I have 40 new books to cope with. I may need another bookcase.

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