Posts Tagged ‘books’

Library List 008

It’s been a while since I did a library list. And when I say a while, I mean two and a half years. Oops! In case you’re wondering, my library list is just a round up of books that I have reserved at the library, and I’m waiting for them all to come in. Wanna see what I’ll be reading soon?

001 Library List

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler
I have absolutely no idea where I heard about this one, but I have no doubt why I reserved it. “Simon Watson, a young librarian, lives alone on the Long Island…One day, Simon receives a mysterious book from an antiquarian bookseller; it has been sent to him because it is inscribed with the name Verona Bonn, Simon’s grandmother. Simon must unlock the mysteries of the book, and decode his family history, before fate deals its next deadly hand.” Librarians, books, centuries-spanning mysteries? I’m there, with bells on. I’m number one on the list, so it shouldn’t be too long before I get this one.

Don’t be a Dick, Pete by Stuart Heritage
I follow Stu Heritage on Twitter; he won my heart last year when he wrote this blistering take-down of Elf on the Shelf, calling Facebook in December ‘the devil’s armpit’ in the first paragraph. His book is a biography of his younger brother, and by all accounts is hilarious, touching and warm. I’m number one on the list for this one too, but it has only just come out, so I might have to wait for the library to actually receive their copies.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
I don’t move in bookish circles, but I do follow a lot of bookishly circular on Twitter, and this is one of the books that everyone is talking about. Sarra Manning at Red has called it as her book of the year already, so I’m excited to read it. It’s evidently the story of a woman who struggles with social skills who is stuck in a rut, but who finds some people who become her people. I’m possibly over-simplifying things, but I’ll let you know exactly what I think when I read it. It’s not out until next week, but it’s already reserved and I’m number eight.

002 Library List

The Future Homemakers of America by Laurie Graham
This is a book from quite a few years ago, but there’s a sequel coming out, and having read a couple of Laurie Graham books in the past, I thought I’d like to give this one a go. There’s a romance attached to the 1950s that I can’t resist, and this is a story about American military wives based at a US airbase in Norfolk, England. I’m sold! Actually, in writing this, I think I may have started this book once before. I’m first on the list for this one.

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
Paula Hawkins, of Girl on the Train fame, has a new book out, and it sounds pretty far removed from her previous novel. It follows the story of women who die in the Drowning Pool, the latest victim being Nel Abbot, whose daughter believes she was murdered, rather than a victim of suicide. It sounds spooky and eerie and great, and I’ve heard good things. I was a little late to the reserving bandwagon on this one, it seems – I’m number 118 and it’s only been out a couple of days, so this one is going to take a while.

Lost for Words by Stephanie Butland
Loveday Cardew is the name of the main character of this book, and it may turn out that she’s just too quirky for words (I don’t like overly quirky). But it’s a book about someone who loves books, and they rarely fail to enchant me, so I’ve got high hopes. I’m second on the list for this one.

003 Library List

The Power by Naomi Alderman
I already reserved and borrowed this book from the library once, but it was reserved by someone else, and I had to take it back, unfinished. I’ve almost bought it multiple times since, but in the end I just popped it back on the reservation list, and now it’s waiting for me to pick it up! I can’t wait to dive back in, as I loved what I read.

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel
Another book that has been all over Twitter, I’ve been wanting to read this for a while but only recently got around to reserving it. It seems to be one of those teenage-girls-in-the-summer books that seem to be very au fait at the moment, but I’m more than happy to read them if they are well written. I’m number nine on the list, so it’s going to be a little while.

Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood by William J. Mann
Since two of my favourite podcasts at the moment are My Favorite Murder, and You Must Remember This, a book that combines murder and old-time Hollywood was always going to be a winner. It can be hard to get good books about classic Hollywood, so I’m hoping this lives up to my expectations. I’m first on the list!

April 2017 Books

April

Not a stellar month for quantity, but a perfectably acceptable one in terms of quantity.

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
This is my second Nicola Yoon book of the year, having read Everything Everything back in February. This was by far my favourite; even though I had no complaints about Everything Everything when I read it, I just felt as though these two characters were better realised, and the very short space of time in which the story is set gave it the sense of urgency that it needed. Natasha and Daniel are both high school seniors dealing with their own problems. Natasha’s family is undocumented, and due to be deported back to Jamaica that very evening, unless she can find a way to stop it. Daniel is a Korean-American teenager, trying to deal with the pressures placed on him by his traditional parents, and the way he wants to live his life, having grown up in America. They meet, quite by chance, and we get to witness their love grow in the space of just one day. What I loved most about this book was the frequent chapters devoted to other, completely incidental characters: the man driving the car that almost runs Natasha over, the train driver who inadvertantly changes the course of Daniel’s day with his tannoy announcement. These extra stories show just how much someone can affect your life with just the smallest action, and they are what sold the book for me. I loved it!

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith
I do love a good crime novel, and that’s what we have here, with the third in the Cormoran Strike series. I didn’t realise just how long I’d left it to get around to reading this, but I’m glad I did, as I’m already hankering for the next one, and I shouldn’t have too much longer to wait! If you’re familiar with the stories, you’ll know that Strike is a former military policeman turned private detective, and with two previous high profile cases under his belt, he’s something of a celebrity. His assistant Robin, who has been with him since the start of the first book, and having proved her mettle as a private detective in the previous book, is upgraded, at least in theory, to Strike’s partner. Then she receives a female leg in the post, and this sets in motion the events of the story, in which Strike is convinced that the leg has come from an enemy from his past, and sets out, with Robin, to find out who it is.

The story itself is compelling and full of wonderful characters; I had no idea which, if any, of the four suspects was going to turn out to be the killer until the final reveal, and that’s always the mark of a good crime story. Unfortunately I do find the writing a little clumsy sometimes; there’s a distinct lack of subtetly whenever Strike or Robin want to delve into their memories, which is unfortunate considering that this whole story is about looking back in the hope that they will discover a clue to the identity of the killer. But it’s entertaining, and these are two compelling characters who I am very much looking forward to seeing in the forthcoming series.

The O’Sullivan Twins by Enid Blyton
My St. Clare’s readathon marches on; as I”ve mentioned before, I’m a Malory Towers girl, and didn’t read the St. Clare’s series as a child. This is the second book in the series, and while I stand by the idea that Blyton just transposed characters from one series to another and changed a few names, here we have a slightly more dramatic storyline that anything that ever happened at Mallory Towers, when one of the sanitorium rooms catches on fire! There’s a lot of unpleasantness in this book, with various characters being sent to Coventry, and a nasty girl leaving the school because she’s pretty irredeemable in the eyes of the other girls. But I liked it, and I’m moving on to book three right away!

Books in 2017 – 14

February & March 2017 Books

February & March

Not having been in the blogging swing of things lately, I missed a February round up for books, so I thought I’d combine two months in one!

The Frog Theory by Fiona Mordaunt *
You can read my full review of this book here; it’s a very short novel about three teenagers coming to terms with their difficult starts in life and navigating early adulthood. It’s not a book that I would honestly recommend, having found it to lose its way fairly spectacularly in the final third. It starts off exploring some interesting themes, but I wasn’t overly fond of it in the end.

Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
The premise of this YA book drew me in; a small child is abducted from by his father, who has recently separated from his mother. His next door neighbour, Emmy, was his best friend, but has had to learn to live in the shadow of his disappearance, until one day, when they are seventeen, he is found, and returns home. It’s an interesting idea, and the author neatly explores the idea that it’s not just Oliver who was affected when he went missing; the consequences are far-reaching. Ultimately though, it’s another enjoyable YA book that is fun while you’re reading it, but doesn’t blow your mind.

Last Bus to Woodstock by Colin Dexter
I picked this up in a charity shop a while ago, around the time that I first started watching Endeavour. Never one to just like a thing, I have to throw myself wholeheartedly into it. I have never actually watched Inspector Morse, so I thought I’d try and read the books first. This is the first in the series, and it’s fine, though very seventies in its outlook in terms of women and sexual violence. I enjoyed it as a crime mystery though, and at some point I will try and pick up the next in the series.

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
I have heard nothing but good things about Nicola Yoon’s novels, so thought it was about time I read one. Everything Everything is about a young woman, Maddie, who has such a severe immunodeficiency disease that she is unable to leave the house. Life has been plodding along in such a way for Maddie for almost the entirety of her life, until Olly moves in next door, and brings with him an exciting new possibility, as Maddie falls for him instantly. I liked this book a lot; though I guessed which way things were going, it’s beautifully written. The film is due out later in the year; having watched the trailer since reading the book, I’m not sure it’s necessarily going to capture the story in the way I want it to.

The Twins at St. Clare’s by Enid Blyton
I was a Malory Towers girl, and despite having at least some of the books on the family bookcase, I’ve never actually read any St. Clare’s books. Starting at the beginning of the series, I realised that Enid Blyton essentially wrote two different boarding school books without changing an awful lot. Many of the characters are just carbon copies of one another! But here we have twins, instead of one central character (Darrel Rivers 4eva), which lends a slightly different air to things. I don’t own all the books, so I’m reserving the rest of them at the library!

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
This was on my reservation list at the library for months and months, but it finally arrived, and it was totally worth the wait! The story is made up of two parts; a book editor receives a book called Magpie Murders to read, the latest in a series by the small publishing house’s star author. We get to read the manuscript in its entirety – almost. When she gets to the end, she realises that it’s unfinished, and this sets in motion an amateur investigation by this editor, as she starts to uncover mysteries surrounding the author and his life. I really enjoyed it – two mysteries for the price of one is never a hardship – though I was slightly put out by the denouement, which I won’t spoil here. The reveal of the mystery was fine, it was rather the way in which our central character ended the story that bothered me slightly, but it’s a small complaint, and multiple mentions of Simon Mayo and Radio 2 definitely helped up the star rating (if I had star ratings).

A Secret Garden by Katie Fforde *
I used to read a lot of Katie Fforde. Something about the middle England settings and the romances really appealed to me. My reading habits have changed somewhat since then, but when I spotted this one on Netgalley, I thought I’d give it a go. Nothing has changed; this is a story about two white women; one of whom is middle aged, one of whom is younger. The middle aged one is also middle class, working for a living but comfortable, and enjoying friendships with the local aristocracy. The younger one is poorer, but not destitute, and evidently has enough money to pursue her dream career that doesn’t pay a lot of money. The story mostly follows their romantic lives (both are straight), though there is a side story of the secret garden of the title. There’s nothing wrong with this kind of book, it’s just that I think the world has moved on, and I certainly have, from this very white, very straight, very middle class collection of characters.

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer
The only thing I have ever seen Amy Schumer do is Trainwreck, the film she wrote and starred in a couple of years ago. I’ve never seen her television series, and though I followed her on social media for a while, I had to unfollow because she started to get on my nerves. She’s a funny lady, and this is an interesting book; she covers everything from her father’s multiple sclerosis, and her former life as a shoplifter, to oral sex and her career as a stand up comedian. She’s eloquent and interesting, and she doesn’t make excuses for herself; she’s relentlessly honest, or certain appears to be. I didn’t laugh all that much with this book, there were a few asides that I felt were trying too hard to get me to laugh, and they didn’t quite come off. But I found it interesting, and with each ‘chapter’ simply an essay on a topic that she feels strongly about, it’s an easy read.

Books with an asterisk were provided by publishers for a review.

Books in 2017 – 11

Book Blog Tour ~ The Frog Theory by Fiona Mordaunt

The Frog Theory CoverKim and Flow are best friends, living on a council estate, making money selling marijuana and dreaming of bigger and better things. Clate is a girl from a nice neighbourhood, living with her her mum and her violent stepfather. The Principal runs a college for problem teens, excelling professionally but struggling with secrets she conceals.

Mordaunt does a great job at showing that appearances can be deceiving; while Clate has a well-to-do family, and a nice house, underneath it all, she’s suffering at the hands of a violent abuser. Flow on the other hand, may come from a council estate, and already, at 17, have a criminal record, but he’s ambitious, loyal and a great friend to Kim. Kim, who is really the central character of the four, also has ambition, but his home life has been a hindrance, and he also has to overcome previous trouble with the police to do the things he wants to do.

In the middle of all this, we have the Principal, referred to by her job title throughout almost the entire novel. She has demons of her own, and adds to her problems by pursuing an ill-thought out sexual relationship. While the three young characters are easy to engage with, and get to know, I found it harder to care about this woman.

The Frog Theory is only a short novel, and explores some interesting themes, but I feel it loses its way a little in the final third. Everything becomes a little bit overblown, and instead of keeping things simple as a way to resolve the narrative threads, it instead goes all out to show how far these people have come. Clate’s way out of her situation is all just a little too convenient, leaving it feeling entirely far-fetched. Instead of showing how a young woman can find help to find her way out of an abusive home, she’s given a magic solution that doesn’t feel entirely satisfying.

As it only took me an afternoon to read this short book, it doesn’t really matter to me that it didn’t quite live up to early expectations. It’s just not one that will stay in the memory for very long.

 

 

January 2017 Books

January

Not a stellar start to the year for reading in terms of numbers – I was hoping to start as I mean to go on with plenty of reading, but January got away from me. Luckily, in terms of quality, it was a good month; three really good books!

The Dry by Jane Harper *
This is the story of a murdered family in a small farming town in Australia. The inhabitants are already having to deal with the years-long drought that is devastating their livelihoods, so when the family are murdered in an apparent murder-suicide by the husband and father of the victims, tensions run high. Into this comes Aaron, childhood friend of the chief suspect; as a police officer he is drawn into the investigation, and finds secrets from years ago resurfacing. You can read my full review here; it’s a taut and tense thriller with the brutality of the drought conditions adding to the oppressive atmosphere.

The One Memory of Flora Banks *
Flora Banks has anterrograde amnesia, preventing her from creating new memories. She remembers everything since before she was ten, but since then, she relies on information that her mum gives her via a book to discover who she is; she had a brain tumour that caused her memory problems, but she has a best friend and parents who love her and who will always look after her. This has been her life for seven years, but when she kisses a boy on a beach, she suddenly finds herself with a new memory that she is able to retain. She is in love with the boy from the beach, and despite her limitations, she ends up on a journey to Svalbard to find him. This is a beautiful story, and though it might seem as though it’s a lazy YA book about a boy and a girl, it’s really not. It’s a journey of self-discovery for Flora, and although she thinks she has set out to find a boy, what she’s really done is set out to find herself. As cliched as that may sound, the story is anything but. It even turns itself into a bit of a thriller at the end, and it’s well worth a read. 

English Animals by Laura Kaye *
19 year old Mirka is Slovakian, drawn to the UK to escape a family situation at home. She finds herself in the employ of an upper-middle class couple at a country house, helping them with their new taxidermy business. To say too much about the story would be to give things away, but the story follows Mirka for a year as she becomes a part of this couple’s life, and things take a turn. Written from the perspective of Mirka, a woman whose first language is not English, emphasis is place on the otherness of people like Richard and Sophie, the couple for whom she works. Read my full review here.

Books marked with an asterisk were sent to be by publishers for a review.

Because my start of the year posts never got written, I never got around to rounding up last year’s reads, or setting myself a target for this year. I still might right a round up of 2016 in books, but for now, I’ve decided on 75 again. I didn’t manage it last year, but I’m nothing if not a tryer.

Books in 2017 – 3

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