My Reading Rut: Part 3

I may not actually like reading at the moment, but I do still like talking about reading. So I figured it was time for the third post of my reading rut adventure: covering months April to June and books 10-14 of my thirty book challenge. This definitely got me back to my reading roots – meaning there were a lot of books I was anticipating the release of and fantasy novels. And I actually enjoyed this block of books a lot! Too bad I immediately stopped reading again afterwards… ugh.

The Missing by C.L. Taylor

Another thriller, yes, but one I was waiting for. I loved C.L. Taylor’s previous two thrillers, but something about The Missing just fell flat. I wasn’t as invested in the story as I was with  her previous work. The Lie was one of the most innovative thriller novels I’ve read in years, with The Accident keeping me just as hooked. But with Taylor’s third novel, I just didn’t give a shit. And then the resolution came and I was just like “oh, I still don’t care”. A good book, but not up to her usual standard. If you’ve never read her work before, start with this one and work backwards – that way they’re getting better instead of worse.

I give this book: 3/5 schizophrenic visions

Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch

I have an apology to make to Mr Aaronovitch, because it took me two attempts to read this book. The first was last July and I got about 100 pages into it before giving up. This really bugged me because I absolutely love this series. But I decided to give it another chance and this time it finally clicked. This series definitely does have a pattern of one great book followed by a weaker one, and sadly this book was one of the latter, but that ending definitely made it worthwhile. I won’t dwell too much on this book because I think this series definitely deserves a post on its own, so just know that I’m sorry I doubted you, Peter Grant, and I’m glad I didn’t abandon you.

I give this book: 3.5/5 vengeful ghosts

Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch

You know what I was saying about the quality pattern of this series? Ignore it. Right after finishing book four, I jumped right into number five and I think that Foxglove Summer is my favourite instalment of the series so far – even more than Rivers of London. And I’m not just saying that because it saw the return of my favourite character. Getting out of the city was exactly what this series needed; as was a more standalone case that didn’t revolve around the Big Bad. Think of it as the Peter Grant equivalent of Prisoner of Azkaban. It rejuvenated the series for me after my struggles with the previous book and made me fall in love with the world all over again. And props for the great Good Omens reference, which brings us nicely to book four.

I give this book: 5/5 creepy unicorns

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

For as long as I can remember, everyone has been telling me to read this book. Although I’ve never read any Pratchett, I am a huge Gaiman fan and was assured I’d love this story. I bought the book years ago, excited to get down to reading it, and what happened? It just fell flat. I tried so hard to persevere but in the end gave up. Which makes me wonder what happened this time around because… I loved it. On my second attempt reading this book, everything fell into place and I finally got all the love for it. It’s witty, gripping, and original – basically all the things you’d want out of a fantasy novel. Crowley might just be one of my favourite literary characters ever.

I give this book: 4/5 Queen CDs

The Girls by Emma Cline

I don’t really have to go into too much detail on this book because I already wrote a whole post about it over here. It’s not like anything else I’ve ever read before – so dreamy and relaxing yet somehow totally dangerous. It nicely broke up my fantasy to thriller to oh look another fantasy pattern as well as seamlessly slipping me into summer.

I give this book: 5/5 charismatic cult leaders

I’m clearly behind in this whole book review thing – and if I want to get everything up by 2o17 then I’ll need to get a move on. Of course, that would also entail catching up on my reading itself. We are comfortably in November now and I still have six to go. Wish me luck.

My Reading Rut: Part 2


I am terrible. Even with a job with a load of commute time, I have managed to get NINE BOOKS behind in my forty book reading challenge. I have no idea what I’ve been doing with my life but I’m trying my hardest to catch up during these last remnants of summer, before life starts getting crazy again.

I’ve currently read 17 books, but I’m not gonna spam you with all of that. Instead, here’s my thoughts on books five through nine instead.

It by Stephen King

This was the initial book that got me far behind in my reading challenge ’cause it took so damn long to get through. However, I did manage to catch up… and then fall behind again. I told you I’m terrible. My experience reading It went a lot like my experience reading other King novels – in that it starts off slow, I regret everything by the middle, and then the last third turns out to be some of the most gripping literature I’ve ever read. I won’t bother recounting the plot to you, as I’m pretty sure everyone knows the tale of Pennywise, but I will say this: it wasn’t scary. All my life people have been telling me how scary this book is. It’s not. I mean, I’m sure if I was been stalked by a weird creepy killer clown, I’d be terrified. But told on page, it just didn’t cut it for me. It’s an excellent book, but I’m sure I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I didn’t have the expectation that I’d be terrified by it. But I’m glad I read it in preparation for the film adaptations coming out next year!

I give this book: 4/5 unexplained child murders

The Magpies by Mark Edwards

After reading a book the size of my head, I needed something quick to bring me back up to speed, so I asked my mum to recommend a thriller for me to get addicted to. She gushed about this book for so long that I finally relented. But to be honest, it’s been six months since I read it now and I can’t remember a single thing about (my fault for leaving this post so long, I know). I can vividly remember every other book I’ve read this year, even last year in cases, but not this one. All I remember is that it’s a creepy thriller based around new neighbours and is a typical wtf-is-going-on-here type of novel. I don’t regret reading it, and I think I remember enjoying it at the time, but it’s definitely not a memorable story.

I give this book: 2.5/5 dead birds

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

Continuing on with my quick-to-read thriller tactic, I went with another recommendation from my mother – but I liked this one a lot more! This is type of thriller I live for: creepy, evil, and rooted in reality. Even though my favourite genre is fantasy, I like my thrillers to be about real life maniacs rather than the supernatural. I read a lot books that follow the ‘x has the perfect life – OR DO THEY?’ formula and although they can get a little overdone, Behind Closed Doors was refreshingly sinister.

I give this book: 4/5 secret pleas for help

Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson

The last of my thriller binge (until this point, at least – old habits) and it was another good one. It’s a movie, so I’m sure y’all know the plot – but basically the protagonist has some form of amnesia and is being cared for by her husband – or is she? Pretty standard thriller stuff but made for a gripping read. The ending was particularly satisfying, which is always a worry when I read thrillers. Sometimes it’s as if the writers are so excited to reveal the solution that they miss out a tonne of context. My only criticism would be that sometimes it was obvious that it was a male writer behind the woman’s voice – too much talk of her naked body to be believable sometimes. If I woke up with no memory of the last few decades, I’d have bigger concerns than my saggy boobs.

I give this book: 3/5 secret phone calls

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Finally back on the horror game! Bird Box was creepy af. Definitely one of those stories that works better as a book than a movie, which doesn’t often work in the horror genre. No clichés, no jump scares – in fact, jump scares couldn’t even possibly work in this story because most of it takes place with no vision. The plot of Bird Box is a mysterious disease has overtaken humanity and the only way to avoid it is to keep your eyes covered, if you see an infected, then you become one of them too. It’s a very isolated book for the most part, but that’s broken up with flashbacks to the beginnings of the virus, something which really helps to space out the plot. Again, not scary to read, but if that was happening in real life I have no idea what I’d do.

I give this book: 4/5 things in the shadows

Around this point I had finally rectified the damage from reading It for six weeks and was ready to start reading for fun again, instead of ploughing through thrillers which trick me into reading them. We are now up to April and soon will embark on some good old fashioned fantasy to suck me right back in again. I guess that post will be up whenever I somehow figure out how to read nine books (!!!!!!) in 24 hours. Seriously, how did I get this far behind? At this point, 40 books looks a long way off…

The Girls by Emma Cline Review


I’ve gotta be honest, recently I’ve been in a real reading slump. I’ve been buying so many books and then just… giving up. Nothing has caught my attention. But that all changed with The Girls by Emma Cline. I first saw this book pop up in the Booktube community a couple of months ago and immediately added it to my TBR. I just love cults, but I usually only get my creepy obsessive fill from reading Wikipedia pages at 3AM. But now I have this baby, and its simultaneously everything I wanted and didn’t know I wanted from a book on cults.

One of my favourite books of the last few years has been Vivian Versus The Apocalypse by Katie Coyle, which was another look at a cult-like phenomenon as told by a teenage girl. But despite a similar premise, they were such totally different books. And not for the obvious reasons like The Girls being set in the 1960s and VvsTA being a contemporary novel, or like VvsTA being a much more YA-focused story. Because as much as I loved the Vivian Apple series, her involvement always felt too big to me. Which is something you definitely don’t get with Cline’s novel. The protagonist, Evie, doesn’t change the world. She doesn’t stop the horrendous crimes from happening. She doesn’t have any control. And that’s why it’s so great. Not everyone who stumbles onto a cult becomes a major player, most people are on the outskirts of the action. Evie gets sucked into the cult, but she’s never in control, she never fully knows what’s going on around her. And neither do we for the majority of the story. We get snippets from Adult Evie in the future and can guess about future events from what Evie witnesses at the compound, but she is never the one making these decisions. We experience the cult from her powerless position, just as we would if we were the ones in that situation.

Usually in books like this, I’d be demanding more murder. More action. More blood. But not in this case. What drew me in was the dynamics of the compound and the cult mentality that gets these people do do what they do, something I think Cline portrays very well. Besides, if I wanted to read about the gory details or the major players, I’d read the Charles Manson biography. You don’t really get to see things from the perspective of the outsiders, and even if this account is a fictional one, its got to be rooted in reality.

Despite my going on about realism, a word I’d definitely use to describe this book would be dreamy. So much emphasis is put on the summer this happens in. From Evie’s lazy days before discovering the girls and even her time at the camp. And maybe it’s just because I’m a British person currently dying in 35 degree Spanish heat, but I’m damn sure I felt that Californian summer and I’m damn sure a lot of it was from Cline’s amazing use of language. It really helped to empathise with Evie, and there weren’t many times I experienced a “girl, why are you doing that?” type of moment. Some people might find the writing style a little pretentious, but I didn’t get that vibe. To me, it’s everything that We Were Liars tried and failed to do. Evie is super bored, so to me it makes sense that her way of describing things is a little long winded. What else has she got to do with her time? And when she’s joined the girls, she’s obsessed, so of course she’s going to be taking in all these little details.

I think this a book that anyone can enjoy, weird statutory rape scenes aside (but after IT by Stephen King, I’m pretty much numb to those). You don’t need to be obsessed with cults, or history, or weird descriptive novels. It’s got something for everyone, which is why I think the hype around it is so big right now. Excellent writing, an interesting plot, and a great lazy vibe to it that makes it the perfect summer read. Go forth, devour, and be thankful you didn’t join a cult when you were fourteen.

I give it 5/5 mind-controlled psychopaths.

My Reading Rut: Part 1


Last year I reached my goal of reading thirty books… and by goal I mean the second number I picked when it became evident that forty books was never gonna happen. This year, we’re going for forty. Actually forty this time. And we’re already two books behind. Brilliant. However, whilst I battle through the never ending love-it/hate-it novel that is Stephen King’s It, I figured I’d talk a little about the first four books I read this year. Because they were pretty brilliant, if I do say so myself.

The Martian by Andy Weir:

Admittedly this was a rather rushed choice of book for me, as I had a plane to catch in a matter of hours and needed something to dull the ride back to España. I’d wanted to pick up this book for a while now, but I’ve never really had that much luck with sci-fi novels in the past. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised with this one. The writing was phenomenal. I’m sure you’ve all seen clips of Watney’s POV chapters floating around the Internet, and it is true that Weir creates a brilliantly realistic geek in his protagonist, but even with the smaller characters, I really felt that I knew their personalities and reasonings for things. Certain parts of the book were a bit ‘explain-y’ for me, and occasionally I did find myself scanning the seventy page descriptions of whatever Watney was doing, but in the end it actually turned out to be a good thing… because I wouldn’t have understood like half of the movie without having read the novel first. Definitely a good example of the book being better than the movie trope. Even if Matt Damon kiiiiiilled it as Watney.

I give it: 3/5 Mars Rovers

The Accident by C.L. Taylor:

This is my second C.L. Taylor book and it turned out to be just as gripping as the first one I read. Admittedly I have to thank my mum for the recommendation here, as I never would have picked up either of the author’s books without her pestering. The story follows a mother coping with her daughter being in a coma, after the titular ‘accident’… or was it one? The book started off slowly, but damn, once it got going I couldn’t put it down. I’m starting to realise maybe I don’t like crime novels… I just like really creepy, messed up mysteries. The twists and turns in this book kept me guessing constantly, and even though you know everything will get linked together eventually, your brain will explode trying to connect the pieces yourself. If you liked The Girl On The Train and Gone Girl, you really ought to give Taylor’s work a whirl.

I give it: 3.5/5 creepy ex-boyfriends

A Darker Shade Of Magic by V.E. Schwab:

I have wanted to read this book for SO LONG, but as I mention every time I talk about fantasy novels, I’m always apprehensive as they can be either brilliant or terrible. There’s very few examples of ‘just meh’ fantasy stories. But after a rocky start, I can safely say that A Darker Shade Of Magic is in the brilliant category. The story takes place in a world (or three) that each have a London, and follows Kell, one of the few people who can travel between the three of them. I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ll also say that there’s evil forces and crossdressing pirates, and if that doesn’t make you want to read it I don’t know what will. The first part of this book really took a while to get going for me, with lots of world building and character development making the actual plot take a backseat, but once shit started going down I. Was. Hooked. Everything happens so quickly, but not in a rushed way, and I really hated putting this book down every time I had to get off the train. So pumped to read the sequel.

I give it: 4/5 dangerous magical relics

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell:

I love Rainbow Rowell. She’s one of the few contemporary YA authors I can stomach, but Attachments was the first actual adult novel I’ve read of hers, but once again, she’s written a love interest who I really wanna make out with. And isn’t that all we really want when we read love stories? The book takes place in a newspaper office in 1999, right before Y2k, and is told in two ways: through the POV of Lincoln, the Internet Security Officer (the 90s <3) and through the email exchanges between two journalists called Jen and Beth that he has to read. It definitely gave me -the feeeeeeels- when reading it, and I really enjoyed screaming at my Kindle trying to make the damn characters fall in love already. This was Rowell’s first novel, and it really is impressive for a debut. If you love her YA stuff, you really should give her contemporary adult stories a chance. Next stop, Simon Snow!

I give it: 4/5 emails to your best friend

So there you have it. The first four books I read this year. I promise I’ll be back with more… if I ever finish reading It. Sci-fi, mystery, fantasy, romance, horror… I really am going all out with my genre choices this year.

Stalkers, Secrets, & Sorcery: Best Books Of 2015 (Part 2)

 

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Wow, got a bit behind with this book reviewing thing, didn’t I? I thought with the start of my new job and an even longer commute, I’d be all about that forty book reading challenge… but as it turns out, when you’re on a train at 7:01AM, you’re more interested in staring aimlessly out the window and saying “why, God? Why?” rather than reading. So I’m pretty behind. Nonetheless, I did a tonne of reading over the summer, so I did have some choices for this second installment of my favourite books. The following aren’t exactly what you’d call ‘summer reads’, and I actually think they’re more suited to autumn/winter reading, so I held off on posting them until the weather turned. I’m so considerate. If anyone has any other recommendations, please let me know! I’ll pretty much read anything at the moment.

4) The Night Circus– Erin Morgenstern:

Real talk, I bought this book years ago, and although everyone says it’s great, it’s just been sitting on myself… waiting. I’ve had no real strong desire to read it. But this year, upon my biannual return to the UK, I was bored and figured I’d read one of the many books piling up on my shelves. Admittedly, I didn’t finish it in the two weeks I was home… but something kept me thinking about this book upon my return to Madrid, and I ended up buying the digital copy to finish it. Although I don’t really think it’s up to the hype people say, clearly something in this book sucked me in. The plot may be practically nonexistent, the characters two dimensional, the the romance increasingly stale; but this book was magical. The writing alone makes it a real winner. It might not be for everyone, but I’d recommend you give it a try.

3) Into The Darkest Corner– Elizabeth Haynes:

Something has happened to me recently… I ask my mum for book recommendations now. I know, gross, right? But she was insistent I read this book, and because it was 99p on the Kindle store, I caved. It took me a while to get into, but damn, once it did, I couldn’t put the it down. I’ve been reading a lot of the mystery/crime genre this year, but this book was just so refreshing and unexpected that it’s definitely shown that there are still surprises out there. I won’t say anything about the plot, as it’s best to go into it a surprise, but damn, it’s a good one.

2) The Girl On The Train– Paula Hawkins:

Okay, so everyone has read this book this summer– BUT THAT’S BECAUSE IT’S A GREAT BOOK! Initially I was feeling that TGOTT was a poor Gone Girl ripoff, but as I got more and more hooked into the story, I began to realise that it really stood on its own. I love me a good unreliable narrator, and Rachel really encompasses that through the tropes of her obsession and alcoholism. If for some reason you haven’t picked up a copy yet, it’d be the perfect creepy read for these cold autumn nights.

1) Dark Places– Gillian Flynn:

After I read GG in January, I knew I needed to read the rest of Flynn’s library… imagine my disappointment upon learning it was only another two books. Dark Places was the final Flynn book I read this summer, because for some reason I was less interested in the blurb than the other offering. Boy, was I wrong. As much as I loved Sharp Objects and Gone Girl, this one really took things a step further. It’s definitely the most unsettling of Flynn’s stories, and the one with the most unexpected twist. There’s so many red herrings and so many dead ends that by the time the reveal comes, you’re like “WHAT?!” As you probably know, it’s best to go into Flynn’s novels knowing absolutely nothing, so I’ll leave it here. But if you enjoyed Gone Girl and are looking for something grittier and creepier, this is the book for you.

In regards to my reading challenge, I recently opted to lower my goal to thirty books. I am ashamed. But also super tired all the time so reading is kind of impossible right now. As of today, I’ve read 24 books, which is already beating last year’s measly 19, so I can’t be too hard on myself. Hopefully with the return of the cold weather and the fact a giant Primark just opened in Madrid, I can reach my goal with the aid of copious amounts of peppermint tea and a fluffy onesie. Living the dream.

BOOKS | I’m Trying To Stop Reading About Dragons All The Time

(Or: A Mini Account Of The Books I’ve Read So Far This Year)

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Ever since Harry Potter changed my life when I was eight years old, I’ve always loved to read fantasy. I’m under the impression that we watch movies and read books for escapism, and if I’m gonna be escaping my own mundane existence, I’d rather jump into the life of someone who flies around on dragons instead of someone who has the same problems as I do. I bet if I had ‘Mother of Dragons’ written on my CV, I’d stop getting job rejection emails all the time. Fire cannot kill a dragon.

To fill the empty void that is my existence, I decided to do the 2014 Reading Challenge over on Goodreads. I initially set the bar at thirty books, ‘cause I don’t know how my year is gonna look, but I might set a higher goal when I finally find out what is going on with my life. So far, I’ve only read a shameful four books, so I’m one behind schedule. Though it’s not through lack of trying; I’ve downloaded like five different samples onto my Nook this week and have found a problem with all of them. Such is the life of a picky reader.

Two of the books I’ve read so far have come from various booktuber suggestions, one was something I’ve been meaning to read for a few months, and the other was one I’ve been excited about for two years. The latter, Hollow City by Ransom Riggs, the sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (a book that I didn’t think I’d love as much as I did), is the only fantasy novel I’ve read this year. It definitely didn’t disappoint me, being just as adventure-filled and creepy as the original. The pictures make it a really unique reading experience, and I’m super excited for the Tim Burton directed film adaptation that’s coming up. It definitely reads like a Tim Burton film. I did have a tendency to forget who was who and what their power was, which is something that has haunted me throughout my entire time reading fantasy. But it was the second novel I read this year and it definitely made me excited to get back into reading again, after a really slow couple of years drowning in Elizabethan literature at university.

The third book I read this year was the one I’ve been meaning to read for forever. The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith, AKA J.K. Rowling. I was very nervous about getting into this book. Harry Potter has been such a huge part of my life (cries every twentysomething and teenager in the world), but The Casual Vacancy just didn’t do it for me, so much so that I never actually finished it. Admittedly, I only downloaded Cuckoo because it was 99p in the Nook store, but wow, I am so glad I did. I was instantly hooked. Strike was such a likeable narrator, very flawed but with enough redeemable qualities to make him believable. I soon found myself reading it constantly. Like, all the time. When I woke up, when I was eating, when I was falling asleep (which let’s face it, is pretty much my whole day). I needed to know who the killer was. It took over my life. I’ll admit that some of deductions Strike makes are a bit ‘ehhhhh, if you say so’, but I’m not very well versed in the likes of crime novels, so maybe it’s just something that’s reminiscent across the whole genre. I’ve always avoided them because my mother practically devours James Patterson’s books, but I really don’t trust someone who vomits out like eleven books a year.

But the first and fourth books I read this year are what this post was supposed to be about, before my ‘I love J.K. Rowling’ tangent. The first was Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando. I’m not sure if I was having some weird post-graduation hysteria, but it marked the first of two books I’ve read this year about girls going off to college. It was a cute read, alternating between the narrations of Elizabeth and Lauren. It included both their normal prose narrations of life, and the emails and texts that they send one another before they meet. Because you get the two different accounts of the conversation, you really get to see their friendship develop. Like I said, it was cute. The characters are likeable and I never found myself picking favourites over the other. I was invested in their stories, even if I found them a bit cliché at times. But it was the perfect brain mush book I needed to get me into the new year.

The most recent book I read was Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, an author I have heard a lot about. Initially, I looked into reading her novel Eleanor & Park, but after I saw Fangirl I knew that it was the one. I think I preferred it to Roomies, I found it less predictable and it had some nice little twists and turns along the way. And I totally loved Cath, the protagonist. Her love of the fictional Simon Snow is definitely representative of how so many people feel about Harry Potter (hey, we came full circle!). Between each chapter was a little snippet from either the Simon Snow books or Cath’s own fanfiction about them. It was really fun getting into the mind of a fanfiction writer, because it’s never really a part of the fandom I got into (okay, maybe I read a little bit of Marauders era stuff, shush). The fears Cath had about college were the ones I had too, so it was interesting for me to read it as a graduate and see parts of little eighteen year old me in the protagonist.

I know I’ve only read four books so far, but it’s not often I get to say ‘only 25% of the books I’ve read this year have been fantasy!’ I’m still definitely first and foremost a fantasy fan, but I am going to try and broaden my book horizons a little more this year, instead of fantasy world after fantasy world after fantasy world. Sometimes you need a little break from all the dragons. Not often, but sometimes.

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