Wednesday 31 October 2018

October Wrap-Up.

October went really well! I managed to read six books, and most of them were the spooky October reads I'd been hoping for!

  1. 'Starfighter [Ch.1]' by Hamlet Machine. Hmm. I really wanted to find a new M/m comic to get on board with, and I loved the sci-fi setting for this one but I'm really not a fan of dubious consent. I'm hoping to see more of a development later in Cain's character, but right now he's a jerk. 3/5 Stars.
  2. 'Heartstopper [Vol.1]' by Alice Oseman. I have been waiting to read this. As soon as I found out that it existed I jumped onto reading 'Solitaire' so that I could meet the characters, Nick & Charlie, before reading them here. This is a great LGBT+ comic, I loved the romance and the English Grammar School setting! 5/5 Stars.
  3. 'As Kingfishers Catch Fire' by Gerard Manley Hopkins. I was really in the mood to read some poetry, and Autumn makes me especially appreciative of nature. I liked the journal excerpts here a lot as far as descriptions of the wilderness go, but wasn't a fan of the preachy poetry or it's slightly bizarre rhythm. 2.5/5 Stars.
  4. 'A Sudden Light' by Garth Stein. This ghost story really took me by surprise, I enjoyed it immensely! I can't believe it took me so long to read! I particularly loved the mystery and supernatural elements, as well as the interesting characters. I just wish the pacing had been a bit quicker. 4.5/5 Stars.
  5. 'The Twisted Tree' by Rachel Burge. This was certainly an enjoyable, thrilling story with great references to Norse culture, mythology and life. I liked the constant twists too, but found the MC a bit too self-deprecating and didn't really feel the romance. Also, there's a bit too much left unresolved at the end. 3.5/5 Stars.
  6. 'The Hatch' by Joe Fletcher. Another book of poems, this time a little more on the bizarre side of things. I liked the dark tone, sense of humour and visuals this collection conjured up. However, I did find that I didn't really feel anything while reading, nor did I find any of it all that memorable, and that was a big problem for me. 2.5/5 Stars.

This month I read three books for the Beat The Backlist Challenge, making my yearly total so far thirty two.

- Starfighter [Ch.1]
- As Kingfishers Catch Fire
- A Sudden Light

This month I read zero books for the Finishing The Series Challenge, making my yearly total so far one.

I read three books for the New Release Challenge, making my yearly total so far fourteen.

- Heartstopper [Vol. 1]
- The Twisted Tree
- The Hatch

I read three book for the Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, making my yearly total so far twenty two.

- A Sudden Light
- The Twisted Tree
- The Hatch

Here is the result for Pretty Deadly Blog's Bookish Bingo card.

Made Into A Movie: Lolita; Vladimir Nabokov
Middle Grade: The Dreadful Tale Of Prosper Redding; Alexandra Bracken
One Word Title: Folk; Zoe Gilbert
Fire In Title Or Cover: As Kingfishers Catch Fire; Gerard Manley Hopkins
Set In A School: Solitaire; Alice Oseman
Black Cover: The Hatch; Joe Fletcher
Space Or Stars: Starfighter [Ch. 1]; Hamlet Machine
Fall Release: A Sudden Light; Garth Stein
Freebie: --
Dual POV: Steve & Mark; Tab Kimpton
Scares You: The Twisted Tree; Rachel Burge
Less Than 300 Pages: Teahouse [Ch.1]; Emirain
Features Animals: Into The Jungle; Katherine Rundell
LGBT+: Heartstopper [Vol. 1]; Alice Oseman

Book Review: The Hatch; Joe Fletcher.

This book wasn't on my original list at all, but I've been really intrigued by this dark collection of poetry and it felt like a good ending to October, the month of spooks and scares!

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: The Hatch
AUTHOR: Joe Fletcher
PUBLISHER: Brooklyn Arts Press
PAGES: 122
GENRE: Poetry, Prose, Horror

RATING: 2.5/5 Stars

“I will do such things,” King Lear shouts before the storm, “What they are, yet I know not: but they shall be / The terrors of the earth.”

Drawing upon Edmund Burke’s definition of the sublime—the odd beauty associated with fear and self-preservation; our astonished delight in what destroys, what overpowers and compels us toward darkness—these strange poems mine the sinister fault lines between weird fiction, expressionism, gothic horror, and notions of the absurd, cracking the mundane shell of our given metaphysical order. 

In the traditions of Nerval, Trakl, Schulz, Tadić, Poe, and contemporaries Aase Berg and Jeff Vandermeer, the wonderful disassociation brought to bear on the reader lies in the conjuring of unprecedented worlds, their myths and logics, their visions and transformations—worlds that resist interpretation almost successfully, and reveal to us the uncanny and nightmarish.

What I Liked:

  • This is certainly as dark as I expected. There is plenty of grotesque imagery, bizarre visuals and apocalyptic atmosphere to capture the imagination and I expected it to be weird. I also appreciated the occasional dashes of black humour! Everything was very vivid and that was to it's strength.
What I Disliked:
  • I just didn't feel anything while reading this. It's probably just because it isn't my cup of tea, but I was expecting to be creeped out or horrified. Or even, inspired. I wasn't. I made my way through this collection with a vague disinterest and nothing captured my attention in the way I wanted.
Overall Conclusion:
Hmm. This will probably really capture some people as it does contain very vivid imagery and a certain dark atmosphere in abundance. I just don't think any of it was particularly memorable for me. There was an air of disconnect between everything written here that made me feel even less of an emotional attachment to what is being written.

Tuesday 30 October 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Horror Books I Would Love To Read [Part III]'.

I absolutely love October, despite the cold weather, because I get to read some creepy stories! Halloween just feels like the perfect time of year for it! I have a ton on my TBR too, and I've done this topic a couple of times before (read my last year's list here).

1) 'The Corset' by Laura Purcell.

I've already started on this book, and it's one of my main picks for this year's Autumn period, but I have to mention how excited I am about it because it focuses on a serial killer in the Victorian era! From what I've read so far, there might be a teensy bit of magic involved, but I'm so impressed by the quality of story so far I won't be mad if not!

2) 'The Monsters We Deserve' by Marcus Sedgewick.

Oart literary essay, part novel, this book caught my eye mostly due to it's cover! But if centres around Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and classical horror of that era, and I'm intrigued to know more about it!

3) 'Sawkill Girls' by Claire Legrand.

I read 'Winterspell' by this very talented author, and seeing as that fairy tale retelling was a little dark I'd be intrigued to see what this is like. It's a contemporary murder, focusing on teenagers, so very different in style! Looks great though.

4) 'The Chalk Man' by C.J. Tudor.

This appeared on my radar a while ago and reminded me of a 'Sherlock Holmes' short story, so I'm certainly intrigued. I've heard great things about the author, and she even has a second book on the way now!

5) 'The Haunting Of Hill House' by Shirley Jackson.

I've seen so much about the Netflix adaptation of this book everywhere. Not only am I desperate to watch it, but I'd love to read the source material too! I know that plenty of other people are!

6) 'Whiteout' by Gabriel Dylan.

Ooh, a contemporary horror novel set on a mountain? Yes please! Last time I read a horror book with this backdrop, it was set a century or two ago on a mountaineering expedition. The synopsis to this looks awesome.

7) 'The Sacrifice Box' by Martin Stewart.

There's something about the synopsis of this book that puts me in mind of 'It' by Stephen King, or Netflix's 'Stranger Things', both of which I love a lot! I'm interested to once more read about a group of teenagers taking on a force of evil and confronting their own demons in the process.

8) 'The Dark Descent Of Elizabeth Frankenstein' by Kiersten White.

Ooh, another book relating to 'Frankenstein' by Mary Shelley! This time though, it focuses on the Doctor himself, or at least, his wife and her struggle to survive her husband's unpredictable moods and whims. This sounds so different and interesting, I'm hoping to read it soon!

9) 'A House Of Ghosts' by W.C. Ryan.

Nothing screams Halloween and spooks more than a big old haunted house. And with that title? I presume that's exactly what I'll get with this book! The cover is really pretty too, I'm really excited to read it!

10) 'The Cheerleaders' by Kara Thomas.

I have a soft spot for high school horror, and this looks like just the ticket! Cheerleaders dying/going missing? Secrecy and mysteries? That stereotype is often the first to go in these books/films so I'm excited to see how Kara Thomas plays around with the trope.

Monday 29 October 2018

Last Week's Shenanigans (22nd - 28th October)...

So I didn't get much in the way of reading done this week, which was a shame! I've been re-adjusting to work and trying to sort out some other bits and bobs for the wedding, so haven't really had time! But I did also get a new pair of glasses from Ace & Tate and I love them. I'd definitely recommend the brand if anyone is looking for stylish specs at a good price!

I Read...


I Received...

- 'Whiteout' by Gabriel Dylan: Netgalley (23/10/18)
- 'This Lie Will Kill You' by Chelsea Pitcher: Netgalley (27/10/18)

Monday 22 October 2018

Last Week's Shenanigans (15th October - 21st October)...

Now that Mat and I are well and truly back to realty, we had a few bits to sort out! Firstly, our poor boys had to be neutered, which made them very sleepy and a bit unsteady on their feet. We brought them lots of treats and some new toys to make up for it though! Also, on Friday, I went and had my hair dyed red again! Yay!

 I Read...

I Received...


Friday 19 October 2018

Book Review: The Twisted Tree; Rachel Burge.

This was a much quicker read than I thought it would be! I was really excited about this Netgalley request because the synopsis marked it as a Nordic YA horror, and that sounded perfect.

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: The Twisted Tree
AUTHOR: Rachel Burge
PUBLISHER: Hot Key Books
PAGES: 180
GENRE: Thriller, Young Adult, Horror, Fantasy

RATING: 3.5/5 Stars

Martha can tell things about a person just by touching their clothes, as if their emotions and memories have been absorbed into the material. It started the day she fell from the tree at her grandma's cabin and became blind in one eye.

Determined to understand her strange ability, Martha sets off to visit her grandmother, Mormor - only to discover Mormor is dead, a peculiar boy is in her cabin and a terrifying creature is on the loose.

Then the spinning wheel starts creaking, books move around and terror creeps in...

What I Liked:
  • Burge certainly had a lot of the spooky atmosphere and tension nailed. She made sure I was never bored, providing constant twists and chilling moments, and I appreciated that after a much slower read. I really liked the setting too, a Norwegian village cut off from the mainland makes for the perfect place for bumps in the night!
  • I really liked the references to Norse legends, myths and culture! I'm a big fan of ancient history and folklore, so this was right up my alley! I loved the mentions of Odin, the Norns, the Draugr and Yggdrasil. They were exactly what I wanted from this book.
What I Disliked:
  • This was quite a short story and as a result, it suffered from some pacing issues. I particularly found that the climactic end just passed by far too quickly, with too much crammed in. It meant that some of the wrapping up felt too 'good' to be true, while other parts seemed very unresolved.
  • I didn't really take to Martha, the MC. I loved the disability rep in this book, as blind characters with facial deformities are hard to come by, but she was filled with so much self-loathing and we were constantly reminded of it. I think her whinging about her looks and lack of attractive features took up half the book to be honest.
Overall Conclusion:
I really enjoyed a lot of elements of this. The spooks, the atmosphere and the lore behind it were great to read and there was a lot of action plot-wise. I wish I could have become more invested in the characters and romance side of things, but the self pity was a little too much for me. Also, I hope there's a second book in the works, or else I'm very confused about some of the unresolved plot at the end.

Tuesday 16 October 2018

Book Review: A Sudden Light; Garth Stein.

I'm fully embracing October, which means it's time for some spooky reads! I've been wanting to read this book for years and am really glad to have finally got round to it!

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: A Sudden Light
AUTHOR: Garth Stein
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster
PAGES: 320
GENRE: Mystery, Paranormal, Historical Fiction
RATING: 4.5/5 Stars

Twenty-three years after the fateful summer of 1990, Trevor Riddell recalls the events surrounding his fourteenth birthday, when he gets his first glimpse of the infamous Riddell House. Built from the spoils of a massive timber fortune, the legendary family mansion is constructed with giant whole trees and is set on a huge estate overlooking Seattle's Puget Sound. Trevor's bankrupt parents have separated, and his father, Jones Riddell, has brought Trevor to Riddell House with a goal: to join forces with Aunt Serena, dispatch the ailing and elderly Grandpa Samuel to a nursing home, sell off the house and property for development, and divide up the profits.

But as young Trevor explores the house's hidden stairways and forgotten rooms, he discovers secrets that convince him that the family plan may be at odds with the land's true destiny. Only Trevor's willingness to face the dark past of his forefathers will reveal the key to his family's future.

What I Liked:

  • I found the characters that Trevor, the MC, surrounded himself with so interesting! They made for such an interesting family - Trevor's Dad, jittery & quick to temper; Aunt Serena, a little eccentric and extremely manipulative; and Grandpa Abe, forgetful but sweet-natured. Their personalities, backstories and motivations were very complex and I enjoyed reading about them.
  • Stein built the atmosphere in this book very nicely too. The house felt alive, like it's own character, and it's isolated position alongside the ghosts that haunted it and rich history made for very interesting reading. I loved the setting very much!
What I Disliked:
  • Trevor, the narrator and MC, was a little on the bland side compared to the other characters in this book. Not only that, but I didn't feel that he read like a fourteen year old boy! His voice was far too mature, dotted only with the odd reference to puberty or teenage life.
Overall Conclusion:
This was an extremely enjoyable book, and for that reason I regret having waited all this time to read it. I loved the characters (most of them anyway, sorry Trevor), was deeply engaged with the mystery of it all and found the setting appropriately haunting. I wish that the pacing of the story had been a little quicker though - not an awful lot happens until right at the very end!

Monday 15 October 2018

Last Week's Shenanigans (8th October -14th October)...

There really isn't a whole lot to report this week. Mat and I worked for a good portion of it and spent the rest of the time 'coming back' from our holiday in Cyprus! I'm already missing being in the sun, but I'm sure I'll readjust!

I Read...

I Received...


Tuesday 9 October 2018

Book Review: As Kingfishers Catch Fire; Gerard Manley Hopkins.

There's something about Autumn that really makes me appreciate nature - leaves falling off of trees and crunching underfoot is probably a big part of it, and the colder weather kind of makes me fall in love with the season cycle EVEN THOUGH I hate the cold. This little black classic caught my eye because it's sole focus is the beauty of nature, and so it seemed like a great, very quick read.

TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: As Kingfishers Catch Fire
AUTHOR: Gerard Manley Hopkins
SERIES: Little Black Classics (#2)
GENRE: Classic, Poetry, Non-Fiction, Journal
RATING: 2.5/5 Stars

'O let them be left, wildness and wet' 

As Kingfishers Catch Fire is a selection of Gerard Manley Hopkins' incomparably brilliant poetry, ranging from the ecstasy of 'The Windhover' and 'Pied Beauty' to the heart-wrenching despair of the 'sonnets of desolation'. 

Introducing Little Black Classics: 80 books for Penguin's 80th birthday. Little Black Classics celebrate the huge range and diversity of Penguin Classics, with books from around the world and across many centuries. They take us from a balloon ride over Victorian London to a garden of blossom in Japan, from Tierra del Fuego to 16th-century California and the Russian steppe. Here are stories lyrical and savage; poems epic and intimate; essays satirical and inspirational; and ideas that have shaped the lives of millions.

What I Liked:
  • There was a ton of gorgeous, vivid imagery about nature here and I really liked that aspect of this work. Especially in his journals at the end! He describes perfectly his rambles and hikes around the countryside and mountains and it was very interesting to see these places from a 19th century perspective.
What I Disliked:
  • I had a lot of little niggles that added up to this being a book that I wasn't all that impressed by. Firstly - it was a little on the preachy side. I expected it of course given Hopkin's religious persuasion but I didn't enjoy it. Also, he uses a very sprung rhythm and visually aids the readers with accents which really irritated me.
Overall Conclusion:
This certainly wasn't bad, and I see why people with different tastes to my own have enjoyed it. But for me, this didn't stick out as a masterpiece above all others. I liked the journals (far less religion-centric) and the vivid pictures of nature I got from the poems, but didn't like the rhythm and feel of these at all.

Monday 8 October 2018

Last Week's Shenanigans (1st October - 7th October)...Cyprus!

This week has been so wonderful and I really didn't want it to end! I've been on holiday in Cyprus with Mat and his family, for his Aunt's wedding, and it's been so lovely to just chill out! We rented a villa together, and spent the rest of the week NOT at the wedding sunning it up by the pool! I even went in (after about twenty minutes of psyching myself up, I'm...not good with water...) and we had a lot of fun! It was a definite shock to the system coming back to the cold October air on Saturday, and we stayed over in Kent until arriving back home to see our kittens on Sunday!

I Read...

I Received...

- 'Mirage' by Somaiya Daud: Netgalley (01/10/18)
- 'Songwoman' by Ilka Tampke: Netgalley (03/10/18)

I Posted...

Planned Reads for October

Wednesday 3 October 2018

Book Review: Heartstopper [Vol. 1]; Alice Oseman.

I have been looking forward to reading this for so long and especially after reading 'Solitaire', because even though I had issues with that book, I LOVED Nick & Charlie and was so ready to hop aboard that ship with everything I had.

SOURCE: Internet
TYPE: Web Comic

TITLE: Heartstopper
AUTHOR: Alice Oseman
SERIES: Heartstopper (Vol. #1)
PAGES: 288
GENRE: LGBT+, Graphic Novel, Web Comic, Contemporary
RATING: 5/5 Stars

Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn't been too great, but at least he's not being bullied anymore, and he's sort of got a boyfriend, even if he's kind of mean and only wants to meet up in secret.

Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He's heard a little about Charlie - the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months - but he's never had the opportunity to talk to him. That is, until the start of January, in which Nick and Charlie are placed in the same form group and made to sit together.

They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn't think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner...

What I Liked:
  • These boys have destroyed my soul. In a good way. I honestly adore the ship above everything else, and trust me when I say it takes a lot to get me invested in a romance! Nick & Charlie's relationship is 100% pure fluff, so those that like a bit of sexual tension may be left wanting, but I really loved them this way. I also really liked watching their friendship develop so naturally!
  • Finally, a setting I can relate to! Honestly, watching these boys interact in their school brought back so much nostalgia from my own Grammar school experiences and the whole British girls and boys separate schools thing was my entire teenage life. It's interesting to realise how little this exists in literature, as most contemporary YA is set in an American high school!
  • Let's talk about representation for a minute - THANK YOU ALICE OSEMAN! This is how you do it! As well as watching Nick struggle to come to terms with his bisexuality and justify his relationships (bi-erasure is really a thing guys, I live it everyday), and watching Charlie relive his own struggles with coming out in an all-boys school, I just loved the general diversity of the characters. I'm looking forward to hopefully meeting more in future chapters!
What I Dislike:
  • Uhhhh...I didn't really dislike anything? Other than the fact that it's an ongoing comic so when I catch up (and I will) I'll have to wait for new pages? But seriously, this was great and made the things that I didn't like about 'Solitaire' likeable again!
Overall Conclusion:
This is my favourite m/m comic, alongside 'Long Exposure' by Kim 'Mars' Hayward, and I think it must be the school setting that I'm really digging? But I love everything about this - it's a slow burn but moving quickly enough so that I don't lose interest. I'm looking forward to watching this relationship blossom into something beautiful and also to see how Oseman handles everything that I know is coming for Charlie (I'm actually really terrified about it). I hope it continues to be everything I've ever needed in an LGBT+ comic!

Monday 1 October 2018

Mini Review: Starfighter [Ch.1]; Hamlet Machine.

That's right. More M/M web comics. I really can't help myself though, and I liked the look of this one because it is set in space!

SOURCE: Internet
TYPE: Web Comic

TITLE: Starfighter
AUTHOR: Hamlet Machine
SERIES: Starfighter (Ch. #1)
GENRE: LGBT+, Graphic Novel, Web Comic, Erotica, Sci-Fi

RATING: 3/5 Stars

In an unknown time and place, there's a war going on in space and mankind has developed a system of fighting that includes two sides of a team. One person is the fighter who pilots the spacecraft and his partner is the navigator who directs the way.

Navigators come from higher society and are mostly seen as privileged and intelligent. Fighters are men that are known for their violent tendencies, skills in combat, and anger issues.

Abel didn't want to follow his politican father into his world and instead chose his own path as a navigator. He's gay and has always had strong desires that he's hidden...until he's partnered with his fighter, Cain.

Cain is unpredictable, violent, possessive, and very skilled at what he does. He goes through navigators faster then any other fighter so he's developed the reputation that he's impossible to work with.

When Cain meets Abel, he marks him and possesses him in every way possible unknowingly giving Abel exactly what he's been craving for years. Now the only question is, will their relationship grow to benefit them both in this time of war or will Cain's reputation and violent tendencies end up destroying Abel?

Overall Conclusion:
Elements of this definitely intrigued me - especially in the world-building. I loved the battle scenes, and seeing the war between humans and the aliens involved. It felt a little generic in this first chapter, but there is definite potential and my curiosity is certainly piqued. My problems came with the romance itself! I found Cain way too possessive and I really don't like to read anything containing uncomfortably dubious consent. That lip-scarring scene that others seem to love so much horrified me. I really hope that future chapters show me a relationship that I can get on board with, or a fully realised setting, or I'll be giving the rest of this series a miss.

Last Week's Shenanigans (24th September - 30th September)...

This has been quite a tiring week for me work-wise, but the most important thing is that I'm currently in Cyprus! I've been looking forward to this holiday for quite a while and I'm actually here for Mat's Aunt's wedding, which will certainly be a lot of fun I'm sure! It's also so nice to have such lovely weather to be in when England is starting to get so chilly!

I Read...

I Received...

- 'Bridge Of Clay' by Markus Zusak: Netgalley (24/09/18)
- 'Skyward' by Brandon Sanderson: Netgalley (24/09/18)
- 'The Way Of All Flesh' by Ambrose Parry: Netgalley (29/09/18)

I Posted...

September Wrap-Up