Friday 30 November 2018

November Wrap-Up.

I'm very fortunate that I managed to finish up one more read before November ended, as it means that it wasn't a total disaster of a month. Honestly, I've really been struggling for reading time as of late, and I managed only four reads.

  1. 'A Study In Charlotte' by Brittany Cavallaro. I started this off feeling that some of the aspects were a little bit off. The beginning chapters felt like a mass info-dump and were too rushed, and the concept of each family having all of it's members with the same personality over each generation was a bit peculiar. But I really got into it as the book went on - the mystery was cool, Charlotte especially was a great character, and by the end of it I realised I was hooked. 4/5 Stars.
  2. 'The Saga Of Gunnlaug Serpent-Tongue' by Unknown. This served as more of a lesson on Icelandic history and Viking culture more than anything. I realised after reading that I knew so little on the subject other than big, bloodthirsty battles, Norse gods and funeral practices. But while I liked the educational value, the plot of the story was revealed at the very beginning of the book in a prophecy and I didn't find that aspect of it all that entertaining. 2.5/5 Stars.
  3. 'Foxes Unearthed' by Lucy Jones. Anyone who knows me will probably be able to tell you I'm a huge fan of foxes. And I really wanted to learn more about them, so this book really appealed to me! I found that I did indeed learn a lot too: their folklore and stories, natural history and reputation all cropped up in this book. But parts of it were very skippable despite Jones's writing, as there was a fair bit of repetition. 3.5/5 Stars.
  4. 'The Corset' by Laura Purcell. This book was so good and it's 100% in the running for my favourite read of the year. I loved it! It had a well-crafted story, felt researched and detailed, contained three-dimensional and well-crafted characters, and had me completely hooked throughout. The ending was a little short after all the build-up but I can forgive that as I still came out of this book blown away. 5/5 Stars.

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

- A Study In Charlotte
- The Saga Of Gunnlaug Serpent-Tongue
- Foxes Unearthed

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

I read one book for the New Release Challenge, making my yearly total so far fifteen.

- The Corset

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

- The Corset

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
Mystery: A Study In Charlotte; Britanny Cavallaro
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
Legend Or Myth: The Saga Of Gunnlaug Serpent-Tongue; Unknown
Pretty Spine: Foxes Unearthed; Lucy Jones
Killers: The Corset; Laura Purcell
Less Than 300 Pages: Teahouse [Ch.1]; Emirain
Features Animals: Into The Jungle; Katherine Rundell
LGBT+: Heartstopper [Vol. 1]; Alice Oseman

Wednesday 28 November 2018

Book Review: The Corset; Laura Purcell.

I know that this read has been sitting on my 'currently reading' page for quite a while now, but that is not because of it's quality, that's for sure. I loved it. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's my favourite read of the year, or at least, in the running.

SOURCE: NetGalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: The Corset
AUTHOR: Laura Purcell
PUBLISHER: Raven Books
PAGES: 416
GENRE: Historical Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Gothic

RATING: 5/5 Stars

Dorothea Truelove is young, wealthy and beautiful. Ruth Butterham is young, poor and awaiting trial for murder.

When Dorothea's charitable work leads her to Oakgate Prison, she finds herself drawn to Ruth, a teenage seamstress – and self-confessed murderess – who nurses a dark and uncanny secret. A secret that is leading her straight to the gallows. As Ruth reveals her disturbing past to Dorothea, the fates of these two women entwine, and with every revelation, a new layer of doubt is cast... 

Can Ruth be trusted? Is she mad, or a murderer?

What I Liked:
  • Purcell sure knows how to set up a compelling story. Her attention to detail and obvious research really shone in this story, and I was completely sucked into this gothic, chilling world. From start to finish the pacing and build of tension were well-executed and I found myself really missing it between readings.
  • I loved that there were two POVs, each each complimenting the other. Ruth's story was horrifying yet compelling, and Dorothea's was a little more frivolous yet held it's own. Both characters were true forces of nature, strong heroines, and were surrounded by a well-crafted, memorable pool of side characters.
What I Disliked:
  • This doesn't sound like a dislike because the plot twist at the end was superb and I did not predict it in the slightest. But it was short and sudden, and I had to reread it multiple times to fully understand what had happened. Afterwards, I was left with questions and an acute feeling that I'd missed something throughout this entire story. I think it would have been nice to have had a couple more chapters in order to really soak up the climax of the story and it's consequences.
Overall Conclusion:
I really loved this novel and I'm so glad that I could finish it, because it took me a long time to do so. It's a fantastic story, and Purcell writes so well. I loved the characters, as I'm a big fan of strong heroines and this contained at least two. I wish a little more effort had gone into the ending, but I have to say that the big reveal really blew me away. So much so, that I'm not even that angry it ended so suddenly! I'll certainly be picking up 'The Silent Companions', which many readers preferred, and Laura Purcell is certainly a new favourite of mine.

Monday 26 November 2018

Book Review: Foxes Unearthed; Lucy Jones.

Seeing as Autumn is officially drawing to a close, this seems like a good read to be ending on. Nothing screams Autumn more than orange-brown and foxes. I also really wanted to read some non-fiction!

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: Foxes Unearthed
AUTHOR: Lucy Jones
PUBLISHER: Elliott Thompson
PAGES: 288
GENRE: Non-Fiction, Nature, Natural History

RATING: 3.5/5 Stars

As one of the largest predators left in Britain, the fox is captivating: a comfortably familiar figure in our country landscapes; an intriguing flash of bright-eyed wildness in our towns.

Yet no other animal attracts such controversy, has provoked more column inches or been so ambiguously woven into our culture over centuries, perceived variously as a beautiful animal, a cunning rogue, a vicious pest and a worthy foe. As well as being the most ubiquitous of wild animals, it is also the least understood.

In Foxes Unearthed Lucy Jones investigates the truth about foxes in a media landscape that often carries complex agendas. Delving into fact, fiction, folklore and her own family history, Lucy travels the length of Britain to find out first-hand why these animals incite such passionate emotions, revealing our rich and complex relationship with one of our most loved – and most vilified – wild animals. This compelling narrative adds much-needed depth to the debate on foxes, asking what our attitudes towards the red fox say about us – and, ultimately, about our relationship with the natural world.

What I Liked:
  • I certainly received a fox-filled education from this book. Jones covers a lot in this book - the folklore and stories surrounding them, their natural behaviours and preferences, the great divide that they cause within Britain, and of course the history of fox-hunting itself. As a UK dweller, I can attest to the fact that these creatures are the centre of a huge controversy. Many think fox-hunting is cruel and unecessary while a lesser percentage of the population think it essential to both fox population management and their own lifestyles. This book paints that picture perfectly.
What I Disliked:
  • Jones writes well, that much is certain. But I also found sections of this book repetitive and a little skippable. I wish I'd had a clearer sense of the overall structure because I felt, at times, that I was rereading things that had already been mentioned.
  • I will also point out that if you are a real fox-lover then this book might upset you. The reality of fox-hunting in all it's gory detail is portrayed here and at times it made me feel a little nauseous thinking about it. 
Overall Conclusion:
This is an enjoyable read for the most part. I liked learning a whole bunch about foxes, especially in terms of folklore, their history within Britain and public opinion on them. Jones proved that she had done her homework multiple times and the level of detail was certainly impressive. I would have liked a bit less repitition and I do feel at times that the structure got a bit lost. But if you are interested in foxes then this is definitely worth a read!

Last Week's Shenanigans (19th November - 25th November)...

Well, the week itself went by fine, apart from a rather massive event at the end. A good friend of mine who also happens to be a large part of the Podcast I'm involved in, Reading Between The Tealeaves, invited me to her flat as she is returning to New Zealand. I am heartbroken, to say the least, that she was not able to stay in the UK like she wanted to but I know that she will succeed wherever she ends up.

Regarding the Podcast itself, it has been neglected as of late, partly due to this and partly because we have been unable commit to meeting up regularly. But even with Kiara at the other side of the world, we have resolved to continue with it when and where we can, as we all love it so much! Her departure did mean that I inherited some of the books that she couldn't take with her, as well as a gorgeous typewriter, something I've wanted for ages!

It's an Imperial Safari (image not mine) and it is STUNNING. So many great features, very retro with a gorgeous blue colour, and I'm really in love with it.

I Read...

I Received...

Courtesy of Kiara who was unable to take all of her books with her, I received some wonderful gifts!

- 'Lolita' by Vladimir Nabokov: Gift (25/11/18)
- 'Milk & Honey' by Rupi Kaur: Gift (25/11/18)
- 'The Sun & Her Flowers' by Rupi Kaur: Gift (25/11/18)
- 'Why I'm No Longer Talking To White People About Race' by Reni Eddo-Lodge: Gift (25/11/18)
- 'Smoke Gets In Your Eyes' by Caitlin Doughty: Gift (25/11/18)
- 'Everless' by Sara Holland: Gift (25/11/18)
- 'The Girl Who Is Getting Married' by Aoko Matsuda: Gift (25/11/18)

Monday 19 November 2018

Book Review: The Saga Of Gunnlaug Serpent-Tongue; Unknown.

I have been eyeing up this short Icelandic saga for a while because I haven't really had a chance to read much in the way of really old literature!

TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: The Saga Of Gunnlaug Serpent-Tongue
AUTHOR: Unknown
SERIES: Little Black Classics (#3)
GENRE: Saga, Classics, Short Stories

RATING: 2.5/5 Stars

In this epic tale from the Viking Age that ranges across Scandinavia and Viking Britain, two poets compete for the love of Helga the Fair - with fatal consequences.

The Icelandic Sagas were oral in origin and written down in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Other Icelandic Sagas available in Penguin Classics include Njal's Saga, Egil's Saga, Sagas of Warrior-Poets, Gisli Sursson's Saga and the Saga of the People of Eyri, The Saga of Grettir the Strong, The Saga of the People of Laxardal and Bolli Bollason's Tale, The Vinland Sagas and Comic Sagas from Iceland.

What I Liked:
  • I really enjoyed the thorough saga education I received from this book, as well as the history lesson I get! I don't actually know much about Viking culture other than the stereotypes, but I learned here that there was much more poetry and flattery than I originally thought. This book is a very valuable insight into old-world Icelandic culture and I really enjoyed it for that reason.
What I Disliked:
  • Ancestry was also really important to the Vikings. Every character was introduced by the deeds of their forefathers and it made the act of learning their names very difficult. There was just too much info-dumping in this.
  • I already knew what was going to happen? The start of the story talks of a dream which reveals the plot in its entirety so there were absolutely no surprises here.
Overall Conclusion:
I can completely see that this was a little gem in terms of its historical importance. I learned so much about the Vikings that I didn't know just from this fifty-page snapshot of a story! I also liked that every time a character's role finished in the story, it was announced: '...has left the saga.' It made me laugh a lot! I really wish there had been a bit less info-dumping and that the plot was not so obvious. Also, the characters had very distinct personalities but were not all that interesting to me.

Last Week's Shenanigans (12th November - 18th November)...

It really struck me this week just how close Mat and I are to our wedding. Like, really close! It's only in June, which is about half a year away at this point and I'm really happy that we've got so much organised up until this point. There'll be more to sort in the new year of course, but for now, I'm feeling content.

I Read...


I Received...

- 'The Enchanted Sonata' by Heather Dixon Wallwork: NetGalley (12/11/18)
- 'The Poppy War' by R.F. Kuang: NetGalley (15/11/18)

Monday 12 November 2018

Last Week's Shenanigans (5th November - 11th November)...

Mat and I have actually had a really nice week, particularly as we've ended up with a few days off. Guy Fawkes night was particularly fun, even though we didn't go out, as a friend from work came to see us and we spent the evening playing horror games! If anyone has ever heard of Outlast, then you'll know what I'm talking about! It's a terrifying video game, set in an Asylum where some crazy experimentation has gone on. We are really enjoying it so far and are really impressed by the quality of experience.

I Read...

I Received...

- 'Opposite Of Always' by Justin A. Reynolds: Netgalley (09/11/18)
- 'Enchantée' by Gita Trelease: Netgalley (09/11/18)
- 'Fierce Fragile Hearts' by Sara Barnard: Netgalley (09/11/18)
- 'Feminists Don't Wear Pink & Other Lies' by Scarlett Curtis et al.: Bought (09/11/18)


Top Ten Tuesday: Backlist Books Still Waiting On My Shelves

Tuesday 6 November 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Backlist Books Still Waiting On My Shelves'.

Oh my goodness I could probably make a list of ten every week I have so many. It makes me very sad, but then also kind of excited because that means I have a ton of books to read! Yay! 


1) 'Temeraire' by Naomi Novik. I have a large number of Naomi Novik's books waiting to read, but I actually got this for free when I pre-ordered by copy of 'Inheritance' by Christopher Paolini, and like that book (more on that later), it stayed on the shelf. It looks really good though!

2) 'Inheritance' by Christopher Paolini. I'm actually so ashamed of this one. The problem is, it's been so long since I read the first three books that I'll need to at least read the synopsis for each one again before diving into this!

3) 'The Wise Man's Fear' by Patrick Rothfuss. A long time ago I read and adored 'The Name Of The Wind', then read it again after buying this so I'd be ready to read this book. But I never did and I'm definitely putting it off because of the same issue as Paolini's book!

4) 'Angela Carter's Book Of Fairy Tales' by Angela Carter. I think that I would really love Angela Carter's books if only I got round to reading them! I bought this ages ago in the hopes of this being the first one, but I still haven't managed it.

5) 'The Night Circus' by Erin Morgenstern. This book has a gorgeous cover, magical synopsis and looks right up my alley, and yet it remains on the shelf. I have no idea why. Maybe because it's a large book to look at?

6) 'Cruel Beauty' by Rosamund Hodge. I love fairy tale retellings, and 'Beauty And The Beast' is one of my all time favourites. This has been sitting on my shelf for such a silly amount of time, and every time I see it I get a little irritated at myself.

7) 'The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry' by Rachel Joyce. I actually bought this as part of a deal in a supermarket quite a while ago, and I remember seeing it all over Goodreads at the time. Now, not so much, but I still think it looks like it will be a great read. When I get to it.

8) 'Half Bad' by Sally Green. The witch series that I never started. I've seen many mixed reviews on this set of books and I was definitely intrigued by the synopsis, but can't seem to bring myself to actually start!

9) 'The Scorpio Races' by Maggie Stiefvater. I would love to get myself to start a Maggie Stiefvater book at all. Any one. I've heard wonderful things about her 'The Raven Cycle' series. But this standalone also looks like an awesome place to start!

10) 'Red Ink' by Julie Mayhew. This always looks like such a summer read to me, and every year I promise I'm going to read it. Preferably while on holiday. Every year, I remember it when I've hit Autumn. But, I am going to Croatia for my honeymoon next June, so I'm going to give it a good go then!

Book Review: A Study In Charlotte; Brittany Cavallaro.

I had so much excitement for this book, and it was certainly well worth the wait!  I really enjoyed this retelling of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous 'Sherlock Holmes' series.

TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: A Study In Charlotte
AUTHOR: Brittany Cavallaro
SERIES: Charlotte Holmes (#1)
PUBLISHER: Katherine Tegen Books
PAGES: 321
GENRE: Young Adult, Mystery, Retelling, Contemporary

RATING: 4/5 Stars

The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.

From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

What I Liked:

  • I really enjoyed the mystery here, and found myself hooked from about a quarter of the way through. I seriously couldn't put it down! The plot felt very nicely paced (at least, from that point) and there were plenty of twists and turns to keep me interested.
  • The relationship between Charlotte and Jamie felt very much like a classic Holmes and Watson pairing but there was a little bit of romantic tension in there too which kept the dynamic interesting. I actually really liked their characters, especially Charlotte, and the characters they interacted with were interesting too.
What I Disliked:
  • I felt a little too 'dropped' into the story. There was no build up - a ton of crimes happen in the first few pages before I had time to really understand the implications. I like to build into backstory and character development slowly, not have it all dumped on me.
  • I also really wasn't a fan of a whole family of Holmeses and Watsons that are all supposedly alike to their famous counterparts in personality and ability, and revered around the world. I got the reasoning behind it but it felt a bit forced and cheesy.
Overall Conclusion:
This was a cracking read. I wasn't sure at first, I felt that I'd been dropped into the deep end with it a little bit. But I liked the sense of humour, the mystery, the comparisons to Arthur Conan Doyle's original works and it was good to see a well-written detective duo again. I hope that they don't make too much more of Charlotte's drug addiction in the next one and that we can get a little less focus on information and more on the story itself. I'll definitely be reading book two though!

Monday 5 November 2018

Last Week's Shenanigans (29th October - 4th November)...

What a great week it has been! It started off so nicely because our wedding photographer was around in London and agreed to do a pre-wedding shoot for us in Richmond Park! She brought her adorable daughter along and it was a really fun, autumnal afternoon out! Here's a photo shot by a three year old child that makes any photos that I've ever taken completely redundant.

I Read...

I Received...

- 'Once Upon A River' by Diane Setterfield: Netgalley (02/11/18)


Top Ten Tuesday: Horror Books I would Love To Read [Part III]

I Posted...

October Wrap-Up
Planned Reads for November

Thursday 1 November 2018

Planned Reads for November.

October may be over, but the beginning of November is still very Autumnal and a great time of year for some darker, spookier reads. I've got some exciting planned books coming up for this month!

I'm currently reading 'A Study In Charlotte' by Brittany Cavallaro, and I'm really excited about this retelling of Arthur Conan Doyle's classic 'Sherlock Holmes' series brought into a more contemporary setting. It will be interesting to see what she does with it!

I'm also a little way through 'The Corset' by Laura Purcell and loving it. Such intriguing characters and story so far, I can't wait to get to the bottom of the mystery! Also, I haven't read a book about a serial killer in a while and find it so fascinating!

I really did look forward to reading Kendra Leighton's retelling of 'The Highwayman', 'Glimpse' and the front of the book has a copy of the poem too which is awesome. I hope it lives up to my relatively high expectations!

If any cover screams Autumn, it's this one. Foxes are actually my favourite animal, so Lucy Jones's 'Foxes Unearthed' seems like a great read to learn more about them, and the folklore surrounding them, as well as an interesting insight into why people love/hate them.

Books involving witches are best read during the Autumn. At least, I think so. Irena Brignull's 'The Hawkweed Prophecy' certainly looks interesting, with a really pretty cover too. I can't wait to read it!

It's about time I went back to getting through some of the series I own and have slightly abandoned. I enjoyed 'Rebel Of The Sands' a lot, especially the first half. I'm hoping that the second book in Alwyn Hamilton's series, 'Traitor To The Throne' is also good and adds a lot to the plot.

'The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet' by Becky Chambers has been on my TBR pile for a while, and I love how much the synopsis puts me in mind of a fantastic console game, Mass Effect. I'm actually so excited about this book!

I've been really excited about Erin Bowman's follow up to 'Vengeance Road', 'Retribution Rails'. It looks so exciting and I'm looking forward to more YA Wild West with strong heroines, sizzling romance and plenty of adventure.