Friday 1 November 2019

Planned Reads for November.

I'm definitely going through a bit of a reading slump right now. I'm going to try and set myself some smaller goals to give myself a little less pressure.

I've had so many people recommend 'The Alchemist' by Paulo Coelho that I feel like the time has come to actually read it? It sounds like an awesome read and I've never tried any of Coelho's work before.

'The Love Interest' by Cale Dietrich sounds like a lot of fun! The concept of two boys fighting to date the same girl and falling for each other pokes fun at a lot of common tropes in YA romance.  Also, throw in some spy-action and you might be onto a winning formula!

I read and adored 'Vengeance Road' such a long time ago, that I'm upset that I haven't started 'Retribution Rails' yet! That cover is absolutely stunning and I know that the story will definitely be up my street!

Thursday 31 October 2019

October Wrap-Up.

I was definitely happy to be reading some spookier reads this month! It's one of my favourite genres! I managed four reads, three of which were on my original list.

  1. 'Pet Sematary' by Stephen King. It was good to finally read through something written by King that I really liked! The tension and atmosphere were expertly built, and the concept for this novel was truly horrifying. The quick ending let this one down a little though. 4/5 Stars.
  2. 'Fence [Vol. 3]' by C.S. Pacat & Johanna The Mad. What more is there to say about this series that hasn't already been said? I'm hooked! It's 100% my guilty pleasure and I'm eagerly awaiting the next volume! 5/5 Stars.
  3. 'The Phantom Of The Opera' by Gaston Leroux. Having loved the musical and the film for the longest time, I felt it was finally time to read the classic book. It was a little melodramatic at points, but I really enjoyed the style and reliving the tale. 3.5/5 Stars.
  4. 'Wakenhyrst' by Michelle Paver. I've read a ghost story by this talented lady before, and thoroughly enjoyed it. This read had some of my favourite elements of horror - old houses, a historical setting, intrigue, and captivating characters. 4/5 Stars.

This month I read three books for the Beat The Backlist Challenge, making my yearly total twenty seven.

- Pet Semetary
- Fence [Vol.3]
- The Phantom Of The Opera

This month I read one book for the New Release Challenge, making my yearly total eleven.

- Wakenhyrst

This month I read one book for the Finishing The Series Challenge, making my yearly total five.

- Fence [Vol. 3]

This month I read two books for the Diversity Reading Challenge, making my yearly total twenty seven.

- Fence [Vol. 3]
- The Phantom Of The Opera
*Mini Challenge: Physical/ Sensory/ Cognitive/ Intellectual/ Developmental Disabilities*

Book Review: Wakenhyrst; Michelle Paver.

The last book I read by Michelle Paver was her ghost story, 'Thin Air' and I really enjoyed it! I was super excited to receive this NetGalley copy of her latest book, 'Wakenhyrst' and read it for Halloween!

SOURCE: NetGalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Wakenhyrst
AUTHOR: Michelle Paver
PAGES: 368
GENRE: Horror, Historical, Gothic, Mystery

RATING: 4/5 Stars

In Edwardian Suffolk, a manor house stands alone in a lost corner of the Fens: a glinting wilderness of water whose whispering reeds guard ancient secrets. Maud is a lonely child growing up without a mother, ruled by her repressive father.

When he finds a painted medieval devil in a graveyard, unhallowed forces are awakened.

Maud's battle has begun. She must survive a world haunted by witchcraft, the age-old legends of her beloved fen – and the even more nightmarish demons of her father's past.

What I Liked:
  • The setting was so spooky and atmospheric, which is the first part of getting any horror right. I loved the creepy old house that backed onto an even creepier marsh, and watching the wild forces of nature from the fens collide with 'civilised' society was very interesting.
  • I also loved the pacing of this book. Paver switched between Maud's account and the diary entries of her father, whose slow descent into madness was fascinating.
What I Disliked:
  • I have to say it took me a while to get into the actual plot. There's an epistolary-style back and forth surrounding Maud as an elderly woman before we get into the main story and it didn't immediately grab me.
Overall Conclusion:
The first few chapters of this book were confusing and a little hard to progress through, but once I got to the meat of the story I was totally hooked and see how they played a part in building up the mystery. I definitely want to read more of Paver's work in the future, I've loved it so far!

Tuesday 29 October 2019

Book Review: The Phantom Of The Opera; Gaston Leroux.

Having fallen in love with the musical from a very early age, and seen the film a number of times, I couldn't wait to read the classic novel that inspired them both any longer!

SOURCE: Borrowed
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: The Phantom Of The Opera
AUTHOR: Gaston Leroux
PUBLISHER: HarperPress
PAGES: 305
GENRE: Horror, Classic, Romance

RATING: 3.5/5 Stars

Living secretly beneath the Paris Opera House, 'The Phantom of the Opera', Erik has haunted those who work there with his demands and shrouded the opera house in fear with the legend of his disfigured face. When Christine joins the company, a young woman with a beautiful voice, Erik is instantly smitten and secretly teaches her to become a great singer. 

He soon develops an obsessive love for his beautiful protege, even though she has fallen for her childhood friend, resulting in her disappearance during a performance and sparking a tragic and terrifying chain of events.

What I Liked:
  • The way that the story was presented was quite cool - as if Leroux was investigating and uncovering the mysterious disappearances and tales surrounding the Palais Garnier, and presenting his findings as a story. I wasn't expecting that, and it was a pleasant surprise.
  • I liked the large amount of context given around Erik too. He felt a little less enigmatic but it also meant that I recognised and understood his life and motivations a bit more. It was nice to see a bit of a nod to some of the key motifs in recent adaptations of this story - the lasso, the monkey, etc.
What I Disliked:
  • The story was originally written as a serial and this became evident in the way that very small, unimportant moments became very melodramatic and drawn out. Especially during dialogue.
Overall Conclusion:
It was really cool to read this and I felt a bit bad leaving it for so long considering how much I love this story in other media. It's certainly a classic for a reason - written well enough with an interesting story and layout, and certainly plenty of suspense and drama. Some plot points took a while to get through, which was a shame. But overall I liked it!

Tuesday 22 October 2019

Book Review: Fence [Vol. 3]; C.S. Pacat & Johanna The Mad.

I couldn't resist delving into Vol. 3 of this awesome series, it has been so much fun so far!

SOURCE: Web-Comic
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Fence [Vol. 3]
AUTHOR: C.S. Pacat & Johanna The Mad
SERIES: Fence (#9 - #12)
PAGES: 112
GENRE: Graphic Novel, Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Young Adult

RATING: 5/5 Stars

Scrappy fencer Nicholas Cox comes to the end of his path to prove himself worthy of a father he never knew in the face of surly upperclassmen, nearly impossible odds, and the talent of his rival, sullen fencing prodigy, Seiji Katayama.

Sparks fly white-hot on the pitch as Nicholas and Seiji finally face off once again in the halls of King’s Row. It’s a match that will change King’s Row (and both of them!) forever, and set the stage as the team journeys to face their bitter rivals and prove themselves once and for all. 

The third volume of the breakneck series from writer C.S. Pacat (The Captive Prince) and fan-favorite artist Johanna the Mad comes at you as fast as a parry and hits as hard as a strike.

What I Liked:
  • If ever a series is my guilty pleasure this is it. The art is superb, the characters a ton of fun, and the story enough to keep me invested. I love the school setting too and it was a lot of fun watching the competition, friendships and tensions develop more.
What I Disliked:
  • The fact that I now have to wait for more content? Because there is NO MORE OF THIS SERIES currently out?!
Overall Conclusion:
My previous reviews for Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 pretty much cover everything I love about this series! The characters, for me, are really what keeps this story alive and I'm loving the subtle nuances in their behaviours and attitudes as the plot progresses. I did think that having two subs was a bit of a cop-out but I'm really not that mad about it. I hope that more of this wholesome content exists soon.

Monday 21 October 2019

Book Review: Pet Semetary; Stephen King.

October has absolutely flown by and it has taken me ages to get into and through a book, but I finally finished this harrowing read by Stephen King. And this is absolutely my favourite read of his so far.

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: Pet Semetary
AUTHOR: Stephen King
PUBLISHER: Hodder & Stoughton
PAGES: 465
GENRE: Horror, Thriller, Suspense

RATING: 4/5 Stars

The house looked right, felt right to Dr Louis Creed.

Rambling, old, unsmart and comfortable. A place where the family could settle; the children grow and play and explore. The rolling hills and meadows of Maine seemed a world away from the fume-choked dangers of Chicago.

Only the occasional big truck out on the two-lane highway, grinding up through the gears, hammering down the long gradients, growled out an intrusive threat.

But behind the house and far away from the road: that was safe. Just a carefully cleared path up into the woods where generations of local children have processed with the solemn innocence of the young, taking with them their dear departed pets for burial.

A sad place maybe, but safe. Surely a safe place. Not a place to seep into your dreams, to wake you, sweating with fear and foreboding.

What I Liked:
  • The build-up was so good. King's ability to create tension has always been something I've admired, but I really felt it in this book. Perhaps because we don't really know what it's building up to here? Only that something sinister is coming.
  • This is the perfect example of a very real, relatable horror with a paranormal twist being far superior to a totally supernatural one. There were no killer clowns to be found here. Instead - a highway with dangerous, speeding lorries and the simple truth of having young children and/or a pet that could run into the oncoming traffic at any time.
What I Disliked:
  • I appreciate that King's characters are supposed to be flawed, but do they have to be so misogynistic all the time? Reading such outdated, poor attitudes towards women is pretty tiring and makes the main character a little harder to root for.
  • I think after such an amazing build-up, I felt a teensy bit let down by the climactic result, which was over in a few chapters. Sure, it was pretty horrifying, but it felt a little too quick. There was so much scope here for a super creepy 'family reunion' and that just didn't happen. Such a shame.
Overall Conclusion:
I've wrestled with the fact that I've not taken to King's books for a while, especially considering that he is considered a master at a genre I love to read. It was a relief to finally read some of his work and actually feel chills. I'll keep trying to find the book for me. The build-up was perfect, I just wish that the ending had matched the pace of the beginning and middle, and that not every book had to be from the POV of a privileged, whiny man who loves women but also hates them, and lives in Maine. 

Last Week's Shenanigans (14th October - 20th October)...

I Read...


I Received...


Monday 14 October 2019

Last Week's Shenanigans (7th October - 13th October)...

I Read...


I Received...

- 'Starve Acre' by Michael Andrew Hurley: NetGalley (08/10/19)
- 'Blood Countess' by Lana Popović: NetGalley (09/10/19)
- 'We Used To Be Friends' by Amy Spalding: NetGalley (11/10/19)

Monday 7 October 2019

Last Week's Shenanigans (30th September - 6th October)...

We've finally hit October, which I'm super happy about because it means 'tis the season of the spooky!

I Read...


I Received...

- 'The Glass Hotel' by Emily St. John Mandel: NetGalley (01/10/19)

I Posted...

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I've Read With Numbers In Their Titles

September Wrap-Up
Planned Reads for October

Tuesday 1 October 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Books I've Read With Numbers In Their Titles'.

I liked this one, a very intriguing topic! I wasn't sure how many books I'd read with numbers in the title - as it turned out, a lot!

1) '1984' by George Orwell.
The year 1984 has come and gone, but George Orwell's prophetic, nightmarish vision in 1949 of the world we were becoming is timelier than ever. 1984 is still the great modern classic of "negative utopia"—a startlingly original and haunting novel that creates an imaginary world that is completely convincing, from the first sentence to the last four words. No one can deny the novel's hold on the imaginations of whole generations, or the power of its admonitions—a power that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time.
2) 'Noughts & Crosses' by Malorie Blackman.
Sephy is a Cross -- a member of the dark-skinned ruling class. Callum is a Nought -- a “colourless” member of the underclass who were once slaves to the Crosses. The two have been friends since early childhood, but that’s as far as it can go. In their world, Noughts and Crosses simply don’t mix. Against a background of prejudice and distrust, intensely highlighted by violent terrorist activity, a romance builds between Sephy and Callum -- a romance that is to lead both of them into terrible danger. Can they possibly find a way to be together?
3) 'The Three' by Sarah Lotz.
The world is stunned when four commuter planes crash within hours of each other on different continents. Facing global panic, officials are under pressure to find the causes. With terrorist attacks and environmental factors ruled out, there doesn't appear to be a correlation between the crashes, except that in three of the four air disasters a child survivor is found in the wreckage. Dubbed 'The Three' by the international press, the children all exhibit disturbing behavioural problems, presumably caused by the horror they lived through and the unrelenting press attention. This attention becomes more than just intrusive when a rapture cult led by a charismatic evangelical minister insists that the survivors are three of the four harbingers of the apocalypse. The Three are forced to go into hiding, but as the children's behaviour becomes increasingly disturbing, even their guardians begin to question their miraculous survival.
4) 'One Hundred Years Of Solitude' by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
The brilliant, bestselling, landmark novel that tells the story of the Buendia family, and chronicles the irreconcilable conflict between the desire for solitude and the need for love—in rich, imaginative prose that has come to define an entire genre known as "magical realism."
5) 'Child 44' by Tom Rob Smith.
MGB officer Leo is a man who never questions the Party Line. He arrests whomever he is told to arrest. He dismisses the horrific death of a young boy because he is told to, because he believes the Party stance that there can be no murder in Communist Russia. Leo is the perfect soldier of the regime. But suddenly his confidence that everything he does serves a great good is shaken. He is forced to watch a man he knows to be innocent be brutally tortured. And then he is told to arrest his own wife. Leo understands how the State works: Trust and check, but check particularly on those we trust. He faces a stark choice: his wife or his life. And still the killings of children continue...

6) 'Station Eleven' by Emily St. John Mandel.
One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time—from the actor's early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theatre troupe known as the Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains—this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor's first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet.
7) 'A Thousand Nights' by E.K. Johnston.
Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to Schezerade's village, looking for a wife. When the formidable king arrives at her desert home, she knows that he will take her beautiful sister. Desperate to save her from certain death, she makes the ultimate sacrifice - leaving home and family behind to live with a fearful man. But it seems that a strange magic flows between her and Lo-Melkhiin, and night after night, she survives. Finding power in storytelling, the words she speaks are given strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. But she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king ...if only she can stop her heart from falling for a monster.
8) 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest' by Ken Kesey.
Tyrannical Nurse Ratched rules her ward in an Oregon State mental hospital with a strict and unbending routine, unopposed by her patients, who remain cowed by mind-numbing medication and the threat of electric shock therapy. But her regime is disrupted by the arrival of McMurphy – the swaggering, fun-loving trickster with a devilish grin who resolves to oppose her rules on behalf of his fellow inmates. His struggle is seen through the eyes of Chief Bromden, a seemingly mute half-Indian patient who understands McMurphy's heroic attempt to do battle with the powers that keep them imprisoned.
9) 'Seven Ways We Lie' by Riley Redgate.
Paloma High School is ordinary by anyone’s standards. It’s got the same cliques, the same prejudices, the same suspect cafeteria food. And like every high school, every student has something to hide—from Kat, the thespian who conceals her trust issues onstage, to Valentine, the neurotic genius who’s planted the seed of a school scandal. When that scandal bubbles over, and rumours of a teacher-student affair surface, everyone starts hunting for someone to blame. For the seven unlikely allies at the heart of it all, the collision of their seven ordinary-seeming lives results in extraordinary change.
10) 'Dragon Slayer Number 9' by Intisar Khanani.
Sometimes, a dragon just really wants to talk... 

11) 'Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions' by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Here are fifteen invaluable suggestions--compelling, direct, wryly funny, and perceptive--for how to empower a daughter to become a strong, independent woman. From encouraging her to choose a helicopter, and not only a doll, as a toy if she so desires; having open conversations with her about clothes, makeup, and sexuality; debunking the myth that women are somehow biologically arranged to be in the kitchen making dinner, and that men can "allow" women to have full careers, Dear Ijeawele goes right to the heart of sexual politics in the twenty-first century. It will start a new and urgently needed conversation about what it really means to be a woman today.
12) 'One Of Us Is Lying' by Karen M. McManus.
Yale hopeful Bronwyn has never publicly broken a rule. Sports star Cooper only knows what he's doing in the baseball diamond. Bad boy Nate is one misstep away from a life of crime. Prom queen Addy is holding together the cracks in her perfect life. And outsider Simon, creator of the notorious gossip app at Bayview High, won't ever talk about any of them again. He dies 24 hours before he could post their deepest secrets online. Investigators conclude it's no accident. All of them are suspects. Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you'll go to protect them.
13) 'The One Memory Of Flora Banks' by Emily Barr.
Flora has anterograde amnesia. She can't remember anything day-to-day: the joke her friend made, the instructions her parents gave her, how old she is. Then she kisses someone she shouldn't, and the next day she remembers it. It's the first time she's remembered anything since she was ten. But the boy is gone. She thinks he's moved to the Arctic. Will following him be the key to unlocking her memory? Who can she trust?
14) 'Six Of Crows' by Leigh Bardugo.
Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone - a convict with a thirst for revenge, a sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager, a runaway with a privileged past, a spy known as the Wraith, a Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums and a thief with a gift for unlikely escapes. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.
15) 'Lot No. 249' by Arthur Conan Doyle.
From the master of the detective story and creator of Sherlock Holmes, the first ever tale to feature a supernatural Egyptian mummy.

Planned Reads for October.

It's Halloween, which means I get to read one of my favourite genres - horror! I have a lot of exciting reads waiting for me on my shelves, but I've picked out a few I'm hoping to get to.

I've read one of Michelle Paver's ghost stories before, 'Thin Air', and loved it! Now I've nabbed a copy of 'Wakenhyrst', an England-set period horror/mystery about a painting, a family secret, and murder. I'm a big fan of scary stories set in big, old houses so this should be perfect for me!

'The Phantom Of The Opera' by Gaston Leroux is a classic that has been on my list for a long time. I love the musical and the film, but have never read the book. I hope I love it just as much!

Kiran Millwood Hargrave's 'The Deathless Girls' is one of my most anticipated reads right now, and I really hope I get round to it! A feminist retelling of 'Dracula'! What's not to love?

I'm a big fan of Frances Hardinge, and 'A Skinful Of Shadows' has intrigued me for a while. It looks like it's full of my usual Hardinge loves - an original plot, plenty of whimsy, and some sinister spooks!

The master of horror, Stephen King, hasn't been on my Halloween list for a while and I strongly feel that I haven't found the right book of his yet. Having now become a cat owner, I'm really hoping that 'Pet Sematary' will give me the chills I've been looking for.

It is kind of bugging me that I still haven't read Melissa Albert's 'The Hazel Wood' yet. It definitely looks like a good read for October, and any blurb that contains thee phrase 'dark fairytales' has my attention.