Friday 31 May 2019

May Wrap-Up.

Well I set myself a smaller goal this month, and will do so next month too as the wedding is really taking up most of my time now. Of the six reads I set myself, I actually managed three though which I'm pretty proud of!

  1. 'The Yellow Wall-Paper' by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. It really took me by surprise how much I enjoyed this feminist classic set of short stories. There were three in this 'little black classic' and each was very different but cleverly written with a great plot. I thoroughly recommend to anyone who hasn't stumbled across Perkins Gilman yet! 5/5 Stars.
  2. 'The Astonishing Colour Of After' by Emily X.R. Pan. This is a book I had really looked forward to reading, and the writing was as beautiful as I'd heard it was. I liked the plot, the huge exposure to the culture of Taiwan and the magical realism. I think the characters could have used some work, especially MC Leigh, but I'm impressed that this is Pan's debut. 4/5 Stars.
  3. 'The Valley Of Fear' by Arthur Conan Doyle. It has definitely been a while since I read a Sherlock Holmes book and I liked dipping into this one. It had a great mystery to solve, an interesting backstory and, as usual, fantastic banter between Holmes and Watson. I wish that Moriarty had been a little more involved and the ending hadn't been so abrupt though. 4/5 Stars.

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

- The Yellow Wall-Paper
- The Astonishing Colour Of After
- The Valley Of Fear

This month I read zero books for the New Release Challenge, making my yearly total three.

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

This month I read one book for the Diversity Reading Challenge, making my yearly total twelve.

- The Astonishing Colour Of After *Mini Challenge: (East Asian/Southeast Asian/Pacific Islander)*

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

Warm Climate: And The Mountains Echoed; Khaled Hosseini
Stand-Alone: The Astonishing Colour Of After; Emily X.R. Pan
Large Cast Of Characters: Crooked Kingdom; Leigh Bardugo
Spring Release: The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying; Marie Kondo
Three Word Title: Fierce Fragile Hearts; Sara Barnard
Freebie: -
Novella: The Mirror & The Maze; Renée Ahdieh
Epistolary: The Yellow Wall-Paper; Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Yellow Cover: Rubyfruit Jungle; Rita Mae Brown
A Book I Own: Everless; Sara Holland
School Setting: Myth To The Night; Cora Choi
Mystery Thriller: The Valley Of Fear; Arthur Conan Doyle

Tuesday 28 May 2019

Book Review: The Valley Of Fear; Arthur Conan Doyle.

I've been ever so slowly inching my way through the 'Sherlock Holmes' series and 'The Valley Of Fear' was the next in the series! It was a bit of a throwback to 'A Study In Scarlet' actually, which I kind of liked.

SOURCE: Borrowed
TYPE: Hardcover

TITLE: The Complete Sherlock Holmes (The Valley Of Fear)
AUTHOR: Arthur Conan Doyle
SERIES: Sherlock Holmes (#7)
PUBLISHER: Barnes & Noble Classics
GENRE: Mystery, Classics, Historical Fiction, Horror

RATING: 4/5 Stars

"Look down the valley! See the cloud of a hundred chimneys that overshadows it! I tell you that the cloud of murder hangs thicker and lower than that over the heads of the people. It is the Valley of Fear, the Valley of Death. The terror is in the hearts of the people from the dusk to the dawn." 

So declares a resident of a mining town, where a sinister secret society maintains its stranglehold on the community with a series of violent crimes.

The mystery begins with a coded warning of imminent danger, drawing the illustrious Sherlock Holmes and the faithful Dr. Watson to a secluded English country home. A trail of bewildering clues--raincoats, dumbbells, a missing wedding ring — leads to sleuthing in the finest Holmesian tradition and the gripping backstory of a cult that terrorised a valley in an American eastern state. Crisp, realistic characterisations and a crackling suspenseful narrative make this novel a must-read for all lovers of mystery and detection as well as Sherlock Holmes fans.

What I Liked:
  • As I said, this was a bit of a throwback to 'A Study In Scarlet' as it started with a mystery, solved the mystery, then provided backstory and context. I liked all 'sections' of the story, as it was almost like getting two stories in one!
  • I often comment that the relationship between Holmes and Watson is  one of my favourites but it really sparkled. Holmes reached sarcasm level 100 here and I loved it a lot!
What I Disliked:
  • I was excited at the prospect of this story involving James Moriarty as he's a character I wanted to see more of! Unfortunately, he was only mentioned in reference and felt a little shoe-horned in I'm afraid. He was also responsible for the particularly abrupt ending of the story which I was a bit disappointed by.
Overall Conclusion:
This was a good addition to the 'Sherlock Holmes' universe and I liked the sleuthing alongside secret societies, murder and plenty of intrigue. Holmes and Watson must surely be the best detective duo around! It's a shame that there was so little of Moriarty and that the story ended so abruptly.

Monday 27 May 2019

Last Week's Shenanigans (20th May - 26th May)...Hen Weekend!

The wedding is fast approaching and soon I think I'm going to have to pop this blog on hiatus while I go to get married! But for now, I'm excited to talk about my amazing Hen Weekend that my lovely bridesmaids organised for me!

On Saturday I went to one of my friend's flats, completely unsure of what to expect! We had so much fun hanging out, eating food, playing games and I was pleasantly surprised to see so many of my friends there. A couple of them had travelled very far to be there, which was lovely! After, we went to Lush in Oxford Street for a bit of a Pamper party. We made bath bombs, put on face masks, shopped and had hand massages! It was a whole host of fun, followed by a lovely meal at Fable, a restaurant in Central London that was book-themed!

Sunday was spent in Kent with family, as my sister and maid of honour had organised a meal out with various members of my family! It was in one of my favourite restaurants and I really enjoyed seeing so many Aunts, cousins and my Nan whom I hadn't seen in a while!

I Read...


I Received...

- 'Naturally Tan' by Tan France: NetGalley (26/05/19)

Monday 20 May 2019

Last Week's Shenanigans (13th May - 19th May)...Birthday Haul!

I have honestly had such a lovely week, largely down to the fact that Monday was my birthday! I of course got some lovely presents, and on Tuesday Mat took me out on a shopping spree to buy some bits! It was a lovely idea (I rarely treat myself) and I can't wait to show you guys what I got, especially from our trip to Foyles. The rest of the week was very relaxed with very little in the way of work!

I Read...

I Received...

- 'A Short History Of Myth' by Karen Armstrong: Gift (14/05/19)
- 'Burning Your Boats' by Angela Carter: Gift (14/05/19)
- 'Spark Joy' by Marie Kondo: Gift (14/05/19)
- 'The Female Of The Species' by Mindy McGinnis: Gift (14/05/19)
- 'Fire & Blood' by George R. R. Martin: Gift (14/05/19)
- 'Muse Of Nightmares' by Laini Taylor: Bought (16/05/19)
- 'King Of Scars' by Leigh Bardugo: Bought (19/05/19)
- 'The Emotion Thesaurus' by Angela Ackerman et al.: Bought (19/05/19)

Thursday 16 May 2019

Book Review: The Astonishing Colour Of After; Emily X. R. Pan.

I've been wanting to read this book for a while, and I'm so glad that it lived up to it's reputation of being so beautifully written! Mostly, I read it for the opportunity to explore another culture and I definitely got to do that!

SOURCE: NetGalley
TYPE: E-Books

TITLE: The Astonishing Colour Of After
AUTHOR: Emily X.R. Pan
PUBLISHER: Orion Children's Books
PAGES: 480
GENRE: Young Adult, Magical Realism, Contemporary, Fantasy

RATING: 4/5 Stars

When Leigh's mother dies by suicide she leaves only a scribbled note - I want you to remember.

Leigh doesn't understand its meaning and wishes she could turn to her best friend, Axel - if only she hadn't kissed him and changed everything between them.

Guided by a mysterious red bird, Leigh travels to Taiwan to meet her grandparents for the first time. There, Leigh retreats into art and memories, where colours collide, the rules of reality are broken and the ghosts of the past refuse to rest… 

But Leigh is determined to unlock her family's secrets. 

To remember.

What I Liked:

  • The writing was stunning. It was lyrical and consistently so, and Pan is clearly a natural when it comes to writing beautiful stories. I never once found it too 'frilly'.
  • I also really liked the detailed insight into the culture of Taiwan! Pan touched on a lot - myths, folklore, traditions, food, nature, etc. And she wasn't afraid to showcase these amazing and beautiful things alongside some of the not-so-good - racism, attitudes toward marriage, treatment of mental health. I think it's important when writing about any culture to give a detailed insight like this.
What I Disliked:
  • I think that the character development felt a little lacklustre. It wasn't bad but I really didn't feel like there was much time to get to know the MC Leigh beyond her art, her feelings for her best friend, and her desperate search for her mother's ghost. In fact, I think I felt this way about all of the characters. They weren't lacking dimension but there definitely could have been more.
Overall Conclusion:
This novel really impressed me, especially considering that it is a debut, and I am pleased that I finally got round to reading it. I'm happy to have learnt so much about another culture in a gorgeously written style, I liked the elements of magical realism (which is huge because I have mixed feelings about that genre) and I'd love to read more from Pan in the future!

Monday 13 May 2019

Last Week's Shenanigans (6th May - 12th May)...

My birthday is coming! It's been weird realising this because my mind has been 100% on other things! I'm really excited to be celebrating turning 26 though, especially as it marks around a month before my wedding! Yay!

I Read...

I Received...


Wednesday 8 May 2019

Book Review: The Yellow Wall-Paper; Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

I love the 'Little Black Classics' collection from Penguin for many reasons, but the main one is that I get to experience the work of authors that I never would have done so otherwise and this is a perfect example!

TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: The Yellow Wall-Paper
AUTHOR: Charlotte Perkins Gilman
SERIES: Little Black Classics (#42)
GENRE: Classics, Short Stories, Horror, Ghost Story

RATING: 5/5 Stars

'The colour is hideous enough, and unreliable enough, and infuriating enough, but the pattern is torturing.'

Written with barely controlled fury after she was confined to her room for 'nerves' and forbidden to write, Gilman's pioneering feminist horror story scandalised nineteenth-century readers with its portrayal of a woman who loses her mind because she has literally nothing to do.

Also contains The Rocking-Chair and Old Water.

What I Liked:

  • I just loved how feminist and forward-thinking these were, especially considering the time period! 'The Yellow Wall-Paper' took a deep-dive into the treatment of women and mental illness during the time period and was a cry of rebellion against the rest-cure methods she was forced to endure during her own depression. 'Old Water' was also a great feminist read - it covered themes such as obsession, consent, and the importance of autonomy and independence for women.
  • The tales were actually pretty spooky too - 'The Yellow Wall-Paper' an epistolary-style look at a mental breakdown and how that can distort a person's view of the world; 'The Rocking-Chair' a proper ghost story with two friends allowing a seductive spectre and jealousy to turn their camaraderie into hatred; 'Old-Water' about an overbearing mother, whose desire to see her obstinate daughter married to a visiting poet allows her to overlook the obsessive, twisted love that the stranger is beginning to develop. Each scary, with a Gothic feel.
What I Disliked:
  • Uhh...that there weren't more stories? Seriously, these were so different and so great, that I'd have liked to see more as they were quite short. But then, that's the idea of the 'Little Black Classics' so I'm not that bothered.
Overall Conclusion:
I can't get over how amazing these were, and I could sit here forever and analyse the intent behind them but all I can say is how glad I am that I picked number forty-two in the collection to read! I wanted some chilling, slightly spooky, insightful stories and that is exactly what I got!

Monday 6 May 2019

Last Week's Shenanigans (29th April - 5th May)...

I had to work so much this week, which was a little bit tiring, but I did get to go to a couple of parties at the weekend for various birthdays, which was nice! My own birthday is coming up soon too, which is super exciting! I can't believe we are already at May...

I Read...

I Received...

- 'The Warehouse by Rob Hart: NetGalley (05/05/19)

I Posted...

April Wrap-Up
Planned Reads For May

Wednesday 1 May 2019

Planned Reads for May.

I am inclined to put a little bit less pressure on myself for the next couple of months reading-wise, as the wedding is coming up fast and I hate feeling as if I'm constantly playing catch-up. I'm setting myself a target of six reads this month, though I doubt I'll even do that!

'Enchantée' by Gita Trelease is probably one of my most anticipated 2019 releases! It's a bit disappointing that I haven't finished yet but I have high hopes for doing so in the next couple of months, as I have actually started it now! I'm liking what I've read so far, though the size of the book is a little intimidating!

I've been eyeing up 'The Astonishing Colour Of After' by Emily X.R. Pan for a while, as the premise and the cover are absolutely stunning! It not only deals with a lot of themes, it's apparently a contemporary with a little bit of magical realism/fantasy thrown in for good measure and is set in Taiwan!

Speaking of books set in a totally different culture, I love the idea of Julie Kagawa's 'Shadow Of The Fox' Japanese-inspired fantasy! It's had kind of mixed reviews but the cover is stunning and I really want to read something by this author.

I really fancy reading some shorter stories, and this 'Little Black Classics' collection dubbed as feminist stories has really peaked my interest. 'The Yellow-Wallpaper' by Charlotte Perkins Gilman contains three short stories which I'm excited to read!

There's not much to say about 'Reign Of The Fallen' by Sarah Glenn Marsh than I've said in past Planned Reads posts. I want to read it so badly and I hope that I can get to it soon!

It has been a while since I've read any of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 'Sherlock Holmes' stories, and 'The Valley Of Fear' is up next! I hope it's as good as 'The Hound Of The Baskervilles, which I enjoyed immensely!