What I Read in May 2018

Hello! Can you believe Show Us Your Books day has rolled around again? Didn’t I just write about what I read in April? Anyway, I have a whole 18 books to review this month so I’d best get on with it. As always, the books are simply listed as I read them, not in order of preference.

show-us-your-books-2016-300by300

The Godfather by Mario Puzo. I started this one in April and finished it in May. Honestly, I would never even have picked it up if it wasn’t on the BBC Big Read list but I ended up liking it way more than I expected to. I have never even seen a Godfather film (yeah, I know) but I was still familiar with a lot of the plot… I got to the bit with the horse’s head and thought “oh yeah, this is where that’s from”. I can’t really describe my thoughts on this book but I gave it 4 stars. Obviously there is a lot of violence so if you’re not into that avoid it.

What Comes After by Steve Watkins. When sixteen-year-old Iris Wight’s dad days and the family friends who promised to take her in decide they can’t after all, she is forced to go and live with her aunt and cousin on a farm in North Carolina. The aunt is horrible and mistreats her to the extent that she ends up being taken into foster care. This book is horrible. Utterly heartbreaking. But, in the end, also hopeful. Read it for the goats but be aware that there is abuse/violence. 4 stars.

Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse by Chris Riddell. I loved this – it’s so cute and fun! Ada Goth Ghastly-Gorm Hall with her father, Lord Goth, lots of servants and at least half a dozen ghosts. One night, she meets the ghost of a mouse then makes some new friends, and together they set out to investigate the strange goings on in the old mansion. There are many literary and historical references in this book (the first thing the mouse says is “call me Ishmael”, Mary Shellfish comes to stay…). I think a lot of them would go over children’s heads (the actual target audience) but I loved them. Chris Riddell also illustrated the book and the drawings are fabulous. Plus, in my copy the pages have purple edges. So pretty! Another 4 star read.

Cold Feet by Brenda Novak. This book was not what I was expecting. I thought it was a thriller so I was really confused by the Mills and Boon-esque sex scenes (between people who had known each other all of a day). Turns out it’s a romance. So that may have affected my rating – if you go into it knowing it’s a romance you may like it more. The police suspect Madison Lieberman’s father is a serial killer, but now he’s dead and another woman has died in a similar way. Ex-cop turned crime writer Caleb Trovato is obsessed with the case and now wonders whether there’s a copycat killer or they had their sights on the wrong man all along. He’s sure Madison knows more than she’s telling and he’s determined to get it out of her. The synopsis says “But he doesn’t expect to fall in love – or to lead Madison and her child into danger”. I suppose that should have tipped me off on the romance thing… but just because a book contains romance doesn’t mean it’s a “romance novel”. Anyway, I didn’t expect who the killer turned out to be, so that’s something, but overall this book was nothing special. A kind of mystery/thriller as a frame for some explicit sex scenes. 3 stars.

Saving June by Hannah Harrington. Sixteen-year-old Harper’s older sister June recently committed suicide and Harper doesn’t know what to think or feel. She decides to steal June’s ashes and drive across the country to the one place her sister always wanted to go: California. This book was so sad, which could obviously be expected from the subject matter, but I honestly cried like a baby. It has its flaws, but I read through it all in one sitting and could not give it any less than four stars.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. Another sad book, because apparently I like to do that to myself? When Theodore and Violet meet on the ledge of a a bell tower, it’s unclear who saved whom. Violet is still traumatised by the death of her older sister and Theodore, who is labelled a “freak” and has hardly any friends, is constantly thinking up new ways to die. When Violet and Theodore pair up for a project to discover more about their state, what they actually learn is far more important. This is a book about mental health, grief, first love and much more. Parts of it are happy, quirky, hopeful, but the ending is so sad. 4 stars.

Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer. For some reason I was expecting this to be a book about political rivals. No idea why! Maybe I vaguely knew that Jeffrey Archer was a politician in the 90s? There is a rivalry, but neither man is a politician. It’s basically the life stories of two men born on the same day – one the son of a Boston banker/millionaire and one a penniless and illegitimate Pole – and how their stories eventually merge with the two of them becoming rivals. I liked this more than I thought I would but it was long and parts of it dragged. 3 stars.

Into the Water by Paul Hawkins. I needed a new book for the train home from work since I was almost finished with Kane and Abel, and this was the only one in the bookshop that interested me. When Jules’ sister Nel dies – having apparently jumped to her death in the place that’s known as the “drowning pool” – Jules reluctantly returns to the village to care for her teenage niece. I’ve seen a few negative reviews of this book, but I really enjoyed it. There were a lot of twists and turns that I didn’t expect. However, I feel like I should admit that part of my enjoyment stemmed from the setting. Why did nobody tell me it’s set in North-East England? Craster kippers and even the tiny Durham village of Pity Me get a mention. Love it! 5 stars.

The Tornado Chasers by Ross Montgomery. This is like an introduction to dystopia for young children. Owen’s family have moved to Barrow because it’s the safest place in the valleys. Children there have to wear bright yellow at all times, walk home from school in pairs, and have a curfew. So Owen and his friends form the Tornado Chasers and set off to get as close to a Grade 5 tornado as possible. I really liked most of this book. It was a fun adventure with an interesting, diverse friendship group. The “twist” was good too. But then I really didn’t like the ending. I think I know what was supposed to have happened but I don’t understand why. Trying not to spoil anything, but it felt like it was saying the dystopia was a good thing/the adults had it right all along. Until the end it would have been 4 stars, but I ended up giving it 3.

Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier. The cover of this book totally reminded me of When Dimple Met Rishi (which I haven’t actually read yet) and the main character in this one is even called Dimple! I don’t really know if the stories are similar though (and this one was published first FYI). Dimple Lala, who is about to turn 17, has spent her whole life resisting her parents’ traditions. She wants to be an all-American girl, like her best friend, Gwen. So when her parents meet up with an old friend and decide they want to set her Dimple up with her son, a “suitable boy”, Dimple is, of course totally against it. Then she realises the suitable boy may not be as goody-goody as she first thought, all things Indian suddenly turn out to be cool, and she no longer knows what to think. I really enjoyed this story. Parts of it were a bit long.winded and complicated, but I liked the characters (except Gwen, who I thought was a total cow. Yes, she has a hard life/neglectful parents but that was no excuse to abandon her friend for boys, refuse to listen, talk to Dimple like she was an idiot, etc.). I especially loved Dimple’s cousin. Every time the food Dimple’s mum cooked was mentioned it made me want to eat Indian food immediately! There’s also a lesbian relationship and a drag queen in this book, which was cool. 4 stars.

Unspeakable by Abbie Rushton. Megan hasn’t spoken in months, ever since something bad happened (trying not to spoil anything here). There are things she cannot – must not – say, so it’s best not to speak at all. Then Jasmine starts at her school. Bright, bubbly, talkative Jasmine. And for some reason she wants Megan to be her friend. I really liked this book. It deals with some serious topics but it’s surprisingly easy to read – I got through it really quickly. I wanted to hug Megan – she was clearly traumatised and I wanted to find out who was responsible for her silence and shake them (it wasn’t what I thought though). The relationship between Megan and Jasmine was so cute. It just made me incredibly happy! 4 stars.

As Sure As the Sun by Anna McPartlin. When bride-to-be Harri Ryan ends up at the ER with a panic attack on her wedding day for the second time, her twin brother, George, is sure there’s more to it than a reluctance to commit. His parents are clearly hiding something and he resolves to confront them. Meanwhile Harri and George’s friends are all having troubles of their own, and George is also having issues with his boyfriend Aidan. This is a bit of a weird book. It’s light and easy to read, even though there’s a tragedy at the heart of the story. I found the premise a bit odd/far-fetched though. What Harri and George’s parents reveal is certainly life-changing but I’m not sure what it has to do with Harri having panic attacks on her wedding day. It felt like the author needed some trigger for the reveal and also had the idea of someone unintentionally failing to show at her own wedding so she stuck the two stories together. Some parts of the book were funny, some sad, and others honestly just dragged. I doubt it will be one that sticks with me. 3 stars.

Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens. I was given this for my birthday last year and I’ve only just got around to reading it. The shame! When Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong set up their own secret detective agency at Deepdean School for Girls, they struggle to find any exciting mysteries to investigate. When Hazel finds the dead body of their science mistress, Miss Bell, she assumes there’s been an accident, until the body disappears! Now not only do Hazel and Daisy actually have a murder to solve – they have to prove one happened in the first place. This book is so fun – which seems an odd thing to say about something involving a murder, but it really is. A combination of a mystery and boarding school book, which were two of my favourite things as a child. It’s like Enid Blyton’s mystery books (Secret Seven, etc.) and her school books rolled into one… but with an actual murder. 4 stars and I definitely want to read book 2.

Black Swan Green by David Mitchell. This is essentially a year in the life of thirteen-year-old Jason Taylor, who spends most of his time trying to hide his stammer from his classmates lest they ostracise him and writing poems that he can never, ever tell anyone about because writing poems is “for girls”. It’s set in Britain, specifically a village in the English Midlands, the year is 1982, Thatcher reigns supreme, the Falklands War happens, there are references to things I remember and things I don’t (I was born in 1983). This book was a bit of a mixed bag for me. Being female, my experience was entirely different, but it felt like an accurate representation of life as a teenage boy in the days before mobile phones, etc. The bullying in the book seemed realistic (some of it was awful, but pretty much exactly what went down at my high school) and I found it really interesting to read about the Falklands War in a novel. Some parts of the story seemed to drag and take forever to get to, but I liked other parts and for the last few chapters I didn’t want to put it down. I didn’t love it enough to give it for stars, so I gave it 3… but it’s a high 3 (better than Kane and Abel, for instance). 3.75 maybe.

Boys Don’t Cry by Malorie Blackman. You may know Malorie Blackman as the author of the Noughts and Crosses series (which I still need to read the rest of). This is a totally different book. Dante is waiting for his A Level results, but when the door bell rings it’s not the postman but his ex-girlfriend, who nobody has heard from since she dropped out of school months ago. She has a baby with her, who she claims is hers and Dante’s. Then she goes to the shop, leaving the baby with Dante, and never comes back. This is such a good book. It was so refreshing to see something about teenage pregnancy from the male perspective that actually shows the father in a good light. After some initial reluctance (and anybody would panic suddenly having a small child dumped on them!) he actually steps up and becomes a really good dad to his daughter. A parallel story about Dante’s brother, Adam, is heartbreaking, but again Dante steps up and shows that he’s actually a really good big brother. 4 stars.

Everwild by Neal Shusterman. This is book 2 in the Skinjacker series. Everlost is an in-between world where children go when they have died but didn’t reach where they were going (the end of the proverbial “tunnel”). In book 1 (which I read in February – review here) Allie and Nick were involved in an accident and came to Everlost together, where they gradually learned the secrets of this world that is in the real world, but not quite. In book 2, Allie and Nick have gone their separate ways – Allie wants to go home and see what became of her parents and I can’t say what Nick is doing without giving spoilers for book 1. I enjoyed the first book I’m this series, thought it had interesting themes and a decent story. This one was even better. I was gripped and really wanted to know what would happen with each of the main characters. I am especially desperate to find out how Allie’s story concludes. 4 stars (I gave the first book 3 stars).

The Broken by Tamar Cohen. There is so much drama in this book. Essentially it’s the story of a couple, Dan and Sasha, who split up and another couple who are best friends with them and don’t want to choose sides, but end up being drawn in anyway. It’s a good portrayal of how the breakdown of a marriage affects more people than just the couple involved – children, shared friends, etc. But then it also tries to be a thriller, adding in another mysterious character and having weird things happen – is Sasha going mad? Doing these things to herself to make Dan look bad? Or is somebody really out to get her? In the end there was no proper conclusion – the apparent “plot twist” ended up feeling like a minor sub-plot even though it was the trigger for almost everything, and there was a really abrupt ending that made me feel like someone had got away with things. I gave it three stars because the marriage breakdown part was done well, it’s just the plot twist/thriller aspect that was unnecessary. Not everything has to be a thriller!

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carolo Rovelli. The final book I read in May was actually non-fiction. Shock, horror! Brief is right – I wasn’t expecting the book to be this short. It packs a surprising amount of information into so few pages though. It might be a bit simple for anyone who has more than a basic understanding of physics. Personally, having barely come into contact with physics since school (where I got as far as GCSE level), it was just detailed enough without either being overwhelming or making me feel stupid/patronised. A good starting point for further reading. The last section is a bit odd though. It’s about how people and science interact, not really a “lesson” on physics at all, and it seemed very philosophical and out of place. 4 stars.

And finally I’m done. I won’t write too much more here since this post is already long, just say you can find the link up here.

Have you read anything good recently? And if you’ve read any of the books mentioned here do you agree with my assessment?

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Recent doings #28

Before I start this post can we just take a minute to think about the fact that it is now June? The sixth month of the year. We are almost half-way through 2018 and I feel like I have absolutely nothing to show for it. Although I have read 87 books so far this year, so that’s something, I suppose. Anyway, today I am here to tell you about the month that’s just ended. So without further ado, here is what I got up to in May:

whats new with you

Reading. I read 11 books in May and finished another that I had started in April. You’ll find out all about them on Tuesday. I also continued with Pillars of the Earth but I’m still not even halfway through.

Listening to. We hired a car to drive to where my uncle lives near Munich and listened to Welcome to Night Vale on the way there. Coming home, we listened to part of the audiobook of M is for Magic, written and read by Neil Gaiman.

Watching. We are still watching Young Sheldon, so that. Also, we went to the cinema in May – for the first time since moving to Switzerland! We saw Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. It was odd but good. I can’t remember whether I watched anything else in May. Jan watched random stuff, as always, but I usually don’t pay much attention.

Eating. Umm… what did I eat in May? I started the month quite well with salads and whatnot. Then after putting the half kilogram I had lost back on then failing to lose any more weight I temporarily gave up and consumed way too much ice cream. The trip to Munich didn’t help either! I’m back on the wagon now, but heavier than ever. Ugh.

Making. Birthday cards for Post Pals kids. I don’t seem to do much else these days.

Cross stitching. I finished the wedding card I started last month and also stitched a goat card for a Post Pals sibling.

Travelling. To just outside Munich for my cousin’s confirmation and then to England at the end of the month for the wedding I stitched the card for. On the way back from Munich we went to the Partnach Gorge near Garmisch-Patenkirchen with my Munich-dwelling uncle plus my aunt and uncle who came over from England for the confirmation. My camera couldn’t cope at all with the combination of bright light outside/darkness in the gorge, but here’s one of the photos that turned out okay-ish.

Partnachklamm

Going. To a set of waterfalls called the Trümmelbachfälle. Basically ten glacier-fed waterfalls inside a mountain. It’s very, very cool to look at! On the way back we stopped in Spiez and were going to play mini golf but we didn’t have cash and the only banks were right on top of the hill.

Celebrating. My cousin’s confirmation. There was a long church service then we went for a three-course meal. I did not, however, celebrate my friend’s wedding in May because it didn’t happen until June 😉

Buying. I put myself on a sort-of mini spending ban in May, but still bought four books because I could not resist. That’s a lot less than usual though. I also bought shoes, which was a necessary expense because I didn’t have a suitable pair for the wedding! And I bought two necklaces from Etsy (they were on sale and they were way too cool for me not to own them). Obviously I suck at not spending.

Walking. I tried to walk into town at least once a week and Jan and I also took a 3-hour walk from our place to the Vitra Design Museum in Germany. The final part of the walk was a sculpture trail called “24 stops” that ends at the Vitra Design Museum (or starts there depending which way round you do it). And we went for a walk along the beach with my mam and brother while we were in England (that was on 31st May so still last month). Once again, walking was my only exercise. The exercise mat I bought continues to watch me accusingly as I consistently ignore it.

Basel 24 stops
One of the 24 Stops sculptures

Seeing/hearing. A musician called Christian Zehnder who Jan performed with once. Christian Zehnder is a “vocal artist” who mainly does what’s known as “throat singing” or “overtone singing”. This time he was with another musician who was playing a hurdy gurdy. If I say it was unusual it sounds as if I didn’t like it, but I actually did. Unusual (or interesting) really is the best adjective to describe it though!

Umm, I can’t think of anything else of note that I did in May. Jan had choir stuff practically every weekend so I spent most of my time home alone either reading or cleaning/sorting. I managed to take about 25 books to the public bookshelf over the course of the month – and still have about another 30 to get rid of!

So, that’s all from me. What have you been doing recently? I’m linking up with Kristen, as always.

Book Challenge by Erin 9.0 – Preliminary List

Hello! I am back in Switzerland and the categories have been announced for Erin’s next reading challenge, so today I thought I would bring you my tentative list. As always, this is subject to change depending on my mood once the challenge actually starts.

The rules in brief: all books must be 200 or more pages, one re-read is allowed, only books read between 1 July and 31 October 2018 count. And, the most important rule, HAVE FUN!

Now the categories, and my choices.

5 points: Freebie – Read a book that is at least 200 pages
I will decide this based on what I feel I absolutely cannot wait to read once July comes around.

10 points: Read a book that starts with the letter “N”
This one will be my re-read. I just picked up Needful Things by Stephen King while I was at my dad’s and it’s been about 15 years since I read it. I may change my mind though given it has 790 pages! I don’t actually currently own an unread book that starts with N though.

10 points: Read a book that has a (mostly) orange cover
I knew I didn’t have an orange book so I bought one at the airport yesterday. The History of Bees by Maja Lunde. I have the copy pictured below – I hope it’s orange enough!

history of bees

15 points: Read a book with an unlikeable character
I am trying to read books I already own and The Collector by John Fowles is on this Goodreads list of unlikeable characters.

20 points: Read a book from the list of 100 books that PBS calls “The Great American Read”. The list is here: http://www.pbs.org/the-great-american-read/books/#/
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon is on both this list and the BBC Big Read list so I suppose it’s about time I read it.

20 points: Read a book with something related to water in the title; i.e. ocean, sea, lake, river, waves, etc.
I have precisely two books with water-related titles on my shelves and both are over 600 pages long! I’ll probably go with The Glass Lake by Maeve Binchy (my other option is River God by Wilbur Smith)

25 points: Read a book you’ve owned the longest but haven’t read yet (or that has been on your goodreads “to read” list the longest, or has been sitting in your kindle the longest)…basically, read a book you’ve been meaning to read the longest but haven’t got to it yet.
I can’t remember which book I have actually owned for longest, so I went to my Goodreads “want-to-read” list, arranged them in order of date added and discovered that the very first book only has 109 pages. The second book is Un Lun Dun by China Miéville so I’ll be reading that.

30 points: Read a book with an emotion word in the title; i.e. joy, sadness, grief, love, anger, etc. (submitted by Megan)
I thought I would have loads of books for this category, but I actually only found two on my to-read shelf: Love Always by Harriet Evans. (The other one was Joyland by Stephen King but I’m already reading a King book for this challenge).

30 points: Read a book (must be at least 2 words in the title) where each word in the title of the book begins with the same letter (submitted by Vinay); examples: Magpie Murders, Gone Girl, Peter Pan, Love’s Labor Lost – conjunctions and articles count; for example, if the title has “and” in the title, all of the other words must start with “A” to count; or if the title has “the” in it, all of the other words must start with “T”
I have two options for this one. I will either read Red Ribbons by Louise Phillips or Little Lies by Liane Moriaty (for some reason, my copy misses out the “Big”, making the title alliterative)

35 points: Read a book featuring a character who shares your profession or similar one – basically the idea is the character does the same kind of thing as you do day to day – stay at home parent or student counts as a profession; yes, you may need to be creative with this one, stretch it, and make it work for you. (submitted by Bev)
As most of you know, I am a translator. I plan to read The Irish Cottage Murder by Dicey Deere. The main character is apparently a children’s book translator so she’s basically living my dream. So much more interesting than translating technical manuals and price lists for dental equipment (yes, really).
I chose this category and I know it’s difficult, so if anyone is doing the challenge and struggling with this one I will be happy to help you find a book featuring someone with your profession!

And those are all my choices. Now I just have to force myself to wait until July to start reading them! Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

Are you joining in with this challenge? Let me know where your list is and I will come and have a look. If you think you might like to join in and would like more information there is both a Facebook and a Goodreads group where Erin provides lots of support and encouragement.

And now I’m off to buy milk so I can finally have a cup of tea!

 

A Photo an Hour: 19 May 2018

It’s taken a couple of days, but finally here is my post for Saturday’s photo an hour. The link up is hosted by Louisa and Jane.

9 a.m. Yes, you read that right. I was up before 10 on photo-an-hour day. Breakfast time!

10 a.m. Off for a shower – this is the shower curtain over the bath since Jan was using the actual shower

11 a.m. Jan left for a choir practice (hence me being up so early – practically my only chance to see him!) and I started hoovering.

12 noon I temporarily gave up on housework and decided to walk into town.

1 p.m. In town.

2 p.m. Home and about to have lunch – it was in the oven at this point so I took a photo of the packaging.

3 p.m. Decided to sort out some of the shelves on my bookcases. No idea what possessed me!

4 p.m. Still at it. I put together a nice pile of books to get rid of, but the shelves are still practically full. Also, I realised I can’t bring myself to get rid of any BBC Big Read books, even ones I hated, until I’ve actually completed the challenge!

5 p.m. The bookcases still aren’t exactly as I want them, but I needed a cuppa by that stage.

6 p.m. Contemplating my shelves of unread books. They never seem to get any less… hmmm I wonder why that could be?

7 p.m. Jan’s practice finished early so I walked back into town to meet him. Stork was in residence!

8 p.m. Dinner at a restaurant. Rösti with cheese and ham. This is why I’m failing miserably to lose weight!

9 p.m. Home. Jan immediately switched on the laptop to sort out some bills so I thought I might as well read.

10 p.m. Almost finished my book – just a few pages to go.

I could have taken one more photo after this, but I didn’t because I hate it when my photo-an-hour posts aren’t symmetrical!

Did you do anything nice on Saturday?

Bookshelf Scavenger Hunt 2.0

Hello friends! You may remember that a while ago I did a bookshelf scavenger hunt – basically taking various prompts and finding books on my shelf that fit them. I recently watched another version, with different prompts, on Books and Lala‘s YouTube channel (I guess I should call it Book Tube channel?) and wanted to play along again. I can’t credit the original creator because I have no idea who that was. So, without further ado, here we go…

1. Find a book that starts with an “N”

I’m guessing in the title, as opposed to the first letter on the first page 😉

1-Starts with N

Neverwhere… and there is also a bonus N book to the right.

2. Find a book cover that’s mostly brown

This was actually quite difficult – apparently I don’t have a lot of brown books! I found one though.

2-brown cover

3. Find a book that’s based on a true story

I’m reaching a little here, but this book is about a woman suffering with severe M.E. and the author also has M.E. (the book is described as an “autobiographical novel) so it kind of counts…

3-true story

4. Find a multiple perspective book

4-multi-perspectives

This book is told from the perspectives of the two main characters, Scarlet and Ivy.

5. Find a book you read last year

I read lots of books last year. Here’s one I liked a lot:

5-read last year

I can’t believe I’m still waiting for the final book in the series to come out!

6. Find the most recent book that you bought

This was easy! I was in the office again the other day and I needed a new book for the way home, so I went to the train station bookshop and found this:

6-recently bought

I tore through it on the train and loved it.

7. Find a book cover you don’t like

7-disliked cover

I love Stephen King, but what is this cover all about? So ugly!

8. Find a retelling

I haven’t read this yet, but I’m fairly sure it’s a retelling of Peter Pan:

8-retelling

9. Find a book that is also a movie film (sorry)

I wanted to use The Princess Bride for this but I couldn’t find it, so here’s this:

9-also a film

I have read this book 3 or 4 times but never seen the film.

10. Find a book written this year

Umm, I don’t have one. I rarely buy new books. I was thinking of Eliza and her Monsters but the copyright is 2017, so I have nothing for this prompt.

11. Find a non-fiction book

Easy! All our non-fiction books are together on one bookcase 🙂

10-non-fiction

I haven’t read this yet but I really want to!

12. Find a book you have told others to read

I have told several people to read this. As far as I know none of them have:

11-recommended book

13. Find a book with a tree on the cover

Another one I haven’t read.

12-tree on cover

By the way, that Costa thing isn’t a sticker but is actually printed onto the cover of my book. Why?!

14. Find a book where the author’s name is the same as yours (first, middle or last)

The spelling is different but it still counts!

13-author shares name

I took out all the Ramona books from the library when I was about 7 purely because the author shared my name.

15. Find a book you have read more than once.

Many, but I went with a childhood (and all-time) favourite:

14-read multiple times

I’ve only just noticed The Secret Garden peeking out at the side… I’ve definitely read that one multiple times as well!

16. Find a book you didn’t finish

15-never finished

I started reading this once with Jan and then again on my own for a reading challenge (the category was to read a book you had previously failed to finish… ironically, I again did not finish). It’s not like it’s a bad book, it’s just so long and the writing is so tiny…

17. Find a book with a king in it.

I wanted to use a Terry Pratchett book for this but annoyingly none of the books featuring King Verence are on the bookcase. I know I’ve bought Jan at least one so he must have left them at his dad’s place. So instead, have this:

16-king in the book

This is a King Arthur retelling. I’ve started it but so far I’m failing to really get into it.

18. Find a book that’s purple with its dust jacket off.

I took off so many dust jackets for this prompt, and in the process discovered that most of my books are boring black when naked. This one is kind of purple though. I also took a photo of it with its dust jacket so you can see what it is.

I’m not sure how purple it looks here, but it’s purplish in real life. I read this one a few years ago and I think I liked it at the time, although I don’t remember much about it now.

19. Find a book you will read by the end of the year

This is the final prompt. And the book I chose was this one:

18-will read in 2018

I’ve had it on my shelf for a while and it sounds really interesting so I will definitely be picking it up sometime soon.

That’s all folks! This is a really fun thing to do – you should give it a try 🙂

Three Days, Three Quotes – third time lucky – day 2

It is day two of my third go at this challenge. This time I was nominated by Irish Procrastinator.

The rules state:

1. Thank the person who nominated you – THANK YOU!

2. Post a quote for three consecutive days (1 quote for each day).

3. Nominate three bloggers each day.

Today’s quote is actually one I only heard relatively recently. At the weekend, we drove down to the Munich region for a family event and on the way back we listened to part of the audiobook of M is for Magic, a short story collection by Neil Gaiman. The quote actually comes from the introduction, which I probably wouldn’t have read in a physical book but for some reason we listened to it.

Neil Gaiman quote

If you know me even a little bit I don’t have to explain why those words immediately resonated with me.

I am breaking rule three and not nominating anyone since most people I would have chosen have already done this at least once. But if you would like to join in then please consider yourself nominated!

What I read in April 2018

It’s Show Us Your Books day again – the day that people all over the Internet talk about what they’ve been reading (and I add even more books to the never-ending list of things I want to read some day). Since I finished my reading for Erin’s challenge in March, this time I will simply be listing all my books in the order I read them. I have 13 books to review for you today, so let’s get on with it, shall we?

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Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Erin sent me this book ages and ages ago but I never got round to reading it – despite the fact that it would have fit two categories in her latest challenge. Oh well, I’ve read it now. It’s Leonard Peacock’s 18th birthday, and he plans for it to be his last. But first he say goodbye to the only four friends he has in the world. This is the story of that birthday. I felt really conflicted about this book. There were times the main character in this book really annoyed me, even while I felt sorry for him, but most of the time I was totally gripped. The ending disappointed me though… it just felt really bleak, like nothing is going to change. I was left feeling really down when just a few pages before I had felt hopeful. 3.5 stars.

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott. This is a story about a fifteen-year-old girl named Alice. She wasn’t always Alice… when she was 10, she was taken away from her family. Her kidnapper still has her, but now she’s getting too old for him. The blurb says “This is Alice’s story. It is one you have never heard, and one you will never, ever forget“. They’re not wrong about that. It’s a difficult book to review, though. The writing is excellent, the plot is horrific. I mean, given the subject matter it had to be horrific, but I just found it disturbing from beginning to end. No hope whatsoever. It’s realistic, I guess, but too dark for me. 2 stars.

Between the Lives by Jess Shirvington. This is a fascinating book! For as long as she can remember, Sabine has lived two lives. Every night, at midnight, she shifts to her ‘other’ life, meaning she lives every day twice. She is exactly the same in both lives, but absolutely everything else is different. In one life she has a sister, in the other two brothers, in one life she’s a rich, popular, straight-A student, in the other she’s considered a reckless delinquent. She assumes that’s the way it will be forever, until one day she discovers a glitch: she breaks her arm in one life but in the other it’s perfectly fine (previously whatever physical things happened in one life also happened in the other). With her new knowledge, Sabine begins a series of experiments to see whether it would be possible to end one of her lives while staying alive in the other. But if she can have just one life, which will she choose? This book is not without its problems. Some of Sabine’s decisions I could not agree with at all. And if you want to read it you should be warned that there is some violence. But overall I absolutely loved this. It’s such an interesting concept and really made me think about what I would do if I had two lives. 4 stars.

Squishy McFluff: The Invisible Cat by Pip Jones. Given that this book is a) only 80 pages (most of which are taken up with illustrations) and b) aimed at 4 year olds I debated not including it here, but it is a book I read in March! This is the story of a little girl called Ava who finds an invisible cat and decides to keep him as a pet. Much mischief ensues (all Squishy McFluff’s doing, of course!). The book is told in rhyme and it’s very funny and cute. I plan to give my little cousin it and the second book in the series for her birthday this year. 4 stars.

Secrets of the Tides by Hannah Richell. This is basically a family drama, full of tragedy and secrets (if you hadn’t guessed from the title ;-)) When Dora Tide finds out she’s pregnant, she returns to her childhood home – scene of much drama – in the hope that she can come to terms with her past and make a fresh start for her and her baby. When I first started reading, the writing felt a little clunky and I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book, but once the story properly got going I was completely absorbed. The ending is a little too neat, but overall a solid read. 4 stars.

The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin. I knew what this was about, of course, and I’ve seen the remake of the film (the one with Nicole Kidman), but I wanted to read the original – get the story straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. This is a short book, but an impactful one. Very creepy. I found it interesting how the husband’s opinions apparently changed dramatically between the beginning and end of the book. 4 stars for this one. I would love to read a sequel to this book, maybe set 10 years or so in the future, focusing on the children being brought up in these Stepford homes. Some of them were female… how did their fathers feel about them having minds of their own?

The Curse in the Candlelight by Sophie Cleverly. The fifth book in the Scarlet and Ivy series, after the last book took place on a school trip, in this one the twins are back at school for a new term. There are some new girls at the school one of whom – Ebony – claims to be a witch and seems to have the younger girls under her spell. When a prank on All Hallow’s Eve goes wrong, Ebony gets the blame, but Scarlet and Ivy aren’t so sure… It was nice to get away from evil teachers and have a slightly different kind of mystery in this one. Gothic and fun – a great addition to the series. I have enjoyed all the books in this series, but this is probably my favourite book since the first one. 5 stars.

The Brilliant Light of Amber Sunrise by Matthew Crow. First of all, I originally didn’t realise this was the US version of this book so I was really confused to see things like “sophomore year” being used in a book that’s supposed to be set in England. The original title is In Bloom, but the cover for this version is so much prettier. I mean, just look at it! Amber sunrise

Aside from that, I really liked this book. A lot of reviewers didn’t, which makes me feel like I’m missing something or somehow not as discerning as I should be. This is basically the story of two teenage cancer patients who meet and fall in love. You’re probably thinking “so it’s another The Fault in Our Stars, and maybe it is but I liked this one a lot better The Fault in Our stars – maybe because this one wasn’t hyped as the best/saddest book everrrrrr. It’s told from the perspective of the male half of the relationship. Francis, and while he did annoy me at times I loved his family (mum, brother, nan). It’s also set in North-East England, to which I can only say YAY! More northern books please! 4 stars.

House of Stairs by William Sleator. A lot of the reviews of this book are by people who say they read it as a child or teen and it’s stuck with them even many years later. Having read it, I can see why. It’s the story of five sixteen-year-old orphans in a future society who are brought into a room consisting of nothing but stairs and left to fend for themselves. The only other thing in there is a red machine that will give them food if they perform certain acts. I won’t say more because I really think it’s best to go in knowing very little. Oh, one of the orphans is overweight and the rest of the group frequently refer to her as “fat”. It’s not perfect by any means, but I gave it 5 stars because it really made me think.

Midnight’s Children by Salmen Rusdie. My longest read of the month… I was able to get through it in 12 days by taking it to work with me on both the times I was in the office this month (thank you long train rides) and also not picking up other books in between, which is what I usually end up doing with long books. This is another really difficult book to review. I really, really liked some parts. There’s one passage where he’s delirious with fever and hallucinating that was just amazing. Other parts are really confusing. I feel like I might have benefited from knowing more about Indian history, and specifically Indian independence/the partitioning of India and Pakistan (also a little ashamed of how little I do know given who they gained independence from…). That might have helped somewhat, but not fully. I can say that Salmen Rushdie is an amazing writer and I can see why this is considered his masterpiece. 4 stars – and another Big Read book done.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. About three years ago a friend gave me The Rosie Effect for my birthday, not realising it was a sequel. So when I needed a book for my journey home from work (having finished Midnight’s Children on the way there) it made sense to buy this one. Don Tilman is a professor of genetics, an respected expert in his field. But with his rigidity, adherence to strict schedules and preference of logic over emotion, he doesn’t have many friends… certainly no romantic partner. It has, however, been suggested to him that he might benefit from having a wife, and so, with the help of a questionnaire, he sets out to find one. A funny and cute story. Don Tilman definitely won my heart. This relatively “easy” read was exactly what I needed after Salmen Rushdie and I read almost the entire thing on my train journey. 5 stars.

The Woods by Harlan Coben. Twenty years ago, at summer camp, four teenagers went into the woods. The bodies of two of them were discovered the next day, the other two were never found but are presumed dead, the victims of a serial killer. One of the missing was the sister of Paul Copeland, the prosecutor for Essex County, New Jersey. Now immersed in one of the biggest cases of his career, the past is starting to come back to haunt him and he starts to question whether he really knows what happened that summer. This book has so many twists and turns. I thought I had an idea what happened, but I was wrong… or at least mostly wrong. Somebody I thought had done something actually turned out to have done something else (ha! How’s that for vague?). One thing that bothered me was the way certain women were described, although I guess that was supposed to be how Paul Copeland thinks and not necessarily the author’s views.  Some of the negative reviews for this one say that it follows the “usual Harlan Coben formula”. Luckily I haven’t read enough Harlan Coben to recognise any old materials so I enjoyed reading it. 4 stars.

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia. I loved this book! I could relate to Eliza in many ways (apart from the bit where she’s a fantastically talented artist and I’m average at literally everything). I don’t claim to have anxiety like she does, but I people do scare me and I am mostly quiet in social situations unless I force myself to speak. And I hated the whole social aspect of high school, even if I wasn’t treated as badly as Eliza is in this book. Mostly people ignored me, which was just fine with me, but some of my friends were quite badly bullied. I do have real life friends (although most of them live very far away now), but I appreciated how this book shows that online friends are just as “real” as people you live close to and see every day. I may not have met most of my readers, but I appreciate and care about each and every one of them. Anyway, I digress. Five stars for this book.

I also read Adulthood is a Myth in April. You can read my separate review of that one here.

And that’s it for this round up. I started another two books in April, but one I haven’t finished and the other I finished in May so that will be in next month’s post.

Have you read any of these books? Do you agree with my opinion on them? Read any good books recently? Any and all comments appreciated! Linking up with Jana and Steph, of course.