Mid-Year Reading Report

Welcome, welcome, I’m sure you’re all as fed up with politics as I am, soooo I decided to politicise my blog today and give you my reading “coverage” for this first half of the year.

Since January, I’ve read a lot of books and I was looking forward to a landslide victory with regards to my tbr, but recently my campaign went a little sour and I’ve been hit by a terribly unsupportive slump… Hopefully I’ll be able to make up the votes (*ahem* books) in the latter part of the year, but we’ll see.

Now time for some helpful graphics so you know what I’m talking about 😉 :

bbc books read so far this year

So far so good- on the surface this looks pretty promising- let’s just not dig too deep or we might unearth some scandalous periods when I read absolutely nothing….

ratings

I’m not overly generous with ratings, so I’m pretty damn pleased this shows that I mostly picked up books I actually liked. One would hope I would continue this trend- but one can’t always trust the polls now, can we?

by genre

Annnnd I’ve clearly gone overboard with the fantasy- let’s see if I can have some more “balanced” coverage in the next part of the year… even if I am typically biased when it comes to my reading habits 😉 Never mind, I can always pretend otherwise!

So that’s it for now! Yes, I am being shifty about things like number of books reviewed, or books per month… but one can’t expect me to be entirely transparent! And please don’t ask me for facts & figures in the comments- there’s no way *anyone* can be expected to know those pesky little details!

Top Five Divisive Books

So I’ve just got back from the polling station and it was as anti-climactic as ever. But my social media is still a massive battleground…

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Now since politics today is probably the most divisive topic out there (because if you don’t agree with me on everything you’re not a real *insert political affiliation* and you are an *insert insult here*) I thought I’d have a relaxing evening and talk about books that people get *really* up in arms over. These are the books with incredibly INTENSE fan bases and detractors- and my goodness- people have fought tooth and nail over them. So without further ado, this is my list of divisive books:

Harry_Potter_and_the_Philosopher's_Stone_Book_Cover

1. Harry Potter– ooh er- I’m nervous to even put this on the list- which oddly enough is why I have to include it. Because while many of us book bloggers are proud Potterheads or are friends with them, they are some of the most diehard fans out there. They will not brook even one iota of criticism for their beloved books and saying anything less than “the books are perfection and I want to kiss the feet of the goddess JK” is enough to get you excommunicated from bookish communities… Anyone not with them is a muggle and all that jazz. So yeah, Potterheads, I love ya, but you can be a bit scary!

twilight

2. Twilight– I think a lot of people have grown up about this one, so while there are still Twihards out there, they seem less inclined to stab you with a stake if you don’t happen to like sparkly vampires. But the main reason I included this on the list, is because it sparked the phenomenon of not only going after the non-sparkly-vampire-lovers (what’s the term for that? Normal? 😉 ) but also massive in-fighting. Before it was cool to fight over whether you shipped Gale/Peeta with Katniss Everdeen or Stephan/Damon with Elena, there were hordes of teens running round shouting “Edward!” “Jacob!” at each other. (Also “bite me Edward!”- seriously it was a weird time)

Throne_of_Glass_UK

3. Throne of Glass– so this book was a bit of a phenomenon in that first it was really popular to like it and then it was really popular to criticise- I don’t know if that was just me that noticed that? Either way, you guys know I fell in love with this series cos of the characters, but since it wasn’t instalove for me, I can see both sides of this argument. Either way, the reason it’s on this list is because I have seen plenty of passion when it comes to both its fans and its detractors. Fortunately that hasn’t devolved into anything truly nasty.

The_Fault_in_Our_Stars

4. The Fault in Our Stars– so back when this blew up, I was into watching a lot of booktube, and yes, naturally the youtube comment sections are the cesspit of humanity, but I think this was the first time I saw people giving out death threats over a book. I get that people love John Green, I’ve been there, but man you don’t have to fight all his battles for him. If a few people don’t like his books, it’s no biggie. He’s still a bestselling author and I’m sure he can handle minor criticism from folks on the internet- just sayin’.

catcher in the rye

5. Catcher in the Rye– I had to squeeze at least one classic onto this list. Now I know this gets assigned at schools everywhere in the states, so a huge number of people have read it. What is phenomenal about this book is that *every time* I mention it, I get a chorus of “I love it” “I hate it” in the comments. It has to be one of the most “marmite” books ever- you either love it or you hate it.

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(ok that may have just  been the most British reference ever)

Anyhoo- so do you agree or disagree with these choices? What books do you think are very divisive? Let me know in the comments! And can all the Twihards and Potterheads looking to lynch me get in line in an orderly fashion… 😉

Introducing: Masters and Beginners!

masters and beginnersHello all!! Long-time no see! Since I’m being so totally rubbish with blogging lately, I figured the best thing to get me out of this rut is to hit the crazy backlog of unreviewed books- because *arghh* I am so disorganised and these books are not gonna review themselves!!

I’m excited to talk about this particular book, because it’s by my lovely blogger friend Daley Downing– if you don’t know who she is, you *must* check her out *right now*, because her blog is full to the brim with endlessly different discussions, lists and posts!! And now she’s a published author as well!!  RESPECT *fist bumps*!

I am so glad to say that I had so much fun with her book. First off, it is charmingly written and naturally very sweet. I will say it felt reminiscent of books aimed at younger teens, but that’s in no way a criticism- because I love me some cuteness!! Especially when said cuteness involves cats!

All the characters felt different and very real (yes, I’m including the cats in this again). I also felt like there were a lot of things you don’t normally see, like representation of an autistic character woven seamlessly into the story- you guys know I love subtlety and this just worked so well for me. And let’s talk about the parents in this one- I feel like Daley got the balance perfectly right between parents that understand the need for their children to spread their wings, but they aren’t those clueless parents you usually get in YA where their children can practically be screaming “I’m just hanging out with my vampire pals” and the parent’s response is “that’s nice dear”.

It did take a while for the plot to really get going, but when the action does happen, it cranks up the tension nicely and brings the feels. Plus, since I was so immersed in the world building early on, it didn’t feel slow, I just felt immersed in the world. In fact, the build-up is one of the things that was so great about the book, because it allowed me to get to know the characters and family dynamic.

In terms of world building I felt like it was pretty flawless- there was an authentic feel to it and though certain creatures, like angels, can be hit and miss for me, they worked so well here. Also, who doesn’t love a cool dorky reference- cos this has those in abundance!

The best thing about this book though was that it felt fresh and different. I mean, how often are us book bloggers moaning to the world that we want to read something new that isn’t jam packed with tropes?! Well the massive selling point of non-traditionally published books is that they offer something different.

So if you are bored of samey samey books, definitely give this a go!

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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So have you read this? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!

Three Dark Crowns was a Little Lightweight

three dark crowns uk

Alohomora! If you think that introduction is a sign of how magical this book was… you would be wrong. I’m just in a Harry Potter mood (I’ve been binge watching The Dom’s reviews– anyone else seen those?) Sorry to disappoint, but this book is hardly in the league of JK Rowling’s originality and imagination. Yes, the blurb of this book promises something dark, interesting, seductive even- but that’s not exactly what you get. This was bang on average- nothing terrible about it, nothing too brilliant either.

The writing style was crisp and effective in many ways- buuut there was one major flaw with it- the author does all her characterisation by proxy. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not one to always bring out the “show don’t tell” rule and I even like a good Dickensian characterisation, where everything but the kitchen sink is thrown in with excruciating detail… Yet if there’s one thing I find fault with its when other characters *tell* us the personality traits of other people in the book- especially when there’s no other indication they actually possess these qualities. Note to authors: all the other characters saying the protagonist is “sweet” does not make her sweet. And if you’re going to use this technique, just back it up, with at least one piece of evidence! It just feels like lazy writing otherwise.

So what of these characters then? Well I liked Mirabelle best because we actually saw her acting out her characteristic “sweetness”. Likewise, Arsinoe’s “wildness” showed up from time to time. Kat’s personality on the other hand…. Well it was as flat as a pancake. As I said, there was not one iota of evidence to suggest she was also “sweet”. (Also could the author have managed to come up with a third character trait so that it wasn’t so repetitive- is that too much to ask?)

Alright, so the characterisation wasn’t ideal, what of the romance? I guess, it was fine (really, I’m not managing to conjure up much enthusiasm for this book, am I?) I found it believable enough. I know a lot of people thought it was instalove, but I thought it was done in a similar style to everything else- ie we were told about it. So it didn’t trouble me any more than how anything else was fleshed out (as in, not very much).

slow slow quick quick slowIn terms of pacing, it was mostly slow-slow-quick-quick-slow- ok just kidding, it was slow, but it sped up at the end. Again, I didn’t have too much of a problem with this because it’s only 400 pages long, so if you’re a quick reader the slow parts won’t be too painful. There was *finally* some action at the end, but there were issues with it. The first being that I had not connected enough with the characters to be shocked… the second being that I guessed the “twist” from chapter 1. As nice as it is to be right, that’s a little too easy if you ask me.

Alright after that pretty lacklustre review, this may come as a shock, but I would quite like to continue reading this series out of sheer curiosity. In all honesty, I want to see if I can guess the rest of theplot….

Rating: 2½/5 bananas

hand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-banana half-a-hand-drawn-banana

Also, let’s be honest, the covers are epic.

What books have been *so obvious* to you that you guessed everything from the beginning? And what book do you reckon was lazily written? Let me know in the comments!

6 for 6 – June Mini Reviews

So what with my blogging slump and generally being behind with reviews in general (there are just so many!!), I am very excited to do my June mini reviews. In case you’ve not seen this before, this is just my way of catching up on my ridiculous backlog of unreviewed books. Anyhoo, since I’m currently being buried under the weight of the *insane* number of books I have here, let’s get on with it!

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scorpio races

Scorpio Races– first off, this was a very enjoyable and unique- so massive kudos for that! Unfortunately there were gaps in the world building and too many things that went unexplained or didn’t make total sense, which ended up taking me out of the story from time to time. In the end, suspending my disbelief wasn’t as easy as I would have liked and I found it hard to orient myself with regards to the setting. Furthermore, while it was beautifully written, it could be a bit long winded at times. This meant I struggled to relate to the characters as well. I know this may sound like I didn’t like it, but trust me, I did. I just felt that while this was decent, it didn’t blow me away.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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summer shadows

Summer Shadows– so I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this on my blog before, but this is a fun series. That said, like most series that runs on an average concept (psychics with soulmates basically), it can be hit and miss. This particular book started out well. For the last two books, there had been hints (well more like *neon signs*) that Summer, the protagonist here, had a secret. And I have to say that secret didn’t disappoint. What disappointed was the rest of the book- because once said secret was revealed, the story took a total nosedive. The big mission that had been promised for two books was a total shitshow (not in a good way). Add to that a lousy love interest and a main character that ended up being a complete prat and getting on my nerves and you have for a lousy conclusion to a series. Maybe if the premise interests you, read book 1 and leave it at that.

Rating: 2/5 bananas

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dark-places-book-cover

Dark Places– if you’re familiar with Flynn’s work, you’ll know that she is pretty much incapable of writing a bad book or fumbling her prose. This book was as eloquently written as Gone Girl, if a tad long winded with the flashback sequences. Ultimately, though, I liked the Russian doll effect of telling a story this way. Plus, I have to say you never really know if a thriller’s good till the end and this had a very dramatic ending. I saw parts of the big reveal coming, but not all of it, especially not how it all linked together, so I was ultimately very satisfied with this one.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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demons

Demons– well if you’re familiar with Dostoevsky, you’ll know that a huge proportion of what makes his books special are the characters. So it was really unfortunate that I struggled to connect with the characters in this one. I did really like Nik, was intrigued by Dostoevsky’s- as usual- insightful philosophy and found the book’s examination of god and nihilism fascinating. But I think my experience was ruined by two things: migraines and the old, clunky style it was written in. Neither of which things can be attributed to Dostoevsky- he’s off the hook completely here- but it did mean I struggled to get through it. For the most part, what I don’t blame on my own head, I blame on the translator- who I found out halfway through reading it hadn’t even got the title totally right (he’d translated it as “Possessed” when the verb in Russian is supposed to be more like “Possessor” aka Demons/Devils). So I wasn’t in love with this one, but given this is my 5th Dostoevsky, I can’t be expected to love every single one and loving 4/5 is still a good record.

Rating: 3½/5 bananas

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dune

Dune– *deep breath* everyone: I didn’t connect with this one- I just felt like it hasn’t aged well. The writing style felt stale and was really, really not my thing. It was too dry for me to relate to the characters or the plot… so I didn’t enjoy it at all I’m afraid. Also I had to deduct bananas for having one of those sand snake monster things (maybe even inventing them… I subsequently blame this book for the 80s) #sorrynotsorry

Rating: 2/5 bananas

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finding cinderella

Finding Cinderella– Now I have to say when I downloaded this one I didn’t realise it was a novella and that it was part of a series- I just saw “Colleen Hoover” and “free”- my mistake! That said, judging it on its own, it’s got to be the weirdest starts to a relationship ever… In fact it’s just about one of the weirdest story I’ve ever read. In short, the plot was weird with this one.

Rating: 2/5 bananas

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So not as many great books this month (I gave more bananas in my last set of mini reviews and there were fewer books!) but I hope you enjoyed that anyway! Have you read any of these? Did you like them? Let me know in the comments!

Anything But Books Tag

Hello all!! So this has been a weird month for me, namely cos I’ve hit a *dreaded slump*. Both with my reading and my blogging. Yup- horrifying right?! I didn’t manage to post most of the things I had planned this month, so hopefully June is gonna be super exciting… But since I haven’t been doing as much reading or blogging this month, I think it’s only fair to talk about what I’ve been doing instead with the ANYTHING BUT BOOKS tag!!

Thank you so much to Kat for tagging me to do this one!! For everyone that hasn’t (for some crazy reason) checked her out yet, her blog is incredible, stuffed with brilliant reviews for books *and* TV- plus she’s adventuring round Canada right now, so you have to follow her for all her awesome updates!!

Alrighty then, onto the tag!

1. Name a cartoon that you love.

I’m assuming this counts movies, right? My three favourites are Prince of Egypt, Anastasia and Mulan!

cartoon movies.png

And cos Spring is my favourite time of year, I always try to rewatch these around now (along with getting some great rereads in) #funfact

2. What is your favourite song right now?

Ooh so you guys know how much I like sharing music, right? This question is gonna open up a can of worms, cos I’m listening to a variety of things right now:

I’m obsessed with this soundtrack right now

 

The original, not the remix

 

Cos I’ve been watching wayyy too much Supernatural lately…

3. What could you do for hours that isn’t reading?

Writing, watching movies/tv and spend time on here! Right now I’m really into old movies and have watched some excellent classics in the last week:

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4. What is something you love to do that your followers would be surprised by?

Hehe the second that I’m asked something like this my mind goes blank!! Exercise, maybe?! Follow sports? I love the tennis and am a *huge* Arsenal fan! Lots of *good thoughts* for the Gunners right now cos we just won the FA cup a record number of times:

arsenal fa cup 2017

(yes, yes, I know you’re all leaping out your seats with excitement for that fun tidbit 😉 )

5. What is your favourite unnecessarily specific thing to learn about?

Umm I don’t know why this is embarrassing for me but recently I’m very interested in learning about psychology…

6. What is something unusual that you know how to do?

Well, I’m not very crafty, but I do like to draw- but I don’t know if that counts cos it’s not especially “unusual”

7. Name something you made in the last year and show us if you can.

Well I’m much too shy for extracts, but I am currently working on a book (until further notice I will always be working on a book of some description 😉 )

8. What is your most recent personal project?

The aforementioned and elusive book.

9. Tell us something that you think about often?

Politics! I really, really try to avoid talking about it on here- even though a fair number of the books I read are influenced by political commentators I follow- but this actually takes up far too much of my time. Just to give you an idea of how obsessed I am, about 95% of channels I’m subscribed to on Youtube are political and I cannot even keep track of how much political commentary I read. To be honest, I’m feeling a bit politics’d-out at the minute, what with the general election coming up, so I think I’m gonna kick the habit for a bit and switch off from it all- it can be really exhausting!

10. Give us something that is your favorite, but make it oddly specific.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I love the feeling when you’re nearing the end of writing something and everything is just coming together and all those carefully laid strings of the plot you’ve left along the way are just waiting to be tied together.

I love that new scent of Spring  in the air, just as the season turns, and you know the world is coming alive again with possibilities.

I love that rush I get when I learn something new, but it actually feels like it’s something old that I’ve heard a million times before, and my whole brain just lights up, like YES, THIS IS SO TRUE.

11. Say the first thing that pops into your head.

“We are Siamese if you please…”

(my brain is weird)

Alrighty then- that’s all for now- I tag:

Donna, Danielle, J J Azar and Liis

Annnd that’s all for now- can’t believe it’s the end of MAY?!?! Where is this year going? If anyone has any idea how I can contact Time and ask him to slow down, let me know!!

The Listicle Tag: Top 5 books you’ll never be caught with in public

Hoho today you are in for a treat! And by treat I mean something pretty different to my normal content. Last week I was tagged by the incredible Liis– who you absolutely *must* check out because not only is her blog is amazing, but she’s also one of the nicest people on here! – and I just had to do it as soon as possible cos this topic is g o l d.

Rules:

  • Create your own listicle tag, using the prompt from the person who tagged you.
  • Tag the creator of the post (not-so-modern-girl!) so that she can read all your brilliant posts and see how the joy of listicles is being spread.-
  • Nominate as many people as you want!
  • Set those 5 people the subject/prompt of their listicle post!

Now I’m going to be candid with this (because otherwise what’s the point?) and share books I’ve actually read here. And why is this going to be embarrassing? Because sometimes I read books with *ahem* adult content (though I’m hardly a connoisseur)… So stands to reason I’d be embarrassed to be seen with some of these covers in public. Also, if you are underage or aren’t too fond of this kind of material, avert your eyes now!

feral sins

Guilty pleasure- no judging!!

never trust a pirate

Actually the cover’s not too damning- just don’t read the blurb 😉 On the plus side, this author’s pretty good if you’re into this sort of thing, just a bit samey after a while.

captive prince

Well at least the cover for this one’s not bad, but I would still be worried that someone would know what this one was about or read too much over my shoulder!!

City_of_Bones (1)

I’m not really embarrassed by this one, but I feel like to save my blushes I could name something a little less raunchy- plus that cover really implies it’s much sexier than it is.

fifty shades of grey

I’d mostly be embarrassed by the fact that this is an awful, awful book.

Okay- now that’s over with- I tag:

Nel @Reactionary Tales

James @ This is my Truth Now

Sarah @Between the Pages

Angelica @Book Cover Girls

Rivermoose reads

My topic is going to be a bit more PG: Top 5 non-human characters in books (count yourselves lucky I didn’t just say top five monkeys in books 😉 )

Phew- this feels like I’ve been airing my dirty laundry! What book would you be embarrassed to be seen with in public? Let me know in the comments below!