Confessions of a (justified) mood reader…

 

thoughts orangutan

This has been a long time coming. I’ve been holding this secret inside and I don’t think I can keep it from you anymore: I’M A MASSIVE MOOD READER AND SOMETIMES I MAKE RIDICULOUS READING CHOICES! (okay a lot of you already knew that and so this was perhaps a little melodramatic 😉) Point is, it’s time I exposed my silliness to the world… (so that you can laugh/judge/commiserate with me!) Let’s get into some of the ways mood reading effects my reading:

piles of booksI am incapable of keeping to a TBR. I’ve talked about this before, but there’s a reason you’ll never see a proper TBR post from me (and if I do one, it’s more like: here’s some books I plan to read within the next decade 😉)

 

merlin books sharingOh and forget about keeping to hard deadlines- I like to have months to read an ARC, buddy reads are often a no-go and I will happily read a gift years after I get it (the exception being that I am almost pathological when it comes to library due dates 😉)

 

shameBecause of that I have so much TBR Shame! Often people will be impressed that I have only 300 books on my goodreads TBR… until I point out that I have wishlists with hundreds of books on every. single. book site (I don’t even think this is simply being disorganised- I think this is a way of tricking myself into believing my TBRs are not all exponentially long). And I only ever seem to grow them instead of making them smaller. It’s a real struggle to delete something off the list that I will never might not read- let alone pick them all up! (which to be fair would be impossible, since I seem determined to list every book in the universe, no matter how much it seems like these lists are never ending blackholes…)

 

hoarding booksI also hoard ebooks like there’s no tomorrow. I have books for every occasion and every possible mood- some of which have been on my TBR *forever and a day*. Here are just some of the books I’ve got on my kindle that I’ve been meaning to read for years:

 

(yes I am sneakily including these so I can guilt myself later 😉)

choose books2And yet I still struggle to find the perfect book for the perfect moment! I will spend ages between books looking at my shelves/overdrive/going to the library, trying to determine what’s right for my mood and choosing what to read next… which should be easy with options from *all the genres* but NOPE.

 

book loveBecause *lowers voice* nothing really happens if I make the wrong choice. Sometimes I could pick something up in a genre I don’t feel like and just put it down again. The rest of the time, I secretly know that I could probably choose anything and it wouldn’t actually matter if I thought I was in the mood for it- if it’s a great book, I’ll get in the mood…  

So are any of you mood readers? Do you have the same problems as me? Let me know in the comments!

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*All the Bananas* predictions update (with new forecasts!)

orangutan list

Eons and eons ago, I did a post talking about some of my five star predictions… now I’ve finally read all the books and can tell you what I thought of them! (of course I wrote the original so long ago that this follow up post might seem irrelevant- maybe just play along and pretend this isn’t coming from left of field 😉) Let’s not waste any more time and get to it!

strange the dreamer

Strange the Dreamer– success! In fact, I’ve since completed this duology and considered it perfection! Though it doesn’t come as a surprise- I’ve rated every. single. one of Taylor’s books 5 bananas- and that’s cos they deserve ALL THE LOVE!!

book of dust

Belle Sauvage– this came very close with 4½/5 well deserved bananas. This was a little on the slow side and it didn’t quite live upto the original trilogy. Having said that, this new series has an exquisite fairy tale feel and I got the sense it was building towards something big and beautiful in the next book- we shall have to wait and see when the Secret Commonwealth comes out in October.

wolf by wolf

Wolf By Wolf- I’ve read this entire series now and am happy to say it ended up with an average rating of 4/5 bananas- which is not to be sniffed at! There were aspects I liked less than I expected, but obviously glad I read it.

iron gold

Iron Gold– oh so close: this got 4½/5. I’m counting that as a win though- because I loved the bloodyhell out of this book and it was fantastic to have the gang back together. As with Belle Sauvage I had the sense that the series is *going places*.

girl in the tower

Girl in the Tower– we have a winner! Arden, like Taylor, has never let me down and it’s completely unsurprising that I gave this 5/5 bananas. This is another one where I’ve since read the sequel and given that 5 bananas as well!

Alrighty then- I’d say that went pretty well! And obviously, cos this was so successful, I want to see if I can do it again. Here are some upcoming releases/future reads I reckon I’ll be giving all the bananas:

Some of these could go either way, but I have high hopes for them all!

I’ll probably update you about how this went in a few years 😉 For now, I want to know what upcoming books you think will be 5 star reads? Let me know in the comments!

The Wolf by Wolf Series Has Some Impressive Storytelling Chops!

 

In a world, where every villain is a Nazi, I introduce to you… a book where all the villains are Nazis 😉 But wait! This one’s slightly different to your average book- because this is set in an alternative reality, where the Nazis won WW2.

Things kicked off in Wolf by Wolf in a strong fashion. With incredible pace and writing that was nothing short of magnificent, Graudin introduced our heroine, a genetically modified Jewish girl, on a mission to kill Hitler- sounds good right? Well, I’ll admit there were some teething problems for me when it came to world building (possibly because I often struggle with alternative history- something about my brain leaves me totting up all the details and wondering “but could it have happened this way, really?”). For me personally, though this won’t be a problem for everyone, the story snagged on a few details:

  • hitler-nein-nein-neinFor starters, if the Nazis had won, I don’t think there’s any version of the Third Reich that didn’t mean more fighting and more flames and more death camps.
  • While there were points when the Allies could have lost, Hitler, poor strategist that he was, never could have taken over the world (let alone held it). This was something Graudin pointed out in her notes, but pointing something out doesn’t solve the problem. Aside from the instability of the regime, the idea that Hitler was somehow superhuman (propagated by Aryan propaganda) was smashed to bits long before the Allied victory with his incompetent decision making. In fairness, the book does a lot to dispel this myth (which I can’t get into for spoilery reasons)- nonetheless posing the idea baffled me for large portions of the first book.
  • Lastly, I liked when Japan was used as a setting, yet the whole Nazis wearing kimonos thing is beyond ridiculous- Nazis weren’t known for appreciating other cultures.

I think I could’ve liked the first installment more if I hadn’t been distracted by this. Still, even if I had trouble suspending my disbelief, this didn’t deter me from continuing with the story. Although I saw some of it coming, the finale of Wolf by Wolf was so exhilarating, I knew I had to read on. I made a brief detour into the novella Iron to Iron, but while the writing was as incredible as the other two books, I unfortunately I found the story a bit of a waste of time, since there really wasn’t any new information here or purpose to the story.

However, when I entered the last lap of the story, Blood for Blood, I was happy to see this was where the narrative really hit its stride. All the highs and lows were in the right place; I was on the edge of my seat, feeling the roar of tension around me. The mounting drama had me engaged and ending was as explosive as you’d want. And it didn’t hurt that it tugged on all the heartstrings! Sure, parts were predictable, yet ultimately I got everything I wanted out of the story. And I found, because of that, I had an easier time just getting lost in the world and not in the minutia of history. Like all the best series, it ended on a high and you can’t ask for more than that!

Overall, I gave this series:

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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

The Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle Tots up to a Terrifically Unique Read

evelyn hardcastleI’ll admit, when I started this book, I didn’t quite share the same convictions as some of its fans, but once I’d finished… well, I can assure you that had all changed. Let’s rewind a little, shall we?

Despite the intrigue of the opening, my confusion matched the narrator’s and I couldn’t figure out what on earth was going on. This meant that I took a lot of breaks in the beginning. I had to keep reading and rereading things to make sure I was following everything. There just seemed to be too many elements to hold onto and I wasn’t sure it was for me. I had trouble suspending my disbelief and just falling into the peculiar endless party of the story.

Now, I will admit, a part of the problem was that I had been told to go in blind… this didn’t work for me. I feel like I’d have been better off with a brief synopsis and knowing that it was a Groundhog Day style murder mystery (that’s all I’ll tell you, because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who would rather go in knowing as little as possible). At 20%, my befuddlement was so great that I simply had to read the blurb. It didn’t entirely clear things up, but at least I got a sense that it was building to something.

Still, I found the story oddly compelling (emphasis on the odd!) I was impressed by how many threads Turton wove in seemingly meaningless directions. I became entangled in the plots, looking for clues everywhere, trying to find my way out of this maze. There was the figure of Evelyn Hardcastle, darting half-seen from page to page. There were the houseguest’s secrets, spun into curious mysteries of their own. I felt like I was wading through an intense fog, until finally, around day 4 it began to clear and I finally started to grasp the narrative. Once I was halfway through, a spark was lit, and I couldn’t put it down.

Then, the twists came. Unexpected and bold and totally different. It transformed the story from the repetitious to the spectacular. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. My notes became filled with oohs and ahhs!! And my goodness- what a finale! It revealed a fascinating concept behind the story- which admittedly did raise some questions for me- so highlight for spoilers here… I will say that parts of the conclusion left me troubled- as much as I love a redemption arc, I don’t really see how Anna is completely off the hook, given a lot of the agency is with the narrator, and I think it would’ve made more sense for her to do more to save herself. That said, I do really, really like the idea of forgiveness setting you free. From the perspective of the narrator’s character, it’s the perfect arc. And ultimately, I’m a little too bedazzled to totally care about that aspect.

So, if you are like me, and a little bit baffled by this book to start with, stick with it, because the seemingly baffling beginning is redeemed by the ending.

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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

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

Bookish parties I’d love to attend

 

orangutan list

Back when I did the fictional places I’d like to visit, the lovely Isobel Necessary @Literally Literary requested that I talk about fictional parties I’d like to attend. This is such a *fab* idea, cos everyone loves a good party (even if their idea of a good party is drinking hot chocolate and reading with friends in their pyjamas this… although I may just be talking about myself 😉). Before I get to it, I have to recommend checking out her site- cos it’s like a full-on rave over there! I’ll wait for you back… okay hope you didn’t get too drunk on books while you were over there… now, get your glad rags out and let’s go to town!

celebration monkey

 

Gatsby’s Party– there ain’t no party like a Gatsby party! I’ve always had a bit of a penchant for the roaring 20s, but Gatsby goes to a whole other level, so naturally this tops my list.

Yule Ball– there are so many get-togethers and feasts in the Wizarding World, but nothing compares to the Yule Ball. Give me half a chance and I’d be dusting off my dress robes and dancing along to the Weird Sisters with the best of them!

A Court of Frost and Starlight– I just really want to go to the Night Court, is that so much to ask? And the best time seems to be the Winter Solstice- the festivities and magic in the air seems stronger somehow…

Bilbo Baggin’s Eleventy First Birthday- Tolkien really does know how to set things off with a bang- and I’m not just talking about Gandalf’s fireworks. This is one of my favourite book openers- and for good reason. I think we all feel like we’re a part of the action when we’re instantly thrown into this fun, Hobbit tradition.

The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party- of course, as a British person, I have to throw in a tea party 😉 Now, this may not be your traditional fare, but no one could argue against the sheer entertainment value of your hosts. This bonkers fare will (probably) put you in a good mood (or else drive you crazy). Just don’t expect to get any more tea…

Macbeth’s Banquet– rather an inconvenient time for a haunting, but this is precisely the moment Banquo’s ghost picks to turn up, making murdery Macbeth look a little mad. Granted, I’m not sure this is the kind of party you necessarily want to attend… but imagine the tall-tales you’d have to tell afterwards.

Fancy dress ball at Manderley– I won’t say what happens- because it’s spoilery- but it’s a little bit of a shocking moment in the book where *drama goes down*. It’s such an iconic moment and I urge you to check out the book to know more… 

Victor’s Party– not just because the setting and costumes are elaborate, but also because of the schemes. The real reason it’s so good is… (highlight for spoilers) any party where Hitler gets shot- even if it’s not a real Hitler- is a good party.

ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball- moving into the (sort of) real world, this modern take on a traditional tale makes me want to attend a real con someday, because this sounds such fun. Plus, I get to say: Geekerella shall go to the ball!

The Party at Blackheath– this whole book is centred around a party- though I shan’t say more than that because there’s more to it than it seems…

Well that’s all for now! I’d love to hear some recommendations from you guys- what fictional parties do you think are worth attending? Let me know in the comments!

Captivated by the Man in the White Sharkskin Suit

the man in the white sharkskin suitOne day when I went into the library, there was an elderly lady returning a book, which she described as “a most beautiful story” and that she “couldn’t put it down”. She was (rather sweetly) hoping for the librarians to advertise the book in some way, because she thought it was a book worth sharing. Now, their plan was to just put it on the side and reshelve it later, so I swooped in and scooped it. Having now read it, I can confirm that it is indeed a most beautiful story that is impossible to put down and I hope to repay the favour that lady did for me by passing it onto you lovely people.

Technically speaking, the Man in the White Sharkskin Suit is a non-fiction story, but when you actually get into it, you’ll find, as I did, that it is so much more than that. Detailing the memoirs of her family, Lagnado shares a forgotten history and delves into the modern Jewish exodus from Egypt. With historical accounts, remembered anecdotes and the loveliest old photographs, the author brings this narrative to life in a way that makes it feel closer to home.

From the beautiful opening, where Lagnado describes her desire to rebuild the hearth, the table is set and my interest was alight. Soon, it became apparent that the author has an exquisite way with language. She captures the faintly magical atmosphere with all the skill of a true storyteller. She fills her pages with a touch of the regal, yet never strays far from the darker truths and presents its cast as they were, warts and all.

It did not take long for me to be swept up by this story. The journey I was taken on was heartbreaking and uplifting in equal measure. I laughed and cried along with the narrative. And yes, I struggled to put it down (a real feat for non-fic!)

Above all, what stood out to me was how the author’s love for her father shines through her words. Written in her father’s memory, it honoured him in every way and it was an honour to read. This is by far one of the best biographies I have ever read.

Rating: 5/5 bananas

hand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-banana 

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

Sunshine Blogger Award #5

 

I haven’t done one of these in two years- SAY WHAT?! And since I was recently nominated by a couple of people, I figured it was about time. Thanks so much to the lovely Keira @Headphones and Hyperbole– who talks a lot about music and books- what could be better? And thank you to the awesome Rachael @Dogearedpages– whose enthusiasm comes through in her wonderful book blog 😀 Definitely worth checking both of them out!

Rules


  1. Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to their blogging site.
  2. Answer the questions.
  3. Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.
  4. Notify the nominees about it by commenting on one of their blog posts.
  5. List the rules + display the sunshine blogger award logo on your site or on your post.

Keira’s questions…

1.      You have been arrested. What is the crime you are most worried about being falsely accused of?

Gosh- what a question! I’d hate to be falsely accused of anything- but I figure going down for a murder I didn’t commit would be pretty awful… especially since I don’t have the brains of Andy Dufresne to get myself out of that situation.

chocolate2.      What is your favourite type of chocolate? (Can you tell that it’s Easter…)

Oh man I love ALL THE CHOCOLATE- but if you really want the way to my heart, you’ll get there with a Ferrero Rocher

3.      Highlighting or underlining?

Probably underlining cos I get lazy/don’t colour code things properly… but that doesn’t usually stop me trying.

4.      What is your favourite fantasy creature?

rhaegal dragon

Dragons!

5.      What is your biggest pet peeve?

(Oh boy, you’re going to wish you never asked…)

Hypercorrection. Every time someone uses a reflexive pronoun incorrectly, I wince. Every time I see an Oxford comma, I die a little inside. In fact, I was reminded of this recently when #OxfordComma was trending on twitter and *a lot* of philistines *ahem* misinformed souls were using examples that weren’t just grammatically incorrect, they also created the very problems they sought to avoid. Observe this sentence without hypercorrection:

“Highlights of Peter Ustinov’s global tour include encounters with Nelson Mandela, an 800 year old demigod and a dildo collector.”

And now with hypercorrection:

“Highlights of Peter Ustinov’s global tour include encounters with Nelson Mandela, an 800 year old demigod, and a dildo collector.”

This actually *creates a subordinate clause*- meaning you have now unequivocally called Nelson an 800 year old demigod- meaning this has obscured rather than clarified the intended meaning (and the same is true for the much touted dedication example). Ironically, there was no confusion in the sentence before BECAUSE THE RULE OF NOT PUTTING EXTRA COMMAS IN LISTS ALREADY WORKS!! This entire rule was invented for people who don’t know how to read properly to begin with… and makes a mockery of people with basic literacy! *slow clap for stupidity ruling the day*

(see, bet you regret asking 😉 )

6.      Do you prefer sparkling water or still water?

Still water- I *hate* sparkling water cos it makes me thirsty- what is the point in water that makes you thirsty?!

7.      Are you the type of person to make decisions with your head or your heart?

thinking monkey

I’m the kind of person/monkey to make decisions with my heart and then second guess them until I end up more or less making them with my head 😉

8.      What do you do when you are stuck on something and need an epiphany?

I work on something else or just write in circles until I come up with something.

9.      What is your happy place?

Bed, surrounded by books 😉 Then I can be *anywhere*…

book bed

seriously wish this was my actual bed…

10. Do you have any strange or unexplainable fears, and if so what?

*Coughs awkwardly* yup- I’m mortally afraid of doctors… 

MonkeyNurse

11. Where would you least like to go on holiday and why? (Real life, or fictional).

westeros

Westeros wouldn’t exactly be the best place for a holiday, would it? I mean, you’d be strolling along in King’s Landing, when HOLY SHIT WAS THAT A DRAGON WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE…

Or you’d be chilling out in Winterfell when OH MY OLD GODS AND THE NEW- IS THAT AN ICE ZOMBIE- ARYA COME SAVE ME!

Or you’d take a nice boat trip to Essos when WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THAT PERSON’S FACE? Oh, it’s called Greyscale, IT’S HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS? WHY AM I NOT COMFORTED BY THAT?

You get the idea. It would be a very stressful place to go on vacation.

Rachael’s questions…

  1. What’s your favourite lesser known book or series and why?

all that still matters at all

All That Still Matters at All is by a Hungarian poet, which doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves in the English speaking world.

  1. Describe the best food you’ve ever read about in a book.

That has to be one of those delectable scenes from Harry Potter:
feast hogwarts great hall.gif

He had never seen so many things he liked to eat on one table: roast beef, roast chicken, pork chops and lamb chops, sausages, bacon and steak, boiled potatoes, roast potatoes, fries, Yorkshire pudding, peas, carrots, gravy, ketchup, and, for some strange reason, peppermint humbugs.”

  1. Would you rather be a character in a whimsical magical tale or an epic space opera?

Whimsical magical tale- far less drama, a lot more peculiarities.

  1. If you could change something about your favourite book, what would you change?

Well, nothing, or it wouldn’t be my favourite book 😉 The thing is, one of my favourites is the Idiot by Dostoevsky and is largely thought to be a bit of a flop… but I somehow ended up loving it, imperfections and all, so I wouldn’t change a thing. I might like a Smaug spinoff from the Hobbit though 😉

  1. Why did you start blogging?

Honestly? To rant about Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. I really didn’t like that book and no one wanted to hear me vent about it (anymore) in real life 😉

  1. What is your most controversial bookish opinion?

Well, I was just reminded recently that I really don’t like Handmaid’s Tale… That thought’s not gonna win me any friends 😉

  1. Personal library or public library?

Tough question! I mean, there are more books in a public library, but I guess I end up more attached to the ones in my personal collection.

  1. What is your favourite thing about yourself?

Posable thumbs- useful for turning pages in books 😉 (also self-deprecating humour 😉 )

  1. What book character would you name a pet after? (and what kind of animal is the pet?)

Ooh hard question! I don’t have a pet, so you’re going to be in for some wish fulfilment. I love literary names for cats: Lila Bard, Kaz Brekker, Raskolnikov… Today though I feel more like a dog person and think Paddington would be a fun name! Also, I can’t take credit for this one, cos was in Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, but Winnie the Poodle is the best fictional dog name ever! (let’s be real though, if I ever was lucky enough to get an actual dog, I’d call it something silly like Mr Snuggles Fluff Monster the Third… poor imaginary future pooch 😉 )

confused dogs

10.      Where would you go if you could go anywhere within driving distance (like 5 hours max) right now?

land's end cornwall

Hmm right now I think I fancy going to Cornwall, cos I’ve not been in a while and the last series of Poldark is doing a wonderful job of selling the place (I’m really impressionable 😉 )

11.      Who is your book boyfriend (or girlfriend)?

vicious

Gonna go with an oldie but a goodie (sorta): Victor Vale! 

My questions:

  1. Where’s the best place you’ve ever been on holiday?
  2. Do you have any favourite fictional (or non fictional) libraries?
  3. What’s your guiltiest pleasure read?
  4. What’s your most unpopular bookish opinion?
  5. Do you have a bookish pet peeve?
  6. What book character gets on your last nerve?
  7. If you could wear any item of clothing from a book- what would it be? (magical or not)
  8. Who would you rather kiss/marry/kill when the choices are Lord Voldemort, Sauron and Iago? (meanest question ever, I know 😉 )
  9. Who’s the best bookish baddie you’ve read about lately?
  10. Would you rather be the villain in a story or the hero? Why?
  11. Do you have any exciting upcoming reading plans?

Tagging: Sam @Rivermoose Reads, Zezee, Journey into Books, Hammock of BooksSophie Li, Laleh Chini, Crystal @Lost in Storyland, The Crooked Pen, Crazy Cat Lady, Fadwa @Word Wonders and the Reader’s Bay

And that’s all for now! What fictional place would you least like to go on holiday?  And what bookish names would you/have you called your pet? Let me know in the comments!