Books I Read In The Past Week

Books I Read In The Past Week

Ideally I was meant to post this on Sunday just gone, but that never transpired! Just life!

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

I started this book with the intention of reading it in one sitting as it is a fairly short story. I had seen the film many years ago which I thought was fantastic, and that probably led me to thinking that the book would be even better (they usually are!).
But it wasn’t! A book that could easily have been read in a day took me several days to complete. It just couldn’t hold my interest for very long, and I was glad to be done with it. I have seen a lot of reviews that describe this book as terrifying, and maybe for its target audience it is, but for me it didn’t have that scare factor. And I am someone who is usually very easily scared.
I’m wondering if I would have felt differently listening to the audiobook, which is narrated by Dawn French. I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more.

Freddie Mercury: A Life In His Own Words, compiled and edited by Greg Brooks and Simon Lupton

My God I love this man! This book had me both laughing and experiencing extreme sadness at some of the things Freddie said during interviews. His personality even when off stage never fails to grab my attention. I just wish I had the chance to have seen him live, just once!
This book was quite a fast read for me, I think mostly in part because of my huge obsession with Mr Mercury. Freddie talks about the ups and downs of his life, touching briefly on his childhood and upbringing. Although he worked damn hard to get where he did in life, it seems that he was used to quite a lavish lifestyle from a very young age.
It was such a nice feeling to read words that Freddie had spoken himself, rather than the writings of somebody else regarding his life. Who can tell a life story better than the person themselves?!
I am very biased when it comes to Freddie, but this book got a 5/5 stars. No justification needed.

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt

I read this book for the 2020 PopSugar Reading Challenge prompt to “read a western.” I was dreading this so much; westerns really aren’t my thing at all.
Buttt… This book turned out to be such a nice surprise for me. I fell in love with the characters, especially Eli. Also the time period that it is set in, the way the book was written made it feel current and so it did not feel so much of a culture shock. I’m not usually one for stories that are set so far back in the past, however I think due to the strong character development I did not mind this at all. Even the language and the way that the characters spoke during that time period wasn’t at all that difficult to follow for me. The story just flowed.
I am so glad I chose this book for the western prompt. It made me realise exactly why I participate in the PopSugar Challenge each year: to broaden my reading and (hopefully) be pleasantly surprised and find new favourites!

Book Haul

Book Haul

It has been a very long time since I have posted anything on here! Life very easily gets in the way and you find yourself having very little time to do the things that you enjoy. For me this resulted in a huge decline in my mental health.

Buttt! Now I am back on track. Back to taking time out to do the things I love best, and one of those is reading! Since my last post I have read soo many books, and I’m going to try my best to get my reviews up when I have a spare minute.

The one thing I have been doing a lot of is book shopping. However due to the pandemic and lack of space on my bookshelves I have had to resort to purchasing on my Kindle, which is not a good thing when so many books are selling at 99p! Very cheap but when you are purchasing large quantities of these books at this price it soon adds up. I must now have well over 400+ books on my Kindle which I am just dying to read. So many books, so little time!

What I wanted to share with you today is the books I purchased earlier this afternoon. They were all on sale on Kindle (checking my wish list daily does not help!).

Firstly. Agatha Christie! Until seeing these Masterpiece Miniatures on the Kindle store I was not even aware that these short stories existed, unless they are compiled into one book under another name? I absolutely love Agatha Christie’s writing, in particular the Miss Marple series so I am wayyy too excited to get to this. With it being a very quick read I’m sure I can sneak it in somewhere in the next few weeks.

The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Over the last two years or so I have been branching out and reading a lot more of the ‘classics’. Usually I am intimidated by these due to the writing style, however the ones I have read so far have turned out to be enjoyable. Again, this is another book I had not heard of until recently so I am intrigued about this one!

Next up I purchased The House of One Hundred Clocks by A.M Howell. I’m starting to notice a theme here; I seem to have chosen books that are set in the early 1900’s. I guess historical fiction is my genre of the day. This book is also middle grade, so should be a fairly quick read. It has some really great reviews over on Goodreads which makes me look forward to reading it.

Another one that I purchased by A.M Howell is The Garden of Lost Secrets. Also another historical fiction set in 1916.
“October 1916. Clara is sent to stay with her formidable aunt and uncle in the grounds of a country estate. Clara soon discovers that her new surroundings hold secrets: a locked room and a hidden key and a mysterious boy who only appears in the gardens at night. But can Clara face up to her secrets and a war she’s desperate to forget?”
Correct me if I’m mistaken but this sounds a little like The Secret Garden? Or is it just me?

The Girl With Space in her Heart by Lara Williamson.

Reviews are telling me that despite being a Middle Grade book, the story is quite heart breaking.

“Mabel has a suitcase full of worries – it turned up just after her dad disappeared and before her mum started dating Gavin. She worries about big things and little things and shoves them into her suitcase until it’s so full it might explode…”

The Last Spell Breather by Julie Pike.

This sounds like something I will absolutely love. I never thought I’d be in to the fantasy genre at all, but I have read so much of it over the past 2 years or so.

“A stunning fantasy debut, enter the unique world of the Spell Breathers.
Spell Breathing does not come naturally to Rayne – she loathes the hours of practice, the stacks of scrolls, and the snapping mud devils that cover her mothers precious spell book.
But it is spell breathing that keeps her village safe from the dreaded monster curse that plagues their world. It is ancient powerful magic, but as Rayne learns to her horror . . . it is also fragile.
In one clumsy move, the magic that keeps them safe is broken, her village is plunged into danger, and an incredible adventure begins”

North Child by Edith Pattou .
I already own a couple of books by this lady, however I’ve not read them yet so cannot vouch as to whether they are enjoyable reads, or whether I expect this one to live up to her other books. I feel that this story may be written for younger readers in comparison.
Ok… So I just worked it out. North Child is the UK name for the original title East. So I guess now I own both editions 🙄 All I can say is thank goodness that this book only cost me 99p else I may have been quite annoyed at myself! That’ll teach me to do my research before I buy 😂

I Found You by Lisa Jewell.
I have read a few books by this author now and I have loved every one of them, so whenever I see a title by Lisa that I’ve not read before, I just need to have it! Her books are mainly thrillers which is one of my favourite genres. I can’t wait to be reading this.

Frog Music by Emma Donoghue. From this author I have only ever read Room, and did not realise that she had so many other books under her belt already. I’ve found that her books are mostly historical fiction, which again I seem to be taking an interest in lately without really realising it! I also adore the cover of this book.

Anddd finally! The last book to be purchased was Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork. I actually had this book on my wish list to purchase for a book challenge I’m doing in 2021. When I saw it was going for less than £1 I decided to buy it whilst it was going cheap ☺ It is also a book based around autism which is an area in which I have done a lot of work in the past, so I’m always interested to read books that touch on this subject.

And there we have it! I hope you’ve enjoyed my little book haul. If you have read any of the above books, let me know your thoughts!

The Dollmaker by Nina Allan

The Dollmaker by Nina Allan

The Dollmaker by Nina Allan

Genre: Historical Fiction | Mystery

Pages: 416

Goodreads Amazon UK

Stitch by perfect stitch, Andrew Garvie makes exquisite dolls in the finest antique style. Like him, they are diminutive but graceful, unique, and with surprising depths. Perhaps that’s why he answers the enigmatic personal ad in his collector’s magazine.

Letter by letter, Bramber Winters reveals more of her strange, sheltered life in an institution on Bodmin Moor, and the terrible events that put her there as a child. Andrew knows what it is to be trapped, and as they knit closer together, he weaves a curious plan to rescue her

Many thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for letting me have an early copy of this book.

For me the story started out well. We are introduced to Andrew Garvie, taken through his childhood and adolescent experiences, and brought to the present day. So far so good. I was intrigued.

I think originally I did not read the full synopsis properly, because when it came to the Ewa Chaplin fairy tales I was extremely confused. I even thought that somehow there had been some kind of mix up in the formatting of the book. Then I realised they are part of the story, and at first I didn’t understand why we had to endure them. They creeped me out. I’m a dot of a lady myself, standing at 4 ft 11, and when I come across any adult that is noticeably shorter than me I immediately feel uncomfortable.

Some of Andrews life experiences also had me feeling uncomfortable; it seemed he was willing to do these things just to feel a bit of human affection. At times Andrew seemed desperate to please others.

As I ploughed through the book, the fairy tales began to make sense and had some kind of link to the actual story. The format of this book was very unconventional; I hadn’t come across anything like it before. It had the narrative of Andrew, followed by fairy tales which were stories within a story. And finally we had the letters written to Andrew from Bramber.

Although I found elements slightly creepy, the format of the book kept me interested, and I was intrigued about Bramber and why she was in some kind of institution.

I rated The Dollmaker 3 hearts. It is a book very different to anything I have read before, not from the storyline, but the actual layout. It was very cleverly done.

The Woman Who Walked Into Doors by Roddy Doyle

The Woman Who Walked Into Doors by Roddy Doyle

The Woman Who Walked Into Doors by Roddy Doyle

Genre: Fiction | Irish Literature | Contemporary

Pages: Audiobook

Goodreads Amazon UK

Paula Spencer is a thirty-nine-year-old working-class woman struggling to reclaim her dignity after marriage to an abusive husband and a worsening drinking problem. Paula recalls her contented childhood, the audacity she learned as a teenager, the exhilaration of her romance with Charlo, and the marriage to him that left her feeling powerless.

I listened to this on Audible. I would highly recommend this rather than reading a physical copy of the book, as the narrator just makes the whole thing. I’ve always been a huge lover of the Irish accent and this made some parts of the story telling hilarious.

The beginning of the story, which focused more on Paula growing up and meeting Charlo, I found both funny and endearing. And the story stayed this way for quite a while; Paula happily in love with Charlo, not knowing what a piece of shite he really is.

Towards the end, the story focuses on domestic violence, a very sensitive subject on which a lot of people have very different opinions. My personal opinion is: hit me once, or even raise your fist, and you’ll be gone, no matter how much it is going to hurt. No one deserves that kind of life.

So you can imagine whilst I am listening to the narrative of the beatings, the begging Charlo to stop, the trips to hospital, the whole time in my head I am screaming “just leave him!”. I know in reality it’s not that simple.

The Woman Who Walked Into Doors was a great story to listen to. I listened to it due to it being recommended by J.K Rowling, so I knew it had to be good. However the end got quite repetitive for me, and I was willing for the story to come to an end. I was glad, though, that Paula (sort of) got a happy ending, and the scum that is Charlo got his comeuppance. It got 3 love hearts from me. Absolutely smashing narrative and powerful story, but the end dragged on a little too much for me.

Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller

Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller

Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller

Genre: Fiction | Historical | Mystery | Thriller

Pages: 281

Goodreads Amazon UK

From the attic of a dilapidated English country house, she sees them — Cara first: dark and beautiful, clinging to a marble fountain of Cupid, and Peter, an Apollo. It is 1969 and they are spending the summer in the rooms below hers while Frances writes a report on the follies in the garden for the absent American owner. But she is distracted. Beneath a floorboard in her bathroom, she discovers a peephole which gives her access to her neighbors’ private lives.
But as the hot summer rolls lazily on, it becomes clear that not everything is right between Cara and Peter. The stories that Cara tells don’t quite add up – and as Frances becomes increasingly entangled in the lives of the glamorous, hedonistic couple, the boundaries between truth and lies, right and wrong, begin to blur.

I delved into this book without having the faintest idea of what it could be about. To me, the synopsis was a bit unclear, like anything could happen, and so in a way I was intrigued. I had absolutely no expectations.

The story is told from the point of view of Frances, a 39 year old lady who seems a bit of a recluse. I could see a lot of myself in Frances. A woman who has spent much of her life alone, doesn’t really know how to connect with people she’s just met, and seems to find any kind of social situation awkward. In contrast though, once she has opened up, it seems as though she becomes easily attached to others. This I can relate to as a person who does not have many friends. You kind of try to hold on to any sign of kindness or affection you can get. Frances is such an odd character, but I couldn’t help loving her.

The characters of Carla and Peter always made me feel a little suspicious and uneasy. Carla especially. Though she was made to sound like a beautiful, radiant woman, she had absolutely no soul and a strange obsession with death and drowning. Frances, maybe not so beautiful, had a heart of gold. Despite the way Carla treated her, she would always do anything to make her happy.

The Lynton house in which the trio were staying, although dilapidated, sounded beautiful. Particularly the surrounding gardens in the heat of summer. However, Part way through the book, the Lynton house went from being a place of tranquillity, to a place that gave me a sense of foreboding.

In places, this book was downright creepy. Especially when reading it in pitch black at night! It made me wonder, were these things really happening, or was it all in Frances’ head?

I love books that, when you get to a certain part,make your jaw drop. This book certainly did that to me when I realised just where the elderly Frances was telling her story from.

I hadn’t realised I’d read a book by Claire Fuller previously. I’ll be looking out for more of her work. I rated this book 4 hearts.

Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? By Agatha Christie

Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? By Agatha Christie

Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? by Agatha Christie

Genre: Mystery | Fiction | Crime | Classics

Pages: 361

Goodreads Amazon UK

Bobby Jones discovers the crumpled body of a dying man who’s last words are Why didn’t they ask Evans? Haunted by these words, Bobby sets out to solve a mystery that brings him into mortal danger.

As I’ve mentioned before, Agatha Christie is one of my go-to authors when I want to read something ‘comforting’. For me this book isn’t up there with my favourite Christie novels. I feel that it started off quite slowly, I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about the characters…At first Bobby and Dr Thomas came across as a little ‘uppity’. But I guess I just wanted to get straight into the investigating!

Once Bobby and his friend Frankie got into the nitty gritty of investigation, that’s when this book grabbed my attention and I seemed to fly through it. Still not one of my favourites though; I’m more of a Miss Marple kinda gal.

Towards the end, this book kind of messed with my mind. The characters I came across who I found that I liked, turned out to be nasty pieces of work. The characters who came across as creepy and suspicious were totally innocent bystanders in the whole thing. And when it came down to the ultimate question of “why didn’t they ask Evans?”, the answer was so simple. To me it suddenly seemed totally unnecessary to have all of the other characters involved, and to be flitting from Wales to England and back. But then, if none of that had happened, we wouldn’t have much of a story, would we? 🤔

I rated this book 3 hearts due to the slow start and at first intolerable characters. However, this is Christie’s work, and I will forever be a fan ❤️

Her Best Friend’s Secret by Anna Mansell

Her Best Friend’s Secret by Anna Mansell

Her Best Friend’s Secret by Anna Mansell

Genre: Literary Fiction | Women’s Fiction

Pages: 384

Goodreads Amazon UK

She deserves the truth. But it will ruin her life. What would you do?
Emily was meant to be the girl who escaped their small Cornish town. She was going to be the success story. But it didn’t work out the way she’d dreamed it would. And now she’s back home. With a secret that’s even bigger than her failure.

Emily thinks she can just hide away. But then she runs in to Lolly, her one-time best friend from school, who spontaneously suggests a small reunion with their once close-knit group of friends. Jess and Amanda still live nearby, though none of the four women have spoken in years now.

But after so much time, everyone’s lives have changed. Nothing is as easy as it was in their schooldays. And everyone’s got secrets. One of which is big enough to ruin not just the fragile friendships, but one woman’s whole life…

A big thank you to Bookouture and Net Galley for allowing me to have an advanced readers copy of this book.
This book is about a group of four women, all in their 40’s, who reunite after 20 years. Some of the characters are a little apprehensive about this, others excited. The thing is, this reunion could either make or break one of their friends lives. I’ll let you read the story to find out why!

The story is told from the point of view of Emily, Amanda, Lolly and Jess. I loved reading about each of their own personal lives, background history, and personal opinions on the whole “big secret”, although after getting so far through the book I realised that there are a couple of other little secrets too. Each character has their own flaws and wrongdoings, however you can’t help but love them. Reading about the way they feel towards one another despite their misgivings is so touching and heart warming. It makes you wish you had a group of friends like these!

To me this book felt like a ‘coming of age’ story.. Or perhaps a ‘coming of middle age”, since these women are already grown up. Despite the drama within the book, it was a nice, light read, and I am going to miss each and every one of these characters.

I rate this book 3 hearts, and would definitely recommend to other female readers. It makes you realise that even in the world of books, women are still having drama and experiencing day to day problems. Totally relatable.

Warcross by Marie Lu

Warcross by Marie Lu

Warcross by Marie Lu

Genre: Young Adult | Science Fiction | Fantasy

Pages: 353

Goodreads Amazon UK

When a game called Warcross takes the world by storm, one girl hacks her way into its dangerous depths. For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. When Emika hacks into the game illegally, she’s convinced she’ll be arrested, and is shocked when she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem…and he wants Emika for the job.

“It is hard to describe loss to someone who has never experienced it, impossible to explain all the ways it changes you. But for those who have, not a single word is needed.”

“Everyone has a different way of escaping the dark stillness of their mind.”

“Every locked door has a key. Every problem has a solution.”

– Marie Lu

I read Warcross as part of the Popsugar Reading Challenge 2019, for the prompt “a LitRPG book”. Until this point I had never heard of such a thing, and after some research as to what sort of books qualify as LitRPG, I realised that this is a prompt I would not be looking forward to. I decided to get this book done and dusted pretty quickly.

I am a heavy gamer myself, but to read about a characters adventures within an online computer game just does not appeal to me. The only thing that kept me going with Warcross was the characters. Apart from Hideo, who appeared to have no personality at all, each and every character interested me. There was so much diversity represented; disability, lgbtq+, the rich, the poor.

The book wasn’t completely terrible, but the whole science fiction and fantasy genre usually does not appeal to me. I like things to be kept realistic so that there may be a possibility of actually relating to characters situations. However this is what I love about the Popsugar Challenge. It drives me to read books I would ordinarily give a wide berth

I give the book 2 hearts, one for the loveable characters and another for the concept of the book. It is amazing to imagine a game like Warcross existing, however it just wouldn’t be for me. I’m glad I gave this book a try though, every book deserves a chance.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Genre: Young Adult | Fiction Classic | Dystopian

Pages: 224

Goodreads Amazon UK

It is the future. There is no war, no hunger, no pain. No one in the community wants for anything. Everything needed is provided. And at twelve years old, each member of the community has their profession carefully chosen for them by the Committee of Elders.
Twelve-year old Jonas has never thought there was anything wrong with his world. But from the moment he is selected as the Receiver of Memory, Jonas discovers that their community is not as perfect as it seems.

“The life where nothing was ever unexpected. Or inconvenient. Or unusual. The life without colour, pain or past.” – Lois Lowry.

“It’s just that… without the memories it’s all meaningless.” – Lois Lowry.

I found the concept of the book absolutely amazing. To be living such a sheltered life that there is not even music, colour, real emotions or memories. And what is so wrong about the idea of that, that it was banned and removed from certain libraries and schools?! Never likely kids are the way they are today. I feel that by not allowing this book to be read is creating the sheltered life in which it revolves around. Rant over.

This was an easy to read book, quite short in length, which I really enjoyed. Like I say above, I found the whole storyline to be fascinating. I felt especially for The Giver, Jonas and Gabriel. The rest of the characters were very much robotic, living under the strict rules of Sameness.

A part of the story which got to me the most was the notion of “The Release”. I already had an idea what this was about, but also thought that maybe anyone who was “released” went on to “Elsewhere”. The community in which Jonas lived painted such a pretty picture of when people were “released”; they made it sound like something that should be looked forward to. Although I also had my doubts about what really happened, when Jonas’s father injected that poor twin baby, putting him down as if he were an animal, I still felt disgusted. I could totally understand Jonas’s anger and why he needed to get out. Deep down I also did not want anything to happen to Gabriel. Although he wasn’t a huge part of the storyline, that little guy tugged at my heart strings, and when it came to light that he too would also be “released”, I was rooting for Jonas to get him out of that horrible community.

Overall I give the book 4 hearts. It was nicely written, and I would recommend anyone from the age of 12+ to give it a go. It definitely does not deserve to be a banned book; if people think that this book is in any way disturbing, they have certainly led such a sheltered life themselves!

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

Genre: Mystery | Young Adult | Contemporary | Fiction

Pages: 321

Goodreads Amazon UK

The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament.

“The two of us, we’re the best kind of disaster. Apples and oranges. Well, more like apples and machetes.” – Charlotte Holmes.

“And even so, before I had ever met Charlotte Holmes, I was sure she was the only friend I would make in that miserable place.” – Jamie Watson.

I knew that I would love this book. A modern day Holmes and Watson? What’s not to love?! And it certainly did not disappoint.

Brittany Cavallaro has done an incredible job of recreating the characters of Holmes and Watson. Despite them being in teenage form, she has got their individual personalities and traits down to a tee. And from the moment these two characters met, I was rooting for the both of them. Even Charlotte Holmes, who comes across as so secretive, moody, and throughout the book treats Watson like shit. But as we read through the book, we find as always that Holmes has her reasons for everything she does.

This is one of few books that had me reading well into the early hours of the morning, not wanting to put it down. It is a story of continuous mystery and drama, and for me the characters were so loveable that I just did not want to leave them. I constantly wanted to know what was going to happen next.

I am so glad that this book is part 1 of a series. Although I am finished with A Study in Charlotte, I am not ready to part with Holmes and Watson yet. I will definitely be continuing with the series. 4 hearts from me!