Sunday, 5 November 2017

Weekly Highlights: the 'November TBR' edition

Weekly Highlights is a feature borrowed from Faye of A Daydreamer's Thoughts, where I get to highlight my posts of the week, show you my new books and talk about bookish things!

Just another little update for you, mostly just to say I haven't dropped off the face of the Earth, I'm still here - stressing about word counts and referencing and reading my books on time. 

University is going pretty well - I'm deep into essay-writing now, I've got two on the horizon and am frantically planning and writing and hoping it all makes sense! Because of my workload, I have had to quit one of my part-time jobs though, which was ridiculously sad. I've worked in this public library for a little over two years and I am sorry to have to leave but I could tell my brain was going to melt if I had to continue juggling two jobs and a masters.

On The Blog
One lonely post in October: October TBR and Life Update

Currently Reading
Collected Ghost Stories by MR James - some are better than others but for the most part I'm enjoying them. Definitely the right time of year for it!

On My Bookshelf
I got two books for my birthday in mid-October, which were both from my fiancee and both I asked for. They were: It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne, which I have already read and bloody loved, and The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord, which I am super excited for because I adore her books.

I also got a few ebooks, which I have no idea when I'm going to read but they are there just in case! Both from Netgalley, I received: Genuine Fraud by E Lockhart, and Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed. I'm really excited about both of them, and thank you to the publishers and Netgalley for sending them my way - just got to fit them in around all my uni reading!

November TBR
The uni books I'm studying this month, and still need to read, are: Murder of the Orient Express by Agatha Christie, The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler, Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist. Then in December we will be studying Deep Water by Patricia Highsmith, Poppet by Mo Hayder and Broken Harbour by Tana French.

Friday, 13 October 2017

October TBR and Life Update

Let's just breeze past the fact that it's practically halfway through the month and I'm only just posting a TBR - I've been super busy, ok? My work/life/study balance has been turned upside down the past couple of weeks and everything has been hectic, I'm basically just working and sleeping. Hence the radio silence - I'm sorry!

Anyway, I started my masters at the beginning of October and since then, all I've read, and am planning on reading, is set texts. To recap, so far this month I have read: Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon, After Supper Ghost Stories by Jerome K Jerome, A Flock of Shadows edited by Claire Houguez and Nightmare Abbey by Thomas Love Peacock.

For the rest of the month, I'm going to be studying (and therefore reading): Lady of the Shroud by Bram Stoker and Speedy Death by Gladys Mitchell. Then I've got to get started on the first ones of November, which is The Face in the Glass by Mary Elizabeth Braddon and Collected Ghost Stories by MR James.

This is turning into a super fun-filled blog post!

Right, life update: like I said, I feel like I'm ever so slightly drowning in books and reading prep and essay planning. Why did I think going back to university was a good idea? Oh yeah, because I love books, even when the enormous pile of them next to my bed is trying to kill me!

All I wanted to say was I am still around, just a heck of a lot less! I hope you can understand that my studies have to take priority and even though I miss you all so much, just everything online really, I barely have time to take a breath!

Let me know what you're reading this month, what exciting books you're looking forward to, and if you could study anything what would it be? (Oh and can anyone guess what subject/genre I'm studying?)

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

There's Someone Inside Your House

One-by-one, the students of Osborne High are dying in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, the dark secrets among them must finally be confronted.

International bestselling author Stephanie Perkins returns with a fresh take on the classic teen slasher story that’s fun, quick-witted, and completely impossible to put down.

I have to say I only picked this up because I really like Perkins' writing style and characters. Obviously it's very different from her other books and I'm not sure it quite hit the mark. I liked it, it's not my usual genre, but even I could tell it was standard high school slasher. Oh, and I do have to mention definite trigger warnings for gore, as well as severe hazing/mentions of suicide. 

Makani was a decent protagonist - her Hawaiian culture was very important to her and very obviously out of place in her new home. She had been shipped over by divorcing parents to her grandmother's, partly so she wasn't involved in the separation and partly so she could have a new start after some horrible incident at her old school. This was mentioned a lot and left me speculating more and more bizarre things that could have happened, but when it was finally revealed - yes it was horrific - it was a little bit of a let down. Her love interest, Olly, was the typical tortured, shy goth boy but he got some very good development and he really was quite sweet. 

Overall I liked it, but didn't always feel like a horror story - the crimes were gruesome and there was, for the most part, that sense of someone looking over your shoulder. But it was also very character driven and a surprising amount of romance - which I like in a story but I can understand why others didn't appreciate it. 

Published 26th September 2017 by Dutton Books for Young People. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Things A Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nichols

Things a Bright Girl Can DoThrough rallies and marches, in polite drawing rooms and freezing prison cells and the poverty-stricken slums of the East End, three courageous young women join the fight for the vote.

Evelyn is seventeen, and though she is rich and clever, she may never be allowed to follow her older brother to university. Enraged that she is expected to marry her childhood sweetheart rather than be educated, she joins the Suffragettes, and vows to pay the ultimate price for women's freedom.

May is fifteen, and already sworn to the cause, though she and her fellow Suffragists refuse violence. When she meets Nell, a girl who's grown up in hardship, she sees a kindred spirit. Together and in love, the two girls start to dream of a world where all kinds of women have their place.

But the fight for freedom will challenge Evelyn, May and Nell more than they ever could believe. As war looms, just how much are they willing to sacrifice?

Evelyn, May and Nell come from very different backgrounds and have different ideals, but all are impressed with the Suffrage movement, all desperate to change what it means to be a woman. As these three move about their lives, grow up and fall in love, they come to realise that their childish ideals of a perfect world require a bit more hard work. 

It was incredibly clever and informative without being too imposing - it gave a very good impression of what life was actually like in the 1910's, not knowing the significance of larger events, just going about daily life. As a bit of a history nerd, I adored reading about their lives, how each family worked and lived a slightly different way but all wanted a better life. 

I fell in love with all of them, and especially appreciated how each young woman encompassed a different value of the Suffragettes. Nell, used to wearing her brother's hand-me-downs, was hard working and tough and wanted what was best for her large family. When she meets May, their differences seem hardly important and they fall head over heels - which was not only adorable but so unique in a historical fiction, I nearly cried! It was just May and her mother, both Quakers and pacifists, who have differing opinions to the rest of the country when war is declared. Evelyn is determined to have the same opportunities as her older brother and wants to study at university, whereas her parents want her to marry. 

As I said, they might be different women on the outside but all three just wanted a world that treated them fairly. It was just fascinating to read about women with their feet on the ground, as it were, in the midst of the Suffrage movement and the first year of the Great War. Definitely a new favourite and one I will be happily recommending. 

Published 7th September 2017 by Anderson. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Top Ten Books on my Autumn TBR

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish.

As I prepare to start my masters - by the way, have I mentioned I'm doing a masters? ;) - my TBR has basically gone out the window as I have to prioritise my university books. So this week's top ten will be split in two, for uni and for pleasure.

1 - Zofloya by Charlotte Dacre
2 - Poppet by Mo Hayder
3 - Sherlock Holmes, the Collected Short Stories by Arthur Conan Doyle
4 - Collected Ghost Stories by MR James
5 - Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

I recently got the set text list so I'm shopping for all the books I need and these are just a few of them, some of which I've already got.

1 - Now I Rise by Kiersten White
Sequel to And I Darken, and the only reason I haven't picked it up sooner is I'm a little intimated by the dense text!

2 - Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index by Julie Israel 
Picked up at Yalc and it sounds lovely, I'm imagining something like Jandy Nelson's books.

3 - Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls
Something to dip in and out of, might make me feel better when I'm tired from studying.

4 - Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
After hearing all about this at Yalc, I'm really excited by this girl power story.

5 - Can I Speak To Someone In Charge? by Emily Clarkson
This was a spur of the moment find in the library this past weekend - I haven't heard of it before but it sounds clever and funny.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

Defy the Stars (Constellation, #1)Noemi is a young and fearless soldier of Genesis, a colony planet of a dying Earth. But the citizens of Genesis are rising up - they know that Earth's settlers will only destroy this planet the way they destroyed their own. And so a terrible war has begun.

When Noemi meets Abel, one of Earth's robotic mech warriors, she realizes that Abel himself may provide the key to Genesis' salvation. Abel is bound by his programming to obey her - even though her plan could result in his destruction. But Abel is no ordinary mech. He's a unique prototype, one with greater intelligence, skill and strength than any other. More than that, he has begun to develop emotions, a personality and even dreams. Noemi begins to realise that if Abel is less than human, he is more than a machine. If she destroys him, is it murder? And can a cold-blooded murder be redeemed by the protection of a world?

Stranded together in space, they go on a whirlwind adventure through Earth's various colony worlds, alongside the countless Vagabonds who have given up planetary life altogether and sail forever between the stars. Each step brings them closer - both to each other and to the terrible decision Noemi will have to make about her world's fate, and Abel's.

Space plots generally confuse me, even as much as I like them - whole planets, not necessarily relating to Earth, having their own histories and societal places can be bloody confusing, especially when in this story, Earth was the mother-ship of a ring of planets and one of them wanted out. That's where Noemi comes in - she is a soldier on Genesis, the planet desperately fighting for independence, and when she comes across Abel's ship, she commandeers it and him to help her fight. 

The characters and the romance is what sold this for me; robots who can think and feel and love are like my kryptonite and Abel was just so damn adorable I couldn't stand it. Noemi and Abel are thrown together in what is possibly the most horrible circumstances, but as Abel has information that could help save Noemi's planet, she is willing to overlook the fact that he is a killing machine. They literally have to traverse the galaxy to hunt down parts to build... a thing that would blow up... another thing like a star-gate... yeah, this is where the details just went over my head! Point is, adventure and hilarity ensues, as well as bonding and super cute kissy moments, until Noemi is able to return home with hope.

All in all, a great sci-fi adventure, with some astrophysics stuff that passed me by, but really great characters and fantastic writing. 

Published 6th April 2017 by Hot Key Books.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

A Few Books That I Struggled To Read (To Start With)

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and The Bookish.

I rarely DNF books, not just because all the books I read are amazing but mostly because I'm quite picky over what I pick up in the first place. This week's theme is books you had a hard time with, so I'm going with a few books that I struggled with but ended up enjoying.

The Woman in White1 - The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins
I've only just finished this one, which is why it's top of the list. I technically should have read this at university but I didn't have enough time, and also I didn't write any essays on it so I didn't bother. Terrible, I know. But now that I'm about to start my masters (AHHH!!) I need to re-programme my brain into the Victorian-Gothic language. Anyway, the book itself is ridiculously long, over 600 pages, and in tiny font, so it did take me about two weeks to finish. But the story was really good, and I ended up really invested!

2 - Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Please don't hate me! I really wanted to like this, and I did, but I forget every time now much of a chore some Austen language is to read, it's just so long! It helped that I already knew the story and I'm glad I've read the original, but it took me a while.

3 - The Island by Olivia Levez
The IslandThis was a review book so I had no idea what it was about apart from it sounded interesting. And it was, the story was incredible and very moving, but it's written in this... almost stream of conscious narrative, flitting back and forth between present and past, which took me a while to find the rhythm but it suited the protagonist so well. 

4 - We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
I knew I would love this one, or at least it sounded right up my street, but I wasn't quite prepared for the slow story and the confusion over what had happened. Took a little while to get into it, especially to understand Merricat, but really liked it. 

5 - Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
Yet another classic that I couldn't quite get my head around! This time, it was more that I wasn't expecting the story to span so many years, it really did follow the three women's lives in the Big Apple.