#WWW Wednesday – August 15, 2018

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop is hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for this week, and just answer the three questions.

wwwwednesday

I didn’t participate in WWW Wednesday last week because I didn’t feel like much had changed in my reading  from the week previous. Plus I’m currently in the midst of a uni course, so I decided that for the next month or so, I need to alternate my Wednesday blog posts between my two blogs, rather than doing both.

So what have I been up to in the last fortnight?

What have you recently finished reading?

I finished Loch of the Dead by Oscar de Muriel, the fourth in the Frey & McGray series and all there is of this series for now. I actually DNFed this about halfway through on audio but after a few days I realised I still wanted to know what happened, so I got hold of the paperback from the library. I’m glad I did finish it as it ended up being really addictive, if a little confusing.

I also finished  Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel on audio. This one took me a long time to warm to but at some in the second half I suddenly realised “Oh, I am actually invested in this, huh.” There’s not much plot, but it made me ponder on life’s big questions a lot. Not many books make me do that. I reviewed it here.

Then there was Legion by Brandon Sanderson, which I had read back in 2014 but forgotten the details of. It’s a really intriguing premise – that genius Steven Leeds cannot contain all the knowledge in his brain so it off-shoots into self-aware hallucinations that help him do things.  I actually reviewed this back in 2014 so it was interesting writing a new review and seeing how my feelings changed. That’ll be up on Friday.

And last but not least, just this evening I finished Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel, which I recommend listening to if you are an audio book person because it takes the form of interviews and recordings. I really enjoyed this. It explores a lot of the geo-political situation that proof of ultra-intelligent alien life would create. And the unnamed interviewer is played by Andy Secombe, who also read the Frey and McGrey books, so it was interesting hearing him take on a quite different character.

What are you currently reading?

I am trying to finish Blackwing by Ed McDonald so I can give it back to my friend who loaned it to me. The second book is out now so he wants to re-read the first. It’s got a really intriguing plot, but there’s something about the pacing or maybe it’s the anti-hero main character. I just can’t get through much of it at once.

I also picked up The Fandom by Anna Day from the library, which I’ve had on my TBR since it came out. I have a feeling this is going to be one of those YA books where I get to the end and shake it and wish it had lived up to its potential. The characters only paid £10 for their photo-op at ComicCon, which makes me think the author doesn’t quite know enough about her subject matter. I also don’t think it’s going to be cleverly subversive like I was hoping. But I could be completely wrong.

What do you think you will read next?

I’ve  downloaded Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel and while I haven’t started it at time of writing, I am on the late shift at work tonight and will begin it while driving home.

I also have White Night by Ellie Marney from the library, and my hold on Skin Deep, the sequel to Legion, came in today and I will pick it up tomorrow. So one of those will definitely be next.

What are you reading this week?~ Emily

Advertisements

“I stood looking over my damaged home and tried to forget the sweetness of life on Earth.” // Review of “Station Eleven” by Emily St John Mandel

Title: Station Eleven
Author:
Emiy St John Mandel
Audio book narrator: Jack Hawkins
Genre:LIterary fiction/dystopia
Target audience:
Adult
Date Read: 27/06/18 – 09/08/18
Rating:
★★★

Review:

This book took a while to hook me. As you can see from the dates above, it was on hold for a bit while I listened to other audio books, and intiially I only returned to this one because I had used an Audible credit to obtain it and felt an obligation. Somewhere in the second half, I realised I was looking forward to solo car trips so I could continue with it. I wanted to know how all the story threads came together and what happened to the characters.

Most of the dystopia/post-apocalyptic books I have read before have been YA fiction, actaion-packed and fast-paced. There books are often set so far into the future that it’s quite hard to really place them in any part of the world that we recognise; they might as well be set on a different planet. Station Eleven isn’t like that. It’s rooted in today’s world, and really examines how our lives – you and me in the second decade of the twenty-first century – would be affected if civilisation as we know it collapsed. It made me really think.

I will say that I am not usually one for literary fiction and even thinking about it now, some of the writing is flowery, bordering on wanky. I guess I got used to it in this case, but it’s probably not for everybody. The writing style is quite “tell, don’t show” rather than the reverse and perhaps Jack Hawkins’ narration of the audio book enhanced this somewhat. While I wouldn’t say he read in a monotone, there wasn’t a huge amount of expression.

There isn’t a huge amount of plot; this one iis definitely about the characters and how their lives intersect over the years. It almost feels like you’re reading these characters’ back stories half the time, rather then the parts of their lives the author wants you to know about. But somehow, I eventually did get invested enough in them to care anyway.


Find me on:
GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

#WWW Wednesday – August 01, 2018

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop is hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for this week, and just answer the three questions.

wwwwednesday

What have you recently finished reading?

I finished reading The Other Alice by Michelle Harrison on Thursday, despite saying I should finish my other reads first. This was an interesting read but I felt some of the world-building wasn’t quite fleshed out enough. I posted a review here.

I then finished Alive! by Loren D. Estleman, which was fine. I was reminded that there is a difference between thrillers, which I love, and straight crime fiction, which I find less exciting. This is definitely crime fiction. One for the film buffs, though.

I also posted me review of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time here.

What are you currently reading?

At time of writing this post (Tuesday morning), I am a few chapters into Beauty and the Werewolf by Mercedes Lackey. I’m pretty sure this is going to be incredibly predictable, but in a cute way that I can forgive. I do like that the titular werewolf isn’t muscular and strong and arrogant, but shy and nerdy and he wears glasses.

I have returned to Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel on audio. It’s an interesting story but I’m waiting to see how all the story threads come together, and at the moment it’s trudging along a bit. I think part of that may be the narrator, though? Anyway, I think I’m about halfway through at this point, so I should get through it in the next week or so.

What do you think you will read next?

Whether or not I read the other Mercedes Lackey book I have from the library will depend on how I feel at the end of Beauty and the Werewolf. In the meantime, my other library book is Behind the Scenes at the Museum of Baked Beans: an Odd-ysey by Hunter Davies, which explores the weird and wonderful museums of the UK. So that should be fun and interesting.

What are you reading this week?~ EmilyP.S. If you’re interested, head over to my writing blog, Letting the Voices Out, to read a snippet of my current WIP.

July 2018 Reading Wrap-up

readingwrapupbanner

I’ve made a decision regarding my official montly TBR lists. I’ve decided to get rid of them and just stick to reading wrap-ups such as this one. Lately I just haven’t been doing well at sticking to it, which has led to me feeling guilty about what I am reading. And that’s just silly. So from now on, I’m just going to be reading what I’m  in the mood for.

Past Month’s Reading:

July felt like a very slow reading month as I spent the first three weeks trying to get through one title (which I am still to finish). In the end, I did get through four titles, which is not too bad but I feel like there could have been more.

Here is what I read and reviewed in July:

  • I Had Such Friends by Meg Gatland-Veness (YA contemporary – 2 stars – review) (read June, reviewed July)
  • Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (YA sci-fi – 3 stars – review) (read June, reviewed July)
  • A Mask of Shadows by Oscar de Muriel (adult historical fiction/mystery – 2 stars – review)
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon (YA contemporary – 4 stars – review)
  • The Other Alice by Michelle Harrison (middle-grade fantasy – 3 stars – review)
  • Alive! by Loren D. Estleman (adult crime fiction – 3 stars – review forthcoming).

Currently reading:

Physical book: Beauty and the Werewolf by Mercedes Lackey. This is my first book by Lackey and it looks like it will be fun and enjoyable.

Ebook: Not reading any ebooks at the moment.

Audio book: I have returned to Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel. It’s not my favourite but as it was an Audible pick, I plan on seeing it through. I’m at about the 40% mark at the moment. 

Planning to read next:

I will probably pick up Behind the Scenes at the Museum of Baked Beans: an Odd-ysey by Hunter Davies. I haven’t read any non-fiction in a while and this feels like a fun one.

How is your reading going?

“The problem with monsters is that those of our own making are the most terrifying of all.” // Review of “The Other Alice” by Michelle Harrison

Title: The Other Alice
Author:
Michelle Harrison
Genre: Urban fantasy
Target audience: Middle-grade
Date Read: 25/07/18 – 27/07/18
Rating:
★★☆

Review:

This was an interesting book, though I have to admit that I did find some of the world-building a bit lacking. Still, it kept me engaged and that’s the main thing.

Eleven-year-old Midge loves to hear the stories that his older sister, Alice, makes up. When Alice goes missing and her characters seem to be showing up in their home, Midge is the only one who can save her and give the story the ending it needs.

The characters in this story are vibrant and interesting. They are very well-drawn, with various distinct personalities. The backstories of Alice’s characters were interesting and tied in well with each other. I really liked the characters’ reactions to finding out they were made up by Alice. I thought that felt really believable and I did feel bad for them.

I did feel that some of the history and world-building was where it fell down, particularly in the use of the “gypsy curse” trope to give a fairytale feel to Alice’s family history. Many people have written about the reasons why the word “gypsy” and stereotypes such as the curse are problematic to Romani people, so I won’t go into it here. Also, a Romani character called Ramone? Really?

There were also a number of events that had no real explanation other than “it was ~magic~”, but there wasn’t enough set-up of how the magic worked for that to carry.

Still, this was an enjoyable MG fantasy. I think I would recommend it for older readers in that age group as there are some dark themes and a few violent characters. It’s probably one parents and kids could enjoy together.


Find me on:
GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

“Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away. I think prime numbers are like life.” // Review of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” by Mark Haddon

Title: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
Author: Mark Haddon
Genre: contemporary
Target age group:
YA
Dates read: 19/07/18 – 21/07/18
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

I had intended to read this book  before I saw the stage show earlier this month, but as usual, time got away from me. It turns out the stage show is very faithful to the book, so I knew exactly what was coming the whole time I was reading, but it was still a very enjoyable read.

Curious Incident is something of a “spokesbook” for neuro-divergence, which is a shame, as it only represents one particular experience. As far as I an understand, though, it does a great job of representing this particular experience.

The pacing of the book is speedy due to the run-on nature of the narration and even though Christopher can somtimes feel hard to connect to, I was still rooting for him as he investigated the death of Wellington and the other mysteries in his life that he unconvered.

I also think it’s hats off to Mark Haddon that even through Christopher’s very objective and perhaps disconnected view of the world, we still got enough of a sense of the people around him to really care about them as characters, too. Christopher’s neuro-divergence presents its challenges to his parents and those who meet him on a more casual basis, but it was touching to see the way many people really wanted to help him navigate the world, just as it was frustrating to see those who didn’t know and didn’t try to understand.

It’s likely that the unusual style of Curious Incident will put some readers off, but I do encourage you to give it a try. It’s a different book, but I think it is also eye-opening and interesting and worthy of attention.


Find me on:
GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Save

#WWW Wednesday – July 25, 2018

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop is hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for this week, and just answer the three questions.

wwwwednesday

I didn’t post last week because it would literally have been a repeat of the week before’s post. This has not been a great reading month! Oh well.

What have you recently finished reading?

I read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon over the weekend. I had intended to read it before we saw the stage show at the start of July but never got around to it. It’s a really fascinating book. I kinda wish I had made time to read it before the show since I knew exactly what was going to happen, but I still flew through and really enjoyed it.

What are you currently reading?

My reading has been a bit all over the place recently so I’ve got a few things on the go at once when I wouldn’t normally.

I am nearly halfway through the fourth Frey & McGray audio book, The Loch of the Dead. One of the issues I had with the third book, namely that Frey and McGray spend a lot of time apart and therefore aren’t bantering or bickering, is also an issue here. But this plot is at least a bit more interesting than the third one was.

I am also halfway through Alive! by Loren D. Estleman, which I picked up from the library purely because of the cover. And also because I’m an archivist and the main character is an archivist. The mystery is fairly straightforward but it is a good one for classic film buffs with all the trivia peppered through it.

I also started The Other Alice by Michelle Harrison just this afternoon while I was out and forgot to take Alive!, so I needed to read something on my phone. I think I will really enjoy this one. I am going to try to finish Alive! before I really commit to this one, though.

I am technically still reading Blackwing by Ed McDonald and All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque but they’re on hold for a bit..

What do you think you will read next? 

I still have Beauty and the Werewolf  by Mercedes Lackey out from the library, so I think that will be next.

What are you reading this week?~ EmilyP.S. If you’re  interested, head over to my writing blog, Letting the Voices Out, to read a snippet of my current WIP.

Book Review: “A Mask of Shadows” by Oscar de Muriel

Title: A Mask of Shadows (Frey & McGray #3)
Author: Oscar de Muriel
Audio book narrator: Andy Secombe
Genre: historical fiction/mystery
Target age group: Adult
Dates read: 28/06/18 – 11/07/18
Rating: ★★

Review:

After thoroughly enjoying the first two Frey & McGray books, I was excited to start the next one . Sadly, as you can see from my rating, this one was rather disappointing in comparison.

Oscar de Muriel experiments with his form a bit in this book, and I didn’t think it really worked. Or maybe I’m just resistant to change Rather than just being a straight narrative, this book was in the form of a police report compiled at the end of an investigation. Alongside the usual first person narrative from Frey’s perspective, we also have fragments of Bram Stoker’s (yes, that Bram Stoker, more on that below) journal and letter fragments recovered at one point in the investigation, placed throughout the narrative, ostensibly where Frey thought they best fit.

As I’ve mentioned in my previous reviews, one of the things that makes this series so enjoyable is the relationship between Frey and McGray. In this one, they spent far less time together, so there was so little delightful banter. When it did happen, it was great, but I wanted more. Much of the narrative in this book was just the two policemen interviewing suspects, and then re-interviewing them when someone else brings a new fact to life. By the time the culprit was revealed around the 85% mark, I was just plain bored.

One thing I have noticed in both the previous books, and again in this one, is that there aren’t many likeable female characters, which is a bit disappointing. I think the issue probably stood out more to me this time because I wasn’t enjoying the things that usually make up for it.

To be fair, de Muriel’s historical detail was meticulous. The book centres around the real life production of Macbeth mounted by the celebrated Henry Irving, and Irving, his leading lady, Ellen Terry, and their theatre manager and later author, Bram Stoker,  all feature prominently as characters. While the mystery is fabricated, of course, de Muriel had to invent very little about the historical figures themselves in order to weave the narrative around them. I found myself pausing the audio book to look up Wikipedia articles or YouTube videos about them to learn more.

Fortunately, I’ve seen some reviews from others who thought this book a bit lacklustre who assure me that the fourth installment is back to the standard of the first two. I have already listened to the first twenty minutes and it’s definitely a promising start, so I think this one was just an anomoly.

You can read my review of the first book in the Frey and McGray series, The Strings of Murder, here, and the second, A Fever of the Blood, here.


Find me on:
GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Save

#WWW Wednesday – July 11, 2018

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop is hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for this week, and just answer the three questions.

wwwwednesday

What have you recently finished reading?

I’m literally listening to the last half hour of  A Mask of Shadows, the third Frey and McGray novel by Oscar de Muriel, as I write this post. To be honest, it’s nowhere near as good as the first two books in the series and I can see why those reviewers for whom it was the first Frey & McGray book said they wouldn’t read any others. I still plan on finishing the series, though.

I posted by my review of Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner last Friday. Read it here.

What are you currently reading

I am still reading Blackwing by Ed McDonald. I haven’t been making a lot of time for reading, which is entirely my own fault, but I am liking it, despite going slowly. Because I’ve been listening to the Frey & McGray books, and because Galharrow, the MC in this book, is a loveable grump like McGray, I am hearing his narration entirely in Andy Secombe’s grumpy Scottish McGray voice. This is not a bad thing.

What do you think you will read next?

The fourth Frey & McGray book, The Loch of the Dead, became available earlier than I expected, so I have that ready to go. I’m hoping it’s back up to the standard of the first two.

I also checked out the adult SFF section at the library for once (I usually make a beeline for the YA section) and picked out a couple of Mercedes Lackey titles. I think I am going to try Beauty and the Werewolf first. Though Joust has a dragon on the cover and that is also very tempting. So we’ll see what I end up with.

What are you reading this week?~ EmilyP.S. If you’re  interested, head over to my writing blog, Letting the Voices Out, to read a snippet of my current WIP here.

#aww2018 #LoveOzYA “I’m improvising, but I’ve been doing that my whole life.” // Review of “Unearthed” by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Title: Unearthed (Unearthed #1)
Author: Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Genre: Sci-fi
Target Age Group: YA
Dates read: 20/06/2018 – 26/06/2018
Rating: ★★★

Review:

This book was marketed as “Indiana Jones in space” and while I can see that somewhat… I feel like that ended up giving me expectations for something this book wasn’t. So while I enjoyed it for what it was, I was disappointed it wasn’t what I was expecting.

So what was I expecting? Okay, so I love doing escape rooms, right? My partner finds them a little stressful but he humours me because in return I go to karaoke with him on wekeends. I was expecting this book to be some kind of epic scale escape room in book form, lots of solving puzzles and boobie-trapped rooms and such. And there was a bit of that. But there was really only one interesting puzzle (a musical one which was quite clever). The characters are out of the temple by about halfway to two-thirds of the way through the book and it becomes something completely different.

I liked Jules and Amelia, though I don’t think first person narration works when you have two POV characters. They sound much the same. Yes, they have different personalities and quirks, but I feel like probably everyone sounds fairly similar inside their head. It is different when you can hear different voices, but on the page, there’s not much to differentiate. I couldn’t get too engaged in the romance, as the action takes place over only a few days, maybe a week. I am more of a fan of a slow-burn over “we’re high on adrenaline and running for our lives and I’m gonig to kiss you now”.

Still, the action in the last quarter ramped right up, and the cliffhanger at the end was intriguing enough that I kind want to check out the next book when it’s released just to see where they go with that.


This review is part of my 2018 Australian Women Writers Challenge. Click here for more information.

Find me on:
GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Save