WWW Wednesday: 21st February 2018

The WWW Wednesday meme is currently hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words and is a great way to do a weekly update on what you’ve been reading and what you have planned.

WWW Wednesday

To take part all you have to do is answer the following three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently ReadingThe Boy on the Bridge (The Hungry Plague, #2)

I finally made a start on The Boy on the Bridge by M.R. Carey at the weekend and while I haven’t made a huge amount of progress with it, I’m around the 20% mark, I’m really enjoying it. This is one of those books that I’ve been wanting to read for ages but kept putting off because it never seemed like the right time. I absolutely loved the previous book in the series, The Girl with all the Gifts, and I think this has the potential to be just as good. It certainly has an interesting cast of characters.

A Man Called OveI also picked up my next book club book, A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, from the library last night and needless to say I couldn’t resist starting it immediately. As I’m writing this I’ve literally read only the first two chapters but I’m already in love. There’s something very easy about Backman’s writing and Ove is my kind of character (I’m also a bit of a grump). This was actually my pick for book club so I’m keeping everything crossed that everyone enjoys it. My last choice, More Than This by Patrick Ness, got a bit of a mixed reaction but I’ve heard nothing but great things about this one and I loved Backman’s latest book Beartown.

The Lathe of Heaven

On audio, I’m making good progress on The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K Le Guin. I probably would never have picked this up if it wasn’t for the reading challenge I’m currently participating in but I’m glad to have had the push. I’ve never read anything by LeGuin, and I often struggle with sci fi, so I was a little wary going in but I am finding it such a fascinating and engaging story. If someone could explain the title to me though that would be great, I thought a lathe was a woodwork machine.


Recently Finished

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue (Guide, #1)

My reading has been all over the place again this week, lots of starting and abandoning books and reading super short stories to fit challenge tasks. I did however manage to finish two books.

The first of these was The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee. This was a book I was ridiculously excited about and it did not disappoint. It’s just such a fun and cute read about two young men on a tour of Europe. It is possibly a little bit tropey but it’s packed full of action and a lot of their adventures were unexpected. I can’t wait for the next book in the series, The Ladies Guide to Petticoats and Piracy.Bellamy and The Brute (Bellamy and the Brute, #1)

The second book finished was yet another fairytale retelling (I have an addiction), Bellamy and the Brute by Alicia Michaels. As you can probably tell from the title it’s a Beauty and the Beast type story and I really enjoyed it. I wouldn’t necessarily say it was great, it’s not one that’ll stay with me, but it had it’s moments. There are elements of gothic horror about it and it has some truly creepy sections but I don’t think the author goes far enough and it becomes a little scooby doo (they would’ve gotten away with it if it wasn’t for those meddlin kids).


Reading Next

One of the team challenges I’ve been taking part in ends on Monday night so that should free me up to read pretty much whatever I want. I have loved being pushed out of my comfort zone but I have to admit I’m looking forward to being able to read more of what I want. I do have a lot of ARCs sitting on my shelf (I’ve lost my 80% 😦 ) so I do need to focus on them but they’re all books I’ve been looking forward to so it’s not exactly a hardship 🙂

The Last LaughThe Exact Opposite of OkayBring Me BackSam & Ilsa's Last HurrahThe Truth About AliceThe Queen's Rising

Have you read any of the books on my list this week? Any others you’d recommend? As always please feel free to leave comments and links below.

Happy Reading ❤

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Teaser Tuesday: 20th February 2018

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by The Purple Booker. If you want to join in grab your current read, flick to a random page, select two sentences (without spoilers) and share them in a blog post or in the comments of The Purple Booker.


This week my teaser comes from The Boy on the Bridge by M.R. Carey. It’s a companion novel (is that the right word?) to one of my favorite books, The Girl with All the Gifts and is one I’ve been wanting to read for ages but am only now getting around to. Very early days, I’m 5% in, but so far so good.


My Teaser

Seven weeks into a fifteen-month mission, ten years after the world ended and a hundred miles from home, Dr Samrina Khan is pregnant.

But this is not Bethlehem, and there will be no manger.

~ 4% The Boy on the Bridge by M.R. Carey


BlurbThe Boy on the Bridge (The Girl With All the Gifts series)

Once upon a time, in a land blighted by terror, there was a very clever boy.

The people thought the boy could save them, so they opened their gates and sent him out into the world.

To where the monsters lived.

ARC Review: Everything is Lies by Helen Callaghan

Everything Is Lies by Helen Callaghan
Everything Is Lies
by Helen Callaghan

My rating: 4 of 5 star

Unexpected and gripping, Everything is Lies is yet another great thriller from Helen Callaghan.


THE BLURB

No-one is who you think they are

Sophia’s parents lead quiet, unremarkable lives. At least that is what she’s always believed.

Everyone has secrets

Until the day she arrives at her childhood home to find a house ringing with silence. Her mother is hanging from a tree. Her father is lying in a pool of his own blood, near to death.

Especially those closest to you 

The police are convinced it is an attempted murder-suicide. But Sophia is sure that the woman who brought her up isn’t a killer. As her father is too ill to talk it is up to Sophia to clear her mother’s name. And to do this she needs to delve deep into her family’s past – a past full of dark secrets she never suspected were there . . .

What if your parents had been lying to you since the day you were born?


MY REVIEW

This is only Callaghan’s second book but she is fast becoming one of my favorite thriller writers. I very much enjoyed her first book, Dear Amy, but I think this may be better. There are still a couple of issues but it’s a gripping read and one that really surprised me with some of its twists.

The story begins with main character Sophia out another pretty much compulsory night out with her work colleagues. She receives a call from her mum begging her to come home as there’s something important they need to discuss but, having had a few drinks and with a handsome architect showing some interest in her, she brushes her off. When she visits the next day however she discovers her mother dead and her father seriously injured. The police believe her mother killed herself and attacked her father when he tried to stop her but Sophia doesn’t believe it. The plot thickens when she discovers some notebooks her mum had been using to write about her past revealing secrets that it seems some people will do anything to conceal.

I don’t really want to say much more about the plot than that, as I think it’s better to experience the twists and turns for yourself. I unfortunately stumbled across a review with a major spoiler but I have to admit that despite this I did find it to be completely different from what I was expecting.

The story begins in the present then flashes back to the past via the notebooks and while I did like the present day story I have to admit it was the flashbacks I found so much more intriguing and actually felt like that was the more developed part of the story. Her mother’s story, and her mother was so different from what I (and Sophie) believed her to be and the other characters that are introduced are so much more fascinating and complex.

Sophie was a pretty likable lead, intelligent, principled and determined but I’m afraid I couldn’t feel much connection to or empathy with her, I think because there just wasn’t enough of her. It seemed to me as if her role was primarily to find and read her mother’s notebooks. Her life and her issues (problems at work) felt a little pushed to the side making it difficult to really get to know her, particularly in the first half of the story where the notebooks make up the majority of the narrative.

I can’t however complain too much about the amount of time spent on her mother’s story as it absolutely fascinated me. She frustrated the heck out of me and a lot of the time I wanted to give her a shake but there was something so understandable about her actions that even when she was doing the stupid thing I still found myself rooting for her and found it impossible to look away.

Callaghan can definitely write an engaging story and this was one book I found myself reading late into the night and thinking about at odd times. I do think maybe too much time was spent on some things and not enough on others but for the majority of the book the pacing is just right. I did see a few of the twists coming but there were certainly elements that caught me by surprise something which is pretty rare.

If I had one main criticism of the book however it would be the ending, not so much that I disagreed, more that it went on a little too long. Again I felt the balance was off between what I wanted to know and what I was happy not to.

Overall a great story and I can’t wait for Callaghan’s next one.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance copy. As always all views are my own.

WWW Wednesday: 14th February 2018

The WWW Wednesday meme is currently hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words and is a great way to do a weekly update on what you’ve been reading and what you have planned.

WWW Wednesday

To take part all you have to do is answer the following three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently ReadingThe Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue (Guide, #1)

I’m a little bit all over the place with my reading again, I think I’ve read the first few pages of I don’t know how many books then changed my mind. I have however finally settled on The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee. I’ve been desperate to read this ever since I first heard about it but had been starting to get a little worried it wouldn’t live up to expectations. I only started it this morning but I’m already loving it. If only I didn’t have to go to work and could just stay in bed all day reading.

BraveThe other book I’m kinda reading at the moment is Brave by Rose McGowan. I say kinda because I started it but after reading around 15-20% I parked it. I’d picked it up out of curiosity after hearing so much about it but I’m not sure it’s for me, or at least not at the moment. It seems like it’ll be an fascinating read but the tone is just so angry and so anti men (and the whole of Hollywood) that I don’t think I’m in the right mood for it. I can understand why McGowan is so angry but right now I need something a bit more positive and happy.

On audio, I’ve somehow started listening to 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher. I’ve seen the TV series, read the book, so I suppose I may as well complete the trifecta by listening to it too. Honestly I was just hunting for something short and easy on Overdrive and this popped up. It does work really well as an audio as they have different narrators for Clay and Hannah so it’s almost like a conversation at times. I’m not sure if I’ll finish this as I have another audio I should probably be starting and really, I’m pretty sure I know the story.

 


Recently Finished

The Duchess Deal (Girl Meets Duke, #1)

I’ve been working flat out since Christmas so it’s safe to say that I’m reaching the tired and grumpy stage and am finding it harder and harder to concentrate on pretty much anything. It’s definitely affecting how much I read and also the type of book I’m picking up but I have managed to finish three books.

The first of these, The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare, was a book I’d received from Netgalley and was a really easy and fun read. It’s historical romance and is a Beauty and the Beast type story. A Duke left horribly scarred from his time at war convinces a poor seamstress to marry him so he can have an heir to his title and property. They bicker, they tease each other and they flirt a lot so it’s very funny and pretty steamy. Perfect for my mood.Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1)

The second book finished, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. was also pretty heavy on the romance but that’s not why I loved it. This is a series I’ve been trying to find for ages but I don’t think has been available in the UK (or at least I could never see it anywhere). It’s a dystopian about a girl who’s been locked up in prison alone for 264 days because her touch is lethal, and then she gets a new cell mate.

The style of this is very unusual and actually there’s a warning from the publisher at the start so you know it’s deliberate. MC Juliette is a little unbalanced after being alone for so long so she repeats, she counts, she loses her way in the middle of sentences. I know a lot of people have complained about it but I loved it. It was when it became more coherent and normal that it lost it a little for me. I am however looking forward to reading the rest of the series. Just need to wait till it’s released in March.Grey (Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian, #1)

The third and final book finished this week was Grey by E.L. James. Shameful confession time, I actually kinda liked Fifty Shades. It’s wrong in so many ways but for some reason I found it addictive reading. Grey is the Midnight Sun of the series and tells Fifty Shades from Christian’s side. Not entirely sure we needed to hear his side but it does give a bit more of his history. No doubt I’ll read Darker at some point but I have no plans to rush out and buy it 🙂


Reading Next

I have a few fast approaching publication dates for ARCs I haven’t read yet so I’m thinking I should probably make them my priority. I also need to try and find a book by an author who died this year for a challenge so I think I’m going to try an Ursula K Le Guin. I’m not a big sci fi fan though so not sure how I’ll fare.

The Last LaughThe Boy on the Bridge (The Hungry Plague, #2)The Exact Opposite of OkayThe Lathe of Heaven

Have you read any of the books on my list this week? Any others you’d recommend? As always please feel free to leave comments and links below.

Happy Reading and Happy Valentines Day ❤

Teaser Tuesday: 13th February 2018

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by The Purple Booker. If you want to join in grab your current read, flick to a random page, select two sentences (without spoilers) and share them in a blog post or in the comments of The Purple Booker.


This week my teaser comes from Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. This is a series I’ve been desperate to read for ages but for some reason has never been available in the UK (or at least not on Amazon). Luckily it now looks like it’s going to be released in March and I was lucky enough to get an ARC from NetGalley. Needless to say I dropped everything to read it and really loved it (or at least the first half).


My Teaser

I’ve run out of words. My pockets are full of letters I can’t string together and I’m so desperate to say something that I say nothing and my heart is about to burst through my chest.

~ 65% Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi


BlurbShatter Me (Shatter Me, #1)

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

Review: Goodbye Perfect by Sara Barnard

Goodbye, Perfect
Goodbye, Perfect
by Sara Barnard

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Goodbye Perfect has some wonderful character development and depth but while Barnard handles a difficult topic with real skill I’m afraid the storyline just wasn’t for me.


THE BLURB

When I was wild, you were steady . . .
Now you are wild – what am I? 

Eden McKinley knows she can’t count on much in this world, but she can depend on Bonnie, her solid, steady, straight-A best friend. So it’s a bit of a surprise when Bonnie runs away with the boyfriend Eden knows nothing about five days before the start of their GCSEs. Especially when the police arrive on her doorstep and Eden finds out that the boyfriend is actually their music teacher, Mr Cohn.

Sworn to secrecy and bound by loyalty, only Eden knows Bonnie’s location, and that’s the way it has to stay. There’s no way she’s betraying her best friend. Not even when she’s faced with police questioning, suspicious parents and her own growing doubts.

As the days pass and things begin to unravel, Eden is forced to question everything she thought she knew about the world, her best friend and herself.


MY REVIEW

Hmm As a huge fan of Barnard I really wanted to love this book but for some reason it just didn’t happen for me. It may just have been that the story, about a girl whose 15 year old best friend runs off with her music teacher, made me uncomfortable or it may just have been that I was in the wrong frame of mind when reading it but I just didn’t connect with it the way I have with the authors other books.

It is very well written as you would expect from Barnard and even though I didn’t love the story I did find it very readable and flew through the whole thing in a couple of days.

There were elements about it I absolutely loved, the relationship between main character Eden and her adoptive family (the fact that the main character was adopted), inclusion of a teenager who is a carer for his mother, the way it looks at how people are judged based on their background. All wonderfully done and so great to see in YA fiction.

I am not sure I necessarily connected with Eden but she was very different from what I expected and from what you usually find in these type of stories. She’s not had the easiest of lives, is argumentative and immature in some ways but her attitude and goals are very grown up in a lot of ways. She’s just full of contradictions, which I thought was wonderful, and she’s not the only one. Almost every character has layers and depth, something I loved, and I really liked how both they and the relationships between them developed through the story.

The pacing is maybe a little on the slow side and I did find myself getting frustrated with it, particularly in the start. I felt like a lot could have been resolved much faster and much easier and far too much time was spent with Eden going back and forward trying to decide whether to tell everyone what she knows. With my general uneasiness around the teacher student relationship I just wanted it to be resolved and for the story to move elsewhere.

I think these are me issues however rather than any kind of problem with the book and based on the other reviews I can see that a lot of people have really loved it. It is definitely a worthwhile read even if just to get some discussion around the issues it raises.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. As always all views are my own.

ARC Review: Force of Nature by Jane Harper

Force of Nature by Jane Harper
Force of Nature
by Jane Harper

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

The second book in Harper’s Aaron Falk series is just as good if not better than the first. Atmospheric and packed full of tension, this story of a corporate retreat gone wrong and a missing woman is absolutely riveting.

Please note that as this is the second book in the series it does follow on from the Dry but could easily be read as a standalone as there are only some very mild spoilers and very little overlap. This review is therefore spoiler free.


THE BLURB

FIVE WENT OUT. FOUR CAME BACK…

Is Alice here? Did she make it? Is she safe? In the chaos, in the night, it was impossible to say which of the four had asked after Alice’s welfare. Later, when everything got worse, each would insist it had been them.

Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along the muddy track. Only four come out the other side.

The hike through the rugged landscape is meant to take the office colleagues out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and teach resilience and team building. At least that is what the corporate retreat website advertises.

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a particularly keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing bushwalker. Alice Russell is the whistleblower in his latest case – and Alice knew secrets. About the company she worked for and the people she worked with.

Far from the hike encouraging teamwork, the women tell Falk a tale of suspicion, violence and disintegrating trust. And as he delves into the disappearance, it seems some dangers may run far deeper than anyone knew.


MY REVIEW

I was a little late in discovering just how good Harper’s first book The Dry was, it felt like everyone had read it but me, but as soon as I finished it I knew I needed more. It was just so atmospheric and I found main character Aaron Falk very likeable and someone I wanted to know more about.

For me the highlight of this book was yet again the setting and character development. Unlike The Dry however there are no high temperatures and no drought but rather a cold, wet and rugged landscape where five women set out on a corporate team building event which ends in disaster. As they lose their way (and their supplies) in this remote and isolated location, the bickering and disagreements on how best to find their way or get help begin and in the end only four of them make it out. It’s one of those classic survival stories, mixed with a missing person investigation and I absolutely loved it.

This has a slightly different format to previous book but the writing is just as good. In The Dry the author interspersed flashbacks to different time periods and events within the narrative (something I found a little jarring at times) to give an insight into the characters motivations and thoughts. In Force of Nature however Harper alternates between two separate timelines, the first following Falk as he investigates the disappearance of his key informant and the other following the five women on the retreat.

I have to say I preferred this format but I did find myself more gripped by the women’s story than Falk’s investigation. It felt like Aaron and his partner Carmen were pushed a little to the side particularly in the first half of the book where they’re getting everyone’s story but that may just have been because I was rushing through their sections to get back to the retreat.

The sections on the corporate retreat are told in more or less chronological order and I found it absolutely riveting to read the changing dynamics within the group as their situation goes from bad to worse. Watching their relationships and attitudes shift as they move from their corporate personas and roles to their more natural, and at times primitive, behavior was by far the highlight of this story. It does make you wonder how well you know your work colleagues and how you would react in that situation. Would you really pull together or would it be every man for himself? What would you do if you thought your life was on the line and someone in the group was risking it?

As it’s told from the points of view of each of the women you do get a real insight into their characters and motives but it still keeps you guessing as to what happened between them until the very end. Did Alice really set out alone and get lost or did she push the others in the group too far?

Added to that there is a mystery around a serial killer who previously operated in the area and Falk’s current investigation into the shady dealings of the company Alice works for. Could someone associated with the killer have taken up where he left off, could someone have found out Alice was informing on them? There are so many potential options for what could have happened to her and so many red herrings thrown in that it’s impossible to figure it out and I suspected everyone at one point or another.

Like the previous book this isn’t necessarily a fast paced story but it’s no less gripping as a result. Yet again Harper creates real tension and atmosphere in the story and while I would have liked a bit more time on Falk I very much enjoyed this book and can’t wait for the next one in the series

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. As always all views are my own.