Books of 2018, #3: A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

Hi everyone!

I am slightly behind on my reading schedule of a book per month. A lot of the books I have are actually quite bulky or read slowly and with university studies and work, and the hectic week before Easter, March was almost completely devoid of reading.

I’d been making my way through the books in this post – books that I’ve started but were on pause. All my books sat on the spare desk until Derp came home for the holidays and Twerp refused to give his room back again, so he’s living with me and needed the spare desk. I moved my entire TBR pile back to a corner of my desk where it’s three books away from reaching the G-Dragon poster on the wall… again.

In the re-shuffle, A Thousand Pieces of You ended up right at the bottom of a 17-book reading pile because I didn’t think I would get around to finishing it. So when I suddenly felt like finishing it last week, I almost didn’t bother trying to move it from under the pile. On the other hand, it’d been bothering me that I’d only read half, and I needed my March book…

As I am sure I have mentioned eons ago, this was a birthday gift from my friend Nicole, picked from my wishlist and mostly on the list because of its delectable, breathtaking cover. I thought I knew not to judge a book by its cover but I’ve noticed – in the years since not having my school library and buying my own books – that a great cover really makes me scream ‘take my money!’ But alas, the proverb had to ring true sooner or later, and it certainly did for this.

Or rather, my eyes must have skipped over the romance in the description of the book. That would have made me run in the opposite direction.

My main opinion is that this was utterly and totally ‘meh’. The idea of jumping into alternate universes is super promising and seeing as it’s a romantic sci-fi YA, the story… wasn’t that surprising, if that makes sense? It was quite predictable, and I felt there was so much left to explore that I was a little unsatisfied at the end. It’s full of tropes and stuff that made me go urgh (it’s been a while since I read about a love triangle!) but that my younger self might have absolutely loved. Then again, Twerp has also read the book – she’s the same age of the ‘younger self’ I’m referring to and she doesn’t like the book much either. Maybe it’s just us!

Anyway, once I set my mind to it, this was a speedy read, not too complex, and I finished it in two days. We shall see how long it survives on my bookshelf, too… I’ve already started my April book as well so hopefully, I’ll stay on track now.

Until next time,

X

My Current TBR Pile, as of March 2018

When I first sat down to write this I was thinking that this would end up being a very long post. This was because it seemed like my TBR pile had finally reached the heights of my G-Dragon poster. Then I realised that I could split the pile somewhat. I tend to leave my current reads on top of this pile too, you see, as well as some other stray books.

Anyway, after splitting the pile into my abandoned reads and actual yet-to-be-touched books, I thought I would show you the books in the latter category.

But then after that… This post was originally scheduled for February but my birthday recently passed by and I got a few more books as gifts…. making this a very long post. Whoops.

 

Yes, that’s right everyone, I am experimenting with portrait images and not landscape!
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
About: A group of young boys crash land on an island and have to fend for themselves.
Goodreads

This has been on my TBR for a while. As a lover of the Battle Royale, I think the original plan was to self-study these books together alongside other books of a similar premise, like The Hunger Games and The Long Walk. It never really happened, but I still want to read this again. I’m sure I would at least appreciate it more than my thirteen-year-old self did.

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
About: A dreamwalker and clairvoyant hired to break into people’s minds for information.
I’ve heard so much good about this series but wasn’t sure if it was for me. The book itself is pretty stunning, though, and I thought about it a lot. I was really surprised to find it in a charity shop a few weeks ago with an unbroken spine and snapped it up straight away! £2.50, everyone. What a deal!

I spied some Murakami and other big titles that day, too, so it really goes to show that charity shops are always worth checking out. I’ve spotted everything from hardbacks of The Girl On The Train to the entire Song of Ice and Fire series in such stores. Did you know my entire Harry Potter book set was second hand in this way? In fact, I think half my bookshelf is second hand!

I See You by Claire Mackintosh
About: A woman becomes the target of possible horrible crimes after her photo is revealed in a newspaper’s classified ad.
Goodreads
This is a book gift from Tray, and it’s a thriller. I don’t normally read this genre but it sounds good and I’m looking forward to shaking up my reading a bit.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
About: A girl caught in the whirl of a close friend’s death at the hands of a police officer.
Does this book even need an introduction? It’s probably the most recommended book of 2017 as I just did not stop hearing about it, and I picked this up at a The Works store in Colchester, for £3! Only… that was in October or November and I’m ashamed to say I still haven’t touched it.
The Young Elites Trilogy by Marie Lu
About: A survivor of a deadly fever with emerging powers.
This was also picked up at The Works, but one in my city. They do some great discounted box sets and I’ve been mulling over getting the Poison Study (Maria V Snyder) box set for a while, too. I’ve heard lots of good things about Marie Lu so I’m eager to start this series.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens|Goodreads
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte|Goodreads
Two classics here, bought where else but a charity shop? I’m not as hyped to read these but I’ve always been meaning to read them so I expect I’ll get around to it at some point. Not that I hate classics, I’ve enjoyed a few before but they’re just less exciting to pick up, initially!

Morning Star by Pierce Brown (Red Rising Series, #3)|Goodreads

I’ve just finished Golden Son, the second book in the series, and I may leave it a while before I finally finish this trilogy. I am really enjoying it so far, though.

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (J. K Rowling)
About: A detective is tasked to solve the apparent suicide of a model.
Goodreads

Another charity shop find from more than a year ago, I simply haven’t found myself in a rush to read this.


Blade Runner (originally ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) By Philip K. Dick
About: A bounty hunter is tasked to retire some rogue androids.
Goodreads

Renamed for the infamous film and recent cinematic remake, I first spotted this in Foyles before meeting a friend, before then finding it in The Works for £2, of all places!
Ink by Alice Broadway
About: A girl’s father dies and his tattoos, his life records, to be made into a Skin Book only there is something missing from his.
Goodreads

Following on from the last book, The Works also often offer 3 for £5 on their books. Normally, the store in Birmingham City Centre doesn’t have a selection to my taste but when I spotted these two books, I was so excited! AT was with me and also wanted a copy of Blade Runner so we were able to pick up the books for £5 together!
The Bees by Laline Paull
About: A bee of the lowest caste in the hive breaks a sacred law.
Goodreads

This was a birthday gift from AT, and is pitched as ‘Hunger Games’ meets ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. The concept sounds really interesting and this isn’t just human dystopia with a bee concept – all the characters are bees! The cover of this particular edition is really bright and attractive and adds some much-needed colour to my TBR pile.
Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin
About: A girl strives to create her own companion out of the mechanical parts that every human in her community has.
Goodreads

This was a birthday gift from Twerp. It went straight on my wishlist after I had seen it floating around my twitter or something and I fell in love with the new paperback cover, with red sprayed edges!


Clearly, I need to make a start on this pile, but I really can’t help myself when it comes to buying books. I’m trying to make more room for reading this year, with the aim of at least a book per month for my Goodreads challenge.

What is your reading challenge goal this year?

Until next time,

X

Books of 2018 #2: Golden Son by Pierce Brown (and also getting to meet him!!)

Hi everyone!

Last year, I was gifted Red Rising by my best friend, Tray, and really enjoyed it. However, I’m really bad with series and often never pick up the next book in the fear that it just won’t be as good. This is often why I reach for standalone books instead.

I heard that Pierce Brown was visiting Birmingham though and instantly snapped up tickets as well as the remaining books in the Red Rising Trilogy. Then it occurred to me that I might want to make a start on the books since the talk and signing were for the first instalment of the second, sequel trilogy, and I might hear some spoilers. Not that it mattered much – I don’t seem to remember them by the time I get around to reading them!

It was on a Wednesday (31st January) that just so happened to be a really, really sucky day. It was one of those days where I could have done everything to lift my mood and still feel awful. But stories about my mental health are for another day…

This particular Wednesday, I trekked off to uni and by the time I hit the city centre I knew it was going to end up a day off. I wasn’t even in the mood to shop and treat myself. I ended up buying a pretzel and cosying up to a corner of the Waterstones Cafe for six hours, reading as much of Golden Son as I could. I had to take regular breathers.

I don’t know about you, but there’s something about a heartless character death that lifts my mood a bit. Flick a page of Golden Son and suddenly someone is dead. It could be anyone and the question is not who, but when? I’d close the book and be two steps from laughing. I was actually feeling a bit giddy by the time I had to actually go upstairs to the event.

You know when authors talk about their favourite dead characters and we either laugh or stare at them in horror? Pierce Brown is another kind of writer. He’ll have whole character arcs ready before deciding to kill one off at the pick of a hat. Literally. I know, it’s EVIL. Pierce Brown is the kind of writer I want to be when I’m all grown up… let’s ignore the fact I’m not a teenager anymore!

By the time I made it home, my mood did a total 180 and I ended up back where I was in the morning. Then I spotted this photo on my camera.

(In the words of my friend, AT: “Pierce Brown is sorta hot – in the redneck kind of way…” and that, I do not disagree with…)

It’s now almost a month later as I type this last bit. I’ve finally finished the book and it was relentlessly death-filled and emotional. I think I even enjoyed it much more than Red Rising! Even though I didn’t have much to read to finish, I need to take a break before I start on book three, Morning Star. I can imagine that it will just as action-packed.

Until next time,

X

 

 

Books I’ve Started and Will (Eventually) Finish

Recently, I was putting all my TBR pile together to take photos and it was looking to be a very long post, but then I took the opportunity to split my pile up a little and it ended up like this. I currently am actively reading two books, so they aren’t included here. The books in this post, I was actively reading at one point but had to put down for various reasons. I do fully intend to get back into them as I’m not really a DNFer (DNF = Did Not Finish) as of yet.

I’d been really itching to take blog photos for a bunch of book-related posts (my beauty photos were all mostly done weeks ago) but there seemed to be a storm passing through, the weather had otherwise been terrible, and the lighting was a pain to work with.
Battle Royale: Remastered by Koushun Takami
About: A class of 15-year-olds picked to fight to the death by a government program.
I can’t remember how I picked this up! I finally have a copy of the first translated edition and re-read it last year, and I thought it would be interesting to compare it to this second translation. I might have mentioned it sometime last year. Anyhow, Battle Royale remains the top of my favourite books ever but it’s not one I recommend easily due to the subject content.

So far it reads more fluently than the first one but my favourite choice phrases have changed wording, therefore changing the impact they have which is a bit less for me.

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
About: A girl has to hop through alternate universes to avenge her dead physicist parents who invented a hopping-through-universes device.
I admit this was purely on my wishlist because the cover is really quite delectable. I received this for my birthday last year. In fact, on my Goodreads its one of my current reads but I picked it up and read a bit whilst in Vietnam last year and well… Didn’t realise it was romantic (well done, Swanna, you idiot). Like I’m all for the sci-fi plot here but girl if you nearly died you should not be thinking about how close he is to your face. So I haven’t picked it up since June.
The Night Manager by John Le Carre
This… has been on my TBR for a year and a half now since I picked it up at Penguin’s JobHack event. I put it with books like The Handmaid’s Tale because it’s a bit difficult for me to read and takes a bit of dedication and focus. Unfortunately, I haven’t had that sort of time to put aside which is why it’s still here. I’m going to have to make some time eventually because that’s the only way I am getting my reading done – you can’t just find blank bits of time, you have to make them!

Are you a serial DNFer? Or in my case, a serial Book Starter? Let me know! Next week, I’ll be sharing my proper TBR.

Until next time,

X

Books of 2018, #1: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (The Illustrated Edition)

Neverwhere was probably my first Neil Gaiman book.
Either that or The Graveyard Book. I read it years ago and I can’t remember what I thought of Neverwhere only that there was a London Below and a Door and an Angel and that the book was Good and somewhere on my positive scales and that I always meant to reread it and never got around to it.
I was so excited to hear that a new edition was coming out Illustrated by Chris Riddell, but at the time I was too broke to pre-order it. My sister bought a copy for me eventually for Christmas.
I’m a fan of Chris Riddell’s illustrations (especially paired with Gaiman’s stories, as with ‘The Graveyard Book’, ‘Coraline’, ‘Fortunately, the Milk’ and ‘The Sleeper and the Spindle’) so I was definitely going to get it eventually.
20180124130812_IMG_7150-02.jpeg
I’m playing around with Snapseed a lot, recently. I’m not sure what I think of this kind of editing. I’m not sure what I think of anything these days, to be honest, haha.
This is going to be ever so slightly probing into the characters but I haven’t spoiled anything so feel free to read on if you haven’t read it.
All the characters are incredibly intriguing. They all have strong motivations and never really deviate from their goal but because of the unorthodox world of the Underground, their methods, reasoning, and their idea of normal* are very curious to me. I found something to love in each and every one of them. I have a soft spot for Hunter, personally.
*I think that’s something I don’t take into account enough, really. How a character’s experiences affect what they think is normal. Some of the characters have questionable morals but it makes perfect sense given the context of the novel.
My favourite part of the novel is actually a particular section at the end of the first chapter, where Jessica, a well organised, well put together person who likes things going to plan, does something that to me is both very out of character yet completely in the moment. Even now after finishing the book, that part left an impact on me. I vaguely remember thinking this when I read it the first time too, and it really ended up being the moment that convinced me to finish the book. There was not quite a moment like that throughout the rest of it, but many came very close.
The world building is something I always admire when done well. The pieces of myths and legend and stories are planted into the narrative so that every plot twist is still quite plausible within the rules of this world. It’s the kind of world-building I really admire.
It’s not the kind of book that ends with me being overwhelmed in a puddle of feelings. However, I do feel like I’ve just experienced a momentary adventure and am ready to resume normal… things. I feel calm, and satisfied.
The last point I want to make is that I haven’t been to London enough to really feel the connection between this book and the city, but it makes me want to visit all the Above Ground spots mentioned here.
Is this one of my favourite books? Yeah, I’d say so. I don’t have a top ten (more like a top four) but I think even as time passes this will retain a spot in my top ten as I have such a soft spot for it.

Until next time,

X

Reading Round-up: Jan/Feb 2017

So, this is my attempt to tackle this huge TBR pile from the start of the new year.


Red Rising by Pierce Brown [Goodreads Progress Updates]
About: A miner on Mars harvesting an all important material to allow for the planet to be colonised, discovers that it has already been colonised by people who view his people as slaves. 

GUYS. I’m in love. What is it about finding books to love that somehow make you feel as if you’ve been deprived of good books for months when in reality my last obsession was not that long ago?? I was just going to say “it’s been so long!” But it hasn’t!

Anyway. I’m not sure how, but Pierce Brown paints setting really well.
It’s also serving as great inspiration for my own writing. Darrow is a great main character – he is really driven by his anger. There are a lot of external factors affecting his journey but whenever he makes a choice it feels completely true to his character and his motivations.

I feel like this needs a re-read just so I can get a better grasp of the action – I have a habit of skipping action and just letting it blur together in my head. It’s probably the only reason I seemed to slip out of this novel from time to time – or at least, I would if it were not the well-timed plot twists!

Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami
About: A hard working man visits the old, run-down inn of his memories, hoping to see a call girl he remembers, and finds that it’s been transformed into a dazzling hotel, with no mention of the old place. Suspicious. 

This was interesting, but not interesting enough to make me keep it for a little while longer before returning it to the library. It’s really curious, this book. I can’t say much happens in it, but the characters are a strange mesh and the main character a strangely interesting stream of thoughts. This book just constantly hovered on ‘okay’ for me, and somehow I’m not even sure how it got there and not lower – it’s not something I’d usually like at all. A  very solid ‘eh, not meh’.

Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro

A selection of five short stories, I only got around to reading one and didn’t finish the rest, unfortunately. I wasn’t pulled to pick this up again during the time I had it.

The Circle by Dave Eggers
About: A woman who is employed to a giant, bigger-than-Google progressive company who launch a number of life-changing schemes and projects…  for the better?

I had so many thoughts on this that it’s getting its own, long review! In short, opinions on it are divisive but I enjoyed the flow of this and the ideas it presented. It’s been compared to George Orwell’s 1984 but I hear 1984 is better, so that is now on my reading list.

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming

About: A gambler is getting out of hand and Bond is sent to stop the guy.

This just didn’t click with me. I had picked it up last year in near-perfect condition and finally got round to reading it. There were whole pages dedicated to what Bond’s new sexy assistant looked like and just how pretty she was, and there’s a lot of downgrading of women as spies like EH. Just not for me in 2017, you know?

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

About: A dog is killed, and an investigation ensues, but what Christopher discovers is probably not the answer anyone was expecting.

Also, I have to say, it’s not a mystery. It’s definitely not a mystery. I can’t say I wasn’t expecting the direction the story went in, but maybe the ending left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. I am glad I have read it as it has been on my to-read list for ages, but still.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

About: A reporter goes to her old home town to write about some murders that have happened there. It means staying with her family – not good.

On the cover, it says this family is toxic and honestly, I couldn’t describe it better. This was incredibly messed up in plot and cast of characters,  but I enjoyed it still. I wouldn’t read recommend it to anyone else though,  even if they enjoyed Flynn’s famous Gone Girl. This is just so much darker and creepier. I’m gonna need to read something light to get the teeth imagery out of my head. Overall, pretty gripping and a 4.5 stars.

What have you read this month?

Until next time,

X

 

My Reading Round-up of 2016

First off, I have to wish you all a Happy New Year! We can all now wave goodbye to that absolute train wreck that was 2016, and welcome the apocalypse of 2017 instead. Best of luck to you all, haha!

In 2016, little was done about reading or book-blogging until the summer arrived, largely due to my A-Level exams. Luckily, I think I forsaw this coming and only put 12 books on my Goodreads reading challenge at the beginning of the year!

Swanky new camera shots make their debut. YAAA

The Great

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
About – A boy who discovers that the peculiar children his grandfather so often spoke about are real, and even more strangely, still alive after all those years.
I read this, loved it, shoved it onto my sister, watched the movie with her, and proceeded to tell all my friends who loved the book to not watch the movie. I mean, the movie was also good, but to really enjoy it you’ve got to detach yourself from the book version, unfortunately.

The Long Walk by Stephen King (As Richard Bachman)
About – One hundred boys on a very long walk to the death. The winner is the last one still walking.
As a lover of Battle Royale, this one sounded really intriguing. It’s less violent, but it feels just as deadly. The characters talk to one another, and they’re not necessarily all enemies of one another. If you liked BR like me, you may also enjoy this.

Wonder by R.J Palacio
About – A boy with facial deformities going to school for the first time.
I spotted this in a few round-ups, one by Maddie and Bee, and remembered that my sister had a copy. This was lying on our bookshelf for over a year before I decided to give it a go, and boy am I so glad I did. I genuinely loved all the characters and this evoked actual emotion in me. Actual. Feels.

The Good, or the Half-Forgotten 

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
About – A girl whose old love letters are sent out in the mail by accident.
Not the story I was expecting it to head into, but this was a gift from AT and she’d gone through the book and post-it-noted her favourite bits with little comments. It was probably the reason why I enjoyed the book a lot more than I might have otherwise.

More Than This by Patrick Ness
About – A boy who commits suicide… then wakes up again, all alone, with no idea why.
I often walked past Patrick Ness’ books in the school library but never took one out to read. It sounded interesting but not enough for me to want to take it out. This book did, and it was also the book that made me think ‘what the crap, I need to read more from this guy.’ This book is also the reason why this section is called ‘half forgotten’. I remember really enjoying this and nothing else about it.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
About – dramatic, main-character-saturated world, but focusing on the extras, so to speak.
This concept just really appealed to me. A kind of story we might all be used to, only looked at from such a different angle it’s something else entirely. It’s both fun and casual, but then I remember having a moment where a particular line just put me on the verge of crying because I could 100% relate, for a very personal reason.

Daphnis and Chloe by Longus
About – A boy and a girl, protected by the gods, meet and fall in love.
A quaint little Greek tale I picked up at Penguin’s Job Hack, I didn’t think I’d enjoy it but it was so over-dramatic and cliched, I found myself laughing. It was a quick little read and a lovely pick-me-up in the morning.

Rose Madder by Stephen King
About – A long-time victim of domestic abuse makes a sudden decision to run away in fear of her life.
This definitely doesn’t take the turn you think it would, and I think for all its madness I really wanted the ending to be a little different. Norman was a truly disturbing villain, and I liked watching Rosie’s character develop. Oh, but I also decided I don’t really do suspense as a genre, but I still enjoyed this.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
About – A woman is hired to be a carer for a man who is paraplegic.
It was sweet, it was charming, I see why people love it so much, but I just didn’t love it as much.

Coraline and Fortunately, The Milk by Neil Gaiman
About – Coraline is about a bored girl who uncovers creepy things in her new home, and Fortunately, the Milk is about a Dad’s journey to get a pint of milk for the household.
Both are definitely books I wish I’d read earlier in my childhood. I think my past self would have loved these a lot.

The Forgotten – or worse

The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins
About – A woman who spots something unnerving on her daily commute.
The first book I have read in which I hated all the characters. I sort of understand the rise in flawed protagonists, but the whole cast were just negative all around, and in the end I was actually hoping more of them would be killed off.

 There is No Dog by Meg Rosoff
About- if God were a teenage boy…
The idea of this is great. But I think its best quotes were used up in its blurb and inside cover, and then the rest of the story played out in such a meh way.

Overall, it’s been a year of varied reading! My TBR pile is already bigger than my usual ’12-books-for-Goodreads’ so here’s to another year of books, books, and more books.

Until next time,

X