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Reading my Collection

2017 – WHOLE year without buying books

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Too familiar?

BOOK FEELINGS: If you are an avid (or even occasional) reader you’ll know that last year I reviewed ‘The Witch’s Daughter’ by Paula Brackston and  I LOVED IT. There was so much to like and enjoy, so when the opportunity to read another story full of witch trials that is also based on a true story I jumped at the chance.

1bd8426d-1a4d-44e9-8c6c-1b9c087d6778._CR0,0,3455,3455_PT0_SX220__ ‘The Familiars’ by Stacey Halls starts well, we meet Fleetwood Shuttleworth, a nineteen-year-old pregnant for the fourth time yet still childless. She is under pressure from her much older husband for a son and all Fleetwood wants is for this child to survive.

She’s only been married 4 years when she finds herself horrified that her husband is keeping secrets and a mistress. There is only so much obedience she can take and then on a day she takes a rebellious ride through the woods she meets Alice who might just be the answer to her problems.

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Fleetwood knows she is isolated and needs someone on her side and as her relationship with Alice builds in respect and trust, she feels further and further away from Richard. Finding a Doctors note that changes her life is the turning point in the book. Is her midwife actually a witch? Can they both survive so she can bring this pregnancy to term? Will Richard forgive her?

I try and be honest with you Dear Reader, so I’m going to call a spade a spade. This book starts with such promise and intrigue but as it goes on, there isn’t enough tension, the sub-plots don’t add to the narrative and I struggled to finish it. Some people might love it, others will hate it but I am a bit indifferent. I’ve read better, I’ve definitely read worse.

The rugby is on and after that, I’m going to finish the final book in the Dr. Ruth Galloway series. Happy Reading

 

I couldn’t wait for the next series

BOOK FEELINGS: Last year (feels very weird writing that) Sky made an adaptation of Deborah Harkness’s ‘A Discovery of Witches’, now if you ignore the fact I love supernatural stories, the first part of the story is set in Oxford. The beautiful city I choose to call home, its the place that I am constantly drawn back to after turning up here in 2007 a little lost and full of expectations. My life has significantly changed since then, including Oxford but I couldn’t resist watching it full of supernatural stories on my TV.

The first episode flew by and I knew I needed to read the books. Don’t worry this isn’t a review of the show, even if I wanted to branch out into TV/Film reviews I barely have time for all the books I read so I’m not going to bore you with the details of the casting and my views of the romantic shots of the city.  This brings us to 2 weeks before Christmas, the series had finished and I was having another shitty day at work so during a very wet, cold and miserable lunchtime, I braved the weather and headed to the Waterstones at Leadenhall Market and treated myself to the first book…’A Discovery of Witches’ and went back to work with a huge smile on my face. I started reading it straight away and fell straight into the world I’d seen come alive on screen.  Fast forward to Christmas and under the tree was the box set of all 3 books, once again I had bought myself something too close to Christmas and managed to annoy Carol in the process…however it meant I had books 2 and 3 to read in the funny bit between Christmas and New Year. I was super happy!!

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REVIEW: If you haven’t seen the Sky adaptation I am going to do my best not to ruin it but equally if you have I want to tell you about some of the differences… Harkness’s view of Oxford manages to convey the bustle of students and tourists (the truth) with the romantic idealized version that attracts us all to the historical city in the first place.  We meet Dr. Diana Bishop, a determined accomplished historian who withdraws a book from the world famous Bodleian and her life changes forever.

Okay, so I made that sound super dramatic but really that is the truth. During her research of alchemy, she looks at the converted ‘Ashmole 782’ and suddenly her life is full of vampires, daemons, and even more witches. Despite spending her life refusing to use the magic she inherited from her parents, the witchcraft she has buried within for so long cannot wait to the surface, exposing her to the dangerous vampire, Professor Matthew De Clermont.

‘A Discovery of Witches’ follows these two as Diana learns more about the world she wanted to leave behind and Matthew helps her understand the importance of Ashmole 782. We meet Diana’s aunts Sarah and Em, Matthews Mother Ysabeau and son, Marcus and many creatures that want to harm and control Diana. The common enemy in this first book is the Congregation, 3 witches, 3 daemons and 3 vampires who stop the supernatural world impacting on humans (too much at least).

‘Shadow of Light’ follows Diana as escapes the Congregation’s consequences and finds herself a witch (or 10) to help her understand and control her talents. The people she surrounds herself with as family in the book are familiar in terms of name but different to how we might know them. We see the maternal side of her as she helps a street urchin and a young witch, we see her protective side and how strong she really is. More De Clermont’s show themselves and we start to see why Matthews relationship with his Mothers husband is so complicated.

In ‘The Book of Light’ Diana comes “home” and we catch up with the family and see what happened while she was away. Nathaniel and Sophie have had their baby and this seems to have taken some of the heat off Diana with the Congregation but not for long. Matthew is seeking revenge and Gallowglass tells of how he has always been around. Has Marcus stepped up enough and who will come out of this alive?

I don’t think I need to tell you how much I loved this series before I had even finished the second book I bought myself ‘Time’s Convert’ a stand-alone book that follows Marcus’s life before and after meeting Matthew. I found the narrative flowed so beautifully and there was so much attention to detail. The imagery was amazing and the humour balanced out the darkness within this. It’s easy to read and very very addictive.

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I’m off to carry on with this wonder and i’ll catch up with again soon Dear Reader.

Happy Reading

Who knew there was extremist Buddhism?

TurA Blind Eye (1)

BOOK FEELINGS: This was another book I was asked to review, luckily for me it has already been published so I don’t have to put my review on hold.

First day. New Job. Dead Boss. Steve is having one of those days, he woke up with a hangover, he found the body and how many of his new colleagues think he did it?

DI Maya Rahman comes back from a tragic, traumatic Christmas break to find the Headteacher of her old school in the Tower Hamlets has been killed. First case back and her boss doesn’t think she’s up to it.

This book covers the changing world of education, the conflict management between the community, the police and the school, and just how easily the media can manipulate opinions. Its a murder, wrapped up in a cultural misunderstanding and topped with a religious vendetta.

The books jumps between 2 or 3 point of view characters which if the narration came from first or third person perspective would have been find but it jumped between and in early chapters I had to check who was the POV. It got easier and after a while the story flowed so well that the POV didn’t really matter. Everything was relevant to the storytelling. images

This book was easy to read, easy to follow but difficult to work out. A gripping murder mystery with a unconventional themes and a diverse cast. I really enjoyed it. So as it is Dear Reader, you know a little about me… One thing I haven’t talked about it is where I stand on religion. This book made me think a bit about religion, faith and being so devout that murder seems like a viable option.

Maya’s relationships with her family, co-workers and beyond is what makes this book appealing, she is strong, determined and driven. She character complements the laid back Aussie Dan and is a firm contradiction to her boss. Steve’s new job is a bit more dramatic than he was expecting and see how he is key ot this investigation.

 

Happy Reading

Love on The Spotted Custard.

BOOK FEELINGS: I love Gail Carriger books, the fact she quoted one of my reviews in her chirrup newsletter was amazing and so when I found out ‘Competence’ was being released, you can bet on the fact I pre-ordered it.

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It would be wrong of me to write about Gail Carriger or her books without including a picture of a cat. It turns out Billie can’t read but she didn’t attack this book so I’m taking that as a win.

This book starts with 2 most peculiar things, Rue is not in London. The Spotted Custard and its motley crew are in Singapore and secondly, Prim is running. yes, Dear reader, you read that right, perfect prissy posh Prim is RUNNING. I would love to talk about some of the other major events but firstly you know I don’t do spoilers but also this book has bee out about 4 days so I wouldn’t do that to everyone that hasn’t had the chance to finish it yet.  Minor events include running out of hats, Christmas pudding with extra lard and a mushroom called porcini.

I’m going, to be honest, I didn’t think there was enough Rue in this. I liked RPim’s development in this and even Percy wasn’t quite as insufferable as usual. I liked the layer that Formerly Floote brings to the mix and Tash has well established herself as part of the crew. Spoo in a dress was my favourite silly detail in this book.

Part 3 of the custard protocol, made me laugh. I think I will always miss ‘Dama’ and if he was to make a guest appearance in a later adventure, I for one would love that. Some of the subplots were very soft and endearing. I needed more Quesnel, I needed more Rue and I think I needed more tea. That being said, I loved it. I love the adventure, I loved the story, I loved the development and I am still invested in and addicted to this world.

I’m off to play board games with a friend, but Happy Reading to you!

Old favourites, New series and my ridiculous cat.

Good Morning readers,

the last time I wrote to you I was in fact off work. so you guessed it. I have taken a study day and rather than doing my essay I decided it was blog time. I have a big cup of tea and several books and audiobooks to tell you about. I have decided to write a few and publish them over the next few weeks rather than you guys getting loads today and then nothing for weeks (uh…months).

So I was working in Bath delivering training about 3 weeks ago and the weather was glorious. it was reaching 31 degrees every day, so in the evenings I was reading in the garden. I got so engrossed I realised I was going to finish before my train journey home, so I utilised my free Amazon Prime trial (other book subscriptions are available) and ordered 3 more books to be delivered to my hotel. I slightly overdid it but I am loving reading proper books in this heat.

I have been on a reading mission, so Dear Reader let us talk about some of those stories. I have read Vinyl Detective book 3, The custard protocol Book 3, ‘Want you gone’ another Jack Paralabane book and last night I finished ‘The Crossing Places’ by Elly Griffiths.  Apparently, I’m back on a murder mystery kick!!

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So time to write my reviews. My cat isn’t going to make this easy but Happy Reading!

For those of you that didn’t know…I’m soft!

My spontaneous confession isn’t just giving you new information about me, it is in fact about a book. On my unexpected day off I got to read an entire book, in one afternoon for the first time in ages. I sat down with a fresh beautifully brewed coffee, ate crepes and was transported to Italy.

‘Call me by your name’ by Andre Aciman is beautiful coming of age story that I thought I knew the plot for. I thought it was going to a be a typical boy meets boy, they fall in love, one dies, the other spends his life mourning that loss etc. Was I wrong? well not completely but this story is beautifully tragic. I cried. Yes, for the people that know me this isn’t a big deal, I am soft. I cry A LOT. However, that doesn’t take anything away from the emotional journey this story took me one.

This wasn’t a book I couldn’t put down, it was a book I didn’t want to put down. I found Elio a wonderful relateable character, full of life and just enough geek to keep him interesting. Oliver, on the other hand, was wise beyond his years, a bit of a Romeo and fun, so very fun. I am writing this about the book, I haven’t seen the film and after reading this I’m not sure I can bare it being corrupted by the big screen treatment. Although that being said I do have the book with the movie cover, not this one.

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I thought it was amazing, I thought it was honest, real and filled my mind with all the emotions I had as a teen worrying about my own sexuality. I never juggled with 2 people at the same time, but Elio’s innocence in this is very endearing, albeit a little bit wrong.

I have so many books, and yet so few that I would happily read again. This book sits firmly on that shelf. Oliver believes in love so strongly, Elio believes in Oliver wholeheartedly and it is magical. It is a story that will hold up, I will read it in 20 years and it will still feel fresh, raw and no doubt make me cry all over again.

If you have read it, there are obvious reasons I will not be recommending this book to my mother, but it is a book for anyone that believes in love. In fact, it is a book for anyone, especially those that don’t believe in love, as it is enough to convince them otherwise.

Happy reading.

The unexpected day off!

BOOK FEELINGS: Just a quick one, today I turned up for a course that actually starts tomorrow. So I’m having today off and wandering around the fine city of Nottingham. I started today with 1 book in my suitcase (a rookie error I know) but I wasn’t expected much time to read.

I’m finishing today with 4 books in my suitcase, two of which I have read. That’s right, I finished the book I brought with me and one of the ones I bought this afternoon. I have started a 3rd one too! The last time I read an entire book in one sitting I was on holiday, well I was off work at least. It just shows that having a job gets in the way of reading.

Talking of which, I am trying to get my job home based, which although would mean fewer audiobooks due to fewer bus journeys, it would mean more time to read and review books!!

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So ‘Traitor Queen’ by Trudi Canavan is complete, review to come and I started and finished ‘ Call me by your name’ by Andre Aciman this afternoon. ‘Tainted Love’ by Anna Chilvers has an intriguing beginning and I have been wanting to read the first in Laura Lam’s trilogy, ever since listing to her guest slot on ‘Breaking the glass slipper’.

I’m going to grab some dinner and get reviewing.

Happy Reading.

A missing record, a missing person and long standing msytery.

The vinyl detective is back! This book I preordered last New Years Eve and it was sent back because it was delivered to the wrong address, so I have had to wait over a year to read this. I read the first one and immediately wanted this…and then had to wait, and wait, and wait. It was not ok.

The Vinyl detective is back with the whole crew, Nevada, Clean Head, good ol’ Tinkler and of course Fanny and Turk. We start with the recovery of a very rare record, as we’d expect but the journey has only just begun.

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Pause for cat cuddles… and the cat just ran across the keyboard, just like fanny and Turk. The vinyl detective still remains nameless, and baring in mind he was nearly killed this time it would have been a very odd tombstone.

That’s right, this story is about the missing son of a sixties legend. In the search for him, we meet massive strong Americans, a dodgy shrink and the cats have learnt to be sneaky! In some ways, this story isn’t as exciting as the first… I think it is because this is about a missing person, not a missing record.

The change in dynamics is interesting, it is a partnership rather than a lone wolf on the hunt. It is the Scooby gang facing up to dangers like poisoned tea, grave-robbing and random trips to Morrocco.

This flowed as well as the first book, and I am enjoying the change so the series doesn’t become formulaic but i’d like book three to be back on the record trail.

Happy Reading!!

I’m still reading!

Sorry its been so long, I am still reading, but in the 2 months since my last blog I have moved house, been away from home far too many days, not had the internet and then to top it all off. WE GOT A CAT!

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So I do apologise for the lack of posts, however, I still haven’t bought a book. I am 10 and a half months in and am only reading books that I own or have been bought for me. I’m super impressed with myself.

I have updated my ‘story so far‘ page with the books i have read or listened to in the last couple of months. If I can I will write retrospective reviews but I want to get back on top things first.

So my next review will be “A Natural History of Dragons; A memoir by Lady Trent’ by Marie Brennan or ‘The Word is Murder’ by Anthony Horowitz as I finished that audiobook on the train yesterday.

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