May wrap up

Wrap up May


Books read: 8
I really enjoyed a lot of the books I read this month, which was great as it’s been a while since I had a 5 star read. My favourites were The White Road and And the Rest is History. The book I was most excited about reading this month was A Court of Wings and Ruin, and although I did enjoy it, it didn’t quite come up to the high standards of ACOMAF in my opinion.

  • A Court of Wings and Ruin, Sarah J Maas
  • The Taming of the Shrew, William Shakespeare
  • The Green Road, Anne Enright
  • Into the Water, Paula Hawkins
  • And the Rest is History, Jodi Taylor
  • The White Road, Sarah Lotz
  • The Hundredth Queen, Emily King
  • The Ice, Laline Paull

Books acquired: 20
Whoops. This list is quite long. Only two are review copies and only two are library books, which means that my book shopping got a little out of control this month. Four were bought using up credits that had built up on my Audible account, but even taking these out I still bought too many books! Continue reading

My recommendations: If you liked… (Part 1)

One of my favourite things about book blogging is getting new book recommendations, so I’ve pulled together some of my top recommendations based on other popular books out there. These are all books that I’d recommend based on my own experiences and similarities in theme, writing style or general feel. This is part one, which mainly looks at the fantasy, urban fantasy and dystopian genres. Other genres, such as crime/thrillers and general literary fiction, are still to come! Continue reading

Discussion post: Why reviewing books can be tough

IMG_9424 (1)

Most of the time I love writing book reviews. There’s a reason why there are so many more review posts on my site than any other type. However, sometimes it can be harder than you’d think to come up with a balanced review that you’re happy with – for a whole variety of reasons. Here are some of the main reasons I’ve found that reviewing books can be difficult!

  1. You just don’t care about it either way. Sometimes books just aren’t remarkable and don’t inspire any emotions at all. These are filler books – a way to pass the time but nothing to write home about. Or nothing to write about at all in fact. These don’t make for very interesting reviews – if you don’t care and can’t think of anything interesting to say, why should anyone else care about reading it?
  2. You received it as an ARC but you hated it/couldn’t finish it. Sometimes it’s easier to bury your head in the sand and put reviewing books off for a while than tell the publisher that provided you with a free copy that you thought it was garbage and no-one should waste their time on it. If you really don’t enjoy a book, it can be a real challenge to pick out some positives and present the negatives in a way that’s fair.
  3. You read it and liked it but it’s been a few months, you’ve read twenty other books since then and you just can’t remember what was so great about it. Then you either have to spend ages reading other reviews to remember the finer details of the plot, wing it and risk your own review being sub-standard, or get into the whole to reread or not to reread debate.
  4. You can’t review it without including major spoilers. This is hard. Sometimes the best bit about a book or a character revolves around a particular plot twist, but you really shouldn’t talk about it, or else you might ruin the book for others before they’ve even picked it up. It’s like playing that game where you can’t say the words ‘yes’ or ‘no’ – it’s much harder than you first think!
  5. You’ve just finished a second or third book in a series and realise that you never reviewed the first book. You could go ahead and review it anyway, but you have nothing to refer people back to. The OCD in me feels like things need to be in order and I just can’t review out of order, which means some books unfortunately go un-reviewed!

Do you ever come across similar issues? Do you have any tips for overcoming any of these stumbling blocks?

The problems with updating Shakespeare: Vinegar Girl

I recently read Anne Tyler’s Vinegar Girl, which is based on The Taming of the Shrew and part of a series of books that aim to bring Shakespeare plays into the modern age. It lead me to think about whether Shakespeare can ever be truly updated, or if our values are just too different.

The Taming of the Shrew is widely considered to be one of Shakespeare’s most controversial plays, due to how women and gender roles are portrayed, and while this plot may have appealed to the Elizabethans, it doesn’t immediately seem like it’s one that would translate to a modern audience.

Before writing this review, I also read the original text of The Taming of the Shrew. Essentially, the story involves a father marrying off his outspoken elder daughter, Katerina, to the first man that comes along, Petruchio. Interested only interested in her dowry at first, Petruchio, often described as a ‘madman’, then resolves to ‘tame’ Katerina. He proceeds to give her a taste of her own medicine by bullying and berating her at every turn, until she agrees to submit to him in every way – even believing that the sun is the moon if he says that it’s so. She then gives a long final speech about wifely duty and obedience. I’m sure there are more complex ways to interpret this play, but I won’t go into them here.

How does Vinegar Girl compare?

The basic premise of Vinegar Girl is very similar to The Taming of the Shrew. Kate lives at home looking after her father and younger sister. She’s happy on her own without a man and can sometimes be a bit spiky and rude. Pyotr needs a green card so he can stay on as a lab assistant to Kate’s father, and the two men come up with the perfect solution – Pyotr should marry Kate. Kate is horrified, but her objections are eventually worn down and agrees to give it a go. Continue reading

Top 5: Favourite book quotes

Top 5 quotes

I’ve tried to narrow down my favourite book quotes into one compact list here. I could very easily have included lots more, but these are some that stand out for me, either because they’re inspirational or because they capture an idea perfectly… Continue reading

To reread or not to reread?

Discussion - rereading

Last month I reread a couple of my favourite books (ahead of the release of the last book in a series) but before I did this I had a real internal struggle about whether or not this was the best way that I could be using my reading time. Here are some of the pros and cons I debated over.

Pros:

  • Rereading is comforting. I know I’m going to enjoy it. There’s usually a reason I loved the book in the first place. The characters are familiar and it can be great escapism – like watching Home Alone every Christmas.
  • You notice things you never noticed the first time around. The first time reading, I’m usually focused on the plot and what’s going to happen next. The second time is for all the tiny details that I might never have noticed if I hadn’t committed to a reread.
  • It helps refresh your memory of books and revive your enthusiasm when there’s been a gap between releases. I’m particularly bad for forgetting everything that happened in a series and feeling totally lost when I pick up the latest release.
  • Personally, rereading books can help to lift me out of a reading slump. Sometimes I can’t decide what to read next or struggle to get excited about anything, but falling back on an old favourite for a bit of a break can be really helpful in pushing past this.

Continue reading

April wrap up

IMG_9073

Books read: 6
Compared to usual, I haven’t had a great month for reading. Of the books I did read, my favourite was probably Flame in the Mist, followed by Magpie Murders and How to Stop Time.

Books acquired: 5
I spent less on books this month than usual. Three of these books were reduced on Amazon and I got a couple of ARCs from Netgalley. I also put in a couple of pre-orders for May but I haven’t received them yet.

  • Flame in the Mist – Renee Ahdieh
  • How to Stop Time – Matt Haig
  • The Roanoke Girls – Amy Engel
  • Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo
  • Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

Blog posts published: 9
April was actually my second best month for blogging in terms of visitor stats since I first began blogging in January 2013 – so thanks everyone for reading my posts and chatting to me! Unsurprisingly, my giveaway of A Court of Wings and Ruin was the most popular post. Other top posts were my discussion post looking at what makes fan fiction and a review of Hannah Tinti’s The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley.

 TBR for May:
Realistically I don’t think I’ll get around to reading the last one on this list, as it’s been on my TBR list since January. But you never know, May might be the month I finally get to it. I’m already part way through The Green Road, so hopefully should finish this one off quite quickly.

  • A Court of Wings and Ruin – Sarah J Maas
  • The Green Road – Anne Enright
  • House of Names – Colm Tobin
  • The Ice – Laline Paull
  • Into the Water – Paula Hawkins
  • The Wise Man’s Fear – Patrick Rothfuss

Challenge progress:

Goodreads Challenge: My Goodreads reading goal is to read 50 books this year. I’ve now completed 27 books – meaning that I’m currently ahead of schedule by 11 books. (27/50)

Beat the Backlist Challenge: The Beat the Backlist challenge is all about knocking off titles that have been on your TBR for a while. Books need to have been published prior to 2017, and I’m only including books that I actually bought before 2017 and that have been sitting around waiting for me to read them – so no new purchases or library reads.

This month, none of my reads qualified, so my total remains at just two books towards a goal of twelve. (2/12)


How was your April? Did you read anything great?
What do you have planned to read in May?

What is ‘fan fiction’?

Discussion - fan fiction

I’ve never really read any ‘fan fiction’ – as I’d define it – until a few weeks ago I saw a Buzzfeed article recommending their top pieces of Harry Potter fan fiction. I thought I’d check one out actually quite enjoyed it!

Generally, fan fiction still has a questionable rep. Some people see it as ‘ripping off’ other people’s characters and ideas. Also, it seems to me that there’s an awful lot of bad, mad and downright weird fan fiction out there on the internet, and that to find something good you have to get lucky or follow recommendations from others. The result is that most people don’t consider fan fiction to be ‘real’ writing.

But essentially, fan fiction is taking the universe or characters that someone has created and using them to tell a new story. This got me thinking about just how many popular books that could essentially be classed as fan fiction.

For instance, sequels to a whole range of books have been taken on and written by new, different authors, from ‘Scarlett’, the follow up to Margaret Mitchell’s epic ‘Gone with the Wind’ to the recent continuation of the late Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy by David Lagercrantz. Many recent authors have also taken inspiration from secondary characters in timeless classics and given them their own imagined storyline, such as in Jo Baker’s ‘Longbourn’ (Pride and Prejudice taken below stairs) or in Gregory Maguire’s ‘Wicked’ series (looking at the other side of the wicked witch of the west).

These are just a few examples. When you start thinking about it properly you can come up with hundreds.

I think for me the main definition of ‘fan fiction’, as I understand it, is that it can be written by anyone and posted online for everyone else to read for free if they can find it. Expansions or continuations indeed are a version of fan fiction, but have been selected by publishers as an officially recognised original piece of work. However, these lines may blur as more and more people self-publish their work.

To me, it feels like books picked up by a publisher carry more weight, and that they’ve been selected because they’re the best that this genre has to offer. Plus my TBR is already longer then I can ever hope to handle, so I just don’t have time to dedicate to wading through the vast expanse of fan fiction available on the internet.

I do recognise that I might well be biased in my views though, as I haven’t had much exposure to good fan fiction. I’m more than willing to try reading more though, so if you have any suggestions, please do comment and let me know!

What does everyone think about fan fiction? Do you read it?

GIVEAWAY: A Court of Wings and Ruin

Giveaway

UPDATE: Thanks so much to all that entered this giveaway! I really appreciate all of your suggestions for new authors to check out. The winner has now been picked – and congratulations go to Bethany (lonelybookwOrm)! I hope you enjoy the book. Also if anyone wants to chat about ACOWAR when it’s released please do get in touch!
Continue reading

March wrap-up

Wrap up March

Books read: 8
This month has been a good reading month. I’ve managed to get through 8 books in total, including some that I was really looking forward to. Some I liked more than others – I loved Hold Back the Stars for example, but Caraval was a massive disappointment (more coming soon in a full review).

  • Hold Back the Stars – Katie Khan
  • The Shadow Queen – C. J. Redwine
  • Uprooted – Naomi Novik
  • Caraval – Stephanie Garber
  • The King’s Traitor – Jeff Wheeler
  • Glass Sword – Victoria Aveyard
  • The Hangman’s Daughter – Gavin G. Smith
  • The Storm Sister – Lucinda Riley

Books acquired: 9
The first four on this list were all on sale on Amazon and hard to resist. A couple were charity shop buys and the others are ARCs from Netgalley.

  • The Girl from Everywhere – Heidi Heiig
  • The Power – Naomi Alderman
  • Outlander – Diana Gabaldon
  • The Storm Sister – Lucinda Riley
  • On Chesil Beach – Ian McEwan
  • Six Four – Hideo Yokoyama
  • House of Names – Colm Tobin
  • The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley – Hannah Tinti
  • The Ice – Laline Paull

Blog posts published: 5
Given that I’ve only recently started regularly blogging again, this was a successful month for me in terms of reviews published. Posts with the most views were reviews of Let the Dead Speak and Red Rising. Continue reading