Book Review

June Book Jar – Part 1

June was an excellent reading month for me, largely because I was on holiday for two weeks with nothing to do but relax with a book and a cocktail or two. By some miracle, I was also up to date on all of my blog tour reading, which meant I could dedicate the entire fortnight to working on my ever increasing TBR pile. I struck gold, and some really amazing books came out of the jar, but as there are twelve of them to tell you about, I will be splitting this month’s book jar update over three posts, for the sake of all our sanity! For now, here are the first four books that I read this month. If you want to find out more info about any of these books, just click on the title, and you will find yourself winging your way to their Goodreads page.

40589951._SX98_First up was The Promise by Teresa Driscoll. This is a book which I received from NetGalley an embarrassingly long time ago (my apologies to the author), so I was really pleased when I pulled it from the jar for June. Now I have read it, I am left wondering why I left it so long to read. It is filled with all the suspense and twists and turns that you could wish for in a psychological thriller, but it goes deeper than that as the heartbreakingly sad story that triggered the events of the book unfolds. Strangely characters that I didn’t particularly like at the beginning of the book I ended up loving, and vice versa to a certain extent. I hadn’t read anything by Teresa Driscoll before, but I will certainly be reading more now.

35114147._SX98_Book number two was another NetGalley book, Marked Beauty by S.A. Larsen. As a YA Fantasy book, this was always going to be a winner for me, although I have to confess I don’t think it will ever be one of my favourites from this genre. I found the magic system that surrounds the story a little complicated, and whilst I wouldn’t say that this affected my enjoyment of the book too much, it did make it more of a challenge to follow than other similar books I have read. Aside from this, Marked Beauty is a book filled with emotion and tension, and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for any potential sequel(s).

3112850._SX98_My third holiday read was Lament by one of my favourite authors, Maggie Steifvater. I am not quite sure how this one passed me by, but I have had it for a while without actually reading it. This book is classic Steifvater, filled with irresistibly dangerous boys and beautifully crafted worlds. My grown up head would perhaps question some of the decisions made by Dee, but at the same time, aren’t fantasy books all about escapism, and making the dangerous (or stupid) choice in order to save the bad boy from his fate? I loved meeting all the different faerie characters that appear to Dee once the veil between their world and ours is lifted, and was left feeling inspired to get back to my own writing.

39890691._SX98_The final book for this post is yet another NetGalley book (this holiday will do wonders for my stats over there!), In Her Shadow by Mark Edwards. Now, I have read a few of Mark’s books and I am a big fan, but I definitely found this one to be a touch creepier than others I have read. In fact, to begin with I was totally freaked out by it (although as friends will tell you, I scare pretty easily). As always with Mark, the book is excellently written, and I was gripped from the first page – in fact I read most of the book in one sitting, and not just because I was too on edge to go to sleep! Despite the lack of sleep caused, Mark remains firmly at the top of my list of favourite thriller writers.

If you are still with me after all that, keep your eyes peeled for Part Two coming up in the next few days.

 

 

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Book Review

May Book Jar

I just have the one book jar read to tell you about this month, due in part to the fact that I seem to have agreed to a crazy number of blog tours for June and July, and I will be on holiday for half of June, so I am trying to get as many read as I can before I go so I am not trying to write my reviews somewhere with a wonky WiFi connection. The other (main) reason is that this little beauty was released, and quite frankly all other reading went out the window until I had finished it – more to come on this book (which is amazing!), and in fact the whole series, another time, but in the meantime, let us just spend a minute admiring how pretty it is.

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Getting down to business, this month’s book jar read was The Surrogate by Louise Jensen. I am a huge fan of Louise, and each time I read another of her books I discover a new favourite – The Surrogate was no exception to this. With this book, you are instantly thrown into the action, and the tension is pushed through the roof with the opening chapter entitled “Later,” and the chapters that follow falling into “Then” and “Now.” From the outset I was trying to work out where “Later” would fall into the narrative. Aside from being an expert in psychological thrillers, Louise also tugs at the heartstrings with a tale of infertility, lost adoptions and mental health issues that really draws you to the characters. At the start of this book, I felt an air of inevitably and thought I knew exactly what was coming – well, I was totally wrong about that, and there were so many twists and surprises that I was gripped right to the very last page.

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You can find out more about this book, and Louise here.

Book Review

April Book Jar

I was actually organised in April, and added my book jar reads to this post as I read them in the hope that I would at least get my experiment round up posted before the middle of May! April saw two books come out of the jar, both of which had ended up on my TBR list after I watched the TV programmes that were based on them (and also both of which seem to have had lead actresses cast who don’t look an awful lot like their literary counterparts, but never mind).

32263First up was The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen, which is the first book in the Rizzoli and Isles series. Now, I love the TV series that came from these books, and I think Angie Harmon is fantastic in it. Unfortunately that did mean that it jarred a little bit every time Jane Rizzoli is referred to as being petite and not terribly attractive. Once I had got used to that though, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It was hard-hitting, at time chilling, read and felt a lot more intense than I had expected – some of the descriptions of what happened to the victims were pretty grim. One thought that kept coming back to me was that I am not sure that the author intended this book to be the first in a series about two women – for a start, Maura Isles doesn’t appear at all, and also Jane didn’t ever really feel like the main character. For me that was more Thomas Moore, who I really liked. I am slowly collecting the whole series of books on my Kindle, so expect to hear more about them in future posts.

162085The second book from the jar was Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepherd. I was absolutely hooked on this show, and have just started watching the spin off, The Perfectionists. I am not quite so addicted to that yet, so I was pleased to pull this book out of the jar to help with my PLL withdrawal. The book threw me straight back into the world where the Liars are haunted by the mysterious A, and I was pleased to see that the TV show had stuck pretty much exactly to the script – for the first book anyway. Like the Rizzoli and Isles books, this is another series I have been collecting, so it will be popping up again, hopefully soon!

 

30295312April also marked the release of a book that it feels like I have been waiting for since the dawn of time! This is one of my books flagged as “Read Immediately!!!”, so the very second I got home from the bookshop I jumped straight in and didn’t emerge until I had finished the very last page. The book in question is The Red Scrolls of Magic, the latest instalment of Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter Chronicles, and the first in The Eldest Curses trilogy, which focuses on my absolute favourite characters from the Chronicles, Alec Lightwood and Magnus Bane. This was aimed at a slightly older audience than the other books, and it was sweet, and funny, and exciting, and just filled with everything (and everybody) that I had hoped for. I had thought that The Infernal Devices would always be my favourite of the Chronicles, but I think it may have just been pushed into the number two slot.

If you want to know more about any of these books, here are the Goodreads links:

The Surgeon

Pretty Little Liars

The Red Scrolls of Magic

Book Review

March Book Jar

Well, these updates seem to be happening later and later each month don’t they! I can’t believe we are halfway through April already! This year is just romping by. Three books came flying out of the jar and I would like to tell you that I am starting to make a dent in my TBR pile, but one or two other books seem to have snuck on to my Kindle – oops!

41087327First out this month was Gone By Midnight by Candice Fox, which is a book that I received from NetGalley. Now, this book was I think number three in a series, which I didn’t realise when I started reading it. There were a few things that were mentioned that made me wonder if this was the case though, and a quick Amazon search confirmed things. To be honest, this wasn’t really an issue, and this reads just fine as a stand alone. The premise behind this an interesting one, and I enjoyed the characters in it a lot. It was perhaps a little predictable in places, but I still enjoyed it and would read more by this author – probably the ones that came before this one in the series for starters.

39964740My second book was another NetGalley book, and it was the wonderful The Binding by Bridget Collins. I absolutely fell in love with this book, and will be doing a full length review very soon. It is so beautiful that I could do a whole post just talking about the cover and what the inside looks like, never mind how fantastic I thought the story was.

 

 

 

33391439I had to cheat a little with my third book from the jar this month and dig through until I pulled out a paperback to read while my Kindle cooked. The winning book was Black Water Lilies by Michel Bussi, but sadly it just wasn’t for me. The book was originally written in French and at first I just thought that maybe something had been lost in translation. Because of this I was determined to give it the benefit of the doubt and finish reading it. However, when I got to the end I really wished I hadn’t bothered. I don’t want to give anything away, but I felt completely cheated by the ending.

 

If you want any more details about any of these books, here are the Goodreads links for you:

Gone By Midnight

The Binding

Black Water Lilies

I have a feeling that next month could be a little quiet on the book jar experiment, because I have one new release coming that will be jumping the queue the second I get my paws on it, and I seem to have an awful lot of blog tours coming up. What with that and NaNo, it’s going to be a busy month.

Book Review

February Book Jar

It has just dawned on me that I totally forgot to post my February update on the book jar experiment – two months in now, and I have successfully resisted temptation to read any books that aren’t in the jar, apart from those that I am on blog tours for. It’s killing me, because two very eagerly awaited books were released at the end of January, and are currently sitting on my bookcase tempting me, and more are being released soon! I am determined to stay strong though, and maybe just treat myself to an Easter weekend binge on one or two of them.

Blog tour commitments meant that I only had time to fit in two books from the jar in February, but my goodness they made up for quantity with amazing levels of quality, and both were books I had been meaning to get round to reading for a long time.

28664920First out of the jar in February was Mischling by Affinity Konar. Now, since visiting Krakow just over a year ago, there are a number of books about the city and the events of World War Two that have been demanding my attention. However, until now the emotions that a tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau left me with were too fresh to handle it. Even having been there and seen the camps for myself did not prepare me for the horrors presented in Mischling. Affinity Konar throws you straight onto one of the death trains without preamble, and from there we follow identical twins Pearl and Stasha as they cling to existence in Josef Mengele’s zoo. I knew something about Mengele’s obsession with twins, but nothing I had heard previously prepared me for the raw, terrible heartbreak portrayed in Mischling. It seems wrong to say I enjoyed this book, that isn’t the right word, but it is certainly a powerful story, and one that I would say everyone should read, so that we never forget what went on during the Holocaust.

35997403Next up was an altogether different read in the form of The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert. I fell in love with this book the second I saw it – since buying my copy, I have seen many beautiful versions of the cover, but I am a proud owner of the gorgeous blue edition, with the blue edged pages. With a cover such as this, I had incredibly high hopes for what laid within the pages, and I wasn’t disappointed. The Hazel Wood is dark, and messed up, and so utterly engrossing that when I tapped the screen to turn the page, it took me a minute to realise why nothing was happening. I was so caught up in the story that I had totally forgotten that I was reading a paperback and not a Kindle book! Based around a series of fairy tales that are most definitely not for children, or the faint-hearted for that matter, The Hazel Wood is an example of truly great world building. It is a “read in one sitting” kind of book, and in fact I almost did – not least because Twice-Killed Katherine and Alice-Three-Times were so terrifying I had to keep reading until I reached a less chilling part of the book before I could go to sleep (I feel I should confess at this point that I am a bit of a wimp with a very vivid imagination). If you love dark fairy tales, then this is the book for you.

That’s it for February, but I have got a couple of great books on the list to tell you about for March already – watch this space! In the meantime, if you want to know more about either of these books, here are their Goodreads links:

Mischling

The Hazel Wood

Book Review

January Book Jar Reads

I can’t believe it is February already! Where is this year going? As I sit here hugging the radiator and watching the snow fall outside the window, I realised it was time to update you on the book jar experiment. The start of the year is quite full of blog tour reads for me, but I did manage to fit in three books from the jar, and they were all great choices!

16299First out of the jar was Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None.” Now, you might find this hard to believe, but this is the very first book by Agatha Christie that I have ever read. You will probably be less surprised to learn that the reason I chose this particular Christie book largely because of the delicious Aidan Turner’s appearance in the TV adaptation. There’s not a lot I can say about the queen of crime fiction that hasn’t already been said. Suffice to say, I absolutely loved this book, and even though I knew what was going to happen, I was still completed sucked into to the tension felt by the characters. I will definitely be stocking up on more of her books to read in the very near future.

 

828352Next up, possibly a book that is as different as it is possible to be from Agatha Christie, although the author is just as much of a legend – “Mort” by Terry Pratchett. I love the Discworld books and used to read them all the time, but Mort was actually the first one I had read in a while, and it made me remember just how brilliant they are. It probably helped that Mort features my absolute favourite Discworld character, Death, although the Death of Rats (SQUEAK) was sadly not present. Terry Pratchett is a master craftsman and wordsmith, and the mind-boggling fuzzy logic that always runs through his books had me laughing out loud! The only problem is, I know that I have more of the Discworld books somewhere in the jar, and I am having trouble resisting the urge to dig them out!

 

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Last out of the jar was a book that I am been meaning to read since it was recommended to me by my brilliant friend, Kate Kenzie. She knows exactly what my reading tastes are, so when she recommended “We Other” by Sue Bentley, I was confident that I would love it. I certainly wasn’t disappointed! I have a love of all things faery related, and my own current writing attempt is deeply rooted in the faery realms. However, I have been disappointed by some books of this nature in the past that just haven’t quite delivered. Thankfully, “We Other” delivers by the bucket-load! Sue Bentley’s writing is dark and atmospheric, and a hint of menace drips through it. These are most definitely not the faeries of the Disney or Flower Fairy variety. They are cruel, and unpredictable, and filled with a dark malevolence. The descriptions in the book are so vivid that I became totally immersed in what I was reading, and could picture the settings as clearly as the back of my own hand. If my own book is even half as good as this, I will be a happy lady.

If you want to know more about any of these books, the Goodreads links are here:-

And Then There Were None

Mort

We Other

After such an amazing start to my reading year, I am excited to discover what the book jar will throw out to me for February! Watch this space!

Blog

The Book Jar

I spent a day over the Christmas period attempting to sort the books on my Kindle into some sort of order, and was shocked to discover that including my paper books I currently have over 500 books that I haven’t read yet! I saw a post on Facebook about book jars and thought I’d give it a go for 2018. Just in case you haven’t seen these, thehe idea is that you write the name of all the books you want to read on a slip of paper and add them all to a jar. Then, when you want to start a new book, you pick slip from the jar, and that is the book that you read next.

Pile of paper, pen, and scissors in hand, and a few hours later, this was the result:

Honestly, some of the books I have on my Kindle, I have no idea why I bought them, so I am hoping that this method of selection will make me read them.

I will keep you all updated on how this goes, and whether the method works for me and helps to reduce my TBR pile. The only exceptions to the rule will be books I have for bok tours, and a few new releases that I am very excited about from Leigh Bardugo, Emma Miles, N.J. Simmonds, Stephanie Garber, Holly Black, and Cassandra Clare – there is no way I could bear to put those on the jar and sit waiting for them to reappear. These are books that demand to be read the very second that I can get my hands on them!

Wish me luck folks – I am not known for my willpower.