Book Review

June Book Jar – Part 3

It is finally time for my final June Book Jar update. As with my previous posts for June, if you want to find out more about any of these books, just click on the title and it will take you on over to Goodreads.

40344249._SY475_First up in this third instalment is The Possible World by Liese O’Halloran Schwarz, the last of the NetGalley books that I read on my holiday. The Possible World is a beautifully written book, and is another one that I think will stay with me for some time. Although it starts with three apparently separate stories, each with a character suffering their own personal heartache, the stories are cleverly weaved together as each character begins to find peace in the others as they begin to heal from their own struggles. It is a a wonderful, gentle book, despite the horrors that have been witnessed, and is one I would thoroughly recommend.

17416065My next book was Looking for Alaska by John Green. This is another book that I have had for a while and just hadn’t got round to reading. John Green is the master of teen devastation and this book is no exception. Filled with a quirky cast of misfit characters I went into this book knowing that it was building to a life changing event for the teens, but having no idea just how heartbreaking this would be. As much as I know they will break me, I just can’t get enough of John Green’s books. (I have also just found out that there is going to be a TV adaptation of Looking for Alaska, so I have everything crossed that we can access it in the UK).

12067._SY160_Book number three in this update is Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman. What can I say about this book that hasn’t already been said. Apart, these authors are geniuses, but get them working together and it is perfection. If only it were possible for them to write more together. I loved every single page of this book, it was everything I had dreamt it would be and more. The absolute cherry on top of the perfectly iced cake was that when Death arrived on the scene, he still spoke in capitals, even though we were a long way from the Disc. Now I am off to binge watch the TV series with hopes that it will be even half as good as the book.

9542439Last but certainly not least is The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory. It is quite fitting really that it has taken me until today to write this review, as the latest edition of Writing magazine landed on my doormat today, and who was looking at me from the front cover? Only Philippa Gregory herself. I am very much looking forward to reading that article. I read The Other Boleyn Girl some time ago, and decided that I wanted to go back to the beginning of the Plantagenet and Tudor series and read them all in the right order. Although I knew something of the Tudors, I knew very little about the Plantagenets, and as such The Lady of the Rivers was fascinating to me. I will confess that I haven’t read the previous Cousins War books, but I actually found it didn’t matter. I have also loved history, but Philippa Gregory has a way of bringing it to life in a way that I find some other historical authors don’t. I am very much looking forward to reading the rest of the books, and I am sure I will one day return to the beginning of the Cousins War series too.

Well, that is finally it for my June update. I won’t have a July update post for you as I have been a busy little bee with reading for blog tours – I have some coming up for you that I am very excited about, so watch this space.

Book Review

June Book Jar – Part 2

Oops, I seem to have found myself practically at the end of July and I am still only on part two of my June Book Jar update – can someone please tell me where this month has gone? How is it nearly August already? Anyway, jumping straight back in, here is your next instalment of books I read on my holiday!

40383557._SX98_First up, we return to my ever increasing NetGalley reading list with The Rules of Seeing by Joe Heap. I was completely enthralled by this book and once I picked it up it was impossible to put down. It isn’t fast-paced or action-packed, just incredibly beautiful in it’s simplicity. The friendship that develops between Nova and Kate is so gentle and it touched my heart. Experiencing the world as Nova does was mesmerising and displayed a wonderful depth to the author’s writing. This is a book that will stay with you long after you have finished reading it.

18081809._SX98_Our second book in this part of the update is Landline by Rainbow Rowell, another author that I am a big fan – the book jar did well with the authors it presented me with in June. For me, this book felt very different to other Rainbow Rowell books that I have read, and while it is perhaps not one of my favourites of hers (let’s face it, Eleanor & Park is going to take something astounding to knock that off the number one spot), it was still a great read. It was full of flashbacks to my own teen years, in the days before mobile phones and wi-fi, and I loved the references to the old comedies. I found it raised some interesting questions about what I would do if I had a magic telephone connected to the past.

46777._SX98_Next up is Tithe by  the amazing Holly Black. Holly always delivers with her books, and there is an almost lyrical quality to her writing. I love her focus on the Unseelie Court, the darker, malevolent side to Faery as opposed to the sunshine state of the Seelie Court. The atmosphere she creates oozes danger and distrust, and gives you a tingle down your spine. Quite frankly, Holly Black writes the books I wish I had written myself.

 

25659392._SY475_Our fourth and final book in this instalment is Flawed by Cecelia Ahern. I love Cecelia’s usual work. Books like A Place Called Here and If You Could See Me Now always feel like fairy tales for grown ups, they are just so magical. Flawed has a much darker feel to it and the brutal near future world that it is set in was totally gripping. How quickly people turned on their friends and neighbours, and even their family, was astonishing, but at the same time felt all too possible. The need to be perfect seems to be ever-increasing in our own society – how long will it be until being “flawed” really does lead to being an outcast?

If you like the sound of any of these, just click on the title of each of them to find all the info on Goodreads.

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.

 

 

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