Confession Of A Bookworm: May

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At the start of this year I set myself the challenge of reading fifty books before 2016 was done and gone. You see, I’m very good at starting books, but finishing them within a set period of time is a trick I seem to have lost over time. I’m too easily distracted by shiny new covers in bookshops or fresh releases popping up on Amazon. The Goodreads Challenge seemed like a great way to push myself into focusing on my reading more and these WWW Wednesdays meant that I could share that progress with you all.

What Am I Reading?

I’m terrible at starting numerous books at once, so the other day I pulled out all of the books containing bookmarks and stacked them together on my bookshelf. I decided that until I had finished them all I would not pick up a new book, no matter how tempting.

I can’t say very much about any of them at the moment since I’m only a few chapters into most of them. I’ve got into the habit of snuggling up on settee on a Sunday afternoon and reading the hours away, so it shouldn’t take me too long to get through these.

Recently Finished:

This month I’ve managed to get through quite a few books and claw my way back towards being on track.

After You

Now I absolutely loved the first book by Jojo Moyes and this one was just as good. It’s not fantasy fiction so it might look a bit odd in the line up, but when you’re reading and writing in one genre, it is lovely to take a little break now and again. The characters in this piece were brilliant and it is funny in all the right places while maintaining a sense of seriousness when it needs to. It tackles how everyone, no matter how perfect they may seem, is generally ploughing their way through mess and confusion in the hopes of finding happiness at the end.

The Lies of Locke Lamora

This is a George R R Martin style book when it comes down to detail but it’s all focused in on a set collection of characters. You still have the bloodshed and the violence but in a much more compact storyline. It’s not a small book so you won’t finish it in one sitting, but if you’re looking for an epic fantasy fiction novel then this is one for you.

The Gathering Dark 

I like this book and I’ve bought the next two in the trilogy, I’m just annoyed about them changing the cover and the title of the first book but not doing the same for the others. While I enjoyed the story line, it doesn’t rate up to the rest of the books on this list. It’s a much shorter book and the length goes some way to explaining the lack of development for both the character and the plot line but I can’t help but feel that it could have done with being longer.

Desolation

Haha! I’m so happy right now. There are two books in this section that I had been waiting rather impatiently for, and Desolation by Derek Landy was one of them. The only gripe that I have with the book is that the relationship between the two main characters is very similar to the relationship between Skulduggery and Valkyrie Cain. There is even a car involved in the relationship. If it were anyone else then this would probably annoy me, but I love the way Derek Landy writes to the extent that I find it difficult to stay annoyed about anything in his writing for very long. It’s funny, dark and gory, everything you would expect from Mr Landy. This series is perhaps a little more grown up than his last, and I don’t have the same love for Amber as I did for Valkyrie. I mean Valkyrie! I suppose that’s the danger with writing such a good series of books, following it up will never be easy, so while Desolation and the rest of the Demon Road Trilogy is utterly entrancing in its own right, I’m stuck with the feeling of ‘but it’s not quite Skulduggery’.

Blackbirds

I’m not sure what to say about this book if I’m honest. It’s one of those where everything seems to happen in the last few moment and them bam! We’re done.

The Novice & The Inquisition

I’m really enjoying this series. I’ll admit, I read the first few pages of Taran Matharu’s first book ‘The Summoner’ and promptly put it back down on the shelf. It wasn’t the books fault, it just happened to be one of those days that I wasn’t in the mood to read that specific book at that specific time.

Last weekend I pick ‘The Summoner’ back up, polished it off and promptly pe-ordered ‘The Inquisition’ immediately.

‘The Summoner’ manages to do something spectacular. It comes to a satisfying conclusion but also manages to leave you with a massive cliffhanger where you find yourself clinging by your fingertips, really, really hoping that the next book is out soon because the suspense is gut wrenching.

Just as with ‘The Summoner’, I finished ‘The Inquisition’ in two days. It was face paced, interesting and I really like the characters that Taran has managed to create. He also managed to surprise me as a few chapters in I announced to my partner that one of the characters was no doubt the traitor only to be completely thrown at end of the book.

There are bits where I found the book strayed too closely into ‘Lord of the Rings’ territory. The breeding of Orcs and Gremlins to form Goblins brought vivid visions of watching The Two Towers back to me but apart from that I thought the book did well.

Similar to ‘The Inheritance Cycle’ by Christopher Paolini, the book tackles issues of race and prejudice, a topic that at the moment is perhaps more relevant than ever. Not only does it tackle this subject masterfully but it also touches on gender equality.

Overall I’ve been really impressed by Taran Matharu and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series. Let’s hope it’s out soon.

A Court Of Mist And Fury

This book six hundred pages of pure joy and I cannot wait to read the next book in the series. Sarah J Mass always amazes me with her writing and I spent my Sunday curled up with this book, devouring every chapter. I love the relationship between Rysland and Feyre and I’m so impressed with the way that Sarah J Mass tackles emotion in the books. There is no ‘and now everyone is magically over that horrible, traumatic event that took place. Yay!’ Instead, you get to see them working through it and in some cases, how it utterly breaks characters.

This books tackles a new treat, and the tension is there all the way through the book. Not only that, you have this amazing dynamic between Rysland and Feyre and as always, the message that women are strong and powerful in their own right. I am really impressed recently by authors who tackle this subjects and handle them with such finesse. The do not make an example, they make it normal.

What I’m Reading Next:

The God of Small Things is still very much on my to read list, as are the sequels to The Gathering Dark and The Lies of Locke Lamora. The author of Rise Of The Sparrow, Sarina Langer, was wonderful enough to write a guest post for Writing and Works so I’m also keen to read her new book. I’m only one book behind track for my Goodreads challenge now and if I keep up the steam I’ll be laughing come November.

If you have any recommendations based on the books listed above then please do let me know in the comments below, or perhaps leave your own mini review. I love hearing from readers and an important part of reading is sharing your thoughts after and working out what you can take from a book.

So, until next month happy reading!

 

Confessions Of A Bookworm

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So the last time I wrote one of these posts was at the end of September which was three months ago. Not great for someone planning to try and write one of these a month but oh well.

What Am I Currently Reading:

A couple of these books have been carried over from September I’ll admit. ‘Between Silk and Cyanide’ and ‘Go Set A Watchman’ just haven’t been grabbing my attention in the last few months and as such they’ve sat lonely on the bookshelves with their bookmarks gathering dust. I will get back to them, I just don’t know when. Hopefully soon.

‘Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell’ by Susan Clarke is something of a mammoth read. I borrowed a copy from someone at work to read but I’ve decided to buy my own as it’s taking me forever to get through it and I feel bad hanging into their book for so long. I’m making my way through slowly but I doubt I’ll be finished with it any time soon.

‘A Dance of Chaos’ is the sixth book in David Dalgish’s beautifully violent series ‘Shadowdance’. The previous book in the series was on my September reading list and now this one is on my December. I started reading yesterday and to be honest, I’ll probably finish it before any of the others currently on this list.

I’m only a couple of chapters into ‘The Sentinel Mage’ and I’m finding it tough. The story line has so far failed to grab me and while it’s not a bad book I’m reading it more out of stubbornness than love. Who knows, it might get better as it goes on.

I’ve been meaning to read ‘Blackbirds’ for a while as Chuck Wendig is one of my favourite bloggers on wordpress. I’m a chapter in and so far I really like it. It’s dark and funny which is what I love about he’s blog pieces so I’m looking forward to reading more.

‘Magician’ looks like it’s going to be one of those books that I’ll have to work to get into. It’s nice enough but a bit slow to start.

Finally, ‘The Colour of Magic’ and ‘Dodger’. I have never read a Terry Pratchet book before. Well I did read ‘Good Omens’ but that was joint between him and Neil Gaiman so I thought it might be time to read something purely Pratchet as well. I’m ‘The Colour of Magic’ enjoying it well enough. The idea of a chest with hundreds of little feet protruding from beneath it gives me the shudders but other than that the book occupies the same style of fantasy world that I love. It has the same dry wit that I adore in Gaiman’s writing and it’s just nice to read. Next to ‘A Dance of Chaos’ it’s one of my favourites on the list. ‘Dodger’ is good as well. Pratchett has jammed all these various London based stories that everyone knows into one book and there at the centre is charming Dodger and the extraordinary Charles Dickens.

 

Recently Finished

Over the last few months I have read some fantastic books. Books that have made me genuinely happy to hold in my hands.

Firstly! ‘Snow Like Ashes’ and ‘Ice Like Fire’ by Sara Raasch. The moment I finished ‘Snow Like Ashes’ I was on Amazon to buy ‘Ice Like Fire’. Granted, I saw the revelation of the first book coming long before the end, but the second one had me practically screaming at it by the last chapter. In some ways I’d say the second is better than the first just because it managed to keep me in the dark so much longer.

‘The Ocean At The End of The Lane’ by Neil Gaiman. Do I need to even explain why this book makes me happy? Granted, it’s not quite the same as ‘Stardust’ or ‘Neverwhere’, but for me it was a great book. I love that it started out as a short story for his wife to try and show her what his childhood was like and by the end he’d accidentally written a novel. Reading it brought back a few memories of my own childhood, and as always, magic was woven through every page. Neil Gaiman is very much one of my favourite authors of all time.

Helen Lowe’s ‘The Gathering of the Lost’ and David Daglish’s ‘A Dance of Ghosts’ are the only two books on Septembers ‘I am reading’ list that actually got read. I spent the first half of ‘The Gathering of the Lost’ a bit confused and the second half raving about how cleverly it was written. I have never seen the a writer write in the same way as Helen Lowe does in this book and it was nice to read something unique.

David Daglish’s ‘A Dance of Ghosts’ has the same fast paces, brutal attraction to it as all his other works. Whenever I’m stuck writing a fight scene I refer back to him, which often means I’m a couple of hours from returning to writing, but I’d say it’s worth it.

I put of reading ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses’ by Sarah J Mass and I’m not sure why. I love her ‘Throne of Glass’ series but I never felt the need to pick up this book of hers. Once I did I couldn’t put it down. It’s been a while since I was as genuinely excited to get home and dive into a book as I was when reading this one. I was counting down the hours at work so I could get home and read another chapter. I adored it. Even better was the fact that when I reached the end I realised it wasn’t a stand alone and there would be even more! Sarah J Mass, I don’t know how you do it, but your books make me so happy.

‘City of Heavenly Fire’ by Cassandra Clare.

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Hay Festival 2012?

Okay, this was another mammoth book and the last in a series as well. At over 700 pages long you have to be willing to put in the time for this one.

Cassandra Clare’s books are another favourite of mine but this one had been sat on the shelf for a few month with the book mark only about 100 pages in. This week I decided I was going to get it read. It took two days of curling up on the sofa with more pillows and blankets than normally socially acceptable and many, many cups of tea. It was bliss.

The length of the books means that there was more than enough time for everything to happen that needed to happen. There was no rushing and unlike some shorter books, I didn’t put it down and feel that overwhelming sadness that the series had finished. In some ways the length of the book allowed me to come to terms with the collection ending. I felt satisfied with how everything ended and I admired how not everything was tidied up with a neat bow. It was a realistic ending, not a fairy tale one.

I tend to think that I prolong reading final books just because I don’t want a series to end. There is always something slightly traumatic about saying goodbye to the characters you love.

 

What I’m Reading Next

I’m not 100% what I’ll read next. There are a number of books coming out in 2016 that I’m desperate to get my hands on but whether or not I’ll finish my current reading list and have time before they arrive is another matter. At the moment these ones are the ones I’m most keen to get on to next:

Book Review – Before The Words Run Out

The wonderful writer of ‘Femme’ has offered her take on ‘Before The Words Run Out’. I’m ridiculously grateful to her for such a lovely review and would highly recommend that everyone and anyone pops over to check out her site!

Strange Writer

Before The Words Run Out

by Carol J. Forrester

Poetry is unattainable abstract art for me; something that I personally struggle to create. There are poems I read and can identify with immediately, there are those I struggle to comprehend and then others that make me ponder for an extended period of time. The latter are the best. They’re the ones that keep on giving.

Carol’s collection in Before The Words Run Out is a generous one. The pages are full of her words and weighty ideology. It took me quite some time to get through this book because there were some poems that required me to sit back and think.

I have favourites of course – within a collection there are almost always favourites. I liked the poignant ‘Smile’ where the message is clear and the imagery stark and vivid. I loved ‘Persephone’ – a beautiful retelling of a…

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‘Femme’ – A Book Review

Femme by Delia Strange

A science fantasy with a touch of romance.
A utopian world with a touch of slavery.

Kaley Blackburn is sent to Femme in her final year of Future Tech studies. The world is a socialist utopia of low crime, great health and advancements in technology that leave other worlds envious.

It is a fantastic place to visit if you’re a woman. Men, on the other hand, are the slaves that tend to all feminine desires. Kaley knew about the world’s culture of slavery but never had to face it until she is assigned a slave, Mecca, for the duration of her stay.

Mecca is handsome, intelligent and obedient, but every answer he gives to Kaley’s questions only feed her growing concerns. Does Femme hide an ugly truth beneath its beautiful surface and can she trust her feelings for a man whose sole duty is to make her feel special?

I will admit that ‘Femme’ would not normally be the sort of book that I’d pick up when wandering around a bookshop or perusing Amazon. However, once I got into reading I found myself really enjoying what Delia Strange has created. Despite being set in a not-too-distant future, there is little about the world she creates that comes across as too unbelievable. I wasn’t sure how I felt about aspects such as ‘tourist worlds’ and worlds entirely dedicated to one aspect of life (such as study), but they manage to work within the context of the book.

The characters have to be my favorite part of the whole book however. Despite playing the main role, Kaley Blackburn is in no way extraordinary. Something that I found incredibly refreshing. Delia Strange has created a character is is utterly realistic, a true representation of a twenty something year old student and despite being a romance novel Delia does not expect the reader to believe in true love at first sight or any other literary cliche. The relationships in the book grow slowly, and in each and every one you are left to question motivations, feelings and overall perceptions. Just as in real life, first impressions are often called into serious question.

‘Femme’ is a beautifully written book. The chapters, characters and plot are all carefully crafted, subtly leading you deeper and deeper into the world of ‘Femme’, something that is wonderful to see in an era when the quality of the word is sometimes lost beneath other aspects. ‘Femme’ is a reminder that often little is as it seems and looking deeper can “taint” that perfect picture we are presented with, leaving us unsure of everything else we have been told and more than a little confused. Perfect doesn’t necessarily meant happy and ‘Femme’ shows this with a startling clarity.