2017 Book Haul #3

Guess who not-so-accidentally bought books again? (See my Book Haul #2 for proof of just how shameful this amount of book buying is!) I don’t have many excuses because not that many of these were pre-orders or new releases. I just steadily go through phases of ‘save your money’ and then ‘TREAT YO SELF’… it’s like a wave cresting up and then crashing down again and it/I can’t be stopped. (Plus I’ve watched that Parks and Rec clip way too many times for it to be healthy.)

In the end, I don’t blow my money on anything else so I think if books are my one vice, that can be excused, right? riGHT? (Can you tell I’m conflicted and have to justify it to myself all the time. I am the Ben Wyatt of this Treat Yo Self 2011 day.)

But, anyways, let’s have a gander at all the books I shamefully treated myself to… because they’re pretty and new (well, to me) and I’m excited to read them obviously, but that goes without saying…

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June TBR

My friends, I suck at sticking to TBRs. However, as June begins, I think a monthly TBR might just be advisable, nay, necessary. You see, I’ve taken a look at my NetGalley shelf and, guys, it’s not good; there are so many things I’ve been fortunate enough to get an eARC of and I’ve not taken advantage of almost any of them. I need to correct this terrible behaviour and actually dust off my Kindle and get to reading some of the shiny, shiny upcoming/new releases! In the spirit of that, I present my very optimistic June TBR

1. Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny

Yeah, this is still on here. I’m 50/50 about DNFing it, and in my head I already have. However, I was meant to write a review for it… and I haven’t. I’m not sure what I think about reviewing a book you DNF. To me, I think it makes sense because you can talk about what you liked about it and what just didn’t work for you – I think those kind of things are interesting to read. However, I’m not sure I rightly could/should put that on Netgalley and send it to the publisher. Does anyone have any insight into the etiquette behind this on Netgalley or thoughts about whether it’s good/bad? Please let me know if so!

2. Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell

If I’m perfectly honest, I don’t know much about this one except it’s YA fantasy and there’s a talking squirrel cat involved somehow – no, I don’t know what that means either, but I’m excited to find out about it! Also it ran with the tagline “magic is a con game” so that’s all kinds of brilliant and obviously I’m sold already. Yep, I was entirely sucked in by the marketing buzz words (well played, my friends, well played) and the assurance that it’s a book for fans of Firefly, Guardians of the Galaxy, Ben Aaronovitch, and Jim Butcher.

3. Rotherweird by Andrew Caldecott

I started this one on a random morning train journey to work and never continued it past that one journey, which is silly because what I did read was really intriguing. It’s marketed as a fantasy mystery, all centered around a town called Rotherweird which was cut off from England (metaphorically speaking, I think) during the Elizabethan age and has always asserted its independence, especially because no one is allowed to explore the town’s history or else. Well, maybe not “or else”… I don’t know yet, I haven’t read it, but I am getting a rather ominous feeling about this one and I haven’t read much fantasy that is quite so mysterious about the premise so colour me intrigued.

4. Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

I’m trying not to just read fantasy and, in an effort to pursue that noble goal, I’ve been browsing contemporary novels on NetGalley. This is one of those. As far as I understand from its synopsis, it’s about a college student/writer and her friend (/ex-girlfriend?) who perform poetry when a journalist spots them and befriends them, also bringing into their lives her husband, an actor who didn’t live up to his potential. I’m sure that what I think will happen will happen but, initially, I was curious as to why such a seemingly simple premise had garnered such good reviews… so I requested this one and was granted an ARC and now I should get to reading it to find out what the fuss is all about.

5. Popular: The Power of Likability in a Status-Obsessed World by Mitch Prinstein

I wanted to really try to read more non-fiction this year, but my attempts thus far have amounted to either checking out audiobooks from my library’s Overdrive system and then not listening to them at all or buying paperbacks which look lovely on the non-fiction shelf in the dining room but have not actually been opened and/or read. So, I need to stop doing that really. As the title suggests, this book takes a psychological look at popularity and how it affects our lives – from our successes and our happiness to our relationships with other people. As someone who was never the most popular kid in school but still holds a deep-down innate desire to be a generally liked person regardless, I totally get that, and I’m curious to find out a little more of the psychology behind it. Plus, in an online world like today’s, it’s pretty much impossible to escape from ideas of popularity and relevance, or the constant worry of having a “good” or “liked” blog, or having a certain number of followers on Twitter or Instagram.


Hopefully I will also have time for books that aren’t eARCs, especially since I much prefer to read a physical book to reading on my Kindle. I also have some books I’d like to get to this month:

6. Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier

This is a carry-over from May and I’m really enjoying this one. It has a French pirate in it so… I mean, that’s good. Also the lady of the house has fled London and her husband because she needs to “escape from it all” and has accidentally fell into a friendship with a pirate who keeps robbing the coastal estates near her. Turns out he was “part of society” as well but wanted to escape from it all so he became a pirate, obv, so they have shared ~feelings~ about their lives and I feel like they’re definitely about to kiss and it’s going to be SCANDALOUS and I love everything about it.

7. My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

If I’m feeling on a roll with du Maurier I may very well try (again) to get through My Cousin Rachel. I’ve tried in the past and stalled with it a few times (I’m beginning to suspect it has to do with the male focaliser in this novel) but I’m nothing if not persistent. I hear the film adaptation of this is coming soon… though how “soon” that is I don’t know. So I should probably get to this in June, so I’m ready and prepared for that to be released. I’m also trying to work my way through all of Daphne du Maurier’s books so this would be another one checked off if I finally managed it.

8. Howards End by E.M. Forster

This is another carry-over from May. After really enjoying Forster’s A Room with a View, I decided to give this one a go, especially since it’s the more critically acclaimed of his novels… and also because there’s a BBC drama of it coming soon starring Hayley Atwell. (Ok, I lied, that is the main reason I’m reading it now.) I’ve stalled a little bit with this one but I’m hoping to push through it and continue reading in June since I was enjoying it when I picked it up, I just didn’t immediately feel that urge to continue reading once I’d put it down, you know?

9. This Savage Song by V.E. Schwab

I’m in two minds about whether or not I’m excited for the sequel, Our Dark Duet, which comes out in June. However, I adore V.E. Schwab’s writing in her Darker Shade of Magic trilogy, so I’m in something of a dilemma. You see: I wasn’t hugely blown away with This Savage Song back when I read it when it was released last year, but half of me wonders if I was just not in the mood for it when I happened to read it. I should probably give it a second chance and do a long overdue re-read in preparation for the sequel which, let’s face it, I probably will still read since it completes the aptly named Monsters of Verity duology and that’s quite nice and very low commitment as far as book series go. Plus, after Six of Crows, I’m now a fervent supporter of the idea of the book duology, it doesn’t get enough credit, frankly.


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Tag | Pride and Prejudice Book Tag

Welcome folks, it’s that time of week again – it’s Tag Thursday. This week I bring you a brand spanking new tag, courtesy of Emma @ A Dreamer’s Library and Laura @ The Book Corps. I was kindly tagged by Emma and I must say thank you for that because I adore Pride and Prejudice so a tag based around it is right up my street! Without any further ado, let us proceed onwards with the Pride and Prejudice Book Tag

Here’s how it works…

  • link back to Emma and Laura’s original posts so we can see all of your answers.
  • Thank the person who tagged you.
  • Answer the questions (a no brainer really)
  • Tag a maximum of 10 people.
  • You can also use the graphics if you would like to.

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May 2017 | Wrap Up

As a month, May has been a pleasant surprise. I settled (well am settling, it’s an ongoing process) into my new job and I’m starting to find my feet so that’s been lovely. Also, the benefits of now working full-time are that I have a longer lunch break that I used to – now I have a blissful hour and, let me tell you, after being used to quickly scoffing down a sandwich within 20 minutes, when you suddenly have 60 minutes, I don’t eat any slower, I just get to read more. That has been a revelation. Also, with my office being the only one on the ground floor of the building, I’m mostly on my own unless people pop by to check their pigeonholes or come to say hello. This means that I can listen to music, podcasts (yeah, so I now get podcasts), or audiobooks. When I realised at the latter half of the month that a good chunk of audiobook-listening could be done whilst I was inputting data, well, guys, I don’t want to jinx it but I think it may revolutionise my reading… ok, maybe that’s a bit far, but it will help me squeeze all that potential reading time out of every working day. Let’s see if I keep that up in the coming weeks and months though…

In May, I read a total of 6 books – 6 fiction and 0 non-fiction, amounting to 2670 pages in total, and, of these, 2 books were re-reads.

In terms of format: 4 were paperback, 1 was a hardback, and 1 was an audiobook.

And as for genre, very broadly speaking, books were fantasy, 1 book was dystopian/sci-fi, book was historical fiction, and 1 book was a classic.

Onto the books themselves…

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Review | Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge

Welcome, friends. Last night I saw the latest of the Pirates of the Caribbean films – Salazar’s Revenge (terrible title tbh) aka Dead Men Tell No Tales (the much superior US (?) title). And I have some thoughts about it. This is less of a measured and academic “review” and more of a “Emma has a lot of feelings so let her word vomit them here including lots of CAPITAL LETTERS OF ENTHUSIASM and reaction gifs”… buckle in, folks, it may be a bumpy ride!

I went into the latest instalment in the running-out-of-steam Pirates of the Caribbean franchise with low hopes, such low hopes that I’m not even sure the word “hope” should be found within 10 feet of my expectations. I’d heard 2 and 1-star reviews across the board. So, suffice it to say, I expected a hot mess. What did I get? Well, not a hot mess, more a lukewarm mess, if anything. To me, Salazar’s Revenge made more sense and had more potential than the fourth film, On Stranger Tides, which means I didn’t find it nearly as disappointing as a lot of reviewers and critics did. “Potential” is, I think, the key word here, since not all that potential was fulfilled enough for my tastes, but more on that later. If you’re going into this expecting a ground-breaking sequel, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment from the off, but if all you want is a bit of light relief and nautical adventure? This fits the bill.

Let’s start with the premise…

“Johnny Depp returns to the big screen as the iconic, swashbuckling anti-hero Jack Sparrow in the all-new “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.” The rip-roaring adventure finds down-on-his-luck Captain Jack feeling the winds of ill-fortune blowing strongly his way when deadly ghost sailors, led by the terrifying Captain Salazar, escape from the Devil’s Triangle bent on killing every pirate at sea – notably Jack. Jack’s only hope of survival lies in the legendary Trident of Poseidon, but to find it he must forge an uneasy alliance with Carina Smyth, a brilliant and beautiful astronomer, and Henry, a headstrong young sailor in the Royal Navy. At the helm of the Dying Gull, his pitifully small and shabby ship, Captain Jack seeks not only to reverse his recent spate of ill fortune, but to save his very life from the most formidable and malicious foe he has ever faced.” (Summary from IMDB)

From this point in there will be blood spoilers so please, for the love of all that is good and holy, if you intend to see this film and do not want to be spoiled then DO NOT READ ON, GO AWAY AND LIVE YOUR LIFE IN BLISSFUL IGNORANCE, GO NOW.

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Down the TBR Hole #3

Welcome folks to the second round of Down the TBR Hole. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, check out my second round or first round post or check out Lia at Lost in a Story who is the creator of this wonderful meme/project.

I’m trying to make this a regular feature of my blogging schedule because it’s good to regularly reevaluate if/why you want to read a book – that way you don’t come back to your TBR years later and have no clue why a title piqued your interest in the first place. I’ve also added a summary of results bit at the bottom of each round so I can track how many books I’ve kept and ditched from my TBR shelf in each round and overall.

Just a reminder of how this works:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

Let’s get going on the 10 books… 

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Tag | Spring Cleaning Book Tag

Welcome one, welcome all, to another round of Tag Thursday. This week’s tag was found over at Thrice Read (will I ever not start a tag post with that phrase?), and it is called the Spring Cleaning Book Tag. This tag couldn’t have come at a more apropos moment in my life because I desperately need to do some proper spring cleaning of my wardrobe and (more importantly) my books. I’ve been itching to unhaul some books that I just will not get around to reading, despite how optimistic I’ve been about them in the past. But, to procrastinate doing that terrible task of letting books go… I’ve done this tag instead – enjoy!

1. The struggle of getting started: a book/book series that you have struggled to begin because of its size.

Once upon a time I would have instantly answered with The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss or Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin but, alas, I have started both of these series… the drive to continue them, knowing how long the books are, however…

Likewise, I instantly make excuses for finally getting round to reading any of my longer “project books” (they’re project books for a reason, guys!), mainly Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, The Luminaries, War and Peace, and The Count of Monte Cristo. 

  

2. Cleaning out the closet: a book and/or book series you want to unhaul.

When I look at my shelves, there are books that I instantly relegate to the back stack of my double-stacked shelves – I kind of feel like, if I don’t want/need it within easy reach, then there’s probably a reason why. Books of this sort include The Lonely Bones by Alice Sebold, The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. The first two I’ve read and found somewhat ‘shrug’, the second two, I’m not entirely sure why I even acquired them. I have a lot of stray books like that.

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WWW Wednesday #3 | 24th May 2017

You’d be forgiven for not remembering the last time I did a WWW Wednesday (it was back in March, fyi) because I’ve been on the Top 5 Wednesday bandwagon for a little while instead. However, this week, I’ve decided to plump for a WWW post and talk a little about what I’m reading and planning to read soon.

WWW Wednesday is currently hosted by Sam at Taking On A World Of Words so do head over to her blog if you want to see more readers’ WWW Wednesday posts.

The Three Ws are:
1. What are you currently reading?
2. What did you recently finish reading?
3. What do you think you’ll read next?

 

1. What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading a couple of books because I’m incapable of being a monogamous reader. The first is Changeless by Gail Carriger, the second book in the Parasol Protectorate series, a paranormal fantasy series in which vampires, werewolves, and ghosts are accepted as part of Victorian society and indeed form part of Queen Victoria’s Secret Council. It’s steampunk-y and it’s overly “British” (in that sort of inaccurate, stereotypical way) and it’s jolly good fun, you guys. However, I wasn’t completely feeling it one day when I wanted to read something before going to bed so I’ve also recently started reading Howards End by E.M. Forster, after a pleasantly successful time reading another of Forster’s novels, A Room with a View. Howards End tells the story of three different middle-class English families (the Wilcoxes, the Schlegels, and the Basts), all of whom represent a particular “grade” of middle-class life at the time. Their lives obviously intertwine in interesting ways and I’m enjoying it so far!

 

2. What did you recently finish reading?

As mentioned above, I recently finished reading A Room with a View by E.M. Forster and was very pleasantly surprised by not only how quick of a read it was but also how enjoyable it ended up being. (I did a review on it, if you’re curious!) Likewise, unsurprisingly, I also recently finished (re-)reading Soulless by Gail Carriger, the first book in the Parasol Protectorate series. I re-read that one so I could pick up the later books in the series as I never did got around to continuing onward with the series the first time that I read Soulless. And, lastly, I finished reading The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill, a book set in Depression-era Montreal, about two creative and imaginative orphans who grow up in the underworld of the city but reunite eventually to put on a show involving clowns and chorus girls and their special talents. It’s disgusting and spellbinding all in one, I loved it, and (though I will struggle to articulate it) I’m going to be putting up a review for it soon so stay tuned!

  

3. What do you think you’ll read next?

Providing I manage to finish both of my current reads, then I hope to pick up the third book in (yes you’ve guessed it) the Parasol Protectorate series, Blameless by Gail Carriger to continue on with the roll I’m on with that series. However, I’m sure that at the same time I’ll want to have another book on the go so, if I’m brave/stupid enough, I’ll possibly pick up the next ASOIAF book, A Dance with Dragons: Part 1 by George R.R. Martin. I want/need to keep going with the series, whilst I still remember what happened in the previous volume. If I’m not quite brave/stupid enough to start that tome, though, I’m inclined to pick up another non-fantasy (just to balance things out), maybe Decline and Fall or Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. We shall see!

  

Ok, that’s all the time we’ve got, folks  I hope you enjoyed this insight into my current reads. Do you have a WWW Wednesday post of your own? Please link it below if so (or answer in the comments), I’d love to hear your responses.
Have you read any of the books I mentioned – how did you like (or not like) them?
Until next time – happy reading!


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Review | A Room with a View by E.M. Forster

Title: A Room with a View (1908)
Author: E.M. Forster
Publisher: Penguin English Library
Read: 19th April – 3rd May 2017
Genre: classic
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

A Room with a View is a 20th-century classic that begins in sun-soaked Florence before retiring to the Edwardian English countryside and proved to be a rather pleasant surprise for yours truly, quite possibly because I had no expectations for this book and did not know a single thing about it until I opened the first page.

“Life is easy to chronicle, but bewildering to practice”

Exploring Italy with her overbearing spinster cousin/chaperone, Charlotte Bartlett, Lucy Honeychurch has her middle-class and thus far limited view of the world challenged by the sights and (yes) the views she sees, not all of them quite so picturesque or pleasant. Whilst staying at the Pension Betolini in Florence, Lucy is thrown into the paths of a cast of comically presented characters: a pair of (frankly annoying) clergyman, Mr Beebe and the interfering Mr Eager; adventurous and outspoken novelist Eleanor Lavish; Mr Emerson who might just be (whisper it in case they hear you) a socialist; and his romantic and free-thinking son George. That is, until a return to England means a return to Lucy’s home in Surrey and a return to the rigid, claustrophobic middle-class country life she knows, complete with pretentious fiancee Cecil Vyse. With Lucy’s world view latterly coloured by all that she has experienced in Italy, Forster’s A Room with a View reads part romance and part satire of the Edwardian England it so shrewdly presents.

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Discussion | Reading Before Watching

Hi folks, I bring you something of a discussion post regarding something that has been on my mind recently – reading before watching. Let me clarify – reading a book before watching the adaptation.

I think I speak for all of us readers when I say that we tend to hold to the sanctity of the source material whenever a television or film adaptation is announced – if it’s a favourite book we probably worry and fret about whether a production team is about to completely ruin something precious to us. Likewise, we might just be excited to see a story we love come to the big or small screen, and look forward to more people experiencing that story, in whatever format that is.

But, readers, I have a dilemma: what do you do when a new series is announced, based on a book, and you haven’t read the book – do you wait for the TV show so that the adaptation is new and fresh for you, or do you read the book beforehand? My instinct obviously tells me to read the book first before watching the adaptation but part of me always wonders if I’m not potentially dampening my enjoyment of the TV show or film. After all – I know what is going to happen then, and nothing is shocking or unexpected (unless they completely diverge from the source material).

nightmanagerI was thinking about this yesterday as I was doing a re-watch of The Night Manager series and had an inclination to re-read the book again. I recalled that, despite having read the book back in February 2016, before the miniseries started airing, I was still overwhelmingly tense and on the edge of my seat whilst watching the adaptation. Now, admittedly, some of that is because I have a slight inclination towards Tom Hiddleston (understatement of the century) so, you know, what you gonna do… but aside from that I also was tense because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. In the effort to modernise the source material and make it more relevant for a 2016 audience, the production team had made the decision to change some key elements of the story. This meant that, though I had read the source material, it didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the series by “spoiling” any of the plot’s twists and turns. But not all adaptations are like this.

howardsendLast night I picked up Howards End by E.M. Forster. After having read A Room with a View last week and found myself pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it and how readable I found Forster’s writing style, I decided to give Forster’s most famous novel a read. Then I remembered that the BBC are producing a miniseries of the book which is due to be released later this year starring Hayley Atwell and Matthew MacFadyen (I am sure there are plenty of others too but, I mean, my priority will always be Hayley Atwell because she’s Hayley Atwell). I had a moment of pause then – surely every little twist and turn of the adaptation would be spoiled if I read the novel first? After all, period dramas based on classics or modern classics do tend to push for faithfulness to the source material, for fear of upsetting the delicate sensibilities of readers and their expectations. So if I read the book, would I be as inclined towards watching the series, when it did air on TV?

Despite this momentary dilemma, I am fully aware that it will not stop me from reading the book – as a reader I will always lean towards the side of the primacy of the book, regardless of how excited I am to see an adaptation on the big or small screen, and the book will probably always win. But that doesn’t mean the adaptation won’t put up a damn good fight…

But beware: on the other side of the coin lurks a trap, a trap that I often fall into. On the occasions when I do see a film or TV show adapted from a book first, even if I end up loving the adaptation, sometimes I never quite get around to reading the book afterwards. I know, I know, I’m a terrible reader! After all, I know what happens in the story, so reading the story suddenly isn’t quite as high priority as all the other books on my TBR. I know how it goes, I know how it ends, I’ve experienced the story, regardless of the format it was in… and there are so many other stories that I haven’t experienced yet that deserve my time and attention. This happened with another le Carré book – Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. I had embarked on a mission to read the book once upon a time, got super confused, and abandoned it. Then I watched the 2011 film starring Gary Oldman as George Smiley, and, though I thoroughly enjoyed it, the book suddenly didn’t really seem a priority any more. I knew so what was the point any more?

Well, Emma, I’m sure the book is much more nuanced, I hear you say, to which I say: touché. And so the vicious cycle keeps on spinning…

Do you have this dilemma too? Do you have to make sure you read a book before watching its TV or film adaptation – or does it not bother you so much? Do you think the effect of a TV or film adaptation is sometimes “spoiled” because you know what’s going to happen, because you read the book first? Does this cause anyone else as much indecision as it does me? On the more positive note – what TV/film adaptations are you looking forward to in the future? Chat to me in the comments below, I’d love to talk adaptations!


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