Posted in Uncategorized, fiction, Wrap Up, lifestyle

A Little Bit of Everything

Hello!

It’s been a little while and my brain keeps nudging me to post, then I think of what to say and it goes round and round until it isn’t relevant anymore, that’s just my brain!

I recently joined together with a few others to encourage blogging and general posting so hopefully I’ll get a little more motivated.

So here are some updates from the last few months …

Books

September

In September, we went on holiday where I devoured several books while lazing in the sun – it was perfect and exactly what I needed as a holiday.

I finally read my first Taylor Jenkins Reed book Carrie Soto is Back which I really enjoyed! I was impressed with the ease I fell into the storytelling and I wasn’t overwhelmed by the amount of tennis talk – it was a lovely treat and I’m excited to read more of TJR’s work. I also really enjoyed A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi although it broke my heart a little bit.

Following this, I read some real disappointments! Glint, Good Girl Complex, Twice Shy. I DNF’d How to Kill your Family (skim read) and Beneath the Burning Wave.

My standout read for September though was Wolfsong by TJ Klune, I am now in mourning as, due to the books getting a trad publishing deal, I cannot get ahold of the other books in the series for like SO LONG. I am so sad 😦

October

Sadly, October carried on my reading skit of very ‘meh’ books and although I wanted to consume all my spooky reads, I actually ended up reading some Christmas books instead as I was on some book tours!

I began October with Mindwalker by Kate Dylan and I also read Lost in Time by AG Riddle. Both were intriguing science fiction books and I enjoyed them but didn’t love them. I also finally delved into Anne of Green Gables which I just felt I couldn’t love as much as everyone else does – sorry!

For book club we read Nothing More to Tell by Karen McManus, another I only found okay! I took comfort in knowing what to expect from McManus – I’ve read four of her books now and none have blown me away but they’re enjoyable enough.

Standout for me in October was The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston – my first book by this author – I really enjoyed it considering I picked it up on a whim, it gave me nostalgic vibes from all the cheesy 00s supernatural TV I’ve consumed over the years 🙂

Lastly, the festive books! I read Picture Perfect by Jeevani Charika and The Christmas Cupid by Jennifer Joyce – I enjoyed both and would recommend them, you can find reviews for them on my instagram!

Lifestyle

In September, I picked my Japanese language up again thanks to Duolingo. I studied Japanese briefly at college and university but dropped out ha. I’m enjoying my learning this time and definitely want to stick to it although the app drives me mad and gets a little obsessive. I also started learning to tap dance! It is so much fun and I’m loving it – I don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner, I’ve wanted to learn for years as my mum used to dance 🙂

It’s been a weird couple of months for me. I applied for a different job at work (didn’t get it), I turned 34 and we took our first steps towards fertility treatment – not something I ever thought I would be saying but I guess that’s how it is for everyone who finds themselves in this situation. I can’t put a lot of my feelings about it into words without feeling guilty and that’s something I’m working through personally – I think writing about it will help so I’m going to try. It will always be at the end of my blog posts so if you find it triggering (which I very much totally get!) you can hopefully avoid it – do what is right for you (another lesson I’m learning for myself). On the other hand, if you have questions or are comfortable being of some support – let me know. You can always reach out on my instagram, I think having that support outside of my usual networks would be really helpful for me.

Now we are nearly at the end of NOVEMBER I’m starting to prepare for Christmas, getting my craft on and making plans… we always get a bit busier at work towards the end of the year before having a nice quiet few days – I’m working through the holidays except for the bank holidays unfortunately but it’s a good time to get everything ready for 2023!

I’ll try not to leave it too long next time!

Posted in book review, fiction

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

I found this post in my drafts and it seems a shame not to post it now considering it’s a book I really didn’t like! (I think I was quite generous!)

I was really looking forward to this book, it sounded amazing – nine strangers go on a health retreat but all is not what it seems – my perfect read!

However that is not what this book is. All the way through I kept thinking ‘maybe something will happen now and everything will kick start’, this didn’t happen, I was so disappointed! I finished the book wishing I hadn’t wasted my time.

Characters – the chapters are centred around the different people individually for the most part so you have the chance to get a feel for each character however I personally didn’t think I connected with any of them very deeply – I just wasn’t given enough from each one. I wanted to get inside their heads and really get to grips with their hidden pasts (promised from the blurb) but each character was just touched upon and then left abandoned. Perhaps there were just too many of them to delve into – each one was flawed and vulnerable (reflecting very human neuroses – very refreshing and relatable), it’s just a shame we aren’t given the chance to pay them the attention they deserve and get ourselves some mental healing too.

Narrative – The book is written well but simply; this is not a wordy text you need to take your time over however it feels like the narrative never really gets going in a sense and because of this the conclusion felt rushed to me. The majority of the book is taken up by how these strangers distrust each other and how their experience in the retreat will make them ‘new people’ but it is written too lightly for such heavy subject matters (mental health & wellbeing) which I believe has led to my disengagement with the text. I found myself confused as to if I was reading a happy book of self-discovery or a mystery thriller.

I have given the book two stars, it did keep me reading to the end after all but I’m glad I borrowed this from the library and didn’t actually pay for it. I’ve only read one other Liane Moriarty novel – Big Little Lies and I loved it, it whet my appetite with its intrigue and by the end of the novel I was stuffed. I’ve also heard great things about her other novels so I think I will read her back catalogue before I read any more of her new stuff, hopefully this one was just a blip!

Goodreads Rating – 2 / 5

Posted in book review, fiction

I Am Pilgrim – Terry Hayes

I found this review in my draft folder and since it is already all written out it seems a shame not to post it!

This was a beast of a novel not only physically but also mentally. I am completely drained after reading this one! Don’t get me wrong, it was good, almost amazing; the amount of detail gives it a ‘wow’ factor but there is so much to take in. It’s a good job Terry Hayes is a good storyteller – he made sure even when he was jumping around the timeline that you had all the information you needed – you never felt completely adrift in a sea of nonsensical words which to be honest is impressive given how much detail the narrative needs.

The paperback copy of the book I read weighed in at 888 pages and I felt every.single.one. This is not a book to skim or speed-read, this book deserves your attention and if that wavers, trust me you will miss something. If I break it down I know those first 200 pages are the hardest, you just want to get into a story but I Am Pilgrim keeps you waiting, it needs you to know the story right from the very beginning. The next 200 pages are building, you’re intrigued. You now have a solid background for the two main characters and you’re wondering how it is they come together. You’re now halfway through and you just need to know everything, the last 400 pages fly by in a blur, you’ve read them before you know it and then it’s over, you are left feeling complete, satiated.

If I had to compare this book to any other I would struggle, to me it is in its own category however I definitely got a Dan Brown feel while I devoured it (old Dan Brown, Digital Fortress style) only more grown up I would say. Dan Brown’s older brother! The characters are real and gritty, their actions have awful consequences and you get to picture their indecisions and apprehensions before they make those actions. This really makes the novel, it leaves a lasting impression – you’ve spent a lot of time with these characters and by the time the novel closes, you’re ready to say goodbye, because you know the story is complete and you haven’t been fobbed off with a quick exit.

Seriously, I cannot stress enough how immersive this text is. The first 200 pages were overwhelming they were so detailed in telling this backstory which you weren’t sure you really needed to know – but you do. Every miniscule detail gives you an insight into the mind of an operative and into the actions of a terrorist, I often stopped to try and imagine where Hayes gets his inspiration from, it is like he has lived it. Like I said, impressive. However, it is easy for me to say to you to persevere through those first 200 pages, I have the hindsight and know that it is worth it and this is the reason I can’t give this book 5 stars. For me, it was a slow starter and I know others would give up but I was recommended this book so I pushed through and found it was worth it!

I will definitely recommend this book to everyone.

Goodreads Rating – 4 / 5 stars

Posted in book review, book tour, fantasy, fiction, gifted, retelling

Midnight in Everwood by M.A Kuzniar

Published by HQ – 28th October 2021 (UK)

Synopsis

There’s nothing Marietta Stelle loves more than ballet, but after Christmas, her dreams will be over as she is obligated to take her place in Edwardian society. While she is chafing against such suffocating traditions, a mysterious man purchases the neighbouring townhouse. Dr Drosselmeier is a charming but calculating figure who wins over the rest of the Stelle family with his enchanting toys and wondrous mechanisms. 

When Drosselmeier constructs an elaborate set for Marietta’s final ballet performance, she discovers it carries a magic all of its own. On the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve, she is transported to a snowy forest, where she encounters danger at every turn: ice giants, shadow goblins and the shrieking mist all lurk amidst the firs and frozen waterfalls and ice cliffs. After being rescued by the butterscotch-eyed captain of the king’s guard, she is escorted to the frozen sugar palace. At once, Marietta is enchanted by this glittering world of glamorous gowns, gingerbread houses, miniature reindeer and the most delicious confectionary. 

But all is not as it seems and Marietta is soon trapped in the sumptuous palace by the sadistic King Gelum, who claims her as his own. She is confined to a gilded prison with his other pets; Dellara, whose words are as sharp as her teeth, and Pirlipata, a princess from another land. Marietta must forge an alliance with the two women to carve a way free from this sugar-coated but treacherous world and back home to follow her dreams. Yet in a hedonistic world brimming with rebellion and a forbidden romance that risks everything, such a path will never be easy.

Posted in book review, book tour, fantasy, fiction, gifted

Book Tour – Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune

Published 28th October by PanMacmillan (UK)

Thank you to PanMacmillan and Black Crow PR for letting me post as part of the book tour and for the advanced copy to read and review.


Synopsis

When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he really might be dead.

Instead of leading him directly to the afterlife, the reaper takes him to a small village. On the outskirts, off the path through the woods, tucked between mountains, is a particular tea shop, run by a man named Hugo. Hugo is the tea shop’s owner to locals and the ferryman to souls who need to cross over.

But Wallace isn’t ready to abandon the life he barely lived. With Hugo’s help he finally starts to learn about all the things he missed in life.

When the Manager, a curious and powerful being, arrives at the tea shop and gives Wallace one week to cross over, Wallace sets about living a lifetime in seven days.

Posted in book review, fiction, science fiction

Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Published May 2021 by TOR

Synopsis

The war is over. Its heroes forgotten. Until one chance discovery . . .

Idris has neither aged nor slept since they remade him in the war. And one of humanity’s heroes now scrapes by on a freelance salvage vessel, to avoid the attention of greater powers.

After earth was destroyed, mankind created a fighting elite to save their species, enhanced humans such as Idris. In the silence of space they could communicate, mind-to-mind, with the enemy. Then their alien aggressors, the Architects, simply disappeared—and Idris and his kind became obsolete.

Now, fifty years later, Idris and his crew have discovered something strange abandoned in space. It’s clearly the work of the Architects—but are they returning? And if so, why? Hunted by gangsters, cults and governments, Idris and his crew race across the galaxy hunting for answers. For they now possess something of incalculable value, that many would kill to obtain.

Posted in book review, book tour, fiction, romance, thriller

Double Whammy Book Tours

Hi everyone! I have neglected this page the last couple of months due to general busy-ness and real life issues mixed with major reading slumps. It’s given me some headspace to sort out what I want to do moving forwards though so I’m not mad. I needed the time and I took it.

So coming back with a bang today I’m bring you two fabulous books I’m on the tours for – both from HQ Stories (thank you!) and both RELEASED TODAY so you can go grab them now!

I’ll start with the lighter of the two books (and my current read) which is just a small highlight as I haven’t finished it yet but I’m really enjoying – it’s Did You Miss Me? By Sophia Money-Coutts and is a romance ‘one that got away’ trope novel.

Did You Miss Me? By Sophia Money-Coutts

Published by HQ – 19th August 2021

Synopsis

You never forget the one that got away, do you?

Nell Mason is extremely happy with her life – or at least, that’s what she tells herself. She’s lucky to have a high-powered job as a lawyer, even if it does come with an eccentric set of billionaire divorce clients. And she’s absolutely fine living with her sweet, if slightly dull, boyfriend Gus in their London flat where they have very sensible sex once (OK, sometimes twice) a week. She’s definitely not stuck in a rut.

But when Nell bumps into childhood friend and first love Arthur Drummond who broke her heart fifteen years ago, she’s more than a little shaken. The seemingly perfect life she’s worked so hard for starts to feel, well, less perfect. Maybe Nell’s been kidding herself all these years. Can she ever get over her first love?

Thoughts So Far

I’m enjoying this thoughtful cute read, it’s comforting and the characters I think are relatable and not too over the top or far fetched. This is my second read from this author (the review for What Happens Now was posted here back when I first set up this page) and it has made me put her in my must-read lists. While the romance tropes are all used to death I think she brings her own spin to them which is nice and we all need a cute romance read every so often, right?

Posted in book review, fantasy, fiction

The Gilded Cage by Lynette Noni

Due to be published – October 12th 2021 by Hodderscape

Synopsis

Kiva trades one cage for another when she leaves behind a deadly prison for a deceptive palace in this dark and dangerous sequel to The Prison Healer, which Sarah J. Maas called “a must-read.”

Kiva Meridan is a survivor.

She survived not only Zalindov prison, but also the deadly Trial by Ordeal. Now Kiva’s purpose goes beyond survival to vengeance. For the past ten years, her only goal was to reunite with her family and destroy the people responsible for ruining their lives. But now that she has escaped Zalindov, her mission has become more complicated than ever.

As Kiva settles into her new life in the capital, she discovers she wasn’t the only one who suffered while she was in Zalindov—her siblings and their beliefs have changed too. Soon it’s not just her enemies she’s keeping secrets from, but her own family as well.

Outside the city walls, tensions are brewing from the rebels, along with whispers of a growing threat from the northern kingdoms. Kiva’s allegiances are more important than ever, but she’s beginning to question where they truly lie. To survive this time, she’ll have to navigate a complicated web of lies before both sides of the battle turn against her and she loses everything.

Posted in book review, fiction

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Published by Del Rey – May 2021

Synopsis

Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission–and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish.

Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.

All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company.

His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, he realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Alone on this tiny ship that’s been cobbled together by every government and space agency on the planet and hurled into the depths of space, it’s up to him to conquer an extinction-level threat to our species.

And thanks to an unexpected ally, he just might have a chance.

Posted in book review, book tour, fiction, gifted

Book Tour! Subject Twenty One by A.E. Warren

Published by Del Rey – 1st July 2021

Synopsis

What if our future lies 40,000 years in our past?

 Elise’s world is forever changed when she is given the opportunity of a lifetime – to work at the Museum of Evolution and be a Companion to the Neanderthal, Subject Twenty-One.

As a Sapien, a member of the lowest order of humans, she and others like her are held responsible for the damages inflicted on the world by previous generations. This job may be Elise’s only chance to escape a stagnating life in an ostracised and impoverished community.

But it doesn’t take long for Elise to realise that, away from the familiarity and safety of her home, her own secrets are much harder to conceal. 

And the longer she stays the more she comes to realise that little separates her from the exhibits . . . and a cage of her own.

Review

Subject Twenty One is the first book in A.E Warren’s series Tomorrow’s Ancestors. Tagged as ‘Jurassic Park meets Sapiens’ I was quick to sign up to this Book Blog Tour and get my hands on a copy to read and review. Subject Twenty One was gifted to me by the publisher Del Rey and is set to be released on 1st July … along with book two The Hidden Base which I will be reading and reviewing as soon as it plonks through my letter box!

A.E Warren self published these books previously (under different titles) and I’m so glad they got picked up! Reading Subject Twenty One was easy, the story gripped me completely right from the beginning and it kept my attention all the way through. I loved how much research had been undertaken in writing this book but how this didn’t make it ever feel overwhelming or complicated. Warren has created a fascinating class system with various quirks and categories, all while weaving a heartfelt narrative.

For me, the connections between the characters was key. Elise is hired to be a companion to Twenty One, a Neanderthal who has been brought to life in order to be an exhibit in a museum as well as be part of an experimental program. She leaves her family to do this job and in turn discovers more about the other classes and the events in history which brought about their current situation. In the museum, Elise encounters a Potior, the highest class of being but also other Sapiens, like herself. By the end of the book, Elise has brought together an interesting group who work really well together and I was fully invested in them all.

As a setting, the museum was amazing, I could imagine it very clearly – I’d very much like to visit it! It definitely gave off Jurassic Park vibes but there is nothing wrong with that at all, I loved it! The genetic engineering aspect was one that I personally felt could have been explored in more depth but I also think that doing so would have strained the main storylines progression.

Overall, I enjoyed Subject Twenty One a lot and will be reading book two ASAP. It is YA and offers a thought provoking look at humanity and the future as well as the past. I will say that this book includes details of a Pandemic which some of you may not want to read about just yet but I found the detail was sparing and not gratuitous, only really mentioning it in passing. Warren writes a unique and intriguing narrative in a believable dystopia.

Goodreads Rating 4 / 5 Stars