Sunday, 17 September 2017

Sunday Post (24) - Why so cold, September?

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

If you participate, and you totally should because the community is amazing, don't forget to link up and if you leave me a comment, I will definitely check out your blog.

The Rules can be found here. And this week's post can be found here.

You'd think autumn started at the beginning of September and I've almost turned on the heating several times already. We even changed to our winter duvet... 

I've been slowly getting back into things. I have friends visiting the next few weeks, so my house will be full and when not, I'll be cleaning it to prepare for the next lot. I am quite the introvert and it's stressing me a bit, but on the other hand, they're all close friends.
On my blog lately:
I'm hoping to find more time to blog in the upcoming weeks, there's still a million books waiting for their review. That's if my visitors let me breathe. I'm also writing a lot... and NaNoWriMo is approaching.

And I'm finally reading Nevernight by Jay Kristoff.

I hope everyone has a great week and gets lots of time to read.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Nyxia by Scott Reintgen

Book Title: Nyxia
Author: Scott Reintgen
Genre: Science Fiction
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Source: Netgalley

Goodreads, Amazon UK

Goodreads Summary: Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family.
Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden—a planet that Babel has kept hidden—where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.
But Babel’s ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human.
I got a review copy from NetGalley in return for an honest review.

What did I think? Young Adult in space? Sign me up! Those were my thoughts when I requested this title from Netgalley. I ended up having a lot of fun with the story and read it during a long, sleepless night.

It's not groundbreaking, but it's exactly what it promises to be. It'll probably be sold as Hunger Games in space... which makes me want to roll my eyes, but I also have to admit, it is a bit like Hunger Games in space.

Ten teenagers are on board this spaceship on its way to a planet called Eden. They're being trained to mine a new element called Nyxia... but only eight out of the ten will be allowed to do so. Let the competition begin!

This book has a great and varied ensemble. For the average reader the beginning might be a bit overwhelming, since ten teenagers are introduced. It took me a while before I was able to keep them straight, but Reintgen made sure to give each one an individual voice. They're all well developed, and by the end I felt like I knew them all.

I recommend this to fans of Young Adult (who don't mind books aimed at the younger end of the YA audience) and Science Fiction novels, who are looking for something like the Hunger Games, Ender's Game or The 100.

Monday, 11 September 2017

The City & The City by China Miéville

Book Title: The City & The City
Author: China Miéville
Genre: Fantasy
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥
Source: Library

Goodreads, Amazon UK

Goodreads Summary: When the body of a murdered woman is found in the extraordinary, decaying city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks like a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad. But as he probes, the evidence begins to point to conspiracies far stranger, and more deadly, than anything he could have imagined. Soon his work puts him and those he cares for in danger. Borlú must travel to the only metropolis on Earth as strange as his own, across a border like no other.
What did I think? Do you know what it feels like when the premise sounds absolutely amazing, but you don't like the story set in it? That's what happened to me with The City & The City.

The setting of the book is what intrigued me in the first place. Two separate cities existing within the same geographical area, at the same time and citizens of one city are prohibited from interacting with, or even looking at citizens of the other city. It's a brilliant concept and through it the author can look at cultural differences, segregation and how we're capable of going about our lives without noticing the homeless man in the corner.

I was looking forward to finding out more about the two cities and how it came about that they occupy the same space at the same time, but the author decided to set a simple, classic noir detective story into this setting...

The writing is gorgeous. China Miéville has a way with words. The pacing is somewhat slow, at least at first but once the story gets going it really picks up.

It's a great blend of crime and fantasy, unfortunately I was more interested in the fantasy aspect and the author seemed intent on focusing on the mystery.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

TTT (20) - Top Ten Books I Struggled To Get Through

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
Follow the link to know more about the meme and join up; it's a great way to find out more about the book blogging community. 
This week the theme is Top Ten Books We Struggled To Get Through and this week's post by The Broke and the Bookish can be found here
I hardly ever DNF books. How about you? As a teenager I'd usually read one book at a time and since I'm an only child that loved reading, I'd sometimes get through a book a day. Then my 20s came around and video games and television series somehow were more important than reading. Social Media swiftly followed and destroyed my attention span. I swear I could read for hours without looking up once... now I promise my brain it's allowed to check Twitter once the chapter is done.
Nowadays, I am mostly reading again but quite often 8 books at the same time. I avoid reading slumps like that. If I'm not in the mood for a book, I just reach for another one. I also gave myself the permission to DNF books, but I still rarely do it.

These are some of the books I struggled with but ended up enjoying more than expected:

Tom Toner's The Promise of the Child is probably my favourite read of 2016. It's quite dense and complex though. It's the 147th century and humanity has conquered the stars and evolved. It's a book that demands 100% of the reader's attention and it's definitely not straightforward but I'd love to have the guy's imagination. I'm an impatient person, I sometimes skim long descriptions...shame on me. This book taught me a lesson, because after about a third I had no idea what was happening and had to start from the beginning. That's when I fell in love...

My first adult fantasy book. My father gave it to me when I was fifteen years old, and I remember sitting down with a Bloodhound Gang CD (the music to this day evokes a shiver and a faint memory of Nazgûls) and cracking it open. I did not get the first 100 pages... the description of the Shire is quite lengthy and I was mostly bored. Once I managed to wade past the first 150 pages or so, I could no longer put it down.

This book is brilliant. Yes, it's complex and yes, if you want to understand everything that's going on you'll probably need a philosophy and history degree. But you don't need to understand everything to enjoy the heck out of this story...
Once I admitted that many details will fly over my head and I will probably not get most of his clever hints and allusions, I just read it. And Umberto Eco takes a shopping list, makes it a conspiracy, feeds it to a bunch of scholars and lets them re-write the entire history of Europe...based on said shopping list. I love conspiracy theories and this book rolls with it in a way I'd never seen before.

I almost missed it. How silly. "I'm not participating in this dumb wizard hype," said 13 year old me. It taught me two things: do not ignore hype and do not ignore wizards. We were on our way to a getaway in the mountains and I knew it would be hiking, therefore boring. I asked if I could buy a few books to take with me and my parents said yes... the bookshop at the station had the first three Harry Potter novels neatly stacked by the entrance and I had a moment of, why not? Might as well find out what the fuss is about... 48 hours later I had to join the wait for book 4!

I've struggled with other books. Anna Karenina, for example, had an entire chapter about farming and I almost fell asleep, but once I push through and end up loving the book, I tend to forget about the struggle.

What are books you struggled with? Or maybe even abandoned? Or still pushed through? Let me know.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Book Title: Truly Madly Guilty
Author: Liane Moriarty
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥
Source: Library

Goodreads, Amazon UK

Goodreads Summary: Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong?
Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.
Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.
Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?
What did I think? This is my second Moriarty book. The first was Big Little Lies and I loved that one so very much. Still haven't watched the show but definitely want to. I couldn't put Big Little Lies down once I'd started, but, sadly, this one takes a long time to really get somewhere.

The main focus here are the characters and Moriarty builds them carefully and with attention to detail. Maybe if I'd expected less thrilling action and instead a character drama, I would have enjoyed it a lot more. The characters are amazingly well written. Moriarty really has a knack for painting vivid, flawed people. The way she describes dysfunctional friendships and relationships is basically what made the book for me.

I must admit I was extremely frustrated by the time it was finally revealed what happened at the BBQ. And the way the characters suddenly were incapable of even seeing each other, made my brain imagine the absolute worst... and it turned out to be something traumatic, yet not something that, in my opinion, would drive a wedge between a group of people. I can't say more without spoiling the book's plot.

If you haven't read a Moriarty book yet and enjoy suspense novels, pick up Big Little Lies. I'd recommend this one for people who are Moriarty fans or people who enjoy character driven novels, who don't mind slow plots and instead love to read about dysfunctional relationships.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Gilded Cage by James Vic

Book Title: Gilded Cage
Author: Vic James
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Source: Library

Goodreads, Amazon UK

Goodreads Summary: In modern-day Britain, magic users control everything: wealth, politics, power—and you. If you’re not one of the ultimate one-percenters—the magical elite—you owe them ten years of service. Do those years when you’re old, and you’ll never get through them. Do them young, and you’ll never get over them.
This is the darkly decadent world of Gilded Cage. In its glittering milieu move the all-powerful Jardines and the everyday Hadleys. The families have only one thing in common: Each has three children. But their destinies entwine when one family enters the service of the other. They will all discover whether any magic is more powerful than the human spirit.
Have a quick ten years...
What did I think? This is the first book in a planned trilogy. I was surprised at how much I ended up liking this. Young Adult is a bit hit and miss with me and I'm more of a fantasy fan, but this book had a premise that simply was too intriguing not to pick up. And I fell a little bit in love with it all...

It's a very political book. This is a world where commoners are required to serve as slaves for ten years during which they lose all basic human rights. The protagonists set out to serve at the beginning of the book and I expected it to be mostly about their struggle for freedom with a dose of rebellion... but I was pleasantly surprised and the reader gets the perspective of the ruling Equals as well and they're not all bad. Some of them are fighting to abolish the slavery.

There are a lot of characters to keep track of and many twists and turns. It's not an easy plot to follow either, but I think that only added to my enjoyment. The characters are layered and well developed and thankfully not one dimensional. The writing is enjoyable and the world building is original.

One thing I enjoyed less was the romance, which felt like it was added just so there's at least some romance or maybe as a set-up for the sequels.

Highly recommended to YA fans who love fantasy and don't mind a book being a bit on the political side.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse

Book Title: The Art of Hiding
Author: Amanda Prowse
Genre: Contemporary, Women's Fiction
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Source: Netgalley

Goodreads, Amazon UK

Goodreads Summary: Nina McCarrick lives the perfect life, until her husband, Finn, is killed in a car accident and everything Nina thought she could rely on unravels.
Alone, bereft and faced with a mountain of debt, Nina quickly loses her life of luxury and she begins to question whether she ever really knew the man she married. Forced to move out of her family home, Nina returns to the rundown Southampton council estate—and the sister—she thought she had left far behind.
But Nina can’t let herself be overwhelmed—her boys need her. To save them, and herself, she will have to do what her husband discouraged for so long: pursue a career of her own. Torn between the life she thought she knew and the reality she now faces, Nina finally must learn what it means to take control of her life.
I got a review copy from NetGalley in return for an honest review.

What did I think? I don't read Women's Fiction very often, but every now and then I enjoy a good, empowering book. This is my first book by Amanda Prowse and I didn't know what to expect but was pleasantly surprised.

The story itself is quite devastating and even traumatising. A woman who, after a childhood spent in poverty, has everything: a rich and successful husband, two children who are doing well in school, and a big, beautiful house. It's quite scary to think that life can actually be so cruel and rip it all away away again... just like that.

I really enjoyed watching Nina grow and overcome the obstacles life throws at her, and I found myself rooting for her and her sons. Nina feels real and the book depicts loss, grief and redemption in a way that rings true.

The writing is crisp and engaging. I read the entire book during one sleepless night and couldn't put it down.