Category Archives: Books

Three Months in Book Reviews: Quarterly Recap 3/2016

Book Reviews Summer 2016 - daneesaur.co.ukI’m currently reading six books at once. Six. Granted, some of those are ones I haven’t actually touched in weeks, but when I do pick them up again, I won’t start at the beginning. And I’ll be honest, although sometimes it makes be a bit anxious to have that big number S I X staring at me on my Goodreads profile, I quite enjoy having something to fall back on when the book I’m reading can’t hold my attention. I’m kind of living after Sanne‘s example here, I guess. And I definitely feel that her tip to read at least 50 pages of a book before moving on to another one certainly helps.

This quarter is the one where I managed to complete my Goobadge-home-completed-1736dedbcd3c31946d5b98bb506c1051dreads Reading Challenge 2016! And the year’s not over yet! I’m happy — last year I’d only read 16 books the entire year, which now feels such a tiny, insignificant number. I feel like the world of books has welcomed me back at last! Maybe, just maybe, I’ll have a crack at the 50 books challenge in 2017. Whew.

For the first time in a long time, I also finished a book in one sitting. Two books, actually. Or one and a half sittings, I should say — I did dare to sleep in between. I started both Everything, Everything and Eleanor & Park late-ish at night, went to bed, woke up and immediately started reading again, not stopping until I’d finished. I think the last time I properly did this was still in Harry Potter days?

To jump quickly to a specific book, here’s a helpful list:
Tanea: Am Großen Fluss | Tanea: Der Clan der Wölfe | Outlander | FangirlEverything, Everything | The Last Star | Eleanor & Park | Landline | More Than This | Room | Attachments

Tanea: Am Großen Fluss | ★★★★☆ 4/5

Tanea am Großen Fluss - Book review at daneesaur.co.ukAuthor: Isolde Heyne
Publisher: Loewe
Pages: 185
Published: 1994
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Goodreads

Tanea, daughter of wolves, doesn’t want to go the bear clan at the Great River. But her foster-father Ezuk wants to leave her in the hands of her mother, the healer of the clan. The people at the river are wary of her – apart from Henek, the son of Ezuk’s enemy. But will the love between Tanea and Henek have a future? (translated blurb)

I was scouring my old bookshelf at my mum’s place, looking for something my nephew could read, and came across one of my favourites from my childhood. It’s about an 11-year-old girl in the Stone Age and her journey towards becoming a healer and a woman. It’s actually the second part of a trilogy, but I found this and the next volume in a sale and, to this day, haven’t got my hands on the first part. Might hunt it down online though! Reading the story back now, it makes me hugely uncomfortable that she’s just an eleven year old kid and so many horrible things happen to her that are just glossed over. But that’s what you get for reading about a primitive age, right? Right? I think this was the first book that spiked my interest in botany and prehistoric times, and, like many other things, that interest kind of fizzled out again over the years, only to resurface during the last couple of months. It certainly holds a very special place in my heart.

Tanea: Der Clan der Wölfe| ★★★★☆ 4/5

Tanea - Der Clan der Wölfe - book review at daneesaur.co.ukAuthor: Isolde Heyne
Publisher: Loewe
Pages: 184
Published: 1995
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Goodreads

Tanea has finally found the wolf clan. But there’s a bad surprise waiting for her: Jaka, her nemesis, has become the leader of the clan. And we will not allow her to undermine his authority. But Tanea is not only self-confident and fearless, she is also a healer. And someone like that is desperately needed by the people of the wolf clan … (translated blurb)

Having read the other Tanea book, I immediately continued with the next one. Out of the two, this had always been my favourite when I was a kid, and that feeling carried through to today. More botany, more healing, more prehistoric peculiarities. … more creepy events that should never happen to an eleven or twelve-year-old kid, Stone Age or not. I remember that I was actually kind of creeped out by it as a kid already, so yay me, perhaps? Still, love these books. They’re now sitting on my nephew’s shelf, waiting to be read.

Outlander (Outlander #1) | ★★★★☆ 4/5

Outlander - book review at daneesaur.co.ukAuthor: Diana Gabaldon
Publisher: Dell Publishing Company
Pages: 896
Published: June 1st, 1991
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
Goodreads | Bookdepository

The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord…1743. Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives. (Goodreads)

I saw the adaptation of this suggested to me on Netflix, remembered seeing it reblogged onto my Tumblr dash, gave it a go … and fell in love. I also remembered that my sister-in-law is utterly obsessed with it, and that my mum owns all volumes. After watching the first season back three times, I gave the original a go. And I have to say … some things, especially in the domestic violence department, made me so angry in the book. I think the show handled those topics much better, which may be helped by the fact that it’s being produced 23 years after the novel. Y’know, fair enough. Other than that, despite Outlander-the-show being astoundingly close to the book, of course the characters are a lot more fleshed out in the book, especially Claire, whose struggle to adapt to 18th century medicine is much more believable here. And she’s a lot less whiny/dramatic and much more sassy. Which is exactly how I like her. Good job, Ms Gabaldon, I really like your writing style!

Fangirl | ★★★★☆ 4/5

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - - book review at daneesaur.co.ukAuthor: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Pages: 461
Published: September 10th, 2013 
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Goodreads | Bookdepository

Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they’re off to university and Wren’s decided she doesn’t want to be one half of a pair any more – she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It’s not so easy for Cath. She’s horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she’s experienced in real life. Now Cath has to decide whether she’s ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she’s realizing that there’s more to learn about love than she ever thought possible … (Goodreads)

Oh Cath. Cath Cath Cath. I’ve wanted to read this book ever since Leena said that it’s the book that made her understand fangirls. I’m involved in fandom culture, and aeons ago I have actually written my own really, really bad self-insert fanfiction that will never see the light of day, but nowadays I hardly read any. So in a way, I’m halfway between Leena’s approach and, say, my friend Anna’s approach to Fangirl and Cath as a character. Cath writes fanfiction about “Simon Snow”, the Harry Potter of their universe (no, really, down to the wizarding school, the Chosen One who gets mentored by the headteacher and has an intelligent best friend and a fairly stuck-up nemesis, etc etc).  I must say, in a way, this is a very generic young adult book; it doesn’t really get social anxiety right (probably because socially anxious people who are actually incapable of making friends and not having anyone gently forcing their friendship onto them is not really entertaining to read about), but it gets close; the romance is super predictable (as in, I called it the first time the character shows up in the novel). That being said, “generic” as it may be, the formula works, and in this instance, it does so so very, very well. I’ve read Carry On before this one and already loved Rainbow’s writing style, and this book just furthered that impression. I’d have given this 4.5 stars on Goodreads if I could have, because I loved it and it almost completely hit the mark for me. One thing that really threw me off, though, is that apparently, Harry Potter exists in this universe as well. I can’t possible imagine how the Harry Potter and Simon Snow franchises can exist alongside each other.

Continue reading

Three Months in Books: Quarterly Recap 2/2016

So remember when I was all “oh god, I’m reading too many books, I need to do monthly reviews instead so things don’t get too stuffed”? Yeah well, about that. I actually haven’t read that much these past three months. And as I’ve also missed the point to publish the reviews for April, I just decided imma rope them together for a quarterly thing again. So here we are!

The Infinite Sea (5th Wave Pt 2) | ★★★☆☆ 3/5

The Infinite Sea review at daneesaur.co.ukAuthor: Rick Yancey
Publisher: Penguin Books
Pages: 300
Published:  16 September 2014
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia
Goodreads | Bookdepository

Surviving the first four waves was nearly impossible. Now Cassie Sullivan finds herself in a new world, a world in which the fundamental trust that binds us together is gone. As the 5th Wave rolls across the landscape, Cassie, Ben, and Ringer are forced to confront the Others’ ultimate goal: the extermination of the human race.
Cassie and her friends haven’t seen the depths to which the Others will sink, nor have the Others seen the heights to which humanity will rise, in the ultimate battle between life and death, hope and despair, love and hate. (Goodreads)

This is the second part of Rick Yancey’s 5th Wave trilogy (here’s what I wrote about the first book). And it was … okay? I enjoyed coming back to the characters, and following their plots, but I felt this very much suffered from middle-book-syndrome, in that not an awful lot happens. It was an enjoyable read for sure, but ultimately it felt more like it was something to tide you over until the last book is released (which is out now, by the way! I would have bought it already if the only edition that’s out right now doesn’t fit the first two volumes … gotta think about my bookshelf aesthetics!!). A thing that I didn’t appreciate very much – mild spoilers ahead – is the cattiness between Cassie and Ringer. If anything, I want to see women (or girls in particular) stick together in a survival situation, and not be distracted by irrelevant personal stuff to bicker about. It seems to be mostly that Cassie feels like Ringer thinks she’s stupid, while Ringer, intelligent as she is in all other regards, simply doesn’t have the social prowess to be more tactful. I would like the girls to get over their differences in The Last Star.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying | ★★★☆☆ 3/5

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying review at daneesaur.co.ukAuthor: Marie Kondō, Translation by Cathy Hirano
Publisher:  Vermilion
Pages: 248
Published: 3 April 2014
Genre: Non-Fiction, Self-Help
Goodreads | Bookdepository

Transform your home into a permanently clear and clutter-free space with the incredible KonMari Method. Japan’s expert declutterer and professional cleaner Marie Kondo will help you tidy your rooms once and for all with her inspirational step-by-step method.
The key to successful tidying is to tackle your home in the correct order, to keep only the things you really love and to do it all at once – and quickly. After that for the rest of your life you only need to choose what to keep and what to discard. (Goodreads)

Life-Changing? I don’t know. If you subscribe to this particular brand of minimalism and ‘professionalism’, then sure, yeah, I can imagine this book to be life-changing indeed. For me, it definitely inspires me to look at the things I own in a different light, and think about what I really want to keep, outside of emotional attachments or a distorted sense of responsibility towards old, useless gifts. Where it falls short, I think, is that it was ultimately written for a Japanese audience, and some things (like talking to your clothes, thanking them for their day’s work) seem a bit “wacky” for Western readers – and it’s also a bit elitist and judgmental at times. There’s a section where Marie Kondo pities a woman who she sees outside in slacks, saying she must not be very happy with her life/herself if she walks around like that in public. Excuse me? I gotta say, I didn’t really expect body shaming (or fashion choice shaming?) in a book about decluttering …
While I don’t think the ‘Konmari’ method as a whole is for me, I’ve definitely been taking some pointers from it in order to think about what I bring into my house/room/life.

We Were Liars | ★★★☆☆ 3/5

We Were Liars review at daneesaur.co.ukAuthor: E. Lockhart
Publisher:  Hot Key Books
Pages: 227
Published: 13 May 2014
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery
Goodreads | Bookdepository

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. 
Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE. (Goodreads)

Oh man, so people have been raving about this book that I’m almost sad I can’t join them. It annoys me when a novel has a big Twist (with a capital T), and I call it midway through – the rest of the story just gets annoying, because the narration feeds you a bazillion instances of “oh no I can’t possibly give you the whole story now”. Something like this is great when it toys with your perception successfully, but when it doesn’t, it just gets exhausting to read. It’s kind of like this bigger kid that stole your … idk, your book, and holds it up too high so you can’t even reach it if you jump. You know the conclusion (or think you do), you can see it right there, but they refuse to give it to you and hold it just out of your reach, so all you can do is either give up and walk away, annoyed, or keep on jumping to catch it, err, I mean, keep on reading. On top of that – and maybe this is where I just fall short on empathy – I am just not that interested in reading about a bunch of privileged white rich kids (with one notable exception) and their problems, which all surround the fact that they are part of privileged white families that need to uphold a “good image”. Talk about first world problems. (That those first world problems can also end in heartbreaking tragedies is another thing.)

Feed | ★★★★☆ 4/5

FEED review at daneesaur.co.ukAuthor: Mira Grant
Publisher:  Orbit
Pages: 599
Published: 1 May 2010
Genre: Science Fiction, Zombies, Dystopia
Goodreads | Bookdepository

The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beaten the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop.
The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED. Now, twenty years after the Rising, bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives – the dark conspiracy behind the infected.
The truth will get out, even if it kills them. (Goodreads)

I’ve read this book because my lecturer mentioned it as a nice supplementing read for our class on “Approaches to Zombie Culture”. (I’m doing a class on zombie narratives this semester, how cool is that??). And I’m far from disappointed! For me personally, this is a bit of a mix of the Gilmore Girls (if only for the fact that the bloggers join the press convoy of a Presidential candidate, much like Rory Gilmore at the end of season 7), Scandal (cause it’s all about a Good™ Republican presidential candidate and lots of intrigue) and, well, zombies. It’s well-written, engaging, and although the overall conspiracy plot is a bit predictable, it’s still fun and exciting to read. Most interestingly: there’s a total lack of a romantic love story. Well, there are relationships in this book – Georgia and Shaun’s parents, the senator and his wife, and then the third blogger of the pack starts dating someone as well – but there’s no overarching love story involving either of the two main characters, and you won’t believe how refreshing that is.

Asking For It | ★★★★☆ 4/5

Asking For It review at daneesaur.co.ukAuthor: Louise O’Neill
Publisher:  Quercus UK
Pages: 346
Published: 3 September 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Feminism
Goodreads | Bookdepository

It’s the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O’Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident. One night, there’s a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma.
The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can’t remember what happened, she doesn’t know how she got there. She doesn’t know why she’s in pain. But everyone else does.
Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night. But sometimes people don’t want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town’s heroes… (Goodreads)

Whew. This was such a difficult read. O’Neill toys with your perception, because she really doesn’t set up Emma as a very likeable character. I knew where the book was going, so I could fully tell what the author was doing, but holy hell Emma is set up as a despicable girl. She’s the kind of person who’d have bullied me at school. A horrible friend, competitive, judgmental, and bratty. And then she gets raped. Does that mean she had it coming, that she was asking for it? (Pssssst: NO SHE WASN’T). The first half was dreadful because you really can’t relate to Emma, and then the rest of it is awful because you witness her becoming a victim of rape culture. Everything’s in there. Victim blaming, her own denial that what was done to her was anything but her own fault, constant media coverage that she’s exposed to, her being ostracised for ruining the boys’ futures while they still strut around town … for a moment I naively called the validity of the plot into question, because surely, if there were pictures out there, where she was clearly drugged/zoned out and unable to consent, there’d be no question about whether or not it was rape … and then I remembered the case of Gina-Lisa Lohfink. There is video evidence of her rape, where she can be heard repeatedly telling her attackers to stop. She took them to court, and she’s just recently been sentenced to pay €24,000 in damages to her rapists. For slander.

The Book Thief | ★★★★☆ 4/5

The Book Thief review at daneesaur.co.ukAuthor: Markus Zusak
Publisher:  Black Swan
Pages: 560
Published: 8 September 2007
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult, World War II
Goodreads | Bookdepository

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .
Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist – books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster-father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.
This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul. (Goodreads)

I’m not sure if anything I can say can do this book justice (and yet I’ve only given it 4 stars? What’s up with that?). It took me a while to get into, which is not unusual for me when it comes to books. What kind of threw me off though was that it’s an English book (originally written in English), written from the perspective of a German (Liesel). While Zusak does a way better job than the other book I know where this happens (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas), it was still odd. Especially since I don’t know anybody who uses or has ever used the word “Saumensch”, which must be the most common word in the book, but perhaps it’s just a very remote local (and old) dialect. Couldn’t find any information online to prove that, though. Anyway, as you would expect with war stories, this book is heart-breaking. It’s wonderfully crafted and has some really beautiful lines that are more poetry than prose. Plus, it’s narrated by Death! If you haven’t read this yet, please do yourselves a favour and pick it up. You won’t regret it, I promise.

So what have you been reading lately? Any recommendations? Have you read any of these books? xx

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3 Months in Books – Quarterly Recap 1/2016

Sooo I have this problem at the moment. Last year, I really didn’t read much, so I started this series of doing quarterly book reviews, where I do quick mini reviews of the books I read in the last three months. Well, come 2016, and I’m suddenly on a roll when it comes to reading. Probably mostly because I now combine audiobooks with physical books, so I am basically constantly involved in the story. So yeah, this post is long; in January, February and March, I read ten books! Woops. I need your input: should I keep doing  these (probably long) quarterly recaps or should I switch them to monthly instead? Let me know in the comments!

Robinson Crusoe | ★★☆☆☆ 2/5
3 Months in Books at daneesaur.co.uk

Author: Daniel Defoe
Publisher: Penguin Books
Pages: 337
Published: 6 Dec 2012 (first published 1719)
Genre: Classics, Fiction, British Literature
Goodreads | Bookdepository

Here is the novel which has inspired countless imitations by lesser writers, none of which equal the power and originality of Defoe’s famous book. Robinson Crusoe, set ashore on an island after a terrible storm at sea, is forced to make do with only a knife, some tobacco, and a pipe. He learns how to build a canoe, make bread, and endure endless solitude. That is, until, twenty-four years later, when he confronts another human being. First published in 1719, Robinson Crusoe has been praised by such writers as James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and Samuel Johnson as one of the greatest novels in the English language. (Goodreads)

Okay, I know last time around I said I’d dropped this book, but sometimes I get ambitious and determined about silly things and wanted to finish it. So I headed over to LibriVox and listened to it instead of reading. As an aside, did you know that LibriVox has a huge selection of classics with expired copyright as free audiobooks? I swear this isn’t sponsored, this site has just been such a lifesaver for me.  Woop, filling otherwise silent times with audiobooks! Now, this book is … uhh … definitely a product of its time. As soon as Friday appears, I was pretty much sat there rolling my eyes near-constantly. The imperialism is strong with this one.

The Vicar of Wakefield | ★★★☆☆ 3/5

Author: Oliver GoldsmithRobinson Crusoe 2/5 ★★☆☆☆
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Pages: 197
Published: 2008 (first published 1766)
Genre: Classics, Fiction, British Literature
Goodreads | Bookdepository

Oliver Goldsmith’s hugely successful novel of 1766 remained for generations one of the most highly regarded and beloved works of eighteenth-century fiction. It depicts the fall and rise of the Primrose family, presided over by the benevolent vicar, the narrator of a fairy-tale plot of impersonation and deception, the abduction of a beautiful heroine and the machinations of an aristocratic villain. By turns comic and sentimental, the novel’s popularity owes much to its recognizable depiction of domestic life and loving family relationships. (Goodreads)

I actually finished one of the assigned readings on time! Go me! Celebrate! … but only because I listened to it as an audiobook for the second half of it. I liked it! It is fairly predictable, as 18th century novels tend to be, but it was nicely written, and contrary to Robinson Crusoe or Joseph Andrews, you actually feel with the characters somewhat. Not necessarily all the time, because they also tend to be vain as hell, but you can at least empathise.

The Remains of the Day | ★★★☆☆ 3/5

3 Months in Books at daneesaur.co.ukAuthor: Kazuo Ishiguro
Publisher: Faber and Faber
Pages: 258
Published: 2005 (first published 1988)
Genre: Historical Fiction, British Literature
Goodreads | Bookdepository

A contemporary classic, The Remains of the Day is Kazuo Ishiguro’s beautiful and haunting evocation of life between the wars in a Great English House.
In the summer of 1956, Stevens, the ageing butler of Darlington Hall, embarks on a leisurely holiday that will take him deep into the countryside and into his past. (Goodreads)

Such an utterly interesting read. This is my first Ishiguro, actually, but I think I rather like his writing style. As I’ve said in my previous post when I was still in the middle of reading this, I am really intrigued by unreliable narrators, and seeing his reality unfold in front of you is really fascinating.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime 1/5 ★☆☆☆☆

3 Months in Books at daneesaur.co.ukAuthor: Mark Haddon
Publisher: Red Fox
Pages: 268
Published: 2004 (first published 2003)
Genre: Mystery, Young Adult
Goodreads | Bookdepository

Fifteen-year-old Christopher has a photographic memory. He understands maths. He understands science. What he can’t understand are other human beings. When he finds his neighbour’s dog lying dead on the lawn, he decides to track down the killer and write a murder mystery about it. But what other mysteries will he end up uncovering? (Goodreads)

Ugh. So many things wrong with this book. It’s not well researched in regards to autism and the narration feels condescending and infantilising. The boy is supposed to be fifteen years old and reads like a 9-year-old (and don’t tell me that’s because ‘he’s meant to be autistic!!’). I’ve already ranted about this book in other places, so I don’t really feel like going on about it any more, but let’s just say we are in dire need of more positive well-researched neurodivergent representation and this book is definitely not it.

A Simple Story | ★★★☆☆ 3/5

3 Months in Books at daneesaur.co.ukAuthor: Elizabeth Inchbald
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Pages: 345
Published: 2009 (first published 1791)
Genre: Classics, Fiction, British Literature
Goodreads | Bookdepository

When Miss Milner announces her passion for her guardian, a Catholic priest, she breaks through the double barrier of his religious vocation and 18th-century British society’s standards of proper womanly behavior. Like other women writers of her time, Elizabeth Inchbald concentrates on the question of a woman’s “proper education,” and her sureness of touch and subtlety of characterization prefigure Jane Austen’s work. (Goodreads)

The last book I read for my class on 18th Century Novels. Again I listened to most of this as an audiobook on LibriVox whenever I had the time, but the recording for this was actually quite annoying; it was a joint project by 5+ different readers, most of which weren’t very good. The story, on the other hand, is quite interesting; it’s essentially split in two parts, the first two volumes talking about Miss Milner, the latter two about her daughter Matilda. Some characters completely change their personality (we’re talking 180° here) in the second half, completely unexplained, which was more than awkward, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. Even though it’s just another story about female virtue.

Gone Girl | ★★★★☆ 4/5

3 Months in Books at daneesaur.co.ukAuthor: Gillian Flynn
Publisher: Crown
Pages: 566
Published: 2012
Genre: Mystery, Fiction, Thriller
Goodreads | Bookdepository

On the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick’s wife, Amy, has disappeared. Nick is weak, Nick is a liar, and maybe he’s not the very best of husbands — but is he a killer? Amy’s diary reveals turmoil over their marriage, strange sicknesses, and her deep wish to be a mother — but is she telling the whole story? As the evidence slowly mounts, and the police investigation deepens, Nick is incriminated in horrible ways. He swears he didn’t murder his beautiful wife and goes on the offensive to clear his name. The mystery of Amy’s disappearance only gets more tangled as secrets unfurl from the web of their knotty marriage, and it becomes clear that something may have happened more disturbing than death. (Goodreads)

Oh man, this book fucked me up. I mean, I’m sure it was supposed to. It is a thriller, you know. I don’t usually read thrillers, and now I know why. I don’t like the suspense. It makes me anxious. Anyway, this book was beautifully crafted. You really, really start to hate some people. Which is good, I guess. You’re supposed to hate psychopaths, right? Well, a bunch of the attitudes were horribly misogynistic, but that was to be expected when both main characters have this sort of “Not Like Them” attitude. Beautifully executed, at any rate. I liked it.

Carry On | ★★★★★ 5/5

3 Months in Books at daneesaur.co.ukAuthor: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Pages: 517
Published: 2015
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance, LGBT
Goodreads | Bookdepository

Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything. 
Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters. (Goodreads)

Oh, I was so skeptical about this book. So skeptical. I stayed that way for the first, I don’t know, maybe 50 pages? Because it’s Harry Potter, without being Harry Potter. It was weird. It put me off. And then this stuck up little vampire saunders into my life and ruins everything. Carry On is everything I have ever wanted from a Young Adult book. The magic works in a wonderful way – by using sayings and song lyrics. What a neat idea! I don’t want to say all that much about it, because I just know I’ll get too excited and spoil you all, but it’s safe to say that you need to read this book. Even if you don’t like YA. I mean, don’t even like YA that much. And if it feels like an awkward cheap HP knockoff in the beginning – don’t worry, that will pass. One thing I will say is that I listened to parts of it as an audiobook, read by Euan Morton, and he does this thing when he reads female point of views where his voice gets all nasally and aspirated/sing-songy, which I couldn’t take seriously – that was massively annoying, I don’t think it’s at all necessary when a man narrates a girl.

The 5th Wave| ★★★☆☆ 3/5

3 Months in Books at daneesaur.co.ukAuthor: Rick Yancey
Publisher: Penguin Books
Pages: 460
Published: 2013
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Goodreads | Bookdepository

The Passage meets The Hunger Games in a gripping new series from Carnegie-shortlisted Rick Yancey. After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one. Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave. On a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, until Cassie meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan may be her only hope for rescuing her brother and even saving herself. […] (Goodreads)

Mh. MMMMMHHH. Well, first thing I can say about this book is that I enjoyed the audiobook a whole lot more. It’s narrated by Phoebe Strole and Brandon Espinoza, who definitely play the parts of the teenagers very well. Also, the whole ‘making everything female characters say sound ridiculous’ that I criticised in Carry On’s audiobook didn’t happen, which made me very happy. As for the story, it was actually quite interesting (and scary, truth be told). It’s a very recent book, so a lot of the behaviour that is described is very, very relateable. Especially what happens with the death of the smartphones (sob). It’s told from two perspectives, Cassie’s and Zombie’s. Zombie’s perspective started to bore me quite quickly, because for the most part it’s just him going through boot camp, which … I’m not all that interested in, and Yancy didn’t manage to make it sound very compelling, either (well, that was probably the point). And Cassie’s story seems to develop into a strange and not quite relatable love story. Girl gets the romance plot and boy gets the military plot? I don’t know. That being said, Cassie is a cyncical sass master and I love her. I think I’m definitely interested in reading the second and third volume of the trilogy.

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope 3/5 ★★★☆☆

3 Months in Books at daneesaur.co.ukAuthor: Ian Doescher
Publisher: Quirk Books
Pages: 174
Published: 2013
Genre: Science Fiction, Humour, Poetry
Goodreads | Bookdepository

Return once more to a galaxy far, far away with this sublime retelling of George Lucas’s epic Star Wars in the style of the immortal Bard of Avon. The sage of a wise (Jedi) knight and an evil (Sith) lord, of a beautiful princess held captive and a young hero coming of age, Star Wars abounds with all the valor and villainy of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. ‘Tis a tale told by fretful Droids, full of faithful Wookiees and fearsome Stormtroopers, signifying… pretty much everything. {…] (Goodreads)

I had this book on my wish list, so my wonderful friend Janina gave me this for my birthday. It was a quick read, because I obviously knew the story beforehand, and it was funny to see it in all its Shakespearean glory! I immediately wanted to grab myself some actors and put the whole thing on stage. Some “classic” Shakespeare lines made it into the book, revamped into Star Wars style. Loved it. If you’re a Star Wars fan, and also like Shakespeare, I’d definitely recommend giving this one a go. Also, can I get the cover as a postcard/print please? It’s so pretty!

Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged | ★★★★☆ 4/5

3 Months in Books at daneesaur.co.ukAuthor: Ayisha Malik
Publisher: Twenty7
Pages: 456
Published: 2015
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Goodreads | Bookdepository

“Brilliant idea! Excellent! Muslim dating? Well, I had no idea you were allowed to date.’ Then he leaned towards me and looked at me sympathetically. ‘Are your parents quite disappointed?’
Unlucky in love once again after her possible-marriage-partner-to-be proves a little too close to his parents, Sofia Khan is ready to renounce men for good. Or at least she was, until her boss persuades her to write a tell-all expose about the Muslim dating scene. 
As her woes become her work, Sofia must lean on the support of her brilliant friends, baffled colleagues and baffling parents as she goes in search of stories for her book. In amongst the marriage-crazy relatives, racist tube passengers and decidedly odd online daters, could there be a lingering possibility that she might just be falling in love . . . ? (Goodreads)

I read the last 300 pages of this in one day, which finally feels like I’m slowly turning back towards my binge-reading days. I’m not usually one for “chick lit” (though I despise the name, but “romance novels” make me think of topless men and frail women swooning in their arms on the cover, and “dating books” sound like self-help instructions), but this book got me hooked. The lovely Leena has called the book “our generation’s Bridget Jones” (coming from someone who adored those novels), but since I never really liked Bridget Jones myself, I have to say this is worlds better. Ayisha Malik (and by extension her focaliser/main character Sofia) is witty, sharp and a sass master. You know I always fall for the sass masters. I was pretty surprised by the ending (can’t say I didn’t like it though), and my pencil and I have found many-a-thing to underline. If you’re going to make any decision in life, be fearless about it. 
The only thing that really annoyed me at times is the fact that there are quite a few typos in the book. A forgotten quotation mark here, a missing word there – more than there should be in an edited and proofread publication. But as a proofreader myself, I know that things can go unseen no matter how many corrections it’s gone through.

Well! You’ve made it! These are the books I’ve read this year so far. What have been some of your highlight reads? And don’t forget to give me your input on doing quarterly or monthly recaps. 😉 xx

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3 Months in Books: Quarterly Book Recap 4/2015

3 months in books

Oh yay, I’m trying a new thing! I decided I needed to do more book reviews and monthly recaps aren’t worth it cause I’m the slowest Literature student there is … but I’m doing quarterly book recaps of the books I loved, hated, dropped and finished in one go! Everything will include links to Goodreads and The Bookdepository (an awesome site to buy books from!), and if you wanna follow me on Goodreads, go right ahead. Enjoy!

The Good Soldier | ★★★☆☆ 3/5

3 months in booksAuthor: Ford Madox Ford
Publisher: Alma Classics Limited
Pages: 179
Published: 1915
Genre: Classics, Fiction, British Literature
Goodreads | Bookdepository

Ford’s novel revolves around two couples: Edward Ashburnham–the title’s soldier–and his capable if off-putting wife, Leonora; and long-transplanted Americans John and Florence Dowell. The foursome’s ostensible amiability, on display as they pass parts of a dozen pre-World War I summers together in Germany, conceals the fissures in each marriage. John is miserably mismatched with the garrulous, cuckolding Florence; and Edward, dashing and sentimental, can’t refrain from falling in love with women whose charms exceed Leonora’s. Predictably, Edward and Florence conduct their affair, an indiscretion only John seems not to notice. After the deaths of the two lovers, and after Leonora explains much of the truth to John, he recounts the events of their four lives with an extended inflection of outrage. From his retrospective perch, his recollections simmer with a bitter skepticism even as he expresses amazement at how much he overlooked. (Goodreads)

One of the books that I read for my Unreliable Narration class. As it often goes with an unreliable narrator, he confused the hell out of me, then annoyed the hell out of me. Once you get the hang of it that he’s constructing his own reality, I kind of got sick of him. He’s constantly contradicting himself and has a wavering opinion of his wife, himself and other people. That being said, the novel is doing exactly what it’s supposed to do and it was very interesting to discuss it in class. The disconnect between the protagonist and his own life story seeps through the lines, starting on the very first pages, and offers lot of material to talk about.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep | ★★★☆☆  3/5

3 months in books

Author: Philip K. Dick
Publisher: Gollancz
Pages: 193
Published: 1968
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia
Goodreads | Bookdepository

World War Terminus had left the Earth devastated. Through its ruins, bounty hunter Rick Deckard stalked, in search of the renegade replicants who were his prey. When he wasn’t ‘retiring’ them with his laser weapon, he dreamed of owning a live animal — the ultimate status symbol in a world all but bereft of animal life.

Then Rick got his chance: the assignment to kill six Nexus-6 targets, for a huge reward. But in Deckard’s world things were never that simple, and his assignment quickly turned into a nightmare kaleidoscope of subterfuge and deceit -and the threat of death for the hunter rather than the hunted… (Goodreads)

Another class read (for a class that I actually dropped over the semester). A great discussion on morality, what it means to be human, compassion, reality, and, well, post-apocalyptic scenarios. Another main character that I really couldn’t empathise with much, until he got into turmoil about his own morality and sense of right and wrong.

The Martian | ★★★★★  5/5

3 months in books

Author: Andy Weir
Publisher: Broadway Books
Pages: 387
Published: 11 Feb 2014
Genre: Science Fiction, Adventure
Goodreads | Bookdepository

[…] After a dust storm forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark Watney finds himself stranded on Mars’s surface, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive. And even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, Mark won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

Armed with nothing but his ingenuity, his engineering skills–and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength–Mark embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him? (Goodreads)

Oh my god. Fave read of these months, definitely. I’d heard about the book in one of Sanne’s videos and knew that there was an English language showing of the film adaptation at my cinema on Sunday – so on Saturday morning I bought the book and started to read. Terribly slow reader, so I got about half-way through before I left for the movies. But this was the first time in quite a while that I binge read a book! Mark Watney is the sassiest asshole to ever sass and it’s absolutely glorious. Most of the book is told through Watney’s logs, which honestly made me howl with laughter more often than not. The movie is a lot more serious in that respect, which is plausible when you think how the logs are filtered and a documentation of events after the fact, whereas in the film you see his immediate reaction to impossibly devastating scenarios. Although the book is sometimes a bit technical for the not-so-scientifically-inclined (e.g. me), I’d say it’s a must-read for everyone who likes a good laugh. And space. And potatoes.

Robinson Crusoe | not finished

3 months in books

Author: Daniel Defoe
Publisher: Penguin Books
Pages: 337
Published: 6 Dec 2012 (first published 1719)
Genre: Classics, Fiction, British Literature
Goodreads | Bookdepository

Here is the novel which has inspired countless imitations by lesser writers, none of which equal the power and originality of Defoe’s famous book. Robinson Crusoe, set ashore on an island after a terrible storm at sea, is forced to make do with only a knife, some tobacco, and a pipe. He learns how to build a canoe, make bread, and endure endless solitude. That is, until, twenty-four years later, when he confronts another human being. First published in 1719, Robinson Crusoe has been praised by such writers as James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and Samuel Johnson as one of the greatest novels in the English language. (Goodreads)

Another class read (sensing a pattern here?). This time on 18th Century Novels. I started this book well in advance, before the semester started, and what can I say … I still haven’t finished it. I made it about halfway through when we finished discussing it in class (and when I tossed it aside to finish it at another time, because I had more books to read for more classes). Haven’t picked it up since.
To be fair, that Goodreads blurb is wrong in so many ways … a knife, tobacco and a pipe? Defoe spends about ten pages describing the many trips in which Crusoe manages to bring back oh-so-many supplies from the wreck. Gunpowder, tools, clothes … and at least three bibles. Humph.

Joseph Andrews | not finished

3 months in books
Author: Henry Fielding
Publisher: Penguin Books
Pages: 416
Published: 28 June 2012 (first published 1742)
Genre: Classics, Fiction, British Literature
Goodreads | Bookdepository

Henry Fielding’s first full-length novel, Joseph Andrews depicts the many colourful and often hilarious adventures of a comically chaste servant. After being sacked for spurning the lascivious Lady Booby, Joseph takes to the road, accompanied by his beloved Fanny Goodwill, a much-put-upon foundling girl, and Parson Adams, a man often duped and humiliated but still a model of Christian charity. The novel anticipates Fielding’s great comic epic Tom Jones, with its amiable good humour and pointed social satire. (Goodreads)

Also for the 18th Century Novels class. Um. Yeah I gave this up a lot quicker. Damn, 1700s authors are hard to get into. I think since a lot of this book is one big reference to Samuel Richardson’s “Pamela”, it would have been incredibly useful to actually have read that book in class as well, instead of just having a short presentation of it. Sooo … had a hard time getting into this book and just ended up reading the sparknotes on it so I could still try to participate in class discussions. Yes, I do that. Everybody does that.

The Vicar of Wakefield | in progress

the vicar of wakefield

Author: Oliver Goldsmith
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Pages: 197
Published: 1 Dec 2008 (first published 1766)
Genre: Classics, Fiction, British Literature
Goodreads | Bookdepository

Oliver Goldsmith’s hugely successful novel of 1766 remained for generations one of the most highly regarded and beloved works of eighteenth-century fiction. It depicts the fall and rise of the Primrose family, presided over by the benevolent vicar, the narrator of a fairy-tale plot of impersonation and deception, the abduction of a beautiful heroine and the machinations of an aristocratic villain. By turns comic and sentimental, the novel’s popularity owes much to its recognizable depiction of domestic life and loving family relationships. […] (Goodreads)

Well, “in progress” means I’ve read about … ten… ish pages? The third installment of the 18th Century Novel TBR list. Yeah. Just mentioning this here real quick. I’ll hopefully have finished this next quarter (or it might be tossed aside like the last two … oops!)

The Remains of the Day | in progress

3 months in books

Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
Publisher: Faber and Faber
Pages: 258
Published: 2005 (first published 1988)
Genre: Historical Fiction, British Literature
Goodreads | Bookdepository

A contemporary classic, The Remains of the Day is Kazuo Ishiguro’s beautiful and haunting evocation of life between the wars in a Great English House.

In the summer of 1956, Stevens, the ageing butler of Darlington Hall, embarks on a leisurely holiday that will take him deep into the countryside and into his past. (Goodreads)

And another one for uni! No, I don’t read much for pleasure at the moment, and yes I’m very upset about it don’t look at me. Again this is for the Unreliable Narration class, and it’s super interesting at the moment. If I’ve figured this out correctly, it takes place in 1957, but consists of a lot of flashbacks from between the wars, and whenever I think about the narrator, I picture Mr Carson from Downton Abbey, the old-fashioned, serious butler who tries to keep the househould together despite everything changing around him. I’m about 80 pages in and the “unreliable” part of the narrator is starting to emerge. It’s fascinating. Again, will hopefully have finished this by the time the next update comes around.

So what did you think? Did you read any of these? Do you intend to? What about your woes about British classics? xx

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A Literature Student Who Doesn’t Read

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I grew up around books. I read all about the little girl who prayed to a swine deity in order to save a stray cat. About Ben, who died, but couldn’t quite let go of his family and stuck around, or of the teacher who turned into a frog. I was the bookworm, who could never get enough, who read and finished Harry Potter books on release day.

And then I stopped. As my peers moved on to more advanced literature and actually enjoyed reading classics – that is, the ones that actually admitted they liked reading books at all – I felt left stranded with too complex words and stories that were too boring to function. On the other hand, most young adult literature was too simplistic for me. I looked down on their ideas of a fantasy novel, their ideas of a love story, pretentiously thinking I was too “good” for them. I was trapped in this grey zone of not understanding more complex literature, but not being satisfied with children’s books. And so I stopped. I moved away from books and more into the other area of texts. The internet. Blog posts and livejournal entries and message boards, stimulating my desire for international exchange, improving my English on both colloquial and professional level, and yet, leaving me unable to read. I’m not going to say that the internet ruined my attention span and my ability to read long texts. My ceasing to read did that. The nature of the internet, with its short block texts and simplified speech only supported what I was doing anyway.

And now here I am. I feel this sort of disconnect between fiction and myself. Yet again I see my peers interested in the great classics, reading Shakespeare and other texts if not with ease, then still with more understanding of the text than I could maybe muster with readings of three secondary texts explaining what the eff is actually happening here. I see people getting lost in stories and characters, and revelling in that fact, while I don’t feel anything. It was very long ago indeed that I really wept over a character’s death in a novel, because I feel too distanced, too disconnected. I can’t make the stories, or characters, or events tangible for me. They’re fiction, they’re created, they’re not real, and there was a time when I would forget that, but it’s not now anymore.

My studies force me to look at texts closely. Not just at the characters’ motivation, but how these were constructed. Find and identify the framework, lay bare the skeleton of the text, dismantle it, look at every part from each angle, and then reassemble it. Stand back and look at it as a whole. Then look at the details. Back to the large scale again. I enjoy it, but it frustrates me. I feel like I am trying to touch the texts through a grey cotton haze, instead of being able to dig in and get my hands dirty. And I wonder, forever wonder, if anyone else shares that disconnect and is just better at pretending they’re “getting it”.

A literature student who doesn’t read. But I refuse to give up.