Thursday, 1 September 2016

*Cue fanfare of rustling leaves* My Autumn '16 TBR Pile

I had planned for a smaller pile this season as I really need to be writing, but then this happened; 

The Widow by Fiona Barton (Thriller)
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (Historical Fiction)
Jackaby by William Ritter (MG)
Lockwood & Co (X 3) by Jonathan Stroud (MG)
Dinner for Two by Mike Gayle (Commercial Fiction)
Café Tropicana by Belinda Jones (Commercial/Women’s Fiction)
Picture me gone by Meg Rosoff (YA)
Another Day by David Levithan (YA)
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews (YA)

Plus there are two incoming;
End Game by Alan Gibbons (YA)
and another Lockwood & Co title.

Ok, so there are four titles in the same series there, the Lockwood & Co bunch. I’ll confess I've just finished the first, hence my need to read all the series. (I know it wasn't officially Autumn yet, and technically beyond the rules, but as I set the rules and was without a book then it’s been keenly negotiated and allowed.)

Everyone is talking about The Widow at the mo, so I want to know why.

Everyone was talking about The Miniaturist last year, so I want to know why.

Meg Rosoff writes really interesting books, so the latest jumped off the shelf at me.

Jackaby got a good review somewhere that I now can’t remember, but it had made it onto my “look for” list.

David Levithan is a YA god (FACT), and Another Day is an alternative view of his book Everyday, and I LOVE books that are alternative views. Win, win! I stumbled across it in the library and got very excited.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was made into a film that I haven’t seen. It won the Sundance Audience Award in 2015, which is very commendable, but I still have no idea what it’s about, other than what the title suggests. See how On the edge I live…?

The blurb for End Game reminds me of the story I have in my head that I am still too chicken to write. I thought I should investigate it, either to scare me more or to encourage me.

Café Tropicana & Dinner for two are my token Commercial Fiction books in this pile, which looking at it is unusually male-author heavy; like 9/13. That hasn’t happened in a very long time. I’m often looking to make up the male quota. Perhaps this will balance things out.

Gut reactions to follow at the end of November.

Have a great Autumn. What are you reading?

Friday, 26 August 2016

Summer '16 Gut Reactions

Wow, that season went fast. There was Pimms, there were bare feet, there was lots of reading.

The pile looked like this,

 With the addition of these;

And on the e-reader I read
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K Rowling
The Bourbon Thief by Tiffany Reisz

Moranifesto by Caitlin Moran – This woman! Honestly this woman… She gets the Book of the Season, and it isn’t even a story. She comments on life and events, and her ideas seem so common sensical, and she writes with such gusto and enviable turn of phrase, that I can’t help but want to make a mahousive neon banner agreeing with her on all things.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness (YA) – I had really high hope for this, because I loved the idea of it, that in the background of the paranormal teen stories, there are normal high-school kids, with normal names, who are also surviving their own (normal) issues. Ness had some delightful touches (or pokes at the paranormals), but then, for me at least, he kind of spoiled it, and I couldn’t get past it. It felt like he couldn’t play his idea out to the end, when I really think it must have been possible somehow. Perhaps I missed the point.

Atlantia- I’m generally not a fan of Dystopian. They make me feel icky and uncomfortable, which I guess is their point. (I like exciting stories with happy endings. And kissing. And no ambiguity. And zombie stories are definitely out – Zombie heroes cannot be hot.) This one though, pleasantly surprised me, to the point where I’m actually thinking of looking up her Matched series, which many many have raved about and I have always avoided, because of the dystopian thing.

 Which brings me onto Bloodtide by Melvin Burgess which I picked up immediately afterwards. It took me a couple of pages to suss that this was dystopian too (Atlantia had perhaps put me in the right frame of mind), but it was far far harsher and frankly brutal. It shocked me in places, but I couldn’t put it down. I’ve read a couple of other books by Burgess and what strikes me is the audacity of his writing; he doesn’t write so much to shock, but to show reality without seeming to give a toss about what others might think or what society considers too much.

Summer Days, Summer Nights was the follow up to Stephanie Burgess’s winter anthology My True Love Gave to Me, which I read in the Winter ‘14 pile. It was perfect summer reading, and I particularly liked revisiting some of the characters form the first book.

Tiffany Reisz is an excellent excellent writer, but she generally writes books that you wouldn’t discuss with your mother, so I won’t mention them here. This one though, is sassy and dark, full of twists and not totally X-rated.

The Raven King. Being the last in a series of four, there was a lot riding on this, and I had been waiting for it for some time. Specifically, I had been waiting for Kissing. There had been a distinct lack of kissing. Without spoilers, this is in fact integral to the plot, and perhaps Maggie was trying to convey the frustration of the characters to the reader, in which case she succeeded. But at last they came. Hurrah! And yet… the book left me feeling… well, that there should have been a wee bit more tidying at the end. I had questions and they hadn’t been answered and won’t be, either. And then there was my usual issue that some of the sentences are so ethereal and poetic, that I can’t quite work out what is going on. I have the same issue- possibly more so- with Melissa Marr’s books. I think I might be too thick.

 The other thoughts;
·         One of these YA books was so very very clichéd, I could predict the turns as they came. I know it was a short story, but that doesn’t mean it can’t have an original plot.
·         One of these books has been the bestseller of the summer. HUGE.  And while I loved revisiting the characters, the language just felt clumsy and I just wasn’t convinced by the crucial plot point. Controversial, I know, but there you go…

Am building the Autumn pile, but lamenting the loss of my Kindle Paperwhite, which disappeared at Aalborg airport during my holiday. I MISS IT!! Suspect there will be fewer ebooks featuring in the piles until Amazon puts Kindles on sale again…

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

The Sweet, Sweet Sting of Rejection

I wrote a long time ago about Rejection Chocolates – my method of taking the hurty edge off the submission cycle. Essentially, I get a fab box of chocs, which I hide from all others, and scoff one when I get a rejection on submitted work. It sort of provides a little something to look forward to, in the event of something I’m not looking forward to, happening.

 I just started submitting my Rom-Com story to agents. So, Ta-dah!- my chocs…

 (For the record and the chocoholics out there, this season I am sponsored by Prestat and they are exquisite. Thankfully Waitrose had them on sale :) ) 

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Sneaky entries to the Summer '16 TBR Pile

I got more books! More to the point, they are books that I have no intention of waiting until next season to read. Courtesy of my Lovely CP, I present the following:

 Atlantia by Ally Condie (YA Dystopian)
 Summer Days & Summer Nights ed. Stephanie Perkins (YA Anthology) (This is the follow up to My True Love Gave to Me, the winter anthology, which was my Star of The Season for Winter '14)
A Decent Proposal by Kemper Donovan (Romance)

and the gorgeous macaroons? Yummy yummy, already in my tummy....

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

*Cue drumroll* My Summer '16 TBR pile

 Pimms and Books, Bare feet and Books, Sunloungers and Books. Hurrah!
The pile looks like this:

They are:
After the Storm by Linda Castillo (Crime)
The Boy in the Smoke by Maureen Johnson (YA)
Spot the Difference by Juno Dawson (YA)
Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell (YA)
Summer at the Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan (Women’s Fiction)
Bloodtide by Melvin Burgess (YA)
The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (YA)
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness (YA)
The Graveyard of the Hesperides by Lindsey Davies (Historical Crime)
Moranifesto by Caitlin Moran

And on the way I have this:

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell.(YA)

The Raven King is the last in Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven King Cycle and I’m both excited to read it (I have a gorgeous signed copy care of my Lovely CP) and apprehensive, as I read Maggie's blog when it released, and her plan was that when closing the book the reader should be left ‘wanting’. While it’s great to just-couldn’t-get-enough of a writer, I’m really hoping she doesn’t mean it has an open ending. I hates the open endings… And there had better be kissing, as she’s been V tight on the kissing in these books. Just sayin’.

Three of these books are World Book Day specials, from March. (They are the skinny ones.)

I have a male writer in there in the form of Melvin Burgess, who I am expecting controversial things from, and I also have my first transsexual writer in the mix in the form of Juno Dawson.

Caitlin Moran for those who don’t know her, writes social commentary but regards herself as a professional 'pointer'; she points at things and has an opinion on them. That she is mad as a box of frogs in her writing is the exciting bit. Her phrasing is fabulous and funny.

Patrick Ness wrote the truly fantastic Chaos Walking trilogy. The first, The Knife of Never Letting Go made me feel like I had been running nonstop through the book. The Rest of Us Just Live Here is his latest and I’m amused by the premise already; a YA story set amongst the regular kids who live in the background of paranormal/SciFi YA stories, where ‘indie kids' called Finn and Satchel must face their earth-threatening destinies. I suspect that there might be some mickey-taking going on…

The Jenny Colgan book I’ve had since Christmas, but couldn’t bring myself to read a summer book in the cold. Just like I couldn’t read a book set in snow while I was lying on a sunlounger.

The two crime books I am chomping at the bit to get to, but they are in fact part of my Mum and Dad’s birthday presents, so I’ll have to wait until they are done. One is set in Ancient Rome, the other in Amish country. I have a fascination with both.

I’ll let you know how I got on at the end of August.

What are you reading with your Pimms, bare feet on your sunlounger?
(* For those in the southern hemisphere (Hi Maggie!), what are you reading with your hot chocolate, thick slippers in your blankets on the sofa?) 

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

The Spring '16 Gut Reactions

It feels like it’s been a long season, in so far as reading some of these books feels like a very long time ago. Thank God I scribble notes as I go along, or else I’d be screwed at this point every quarter. These were the books:

In addition, I also read Lisa Dickenson’s You had me at Merlot and Kirsty Greenwood’s The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance, both of which were charming and pretty much epitomise what Chicklit is about. Both had great voices and fun plots.

Book of the Season is Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling)’s Career of Evil, the latest instalment in the Cormoran Strike series. It was thrilling, as it should be, however it’s the running romantic subplot that has me hankering for the next book. I’m such as sucker for a love story. (And, now I’m on my vicious hunt for the overuse of the word ‘That’, this book had too many, but I’ll let it slide…)
I think I’ve come quite late to The girl on the train, but have managed to keep my ears shut to people talking about it. Trying not to give away too many spoilers, it built the anxiety skilfully, to the point where I was still anxious about it the day after. The MC wasn't particularly likable; not that you despise her, just that you constantly feel pity for her, with her alcoholism and how she keeps falling at the hurdles- and you sit there thinking ‘Noooo don't do that, that is a BAD plan’ and then she can’t help herself but do it, which gets you riled up.
 I’m pretty sure the train line depicted is my local line into London too. I’ve looked at those houses and back-gardens just like she does…
 The Reunion was written by the same author, albeit under a different name. I knew this when I read them, but didn’t really spot any similarities, other than I thought they were both smoothly written and well-constructed. It isn’t a thriller, but it is one of those stories where the truth is revealed in small increments along the way.

Riverkeep- This was a free ARC given away on Twitter, first come first served. I was in there within six seconds, ensnared by the map in the inside cover. LOVE a book that starts with a map, because you instantly know you are about to be swept off somewhere. The writing is gorgeous; phrasing that is beautiful to the point of sometimes being almost too ethereal, so I’m not sure what is going on. The plot is a classic quest by a character who isn’t happy with his appointed future (Hero’s Journey/Star Wars anyone?), the characters are delightfully original and bonkers. Pure fantasy all the way. It is set up and ready for a sequel, although, I almost wished that it hadn’t, as the end felt slightly rushed and too dispersed. If you, or someone you know, have read and enjoyed Angie Sage’s Septimus Heap books, then I’d still heartily recommend this.

The other reactions-
One of these books was written by a writer who I consider one of my sensai, but she left the love interest out of the action for far far too long. I raced through the story, not digesting it properly, wanting to get to ‘his’ bit, and then the romance was too short lived. Still, I guess I learned something about plot structure in sequels…

One of these books I ditched after two chapters. I was so bored, in spite of it being written by a known comedienne.

Two of these books I can’t remember reading, let alone the plot. Oh dear.

Roll on the Summer pile…

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Book Temptation

 *Fairview, you are banned from reading this post. Your reading pile is still too high. Avert your eyes, please, madam*

If you are an ebook user, and like me storm through books at an outrageous speed (and potential perilous spend) may I recommend this site; BookBub?

You sign in, you tell them all the kinds of bookage you enjoy and they’ll email you daily tailored suggestions of free and discounted books. Some are debuts, some older bestsellers, some are the first in a 14 part series that you end up reading all of in a two week window, so be warned that it can get a bit addictive, but your e-reader should be filled to bursting in no time.

Temptation done. 

Mischief managed.

You’re welcome.