Book Review- Himself

Wednesday, 29 June 2016
Title: Himself
Author: Jess Kidd
Pages: 368
Genre: Fiction, Paranormal, Mystery

Rating: 5/5

Blending strange kindnesses, casual violence and buried secrets: an unforgettable debut from a dark new voice in Irish fiction
When Mahony returns to Mulderrig, a speck of a place on Ireland’s west coast, he brings only his handsome face, a photograph of his long-lost mother and a determination to do battle with the village’s lies.
His arrival causes cheeks to flush and arms to fold in disapproval. No one - living or dead - will tell what happened to the teenage mother who abandoned him as a baby, despite Mahony's certainty that more than one of them has answers.
Between Mulderrig’s sly priest, its pitiless nurse and the caustic elderly actress throwing herself into her final village play, this beautiful and blackly comic debut novel creates in crystal-clear, musical language an unforgettable world of strange kindnesses, bloody violence and buried secrets. -Goodreads

I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and Canongate Books in return for an honest review.
This is the debut novel from Kidd, and I had heard nothing about it when I saw it on NetGalley, but the blurb drew me in, and I looked forward to picking this novel up. This novel isn't published until the 27th of October, but I was intrigued by the description and decided to pick it up a bit sooner.
My favourite aspect of this novel is definitely the writing style. Kidd has a wonderful way of writing, and for her debut novel this is very impressive. Her language is very descriptive and she paints a very realistic, gritty and yet beautiful picture of Ireland, and it felt very immersive. I felt fully involved and captivated by this novel and by the picture she was painting.
I also really enjoyed the mystery element of this novel. Not only was it an intriguing puzzle, it was also a unique mystery that had to be solved. It was a plot that I had never read anything like before, so I enjoyed this aspect. It also wasn't completely obvious "who-dunnit", which was really good, I actually had no idea who the killer was, there were plenty characters it could have been. Kidd also did an excellent job of keeping this element of mystery running through out the whole novel right up to the end. The only slight problem I had was that even when I reached the end of the novel I still wasn't actually sure who Mahony's father was. Maybe I'm just stupid but it wasn't obvious to me!!
This novel also has a paranormal element running through it, Mahony can see ghosts of the dead. I wondered how this would affect the novel, I don't read a lot of paranormal novels, but this one was very well handled. The ghosts didn't take over the story, it was still very much grounded in the "alive" characters in the story, and I thought this worked very well. The ghosts helped continue and move the story along, and helped give us insight into other characters personalities and backgrounds, but the novel never became a "paranormal story".
The characters were also very enjoyable to read about, and they were very well crafted and developed by the author. She created a wide array of characters, none of whom were Irish stereotypes which I appreciated. The main character is Mahony, who is a young man who wants to find his mother. He was full of Irish charm, and I did find myself falling a little bit in love with him! There are also a great group of supporting characters, a special mention to Mrs Cauley who is an elderly actress, she was dramatic and extravagant and had a very sharp wit! I enjoyed reading about her a lot, and a novel about her would be very welcome!! Another special mention goes to Shauna who is a young woman who looks after Mrs Cauley and runs the local B&B. I really liked her too, she was strong and very sure of herself, and the ending of the novel was really nice between her and Mahony, and was what I hoped would happen the whole way through!
The narrative structure of this novel is composed of chapters alternating between Mahony's search in the 1970s and his mother's experiences in the 1950s. These flashbacks were used very cleverly by Kidd to give the reader more clues towards the mystery of the novel. It meant we were given more information than the characters were, although it didn't help me to solve the mystery any quicker!!
I gave this novel 5 stars, and I highly recommend this novel. This is a well crafted and compelling debut novel and I am excited to see what comes next from this author!
My thanks to NetGalley and Canongate Books.

Happy Reading!!




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Book Review- The Angel's Game

Thursday, 16 June 2016
Title: The Angel's Game
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Pages: 531
Series: The Cemetery of Forgotten Books #2
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Historical Fiction

Rating: 3/5

From the author of the international phenomenon The Shadow of the Wind comes a riveting new masterpiece about love, literature, and betrayal.
In this powerful, labyrinthian thriller, David Martín is a pulp fiction writer struggling to stay afloat. Holed up in a haunting abandoned mansion in the heart of Barcelona, he furiously taps out story after story, becoming increasingly desperate and frustrated; thus, when he is approached by a mysterious publisher offering a book deal that seems almost too good to be real, David leaps at the chance. But as he begins the work, and after a visit to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, he realizes there is a connection between his book and the shadows that surround his dilapidated home and that the publisher may be hiding a few troubling secrets of his own. Once again, Ruiz Zafón ventures into a dark, gothic Barcelona and creates a breathtaking tale of intrigue, romance, and tragedy. -Goodreads

After I read The Shadow of the Wind a couple of years ago, I couldn't wait to read as many of Zafon's other books as I could get my hands on. I originally began reading this novel in the summer of 2014, but only managed to get about 50% in before I decided to read something else instead. It wasn't a bad book, it just wasn't holding my interest. Fast forward to this month and I decided to give it another try, and I began the book again. Sadly this book still didn't do it for me, the best way I can describe it is disappointing, I loved the Shadow of the Wind so much, and this book failed to deliver any of that excitement.
My main problem with the novel was boredom. I was bored for long long stretches of this novel, and I really struggled to persevere through to the end. I wasn't really interested in the story or the characters and I really had to force myself to pick this novel up and actually read any of it. It wasn't that the plot didn't have anything happening, there was a lot going on in this novel, but for some reason none of it felt like it mattered to me, I wasn't invested in the story at all. The characters also didn't help this lack of interest, I didn't really like or dislike any of the characters, I just felt sort of "meh" about all of them. This again meant I wasn't really rooting for anyone throughout the story, I didn't really care about them at all.
I also had a problem with the amount of plot points and loose strands of the story that didn't seem to link together in my mind, and while I was reading I had no idea what was going on throughout the novel, I was reading it with very little idea how all these things would link and tie together in the end. The irritating thing was that these loose strands didn't tie up in the end. I read the epilogue at the end and I still didn't understand parts. No spoilers but there are still parts of the story that don't make sense in my head, even thinking about it now!!!
The only element of this novel that saved it from a lower rating was the writing style. Zafon is so good at creating a setting and atmosphere until you feel like you are there with the characters. I felt like I was living in 20th Century Barcelona, I could see what the author was describing, I could feel the atmosphere, Zafon's writing is that good. He also has a lovely lyrical way of writing, varying the sentence length to give the writing an ebb and flow, allowing the world he is writing to flow around you. He also writes tension very well, the whole novel had this feeling of benevolence and menace running through it, and the pressure was built throughout the story until it came to a head at the end.
Overall I gave this novel 3/5 stars, and although I was disappointed by this novel from Zafon, I own a couple of his others, and I will read them in the hope that this was just a slight blip in his work, and that I will love the rest as much as I love The Shadow of the Wind.

Happy Reading!!


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Shelf Control 14/06/16

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

This is a weekly feature that I will be posting on a Tuesday, where I will be spotlighting a book that I have on my shelves that I haven't read. This is a great idea for a weekly post, as I have loads of unread books, and i find it really interesting to read why others have purchased and want to read certain books!! This is hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

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This Week's Book:

Title: The Dispossessed
Author: Ursula K. Le Guin
Published: 1974
Pages: 387

Synopsis: Shevek, a brilliant physicist, decides to take action. He will seek answers, question the unquestionable, and attempt to tear down the walls of hatred that have isolated his planet of anarchists from the rest of the civilized universe. To do this dangerous task will mean giving up his family and possibly his life--Shevek must make the unprecedented journey to the utopian mother planet, Urras, to challenge the complex structures of life and living, and ignite the fires of change. -Goodreads


How/When I Got It:
This is actually my mum's book, but she recommended it to me about 4 years ago, and gave me the novel to read, and I just never got around to reading it.

Why I Want To Read It:
Apart from the fact that it's recommended, it sounds good; I love sci-fi and the synopsis sounds exciting, and space travel!!!

Happy reading!!!

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It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 13/06/16

Monday, 13 June 2016

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at the Book Date.

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What I Read Last Week:













What I Am Currently Reading:
 

Up Next:













Posts From Last Week:

Happy Reading!!

My Last Review!

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Book Review- The Boy Most Likely To

Thursday, 9 June 2016
Title: The Boy Most Likely To
Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Pages: 425
Genre: YA, Contemporary

Rating: 2/5

Surprises abound and sparks ignite in the highly anticipated, utterly romantic companion to My Life Next Door
Tim Mason was The Boy Most Likely To:- find the liquor cabinet blindfolded- need a liver transplant- drive his car into a house
Alice Garrett was The Girl Most Likely To:- well, not date her little brother’s baggage-burdened best friend, for starters.
For Tim, it wouldn’t be smart to fall for Alice. For Alice, nothing could be scarier than falling for Tim. But Tim has never been known for making the smart choice, and Alice is starting to wonder if the “smart” choice is always the right one. When these two crash into each other, they crash hard. 
Then the unexpected consequences of Tim’s wild days come back to shock him. He finds himself in a situation that isn’t all it appears to be, that he never could have predicted . . . but maybe should have.
And Alice is caught in the middle. 
Told in Tim’s and Alice’s distinctive, disarming, entirely compelling voices, this return to the world of My Life Next Door is a story about failing first, trying again, and having to decide whether to risk it all once more. -Goodreads

I received this novel from NetGalley and Egmont Publishing in return for an honest review.

Warning, this review will have spoilers!!

This novel was a big, big disappointment. This was a DNF at around 27%.
This novel is a companion novel to My Life Next Door which I read at the end of May. I loved My Life Next Door and I was really excited about picking up this novel. I waited until now as it is only being published in the UK today (9th June) even though its been out for about 10 months in the US. 
This novel was such a let down I don't even really know where to start. One thing I really enjoyed about MLND was the voices, Jase and Sam were interesting and unique to read about, but they were also realistic, and although the story felt a little contrived at times, it was still within the realms of reality. The voices in this novel, Tim and Alice didn't feel real at all, neither of their voices read like teenagers. Tim seemed like a mix between an ageing alcoholic who lives by himself and spends all day sitting around in his pants eating pizza, and a whiny complaining child. Alice wasn't much better, we don't get to know much about her, she seemed like a stressed and grumpy 19 year old who has a lot of boyfriends (idk?). Their voices were almost identical too, there wasn't even much difference between the male and female POVs and for a large part of the time I couldn't even tell who was talking until I was given some context later in the paragraph.
The plot in this novel was ridiculous. Bear in mind that I only read 27% which is a little over 100 pages, and the plot already felt so exaggerated and unrealistic that I had to stop reading. It also felt a little cliched, and I just couldn't deal with it. The whole situation with Nan was still there, which felt as silly as it did in MLND, but to add in a baby!? I mean come on, would anybody just accept that it's your baby if someone says so. Surely the first thing you do is a paternity test to find out for sure if you're the father!? But not Tim, he just looks at the baby, says "hmmmm it looks like me, I'm ginger and so is he, so it must be mine!" How ridiculous!! I only read up until Alice returns from the date Tim missed and asks him if he's ok. As soon as he decided not to bother telling her about his new found fatherhood I decided that that was enough. I can't deal with novels where everything would be better/solved if characters just spoke to each other and I could tell that was where this one was going. No thank you!
I did enjoy hearing more about the Garrets, they were still a good element of the novel, although I got a bit irritated with Mr and Mrs Garret for leaving everything for Alice to do, she's only 19, and there's a lot of kids to deal with for one girl. 
I also still found Tim to be quite amusing at times, he was sarcastic, and this I enjoyed. But he also really irritated me, for example his going to the Garrets and eating their food, just helping himself without a care in the world. There are loads of people in that family, and they're obviously struggling for money and he's literally eating it up!! That seemed a selfish and unthinking thing for Tim to repeatedly do, and that put me off him quite a lot.
I did enjoy the occasional glimpses of Jase and Sam, it reminded me of how much I enjoyed reading about them in MLND, I wish this novel has just been a continuation of their story instead.
I also struggled with the layout of this novel, perhaps because it was an ARC, but there was no separation between the two POVs, sometimes not even a paragraph break so it was almost impossible to see when a different character was talking, and it was very irritating when reading! I don't enjoy a novel where the POV changes in the middle of a chapter, I find this rather confusing and grating while I'm reading, but this is more personal preference than anything else.
Overall I gave this novel 2/5 stars, and I was disappointed with what I read. I had such high hopes by the story that Fitzpatrick told in MLND, but this novel just didn't live up to the hype.
My thanks to Net Galley and Egmont Publishing for the copy of this novel.

Happy Reading!

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Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts #3

Wednesday, 8 June 2016
This is a weekly blog meme hosted by Bookishly Boisterous (link here) where you can write about anything that's happening in your life, book related or not!

1. Our semester results were released today!! I never know when they're going to be released, so it's always a bit of a surprise. They release different schools at different times so the website doesn't crash, and of course my school didn't get released until 3pm, so I was refreshing for a long time!!!! Anyway I did pretty well, I got Bs for all of my modules, and considering how tough last semester was, I'm pleased with that. These results don't go towards my overall degree classification until next semester, so I can relax until September. 

2. I lapsed on my book buying ban this week, I purchased 3 books on Monday, but I hadn't bought any in a while, so I feel ok about it. I purchased North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas, and The Kill Order by James Dashner. These were three I've been wanting to pick up for a while, North and South because I watched the BBC miniseries on Netflix with Richard Armitage, and it was really good, so I wanted to check out the book. Heir of Fire is the third book in the Throne of Glass series, which is a YA series I've begun, and I'm hoping to finish this year! The Kill Order is a prequel to the Maze Runner series, which I read last year or the year before and I really enjoyed so I'm looking forward to going back into that world.

3. We've had another couple of days of glorious weather, it was 24 degrees on Sunday! To give some context, summer for us here is late teens, we consider 15 degrees to be a good summer day, so this is extremely hot. It's lovely to see the sun, and be able to go out without a jumper, but our houses are not made for that sort of heat and we are unprepared, so at night it is uncomfortably hot, there's no way to shift the heat, so it's unpleasant! But the lovely weather during the day makes up for it. I did have to spend one day of it in work, but there were very few customers because of the lovely weather so I spent my work shift sitting outside anyway!

4. This weeks Tv/Movies:

  • Battlestar Galactica- Season 1 + 2. That's all I've watched this week, it actually gets removed from Netflix on the 21st of this month, so I'm desperately trying to binge as much as I can before it goes.
Another short post this week, sorry!

Happy Reading!

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Shelf Control 07/06/16

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

This is a weekly feature that I will be posting on a Tuesday, where I will be spotlighting a book that I have on my shelves that I haven't read. This is a great idea for a weekly post, as I have loads of unread books, and i find it really interesting to read why others have purchased and want to read certain books!! This is hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

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This Week's Book:

Title: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Author: Seth Grahame-Smith
Published: 2009
Pages: 319

Synopsis: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.” So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton—and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she’s soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers—and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield. Can Elizabeth vanquish the spawn of Satan? And overcome the social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry? Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you’d actually want to read. -Goodreads

 How/When I Got It:
I bought this novel about 4 years ago, it wasn't a special purchase, I just picked it up in the bookstore, and I love Pride and Prejudice so I thought why not!!

Why I Want To Read It:
Well as I mentioned above I love Pride and Prejudice so much, so I thought it sounded intriguing. Also there has been a movie made, so it's featuring today so I'm encouraged to read it and then check out the movie!!

Happy Reading!!

My Last Review!

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It's Monday! What are you reading? 06/06/16

Monday, 6 June 2016

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at the Book Date

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What I Read Last Week:











What I Am Currently Reading:










Up Next: 











Posts From Last Week: 

Happy Reading! 

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May Review!

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Wow, I can't believe how fast this year is going, it's June!!!!
Anyway here's a recap of everything that happened on the blog, and in my reading in May.

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Books Read:














Books Bought/Received: 













Reviews on the blog: 
Throne of Glass- Sarah J Maas
Crown of Midnight- Sarah J Maas
The Martian- Andy Weir
My Life Next Door- Huntley Fitzpatrick

Books to review next month:














Thanks for reading, and happy June!!

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Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts #2

Wednesday, 1 June 2016
This is a weekly blog meme hosted by Bookishly Boisterous (link here) where you can write about anything that's happening in your life, book related or not!

1. We've had a couple of consecutive days of glorious sunshine and warm weather, and it's made such a difference to everyone's mood. Living in Scotland, the weather is average at best, normally fairly cold and grey for about 10 months of the year. However for the few occasions when we get summer, it's a completely different story. People are so much happier, and I definitely feel it too, I wake up feeling in such a good mood when the sunlight is illuminating my room! Also we always make sure to take advantage of the warm sunny weather, we are becoming experts in rustling up BBQ food from the weirdest ingredients!! So far we are at 3 for the year, which is more than we had in total last year, so that's good news!! 

2. Tennis!!...... I know I spoke about it last week, but it's still featuring this week because The French Open is still ongoing, and Andy Murray is still in it, meaning I have a vested interest in it. 

3. I have been doing a bit of baking in the last week, I made meringue, which I made into Eton Mess. I had never made meringue before, so I was quite worried about undercooking it, but it seemed to go ok, and all my family are still standing, so it didn't poison them!! I also made brownies over the weekend, and they are probably the richest brownies I've ever tasted. They had some coffee powder in them, and a heck of a lot of chocolate, and I definitely can only eat a small piece at a time!! Also rustled up some chocolate chip cookies, and apart from making double the amount of cookies the recipe said it would make, they went down a storm (picture: tupperware filled with cookies everywhere!!).

4.  This weeks tv and movies:

  • The Walking Dead Season 2- I'm currently watching this tv series with my brother. We sped through season 1 in a couple of days but it was only 6 episodes long. Season 2 is taking a little longer to get through, but we're both still really enjoying it.
  • Fringe Season 1- I'm watching this one on Netflix, I've actually watched season 1 before, but I'm rewatching it before I continue with the series so I remember what's going on.
  • 11.22.63- I've watched a couple more episodes of this over the week, I'm enjoying it, although there's still a lot of it that doesn't add up. Plus there was a rather gruesome part in the last episode I watched, involving a fire poker being slammed into someone's head!
  • Supernatural Season 1- I decided to rewatch Supernatural again, last time I got part way through season 4 and stopped, so I thought I would restart, especially because I actually like the first couple of seasons the best, so it's nice to revisit them!
  • Pirates of The Caribbean Curse of The Black Pearl- I rewatched this with my brother one afternoon when he got back from an exam. It has aged pretty well, it was released in 2003!!! Some of the acting was a little cringe but on the whole it was still enjoyable.
A pretty short post this week, sorry!!

Happy reading!!

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