Reading Regularly – Books 8 to 11

8) The Taming of the Queen by Philipa Gregory
An exciting look at one of Henry VIII’s most neglected queens, that had some scenes that really made me question the characterisation of Henry VIII that we see in most fictional portrayals today.

9) The Fall by Claire McGowan
Beautifully written, starts off so strong but in the end brought only disappointment after hours spent frantically tearing through the pages to reach the end as quickly as possible.

10) Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal
A really intriguing idea that felt like it could have been so much more, but made for an enjoyable, if bittersweet, read anyway.

11) The Space Between the Stars by Anne Corlett
Featuring thinly veiled North East landmarks like Barter Books, this is a book that I really enjoyed and look forward to reading more from this author in the future.

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Reading Regularly 2017: Book 7 [Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan]

Wow. This one was a real shocker for me. I bought it on a whim, after realising that out of the mountain of books I’ve bought this year there wasn’t really anything I was desperate to read. It was chosen because it seemed like the least ‘middle class family in crisis’ crime novel, as I’m really sick of those, and because it was just £3.85 and had a Sunday Times bestseller announcement on the front.

This book really impressed me because every twist and turn was perfectly orchestrated and while it was possible to guess what was coming around half way through, the way it was put together kept you turning the pages. I started reading it in the middle of the afternoon yesterday and by the time I went to bed — much later than I would have liked to — it was done.

Definitely recommend this one.

Reading Regularly 2017: Book 6 [My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella]

I only realised that Sophie Kinsella had released this book when I saw it in a Costco near my home. It was weird, considering that I was used to following her publishing schedule avidly as I had done earlier in the Confessions of a Shopaholic series.

This book was a great quick read and another one where I did stay up a lot later than I had planned to. The difficulties of affording to live in London while in an entry-level job were something I could definitely relate to, as a soon-to-be graduate who has a keen sense of the challenges that moving to London would bring. There were also some really insightful comments on baby boomers and the generation gap that got me thinking, making me almost believe that Kinsella was a twenty something just like me… Of course she isn’t, but her characterisation was just that good!

One of the difficulties the book had for me was the level of sympathy I was able to feel for the MC as the book progressed. Her Dad and Stepmum ended up opening a glamping resort as they had that much land and spare cash available. This was a great backdrop for the drama of the second half of the book but detached the experience of relatively well-to-do farmers from my own life experience a little too much for me.

I’m usually put off by books that have overtly middle class characters at the centre of them as I like to read about people I personally identify with, but the opening sympathy I’d felt for the main character kept me going.

Avoid reading the inner jacket copy if you don’t want to be spoiled as it took a little bit of the intrigue away from the first half of the book.

It was a fun, quick read. Not really something that has stuck in my head much weeks after I read it, hence why I’m calling the leading lady ‘MC’ rather than her name (as I can’t quite remember it!)

It would be a perfect beach read.

Up Next: I’m about to start reading Dear Amy, which is a Sunday Times bestseller so I have high hopes for this one!

Reading Regularly 2017: Book 5 [The White Princess by Philippa Gregory]

 

It’s been a while without reading for fun, once again, and that’s been weird. I decided to restart my reading adventures with a book I first bought (hardback, more difficult for my hands/wrists, so never got around to it) way back when it first came out. I’d read all of the earlier books in the series, bar the one about Jacqueta, and was eager to give this one a go. I’d loved The White Queen on TV, as well as the many fanvids and fanfictions about the series, so wanted to read The White Princess before that show comes around next month.

I found this one a little slower to get into than the others, perhaps because it is edging closer to a historical period I know things about. I’ve studied Henry VII at university but have always had an interest in English history from Henry VIII onwards, so I had a barebones idea of how this was going to go even before I started reading. It does take away the thrill a little bit, especially when it is written in straightforward prose rather than the ingenious innovation of my beloved Wolf Hall!

I am very impressed though how the author jumps a little forward in history each time through a different character’s eyes. I started reading Three Sisters Three Queens just before reading this and am going to give it a fresh go having read Elizabeth of York’s story (I found the main character of that one a little whiny in the early chapters, understandable given her age).

The development of Elizabeth’s relationship with Henry over time was brilliant and the threading in of the curse that has plagued the series since The White Queen was great, especially since it provides an answer of sorts to the question of who — in this fictional universe at least — is responsible for the death of the Princes in the Tower.

The ending was perfect, as I came closer to the end I wondered if the book was going to deal with the final heartbreak right towards the end of Elizabeth’s life. As far as I remember, It didn’t. That wasn’t the last scene. And I loved the book for that.

Next Up on Reading Regularly: I have a few books I started earlier in the year during the business of university that I might try and finish soon, especially one of them that I was only a few chapters from the end of back in January or February. I’ve also just started reading the latest Sophie Kinsella novel! If anyone has any reading suggestions, do let me know 🙂

 

Reading Regularly 2017: Book 4 [Hold Back the Stars by Katie Khan]

For those who are new to my blog (hello, by the way!) Reading Regularly is a regular series of blog posts in which I talk about books I’ve been reading pretty soon after turning to the final page. It’s a snapshot of how I felt about each book I’ve read this year, not intended as a review but just a quick working through of thoughts on a title. There’s generally no star ratings, no detailed analysis, only an emotional response. I’d love to hear what you think about the books I’ve been reading too! 

Image resultThis book was an impulse buy, based on the absolutely stunning title and the wonderful recommendations I’d seen for it online. I bought it very late at night quite early on in the week and it’s been the latest in a string of great reads. I’ve been really lucky with my reading choices lately!

Hold Back The Stars was a really well put together book, with the ending really resonating with me. There were lots of ways a story based on two people stuck in space running out of oxygen could have went and the ending was nothing that I was expecting. Not until it was right there in front of me, a few pages away.

It’s great for reading to be magical again, something done to lose yourself in fiction, rather than to analyse some dusty historical facts. This was a quick read, short and snappy, but it was one I enjoyed.

Once it was over, it became a little bittersweet. It’s hard to say exactly why without ruining the plot for anyone yet to read. Strangely, it felt like a perfect summer read for sitting on the beach with. It is, of course, not summer yet but today the sun was shining and the weather a little improved, so I can at least pretend warmth is on its way.

I read Hold Back the Stars over the course of a few nights, at a time when I was very stressed with uni, and it was great to delve into a world made only of words for a few hours at least.

Reading Regularly 2017: Book 3 [The Burning World by Isaac Marion]

Image result for burning world isaac marionI’ve been waiting to read The Burning World for years, ever since I knew it was a thing. It’s been a weird wait. When I read Warm Bodies I can remember feeling much more hopeful about the state of the world than I do now. Perhaps that’s why parts of The Burning World felt a little… uncomfortably true. I won’t go into it, spoiler alert, but the whole corporate story line made me a bit uneasy. I knew the book was going to be on a bigger scale than the original, but it was still odd to read.

There’s something weird about reading a book that is both something you’ve been waiting for a long time to see and also completely different to anything you imagined it would be. So. It’s difficult to get my thoughts in order on this one. It’s definitely a 4/5, that’s for sure. I enjoyed it enough to sit the day it came out before my lecture and then all the way until I went to bed reading it from cover to cover.

It just felt like there was something missing. I think the main reason for that was probably that the next half of the story isn’t out yet — The Burning World is the first part of a story too long to tell in one book. It made things feel a little bittersweet. There were some revelations, but not all the ones I was hoping for. There were some reunions, but not the ones I’d imagined. Some character development, but not completely realised.

I’ll be waiting the next book eagerly to find out what happens to all the main characters I love. It’s interesting too, how the way the world has changed since 2010 and 2017 is clear in the difference between this book and the last. Seriously, some of the postapocalyptic features (the walls, anyone?) felt a little close to home.

At least there are no zombies in real life though.

Reading Regularly 2017: Book 2 [The Last One – Alexandra Olivaa]

Image result for the last oneIt’s been a while since my last reading post, with essays and whatnot meaning its been a while since I’ve read. I do have a growing TBR pile on my table at uni and also have a few books I’m very excited to be released preordered.

So. Book 2. What can I say? The greatest praise I can give it is that I decided to start the first few chapters as a quick respite from essay writing and then a few nights later I was so interested in the book I read the final 150ish pages in one sitting.

That wouldn’t normally be impressive for me… but at this point in final year, it definitely is. It was unputdownable.

If you enjoyed Station Eleven, this is a must!

Reading Regularly: 2017 Book One [Saving Sophie by Sam Carrington]

I’ve decided to branch out a little bit on this here blog, I’ve realised that I spend so much time on here talking about my own writing and a lot of time in the rest of my life reading books for uni. I don’t get that much time to read anymore and, as I’m sure any uni student who loves to read will tell you, that kinda sucks. So I’ve decided to do something about it.

Some of the bloggers I like to follow do challenges where they try and read 100 bSaving Sophie: A gripping psychological thriller with a brilliant twist by [Carrington, Sam]ooks in a year or some such target. For me at the moment, with my uni workload, promising to read that much that is just for me to enjoy is too much right now. Instead, I thought I’d focus on making the most of the reading time I do have. So, from now on, I’ll do my best to read when I feel like it but also try and reflect more on what I do decide to read. For now at least, this won’t be full form book reviews but more like my ramblings about the topic. I’d love to know what everyone else thinks too!

The first book I read this year was Saving Sophie by Sam Carrington. It was an interesting read and one that I’m not quite sure how I feel about. There were good points and then there were things about the book I didn’t enjoy, so it’s tricky to work out how exactly those balance.

At the start of the book I was a little unsure about how it was going in terms of the characters. I didn’t really feel connected to Sophie, her mother or her father at all.

That changed quite quickly thankfully and I was able to read the book in what was probably a medium length of time for me, a couple of days all told. I’ve been leaving a lot more books half-read recently — which won’t be counting on this blog as I don’t think it’s fair to talk badly about something you haven’t finished! — so getting through the book shows I found parts of the book intriguing.

However, there were a few aspects of the book that made it less enjoyable for me. Sophie felt quite unlikeable and her friends were even worse. The character I liked the sound of the most was one I don’t think we actually ever met, her friend who was murdered. This was really problematic for me as my lack of interest in Sophie didn’t really fit with the focus of the book on Saving Sophie. 

I really liked the treatment of Karen’s anxiety and how that had come about but felt that her character needed a little bit more depth to show us who she really was, separately from the issues that she faced.

When the climatic section of the book came around I found myself tearing through the pages to find out exactly what was going to happen, so that was a bonus. And the ending: wow!

Overall, I’d have to give this book around a 3/5. It was a book I did enjoy and I did finish quite quickly. There were elements of it though that didn’t quite work for me and it is something, like many crime thrillers, that I would just read the once.