book reviews

Some drive-by mini reviews

It’s been a while since I’ve done any mini-reviews (and, y’know, actually finished reading any books to write a review of) so here’s a little round-up of what I’ve been reading recently.

I’ve DNFed two books in the last week:
The first one was Kelly Ambers – Her First Collar: A Beginning to Pet Play (Kitten Play BDSM Book 1). I’m not entirely sure how a nice little BDSM erotica could be so flat, but I gave up about 3 pages in. There was no life to it and I was bored.
The second one was Tangled Rhythm: An Anthology. By the time the tense had changed three times on one page, and the guitarist was playing a ‘cord’… nope. Yes, as an anthology by multiple authors, another story in the selection could have been better, but if the editors had let the first one be that bad? I’m not risking it.

Mira Grant – Symbiont (Parasitology #2)
4/5, horror, post-apocalyptic, science-fiction, zombies
I really enjoyed Symbiont. I didn’t find it quite as unputdownable as Parasite, and like many a ‘middle of a trilogy’, there were a few points where it felt a little ‘filler’ and I got a little frustrated with the lack of common sense and decision-making abilities of Sal – but then when you consider who and what she is (trying to not spoil anyone here LOL), it’s understandable from a story-telling perspective. Absolutely nothing like I was expecting and I think my current world anxiety stopped me from enjoying a good apocalypse as much as I usually do, but still a bloody good read.

Anne Rice – Interview With Interview with the Vampire (The Vampire Chronicles #1)
5/5, gothic, historical-fiction, horror, vampires
I first read Interview when I was a young teenager, I came out of seeing the movie and went straight into WHSmith where I bought Interview, Vampire Lestat, and Queen Of The Damned. I’ve been in love with these books ever since. I absolutely love the storytelling, Anne Rice’s descriptions are so vivid and beautiful. I don’t, however, particularly like Lestat or Louis as characters but as an introduction to them, to the other characters, the world-building, and the beginnings of the mythology, this is a fantastic book and I re-read it regularly. I love Louis’ voice, I love lines like “That morning, I was not yet a vampire. And I saw my last sunrise. I remember it completely, yet I do not think I remember any other sunrise before it I just wish he was… less whiney but when you think about everything that happened to him, it makes perfect sense

Heidi Swain – Summer at Skylark Farm (Wynbridge #2)
4/5, chick-lit, contemporary, romance
I think I’ve mentioned before how much I love the ‘city girl ups and moves to a farm’ kind of storyline and this was a wonderfully fluffy, feel-good example of the genre. I loved watching Amber grow from being completely out of depth and gaining her confidence, her relationship with Jake growing, and making friends with the somewhat eccentric cast of characters that make up Wynbridge. It was nice to catch up with the characters from Cherry Tree Cafe too. I’m looking forward to reading the third book in the series.

Sarah Pomeroy et al. – A Brief History of Ancient Greece: Politics, Society, and Culture
4/5, ancient-history, classical-studies, history, non-fiction, reference
So this is actually one of the set books for my current university module. But I wanted to read the whole book before I started needing to dip in and out of it – both so that I wouldn’t get distracted by carrying on reading, and also so that I’d have some familiarity with the content when I needed it. I found this to be a really good overview of the topic, it was presented in an easy-to-understand way – and I’ve made notes in the margins on things I’d like to know more about if they’re not included in my course.

Nancy Warren – The Vampire Knitting Club (Vampire Knitting Club #1)
5/5, cozy-mystery, paranormal, urban-fantasy, vampires
I’ve been wanting to make a start with cozy mysteries for a while – I’ve had a few false starts but was still determined to find one. I had no idea there was such a thing as paranormal cozy mystery and let me tell you it was love at first page. I accidentally read this all in one sitting. When I was supposed to have been working. The mystery kept me guessing til the end, I didn’t figure whodunnit, and all the characters are such… characters. I can’t wait to see what happens to them next – I’ve already downloaded books 2-4 as they’re on Kindle Unlimited and have made a note of the other series by Nancy Warren.

Mary Beard – Pompeii: The Life of a Roman Town
4/5, ancient-history, classical-studies, history, non-fiction
I have loved all things Pompeii since I first read about it as a child and I was lucky enough to go there in 2018. The place is absolutely mindblowing, magical and wrecked the tyres of my wheelchair – it’s many things but disabled accessible is not one of them. I wish I’d read this book before going because I feel I would have seen it in a whole new light, and I really want to go back and see it again with Beard as guide, even virtually. She really brought the town and it’s inhabitants to life, and I love how she admits what we don’t know, that the evidence doesn’t tell us everything but explains how the theories have come from the traces left behind

stacking the shelves

Stacking The Shelves #3

Stacking The Shelves is a meme hosted by Reading Reality all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

I’ve been purposefully not adding anything to my reading piles lately, I’ve been feeling very overwhelmed with both the amount of books I’ve managed to end up with in progress and the amount of books on my TBR which doesn’t actually feel like it’s gone down this year.

This last 10 days or so, that kind of went to pot and I ended up with a little collection of new books.


Firstly I had an email from Amazon offering my 40% off the Kindle version of Dan Jones’ The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses and the Rise of the Tudors. While I generally prefer paperbacks for my history books, what was I supposed to do – ignore the offer?!


Then, I realized I still hadn’t brought myself a copy of The Plantagenets, which I most definitely want to re-read before re-reading Hollow Crown. It’s practically mandatory! So I picked up a cheap used copy from Abe Book.


I recently finished Summer at Skylark Farm – #2 in the Wynbridge series, so clearly had to buy Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market. I’m generally not a big Christmas book reader so it tells you how much I enjoyed the first two books.


I accidentally read all of The Vampire Knitting Club on Monday, so promptly checked the next three out on Kindle Unlimited. I’ve also made a note of the other paranormal cozy mysteries that Nancy Warren has written because I’m already a little bit in love

I also popped into my local library the other day to find out if I could study there, did I need to book in advance and was happily told that no, it was absolutely ok to just rock up with my laptop and textbooks at any time, she confirmed the un-manned opening hours for me. I’ll be trying that one weekend when I need a change of scenery when studying.
However the library was clearly waiting for me and I came home with

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Books with Geographical Terms in the Title

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each week a new theme is suggested for bloggers to participate in. Create your own Top Ten list that fits that topic – putting your unique spin on it if you want. Everyone is welcome to join but please link back to The Artsy Reader Girl in your own Top Ten Tuesday post.

This week’s topic is Books with Geographical Terms in the Title which honestly made me glee, especially with yesterday’s post of Plotlines I Love because they go together really well – there’s so many chick-lit with titles like ‘The Wishing Tree Beside the Shore’ or to look at Hallmark, Virgin River or Chesapeake Shores!

So that gives us a little list that looks like:

Jaimie Admans – The Little Wedding Island
Jean M Auel – Valley Of The Horses
Christie Barlow – The Lake House
Lilly Bartlett – Big Dreams Beach Hotel
Jennifer Bohnett – Little Kiosk By The Sea


Jenny Colgan – The Bookshop on the Shore
Dan Jones – Crusaders: The Epic History of the Wars for the Holy Land
Holly Martin – Spring At Blueberry Bay
Ali McNamara – Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay
Heidi Swain – The Secret Seaside Escape

Is it me, or is one of these not like others? LMFAO

weekly wednesday blogging challenge

Plotlines I love

Yes, it’s Monday and I’m just answering last week’s Weekly Wednesday Blogging Challenge about A plotline I love to watch/read and why.

This… oh this is putting a big smile on my face because I definitely have a favourite plotline. One that’s found throughout oh so many many many chick-lits and Hallmark shows and I can never ever resist it. Hell, I’ve got a Stargate AU fanfic I’m writing with this damn plotline.

Our lead character, usually a woman, is tired of the ratrace in the big city and her thankless corporate job – which she may or may not have just lost or exuberantly quit. She’s also probably just been dumped. what is this, a fucking country song. And so, she packs her bags and moves to a small town in the country, where she might have grown up but also where she might know absolutely nobody but quickly becomes an integral part of that community of quirky and unique characters. Bonus points if she’s inherited a farm/bookstore/bakery/island, and has to work with the very attractive but very grumpy local handyperson.

It’s very millennial. I literally don’t know anyone of my generation who doesn’t want to do exactly this. It’s why Animal Crossing, Harvest Moon, and Stardew Valley are so popular!

I love it because it’s formulaic in a good way. I know what’s going to happen, I don’t know how we’re going to get there, but I know it’s going to be heartwarming and fluffy, have a happy ending and probably make me cry.

Essentially, for those fic people out there, it’s a coffee shop AU. AND I CAN NEVER GET ENOUGH OF THEM!

book reviews · life

A Quick Catch Up

So, the news in brief and some reading roundups are

The not-COVID I had at the beginning of the month? Yeah, it turned out to actually be COVID. Li and I were both pretty sick for about 10 days, and completely exhausted for about another week. I still get fatigued pretty quickly but thankfully we were both triple vaxxed and survived in once piece.

I got my module result for this year of my degree – for A112 Cultures I received a distinction. 86%! As you can imagine, I am over the freaking moon. So that’s my first academic year complete, 120 credits. Only another 4 modules to go, starting in October with A229 Exploring The Classical World

I’ve been playing a lot of Stardew Valley, and Star Trek: Timelines. Li managed to bring home a Wii the other day, I rediscovered my Game Boy Advance, and we’ve also set up my old SNES. There has been much retro gaming and it has been wonderful.

Of course, a lot of gaming, a slight complete addiction to Pointless, and introducing Li to the Bridgerton Netflix show has meant I haven’t done a huge amount of reading lately. The bookx I have read recently:

Matt Haig – Reasons To Stay Alive
3/5, memoir, mental health, non-fiction, psychology
Bizarrely, as much as I thoroughly enjoyed the other couple of Haig’s books, this one didn’t gel with me. I found it a little too self-help-y, a little too twee. I didn’t connect with it and felt it bringing me down, rather than uplifting me.

Mary Beard – How Do We Look / The Eye of Faith
4/5, art history, history, non-fiction, philosophy, religion
Very interesting, would have liked it to have gone a little more in-depth in a couple of places but I do love her descriptions of the art and places she’s visited and writes about, and it helps bring it to life for me. Her passion also shines through

Mira Grant – Parasite
5/5, horror, medical, science-fiction, thriller
OMG y’all, I could not put this down. It had been on my TBR for ages, finally got it out of the library and sat and read the whole thing in one afternoon. I was reacting outloud and flailing and squeaking at Li… who picked it up as soon as I finished it, also read it in one sitting – falling asleep at like 1am!

My reserves of Symbiont and Chimera have just come in and oh yes, I will be starting Symbiont tomorrow!

Holly Black – Tithe
3.5/, faeries, paranormal, urban-fantasy, young-adult
This one is very much a case of ‘I liked it, but…’ – I was disappointed, really. It was enjoyable enough but there was something missing. It was a little predictable in places, the characters needed a little more rounding and the pacing was… hmm… uneven. And even though there are more books in the series, I don’t care enough to see if the library even has them.

Melanie Cantor – Life and Other Happy Endings
3/5, chick-lit, family, friends, library, read, romance

Such a weird read, and literally lost starts with every section of the story. So it started off as this great 5-star read about a woman who found out she had 3 months to live and was telling people the things she wanted to tell them etc… only then she wasn’t dying because of a test result mix-up, and she was back to being trodden over… only then she was pregnant and yawn. She was way more interesting when she thought she was dying!

Joanna Hickson – First Of The Tudors
4/5, historical-fiction

We’ve covered my love for all things War Of The Roses, yes? And this was no exception! The story centers around Jasper Tudor, his wardship of young Henry Tudor and his relationship with Margaret Beaufort, and the intricacies of the Yorkists, Lancastrians, Tudors, and Warwick The Kingmaker. I will be checking out more of Hickson’s work – she has other stories set in the time period.

Which brings me on to what I’m currently reading:

book blogger hop · weekly wednesday blogging challenge

Genres

I have come across two different blogging prompts/link ups this week that are asking the opposite questions to each other, so I thought I’d combine them into one post.

First up, Weekly Wednesday Blogging Challenge! is asking Favourite Book Genre and why and while I’m not sure I can articulate the why, I can definitely enthuse.

I do love me some horror. Nothing particularly gorey but something that can make me scared (in a safe way) and keep turning the pages. I discovered Stephen King when I was in my early teens – I actually remember the librarian ringing my mum to ask if I was allowed to check one of his books out. He still remains one of my favourite writers, especially his older stuff – Firestarter, ‘Salem’s Lot, Misery, Carrie. So much love. Notable shouts also to Anne Rice and Poppy Z Brite, also Dean R Koontz and Richard Laymon.

My other main love is chick-lit. As much as I love escapism, I also like stories about people like me where everything works out fine, real people with real lives that we can recognise with a fantastic cast of characters and a happily-ever-after. Cecilia Ahern, Jaimie Admans, Christie Barlow, Marian Keyes, Belinda Jones, Ali McNamara, Mandy Baggot are among my favourites.

I also really love urban fantasy – and this actually ties in a little bit with this week’s Book Blogger Hop which is asking What genre do you refuse to read and why and oh, unpopular opinion time so I’ll probably going into witsec after saying this but I Do Not Like Fantasy. Specifically, high fantasy. It just… I have no patience for world-building, they all feel exactly the same and they bore me. I’ve tried so many (Tolkien, Eddings, Pratchett, Le Guin, Brooks, Goodkind) and I just can’t get into them.

But urban fantasy? I love it. It’s our world but just that little bit different. I love magic and magical realism, I love vampires, I love were-creatures, I love – to quote a beloved tv show – ‘vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness’. I grew up on Buffy and Charmed, fell headlong into Harry Potter in my 20s. Give me Ben Aaronovitch, Kelley Armstrong, Patricia Briggs, Jim Butcher, Rachel Caine, Cassandra Clare, Rick Riordan, Rachel Vincent…

I’m trying to expand my horizons a little and am giving some of the currently popular YA fantasy a go. I’m really enjoying Sarah J Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses and Holly Black’s The Cruel Prince. So possible I need to add ‘fae’ as a niche. I tried Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone but only got about 15 pages in before noping out, too fantasy for me.
Am open to more recommendations of this type of book

I struggle with comics/graphic novels/manga. Although as a child, I read a LOT of comics (Beano, The Real Ghostbusters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and I had a definite manga phase in my early 20s (mostly yaoi). I’ve tried the Stargate, Sandman, Buffy etc graphic novels as well as trying to dip into Marvel but the style doesn’t work for me and I struggle to follow the story. The layout doesn’t make sense to my brain.

I don’t get on very well with a lot of humor – like I don’t get on with the style of Pratchett or Adams.
While I love chick-lit, I don’t like Mills & Boon/Harlequin style romances.
I can’t see me ever reading westerns.

So yes – loving horror, chick-lit and urban fantasy with science-fiction coming a close second. Also we need to give mystery, thriller and medical dramas a honourable mention. Ooh, and historical fiction, alternate history and steampunk
But not really into fantasy, harlequins or graphic novels.

Do you now see why my answer to “What type of book do you like” is ones with words in them? LOL

book reviews

Book review: Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella

Title: Love Your Life
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Dates read: 18/01/22 – 27/01/22
Rating 4/5

Publisher: Black Swan
Number of pages: 416 pages
Fiction or non-fiction: fiction
Subject or genre: chick-lit

Book blurb: I love you . . . but what if I can’t love your life?

Ava is sick of online dating. She’s always trusted her own instincts over an algorithm, anyway, and she wants a break from it all. So when she signs up to a semi-silent, anonymous writing retreat in glorious Italy, love is the last thing on her mind.

Until she meets a handsome stranger. . . All she knows is that he’s funny, he’s kind and – she soon learns – he’s great in bed. He’s equally smitten, and after a whirlwind, intoxicating affair, they pledge their love without even knowing each other’s real names.

But when they return home, reality hits. They’re both driven mad by each other’s weird quirks and annoying habits, from his eccentric, naked-sauna-loving family to her terribly behaved, shirt-shredding dog. As disaster follows disaster, it seems that while they love each other, they just can’t love each other’s lives. Can they overcome their differences to find one life, together?

How I discovered or acquired this book: My library has a chosen picks shelf just as you walk in and the cover caught my eye. It was bright blue and cheerful and I absolutely love chick-lit so it was a no brainer

My thoughts I haven’t read anything by Sophie Kinsella other than the Shopaholic books so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But I bloody loved it, I ended up staying up way too late on a work night to finish it and sobbed my heart out over the ending – happy tears and amazingly heart-warming. I loved the crazy cast of characters, saw a LOT of both myself and my betrothed in Ava so I definitely connected with her as a character. The ending felt a little rushed – like a TV show has been cancelled and they try and wrap everything, all those little threads up really really quickly? It felt a little like that but it really worked for the book. 4/5, highest rating of the year