Tuesday 29 March 2022

Reading Slump Made Me Quit This (And Am Not Happy)

I'm not sure how to write this post. It's not a review, but it is up to a point. And I'm treating this as a review on NetGalley as I have thoughts and opinions, so class this as weird write-up so I can explain. 

Ever since I first heard of All for One by Lillie Lainoff, I have been desperate to read it. I mean, an OwnVoices gender-bent reimagining of The Three Musketeers with a lead suffering from a chronic illness, but being a badass and secretly training to be a musketeer and learning about sisterhood, self love and badassery? SIGN ME UP! 

And I liked what I heard. A tad slow-paced for me, but I liked the characters, the slow character arcs and the writing. I really did. So, why, I hear you cry, did I quit this around the 50% mark (after two weeks of listening to this on way to/from work)?

My brain just stopped. I got hit by a reading slump. And I wanted to keep audiobook this. I fasten the reading speed as I thought that might help, but it didn't. I would listen to a few minutes then listen to music or podcasts and I just wouldn't go back. 

I hit a wall and I think with the news being what it has been for the past few years, I'm surprised I don't get hit by reading slumps more often. I think I know myself well enough to know when am close to reading slumps, but this one caught me by surprise. I'm not sure if the news at the moment and my real life/work life has an impact, but here we are. 

Having reading slumps or allowing yourself a break from reading is ok. We need to remember this for ourselves as reading should be a pleasure and. if we're not feeling it or we're feeling out of sorts, we can go away and look after ourselves. 

How often do I write these posts and I never follow my own advice? Maybe that's why am making myself take a few weeks off blogging over Easter as am not feeling that spark I use to and I want to mix it up reading/audiobook over Easter/walking into summer. 

But yeah, on edge of reading slump and it make me not get on with this/made me quit/DNF this and I'm not exactly happy with self. I hope to come back to this. We shall see... 

Wednesday 23 March 2022

eBook Review - Gallant

This is a bit of an impulse read. I saw it on NetGalley and went "Oh, this sounds like a creepy Secret Garden" and everyone seems to love V.E. Schwab and I've only read two books of her (I still have one or two titles on my TBR so, of course, I will be reading them in the future), but I thought this might be a nice way to ease myself into her writing again as it's been a while. Plus, this had vibes of a gothic fairy tale type story, similar to her debut, The Near Witch

Title and Author: Gallant by V.E. Schwab
Publisher: Titan Books
Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Gifted by UK publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review/reaction.

Olivia Pryor is missing three things. Her mother who died when she was young, her father who she doesn't remember and her voice, which was she was never born with. But when she gets a mysterious letter from an uncle she never knew she had, begging her to come home to the estate, Gallant. 

But when she gets there, her uncle has been dead for several years and no one remembers him writing the letter. Though Olivia is allowed to stay, there are two rules: don't leave the house after dark and don't go near the wall at the end of the garden...

Wednesday 16 March 2022

Recent Diana Wynne Jones Read & Reread

There are a few authors that, over the past few years, I start and then, for one reason or another (mainly COVID), time runs away from me. One of them is Michelle Paver, and the other is Diana Wynne Jones. The plan was to slowly read the Chrestomanci series throughout the course of 2019 and 2020. 

However, COVID hit and I got sidetracked. 

But, recently, I had the itch to read The Magicians of Caprona and, after a few pages, I remember that I tried to read the first chapter a few days after reading Charmed Life, the first in the Chrestomanci series. Now, I have a kindle bind-up of the series and this collection is in publication order, not series order (apparently, this is book 4 in the series, though in publication order, this is book 2). 

Set in the dukedom of Caprona where spells are slippy and the warring families of Montanas and the Petrocchis blame each other for everything that is beginning to go wrong. But the visiting Chrestomanci thinks it's an evil enchanter at work, but no one seems to be listening. 

I'm going to be honest with this one: I did struggle with this one. I didn't warm to the story in the way I hoped. I'm not sure why. I just didn't warm to the story, though one or two characters I liked almost immediately. 

But I am hoping to enjoy the next book in the collection - Witch Week - when I get round to reading it soon. 

Well... that was the plan. To read Witch Week. But when I saw the audiobook of Howl's Moving Castle had a discount on Audible, I knew I had to snap it up. I didn't exactly warm to it on my first reading as I put too much pressure to like it as this is The One. The One where, if you chatted about Diana Wynne Jones's best book, most people would say this. And, when I read the first time, I was a little underwhelmed by it. 

So imagine my surprise when I went into this and found myself enjoying this hugely. It's still not my favourite fantasy, but I enjoyed this hugely. The characters are vain, selfish but there's something wickedly delicious about this world and these characters. So much so that I was considering getting the audiobook of the sequel, Castles In The Air. However, I have heard a few things about that one so I decided to dodge that. 

However, I do have a few other Diana Wynne Jones titles on my kindle and, slowly, I hope to tackle them over the next few years...

Friday 11 March 2022

re3 - We Were Liars

I don't reread books that often (though I always want to - I mean, my mental reread list is longer than I would like to admit), so it came as a surprise when, over the last few months, I had an itch to reread We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. 

Now, I first read this when the book came out back in 2014. I actually was very lucky and got a proof from the UK publisher, Hot Key Books, and I devoured it over the course of three or four days. It was an addictive read and so smart. 

But I don't often reread crime or mystery novels, for the main reason that once I know the twist, the story doesn't hold the same quality or that element of fun. There are exceptions to the rule (a good example is The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie), but once I knew the twist, I only really go back if I like the characters. 

But We Were Liars. I remember how obsessed I got with it when I first read this and, with news that a prequel (Family of Liars) is coming out in a few months, I wanted to reread this to refresh my memory, see if it still stood up and look at the clues for a new angle. 

So, shall we begin? 

Title and Author: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Gifted by UK publisher via NetGalley in exchange for honest review/reaction, but borrowed via Amazon's Prime Reading

The Sinclair family are rich. The Sinclair family are beautiful. The Sinclair family are liars.

Tuesday 8 March 2022

Audiobook Mini-Review - Beating About The Bush

Mini Review Time! And seeing as I blitzed through this audiobook with such speed, a mini-review seems about right. Hang on, let's get some details up so you know what's going on... 

Title and Author: Agatha Raisin: Beating Round The Bush by M.C. Beaton
Publisher: Constable
Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: eProof gifted by UK publisher via NetGalley in exchange for honest review/reaction, though borrowed audiobook via library's BorrowBox app. 

My first Agatha Raisin was Down the Hatch and, while this was a nice cosy-mystery, it didn't ball me over. I have heard that the characters were a little spiky. Especially the series lead, Agatha, who I knew was a chain-smoker, G&T drinking, hot tempered, vain, spiteful and has no filter. But in Down the Hatch, the characters were... well... nice. They were nice and a little soft. 

But here... here I felt was more what I was promised and I was much happier to read/audiobook this (the UK audiobook is narrated by Penelope Keith, which was a dream!). Agatha, while a little mellowed compared to her earlier adventures (yes, I'm going to back track the series as I enjoyed myself with these characters), still has no filtered, drinks and smokes too much and is on the lookout for romance. Plus, she surprised everyone with her unknown affections for donkeys - where did that come from!?

Ok, let's touch on the story. Agatha is driving from a possible private detective job, looking into shrubs by the side of the road and goes "Nice place to dump a body". Only to find a severed leg in said bush. Yes, it's fake, but there's something unnerving about it. And, not long after Agatha takes said job and wonders why someone who dump a fake leg, a murder takes place and elderly Mrs. Dunwiddy is murdered - by a donkey? 

Agatha's doesn't believe that. There's something shady going on at the factory who's hired her. Something very shady. And she's not careful, she might not hear the news of her friend and sometimes lover... 

This was fun. I enjoyed myself with this and the fact this was a cosy murder mystery with a lead that doesn't exactly fit the cosy murder mystery lead is quite refreshing. 

I can't really write more than this was fun. It was outlandish, funny and I do think I'm going to visit one of Agatha's earlier adventures (I keep eyeing Agatha Raisin and the Haunted House and . Not sure which one yet...

Friday 4 March 2022

Thick As Thieves Blog Tour

BLOG TOUR ALERT! And it's to celebrate the release of Thick as Thieves, the fourth MM romance in the Aster Valley series by Lucy Lennox. Now, I was meant to read this, but I somehow cancelled my preorder (HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?!), so instead, this is gonna be a spotlight-type post!

But, in case you're not sure about Thick as Thieves, let me give you a quick once over, shall we?

Tuesday 1 March 2022

Audiobook Review - The Maid

This is one of THOSE books. You know the one. The one with all the hype and buzz for months before it’s publication. I remember the news breaking that this book had its movie rights snapped up (Universal) and Florence Pugh has announced that she would star and produce the movie.

So, like most book that has this level of buzz, you can either be very excited for it or very wary. I think we’ve all been stung by the hype train once or twice the past few months. I know I have (I mean, have you not seen my DNFs or my 1 or 2 stars reviews of late?). But there was something about The Maid that made me very intrigued about it. 

So yes, I managed to get my hands on an eProof (via NetGalley. Thank you UK publisher), but I was so intrigued, I actually bought the audiobook as well. It’s very rare I do this, FYI. So, let me get the details and a brief synopsis up and we can talk. 

Title and Author: The Maid by Nina Prose
Publisher: HarperCollins
Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: eProof gifted by UK publisher via NetGalley in exchange for honest review, and bought audiobook. 

Molly is a maid at the Regency Grand Hotel In New York. She’s invisible to the world. I mean, who pays attention to a maid? 

But when Molly finds the body of Mr Black, an infamous guest at the hotel, very dead in his bed, Molly finds her quiet life thrown under a spotlight and she sees that life isn’t as easy mess to clean as she begins to look for the truth. Who would look twice at a maid, after all?