Saturday, 4 November 2017

What I Read In October + Blogger's Book Nook!

what i read in october

Another month, another book round-up. I am getting nice and close to finishing my goal of 52 books this year which is great! This month had quite a variety of stories, including one I basically just couldn't get my head around. Alongside that, this month I'm taking part in my first Blogger's Book Nook reading prompt...

The Precious One - Marisa de los Santos

The Precious One - Marisa de los Santos
★★★★☆

Taisy has a complicated relationship with her father Wilson. He's a highly intelligent, self-made man with exacting standards, and despite him leaving her mother for another woman years previously, Taisy is always striving for his unreachable approval. When Wilson calls out of the blue and asks Taisy to help write his memoir, she can't help but jump at the chance to bond with her father. But Taisy has a teenage half-sister, Willow, who is the apple of Wilson's eye and is highly suspicious of her. 

The Precious One is told from both Taisy and Willow's viewpoints and broaches topics like lost love, manipulation, and the complicated nature of family. It's a beautifully-written look at the many kinds of relationships that humans experience, and it felt like a realistic and engaging portrayal of two women who just want to be loved.

I loved the writing in this book, it was quirky and yet the imagery was perfect. I could picture the characters, the environment and the confrontations entirely. I was a little let-down by some of the storylines though; without spoiling too much I felt that a lot of Wilson's background and his behaviour towards Taisy were never fully resolved, and while that may be more accurate in terms of real-life relationships it felt a bit frustrating to not reach a full conclusion. 

Overall though I really enjoyed this read. It entertained me throughout and was often painfully relatable.

A Quiet Kind of Thunder - Sara Barnard

A Quiet Kind of Thunder - Sara Barnard
★★★★☆

I may be in my late 20s but YA books are some of my favourites. Not only do they tend to have the most rational and realistic storylines that I can actually identify with in some way, they also usually have the most beautiful covers, and I'm a shallow beast. A Quiet Kind of Thunder definitely ticks the box on having a stunning design! 

Steffi is selectively mute, unable to speak due to her battle with anxiety. She does use basic sign language though, so she is able to communicate with the new boy at school, Rhys, who is deaf. Through her relationship with Rhys, Steffi's confidence develops and she begins to realise she has a voice, and lots to say. 

I do not have selective mutism so I can't comment too much on that, but the descriptions of social anxiety were unbelievably honest, raw and so accurate. I wanted to read it out loud to my loved ones so they might have a better idea of what goes on within my brain. This part of the book was wonderful to read, particularly in a YA novel. 

I really enjoyed 'watching' Steffi start to push outside her comfort zones. I feel like any young adult, regardless of whether or not they struggle with anxiety, would relate to her struggles in persuading her parents that she was in control of her life. However, I did feel a bit sad that it came through a relationship. I would have preferred to see a character overcome her struggles and grow as a person while using her own happiness as motivation, but it wasn't too OTT so I didn't mind too much.

This is a cute, romantic story about first loves and the birth of self-confidence. 

The Blasphemer - Nigel Farndale

The Blasphemer - Nigel Farndale
★★★☆☆

The Blasphemer looked right up my alley - a book with parallel stories of a modern character and one from WWI? Doesn't sound familiar at all...

Daniel Kennedy travels to the Galapagos Islands on a holiday with his partner, Nancy. The plane they are in crashes into the sea and Daniel pushes his way over Nancy in order to escape. While swimming for help his beliefs are rattled when he sees a familiar face - was it a hallucination or has he experienced a vision? 100 years earlier, his great-grandfather Andrew goes over the trenches at Passchendaele when a shell explodes close to him. He wakes alone in no-mans-land, unable to find his unit, and is led to safety by a stranger.  Who is this helping hand?

The book is outwardly about cowardice, faith and forgiveness, and each story was interesting and intriguing. However, I just didn't feel they tied together at all. While they dealt with similar themes, nothing was resolved in the end and there were lots of plotlines that felt left at a loose end. There's an overarching theme of science vs. religion that just doesn't seem to get off the ground; it doesn't ask any really thought-provoking questions and is spoiled by one side being represented by a hugely obnoxious character.

I really wanted to like this more but it felt like it wasn't a coherent story overall. It felt like the book had a great concept that was hurried in execution and became two separate, half-baked but mildly enjoyable plots. 

Niccolo Rising - Dorothy Dunnett

Niccolo Rising - Dorothy Dunnett
★★★☆☆

I swear I never used to be so glaikit (look it up) but like in September, I read a book without having a clue what was going on for at least two-thirds of it.

Niccolo Rising is the first in a series of historical fiction novels set in fifteenth-century Bruges. The main character is a servant called Claes, who is charming, good natured and has a tendency to get himself in awkward situations. Over the course of this first novel, Claes undergoes a huge transformation, rising from his lowly position to heading a well-respected business and embracing his more mature identity (signified by using his given name, Nicholas). 

This book was bloody huge and horrendously complex. There were four pages of characters listed at the beginning to help readers get an idea of who's who, but it's still overwhelmingly complex. The writing is dense and almost impenetrable in places unless you have been paying the kind of attention you'd need to pay while writing your PhD thesis. 

My main concern with this book though is that it is really just setting up for the next in the series. There's nothing wrong with a lot of scene-setting, but this was a very, very long read for all the real action to occur in the last third. I didn't hate it but I also don't think I will be rushing to read the rest.

Rubbernecker - Belinda Bauer

Rubbernecker - Belinda Bauer
★★★½

I absolutely loved the set-up to this. Patrick, a young student with Asperger's Syndrome, is obsessed with death since witnessing his father's passing. He studies anatomy in order to learn what the dead can teach us and gets more than he bargained for when he begins to suspect the body he's studying is a murder victim. But someone else is aware of the evidence Patrick has found. Can he get to the truth before they do?

I really, really loved this. It has intriguing side-plots, it is written so well I felt like I was inside Patrick's mind, and it deals with extremely complex but human themes like family, death, and communication. I was all set to give this a five-star rating but then the ending... it really let me down. Perhaps I have been spoiled by too many cleverly thought out twists, but the ending to the main plot came too early in my opinion. I was expecting there to be more.

On the whole, this is an enjoyable and unique story, I just wanted a bit more. 

what i read in october

Blogger's Book Nook!

If you haven't heard of the blogger's book nook yet then where have you been?! Two wonderful bloggers, Tabitha and Abbey, created this wonderful community for all bookworms to discuss novels, swap recommendations and motivate each other to read more (not sure I need an excuse but I'll take it!). The Facebook group is open to everyone, so get involved! They have monthly reading prompts and Q&As, and this month is about YA books. Seeing as I've just finished one I thought I'd get involved!

1. Young adult books sometimes have the reputation of being a bit cliché - what do you think about this? Does it spoil your enjoyment of a book if you can predict the ending?
I don't think I've read many YA books that haven't had fairly predictable endings. The main exception to this is All The Bright Places which felt a bit like a punch in the chest when I finished it. To be honest, it doesn't bother me that I know the end - lots of them are romance-based and everyone likes a good rom-com every so often! As long as the story is engaging and interesting they are excellent easy reads for when you need a bit of comfort.

2. Lots of YA books such as The Fault in Our Stars, 13 Reasons Why, and Everything Everything have been made into movies/TV shows lately - have you seen them? What did you think?
I've seen 13 Reasons Why and I wasn't that keen. I'm not a massive fan of tv and film adaptations usually anyway, but especially with this, every single change from the book felt highly conspicuous. I guess perhaps because it was such a short book over so many long episodes it felt hard to rationalise the changes as anything other than for extra drama and I didn't really agree with that. I just prefer to hear the story directly from the person who came up with it!

3. Where does YA rank in your order of favourite book genres? Is it a genre you'd usually reach for?
I really enjoy YA and it's definitely one of my favourite genres. It's a fine balancing act though as I sometimes worry I'll pick up something that is slightly too childish for me. 

4. Who is your all-time favourite character from a YA novel? Why did you love them so much?
I think my favourite character is potentially Violet from All The Bright Places. I liked that she was part of a love story but that it wasn't the only thing that defined her, that she had incredible strength and I really enjoyed reading about dealing with mental health from the perspective of a sufferer's loved one.

5. Pick a favourite YA series: The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, The Lunar Chronicles, or The Mortal Instruments?
For me, it's got to be Harry Potter! I still remember getting my first book at the Edinburgh Book Festival when it first came out, and I was swept up in this exciting magical world for years after. Plus I'm from Edinburgh so I get to walk around a lot of the places that inspired it or places it was written which is fun!

what i read in october

What have you been reading this month?
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7 comments

  1. I absolutely loved a quiet kind of thunder! I’m loving how so many YA books are covering mental health ����

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  2. Great post! Rubbernecker definitely sounds like something I'd love - I'm instantly intrigued just by what you've said so I might try and see if they have this in my local library! Well done on reading so many books so far this year - I'm a pretty slow reader so I only set a target of 30 and I think I'm behind - sigh! I LOVE YA books too. I've recently finished John Green's new one and I adored it (as I do with all his books!) and I love the tv / movie adaptations too. I haven't seen Everything Everything but I loved 13 Reasons and honestly think the show was 10x better than the book. I'd love to see Turtles All the Way Down made into a film - done right, I think that'd be amazing.

    Jenny 🐢
    Http://www.jennyinneverland.com

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  3. I am super picky about the books I throw my imagination into, but these sound interesting! I may have to pick one up!!

    Claudia xo

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  4. Beth, I am just in awe of the prodigiously huge number of books you've read in one month, let alone one year. I'm lucky if I manage two a month! The only one I recognise was The Blasphemer, which I didn't like much either. Next on my TBR pile is Daphne du Maurier's House on the Strand - featuring acid tripping, haha! Fabulous review X

    Lisa | www.lisasnotebook.com

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  5. I really love the photos you have used in this post!

    A Quiet Kind of Thunder has been on my radar for a while now, and I am so glad to find yet another person who has really enjoyed it. I may have to add it to my basket next time I am out book shopping!

    Kirstie
    Kirstiekinsblogs

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  6. I've been reading all sorts but at the moment I'm finishing a book about the war in Afghanistan and it's history. I like the sound of that group, think I will pop over and have a look.

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  7. I have a Quiet Kind of Thunder sitting on my shelf waiting to be read and your review makes me want to pick it up and start it now! :)

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