Saturday, August 22, 2015

Stacking the Shelves: London Book Haul

Good morning everyone! I've mentioned I spent a couple of weeks in London doing work experience at Penguin Random House earlier this month (and I'll blog about that soon). You won't be surprised that I picked up a few books while I was in the city :-)

Most of these are published by PRH and were free copies but I also went to 'Fantasy In The Court' hosted by Goldsboro Books and Hodderscape, where I bought another book as well. I've listed them below the video if you prefer to read about them.

Mountain Rescue - I love to ski and so do my family, so I thought this would be an interesting read to share with them. It's non fiction, about accidents in the mountains of New Zealand.

Hiroshima - This was originally published in a New York paper shortly after the disaster & tells the stories of some survivors. It's very short and I've almost finished reading it.

Highbridge, by Phil Redmond - This is a crime novel, set in Northern England, by someone who has done a lot of writing for TV in the UK. I don't know much about it but as this one doesn't come out until January, I'm not going to read it just yet.

In A Dark Dark Wood, by Ruth Ware - This is a brand new thriller which I've finished reading already. I really enjoyed it, and just realised I haven't done a written review yet, but you can find my video review by clicking here.

Watch The Lady, by Elizabeth Fremantle - Historical fiction, similar to Philippa Gregory. I haven't started it yet but I'm hoping to get to it later in September.

Vowed, by Liz de Jager - This is the one I bought, it's the sequel to Banished and follows Kit as she
tries to sort out some badly behaved fae in England. I'm reading it at the moment and will definitely be reviewing it when I'm done.

So that's all of my books this week! If you want to join the link up for Stacking The Shelves, you can do so on Tynga's blog.

Have you read any of these? Leave me the links for your own book haul posts and I will have a look at them :-)


Friday, August 21, 2015

Review: All The Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr

Title: All The Light We Cannot See
Author: Anthony Doerr
Publication date: April 2015
Publisher: Fourth Estate
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Borrowed

Description: "Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.''

For Marie-Laure, blind since the age of six, the world is full of mazes. The miniature of a Paris neighbourhood, made by her father to teach her the way home. The microscopic layers within the invaluable diamond that her father guards in the Museum of Natural History. The walled city by the sea, where father and daughter take refuge when the Nazis invade Paris. And a future which draws her ever closer to Werner, a German orphan, destined to labour in the mines until a broken radio fills his life with possibility and brings him to the notice of the Hitler Youth.

My thoughts: I love books set during the World Wars, I think it's a fascinating time period and full of very touching stories against a tense backdrop. This book certainly brings it to life. The story is told in two parts, moving back and forth between the past, charting the childhood of both Marie-Laure and Werner, and the 'present' (for them) - a period of a few days when they are both in the city of Saint Malo while it is bombed.

Through Werner's childhood you see the development of Nazi propaganda in Germany and it's effect on his village, including the children in the orphanage. For me that was as scary and sad as the events at the special boarding school he later ends up at, which is indoctrinating boys as it trains them for the army. Marie-Laure shows the changes in Paris as the Nazi's come ever closer and then how her community in Saint Malo overcome their fear and begin resistance work.

I got frustrated with the blurb for this book before I started because I didn't think it hinted enough at the plot but now I'm glad it left things out. There are certain threads that run through the story connecting things and acting as catalysts for events, but I don't want to talk about them because I think it was part of the experience to discover them myself as I went along, and make the connections, without being told what was going to be the connection before even starting. What I will say is that Werner's friendships and encounters shape his life, and you see how one thing leads to another. Similarly, Marie-Laure's relationship with her father, his colleagues, and then the housekeeper and my favourite, her reclusive uncle, change over the story and were beautiful and touching to see.

I really loved this story and I hope you'll give it a try too. The ending did let the book down a little, I think, carrying on for a few chapters past what should have been the end. Despite that, it's one of my favourite books of the year so far and I'm so glad I got to read it.

I give 'All The Light We Cannot See' 9 stars out of 10.

Friday, August 14, 2015

July Reading Wrap Up

I read a lot of books and don't necessarily get around to reviewing all of them, or have enough to say about all of them to merit a review, so doing a reading wrap up at the end of the month to say a little bit about each is a great way to showcase them, I think.

Since Friday is the day I usually participate in 'Feature & Follow', and that's not everyone's cup of tea to read about, I've decided that in addition to that, Friday is Video Day! Each Friday I'll be sharing a video from my Book Tube channel (which is Ailsa Vlogs, please subscribe!).

This video features:

* We Were Liars, by E Lockhart
* Harry Potter & The Philosopher's Stone by J K Rowling
* A Darker Shade of Magic, by V E Schwab
* Shards of Hope, by Nalini Singh 
* Clariel, by Garth Nix
* The Girl On The Train, by Paula Hawkins
* Ice Forged, by Gail Z Martin
* All The Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr

Have you read any of these?


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Author's I've Read The Most Books From

Sorry for the radio silence recently - I had a family holiday, then went straight on to two weeks of work experience at Penguin Random House in London! That was an amazing time, but the wifi in my hostel wasn't the greatest, to say the least. I'm thinking about blogging about the work experience time, so let me know if that's something you'd be interested in hearing about.

On to Top Ten Tuesday - I love this weeks topic! I think it's really interesting. A couple of authors popped into my head straight away but then I started remembering different (finished or ongoing) series I've read, which threw off my initial thoughts. For the purpose of the list, I'm leaving out short stories.

I've put these roughly in order of number of books, counting down to the author I've read most.

10) Tamora Pierce - Yes, these are quite short, but I've read two of her series now - 8 books total.

9) J. K. Rowling - Apart from Harry Potter, I've read The Silkworm, so that's 8 books.

8) Ilona Andrews - I've read all except the most recent of her Kate Daniels books - 8 books again.

7) Richelle Mead - I've read several of hers from different series - 10 books in total.

6) Seanan McGuire - Despite feeling like I talk about her too much on this blog, I've 'only' read 11.

5) Katherine Kerr - She's started a new urban fantasy series (I've read the first one) but she's also got an epic fantasy sage, told over several quartets. I've read 13 of her books.

4) Kim Harrison - Every single one of her Rachel Morgan books. That's 13.

3) Keri Arthur - I've read a lot of these too, and still have a few Riley Jensen books to go. I've read 15 of her books in total I think.

2) Brian Jacques - In a throwback to childhood, I read a lot of Redwall books, plus some of his other work. I looked them up online and surprised myself - 17 books!

1) Nalini Singh - I've read all the Psy/Changeling books and several of the Angel series. 19 books overall.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke And The Bookish - check out their page & the link up.

Let me know if you've read any of these and what you thought of them! And if you leave a link to your own, I'll pop over and have a read.


Monday, August 10, 2015

(Negative) Book Review: The Girl On The Train

Title: The Girl On The Train
Author: Paula Hawkins
Publication date: January 2015
Publisher: Transworld
Source: Borrowed

Description: Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough.

Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar. Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…

My thoughts: I did not like this book. At all. I will go so far as to say I hated it.

It's not the writing. It is a well written book. My complaint is with the characters. The book is narrated primarily by Rachel, who it quickly becomes clear is an unreliable narrator. Within the first few pages readers realise she's an alcoholic and as the story goes on there are other reveals here and there that show other things that have been omitted, which paint her in a more and more unflattering light. The other two women who narrate are Anna, who is married to Rachel's ex-husband and 'Jess' (actually Megan), the woman Rachel watches from the train.

Primarily the narrators annoyed me for their idiocy. The three of them make silly choice after silly choice. In particular I had no sympathy for Rachel, who doesn't seem to be doing anything to help herself. I couldn't care about the characters or what happened to them because they were too idiotic. Rachel drinks and does silly things; Megan makes stupid choices and can't seem to grow up, and Anna sees everything as revolving around her.

I forced myself to keep going and I'll admit that I didn't guess how the book was going to end but the characters drove me up the wall. They made it irredeemable in my opinion. I will give this 2/10, based on the fact the writing was actually fine.

Have you read this one? What did you think?