Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Bout of Books Update: Day 1

Day 1 of the Bout of Books Readathon is done!  I had a pretty good reading day.  I managed to read one whole book :)


Cath Staincliffe is my go-to author for readathons - her books are pretty short, always gripping and fast paced!

I also read around 25 pages of How To Be Good by Nick Hornby ... though this one is not really grabbing me at the moment and I might put it down and pick something else up instead.

Summary
Total pages read:  218 (Dead Wrong) + 25 (How To Be Good) = 243 pages
Total books read: 1
Participated in 1 Twitter chat
Commented on 3 blogs


Sunday, 17 August 2014

Bout of Books 11.0 TBR

History tells me that I'm useless when it comes to TBRs.  I never ever stick to what I set out to read, and sometimes having a TBR puts me off reading entirely and sends me into a slump.  But I can't resist making lists and planning reads, so these are the books I'm planning to read for the Bout of Books 11.0 next week!


I know I won't get through all of them, but the plan is to read at least 3 books!  I'll be tweeting my progress (follow me! @iluvsneakers) and maybe taking part in a challenge or two and getting to know some other participants on twitter and through their blogs.  I'll also post updates here on the blog to track my progress!

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Review: A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Publisher: Canongate (2013)

First Published: 2013

From Goodreads:

Ruth Ozeki's third novel, shortlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2013. 
In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao plans to document the life of her great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace—and will touch lives in a ways she can scarcely imagine.

Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.

Full of Ozeki’s signature humour and deeply engaged with the relationship between writer and reader, past and present, fact and fiction, quantum physics, history, and myth, A Tale for the Time Being is a brilliantly inventive, beguiling story of our shared humanity and the search for home.

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*sigh*  I'm not sure how to review this book.  I seem to find it more difficult to talk about books I love than books I didn't enjoy so much, and I really loved this book.  

A Tale for The Time Being is a novel that sweeps through time and place, across generations and across subject matter.  Within its' pages we learn a little about Proust, Zen Buddhism, quantum physics, modern Japanese culture, environmentalism ... just little touches that whet your appetite and leave you yearning for more.  The dual narrative works so well here, as we follow the typically teenage Nao with her teenage angst, her mood swings and teenage strops, and the adult Ruth, struggling with her own issues within her marriage, family and work.  

Perhaps the novel's only downfall for me was that I wanted to know more about my favourite character, Nao's grandmother, the 104 year old buddhist nun Jiko.  I mean, come on! Who wouldn't want to read an entire novel about a 104 year old Japanese buddhist nun named Jiko?!  I wanted more!  

This novel gained Ruth Ozeki a Man Booker Prize shortlist spot in 2013.  Having also read The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton which won the Man Booker Prize that year, I know which one is my favourite!  Ruth Ozeki is an author I had not heard of before this novel, but I will absolutely be seeking out more of her work.

(Just as a side note, I received a set of the Man Booker Prize shortlisted books for Christmas.  They came from The Book People and cost just £25 for the six books.  I was so excited to discover that I had a first edition of A Tale For The Time Being! Happiness is! :))

It goes without saying, this was a rare 5 star read for me!



Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Publisherd:  Phoenix (Orion Books) 2013

First Published: 2012

From Goodreads:

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

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I think it's fair to say this is one of the most hyped books of recent years.  At one point you could not watch a booktube video or read a book blog without hearing mention of this book.  And it is probably for this reason that I put off reading it for quite some time.  I stumbled upon a copy of it in a secondhand bookshop and was quite excited to see it there, so I snapped it up.  And then it sat on my shelf for a good few months.  Then I heard it was being made into a film, so I decided the time had come to see whether this book lived up to all the hype for me.

Unfortunately, this novel was a huge disappointment.  At first I forced myself to keep going because I knew there was a 'big twist' half way through, and when I got to the twist I had to force myself to keep going to the end.  I generally tend to put a book down if it is not grabbing me, but with all the megahype surrounding this one I kept telling myself that it must get better.  It didn't.  

The characters were awful.  I don't have a problem with unlikable characters, characters you love to hate, but these ones I just hated.  Whiney, selfish, self absorbed, arrogant, spoilt - no redeeming features whatsoever.  The one character I did find quite interesting, Nick's father, did not get enough air time.  And the whole plot was just ridiculous and improbable.  The reactions of the main characters just did not seem real and the whole thing just fell flat for me. 

I do think that this might work better on film, and feel that it was perhaps written with a screenplay in mind.  I will probably watch the film when it reaches it DVD, but I won't rush out to see it at the cinema.

Once again, a case of an overhyped book not living up to it's promise for me.  2 stars, simply because I finished it.  I have another of Gillian Flynn's books on my shelf - Sharp Objects - and I'm sure I will give that a go at some point in the future, but it certainly is not high up on my TBR list!



Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Bout of Books?!

As I'm still on summer break from work until September (lucky me, I know!) I've decided to give Bout of Books another go!  This is the 11th Bout of Books, but will be my second attempt - I don't think I got very far last time though!

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 18th and runs through Sunday, August 24th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 11 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team


If you want to join in, check out the sign up post here!

Time to get thinking about what I shall be reading!



Saturday, 9 August 2014

Review: Under A Silent Moon by Elizabeth Haynes

Under a Silent Moon by Elizabeth Haynes

Publisher: Sphere (2014)

First Published: 2013

From Goodreads:
The start of a thrilling new crime series featuring Detective Inspector Louisa Smith from a sensational, authentic crime fiction voice. 

In the crisp, early morning hours, the police are called to a suspected murder at a farm outside a small English village. A beautiful young woman has been found dead, blood all over the cottage she lives in. At the same time, police respond to a reported female suicide, where a car has fallen into a local quarry. 

As DCI Louisa Smith and her team gather the evidence, they discover a link between these two women, a link which has sealed their dreadful fate one cold night, under a silent moon. 

An unsettling and compulsively readable novel that will keep you gripped until the very last page.



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Let me begin by saying that I have loved every book Elizabeth Haynes has written so far.  She is most definitely one of my favourite authors and she is a master of the psychological thriller.

Under a Silent Moon is not a psychological thriller.  This is police procedural novel following two deaths in a small English village with requisite quirky characters, but don't be fooled into thinking this is a cosy mystery!  With her background as a police analyst, Ms Haynes has written a superb novel here.  She certainly knows her stuff and lays little bread crumbs of clues along the way, some which definitely led me up the garden path!  The plot is nicely woven in amongst the lives of the likeable characters, and keeps you guessing right to the end with everything neatly tidied up and no loose ends.  Just how I like it.

So although this is a departure from her (outstanding) psychological thrillers, I was not let down at all by this book and am looking forward to a fabulous new English detective series!



Saturday, 2 August 2014

Review: The Never List by Koethi Zan

The Never List by Koethi Zan

Published by Vintage Books

First Published in 2013

From Goodreads:
NEVER GO OUT ALONE AFTER DARK

For years, Sarah and Jennifer kept the Never List: a list of things to be avoided at all costs.

NEVER GET IN THE CAR

But one night, they broke their own rules - with horrifying consequences.

NEVER TAKE RISKS

Sarah has spent ten years trying to forget her terrifying ordeal. But it seems the killer has not forgotten her.

NEVER TRUST ANYONE

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So best friends Sarah and Jennifer draw up a list of things they should never do, but despite this they end up being abducted anyway.  The story follows Sarah as she looks into the life of Jack Derber, her kidnapper who is up for parole, 10 years after she escapes from his basement. 

The blurbs on my edition of this book promise something gripping and terrifying.  Elle Magazine state it is "as gripping as Gone Girl" (side note: I had not read Gone Girl when I picked this book up ... If I had I would definitely not have bothered with this because of this comparison!) and Tess Gerritsen, an author I love, states it is one of the scariest thrillers she has ever read.  So I had really high hopes.

Overall, this book did not deliver on its promise.  Now that I have read Gone Girl, I can safely say that the Never List rates much higher in my opinion, but it was definitely not as dark and creepy as I was expecting.  There is no doubt that Jack Derber is cruel and sadistic.  The story is cleverly written in a way that the cruelty and abuse is alluded to and left to your imagination rather than explicit descriptions.  The reader cannot help but feel sympathy with the abducted girls, but Sarah, who suffers from PTSD, does seem to have an amazing ability to overcome her symptoms when the need arises and puts herself in some very unlikely situations.

After reading this book, I gave it 4 stars but on writing this review and thinking more about it, I think I would give it 3 stars.  It is an interesting story, fairly well written with a pacy plot and a good twist.  I would recommend this to those that enjoy a good mystery/thriller, but don't expect anything too dark or creepy!