The Book Worm Blog Tag

Love Books

The Valley of Adventure - Enid BlytonDo you remember how you developed a love for reading?

My mum is a big reader and encouraged me to read. We’d go to the library for books and I’d always get out as many as possible on my card! The very first books that made me fall in love with reading were Enid Blyton’s ‘adventure’ stories, eg The Valley of Adventure, The Island of Adventure… and I then went on to read many of her other series and never looked back!

Where do you usually read?

In bed a lot or on the sofa if Tom’s got a film/ TV programme on that I don’t want to watch. The fact that I walk into work instead of getting public transport cuts down my reading time each day by a considerable amount but I usually manage to squeeze at least a little reading in!

Do you prefer to read one book at a time or several at once?

Well I prefer to just have one great book that I’m really absorbed in, but I sometimes have a few on the go. I do prefer to focus on one though, which I can then write a review on for the blog.

What is your favourite genre?

I always get into a Crime/ Detective/ Thriller novel if it’s written well, as well as some historical fiction and then just fiction in general! Plus depending on my mood I quiteThe Ice Cream Girls book cover like the occasional ‘chick-lit’- though I hate that term!

Is there a genre you will not read?

Not really, if I think the story sounds good enough I’ll give it a go!

Do you have a favourite book?

There’s been so many books I’ve absolutely loved! Off the top of my head some of my faves are Us by David Nicholls, The Rosie Project & The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion, Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, The Ice Cream Girl by Dorothy Koomson and The Secret History by Donna Tartt. Phew, quite a few there- and there’ll be so many others I’ve forgotten to mention of course!

What is your least favourite book?

Well books I didn’t enjoy don’t tend to stick in my mind as much as those I did. I do tend to read books I think I’ll enjoy (as most people do, I’m sure!) but I was really disappointed with Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James – I had SUCH high hopes for it but I just got bored and abandoned it, something which I never usually do. Maybe I’ll give it another go soon…

The GoldfinchWhat is the longest book you have ever read?

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt was a pretty big 771 pages. I might have read longer but can’t think of any others at this moment! 🙂

What was the last book you bought?

I mostly tend to borrow from the library (I’m a strong believer in trying to keep our libraries open!) or get a lot of advance copies free from NetGalley for review. However I did buy Us b David Nicholls for book group recently as it was in hardback and it’s such a nicely designed book!

Do you prefer library books or buying books?

I have borrowed booked from libraries way more than bought any recently.

The Marriage PlotWhat are you currently reading?

Technically The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides but it’s been accidentally packed away in a box for the next few weeks until we move (we’ve just bought a house that we’re in the process of doing up a bit before we move in so we’re in that horrible half-way point of having a lot of bits packed and out the way!) Will find something else to read though!

Where do you buy your books?

If I want it nice and new then Amazon but also local independent book stores if they’re not crazily more expensive, or charity shops.

Do you ever pre-order books?

No, I tend to get advance copies from NetGalley and that keeps me going.

How many books do you buy a month?

Not many, as mentioned above I get quite a few free. But if I really fancy a book or its for book club and not available in the library then maybe 1 or 2 a month.

How do you feel about second hand charity shop books?The Rosie Effect

For me nothing beats a lovely new book, the smell and feel of it is great! But if I see a bargain in a charity shop then I’ll happily buy from there.

Do you keep your read and to-be-read books together?

Yes, until we’re in the new house they’re all in a jumbled pile (now in a box) together, but hoping to have a clear out/ organise when we’ve moved.

Do you plan to read all the books you own?

I mean to, but when I get books to review they usually jump to the top of the queue.

What do you do with books you own that you know won’t be re-read?

Charity shop usually.

Have you ever donated books?20140730-211936-76776950.jpg

Of course 🙂 it all helps for a good cause!

Have you ever been on a book buying ban?

I don’t really buy that many but if I have loads piling up to read I’ll ban myself from buying or borrowing any more.

Do you think you own too many books?

Not loads because any I won’t re-read I give to a charity shop or to my mum/ friends. I don’t re- read books that often actually because it just feels like there’s so many books out there on my ‘to read’ list that there just isn’t the to re-read books I’ve already read, even if they were brilliant!

Frog Music

Frog Music by Emma Donoghue- review

Frog MusicI’ve read Room and loved it so was really looking forward to reading the ‘new’ (well, released at the beginning of this year anyway!) novel by Emma Donoghue, Frog Music.

Synopsis:

Summer of 1876: San Francisco is in the fierce grip of a record-breaking heat wave and a smallpox epidemic. Through the window of a railroad saloon, a young woman named Jenny Bonnet is shot dead.

The survivor, her friend Blanche Beunon, is a French burlesque dancer. Over the next three days, she will risk everything to bring Jenny’s murderer to justice–if he doesn’t track her down first. The story Blanche struggles to piece together is one of free-love bohemians, desperate paupers, and arrogant millionaires; of jealous men, icy women, and damaged children. It’s the secret life of Jenny herself, a notorious character who breaks the law every morning by getting dressed: a charmer as slippery as the frogs she hunts.

In thrilling, cinematic style, FROG MUSIC digs up a long-forgotten, never-solved crime. Full of songs that migrated across the world, Emma Donoghue’s lyrical tale of love and bloodshed among lowlifes captures the pulse of a boomtown like no other.

 

Frog Music focuses on protagonist Blanche Beunon and her friend Jenny Bonnet, who is shot dead at the beginning of the novel in what Blanche feels is an attack meant for her.

I was impressed with the sense of atmosphere Donoghue creates which is really evokes a sense of 19th century San Francisco, its people and buildings.  The story takes the reader into Blanche’s world of burlesque and prostitution as well as Jenny’s life of theft and her shocking habit of – shock horror! – cross dressing, as well as many other elements that are touched upon. In fact, there are so many different elements that at times it seemed a little jumbled, as if the author was just trying to cram as much information in as possible!

The story itself is quite original but seemed to ebb and flow in terms of its appeal for me – at some points it really drew me in and I wanted to know more whilst at other points I really couldn’t care less. Part of this might be attributed to the fact that, in my opinion, the characters are all pretty unpleasant and unlikable. Most share a strong selfish streak and the main protagonist, Blanche, is also vain, self-centred and snobby, as is her ‘lover’ Arthur and his close friend Ernest. Jenny is the only semi-likeable character in the novel but she’s dead for a significant portion of the novel!

Narrated entirely by Blanche, her story jumps back and forth between two simultaneous timelines, one showing events leading up to the shooting and one following Blanche as she deals with the aftermath of the murder. I usually enjoy novels of this structure but I have to say that in Frog Music I got a little bored- the beginning was quite interesting and I felt myself drawn into the background of the book, and the end was also quite eventful, but the middle section just dragged on a bit. However the end of the story had quite a good conclusion and I enjoyed finally

This is certainly a different story and would have been really enjoyable if there had just been a bit more going on through the middle part. But I still enjoyed the beginning and end!

Rating: 3/5

Frog Music

Us by David Nicholls

‘Us’ by David Nicholls will make you smile, laugh, cry and reflect…

Us by David NichollsUs by David Nicholls was a book group choice (there are 7 of us in the group who meet once a month), picked by another member who loved many of his other novels. I’ve read a few of them myself and really enjoyed them, and had heard a lot about Nicholl’s new novel (which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize too!). It seems like a great story and we all felt like it was well worth buying in hardback!

Synopsis:

‘I was looking forward to us growing old together. Me and you, growing old and dying together.’

‘Douglas, who in their right mind would look forward to that?’

Douglas Petersen understands his wife’s need to ‘rediscover herself’ now that their son is leaving home.

He just thought they’d be doing their rediscovering together.

So when Connie announces that she will be leaving, too, he resolves to make their last family holiday into the trip of a lifetime: one that will draw the three of them closer, and win the respect of his son. One that will make Connie fall in love with him all over again.

The hotels are booked, the tickets bought, the itinerary planned and printed.

What could possibly go wrong?

Firstly, though this book is so well written, it is easy to read and I ploughed through it in a matter of days as I just enjoyed it so much! For me it had the perfect blend of relationships/love, travel, sad moments and humour. Most of the group also felt the same, though two members said they found it dry and boring, which I have to say really surprised me having enjoyed it so much myself! They commented that they felt there was too much art in the novel which they just weren’t interested in, and I suppose there was a fair amount included; in each city there was a main piece of art that Douglas mentions and focuses on which seems to reflect the mood of the novel. I won’t give any more away than this but I really felt like the inclusion of the art added to the story.

Nicholls takes the reader on a whirlwind of galleries, museums, tourist attractions and even a prostitute’s house, but it still feels so real when reading about it and I often felt like I was right there with him- despite sadly not having been to quite a few of the cities myself. A fellow book group member had visited all of them, though, and said that added to her enjoyment of the book even more, as she recognised significant landmarks and buildings from her own travels!

The characters are so engaging and interesting, and seem like people you’d actually know in real life. Connie and Douglas’ relationship seems to go through ups and downs that I imagine any relationship must do (though with some notable exceptions!) and their relationship with their teenage son is testing at times. The ‘Us’ could refer to any of their relationships and they all feel like a real relationship; not over-dramatised or too sugar-coated but just real. Some of the big revelations are relayed by Douglas to the reader in such as flippant, casual way that I had to re-read some sentences to check I’d understood them properly!

My sympathy swung between feeling sorry for both Connie and Douglas at times towards the start of the book but as the novel goes on my sympathy for Connie rapidly decreases. It did make me question whether I could see any of the characters in myself and how much they were both to blame for Connie’s wish to end their relationship. Albie is an interesting character too with his surliness and angst towards Douglas, and you can see that Douglas has messed up at times to make him feel this way.

The story was very witty and humorous at times but at times the upbeat nature turned rapidly to quite sad and poignant- from when I started reading Us it didn’t take me long to start blubbing, but then if I enjoy a book I always get very involved in the characters and their highs and lows- really this is a sign of a book highly enjoyed!

I can’t recommend this novel highly enough.
Rating: 5/5

Us
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The Marriage Plot

Upcoming books (as of November 2014)

Here are a few books I’m reading/ have read and will post reviews for soon… I am aware that some of these may have appeared on my book haul/ to read list aaages ago and I never got round to reading and reviewing quite a few them, but they will be soon!

I am determined to make my way through my ever-growing pile of books and to not keep getting distracted by amazing Netgalley advance copies on offer…

In no particular order:

The girl in the PhotographThe Girl in the Photograph – Kate Riordan
Synopsis: The Girl in the Photograph is a haunting and atmospheric novel that tells the tales of women in two different eras – the 1890’s and 1930’s – and how their lives seem to be entwined by fate. Kate Riordan’s novel is a beautifully dark and beguiling tale which will sweep you away.

It will appeal to fans of Kate Morton and Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca.

 Note – as this is a preview copy, I can’t post the review until January- but there will be a review then!

Us by David NichollsUs – David Nicholls
Synopsis: ‘I was looking forward to us growing old together. Me and you, growing old and dying together.’

‘Douglas, who in their right mind would look forward to that?’

Douglas Petersen understands his wife’s need to ‘rediscover herself’ now that their son is leaving home.
He just thought they’d be doing their rediscovering together.

So when Connie announces that she will be leaving, too, he resolves to make their last family holiday into the trip of a lifetime: one that will draw the three of them closer, and win the respect of his son. One that will make Connie fall in love with him all over again.

The hotels are booked, the tickets bought, the itinerary planned and printed.

What could possibly go wrong?

The Marriage PlotThe Marriage Plot – Jeffrey Eugenides
Synopsis: Brown University, 1982. Madeleine Hanna, dutiful English student and incurable romantic, is writing her thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot – authors of the great marriage plots. As Madeleine studies the age-old motivations of the human heart, real life, in the form of two very different men, intervenes.

Leonard Bankhead, brilliant scientist and charismatic loner, attracts Madeleine with an intensity that she seems powerless to resist. Meanwhile her old friend Mitchell Grammaticus, a theology student searching for some kind of truth in life, is certain of at least one thing – that he and Madeleine are destined to be together.

But as all three leave college, they will have to figure out how they want their own marriage plot to end.

The Girl with all the GiftsThe Girl With All The Gifts – M.R. Carey
Synopsis: Not every gift is a blessing…

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class.

When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.

The Girl With All the Gifts is a groundbreaking thriller, emotionally charged and gripping from beginning to end.

There will be more to come of course, but these will keep me going for now I think! 🙂

Closer Than You Think - cover

‘Closer Than You Think’- the first in a new series by Karen Rose…

Closer Than You Think

Closer Than You Think is the first book in a new series by well-established crime/thriller writer Karen Rose. It will be published in the UK on November 6th so not long to go!

This is the synopsis:


Psychologist Faith Corcoran is desperate to escape the stalker who’s made her life a nightmare for the past year—desperate enough to run to the one place that has been her nightmare far longer. Both boon and bane, her recent inheritance of her grandmother’s old house in Cincinnati offers sanctuary in which she can start her life anew, but requires that she face the dark memories that still resonate to this day.

But she has no idea how close to home her fears still are.

Two college girls have gone missing in the area, and FBI Special Agent Deacon Novak is called to work on the case. When his inquiry unexpectedly leads him to Faith, he finds a beautiful and brave woman he can’t help but fall for. Soon they’ll discover that this seemingly simple investigation is anything but. Reaching back decades into Faith’s own past, it will shatter everything she believes to be true and will give terrifying new meaning to flesh and blood.


I have read a few of Karen Rose’s novels before and enjoyed the way she creates interesting characters and complex, exciting stories. Faith Cocoran and Special Agent Deacon Novak definitely hit it off together and you can tell from the point that they first meet that they are going to get together, despite Faith pretending to be annoyed with Novak. As a Special Agent Novak is pretty likeable as a character, though I imagine his extreme protectiveness of Faith would really get on my nerves if I were her- but then, she does seem to have a crazed killer after her so I guess it’s justified! He knows what he’s doing and that seems to only entice him to her.

I do feel like Faith is kind of put on a pedestal in this novel and made out to be the perfect, selfless woman who wants to help everyone and who Novak thinks is just amazing. Sometimes I wished she’d just say ‘you know what, I’m terrified and don’t really care about anyone else, just keep me safe!” because then she’d seem a bit more like a real person.

Closer Than You Think - coverOne thing to note for those that are easily confused in novels (which I admit can sometimes be me) is that there are a lot of supporting characters included; I feel like some of them could easily have been cut out and the story would still have been as good, as sometimes I had to pause and work out who a particular character was and where they’d been mentioned before.

The storyline is nicely fast paced, gritty, gripping from the very first few pages when the danger is quickly introduced. Karen Rose doesn’t seem to hang about when she starts a novel, she gets straight into the story and I think with this type of story that’s just what you want! The narrative included plenty of twists and turns that kept me guessing whilst still remaining within the realms of possibility. Things got crazy, but not so much that you didn’t believe it could ever happen! At 544 pages on Kindle (and over 700 in paperback apparently!) this is a long book, but it didn’t feel like I was getting bored or distracted as I read it; it kept me hooked throughout and I enjoyed reading almost every part of it…

Now, I’m no prude. Sex scenes in books don’t bother me at all; they’re usually a bit of fun and add to the story. They can be written well and in a way that doesn’t make me cringe or feel like I’ve accidentally picked up a badly written erotic novel. However, Deacon and Faith’s relationship is very romanticised and over-emotional, in my opinion. This applies to their dialogue with each other and, well, just the way they are together considering the novel only spans 9 days and they don’t meet until a day into the story!

It gets pretty damn cheesy in the parts where they’re ‘flirting’ and especially during the sex scenes – they really made me cringe to be honest! I do understand that this novel also seems to be a romance but if the romance/ sex parts need to be included then I feel it could have been done in a better way with less dramatics. Here are a few examples:

  • “He exploded into action, yanking her panties down her legs, pushing his boxers out of the way, rolling her to her back. He straddled her again, but this time the view was much better… “But not now,” he said gruffly. “I need to be inside you now.”
  • “Because, although she hadn’t twitched her ass once, Deacon would have to be a dead man not to notice that it was round and… very nice.”
  • “Rounded breasts swelling above black lace. Creamy white skin. Soft, he thought. Her skin would be so soft. And he needed to look away. Now.”
  • “Emotion barrelled through him with the force of an avalanche”

And on and on! The sexual tension is present from the moment Faith and Deacon meet but the sex scenes don’t take up too much of the novel really, there’s still plenty of detective work which is, in my opinion, the more exciting parts! Although I found reading these parts a bit cringey, if you just want the thriller element then to be honest you could just skim over these scenes without missing really important plot information. To me it’s not a deal breaker, it’s just something I could have done without but if you enjoy a bit of theatrical romance then this will probably tick that box for you nicely.

I really enjoyed the way various seemingly unrelated narratives all linked together at the end – I always love it when novels do this. I felt satisfied at the end of this book that all the important elements were explained properly and the loose ends were all tied up.

I would definitely recommend this novel to others as I really enjoyed reading it, and will give any future books in the series a go as well.

Please leave me a comment if you have read Closer Than You Think and let me know how you found it!

Rating: 4/5

** Thank you to Headline who provided an advance copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review! **

Closer Than You Think (Faith Corcoran, #1)
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