February Reading Wrap-up

Friday, March 03, 2017
February has been a fantastic reading month, especially compared to last month! I've read one cookbook, one novella and six books and two short story collections. All of these books were very kindly sent to me either via the publisher as a physical book or via Netgalley as an e-book.
*Someone Is Watching by Joy Fielding - ★★★☆☆, 3/5
Some of my favourite book genres are: mysteries, historical fiction, unique short non-fiction and magical books as well as thrillers and crime novels. This book is a mixture of contemporary, thriller, crime and mystery genres which I love! Let's start with the basics, the cover is very simple and I'm not a massive fan of it; it's published my Bonnier Zaffre and it is approx. 364 pages.

The book starts out very dark as we are introduced to Bailey, her job and the horrendous crime that happened to her. Usually I would go into detail however I'm not going to as I don't want to give anything away but I feel like I need to warn potential readers about the topics of this book as it was a surprise to me - the book contains crime, family drama, revenge of sorts and potentially the most triggering aspect, rape. There's a lot of mentions, flashbacks and descriptions of the rape that occurred in this book so if you don't want to read that then don't pick this book up.

The rape came as a shock to me and it did make for very uncomfortable reading for the most part and it is throughout the book as well as various sexual incidences so I'd say that maybe it should have an age guidance on the book, in my opinion.

Anyway, the book was very compelling throughout, I wanted to know what happens next and to figure out the mystery of Bailey's unusual family situation and to find out who raped her. The writing was very easy and quick to get through and I managed to finish this over 350 page book in two days - it was definitely the quickest read of the year so far! Despite the uncomfortable topic, I did love the characters of Bailey and Jade but there were a lot of unlikeable characters too. I was disappointed with the ending, it wasn't as shocking as I think the author wanted it to be but I did enjoy the book (maybe enjoy is the wrong word but you know what I mean!). I would recommend this book as a very quick mystery crime thriller but be aware of the constant mentions and inclusion of rape within this book.

*Happy Ending NOT Guaranteed by Liam Hogan - ★★★★☆, 4/5
First of all, I adore the cover! I haven't read a short story collection before so I didn't know if I'd like the style but I loved it; the writing style is a wonderful mix of witty, sarcastic contemporary language and fairytale/folktale connotations and themes - yes, yes, yes!

Some of the stories in this collection were VERY short and I mean a few pages long which I'm not used to so it was a little strange and for some of the stories I just wanted more and more rather than a few short pages. For quite a lot of the short stories, there were strong magical, fairytale and folktale vibes which I loved such as the stories: Snow-White, Whiteclaw and Blaxley and The Painted Platform but then there were some mediocre ones, in my opinion. There was only one negative and it's not about the actual book but the formatting on my Kindle app - throughout the book some of the beginnings of sentences had mouse head emojis and on other pages a group of words were smushed together rather than being separate - it was very distracting! Overall, I really liked this short, quick and magical short story collection that left me wanting more!

- Hygge by Charlotte Abrahams - ★★☆☆☆, 2/5 (I'm being very generous with my rating)
This is at least the third book about hygge that I've read and I adore the previous two so I thought I would love this...but I was very wrong! The cover is quite uninspiring, the photos weren't particularly striking (most of them in the e-book version via Netgalley were missing) and the first third of the book is so focused on interior design, specific designers and furniture that for me, someone who is interested in design but not incredibly passionate about, it became quite boring and tedious.

Now, there are some interesting bits about Danish life, the Danish view of hygge and a slightly more balanced view of hygge (there were quite a few negatives about hygge mentioned) but the rest seemed to be a combination of the authors rants about her disjointed family, her life choices and divorce or sections that were just copied and pasted studies/wikipedia entries. At the beginning the author states that she isn't an expert or Danish...so why is she writing this book. I did not enjoy this book and towards the end I was frequently just flicking through; sadly I would NOT recommend. Buy the Little Book of Hygge instead; also it's far prettier, more interesting and composed by not only a Dane but an 'expert' too!

- United States of Absurdity by Dave Anthony and Gareth Reynolds - ★★★★★, 5/5
One of my reading goals for 2017 was to read more non-fiction and unusual, historical and unique non-fiction are my preferred genres so when I noticed this non-fiction on Netgalley I had to request it immediately and I'm SO glad I did as this non-fiction read was very quick and enjoyable, unusual and eye opening read...sometimes in a disturbing way.

The book features unusual people and events during Americas unique *I think it's safe to say that* history and I found it thoroughly fascinating and disturbing in equal measure. There were a couple of people and stories that I already knew of but most were new and delightfully OMG and 'what the hell' that I had to tell the nearest person, albeit omitting the swearing. The only section I wasn't as interested in was the sports section as I have no interest in reading about anything to do with sport but the rest was so entertaining. If you like dark, sarcastic humour and tales of amazement, uniqueness, freak shows and yes, a lot of absurdity then this is for you! However, if you're squeamish or are uncomfortable with the dead bodies, vampires, mistreatment of humans and animals and all round grossness then...read it anyway!

*The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden - ★★★★☆, 4/5
Firstly, how stunning is this cover and secondly the main themes in this book are magic, fairytales, family and Russian folktales - yes, yes, yes! The book follows Vasya, her family and the community her father lords over as well as the magical 'old' gods throughout the wonderfully atmospheric and beautiful Russian forrest setting.

I love the writing style, it was quick to get through and I loved the story as a whole as well as the characters of Vasya, Dunya, Alyosha, the gods and the magical folktale characters but there is one thing I didn't like about this books, well two, the first is the christian themes and the second is the character names which for a non-russian are difficult anyway but every character seems to have at least two names, sometimes three so it can be a little tricky to know who is who on occasion. However, I adored Vasya as she is such a memorable, magical and endearing character (the story as a whole, even though it is quite bleak, is endearing).

The ending was a little bittersweet and I wish it was a little different but overall it was such an enjoyable, magical and endearing story about adversity, family, old religions and gods and to an extent, breaking the stereotype of women. I'd definitely recommend this book!

*Is Canada Even Real? by - ★★☆☆☆, 2/5
I've been loving the non-fiction I've read recently so I couldn't wait to start this book as it seemed like a fun, quirky non-fiction about Canada but sadly for me it turned out to be 60% boring, unrelatable and unusually formatted (although I think that's just because of the e-book format) and only 40% of the book was genuinely interesting and informative - I think Canadians would find it more interesting and nostalgic compared to non-Canadians such as myself. Also the photographs were unusual, blank or a little amateurish. I did however find the sections about Canadian prime ministers and mascots interesting but that's not enough to save the rest of the book from a low rating!

*The Lost Child of Lychford by Paul Cornell - ★★☆☆☆, 2/5
I have seen the first book in this series everywhere when I am casually browsing for books on a Saturday night *wild* but I've read that you don't have to read the first book before this one so I started with this second book in the series/world. I love the cover, the themes of the book which are of witchcraft, ghosts *kind of* and friendship as well as the English country village style setting.

I love the writing style, it's so quick and easy to follow and I finished this novella in a day or so; it is such an easy story but it does have a bit of an atmospheric feel in some parts but for most of the book it has a contemporary vibe which isn't usually what I go for. Even though there were aspects that I loved such as the writing style, the relationship between the three main characters, the setting and how easy to was to get through; I found that I wasn't really interested in what happened, it wasn't as interesting or as creepy, atmospheric or horror filled as I thought it would be sadly. I would recommend it as it's so quick and I definitely want to read more by this author however it just isn't as good, interesting or as witchy as I thought it would be.

*Dark Tales by Shirley Jackson - ★★★☆☆, 3/5
I have wanted to read Shirley Jacksons work for months and I have bought 'the haunting of hill house' but I haven't read it yet however now I can't wait to. This is my second short story collection of the month and I'm starting to get into them although I personally find short story collections quite jarring but I love how quickly I can get through them and the variety of stories. I wasn't as impressed with this one as I was with Happy Ending NOT Guaranteed earlier in the month but I'd still recommend it.

The theme of all of the stories, as the title would suggest, is dark, atmospheric and usually family, marriage or relationship orientated which I liked as I find that any horror or darker stories related to family are really creepy. Some of the stories were very short but most where long enough to really get into the story and get to know the characters and the settings. I would say that 60% of the stories were darkly entertaining and interesting but for me about 40% of the stories were a little boring. I love Shirley Jackson's writing style and I definitely want to read more from her but this wasn't quite for me, probably only because my expectations were so high going into it.

*Those Who Lie by Diane Jeffrey - ★★★☆☆, 3/5
I'm part of the blog tour for this book so I can't really say anything about it now but it follows Emily after she has been part of a tragic accident and all that follows as well as her disturbing past. I liked the writing style, it was very quick to get through but there are difficult and sensitive topics of rape, family issues, stalking and much more. My full review will be live later this month!

I'm currently reading Earth by Jeffrey Jerome Cohen and Linda Elkins-Tanton (I'm finding it quite boring) as well as Heretics! by Steven Nadler and Ben Nadler and The Spy of Venice by Benet Brandreth.

Have you read any of these titles? What are you currently reading? Are we friends on GoodReads

2 comments

  1. The title United States of Absurdity caught my eye! And so did the cover of The Bear and the Nightingale :) -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

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  2. These all look and sound amazing! I must pick up a few of these as I'm left without a book at the moment!

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