Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Stillhouse Lake (Rachel Caine)

Caine, Rachel - Stillhouse Lake #1

★★★★★★☆

Title: Stillhouse Lake (Stillhouse Lake #1)
Author: Rachel Caine
Genre: Fiction/Thriller
First published: 2017
Edition: Kindle e-book

Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.

With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.

But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop.

This is such a thrilling read and definitely one of the better ones in the genre that I have read, though to be fair I do not read that many!

I immediately felt connected to our main character Gina, or Gwen as she is now known was. I completely understood why she reacted to events the way she did. Her paranoia was completely understandable and clearly justified. Being a mother myself, her desire to protect her children at all costs rings true and the author manages to make every single aspect of her character believable.

The tension is sustained throughout this novel and like the main character I suspected pretty much every single character as being not quite what they seemed. I loved the fact that this novel made me feel as unsettled and nervous as the characters themselves. Besides, descriptions of serial killer Melvin Royal are absolutely spine chilling. 

The novel ended on one hell of a cliffhanger and since I already had the next book in the series on my Kindle, I moved straight onto that one.

6 out of 7 stars

 

Books · Monthly Reading Wrap-Up

March 2020 Reading Wrap-Up & April Plans

March was an odd month for all of us, I think. I had my birthday at the beginning of the month and then everything went crazy as the corona virus went pandemic.

It was a pretty good reading month overall, especially the first half.

 

 

 

I read 14 books in total. In a way it was quantity over quality, but I did not hate any of the books.  There were a number of books under 200 pages, so it is not as impressive as it looks! I also read one graphic novel/picture book. I listened to two audio books and read a few books that had been on my TBR for ages. I took a foray into adult romance with mediocre results. If you have some recommendations for really good adult romance books, I would love to hear them!

200303 Mackesy, Charlie - The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the Horse1BOOK OF THE MONTH:

The only graphic novel (more of a picture book) I read so far this year, turned out to be my favourite thing in the whole wide world. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy had me in floods of heartwarming tears.

I absolutely loved it and would recommend it wholeheartedly to everyone! It is absolutely precious and so sweet and poignant at the same time. My heart swells just thinking about it!

 

April Reading Plans:

I am currently reading Esmond in India by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. I am also still listening to The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy on audio (narrated by Alan Rickman). I am about halfway through both of those. I started Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine. If I like it, I may read Killman Creek as well. I have been advised to leave it there, rather than read the rest in the series. I will be reading A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, the final book of The Wheel of Time series. It will be weird to have finished it again. Reading a book every two months has been such a staple.

Apart from that, I will read a couple of books from my 20 for 20 list, but I have no fixed reading plans. Instead I will continue to mood read.

What will you be reading?

 

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: The Song of the Sirin (Nicholas Kotar)

Kotar, Nicholas - Raven Son 1 The Song of Sirin

★★★★☆☆☆

Title: The Song of the Sirin (Raven Son #1)
Author: Nicholas Kotar
Genre: Fiction/Fantasy
First published: 2014
Edition: Kindle e-book

An evil omen clouds the sky. A song of lore returns. Can one man’s quest save the world?

Voran can’t help but believe the rumors. As blight ravages the countryside and darkness covers the sun, the young warrior of Vasyllia hears of an ancient spirit that devours souls. He feels powerless to fight the oncoming devastation until a mythical creature entrusts him with a long-forgotten song. Legend has it that such a song can heal the masses, overthrow kingdoms, and raise humans to divine beings…

Armed with the memory of the song, Voran must hunt down a dark spirit before it achieves its goal of immortality. His quest takes him through doorways to other worlds and puts him on a collision course with seductive nymphs and riddling giants. With each step of the journey, the strength of the villainous spirit grows, as does Voran’s fear that the only way to save his world… is to let it be destroyed.

The Song of the Sirin is an epic fantasy retelling of the Russian fairy tale Prince Ivan and the Grey Wolf.

This series has been on my TBR since I first heard about it in 2014. The synopsis simply spoke to me. I finally decided to read it. I feel a curious mixture of slight disappointment and hope.

Let’s get the disappointment out of the way first. I felt the writing, especially early on in the book, felt clumsy and it did not flow well. I felt I was just thrown in the story and I was told things, but I was not getting time to get to know the characters and to understand their motivations. This feeling remained througout this first novel in the series. It felt a bit haphazard at times and there was quite a bit of telling rather than showing.

However, the story did pick up and I really enjoyed the folklore and the actual story it was telling. I was starting to warm towards our characters in the end, but I wish that had happened sooner. Towards the end there were glimpses of beauty in the writing as well that make me want to pick up the next book in this series, because there is clearly so much potential here. 

I will be continuing the series. This book was probably more interesting than its bare rating suggests, but I feel right now this is where it sits in my head.

I should mention that there are strong religious themes, so if that is something you are not comfortable with, this may not be for you. It did not bother me personally, as it really felt part of the folklore this fantasy world was based on.

4 out of 7 stars. 

Books · WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesdays: 25 March 2020

It is a strange time. The coronavirus is tying us all to our homes more so than usual and that certainly has had an effect on my life and that of my family. Luckily we have a lot of outside space and there is always masses to do, so we are never bored, but still… It feels like a strange world at the moment. I am sure it does for you as well!

***

WWW Wednesdays’ home is at Sam’s blog Taking On A World of Words. Check it out!

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you will read next?

***

What am I currently reading?

I have just finished a book today, so I am pretty much on page 2 of my new book, which is The Song of the Sirin. This is the first book in the Raven Son series by Nicholas Kotar. This is one of the series I have had on my TBR the longest and I finally decided to start it. The writing has started out a bit iffy, but we will see. I have high hopes still.

Last night I randomly picked Esmond in India by Ruth Prawer Jabhvala from my shelf. I have two books by this author on my shelf and I finally decided to read one. They are supposed to be comedy of manner type books, set in India. It has been compared to Jane Austen, so I am very curious to see how I will find it. I have read the first chapter last night and really liked it.

And finally, I am listening to The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy as my audio book, read by Alan Rickman. It is a really enjoyable listen. I really enjoy Alan Rickman’s voice reading this type of story. It is a book I tried to read physically in the past and that I have had trouble with, and so far this works far better for me.

Atkinson, Kate - Life After LifeWhat did I recently finish reading?

Cole, Alyssa - A Princess in TheoryWell, I only finished Life After Life by Kate Atkinson today, so good timing! I loved it, so even better! I finished A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole on Friday, which is an adult romance. I did not love that one as much as I had hoped and expected. I have not been getting on with adult romance that well lately.

What do I think I wil read next? 

Not sure at all yet, especially since I am literally on the first or second chapter of two of my reads.  I am still very much mood reading. I may try and tick off another book from my 2020 TBR or my series TBR. Maybe it is time for a non-fiction book? Time will tell what I will be in the mood for!

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Life After Life (Kate Atkinson

Atkinson, Kate - Life After Life

★★★★★★☆

Title: Life After Life
Author: Kate Atkinson
Genre: Fiction/Historical Fiction/Literary  Pages: 611
First published: 2013
Edition: Massmarket Paperback, published in 2014 by Black Swan

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath.

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale.

What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?

It took me a while to read this novel, but in the end I can safely say I loved it. The idea of writing a novel about different outcomes of the same life is so interesting to me and this story was really well executed.  I guess we all have that feeling of déjà vu sometimes and this one takes that to an extreme. I enjoyed that a lot. 

A large part of the novel takes place against the looming and present World War II, normally not a favourite setting  for me, but in the concept of this story it really worked for me.

I felt really connected to Ursula, our main character, and I really enjoyed many of the side characters as well. They were varied and interesting. I loved the essence of Ursula, which shines through in every life she lives.

The hops through time were a little confusing at times, but I never remained confused for that long.

I would wholeheartedly recommend this novel to anyone who would care to read it, as I was really enjoyed it a lot. I will definitely be picking up more books by this author. I loved her writing.

6 out of 7 stars

 

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: A Princess in Theory (Alyssa Cole)

Cole, Alyssa - A Princess in Theory

★★★★☆☆☆

Title: A Princess in Theory (Reluctant Royals #1)
Author: Alyssa Cole
Genre: Fiction/Adult Romance   Pages: 389
First published: 2018
Edition: Kindle e-book

Between grad school and multiple jobs, Naledi Smith doesn’t have time for fairy tales…or patience for the constant e-mails claiming she’s betrothed to an African prince. Sure. Right. Delete! As a former foster kid, she’s learned that the only things she can depend on are herself and the scientific method, and a silly e-mail won’t convince her otherwise.

Prince Thabiso is the sole heir to the throne of Thesolo, shouldering the hopes of his parents and his people. At the top of their list? His marriage. Ever dutiful, he tracks down his missing betrothed. When Naledi mistakes the prince for a pauper, Thabiso can’t resist the chance to experience life—and love—without the burden of his crown.

As I continue on my journey to find an adult romance I could actually really love, I picked this novel as I had heard so many good things about it, Unfortunately this did not quite work for me.

The writing style was fine and I quite liked our female lead, Naledi, who was sassy and smart. I also enjoyed the fact that our main characters were African, which makes a nice change from your stereotypical romance novel heroes and heroines unfortunately. However, the rest of it was just ok for me. The plot was utterly ridiculous, which to be honest I would not have minded, if it had caught my imagination, but it did not manage to that unfortunately.

The love scenes were pretty uninteresting and uninspired and the romance itself left me a little cold. I certainly did not dislike this, but I am not interested in continuing with this series. A lot of readers seem to love this book, so clearly it works for others, but I found it a bit lacking. 

Oh, by the way,  the novel mentions Disney and  Disney princes rather a lot, and it is marketed as a modern Cinderella story. Maybe if you are into that sort of thing, you may like it better than I did.

4 out of 7 stars. 

Books · Reviews

(Audio) Book Thoughts: Educated (Tara Westover)

Westover, Tara - Educated

★★★★★☆☆

Title: Educated
Author: Tara Westover  Narrator: Julia Whelan
Genre: Non-Fiction/Autobiography/Memoir
First published: 2018
Edition: Audio book

Tara Westover grew up preparing for the End of Days, watching for the sun to darken, for the moon to drip as if with blood. She spent her summers bottling peaches and her winters rotating emergency supplies, hoping that when the World of Men failed, her family would continue on, unaffected.

She hadn’t been registered for a birth certificate. She had no school records because she’d never set foot in a classroom, and no medical records because her father didn’t believe in doctors or hospitals. According to the state and federal government, she didn’t exist.

As she grew older, her father became more radical, and her brother, more violent. At sixteen Tara decided to educate herself. Her struggle for knowledge would take her far from her Idaho mountains, over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she’d travelled too far. If there was still a way home.

*

After listening to the last words of this audio book, I can honestly say that I enjoyed it. Tara’s life story is completely alien to me, but I felt her struggle as she fought to emotionally free herself from her family and upbringing.

At the same time I feel like this is not a book I would read again. Not because I did not like it, but because it did not leave a lasting impression on me. I love a good memoir, but I like to come away from them feeling like I have somehow gained something new and valuable from it and I am not sure this one did that for me.  I do not think the hype helped this memoir. It may have made me expect a bit too much.

Having said all that, I do like reading about a different life experience and listening to this on audio was the right decision, even if I did not always enjoy the accents the narrator used for the male characters. I have no complaints otherwise about the way this memoir was told.

If you are interested in listening to or reading Tara’s story, it is definitely worth your time. It just may not blow your mind.

5 out of 7 stars