Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Sleep (C L Taylor)

Taylor, C L - Sleep

★★★★★☆☆

Title: Sleep
Author: C L Taylor
Genre: Fiction/Thriller   Pages: 350
First published: 2019
Edition: Kindle e-book

To escape her past, Anna takes a job at a hotel on the remote Scottish island of Rum, but when seven guests join her, what started as a retreat from the world turns into a deadly nightmare.

I sped through this closed circuit mystery/thriller novel. It was a very easy read and it pretty much did what I wanted. Well, almost.

The plot was great, the tension was just right and the though the reveal was not incredible, it was good enough. It worked for me anyway.

I do feel that the book missed a bit of a trick. The author could have created so much more atmosphere by showing the reader this storm that was supposed to be raging instead of telling us about it. The book is set on a small Scottish island in an isolated hotel and we are told the visitors are stranded in this hotel because of this massive storm. The reader is told this several times, but the author never describes the storm. No sense of windows rattling, the wind whistling or rain lashing the building. The only time you notice that it is set during the storm is when the author tells you so or when the characters go outside and get wet. She could have done so much more with this to bring another sense of dread to the story and that is a shame.

Overall though, I really enjoyed this one and if you like the synopsis, just read it, because it’s a good one.

5 out of 7 stars

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Books · FIVE

FIVE on FRIDAY: beautiful covers on average books

Last week I looked at ugly covers. This week I thought I would go through some beautiful covers. But not just beautiful covers – beautiful covers on rather average books!

1. The Muse (Jessie Burton) ★★★★☆☆☆

I actually did unhaul this, despite the beautiful cover.

Burton, Jessie - The Muse

2. Talking to the Dead (Helen Dunmore) ★★★★☆☆☆

This is the most beautiful little hardback I own and despite my indifference to the contents, it is one I will treasure forever!

Dunmore, Helen - Talking to the Dead

3. Riders (Veronica Rossi) ★★★☆☆☆☆

I love this cover. I just wish the story was as exciting as the horse on fire – it isn’t. I will keep it for now though…

Rossi, Veronica - Riders

4. The Invisible Library (Genevieve Cogman) ★★★★☆☆☆

I read this on e-book, so I don’t own it. Not sure whether I will ever continue with the series, as I was pretty indifferent to this first book.

Cogman, Genevieve - The Invisible Library

5. The Bird King ( G Willow Wilson) ★★★☆☆☆☆

I loved this cover so much, but again, the story just did not grab me.

Wilson, G Willow - The Bird King

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Do you have any book with gorgeous covers that really did not live up to their exterior?

 

 

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: A Long Way Down (Nick Hornby)

Hornby, Nick - A Long Way Down

★★★☆☆☆☆

Title: A Long Way Down
Author: Nick Hornby
Genre: Fiction/Contemporary   Pages: 257
First published: 2005
Edition: Paperback, published in 2006 by Penguin

Meet Martin, JJ, Jess, and Maureen. Four people who come together on New Year’s Eve: a former TV talk show host, a musician, a teenage girl, and a mother. Three are British, one is American. They encounter one another on the roof of Topper’s House, a London destination famous as the last stop for those ready to end their lives.

I had to force myself to finish this novel, which is never a good thing. It is not that it is badly written, or that it is a bad plot, but it simply did not do much for me personally.

The premise was interesting. The novel is about four people, who meet on a roof of a tall building, each meaning to commit suicide for a variety of reasons. Now, this is a pretty heavy topic and I felt the book sort of made light of that. I understand that books about suicide do not necessarily have to be dark, but I simply felt like the author used it as a  trope to tell a story about four, frankly, quite uninteresting people.

And that is my main issue. The four main characters were simply not interesting enough. I don’t need to like a person to enjoy a character, but I did not care about any of these people. Maybe Maureen had most of affection, but really none of them were able to carry the story for me.

It was not a bad book, but it was just ‘meh’ for me and this book is going on my unhaul pile.

3 out of 7 stars

Books · WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesdays: 11 September 2019

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WWW Wednesdays is a meme hosted by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words.

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

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What am I currently reading?

I am currently reading Knife of Dreams, which is book 11 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. It is epic fantasy in the most epic of ways. I am enjoying this one, but I am taking it reasonably slowly. The book is almost 800 pages.

Alongside that one I am reading A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby. This is one of my Lingering Books. I am not quite halfway, and it’s ok. I don’t really like any of the characters very much and it is not quite grabbing me, but it is very readable.

Finally I am listening to Michelle Obama narrating Becoming. The more I listen to her the more I come to love and respect her. I am really enjoying it so far. I have listened to about 8 hours so far with about 12 hours remaining. I might finish it before the end of the month. Maybe…

What did I recently finish reading?

Since last Wednesday I have fiished listening to Walking Home by Clare Balding, which was really enjoyable. I finished A Polar Affair by Lloyd Spencer Davis, which was super interesting, and I finished Tin Man by Sarah Winman, which was also pretty good (and emotional). All in all, it has not been a bad week at all.

What do I think I will read next?

I will either pick up Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie, Never Greener by Ruth Jones or Sleep by C L Taylor. It just depends on my mood. All three are on my September TBR.

Random Chatter

Off-Topic: Knowing People (observations through my Airbnb business)

Not in the ‘I know a famous person’ kind of Knowing People, but more in a ‘understanding and reading people’ kind of way.

I was confronted with this today. I run a Airbnb cottage and I get all sorts of people through the door. It is a self-contained annex, so they do their own thing and I simply provide a place to stay. I get people from all sorts of places, from all over the world, and I love meeting them. Some like to chat, some don’t. Both are fine.

Some nationalities are definitely cleaner than others. I was never prejudiced, but I have become a bit more so since running my business. If I have people from certain countries, I know I will have a bit more work to do when they leave. It must be a cultural thing.  They tend to be very friendly though. 🙂

Some people are tidier than others, some people complain to your face, some only through their feedback. Some tell you how great your place is and how at home they feel. Some people simply come to relax and don’t pick everything apart, some seem to take a strange joy in doing just that.

I just wanted to get this off my chest! I had some people stay in my cottage over the weekend. I had a changeover on the same day, so I had people leaving and arriving, which is fine. I plan for these things! Check-out is 11, check-in from 3pm, so plenty of time. However, the contrast between these people could not have been bigger.

The first lot was a couple, who had brought their dog. They were young(ish) and polite, but clearly well spoken and well to do. We talked a bit and they went about their business.

Then the second late were two older couples, who seemed quite nice on the surface, but I felt something off under the surface. And I already knew at that moment these people would be the very picky kind. You know, the kind that trace their finger over every high surface to check for dust. And sure, if you go looking for dust, there is bound to be some somewhere! The annoying thing to me is that they gave me a 2*-rating for cleanliness, which is frankly, absolutely ridiculous. Their complaint was that there was fly-poop and dust. Now, I went in to clean with this in mind, quietly annoyed about the 2* rating, where I am used to 5* ratings, and thought I would be extra vigilant for both of these things. I found some fly poo (not a lot) and some dust (again, minimal). If you have one fly in the house for one day, there will already be fly poo and I may have forgotten to dust some farflung corner. It happens. If they had deducted 1 or 2 stars, fine. But a 2* rating for an otherwise spotless holiday home! In a way, it made it easier for me to not feel too bothered by it, as it is completely out of proportion. If they feel that way, then let them feel that way. It is not hurting my overall rating at all.

They also rated me only 4* for communication, which seems high enough, but it makes no sense considering all the communication I have had with them, in which they praised me for my quick and clear responses. Oh well! The mind boggles…

The annoying thing is that I wanted to rate them down a point because something broke and they had not told me, but I ended up not doing that, because I am not that petty. Now I wish I had!

It kind of made me smile, as I had kind of predicted that they would be extremely critical. They were simply that type of people. It’s fine. They do them. I know the majority of my guests love my place and feel it is very clean and beautiful. Some people just exist to be negative, which is my biggest pet peeve in life.

I hate any negativity around me. It really riles me up for some reason. These guests’ feedback simply amused and apalled me in equal measure and I felt like talking about it for a minute.

Funnily enough, all the hypercritical people I have had come and stay in our annex have all been the same nationality. Go figure!

 

Randomness

Let’s Talk about the upcoming The Wheel of Time TV Adaptation

So, Amazon is turning my favourite epic fantasy series into a TV series. Is that exciting? Yes, definitely. Is it scary? Hell, yeah, what if it ends up being a complete farce like the Shannara Chronicles car crash? But I have a bit of hope that it won’t… Why not? Well…

1. It’s Amazon and one presumes that the program will have a decent budget. I mean, when I heard the budget for their (completely unneccesary) Lord of the Rings adaptation it kind of blew my mind!

2. Creator Rafe Judkins is a big fan of the actual book series and director (of at least the first episode) Uta Briesewitz has plenty of experience with big shows (Jessica Jones, Westworld, Stranger Things, Altered Carbon, etc)

3. Robert Jordan’s widow Harriet and Brandon Sanderson are involved in some sort of consulting capacity. Sanderson has said that the changes they made to the source material make sense considering the different medium and I think I trust his opinion.

4. The casting so far looks pretty solid. A big actress (Rosamund Pike) to play Moiraine and lesser known/less exposed talented actors for the younger roles. I am curious to see what other actors will be cast!

Image result for emond's field five

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I am curious to see what changes will  be made. From what I have heard Moiraine is the main protagonist in at least the first few episodes, whereas Rand is the main protagonist in the first book. Apparently they are also expanding the role of Logain, the false dragon. I think that could actually be a good move. I wonder whether they will show Rand and Logain with parallel storylines, so people unfamiliar with the books may not be sure who the true Dragon Reborn is.

Considering that Moiraine is kinda the main girl in the TV series, I wonder whether they will pull some of the prequel New Spring into the show to show some of her (and Lan’s) background.

I am also pretty curious what R-rating they will put on it. I mean, there is quite a bit of nudity, sex and violence in the books, even if the writing is never that gory or explicit. Bad, cruel shit happens all the time in these books and there is so much nudity!

Will they condense the books? How closely will the series follow the main events from the books? What will it expand on? What will it cut out? So many questions!

However, something I really love about these books is the cultural details. Every area in the WOT world has its own very detailed cultural differences. I hope they bring a lot of that to the screen as well. It is what makes Jordan’s fantasy world so rich.

***

Have you read the books? Are you excited about the TV series? What changes do you think will/should be made?

Buckle up! The Wheel of Time Series is only two years away… 😂😉

 

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Tin Man (Sarah Winman)

Winman, Sarah - Tin Man

★★★★★☆☆

Title: Tin Man
Author: Sarah Winman
Genre: Fiction/Literary Fiction   Pages: 213
First published: 2017
Edition: Kindle e-book

Man, this little novel hit me in the feels. Curse you, Sarah Winman, for breaking my heart!

This novel is told in two parts by two men, who were always more than best friends. The first is a third person narrative from Ellis’ point of view and the second is a first person narrative from Michael’s point of view. Even whilst I was reading Ellis’ part, I felt like it would have been much better in first person. I found the third person narrative a little jarring here. I was pleasantly surprised when it came to Michael’s part. I was right. The first person narrative felt much more natural to me and it was the bit that had me in tears. Of course, the author probably used these narrative styles for the two men for a good reason. Maybe to underline the difference between them?

I felt like Ellis’ part was the skeleton and Michael’s tale the flesh.

The relationships in this book are just wonderful and I fell in love with Annie along the way. She was a character that I really connected to, even if we never really got to know her that well. The relationship between Ellis and Michael is uneven, but powerful, and beautifully written.

As the second part was, in my opinion, much stronger, I left the book on a high (but sad) note and I feel glad that I have read it. This will hit you in the feels, but it is so worth reading!

5 out of 7 stars (so close to 6 stars!)