Books · Sunday Summary

Sunday Summary: 15 March 2020

It’s been a sort of week, that’s for sure. With Corona virus restrictions firmly in place now everything seems to have slowed down somehow. My husband is working from home for the forseeable future and I have been having a cold, so I have to try and restrict my contact with others, even though I am pretty sure it’s NOT the freaking virus! I have also just been told my daughter’s school is closing for the next three weeks and there will be some sort of home education. We will see what happens.

Luckily, my local supermarket was still pretty well stocked and people around here do not seem to be hamstering’ much. I only noticed there was a distinct lack of eggs and tissues. Surprising, the toiletpaper situation seemed to be fine

The endless rain seems to have finally given way to a drier spell. which I am soooo happy about. Now, if only we would have a few sunny days to help dry out the land – that would be awesome!

READING

I have been mood reading via prompts this month, but the quality of my chosen reads has been very patchy. I may forgo using prompts for the rest of the month and just mood read, concentrating on more recent purchases. I am not quite sure yet.

Also, I finished a series, so I can start a new one! I have been thinking about which one to start. I want to hold off on the Mistborn series for another couple of months, so I have narrowed it down to either the Hyddenworld series by William Horwood, the Raven Son series by Nicholas Kotar, the Lockwood & Co series by Jonathan Stroud or The Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch. I have the first books in the latter two series and I own the complete Hyddenworld series because I love William Horwood! I have the first two books of the Raven Son series on my Kindle as well. I am really excited about all of these. so which one to start? I will decide after finishing my current reads.

 

I am about 50 pages into Life After Life by Kate Atkinson and so far I am into it! It gives me a headache to be fair, but I am so curious to see where this story is going to take me.

I have also tentatively started A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole, which is another adult romance that I have heard lots of good things about. I started it on a whim on my Kindle and I am only a few pages in.  I hope I will like it!

I think I will be finishing Educated by Tara Westover in the next day or two, which I have been listening to on audio. It’s been an good listen, even if it has not been quite as interesting as I expected.

OTHER

 

 

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: The Italian Woman (Jean Plaidy)

Plaidy, Jean - The Italian Woman

★★★★☆☆☆

Title: The Italian Woman
Author: Jean Plaidy
Genre: Fiction/Historical Fiction   Pages: 385
First published: 1952
Edition: Paperback, published by Arrow in 2006

When Catherine de’ Medici was forced to marry Henry of Orleans, her’s was not the only heart broken. Jeanne of Navarre once dreamed of marrying this same prince, but like Catherine, she must bend to the will of King Francis’s political needs. And so both Catherine and Jeanne’s lives are set on unwanted paths, destined to cross in affairs of state, love and faith, driving them to become deadly political rivals.

Although I appreciated the story this novel told, based on true facts, it simply was not told in a compelling enough way for me.

When a story takes a formidable character from history, such as Catherine de Medici in this case, you know you should be in for an interesting read. In places this novel was fascinating, but overall it was too much like reading non-fiction. It felt a bit clinical and distant in the way biographies I have read on similar topics can do. In fact, it made me think I may want to read a biography on this infamous, but very interesting woman. Maybe that would suit me better.

I enjoy historical fiction and when they are based on actual people from history I don’t mind if their story is embellished or dramatized. In fact, I tend to prefer it. This was ok for me and I do not regret reading it, but unfortunately  I am unlikely to read more from this author,

4 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Sparrow (Mary Cecilia Jackson)

Jackson, Mary Cecilia - Sparrow

★★★★★☆☆

Title: Sparrow
Author: Mary Cecilia Jackson
Genre: Fiction/YA/Contemporary   Pages: 360
First published: to be published 17 March 2020 by Tor Teen
Edition: E-book courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher

Though Savannah Rose―Sparrow to her friends and family―is a gifted ballerina, her real talent is keeping secrets. Schooled in silence by her long-dead mother, Sparrow has always believed that her lifelong creed―“I’m not the kind of girl who tells”―will make her just like everyone else: Normal. Happy. Safe. But in the aftermath of a brutal assault by her seemingly perfect boyfriend Tristan, Sparrow must finally find the courage to confront the ghosts of her past, or lose herself forever….

I feel conflicted on this book. I respect what it does and the subject matter is close to my heart.

I feel like the subject matter, a toxic teenage relationship and its aftermath, is a very important one and in that regard I think this is one of those books that I feel is worth reading for every teenager. In large parts of the books this was handled well. I liked both main characters, though sometimes the change of POV jarred a bit, mainly because they did not run smoothly into each other.

The pacing of this novel and the way the storyline was plotted out, felt a little uneven to me. Some things were not explained well enough and others a bit too much. I feel like some important events in the narrative were glossed over.

I did like the friendship between our main characters, Sparrow and Lucas, and their friend Delaney, but at the same time I wanted a bit more from it and I felt some of their friends could have been fleshed out a bit to make it an altogether stronger friendgroup.

Despite the issues I had with the above, I enjoyed this read and I am glad I read this novel. I would still happily recommend it. I think with a bit of fleshing out in the right places it could have been an excellent read.

5 out of 7 stars

 

Books · WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesdays: 11 March 2020

***

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?

My last throw in my Random TBR Game for Mood March was a Lingering Book (no 28), which means a book that I may not have been intending to read anytime soon, one that is likely to simply linger on my shelves. I chose to read The Italian Woman by Jean Plaidy for this.  It is a historical fiction about the French court set in the 1500s. The title refers to Catherine de Medici, who was married to Henry II of France. I am almost a third of the way in and I am not enjoying it as much as I had hoped. It is written in a rather dry style.

I am also listening to Educated by Tara Westover. I am just over halfway and I have to admit that, although I am enjoying the listen well enough, objectively it is not the most interesting thing I have ever listened to.

What have I recently finished reading?

It has been an interesting week reading wise, thanks to my Mood March TBR game.

So let’s see. First I finished Seeker by Veronica Rossi, which I read as my Series Sequel (no 27). Well, that was a bit of a disappointment. Or maybe it wasn’t – it was what I expected, since I did not much like the first book.  I only gave it 3 out of 7 stars.

I read Rain by Melissa Harrison as my short book (no 25), which is a non-fiction book about walks in the rain (very appropriate for this very wet winter!). I enjoyed that one, though it could have done with a bit more substance. (5 out of 7 stars)

For Adult Romance (no 19) I decided to read an e-book, which was The Awakening of Ivy Leavold (Markham Hall #1) by Sierra Simone, which felt so incomplete I read the next one as well, The Education of Ivy Leavold (Markham Hall #2). I enjoyed the first well enough (5 out of 7 stars), whereas the second one was a little too much for me (3 out of 7 stars). There is a clearly a line in my adult romance that I do not like being crossed.

Finally, I finished on a high note with Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie for a Mystery (no 37), which I really enjoyed and gave 6 out of 7 stars.

It is definitely an interesting way of choosing a book and it made me read books I otherwise may not have picked up so quickly. It is good to be pushed out of your comfort zone sometimes.

Jackson, Mary Cecilia - SparrowWhat do I think I will be reading next?

Well, I will be reading Sparrow by Mary Cecilia Jackson this week, as it is a NetGalley ARC and it comes out next week. My game did generate no 31 Atkinson, Kate - Life After Lifeas well, which is a NetGalley book, so clearly it wants me to read it! I also pulled no 24 (big book >500 pages), and I have decided to read Life After Life by Kate Atkinson for that. That book is on my 20 for 2020 TBR. I don’t expect to read any more than that in the next week! In fact I will be surprised if I finish all of those, as I have a pretty busy week ahead!

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Murder on the Orient Express (Agatha Christie)

Christie, Agatha - Murder on the Orient Express

★★★★★★☆

Title: Murder on the Orient Express
Author: Agatha Christie
Genre: Fiction/Mystery   Pages: 240
First published: 1934
Edition: Hardback, published by Harper Collins in 2017

Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for the time of the year, but by the morning it is one passenger fewer. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside.

Isolated and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must identify the murderer—in case he or she decides to strike again.

This is one of those books that you really should make time for. It is such a good mystery and wonderfully plotted. It is a mystery classic for a good reason.

Here we have arguably the most famous closed circuit mystery of all. A murder takes place on a train and good old Hercule Poirot is there to try and solve the crime. I really liked the way this book is plotted. We meet all the characters through Poirot’s eyes before the crime is commited and then see him meet them again, one by one, as he compiles his evidence.

The only think that kind of stops short of making this a perfect book is Christie’s writing style, which is very restraint. A little too much so for my tastes. However I still really enjoyed this one and I am so glad to have finally read this gem of a book. \

If you are going to read an Agatha Christie, you may as well read this one, one of her most famous for a reason.

6 out of 7 stars

 

Books · Reviews

Adult Romance: Markham Hall #1 & #2 (Sierra Simone)

As I like to get out of my comfort zone sometimes, I decided to read some adult romance by an author I see recommended regularly in this particular genre. When I do read adult romance, I often end up feeling like rolling my eyes most of the way through them. Let’s see how these ones fared!

Simone, Sierra - The Awakening of Ivy Leavold

★★★★★☆☆

Title: The Awakening of Ivy Leavold
Author: Sierra Simone
Genre: Fiction/Adult Romance/Historical Romance   Pages: 184
First published: 2015
Edition: Kindle e-book

When Ivy Leavold is left destitute by her brother’s death, she is taken in by her cousin’s brooding, tortured widower—Julian Markham. Handsome and possessive, it’s not long before Ivy falls for him. But Mr. Markham has dark secrets, secrets that may put Ivy in danger…

This was fun. Kind of ridiculous, but fun.

Literally everyone in this book had only one thing on their minds and you can guess what that is. I would probably have been rolling my eyes a ton if the writing had not been pretty strong.

Overall, I really enjoyed this one. It used none of the cringe words that tend to annot me in a rather erotic story like this. The sex, which let’s face it, is what drives a book like this, was reasonably well handled, but what I liked about this novella was our main female lead. I liked her a lot, even if she is basically a slave to her own urges.

I also liked that there is a mystery in the background of all of this, which gives it a bit more meat – pun definitely intended.

This is book 1 in a 4-part series and it kind of feels like it is part of a novel that has been chopped into bits. It felt incomplete and it kind of makes you want to read the next book, which is infuriating, but kind of clever.

As far as smutty books go, I have read far worse!

5 out of 7 stars.

***

Simone, Sierra - The Education of Ivy Leavold

★★★☆☆☆☆

Title: The Education of Ivy Leavold
Author: Sierra Simone
Genre: Fiction/Adult Romance/Historical Romance   Pages: 156
First published: 2015
Edition: Kindle e-book

Ivy Leavold came to Markham Hall looking for a home and a new start, and instead she found the enigmatic Julian Markham–along with a love that threatened to consume them both.  Now Mr. Markham is offering her a new life as his bride, as the mistress of Markham Hall, and Ivy wants nothing more than to say yes.

I always feel there is a very fine line between adult romance I like and which I don’t like. I liked the first book well enough, but this second book is just tipping over that line for me.

It was just a bit too much sex and throwing buzz words in there. It stopped being sexy and went into eye-roll territory for me.

The author is good at writing dialogue when she does, but these character seem to do most of their talking with their body parts, even at moments where it does seem proposterous to do so. Now, I am well aware that this is the genre, but I think this book in particular would have been a hell of a lot more sexy if there wasn’t quite so much sexy times. There was too little tension here, too little chemistry, which the author can write well enough, so I am surprised at its absence here.

I will probably read book 3 at some point, but not for a little while.

3 out of 7 stars

***

It was interesting to read out of my comfort zone, but it re-established that although I like a good adult romance from time to time, I need good writing and good chemistry for me to enjoy them.

Books · Reviews

Non-Fiction Thoughts: Rain (Melissa Harrison)

Harrison, Melissa - Rain

★★★★★☆☆

Title: Rain
Author: Melissa Harrison
Genre: Non-fiction / Nature Writing / Walking  Pages: 104
First published: 2016
Edition: Paperback, published by Faber & Faber in 2017

Whenever rain falls, our countryside changes. Fields, farms, hills and hedgerows appear altered, the wildlife behaves differently, and over time the terrain itself is transformed.

In Rain, Melissa Harrison explores our relationship with the weather as she follows the course of four rain showers, in four seasons, across Wicken Fen, Shropshire, the Darent Valley and Dartmoor.

Since it has been raining since what seems like months, I finally decided to read this little non-fiction book. The author takes us on four country walks in rainy weather and talks about wildlife, childhood memories and weather folklore as she does.

I love Melissa Harrison’s writing and I really enjoyed it, but at the end I just felt I would have liked a bit more substance to it somehow. I am not even sure exactly why or how and I understand that this is supposed to be a little celebration of the fickle English weather, but I just wish there had been a bit more to it.

Overall, I really enjoyed this one and it made me want to go for a walk in the rain. Well, maybe when it’s a bit warmer. I will definitely be trying one of Melissa Harrison’s novels very soon.

5 out of 7 stars