Posted in Books, Literature, Reading

Standalone Sunday: The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

Standalone Sunday is a weekly book-tag created by Megan at Bookslayer Reads which aims to promote standalone books which you loved or would recommend.

Today I have chosen is The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, a very large book gifted to me by my brother one Christmas.

Goodreads Synopsis

It is 1866, and young Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On the stormy night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men who have met in secret to discuss a series of unexplained events: A wealthy man has vanished, a prostitute has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely ornate as the night sky.73.Eleanor+Catton-The+Luminaries

My Thoughts

I absolutely love this book because of how so many different stories tie so neatly into each other. Many times I find myself only wanting to read certain accounts of different people, but each chapter was so fascinating and kept me from putting the book down. There are a few characters to keep up with but I didn’t find this difficult at all and I found myself empathising with certain characters. I never believe a book should be longer than it needs to be (It, for example), but I think this story needed to be long in order to connect with the characters and fully grasp the essence of the story.

Posted in Books, Literature, Reading

WWW Wednesday: 28th June 2017

This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived on Taking on a World of Words.

What are you currently reading?

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

As I mentioned in my last WWW post, this book was recommended by a colleague who has a connection to the author. I’m only about thirty pages in so I can’t really make a judgement call on it just yet. But two things stick out that I don’t like in books: the first is not using quotation marks on dialogue, it’s not easy knowing when the character is speaking. The second is the pitfall that seems to happen to all dramas set in Dublin (at least what I’ve read so far): they’re always set in the posh and rich side of the county, AKA, D4. Not all of us a rich and live in big houses in Monkstown! Hopefully the book improves despite these pet peeves of mine.

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What did you recently finish reading?

Dead Man’s Footsteps by Peter James

You’re probably sick to death of reading about this book! This is the fourth instalment of the Roy Grace series, which I really enjoyed. The premise of the book is a man who was there when 9/11 occurred and uses it as a chance to fake his death. Even though I recall clearly watching those horrific events unfold on television, James’s description of what really happened there hit home. Honestly, people must’ve thought the world was ending.

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What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m not too sure, to be honest! It’ll most likely be a Kindle book because I’m currently reading a paperback and try and alternative between the two evenly.

Posted in Books, Literature, Reading

Top Ten Tuesday: Best books I’ve read so far in 2017

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.

So far in 2017 I’ve read exactly 21 books, so at least I have a reasonably sized pool to choose from!

1. Hunt for the Skinwalker: Science Confronts the Unexplained at the Remote Ranch in Utah by Colm A. Kelleher and George Knapp

The legend of skinwalkers has always fascinated me, but this phenomenon is just one of many that plagued Skinwalker Ranch. Yes, this is a true story, and yes, I believe it. I have a firm belief in the paranormal, though that doesn’t mean to say that I believe in every little smudged picture that pops up onto the internet, I do have my sceptical side, but there is definitely something beyond this world, in my opinion. Anyway, this book chronicles the events surrounding a family who move onto a ranch and from day one experience paranormal phenomena, from UFOs, orbs to otherworldly creatures. It’s like someone told the paranormal and extraterrestrial world (I’m still on the fence about the latter) that this was the place to be! Unfortunately animals suffer a lot in this book, from cattle mutilations to dogs being burned alive, so if you’re an animal lover like me, be warned.

2. Hope to Die (D.S. Nathan Cody #2) by David Jackson

I listened to this on audio-book because I had listened to the first instalment on audio-book also, and I just couldn’t imagine reading it. Jonathan Keeble is just excellent at telling these stories! The D.S. Nathan Cody series is set in London. It may seem like your typical run-of-the-mill crime series, but there’s something about Jackson’s storytelling that sets this series apart from the others. Plus, Cody has a backstory, and doesn’t every good detective? Cody used to do undercover work and was subsequently found out and tortured by a gang who still won’t let him rest. He’s receiving mysterious phone calls and in this book, they up their game even further. This is all going on while Cody and his team investigate the murder of a woman outside a church, a woman who is seemingly perfect with no reason for anyone to want to harm her, and yet it looks personal. Dun dun dun!

3. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

I’ve already written a tonne on how much I love this book, so I’ll keep it brief. This book kept me hooked from the beginning. I instantly bonded with the three main characters, and a murder mystery to boot just made it all the more exciting. Beware, the mothers are loose!

4. Dead Simple (Roy Grace #1) by Peter James

This was the first book by Peter James I read, and also the first in the Roy Grace series (because I have to read things in order!). It starts with a stag night (bachelor party for Americans) where the groom-to-be is buried alive by his “mates”. What could possibly go wrong? The plan is to unearth him in a couple of hours but almost as soon as they leave him, the friends are involved in a fatal road collision and the groom is all but left to die in his grave. I found it amazing how James could make a story out of such a storyline, imagine writing long chapters on a character trapped in a coffin! Of course there’s more to the story (isn’t there always?), but this gives an insight in Grace’s own past. Like Nathan Cody, he’s also got a troubled history. His wife Sandy vanished without a trace ten years earlier and Grace has been plagued with it ever since. No detective is perfect, I guess!

5. Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

Again, I’ve already spoken a lot about this book. Anna Kendrick is one of my favourite actresses and her book didn’t disappoint. I learned a lot of new things about her and I loved her honesty when it came to the anxiety she suffers. It just goes to show you that not all celebrities are performing robots!

6. Carve the Mark (Carve the Mark #1) by Veronica Roth

Having enjoyed the Divergent series, naturally I was going to read this. My sister bought it for me for my 29th birthday back in February. Roth does seem to have a theme of bringing two opposite characters (usually male and female) together and exploring their differing personalities. However cliche that sounds, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Roth is good at creating suspense and even making the most evil character likeable.

7. Owning It: Your Bullsh*t-Free Guide to Living with Anxiety by Caroline Foran

This book has helped me immensely. Thanks to it I’m meditating more, I’m doing exercise regimes that suit me, I have activities I can use anywhere at any time to help me when my anxiety flares up. I cannot recommend it enough to anyone who suffers with anxiety. Foran helps you understand that while you cannot beat anxiety, you can learn to manage it and even become friends with it.

8. Looking Good Dead (Roy Grace #2) by Peter James

You’re probably going to get more of this series on my list because I’ve already read four of them so far this year. In the second instalment of this series, a man comes across a DVD containing what looks to him to be a very real murder. Suddenly his life is threatened to keep him quiet, but his guilt is building. Are there more DVDs out there? This chilled me because I’m aware of the dark web and I can only imagine what kind of horrors you’d find on there.

9. The Secret of Crickley Hall by James Herbert

I listened to this on audiobook. As a believer in the paranormal, I absolutely love a good horror story. Though a book of this genre has yet to scare me. The Exorcist came close. In this story, a family decide to move to the countryside of England temporarily, as the husband is an engineering and his new project is essentially out in the sticks. They rent an old mansion called Crickley Hall and it isn’t long before odd occurrences begin to torment the family, especially the family dog who can’t bear to be in the house for one second. The house has a history but no one in the town wants to talk about it. The family are also dealing with the vanishing of their young son a year earlier, and as the house begins to take on a life of its own, the emotions it carries begin to overwhelm the already fragile occupants.

10. Parting Shot (Promise Falls Trilogy #4) by Linwood Barclay

It doesn’t make sense that it’s the fourth book in a TRILOGY. But the third book left so many unanswered questions that it was inevitable we had to return to Promise Falls. Linwood Barclay is my favourite crime writer and I love his ability to tie in so many characters and bringing them back at random, it’s always nice to find out how some characters are doing, because in reality, they’re stories don’t really end with the last page. Promise Falls is all about revenge and now someone is punishing people whose punishment didn’t fit the crimes they committed. We’re brought back to Detective Duckworth and PI Cal Weaver, but there are still other characters we want to catch up with so I predict a fifth book!

Posted in Books, Literature, Reading

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Standalone Sunday is a weekly book-tag created by Megan at Bookslayer Reads which aims to promote standalone books which you loved or would recommend.

Goodreads Synopsis

First, there were ten – a curious assortment of strangers summoned as weekend guests to a private island off the coast of Devon. Their host, an eccentric millionaire unknown to all of them, is nowhere to be found. All that the guests have in common is a wicked past they’re unwilling to reveal – and a secret that will seal their fate. For each has been marked for murder. One by one they fall prey. Before the weekend is out, there will be none. And only the dead are above suspicion.517gZ2MjULL._SX309_BO1,204,203,200_

My Thoughts

I wanted to read this initially because one of my favourite films – Devil – was loosely based on it. It was the first Agatha Christie book I’d ever read and I loved it. I’m a fool for murder mysteries, especially ones that take place among a small group of people. The excitement of trying to figure out who was the culprit and the shock of the reveal made this book a very enjoyable read. I highly recommend it.

Posted in Books, Literature, Reading

Throwback Thursday: The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

Throwback Thursday is a book meme created by Renee (itsbooktalk) as a way to share your old favourites and reminisce about why you loved them so much.

Goodreads Synopsis

When he falls ill on his way home from school, fifteen-year-old Michael Berg is rescued by Hanna, a woman twice his age. In time she becomes his lover—then she inexplicably disappears. When Michael next sees her, he is a young law student, and she is on trial for a hideous crime. As he watches her refuse to defend her innocence, Michael gradually realizes that Hanna may be guarding a secret she considers more shameful than murder.

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I’ll be honest I half-expected this book to be a little creepy given the age gap between Michael and Hanna, but Schlink told it in such a way that it wasn’t just some seedy love story. Hanna especially is such an interesting character and her chemistry with Michael is so profound, you can really feel it coming off the pages. Even years later when they meet again under less-than-ideal circumstances, it’s clear Michael still cares about his former lover. The film is equally as good, though I know that’s a risky thing to say (the film is never as good as the book, and all that), but it was. Kate Winslet did a fantastic job as Hanna and I couldn’t imagine anyone else playing her.

Posted in Books, Literature, Reading

WWW Wednesday: 21st June 2017

This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived on Taking on a World of Words.

What are you currently reading?

Dead Man’s Footsteps by Peter James

This is the fourth book in the Roy Grace series and begins with a man who is in New York on the day of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Then we find a body in a storm drain that’s been there for about 15 years. And finally we have a girl who has returned to England under a false name, clearly on the run from something. Right now, I’m not sure just how all of these stories are linked, but that’s what I love about Peter James, he’s good at threading stuff together but not before leaving you guessing. What I don’t like about the story so far is the new “hot shot” Cassien Pewe who is sniffing around the missing persons case of Roy Grace’s wife. Leave Roy alone!

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What did you recently finish reading?

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

I’ve learned a lot about Anna Kendrick from this book, the number one revelation is that she loves smoking pot! Also that she is not prone to gossip. As much as I love a bit of dirt Anna kept it purely professional and only mentioned people whom I presume had given permission. I don’t think any less of her, in fact I only admire her more. She’s provided a new insight into Hollywood and I can’t help but think of her as not a celebrity, but just a regular person like the rest of us. The only difference is that she makes films for a living. She’s a girl you could pass on the street and think, ‘oh hey, I know her!’ and keep walking. Her anxiety was a comfort (sorry, Anna!) because it’s nice to know that even actors suffer mental health issues.

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What do you think you’ll read next?

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

A girl I work with introduced me to this book, as her roommate is friends with the author. Basically Sally Rooney sold this book for €500K and I want to know what half a million reads like! But the story also sounds good!

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Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama

I’ve actually had this book right beside my bed for months now and yet I forgot about it. I even remember buying it, allowing myself just one book in one of my favourite bookshops. I can’t actually remember what it’s about though, and I’m too lazy to check Goodreads.

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Posted in Books, Literature, Reading

Throwback Thursday: Fallen by Lauren Kate (Fallen #1)

Throwback Thursday is a book meme created by Renee (itsbooktalk) as a way to share your old favourites and reminisce about why you loved them so much.

Goodreads Synopsis

What if the person you were meant to be with could never be yours?

17-year-old Lucinda falls in love with a gorgeous, intelligent boy, Daniel, at her new school, the grim, foreboding Sword & Cross . . . only to find out that Daniel is a fallen angel, and that they have spent lifetimes finding and losing one another as good & evil forces plot to keep them apart.Fallen_cover

Why I love this book

They say you should never judge a book by it’s cover, but in this case I’ll admit that it was the cover that drew me in. That and the fact that the author and I share the same first name!

Having enjoyed the Twilight series because of my love of forbidden romance, this book seemed like one that I’d enjoy and I’m proud to say that I read it before any of the sequels were published (smug!). What really made this book great was the lack of a love triangle. Sure Cam does attempt to kiss our main protagonist Luce, but only to rile Daniel. Unfortunately the movie adaptation (if it’s still happening, I’m not sure) seems to play on a love triangle that didn’t exist in the book.

I enjoyed Daniel trying to repulse Luce in order to keep her away from him, and the setting itself was so unusual. I read the whole series which wasn’t too long or too short. Lauren Kate shows gives a new twist to the supernatural romance element and her imagination is incredible. She has become one of my favourite authors so naturally I recommend her books, especially this one.

Posted in Books, Literature, Reading

Discussion: do you read the introduction?

Not a lot of books I read have introductions, but those that do make me very reluctant to read them. If they’re short, I’ll persevere but if they’re essays I tend to stay away from them. I don’t know if I’m missing out on some vital information but I find reading someone else’s perspective on the story I’m about to read (when it’s not the author introducing the book) is boring. I’d like to make my own deductions without hearing yours!

Someone told me they read them at the end, which I think is a much better idea. What about you? What’s your take on book introductions?

Posted in Books, Literature, Reading

WWW Wednesday: 7th June 2017

This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived on Taking on a World of Words.

What are you currently reading?

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

As I’ve mentioned before, Anna Kendrick is one of my favourite actresses so naturally I bought her biography but it’s taken me way too long to get around to reading it. So far I’m loving it, her essays on significant moments in her life are both witty and entertaining. She doesn’t sugar coat anything and yet she still manages to put a happy spin on it without sounding condescending.

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What did you recently finish reading?

Parting Shot by Linwood Barclay

Speaking of favourites, I’ve already mentioned before that Linwood Barclay is my favourite crime writer. This is his latest release, which follows on from the Promise Falls trilogy. It was good to catch up on characters whose stories didn’t quite end with the close of the trilogy. However, one or two characters were only mentioned in passing so I’m hoping for more on him in the next book.

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What do you think you’ll read next?

I try to go from paperback to Kindle to paperback when I read books, so my next book has to be a paperback. Some of the contenders for my next read include The Vanished Ones by Donato Carrisi, Citadel by Kate Mosse, The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore, or The Snowman by Jo Nesbo (so basically all books mentioned in my last Top 10 Tuesday!).

Posted in Books, Literature, Reading

Standalone Sunday: Phantoms by Dean Koontz

Standalone Sunday is a weekly book-tag created by Megan at Bookslayer Reads which aims to promote standalone books which you loved or would recommend.

This week I have chosen Phantoms by Dean Koontz, which I actually listened to on audio book which I found made it all that much better.32435

Goodreads Synopsis

CLOSER…
They found the town silent, apparently abandoned. Then they found the first body strangely swollen and still warm. One hundred fifty were dead, 350 missing. But the terror had only begun in the tiny mountain town of Snowfield, California.

AND CLOSER…
At first they thought it was the work of a maniac. Or terrorists. Or toxic contamination. Or a bizarre new disease.

AND CLOSER…
But then they found the truth. And they saw it in the flesh. And it was worse than anything any of them had ever imagined…

My Thoughts

The synopsis immediately appealed to me because I love a good mystery, especially a supernatural one, and this takes it to a whole new level. The story doesn’t hang around, everything gets going from the get-go and I love that the main protagonists do everything right. Having read so many predictable mysteries in the past (not always a bad thing), I was prepared for so many mishaps that I would be yelling in my car while listening to it. But this was not the case.

I have never read anything by Dean Koontz before but he has come highly recommended. Needless to say I was not disappointed. If you’re hoping to read this, I strongly urge you to get the audiobook because Buck Shirner does an amazing job.