Posted in Books, Literature, Reading

Review: Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

Goodreads Synopsis

Frances is twenty-one years old, cool-headed, and darkly observant. A college student and aspiring writer, she devotes herself to a life of the mind–and to the beautiful and endlessly self-possessed Bobbi, her best friend and comrade-in-arms. Lovers at school, the two young women now perform spoken-word poetry together in Dublin, where a journalist named Melissa spots their potential. Drawn into Melissa’s orbit, Frances is reluctantly impressed by the older woman’s sophisticated home and tall, handsome husband. Private property, Frances believes, is a cultural evil–and Nick, a bored actor who never quite lived up to his potential, looks like patriarchy made flesh. But however amusing their flirtation seems at first, it gives way to a strange intimacy neither of them expect.As Frances tries to keep her life in check, her relationships increasingly resist her control: with Nick, with her difficult and unhappy father, and finally even with Bobbi. Desperate to reconcile herself to the desires and vulnerabilities of her body, Frances’s intellectual certainties begin to yield to something new: a painful and disorienting way of living from moment to moment.51KAGMZ0wwL

My Thoughts

To start off, I want to disclose that I am from Dublin where this book was set. From the first page I couldn’t help but cringe at how un-Irish the characters were. Of course this takes place on the rich/well-off side of Dublin, but I’ve met enough people from that general area and I wouldn’t classify any of them as being like the characters in this book. Frances and her best friend/ex-lover Bobbi have such deep conversations every minute of everyday, neither of them switch off, I just got the sense that too much research went into these interactions. None of the characters are even likeable. I couldn’t empathise with Frances because she was too fake, apparently trying her best to keep people at a distance but just coming off as rude.

Bobbi I can safely say should be classed as the worst friend in the world. While Frances wasn’t my favourite (no one in the book was), Bobbi really treated her like dirt, even going so far as to physically shush her when Frances seemed finally ready to open up. Who honestly treats someone like that? And don’t get me started on Melissa and Nick, an artsy couple from Monkstown who sleep in separate beds and cheat on each other to keep their relationship interesting. Again, just fake.

One line that really annoyed me, and maybe it’s just because I’m not from the fancy side of Dublin, but at one point Frances’s mother tells her “it was a far cry from Monkstown that you were brought up”, and where was Frances brought up? Sandymount. Let me tell you that Sandymount is just as rich as Monkstown and practically next door to it. I get the impression that Rooney has never stepped outside the bubble of the Dublin 4  area other than to go to the airport.

Don’t get me wrong, Rooney is a fantastic writer, which is why I’m giving this book at least two stars, but the plot was just too unbelievable to be good, with characters who have jumped straight out of a philosophy book. If you’re not from Ireland and you read this book, please don’t assume that’s what we Dublin folk are like, because we’re not!

2 out of 5

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Posted in Books, Literature, Reading

Throwback Thursday: The Mothman Prophecies by John A. Keel

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.

This week I have chosen The Mothman Prophecies by John A. Keel. Some of you may already know that I’m a believer in the paranormal, so naturally I was drawn to this book.

Goodreads Synopsis

West Virginia, 1966. For thirteen months the town of Point Pleasant is gripped by a real-life nightmare that culminates in a tragedy that makes headlines around the world. Strange occurrences and sightings, including a bizarre winged apparition that becomes known as the Mothman, trouble this ordinary American community. Mysterious lights are seen moving across the sky. Domestic animals are found slaughtered and mutilated. And journalist John Keel, arriving to investigate the freakish events, soon finds himself an integral part of an eerie and unfathomable mystery…411T5PDBW3L

Why I love this book

Well for one thing, it’s paranormal! And it’s supposed to be true. I say ‘supposed’ because I know not everyone is a believer. And even believers may have trouble wrapping their heads around this cluster of mysteries that happened in a tiny town in the sixties. Like Skinwalker Ranch, there was no main phenomena in this story. Sure the book is called The Mothman Prophecies, but the Mothman itself isn’t the main topic of thebook. Even if you’re not a believer, this book is fascinating. Keel is an excellent writer and investigator and I feel he doesn’t force the reader to believe in these events as fact, instead he leaves it up to you to decide.

Posted in Books, Literature, Reading

Waiting on Wednesday: The Lying Game

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that you’re eagerly anticipating.

I usually do WWW Wednesday but I’m still reading the same book I was last week, which either means the book is long and/or not that enjoyable (it’s the latter, but just barely). Anyway, I thought I’d give this meme a try.

For my first WoW I have chosen The Lying Game by Ruth Ware. Now I’ll be honest, I didn’t particularly enjoy her first two books but her synopsis’ just have a way of pulling me in so I’m hopeful that she’ll surprise me with a good one. They weren’t awful per se, her characters just need a bit of work.cover-image-the-lying-game.jpg

Publication Date: 25th July

From Goodreads:

On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister…

The next morning, three women in and around London—Fatima, Thea, and Isabel—receive the text they had always hoped would NEVER come, from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only, “I need you.”

The four girls were best friends at Salten, a second rate boarding school set near the cliffs of the English Channel. Each different in their own way, the four became inseparable and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both fellow boarders and faculty, with varying states of serious and flippant nature that were disturbing enough to ensure that everyone steered clear of them. The myriad and complicated rules of the game are strict: no lying to each other—ever. Bail on the lie when it becomes clear it is about to be found out. But their little game had consequences, and the girls were all expelled in their final year of school under mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the school’s eccentric art teacher, Ambrose (who also happens to be Kate’s father).

Posted in Books, Literature, Reading

Teaser Tuesday: Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney (7/4/17)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Purple Booker where you share what you’re reading at the moment and hopefully entice others to read it too. The instructions are as follows:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! Everyone loves Teaser Tuesday.

Top Ten Tuesday is apparently taking a break so I thought I’d give this meme a try!

51KAGMZ0wwLI’m very slow at reading this book and I’m still on the fence about it, in some ways it’s good but I look at it from an Irish girl point of view (this book is also about an Irish girl) and I just can’t relate to the main protagonist, but that’s just me! I’m halfway through it now so there must be something that’s keeping my attention.

“I fixated on perceived wrongs Nick had done to me, callous things he had said or implied, so that I could hate him and therefore justify the intensity of my feelings for him as pure hatred. But I recognised that the only thing he had done to hurt me was to withdraw his affection, which he had every right to do.”

 

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.

Why I love this book101299

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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