Top Ten Tuesday – Books I Can’t Believe I’ve Read

Hey bookaholic friends!

What are you all reading this week? I have finally managed to get my hands on a copy of The Cruel Prince by Holly Black. It’s my first Holly Black read and I love her interpretation of the world of Faerie so far, although some of these faeries are downright mean!

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday was quite a difficult one to interpret. Some books I can’t believe I read because they were so awful, some because they were so long, some because of the subject matter etc. So there’s a real mixture in this week’s top ten!

10) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

As someone who works with young children which have various kinds of needs, both educational and behavioural I really wanted to champion the perspective of Christopher Boone, however I found the writing style quite awkward for me to read and take in. I’m not sure if this was just the time during which I read it but for some reason I can’t believe I made it through to the end.

9) Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Now before anyone starts outcries or pulling funny faces, I am a massive Lord of the Rings fan. The reason this is on my top ten this week is purely because of the length of the book. I had a beautiful golden paperback edition gifted to me by one of my school friends for my 16th birthday which contains all three stories and the multitude of appendices. I read it all in one go! Yes it took me a good few months to get through it all the way to the end, but I’m so glad that I was able to tick this off on my read shelf on Goodreads. It has to be one of my all-time favourites! I’m sure I remember Sir Christopher Lee saying that he used to reread Lord of the Rings every year and boy do I take my hat off to him for that!

8) Sex and the City by Candace Bushnell

I picked up a cheap copy of this at a book store in town. Due to a printing error there was no cover art so it was basically just a blank white cover and you could only see the faint imprint of the title on the spine. As a fan of the TV show I decided to give it a shot but I think I was expecting it to be more like the TV show than it was. Some of the characters were a little unrecognisable to my eyes and had I not enjoyed the TV show so much I don’t think I would have ever picked this up which is why it made my top ten this week.

7) A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

I read this for a book club a few years ago and the only way I can describe it is quirky and bizarre. I’m not sure I even remember anything the book was about! Thinking back, I must have osmosed most of the words and just kept absorbing them one by one until I turned the final page. It’s one of the few Pulitzer Prize winners that I’ve actually “read” but I just can’t believe I made it all of the way to the end without recollecting anything. I’m probably missing some really deep meaning about the American Dream or the trials and tribulations of what it means to be human but sadly I just could not get into the spirit of this book.

6) A Thing or Two about Curtis and Camilla by Nick Fowler

Not going to lie, the dog on the front cover of this book is what drew me to it and was a prime example of why I should not just buy books because of their cover. This is possibly the ONLY book I have ever DNF’d (and I sneakily shelved it as read on Goodreads because I just couldn’t bear to try to wade through until the end). I could not find myself championing a single character; in fact the one I honestly supported was the poor daschund! Never before has a book made me quite so dismissive about it but this one just did, so much so that it was the second one I picked out almost instantaneously when sitting down to write this post.

5) Wetlands by Charlotte Roche

When this book was published, all pink and shiny with a giant and salacious-looking avocado on the cover, there was quite a lot of hype surrounding the subject matter of it. I remember the author being on the news and interviewed about her decision to write so honestly and controversially about sexuality and because curiosity usually prevails and gets the better of me I somehow found myself picking it up in Waterstones and taking it home. Some parts I laughed at, some parts I cringed at, but it will always remain one of those novels I can’t actually believe I read, let alone paid for!

4) Moby Dick by Herman Melville

I’m not terribly good with classics. I have to be in the mood to read them and almost translate the old styles of writing in my head so I have some kind of clue about what is actually happening. For a few years I’d owned the gorgeous Vintage edition of Moby Dick and it had been on my TBR ever since I found out it was what Matilda and Miss Honey were reading at the end of the film (Call me Ismael). What gave me the final push to read it was the film In the Heart of the Sea with Chris Hemsworth. I’m glad that I persevered and got myself through it. I enjoyed a majority of the text but my brain did have to train itself to skim the long ‘waffley’ parts and slow down again for the main parts of the story. I guess I feel a kind of achievement in reading it which is why I picked out for my list this week.

3) American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis

Do I really need to justify why I can’t believe I read this…??Some parts of this tale give new meaning to the word horror story, and not in a good way. I don’t know if I’m perturbed by its subject matter and content or in awe of it as a piece of literature and I don’t think I’ll ever work out the answer to that in my head either.

2) Pure Dead Magic by Debi Gliori

I have a disorder when it comes to buying books. If it’s on offer, it’s got a shiny cover, it’s about magic or I have to spend a certain amount to get free shipping then it’ll usually end up in my basket. That’s how the entire Pure Dead Magic series ended up on my shelves. I can’t believe I got through the first one and don’t think I’ll get around to reading the rest. For some reason the computers + magic calculation didn’t cast a spell on me.

1) The Fifty Shades Trilogy by E.L. James

I could not justify giving this three spaces on my top ten but this was the very first book/series that came to mind when thinking of books I can’t believe I’ve read. Yet again, I followed the hype and purchased the books which caused such a furore, then I sat down and read them and could not for the life of me realise why it received the reaction it did. Quite often, people are surprised when I say I’ve read all three. I’ve certainly read more explicit books than that, I’ve also read many many more well-written books than that as well. For some reason, I’ve also seen the films and will probably see the last one when it’s released next month, but I draw the line at reading the same books rehashed again just from a different character’s perspective (I’m lookin’ at you Grey!). Kudos to James though, she’s made her money and got her name on the bookshelves but I cannot believe I read them. What’s possibly worse is that I also can’t believe that they are still sat on my shelves!

So that’s my real mish-mash this week for Top Ten Tuesday – Books I can’t believe I’ve read (and equally can’t believe I’ll admit to reading some of them!).

Until next time, have a good week my bookaholic friends!

Top Ten Tuesday – Books I Enjoyed Reading But Can’t Remember Anything About!

Top Ten Tuesday time!

It’s my first ever time compiling a list of books for Top Ten Tuesday and whilst I loved the challenge of it, it’s made me want to reread nearly all of the books that made it into my top ten! 🙈

So here goes, the top ten books I really enjoyed reading but can’t remember much about…

10. Bubbles Unbound by Sarah Strohmeyer

This was one of the first remotely adult books that I read; I think it was a gift from an aunt. I’m pretty sure that the character solves a crime case although I can’t be sure. The one thing that I do remember above all else is that she used that iconic Maybelline Great Lash mascara, you know, the one with the bubblegum pink tube and lime green lid!

9. Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier

I read this one after a trip to the place itself on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. My friend and I were massive Most Haunted fans and had to make a stop there whilst on holiday. Sadly, I remember more about the trip there than the actual book!

8. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

This was the first audiobook I ever owned and listened to. I don’t really get along with audio books as I can never concentrate for long enough without zoning out. That’s probably why I don’t remember a single thing about the plot of The Lost Symbol at all. I can’t even remember who-dunnit, or even what they did for that matter! However I do know that it takes place in Washington, and obviously there’s conspiracy involved!

7. The Winter Ghosts

I thoroughly enjoyed Kate Mosse’s Labyrinth trilogy from the characters, to the plot and that gorgeous French Languedoc setting. That’s why when looking through my shelves on Goodreads I was really surprised to find that I couldn’t recall a single thing about this novel of hers.

6. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Hope this doesn’t raise a few eyebrows because I wanted so much to try and remember what on Earth happened in this. This series has been fairly hyped and Stiefvater has a great reputation as an author, her Raven Boys cycle is definitely in my TBR. Obviously I know Shiver was about werewolves but other than that…I’m drawing a blank!

5. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka

Without a doubt this is one of the fascinatingly titled books I’ve ever read! Stating the obvious I think it might have involved a tractor, but then again, as with the trend of this post I really can’t be sure what the hell it was about. I definitely know that I liked it though and found it quite amusing.

4. The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

Purely for the sense of weirdness and macabre surrounding Banks’ work I was drawn into picking up a copy of The Wasp Factory just to see what all the fuss was about. I remember admiring Banks’ writing, but sadly for The Wasp Factory, nothing more than that!

3. The Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

This one really pains me to admit! I am a huge fan of Neil Gaiman and have read most of his works; Neverwhere is one of my all-time favourites purely for the ingenuity of his portrayal of London. For some unknown reason Anansi Boys just got blotted out of my memory. I feel a reread coming on…

2. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

As a massive Florence + The Machine fan, I had to join the book club, Between Two Books, inspired by Flo’s love for reading. One of the monthly book suggestions was The Marriage Plot which I dived into having read and enjoyed his other book The Virgin Suicides. Again, I remember enjoying the storyline, but I have no idea what that storyline was!

1. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie is one of those authors, like Murakami, who I really love to put on my TBR list. To me they have this complex magical realism that makes me feel like I’m challenging myself and becoming more cultured when I’m reading it. Midnight’s Children was my introduction to Rushdie’s work as I read it for part of my English Lit degree. I remember being so excited to finally get my hands on it, excited to crack open the first page and start reading…and then that’s it! The only thing I remember about the story itself was a character called Wee Willie Winkee, but that’s was purely down to our Professor’s pronunciation of it. I’ve since read other works by Rushdie including The Satanic Verses, The Enchantress of Florence and Two Years Eight Months and Twenty Eight Nights and I do remember those so I’m definitely going to try rereading Midnight’s Children to see if I can get a grip on it a second time round.

And there it is, the top ten books that I really enjoyed reading but can’t remember a single thing about! Did any of these make your list? What would you put in your own Top Ten? Drop me a comment!

Pinnacle – Book Review

•   Published 6th February 2018 by Astraea Press (Paperback)

•   298 pages

•   ISBN-13:978-1621357339

•   Rated: 4/5 Magical Attributes

“Identifying her parents was the hardest thing ever, until Kaya learned she was the killer’s next target. Moving had thrown the ancient predator off her trail temporarily but with magical abilities manifesting, Kaya’s scent grows stronger and the attempts on her life become constant. Narrowly surviving each encounter, Kaya is desperate to stop her potential assassin, but it’s hard to kill a creature that changes its appearance and disappears without a trace. Kaya finds the support she needs to succeed in her small group of friends and her boyfriend Kenneth. Like so many things, they’re more than what they seem and with the killer having unsettling similarities to Kenneth and his family…Kaya can’t help but wonder if there’s a connection.”

Pinnacle is a brilliant debut from Lynn Veevers and really brings Lycanthropy into the spotlight. The novel has a wide-ranging cast of characters and gives the reader an in-depth look at the powers and heritage of the people within Kaya’s world. There is a lot of character-building which really immerses you into the plot.

At the beginning, I felt like there was a fair bit of info-dumping explaining all of the attributes and qualities of both the Natural and Afflicted Lycans and the Natural Mystics to bring the reader up to speed and into the story. As the descriptions were often quite lengthy and took place during conversations with numerous characters (some of which had been freshly introduced), I found myself having to pay close attention to what was happening to get my head around it all. With a little bit of perseverance, I came to understand more about the complexities of the various character traits. Afflicted Lycans = bad, they’re basically like the Terminators of the Lycan world; Natural Lycans are the good guys and have more than one form and Natural Mystics are like humans but with a specific skill or attribute.

Now Kaya is like the ultimate of the Natural Mystics and the plot revolves around her being the destined Pinnacle. Because of her heritage she has quite a range of different abilities which make her different from other Natural Mystics. She shows a lot of determination and adapts to her powers really well and quite speedily, especially when a new one will pop up out of the blue and show itself suddenly. At times, her relationship with Kenneth was a little cheesy for my personal taste, but I was pleased that the tone of the novel didn’t come across as an angsty teenage romance.

Although there were a lot of characters, you quickly felt like you got to know them as a fair amount of the text was centered around their interactions and conversations with each other. I don’t tend to read many books with werewolf or lycan themes but the likeability of the characters that Veevers created drew me into following their story through until the end.

My highlight of the book is where they journey to a cave in an attempt to track down and discover Senka, the main villain. This part of the novel was able to merge the world-building of the setting whilst also giving the characters a chance to demonstrate their skills in a battle-type situation. It gave the story a little more action and pace. I also felt that this was the part of the story where all of the main components came together and gave the story its link into the second novel Eximius.

Overall I really enjoyed Pinnacle, it was thrilling to read a book which had little complexities layered throughout its narrative. It really made me pay attention to the storyline and what was happening. For a debut, this is an ambitious and valiant attempt into the foray of paranormal YA fiction. I would definitely recommend this to older, more mature readers due to the exploration of relationships involved and some scenes which include violence and a character death. If you liked Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Twilight and The Mortal Instruments for their werewolf elements and prefer books which focus heavily on character development and interactions then you would probably enjoy reading Pinnacle.

I would like to thank Lynn for giving me the opportunity to read Pinnacle before its release date and cannot wait to see what happens next in the forthcoming sequel Eximius.

Happy New Year! 2017 Review and 2018 Aspirations

Happy New Year Bookish Friends!

What a successful reading year 2017 was for me!
I began doing the Goodreads Reading Challenge about two years ago to try and get me back into reading. I had the reading appetite of Matilda when I was a child but since getting a job and adulting happened, reading dropped right off my radar! Unfortunately my book-buying habit had not subsided and I found myself with shelves full of books which had hardly been touched! Therefore I began my initial challenge at 25 books working at about two per month with an extra one as I prefer the number 24 to 25 (don’t ask me why!). It definitely motivated me as I read 34 books that year and so I decided to up my challenge each year by 10 books. Last year’s target of 35 was smashed as well as I ended up reading about 47 books. So perhaps 2018’s target of 45 is a little conservative but at least I know I can definitely reach it and it feels like an achievable goal.

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When I started properly reading again, I wanted to find a book series or author that had given me as many feels as the Harry Potter series; like so many I am a complete and utter Potterhead and grew up alongside Harry and the books. I really wanted to find a series where I’d be able to get back that eager anticipation of waiting for the next instalment to be released and I definitely found that in Sarah J Maas. The Bookstagram community was full of such love and adoration for SJM that when I heard she was hosting a talk and a book signing at the Cheltenham Literature Festival in October 2016 I booked a ticket straight away to see what all the fuss was about! The queue to get into the event was one of the longest I’ve ever seen and some of the fangirls in the queue for the event looked at me gone out as if to say “What do you mean you’ve never read Throne of Glass?!” Needless to say that for that whole hour listening to SJM talk, the only thing I had any real understanding of was her love for Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, plus I’d managed to get a seat right at the front so I felt really awkward surrounded by all these teenage lexicons swooning over people called Rhysand and Rowan whom I obviously knew nothing about. The complete buzz around both TOG, ACOTAR and Sarah herself made me buy the starter books from both series from the book tent right after the event and then spend more time in another really long queue to get her to sign those books. These were the series I had been waiting for. I was completely sucked into the worlds of Prythian and Erilea! I’d read both ACOTAR and ACOMAF ready for the release of ACOWAR in 2017 and I’ve now also read all of TOG up to Tower of Dawn which is on my TBR list for 2018. I’m trying to pace it out so I don’t gorge them all in one go! 🙈

Other bookish highlights of 2017 include:

  • Subscribing to the Fairyloot book box (since Feb 2017). It’s the only book box I subscribe to and I’m definitely never relinquishing my subscription. It has been one of the factors in helping me get back into reading and the whole community surrounding it is full of such lovely people who love to talk about books just as much as me! I’ve received so many gorgeous books I’d never have picked up on my own and discovered some brilliant new writers.
  • Ploughing through The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. I managed to pick up this box set for about £10 from The Works and again it was one of those purchases based purely on the hype surrounding those infamous Shadowhunters.
  • Discovering Leigh Bardugo. I wrote my university dissertation on fairytales; I own copious books on fairytale criticism and theory; Angela Carter is one of my all-time favourite writers. So when I received an exclusively red-foiled copy of The Language of Thorns in my October Fairyloot box it felt like Leigh Bardugo had given me a little bit of Carter back in a Bloody Chamber-esque way! Her tales were so exquisitely told and full of such intrinsic imagery; both dark and twisty yet light and pure at the same time. It really was one of my favourite reads of 2017.

Bookish targets for 2018 include:

  • Reading Tower of Dawn ready for TOG7 and ordering A Court of Frost and Starlight.
  • Completing The Grishverse and starting the Six of Crows duology.
  • Purchasing and reading The Infernal Devices.
  • Reading books from authors I haven’t heard of or read before (enter Fairyloot!)
  • Clearing more of my TBR and not buying quite as many books, particularly e-books because I don’t actually enjoy reading them as much as physical books.
  • And the biggest challenge…Focusing on improving this blog (any constructive tips are welcome, I know that pictures are lacking!) and getting my new bookstagram account off the ground. You can follow me on Instagram @cotswoldbookaholic

So that’s me for this year! What are some of your 2017 reading highlights or goals for 2018? Let me know and happy reading!