The Books I Read in July 2019

August was a very successful reading month – I took part in two readathons (although didn’t necessarily complete all the challenges) and managed to finish 12 books. There was a large mix, from a few non-fiction reads, some high fantasy, some science fiction; I enjoyed all of them.

For reference, the way I rate is as follows:

1-Unable to Finish ; 2-Did not enjoy ; 3-Liked ; 4-Really Liked ; 5-Loved

Audiobook

Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry (narrated by Scott Brick) – 5/5

Locke & Key by Joe Hill (narrated by various) – 4.5/5

The Five by Hallie Rubenhold (narrated by Louise Brealey) – 4.5/5

eBook

The Deathless by Peter Newman – 4/5

Hardback

Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Kay Kristoff – 5/5

Lizzy Bennet’s Diary by Marcia Williams – 3/4

Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok – 4/5

The Secret Library by Oliver Teale – 3/5

Becoming the Dark Prince by Kerri Maniscalco – 4/5

Paperback

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand – 4.5/5

Tuf Voyaging by George R.R. Martin – 4/5

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger – 3.5/5

 

Going into August, I have started listening to the Nevernight by Jay Kristoff audiobook which I am thoroughly enjoying. I have also started a few other books which I have been dipping in and out of. I have a holiday coming up in which I intend to spend fully relaxing with a book in hand.

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YALC 2019 – Day 3

Sunday was the final day of YALC. I had planned the day out, knowing it would be the last time I got to browse the stalls, pick up any books I was excited about, and take part in the events/panels/raffles occurring. As any best-laid plans go, this one fell at the first hurdle. Thanks to unfinished engineering works, I arrived at the venue a full hour after I had intended to and so ended up missing the first panel, one I was particularly interested in – ‘New Voices of YA Fantasy’.
Still, I managed to catch most of ‘Master Your Own Journey’ (after stopping for a quick cup of tea first!). I was glad I did – this was particularly inspiring, about finding your own journey and place in the world through fiction. It also talked about the authors own journeys which I enjoyed listening to, particularly Alex Wheatle’s anecdote at showing up at an agency with a handwritten manuscript covered in coffee stains!
The rest of the day was filled with panels, with the occasional leg stretch to the loos or a few of the stalls I still had my eye on. I had bought lunch at the station – a hoisin duck wrap, a pack of crisps and some sweets. This I started to eat during the second panel I attended, one about writing non-fiction. While I am mostly a fiction reader, I am gradually getting more interested in non-fiction so hearing the authors opinions about writing non-fiction as well as finding out what they were writing out was refreshing, compared to some of the other panels.
After this, there was the science fiction panel. I am also finding myself getting more interested in science fiction and the authors on the panel were obviously well in tune with the genre, the science/technology around it as well as bounced quite well off each other. I particularly enjoyed hearing how they each handled the balance with plot, character and creating a believable futuristic world with grounded technology.
From space to theatre, the panel directly afterwards was a discussion between Carrie Hope Fletcher and Anna James. I follow Carrie on various social media and love hearing what she has to say, especially about the things she is passionate in. By the time this panel was coming to an end, however, the exhaustion was starting to kick in. A morning of concentration is surprisingly tiring.
I wandered around for a bit, trying to find somewhere quiet to sit, but most people had a similar idea and it was difficult finding somewhere to step, let alone sit. In the end, I went back to the panel area and sat at the back. After sitting in a chair all morning, which I find really uncomfortable, I was desperate to stretch out a little on the floor. Fortunately, there were some spots on the ground, against the back wall, that I could lean up against and relax, all the while listening to the talk on masculinity in today’s society. If I had been more awake, I probably would have taken more in, but it did cover a lot of topics and, in a literature convention dominated by female guests and panellists, tried to answer the oft-asked question of how to get boys into reading.
My last panel of the day was about monsters in fiction. I was feeling a little more awake at this point so moved on to the chairs to listen to the authors talk about how they created their monsters, the worlds they live in and how they figure out how to defeat the villain by the end. It was quite a fun panel to end the weekend on, although I was shattered by the end of it.
I headed home soon afterwards. I didn’t win any of the raffles, although once I again I had the rotten luck of being within 1 or 2 figures of one of the winning tickets for every single raffle. This I would have been perfectly fine with if not for overhearing someone saying that a friend of theirs had won a raffle for a book they didn’t want so had given it away. This irked me – so many people who genuinely wanted the books enter these raffles, why enter if you’re not interested at all?
All in all, there was a lot to do and enjoy at YALC. Despite being there for three days, I didn’t take part in any of the workshops, nor had I had a chance to thoroughly explore LFCC in more detail. From what I could tell, although the event wasn’t perfect, there was something there for everyone and everyone I spoke to seemed to be enjoying the event immensely. I personally really enjoy the event, even if just for the atmosphere of being at an event dedicated to books for book lovers. I will definitely try to go back next year (and maybe explore LFCC a bit more too).

Books acquired: 9

Panels Attended: 6

YALC 2019 – Day 2

The second day of YALC started with a bit of a rush. The first panel of the day was ‘Mystical YA’ which was one of those I definitely wanted to attend. It was also at 10am. Given that the day before I only got into the event at 10:45, I was worried about missing it. Fortunately, the journey was easy, the queue to enter was non-existent and, with my three-day entrance band, I was able to walk right in.

My efforts to make it in on time were duly rewarded – that first panel was excellent, and the panellists were all fascinating to listen to. The two I was most excited to hear were V.E. Schwab and Melinda Salisbury, but the other panellists also shone, each bringing a different perspective to the questions and making for an enjoyable well-rounded panel.

Once the panel was over, I went for a wander around the stalls. This hour was a browsing hour and, inevitably, I ended up with a few books. I had three that I planned to buy: Finale by Stephanie Garber, Evermore by Sara Holland and the Illumicrate June box (I had bought the July box on the first day and loved it). Throughout the day, I also found a couple of other books that I had been excited to read for a while, and a couple more which I had not previously known about but which sounded excellent.

I also entered a few raffles – one never knew when luck could strike – and got some nail art based on the book American Royals. Having never had my nails done before this was a weird experience and they looked great for the whole of two seconds before I picked up my bag and promptly smudged a couple of nails. I had forgotten that nail polish needed to dry.

12pm came around and I made my way back to the panel area for my second panel of the day: ‘Chiller Thrillers’. This panel also contains a number of authors I was very excited to hear from, but unfortunately it as dominated by the chair who seemed to spend more time talking about her own opinions/book and asking questions than the others spent answering them. I did learn quite a bit, however, and Holly Jackson was hilarious in her love of murder and true crime (something I can relate two).

I then had another hour to pass between panels in which I got myself from lunch. There is a small café on the YALC floor which provides hot drinks, cool drinks, sandwiches, salads and cake, although it is more on the expensive side. Last year, I remember it had hot food, but they did not seem to do that this time around. The café also fills up any empty water bottles you may need filling up. I had lunch, browsed the YALC hashtag, then headed back over to the panel area for the panel I had most been looking forward to.

Jim Kay, an illustrator probably best known now for the illustrated Harry Potters, was giving a talk on ‘The World of Illustration & Concept Art’ and I did not want to miss it. I love art and was interested to hear an illustrator talk about their experiences with illustrating novels, especially ones such as the Harry Potter series. The talk was excellent, despite the sleep-deprived speaker, and it was fascinating to hear how he worked on the tone and created the pieces. He talked of working from models, using a rolling pin and being more experimental. He also spoke of feeding stunned flies to spiders as he used them as live spider models (something I won’t be trying).

I came away from that talk inspired but also feeling quite worn out. I did another circuit of the floor, and then popped downstairs to see what was there at LFCC. In the end, I didn’t stay down in LFCC for long. A quite tour of the illustrator’s zone and I was starting to feel overheated and crowded. A return to the cooler, calmer YALC floor was needed.

I did not stay much longer, I popped in and out of a couple of the other panels, had a brief sit-down, another browse and even got a ‘glitter tattoo’ at the Hodderscape stall. I hadn’t won any of the raffles (although was within at least 1 or 2 figures of the actual winning numbers every time) but was very happy with the day. I had been able to attend all the panels I had wanted to. I had discovered some new books, and I had another day left to go.

 

Books Acquired: 8

Panels Attended: 3 (and bits and pieces of others)

 

 

YALC 2019 – Day 1

Friday. The first day of YALC 2019. An early morning, a reasonable train ride and I arrive at Olympia, home to both LFCC and YALC for the next three days.

YALC is the Young Adult Literature Convention. It is filled with panel discussions of numerous topics, an eclectic selection of workshops, publisher stalls and, above all, books. It is exactly my kind of place.

On arrival, however, I was in for a surprise. Contrary to previous years, where I managed to practically walk in, this time I just kept walking around the venue, trying to find the end of the queue. After arriving at around 10am, I got in about 45 minutes later.

Once inside, my first two ports of call were the café for a well needed cup of tea (and a brownie), then the information booth to pick up the tote bag included in the 3-day pass. An added bonus was the inclusion of a Dark Phoenix film poster in the tote bag goodies.

By this point, it was getting close to the start of the first panel, so I dropped in there. This particular panel covered mental health in books and each author spoke about their own experiences and opinions writing about mental health. It was interesting, but I did feel that they could have gone more in depth about some of the topics. It also overran so there was no time for audience questions.

After the panel, it was time to browse. I wandered around the stalls, seeing who was there, the books available and entered a few giveaways. I also bought a few books – this trend continued throughout the day. I also got chatting to some other people there, and one lovely person even gave me a spare copy they had of Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy!

One of my favourite things about YALC is how many new authors I discover, and I always end up picking up books I had never heard of before. I do wish that some of the larger names did not dominate quite so much – in one case, half a stall was just John Green, a book I was already seeing everywhere anywhere. On the upside though, there were a number of stalls for individual, indie authors and I am excited to learn more about their books in the next few days.

Lunch came around and I left the warmth of the hall into the slightly drizzling outdoors. From there, I made my way to Wagamama’s where I was meeting a friend for lunch. The change of scene, pace and the good food was just what I needed, not to mention catching up and chatting away.

On my return to YALC, I had another bit of a browse, then a quick sit down, before the next panel – YA retellings. This one was fascinating. The two authors were talking about adapting stories of both live and fictional people for a new audience, the research involved in this as well as some interesting nuggets of information they had uncovered. Both books sounded amazing – a retelling of Mulan (The Hand, The Eye & The Heart by Zoe Marriott, and the story of Mary Shelley (Monsters by Sharon Dogar). Both seemed interesting on the offset, but after hearing the authors talk about them, it only made me more eager to read them. Definitely the sign of a good panel.

A trip to the Illumicrate stall where the queue had finally died down and a short sit-down later, I found myself debating whether to call it a day or go to the final event. In the end I opted for the former option. I was worn out, with a bag full of books to lug home, and two days left of YALC – I really did not wat to overdo it on the first day.

A 15 minute walk to Hammersmith, and I made my way home, ready to browse through my book purchases and reflect on the day. All in all, I really enjoyed the first day of YALC. I took it slowly, not rushing around trying to fit everything in and it definitely paid off. I also have a lot planned for the next couple of days to keep me occupied – panels, exploring, people to meet. Bring it on!

Books Acquired: 8

Panels Attended: 2

The Books I Read in June 2019

June started well and ended well in terms of reading, but the middle turned into a mini reading slump. Busy work, busy life, and just generally not being in the mood to pick up a book. That even with the excellent selection of books I did manage to read during the month. I don’t think I have a particular favourite book, although Stephen King’s On Writing is both an enjoyable read and an inspiring one.

For reference, the way I rate is as follows:

1-Unable to Finish ; 2-Did not enjoy ; 3-Liked ; 4-Really Liked ; 5-Loved

Audiobook

On Writing by Stephen King – 5/5

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend (narrated by Gemma Whelan) – 4.5/5

 

Paperback

The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski – 4/5

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson – 4.5/5

The Dark Phoenix Saga by Chris Claremont and John Byrne – 4.5/5

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz – 3.5/5

Moon over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch – 4/5

 

July is going to be a big month for reading – it is summer, with hot weather but hayfever is also in the air. As such, it is likely a good month for spending time sitting down with a good book or two. There are a couple of readathons which I am planning to join in casually with. Going into the month, I have nearly finished The Deathless by Peter Newman and I have just started listening to Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi.

Mini-Review Monday: The Word is Murder, Moon Over Soho and Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow

Despite a bad case of hay fever, this weekend picked up in other areas. I started a near impossible puzzle (Van Gogh’s Starry Night on the Rhone), caught up on a couple of tv shows and also finished a few books. Just an ideal relaxing weekend. The books I read are below, all of them pretty good and ideal for a weekend chilling indoors (although not literally, it was a boiling weekend).

For reference, the way I rate is as follows:

1-Unable to Finish ; 2-Did not enjoy ; 3-Liked ; 4-Really Liked ; 5-Loved

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz

A woman dies a few hours organising her own funeral. The suspicious circumstances bring Detective Hawthorne onto the case and with him, the author himself, hired to write a book about Hawthorne. The Word is Murder is a book in that Anthony Horowitz, the writer, is a main character. I struggled with it at first but once I got used to it, it strangely worked. The rest of the book is a twisty mystery and I only worked out the solution towards the end. There were some weird choices and Hawthorne was not particularly likeable but the story itself was gripping and I am curious to read Anthony Horowitz’s other mystery books now.

Rating: 3.5/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36237280-the-word-is-murder

The Book Depository*: https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Word-Is-Murder/9781784757236/?a_aid=rosienreads

 

Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch

Moon Over Soho is the second book in Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series. DC Grant is no ordinary policemen, instead he is one half of a secret division responsible for handling the supernatural. In this book he comes up against a series of deaths – all Jazz musicians, all within a short period of time. I do like a good crime book, especially when there is a touch of supernatural involved. This series has the perfect blend of the mundane and the magic that feels almost ridiculous. There is a lot of detail in this book, however, and I did find myself zoning out a little with the discussions about Jazz, as I am not a bit Jazz fan myself. It was still just the book I needed this weekend and such a good series.

Rating: 4/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10381195-moon-over-soho

The Book Depository*: https://www.bookdepository.com/Moon-Over-Soho-Ben-Aaronovitch/9780575097629/?a_aid=rosienreads

 

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend (Narrated by Gemma Whelan)

For the generation who grew up with Harry Potter, this is a book which rekindles that magical tone and atmosphere. Morrigan Crow is a cursed child, bringing about bad luck wherever she goes and destined to die on her eleventh birthday. That is, until the mysterious Jupiter North whisks her away to the peculiar Nevermoor. I really enjoyed listening to this book and while some parts of the narration didn’t quite work for me, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the story. Morrigan is a delightful main character and I loved discovering the world of Nevermoor as she did. The characters are all enjoyably eccentric, the world as weird and magical as you could want and I look forward to finding out more in the rest of the series.

Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39854811-the-trials-of-morrigan-crow

Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Nevermoor-Audiobook/B075738C8R

 

*I receive a small commission when purchases are made through the Book Depository links.

Rosie Reviews: Roar by Cecelia Ahern

Roar

Title: Roar – A Story for Every Woman

Author: Cecelia Ahern

Publisher: Harper Collins

Genre: Short Story Collection / General Fiction

Source: Free eBook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Review

Roar – A Story for Every Woman is a book filled with short stories about women in various circumstances, with a magical realism spin on each one. There are 30 stories within the pages, each titled ‘The woman who…’ and each has a similar structure: the woman encounters a situation then something happens (e.g. a transformation) that helps them overcome the situation. These situations include handling embarrassment while presenting, anxiety, feeling like you’re ‘on the shelf’, the supposed ‘ticking clock’.

Each story is about women stepping up and ‘roaring’ their value, their own empowerment. For the first few stories, this really worked. I enjoyed how the situations were told through metaphor or magical realism. For instance, in one story a woman wakes up with bite marks on her, which ends up being due to feeling guilty about things (so playing on the metaphor of the guilt eating her alive). It was interesting seeing how Ahern takes the situations and plays with them in each story, ultimately ended with the woman stronger than they were before.

After a while, however, the stories became repetitive. The structure hardly varied story to story and, for the most part, the narrator bland and difficult to relate to. None of the narrators are given a name, all are just referred to a ‘the woman’ which makes it difficult to see them as a real person. For the majority of stories, it felt like it was the same woman over and over again: a middle-class wife (to a husband) and mother of 2-4 children. It was almost as if ‘the woman’ in each story was the author herself. This made it difficult to connect to the stories.

Overall, I think this book will connect and be loved by a number of women, but it does not fulfil the promise of being a book with a story for every woman. The stories are magical to read, and the writing style isn’t pretentious, so I can see the book being a good travel book, or something for someone with little time to read. I just wish the author had considered that not every woman wants a relationship, not every woman wants children and the majority of women are not suburban mums. If the settings and women had been a lot more varied, I think I would have enjoyed this book a lot more than I did.

Rating: 2.5/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45717666-roar

The Book Depository*: https://www.bookdepository.com/Roar-Cecelia-Ahern/9780008283537/?a_aid=rosienreads

*I receive a small commission when this link is used to make a purchase