Hello everyone and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all doing well. This post is going to be an update on all the books I’ve been reading recently over the Autumn. These aren’t all the books I’ve read over the Autumn…just a random selection. Winter is vast approaching (technically coming in two weeks time), so I thought this was a good time to make this post. And also, I’ve been posting recently about the books I’ve purchased (see my Autumn 2016 Oxfam Book Haul and my Autumn 2016 Amazon Book Haul), but haven’t really updated you all on what I’ve actually been reading! To regularly find out about what I’m reading, you can follow me on Goodreads here. Also, please scroll down to my mention of ‘All The Bright Places’ by Jennifer Niven – I need your help in thinking of some questions to ask the author! So, here goes…
Reading For Pleasure
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh.
A tragic accident. It all happened so quickly. She couldn’t have prevented it. Could she?
In a split second, Jenna Gray’s world descends into a nightmare. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life forever.
Slowly, Jenna begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating . . .
I absolutely LOVED this. It’s a true psychological thriller – full of suspense, mystery, and even a bit of romance! I thought the plot was brilliant and all the characters were wonderful. I especially loved the constant switches between perspectives, and thought all of the narrative voices were equally interesting. I reviewed this in depth here.
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.
You can’t stop the future. You can’t rewind the past. The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.
Clay Jensen returns home to find a strange package with his name on it. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker – his classmate and first love – who committed suicide.
Hannah’s voice explains there are thirteen reasons why she killed herself and Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.
All through the night, Clay keeps listening – and what he discovers changes his life . . .
I liked this book, but I didn’t love it. I really enjoyed parts of it and I liked the character of Clay – but I wasn’t entirely happy with the all aspects of the plot. I didn’t really understand Hannah’s character or why she had decided to include Clay in her suicide tapes. I was so intrigued by the blurb to this and thought it was a really great idea that had a lot of potential, but unfortunately I felt that Asher didn’t quite hit the nail on the head. I was quite disappointed with this book.
What Alice Knew by T.A. Cotterell (an early ARC copy).
Alice has a perfect life – a great job, happy kids, a wonderful husband. Until he goes missing one night; she receives a suspicious phone call; things don’t quite add up.
Alice needs to know what’s going on. But when she uncovers the truth she faces a brutal choice. And how can she be sure it is the truth?
Disclaimer: I was sent an early ARC copy of this to read and review by Transworld Books/Penguin Random House. The eBook will be released on 1st December, and the paperback will be released on 20th April 2017. I will be participating in the blog tour for this on Monday 28th November, so make sure you don’t miss that!
I really really enjoyed this novel. It wasn’t quite what I expected, and the story took a completely different turn to what I thought was going to happen! I thought this was brilliant, and quite different to the standard psychological thriller. I will be posting my full review of this next week, and then posting an exclusive Q&A with the author as part of the blog tour on Monday 28th November!
The Girl In The Red Coat by Kate Hamer.
Eight-year-old Carmel has always been different – sensitive, distracted, with an heartstopping tendency to go missing. Her mother Beth, newly single, worries about her daughter’s strangeness, especially as she is trying to rebuild a life for the two of them on her own.
When she takes Carmel for an outing to a local festival, her worst fear is realised: Carmel disappears into the crowd. Unable to accept the possibility that her daughter might be gone for good, Beth embarks on a mission to find her. Meanwhile, Carmel begins an extraordinary and terrifying journey of her own. But do the real clues to Carmel’s disappearance lie in the otherworldly qualities her mother had only begun to guess at?
Another book that I absolutely LOVED! This book was so different to what I was expecting, and it made me extremely emotional. This was a really moving read, and I found myself in floods of tears at the end of it! Carmel and Beth were both brilliantly-constructed characters, and I especially loved Carmel’s narration; I felt that it was written wonderfully. I reviewed this in depth here.
Grace Williams Says It Loud by Emma Henderson.
The doctors said no more could be done and advised Grace’s parents to put her away.
On her first day at the Briar Mental Institute, Grace, aged eleven, meets Daniel.
Debonair Daniel, an epileptic who can type with his feet, sees a different Grace: someone to share secrets and canoodle with, someone to fight for.
A deeply affecting, spirit-soaring story of love against the odds.
I’d heard so many good things about this book, and had really high expectations going in. I did enjoy this and felt that the story was really moving; however, at times it did make me very uncomfortable and uneasy. It’s a very brave subject to tackle, and I just felt that Henderson didn’t quite deliver. I found it quite hard to relate to this novel and the characters, and at times I felt quite confused and detached from the narrative. Another novel that I liked, but didn’t love.
A Song For Issy Bradley by Carys Bray.
Meet the Bradleys. In lots of ways, they’re a normal family: Zippy is sixteen and in love for the first time; Al is thirteen and dreams of playing for Liverpool. And in some ways, they’re a bit different: Seven-year-old Jacob believes in miracles. So does his dad. But these days their mum doesn’t believe in anything, not even getting out of bed. How does life go on, now that Issy is gone?
I’d heard really good things about this novel, but it just wasn’t for me. I know that loads and loads of people really love this, and I’m not criticising the writing style or narrative. However, I felt that there were way too many biblical references in this novel (the father, Ian, is a pastor of the church, and the remainder of the family also cling to their faith in God). I didn’t feel that the family were as devastated at the loss of Issy as I would have expected, and I just couldn’t relate at all to this novel. I actually put this down after 100 pages, which very rarely happens (I’m giving it one star due to the fact that I felt unable to read it all)! Sorry, but this book just wasn’t for me.
All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven.
Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the ‘natural wonders’ of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself – a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink. How far will Violet go to save the boy she has come to love?
Firstly, I want to let you guys know that I WON A COMPETITION TO MEET BOTH JENNIFER NIVEN AND LAUREN JAMES AT A BOOK EVENT THIS FRIDAY (18TH NOVEMBER). I’M ALSO GOING TO WIN A LOT OF SIGNED GOODIES! I’m extremely happy and so excited to meet them both. Have you guys got any ideas of questions I could ask either of these wonderful authors? If you have, please comment down below, or tweet me.
I absolutely ADORED this novel. I’d heard so much about it before reading, and I had really high expectations for this novel. And I can honestly say that it was so much more than I expected. This novel made me extremely emotional and moved me so deeply. It discusses some really difficult topics which a lot of novels fail to portray successfully, but I felt that this novel really got it right. I’m not going to say too much here as I’ve got a full review coming soon. Keep your eyes out for that!
White Lies And Wishes by Cathy Bramley (an early ARC copy).
What happens when what you wish for is only half the story…?
Flirtatious, straight-talking Jo Gold says she’s got no time for love; she’s determined to save her family’s failing footwear business.
New mother Sarah Hudson has cut short her maternity leave to return to work. She says she’ll do whatever it takes to make partner at the accountancy firm.
Bored, over-eating housewife Carrie Radley says she just wants to shift the pounds – she’d love to finally wear a bikini in public.
The unlikely trio meet by chance one winter’s day, and in a moment of ‘Carpe Diem’ madness, embark on a mission to make their wishes come true by September.
Easy. At least it would be, if they hadn’t been just the teensiest bit stingy with the truth…
With hidden issues, hidden talents, and hidden demons to overcome, new friends Jo, Carrie and Sarah must admit to what they really, really want, if they are ever to get their happy endings.
Disclaimer: This was another book I was sent by Transworld Books/Penguin Random House to read and review. The paperback is being published on 26th January 2017. There is a possibility of being included in the blog tour for this but I’m not sure yet – will let you all know soon!
I really enjoyed this book. It’s a really light-hearted read, and is a true contender in the Chick Lit genre. I enjoyed the narratives of all three women, but was probably most interested in Sarah’s life. The book addressed a lot of different topics and issues, and I really got sucked into this! This is the perfect book to curl up in bed with, or read on a rainy day. This is the first book I’ve ever read by Bramley, and I’ll be checking out some more of hers in the future!
Reading For University
For those of you who don’t know, I’m currently in my second year at university, studying English Literature and Creative Writing. These are the books I’ve been reading recently for the English Literature side of the course. I also studied Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ and Emily Bronte’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ recently, but I haven’t included these here as I’ve read them both before.
Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell.
A vivid and affectionate portrait of a provincial town in early Victorian England, Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford describes a community dominated by its independent and refined women. Undaunted by poverty, but dismayed by changes brought by the railway and by new commercial practices, the ladies of Cranford respond to disruption with both suspicion and courage. Miss Matty and her sister Deborah uphold standards and survive personal tragedy and everyday dramas; innovation may bring loss, but it also brings growth, and welcome freedoms. Cranford suggests that representatives of different and apparently hostile social worlds, their minds opened by sympathy and suffering, can learn from each other. Its social comedy develops into a study of generous reconciliation, of a kind that will value the past as it actively shapes the future.
This is one of the books set on my Victorian Literature module. I didn’t enjoy this book very much. It’s essentially just a bunch of ladies sitting around gossiping in the town of Cranford. I liked the narrator and the character of Miss Matty, but other than that I felt that it was pretty dull. Not a lot actually happens! But I’m sure I’ll be using this book in any feminist essays that I may be set.
Zofloya, Or The Moor by Charlotte Dacre.
This is the final judgement of Satan on Victoria di Loredani, the heroine of Zofloya, or The Moor(1806), a tale of lust, betrayal, and multiple murder set in Venice in the last days of the fifteenth century. The novel follows Victoria’s progress from spoilt daughter of indulgent aristocrats, through a period of abuse and captivity, to a career of deepening criminality conducted under Satan’s watchful eye. Charlotte Dacre’s narrative deftly displays her heroine’s movement from the vitalized position of Ann Radcliffe’s heroines to a fully conscious commitment to vice that goes beyond that of `Monk’ Lewis’s deluded Ambrosio. The novel’s most daring aspect is its anatomy of Victoria’s intense sexual attraction to her Moorish servant Zofloya that transgresses taboos both of class and race.
This is one of the books set for my Gothic module. I did quite enjoy this book! It’s one of the earlier Gothic novels and was quite unlike any other Gothic novels that I’ve read before. I did really enjoy some parts of this story, but others I just felt were way too over the top. One thing I would say about this book is that it’s EXTREMELY exaggerated and fantastical. But if you like that kind of thing, you’ll probably enjoy this!
Middlemarch by George Eliot.
George Eliot’s most ambitious novel is a masterly evocation of diverse lives and changing fortunes in a provincial English community prior to the Reform Bill of 1832. Peopling its landscape are Dorothea Brooke, a young idealist whose search for intellectual fulfilment leads her into a disastrous marriage to the pedantic scholar Casaubon; the charming but tactless Dr Lydgate, whose marriage to the spendthrift beauty Rosamund and pioneering medical methods threaten to undermine his career; passionate, idealistic and penniless artist Will Ladislaw; and the religious hypocrite Bulstrode, hiding scandalous crimes from his past. As their stories interweave, George Eliot creates a richly nuanced and moving drama.
Let’s just take a moment to appreciate the fact that I FINALLY FINISHED THIS NOVEL! I’ve been reading this on and off since the Summer, but I really had to speed up my reading recently due to the requirements of the Victorian Literature module. This is an absolutely massive novel (around 850 pages long) so don’t underestimate the time that it will take you to read this! At first, I was pretty bored whilst reading this and wasn’t taking much in. However, by the end of the novel I really got into it and was enjoying reading about the lives of certain characters (such as Dorothea, Mr Casaubon, Ladislaw, Lydgate and Rosamund). This is a very difficult read but I’m so glad I actually managed to read it all!
Daisy Miller by Henry James.
Travelling in Europe with her family, Daisy Miller, an exquisitely beautiful young American woman, presents her fellow-countryman Winterbourne with a dilemma he cannot resolve. Is she deliberately flouting social convention in the outspoken way she talks and acts, or is she simply ignorant of those conventions? When she strikes up an intimate friendship with an urbane young Italian, her flat refusal to observe the codes of respectable behaviour leave her perilously exposed. In Daisy Miller James created his first great portrait of the enigmatic and dangerously independent American woman, a figure who would come to dominate his later masterpieces.
Another book for my Victorian Literature module. Again, I found this novel pretty dull. Thankfully it’s very short though! I didn’t really enjoy any parts of this novel if I’m honest, but I know that this will come in use in terms of feminist arguments. I’m actually quite looking forward to discussing this in class, as I think some really useful ideas and arguments can be formed from studying this. So, I didn’t enjoy reading it, but I’ll probably enjoy studying this.
Happy reading 🙂