July/August: It’s a Wrap

Well, this is a little late…oops. Not even gonna lie a little bit, I’m still struggling with blogging with any form of regularity, and as I still have a brace on my arm, typing still isn’t super simple. I wasn’t really in work in July, well the early part of the month, so I ended up reading a lot. Well, a lot for me, I don’t remember the last time I read over 20 books in one month. And I not only read new books, but discovered new authors *cough* Neil Gaiman *cough*, and took part in the 24in48 readathon. But yes, last month I posted my wrap post quite late, and also re-discovered new adult which most definitely carried on into this month.

July:

Beautiful Secret (Beautiful Bastard #4) Christina Lauren | 30 Jun 17 Р01 Jul 17  | E-book | 3 Stars

This is the only book in the series that is centralised around characters that don’t live in New York, or aren’t from America (both of them). I don’t know if that influenced what rating I gave it, I don’t know if the characters were less developed, or the story less believable, but it just wasn’t as enjoyable as the other full length novels in this series.

I actually quite like Niall when he appears in an earlier novella. I like his interactions with his brother and the baby. So maybe it’s Ruby I don’t like. She isn’t as powerful and fun as the others, and I feel like she doesn’t quite fit in the same way. Yes, that’s it. This one just doesn’t mesh or gel as well.

Beautiful Boss (Beautiful Bastard #4.5) Christina Lauren | 01 Jul 17 | E-book | 3 Stars

I loved this and I hated this. I really liked the insight into Will and Hanna. I liked the adult discussions about life that I feel are no way something I can understand right now. I liked the fact they were focusing on the career of her, because hers was the one that could advance.

I didn’t like the actual content of the discussions, and I didn’t really like the flow or the novella itself. After a few pages I was reading to finish it to start the next full length book, rather than really enjoying it.

 

Beautiful (Beautiful Bastard #5) Christina Lauren | 01 Jul 17 Р02 Jul 17 | E-book | 4 Stars

I really liked this one, but I didn’t love it. Yes, that sounds contradictory, but it’s my review so I don’t care. I felt like it was a good end to the series, or to the books that have been released so far.

I didn’t like the story. Well no, I liked the idea of the road trip and the holiday, but there were too many ridiculous and unbelievable moments that made me want to hurl the book across the room. If I wasn’t so lazy when I sit down to read, I probably would have.

I did, however, absolutely love the way the character came together. I liked seeing the snippets of the other characters I’ve enjoyed. I liked seeing the evolution of their stories and lives, and seeing how things have changed. I liked following the characters I liked further (Will and Hanna *cough*) in a more relaxed setting. I just liked all of this. This kind of thing is why I stick with this premise of picking up a minor character from the first book and making the sequel about them, because I like how it follows and segues and moves and interlinks.

Sweet Filthy Boy (Wild Seasons #1) Christina Lauren | 02 Jul 17 Р03 Jul 17 | E-book | 3 Stars

This is dreadful, and I really mean awful. Good awful, like the kind of film you watch where everything is terrible, but that is the beauty of the thing. It’s really rather ridiculous, and completely unrealistic, however, I do like the dedication to making a Vegas mistake work. I like their enthusiasm towards one another. I also like the representation of Paris, because we all love a bit of Parisian life!

This book takes the whole ‘What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’ and ‘everybody gets hitched in Vegas’ to the extreme.

 

Dirty Rowdy Thing (Wild Seasons #2) Christina Lauren | 03 Jul 17 | E-book | 3 Stars

There were three friends involved in the Vegas debacle of book 1, so naturally the second book is following the second couple. The problem with this is that I don’t really like the second couple. I find them a lot more annoying as an actual entity, even if he sounds more like my type, and it takes us up North into pretty Alaska.

Sometimes, I just wish it was possible to bash the heads of characters in New Adult fiction together and be done with it, but alas, we put up with 300 pages for that.

Dark Wild Night (Wild Seasons #3) Christina Lauren | 04 Jul 17 | E-book | 3 Stars

Out of the three couples that got married in Vegas in book 1, these are the ones that I like the best. I like the idea of the comic book store owner and the graphic novel writing girl together (even if it is just because I like Seth Cohen in The OC). This book developed the characters and relationships in a much more believable way, not to mention the fact that I actually believed that these two could work in the long run.

This makes me want to go back to San Diego asap!

Wallbanger (Cocktail #1) Alice Clayton | 05 Jul 17 Р06 Jul 17 | Paperback | 5 Stars

I read this based on a recommendation from a friend of a friend. The cover would suggest a gratuitously sex filled novel with little story, and even less writing skill.

WRONG. I thought the same too, but Clayton’s first novel in this series is refreshingly witty, (pleasantly) surprisingly lacking in sex scenes, and full of so many amusing innuendos and situations. I like the characters, the way the trios of men and women interact within their friendships and with each other. I really like the fact that no character is weak or perfect. They all have careers, and personalities that are individual and developed. It felt like a step away, or an evolution, of a genre.

This book was refreshingly funny. Full of witty innuendos, amusing double entendres, and genuine moments of laugh out loud hilarity. In a genre of books so predictable they merge into one, Clayton focused more on character interactions and depth (I think I may have wee’d laughing at some text conversations) and omitted the sex scenes that become gratuitous page fillers that we all skip.

Thoroughly enjoyable. Thoroughly entertaining.

Rusty Nailed (Cocktail #2) Alice Clayton | 06 Jul 17 | Paperback | 4 Stars

I love the titles of this series. They aren’t nearly as outrageous (well, with actual sex scenes) as the cover art would suggest.

In this, we’re more accustomed to the characters, which both adds and detracts from the story. I don’t really love the side characters in this, and by the side characters, I mean her boss, and she features heavily. I like the idea of renovating a house in Sausalito (mainly because i would like to be able to afford to do this.) I like that both characters are advancing in their careers whilst balancing their burgeoning relationship. I like that the cat gets his own chapter. I think he should get his own follow up.

I love the fact that the wit and innuendo that is so heavily featured in the first book is kept in favour of throwing in a needlessly high amount of unnecessary sex scenes.

 

Screwdrivered (Cocktail #3) Alice Clayton | 08 Jul 17 Р09 Jul 17 | Paperback | 4 Stars

D’you know what? I love Viv. I want to be more like Viv. I want to want a happy, romantic ending, and I want to be able to will this into existence. I like the fact she doesn’t care that she doesn’t always fit in. I bloody love her house, using the required renovations was such a simple way to incorporate the characters from the earlier books.

The problem is the guys. They’re stereotypical and a little unrealistic. I don’t like that she tries to will herself towards the wrong end of the triangle, and doesn’t realise that the surprisingly attractive, useful, and intelligent librarian (I mean who wouldn’t go for this option) is the better choice than the stupid, shallow, specimen of a cowboy.

The Deal (Off Campus #1) Elle Kennedy | 17 Jul 17 Р18 Jul 17 | E-book | 5 Stars

There is so much of this on paper that I don’t agree with: The idea that a woman is so in lust with a jock that she sells her intelligence to someone she is clearly going to end up getting with. The idea that the guy uses a girl for his own gain and uses her emotional weakness to his advantage.

It’s just done so well though. I like them despite it. I like the way they interact and that they do actually help each emotionally, intellectually, and of course physically. I liked the way the guys interacted with each other, I found them absolutely hilarious. I liked the sporting element to the book. And I liked the university setting.

I thought that I was going to dislike it when I read the synopsis and I ended up really enjoying it.

 

The Mistake (Off Campus #2) Elle Kennedy | 18 Jul 17 | E-book | 4 Stars

Yes, the guy is usually the player, and yes the woman is usually the naive version that is bound to ‘get hurt’, and yes they’re bound to have a happy ending. Yes, that is most of the fun of the whole thing.

This does that, of course, but it does it in a refreshing way. He actually chases her, and more than that she makes him work for it, which I like. I’m a fan of that.

Once again I was a fan of the ‘banter’ and the fun that the guys had in this one. I like the fact that the books seem to focus more on the relationship between the men, and what they do, rather than the bitching and the emotions of the female friend circle that is so often written quite poorly and focused upon in this sort of novel.

The Score (Off Campus #3) Elle Kennedy | 18 Jul 17 Р19 Jul 17 | E-book | 5 Stars

I properly really enjoyed this. In fact, I’d go as far as to shamelessly say I enjoyed this. I liked the fact that the player, the one who loved to date and sleep with whoever took his fancy that night was brought down by a broken hearted rebound with a girl fresh out of long term relationship after serious boyfriend.

I like that in this, they go further than including the guys hockey playing, and expand into their life outside the rink. OK, so he is a player and that is a large part of who he is, but he has emotions and plans that run a lot deeper than that, to teaching little kids, making friends with a poor girl who can’t afford to join in with the boys skating practice.

I like that this is following the lives of each of the hockey group per book, because I still get to see and to laugh at the characters from the ones before.

 

The Goal (Off Campus #4) Elle  | 19 Jul 17 | E-book | 5 Stars

D’you know what? I actually really liked this book, and it came as close to making me feel things as any book really does, let alone new adult.

The female lead is a brilliant balance of fragile and strong, and is incredibly dedicated to getting out of what is a pretty poor deal in life. The male lead does well to ignore the stigma and the notoriety that the female lead has around her, and actually gets to genuinely know and see her underneath.

Yes, of course the predictable ending occurs, but for once it happens more organically than it usually does in new-adult, after discussions, and compromises, and big life decisions, and less throwing caution to the wind and getting by on love (lust, let’s be real) alone.

And a bonus, I liked that the previous characters slotted in throughout, giving snapshots of their lives through the eyes of these new parents.

Hidden Figures: The Untold Story of the African American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race Margot Lee Shetterly | 24 Jun 17 Р22 Jul 17 | Paperback | 3 Stars

This felt like it took me a really long time to read. Considering I was off for pretty much the entire time I was reading it, I suppose it did take me a while.

I really liked reading more into the space race, about the technology and personnel behind such a historic event. I really enjoyed the political and social issues that are explored and laid out as you read, and definitely would say I enjoyed it.

The problem is that it’s hard work. It’s a non-fiction book that has little let up in terms of content. While the technology, and the politics, and the history is good, it’s unrelenting in the higher vocabulary, and content, that makes it slightly draining to read. That left me reading it less frequently, and for shorter times every time I picked it up.

It’s a shame. This book is powerful, and brilliant, and a vitally important read.

 

Harry Potter and the Dealthy Hallows J K Rowling | 30 Jun 17 Р22 Jul 17 | Audiobook/Hardback| 5 Stars

I love this book. I love that it opens the magical world into more than the ministry and Hogwarts (although I do miss Hogwarts A LOT.) I like the cyclical nature of Rowling’s writing, from the rumoured dragon in Gringotts and oddball behaviours of the Lovegoods becoming both true and intrinsic to the story. I like the good and the bad uniting with their cronies to finally battle it out.

I hate that it is over again. So, when is the next re-read guys?!

You Don’t Know Me¬†Imran Mahmood | 21 Jul 17 – 22 Jul 17 | Hardback | 5 Stars

This. THIS. This was unexpected. This was amazing. This was so different to what I have read, and so enjoyable.

Imran Mahmood brings a great level of knowledge of the criminal system to the book. He presents this ambiguous situation, and sets it so as you, the reader, are the jury. This premise was fairly revolutionary too me, and the way the narrator presents his tale is incredibly real.

It took a tiny amount of time to get used to the dialect and speech pattern that comes over in the narration, and it took me a little bit of time to get into the mindset of the character, but once I was settled, the book read in a way very few books ever had.

I don’t want to spoil the ending, because a good ending is what we all love, but it was pure genius. The position as juror in the created ¬†scenario will leave each person thinking and feeling a different set of emotions when the book ends, and for me that is magical.

 

The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald | 21 Jul 17 Р22 Jul 17 | Audiobook | 2 Stars

D’you know what? This book is lucky to have received 2 stars, and not 1. I don’t really get it. At all. I don’t know, I just don’t think it’s my thing. I didn’t like the film, so I don’t know why I thought I would like the book, but I gave it a go, and I really didn’t like it.

I don’t particularly like the setting, I don’t like the houses and the area. I really don’t like the characters. I know they’re not supposed to be likeable, but they’re not dislikeable in a likeable way.

I was glad when it was over.

Mai Tai’d Up¬†(Cocktail #3)¬†Alice Clayton | 22 Jul 17 | Paperback | 4 Stars

The titles of these books get more ridiculously brilliant as you go through the series. But they are definitely a series, because once again the characters we’ve been introduced to before pop up again (in possibly increasingly unbelievable, but still fun) in this book.

I really enjoyed the setting and premise that this book was more about the skills and the will of someone to establish themselves outside of the world of beauty that they had been typecast and judged by. I liked the idea of a hunky vet that was good with animals helping her become more than she was before.

I like puppies.

 

Last Call (Cocktail #4) Alice Clayton | 23 Jul 17 | Paperback | 4 Stars

OK, curve ball! This series was a light and fluffy. It was all babies and puppies and house renovations and cat harems. It was all innuendo and wit. Why so serious?

If this hadn’t been about Simon and Caroline, and hadn’t had the necessary cat chapter, I’d relegate it from the star rating it has. Oh, and Thailand. I like some world travelling, so I am glad that this was included, along with their happy ending.

Dating You/Hating You Christina Oliver | 23 Jul 17 | E-Book | 4 Stars

I’m not really sure why I liked this book, but I did. I didn’t love or loathe the characters, but really enjoyed the healthy competition that occurs between them in their work lives that stops side romances being the forefront of the story.

I just liked it. Simple.

 

The Princess Diarist Carrie Fisher | 23 Jul 17 Р25 Jul 17 | Audiobook | 5 Stars

Lots of people have been reading this recently, and I have seen it advertised all over the place as a great read and feminist novel. I was a little sceptical, so when I saw it on Overdrive as an audiobook rental from my local library, I borrowed it immediately.

I loved it. The book was intelligent, witty, and toe’d the balance between read stories written on paper, and between recalling life events. The things that are recounted are told in a refreshing way that opens your eyes to the other side of the¬†Star Wars¬†bubble.

As much as I loved it, I don’t know if it would have been the same as a physical read. Much of the beauty of the story was in the narration. Carrie Fisher has a wonderful style that feels like she is recounting everything in the pub over a pint, rather than reading the stories from the book, and really brings the whole thing to life.

Coraline Neil Gaiman | 25 Jul 17 Р27 Jul 17 | Audiobook | 5 Stars

Emma has been on and off talking about Neil Gaiman since she moved in as she reads a lot of fantasy, and loves Good Omens. She recently has read Stardust for a readathon, and American Gods (in time to watch the TV series Рwhich we still need to finish actually). I saw this on Overdrive, and decided it would be an ideal thing to listen to on the train during my commutes to and from work.

I loved the story. It’s so weird in the most creepily wonderful way. And for a book with fantastical elements, it is very matter of fact. Gaiman manages to write fantasy in a way of ‘well duh, that’s just the way it is here’ y’know, like ‘well cats talk in this world’, and I like that. I like that style of fantasy. For a kids book, this is incredibly dark and creepy, but in the same way, it’s almost safe and wondrous. I really loved it.

D’you know what else I was introduced to? The velvet, silkiness that is Neil Gaiman’s voice. His narration is just…well…wow. I don’t quite know how to articulate the brilliance that is him narrating his own novels. He enunciates the words, and almost pronounces the punctuation, in way that only the author of a story can understand, and brought the whole thing to life in a truly magical way.

 

The Graveyard Book Neil Gaiman | 27 Jul 17 Р30 Jul | Audiobook | 5 Stars

I was that determined to listen to more Neil Gaiman, so I signed up for Audible. I had debated it before, a few times actually, but the power that is Gaiman’s voice was the reason I finally did it. I wanted to read a little more or his children’s fantasy so I was more intune with his writing style before reading his more adult novels, and settled on this.

It was a good decision. It was distinctly different from Coraline, and was a lot more odd. It featured paranormal and magical creatures and people that added an unusual life to a book based around the dead and their home. Nobody Owens was a great central character, that was used as a story telling anchor, the changing perspectives and revelations that came through the book grew and developed in maturity with him, which I liked to.

I also like the fact that he doesn’t hold back with the unpleasantness. There are deaths, murder, graveyards, the stranger your parents warn you about. It’s all there and wonderfully constructed.

Books Read: 23 | Ave. Rating: 4.0

August:

Legend Marie Lu | 31 Jul 17 Р03 Aug 17 | E-book | 4 Stars

I haven’t read much YA dystopian for a while, so it was nice to rewind the clock and pick up a book that I entirely missed. I liked this, mainly because the main character and initial rebel was not a girl with a difficult past, but a boy with a rebelliously noble Robin Hood-esque streak. Yes, we met the female character, yes it was a dual perspective that is somewhat over used, and yes the ending was predictable, but I have a soft spot for this kinda stuff!

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1) V E Schwab | 30 Jul 17 Р04 Jul 17 | Paperback | 4 Stars

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from these, other than magic, and an awesome coat. And guess what, that is a lot of what the first book is! It’s good, really good in fact. The characters are pretty awesome, and the world that is being created is rich and magical and wonderful.

I’m a big fan of the parallel London’s. I like the idea that these worlds are accessible by the elite magical Antari, and I like the differences in the personalities of the Antari themselves. I like the simplicity of colour coding the different worlds – it is a simple yet brilliant way of keeping track of the books location, and instantly allows you to jump with the world’s characteristics. I loved the bad guys in this book The Dane twins are downright evil and despicable, and there is something heinously brilliant about a sadistically unhinged villain, and even more so when they have an equally crazy twin.

The downside is that I don’t yet love the lead female character Lila. I appreciate her ferocious independence, and her thirst for information, and her ability to adapt to a brand new world, but I just can’t quite take to her in the same way that I was to the swishy, magical coat wearing Kell.

 

A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) V E Schwab | 04 Aug 17 Р08 Aug 17 | Paperback | 5 Stars

What is better than parallel universes and magic worlds? THROW IN SOME PIRATES AND A MAGICAL OLYMPICS. This book was nothing short of boss. It was like Schwab had thought to herself ‘what was the first book lacking that Liz might like?’ and then delivered with some masterstrokes.

And it’s not just that, the characters are developing with a refreshing amount of warmth, intellect, and believable backstory that is so rarely found in proper fantasy. The relationships between the characters ebb and flow, grow stronger and more strained as you would expect them to when old ghosts return and life changing events occur. And for once there is a strong female character, who seems to be driven by a thirst for power and knowledge more than the affections of a male counterpart, and is not only independant and fearless on her own, but is relied upon by equally important male characters in the story.

I just love these books. Well done, Emma!

Stalker Lars Kepler | 22 Jul 17 Р10 Aug 17 | Paperback | 4 Stars

Man this book is creepy. It’s pretty damn scary. Even I, who likes to think I don’t scare too easily, wouldn’t read it before bed.

There were problems with this, aside from the creep-factor. The translation was occasionally patchy, which meant the chapter breaks didn’t always quite work. The book is also the fifth in a series, so the character’s are already worn in, you’re supposed to know them, which I really didn’t.

 

A Dance with Dragons Part I: Dreams and Dust (ASOIAF #5) George R R Martin | 10 Aug 17 Р17 Aug 17 | Paperback | 3 Stars

This is definitely the instalment of¬†A Song of Ice and Fire¬†that I have enjoyed the least. For the first time, the book felt like a trudge that I was finishing a bit more to say I had than because I actually wanted to. Well, that’s an exaggeration, I enjoyed aspects, but for me the story has reached a level of spoiler-dom that reading it is no longer enthralling. Yes, I liked the ridiculous situations that Tyrion seems to find himself in, and I like the politics and the dragons, but I’m just losing interest and getting tired overall now.

The Triumps of Eugene Valmont Robert Barr | 13 Aug 17 Р20 Aug 17 | Paperback | 2 Stars

I read this for a reading challenge: Read a book with <500 Goodreads ratings. I looked at it and couldn’t help but wonder ‘why does a book published in 1906 only have 79 ratings?’ The answer is apparently because it’s fairly rubbish.

It’s nothing more than a poor man’s Sherlock Holmes. Now, I know that was the point. I know Robert Barr and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were good friends. I know that some of the short stories are literal parodies of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries. Fact is though: they’re not very good. Two of the short stories didn’t really make any sense, and for such a short narrative, they were difficult to follow.

If it hadn’t been for the fact I actually quite enjoyed 2 of the short stories in the middle, I’d have relegated it to a 1 star read.

 

Wishing for Birds Elisabeth Hewer | 25 Aug 17 | Paperback | 4 Stars

I am going to say that no matter how amazed anyone else is that I electively read and finished a poetry collection, I am more surprised. What’s more, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I think it helps that the poems aren’t long or arduous to read or understand. I think it helps that the writer is of my generation, not only in age but in online and social media usage. She is a tumblr user, a fan, a woman in the modern world, which make her words and her poems that much more relatable. There of some, of course, that I don’t ‘get’ or don’t love, but there are some that I really enjoyed.

It’s also nice to show some love and support for the lesser known author, something I am very much guilty of forgetting to do!

A Dance with Dragons Part II: After the Feast (ASOIAF #5.5) George R R Martin | 20 Aug 17 Р26 Aug 17 | Paperback | 4 Stars

I was a little disappointed by Part I, but this was back to the scheming and the action in a much better installment.  I like that in his book we are back to hearing the perspectives of all the characters. The books are very much shaping like a complicated chessboard, or risk game, and the different characters voices are becoming ever more important and revealing.

There isn’t a lot to say about this novel, because for all the positive elements, there is a feel of it being a short transitionary book that is preparing you for¬†The Winds of Winter,¬†and when that has not only not been released, but has no potential released date, it’s hard to fully appreciate it.

Nerve Jeanne Ryan | 27 Aug 17 Р30 Aug 17 | Paperback | 2 Stars

nerveI really liked the film, which I was a little surprised about, and so embarked on reading the book that resulted in said movie. This is going to be one of the most short and concise reviews I’ve ever written. And generous.

This book was quite rubbish to start with, and had a very poor ending, and didn’t have¬†that¬†much going on in between. That, and it was dreadfully paced.

Books Read: 9 | Ave. Rating: 3.5


Wow, that’s a lot of books in a short amount of time, eh?

What have you been reading recently?

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