#SixForSunday

#SixforSunday is a meme hosted by the lovely Steph at A Little But A Lot, and this week’s prompt is ‘Books that have been on your TBR forever’.  There’s bound to be some shamefaced feet-shuffling during this post.  My TBR is a 7 foot high bookcase with most of the shelves double-stacked and I got rather dusty rummaging amongst the back rows to unearth these poor forgotten treasures.

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1. Lion of Macedon by David Gemmell

Oh dear.  I’ll have fallen down in my husband’s estimation by not having read this one.  I was highly recommended Sword in the Storm by David Gemmell some years ago now, and loved it so much that I gradually bought the rest of his works.  I’ve read over half but then got distracted by YA and somehow never returned to Gemmell.  If you like fantasy I highly recommend him.

2. A is for Alibi bu Sue Grafton

I adore Agatha Christie, and was gifted the A-J boxset of Sue Grafton books by a lovely friend who also loves crime novels.  I collected a proportion more of the alphabet but have still not quite started them, partly because it’s a boxset and for some stupid reason that means I feel I have to read all 10 one after the other!  I may read this one for the ‘crime’ prompt in the #40for2020 challenge.

3. Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson & Lauren Myracle

Again, that second layer of books just gets forgotten.  Hopefully I’ll remember to dig it out one Christmas for a seasonal read.

4. The Pact by Jodi Picoult

I bought this after absolutely loving My Sister’s Keeper but rarely read this type of book these days.  I may yet get to it.

5.  Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

Ah *shuffles feet*.  This is probably the worse offender as it feels like one I should have read in my 20s really, but to be honest I just find classics rather daunting.  I’ve been meaning to watch it first on Netflix but haven’t managed that yet.  I do have to read a classic for #40for2020 though, and this one is ear-marked.

6. Daggerspell by Katharine Kerr

I bought this one on a recommendation and due to it’s awkward size it sits on the bottom shelf and gets overlooked for it’s more prominent rivals.

OWL Readathon 2020

The OWL Readathon is a Harry Potter themed readathon hosted by Book Roast.  It has evolved since the first readathon, and now this lovely lady has produced a full career guide whereby one can choose which wizarding career one would like after graduating and see which OWLs and NEWTs are needed for it.  Each OWL has a reading prompt to fulfill in order to ‘pass’ that subject, and each NEWT (hosted later on in the year) has one prompt per grade (3 in total) for each subject.

Last year I went for the subjects necessary to be an Auror, so this year I thought I’d try for Curse-Breaker.  It’s potentially ambitious as I need to finish 6 OWLS (Ancient Runes, Arithmancy, Charms, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Potions and Transfiguration).  I deliberately haven’t looked ahead to the necessary NEWTs yet, and I’ll certainly be choosing short books rather than weighty tomes!

This year we can also study to become an Animagus, for which I’ll need 3 OWLs (Arithmancy, Potions and Transfiguration) so I’ll be aiming for that as a minimum.

Here are the prompts:

Ancient Runes:  Heart on the cover or in the title
Arithmancy: Read something outside your favourite genre
Astronomy: Read the majority of the book when it’s dark outside
Care of Magical Creatures: Creature with a beak on the cover
Charms: White cover
Defence Against the Dark Arts: Book set at sea or coast
Divination: Assign numbers to your TBR & use a random generator to pick
Herbology: Title starts with an M
History of Magic: A book featuring witches or wizards
Muggle Studies: Contemporary novel
Potions: Book under 150 pages
Transfiguration: Book/series that includes shapeshifting

Wish me luck!

 

March Reading Recap

I hope you’re keeping well in these strange times.  I’m in the UK, so we’ve been in lockdown for 2 weeks now, which I thought would mean I read a lot more, but strangely seems to have meant I’ve read less.  I’ve been trying to do a few chores off my long-term to do list to feel productive but have felt rather unsettled.  April heralds a readathon which I hope will push me to prioritise relaxation time.

Books I read in March:

Lifel1k3 by Jay Kristoff

This fulfilled ‘3’ in the #40for2020 challenge.  I’m a huge fan of Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman’s works,  so was really intrigued to see what I thought of their solo novels.  Whilst the writing style is, as one might expect, a little different, I still absolutely love it.  I mildly dread finding out what’s in store in the rest of the series! I think Jay Kristoff subsists entirely off readers’ tears.

Not if I See You First by Eric Lindstrom

The main character in this novel is visually impaired, so I’ve used it to complete ‘We all bear scars’.  As an Optometrist I was delighted to find a novel featuring visual impairment.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

I’ve had this book since World Book Night 2014 *hangs head* and was given the perfect excuse to read it thanks to the ‘German’ prompt of the challenge.  The book only begins in Germany, but since it features a concentration camp, to my mind, it’s about Germany.

Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling

I’ve been reading this to my baby son at bedtime, so it’s taken since November, but we’ve finally finished Chamber of Secrets.  By the time we finish book 7 I think he’ll be reading them himself at this rate!  I decided to use this for ‘Even the darkest night’.

The Self-Care Project by Jayne Hardy

This book has some amazing self-care tips.  Unfortunately the author never says in one sentence what can be said in 4 paragraphs.  I found the endless re-statement of the same thing in different words so frustrating that it’s actually taken me 2 years to finish it.

Books read this month: 5

Goodreads Reading Challenge progress: 16/40

#40for2020 Challenge progress: 15/40

Wizarding World Tour Reading Challenge 16/56

If you’d like to take part in or see more details on the challenges, there is a challenge page here on the blog with all the categories.

Noah Can’t Even by Simon James Green

Poor NOAH Grimes!

His Dad disappeared years ago, his mother’s Beyonce tribute act is a totally UNACCEPTABLE EMBARRASSMENT and his beloved gran isn’t herself anymore.  He only has one friend, HARRY, and school is… Well, it’s pure HELL.

Why can’t Noah be NORMAL, like everyone else at school? Maybe if he struck up a relationship with someone – maybe SOPHIE, who is perfect and lovely – he’d be seen in a different light?

But Noah’s plans for romance are derailed when Harry KISSES him at a party.  And that’s when things go from bad to worse UTTER CHAOS.

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Ah, poor Noah.  He is your stereotypical geeky, awkward teen who seems to have a remarkable propensity not only for ending up in hideously embarrassing situations, but inevitably making things far worse as he tries to extricate himself.

This is the debut novel of Simon James Green, and Noah has a very distinct narrative voice which is highly entertaining from start to finish.  There are plenty of chuckles throughout and some downright toe-curling cringes.

Harry is a great foil as a compassionate, strong character who remains true to himself and seems to care little about what other people think.  Interestingly he is into many of the same geeky pursuits as Noah yet seems to be far more accepted with his peers.  Sophie is a sweet character who seems to take Noah’s terrible faux pas in her stride.

The Gran is utterly hilarious, although those scenes are tinged with sadness as they show the tragic effects of age and Alzheimer’s on such a strong personality.

Despite wanting to shake Noah at times for being surprisingly blind to what’s going on around him, if you’ve ever been embarrassed as a teen you can’t help but feel for him.  Noah Can’t Even is a delightful LGBTQ coming-of-age story that perfectly captures the tribulations of growing up.

4-5-Star

#SixForSunday

#SixforSunday is a meme hosted by the lovely Steph at A Little But A Lot, and this week’s prompt is ‘Characters I’d like to be like’.

1. Luna Lovegood, Harry Potter Series

Luna is one of my favourite tertiary characters.  She’s quirky and smart with badass witchy skills.  The best things about her though, are that she has great moral strength, and really doesn’t care what other people think about her.

2. Hanna Donnelly, Illuminae Files

This girl can go toe to toe against trained SAS level professionals and leave them wondering what the hell hit them.  She’s got tactical smarts in spades and leet martial arts skills.

3. Scarlet, The Aurora Cycle

Scarlet is the ‘Face’ of the squad, meaning she’s highly skilled at communication and negotiation, alongside all the other skills needed to fly on dangerous missions through the universe of course.

4. Rosemary, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet

Rosemary clearly has her secrets, but she’s calm and resourceful and highly courteous and respectful to  all the many species she encounters on her travels.

5. Tom, How to Stop Time

Ageing so slowly you could live for hundreds of years? I might actually get all my books read.  Maybe.

6. Poirot, Agatha Christie books

I devoured Agatha Christie books during my teens and developed a real soft spot for the dapper Belgian.  I’m not sure I could pull off the ‘tache, but I wouldn’t say no to his deductive skills.

Top Ten Tuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is a genre freebie, and I decided to promote ten books featuring mental health issues.  Reading these books furthers my grasp and understanding of these issues and I think they are an important part of the literary world.  Links are to my own reviews.

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1. Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard

Beautiful is the perfect word for this book.  Sara writes mental health well and sensitively, and writes gorgeous friendships in all her books.  This particular novel of hers features PTSD and a downward mental health spiral.  My favourite of hers is Fierce Fragile Hearts, the sequel, and whilst they can be read as standalones, I would recommend reading this first to fully appreciate them.

2. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Wintergirls features eating disorders and suicide, and whilst it does show the glorification of eating disorders within the community of sufferers the book itself does not glorify these illnesses.

3.  The Taste of Blue Light by Lydia Ruffles

This is a really visceral portrayal of amnesia and PTSD.

4. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

This series is an incredible dystopia, but when you think about it, it actually features numerous forms of PTSD throughout.  We hear Katniss’ account of her mother’s catatonia after her father’s death in a mining explosion.  Katniss, Peeta, Finnick and Joanna all suffer from varying PTSD reactions to their time in the arena, and Haymitch drowns his memories in alcoholism.

5.  Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen

Following a tragic death in the family, Petula deals with her grief & anxiety by catastrophising and with her parents’ subsequent marital difficulties by overcompensating.  It’s a really lovely novel showing how people do tend to band together to support each other even in unlikely friendships.

6. Being Miss Nobody by Tamsin Winter

Rosalind has selective mutism and starts a blog to give herself a voice to fight back against her bullies – but is she actually becoming a bully herself?

7. White Rabbit, Red Wolf by Tom Pollock

This book features anxiety, panic attacks, OCD and an eating disorder, yet is, incredibly, tied together in the form of a thriller.  It’s a fantastic book.

8.  Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

Louise has written a gorgeous portrayal of agoraphobia.

9. Crush by Eve Ainsworth

Crush features emotional and physical abuse, and gas-lighting behaviour.  It’s an unsettling read, but very well written.

10.  Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne

Evie is receiving therapy and now she is in recovery from OCD she’s hoping for a normal life in college.  But being a teenager isn’t really that simple is it?

Obsidio by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Asha Grant came to Kerenza to escape her past.  Too bad he just caught up with her.

Asha survived BeiTech’s initial assault and has been working undercover with the hopelessly outmatched resistance ever since.  That, and figuring out what to do with the secret she’s stashed in the crawlspace.  The last thing she expected to worry about was her ex-boyfriend, but Rhys Lindstrom just landed planetside, and he’s looking finer than ever in his new BeiTech uniform.  Is he her way out – or a guarantee she never gets off this frozen rock alive?

But Asha’s not the only one with problems.  Her cousin Kady’s ragtag band of survivors are headed for Kerenza – without enough oxygen to last the journey.  Oh, and there might be an insurrection brewing.  But when have little things like that ever stopped the Illuminae Group?

Too bad time isn’t on their side.  With BeiTech hurrying to repair their damaged jump gate , and a mass extermination planned for the Kerenza civilians, only a miracle could save them now.  And everyone knows that miracles are just statistical probabilities…..right?

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If you’ve read my reviews of Illuminae and Gemina, you already know that this trilogy is my favourite book series of all time.  So does Obsidio live up to the first two beauties?  Oh my word, yes.

Once again a freshness is added to the dossier format, this time by including handwritten notes and a video diary by one of our new characters, Asha.  Rhys makes for a captivating new dimension on this story as his conversations with colleagues both show BeiTech soldiers’ perspectives and Rhys’ internal conflict between orders and what he feels is morally right.  These authors have always been skilled at getting you heavily invested in their characters (usually just before tormenting said characters!), but with this brilliant portrayal of both sides of the war, they get you invested and understanding characters’ motivation even if you dislike the character and/or believe them to be in the wrong.

“Live a life worth dying for.”

I’ve always been impressed with the military precision of the characters’ planning.  This seems to scale even greater heights in Obsidio, and the addition of multiple bluff/deception mechanics kept me frantically turning pages, literally not knowing who to trust and which way the hammer would fall.  At one point the ‘briefing note’ forwarns that ‘this gets hard to read’ – given some of the horrors in store for my loved characters in the first two novels, that was a buttock-clenching moment!!

This left me with the mother of all book hangovers (the inability to start a new book because you’re still caught up in the world of the previous book).  On the one hand I absolutely adored this book, but on the other I was so disappointed the series was over.  What a finale though!  Obsidio. Is. Glorious.

5-Star