I’m Back…Or I Will Be Soon…

Did you miss me? Probably not. I’ve been gone so long that I doubt anyone even remembers I was here in the first place, but the good news is, I am back. I was so pleased at how my blog gained popularity over the few months of last year when I was most active, but then life got in the way and I went off and did a masters degree and had many sleepless, stress-filled nights, that I simply didn’t have time for this anymore. I am now a month away from handing in my dissertation, and a month away from returning to normal life. I’ve therefore decided to schedule a few posts for the next month until I come back properly.

Despite not posting reviews, I have actually managed to read quite a few books this year. Although I’m nowhere near last year’s tally, I’ve managed 13 books since January, not including my recent re-read of the entire Harry Potter series. That means I’ll have 13 reviews to post at some point in the next few weeks.

I’ll leave this here for now, and say I hope you welcome me back into the book blogger community, and forgive my absence!

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Review – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Minor Spoilers)

I’m not going to do my usual style of review for this, as this review is more of the play, which I saw in December, and then read the book afterwards. I’m not going to rate it, because if I’m honest, I’d rather just forget it exists.

First of all, I’ll say that I did enjoy the play. My review might make it sound like I thought otherwise, but the play was good as a whole entity, I just had a lot of issues with the plot.

Before I went, I avoided all spoilers, all reviews, even casual tweets or comments about it. I was very disiplined and managed to go into it without any expectations at all. Afterwards, of course, I did read the reviews and found people had the same opinions as me.

The play, as a play, was pretty incredible. The magic was magical, the sets and costumes, the acting and all that was brilliant. I wasn’t sure about the Imogen Heap music, but whatever. The story, however, was the most ridiculous story I’ve ever encountered. I’ll try not to use many spoilers, but the character of Delphi was just unbelievably ridiculous. She created so many plot holes, the main one being HOW ON EARTH CAN VOLDEMORT HAVE A CHILD!? I’ll just leave that there.

Other than that unbelievable plot device, the whole thing felt like fan fiction. Goblet of Fire fan fiction more than anything. Although I quite liked Scorpius, everyone else was just a caricature of their real (book) selves, particularly Ron who was reduced to a bumbling idiot mess with no substance at all. It all just felt unnecessary, and to be honest, as a massive Harry Potter fan, I’d rather just forget it ever happened. It doesn’t feel like J K Rowling actually had anything to do with it, despite her name being on the cover.

I was so excited to see this, having bought tickets 18 months in advance, and really tried to love it. My sister and I sat in a nearby restaurant between parts and exclaimed ‘I think the second part will be better’, without wanting to admit our disappointment. We were both relieved when we finally read all the other reviews and articles afterwards, to find that we weren’t alone.

Perhaps minor, casual Harry Potter fans would enjoy this, but I certainly didn’t.

Why the rise of the Psychological Thriller is ruining the classic ‘whodunit’

As far as I’m aware, the psychological thriller sub-genre is a relatively new one. It’s certainly one I’ve only come across recently in any case. For those who aren’t familiar, it is used to categorise books that have some sort of large twist; something that messes with your mind and makes you go ‘ERM WHATWHYHOW’ when you reach it. Twists that are so unexpected and yet so cleverly written that you truly did not see it coming.

This all stems from the success of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, released in 2012. Suddenly, everyone wants to cash in on Flynn’s success, by branding their book as ‘the new Gone Girl’. I’ve seen so many books with this sort of reference on the cover I can’t even count, and yet the majority of the ones I’ve actually read, really fail to hit the mark. This term ‘psychological thriller’ is being used to describe any generic thriller with a female protagonist and a creepy looking cover. Not that I haven’t enjoyed the ones I’ve read, I have, they’ve just disappointed me. I’ve learnt that expecting something on par with Gone Girl is just not going to work.

I understand that publishers need to use certain marketing tools to sell books, and trying to cash in on one of the bestselling novels of the decade is not a bad idea. Clearly it’s working; I certainly keep falling for it myself. The problem is, these are books that I’ve ended up being disappointed by, when if they didn’t have the ‘Gone Gir tag on the cover, I would have really enjoyed. It’s difficult to know when to draw the line, but many books marketed as ‘psychological thriller’ have very average ratings on websites such as Goodreads. Many of the two and three star ratings that are dragging the overal average down are simply people who feel they’ve been duped into believing this would be something that it’s not.

I’m reluctant to name names here, although you’ll see many examples in the reviews on my blog, as I don’t want to insult the authors in question. It is the publishers that are responsible for this trickery, not the authors, who just want a crack at writing a decent thriller.

One name I will mention is arguably the most overhyped book of the last year, and that’s The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I read an article recently about the rise of books with ‘Girl’ in the title, and that goes some way to summarising what I’m trying to express here. The Girl on the Train is the driver of the ‘psychological thriller’ bandwagon. Now, I enjoyed the book, despite having a few issues with the ending’ yet I fail to see why this is better than other similar book of the same genre. I Let You Go by Claire Mackintosh is much more suibtable categorised, and is the only book I’ve read so far that even comes close to Gone Girl, yet it hasn’t taken off in the same way at all. Yes, I’m sure Claire Mackintosh is enjoying modest success and has achieved a very decent number of book sales for a debut author, yet as far as I’m aware, there are no movie deals here. This is not ‘the book that everyone’s talking about’ in the same way that The Girl on the Train is. Now this is pure speculation, and I do not have sales figures for either book, but the reason I believe for The Girl on the Train’s incredible success is because of that one word in the title. The reader automatically compares this to Gone Girl and expects something of the same, even if it’s subconscious.

For me, the best thing about Gone Girl is the intelligence in the writing. Gillian Flynn’s style is something matched by no other. She manages to cleverly weave a stomach churning plot with deeply unlikable characters, yet still managing to make it a joy to read. All three of her books are masterfully crafted, yet unbelievably messed up; so much so, that you begin to worry for her sanity. This clever style is unmatched by anything I’ve ever read, particularly by anyone attempting to slot themselves into this genre.

Of course, this is no bad thing. An author must always bring something new to the table, otherwise what’s the point in picking up debuts rather than well-published reliables?

I’m not an author. I’ve never even attempted to write a book myself, I lack the creativity. I am, however, an avid reader. I am a reader who is getting sick to death of being disappointed by the books I read, simply because of inappropriate marketing.

WWW Wednesday – 8th March 2017

Welcome to this week’s WWW Wednesday post, a meme hosted by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. This is my first WWW post since September, and first post at all this year(!), but I’ve been very busy with my masters degree so I’ve had to take a step back from my blog. I have several reviews waiting to be written when I get chance, and I’m going to try to post WWW Wednesday and general reading update posts a little bit more regularly.

Please go and have a look at everyone else is reading and make sure you post your own WWW in the comments so I can have a look.

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The premise of the post is quite simple – answer the three Ws:

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What did you recently finish reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

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End of Year Review

This year has been the first year I’ve had a blog, and the first year I’ve actually managed to complete my reading challenge. Anyone who’s read my blog in the past knows that I had a year between undergrad and postgrad uni to pretty much do what I liked, so I spent most of that reading as many books as possible. I’m now back at uni, so my blogging and reading has tailed off dramatically, but I’m taking a study break to write this.

This year, I’ve read 37 books! I know that doesn’t sound like a massive amount, but I’m a fairly slow reader, so that’s really impressive for me. I originally set my Goodreads Reading Challenge at 25, but ended up extending it twice. I would’ve loved to make it to 40, but I really don’t have the time any more. My one book a week has turned into one book a month, so it’s unlikely I’ll get another 3 books read in the next week. I’m doing my best to keep reading though. During my undergrad, I stopped reading completely, other than over the summer, and I really missed it. I’m making sure I’ve always got a book on the go, to read a chapter at a time when I need a break from studying.

So moving on to this years reading stats. According to Goodreads, I have read:

  • Books: 37 
  • Pages: 14,198 
  • 5* books: 4
  • 4* books: 21
  • 3* books: 11
  • Unfinished books: 1

I rate books differently on my blog, so I have listed below my 10/10 Perfection and 9/10 Almost There books, with links to my reviews:

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

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I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

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A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

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The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

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The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

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All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

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Room by Emma Donoghue

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Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller

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If you haven’t read any of these, please do, they’re all wonderful. I’ve read so many goo books this year, and haven’t rated any lower than 3*. I’ve been lucky enough to win several Goodreads Giveaways and had the opportunity to review many ARC, so I’m really grateful for that.

I’ve also loved being part of the Book Blogger community. I now get most of my reading recommendation from you guys, so thanks for that! I know I’m not really active at the moment, but I am still lurking around and reading everyone’s reviews and posts.

I’m currently reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, as I saw the play last week. I was a bit disappointed with the play, if I’m honest. I’ll not give any spoilers, but I found the story incredibly odd. I’m hoping I enjoy it more written down on paper.

I still have so many things on my TBR list, and I’ve asked for far too many books for Christmas, so I’m sure that list will increase even more this time next week. Hopefully, I’ll slowly be able to make my way through them all. I’ll be setting my 2017 reading challenge much lower, at 20 books. My masters lasts all the way to September, so everything will be slow going up to then, although I’ll hopefully get plenty read once I’ve finished, and for the inevitable holiday I will have at some point over the summer. I know it’s very unlikely I’ll beat what I achieved this year, so maybe that’ll have to wait until 2018s reading challenge.

 Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to look at my blog this year, I can’t believe anyone at all has read it, never mind over 1000 people.

For now, I’ll just wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

What are your favourite reads of 2016?

Top Ten Tuesday -Top Ten Books I’m Looking Forward To For The First Half Of 2017

Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s theme is Top Ten Books I’m Looking Forward To For The First Half Of 2017. This is week is quite easy for me, as I only buy paperbacks as a rule, mainly because of the price, and also because they look out of place on my bookshelf, so there’s been lots of hardback releases in the latter half of 2016, that I’m desperately waiting for.

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Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read For The First Time In 2016

Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s theme is Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read For The First Time In 2016. I read more books in 2016 than I ever have before, and most of them were new authors, so here’s my ten favourites!

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