This Month in Books: July 2015

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July was a bit of a bitch to be honest. I got into a severe blogging and reading slump and came pretty close to throwing in the towel. I love blogging, but I started this when I had a boring office job, and I was able to manage most of my blog admin at work. But now I work in an environment that is really full on and has no internet access anyway, I’m really struggling to keep up.

I feel bad for not reading my favourite blogs, replying to emails and comments, as much as I used to, but it’s just not possible.

However, I had a good think about it and I’m not ready to give up, the pros definitely outweigh the cons and I’m trying to go easy on myself. If I only post twice a week, so what. If it takes me a year to write that review I promised, so what! I officially declare this as a pressure-free zone!

In July, I caught up on a lot of reviews, but got very little reading done…I blame the summer. I’m really looking forward to Autumn and long nights indoors hibernating away. Summer is too busy for my liking. LOL.

Anyway, on to the stats!

July 2015 Stats

Total Posts: 16 (+2 from last month)

Books Read: 4 (- 3)
The Ring of Morgana ~ Donna Hosie
Horns ~ Joe Hill
Kiss Kiss ~ Roald Dahl
Dinner with a Vampire ~ Abigail Gibbs

The Breakdown:
Genres: YA (2/4); Horror (1/4); Romance (1/4); Short Stories (1/4)

Formats/Sources: Advance Copy (0/4); Digital (1/4); Hardback (0/4); Paperback (3/4); Owned (2/4); Borrowed (2/4)

Most Surprising: The Ring of Morgana
Most Disappointing: Kiss Kiss
Most Exciting: Horns
Most Swoon-worthy: Dinner with a Vampire
Most Beautifully Written: Horns

Reviews: 7 (+2)

  • There is no Dog by Meg Rosoff, 2/5 (View)
  • A Few That Got Away: The Testimony of a Hanged Man/ Kiss Kiss/ Badjelly the Witch – Various (View)
  • The Ring of Morgana by Donna Hoise, 4/5 (View)
  • Horns by Joe Hill, 4/5 (View)

Most Viewed Posts

  1. This Week in Books 22.07.15 (View Post)
  2. TTT: Top Ten Hyped Books (View Post)
  3. TTT: Celebrating Diversity (View Post)

Guest Posts, Promos and Other Highlights

  • Book Promo: The Water Travelers by Daniel Waltz (View Post)
  • An Over-Due Apology (& What’s Coming Up)! (View Post)
  • Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Book Nerds (View Post)

Awards

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August Releases

Here’s my pick of the August releases:

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What are you looking forward to this month?

Lazy Saturday Review(s): A few that got away…

I’ve fallen behind of late, so before I completely forget about these books I thought I’d do a quick catch-up in the shape of some teeny tiny reviews.

testimony
Title: The Testimony of the Hanged Man
Author: Ann Granger
Series: Lizzie Martin #5
Edition: Paperback, 400 pages
Publication Details: July 3rd 2014 by Headline
Genre(s): Mystery; Historical Fiction
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it!

Goodreads // Purchase

A hanged man would say anything to save his life. But what if his testimony is true? When Inspector Ben Ross is called to Newgate Prison by a man condemned to die by the hangman’s noose he isn’t expecting to give any credence to the man’s testimony. But the account of a murder he witnessed over seventeen years ago is so utterly believeable that Ben can’t help wondering if what he’s heard is true. It’s too late to save the man’s life, but it’s not too late to investigate a murder that has gone undetected for all these years.

Review

I initially picked this book up because it’s set partly on Putney Heath, which is where I lived when I was at uni. I like reading about places I know well, to see how the author portrays them, especially in another era. The Testimony of the Hanged Man is set in Victorian London, and is a classic mystery which unfolds at a slow pace.

I think if I read it all in one go, I would have enjoyed it more, but I only managed a few pages at a time. However, I still enjoyed it – and despite my pet peeve of alternating narrators too.

If you like traditional, light-hearted, Victorian detective fiction, give this series a go.

unicorn rating 3

kisskiss

Title: Kiss Kiss
Author: Roald Dahl
Series: N/A
Edition: Paperback, 231 pages
Publication Details: October 26th 1987 by Penguin Books
Genre(s): Short Stories
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it!

Goodreads // Purchase

In these wickedly anarchic stories, Dahl explores the dark, sinister side of the psyche: the cunning, sly, selfish part of human nature that makes for unexpected outcomes and horrifying conclusions.

Review

I’ve wanted to read some of Dahl’s adult fiction for ages so I picked this up for my lunch-time read when I spotted it in the library. I read most of the stories in this collection, and came out with mixed feelings. The collection was first published in 1959, and you can tell; it hasn’t aged well.

The stories are not what I would call anarchic or horrifying in today’s meaning of the terms, but they were interesting, funny and slightly odd – as you would expect from Roald Dahl. I enjoyed Mrs Bixby and the Colonel’s Coat the most.

unicorn rating 3

badjelly
Title: Badjelly the Witch
Author: Spike Milligan
Series: N/A
Edition: Hardback, 64 pages
Publication Details: October 19th 2000 by Virgin Books (first published 1973)
Genre(s): Children’s; Picture Books
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it.

Goodreads // Purchase

Badjelly The Witch can turn children into sausages or chop them up to make boy-girl soup. She can turn policemen into apple trees or bananas into mice and she is the wickedest witch in all the world.

A charming fairy tale which has delighted children for many years, this edition is copiously illustrated with Spike Milligan’s own drawings which have been specially adapted and beautifully hand coloured.

Review

Spike Milligan’s Silly Verse for Kids was one of my favourite books when I was little, but I never read this one. I’m so glad I eventually got round to reading it! It’s exactly as bonkers as you’d expect – loved it!

Definitely a fun, wacky book to read to young children.

unicorn rating 4

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Book Quotes

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the link to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

The topic for this week is: Top Ten Inspiring Quotes From Books (anything that inspires you, challenges you, makes you think, encourages you, etc).

Ahhh I really love this week’s topic; it was really hard to stick to ten. And I just know there’s so many of my favourites I’ve missed out too, but I didn’t want to pick ones I thought everyone else would so I’ve avoided some of the classics. I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone else has picked!

In no particular order…

1.

I used to think that when I got older, the world would make so much more sense. But you know what? The older I get, the more confusing it is to me. The more complicated it is. Harder. You’d think we’d be getting better at it. But there’s just more and more chaos. The pieces – they’re everywhere. And nobody knows what to do about it. I find myself grasping, Nick. You know that feeling? That feeling when you just want the right thing to fall into the right place, not only because it’s right, but because it would mean that such a thing is still possible? I want to believe that.”

David Levithan & Rachel Cohn, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist

2. “If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”

― Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

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4. “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”

― George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons

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― A Million Little Pieces

6.

I wanted to tell them that I’d never had a friend, not ever, not a real one. Until Dante. I wanted to tell them that I never knew that people like Dante existed in the world, people who looked at the stars, and knew the mysteries of water, and knew enough to know that birds belonged to the heavens and weren’t meant to be shot down from their graceful flights by mean and stupid boys. I wanted to tell them that he had changed my life and that I would never be the same, not ever. And that somehow it felt like it was Dante who had saved my life and not the other way around. I wanted to tell them that he was the first human being aside from my mother who had ever made me want to talk about the things that scared me. I wanted to tell them so many things and yet I didn’t have the words. So I just stupidly repeated myself. “Dante’s my friend.”

― Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

7.

“Never, is an awfully long time.”

― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

8. “Choices may be unbelievably hard but they’re never impossible. To say you have no choice is to release yourself from responsibility and that’s not how a person with integrity acts.”

― Patrick Ness, Monsters of Men

9.

“Sometimes, you do things and you do them not because you’re thinking but because you’re feeling. Because you’re feeling too much. And you can’t always control the things you do when you’re feeling too much.”

― Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (I could have probably done all ten from this book <3)

10. “No one bends further than someone made of completely straight lines”

― Will Elliot, The Pilo Family Circus

Almost made the Top Ten…

“It was one of those moments when you wonder whether there is some kind of big misunderstanding and really this is all just a dream or a made-up story, and not the real world like you thought it was.”

― Chris Beckett, Dark Eden

“I like the night. Without the dark, we’d never see the stars.”

― Stephenie Meyer, Twilight (Couldn’t resist!)

Top Ten Tuesday: Books/Authors that made me a reader.

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the image to visit them) who pick a different topic each week. This week the topic is Top Ten books or authors that we credit with our bookishness.

It’s quite hard to single out just 10 books/authors that I attribute to my love of reading but there have definitely been a few significant periods of my life which got me into, or spurred on my obsession love of books.

Childhood Favourites

Roald Dahl: I have a feeling Dahl will be on a lot of people’s lists this week. His books were definitely the first to really capture my imagination and made me realise how much fun reading can be. The Twits was always my favourite, still is.

E. Nesbit: I first discovered E. Nesbit from seeing a film of The Railway Children which my mum loved. I was never such a huge fan, but that led me to 5 Children and It which remains one of my all-time favourites. And it wasn’t until much later that I came across The Enchanted Castle, which is probably what kick-started my love of castles just as much as the next book(s) on the list.

The Chronicles of Narnia: I didn’t truly love these books until after I’d seen the (now hilarious) low-budget BBC adaptation which I still watch now again for a laugh. Thinking about it, TV and Films were strangely enough what got me into reading a lot of the time.

Lewis Carroll: Again, I have a film to thank for my love of this one. I definitely saw the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland first and I think it took me until my college years to be able to actually appreciate the book.

Those pesky teenage years

Point Horror/ R.L Stine: By the time I was 12/13 I don’t think I was reading much at all. It wasn’t cool to read. And it definitely wasn’t cool to read the kind of books I wanted to read. But somewhere along the line I’d developed a love of horror, and when I discovered the point horror series, it was suddenly OK to be a reader again. R.L Stine’s were always the best!

L.J Smith: I can still remember getting a free copy of Secret Vampire with one of the girly magazines I used to buy – I think it was Mizz or something – and I LOVED it so much, I just used to read it over and over. I didn’t even think to look for anymore of her books, I was content with just that one tiny one. Weird. This was probably where my love of vampires came from too. L.J Smith has a lot to answer for.

Music Biographies: It wasn’t always about books for me. When I was well into my teenage years I more interested in music than anything else. I picked up books now and again but music was always more important. I was interested the history of music (I’d gotten good taste off my mum who played David Bowie, T-Rex and Rick Astley (LOL – OK I didn’t appreciate that last one) around the house and I started getting biographies from the library. I was mainly into the sixties, and remember loving ones on The Byrds and Syd Barrett.

Full Circle

Darren Shan: In my twenties, I went to Uni to study creative writing and journalism which also involved a lot of English Lit classes and I realised how much I hate being told what to read. I always did the bare minimum but got through it fine anyway. And I would literally read anything that wasn’t on my syllabus. Bad Student. That’s pretty much when I started reading again, and The Saga of Darren Shan was the first series I really got into.

Twilight: You all knew it was coming right? I remember the first time I saw Twilight in Borders (RIP Borders 😦 ) It had its own display and everything, and I knew from the cover that I needed it. I didn’t even need to read the blurb. I never looked back. And as trashy as it is, Twilight is without a doubt what got me back into YA fiction, and reading as obsessively as I do now. Plus it was the first series that I read where I was counting down the days until the next book was released….sad but true.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Was *Forced* to Read

toptentuesday
Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (Click the image to visit them). This week the theme is Top Ten books you were ‘forced’ to read, whether it’s required reading or books that friends or family have encouraged you to read.

I was never big on required reading, and would usually just pretend that I’d read the books I was supposed to at school. Such a rebel, yeah. But I did read some of the ones I was supposed to, and here are my favourites. Followed by the books I read, or was read to as a child…no forcing necessary there; they are all awesome!

Top 5 Books I had to read to for school

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  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry: I would love to read this again. It was very affecting.
  • Hamlet: Probably my favourite Shakespeare play.  I can still remember the first time I was introduced to Ophelia!
  • Of Mice and Men: I haven’t read this for years. So heartbreaking!
  • The Bloody Chamber: I’m not sure if I had to read this for college or Uni, but either way I’m glad I did.
  • Enduring Love: This was one of the stand-out books I read for my Eng Lit class in college.

Top 5 Books from Childhood

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  • The Twits: This is the most memorable Dahl book for me. I still love it.
  • Naughty Amelia Jane: I read A LOT of Enid Blyton when I was little. This series was my fave though, closely followed by The Faraway Tree books.
  • Silly Verse for Kids: I did a Favourites Friday post on this here. Love love love. RIP Spike Milligan
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: I actually saw the BBC adaptation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe before I read these books. Words cannot express how much I love this series. In all its forms.
  • Green Eggs and Ham: I can remember loving this book so much, and thinking how gross green eggs sounded! I would love to read this again.