WWW Wednesday – 17th August 2016

WWW is hosted by Taking On A World of Words (https://samannelizabeth.wordpress.com/) and all you have to do is answer the three W’s:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

So…Let’s give it a shot!

What are you currently reading?

I am currently 10 pages into ‘The Last Pier’ by Roma Tearne, so I can’t say that I know much about it as of yet. The Independent describes it as ‘An atmospheric page-turner and Tearne keeps the reader guessing to the end’, and I absolutely adore fiction focused around the Second World War so I am certain that I will enjoy this novel. I picked this up at random in Waterstones and haven’t heard anything about it, so I’m excited to form my own opinion.

the last pier

What did you recently finish reading?

I have been on a roll recently! Well, maybe not compared to most of you readers, but I’m really starting to get back into the ease and speed with which I used to get through books – and I love it! I’m not going to say too much about these because they are all due to be reviewed on my blog very soon, but here’s the books I have recently finished reading:

the cursed child.jpg

 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Jack Thorne & J.K. Rowling

 

The widow.jpg

 

The Widow – Fiona Barton

 

the hunger

 

The Hunger- Lincoln Townley

 

the book of lost things

 

The Book of Lost Things – John Connolly

 

What do you think you will read next?

As I am a little short of funds, I won’t be able to buy any new books in the immediate future so I will be reading a couple of books that my parents have read and then set aside for me. I’m not against that though, I quite like reading books that aren’t quite new and that I know nothing about – you discover some real gems that way.

‘The Shakespeare Secret’ by J. L. Carrell

This one is a little different to my usual reads but I really am so excited to start it. The blurb clams that ‘The Shakespeare Secret masterfully combines modern murder and startling true revelations from the life of Shakespeare’, and from what I can tell the thriller seems to be about a murderer who copies the deaths of Shakespeare characters. Given my love of Shakespeare, I can’t wait to see where the author takes this one and I hope it doesn’t disappoint.

The shakespear secret

‘My Brilliant Friend’ by Elena Ferrante

Another work of historical fiction, this novel follows the lives of two girls on the streets in 1950s Naples. I know nothing more than that, but I’ve heard the novel is excellently written and I expect I will enjoy it very much.

My brilliant friend

‘A Medal for Leroy’ by Michael Morpurgo

Another Second World War historical novel! I’m spoiling myself. We all know Michael Morpurgo does it well, and it’s unusual for me to come across a novel of his that I haven’t read. Also, there’s a dog on the cover. It’s going to be great.

A medal for leroy

 

That’s all from me! What are you guys  reading?

Anonymous Bookaholics Tag!

I came across this tag in a couple of places, and I think it looks like fun! I’d say i’m only recently suffering a bookaholic relapse after University, when I stopped buying books due to monetary and time-management issues. Now i’m out and running this blog, i’m quickly falling back into old patterns!

What do you like about buying new books?

I love the entire process. Roaming the bookstore, picking up new titles. It’s always torturous narrowing my choices down to a couple, but once I do I can never wait to get home. The touch of the cover, the crisp pages, the excitement of a new story. I love it!

How often do you buy new books?

Not as often as I’d like, because I’m broke, lol. I’m going shopping this afternoon though! After that I probably won’t buy any for a month or so.

Bookstore or online book shopping?

I like online because it’s cheaper, but for that to work I have to know in advance what I want to buy. My preference is to browse a bookshop without anything particular in mind.

Do you pre-order books?

I never have, but I definitely would if I wanted something so badly!

Do you have a monthly book buying limit?

I haven’t needed to set myself a limit yet, because whilst I was at University I never really bought any – I didn’t have the money. I still don’t have much so I just avoid going into bookshops as much as possible unless I’ve set a little money aside.

Book buying bans – are they something for you!

I wouldn’t particularly set a strict ban on myself, just decide not to visit any bookshops for a while! Same as the above, really.

How big is your wishlist?

Not particularly big! I save titles of books I see reviewed sometimes if I want to check them out, but that’s about it. I prefer to buy books on the day without any previous planning of what I want. It’s more exciting to me.

Which three books from your wishlist do you wish to own now?

  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, of course! I plan to buy this book today.
  • The Widow by Fiona Barton is also high on my list, I think it looks incredible.
  • B A Paris – Behind Closed Doors is the final!

 

What do you guys think? What would your answers be? 

The Secret Life of a Book Blogger Tag

Hi guys! I haven’t actually been tagged in this ‘secret life of a book blogger’, but I’ve seen a few people doing it without being tagged and I think it looks really fun, so here goes!

  1. How long have you been a blogger for?

I have been blogging for around three months, as I set up Booklighting after my final University exams in May 2016.

  1. At what point do you think you will stop?

Hopefully not for a long time! I imagine I will get busy and have to slow down a bit eventually, but I like to think I’ll still post occasionally, if only for my own enjoyment.

  1. What is the best part?

For me, the best part about blogging is that it makes me read more. I completely stopped reading for pleasure during University because I just had so much to read for my course, so starting this blog for me was a great way to get myself back into reading like I used to. Now I’m flying through books again!

  1. What is the worst part?

The worst part is the time commitment. There are a lot of things to consider when blogging, it isn’t just writing and adding a post but interacting with other blogs, keeping up to date with what is going on in the community and of course, reading! It can really take up a lot of time and I definitely am not doing as much as I would like to be at the moment.

  1. Who’s your book crush?

I have SO. MANY. Most books I read I end up with a crush of some sort. The first two that spring to mind at the moment are Damon Salvatore from ‘The Vampire Diaries’ series and Devil Wix from ‘The Illusionists’.

  1. What author would you like to have on your blog?

I would love to have Donna Tartt featured on my blog, but that is never going to happen! I am happy to be contacted by any authors.

  1. What do you wear when you write your blog?

I usually write blog posts at the weekend, so I’ll be slobbing around in leggings or shorts and a t-shirt.

  1. How long does it take you to prepare a post?

I tend to write my blog posts in one sitting, maybe in an hour or something like that. I like to bullet point my thoughts on a book first and then turn it into paragraphs, which is a nice and easy transition.

  1. How do you feel about the book blogger community/culture?

I think everyone is really friendly. When I first joined I received many welcoming comments and they seem to have dropped off now, but that’s alright. I’m hoping I’ll be able to find some closer connections within the community soon.

  1. What do you think one should do to have a successful blog?

For me, I think the important thing to remember is to interact with others. Leaving comments on people’s blog posts and contacting twitter accounts goes a long way towards attracting followers.

 

What do you guys think? Do you agree/disagree with any of my thoughts?

Review: ‘Luckiest Girl Alive’ by Jessica Knoll [2015]

Greetings, bloggers! I hope you have had wonderful weeks – mine was full of work and job interviews, but somehow last week I managed to absolutely FLY through ‘Luckiest Girl Alive’. This book is plastered all over the front of my local Waterstones at the moment, so when I received it for my birthday last month I couldn’t wait to get stuck in and immediately snuck it to the top of my list. This is the fastest that I’ve managed to get through a novel in a long time because it was an interesting read, however I did have some issues with it.

 

luckiest girl alive

‘Luckiest Girl Alive’ is not by any means ground-breaking, but it is gripping, and a thoroughly enjoyable read. It is also shocking: let me tell you now, the thing? You think you’ve figured out the thing, and then a new, bigger thing comes along and you realise that nothing you’ve been assuming so far is correct. It’s a real surprise when everything starts to kick off. BUT, I won’t get into that any further.

One of my favourite things about this book is how conflicted I feel about the majority of its characters. Ani, our protagonist, is understandably difficult. I like that I don’t particularly like her, but I feel desperately sorry for her. The way that her family and friends begin to close in around her is brilliantly executed, and something that I can definitely relate to. Her journey of acceptance and discovery is compelling and I absolutely adored some of her snarky quips and mean little digs. However, I struggled to connect with Ani. There is absolutely no emotional link there, and on the very first page of the novel she considers the possibility of stabbing her own fiancé in the stomach. This little suggestion so early on in the novel made me think that it was going in a completely different direction. The other characters I mostly disliked, which is not to say that they are not written well. Luke is bland, boring and perhaps a little judgemental, but I can forget him in the face of my hatred for Ani’s mother. The woman is absolutely everything that I hate: a woman so concerned with appearances that she neglects her own child’s pain to hide it. Having said that, she must have been written brilliantly in order to incite such emotion from me!

My biggest, and frankly quite an important problem, was with the way that the novel dealt with such important issues: namely rape and eating disorders. And when I say ‘dealt’ with them, I mean they were thrown in there in an attempt to make the novel more exciting, and then were largely glossed over. Other than her complete emotional disconnect we don’t see any after effect of Ani’s rape, and I would go so far as to venture that her eating disorder was glamourized for the sake of this high-society, hard-working City girl character that the author wants to construct. It feels a little like she is throwing as many things in as possible in order to keep shocking the reader, without any thought as to the deeper underlying issues that could be explored with just one of them.

As for the ending, I thought it was a little lacking. I completely get it, that final line: ‘I’m TifAni Fanelli’ symbolises the circle that our protagonist has completed, and her acceptance of self. It should be impactful and meaningful, but I actually just turned the page and thought ‘oh, is that it?’. I would have liked to see more of TifAni’s life following the final page.

Dear readers, don’t let these issues put you off. I really enjoyed this book, and I would still recommend it despite the problems that I found. If you want to read, enjoy, and not delve any deeper, you probably won’t pick up on most of the things that I have highlighted here. For a debut novel, ‘Luckiest Girl Alive’ is a success.

Book review: ‘A Little Life’ by Hanya Yanagihara [2015]

Goodreads summary: When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their centre of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realise, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.

IMG_1131

 

After a few weeks of blogging, I’m starting to get more of a grip of what it is that I like to read: without a doubt my favourite genre is contemporary fiction. And this week’s book is the epitome of everything that I love. ‘A Little Life’ by Hanya Yanagihara is a harrowing exploration of friendship, love and trauma, beautifully written and in no way light-hearted. My main feeling upon beginning this novel was confusion; figuring out the characters took a little while, but I knew immediately that I would enjoy it. The group dynamic, whilst not obvious, is intriguing from the start and as I was slowly drawn into the narrative I happily followed the author’s focus as she started to delve further into Jude’s mind. As the plot slowly unravels the reader is afforded the same discombobulating experience as Jude’s friends – You desperately want to know more, but when you do you wish you didn’t. It’s like clawing away at your own skin, completely fascinated and unable to stop despite the pain.

The characterisation in ‘A Little Life’ is subtle, but incredibly effective. Whilst we know next to nothing about Jude, his helpless, self-deprecating mind-set is executed perfectly. JB’s descent into narcissism and drug abuse is pushed aside a little bit in the plot, but what little we do see of his perspective successfully consolidated my conflicted feelings about the character as a whole. Willem, by contrast, represents an idealistic and humble rise to fame, a kindness that we cannot help but love. I was rooting for Willem and his eventual match the whole way through. Our supporting characters, such as Andy and Harold, are well-rounded and likeable, despite carrying their own struggles.

About three-quarters of the way through I started to suspect that ‘A Little Life’ would not be supplying me with the happy ending that I was hoping for. Without giving any spoilers, what did happen was completely unexpected and, frankly, brutal. But retrospectively I have to admit that I don’t know how it could have ended any other way. It was bittersweet, raw and emotional – I was in tears for a large portion of the second half. This novel is long, I can’t deny that 720 pages is a time-consuming read, but it is completely worth it. If you like contemporary fiction then this novel is a must-read. If you don’t, then you probably won’t like it.

The one negative that I found in the reading of this book, was that the switch of perspectives that occur somewhat randomly throughout the narrative took me a little while to figure out. Whilst I acknowledge that this was likely intentional, the occasional interception from a different narrator (Harold) and the ‘you’ he is addressing were initially confusing. Once you get your head around it though, it’s fine!

To conclude, I have to say that ‘A Little Life’ is an essential read for anyone who loves contemporary fiction. If I had to compare it, I would liken the novel to Donna Tartt’s ‘The Goldfinch’ in its depiction of honest trauma, addiction and underworlds. If nothing else you’ll finish the novel thanking God for what you’ve got and wishing you had a group of friends like these.

IMG_1136
A Little Life: Complete!

Review: Rarity from the Hollow by Robert Eggleton [2012]

Greetings bloggers! First up I apologise for my lack of activity – this past month has been absolutely MENTAL. I turned 21 on Sunday and graduated from Lancaster University on Tuesday, an incredible day, and the few weeks before that were taken up with loads of drinking and chilling with my amazing best friends. I’m so, so upset to be back in the South and away from all of them – but I should now have a bit more time to blog! This, and my job search are my main two priorities. So to set things off once again, I have a review of a novel that was sent to me by the author for review: Rarity From the Hollow by Robert Eggleton.

Robert sent me a pdf. copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Rarity from the Hollow
Goodreads summary: Lacy Dawn’s father relives the Gulf War, her mother’s teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in The Hollow isn’t great. But Lacy has one advantage — she’s been befriended by a semi-organic, semi-robot who works with her to cure her parents. He wants something in exchange, though. It’s up to her to save the Universe.

Will Lacy Dawn’s predisposition, education, and magic be enough for her to save the Universe, Earth, and, most importantly, protect her own family?

Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. It is a children’s story for adults, not for the prudish, faint of heart, or easily offended.

Going against the grain of my usual reviews, I’m going to start with the negatives on this one. My reasoning for this is that the parts of the book I think let it down are not the usual sections one would expect. Generally I find that novels can fail when they have a fantastic start and fantastic ending, with nothing going for it in the middle, but with Rarity From the Hollow I found the opposite. I thought the start was slow and most of its content were a matter of necessity rather than enjoyment, and the pace of the novel does not pick up until the family’s first visit to DotCom’s home planet, ShpTilUDrp. Here the world building and the points of interest pick up massively, and I started to get properly sucked into the story – I’ll touch on that again later. Sadly however I did not feel the ending lived up to this. The majority of the novel is focused on ‘diagnosis’ of the Universe’s illness (essentially a whole load of stabs in the dark and strangely lucky guesses), and the solution at the ending then seems blindingly obvious and rushed. I wasn’t even sure of the relevance of the problem for Lacy Dawn and her planet. These failings, alongside the heavy sections of info-dumping, make some points of the novel very difficult to press on with.

However as I mentioned, although I struggled with much of the information heavy description I found the shopping elements of the novel to be very interesting as a commentary on modern capitalist society. These parts of the novel were the most fun and showed the strongest sense of world-building. The fantastical elements drew on the escapist fantasies of a child suffering from abuse, and the psychological undercurrents were so harrowing and what I would see as accurate. Lacy Dawn’s obsession with DotCom and showing him her panties, and her sense of guilt and responsibility for fixing her parents reminds the reader of our protagonist’s naivety: the idealistic overnight ‘fix’ of her parents is a dead giveaway here. Aside from Lacy Dawn, I thought most of the characters were well constructed, though obviously completely unlikable. Jenny in particular I think I should have felt sorry for, but she was the most irritating part of the novel.

Now to refer to a specific part of the novel – In his email containing the pdf format of the book, the author asked me to comment upon an early comment in the novel in which a child confesses to having seen their parents having sex. The concern was that this inclusion was too soon to introduce to the reader, however in my view this comment did not stick out at all. The whole novel is fraught with these brutal, frank references to abuse – One may as well start from the beginning so that the reader is completely aware of what they are getting themselves into!

To conclude, it took a little while but I did eventually get sucked into this book. I wouldn’t exactly class it as enjoyable but if you can overlook the shortcomings it is definitely worth a read. All proceeds are given to organisations that directly deal with impoverished or abused children in crisis, so I would urge everyone to look the novel up on Amazon. We need books like this, but I’m not sure who really wants to read them.

What do you guys think? Have you read anything like this before?

Book haul and TBR – 2nd July 2016!

 

In the absence of me having actually completed a book this week (life got in the way) I thought I’d do a little spread of my recent book buys and TBR list! Some of these books are new and some of them are older ones that I haven’t got around to reading just yet, but they’re all moving up my list.

Lincoln Townley – The Hunger

Blurb: Hidden from the London tourists lies a demi-monde of decadence where a man can party to excess for as long as his wallet allows. Lincoln Townley was in charge of sales and marketing for a famous men’s club in Soho, connecting wealthy punters with hopeful girls. He held private sex parties for city bankers and worked his way through an endless supply of beautiful young women, breaking beds and smashing toilets along the way. But even that was not enough to satisfy The Hunger. Lincoln wanted more coke and more women. And he devoured them.

Driven to drink more, snort more, fight more and f*ck more, Lincoln pushed his body to the point of collapse and then he pushed it further. When you’re possessed by The Hunger, is there ever a way out?the hunger

This isn’t the type of book I’d normally pick up, but I have always found something about addiction and depravity strangely fascinating to read. After seeing a few mentions of it out there on the internet I found it for cheap on an amazon bookseller’s site. I’m hoping this true account will provide a raw exploration of the battle with addiction as well as a bit of entertainment; a rare glimpse in
to an exciting and dangerous underworld. This book will definitely be getting a review on this site so keep an eye out!

 

Mikhail Bulgakov – The Fatal Eggs

Blurb: Professor Persikov, an eccentric zoologist, stumbles upon a new light ray that accelerates growth and reproduction rates in living organisms. In the wake of a plague that has decimated the country’s poultry stocks, Persikov’s discovery is exploited as a means to correct the problem. As foreign agents, the state and the Soviet media all seize upon the red ray, matters get out of hand…

Set in 1928 but written four years earlier, during Stalin’s rise to power, The Fatal Eggs is both an early piece of science fiction reminiscent of H.G. Wells and a biting, brilliant satire on the consequences of the abuse of power and knowledge.

the fatal eggs.jpg

Again, this isn’t my usual type of book – in fact, science fiction in general is not my go to genre. However I picked up this book as part of a three for one deal and am really quite excited to see how it goes. The author, Mikhail Bulgakov, was a doctor who wrote several science-fiction books – some of which were not published in his lifetime due to Soviet censorship. I really enjoy novels that combine futuristic developments with history, and as this novel isn’t particularly long I should be able to get through it at some point when I have a minute spare or a train journey to fill!

 

Marge Piercy – Woman On the Edge Of Time

Blurb: Marge Piercy’s bestselling novel is both a gripping drama of survival and a Utopian epic. The story of Connie Ramos – 37, Mexican-American, labelled inadequate, unfairly incarcerated in a mental hospital – becomes the turning point for a book about war, a vision of an idyllic future and a moving narrative of essential human dignity. Emotionally compelling, politically searing, this is a landmark novel by a writer of dazzling abilities.

woman-on-the-edge-of-time.jpg

Having just said that I don’t go for sci-fi, I’ve included a second one! This novel was on the reading list for one of my University modules on feminist literature, however as I was unable to attend that particular seminar, I never bothered to read more than the first two chapters. What I did read, I really enjoyed, so now that I have finished University and have a bit more time on my hands I’m planning to go back to give this another shot. The protagonist is committed to a mental hospital against her will and essentially begins to travel through time, visiting a Utopian future where gender, law and other societal structures and constructs do not exist. From what I’ve seen so far it seems that this novel was ahead of its time and a cutting-edge piece of fiction and societal commentary.

 

John Connolly – The Book of Lost Things

Blurb: High in his attic bedroom, twelve-year-old David mourns the loss of his mother. He is angry and he is alone, with only the books on his shelf for company.

But those books have begun to whisper to him in the darkness, and as he takes refuge in the myths and fairytales so beloved of his dead mother he finds that the real world and the fantasy world have begun to meld. The Crooked Man has come, with his mocking smile and his enigmatic words: ‘Welcome, your majesty. All hail the new king.’

And as war rages across Europe, David is violently propelled that is both a construct of his imagination yet frighteningly real, a strange reflection of his own world composed of myths and stories, populated by wolves and worse-than-wolves, and ruled over by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a mysterious book…

the book of lost things.jpg

I’ll be honest about this one – I was seduced by the cover. But this novel is now the one that I am most excited for on this list. It is exactly the kind of thing I like to read and write; a fantastical, creepy bildungsroman combining myth with reality. If this read goes well I will definitely be looking into more of the author’s work and I have a feeling it will earn itself a permanent spot on my bookshelf.

 

Nalini Singh – Branded by Fire

Blurb:  Though DarkRiver sentinel Mercy is feeling the pressure to mate, she savagely resists when Riley Kincaid, a lieutenant from the SnowDancer pack, tries to possess her. The problem is not simply that he pushes her buttons; the problem is that he’s a wolf, she’s a cat, and they’re both used to being on top.

But when a brilliant changeling researcher is kidnapped from DarkRiver territory, Mercy and Riley must work together to track the young man – before his shadowy captors decide he’s no longer useful. Along the way, the two dominants may find that submitting to one another uncovers not just a deadly conspiracy, but a passion so raw that it could leave them both branded by fire…

branded by fire.jpg

Back in safer territory, the back of this novel provides a little guarantee that it will be gothic, romantic, action packed, funny and sexy. I’m not blown away with excitement, but I’m sure this will provide an easy read and a happy change to the usual vampire route of fantasy.  Let’s be honest, we all know how it’s going to end, but I’m sure it will be an enjoyable book nonetheless. I’m not expecting it to break any boundaries or give me any major shocks but after some of the other titles on this list a little gothic romance might be very welcome.

 

What do you guys think? Have you read any of these titles, or would you like to? Happy Saturday!