What I’ve Been Recently Reading

Happy Friday everyone! I’m happily up north by the sea right now! I always say that I’m going to do these reading round ups more regularly, and then months go by between them! My last “What I’ve Been Reading” post was back on May 1st

Holmes by Mitch Cullin
I read this purely because the movie was coming out and I’m massively obsessed with Sherlock Holmes (seriously, I wrote my college entrance essay about him) and I found this book massively disappointing. It was plot light to say the least, and of course, an ageing, forgetful Holmes is incredibly depressing. That said, done well, it could have been really touching. I was less than touched. Maybe the film will be better? (It’s been getting generally positive reviews, so it must be I suppose.)

Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce
I LOVE a good modern fairy tale, and this was definitely one (or was it?) Is the missing sister a victim of Stockholm syndrome or was she spirited away by the fairies? All is revealed, but I actually wish it was less clear and left more up to the reader’s own imagination. Still, definitely an enjoyable read.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Very Hunger Games, Divergent, Selection-esque but it’s a fun world to be in and I will definitely pick up the others in the series as they are released as quick, light reads. 

The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier
I like the concept of the novel more than the novel itself. Brockmeier establishes an ever-growing city of the dead. When you die you go there, and you only move on “elsewhere” once nobody left alive remembers you. So some pass on “elsewhere” more quickly than others. Some live lifetimes all over again with deceased loved ones. I love the concept but this and the separate plot line occurring in the Antarctic just don’t provide enough material for a full novel. It would have been a brilliant novella. 

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
I loved the story in this novel, and the unique setting of the Alaskan wilderness. I enjoyed the depth of most of the characters, and the faltering marriage that manages to avoid stereotypes. However, there was a slight stumble 3/4 ths of the way through, and I finished the novel with so many questions (not that that’s a negative.) The description of Alaska is stark and beautiful. It part made me want to travel there, and part avoid that level of cold at all costs.

The Uninvited by Liz Jensen
Little kids can be super creepy and Jensen definitely writes some creepy children. And as far as character’s with Asperger’s go, I find Jensen’s portrait of Hesketh Lock to be much more well-rounded than that of Don Tillman of “The Rosie Project”. I want there to be a sequel because there is just so much that I still do not understand about this book of children that turn feral. 

Practical Demonkeeping by Christopher Moore
This was just a fun, goofy romp. Imagine if Terry Pratchett was writing about demons living in a town in California and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what it was like to read this novel. I’ll definitely be reading more by Moore when I have time to kill on my reading list.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman 
I’d seen the BBC television series years ago, but I’d read an interview with Gaiman where he mentioned that he was never disappointed with the telly series, but that “Neverwhere” wasn’t truly depicted as he imagined so knew I’d get round to the book eventually. The show and the book are very close but there’s a mind-blowing amount of detail in the book. I’m not sure I’d ever venture into “London Below” but I enjoy reading about it. 

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
Why-oh-why has this book been advertised everywhere? I found it so incredibly disappointing. The writer is clearly good but the melodrama is tawdry at best and you never actually care about any of the characters. I can get on board with some melodrama, but I have to care first. And Waters hugely missed the mark by not creating even one single character that the reader gives a damn about.

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
I was definitely on a school-shooting train this summer as it’s been a common thread through several of the novels that I read. I found myself getting really sucked in to the novel despite the obviousness of it all. When you read a Picoult novel, you know exactly what you’re getting (just like reading a Nicholas Sparks one) but I embraced it with open arms and deeply felt for the young antagonist.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
For me, this was a victim of its own hype. Had I just stumbled upon it, I would have read it and loved it. But everyone and their mothers were saying it was ‘the best book ever’. And a really good book, it was. For sure. The world was painted so vividly and it was full of imagination. It was beautiful, truly. Best book of all time? Not in my opinion. 

The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory 
I think Jacquetta is one of my favourite Gregory women. She’s full of personality and quirks, very strong-willed and I always am game for a mystical sub-plot. In terms of the novel, it lacks the depth of some of the others, but there was far less source material for Gregory to work with. 

Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
A troop of actors in post-apocolayptic America? It sounds like the ideal set up for a book that would interest me. And interested, I was. I found myself caring about the characters and genuinely excited to pick up this book and read. 

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
I’m sorry but this is not “this years ‘Gone Girl’ ” I didn’t even think “Gone Girl” was the bee’s knees, so the hype of this one just makes me roll my eyes. I think the characters are predictable and undeveloped and the twist is less a twist than an “oh, yeah, okay, that makes sense”. Don’t hate me if you loved it but I’d say skip it unless you desperately need to be in the know with all the pop-lit references this year. 

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
I so heartily endorse this novel. I absolutely love it. I think it’s brilliant. A female character that doesn’t think being a mother is the be-all-and-end-all is refreshing even though it serves a darker purpose plot-wise. Oh man. And the husband? I just wanted to shake him. The movie is well acted by Tilda Swinton, but you have to read the book. And I recommend reading the book first. 

The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory
I feel the same way about most of Gregory’s books – I never end in post-reading ecstasy, but I definitely put them down feeling very satisfied. This one is no different, despite how annoying I find Margaret Beaufort. Alas, I really wanted her to get it on with Jasper Tudor and *spoiler alert* that never happens.

The Witch’s Daughter by Paula Brackston
The description on the back of the book really drew me in, but the book never lived up the the expectations set by the excerpts. While the flashback Bess was very intriguing, the modern day version was very one-dimensional, and the reader was never given enough time or plot to actually care about Tegan.

Graveminder by Melissa Marr
I picked this one up at the library because I was rushing out and I needed a few books for my commute and it was in arm’s length. And I enjoyed it more than I expected to! It had a bit of a “Southern Vampires Mysteries” vibe, minus the vampires. Not a work of “literature”, but a quick summer read. 

What’s the best book you’ve read recently? What hasn’t lived up to its hype in your mind? 

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  • I hear ya on The Snow Child, The Paying Guests and The Girl On A Train – I was left fairly cold too…

  • I’m jealous how much you get to read – but this is really impressive!! You must read pretty quickly, even taking your commute into account. I’m yet to discover what I think of The Paying Guests and The Night Circus as I’ve heard really great things, but I also absolutely LOVED Station Eleven, I thought it was really cleverly written and got through it pretty quickly.Alice xx

  • Wow you powered through a lot of books! I’ve been letting that fall on the wayside lately – though I’m powering through Life of Pi with so much excitement and anticipation right now! I had my reservations about picking up Holmes, it seemed it would come leave a shadow on the Holmes I love – but that said I kind of want to see the movie, can’t go wrong with Ian McKellen! And I’m definitely adding Red Queen and Some Kind of Fairy Tale to my reading list!xx

    • I’ll still try to see the “Holmes” but the book was nothing special. (I am quite a quick reader but I also usually spend at least 2 1/2 hours on the train every day) x

  • I loved Neverwhere, so imaginative to have the tube stations as characters! Interesting about the Girl on the Train, that was going to be on my Summer reading list but I may think twice

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

  • Brief History of the Dead sounds AMAZING! I’m definitely adding it (and several more of these) to my list.

  • I need more Gaiman in my life, so this looks like a good one to go on next.
    I am loving the amount of Gregory in your list. I used to read her books all the time when I was in 6th form, but somehow I don’t read them so much these days.

    • Gregory is so good for some light, borderline beach reading. I’d always opt for Gaiman though! I <3 him x

  • Hahaha, I love your little spoiler alert for the Red Queen!

  • You’ve done so much reading! Nineteen Minutes is one of my favourite books I’ve ever read. It delves so deep into the storyline and really makes you think!

    • Definitely! I really felt for everyone involved, which is an unexpected situation considering everything that happens! x

  • The Uninvited was really creepy but like you I would have been fine with more of a follow up as to why and when. I did not enjoy Gone Girl as a book either so have been avoiding Girl on the Train but perhaps if the connection is misplaced then I will try it out.

    • Gone Girl and Girl on a Train don’t really have much in common besides unlikeable characters, a mystery and a “twist”. But I found it “meh” x

  • Ala

    Oh my life – you read LOADS! Very admirable… I’ve been umming and aahing about ordering Go Set A Watchman, which I’m going to do right now this second. Other than that, I’ve been reading travel guides hehe! Have a fab weekend x

    • I didn’t order GSAW just because I love “Mockingbird” so much and can’t stand to see it tarnished in any way… x

  • The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafรณn and all of Kate Morton’s novels have me on reading cloud nine right now ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Red Queen sounds interesting. Currently I was recommended The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice and I can say that it is worth it a read. Especially if you are in a mood for a witty yet not too intense literature. Find me at & Have a lovely day, Iga xxx

  • Wow! You’ve read so much lately. Definitely writing down some of these titles to read in the future ๐Ÿ™‚ I read “Paper Love” and absolutely LOVED it! But then again, I’m obsessed with anything historical/political having to do with WWII.

  • The books I’ve read lately that I’d recommend to others include: Big Little Lies, Me Before You, The Cuckoo’s Calling (Robert Galbraith aka J.K. Rowling!), and The Martian on audiobook <3 <3 <3 ๐Ÿ™‚ I share your sentiments about Gone Girl and Girl on the Train…both were books that I had to finish just to see how they ended but I was not a huge fan of either of them.

    • I really enjoyed The Cuckoo’s Calling but haven’t read Big Little Lies and Me Before You. I’ll have to add them to my list! x

  • I loved Night Circus, Girl on a Train was good but not anything special, and I know this is unpopular opinion but I just didn’t get Station Eleven. I wanted to like it and the plot was good but I felt like it was a lot of build up to a whole lot of nothing. I’ll have to check out these others that I haven’t read though! Some Kind of Fairytale sounds like something I would like

  • Miu

    The only book on your list that I know is Nineteen Minutes, but it already has been ages that I read it, so I do not really remember a lot :/ Maybe I should add it to my reading pile again? ๐Ÿ˜€ The last book that I read and would recommend is “Eva Luna” by Isabel Allende.

    • Allende is one of my favourite authors. It’s been years since I read “Eva Luna” though! One of my favourites of hers is “Daughter of Fortune” x

      • Miu

        Yes, mine too! ๐Ÿ˜€

  • I’ve read both of Gregory’s books (she’s my all-time favorite author), and 19 Minutes, but none of the others. I clearly need to stalk your Goodreads more often. I’ve mostly taken this summer “off” from reading new books so that I could reread the entire Harry Potter series. ๐Ÿ™‚ But I’m still ahead of schedule to finish 26 new books this year, which is my very reasonable challenge considering everything going on in my life.

    • I think that’s really ambitious! You’ve undergone so much in such a short period of time that I think if I was in your shoes I would have failed at reading altogether. x

  • Fabulous list, and I’m so impressed that you managed to read so many books in only a couple of months. Haha you should DEFINITELY wait so long to post a book review because you’ll just blow all of our minds with your seemingly unending brilliance when you finally post something! hahaha. But I literally just clicked through to like five or six books, so thanks for the rec. I’m still reading the same book since the beginning of the summer (stupid thesis), Longbourn by Jo Baker. I picked it up originally because it was light-ish hearted and a “quick read”. But I also read Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig in ONE DAY it was absolutely brilliant and would definitely recommend it. x

    • I’ve heard really great things about Longbourn but haven’t picked it up yet. What’s your opinion on it? x

      • Well, I haven’t finished it yet, and to be honest, I probably won’t until I turn this thesis in in September. But so far I really like it, it’s not what I was expecting, it’s slightly on par with maybe Water for Elephants or maybe House at Riverton? Neither of those are accurate, but it’s just a bit more realistic and dramatic than an expected Pride & Prejudice spin-off, which is what I like about it. I’m a little worried for the characters though. I have a feeling it could easily all go bad for them :/

  • Wow you certainly get through a lot of books! The Brief History of the Dead sounds so interesting, bit sad that it didn’t quite work out ๐Ÿ™

    • It’s leaving out in the outskirts of zone 3 in the South and traveling central. That’s my reading time! x

  • Alina Isaev

    Wow, you go through a hell of a lot of books in a short space of time! I wish I was just as productive but I do agree with Lime&limoncello blogging does take over hehe. Some Kind of Fairy Tale seems like my sort of book so thanks for the recommendation ๐Ÿ™‚

    Alina from The Fairytale Pretty Picture

    • It’s just because I have long commutes to work everyday and can’t do blogging things during it ๐Ÿ˜‰ x

  • Kate Mitchell

    I’m currently reading The Red Queen and feel the same way. Margaret is so annoying at times, but she still accomplished a lot for her time (and for any time, I guess, considering she helped make her son a king).

  • I felt the same about The Brief History of the Dead. The concept was good and I really wanted the book to be good, but it just didn’t feel like there was enough for a full novel.

    I’ve read We Need to Talk About Kevin twice. It’s excellent, but also terrifying!

  • Gregory is such pleasurable reading! x

  • I’ve had Neverwhere sitting on my desk forever. I can’t wait to get to it

  • One Hundred Years of Solitude is one of my favourite novels of all times! Although the first time I read it, I kept having to flip to the page at the front of the book with the family tree on it to keep all the characters straight! x

  • Angie SilverSpoon

    I loved Nineteen Minutes and We Need to Talk about Kevin.

    Lots of love,

    SilverSpoon London

  • I love that you read so much, Amanda! I adore everything written by Gaiman and would totally venture into London Below if I could. Totally agree about The Night Circus being overhyped, though I’d go further and say I wasn’t impressed at all. I thought the concept and execution of Station Eleven was wonderful! In terms of good books I’ve read lately… I’ve come very late to Kate Mosse’s Languedoc trilogy, though I loved the first book far more than the second and third put together. And I’m absolutely loving Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch at the moment – her books are such a pleasure to read! x