Lifestyle

What I’ve Been Recently Reading

And by recently, I mean that I haven’t actually done an update since November, so actually this post is about to cover half a year’s worth of time. I honestly don’t know how those 6 months got away from me! 

folded books

The Visitors by Rebecca Mascull
The story of a young girl who tragically becomes deaf and blind at the age of 2 and gains the sense to see “visitors” aka ghosts. I enjoyed the novel, but I didn’t find myself entirely engrossed.  3/5

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
A tearjerker set in a modern Baltimore home with several generations under one roof. The novel interweaves various periods throughout the family’s lives together. A pleasure to read, but something about it felt a bit “stale”. 3/5

The Suspicions of Mr Whicher  by Kate Summerscale 
I picked up this historical non-fiction for free at a local bookshop and was engrossed. Sadly, a tv special on historical murders that I watched last Halloween spoiled the twist for me, but I still found it fascinating to follow along on the journey of the investigation of a crime before the establishment of procedure. 3/5

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
I loved this novel despite it’s very slow start. I found myself pleading with the characters to be better people and smarter with magic. Harry Potter, it is not. (I’ve been watching the BBC series that was made last summer now.)  4/5

My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff
I love reading anything about Salinger (one of my favourite authors) but Rakoff’s work felt vaguely exploitative. It was absolutely fascinating to read, but when writing about an author who valued their privacy more than anything else…. it just rubbed me the wrong way, despite providing a fascinating look into a side of Salinger’s life that I didn’t know anything about. 2/5 

A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon
Like “Curious Incident”, Haddon excels here in making yet another story that is both tender and funny at the same time. But I just found the ending a bit too rushed and neat. 3/5 

How to Be  A Heroine by Samantha Ellis
I loved, loved, loved this book. I couldn’t recommend this work of non-fiction more. Ellis writes a series of essays about how the female characters of her literary obsessions shaped her into the woman she is (or at least various aspects of her personality). Though Ellis and I are from vastly different cultural backgrounds, I found myself nodding along to practically every line of her essays, having felt myself shaped by the same literature, similarly. Are you a Cathy or a Jane? (Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre) 5/5

RSVP by Helen Warner
Very beach read lite. Another read that I picked up at the lending library just to have something to read on the train. I found myself not really believing that any of the characters could actually be real people, but it’s a cotton candy read, nonetheless. 2/5 

The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier 
I remember enjoying Tracy Chevalier as a teenager (“Girl with a Pearl Earring” and “Falling Angels”) but I never read any of her works after that. I picked up this very slim read and found myself enjoying being back in her prose, but relatively unmoved by the story line. (Revolving around the making of a tapestry). 3/5

The Summer of Living Dangerously by Julie Cohen
Another “beach read” type. It was a mushy love story, but I found myself wishing the main character wasn’t going to end up with the love interest. I was rooting against pretty much all of her major “pairings” which defeated the purpose of the love story a bit. But it did involve historical reenactment actors so I did love that. 3/5

The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell 
Think “A Separate Peace” meet “The DaVinci Code” and you have a fairly accurate summary of the novel. I liked the mystery so I absolutely tore through the book, but I found the climax disappointing. 2/5

An Education by Lynn Barber 
I suppose this is what happens when you see a film before you read the novel. The film basically covers the first and smallest section of her autobiography, so I was shocked when that tale ended and there was so much more book left to go. To be completely honest: the film is better than the book. 2/5

The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory
This novel focuses on the last of Henry the VIII’s wives, Catherine Parr. She’s one of the Queens that I knew the least about, and whilst Gregory’s world is by no means historically accurate, I found myself pitying Parr more than any of the other wives. 4/5

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
The first of the Lunar Chronicles. I honestly didn’t expect to love this series as much as I did because I find space really boring. Sorry, not sorry. When I heard that it was about a cyborg, I expected to be very “Blade Runner” esque – a classic that I find dull. But this? I loved. A mash up of all the fairytales. Yes please! 5/5

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
I loved “Cinder” so much that I wasn’t sure that it could be topped. Then we meet the character of “Scarlet” (the Little Red Riding Hood in this version) and she’s awesome. I might like Scarlet more than Cinder…. 5/5

Cress  by Marissa Meyer
“Cress” had the love story/thread that I believed the least. Cress is the Rapunzel of this world, and it’s nice to see Rapunzel do more than brush her hair. (Here she’s a computer genius.) 4/5

Winter by Marissa Meyer
This was the most disappointing in the series to me, but last books nearly always are. I found the last climactic battle over way too quickly; so quickly in fact that I missed a pretty key moment. However, it’s the mark of a good series that I was disappointed when it was finished. 4/5

The Masked City by Genenieve Cogman
The second novel in the Invisible Library series. I didn’t love this novel as much as the first. (I’d rather be in the Steampunk Victorian London world, than the high chaos fairy world, but I still enjoyed it.) 3/5

Room by Emma Donoghue
I haven’t seen the film yet (which I’ve heard amazing things about), but I’d like to. I found the book to be very emotional, but I find Donoghue’s writing style a bit grating. 3/5

I Let You Go by Claire Mackintosh 
There are multiple twists in the novel, and the first of which I was completely blindsided by. I tend to be able to foresee a lot of twists, so I loved that this book caught be unaware. There’s a character development that I didn’t really believe, but I can’t say too much without giving anything away. 3/5

Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee
I know it’s a classic, but this novel really doesn’t speak to me. I don’t connect with or care about any of the characters, and it’s a coming of age tale that doesn’t resonate with me in any way. 2/5

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim
An excellent classic! Set in the 20s some English ladies branch out on their own and though everything gets wrapped up fairly neatly in a bow, the novel is so full of sass and wittiness that I instantly fell in love with it. 4/5

Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart
You’d call Stewart’s work “modern Gothic”. It’s a guilty pleasure and it’s very enjoyable. This is the tale of an English nanny working on a French estate in the 50s foiling murder and falling in love with bad boys. Of course I was going to enjoy it. 4/5

A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Scwab
This is my latest discovery, and I love the series so far. Imagine that there are three versions of London with various magical capabilities. (No magic in one of the Londons, to all magic in the other). Only two men can pass between the different Londons and the current king of England in all the locations knows about the existence of the other Londons, but it’s not widespread knowledge. (Like the PM in Harry Potter knowing about the existence of magic despite being a muggle). 5/5

The Lake House by Kate Morton
I liked reading Morton’s novel, but I found it to be way to close to other books she’s written. She seems to rehash the same ideas but in different eras. It’s a gentle read, but not particularly original. 3/5

A Gathering of Shadows by VE Scwab
The second in the Shade of Magic series. It’s not quite as good as “A Darker Shade of Magic’ but it’s doing the heavy working of setting up the major conflict for the last book (not yet released.) 4/5

How to be Parisian Wherever You Are by Anne Berest
A very tongue-in-cheek, lighthearted read about Parisian culture and fashion. A nice little coffee table book. 3/5

What have you been recently reading? 

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  • Woaa so many books, I’m always continuously surprised by your speed of reading! I’m intrigued by the rest of An Education as I really like the film. There are quite a few on here sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be read, so I’m excited about getting into those. Alice xxx

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    • I really liked the film as well! This was probably the only instance that I can think of where I have enjoyed the film more than the book! x

  • This came just in time! I just got off work for the summer last week and I’m already SUPER bored so I’m making a huge list of books I want to get through before August!

  • I am glad you enjoyed The Enchanted April and Nine Coaches Waiting. I love both of those books. I just finished The Lake House the other day and I felt like I had read it before. I agree, it is just too similar to her other books.

    • Those two were such lovely reads. The Lake House wasn’t a bad read, it just felt fairly standard. x

  • Amanda

    I’m adding A Darker Shade of Magic to my list. If you liked that, you may like the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness. A Discovery of Witches is the first in the series.

    • Eek! I’m actually in the middle of the 3rd one at the moment! After I finish it we can discuss 😉 xx

  • I am going to have to check out some of these magical books!

  • I think I might have to read A Darker Shade of Magic!

  • I haven’t read ANY of these so I’ll be adding some to my list. My most recent read was No One Knows, and I LOVED it!

  • I’ve heard a lot of good things about Cinder, but I’m really not interested in space/cyborg so I haven’t really considered it. But reading this, I’ve got the feeling that I have to give it a chance xx

    • I refused to read it at first because I thought the cyborg angle was going to be really boring. It proved me wrong though! x

  • The Perks of Being a Wildflowe

    I love this list of books! So many to add to my ‘to-read’ list 🙂 I’m currently reading ‘Dracula’ at the moment, bit of a toughie to get into but it’s a goodie! 🙂

    • Dracula is actually one of my favourites. I find the ending a bit rushed after all the elaborate set up, but I adore it 🙂 xx

  • I loved the Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series too – the characters are just perfect! Although I’ve yet to read Winter, hopefully it won’t disappoint too much. and thanks to this update I now have loads of books to add to the tbr pile – thanks! x

    • I really didn’t want the Lunar Chronicles to end! i think she’s written quite a few spin offs now though! x

  • I’ve had my eye on the lunar chronicles for a while, so this is definitely making me want to give them a try, I also tend to enjoy Phillipa Gregory’s books, although at the same time I seem wary of starting them for some reason, but once I do I really like them so dont know what that is about
    And Tracy Chevalier – I have read all her books, reading her latest one at the moment. The lady and the unicorn wasnt my favourite one of hers though, like you I preferred Girl with a pearl earring and Falling Angels, and so far At the end of the Orchard has been a good one!

  • I’ve read some of these – but the ones I haven’t I’m going to look into. A lot of these sound really good!

  • So many book reviews, love it! So happy to hear you have loved How to be A Heroine, it’s such a great book! And Interesting about Cinder and the Shade of Magic – will definitely look these up! I loved the movie An Education, but thanks for the warning, may not pick up the book now! I’ve been reading lots of varied stuff from NetGalley recently and a recent favourite was Why not me by Mindy Kaling and How to find love in a bookshop by Veronica Henry 🙂 x

    • I loved An Education (the film) so I think I was just a bit disappointed that the film is literally just the first chapter in her autobiography. Other really interesting things happen in her life, but I wanted that section to be the entire book, basically! x

  • I LOVE Philippa Gregory’s works! The Taming of a Queen is definitely on my to-read list!

    • It really got me emotionally – she’s probably one of the strongest and smartest of Gregory’s characters! xx