Recommendations || What I’ve Been Reading Recently

I didn’t achieve my Goodreads Goal for 2016. It turns out that 75 books was far too lofty a target. I blame it on being busy with wedding planning and moving, so I’ve set the same goal for 2017 so let’s see if I’ll hit my target this year!  

So here’s what I’ve been reading recently  since my last update

Wide Sargasso Sea (Penguin Modern Classics) by Jean Rhys  

This slim novella is extremely famous and it looks into the life of the “Jane Eyre” madwoman in the attic. It’s the tale of Rochester’s first wife and paints him in an entirely unpleasant palette. Its themes are inherently about the power struggle between men and women and post-colonialism (and colonialism) but I just didn’t find it particularly readable. Clever though.  3/5 

The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan 

Woof. This is the one I was most hesitant to write about. Marina Keegan’s life story is tragic – she passed away shortly after her university graduation and this collection of stories was publish posthumously. Would it have been published at all if she was alive and sending them out to publishing houses? I truly don’t think so. She’s called the voice of a generation, and she very well had the potential to be a great writer. It’s tragic that she didn’t have the opportunity to follow that path, but I found the stories here thin and unimaginative. 2/5

The Bloody Chamber And Other Stories by Angela Carter 

Carter’s stories are traditional gothic fairytales reworked with a modern feminist slant on each. (Some of them were surprisingly sexual, but not once you imagined the root origin of most fairy tales.) I found her take on Bluebeard particularly enjoyable. 3/5 

Alice (Chronicles of Alice 1) by Christina Henry

I’m not even entirely sure how to describe this novel: a trippy, dystopian, steampunk take on Alice on Wonderland? Regardless, it wasn’t successful. I found it gross and frankly embarrassing. Rape as a narrative device is done to death and I’m done with it. 2/5 

Fellside by MR Carey

A slight genre venture away from my usual reads – this is set in a women’s penitentiary on the Yorkshire Moors and focuses on a drug addict who accidentally set her flat on fire resulting in the death of a boy who lived in a neighbouring flat. (Then she starts getting haunted by a ghost – you can see why I picked it now, right?). It’s the same author as “The Girl With All the Gifts” which is next on my list to read. 4/5

Nos4a2 by Joe Hill 

Stephen King’s son is back again for another novel. This one focuses on a child abductor obsessed with Christmas and a mom who will go to hell and back to rescue her kid (and herself). The story is pretty cut and dry with few twists and surprises. (It’s also pretty darn gory so maybe not for the faint of heart.) 3/5

The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin 

This novel centers around reincarnation in children and the families that it can bring together. I really enjoyed reading it, but in retrospect I can’t remember many details or why I enjoyed it. Which I think is the perfect description of this novel. It’s “nice” without being groundbreaking. 4/5

The Hidden People by Allison Littlewood 

I picked this book off the “recommended” shelf the first time I went into the York public library for one reason: it was about a man chasing myths leaving his Crystal Palace home for Yorkshire and I had also just moved from Crystal Palace to Yorkshire. There the similarities ended. It centres around the rural belief of changelings and fairies. About halfway through I started to tire of the plot and wish that the changelings and fairies were real. 3/5

The Oversight (Oversight Trilogy) by Charlie Fletcher 

A typical Amanda read. The Oversight is set in Victorian London and it’s about the secret society that protects the normal people of England from terrifying magical creatures that they don’t know exist. We join the society at their weakest point, where the collapse of the Oversight might be on the horizon and then who knows what will run amok in England? Thoroughly enjoyable.  4/5

Blindness (Vintage Classics) by Jose Saramago 

People say that you either like Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” or you like Saramago’s “Blindness” and I hated “The Road” 4/5

Parisian Chic: A Style Guide by Ines de la Fressange by Ines de la Fressange 

It’s cotton candy lit. Beautiful with no substance (but I knew that when picking it up.) I wish there was more on fashion. A good chunk of the book is dedicated to place to eat and stay in Paris which is only helpful if you are planning a trip to Paris. 2/5

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever by Maria Kondo

Some of the things Kondo says sound crazy, but in general, I can really get on board with her philosophy of minimalism and only owning things that truly make you happy. 3/5

The Paradox: An Oversight Novel (Oversight Trilogy) by Charlie Fletcher 

The second novel in the “Oversight” series. It’s not quite as good as the first, and you get the feeling that it’s mostly a set up for the third, but it’s still an enjoyable read. 3/5 

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

After declaring “Eat, Pray, Love” as one of the worst, most self-centred, poor white woman books of all time, I gave Gilbert another chance to redeem her smug ways in “Committed”. She failed again. I gave her one more chance because every freelancer out there has proclaimed “Big Magic” as life-changing. It wasn’t. But it was a nice exploration of living creatively and I think I was able to stomach it for once because Gilbert finally deigned to talk about something other than her blessed life. 3/5

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard 

The sequel to “Red Queen” which I read and loved last year. And in fact, I think this was one of the few instances where I’ve actually liked the second book in the series more than the first. I’m so excited to see what the 3rd novel brings in 2017! 4/5

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West 

“Shrill” was probably one of my favourite reads of the year. Right up there with “How to Be A Heroine”. I just loved every bit of it. I found it hysterical, and I set multiple chunks aside to read aloud to Sam. (I hardly ever do that.) I honestly think that everyone should read it. 5/5

Whitefern by Virginia Andrews 

The second “Audrina” novel. However, I should have done a bit more research before nabbing this one at the library. Since Andrews death, there’s been a ghostwriter using the name and characters (a la Keene and the Nancy Drew series) and the ghostwriter…. just isn’t very good. 2/5

The Mirror Sisters by Virginia Andrews
I picked this one up at the library at the same time that I nabbed “Whitefern”. This is definitely one of the better ghostwritten Andrews novels. It doesn’t have your classic gothic setting, but it still exudes a low-level menace and sense of dread. The atmosphere is great, but the dialogue is disappointing. It’s so stilted and forced, definitely a bit of a slog. It ends on a cliffhanger and I’ll be picked up part 2 in the spring to see where the story goes. 3/5 

What have you been reading lately? Do you have anything wonderful to recommend to me?

I’m trying to stock up on books to take on the honeymoon. On a normal flight to New Mexico, I can get 3ish done, so I need a true stockpile for Thailand! 

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  • 75 is an impressive target though! I’m determined to read more this year – and doing well so far! I’ve been getting into a bit of historical crime lately – especially non fiction ones, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale was really good – really different from anything I’ve read. I also read The Dry by Jane Harper which is an Australian novel and was really popular while I was over there!

  • So glad to hear you liked the Glass Sword I have been waiting to read it since I was worried I wouldn’t like it as much as the first one. I will have to read it!

  • Angie SilverSpoon

    I loved reading the Wide Sargasso sea at university and the Bloody Chamber is one of my all time favourites, as is Angela Carter.

  • I definitely need to add Shrill to my list for 2017! x
    Sophie Cliff

    • It’s so brilliant! Her message is similar to Caitlin Moran and her comedy is just genius! x

  • I love when bloggers share honest reviews of books! I can totally relate about The Opposite of Loneliness! Everyone was commenting on how amazing it was, but it just did not click for me. Keep bringing on the great book reviews! I’m in need of some new books 🙂

    • Eek! Thanks for saying that because I did feel a smidgen guilty for giving the book a negative review when it seemed to have touched so many other people! x

  • I COMPLETELY agree with your review of the Forgetting Time. Couldn’t put it down but it didn’t have a lasting effect on me. I recommended it to Rick though and he also really enjoyed it and we tend to have very different tastes in books! Saving this to my ‘bookshelf’ collection on bloglovin’ for when I run out of inspiration with my Goodreads challenge (a conservative 60)! xx

    • I still think 60 is super impressive! I only got to 63 this year and I really, really tried! It was kind of a shock to remember enjoying Forgetting Time but then not having any real lasting impressions of it! x

  • This many books in 3 months is still hugely impressive! I’ve somehow lost my reading streak again, been a busy little bee and seem to run out of time for everything – including 2 of my favourites – blogging and reading! Alice xx

    • I mentioned to someone the other day – losing my reading time on my London commute is one of the only things that I miss about not commuting. Having an hour each way to work (where I didn’t usual get mobile reception) limited my activities to reading or napping. (Or both). In York, I have to actively set time aside to read but I like that I have to put more intent into it. 😉 x

  • I keep telling myself I need to read more and last year I read hardly any books, so this year I definitely want to read more! Sounds like a really great selection here, so I’ll be on the lookout for some new books to add to my bookshelf 🙂

    Kayleigh |

    • Thanks so much Kayleigh – I’m something of a reading fiend so I really try to make time to actively read these days! x

  • You always have the best book reviews! Definitely adding a few of these to my reading list. Also, loving the new logo!

    • Thanks so much Jordan! Which ones caught your attention in particular? (And I made the new logo myself over the weekend, so I’m glad you like it! ) x

  • I LOVED The Girl With All the Gifts but I’m just struggling with Fellside! I might give it another go if you really liked it. 🙂 I took a break and started reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman which is great so far!

    T x

    • I LOVE American Gods. I can’t wait for the tv series to start soonish and I hope they do it justice! I thought Fellside was a bit slow at first, but I really enjoyed the twist later on. It’s not the best book, I’ve ever read, but it was enjoyable in the end xx

  • Omg youve read so many books! I am jealous! I wish I had more time to read!

    • It’s just my commute to work which enabled me to read so much! I used to have an hour on the Tube to work in London each way. It ended up giving me loads of reading time per week! x

  • Yay, some new books to add to my ever-expanding reading list! I read Wide Sargasso Sea at school and I did enjoy it but like you said, it’s not very readable. I’ve also read Angela Carter’s Bloody Chamber and other short stories and enjoyed those too – sometimes it’s nice to have little bursts of story like that 🙂
    I like to keep track of the books I’m reading on my blog in a similar way to you too – they’re fun to write and I love catching up on other people’s reads too!
    Sian xx Rebel Angel

  • I’m so intrigued by Fellside – the Yorkshire moors just seem like a perfect setting!

    • A book set in a prison usually isn’t something I’d ever go for, but I enjoyed it in the end. It was written by the same author as “The Girl with all the gifts” but they are very different! x

  • Miu

    I’m surprised you didn’t achieve 75 books when looking at this list O.O
    Right now I am reading “Vanity Fair” and so far I am enjoying it. I am only in Chapter 10 (of 66) though, so I cannot speak for the whole book. It’s quite long though, so it would take a while to read through 😉

    • I’ve heard really good things about “Vanity Fair”. I haven’t read it but I did see the adaptation with Reese Witherspoon (which I wouldn’t really recommend!) xx

      • Miu

        I didn’t even know there was an adaptation with Reese Witherspoon 😀

  • Girl With All the Gifts was awesome, but I have a lot of friends that don’t like MR Carey’s other stuff… maybe I’ll give it a shot!

    • I haven’t read anything else besides “Fellside” and it is totally different, but I really enjoyed it. I really wanted to get to the bottom of the crime! x

  • Ugh, I was also guilty of setting a high Goodreads goal (not as high as yours, admittedly!) and I shamefully had to tweak mine so I didn’t feel bad about not hitting it 🙁 I’ve read The Girl With All The Gifts and really enjoyed it – I’ve yet to see the movie, though, and I’d like to read Fellside next. And oh god, I agree about The Opposite of Loneliness – I’d read the titular essay online and really empathised with it at the time, but found that a lot of the short stories in that collection were a little…well, dull. And read like they’d been written for a creative writing class. Wish I’d enjoyed them more, but there we are! By the way, I also hated ‘The Road’ but read Cormac’s ‘All The Pretty Horses’ this summer, which I enjoyed a lot more! His style can be a little grating though, I’ll admit…x

    Tamsin | A Certain Adventure

    • I’m glad you felt similarly! To be honest I felt really guilty saying anything bad about loneliness. I should definitely give “All the Pretty Horses” a fair chance. X

  • I haven’t read any V.C. Andrews books since high school, maybe college, but I’ve thought about picking them up again. I keep noticing them at secondhand bookstores, but there’s never the first one in a trilogy/series. I just need to stakeout my library!

    I didn’t know Lindy West had written a book. She is SO funny and feminist and fabulous.

    The feminist fairy tales sound good. I’ve enjoyed retold fairy tales since I was a little kid. I even write them occasionally.

    Also, I didn’t hit my Goodreads goal of 30 books. My fatal flaw was rereading all of Harry Potter, rereading several books in a series because I bought the rest of the books, and rereading a few other favorite fantasy novels. I certainly read well over 30 books, but my Goodreads goal is for new books only. This year my goal is 26 books.

    • Lindy West’s book is SO funny. I couldn’t recommend it more.

      My biggest tip about picking up any Andrews is to try to get some originals instead of some ghost written. Xx