Sunday, 30 April 2017

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Book Title: Big Little Lies
Author: Liane Moriarty
Genre: Mystery, Contemporary
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Source: Library

Amazon UK, Goodreads

Goodreads Summary: A murder, a tragic accident, or just parents behaving badly? What’s indisputable is that someone is dead. But who did what?
Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads.
Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare.
New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.
Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.
What did I think? I wasn't sure about this book at first. I happened upon the trailer for the show and since I usually read the book before I watch an adaptation, I jumped at the chance to read this with a few members of a bookclub.

It didn't take long for me to be hooked and then I read it in a few sittings. I almost couldn't stop myself from racing to the last page.

Big Little Lies starts out intriguing, before quickly turning into a gripping tale, tackling some important and serious issues along the way.

I loved it. The only reason I'm not giving it 5 stars is because I found the ending a little bit too neat. Everything wraps up just a tad too conveniently.

This book is filled with amazing yet believable character development and just when you think you've got someone figured out Moriarty adds another layer. The three main women are strong, independent and all face their own personal problems, some of them quite dark and unexpected.

To be honest, at first I thought it would just be another light and fluffy mystery, because that's exactly how Big Little Lies starts out. I didn't expect some of the dark subjects Moriarty decided to tackle and the combination between casual humour, every day problems parents face and serious issues is extremely well done.

I recommend this to everyone who likes a good mystery and isn't opposed to reading about the pits of suburban parenting.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin

Book Title: The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth Trilogy #2)
Author: N. K. Jemisin
Genre: Fantasy
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Source: Library

Amazon UK, Goodreads

As usual there will be NO spoilers for previous books in the series, so the summary is the one for the first book.
My review of the first book can be found here.
Goodreads Summary: A season of endings has begun. It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world's sole continent, from which enough ash spews to darken the sky for years. Or centuries. It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter. It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester. And it ends with you. You are the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where orogenes wield the power of the earth as a weapon and are feared far more than the long cold night. And you will have no mercy. 
What did I think? The Fifth Season was unlike anything  I'd read in a long time. A perfect blend of science fiction and fantasy in a fascinating world. But when I picked up The Obelisk Gate, I had just read something like it, not too long ago: The Fifth Season.

Don't get me wrong, the second book in the trilogy is just as good as the first, but I knew what to expect and was no longer blown away by the novelty of it.

It's very hard to write about this series without giving too much away, because I believe this world should be experienced without any prior knowledge. There are strong female characters, clever world building, an interesting and novel magic system and wonderful prose. Part of it is written in the 2nd POV, bringing you even closer to the main character. It takes a little getting used to at first, but Jemisin knows how to make it work.

A beautiful read that I recommend to every fantasy fan with a bit of patience, because Jemisin does ask for some patience with her slow and subtle reveals.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

TTT (13) - Things That Make me NOT Want to Read a Book

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Follow the link to know more about the meme and join up!

This week they're sharing the top ten things that make them NOT want to read a book. Their post this week can be found here.

Of course, it makes sense. Last week we looked at all the things that make us want to pick up and read a book instantly and this week we look at the things that make us take a step back and say, no.

I don't usually decide I wouldn't read a book outright. It takes a lot for me to not even consider reading the first few pages.
  1. Space. I LOVE sci-fi, but I prefer my sci-fi to be near future and usually centred around dystopian governments, weird tech (think Black Mirror on Netflix), apocalyptic scenarios or humanity trying to adapt after a disaster. I do enjoy some space. The Red Rising trilogy for example, or Battlestar Galactica (which is probably my favourite show). But in both examples, if you take away space you're still left with a functioning story. I'm much less keen on space ships and weird aliens.
  2. Hard Science Fiction. I like science, but when it's the most important part of a story, I lose interest. Usually.
  3. Bad reviews pointing out racismsexism and other problems. I often want to pick the book up myself to form my own opinion, but then I wonder, why bother? I've got a pile of books I actually want to read, why not just read those. I do usually read a few good reviews as well to balance the feedback, but I can't think of a single case where the reviews were mostly terrible and I ended up enjoying the book nonetheless.
  4. Sports. Simply not my thing.
  5. Zombies. I find them a bit boring. However there have been exceptions. For example I really enjoyed Stephen King's Cell.
  6. Genres: Western, Christian Fiction, Erotica
I shy away from too much romance, whether it's paranormal or contemporary, but every now and then I do enjoy picking one up. Sort of a guilty pleasure like ice cream. Which is why I didn't include it on the list. I also really dislike love triangles, but it doesn't make me run away...

What makes you not want to read a book? Let me know in the comments.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Sunday Post (15) - We've Got a Snail

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

The Rules can be found here. And this week's post can be found here.

If you participate, don't forget to link up and if you leave me a comment, I will definitely check out your blog.

The snail I told you about last week, which we found with a hole in its shell, is now living permanently with us. My girlfriend walked into the pet store yesterday afternoon and bought a nice box, a gigantic plastic strawberry (for hamster cages) for the snail to hide in, a water and a food dish, and moss. The woman at the checkout raised an eyebrow and asked, what animal is this for? Clearly worried, we know nothing about keeping whatever it is she thought we were trying to keep. And my girlfriend stares at her and says, a snail? Reply: Oh, you've got one of those giant African snails? Nope. A garden snail, which we found on the ground after rain while out jogging.

Meet Sheldon in his new food dish.

  Last week on my blog:
Last week in my kitchen: I made one of my regular dishes yesterday that I tend to make whenever I get my hands on bone in, skin on chicken thighs. It's a Greek style dish with chicken and lemon rice and it's delicious. You can find it here.

And for Dragonfly over at Our Familiarium, here's a picture of my duck from last week. Plating is not my strength!

Next week on my blog: I'm a bit behind my reviews, but I also got behind with my reading because I started playing Dark Souls 3. Bad, Olivia, bad! Hopefully I get around to Little Big Lies, The Obelisk Gate and The Lions of Al-Rassan.

I'm currently reading:


I wish everyone a great week!

Saturday, 22 April 2017

You by Caroline Kepnes

Book Title: You
Author: Caroline Kepnes
Genre: Suspense, Thriller
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Source: Library

Amazon UK, Goodreads

Goodreads Summary: When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.
There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.
As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.
What did I think?

I picked this book up on a whim because I like dark main characters. Not only is the main character dark, every character in this book is frankly unlikeable. I enjoyed reading about them but I'd rather cut a finger off than spend time with any of them, thank you very much.

The book is told in the 2nd person and tells the story from the point of view of the stalker, Joe, who is going after Beck, determined to make her his. The use of 2nd person makes it so Joe is addressing Beck directly throughout the book.

"You walk into the bookstore and keep your hand on the door to make sure it doesn't slam."

It's creepy. It's disturbing. It's gross. This book made me recoil in horror. To be in the mind of someone like Joe is horrendous. I winced more than once and I even closed the book a few times whispering, no, no, no!

Caroline Kepnes captures the thoughts of a sociopath like Joe well. Joe is convinced Beck loves him. He's convinced he's the good guy. Anything bad he does, Beck made him do it. Watching him justify his actions from up close is actually downright frightful.

I read this book in a single afternoon, I just couldn't stop and had to find out how it ends. Highly recommended to anyone who doesn't mind vulgar language, some sexual content and being inside the mind of a seriously deranged human being.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

TTT (12) - Things That Make me Want to Read a Book

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Follow the link to know more about the meme and join up!

This week they're sharing the top ten things that make them instantly want to read a book. Their post this week can be found here.

I rarely choose to read a book on the fly anymore. Often I carefully research which books I want to read and which I'd rather avoid. I don't often walk into 1 or 2 star reads because I know what I like and what I don't like. Plus, lately, I've been giving myself the option to stop reading a book if I'm not enjoying myself and I don't rate books if I don't finish them.
  1. Dystopia. When it's about future versions of our world and the possible governments that will form or weird tech that will shape our lives, I'm immediately interested.
  2. Pretty Cover Art. Yes, that is a shallow reason to pick up a book but it works.
  3. Book shows up again and again and again in my Goodreads timeline.
  4. Certain authors. Like Stephen King. I always pick up a new Stephen King.
  5. Alternative History. Depending on the premise and time period. I'm a sucker for Nazis won the war stories.
  6. Anti Heroes. I love a good villain and if the villain is also the hero, I'm most happy.
  7. The summary on the back of the book. I sometimes browse through a bookstore and randomly read the backs of the ones with pretty cover art.
  8. Parallel Universe. Fascinating subject.
What makes you instantly want to read a book?

Monday, 17 April 2017

Sunday Post (14) - Easter

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

The Rules can be found here. And this week's post can be found here.

If you participate, don't forget to link up and if you leave me a comment, I will definitely check out your blog.

The movement streak is still going strong and we got into the habit of doing a 2km jog in the evening before going to bed. Sadly my dog injured his leg playing frisbee (mostly jumping up and trying to catch it in the air) and isn't too happy putting weight on it. So, he has to stay behind... instead we found a garden snail with a hole in his shell and my girlfriend decided we need to take him/her home and feed him carrots and make sure the snail recovers... so far so good.
Camp NaNoWriMo is going well and I'm editing my Middle Grade fantasy novel while at the same time working on a suspense thriller that I'm editing.

Last week in my kitchen: Nothing special, really. But tonight I'm trying this recipe with a whole duck that I'll roast in the oven with this orange sauce.

Last week on my blog:
Next week on my blog: I have yet to review Big Little Lies, The Lions of Al-Rassan, The Obelisk Gate and The God of Small Things.

I'm currently reading Moroda by L.L. McNeil. It has dragons, one can't go wrong with dragons, right?

I'm also trying to gather pins for the Pinterest boards for my writing group. You can find our Pinterest here. If you have any writing related or creative boards, please let me know, I'd love to follow you.

I wish everyone a great week!

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Morning Star by Pierce Brown

Book Title: Morning Star (Red Rising #3)
Author: Pierce Brown
Genre: Sci-Fi
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Source: I own the Kindle version

Amazon UK, Goodreads

There are NO spoilers in this review which is why I'm including the summary of the first book. Review of book #1 is here and book #2 is here.

Goodreads Summary: Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.
But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.
Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity's overlords struggle for power.
What did I think?

4.5 Stars.

Honestly? The second book in the series is the true highlight, at least in my opinion. But I must admit, this is one of the best series I've ever read.

If you love Sci-Fi and Space Opera do yourself a favour and read the Red Rising trilogy. It's not YA, so don't let that put you off. Yes, the main character is 16 years old in the first book but he's older in the sequels and the story is far too gritty and dark to pass as YA.

The series is full of plot twists and amazing action scenes. It offers a deep and compelling story with believable characters, intriguing political narratives and a main character who makes morally grey decisions. I absolutely love Darrow because he is flawed and hot-headed and makes the wrong decision more than once but he is also strong and courageous and ultimately believes in the good in others. Gaining strength to overcome oppression without losing sight of loyalty, friendship, family and love is an important theme in the entire trilogy.

I was hesitant to read Morning Star at first, not because I was worried I wouldn't like it but because I didn't want it to be over. Pierce Brown tied everything together in the last book and I'm satisfied with the ending.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Book Title: Dark Matter
Author: Blake Crouch
Genre: Sci-Fi
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Source: Own a hardback copy

Amazon UK, Goodreads

Goodreads Summary: Jason Dessen is walking home through the chilly Chicago streets one night, looking forward to a quiet evening in front of the fireplace with his wife, Daniela, and their son, Charlie—when his reality shatters.
It starts with a man in a mask kidnapping him at gunpoint, for reasons Jason can’t begin to fathom—what would anyone want with an ordinary physics professor?—and grows even more terrifying from there, as Jason’s abductor injects him with some unknown drug and watches while he loses consciousness.
When Jason awakes, he’s in a lab, strapped to a gurney—and a man he’s never seen before is cheerily telling him “welcome back!” Jason soon learns that in this world he’s woken up to, his house is not his house. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And someone is hunting him.
What did I think? It's a bit difficult to review Dark Matter, to be honest, because basically anything I can say about the philosophical questions it poses would give part of the plot away. Don't read up on it, just read it with all of its surprises.

The most important thing you need to know is this: I read it in one sitting. Dark Matter is a little over 300 pages and I started reading one afternoon and I refused to make dinner until I was done. I literally could not put it down.

If it weren't for that aspect I'd probably have given it 3 stars. Why, you ask? Because despite it being a thrilling story that asks some deep philosophical questions and offers an original and creative premise, I was somewhat disappointed by the final act.

It starts out great, even the dreaded slow middle is fantastic. The entire book feels more like a movie than a book, that's how fast the plot moves forward. I predicted the twist, but only because I'd read similar books.

While the beginning and middle are surprising and original, sadly, the ending is a bit too neat and played out exactly as I thought it would. I would have appreciated and even expected Blake Crouch to take the story one step further, which he failed to do.

Nonetheless definitely worth a read if only because of its addictive nature.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

TTT (11) Most Unique Books I've Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Follow the link to know more about the meme and join up!

This week they're sharing some of the most unique books they've ever read. Their post this week can be found here.

Unique books. What an interesting subject. What does unique mean? What do I classify as unique?

I guess books where I thought, oh, this is new, I haven't read anything like it before. I'm pretty sure though that very often it just means that I've not really read many books in that particular genre and not necessarily that the book is unique.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, because it's not about plot but about characters and because it's intimate, subtle and diverse sci-fi.
The Promise of the Child by Tom Toner, because he built such a complicated and extensive world that is wonderful to explore and there's a multitude of new species that humans evolved into.
Saga by Brian Vaughan because it's a comic unlike anything I've ever read.


This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp, because it tells of a school shooting as it happens. I didn't particularly like the book but it was unique.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak because it's narrated by the personification of Death. I didn't particularly like this one either, but it's loved by most.


A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles because the character stays in a hotel for the entirety of the novel and the book is still captivating.
The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin because she uses the 2nd POV and it works.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman because who knows what genre this is but it's a fairy tale for adults and it's beautiful.

I haven't read Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff but the way it's put together looks pretty damn unique.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Sunday Post (13) - Rollerblading!

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

The Rules can be found here. And this week's post can be found here.

If you participate, don't forget to link up and if you leave me a comment, I will definitely check out your blog.

I bought myself new roller blades on Friday and yesterday we went to Victoria Park in London and just slowly, very slowly did our rounds. It was a lot of fun and the first really warm day this year. Though to day I feel muscles I've never felt before. I think this is all part of the getting old business. Last week it was yard work that made my muscles go ouch and this week wheels on my feet.
It was a good week otherwise. I got lots of writing done. Camp NaNoWriMo is going well and I can't wait for Easter because of all the chocolate.

Last week in my kitchen: I made the most epic sandwich ever on Sunday night. A mustard/garlic mayonnaise as the bottom layer, then thinly cut rump steak (cooked rare) and topped with a chilli coriander jam. Basically I took this recipe but I didn't make the bread myself (next time I will) and I didn't add any vegetable.

Last week on my blog: 
Next week on my blog: I still need to blog about Morning Star by Pierce Brown (Red Rising #3), You by Caroline Kepnes, The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin, The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay, Dark Matter by Blake Crouch and The God of Small Things by Roy Arundhati (wow, I'm behind).

Watership Down and Big Little Lies are next.

I hope everyone is having a great week with lots of sun!

Friday, 7 April 2017

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Book Title: The Color Purple
Author: Alice Walker
Genre: Literary, LGBT, 1001 Books
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥  ♥
Source: Paperback from library
Amazon UK, Goodreads

Goodreads Summary:
Set in the deep American South between the wars, it is the tale of Celie, a young black girl born into poverty and segregation. Raped repeatedly by the man she calls 'father', she has two children taken away from her, is separated from her beloved sister Nettie and is trapped into an ugly marriage. But then she meets the glamorous Shug Avery, singer and magic-maker - a woman who has taken charge of her own destiny. Gradually, Celie discovers the power and joy of her own spirit, freeing her from her past and reuniting her with those she loves.
What did I think?

The very first thing I noticed was the language. It is told from the POV of a young, semi-literate woman through a series of letters to God, and her sister. The letters are written in dialect, littered with unusual spellings, and were hard to follow at first for me as a non-native speaker. After a while, however it starts to flow.

Its a devastating book and at the same time it's a very important book. I didn't know much about it when I started reading it. I knew it has LGBT elements, POC characters and abuse, but knowing that did not prepare me for how devastating it would be to read this book.

The characters are incredibly well fleshed out and the relationships surprisingly touching.

It's a memorable book filled with despair, tragedy and injustice but also hope. It's a quick read and I'd recommend it to everyone because of how powerful it is and how much it has to say about this world.

The reason I picked this one up was Uma's fantastically diverse read-a-thon over at Books.Bags.Burgers.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

TTT (10) - Top Ten Fandoms I'm a Part Of

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Follow the link to know more about the meme and join up!

This week it's all about the inner nerd with a fandom freebie.

Their post this week can be found here.

They decided to talk about the fandoms they're a part of and I thought why not... I was quite fanatic about some shows and books when I was younger, I seem to have calmed a bit, but only just a bit.

Some of these shows are from a long time ago and some are newer, I thought I should go for a healthy mix between past and present.
  • Buffy. Probably one of the first shows. I loved Faith. And Angel. And Giles. And Buffy herself. Developed a crush on Willow. Shipped Xander with Cordelia. Fell in love with Anya. Etc. 
  • Charmed. Wow. I still don't know how Charmed happened, at first I didn't like it much but I always had a thing for Prue Halliwell, even before I realised I was gay. And then I joined a message board and started roleplaying. On the dark side. Of course.
  • Friends. I love Ross and Rachel. I had such a crush on Rachel. And that entire show... I probably watched each episode more than five times. Whenever I was done with the last episode of the last season I'd just pop the first one back in.
  • Alias. Lena Olin, mostly. But the entire show was fabulous. I wrote fanfiction. I joined message boards and speculated...
  • Venice. If you were a lesbian around the year 2007/2008 and active online chances are you heard of Otalia, a lesbian couple on the soap opera Guiding Light. Played by Crystal Chappell and Jessica Leccia. After Guiding Light ended the two moved on and did their own web series called Venice The Series.
  • Battlestar Galactica. I loved every minute of this. They are all my personal heroes. I feel like I know each character. I babbled when a few years ago I met Adama and son at the comic convention in London. And of course, Laura Roslin.
  • Doctor Who. A show so silly should not be able to break your heart. But it does... it rips it out and then stomps around on it while laughing.
  • Grey's Anatomy. I stopped watching but for a while we were definitely in a relationship.
  • The Devil Wears Prada. There was a time in my 20's when I had an unhealthy relationship with Meryl Streep and mostly with her character in The Devil Wears Prada. I wrote fanfiction and I watched the film more times than I'd care to admit.
  • Pride and Prejudice. Yes. Always. Read the book 25 times if not more. Watched the BBC 1995 mini series with Colin Firth about as many times...
I hope everyone is having a great week :)

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Sunday Post (12) - Bye March

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

The Rules can be found here. And this week's post can be found here.

If you participate, don't forget to link up and if you leave me a comment, I will definitely check out your blog.

March is over and we just started cleaning up our garden. Cut back all the hedges, annoy the neighbours with our lawnmower. It's that time of the year again and you end up using muscles you only know you have when you work in the garden and I'm now at that age where that means: ouch, my back! 

Camp NaNoWriMo started and I'm trying to write a psychological thriller and I'm working on re-writing a children's novel that is supposed to be a sort of fantasy adventure.
Last week on my blog:
Last week in my kitchen: I tried this recipe to make a Vietnamese Beef Stew and it turned out quite delicious. 

Last week at the cinema: I went to see Get Out, which is a fun horror film with comedy elements. One of the better horror films I've seen and I really enjoyed it. I've also watched Life and I loved it. I've seen that the critics don't like it so much but realised that apparently it copied quite a bit from Alien and Aliens and I've never seen those films (I know, I know) which is probably why this one had me on the edge of my seat. I loved every second.

Next week: I still have to review Morning Star, The Color Purple and The Obelisk Gate.
And I just read this:

I've also discovered a little gem called Garfield and Oates on Netflix. If you're into musical comedy, give it a try!

I hope everyone is having a great week and I can't wait to read all of your updates :)