Thursday, 29 June 2017

What Makes You Rate a Book Five Stars?

I was browsing through my books on Goodreads the other day and realised, I seldom rate books five stars. It's almost as if I think those stars are rare or precious and if I award all five of them too often, I'll run out.

According to Goodreads, I've read about 450 books in my life, which is definitely not accurate, but a lot of the books I've read were in German during my childhood and I don't remember all of them. (Sometimes I regret that I didn't keep a reading journal as a child.)
I also suffered from a bad case of re-reading.What's bad, you ask? I'm pretty sure that when I was about ten years old, I kept re-reading the same adventure novel over and over again, possibly twenty-five times or more. Later, as a romantic teenager, the same happened with Pride and Prejudice.

Anyway, back to my bookshelves.  I've given thirty out of my 450 books a five star rating. Ten are because I absolutely loved those books when I was a child or a teenager and possibly wouldn't receive the same rating today. Three are Jane Austen and another three are Harry Potter.

Six in the last five years. SIX! IN FIVE YEARS!

Am I too harsh? On the other hand I dish out four stars without hesitation. Anything, I remotely enjoy receives at least three stars and as soon as I feel emotionally attached to the story in any way, it definitely receives four stars.

But, whenever I consider giving it five, I think... really, this book couldn't have possibly been better? Obviously, that's a question not many books survive. Maybe that's why I'm always grumpy. Imagine only reading one five star book a year!

How do you handle five star ratings? Do you award them freely? Or are you as conservative as me?

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

TTT (18) - Best Books I read in 2017

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, it's a great way to find out more about the book blogging community.

This week the theme is best books we read in 2017, at least so far, and this week's post by The Broke and the Bookish post can be found here.

We're halfway through the year so this is a great moment to look back and choose a few books that I loved so far. I've been reading quite a bit. More or less two books a week is my goal and so far I've kept up with that.
Please let me know in the comments what your favourite books are so far in 2017, because my tbr list desperately needs to grow (not really, but also yes, it does!)

Please don't make me choose my favourite.


The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North (review here) is an amazing novel with an interesting spin on time travel.
The Lions of Al-Rassan is a historical fantasy novel and broke my heart.
N. K. Jemisin's The Fifth Season (review here) is a gorgeous read with fantastic prose in a post-apocalyptic world.


Golden Son by Pierce Brown (review here) is the second book in the Red Rising trilogy and made me want to eat my pillow.
Moroda is L. L. McNeil's debut (review here) and has dragons and wonderful grey characters plus women kicking ass.
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (review here) had me on the edge of my seat. I could not stop reading this suspense novel.


The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett has a lot of demons and an orphan destined to save the world but it grabbed me from the very first page.
Robin Hobb's Royal Assassin (Farseer Trilogy #2) broke my heart.
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell is a wonderful and whimsical read.

I can't wait to discover more books!

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Sunday Post (20) - Almost July

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

If you participate, and you totally should because the community is amazing, don't forget to link up and if you leave me a comment, I will definitely check out your blog.

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

Doctor visit #3 and #4 are done and I continue to receive good news. Everything my body decides to grow (mostly cysts) is benign (until now) and nothing has to be removed unless it starts to hurt... almost done with the yearly check-ups. Two to go, four down. I also found a really nice specialist who manages to make me feel comfortable, so that's a plus.
It's cooler again, thankfully. This week has been mostly uneventful. Mostly writing and reading. We're still running and it's time to start preparing for our Duathlon in September. We'll be expected to run 5K, then bike 22K and run another 5K. The second 5K is the one that hurts the most.
The first time I participated in this event in London was two years after undergoing two knee surgeries, and I was still quite slow. It took me 2 hour and 34 minutes, because my 5K time was a very slow 40 minutes. Last year I was 10 minutes faster and this year I'm hoping to maybe manage to do it in 2 hours. Still slow, but I'm improving.

Last week on my blog:
Last week in my kitchen: If you've ever looked for a burger bun recipe that tastes delicious with both burgers and pulled pork, look no further: these are amazing. In this heat we ate a lot of salad, so my kitchen life was quite uneventful.

Upcoming: I need to get back in the habit of dragging my ass to the cinema. I've not watched a lot lately. And I still have a ton of reviews to catch up on. I'm currently reading China MiƩville's Perdido Street Station and enjoying it a lot while also dipping into Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb.

I hope everyone has a great week :)

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Book Title: Dark Places
Author: Gillian Flynn
Genre: Thriller
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Source: Library

Amazon UK, Goodreads

Goodreads Summary: Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice" of Kinnakee, Kansas. She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben. Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club—for a fee. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.
What did I think? Gillian Flynn must have such a dark and twisted imagination, I wouldn't want to visit her mind. I find her books downright terrifying because she portrays the worst in humans in such a detailed manner.

Dark Places is so much better than her first book (Sharp Objects) and possibly even better than Gone Girl. The novel is told primarily in first person through the eyes of the protagonist but we get to see the day of the massacre from the point of view of Libby's mother and Ben as well.

I wasn't entirely happy with the ending to the mystery because once you find out what actually happened, it feels a bit unrealistic and it left me thinking: really??

But, despite a somewhat unbelievable ending I was in awe throughout this novel because Flynn is such a master at blending the macabre and grotesque with family dysfunction, personality disorders and the typical small town mentality.

The characters are complex and well developed, though I would suggest you read this surrounded by people who make you happy unless you want to lose whatever faith in humanity you have left.

If you love dark and twisted characters, can stomach brutality and murder, definitely pick this one up, yes, even if you didn't enjoy Gone Girl.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

Book Title: The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
Author: Claire North
Genre: Science Fiction
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Source: Library

Amazon UK, Goodreads

Goodreads Summary: No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before. Nothing ever changes.
Until now.
As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside. ‘I nearly missed you, Doctor August,’ she says. ‘I need to send a message.’
This is the story of what Harry does next, and what he did before, and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow.
What did I think? What a wonderful, wonderful premise, right? A man who always returns to where he began, a child but with all memories of his previous lives intact. Harry is a kalachakra. Every time he dies, he is reborn as himself and he lives his own life over and over again. Harry August is a fascinating character. He's good and bad and everything that is grey as well.

The novel tells of Harry's first fifteen lives and explores the culture of the kalachakra in the first half, then in the second half Harry has to try and save the world.

I especially loved the way Claire North imagined time travelling. The kalachakra can pass messages to the future or to the past. A message for the future is easier as you can simply leave it in a permanent medium like a stone tablet for future generations to find. A message for the past requires more time as a young kalachakra must give a message to another kalachakra who is at the end of their life, so that when they are born again they can in turn pass the message on to another kalachakra at the end of their life and so on until the message reaches the intended century.

The book is told in a non linear way, almost disjointed in places, but I never got confused. The pacing is slow (some people called it glacial) as we get to see bits and pieces from Harry's different lives, told in a subtle almost poetic manner. (The writing style reminded me a bit of Station Eleven.) Despite being slow, I found it compelling and was never bored.

I'm sure after all my gushing you wonder why I didn't give it five stars. Sadly, I was disappointed by the ending. See, whenever I come across such an amazing premise that includes potential plot holes, (and time travel always does) I'm worried how the author will manage to tie up all the loose ends. Claire North doesn't do a bad job, but sadly it was disappointing nonetheless. I can't say what bothered me without spoiling the plot, but it involves a villain with a momentary lapse of judgement.

Still, I highly recommend this book if the premise sounds fascinating to you. I loved it a lot.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

TTT (17) - Top Ten Series I've Been Meaning To Start But Haven't

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, it's a great way to find out more about the book blogging community.

This week the theme is top ten series I've been meaning to start but haven't and this week's post by The Broke and the Bookish post can be found here.

Series. My weakness. My main problem is that I start a million of them and struggle to finish them or someone (*cough* George R.R. Martin *cough*) takes ages to bring out the next book and I feel like I've forgotten what happened so far and have to start from scratch.
Now, let's look at the ones I haven't yet started.
  • Otherland by Tad Williams
  • Shadows of the Apt by Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  • The Faithful and the Fallen by John Gwynne
  • The Ryria Revelations by Michael J. Sullivan
  • The First Law by Joe Abercrombie
  • The Gentleman Bastard by Scott Lynch
  • The Black Company by Glenn Cook
  • The Magicians Trilogy by Lev Grossman
What series would you like to start?

Monday, 19 June 2017

Sunday Post (19) - Hot, hot, hot!

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, and you should because the community is amazing, don't forget to link up and if you leave me a comment, I will definitely check out your blog!

Doctor visit #2 is done and they confirmed the first of my troubles is only a cyst. The downside is because of its location they can't remove it without general anaesthesia and I said, I'd prefer to keep the cyst thank you very much. Hopefully by next weekend doctor visit #3 will be done with good news as well. Then #4 is left. Sigh.
It's hot here in England. Over 30 degrees and humid and these people build houses without AC, so it's not very pleasant. Thinking of just moving permanently into the bathtub to keep cool!

On the weekend I had a visitor and we ended up strolling around the Kew Gardens in London. Let me show you a few pictures.

Last week's books: I'm still reading Stephen King's It and also read Thinner by King's pseudonym, Richard Bachmann. Quite a disturbing book.

Last week on my blog:
Last week at the cinema: Wonder Woman! Oh, wow. If you haven't seen it yet and you even remotely like superheroes, give this one a try. It's super entertaining and good fun. I had a blast!

Next week on my blog: Again! Catching up on a million reviews!

I hope everyone is having a great week :)

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

TTT (16) - Father's Day and Father's in Fiction

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, it's a great way to find out more about the book blogging community.

This week the theme is a Father's Day Freebie and this week's post by The Broke and the Bookish post can be found here and it's all about the best and worst father's in fiction.

I thought about the topic and realised that most fiction I read has no fathers. If anything they tend to die in the beginning of the story so the hero can set out and conquer or save the world. Or if they do exist, they are sort of in the background and forgotten. Poor dads!
Because of this I'd like to first speak about my own father. I remember not wanting to read. In fact, I was extremely opposed to reading and refused to even learn how to do so until I was about 7. He was a huge reader and I think it frustrated him a tiny bit. To combat his daughter's rebellion he started reading books to me.

He started with Nils Holgersson, a story that most Europeans probably know, not sure if its popularity ever made it to the other continents. He read me a chapter every night before I went to sleep until he was done. Then he picked the next book.

Treasure Island. He read the first chapter to me and I wanted to know how the story continues. There was a dead pirate, a treasure map and a young boy. I NEEDED TO KNOW HOW IT CONTINUES. The next day I got up, grabbed the book and finished it. In the evening my father wanted to read me the next chapter, but I told him, I was already done.

Robinson Crusoe was next. Same thing. He read me the first chapter and by the end of the day I was done. He stopped reading to me from then on, because I just started eating the books. All of them. He introduced me to my favourite adventure novel as a child.

Indians vs. Cowboys vs. the Wild West written by a German author who had never been to the Wild West and considering today's standards was (possibly) quite racist... written in the 1920s. But boy, did I love these books...

And when I was 8, just 8, I asked for a book that would scare me because I'd read a Grimm Fairy Tale which was titled: The Story of a Youth who Went Forth to Learn Fear.
Me too, I wanted to learn fear. He brought home "scary stories for children" and they weren't scary and I told him so... and I don't know who he asked for advice (and whether or not he told them the person it was intended for was a small girl) ... but the very next day this lay on the dinner table and to this day I doubt he knew what he was giving me. But, I WAS SO HAPPY TO FINALLY KNOW FEAR.

To this day I love books and it's thanks to him!

Now, if you ask me about dads in fiction? Lucius Malfoy and Tywin Lannister won't win any awards. Atticus Finch, Arthur Weasley and Mr. Bennet just might!

Can't wait to so everyone's lists!

Monday, 12 June 2017

The Beat on Ruby's Street by Jenna Zark

Book Title: The Beat of Ruby's Street
Author: Jenna Zark
Genre: Middle Grade
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Source: A review copy provided by the author

Amazon UK, Goodreads

Goodreads Summary: The last thing eleven-year-old Ruby Tabeata expected to happen on her way to a Jack Kerouac reading was to be hauled to the police station. It’s 1958 and Ruby is the opposite of a 1950s stereotype: fierce, funny and strong willed, she is only just starting to chart her course in a family of Beat Generation artists in Greenwich Village.
Ruby dreams of meeting famous poets while becoming one herself; instead, she’s accused of trying to steal fruit from a local vendor and is forced to live in a children’s home. As Ruby struggles to return to family and friends, she learns her only choice is to follow her heart. Join Ruby’s journey as she finds unexpected friendships, the courage to rebel against unjust authority and the healing power of art in this inspiring middle-grade novel by Jenna Zark.
I would like to thank the author, Jenna Zark, for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

What did I think?

This was a read completely out of my comfort zone. I don't often read children's fiction and I'm not particularly interested in the 1950s... but, I ended up falling a bit in love with this one. It's a sweet story told in an unique and charming way.

Ruby grows up as part of the "Beat Generation" and I wasn't at all familiar with this part of American history. I found that aspect of the book particularly interesting and enjoyed learning about the culture through Ruby's eyes.

It is an easy read, told in first person and is definitely geared towards a young reader, and while I think a 9 or 10 year old could easily read this one, I also believe it can be thoroughly enjoyed by adults.

Jenna Zark has a unique writing style and I love how well she captures the voice of a young girl growing up in Greenwich Village during the 50s. Ruby feels real at all times. Ruby also wants to be a poet and her voice is actually very poetic but still feels like the voice of a 12 year old.

The book deals with lots of issues and some of them might be a step above Middle-Grade but Jenna Zark brings those subjects across in a sensitive and heartwarming way that can easily be understood by a young reader.

Visit Jenna Zark's website here to find out more about the author.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Sunday Post (18) - I'm Back!

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, and you should because the community is amazing, don't forget to link up and if you leave me a comment, I will definitely check out your blog! 
I'm back, I hope. I have a few doctors visits ahead of me and the job hunt is still going on, but I've at least managed to beat some of the anxiety and get back onto my feet and write again. I broke my "writing every day" streak during the last month and I spent more time than I'd like to admit painting horror scenarios in my mind, but one thing I kept up was the movement streak. I went out there every day! I'm quite proud of that.
Let me tell you about my dog. This is the little man. He barely comes up to your knee (Mini Aussie) and if  you're a stranger he will be very suspicious of your intentions. He's quite anxious and takes a good fifteen minutes to warm up to visitors, once he does though, he'll sit on your feet and you're his new best friend forever.


Now just imagine... the postman shows up and is about to push a letter through the door and we open the door to leave the house and we all jump surprised at suddenly coming face to face with another human being and my dog thinks we're under attack and just bolts to chase the poor man off our driveway... he's not dangerous, he just barks and circles around you like a good sheepdog would around a sheep, only someone forgot to tell Mr. Blue Eyes that the postman is not a sheep. The postman, of course, did get scared and fell over and scraped his elbow. I was mortified. We didn't know if he or the post office would take it to the police and were very worried for a bit. Thankfully they didn't. That chap deserves a bottle of wine (and I don't mean the dog.)

Last week's books: I'm reading Stephen King's It and tackled Cloud Atlas and Steinbeck's East of Eden.

Last week on my blog: 
Last week in my kitchen: I accidentally food poisoned us with either the rare steak or the homemade mayonnaise, whoops. Don't do it!  (Or we got a really weird 48 hour bug, also possible.) The entire thing resulted in chicken breast, plain, with brown rice. It was a sad meal.

Next week on my blog: Catching up on a million reviews!

I wish everyone a lovely week!

Friday, 9 June 2017

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Book Title: When Dimple Met Rishi
Author: Sandhya Menon
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Source: Netgalley

Amazon UK, Goodreads

Goodreads Summary: Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?
Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.
Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.
 I received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

What did I think?

It's just so damn sweet. The entire book is made of sugar. Both Dimple Shah and Rishi Patel are genuinely beautiful characters and they both won me over within the first few pages. They're just so damn precious! The two have quite a bit of chemistry and and sparks fly almost immediately.

When Dimple Met Rishi does not have a groundbreaking plot and it's predictable, with the coming of age tropes all neatly placed in the right spots, but it's a joy to read nonetheless.

This novel isn't just diverse and full of delightful humour, but the protagonists are also quite geeky and smart. Dimple is into coding and programming and Rishi is a comic book artist. The story is told from both point of views and both have an unique and captivating voice. They're both fleshed out and have a lot of depth.

If you're looking for a light and sweet romantic beach read, look no further and give this one a try. You'll probably be reminded of the first time you fell in love and will read the entire thing with a goofy grin on your face.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

When Life Gets in the Way

Sometimes life knocks you down and it's impossible to get back up without first taking a few deep breaths. We're all okay, the snail, the dogs, the girlfriend and I but we had a pretty difficult May with lots of small problems that snowballed into a period of anxiety for me. I'm not very good at dealing with anxiety, for the most I sit down in a corner and weep, rocking back and forth. I'm not really an anxious person in day to day life but I dislike having to deal with problems I have no control over. At the moment we are facing some job issues that require hunting for a new job, a small health scare and a stupid incident with our nervous dog and the postman. I withdrew for a bit while I sorted doctor visits etc. but I'm now back and will hopefully review many, many books in the next few days and weeks.

I hope everyone is well!