The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Image result for the handmaid's tale book

Title: The Handmaid’s Tale
Author: Margaret Atwood
Series: N/A
Publication: 18th April 2017 (First published 1985)
Genre: Fiction, Dystopian

Around the World in 52 books – A book with a chilling atmosphere.

My Thoughts (2)

(Goodreads)

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the days before, when she lived and made love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…. Funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing, The Handmaid’s Tale is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and literary tour de force.

My Thoughts

Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

This book first came to my attention due to the TV series, which I heard was amazing. I caught one episode and really enjoyed it but missed the rest, so I thought I would read the book first then watch the show.

I thought the story was a really interesting concept and was really well done. It is written from Offred’s point of view, almsot like a verbal diary of Offred’s thoughts and ideas. This means the story can be somewhat disjointed and sometimes she say it’s not right and retells it differently. It jumps between the present, as a handmaid, and the past before the change of government, with her husband and daughter. I found there was a little bit too much of the past for my liking and they dragged on occasionally.

It was a very interesting and thought provoking read, although not always enjoyable. I would definitely recommend it.

My Thoughts (1)

4-stars

Advertisements

The Awakening + The Struggle (Vampire Diaries #1+2) by

The Awakening & The Struggle (The Vampire Diaries, #1-2)

Title: The Awakening + The Struggle
Author: L.J.Smith
Series: Vampire Diaries #1+2
Publication: 1st January 2007
Genre: 

My Thoughts (2)

(Goodreads)

The Awakening: Elena Gilbert is used to getting what she wants and she wants mysterious new boy, Stefan. But Stefan is hiding a deadly secret – a secret that will change Elena’s life for ever …

The Struggle: Elena is torn between her boyfriend, Stefan, and his brother, Damon. But these brothers hide dark secrets and a tragic past that threatens them all. Damon wants to lead Elena astray – and he’d rather kill Stefan than let him possess her …

My Thoughts

I dragged myself through this book so I could tick off the challenge, from Around the Year In 52 Books Challenge, of reading one of the 100 best YA books. Imagine my frustration when I realised I got confused and it’s actually Vampire Academy that’s on the list, not this. On the bright side, at least this isn’t in the top 100 best YA Books because it’s truly awful.

The first book was originally written in 1999, so years before Twilight. However, it was hard not to draw connects between the two as it’s incredibly similar. They both had annoying and whiny main characters, stupid instalove and frustrating writing. This obviously reflects worse on Twilight than this book. I can’t say I was overly impressed with either of the books but at least Twilight was slightly better writing and marginally better characters.

The main character, Elena, is blonde, skinny and self claimed queen of the school. She prides herself on getting any boy she wants, so when a dark, handsome boy walks past her, completely blanking her, she instantly dumps her boyfriend and won’t rest until this stranger is hers. Rolling your eyes yet? It get worse. She is just a horrible person, she is manipulative, obssessive and egocentric.

Of course this dark, brooding stranger is a vampire and is staying away from her because she looks exactly like the love of his life from his past. He spends half of the first book ignoring her and when they finally do talk BANG they’re together and “in love”. God knows why, maybe because they’re both as dry as each other?

Then there’s Stefan’s brother, Damon. He’s the consistant “bad guy” who sexy and mysterious. Guess what, he want Elena too. Funny that. Turns out he was in love with the girl that Elena looks like too.

Guess I should have learnt from the TV series. Wasn’t overly impressed with that either.

My Thoughts (1)

1-star

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor, #1)

Title: Red Sister
Author: Mark Lawrence
Series: Book of the Ancestors #1
Publication: 4th April 2017 by Ace
Genre: Fantasy

My Thoughts (2)

(Goodreads)

I was born for killing – the gods made me to ruin.

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.

But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse.

Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive…

My Thoughts

IT IS IMPORTANT, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size. For Sister Thorn of the Sweet Mercy Convent, Lano Tacsis brought two hundred men.

This book had one of the best opening I’ve read, well, ever.

The first chapter begins with “No child truly believes they will be hanged.” Is that not fabulous? Obviously, not for the child.

I’ve not read a Mark Lawrence book before but I have been meaning to. I certainly wasn’t disappointed. It has everything you want: death, violence and humor.

The book centers around Nona, an orphaned child sold for the potential power in her blood. Due to a series of events she ends up almost being hanged for murder until she is brought to Sweet Mercy’s Convent for Young Girls. At this convent they work through the classes, these train them in the four paths for the novices to take once they become nuns.

  • Bride of the AncestorHoly Sister – Honors the Ancestors and keeps the faith.
  • Martial SisterRed Sister – Warriors skilled in armed and unarmed combat.
  • Sister of DiscretionGrey Sister – Masters of stealth and potions with shadow work.
  • Mystic SisterHoly Witch – Walks the Path and manipulates threads.

The reason I gave four stars rather than five was because the beginning and the end of the book were amazing. It was the middle that was an issue for me. It was so long that when I came back to the book I found it hard to recall everything that had happened, especially because there were so many characters too. I will probably re-read this again before reading book two.

My Thoughts (1)

4-stars

Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me.

Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me.

Title: Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Jusr Me.
Author: Lily Collins.
Series: N/A
Publication: 27th March 2017 by Harper Collins
Genre: Biography

My Thoughts (2)

Goodreads

In this groundbreaking debut essay collection, featuring never-before-seen photos, actress Lily Collins—star of Mortal Instruments and the upcoming Rules Don’t Apply—is opening a poignant, honest conversation about the things young women struggle with: body image, self-confidence, relationships, family, dating, and so much more.

For the first time ever, Lily shares her life and her own deepest secrets, underlining that every single one of us experiences pain and heartbreak. We all understand what it’s like to live in the light and in the dark. For Lily, it’s about making it through to the other side, where you love what you see in the mirror and where you embrace yourself just as you are. She’s learned that all it takes is one person standing up and saying something for everyone else to realize they’re not alone.

By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Lily’s honest voice will inspire you to be who you are and say what you feel. It’s time to claim your voice! It’s time to live your life unfiltered.

My Thoughts

I have been wanting this book for a while and finally caved and bought it. I started reading it in the bath and didn’t stop until the water turned cold.

This isn’t a biography with a sequenced timeline but is more of a collection of essays, or personally life experiences under a set header – a bit like Anna Kendrick’s book. I imagine this is because it’s more aimed at Young Adult audience.

Lily opens up about a lot of different things; her family, her relationships, her battle with anorexia, her tattoos. She discusses overcoming every day obstacles and issues that many of her audience would experience. It was refreshing, eye opening and relieving to read. Her brutal honesty, especially with her abusive relationships and anorexia, was unexpected and eye opening, and I imagine would come as great support to many of her readers.

As it was done by topic headings rather than being her timeline, it did mean that some things were repeated a few times, her relationships being one of them. However, I absolutely loved the chapter on her tattoos. I love knowing people’s stories and meanings behind their tattoos and Lily has one behind all of them – plus we got to see photos, that’s always great.

I liked Lily before I read this but came out liking her even more afterwards; we’d make great friends discussing Harry Potter over tea. Mine would be hot, yuck to cold tea.

My Thoughts (1)

4-stars

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Title: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Author: Gail Honeyman
Series: N/A
Publication: 4th May 2017 by HarperCollins
Genre: Fiction

Around the World in 52 Books Challenge – A book with a strong female character

This counts towards my ARC August challenge.

Advanced Reading Copy provided, in exchanged for an honest review, from the publishers.

My Thoughts (2)

From Goodreads

Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?

My Thoughts

This is the best book I’ve read so far this year.

This book first came to my attention whilst I was waiting for the tube. Yes, advertising really does work. Doesn’t that cover just grab your attention? But honestly, the book wasn’t what I was expecting, it was so much more.

Eleanor is one of those well developed and interesting characters who are truly memorable. She is socially clueless to the point where everyone just finds her odd. It can be very painful yet hysterical. She sticks to her routine; working at the same job for nine years, starting work at 8:30, breaking for an hour lunch during which she reads the newspaper cover to cover and does the cross word and leaving at 5:30. She then goes home and listens to the Archers and watches TV for a little while then off to bed at ten. The only day her routine changes is Wednesday when receives a phone call from Mummy. Throughout the weekend she drinks two bottles of vodka so shes consistently in the state where she’s neither drunk or sober. No one comes to visit her and she doesn’t go out to visits anyone else.

She is completely 100% fine with her life. Until she see the one on stage. Then she is on a mission to meet she. She first decides she needs to have a complete make over before she meets him, which is both shocking and hilarious.

When her computer breaks down she meets Raymonds from IT. He wears jeans and t-shirts with ‘childish slogans’ on. Raymond is intrigued by Eleanor but she’s not interested because she’s getting herself ready for the man of her dreams. But after work one day, Eleanor and Raymond come across a man who has fallen. Together they help the man and begin a friendship with him and his family that changes Eleanor’s routine and life.

Eleanor’s social awkwardness and seemingly lack of verbal filter can be hilirous, but I never felt like I was laughing at Eleanor.

There was nothing to tempt me from the choice of desserts, so I opted instead for a coffee, which was bitter and lukewarm. Naturally, I had been about to pour it all over myself but, just in time, had read the warning printed on the paper cup, alerting me to the fact that hot liquids can cause injury. A lucky escape, Eleanor! I said to myself, laughing quietly. I began to suspect that Mr. McDonald was a very foolish man indeed, although, judging from the undiminished queue, a wealthy one.

The book isn’t all funny and not at all light. It is also a dark book. Something awful happened to Eleanor as a child, and throughout the book we get hints as to what it is.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was packed full of emotion and I can wait to see what the author produces next.

My Thoughts (1)

5-stars

Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan

Age of Myth (The Legends of the First Empire, #1)

Title: Age of Myth
Author: Michael J. Sullivan
Series: The Legends of the First Empire #1
Publication: 28th June 2016 by Del Rey
Genre: Fantasy

Around the World in 52 Books Challenge – A book from a sub genre of your favourite genre.

My Thoughts (2)

Since time immemorial, humans have worshiped the gods they call Fhrey, truly a race apart: invincible in battle, masters of magic, and seemingly immortal. But when a god falls to a human blade, the balance of power between humans and those they thought were gods changes forever.

Now only a few stand between humankind and annihilation: Raithe, reluctant to embrace his destiny as the God Killer; Suri, a young seer burdened by signs of impending doom; and Persephone, who must overcome personal tragedy to lead her people. The Age of Myth is over. The time of rebellion has begun.

My Thoughts

I’d like to start by saying, if you haven’t read a Michael J Sullivan book before, you’re really missing out! He publishes his books a little differently to most in that he writes the whole series before it gets published. This means that not only do you not have to wait ages for the next book to be released but the books are all fantastic. You don’t get that issue where a book half way through the series looses it’s way or the inconsistencies. You get some great links, foreshadowing and worldbuilding. If you haven’t guessed yet, Michael J Sullivan is an auto-buy author for me, simply because his books never let me down.

Age of Myth is set 3000 years before The Riyria Revelations but it is meant to be read separately and doesn’t have any spoilers. There are some characters and locations that are mentioned  in both but certainly no spoilers.

I loved the characters in this book; Suri, Raithe and Persephone in particular. As the booked flicked between the different character’s POV, I found myself sad when each of their parts finished. My particular favourite was Suri was because she was wild, innocent and lovely, although she did remind me slightly of Auri from Name of the Wind in the way that she spoke to animals and understood the world around her differently to othersThe characters were what really made this story for me; there was natural banter, character progression and you become emotionally attached to them because they’re so relatable and likable.

Like his other novels, this book was fast paces, easy to read with action, interesting characters and some unexpected twists.

My Thoughts (1)

5-stars

Mr Katz is a Zombie by Margaret Lesh

Mr. Katz is a Zombie (Goethalsburg Ghost Squad, #1)

Title: Mr Katz is a Zombie
Author: Margaret Lesh
Series: Goethalsburg Ghost Squad #1
Publication: 14th October 2014 by StoryRhyme.com Publishing
Genre: Children’s Fiction

Around the World in 52 Books Challenge – A book that you’ve owned for a while but haven’t gotten around to reading.

This book counts towards my ARC August.

I received a free ARC via NetGalley

My Thoughts (2)

Catastrophe looms in North Goethalsburg!

When twelve-year-old J.D. is tricked into taking possession of a book of spells, his best friend turns their teacher into a zombie. The zombification of Mr. Katz creates general chaos and a not-so-terrific time for near-genius J.D.

Teamed with his best friend Rodney, twin troublemakers, and an obnoxious ghost, J.D. must figure out how to change Mr. Katz back from one of the undead before he:

1. Escapes the janitor’s closet;
2. Eats their brains;
and
3. Wears J.D.’s spleen as a hat.

Can four boys armed with a slingshot, two boxes of jelly
donuts, and a handy zombie guide battle their mindless teacher and live to tell?

Probably not.

You’ll have to read to find out.

My Thoughts

I’m going to go right ahead and say I am not the target audience for this book. I’m probably double the age that you’re suppose to be (8 – 12 year olds). That said, I really enjoyed this book! And I think that if it is entertaining for those older than the age range then it is the mark of a great book, .

This book was really entertaining and enjoyable. They children manage to turn their teacher into a stinking, groaning, but ultimately non-threatening, doughnut eating zombie. It’s not overly silly but equally, it’s not going to give the children who read this nightmares.

I loved the whole family were involved in a business together and how the parents helped the children find the answer – they weren’t just completely unaware of what was going on but were really supportive.

I personally really enjoyed this and I’ll be interested to see if I find this in the school library at any point.

My Thoughts (1)4-stars

This Secret We’re Keeping by Rebecca Done

This Secret We're Keeping

Title: This Secret We’re Keeping
Author: Rebecca Done
Series: N/A
Publication: 7th April 2016 by Penguin
Genre: Fiction

Around the World in 52 Books Challenge – A book you meant to read in 2016

This counts towards my ARC August challenge.

Advanced Reading Copy provided, in exchanged for an honest review, from the publishers.

My Thoughts (2)

A pupil and a teacher. Is it ever right to break the rules? Jessica Hart has never forgotten Matthew Landley. After all, he was her first love when she was fifteen years old. But he was also her school maths teacher, and their forbidden affair ended in scandal with his arrest and imprisonment. Now, seventeen years later, Matthew returns to Norfolk, with a new identity and a long-term girlfriend and a young daughter, who know nothing of what happened before. Yet when he runs into Jessica, neither of them can ignore the emotional ties that bind them together. With so many secrets to keep hidden, how long can Jessica and Matthew avoid the dark mistakes of their past imploding in the present? From debut author Rebecca Done, This Secret We’re Keeping is a powerful and provocative novel about the ties which can keep us together – or tear us apart.

My Thoughts

This book is a controversial novel about a relationship between a teacher and his fifteen year old pupil. It is told with two narratives; Matthew’s (teacher) POV in 1993 and Jess’ (student) story in the present. We get to see how the relationship comes to be and how the scandal came out and affected both of their lives.

This book gripped me. As in, I locked myself in my room for hours reading. I was brushing my teeth and still reading. I was up way past my bed time reading. And in the end, it left me speechless.

The author took a very difficult subject and did it really well, leaving me feeling very torn. It was a very well written story that left me feeling very morally drained. It was very character driven, both of whom were very likable and well developed. It was very hard not to get emotionally involved in their lives. Whilst in the past your screaming that having an affair with a vulnerable fifteen year old student is wrong, I couldn’t help but root for them in the present.

I would have given it five stars had it not been for the muddle in the last few chapters.

A very interesting read!

My Thoughts (1)

4-stars

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Title: When Dimple Met Rishi
Author: Sandhya Menon
Series: N/A
Publication: 13th July 2017 by Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance.

Advanced Reading Copy provided, in exchanged for an honest review, from the publishers.

Around the World in 52 Books Challenge – A book written by a person of colour.

My Thoughts (2)

A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.

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.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

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.

My Thoughts

When Dimple met Rishi… she threw a drink in his face and ran away.

I have seen this book literally everywhere, and with good reason. This is one of those cute summer contemporary romance novels, plus it is diverse and did I mention totally adorable?

Dimple fierce, ambition and into  web development. She is all set for Uni and can’t wait to escape from her mum trying to find her the “Ideal Indian Husband”.  So she’s not too thrilled when Rishi pops up with;

“Hello, future wife,” he said, his voice bubbling with glee. “I can’t wait to get started on the rest of our lives!”

Although the blurb and synopsis seems to suggest the focus is on the arranged marriage, and this does have a major part, I would say that the focus is more on their developing romance and on the web design course.

If you’re into cute romances, this is for you.

My Thoughts (1)

4-stars

Truth or Dare by Non Pratt

Truth or Dare

Title: Truth or Dare
Author: Non Pratt
Series: N/A
Publication: 1st June 2017 by Walker Books
Genre: YA, Contemporary.

My Thoughts (2)

A powerful and moving novel about bravery from the Guardian’s “writer to watch” Non Pratt, perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell, John Green and Holly Bourne. How far is too far when it comes to the people you love? Claire Casey hates being the centre of attention. But if it means getting Sef Malik to notice her, it’s a risk she’s happy to take. Sef is prepared to do anything to help his recently disabled brother. But this means putting Claire’s love – and life – on the line. Because when you’re willing to risk everything, what is there left to lose?

My Thoughts

You know those books where you put them down and you find yourself thinking about them? This is one of those books. I was halfway through and almost got hit in the face by a tennis ball because I was thinking about this book.

The book is one story with two sides. Literally. I loved the way that you read Claire’s side first then had to flip the book over to read Sef’s side. Seeing the story from the two different perspectives really helped to understand where the characters were coming from and the choices they made.

Non Pratt just has this way with words. This book may be aimed at teenagers but it it’s definitely for all ages. Non managed to explore a huge range of different subjects – including social media, racisim and disability – without them becoming the main focus and still somehow making it relatable.

Claire and Sef’s relationship was just beautifully written. I’ve read so many books recently where the relationships have been out of the blue or really quick but this wasn’t anything like them. The entire relationship just felt so natural and realistic. I found myself smiling at so many points, and doing my foot wiggle that I do when I’m loving a book.

I really must insist that you all go and read this book.

My Thoughts (1)

5-stars