Misc.

Horror October: Horror Books Read This Year

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For today’s Horror October post, I wanted to share the books I’ve read this year that fit the theme – some are horror, others more thrillers, others just plain creepy!

Doctor Sleep (The Shining #2) by Stephen King

Doctor Sleep

Doctor Sleep is definitely one of my highlights of the year! I’d been anticipating this sequel to The Shining ever since I first read about it, before the cover was even released. Hodder sent me a review copy earlier in the year, and it was definitely worth the wait. If you’ve already read The Shining then hurry up and read this!

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is not so much a traditional horror, it is really a thriller, but it shows just how horrific humans can be to each other. It’s hard to say much about this book without giving anything away, so I won’t! I’m looking forward to seeing the film of this one too.

  • My rating for Gone Girl: [simple-rating stars=”four-stars”]

The Three by Sarah Lotz

The Three by Sarah Lotz

The Three by Sarah Lotz was an interesting read. It was told entirely from interviews, newspaper articles and other sources of media. Unfortunately its format meant I had no connection whatsoever to any of the characters, and the ending was just incredibly frustrating.

The Quick (The Quick #1) by Lauren Owen

The Quick by Lauren Owen

The Quick was also another unique novel: wonderfully Gothic and rather slow paced. I took a while to read this one for various reasons so I think it might need a re-read at some point, but I enjoyed it a lot. I also had the privilege of meeting the author, Lauren Owen, in April, and definitely made a fool of myself. Oops.

Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

Red Moon by Benjamin Percy had me super excited – it was a werewolf novel with a twist and had such wonderful reviews. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t agree with them. The writing was wonderful but the story just felt… lacking. Also it promised me a good scare and just didn’t deliver!

Midnight Crossroad (Midnight #1) by Charlaine Harris

Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris

Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris was another disappointment. I really love her Southern Vampire Mysteries series (or the True Blood books if you prefer), even if the last few just felt like a chance to make some easy money. So I was hoping a new series would be a new start, and whilst Midnight Crossroad wasn’t bad, there was nothing special about it.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black is another one that’s had great reviews, but I just didn’t get along with. Too many vampires and falling for the bad boy, ugh… The concept of the Coldtowns was original, but vampires? So overdone right now… It does have one of the most horrific opening scenes I’ve ever read though.

Leviathan Wakes (Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey

Leviathan Wakes (Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey is hard to explain in terms of the horror genre without giving away some big plot points. I definitely wasn’t expecting the horror element when I started reading it, and it’s definitely a memorable part… I read it with my Goodreads book group and it was pretty well received!

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co #1) by Jonathan Stroud

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co #1) by Jonathan Stroud

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud is one of my stand-out books of the year. I wasn’t expecting to love it so much, but it pulled me right in. It may be aimed at younger readers but it is SO amazing. Think a mix of Sherlock and Supernatural, with teenage protaganists.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? Do you have any horror recommendations based on what you’ve read this year?

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Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: June 2014

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Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, and writing about what’s to come in the next few weeks.

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Last month I read a total of thirteen books: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, X-Force Vol 2: Old Ghosts by Craig Kyle, Ultimate X-Men: Ultimate Collection Vol 1 by Mark Millar, The Quick by Lauren Owen, Marvel 70th Anniversary by Stan Lee, Prince of Fools (The Red Queen’s War #1) by Mark Lawrence, Uncanny X-Men: Divided We Stand by Ed Brubaker, Dangerous Days in the Roman Empire by Terry Deary, Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant, Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson, The Three by Sarah Lotz, Boy21 by Matthew Quick and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

I’m still reading Marvel comics! There are suddenly a lot more available on the county library system, so I’m making use of it while I still can. My standout book of the month was definitely Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant, about the Borgia family. I find them fascinating, and this account of their lives (albeit partly fictionalised) was just brilliant. Brave New World was my book group’s Sci-Fi Book of the Month – unfortunately I didn’t get round to our fantasy choice, but I’m hoping to read it this month.

 

Challenge progress:

  • I read four books towards the Avengers vs. X-Men Challenge and fully recruited Storm, contributing three bonus points to my team. I also managed to defeat Loki for an extra three bonus points! July’s villain is no other than the notorious Dr. Doom, and I already have my books planned to defeat him. They’re all ARCs waiting for review – even better!
  • I raised my Goodreads goal to one hundred books, and have currently read eighty-four towards that goal.

 

Currently reading:

Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen

Off the blog:

June has been STRESSFUL – hence a lack of posts towards the end, as well as lack of commenting on other blogs. If you saw my post on accommodation last week – well I think it’s sorted. I’ve finally been able to reserve a room. But the email says they’ll let you know at the latest five days before the move in date whether it’s approved. FIVE DAYS?? What if you get rejected? I expect they rarely reject anyone unless they’re not a student and have somehow got through the system – but WHAT? What if you’re rejected, how do they think you’ll find somewhere else in five days, because all other student accommodation will have gone by then. Ugh. Well… if all goes to plan, I have myself my own little apartment in Leiden. A little further than I thought from the faculty, about a 10-15 min bike ride/25 minute walk to the centre, but it’s somewhere to live! And an actual apartment to myself. And of course I’ve nosed around the area on Google Maps, and it looks lovely 🙂 Now that it’s sorted, I feel like I can get on with making other arrangements for Leiden.

Oh, and I also discovered a new love for Jane Eyre, which I re-read for the first time in seven years after reading it at school. I watched the newer film version with Michael Fassbender and Mia Wakowski, and the soundtrack is just GORGEOUS.

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How was June for you? Hopefully less stressful than mine!

Review

Review: The Quick (The Quick #1) by Lauren Owen

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4 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

This is going to be a fairly short review for two reasons: one, it’s hard to write about this book without giving much away, and two, I didn’t want to break away from the story by taking lots of notes, considering I had a huge break from reading it part way through.

My first impression was that I loved the setting. Starting in a big manor house in the Yorkshire countryside, The Quick is a modern work that echoes stories of the Victorian era. It’s evident that Lauren Owen knows her stuff (she has a Masters degree in Victorian Gothic Literature), and she skilfully creates a rather dark and foreboding tone, even during the early scenes of James and Charlotte’s childhood. The setting moves briefly onto Oxford and then London, all the time retaining the feeling that there is something around the corner, some big shocking moment just waiting to happen. And when the twist does appear – well that’s when the story begins to get very dark. It is wonderfully gloomy and Gothic, I had no trouble at all imagining the London streets filled with smog on a chilly night. Unfortunately I can’t explain much more without spoilers, so I will refrain from explaining myself further!

As for the characters, there is a big reveal to do with James about one hundred pages in that I just did not expect. It has you worrying about what the consequences might be for James, in this society that does not yet understand. One of my favourite parts of the book was the back story of Shadwell and Miss Swift, in itself a wonderful little Gothic story that really helped to build up the characters.

Unfortunately I ended up taking quite a long break (three or four weeks) between reading the first 25% or so, and the last 75% of the book. For the first week of that I just didn’t read at all, and when I got back to reading I moved on to some other books that had closer publication dates. It does make me wonder, if I had read the book all in one go, would I have rated it even more highly? I really did enjoy the story, but I think that because of the break I took in the middle, it felt like it dragged a bit. However, I most definitely cannot fault Lauren Owen’s gorgeous writing style, very evocative of the period in which it is set, and her skill at creating and weaving together multiple stories – the result of which is one beautifully Gothic novel that certainly keeps its secrets well hidden.

I also had the privilege of meeting the author, Lauren Owen, back at the end of April.

Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: May 2014

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Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, and writing about what’s to come in the next few weeks.

Books Read May 2014

Last month I read a total of fourteen books: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, Midnight Crossroad (Midnight #1) by Charlaine Harris, Fantastic Four: Books of Doom by Ed Brubaker, Ms Marvel: War of the Marvels (Ms Marvel #8) by Brian Reed, Insignia (Insignia #1) by S.J. Kincaid, The Amazing Spider-Man: Book of Ezekiel (Amazing Spider-Man #7) by J. Michael Straczynski, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Avengers (Guardians of the Galaxy #1) by Brian Michael Bendis, New X-Men: E is for Extinction (New X-Men #1) by Grant Morrison, Doctor Who: Keeping Up With The Joneses (Doctor Who Time Trips #3) by Nick Harkaway, Retribution Falls (Tales of the Ketty Jay #1) by Chris Wooding, Lexicon by Max Barry, The Violent Century by Lavie Tidhar, Sabriel by Garth Nix and Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia.

I read a lot of graphic novels this month, but I think I’ve read every one I can get my hands on in the county library system… so looks like I’ll have to find them elsewhere from now on. My favourite of the graphic novels was Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Avengers – some great art in there, and I am SO excited for the film! Standout novels included Lexicon, Retribution Falls and Insignia. The latter two are the first books in series, so that’s two more series to continue now…

 

Challenge progress:

  • I read four books towards the Avengers vs. X-Men Challenge – two books towards defeating Bullseye, May’s villain, so I didn’t quite manage to beat him. Next month’s villain has been revealed as Loki, so hopefully I’ll be able to take down the trickster god!
  • Last month I raised my Goodreads goal to seventy-five books. I’m now at seventy-one books, so it looks like I’ll be raising it again soon!
  • I read one book for my USA Challenge, which admittedly I’ve mostly forgotten about…

 

Currently reading:

The Quick by Lauren Owen Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence

 

Off the blog:

May has been uneventful… in fact most of the ‘Off the blog’ stuff I shared last month happened in May. Oops! I did go and see X-Men: Days of Future Past on Thursday, and LOVED it. It also reignited my *ahem* ‘interest’ in Michael Fassbender… But apart from that, pretty uneventful! Here’s some stuff from my Instagram:

May Instagram
Left to right: My awesome new Game of Thrones t-shirt from Teefury; scaring myself silly by playing Bioshock in the dark & with headphones; my town has a festival every day and the May bank holiday weekend was just PERFECT for it 🙂
Recap

Glamour Book Club with Laini Taylor & Lauren Owen

On 30th April I had the privilege of attending Glamour Book Club, held in a very swanky private members club in London and featuring Laini Taylor and Lauren Owen!

If you’ve not heard of either of these lovely ladies before, then Laini Taylor is the author of the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy which comprises of Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Days of Blood & Starlight and Dreams of Gods & Monsters. Lauren Owen has just released her debut novel, The Quick.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor days of blood and starlight
Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor The Quick by Lauren Owen

I was excited before attending the event, because not only was I going to meet some wonderful authors, but also some fellow bloggers! Asti from Oh, The Books!, Kristy from Book Nerd Reviews and Daphne from Winged Reviews were all going to be there. Me and my friend Emily got there first, and I recognised Asti and approached her in my awkward way, and she introduced me to Kristy. We then proceeded into the event and got our free cocktails (gin and tonic). Daphne turned up a bit later, and we hung around chatting for a while – next to the goodie bags, trying to work out what was in them… – before the event proper started.

Thoughts from Laini Taylor:

  • Laini said she was currently reading the Expanse series of books by James S.A. Corey, which I was happy to hear as I recently read and reviewed the first book, Leviathan Wakes.
  • She has a new series and new standalone planned. And some science fiction – eeek!
  • When asked about how she starts to write, Laini said she starts writing in the middle of the book and works from there.
  • We spoke a little about the film adaptation of Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It hasn’t officially been given the green light yet, but Laini was off to meetings about it a few days after the event, so maybe we’ll hear more soon. She said she doesn’t think it would be fair to speak about her fantasy cast, mostly because no guy could ever live up to Akiva’s looks!
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone came about when Laini was avoiding writing her current book at the time: a book about ballerinas in space!
  • She said that you just have to make as much time as you can to write – and don’t procrastinate too much!
  • Apparently Laini hasn’t had a single negative fan experience. Let’s hope it remains that way!
Me, Asti & Kristy!
Look who I found! (l-r) Myself, Asti & Kristy. Daphne disappeared off somewhere when we snapped the photo! I’d been walking around London since 10am so was pretty exhausted and flustered…

Thoughts from Lauren Owen:

  • Lauren said she was currently reading The House of the Vampire by George Viereck. I’ve not heard of this one before, it’s a Victorian Gothic horror novel.
  • She’s currently writing a sequel to The Quick. This was actually her original idea for the book, but she sort of ended up working backwards.
  • Lauren won a prize for her dissertation, and her professor then referred her to an agent who approached her interested in her work.
  • She urged budding writers to go out and talk to people, and discuss their experiences.
  • Her favourite books include Little Women, Anne of Green Gables and Watership Down.
  • She has mostly stopped herself from reading reviews online as she finds the constantly changing viewpoints and criticisms confusing – if one person loves part of the book and another hates it, I guess you don’t know what to do either way!
  • She did a lot of research to prepare for her book, and admits that sometimes she got distracted by it.

After the talk, we got the chance to meet the authors and get stuff signed. It didn’t take too long, as it was a fairly intimate gathering, and I had my photo taken with Laini:

Me with Laini Taylor!

They were selling books there, and I didn’t really want to buy The Quick at the time because I’m not a hardback person at all. I’m going to wait for the paperback to come out, so I asked Lauren to also sign my copy of Daughter of Smoke & Bone (as I had nothing else for her to sign) and basically made a huge, flustered fool of myself, and did not explain in any eloquent manner that I WILL be buying her book once it’s out in paperback. I still feel embarrassed when I think of that moment. Ugh. I’M SO SORRY LAUREN.

Guys. I'm forever going to be awkward when it comes to meeting authors. How on earth do you keep your cool??
Guys. I’m forever going to be awkward when it comes to meeting authors. How on earth do you keep your cool??

And that was the end of a great night! Me and Emily had to go and catch our train home (I live a ninety minute train journey from London) so we couldn’t hang around for too long, especially as our route back to the station was made difficult by tube strikes. But it was a great evening, despite the embarrassment I caused myself – I got to meet some awesome bloggers and fantastic authors, and the goodie bag was most definitely worth the ticket price! It included three books (Angelfall by Susan Ee, Dracula by Bram Stoker and Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little), some great headphones that I’ve already used lots for gaming (I like to immerse myself), some Hotel Chocolat chocolates, a candle, nail polish and some other beauty samples. I would definitely be up for attending another Glamour Book Club event! The only downside was when me and Emily received one of the dirtiest looks ever from a member of staff at the club for no apparent reason… probably because we’re not paying members, all dressed up for dinner!

Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: April 2014

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Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, and writing about what’s to come in the next few weeks.

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Last month I read a total of twenty books, which sounds like a lot but many of them were graphic novels: After Dead (Sookie Stackhouse #13.5) by Charlaine Harris, Mass Effect Foundation: Volume 2 by Mac Walters, Red Country by Joe Abercrombie, Glow (Sky Chasers #1) by Amy Kathleen Ryan, Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms #1) by Morgan Rhodes, Days of Blood and Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2) by Laini Taylor, X-Men Forever 2, Back in Action (X-Men Forever 2 #1) by Chris Claremont, Marvel Masterworks: The X-Men Volume 2 by Stan Lee, This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki, Civil War: Marvel Universe by Ed Brubaker, A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick, Behemoth (Leviathan #2) by Scott Westerfeld, Goliath (Leviathan #3) by Scott Westerfeld, Wolverine Noir by Stuart Moore, Wolverine First Class: Ninjas, Gods and Divas by Peter David, Wolverine First Class: Wolverine-By-Night by Fred Van Lente, X-Men Legacy: Emplate by Mike Carey, The Avengers: Volume 2 by Brian Michael Bendis, X-Men: Worlds Apart by Christopher Yost, The Kill Order (Maze Runner #0.5) by James Dashner.

I was so happy to finally finish the Leviathan series, and it’s now one of my favourite Young Adult series out there. I read some other great books this month: Days of Blood and Starlight was just as gripping as Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and Falling Kingdoms was a wonderful fantasy read. I also went crazy on the graphic novel front, ordering as many Marvel comics as I could through my county library service. And there are still plenty more to read! I also read most of Dragon Age Library Edition: Volume One, but unfortunately my ARC stopped about three quarters of the way through. I did email Netgalley, who contacted the publisher but sadly I haven’t heard anything and the title has now been archived. I will just rate and review it based on what I did managed to read.

 

Challenge progress:

  • I read five books towards the Avengers vs. X-Men Challenge, so unfortunately I didn’t do as well as last month, and I also didn’t quite manage to defeat April’s villain, Kingpin. Better luck next month! May’s villain is Bullseye, and he looks to be quite a challenge.
  • I’ve already beaten my goal of fifty books for this year on Goodreads. I’ve raised the goal to seventy-five, which I think will still be manageable – I may even reach that before August, and I can raise it again!

 

Currently reading:

>The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black The Quick by Lauren Owen

Off the blog:

The majority of April was fairly quiet, but this past week has been pretty busy. I’ve been off work since last Tuesday, although I’m back today. On Wednesday night I went to the Glamour Book Club to see Laini Taylor and Lauren Owen, and I also met up with some fellow book bloggers! I will cover the event in detail in a future post. My friend joined me in London, and she stayed until Tuesday. On Thursday night, we went to see Jace Everett in Bristol. It was a TINY event, with about one hundred people – but the venue put out chairs, so no-one was dancing and I felt like we gave off a bad impression. But despite that, I loved the music and got to meet the man himself afterwards, and get a CD signed. Then on Friday we went to see The Amazing Spider-Man 2 which I really enjoyed, Saturday was Free Comic Book Day which meant a trip to Forbidden Planet in Bristol, as well as Bristol Zoo because it was a lovely, sunny day. Oh, and a few weeks ago my Dragon Age: The World of Thedas book arrived, which my fellow Queen of Ferelden, Paola, convinced me to buy. I was just a *little* bit excited by its arrival, as you can see…

Some highlights from April 2014.
Some highlights from April 2014.

 

How was April for you?

 

Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: March 2014

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Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, and writing about what’s to come in the next few weeks.

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Last month I read a total of thirteen books – an improvement on February! Bitterblue (Graceling #3) by Kristin Cashore, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick, In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang, The Cruel Path by David Normoyle, Doctor’s Notes by Dr. Rosemary Leonard, The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt, The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien, Fantastic Four Vol. 1 by J. Michael Straczynski, Wards of Faerie (Dark Legacy of Shanarra #1) by Terry Brooks and X-Men Legacy: Aftermath by Mike Carey.

Standout books include Bitterblue, The Book Thief and Fangirl. I was happy to finally read the conclusion to Kristin Cashore’s Graceling series, and Bitterblue tied the threads of the first two books together nicely. I read The Book Thief as I’d like to go and see it in the cinema, but haven’t quite gotten round to that yet! And finally, I won Fangirl in Lianne’s giveaway, and it was an absolute delight. You can read more about how it surprised me in my review. I’ve now read thirty-six books towards my goal of fifty this year. I may think about raising it in June or July.

Challenge progress:

  • I read eight books towards the Avengers vs. X-Men Challenge, which I’m very pleased with! I also managed to defeat this month’s villain, Juggernaut. April’s villain is Kingpin, who looks to be quite a challenge.
  • One book ticked off of the Dragons & Jetpacks Ultimate Booklist, which also happened to be our science fiction Book of the Month.

Currently reading:

Red Country by Joe Abercrombie

Reviews on the blog this month:

Other posts:

Upcoming:

  • Quite a few reviews including Leviathan Wakes, Doctor’s Notes, In Real Life and The Cruel Path.
  • Something to do with Marvel…
  • And more Museum of Literary Wonders posts as I’ve been meaning to do for a while!

Off the blog:

Not much has happened! I’m kind of scared and excited at how quickly this year has gone so far. Only four and a half months before I move to the Netherlands for university. I can’t wait! I’ve also started playing Smite with a friend, it’s an MOBA where you play as gods – perfect for a mythology geek like me, though I keep pointing out the flaws within the system… it’s really fun though! As for the coming month: my mum is running the London Marathon and I’m SO proud of her. She’s running for a charity called WellChild and has raised a fair amount of money so far. And at the end of the month, it’s back to London again for a cocktails & conversation event with Laini Taylor and Lauren Owen – are any of my fellow book bloggers going as well?

How was March for you?