February Reads | 2016

It looks like I’ve have a jam-packed ladies month this February, all female authors and a mix of fantasy, classics, historical fiction and a memoir. Not too bad, I say.

The Seven Sisters & The Storm Sister (Seven Sisters #1 & #2) by Lucinda Riley

Can I just say I have found a new favorite series? A mixture of historical fiction, mystery, romance – a series with women at the front and center and each book exploring a new destination…Brazil, Norway! The series starts off with the death of Pa Salt, the adoptive father of six women and the clues he leaves them regarding their heritage. Each book stars a new sister, but what I really enjoyed was the structure: half of the novel revolves around the sister and the other about her ancestor. For e.g Maia in the first book and a Brazilian socialite from the 1920s. I did enjoy the first book more but I’m beyond excited to continue the series with the third book that comes out later this year.

Cupcakes, Trinkets and Other Deadly Magic (The Dowser #1) by Meghan Ciana Doidge

This was a little bit of fluff I read for one of my bookclubs – a short, easy read about witches, vampires, werewolves and cupcakes! Basically it’s about a young woman called Jade, owner of a cupcake store, who becomes involved in a mystery concerning the brutal deaths of werewolves. I enjoyed it, but as the book develops you realize there particularly no meat to the characters or the story, which is a shame.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter #2) by J.K Rowling

The only re-read of the month but an enjoyable one to say the least. Chamber of Secrets continues Harry’s adventures at Hogwarts, a story that involves spiders, weird Slytherin things and that funky Polyjuice potion! I preferred this to the first book, and the Oh Witch podcast (discusses the series in an academic way) was a great accompaniment to the book.

Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton

I really wanted to love this. I adored the Jo Walton books (Among Others & The Just City) last year, and this book, a mesh of Regency flair and dragons sounded delightful. But I felt disconnected from the characters and the plot (too many perspectives!) and found it hard to visualize most things. I enjoyed the world building though but it wasn’t enough for me to truly enjoy it.

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Ok, here comes the first Austen book I truly enjoyed. Pride and Prejudice was ok. Persuasion was ok. Mansfield Park was…Errgh, no. But I adored Sense and Sensibility and I think that was because I loved the characters. Elinor was complex and charming. Marianne was awesome – if a bit too much passionate. Colonel Brandon, oh how I love thee! Now I’m off to see if I enjoy Northanger Abbey and Emma just as much, hopefully!

The Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark

The Driver’s Seat is an interesting novella – weird, strange and a bit alarming. It’s sort of a mix of a backwards crime story and a distorted fairytale. Where we know quite early as what is going to happen, but also read with despair as we become increasingly aware of a woman’s journey to self annihilation – using the man as an object of destruction. This is a book to read in one sitting, to see that tension rises. And it definitely rises.

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

The only book I’ve done a proper review of this month – one that I found funny, full of heart and relatable. See my review here.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark

Another Muriel Spark novel! I think I’ve found another author that I admire – which is awesome. And I think, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie might be my favorite of hers so far. It is about an unorthodox female teacher who has a special, and ultimately dangerous relationship with six of her students. I adored the character of Brodie, despite her very visible flaws – but she was complex, fun and now I can’t watch to see the film adaptation starring Maggie Smith.

All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld

My only Australian novel of the month, which sadly left a lot to be desired. All the Birds, Singing is about a woman called Jake who lives in an old farmhouse on a British island. Something, someone is killing her sheep and she is tormented by her secret past. I found some parts of the book quite interesting – the broken timeline, the mystery behind the sheep killer, her relationship with Otto and the book was easy to read. But I found the ending dissatisfying and felt disconnected and bored by most of the characters. I wish I enjoyed it more – but honestly I didn’t.

Favorite book of the month: The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley

Stay up to date with what I’m reading and my ratings by following me on Goodreads.


So what were your favorite books that you read in February?

 

Classics Book Tag

I’ve been thinking about classics a lot lately, so let’s do a tag!

An over-hyped classic you really didn’t like?

I’d have to give it to The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. A funny choice as I have enjoyed retellings of the classic. But I think the main reasons I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would was because 1) the writing wasn’t for me and 2) I already knew the twist. I didn’t hate the book, but I was disappointed.

Favorite time period to read about?

I cannot really name one, I love reading about all sorts of time periods. If you looked at the classics I have read you might judge the Victorian era is for me – which I did enjoy but wouldn’t exactly say is my favorite. So I’ll just say I’m interested in reading more medieval fiction like The Canterbury Tales and Greek literature such as Daphnis and Chloe.

Favorite fairy-tale?

I used to have a fairytale book as a child that I would read several times a month and the one story I kept coming back to was The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Anderson. It’s a rather bleak and sad story, but it ends on a tone of hope and I love it dearly.

Which classic are you most embarrassed by having not read it yet?

I don’t think you should be embarrassed by what you haven’t read – there are so many books in the world after all! But to satiate this question I might say it is 1984 by George Orwell. I love dystopian novels.

Top 5 classics you would like to read (soon)?

  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  • Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
  • Orlando by Virginia Woolf
  • Tess of the d’Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy
  • The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham

Favorite modern book/series based on a classic?

I haven’t read many books based off a classic but I did enjoy Mary Bennet by Jennifer Paynter. It tells the story of Mary, one of the Bennet sisters from Pride and Prejudice. It’s a fun little story with a dash of wit, bookish-ness and romance.

Favorite movie version/tv-series based on a classic?

If you are looking for a political-driven mini series with the most gorgeous romance ever than look no further than North and South. Basically – Richard Armitage is so wonderful.

Worst classic to movie adaptation?

The Hobbit. I enjoyed it but I felt the story suffered for being expanded into three films. At least I still have Richard Armitage in this to drool over.

Favorite edition(s) you’d like to collect more classics from?

Puffin In Bloom.

Penguin Classics Deluxe Editions

An under-hyped classic you’d recommend to everyone?

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte. Anne Bronte is often overshadowed by her sisters, but I think The Tenant of Wildfell Hall might be my favorite Bronte novel. It’s mysterious, has beautiful prose and feminist subtext.


So how would you answer these questions?

Why Not Me? | Mindy Kaling

I’m falling into the memoir territory trap these days. Felicia Day. Gloria Steinem. Mindy Kaling. And falling headfast in love with the content.

That, and non-fiction audiobooks.

Basically – I really enjoyed Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling.

It’s definitely better than her first book ‘Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?’ Perhaps it was the humour. The description in the essays. The audiobook. But I was hooked from the first spoken word in a much more efficient manner in ‘Why Not Me?’

I mean, if you find me smiling and quietly giggling at times at 7am in the morning on the commute to university – then you know whatever I’m listening to is a keeper.

Why Not Me? is a collection of anecdotes from Mindy Kaling’s life. As you might know, Mindy Kaling is a writer, actor and comedian who wrote for the American tv show ‘The Office’ and helmed her own tv show called ‘The Mindy Project.’ I have to admit, I never went into reading her books as a major fan as I had only seen a couple episodes from the Mindy Project. But I’m glad I did.

The book focuses on topics such as her relationship with B.J Novak (adorable, so remind me to watch The Office), being an average sized woman on TV, writing and other things. The essays are easy to read, funny and full of heart. She frankly acknowledges her flaws: body issues, being a bad sport, her self confidence. And pleasing everyone is no longer her main motivation (which, I believe, is something you really cannot do). And I felt the main point of the book was: sometimes it’s tiring to be yourself.

The essays felt relatable and honest – and if there is anything I would really like to happen at the moment, is to be Mindy Kaling’s good friend.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s not perfect, I don’t think the section about an alternative life where Mindy was a Latin teacher at 25 worked seamlessly in the audiobook. But I enjoyed it nether less and will likely read and watch more of Mindy Kaling’s works.

I give it 4/5*

 

A Few Favourite Youtubers

So how do I like to spend my free time?

  • Read a book (I’m looking at you Sense and Sensibility).
  • Watch a TV Show on Netflix (Broadchurch, oh my!)
  • Listen to a podcast (Galactic Suburbia, all the wonderful examinations of pop culture).
  • And Youtube.

It’s not only a place for cat videos and children being dicks – but a place for discussion and adventure and a look into the exquisite nature of human lives.

And here are a few of the wonderful channels I love and adore and are addicted to:

Simon and Martina

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I’ve been following this Canadian couple for awhile now – their adventures in South Korea, their cute fuzzy pets called Spudgy and Meemers, a few KPOP videos here and there and their fun, wacky humour. This is a great channel for learning about the hotspots around South Korea, for food and travel. However they’ve just moved to Japan and I cannot wait to see more their content, particularly Martina revving up her Sailor Moon love.

Suggested videos: Gong Cha Bubble Tea | Korean Stereotypes on Foreigners | What to Do in Busan

Books and Quills

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For all the lover of books, books, books – that’s why you are here on this blog, right? Filmed by a lovely Dutch lady called Sanne who lives in London, this is a great place to drool over beautiful covers, envy her perfect eyeliner skills and get way too many book recommendations that you can handle.

Suggested videos: How Do Book Covers Work? | Room Tour | 5 Graphic Novel Reviews

tyrannosauruslexxx

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Are you looking for an awesome, witty human in your life? Well, Lex is it. She never fails to make me smile, laugh and completely agree with her sentiments. She tends to talk about a whole range of subjects: Vegans, Books, Feminism, Geekiness etc This is a great channel to subscribe to if you need a dose of sarcasm every now and again.

Suggested videos: Teen Cersei Lannister | What Your Favorite Tea Says About You | Dear Prince Harry

Good Game

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I don’t follow a lot of gaming channels – as I’m very selective. But if you are looking for gaming videos that are funny, to the point and so entertaining to watch – that you literally starve for them every day, this one I’d recommend. Good Game is the web show spin off to the popular Australian TV Show – frontlined by the ever charismatic Nichboy, who is so quotable that the community loves to make memes about him. Despite loving the TV Show, I’ve actually come to enjoy the webshow even more.

Suggested videos: Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes| Rock Band 4 | Fallout 4 Character Creator


So what are your favourite youtube channels?

Notes on a Bookclub: Vaginal Fantasy

Today I want to talk to you about a wonderful little bookclub (open to all on Goodreads) called Vaginal Fantasy. The name is…a bit out there, but a great conversation starter if anyone asks me if I’m in any bookclubs. Ah, the face of abhorrence and surprise – brilliant!

I’ve been a member of this group since 2012, a group led by four awesome internet ladies: Felicia Day, Veronica Belmont, Kiala Kazebee and Bonnie Burton. Each have a wicked sense of humor and a skill for discussing oily chests, tiny wine, descriptors for genitalia and relating this all back to Benedict Cumberbatch. Sort of.

If you haven’t guessed it already, the type of books the bookclub reads are generally within the speculative genre/mostly female-centric. Although this can bend a little bit – mostly for some really interesting picks.

I haven’t read all the books – some can be pretty terrible. There is one that comes to mind – Eternal Pleasure (dinosaur romance?!) But it’s incredibly fun to watch the hosts dissect and mock these particular picks.

Although the best part is discussing these books through local hangouts. I formed my main bookclub through the awesome Australians who attended the Vaginal Fantasy Google Hangouts.

Basically – I’m encouraging you to try it out! And I will do this by discussing some of my favorite books that have been picked.

Fortune’s Pawn (Paradox #1) by Rachel Bach

This is the kind of book I found that a lot of people adored and so came to be addicted to the Paradox series. Fortune’s Pawn is an awesome space opera about a mercenary called Devi. It’s fast paced – rollicking with romance, adventure, humor, and weird space powers.

The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay

A big complex novel wide in scope and themes, The Lions of Al Rassan is that historical epic that is easy to drool over. Set in a country similar to medieval Spain – the novel is oozing with wonderful world building, characters and deadly politics. I also loved the fleshed out, awesome female characters in this.

Kushiel’s Dart (Kushiel’s Universe #1) by Jacqueline Carey

I feel like I need to read this novel again – I yearn for the beautiful, evocative descriptions of a world so dark and complex. If you are like me and love deeply political books with back stabbing and mystery – you’ll love this. And at the center, Kushiel the courtesan spy – a wonderful character through and through. I can understand why this novel is often touted as one of the best fantasy novels of all time.


Hope you enjoyed this post!

You can check Vaginal Fantasy out through these links:

Goodreads Group
Youtube Channel

 

 

 

The Progeny | Tosca Lee

Note: This was provided by the publisher in return for a honest review.

The Progeny is expected to be published by Howard Books on May 24th 2016.

I’ve been fascinated with the story of Elizabeth Bathory for quite some time now. A Hungarian countess who tortured and murdered so many victims – and as the tale goes bathed in their blood for the power of youth. She is, as many label her, the most prolific female serial killer of all time.

So when I saw a new novel on Netgalley about the descendant of Bathory – I quickly applied for an ARC. A novel full of mystery, murder, romance and a little bit of magic.

A little excerpt from the blurb:

Emily Jacobs is the descendant of a serial killer. Now, she’s become the hunted.
She’s on a quest that will take her to the secret underground of Europe and the inner circles of three ancient orders—one determined to kill her, one devoted to keeping her alive, and one she must ultimately save.

The Progeny was a nice thriller, one I devoured in the lonely hours of the night. Although I admit, slightly slow and stale at the beginning as the protagonist starts off with no recollection of her past in the sleepy backwoods of Maine. But once the location shifts to Europe (which doesn’t take too long) – the pace and feel of the story becomes a lot more exciting (although sporadic).

The mystery, worldbuilding and the sense of not being able to trust anyone are definitely the highlights from this novel. I enjoyed learning about the different secret societies, their aims – even the highly sought macguffin (a diary?) I also liked the fact that it was hard to trust anyone in this novel – constantly I was rethinking who to side with and feeling a bit pressured and unsure like the protagonist. The magic, using the power of suggestion to beguile others was also rather interesting as well.

But it all did feel a little bit cliche. I found it hard to have an emotional connection to any of the characters – which is crucial for any tense character moments. The romance was slightly enticing but it felt like I was being smothered with it. And the plot well – felt all over the place.

This is a very mixed review – but I did enjoy the Progeny. Despite weak characters and plot I still found it easy to read and a little bit addictive. I’ll put this down to a very interesting premise and I’m still intrigued to read the next installment in this series.

I give it 3.5/5*