Monday, 29 October 2018

The Year in Non Fiction

It's nearly November, that means it's time for Nonfiction November! This week's prompt is hosted by Kim @ Sophisticated Dorkiness .

What was your favourite nonfiction read of the year?

Angela Saini's Inferior was a fascinating look at the bias at work in science, specifically when it comes to studies in sex difference. Women are so used to hearing that we can't do things just because we're biologically different to men, so it's good to hear the arguments (both sides are talked about). I also loved reading about the work of cadaver dogs in What the Dog Knows.


Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year?

I've been using non-fiction to fulfil quite a few challenge prompts this year, so the subjects have been all over the place! I've probably been a bit more drawn to natural history, maybe because it provides a distraction from real world misery.

What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?

*Mumbles* probably still The Radium Girls which was my answer last year, I'm still not over it. Out of this year's reads, I'd say Born a Crime is the one I think most people would get something out of. And that was one of the books I picked up from a previous Nonfiction November recommendation!

What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

I am looking forward to topping up my wishlist with books I never usually hear about. I don't get through many of them in a year, but I know I can always look back on Nonfiction November recs when I want something. I'm on the look out for well-narrated audiobooks as this is the first year I've got the hang of listening to them.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes?

Olive wasn't trying to kill herself, she just wanted all the noise to stop. Well that's what she tells herself and her family when she's committed to A&E. Her doctor thinks she would be a great candidate for an experimental programme, a summer camp for mentally ill teens.

Once she gets to Camp Reset, it doesn't take long for Olive to put her foot in it, upsetting other patients and setting herself apart from the group. She resists therapy and is unable to chat to others about her diagnosis because she never found out.

You don't have to stop looking after yourself just to help the world.

Olive doesn't want to know her diagnosis, she doesn't want a label that she can use as an excuse. However it does not take long for her thoughts and actions to hint at bipolar disorder. Holly Bourne is excellent at writing about mental health and the disorganised and often illogical thoughts that go with an illness.

She meets a boy who loves maths and thinks it can save the world, which gets her thinking. Maybe it's the world that needs changing, that kindness can cure mental illness. The title comes from the idea that young people are constantly being called special snowflakes or that they just follow the crowd. Left unacknowledged, mental illness in teens can go on to become a lifelong struggle, so we should be trying to help earlier on. That we could do worse than being kind and compassionate to those younger than us.

I think real kindness, real compassion, is having the strength to stop and try and see where another person is coming from. To try and work out why they're being the way they're being. It takes time and patience. It's not easy, but that's real kindness.

The plot isn't the strongest out of Holly's young adult novels, perhaps because it's accurately reflecting Olive's state of mind. I did like the central message and the kindness is contagious tagline.

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Book Source: Purchased

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Quickie Reviews

For those that don't know, Saga is on hiatus and we have no idea how long we have to wait for the story to continue. Saga volume 9 kept being touted as about fake news and I'm not sure I really got that. It did hint on governments controlling news but I wasn't sure if the story being sold was fake. Maybe I should re-read the whole series for more clarity. Not quite as good as the earlier instalments but the ending, OMG, please don't leave it there! I hope we get much more of Hazel's story in the future.


Another comic I'm loving is Monstress and I recently read volume 3, Haven. The artwork is still the most beautiful ever and it's another one where the ending left me wide eyed. It seems like it's getting less disturbing and pieces are being manoeuvred into place for the war of the gods. Maika's monster is also starting to become rather likeable.


On a Sunbeam started out as a web comic by Tillie Walden and has recently been published in a single volume. I love how Tillie uses colour and this is wonderful story about friendship, love and families, in space. It follows Mia, young woman who has joined a crew who restore damaged buildings. In flashbacks she recalls her time at school and the friend she never got to say goodbye too. Maybe her new job will provide the chance to find her again.


Thursday, 25 October 2018

The Greatest Love Story Ever Told

Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman are my favourite celebrity couple. I don't really have favourite celebrity couples so that's saying something. Their joint biography is made to be listened to. I'm not really sure how it would work in print, because it's very conversational and felt like there was ad-libbing going on.

You probably know Megan from Will and Grace, and Nick from Parks and Recreation. However in my mind, Megan has now morphed into Tammy (Ron's ex-wife in Parks) and after listening to this, that seems fitting. The Greatest Love Story Ever Told explains how they met and what they like about each other. I adore that they like to spend their free weekends doing jigsaw puzzles whilst listening to audiobooks.

A lot of it veers into autobiography territory, talking about career paths that I wasn't that interested in. Megan's sections particularly seemed like her biography rather than them talking about their relationship.

To my way of thinking, it's an illustration of a relationship that the reader may find surprisingly normal. When all you have by which to judge a relationship are some grippingly cute Instagram videos, it might not occur to one that there's a lot of banal real life.

If you're wondering how the picture section works, they verbally describe the photos that were selected to go in the book. It's a fun way to make listeners feel like they are not missing out (and you can always flick through the book in a library or shop if you are still intrigued).

My favourite parts were their relationship and life advice segments, which are short and felt less like them just having a chat in a recording studio. If you like Nick and Megan you'll probably like this, their personalities shine through and it contains plenty of laughs.

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Book Source: Purchased

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Rituals

Rituals is the final book in Kelley Armstrong's Cainsville series so this review may contain spoilers for the previous books.

I loved the original premise of Cainsville and the first instalment, Omens, but this series has lost its way a little over the last few books. It could have easily been a trilogy and not a five book series. However I'm happy to have an ending and some answers.

I'd heard enough stories growing up to understand that the fae weren't innocent little creatures with wings and pixie dust. They were amoral, unethical, cruel, sometimes even what we'd call evil in their complete disregard for others.

To recap, Liv, Gabriel and Ricky are caught up in an ancient fae story which replays across generations. Liv must make a choice between the two men, but that choice will condemn the people of the one she rejects. The two sides are the fae of Cainsville and the Wild Hunt. How will Liv choose?

She's already broken up with Ricky, finally coming to terms with the fact she has feelings for Gabriel, depsite his inability to let people in. I was team Gabriel from the start, so yay. But this still leaves Liv with knowledge that she will be hurting the Wild Hunt, if she officially chooses. I thought her final choice was a good one and I'd kinda worked it out half way through that it was what she must do.

The book also fills in a lot of questions about how Liv's parents facilitated her cure. As with all deals with the fae, nothing is straightforward and there's always a catch. I liked the addition of dark creatures, the Slaugh who punish those that the Wild Hunt cannot. I loved the mythology behind it, but it took a while to get there.

For me, this was where it all really began, Ricky and me and Gabriel, fighting a common foe, our first taste of what life as Arawn and Matilda and Gwynn would be like. Endless traps and tricks and betrayals.

All the characters are now trying their best to be accommodating and understanding. Which is great, honestly, it's wonderful to have considerate people looking after themselves and others. The only problem is that they spend paragraphs explaining how they are being so accommodating so it just seems forced and I want to yell at them to get on with saving the day!

There is an amusing passage where they are talking about the romance books one of the characters writes. It reflects some of the criticism that Kelley herself receives, with books going on a bit too long and lack of editing, but also that it's not helpful to point this out to the author's face.

I even liked the addition of a couple of new characters, which is something I usually baulk at near the end of a series. The pair of dryads add a bit of comic relief and are also lovely people, who play a role in the big ending.

Would I recommend the series? It's tough, there is plenty worth reading but you've got to be OK with a slow middle to get to the payoff.

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Book Source: Purchased

Sunday, 21 October 2018

#Readathon Wrap-Up

Local time: 13:00
Hours spent reading: 15
Pages read since last update: 684
Total pages: 1312
Total books: 4


Currently reading: Tamed by Alice Roberts
Books read: The Extinction Trials by S.M. Wilson, On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden, Planetfall by Emma Newman + Monstress: Haven by Majorie Liu + Sana Takeda

I always seem to end up with a cold by the end of October readathons! I am pretty happy with what I got read though and I had fun co-hosting. I didn't complete a line on the bingo card, I had hoped to do a few extra things for it this morning but I just felt bleurgh.

I will pick out a winner for Draw It Out later today.


1. Which hour was most daunting for you?
Probably hour 22 when I started to feel ill. I wanted to read outside in the sun but it was just too warm. It's October, what is going on?!

2. Tell us ALLLLL the books you read!
See above.

3. Which books would you recommend to other Read-a-thoners?
All of them are good in their own ways. The Extinction Trials was a pretty good readathon book, it was fun and easy to read.

4. What’s a really rad thing we could do during the next Read-a-thon that would make you happy?
Cure the common cold?

5. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? Would you be interested in volunteering to help organize and prep?
I'd be gutted to miss it and I'll definitely help again.

#readathon: hour thirteen

Local time: 01:00
Hours spent reading: 10
Pages read since last update: 216
Total pages: 628
Total books: 2


Currently reading: The Extinction Trials by S.M. Wilson
Books read: Planetfall by Emma Newman + Monstress: Haven by Majorie Liu + Sana Takeda

I had loads of fun co-hosting even though the readathon Twitter account is hectic! I didn't really read much during those hours. I'm enjoying The Extinction Trials, it's a bit silly in places if you think too hard about it, but it's fun.

Scully is now snoring like a trooper and I'm going to head to bed soon too. I'll be back in the morning though.


Saturday, 20 October 2018

#readathon: hour nine

Local time: 21:00
Hours spent reading: 7
Pages read since last update: 224
Total pages: 412
Total books: 2


Currently reading: The Extinction Trials by S.M. Wilson
Books read: Planetfall by Emma Newman + Monstress: Haven by Majorie Liu + Sana Takeda

I am half way through my co-hosting slot! Find me over on the official website and the @readathon Twitter.

#readathon: hour five

Local time: 17:00
Hours spent reading: 4
Pages read since last update: 188
Total pages: 188
Total books: 1


Books read: Planetfall by Emma Newman

First book down! I tried to get Scully to cooperate for a book and pet photo but in every photo she looks like she is too good to be seen with books! Ahh she used to be such a compliant puppy... Go on, just a little bit closer to the book, pleeeease? Nope.


I need to update my bingo card. I know I've got a few splodges to add. I've been drinking coffee, had a sandwich and eaten some nice Italian biscuits.

Get ready to #readathon

Local start time: 13:00
Total pages: 0
Total books: 0


Starting book: Planetfall by Emma Newman

I think it's the first time I've not made sure I'm starting a new book on readathon day. I'm half way through Planetfall so I'm going to finish it before starting on my stack. I'll attempt to mark off as many things as possible on the bingo card too. I will really be happy reading a novel and a few graphic novels/comics. I have quite a lot of books on my TBR because I'm not really sure what I'm in the mood for.

I'm hosting the Draw It Out mini-challenge again. You can do it at any time during the readathon. You'll also find me over on the official website and Twitter during hours eight and nine.


Friday, 19 October 2018

Draw It Out!

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon

Welcome to my mini challenge for this weekend's readathon. When you need a little break from reading, get drawing! Please draw me a scene or character from your current read (or any other book you're reading during the readathon).


You can get simple drawing apps for your tablet or smartphone, or use whatever software's on your computer. Draw on paper and take a photo or scan it in. Use whatever is nearby, even if it's snack-based! It doesn't have to be a masterpiece, stick figures are encouraged! Please note, I will need to see your picture if you want to enter to win a book BUT you can just join in anyway, as it's a good break for your brain.

Leave a comment with a link to your picture here, or you can tweet or Instagram me @patchworkbunny.

Of course, there's a prize attached. Complete the challenge and you can enter to win a book of your choice up to a maximum value of £15 (on Wordery). You must be a readathon participant to enter.

The challenge runs the whole length of the readathon and I will pick a winner at random on Sunday evening. Note, if Wordery doesn't deliver to your country I will attempt to find an alternative prize.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

On My Radar: November

I'm not reading a huge amount in advance of publication these days, but I still want to tell you about exciting forthcoming releases. This list includes November releases that have caught my eye. Some might be read and reviewed in November, some might be pre-ordered and some may remain on my wishlist forever looking at me with puppy dog eyes.



1st

Vita Nostra by Sergey + Marina Dyachenko
Trinity by Louisa Hall
The Light Between Worlds by Laura Weymouth
Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa
Black Wings Beating by Alex London



6th

The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand
Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

8th

Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean



15th

Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri
The Lingering by S.J.I. Holliday
The Mother of All Christmases by Milly Johnson
Not Just for Christmas by Natalie Cox
Damsel by Elana K. Arnold



29th

How Long 'til Black Future Month? by N.K. Jemisin
The Mortal Word by Genevieve Cogman
The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Burial Rites

Sentenced to death for her involvement in the deaths of two men, Agnes is sent to stay at a remote farm, living and working with the family there. At first they are skeptical about housing a murderess, but as Agnes proves herself useful, she starts to recall her life leading up to the night Natan died.

I am determined to close myself to the world, to tighten my heart and hold what has not yet been stolen from me. I cannot let myself slip away. I will hold what I am inside, and keep my hands tight around all the things I have seen and heard, and felt.

Agnes Magnúsdóttir was the last person to be executed in Iceland and Burial Rites attempts to tell the tale of her final months. It is beautifully written, depicting the harshness of Icelandic winters and as well as the despair of Agnes. I liked the details about rural life in 19th century Iceland. They are very dependent on dairy products, mostly drinking whey. Rye bread is considered a treat.

Through Agnes's past, the reality of being a woman, and a poor one at that, is laid bare. She has no family to fall back on and she is at the whims of her employers, farmers mostly. The cottages are barely enough protection against the winter storms and you get the feeling of how precarious life was.

Knowing the inevitability of Agnes's fate meant I found the whole thing depressing. Not much about the trial is revealed but the way the facts are presented it seemed there was very little evidence against her. It's hard to tell how much is speculation and how much actually came from accounts that have survived.

Poverty scrapes these homes down until they all look the same, and they all have in common the absence of things that ought to be there. I might as well have been at one place all my life.

Many chapters start with a letter or legal document and these have been translated from the originals. I feel ambivalent towards these fictional yet very personal stories about real people from history. The author has to make up a lot and I think I prefer straight non-fiction or fictional characters in an otherwise real moment in history. However personal preference aside, Hannah Kent wrote a very accomplished debut novel.

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: 3A. A book that was being read by a stranger in a public place

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Book Source: Purchased