Friday, January 30, 2015

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Title: The Shadow of the Wind

Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Translator: Lucia Graves

Published: Penguin Books, 2014 (first published 2001)

Pages: 528

Series: Book 1, The Cemetery of Forgotten Books

Summary: Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in what he finds in the “cemetery of lost books,” a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Juli├ín Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets.  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: The premise of this book sounded so awesome.  It reminded me a bit of the movie The Ninth Gate which is based on a book called The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte, which while I haven't read the book I did love the movie.  Anyway, needless to say I was very excited to start reading this book.

I felt as though the beginning of the book was a little bit slow but that's because it introduces the characters and is basically setting up the background of Daniel so that you get to know him and know what he is like.  Once you get past the first couple of parts to the story however, the book kind of becomes addictive.

I found myself sitting up until about 3 am one of the nights I was reading it because I just couldn't stop reading.  The mystery gets going and from there it's like there's no stopping.  I found myself just reading more and more because I had to know the mystery behind Julian Carax.  I have to say that I really enjoyed the reveal too.  It was just so interesting how everything fell into place.  I did have some theories about bits and pieces of what had happened and I was glad that some of them were right.

I feel like the only thing that bothered me about this book was that some of the characters did certain actions and didn't really think about the consequences and that part just bugged me a little bit.

Other than that, I really enjoyed this book and thought it was such an interesting read.  I feel like anyone who loves a good mystery story will love reading this book.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

My New Found Obsession

Penguin are always bringing out new designs of old books and some of them are not too bad looking but every now and then they will do something that I just fall in love with.  This time it is the Penguin Drop Caps and they are just so amazing looking.  There are 26 books in the series and they were published from 2013 to 2014.  The reason there are 26 books in the series is that there is one for each letter in the alphabet.  Each one corresponding to the author's surname.  For instance, A is Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

And here we have a pictorial example of what it looks like:

Now I wanted to give some reasons as to why these books are amazing and why I think they should be collected.  Also, I personally am going to be trying to collect these over the next year or so and the way I am doing that is by reading one and then buying another one once I have read it, this is so as not to clog up my tbr pile.

Reasons why reading the Penguin Drop Caps Books is a great idea:
  1. They look absolutely gorgeous.
  2. There is an amazing selection of books that provides something for everyone.
  3. There is a lot of talk about reading diversely lately and I feel as though this collection provides quite a bit of diversity in different ways.
  4. There is so much diversity in the time periods the books were published in but also in the time periods they were set in.
  5. There is also a lot of cultural diversity in terms of there being American, European and Asian authors all contributing to the set.
  6. You'll feel a real sense of achievement having read all 26 books.  There is just so many books in there that are very impressive.
  7. The books are amazing in quality.  The page edges are coloured and the paper is very good quality.  The font is so nice and easy to read.
  8. This is what they all look like on the shelf when you have them all:

Monday, January 26, 2015

Toured to Death by Hy Conrad

Title: Toured to Death

Author: Hy Conrad

Published: 27 January 2015, Kensington

Pages: 320

Series: Book 1, Amy's Travel Mystery

Purchase Link:
Book Depository*

Summary: While Fanny takes care of the business end of Amy's Travel in New York City, Amy is traipsing around Monte Carlo, managing their first mystery-themed excursion, a road rally in which guests compete to solve a fictional murder along the way. Amy still has reservations about partnering up with her mother. But both women, having lost the men in their lives, need a fresh beginning.

The trip starts off without a hitch. Clues quickly mount, the competition is lively, and just when the suspense is peaking, the writer they hired to script their made-up mystery is found murdered in his New York apartment. Suddenly, on top of running a new venture together, mother and daughter must solve a real-life case of foul play, while trying not to drive each other bonkers. But Amy and Fanny are ready, willing, and Abel to track down a clever killer with some serious emotional baggage, one who will go to any lengths to keep dark secrets from seeing the light of day. . .  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts:  I have just recently discovered the cozy mystery genre and so I have been exploring different books and so I was interested in seeing whether or not this one would be one that I would be adding to my list of awesome cozy mystery series to read.  I have to say though, the main reason that I picked this book up was because Hy Conrad is one of the writers of Monk, one of my all-time favourite television shows.  I kind of had some high expectations for this book and I have to say I was a little let down.

I thought the premise of the book was really awesome.  The first part of the book takes you along with the characters who instead of doing a normal murder mystery dinner, they're actually doing a murder mystery rally in which they gather clues and travel around various parts of Europe to try and solve a murder.  That aspect was just really interesting.  The second part of the book is really interesting as well, there are two murders and Amy and Fanny decide that they would like to help with the investigation.

I felt like none of the characters were particularly interesting.  I just didn't find myself connecting or even really caring about any of the characters.  I just didn't particularly like Amy or Fanny that much.  It wasn't that there wasn't anything to them it was more like, they were just average people.

The other reason I was a little disappointed with the story itself.  It just wasn't for me I suppose.  I thought the premise was really cool, but the execution was a little bit lacking.  I just thought the story was alright but I wasn't overly intrigued by who had committed the murders and why.

However, I didn't guess at who the murderer was and that was something I quite liked.  The reveal was a bit surprising and as someone who reads a lot of mysteries I do find myself often guessing the ending but for this one I was pleasantly surprised.

Overall, I thought that Toured to Death was ok.  It wasn't a book I absolutely loved but I didn't hate it either.  It was an interesting murder mystery but I feel as though I didn't care enough about the characters to want to continue on with the next book in the series, when it comes out.

Source: Netgalley for review

Friday, January 23, 2015

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Title: Throne of Glass

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Published: Bloomsbury, 2012

Pages: 416

Series: Book 1, Throne of Glass

Summary: After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. 

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best. 

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. 
Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: I have had this book since it came out because it sounded like such an amazing book.  Last year in October I finally picked it up and it has taken me until January to finish the book.  This was for a few reasons which I shall explain further below.

I really loved the premise of Throne of Glass but I felt like there were other parts of the story that I just didn't particularly enjoy.  The part that I didn't like was the romance aspect.  I'm not sure why but it just really bothered me.  Perhaps it was because there was a bit of a love triangle in the book and I just didn't like it.  Especially because I felt like she was heading for the wrong guy in my opinion.

I absolutely loved the fantasy aspect of this series.  In this world the magic has disappeared and I just found that to be really interesting.  Not to mention there was one part where they were travelling to the kingdom and they went through this forest that just sounded like such an interesting place to visit.

The mystery aspect was really interesting and it kept me interested in what was going on with the story but then it kind of fell by the wayside and the romance element became the biggest part of the book.  I even felt like when the reveal happened it was just kind of like hey look at this and then the story carried on until the end when things were finally sorted out.

Overall, I feel kind of up and down about this book and so I'm not completely sure of whether or not I want to continue with the series.  However, not wanting to give anything away from the first book, I found the ending of the book to be taking a turn for the better and  I think that I will probably continue on to the second book and see from there whether or not the series sits with me. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge

I know it's a little late in the month but hey, I have the whole year to do this and so I figured that I would take part in this reading challenge in 2015.  I found it over at Pop Sugar and it just looks so cool.  They have a printable version of the list over on their website which you can visit to print off but I wanted to type out the list so I can put some book ideas from my tbr pile on the list so I have an idea where I'm going and when I do my monthly wrap-ups I'll talk about which ones I have read and such.  Anyway, there are 50 things on the list and a total of 52 books to be read so here is my rough list of what I hope to read for the challenge.

1. A book with more than 500 pages (The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson)

2. A classic romance (Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte)

3. A book published this year (Firefight by Brandon Sanderson)

4. A book that became a movie (Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell)

5. A book with a number in the title (7 Scorpions: Revolution by Mike Saxton)

6. A book written by someone under 30  (Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas)

7. A book with nonhuman characters (Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen)

8. A funny book (The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett)

9. A book by a female author (Ghost Walk by Heather Graham)

10. A mystery or thriller (Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl)

11. A book with a one-word title (Scarlet by Marissa Meyer)

12. A book of short stories (The Thing on the Doorstep and other weird stories by H. P. Lovecraft)

13. A book set in a different country (Middlemarch by George Eliot)

14. A nonfiction book (Mycophilia by Eugenia Bone)

15. A popular author's first book  (Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder)

16. A book from an author you love that you haven't read yet (Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones by Brandon Sanderson)

17. A book a friend recommended (The Secret Hour by Scott Westerfeld)

18. A Hugo award winning book (Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card)

19.  A book based on a true story  (Envy by Gregg Olsen)

20. A book at the bottom of your to-read list (Betwixt by Tara Bray Smith)

21. A book your mum loves (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling)

22. A book that scares you (The Voices by F. R. Tallis)

23. A book more than 100 years old (Five Children and It by E. Nesbit)

24. A book based entirely on its cover (Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas)

25. A book you were supposed to read in school but didn't

26. A memoir 

27. A book you can finish in a day (Real Murders by Charlaine Harris)

28. A book with antonyms in the title

29. A book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit (Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning)

30. A book that came out the year you were born (The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan)

31. A Book with Bad Reviews (Betwixt by Tara Bray Smith)

32. A trilogy (The Liar Society by Lisa and Laura Roecker)

33. A book from your childhood (Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J. K. Rowling)

34. A book with a love triangle (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen) 

35. A book set in the future (Equinox by Lara Morgan)

36. A book set in high school (Passing Strange by Dan Wells)

37. A book with a colour in the title (Red Rain by R. L. Stine)

38. A book that made you cry

39. A book with magic (Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews)

40. A graphic novel

41. A book by an author you've never read before (The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima)

42. A book you own but have never read (Flash Burnout by L. K. Madigan)

43. A book that takes place in your hometown (The Killing Hour by Paul Cleave)

44. A book that was originally written in another language (The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon)

45. A book set during Christmas

46. A book written by an author with your same initials (Quicksilver by R. J. Anderson)

47. A play

48. A banned book (Candide by Voltaire)

49. A book based on or turned into a TV show (The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith)

50. A book you started but never finished (Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes)

So that is my list.  A couple of them I don't have any books in my tbr pile that will match those and so I am leaving them blank for the time being and we shall see how they go in the end.  I did make a change so one of the book categories is a Hugo award winner now instead of a Pulitzer Prize winner.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

Title: The Cuckoo's Calling

Author: Robert Galbraith (J. K. Rowling)

Published: Sphere, 2013

Pages: 449

Series: Book 1, Cormoran Strike

Summary: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel's suicide. After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office. 
Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, thelegendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts:  I hadn't originally intended to write anything about The Cuckoo's Calling because everyone knows about this book by now.  However, as I was reading it I had quite a few thoughts about it so I figured that I may as well write my thoughts down about this book.

The Cuckoo's Calling is amazing!  Now, at first I thought I would be biased towards the book because of Harry Potter and how much I love that but I seriously think that Cormoran Strike stands on his own and I freaking loved this book.  As a fan of mysteries I feel like this is one that has a place on my favourites shelf.

The writing is really easy to read and there are clues scattered throughout the book and I feel like Cormoran Strike is such a brilliant character and it's so interesting to see all of the pieces of the puzzle falling into place and it definitely kept me on the edge of my seat.

I really liked Robin as a character too, she was smart and brave and I thought the contrasts between her and Strike just made the book that much more interesting.  

In terms of who I thought the killer was, I had my suspicions but I wasn't completely sure who it was until the big reveal.  I was a little surprised at who the killer was but it was also a person that I had, had my suspicions about.  It was a really good reveal.

Needless to say I did indeed love this book and I cannot wait to pick up the sequel The Silkworm.  The Cuckoo's Calling is an amazing mystery series and I think that fans of the genre will love it.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Title: The Girl on the Train

Author: Paula Hawkins

Published: Transworld, 15 January 2015

Pages: 384

Summary: Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and every evening. Every day she passes the same Victorian terraces, stops at the same signal, and sees the same couple, breakfasting on their roof terrace. Jason and Jess seem so happy together. 

Then one day Rachel sees something she shouldn't have seen, and soon after, Jess disappears. Suddenly Rachel is chasing the truth and unable to trust anyone. Not even herself.  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: I got this book in the mail and I was pretty surprised and intrigued.  I sat down and started reading it straight away.  The Girl on the Train is really intriguing and I couldn't stop reading for about 100 pages.

I found the mystery to be really intriguing and I found myself guessing along the way about who did what and why.  I managed to guess what had happened in the end but the whole story itself is really mysterious and I was suspicious of everyone.  I felt like Paula Hawkins did an amazing job at weaving a story where you really don't know what's going on.

I feel like I can't say too much about this book because I really like how the description only alludes to the fact that Rachel sees something and from there the book takes off.

As far as characters go, I thought that they were all really believable because they were all so flawed.  I really felt bad for Rachel because her life was a mess and then all of the other characters had things going on and they weren't perfect people either.  It was just really good and it also made me suspicious of a lot of the characters.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Girl on the Train and think that thriller fans will definitely enjoy it. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

My 2015 Bookish Goals

At the beginning of every year I always try to make myself some little bookish goals that I like to try and meet.  This year, I figured I may as well write them down and see how I go in terms of my goals, at the end of the year.  So, without further ado, here are my bookish goals for 2015:

1. Reduce my tbr pile.  I don't want to set a number goal because when I do that I try to work my way around it somehow, so I need to just reduce my tbr pile.  How I am going to do this is just read my own books and I haven't been buying any books so far and I don't intend to buy a tonne of books this year.

2. Get caught up on Brandon Sanderson's novels.  Last year I became obsessed with his books and set out to read all of them.  Not including the Wheel of Time books I have left to read six books.  These are the last three Mistborn books and the last three Alcatraz books which I intend to finish before the year ends.

3. Read a significant chunk of The Wheel of Time series.  A friend of mine recommended this series to me a few years ago and then when I found out that Brandon Sanderson finished off the series I decided that this year I am going to make a good go of the series.  I'm not entirely sure that I'll manage to read all of the books in the series this year but if I can get at least halfway through the series I'll be pretty happy.

4.  Blog more.  Last year I kind of ended up blogging a little sporadically and just going all over the show.  This year I want to try and get back into blogging a little bit.  I will try and publish something on the post every Monday and Friday with the possibility of Wednesday posting as well.  We'll see how I go in all honesty.  I really do want to get back into blogging on a regular schedule though, because I really do enjoy it!

And those are my bookish goals for 2015.  There aren't too many, but I think there is enough there to keep me busy for this year in terms of reading.