Thursday, September 14, 2017

Audiobooks: A Beginners Guide

Nothing to Disclose

Hi!

I've always been a little bit wary of Audiobooks. I mean - why would I want to listen to someone reading a book when I could just read it myself?

Every year, my reading drops off a bit from September onwards. This is for a number of reasons - mainly due to Halloween/Christmas prep. This is my favourite time of the year, and I get a lot of crafting done, but I hate that I have to sacrifice reading in order to do it. Enter audiobooks.


What's an Audiobook?
It's a book, read aloud by a narrator. It's a file that you can send to any compatible device. You can download it and listen at any time offline.

Where do I get one?
The most well known source is probably Audible, because it's an Amazon company. Audiobooks are also available to borrow from the library for free via the Borrowbox app.

Who narrates the books?
This varies. In most cases, a professional narrator will do it. In some (mainly autobiographies), they're read by the author. Sometimes, well known celebrities will narrate books written by other people - for example, Anne Hathaway narrates The Princess Diaries; Alan Cumming narrates Macbeth: A Novel.

How long does it take to listen to one?
This also varies, depending on the length of the book. I've found that most standard psychological thrillers tend to run about 6-8 hours, while something like "IT" by Stephen King is over 44 hours long.

I'm on a limited Internet plan. Will this use up loads of my data?
The only time it uses data or wifi is when you're downloading a book. When you're playing a book, it doesn't use any data or wifi, or require any kind of internet connection. Books average a couple of hundred megabytes to download - the largest I've come across is, again, "IT", which was over 600mb (but it's also a beast of a book physically, over 1,000 pages).

What's the point?
If you want to read more books, or you enjoy reading but don't have the time, you can use listen to Audiobooks while you're doing something else. I let them play while I'm doing housework, or out walking, or at night. This means that I can get through an extra couple of books a week even if I'm busy doing something else. I know other people also listen to them on a commute, on lunch breaks, or in the car. People with certain learning difficulties may also find it easier to listen rather than read. They could be useful for people with arthritis or injuries that make it difficult to hold a book or turn pages.

What apps do I need? 
I use the free Audible app, and the free Borrowbox app to listen.

Tell me more about Audible.
- It's owned by Amazon. You can sign up for a 30-day free trial, using your Amazon account, and choose any book.
- You will need to download the free Audible app to listen.
- If you cancel your free trial, you can keep the book.
- If you decide to keep your subscription, it costs £7.99 per month.
- Every month you are given one "credit" - you can cash this in for a book of your choice.
- If you don't like it, you can return it and pick another one.
- All of the books you get using credits are yours to keep indefinitely.
- If you want more than one book a month, you'll have to pay for it on top of your membership fee.
- If you buy a book on Kindle, you'll sometimes be offered the eBook at a reduced rate.
- There are free books available, but it's quite hard to find them.
- You can listen to a 3-5 minute sample of any book before you choose to buy.

Tell me more about Borrowbox.
- It's used by all libraries in Ireland to provide eBooks and Audiobooks.
- You will need to download the free Borrowbox app and join your local library for free.
- You can borrow a number of Audiobooks at once, return as you read, then borrow more.
- If you are not finished a book before the return date, you can renew it provided no other member has reserved it.
- New releases get snapped up very quickly, so check the site regularly.
- You can reserve a book if it's already checked out by someone else.
- You can listen to a sample of any book before you choose to buy.

Which is better, Audible or Borrowbox?
There are pros and cons to both. I really love that I can borrow from the library, but I find the selection can be very limited. I love the selection on Audible, and the fact that I can keep every book I buy, but some of the books are woefully expensive (Hannah Hart's biography is over £17 and under 6 hours long?!). I would prefer something like the Kindle Unlimited scheme for Audiobooks - where you pay a flat monthly fee and are able to borrow and return as much as you wish.

I usually use my monthly credit on Audible to pick something new or popular that I'd have to wait months for at the library. Then I use the library in the meantime to catch up with books I may have missed, or even sometimes books I already own but haven't got time to physically read.

Some of my favourite listens so far have been:

Stephen King - On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (read by Stephen King)
Alan Cumming - Not My Father's Son (read by Alan Cumming)
Stephen King - IT (read by Stephen Weber)
Sue Perkins - Spectacles (read by Sue Perkins)
Amy Poehler - Yes, Please (read by Amy Poehler)

I'd absolutely recommend that you give Audiobooks a go - especially if you'd like to read more but find that time is an issue.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, just shout!


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Books I Read in August

ARCs clearly defined in accordance with Review Policy here.
The links to buy are affiliate links. These are explained here


Hi!

August was a good reading month for me, I read 18 books.

THE RICK O'SHEA BOOK CLUB

I read both choices for August:

 

Tin Man by Sarah Winman 
This is a stunning little book about friendship, love and loss. The relationships are gentle and moving. The writing is engaging, and though it's melancholy at times, it's a beautiful story. One of my favourites of the year so far, if you liked The Hearts Invisible Furies by John Boyne you may like this.
Buy: Kindle | Book Depository

Room Little Darker by June Caldwell
A book of short stories with a uniquely Irish voice. June's writing is dark - and this collection is not for the faint of heart. Some of the stories went over my head a little, but my personal favourites were "SOMAT" (told from the point of view of a fetus inside a braindead woman - see? DARK) and "Natterbean" set on Dublin city streets (Natterbean as in "Natterbean down the clinic" - get it? It took me a while...). I did find elements of comedy in here too, it's a very strange but worthwhile read.
Buy: Kindle | Book Depository

SERIES 

I started the Throne of Glass series in July, reading the first two books. I continued it in August and read the other three - they're beasts of books, over 600 pages each, but I devoured them. I'm all ready now for the sixth installment, Tower of Dawn.


  

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas (ToG #3)
Celaena is in Wendlyn, and is carrying a lot of guilt about events in the previous books. She meets ancient warrior Rowan Whitethorn, and agrees to train with him. I liked this book, I thought it did a good job of setting the scene for the next few books.


Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas (ToG #4)
We're back in Rifthold for this one, and there's a LOT going on. There are some old friends to visit, and there are things that must be done to ensure the survival of the people. This one was my favourite up to this point, I liked the pacing and the character development.


Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas (ToG #5)
My absolute favourite of the series, and it KILLS me that we have to wait a year to continue this main story arc. Tower of Dawn features a character that wasn't present in this book, and I could care less about them - but supposedly it's important because we find out new information that affects the rest of the story. There were a few very, very cringe scenes in EoS (bet you can't guess what "velvet-wrapped steel" is), but the story more than made up for it - we learned a lot of new information about how the world will be saved, and the sacrifices that must be made.
Buy: Kindle | Book Depository

REVIEW COPIES

I've been trying to get through my Netgalley pile (I say this every month, then I get excited and greedy and request more). I managed to read six in August.

  

Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda (Published September 7th)
This is a thriller about a man who plans to kill his wife. It's written from his point of view, so while I didn't particularly enjoy his egotistical ramblings, it has been getting favourable reviews from people who liked You by Caroline Kepnes (I didn't). I found it a bit Scooby-Doo (zoinks!) towards the end, but it's around a Euro on Kindle at the minute so it's worth a go if it sounds like something you'd read.
Buy: Kindle | Book Depository

Sneak Peeks & Previews by Electric Monkey
Funnily enough, most of the previews included are for books that are already published, but this did give me an introduction to some authors I hadn't read before (like Michael Grant and Kevin Brooks). I've added one or two to my wishlist - I love these preview editions, I wish more publishing houses would do them.

The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr by Frances Maynard
I was part of the blog tour for this book (my full post is here). I enjoyed it a lot, it's about a young woman on the Autism spectrum who has to fend for herself when her mother is taken into a home after an accident. Elvira needs rules and regulations to live by, but up until now she didn't realise that she could be the one to make them. Plus, she's obsessed with biscuits and discovers a family mystery - what's not to love?
Buy: Kindle | Book Depository

  

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan
This is a quirky mystery/crime book about a woman who works in a bookstore. One night while locking up, she finds a regular customer who has taken his life. In his hand is something very personal to the woman - so begins a mystery that will make her face a traumatic event in her past, and bring her into contact with people she has been deliberately avoiding. I liked this one a lot.

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent
Where to even start with this one - I'm a sucker for anything recommended by Stephen King, so I was intrigued by this one. I think it's best to go in blind, but be aware that it's heavy, and it won't be for everyone. It's about a 14 year old girl, Julia "Turtle" Alveston, and her very, VERY dysfunctional relationship with her brute of a father. Julia is determined to survive at all costs - but what if the cost is too high? Highly recommended for those who have the stomach for it.

The Break by Marian Keyes (Published September 7th)
Marian Keyes is someone I really like as a human, and she was probably my introduction to proper "grown-up" novels that weren't horror. For whatever reason I hadn't been keeping up with her books, and half expected to be turned down when I requested this one - but I got it, and I was so happy I did. It's warm, funny, and easy to read. It's the story of how a woman copes when her husband decides he wants a "break" from their marriage to go and "find himself" on the other side of the world. Full of Keyes' trademark charm and wit, I really enjoyed it and now want to re-read all the earlier ones. This is standalone, not a Walsh family novel.

BORROWED FROM LIBRARY

Did you know that if you have a library membership (free) that you can borrow from any library in Ireland, and return books to any library in Ireland? It's an amazing service and I think every child in the country should be given a library card when they're born. This month I've been requesting and reading like a mad thing, I read these in August:

  

Paper Girls Vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughn
I read the first volume of this Eighties graphic novel during the Booktube-a-thon in July, so ordered the second volume from the library. It continues where the last volume left off, with our paper-delivering heroes unsure of what the hell is going on. I won't pretend to understand exactly what's going on either, but I really enjoyed it and I've ordered my own copy to keep.

The Angry Chef: Bad Science and the Truth about Healthy Eating by Anthony Warner
This is a joy of a book, the author debunks what he calls "Nutribollocks" - detoxing, fad diets, clean eating, wellness, going gluten free when you don't have to, and the nonsense peddled to us to make us buy more things. Some of the analogies used are hilarious (seeing an Easter bunny beside a pile of eggs and assuming it laid them) It's full of very sound advice - probably not the best recommendation for a Gwyneth Paltrow fan (actually I take that back - if Goop is your bible, you need to read this). Recommended.

The Other Side of the Wall by Andrea Mara
I borrowed this from the library at the start of August and brought it on holiday with me (the sense of responsibility was outrageous, never bringing a library book on holiday ever again). It's a well written, engaging thriller about a woman who suspects strange goings-on next door - but with the stress of a mess at work, a new baby and a toddler, is her mind playing tricks on her? Or is someone in danger? Really, really liked this (fans of the Office Mum blog may recognise the author). 

GIFTED FROM THE AUTHOR

This very rarely happens, but I was lucky to have it happen twice in August. 

 

A Fire in the Dark by Philomena Barry
I've known Phil since I was in Primary School, so to see her achieve her dream of being a published author is amazing. It's really nice to see someone you know works hard doing well - this is her first published work, I know she has written some mystery/crime novels too. This is a book of her poetry - now, I'm not a huge fan of poetry. I like mine very dark - and this fits the bill. It's not all sunshine and lollipops - it's dark, angsty, deep observances on life. Easy to read, not pretentious, a great poetry book for those who don't like poetry!
Buy: Directly from Philomena via her Facebook page (also available at the library).

One Bad Turn by Sinéad Crowley
Sinéad very kindly sent me a copy of this, her latest book, a few weeks ago. It's the third book featuring DS. Claire Boyle, but it can be read as a standalone. This one focuses on a friendship over a couple of decades and how a terrible event changes it for generations to come. Really good read, very enjoyable (as are the other two previous books).
Buy: Kindle | Book Depository

BOOKBUB

If you're a Kindle user, and you haven't yet signed up for the BookBub daily emails, I'd recommend it. Granted, most of the time it's full of obscure romance or horror, but sometimes they have really good books reduced to €1/€2 - and there are usually a few free options too. If you're into light romance, this could be great - I requested this particular book because the synopsis sounded good and it was free.


The Day We Met by Barbara Bretton
Judge not lest ye be judged - I saw that cover, I thought "ooh!" and I got it. Alas, 'twas not to be - that cover is WOEFULLY misleading. All wasn't lost, though - although this was written in the nineties and comes across quite dated at times, it's actually a pleasant enough read if you want something light and easy. I like books like this after something difficult, so I was perfectly happy to read about two people in their mid-thirties/early forties trying to deal with a new romance and the pressure of family life. I could've done without the words "mound" and "succulent", mind. 
Buy: Kindle

YOUNG ADULT


Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige
This is a young adult fantasy novel based on The Snow Queen. Snow has spent a large portion of her life at Whittaker Psychiatric Hospital in New York. One night, she encounters a young man who calls her 'Princess' (haven't we all) - she follows this young man and ends up in a snow-covered world, surrounded by people who seem to believe that Snow is the key to an ancient prophecy. This was lacklustre - the world building wasn't great, and while I enjoyed the part set in the hospital, the rest was a bit of a let-down for me.


So - that's it. August was the month I completed my Goodreads challenge to read 100 books in 2017, I've gone passed that now and I'm delighted, because it's almost crafting season for me and my reading will suffer (I think I read about four books between November and January last year).

Anything catching your eye this month? Or are you reading anything good that you'd like to recommend?

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Book Box Club: August - Fearless Females

Nothing to Disclose

Hi!

I received my August "Fearless Females" box from Book Box Club earlier in the month, but held off a little in case I'd spoil it for anyone.

The theme was perfect - I love anything to do with strong women, so I was really looking forward to this box.


The August book was Things a Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls:

1914. The world stands on the edge of change. But women still have no vote. 
Evelyn is seventeen, and though she is rich and clever, she may never be allowed to follow her older brother to university. Life is set out for her: dances, tea parties, and marriage. But Evelyn wants freedom and choice, even if it means paying the highest price alongside her fellow Suffragettes. 

And then there's May, who campaigns tirelessly for women's votes and fair pay with the other anti-violence suffragists. When she meets Nell, a girl who's grown up in hardship, she sees a kindred spirit. Together and in love, the two girls start to dream of a world where all kinds of women can find their place. 

But the fight for freedom will challenge Evelyn, May and Nell more than they could ever imagine. As the Great War looms, just how much are they willing to sacrifice? 


The hardback copy came with a signed bookplate, Votes for Women badge and a promotional postcard.


Also included were a massive fridge magnet with a quote from Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas (designed by Book Box Club). That came with the little paper with my name on it - Libby and Kate always go out of their way to make sure that at least one item in the box has a personalised touch, which I really appreciate. The Fight Like a Girl coaster and sticker are by Munky Make, and the feminist necklace is by Compton Four.


I'd love to see more magnets included, I use magnets a lot and I'm a big fan of all things Sarah J. Maas at the moment, so I was really delighted with that.


Finally, we had a Girl Boss notebook by Nikki Strange Design, a Hermione candle by Meraki Candles that smells delicious - I can smell a kind of posh version of the purple Chewits, but it's plum, rose and patchouli. Really gorgeous. Also included were some promotional badges from Alex, Approximately by Jean Bennett and the usual Book Box Club scroll that contains information about this month's author and the upcoming club meeting.

I'm so glad I changed over from Owlcrate - this box is well worth the money (I pay just under €33 a month depending on exchange rate) and the contents are always useful as well as pretty. Another great box!





Thursday, August 24, 2017

Blog Tour: The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr by Frances Maynard

ARC clearly defined in accordance with review policy here. 

Hi!

I received an e-mail a few weeks ago asking if I'd like to take part in the tour for this book, and when I heard that it had been compared to Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and The Rosie Project, I agreed.


PLOT

Twenty-seven year old Elvira Carr lives at home with her elderly mother. Elvira is on the autism spectrum, and lives a quiet life dictated by rules, guidelines and routine set by her mother. When her mother is taken ill suddenly, Elvira is determined not to be taken "Away" - and prove to "NormalTypicals" that she is capable of looking after herself. She devises a set of somewhat imperfect rules in order to help her deal with new people and new situations, realising along the way that sometimes, rules need to be broken. 

THOUGHTS 

I enjoyed this a lot - I was a little wary of reading another book with an "atypical" young woman as its main character after all the hype surrounding Eleanor Oliphant (which I did like) - but this is a very different book. Elvira needs rules, guidelines, and routine - but has never realised before now that she can be the one who makes them. There are a few different elements to the story - there's a mystery in there too, and I felt that stopped the book from becoming too repetitive. There were some parts that I found hard to read - events that happened with a work colleague, and the way a neighbour's husband spoke about Elvira were unpleasant. Overall, I'd recommend this if you liked any of the other books mentioned - it's a very realistic portrayal of a likeable young woman trying to navigate life while struggling with change and understanding sarcasm, figures of speech, etc. The author has experience of working with people with Asperger's, and this really shines through - nothing about Elvira seems faked, or exaggerated to further the plot (even her obsession with biscuits). 


I'd recommend this if you like sweet, contemporary reads about people discovering their own strengths. 

RATING


The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr is published in hardback and Kindle today, 24th August. 

Thanks to Don at Pan Macmillan for asking me to take part! You can check out the other blogs on the tour here, and see what others have to say about Elvira. (The first blog on the list, Linda's Book Bag, has an extract if you want to see what the writing style is like). 


Any thoughts? Does this seem like something you'd read? Ask me any questions about the book in the comments!




Monday, August 14, 2017

Books I Read in July (ft. Booktube-a-thon Results)

Not sponsored/paid | ARCs clearly defined in accordance with review policy here

Hi!

I usually get my round-up posts up during the first week of the month, but I was away with the family for a week so didn't get a chance to update anything - I won't lie, it was GLORIOUS. But, back to reality - and my July reads.

I read 18 books in July.

THE RICK O'SHEA BOOK CLUB


The two choices for July were To Be a Machine by Mark O'Connell and One Bad Turn by Sinéad Crowley.

To Be a Machine by Mark O'Connell
This is a non-fiction account of the author's discovery and interest in Transhumanism. He meets many eccentric people on his journey to find out more about the movement - those involved believe that bodies will eventually be redundant, that our brains will be fed into machines and we will be able to live forever. It's a really interesting book, and the people he meets along the way are fascinating.



LIBRARY BOOKS

Including the book above, I also borrowed these from the library in July:

  

The Book of Chocolate by HP Newquist
I love those How Things are Made programmes so this caught my eye on the Borrowbox app - it's full of information about how chocolate became so popular and mainstream, plus it has stories about some of the major manufacturers and some random facts to file away for a pub quiz (the percentage of chocolate in white chocolate - 0%). I found it really interesting!

The Cows by Dawn O'Porter
I had never read anything by Dawn before (apart from her column) so I was excited to start this - it's the story of three women linked by different events. It's incredibly strange in parts and quite unsettling when you really look at the motivation of one of the women - but covers important subjects (child-free by choice, abortion, hereditary illness, male dominated workplace, going viral, sexuality) and I found it enjoyable.

The Midnight Court by Brian Merriman, translated by Ciaran Carson
I've borrowed this multiple times at this stage - it's a 1,000 line poem written in the 1700s about a man who falls asleep and enters a dream kingdom where men are punished at a fairy court for their reluctance to marry - it's a really lively, satirical poem, full of biting social commentary. This and Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti are my favourite poems (both are freely available to read online).

ADVANCE COPIES

   

Persuading Austen by Brigid Coady
This is a light, sweet read based on Persuasion by Jane Austen. It's about a woman who has ended up being responsible for her entire family, losing the love of her life in the process. She gets a wonderful job opportunity only to discover that said love has the lead role. I read this one afternoon, it was an easy, cosy read.

The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances
I had previously bought this on Kindle, but hadn't read it, and didn't realise it was the same book. It's an engaging thriller about a mother who wants the very best for her only son - is his new girlfriend good enough? I enjoyed this a lot and could see it getting a TV adaptation at some point. Both the mother and girlfriend were strong characters, and this was really well written.

CONTEMPORARY 

 

All The Rage by Courtney Summers
I've had this on my Kindle for a very long time, and decided that the best way to start clearing the backlog was to start reading from the beginning of the list any time I'm stuck for a book. This isn't an easy read - it's about how a sexual assault has changed the life of a teenage girl. Many books focus on the "before" - this is the "after". It's powerful, but it's unsettling. 

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
The blurb on this is a little misleading - it reads as if it's a story about a woman who meets and falls in love with a man, only for a former flame to return and throw a spanner in the works. There's an element of truth to that, but it's also a very real look at a very, very troubled relationship. I don't want to spoil it, but proceed with caution. "Enjoy" would be the wrong word here but it's right up there with my favourites of the year so far. Colleen is fast becoming one of my favourite contemporary authors. 

OTHER READS

  

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West
This was a wonderful non-fiction read. Lindy talks about fatphobia, online trolls, body acceptance, the diet industry, and feminism. I saw a lot of myself in here, and it's a book I'll go back to again. Highly recommended - this is everything I wanted the horrible Fat is a Feminist Issue to be (and more). 

The Dry by Jane Harper
Set in Australia, our main character Aaron Falk is a Detective who returns to his hometown to attend the funeral of a childhood friend, Luke Hadler, who has taken his own life after murdering his family. Luke's parents think he was framed, and want Aaron to investigate, but do the townsfolk really want Aaron back, considering they ran he and his father out of town many years before? Really enjoyed this. It goes back and forth between the present day case and an event that destroyed the town years before. 

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware
I really enjoyed both of this author's previous books (In a Dark Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10) so I pre-ordered this. It took me an age to read - far longer than usual. It's about a woman who gets a text from a childhood friend asking for help - so she travels to her immediately, as do their other two friends. An event that took place when the girls were teenagers has come back to haunt them, and they might be exposed as the liars they are...  I didn't really enjoy this, I feel like it was drawn out and boring. But, other people seem to disagree so give it a go if you like back-and-forth mysteries. 

BOOKTUBE-A-THON

This year, Booktube-a-thon took place from July 24th - 30th and for the first time since I joined up in 2014, I managed to complete all seven challenges. You can see my post about planning my Booktube-a-thon reads here. I stuck to my TBR for the most part, only swapping out two books. 



Read about a character different to you: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon 
The main characters are Indian-American teens who attend a summer camp aimed at those interested in app development and technology. Unfortunately, there wasn't a whole pile of app development - instead, we had a ridiculous talent show and a whole heap of Insta-love. I didn't enjoy it, but I did enjoy the learning experience. 

Read a book in one day:  Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index by Julie Israel
This was also the book that Ariel picked as the "group read" for Booktube-a-thon this year. It's a contemporary YA book about a teenager coming to terms with the loss of her sister. She uses index cards to journal her days - and then she loses one. I really, really liked this book - it was touching and sweet. 

Read a seventh book: Margot & Me by Juno Dawson
A cute YA novel about a teenage girl who goes to stay with her estranged Grandmother along with her mother who is recuperating from cancer. While there, the girl finds her Gran's old diary from when she was a teenager - and realises that perhaps, they're not so different. I adored the diary chapters, I'd recommend it for those alone. The present-day story was a bit bland, but otherwise it was a good read. 

Read a book outside: Paper Girls, Vol. 1 by Brian K Vaughn
It's very hard to not compare this graphic novel to Stranger Things - there are gangs of teenagers on bikes, in the 80's, and some kind of alien presence - I really loved this, and I've Vol.2 ready to go from the library. 

Read a hyped book: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
I only started reading books by this author this year, and am a fan of her ACOTAR series. They're young adult fantasy novels, and this, her other series, has been mentioned so many times that I've lost count. I finally went for it - and immediately got sucked in to the world of Celaena, an assassin released from prison to participate in a test to become the King's Champion.

Read a book with a person on the cover: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
The second I finished the first book in the series, I wanted to drop everything and move on to book two - so I did, using it for this prompt. This one continues Celaena's story, and is full of action and adventure like the first one. It's a fun series to read and I'll happily see the series out. 

Read a book you bought for the cover: She is not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick
I saw this in Charlie Byrne's last year and was drawn to the cover immediately - it's a neat little hardback with that amazing picture on the dust jacket. I had read another book by that author and found him quirky, so picked this up. It's about a blind girl who travels to the US with her younger brother to find their Dad, they think something really weird is going on and that their Dad is in danger. It was a strange book - I could have done without the "events" in America (the Dad's story was weird enough). Great premise, very clever, but let down by the poor plot. 

So - there we go, that was my July in books. I'm up to almost 100 books for the year now, and I think that'll start to wane a little as we come into crafting season - but for now I'll plough on and see you in September for the August round up (there are some absolute corkers on the way). 






Thursday, July 27, 2017

Blog Tour: The Upstairs Room by Kate Murray-Browne

ARC clearly defined in accordance with policy here

Hi!

Today, I'm hosting the final stop on the blog tour for The Upstairs Room, by Kate Murray-Browne. The cover of this caught my eye on Netgalley instantly, and I was thrilled when the publishers got in touch to see if I'd like to take part in the blog tour. Thanks to Don and Picador!


PLOT

Eleanor and Richard have bought the house of their dreams - a Victorian townhouse in London. They rent the basement out to Zoe, a twenty-something year old receptionist at the development firm where Richard works. As Richard becomes slightly obsessed with keeping tabs on Zoe, Eleanor is convinced that something evil is at work in the house. The name "Emily" appears in scrawls all over the walls, and her youngest child Rosie becomes more and more hostile. Eleanor soon realises that the house may be affecting her health, and vows to figure out what's going on.

Meanwhile, Zoe is contemplating her life and comparing herself to others who seem to have done more. She has horrific nightmares and dreams about the presence of a young girl. Is the house starting to affect her too? 

THOUGHTS

I've been describing this as "Hammer Horror meets David Nicholls". There are two very different stories linked by the house - Zoe's story is the contemporary relationship drama, a young woman unsure of what she wants from life. Eleanor's is the story of a woman in a marriage bordering on stale, who is desperately trying to figure out why the house is having such a detrimental effect on her health. She's worried about her children, especially her daughter Rosie. She wants to find out what happened in the house - and who "Emily" is........or was. 

This novel could have worked without Zoe's story - but I think it adds another dimension, and gives the book a modern feel. It's set in 2013, but parts of it are so creepy and dark that you could be forgiven for thinking it was a gothic setting. 


I'd recommend this if you like contemporary stories with a creepy edge. I'm a big fan of houses being used as characters, and this one has plenty of personality. I also liked that there were some genuinely quite spooky moments (the one that inspired the photograph above gave me chills). 

The Upstairs Room is published today, July 27th by Picador. 

RATING


If you'd like to visit the other stops on the blog tour, you can find them below - there are extracts, reviews and lots more.