The Accidental Dictionary – Paul Anthony Jones (book review)

As a former English language student, I’ve developed a love for words and their origins. At university I decided to study both English language and literature and while I adored reading Austen and Shakespeare, I would look forward to my lectures on language where I would find out the history of English language and how it’s used today. 
I soon began to find that other than my language text books, there were limited books on language that were actually readable and enjoyable so when Paul Anthony Jones started releasing books, I became obsessed. 
I started off with The British Isles: A Trivia Gazetter, a reference book which gives the origins of the names of towns and cities all over Britain, of course I skipped to find all the places I’d ever been first but afterwards I sat down and read it properly. I loved it and I loved every book that followed so when I got the chance to get my hands on an ARC of The Accidental Dictionary, I jumped at the chance.
The Accidental Dictionary is list of words that once meant something completely different (‘alcohol’ once meant ‘eye shadow’ and ‘foyer’ once meant ‘green room’ and so on.)
Now as I say, I love words and I’m always on the hunt for a book that will educate me while entertain me at the same time and I have to say this is the perfect combination. The information in the book is accurate and interesting while it has a casual tone throughout meaning it doesn’t read like a school book. Small jokes are placed within the chapters and this helped the flow of the book; although the book is informative, it meant that I didn’t have to take it too seriously. I also like that the chapters aren’t long and too informative, they get the point across without becoming a bore. I was able to read two or three chapters (one chapter = one word origin) at a time and put the book down for a while, I never once dreaded picking it up again as it was an easy read and never felt like a chore to read so at night before I would fall asleep, I was sure to pick Jones’ book and read a little more. 
There’s not a lot that I can really say about a dictionary, it has words and it explains what they mean (or in this case what they used to mean) but I can say that if you like this sort of thing then it’s certainly worth picking up and reading, it’s a fun read which will teach you a lot while making you feel like a clever person who reads the dictionary. Like me, you’ll probably end up at work the next day explaining to people how the word ‘nice’ meant ‘ignorant’. 

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A Parisian Affair – Guy de Maupassant (Book Review)

A while ago I decided I was going to try and read more classics, the thing I completely forgot? I hate reading classics. This isn’t to say that I hate classics, I actually rate Pride and Prejudice and Tess of D’Uberilles as two of my favourite books but generally I find it hard to read classics. As someone who generally reads a lot of young adult, it’s pretty hard making the move over to classics. The writing is different, the setting is different and on whole the books are hard to get into because although classics are generally set in a world that I’m familiar with, the way of living is completely different.cover-jpg-rendition-460-707

That said, I’m still trying and I thought I would ease myself into some classics, I bought a tonne of the Penguin Little Black Books in the hope that they would give me an insight to a lot of authors writing style then I could pick some that I enjoyed the most and continue with those. I also picked up A Parisian Affair… I thought short stories were the perfect way to get into classics (let’s just forget that I didn’t even finish James Joyce’s first short story in The Dubliners)

A Parisian Affair is a collection of short stories written by Guy de Maupassant and translated by Sian Miles. Set in Normandy and the French Riviera, the thirty four short stories follow a number of characters with one thing in common; they’re rich. The stories follow high society women, wealthy men who like to play around and prostitutes, among many more.

Naturally this book jumped out at me, not only because by the blurb it sounded ahead of it’s time but also because it was set in Paris and even if I hated the book I could just read all about Paris and remember how much I love it there.

I’ll be honest, the first story, Boule de Suif, was a bit of a bore to me, although I liked the main female character, I just found it hard to get into and the first story alone took me a week to read. Naturally, I started to worry that this was going to be one of those books that takes forever to finish. I’m not someone who can leave a book, I have to finish and I worried that my reluctance to leave a book would mean that at the end of the year, I had only read half of my target book goal.

Luckily I was wrong, after finishing Boule de Suif, I found myself reading the next short stories right away and I found that I loved the head strong women of France along with the love struck men and lovers. I started to see Paris in the book; I saw the romantic city where love and romance can be found on every street corner. I felt like I was back in my favourite city, feeling all the emotions of Maupassant’s characters and walking their footsteps. It has to be said that once I got into the writing style, I felt like I was in the book; Maupassant has an amazing way of making you feel like you are one of his characters (well I did).

My two favourite stories by far were Mother Sauvage and The Jewels. Mother Sauvage tells the story of a woman whose son goes to war and never returns; while they are away she hosts some soldiers from the opposite army. The end result is twisted but hilarious, there was a moment when I wondered if it was ok that I should be laughing at this story but in the end I decided to go with it.

The Jewels tells of a man who falls deeply in love with a woman he meets and then goes on to marry, the only problem is that he doesn’t share her passions so is relieved when she befriends someone who will accompany her on outings to places like the theatre where he would prefer not to go. In his wife’s death he is devastated and can’t seem to find it in himself to go out and earn so had to look around for something to sell in order to live. Again, I loved the ending, I don’t want to give away what happens (it’ll only take you nine pages of the Penguin Pocket Classics to read and find out for yourself) but I found myself glued to the pages wanting to find out more.

If you’re interested in reading more classics, then I would certainly recommend A Parisian Affair, it may not be the most well-known or the most highbrow but it is good fun and easy to read.

Since You’e Been Gone – Morgan Matson (Book Review)

I may be a little late to the party but I’ve turned up eventually.

Now for a while, I’ve heard a tonne of people rave about Morgan Matson and Since You’ve Been Gone seems to be THE book of the summer so I finally decided to pick it up and give it a go.18189606

Since You’ve Been Gone follows Emily, known in school for being Sloane’s best friends. Most people know Sloane and they’ve seen Emily at her side but they couldn’t tell you Emily’s name. One summer Sloane and her family gone missing, this isn’t uncommon but this time they’re gone longer than normal. Whenever Sloane and Emily have been apart, Sloane always makes a list for Emily to complete, knowing she won’t actually complete it. This year is different; Emily feels that somehow by finishing the list she will fine Sloane so off she sets on her crazy summer enjoying a list of things she would never have done before such as skinny dipping and stealing.

I didn’t think I would love this book but I was wrong. I originally thought that I would find it to be yet another young adult book (which it is) that focuses around romance but in the end I realised the focus was primarily around friendship and how important that is in life.

While trying to work her way through the list, Emily teams up with the good guy around school, Frank, his best friend and school joker Collins and a girl from the pizzeria she works next door to, Dawn. Although it becomes evident pretty early on that Frank will be a love interest, the story doesn’t focus solely on this. I loved Emily’s relationship with Collins, someone she never normally would have struck up a friendship with yet someone who was willing to accept her into their group without any questions asked.

Collins was a character that I generally loved and quite honestly I would have loved to see a little more of him. He’s that person we all know at school who acts silly and makes fun of everything around him because it’s his only way to feel confident. When he meets Dawn, he acts differently because it’s someone he genuinely likes and he’s terrified she’ll reject him. Collins felt so real to me because at that age, I knew a lot of boys like that and Matson paints a perfect picture of a teenage boy.

The romantic aspect of the book was done well in my opinion, I liked the fact that it was a little more serious than your typical YA love triangle and instead the issue with the romance was the fact that the love interest is in a committed relationship throughout the story. I liked that this posed a question as to if it’s ok to be attracted to someone who you know is off limits and I found it interesting to read how Emily dealt with the situation and how she struggled with her feelings.

Family life played a huge role in the book as it does with a lot of young adult; it was nice to see that there was more than one role portrayed within the book. We had Emily’s family who may be a little strange but there’s no doubt they love each other and although her parents can sometimes be in their own world, it’s clear that they will focus on their children if needed. Next we have Sloane’s family, her parents generally neglect her and leave her to do her own thing. Her parents obviously love her but they don’t seem to be around a lot and they’re not very responsible so Sloane becomes extremely independent. Last we get to see Frank’s parents, a couple who are very successful but who hate each other and are in the middle of a divorce. They’re often seen in public with smiles on their faces playing the happy family but anyone who sees them at home will know the truth. I thought this was interesting to show three very different relationships and to show how all them can be normal and how with good friends who you can confide in, it’s easier to deal with parents who are not always there.

Overall I really enjoyed the book, I read it pretty quickly, I enjoyed the writing style and story and it’s certainly a book I would recommend as a light summer read.

 

All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr (Book Review)

All the Light We Cannot See was recommended to me by a friend, now said friend has always given me great book recommendations and up until this book, the books he’s told me to read have been 5/5 stars. This was the first book that didn’t follow that trend.download (3)

When I was told about All the Light We Cannot See, I was told it’s set during WWII and follows a blind girl who lives in Paris and whose father works at the Museum of Natural History. So fat it had all the makings of my perfect book so I checked out Goodreads. On there I found constant five star reviews, in fact I struggled to find anything less so I downloaded it to my Kindle and started to read.

Now I’ll say that I didn’t hate the book, in fact it was enjoyable but I just didn’t love it. The story follows two main characters, Marie-Laure, a blind girl who is brought up in Paris by her father. She spends most of her days curled up behind his desk, in the Museum of Natural History, reading a book or asking questions about the displays. Our second protagonist is Werner, a blonde haired, blue eyed orphan brought up in a mining town in Germany. When the war starts both Marie-Laure and Werner’s lives change forever.

The story itself was clever, I loved the fact that small things in the beginning of the book became big connections by the end and I loved how everything intertwined. My main issue is that I sometimes found it boring. The story focused on our two main protagonists and with that we found out a lot about their childhoods and how what they loved developed who they became. I liked this in theory but in practise I found the constant references to radios and snails, a little boring.

I did love some of the characters; in the beginning I loved Marie-Laure. Losing her sight didn’t make her wallow; instead it made her determined and strong. I loved her when she was a child and how she learned to live with her loss of sight and remain happy. As the book progressed I learned that Werner was my favourite. I was amazed by how he grew as a character and slowly learned how to become a better person.

The supporting characters were also well written, Marie-Laure’s uncle Etienne was by far my favourite, his fear to leave the house since the war and his love for Marie-Laure was heart-warming to me. On top of this, Von Rumple was a great villain while Frau Elena and Jutta gave the book a realistic a homely feel.

This all sounds great, right? So why didn’t I love it? Well in the end I didn’t care about any of the characters outcomes except for perhaps Etienne. While reading I loved each character and wanted the best for them but by the end I felt like I’d learned all there was to learn and if everyone had of died, I don’t think I would have cared.

I also found the writing style hard to follow at times, I had previously read A Court of Mist and Fury with a really easy to follow writing style then I went on to this. I found the style pretentious at times and for the first ten chapters I hated the book. In the beginning I felt like the book was written for the sole purpose of winning an award (which it did – the Pulitzer Prize) without any thought towards having an enjoyable story. As I continued this feeling did subside and I realised the story was well written and was enjoyable but I never quite got over the pretentious style of writing.

For anyone thinking of reading this, I would certainly say to go ahead and try it. After all as I said, I didn’t hate the book, I simply found it hard at times and thought it nothing more than an OK book but the end but I do know a number of people who have rated it five stars and loved every second of reading. So definitely try it – you never know, you may end up loving it way more than I did.

⭐️⭐️⭐️

A Court of Mist and Fury – Sarah J. Maas (Book Review)

This contains spoilers for both A Court of Thorns and Roses and A Court of Mist And Fury.

A Court of Thorns and Roses was forgettable for me.download (2)

Going into A Court of Mist and Fury was hard, I honestly couldn’t remember a lot of what happened in the previous book and struggled to get into the new novel. As I started reading, small things came back to me… Feyre killed what she thought was a wolf but what turned out to be a faerie, so is taken captive to the other side of the wall where faeries live and humans don’t. This is where my mind became very blurry; I remembered her slowly falling in love with Tamlin and something to do with a curse that only she could break…  I remembered that A Court of Thorns and Roses was a loose retelling of Beauty and The Beast and I remember the plot to Beauty and The Beast so I figured reading A Court of Mist and Fury would be like following on from my favourite Disney film.

I do not remember Feyre dying… No do I remember much about any of the trials she went through Under the Mountain.

This was a slight problem at the beginning of A Court of Mist and Fury but I soon realised that this book was so much better than the first. If you struggled with A Court of Thorns and Roses and are unsure about continuing onto the next book?  Honestly, you will not regret continuing.

Where do I even start with this book? The story was great, I found that it was really easy to follow and unlike a lot of 500+ page books, I never once wondered where it was going with the plot or when it would end. I often read big books and after 100 pages, I feel like everything has already happened and the rest of the book is just filling pages. This was different, after 100 pages I was hooked.

In this follow up novel we see Feyre unhappy and struggling to find peace with previous events which happened Under the Mountain. (I still can’t really remember those events.) Feyre is living with Tamlin who is trying hard to protect her so won’t let her leave the house or grounds fesring for her safety, much to Feyre’s annoyance. After making a bargain with the enemy Rhysand, she is swept off to his court (Night Court) for one week a month. This soon becomes a blessing as she feels trapped at home feels more like a prison since she can’t leave. After a day when Tamlin leaves Feyre locked in the house she is saved by Rhysand and goes to live with him in Night Court deciding that Spring Court (Tamlin’s home) is no longer her home.  Once in Night Court she realises Rhysand isn’t all that bad and she soon begins to find herself with him and his close friends.

Now let’s talk about Rhysand, or Rhys for short… I’ve always classed Luke Brandon, from the Shopaholic series, as my ideal book boyfriend but since reading this book that has all changed. Rhys is perfect. He’s your typical bad boy who everyone hates but when you get to know him you realise he isn’t all that bad and in fact he’s actually a really nice guy. I fell in love with Rhys so bad, throughout the whole thing I was just waiting for Feyre to realise that he is perfect and he’s everything she wants in a man and when it eventually happened (and things got VERY explicit) I was overjoyed.

As I mention, the book is very explicit, especially considering it’s written for a young adult audience but Sarah J. Maas writes it just so perfectly. The sex scenes never once made me laugh or cringe and I felt it was written in a good way for young adults who are perhaps reading about sex for the first time. It didn’t say that you have to be married before you have sex but it did bring out the message that sex is better with someone that you care about and love. Considering the age of the target audience, I found this aspect very important.

The characters were all so well written throughout the entire book. I loved Mor and found Amren sassy and strong. Cassian and Azriel were very macho but they cared about their friends more than anything else and I found myself wanting to be part of their friend group and I wanted to live in Velaris with them all.

Throughout A Court of Mist and Fury we find out that when Feyre was brought back from the dead by the leaders of each court, she was given power from each of them and I loved finding out what Feyre was able to do. Her struggle with understanding her power and the slow realisation that she was actually able to master them was brilliant. I specifically loved the wolves that she made out of water and the way she was able to control them.

The ending got a little bit muddled for me. This was the only thing I wasn’t 100% with in the book. After spending most of her time writing about Feyre and Rhysand’s relationship, the end felt somewhat rushed. Feyre had successfully collected both parts of a book which they needed to use in order to destroy The Cauldron (which was going to be used as a key feature to the oncoming war where mortals would all die or become slaves to faerie) and  so they went to do so however Feyre gets distracted and fails in her goal before Tamlin and Lucien (Tamlin’s right hand man) turn up and explain that they had agreed with the king that if he brought Feyre to Tamlin, Tamlin would allow faerie to pass through his court and enter the mortal realms thus starting the war. This bit all happened within a couple of chapters and I honestly felt like too much was happening all at once. The book was already 600+ pages so why not add 100 more to tell the story properly?

All told, the book was amazing; it had everything I look for in a good novel. It has great romance and a great friendship groups.  I loved the plot and I even loved the rushed plot twist. My only issue is that I have to wait for the next book to be released and I don’t think I’ll find something that I loved this much before the next book in the series.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

Book review – The Lunar Chronicles (Marissa Meyer)

This review contains spoilers. You have been warned.

I’ve been avoiding doing this review for a while because the series became so big and so popular that I worried if I reviewed it then I wouldn’t do it justice. Today I’m slightly hungover and I already feel like crap so if everyone hates this then it’ll just add to my sad hungover day but people MIGHT like it and if so it could make my day so much better.Cinder_book_cover

I should start off by saying that this is about the four main books; Cinder, Scarlet, Cress and Winter. I own Fairest and Stars Above but I haven’t yet got round to actually reading them.

The books kick off with Cinder, a cyborg girl who lives with her step mother and two sisters. Sound familiar? Well it should do, each book is a retelling of a classic fairy tale. Cinder is a retelling of Cinderella, Scarlet retells Little Red Riding Hood, Cress is about Rapunzel and Winter is based on Snow White and to be honest this as the reason I even picked up the books in the first place.

Cinder is loathes by her step mother and one of her sisters but unlike the classic story, she actually has a great relationship with her sister Peony. After her father’s death and loss of fortune, it falls on Cinder to make money for the family by becoming a mechanic in the market place. As there is a plague killing half the country, working in the market place isn’t the safest place to work. Luckily one day Prince Kai walks into Cinder’s workshop needing his android fixed and he takes a shine to Cinder instantly. As Cinder is a cyborg she is generally thought of as a lower class and Kai doesn’t realise Cinder is a cyborg so she has to hide her metal arm and leg from him, only falling and revealing her true self in front of him and the queen of Luna at the royal ball at the end of the book.download (1)

In the second book we meet Scarlet, a feisty redhead who lives and works on a farm with her grandmother. On the same day that Scarlet meets a sexy stranger, she gets home only to realise her grandmother is missing and Scarlet just knows that her grandmother didn’t leave at free will. With the help of the stranger from earlier, Wolf, Scarlet sets out to find her grandmother and save her.

Next we meet Cress. Cress has spent her entire life locked up in a satellite working as a top hacker work for the evil queen of Luna. By this book the queen is trying to find Cinder and wants her dead so knowing that Cress is the best hacker, she sets her the challenge of finding Cinder who is now on the run. Luckily Cress isn’t evil like the queen and she decides to become a double agent, making out that she is helping the queen but in reality she is helping hide Cinder and it helps that Cinder has teamed up with Captain Thorne who Cress is madly in love with.

After a rescue mission which finds Cress and Thorne together on earth, we meet Winter, our final hero. Winter is the step daughter to Levana, the evil queen, and Winter has slowly been going crazy because she refuses to use her magic gift in order to make life easier and look more beautiful. Winter is known to be beautiful but she’s also a beautiful person inside but feels alone on Luna, her only real friends are her guard and childhood friend, Jacin, and the animals in her menagerie. Winter hears of Cinder’s rebellion and her plan to take Levana’s throne and decides to team up with the group now made up of Cinder, Prince Kai, Scarlet, Wolf, Cress, Thorne and Cinder’s faithful android Iko.13206828

I love this book series for a number of different reasons but primarily for the kick ass women portrayed in them. Yes there is romance throughout each book and quite quickly it’s established that the protagonist of each book will fall in love but romance isn’t the main feature of the books. The girls are all portrayed as strong minded women who stand up for themselves and the love interests simply help them along the way and help them become better versions of themselves. I loved this idea because I read so many young adult books that portray unrealistic relationship goals and the idea that you can find a man who will help you with your goals and love you for who you are is the message I felt was portrayed in the Luna Chronicles and that to me is a realistic goal and one that people should be aiming towards.

My favourite character changes constantly but at the minute I think Scarlett is my favourite. I love that she remains strong and her relationship with Wolf is only strengthened by the fact that she is strong minded and independent. Scarlet is the only 100% human character out of the lead female characters and can therefore be controlled by people from Luna, due to this she is put through a lot and she comes out at the end stronger than ever because of it.

Queen Levana was an interesting character for me because ii felt she was more than your typical evil queen. I felt that by the end of the books I felt for her and was upset in the end because it became clear why she ended up as bitter and horrible as she did. I felt by the end that she wasn’t just annoyed that she wasn’t the most beautiful person in the end, I felt more that she was simply someone with real issues who let those issues get the better of her and with this she became much more real to me.41SSIYbE2LL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

The guys in the book are amazing. They’re not my favourite love interests that I’ve ever read but they’re written so well. I genuinely found myself really concerned that something was going to happen to one of them but they were such perfect fits for their female counterpart that I couldn’t even imagine one being without the other. When the main guys and women made it through the end I was overjoyed and cried a little bit because I loved Wolf so much.

I can’t recommend the Luna Chronicles enough. They’re exactly my cup of tea, fairy tale retellings with really cool women who fight for the throne and don’t ever give up no matter what is thrown at them? Yes please.

Dark Places – Gillian Flynn (Book Review)

I can honestly say that I’m slightly worried about Gillian Flynn.

After being totally overwhelmed by Gone Girl, I was desperate to read another of Flynn’s books to find out if they were just as twisted and just as hard to put down. I certainly found that with Dark Places.

Dark Places follows Libby Day who, at seven years old, witnessed her brother murder her mother and two sisters. Libby testifies against her brother Ben and spends the rest of her life trying to forget that morning. Twenty five years later Libby is running out of money and agrees to attend the ‘Kill Club’ – a group run by people who are interested in murderers and who want to find out more about them.  After her first meeting, everything she has been trying to hide from is brought back up and she starts to doubt if her brother actually did commit the crime, aftdownload (6)er all she never actually saw him do it, she was hiding from it the whole time.

I would say that I loved this book but I just don’t know how I actually feel about it. I couldn’t stop reading and strived to find out the truth in the same way that Libby did but in all honesty, at times, I found the book really hard to read.

The Day family are not wealthy, before the murders they lived on a rundown farm and were constantly in fear of the place being repossessed. Because of his families poverty, Ben feels hard done to and acts out against his family making him the perfect fit for the murderer as he is always angry at his family and lifestyle and he gets in with the wrong crowd.

For me, Ben’s chapters were the hardest to read. There were some subjects that were completely new to me in terms of reading. The book graphically describes killing animals and sexual feelings that are more than a little inappropriate. While I appreciate that the author was willing to go there and write about something that a lot of authors would be scared to touch (don’t quote me on this, I really haven’t read that many thriller/horror novels to know)I just didn’t enjoy reading it.

Although there are a few chapters that aren’t easy to get through, it does give you a good idea of what life was like for the Day family. Ben is constantly pressured into doing things he doesn’t want to and reading his reactions to these situations could at times be eye opening realising just how these things happen.

One issue that I did have with the book was that I found there are no likable characters. Although I sympathised with Libby and what she went through, I didn’t like her as an adult. As an adult she was living off the death of her family, hoping that sympathetic strangers would donate money in order to help her build a future. I never quite got over the fact that Libby was so lazy and refused to ever get a job and stick to it. Other than Libby I just didn’t care about the characters, by the end I quite honestly couldn’t have cared less if Ben got out of jail or not because I simply didn’t like him and although the rest of the family were dead, I was never particularly sad about it. I found the book more about finding the truth rather than actually building any likable characters.

The only person that I would say I liked was Lyle, the guy who first takes Libby to the Kill Club, I found it rather sweet that he was trying to help Libby out but even still, at the back of my head I kept remembering that he only ever connected with Libby because he was obsessed with her families murders.

Overall the book wasn’t half full of suspense as Gone Girl but it was still a page turner and I would certainly recommend reading it if you like the ‘who done it’ type of read. The ending was clever and each chapter leading up to the ending was crucial to the story and how it all wrapped up. Just be warned that if you do pick up Dark Places you may be slightly grossed out and it may make you ask the question of how twisted Gillian Flynn’s brain is to come up with these ideas.

3.5/5 stars.