Sunday, 24 December 2017

A Year of Books - 2017

I feel I have had quite a good year of reading in 2017, for the past few years I've been partaking in the Goodreads Reading challenges. In 2015 I read 55 books after I'd challenged myself to read 35, in 2016 I challenged myself to read 60 books and I only read 57. This year I decided to set a harder challenge and read 65 books (just to see if I could), and this year, somehow I managed to read a whopping 122 books with still 7 days to spare and because of that I'm going to see if I could read three more books to get it to a nice even 125.

2017 Reading Challenge

2017 Reading Challenge
Ella has completed her goal of reading 65 books in 2017!

I have read some brilliant books such as The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett, The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware, The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks and more. I also discovered some truly amazing writers such as Erle Stanley Gardner (1889-1970), Danielle Paige, Peter Swanson and again so many more.
This was the year that I left my comfort zone in terms of what I read and moving from simply reading young adult fiction to classics such as the works by Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), Psychology books such as Jon Ronson, Tony Buzan, non-fiction such as Sins of the Family by Felicity Davis and simply general fiction such as Vibrator by Mari Akasaka and Intimacy by Hanif Kureishi. I have also developed a love for plays, specifically Shakespeare plays since I really became invested in my work as a Theatre Technician and I even have a favourite of the year, The Tempest.
This year I have finally finished the Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973), I don't think I enjoyed them enough to read them again any time soon as it took so very long to get through them all but it was a fantastic read. I have this gift I think, I can read the first book in a series (The Fellowship of the Ring for example) in 2015, I can read the next book in the series a year later and the last one a year after that and still remember exactly what has happened in the previous books. Just thought you'd all be curious.
I have also developed in my love for a genre called cozy mysteries which consist of books written by people like Agatha Christie (1890-1976) and Frances Brody, cozy mysteries are defined as being "a sub-genre of crime fiction which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection takes place in a small, socially intimate community". I have spent many an evening curled up next to our wood burning fire reading books in this genre.
Overall I feel I've had a pretty good reading year and if anyone is curious in what I've been reading then feel free to click the widget above and it will take you to goodreads.

As for next year, I am going to continue to read books I haven't read before, I am going to read more books to do with the technical theatre industry and I am going to learn to write reviews, improve my Bookstagram (@book.monkey) and hopefully expand how far this blog is reaching.

Thanks for reading.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from me xo

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

The Case of the Caretaker's Cat by Erle Stanley Gardner Review

As ever Gardner's writing is brilliant.
In his will, Peter Laxter guaranteed his faithful caretaker a job and a place to live for life. But Laxter's grandson Sam says the deal doesn't include the caretaker's cat. When Perry Mason takes the case, he finds there's much more at stake than an old man's cat -- a million dollars to be exact. And as he investigates, he finds a web of greed and treachery among the heirs. But which one actually pulled off the almost perfect crime?
Perry Mason, criminal lawyer or seems to work as a detective an awful lot of the time.
Della Street, the attractive (well she is in my head) secretary to Perry Mason.
Unlike some of the books I've previously read by Gardner (no where near the majority) there seemed to be a lot more law as opposed to detective work, including one point where Mason referenced one of his law book (Chapter 13). That was one of the reasons I really enjoyed this book, seeing the law side of a crime instead of just the chase is really interesting for me. Other reasons being the story line, the conclusion and the fact Perry Mason is in this book.
I enjoyed that the whole story line developed from a Caretaker's Cat in such a dramatic and yet catchy way. And although it definitely didn't feel like something that could happen in real life (as in the development from something so small, to something so major), there was a well developed line of reasoning throughout making it intriguing and keeping a certain amount of realism.
I mean isn't that why we read fiction.

And like other Gardner books the conclusion was genius and went completely over my head. I really enjoy reading books that I can't work out the ending, just as much as I like the ones that make perfect sense. I think I enjoy being outsmarted for some odd reason. 
I really liked the development of Mason and Street's relationship, which again I can't describe too much due to spoilers but I squealed... Della is completely loyal to Perry and I really love that she seems to have complete trust in Mason as he often puts her in situations that could get her arrested it. And in this book that was done, but Gardner added a quality to Della that I haven't seen in previous Perry Mason books and that was her own knowledge of law that she learnt just working with Perry (or so that is implied). I enjoyed that, as it gave her empowerment that isn't often seen in women of books written in the 1930's. 
I have no complaints about this book except for the slight confusion I got just before the trial, however it was all explained in Perry's magical way at the end of the book so I can't complain. 

Would highly recommend 9/10
And FYI you don't have to have read any other book in the series to understand what happens.
A post shared by |wonderland| (@book.monkey) on
Book first published 1935 

Monday, 11 December 2017

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson Review

Well I must admit that was the perfect ending to a beautifully suspenseful book.

On a night flight from London to Boston, Ted Severson meets the stunning and mysterious Lily Kintner. Sharing one too many martinis, the strangers begin to play a game of truth, revealing very intimate details about themselves. Ted talks about his marriage that’s going stale and his wife, Miranda, who he’s sure is cheating on him. Ted and his wife were a mismatch from the start—he the rich businessman, she the artistic free spirit—a contrast that once inflamed their passion, but has now become a cliché.
But their game turns a little darker when Ted jokes that he could kill Miranda for what she’s done. Lily, without missing a beat, says calmly, “I’d like to help.” After all, some people are the kind worth killing, like a lying, stinking, cheating spouse. . . .

Of a book that consists of murders left, right and center this still had a constant air of suspense of mystery. Ted is a character that seemed to be slightly dull for the most part until he was with Lily where talking to her made him seem more alive and I am one who looks at the world thinking we all just continue with our lives just coping and moving on. I think Ted is a slight representation of that fact of the world, then something perfect comes along that can solve all lives problems and you grasp on for dear life. Meanwhile Lily is smart, beautiful and unattached to the world making her what I think to be the makings of some kind of sociopath, one who has a weak consciousness but can still have feelings of morality and guilt and this is one of the reasons I love her character (I have a certain love for the study of behaviour). Absolutely beautifully written.

The book is split into 3 parts and changes point of view for each chapter meaning you learnt what each character knew and thought. I loved the way the story went up and down in how it was written with twists then a settled feeling with too many pages left (I wonder if you understand that feeling). There was never much to guess about but somehow Swanson could keep the suspenseful feeling throughout. My favourite parts by far were the chapters written from Lily's point of view (again my love love for abnormal behaviour has sparked that), they were smart and brilliantly executed. I especially loved that they started Lily's POV when she was a child and going through her youth to get her where she was. I enjoyed knowing that history yet still meeting her at the beginning of the story.

There were some chapters, particularly Miranda's that I found to be quite dull, but I remembered how good The Girl with the Clock for a Heart was, and stuck with it. I must say if you feel it to lag, just know it gets amazing so do stick with it.

But it's story was overall very good, and I couldn't put it down apart from when I was working. I will be handing this over to my mother and recommended it to anyone who will listen.

My rating: 8.5/10

A post shared by |wonderland| (@book.monkey) on
Book Published 2015

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Peter Darling by Austin Chant Review

I want to begin by saying I found this book completely by chance. I typed "Peter Pan" in the search engine when feeling the need to read a retelling and came up with this beautiful spin on the classic tale by J.M.Barrie. I must say I am impressed.

Ten years ago, Peter Pan left Neverland to grow up, leaving behind his adolescent dreams of boyhood and resigning himself to life as Wendy Darling. Growing up, however, has only made him realize how inescapable his identity as a man is.
But when he returns to Neverland, everything has changed: the Lost Boys have become men, and the war games they once played are now real and deadly. Even more shocking is the attraction Peter never knew he could feel for his old rival, Captain Hook—and the realization that he no longer knows which of them is the real villain.

Peter returning to Neverland has always been an idea that I've loved, after he runs away to grow up, whether it be with Wendy or in the case of the film "Hook" Moira, the idea of Peter returning with a new outlook on life which is gained after growing up has been one that has intrigued me. Like Alice where she can't seem to stay out of Wonderland. None the less that idea is a brilliant basis for a story and for Peter to return in Chant's book after 10 years is essentially like running away from all of lives problems, something that I know I have thought about and perhaps others too.
Peter's character was as playful as it was during Barrie's writing giving us the impression of the character that had been left behind after he wrote Peter Pan, but Peter's character had also developed after living 10 years and being Wendy Darling. I enjoyed the way Chant wrote Peter to interact with the characters such as Earnest, Hook and The Lost Boys, and the twists that came with their back stories (I promise no spoilers).
I've believe that Chant has quite successfully managed to write a children's classic story to appeal to an older group, he has managed to keep the general themes of the story but also added some quite "riskeyyy" scenes. I especially enjoyed when the book switched to Hook's POV, giving us a look into the mind of a character that we all laughed at at a younger age and developing the characters thoughts about Peter throughout the book. I found there to be a real passion in the way the different characters interacted and I was completely full of glee during the whole of Chapter 13(?) after they left the tunnels. 
Passion in the way it is written here is quite hard to come by as it can often come of as inexperienced or even written by someone who is straight and doesn't know the first thing about a homosexual relationship in any form. I also found the Peter/Wendy idea to be very thought provoking, I don't have much knowledge about being transgender but I do understand the basic constructs. I think this book introduced the Trans theme into this book incredibly well as well as the homosexual themes and general lust that seemed to effect every principle character in this book, some LGBT+ literature gets over sexualised because that's what some people believe the community to be but Chant has added every flush of the cheeks and gaze that has romanticized the whole thing. I think the fact that Chant is a trans, queer writer has a helped to make this book quite relatable (or as relatable as fantasy can be to the real world) to the LGBT+ community and has helped in the development of the characters personalities from Barrie's works.
I have found in the past that some fantasy novels have a problem with writing too much detail about the fantabulous scenery then missing out the rest of the story but I didn't find that with this story, there was the rights amount of detail and a gripping story.
I'm not 100% sure how to review a book without a murder in it, however this book was fantastic. I was kept hooked, the storyline had many lovely twists and turns, the characters were surprising in many ways and overall I couldn't help but fall in love with it all. I cannot wait for the second one, which I've heard will be written from Hook's point of view for at least the majority of the book.
8/10 would recommend