February TBR

January was not such a great reading month for me! I only read 3 full books because I DNF’d a few times so I’m ready for February to be better. Let me know in the comments what you’re reading in February.

The Hate You Give – Angie Thomas

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Refugee – Alan Gratz

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Sabrina – Nick Drnaso

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The Notebook – Nicholas Sparks

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To all the boys I’ve loved before – Jenny Han

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January Wrap Up

TV

I’ve had two favourite shows this month. The BBC’s adaptation of Les Miserable has been really good, the Thenardiers are my favourites (especially Olivia Colman) but I keep hearing the songs in my head!

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My other star show this month was Death in Paradise. It’s such a silly murder mystery show and a bit (OK, very) far-fetched but it’s perfect for January when I’d love to escape to the Caribbean!

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Books

It’s been a bit of a slow reading month to start the year. I’ve only read 3 and a half books and DNF’d a few that I just couldn’t get into.

The Midwife’s Confession – Diane Chamberlain. This was a reread for me as I continue my goal to read all of Diane Chamberlain’s books. The Midwife’s Confession is a sad book but I think it’s one of Chamberlain’s best.

The Hunger – Alma Katsu. I heard about this book on the Books in the Freezer podcast (check it out if you like horror) and while it was a well researched historical horror novel, I just didn’t connect. Check out my full review here.

Dear John – Nicholas Sparks. I’d been meaning to read Dear John since I first saw the movie with Amanda Seyfried so I’m so glad I finally got round to it. It was such a sweet book and I really liked the character of John – here’s my review.

Lethal White – Robert Galbraith. It was finally my turn to get this from the library! I’m halfway through the book (it’s so huge) and while I am enjoying the mystery, my favourite in the series is still The Cuckoo’s Calling.

Music

My song obsession this month has been Baby by Clean Bandit. I loved Marina when she released Hollywood, so I’m glad she’s brought out a new song. Plus who doesn’t love a bit of Spanglish?

Tag Tuesday: Badass fictional females

Top 5 Tuesday

This week’s Top 5 Tuesday theme is “Top 5 bad ass females.” Bad ass is a word that I would never use, and doesn’t really seem to be used in the UK so I’ve listed 5 literary females that are strong and can fight their own corner. Who are your favourite bad ass ladies?

  • Dolores Claiborne – The definition of a b*tch. I think it’s my favourite Stephen King book because she is so feisty and totally aware of it.
  • Katniss Everdeen – Katniss is the first girl that springs to mind at the phrase bad ass. I loved her in THG, she is such a strong fighter and I love her protectiveness over her sister.
  • Lydia Flinch – Underwood and Flinch is my favourite vampire story and if you’ve never checked out this podcast you should! Lydia started off as an embittered sister before her plans change things for the worst!
  • Bellatrix Lestrange – I’m not sure if Bellatrix is a “bad ass” but I do think she’s too cruel not to be included on a list with bad in the title.
  • Ginny Weasley – I love book!Ginny. She is often described as feisty and fierce by Harry and that’s the reason why he and so many of the book fans love her.

Top Ten Tuesday:

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is the 10 most recent additions to my TBR. I have some books I’m really excited to get to on my TBR – let me know if you’ve read any of these and want to recommend them!

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Book Review: Dear John

Dear John

Dear John – Nicholas Sparks – 2006 – Romance / Chick Lit

Goodreads Summary:

An angry rebel, John dropped out of school and enlisted in the Army, not knowing what else to do with his life–until he meets the girl of his dreams, Savannah. Their mutual attraction quickly grows into the kind of love that leaves Savannah waiting for John to finish his tour of duty, and John wanting to settle down with the woman who has captured his heart.

But 9/11 changes everything. John feels it is his duty to re-enlist. And sadly, the long separation finds Savannah falling in love with someone else. “Dear John,” the letter read…and with those two words, a heart was broken and two lives were changed forever. Returning home, John must come to grips with the fact that Savannah, now married, is still his true love—and face the hardest decision of his life.

My Thoughts:

This is a really easy read and having seen the film before I read the book I liked seeing the differences (of which there are several) between the two mediums.

The story is told from John’s point of view, and there were many times when I felt very connected to him. In particular I think anyone who has gone through a breakup will understand how he feels when Savannah writes to say she is in love with someone else. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to be in a war zone looking forward to seeing the person you love, only to find they have moved on.

Reading previous reviews on Goodreads a lot of people seemed to be in a agreement that the “unhappy” ending of this book is typical of a Sparks novel, but I personally found the ending to be more realistic – sometimes love doesn’t work out, but it helped me to empathise with John until the end.
The one thing I was unsure of with this book was that at times Savannah felt like she was straying into Manic Pixie Dream Girl territory, especially during John’s first leave – because we are told the story from John’s perspective she doesn’t get much of her own character development until he loses her – by then it’s too late.

I gave this book 4/5. If you’re looking for a light, quick romance read, I’d definitely recommend Dear John.

Tag Tuesday: Books that made great movies

Top Five Tuesday

This week’s Top 5 Tuesday theme was books I’d like to see made into movies. However, looking through my Goodreads list I find a lot of the books I’ve read or are on my TBR already are movies – so instead I’m writing about 5 movies I love that are based on great books.

Brokeback Mountain (Based on a short story in Annie Proulx’s ‘Close Range’ collection.)

I think this film is one of the best adaptations I’ve ever seen – Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal really did the characters of Ennis and Jack justice, with great support from Anne Hathaway and Michelle Williams. You just have to watch this film to realise it’s not just a “gay cowboy” story.

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One Day (David Nicholls)

Another great film starring Anne Hathaway (and her cringe-worthy Yorkshire accent!) I think this is the perfect film for 20-somethings especially because it shows how life has its ups and downs, and Dexter is eventually able to pick himself back up and continue on.

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky)

I really wish I had found this book while I was in my teens, it’s another great book about friendship with interesting MH representation. I like the Chbosky directed the film so we were as close to his idea as it was possible to get in a different medium. Also (sorry Americans!) I love Emma Watson and her cute accent in this film.

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And then there were none (Agatha Christie)

Not strictly a movie, but I loved the adaptation the BBC did a couple of years ago. I’ve watched every Christie adaptation the BBC have done since but ATTWN is still my favourite, it’s such a classic mystery.

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The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (John Boyne)

I can’t say I enjoyed this movie, but The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas was a very faithful adaptation of the book. It’s a story I think should be taught in every high school in the UK – we are taught so much about the World Wars in history and this offers an interesting alternative view.

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Top Ten Tuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is “10 books I meant to read in 2018 but didn’t get to.” Let me know if you’ve read any of these books so I know which to read next!

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Book Review: The Hunger

The Hunger – Alma Katsu – Horror – 2018

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Goodreads Summary

Evil is invisible, and it is everywhere. 

Tamsen Donner must be a witch. That is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the wagon train known as the Donner Party. Depleted rations, bitter quarrels, and the mysterious death of a little boy have driven the pioneers to the brink of madness. They cannot escape the feeling that someone–or something–is stalking them. Whether it was a curse from the beautiful Tamsen, the choice to follow a disastrous experimental route West, or just plain bad luck–the 90 men, women, and children of the Donner Party are at the brink of one of the deadliest and most disastrous western adventures in American history. 

While the ill-fated group struggles to survive in the treacherous mountain conditions–searing heat that turns the sand into bubbling stew; snows that freeze the oxen where they stand–evil begins to grow around them, and within them. As members of the party begin to disappear, they must ask themselves “What if there is something waiting in the mountains? Something disturbing and diseased…and very hungry?”

My Thoughts

I first heard about this book when it was recommended on the Books in the Freezer podcast. It’s a really interesting premise and I thought it was a well-written novel which was clearly well researched.

Part of the problem I found in the book, however, is that it is told from so many different characters’ perspectives it was difficult to tell them apart. I couldn’t keep track of many of the characters because there was no individual personality so I often lost the idea of whose narrative I was supposed to be reading.

Even halfway through the novel I didn’t find myself connecting to any of the characters. I think if there were only a couple of stronger personalities telling the story I’d have cared more about the story. This could be because I didn’t know the story of the Donner party before I started the novel, but I also found it uncomfortable that imagined storylines such as homosexuality, promiscuity and sexual assault were put onto characters that were actually real people. There is no evidence I could find online that suggested one of the people was gay for example, and it kept taking me out of the story.


I really liked that the author included a historical note at the end of the book. Not being from the USA I had never heard of the Donner party so when I did a little research I found the story fascinating – I do wish that there had been a timeline included though because at times it was confusing to know when events were supposed to have happened.

This is a well-researched book – although the pace can be slow at times, this is generally because so much information was included. If you enjoy slower, more literary books the pace may suit you but if you are expecting this to be a fast-paced horror, this book may not meet your expectations.


I’d give this book 3.5 out of 5. If you are a fan of slower moving historical fiction / horror this is a well-written book, but I personally found putting imaginary “sins” onto historical people a bit uncomfortable.