28 July 2015

This week's book haul - 6 books in 2 days

Latest book haul - received yesterday and today
I love getting books in the mail, but wow, I think six books in two days is a new personal record for me. I thought I'd share them with you, so from top to bottom, we have:

1. Captives by Angela Meyer, received from Inkerman & Blunt along with 3 stunning bookmarks just for liking their FB page.

2. A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings by Charles Dickens. Purchased from Boomerang Books using vouchers earned by writing for their blog. Love these clothbound editions from Penguin!

3. All The Little Pieces by Jilliane Hoffman, won in a competition hosted by Booklover Book Reviews. Thanks Jo!

4. The Chosen Queen by Joanna Courtney, courtesy of Pan Macmillan Australia. When I finish reading this one, I'll have an opportunity to interview the author.

5. Devastation Road by Jason Hewitt, courtesy of Simon & Schuster.

6. The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory, courtesy of Simon & Schuster. I can't wait to read this one, it's about Kateryn Parr and is available to the public next month.

I usually read 1-2 books per week, so this haul will take a while to get through, and will definitely boost my TBR pile. If you're interested in any of the books pictured above, just click on the titles with hyperlinks for more info.

What are you reading this week?

Carpe Librum!

27 July 2015

Review: The Book of Speculation: A Novel | Erika Swyler

* Copy courtesy of The Reading Room * 

Simon is a librarian living in his family home on the edge of a cliff, his mother drowned when he was young, and Simon believes his father passed away afterwards from grief.

One day Simon receives an old manuscript on his doorstop, sent to him by an antiquarian bookseller, but he has no idea why.

As Simon begins to read the manuscript we find ourselves following an old American travelling carnival in a dual narrative, with Simon bringing us back to the present.

I enjoyed the chapters taking place within the carnival in the 1800s, and found Simon's chapters far less entertaining. 

About halfway through the novel I began to be annoyed by several repetitions:

- Simon's house falling into the sea due to erosion, this was referred to way too much, and I couldn't help but be annoyed with Simon for his lack of care
- continual references to tarot cards, both within the carnival and by Simon's sister 

The curse was mildly interesting, but the reason for the curse was explained over and over as if the author was afraid the reader wouldn't 'get it'. In the very same fashion, the steps Simon takes to counter the curse (and the result) was over-explained to the extent that it became redundant and a waste of words.

With such an exciting blurb, I was disappointed that the last third of the book kept going on and on and sadly it just ate away at my earlier enjoyment. Such a shame.

My rating = **

Carpe Librum!

26 July 2015

Winner of Princess Diaries XI: Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot Announced

Thanks to all those who entered the Meg Cabot giveaway last week to WIN a copy of Princess Diaries XI: Royal Wedding.

The giveaway closed at midnight on Friday 24th July, so without further ado, the winner is........
Catherine Goldfinch!
Congratulations Catherine, you'll receive an email shortly letting you know about your win and requesting your postal details.

I'd like to thank Pan Macmillan Australia for providing the giveaway, and I hope to be bringing you another giveaway again soon.

Carpe Librum!

22 July 2015

Review: You by Caroline Kepnes

* Copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster *

This book was ah-mazing! There, I've said it, You by Caroline Kepnes is going to be in my Top Favourite Books of 2015, I'm sure of it.

Joe works in a bookstore and falls in love with a customer, Beck. He stalks her on social media and becomes obsessed with her, going to extraordinary lengths to control her life without her even realising it. 

Joe is the sole narrator and we experience their relationship through his eyes in such a light-hearted (and often amusing) manner that it's easy to forget that what he's doing is an invasion of privacy and against the law.

This is uber creepy, and should make us all think twice about what we share on social media and be aware of our online footprint. What sends shivers up your spine though is just how matter of fact and upbeat Joe's activity is. You isn't a dark and foreboding novel in the way that Into The Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes is (another crime thriller with a creepy stalker); however it still packs a punch, trust me.

One minor word of warning though. When I was about half way through the novel, I was hoping - and perhaps even expecting - the narrator to shift and give the reader Beck's point of view. I was so convinced of an impending twist similar to that in Gone Girl, that I was surprised and disappointed when it didn't happen.

What I realised later though, was that You works so much better from Joe's perspective, and I'd wasted too much effort trying to anticipate the plot developments before they happened. So, let me set you straight, there is no twist in You. There doesn't need to be; this story is creepy and thrilling enough on it's own and doesn't need any tricks from the author to set it apart from those within the genre.

You by Caroline Kepnes is easily the best psychological crime thriller I've read in ages, and I can't wait to read the next in the series Hidden Bodies and follow Joe into his next obsession.

My rating = *****

Carpe Librum!

20 July 2015

Review: The Aitch Factor - Adventures in Australian English by Susan Butler

If you've ever been interested in the history of words and phrases in Australian modern English (as well as the development of new ones), then The Aitch Factor by Susan Butler is the book for you.

Susan Butler began working at the Macquarie Dictionary as a Research Assistant in 1970 and is the current Editor; being uniquely situated to offer decades of experience on all manner of topics relating to the English language as it is spoken here in Australia.

I found myself laughing at some of the entries and observations, and Butler's sense of humour definitely shines throughout on almost every page.

She discusses the subtle differences in language between the states and territories, as well as touching on regional words and slang, which I found very entertaining.

One of Butler's roles at Macquarie is to collect new words (like firescape*), and determine when they should be added to the dictionary. Words like binge-watching, dental-tourism and facepalm seem self-explanatory and clever constructs and indicate an ever changing use of slang and buzz words.

What I found most shocking though, was Butler's stance on the apostrophe. I agree that the humble apostrophe is largely misused these days, but she believes we can do without it completely. I'd hate to see this happen, but what do you think? 

The Aitch Factor is a great read for word lovers and trivia buffs the world over.

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!

* Firescape means: to arrange the features of a garden (or other area of land) in a way that inhibits the spread of fire. Who knew? Source.

17 July 2015

WIN a copy of Princess Diaries XI: Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot

Available July 2015
RRP $19.95
Meg Cabot is the bestselling author of the Princess Diaries series, the most popular YA series in all the land.

To celebrate the July release of the 11th adult instalment, Princess Diaries XI: Royal Wedding, I've teamed up with Pan Macmillan Australia for your chance to WIN a print copy.

From Meg Cabot, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Princess Diaries series, comes the very first new adult instalment, featuring the now grown-up Princess Mia!

Royal Wedding follows Princess Mia and her Prince Charming as they plan their fairy tale wedding - but a few poisoned apples could turn this happily-ever-after into a royal nightmare. For more, click here.

About the Author
The Princess Diaries series continues to be phenomenally successful fifteen years since its first publication. After topping the US and UK bestseller lists for weeks and winning several awards, Meg Cabot was crowned the 'reigning grande dame of teenage chick lit' by The New York Times Book Review. Two films produced by Disney based on the series have been hugely popular throughout the world.

15 July 2015

Review: Stoner by John Williams (possibly my favourite book of the year)

Copy courtesy of Penguin Random House*

Stoner by John Williams is possibly my favourite book of 2015. It's the story of William Stoner, who is born into a poor farming family with little means. Touchingly, his father suggests that he attend University to study agriculture in the lead up to taking over the family farm.

Whilst at University, Stoner unexpectedly falls in love with literature and decides to put his agricultural studies - and the family farm - aside to become an academic. His relationship with his uneducated parents suffers as a result of this choice and his once close bond with them begins to fade.

We follow Stoner as he commences what will be a quiet and underwhelming career as a university academic, although his rivalry with a colleague gives way to some of the funnier parts of the novel.

His marriage is a failure and his relationship with his daughter is painful, and throughout the novel I longed for Stoner to shout or put his foot down and make a stand to improve his home life.

This is a deeply honest portrait of an average man, living an average and sometimes depressing life, but it's told with such care and beauty that I really was swept away.

I finished reading Stoner a few weeks ago and the final paragraph still makes my chest ache with sadness (similar to the ending of Cloudstreet, the one difference being I didn't cry this time, but it was close).

My rating = *****

Carpe Librum!

* I received this novel from Random House last year, as part of their National Book Bloggers Forum (NBBF14) and if it wasn't for this, I don't know if I'd ever have discovered Stoner on my own.