Hallowreadathon 4!

It’s my favourite time of the year! The leaves are starting to crunch underfoot, Christmas chocolates are back on the shelves and Halloween approaches. And for me, Halloween means my lil’ readathon, the Hallowreadathon, is back for its fourth year! It’s 48 hours, starting at midnight on the 31st of October and running all the way through Halloween/ All Saints Day. And I’d be thrilled if you joined me!

There’ll be the usual three challenges again this year to spook up your reading: 

1. Read a book with a ghost!
Whether you decide to take this literally and host a séance, in which case I cannot be held responsible for any exorcism costs in the future, or read a book with a ghost in it is up to you. 

2. Read a book with red on the cover!

Twitter voted, and the colour this year is red! From bloodstains to autumn leaves, hopefully you’ll all be able to find a suitable read for this challenge.

3. Read two books!

Two days, two books. This is an actual challenge this year as it’s a Monday/Tuesday but I believe in you!

As for the giveaways, there will be one that will be picked from people using the #Hallowreadathon hashtag on Instagram and Twitter after the weekend. I think a Christmas book might be in order for that one!

And again, I’ll be giving away my Hallowreadathon Preparation box! It’ll have chocolates/ sweets/ snacks that fit your dietary requirements so if you’re Vegan, please mention it. And a book for each challenge; Killer Affair by Rebecca Chance has red on the cover. And The Shining by Stephen King features ghosts! The winner will be chosen on the 23rd of October to give it time to get to them before the readathon starts. And all you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter below. 
Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Will you be joining the #Hallowreadathon?
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Book Review: Yesterday by Felicia Yap!

Yesterday was published in August and I’ve finally managed to collect up all my thoughts and feelings. Sometimes a review just flows as soon as you turn over that last page, sometimes books need to settle before you can figure out your feelings. This was one of those books.

How do you solve a murder when you only remember yesterday?

Imagine a world in which classes are divided not by wealth or religion but by how much each group can remember. Monos, the majority, have only one day’s worth of memory; elite Duos have two. In this stratified society, where Monos are excluded from holding high office and demanding jobs, Claire and Mark are a rare mixed marriage. Clare is a conscientious Mono housewife, Mark a novelist-turned-politician Duo on the rise. They are a shining example of a new vision of tolerance and equality—until…

…a beautiful woman is found dead, her body dumped in England’s River Cam. The woman is Mark’s mistress, and he is the prime suspect in her murder. The detective investigating the case has secrets of his own. So did the victim. And when both the investigator’s and the suspect’s memories are constantly erased—how can anyone learn the truth?

I’m always tentative when it comes to books that have multiple points of view. It can be done well but sometimes they just all blend together. It works in Yesterday though. I never forgot whose mind I was in when I was reading, they were all distinctive in their experience of the same day. And a book featuring an authors perspective is always something I’m intrigued in. I’m sure avid readers agree. It’s one of many reasons I loved If You Go Away by Adele Parks so much, because it’s a peek behind the curtain of the very book in your hands. Mark, one of the four main characters is a popular writer and with that comes some lovely bits about the reality of writing; “But it’s hell that inspires the novelist. Not heaven.” 

The memory aspect of the story is what makes this book stand out from your usual thriller. The class system in this world is based on those who can remember 24 or 48 hours, and the effort put into moving things from short-term to long-term memory is really important. I have a pretty terrible memory, so I empathised with ‘monos’ immediately. The whole idea is so original and interesting, although it took me a couple chapters to get my head around it. I would’ve loved it to be explained a bit more because the world is so similar to ours in every other way, and I imagined that such a big change would have more impact. But we’ll have to wait until Today, the prequel expected to come out next summer.

This book says a lot about our own memory, and the way we decide what to remember and what to forget too. How the characters choose to represent themselves in their diaries is very similar to how we portray ourselves on social media sometimes. All those happy tweets I see on my Timehop don’t always represent my reality of that day. As the book says; “Your diary says what you want it to say. Memory equals the facts you choose to retain. We are all victims of the pasts we prefer.” I definitely want to start writing more in my diary, and honestly, after this read though. Memory doesn’t last forever, in this fictional world, or in our own.

Lastly, mental illness features quite a bit in this book but in a pretty respectful and realistic way. One of the main characters, Claire, suffers from some form of depression and while her condition is “a considerable source of vexation” to her husband, she’s not automatically assumed to be the murderer as it tends to in a lot of thrillers. Even her psychiatrist features to talk about it in a scientific way which tells me that Yap has put a lot of research into the way she is portraying this. Although the line “Richardson must suffer from some form of OCD, judging by the immaculate arrangement of his office,” was a bit of a disappointing cliche.

Overall, Yesterday takes you through 24 hours of these characters lives, and within that you learn a lot more than even they remember. If thrillers aren’t thrilling you anymore, Yesterday might be the book for you.

“Coroners are efficient sorts.”
“That’s because their clients are dead and can’t argue with them.”

Although not completely on topic, I have to mention how unbelievably nice Felicia is. She has a PhD, she’s studied at Cambridge, she’s worked as everything from a molecular biologist to a catwalk model and is still one of the most humble people I’ve ever met. The success from this book so far couldn’t happen to a better person and you can bet I will be reading the prequel Today as soon as I can.
And if you want to buy Yesterday, you can here!

Will you be reading Yesterday? What would you do if you could only remember the past 24/48 hours?
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Books I Read in July!

Finally! I’m catching up on blog posts and my numerical reading goal for this year, but looking at this pile- I don’t know. I know there’s no shame in reading what you want to read, it’s a recreational activity and all. But I’m not feeling positive about the amount of middle grade I’ve been sailing through between last month and this. I mean, it’s mixed with classics but there’s no pattern to my reading this year and as a pattern-loving person, I miss them! Anyway, the books…

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
So… I wasn’t the biggest fan of Fahrenheit 451.
I expected to be! I love books about books. Half my favourite books feature reading and I’m always drawn to any character with a full shelf. But with Fahrenheit 451, I listened to the audiobook and fell asleep halfway through. When I woke up I was just annoyed that I’d have to re-listen to what I missed and isn’t that just a bad sign!? The writing just felt clunky, especially with someone reading it. Even when I tried just reading the book myself, we didn’t click.
The thing is that the moral of the story is the main point of this book. Not plot. Not characters. A punch-you-in-the-face moral. And oh boy, do I disagree with it. Ray Bradbury himself said many times that Fahrenheit 451 was about mass media like television being ‘bad’, which- sure. The current POTUS is a reality TV star and a nightmare, but there’s complicated and mind-opening TV too just like there’s close-minded simple books. Ray Bradbury was living in a pre-Lost era! He was inspired by seeing a woman walking down the street with her headphones in, but heck. I walked down the street with my headphones in listening to this dang book.
Also, his opinions on minorities not feeling represented. Now, I have a whole other blog post half-drafted on how censorship is wrong, and I do get a little confused when people hold classics up to todays standards even though I’m guilty of it at times. But looking forward, I don’t see a problem with people wanting to read books that they’re represented in. Or at least not wanting to read books that have a deliberately hateful message.
All in all though, I think Ray Bradbury wrote a book that fit his morals without much care for story or characterisation and I don’t like the writing or the message… But it made me think. And I appreciate that in a book.
“There must be something in books, things we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing.”

Dancing in Lughnasa by Brian Friel
This is one of the books I’m required to read for my next Open University module; Reading and Studying Literature (you can see the whole haul here). I liked it okay, it just didn’t interest me. Chances are that I’ll enjoy it a lot more when I study it because I’ll start to understand the context and things like that. But for now, it’s just a play about a family doing boring family things and all the interesting parts are not explored enough for my liking.

Farewell to the East End by Jennifer Worth
I finally got around to the last of the Call the Midwife books! I took this to Norway and it was the only physical book I actually got round to reading. I really enjoyed this last romp around London, and I have my eye on the newly released edition of In The Midst of Life.
Farewell to the East End went back to the tried and true format of the first book, with shorter chapters and much less talking of situations that she couldn’t possibly know about. It focused more on the midwives, and the nuns which was really interesting as I know understand some of the character choices for the TV show a lot more. If felt grim, real, but uplifting at the same time. Jennifer Worth clearly got a lot from these experiences and these really are the kinds of memoirs I like to read!
We had experience, risk, and adventure enough to fill a lifetime. And to remember in old age is sweet-

Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz
I borrowed the audiobook of this… from the library! That’s a whole other thing but I ended up listening to this while my physical copy was around 700 miles away. Technology is amazing.
I’ve been meaning to re-read these books for a while anyway, because I loved them as a kid. I would take them from my brothers shelves and devour them. It’s James Bond for teenage boys basically. Adventures and gadgets and all kinds of fun!
However, it was kind of… racist? Spoiler alert here, but the main story line was that a middle eastern character was racistly bullied so he became the bad guy. He, and his accomplice, are the only PoC.
And I probably could’ve done without the line: “We have to send in someone who won’t be noticed… We were considering sending down a woman, she might be able to slip in as a secretary or a receptionist but then I had a better idea.” With the better idea being to send a schoolboy into the dangerous situation. But there are female characters in power in the book, so I can’t decide if it’s sexism or a sarcastic observation of women’s value in the workplace in 2000.
Overall, I’m proceeding with caution. 

No, the bank wouldn’t kill him. He didn’t even have an account there.

After Eight by Meg Cabot
Guess who finally got around to reading the last books of The Princess Diaries series? Yup. This woman. After discovering my library app, I went and downloaded the ebooks while I was in Norway, despite taking nine physical books. Of course. And I don’t even normally read ebooks because they tend to exacerbate my migraines but I was having a couple of migraine-free days and everything just came together.
Anyway, I’m glad I finally got around to this book. There’s a little of that old purity myth nonsense where I actually agreed with Mia’s Grandmere: “-Virginity is no GIFT. You can’t even WEAR it!” but in general I liked the plot and these books are always fun reads.

Maybe that’s why I was put on this planet- not to be Princes of Genovia, but so that I can worry about everything so nobody else has to bother. 

To the Nines by Meg Cabot
The reason that this got four stars rather than the usual three of enjoyment-but-nothing-special, was because it was actually kind of special! Depression is something that’s being dealt with more and more in YA novels nowadays but this was published ten years ago and deals with it really well! Mia goes to therapy, and I can only imagine how wonderfully normalising that could be for a kid reading these books that is dealing with the same things. It makes me wish I kept reading them when I was younger.
I also liked that this book talks about how teenage girls can be completely underrated, which is so true.

“Sometimes in life, you fall down holes you can’t climb out of by yourself. That’s what friends and family are for- to help. They can’t help, however, unless you let them know you’re down there.”

Ten out of Ten by Meg Cabot
And we’re done. Amazingly, an exact year since I read book seven and over three years since I re-started the series. I’l admit, I got a little emotional! It’s so strange saying goodbye to a series from your childhood. I can’t really see myself re-reading it. I know there’s Royal Wedding but- well, we’ll see if I ever get around to it.
All loose ends are tied up, admittedly in a much longer book than they really needed, we get a happy ever after fit for a princess and my favourite bit of this one was the idea of genre fiction has it’s place alongside literary fiction. Mia has written a romance novel and defends it so valiantly. I love a good book that talks about books!

-if you write something that cheers someone up when they’re feeling down, doesn’t that change the world?

Emma by Jane Austen
Did Imogen read her first Jane Austen novel? Yes, I did! I actually asked a bunch of people which I should start with and ended up ignoring all of their sound advice and reading the one that had an audiobook available in an Audible deal. But hey! I actually enjoyed it, and I’m looking forward to my next Austen novel so that’s definitely a win.
I wasn’t sure what to really expect with Emma, having never read an Austen before and only seeing very vague blurbs. But I enjoyed it well enough. It wasn’t as action-packed as most modern novels are and that really disoriented me for a while, but it’s really interesting as an insight into how life was lived by people of the upper-middle class in society at that time. There’s domestic drama and a really natural community feeling. I fell into the world of Emma and sat with her at tea, walked with her down country lanes, and felt every blunder. It was a lovely escape with no really high stakes.
Now I just have to decide… What Austen next?

“Emma has been meaning to read more ever since she was twelve years old. I have seen a great many lists of her drawing up at various times of books that she meant to read regularly-“

What have you been reading lately?
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Book Unhaul #2

It’s time for my next unhaul! I’m actually really surprised at how much I enjoy these posts. Going through all my books, old and new, is not only great for finding absolute gems from my childhood I thought I’d lost. But it’s also really challenging the hoarding tendencies of my OCD in a way that rewards success- getting to buy a new book, but doesn’t put pressure on me since the only one making me do this is me. Yay for steps forward with personal mental health! Now onto the books…

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4, The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole and True Confessions of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend 
These went from the photograph for this round-up review, straight into the pile for this unhaul. This type of humour isn’t for me, but I know it is for others. I really hope they find a good home from the charity shop and someone enjoys them.

The Calling by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton*
This was one of the first books I received for review way back when, before I researched authors pre-accepting review copies. After struggling through, I gave the prize a Google and found out about James Freys’ frankly awful treatment of writers at Full Fathom Five. I still find it hard to believe this led to a three book series, eleven companion novellas, and $2 Million of gold for the prizes. But I barely hear about this series so… Bye.

The It Girl, Notorious, Reckless, Unforgettable, Lucky and Tempted by Cecily von Ziegesar
I wasn’t in the book ‘scene’ when I was younger so I had no idea about amazing books for teens. What I wouldn’t do to go back in time and hand younger-Imogen a copy of The Hunger Games. But no. Diversity? Feminism? Pah! Despite my mothers attempts to broaden my horizons, I lived in a fictional world of white straight teenage girls being horrible to each other. This is the Jenny Humpfrey spin-off from the Gossip Girl books, and while I’m debating keeping those for nostalgia, I was never too attached to this series. Those who saw my last unhaul might be spotting a pattern.

Have you read any of these? Have you unhauled anything lately?
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