Book Review: The Last Hours by Minette Walters

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Read between: 31st August-16th September
Format: ebook
Published: November 2nd 2017
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Synopsis: When the Black Death enters England through the port in Dorsetshire in June 1348, no one knows what manner of sickness it is—or how it spreads and kills so quickly. The Church cites God as the cause, and fear grips the people as they come to believe that the plague is a punishment for wickedness.

But Lady Anne of Develish has her own ideas. Educated by nuns, Anne is a rarity among women, being both literate and knowledgeable. With her brutal husband absent from the manor when news of this pestilence reaches her, she looks for more sensible ways to protect her people than daily confessions of sin. She decides to bring her serfs inside the safety of the moat that surrounds her manor house, then refuses entry to anyone else, even her husband.

Lady Anne makes an enemy of her daughter and her husband’s steward by doing so, but her resolve is strengthened by the support of her leading serfs…until food stocks run low. The nerves of all are tested by continued confinement and ignorance of what is happening in the world outside. The people of Develish are alive. But for how long? And what will they discover when the time comes for them to cross the moat again?

Compelling and suspenseful, The Last Hours is a riveting tale of human ingenuity and endurance set against the worst pandemic in history. In Lady Anne of Develish—leader, savior, heretic—Walters has created her most memorable heroine to date.

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Firstly, thank you to Netgalley (yes I have a backlog!) for letting me read this book in exchange for a review. As a fan of historical fiction I was very interested in reading a novel based around the Black Death as I hadn’t read one before. However, although I enjoyed it for the most parts, I’m afraid it let me down.

The range of different characters was actually great, as everyone had their role in town which was to be expected, from the Lady of the Manor, to her daughter, and the people who serve them. Unfortunately, the daughter, Eleanor, was such an arrogant child that I had to force myself through the book because I just couldn’t stand her.

As soon as people start to die, the story begins to take a turn and it was good reading how the characters reacted to their situation, with some leaving to seek out food and water that wasn’t contaminated- although this was to draw us away from a subplot about Eleanor being promiscuous with local boys.

Everything about that subplot was unnecessary- we didn’t need it.

The writing is good, and the characters feel like real people, I just found myself getting lost in various places.

There has been a lot research done into the area of the time, and of the black death, by the author, and this definitely added to the story- it put the situation into the real world, and although we know the Black Death happened, its different when you can imagine it happening as if you were there.

I did enjoy this book once I started to get into the story, there were just certain characters and historical inaccuracies (like the language used) that made me give the rating I did.

It was a good book, but I don’t think I’ll be reading the sequel any time soon.

2.5/5 stars.

Spoilt heiresses just don’t work on me.

Thanks for reading!
~Katie

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Top Ten Books On My TBR I’m Avoiding Reading and Why.

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I have a huge TBR- I’m not going to lie about that, and there are definitely some books on there that have been there a while and I’ve been putting them off- so this weeks TTT is going to be a shameful confession.

  1. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi- It had a lot of love back when it was first released and I’m scared to read it because, if I don’t like it, I’m worried the fans will come out of the woodwork and try and protect it.
  2.  The Shades of Magic series  by V.E. Schwab- again, they’re really hyped and well loved and I have the entire series- I want to be able to like the first book otherwise I’m going to regret getting all three.
  3. River of Bones by Annelie Wendberg- Due to not owning the previous book(s) I am worried about reading this one in case there are any spoilers.
  4.  Landline by Rainbow Rowell- I love her YA novels, but I’m worried her adult novels may not match up and I won’t enjoy it (despite being an adult and not a young adult)
  5.  The rest of my Doctor Who: Complete History books ( eight in total) because I haven’t got the rest of the collection and I feel wasteful owning them if I don’t have them all so I need to try and read them.
  6. Brit(ish) by Afua Hirsch- The reason I am worried about reading this one is I am white British and privileged to be so, I am scared this book may paint my race in the wrong light as it focuses on those who are not white.
  7. Ross Poldark by Winston Graham- The size of the series. There’s 12 books, I only own the first five I think? They are also TV covers and now its finished my books won’t match 😦
  8. Red Rising by Pierce Brown- It’s hyped. A lot of the books on this list are hyped and that’s scary!
  9. Lethal White by Robert Galbraith- this book is incredibly huge and that fact scares me because there’s a chance it may not be a book a like and it’s daunting.
  10. The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald- It’s a classic, it’s well known, and that can worry people- like me.

That’s the list, I mean okay I cheated and chose more than one book for the number. Have you guys read any of these books? Let me know!
Thanks for reading!
~Katie

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A Little Life Update

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Not relevant, this is just my favourite picture from this year!

So, life update.

The reason I have been neglecting this blog is because my “unpaid” job, exhibiting with my cosplay group means I am busy most weekends and also because, as of last week, I am now officially teaching my own class!

I started last week with an awesome INSET, doing archery and other activities to help me bond with my fellow teachers (which it really did). Then I went into class for the Tuesday morning to see how the morning routine works and to meet my class for the first time before I started teaching on Wednesday.

It went much better than it did in my head, I really like my class!

This week is when I start having my NQT time, away from the classroom, now that I’ve had a week to settle.

However, as I work part time I am going to try my best to keep up with the blog! Especially the weekly posts such as Top Ten Tuesday.

Thank you to those who keep reading my posts!
~Katie

Book Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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Read between: 16th-30th August
Format: Paperback
Published: May 14th 2012
Publisher: Vintage
Synopsis: The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love – a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

Rating: 5521e-4stars

Review:
The Night Circus is extremely loved and I understand why, I really enjoyed the story and I was surprised how much I wanted to follow the characters into their world of magic and mystery.

The range of characters made this book even more exciting, from those in the circus, to the outsiders, from the romance to the sudden deaths, there was enough in the novel to keep me hooked as I read more and more of the story. I think the premise of the travelling circus meant that there was always something new.

I flew through this book, I loved how time shifted between the chapters, and it was great to see some characters grown up. There are also interludes, where you, as the reader, are being spoken to. This personal touch gave me a good feel of the circus and helped to get involved in the story more.

The main characters, Celia and Marco, were really well written and fleshed out- there were some characters that I felt maybe weren’t needed, and this lowered my rating slighty due to finding them annoying and having to push through those scenes.

I don’t want to go into much detail about the book as I feel like you have to read it to understand the story- it’s really hard to convey in words but I will convey the story in three words that I think describe it best.

Magical. Time. Rebellion.

The last one links in with a competition that flows throughout the story.

I would recommend this book, it would be great for the older end of YA and for adults who like fantasy and magical realism.

Give it a go!

5/5 stars.

Something totally different, but definitely one of the better books I have read this year.

Thanks for reading!
~Katie

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Book Review: A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G Drews

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Read between: 13th-15th August
Published: 7th June 2018
Publisher: Orchard Books
Format: Paperback
Synopsis: An emotionally charged story of music, abuse and, ultimately, hope.

Beck hates his life. He hates his violent mother. He hates his home. Most of all, he hates the piano that his mother forces him to play hour after hour, day after day. He will never play as she did before illness ended her career and left her bitter and broken. But Beck is too scared to stand up to his mother, and tell her his true passion, which is composing his own music – because the least suggestion of rebellion on his part ends in violence.

When Beck meets August, a girl full of life, energy and laughter, love begins to awaken within him and he glimpses a way to escape his painful existence. But dare he reach for it?

Rating: ef735-star5

Review:

Beck is his mothers protege, he spends every waking hour at the piano, playing it until his fingers bleed- but according to her, he still isn’t good enough. This is his life- until he gets paired with August for an English assignment and suddenly he has a way to view life differently.

But for the better?

This book is about bravery, and also about friendship. A friendship that helps Beck become a better person.

I really liked this book, there were moments that shocked me, moments that made me cry- nut mostly, this book made me smile whilst I was reading it. The writing is beautiful.

The author has really considered family dynamics, even if they’re not the best. The way Beck looks out for his little sister is lovely to read.

I really enjoyed this book and it’s range of characters. As a debut novel, I’m very impressed. I’m excited to see what else the author brings out. I would definitely recommend it.

5/5 stars!

If you’re after a read that will fill you with emotions, then pick this up. It’s incredible.

Thanks for reading!
~Katie

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Enjoyed That Are Outside of My Comfort Zone

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It’s September- I have Tuesday’s off, so because the new school term has started I’m going to attempt to do Top Ten Tuesday every week from now on (!). This weeks prompt was really interesting.

I tend to stick to fiction, YA, or sci fi and fantasy, so here are the ten books I enjoyed that are out of my comfort zone (aka, genres I don’t usually read.)

  1. The Honeybus by Meredith Roberts- This book is a memoir and I don’t usually read memoirs but it was written so beautifully that it read like fiction.
  2. On the theme of memoirs, another favourite was Finding Gobi by Dion Leonard. It’s about a man and a dog who find each other and I adored it.
  3. The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night by Jen Campbell- I don’t really pick up short story collections as they frustrate me, but I follow Jen on Youtube and was curious about it. I’m glad I picked it up as I enjoyed it!
  4. Misfit by Charli Howard- a memoir about Charli’s struggles with an eating disorder, It was so moving as I could relate to the situation myself.
  5. New and Collected Poems for Children by Carol Ann Duffy- Like short story collections, I don’t really go towards poetry collections but this was a really clever collection and I liked it.
  6.  A Midsummer’s Nights Dream by William Shakespeare- a play! This was the first time I’ve read a Shakespeare play in full.
  7. Mark of the Cyclops by Saviour Pirotta- a children’s book based on Ancient Greece which I read before teaching it during my training.
  8. The Pirate’s Tempting Stowaway by Erica Ridley- this is an adult romance book, I liked it and although I like romance I wouldn’t usually read books like this.
  9. Trailblazing Women of the Georgian Era: The Eighteenth-Century Struggle for Female Success in a Man’s World by Mike Rendell- a non-fiction book about powerful women. It was great!
  10. Watson and Holmes: A Study in Black- a graphic novel retelling of the Sherlock Holmes story, it was fantastic and I’d recommend it!

 

 

Hope you enjoyed!
This topic was a lot harder than I thought it would be.

Thanks for reading!
~Katie

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Comic Book Reviews

I have started reading my comic collection (which is steadily growing) in between my TBR books to break up the heavy reading.

I read three during the month of August.
The first ones I read are Issues 1 and 2 in the Moon Comic series from Beyond the Bunker

A synopsis of Moon: Moon: An introduction

Have you ever looked up into the night sky and wondered what the Moon does when he’s not up there? You haven’t? Well this may well answer all the questions you never asked.

What if I was to tell you that the Moon has dropped out of the sky early hours of every morning for the last 2000 years and most recently puts on a suit, takes out a gun and fights ridiculous crime? Ever since a botched, drunken Celtic ceremony in 12ad, the Moon has been doomed to plummet out of the sky, hit the ground, brush himself off and fight the forces of the ridiculous on behalf of the British government. He was supposed to be a beautiful, blue Moon goddess who could sweep entire armies into the ocean but they messed it up and we ended up with a skinny guy with a Moon for a head.

He has worked his way up through 2000 years of British history. He has no face with which to emote, no mouth with which to speak. If you put a coke float in front of him he will drink it but no one is entirely sure how. He’s a surprisingly good shot and he’s teamed up with a homicidal traffic warden who pretends he’s from Chicago when secretly we suspect he’s from Sheffield.

Plus, he’s slightly inadequate – which we think makes him the quintessential British superhero.  On top of which we figured out the other day he’s most likely the world’s most famous superhero because if you think about it there are people in China who have never heard of Superman but you know they know what the Moon is.

 

I loved the first two issues, and I gave them 4 stars each. Its completely different, and so funny! I loved it and I can’t wait to get the next two issues when I find their stand at a future comic con.

The other comic I read is the 1st in the Tenth Doctor Titan Comics, Revolutions of Terror.

In Revolutions of Terror, Gabriella Gonzalez dreams of a life outside the family business and a break from the yoke of her father’s relentless work ethic. When strange things start happening around her neighborhood and an even stranger pinstripe-wearing man shows up at her family diner, Gabby soon finds herself running for her life and fighting to save the world. 

There wasn’t much of the Doctor in this one, and I am missing some issues but I also enjoyed this one.

Let me know if you guys read comics!

Thanks for reading!
~Katie

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