Thursday 30 November 2017

Clare Reviews: The Mountain by Luca D'Andrea

The MountainTitle: The Mountain
Author: Luca D'Andrea
Format: ARC
Source: Received for an honest review from the publisher
Pages: 393
Rating: 5/5
Blurb: Jeremiah Salinger blames himself. The crash was his fault. He was the only survivor. Now only his daughter Clara can put a smile on his face. The depression and the nightmares are closing in. But when he takes Clara to the Bletterbach - a canyon in the Dolomites rich in fossil remains - he overhears by chance a conversation that gives his life renewed focus. In 1985 three students were murdered there, their bodies savaged, limbs severed and strewn by a killer who was never found. Salinger, a New Yorker, is far from home, and these Italian mountains, where his wife was born, harbour a close-knit, tight-lipped community whose mistrust of outsiders can turn ugly. All the same, solving this mystery might be the only thing that can keep him sane.Translated from the Italian by Howard Curtis. 

This was masterful. Every element from characters to atmosphere to the perfectly paced plot was so wonderfully created. This is a book I can tell I am going to be fanatical about. I went in almost blind to this which I think worked out pretty well. The first chapter was a tad disorienting but it was to great effect in the end.

The characters Luca D'Andrea created felt so very, very real. Their interactions felt natural, not formulated for a plot direction and they had little quirks that added to their charm. Clara was delightful, a little spot of sunshine in an otherwise deeply unsettling read. Salinger himself had a mind it was great to be inside of. I could understand his deep curiosity or, as he put it, obsession about the murders. I also desperately wanted him to drop the whole issue because it was going so badly for him. 

But the plot was my absolute favourite part. I cant remember the last time I read something so perfectly paced. It doesn't start small by any means. Salinger goes through hell very early in the book but the suffering he, and by extension the reader, goes through increases throughout the book. Reveals are spaced so that you constantly feel like you're almost - almost - reaching for the truth but never quite able to grasp it. So many times I thought I'd finally found a handle on it only to have it slip away entirely. 

This is a hard book to walk away from. Eating, sleeping, everyday life became very much a nuisance because I just needed to know. Like Salinger, the mystery ate away at me until I was formulating theories in my head even when I wasn't reading it. 

The atmosphere as well was excellent. The small town animosity to outsiders from the view of an outsider is always a fascinating viewpoint. The community was so interesting and mysterious. But its the Bletterbach that truly grasped me. It was foreboding from the start and the more that was revealed the more ominous it became - and yet the more I wanted to uncover about it. The last book I read with an atmosphere this strong was Ararat by Christopher Golden which bears mentioning because those who enjoy this will enjoy that and vice versa. 

This is a translated novel and it is worth mentioning that the translation is incredible. I sometimes struggle with translated books when words or phrases don't translate well or crucial elements seem lost or awkward. But this read really well. 

If you love atmospheric thrillers with a touch of horror then you need to read this! This is, no exaggeration, one of the best books I've read and I'll definitely be re-reading it and also desperately ordering anything else by Luca D'Andrea. 

Wednesday 29 November 2017

Top 5 Authors Whose Writing Talent I Want!!

You can find the group on goodreads here to check out monthly topics! This was an interesting topic for me. Ann and I are currently writing a book which we are loving. Side note - co-writing a book is such a weird process. Great to have that support but also way harder to get two brains on the same page. Literally. I found I didn't have to think very hard on this prompt, the authors and the parts of their writing I want came straight to mind which was nice! 

1) Leigh Bardugo
Leigh Bardugo is just incredible. I fangirl over her books so hard. Her Six of Crows duology may be my favourite fantasy books of all time. I want to write like her in terms of her characters. Morally grey, sometimes making seriously dodgy decisions but as a reader - impossible not to love! That's my favourite kind of character and she has mastered them! 

2) J.K. Rowling
I want Rowling's ability to craft a world. The Harry Potter universe feels so real to me and so magical. It's so perfectly built and described that I can picture it in my head super clearly. I would also love whatever magical quality she has that made her write a series that almost defined a generation and tied so many people together but that seems unlikely.

3) Philip Pullman
Sheer jealousy of his writing style here but also - he makes everything make sense. Anything could happen in his books and I'd think "yes of course". I don't know whether that's fully down to research or to immersing himself in his own world somehow but I want it. 

4) Cat Winters
Description. Cat Winters makes you see and smell and taste the world she is writing about. I always get lost in a Cat Winters book entirely, dead to the world don't even try to talk to me lost.

5) Anne Fortier
Anne Fortier has written only two books, Juliet and The Lost Sisterhood. But I loved them both. She can tell two stories at once and have them interlock perfectly. And I don't even prefer one story to the other. I love this format but its very rare that I don't prefer one half of the book to the other so I am super impressed by how she does this! 

Tuesday 28 November 2017

Top Ten Books on My Winter TBR

Top Ten Tuesdays are hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and you can find a list of past and future topics here!

1) What Light by Jay Asher
What Light
I bought this last year but didn't get to read it in time for Christmas. Since I'm a seasonal reader, reading it after Christmas felt fundamentally wrong so I put it aside for this year!! I am really excited for it because I was a huge fan of Thirteen Reasons Why and whilst this looks, of course, very different, I'm hoping I still love Asher's writing. 

2) Chasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis
Chasing Christmas Eve (Heartbreaker Bay, #4)
I adore Jill Shalvis's books and her Heartbreaker Bay series is probably my favourite of hers. This is the fourth book in the series and looks super festive and lovely. 

3) The Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellowes
The Mitford Murders (Mitford Murders #1)
Because Christmas just isn't complete without a good murder? I got this recently because of the great reviews and because I do love murder mysteries - especially those set at Christmas!! 

4) The Fandom by Anna Day
The Fandom
I got an ARC of this at YALC and also met the author so I am very excited to read this! I should be reading it before the release since I do plan to post a review!

5) Zenith by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings
Zenith (The Androma Saga, #1)
Getting an ARC of this at YALC was an experience. There were so many people so determined to get a copy. And I get why. It is one of my most anticipated reads of the year because space pirates. Space. Pirates. I also love Sasha's videos. 

6) The Extinction Trials by S. M. Wilson
The Extinction Trials (The Extinction Trials, #1)
The Usborne team were super nice to me whilst I was waiting for the ARC of this at YALC so getting it was a great experience. Plus this is Jurassic Park meets Hunger Games and if that doesn't intrigue you then... I don't even know. It makes me very excited! 

7) The Dragon's Legacy by Deborah A. Wolf
The Dragon’s Legacy (The Dragon's Legacy, #1)
I will be posting my review of this sometime in December so I need to read it very, very soon. It helps that I am crazy excited for it! I always get drawn towards dragon novels and this one sounds awesome and I've heard some good things. 

8) Cloaked in Shadow by Ben Alderson
Cloaked in Shadow (The Dragori, #1)
Another Booktuber whose videos I enjoy! I've been curious about this book since he first mentioned it and now all details have been revealed and it sounds really, really good. I have this one pre-ordered and just hope I get to read it when it arrives!

9) Shadow Girl by Liana Liu
Shadow Girl
Paranormal YA Mystery was enough to get my interest. Also the blurb sounds vaguely Jane Eyre which is one of my favourite classics so of course I want to read this! 

10) High Rising by Angela Thirkell
High Rising
I got this for Christmas last year and yes, it's taken me this long to read it. It's one of those classics that forever intrigues me and I don't know why I haven't picked it up sooner! But it's a nice symmetry, reading last years presents at Christmas. Or that's what I'll tell myself anyway! 

Monday 27 November 2017

Monday Highlights #33

The idea is to just link your favourite blog post from the past week (for example a post you're very proud of or just had a lot of fun making) and then I, and hopefully others, can discover new blogs to follow and interact with and discover more posts from blogs we may already follow! 
This week I wanted to try something different. SO we have two link-ups this week. The first is, as normal, for the post you are proud of. The second is for you to share a post from somebody else - anything that really stood out to you this week and deserves to be shared. You don't have to link up to both but the whole "spirit of Thanksgiving" has got me all into sharing and thankfulness (and discounted shopping) so I thought I'd give it a try!! Let me know what you think!

Sunday 26 November 2017

Sunday Post 26th November 2017

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted at Caffeinated Book Reviewer, it's a chance to post a recap on the past week, show the books we have received and share what we plan for the coming week. Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Reading Reality and the aim is to show our newest books and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops or downloaded on to their e-reader.

We've been MIA all week which is mostly because we are MOVING! Hopefully soon although we don't have a fixed date yet. But it means lots of prepping and house showings and getting rid of books. We should be back to normal in the New Year and probably mostly normal in December! 

Books We Got This Week:

The Casquette Girls (The Casquette Girls #1)Dissension (Echo Hunter 367, #1)Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas, #1)Ringer (Replica, #2)
The Casquette Girls by Alys Arden: The first (and only) sale book I was excited about. This looks gorgeous and creepy and I am excited for it!
Dissension by Stacey Berg: Never heard of this before but the blurb really intrigued me so I grabbed it anyway.
Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova: I actually prefer this cover to the hardback which explains why I've waited so long to read this! I love the look of it and I've heard some great things!
Ringer by Lauren Oliver: I ordered this because I was really enjoying Replica and I've already read it. 
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers, #1)A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarers, #2)The Crown's Fate (The Crown's Game, #2)Jane, Unlimited
The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet/A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers: Will be buddy-reading these with Vera at some point. Really looking forward to it because the goodreads reviews are insanely good.
The Crown's Fate by Evelyn Skye: Got this because I was planning to read The Crown's Game next and wanted to read them back to back - and then I rearranged my room and lost The Crown's Game. It's here somewhere. I'll find it. Someday.
Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore: Super anticipating this. I had it pre-ordered (it was released in September) but for some reason my order took forever to arrive! It was one of the most exciting releases of the year for me!
The Last Namsara (Iskari, #1)Furyborn (The Empirium Trilogy, #1)
The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli: I got another copy of this in my Fairy Loot box this month! I have passed on my original copy to Ann and am keeping this one because it's an exclusive cover (silver writing instead of gold?) and because I had a signed bookplate for it. 
Furyborn by Claire Legrand: I LOVED Winterspell by Legrand and have been impatiently waiting for another YA fantasy from her ever since. This is one of my most anticipated releases of 2018 and I can't believe I actually own it now. Keep stroking it to make sure it's real!!

Reading Update:

HeartlessReplica (Replica, #1)Ringer (Replica, #2)Close To Me
Heartless by Marissa Meyer: 3 stars, This wasn't bad. It was just that knowing how it ended took out some of the tension. And the story itself was very slow. Also I would have married the King. I really would. I don't know what that says about me but I was confused at how badly she didn't want to because he was "too nice". 
Replica by Lauren Oliver: 4 stars, Super enjoyable. I read it one chapter from either side at a time which meant I was constantly flipping the book over (and confusing people on the bus) but I loved the way that made the story work. 
Ringer by Lauren Oliver: 3 stars, Less enthralling than the first book. The format and the characters were still super interesting but I think it would have worked as a standalone? Still a good read though!
Close to Me by Amanda Reynolds: 3 stars, Memory loss is always a weird one for me. I have memory loss, a huge chunk gone so sometimes its really reassuring to read about and sometimes it just bugs me. This one was more the former. You get to see her past in alternate chapters so although she cant remember anything, there isn't a lot you don't get to see. And that made the mystery more about interpretation and assumptions which was interesting. I did find it an enjoyable read  but also didn't find it very thrilling as it wasn't as twisty or as twisted as I like my thrillers. Full review coming soon!

Sunday 19 November 2017

Sunday Post 19th November 2017

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted at Caffeinated Book Reviewer, it's a chance to post a recap on the past week, show the books we have received and share what we plan for the coming week. Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Reading Reality and the aim is to show our newest books and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops or downloaded on to their e-reader.

Last Week on the Blog:

  • Monday Highlights #32
  • Vera Made Me Read It: Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu

Books We Got This Week:

Renegades (Renegades, #1)Retribution Rails (Vengeance Road, #2)The Nowhere GirlsTimekeeper
Renegades by Marissa Meyer: I've been excited for this for so so long! I love Meyer's writing and superhero/villain stories are always something I'm interested in!
Retribution Rails by Erin Bowman: I loved Vengeance Road. This is a companion novel following different characters and sounds just as good as the first book!
The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed: This is a sensitive topic for me but I've been wanting to read it anyway so finally caved and ordered it! This looks like it will be a very powerful read.
Timekeeper by Tara Sim: I've had my eye on this since it was released. The paperback was released last month so I decided to get it (Black Friday sale). 
No Good DeedNevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan CrowTell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel
No Good Deed by Kara Connolly: I first heard about this at the beginning of the year and pre-ordered it immediately because female Robin Hood!! 
Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend: I don't often read Middle Grade but the hype for this has been intense. Plus it's so beautiful under the cover. So beautiful.
Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan: This was on my list as a release I was excited for and I somehow forgot to pre-order it? Thankfully Black Friday struck again and I bought it!

Reading Update:

Annie on My MindThe Seafarer's KissAs I DescendedOur Own Private Universe
Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden: 4.5 stars, There are some books I just cant rationally comment on and this is one of them. I loved Liza and Annie and there were parts of the book that broke my heart but the ending put it back together mostly. It also made me hugely grateful for my family. 
The Seafarer's Kiss by Julia Ember: 3 stars, There were a lot of things I loved about this book, the concept, Loki themselves. The romance fell a little short for me if only because we don't really get to know Ragna. But I loved the mother-daughter relationship of the book and I loved that Erie always did things for the right reasons. 
As I Descended by Robin Talley: 4 stars, This was so creepy and intense and I kinda loved it. It had flaws but they weren't enough to take me out of the story and I was gripped from first to last page.
Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley: 3 stars, This definitely felt weaker than As I Descended. I wasn't as attached to the characters and the plot didn't grab me as much. I definitely want to read more from Robin Talley in the future though!
The MountainBlackhearts (Blackhearts, #1)Truthwitch (The Witchlands, #1)Windwitch (The Witchlands, #2)
The Mountain by Luca D'Andrea: 5 stars, Will have a full review up for this on the release date (30th) but in short I loved it. It was super creepy and atmospheric and I genuinely felt like I was inside the main characters head.
Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman: 3 stars, This was interesting but perhaps not for me? I've passed it on to Ann because she was excited for it and hopefully she will love it. It had elements I really liked but then I just didn't really feel the setting as much as I wanted to.
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard: 4 stars, Not the best world building but a very fun story. I loved Safi and Iseult. Not so much Merik who mostly just got on my nerves.
Windwitch by Susan Dennard: 2 stars, I just want Iseult/Aeduan scenes forever. I will definitely continue the series but this was a much weaker book than the first. 
Bright Smoke, Cold Fire (Bright Smoke, Cold Fire, #1)The Glittering Court (The Glittering Court, #1)
Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge: 2.5 stars, I don't know. I loved Cruel Beauty and Crimson Bound but the world building in this just didn't work for me and I never grew to like any of the characters. I rarely like Romeo and I think I disliked this Romeo even more than the original. And Juliet was so over-dramatic all the time. Whilst Paris and Ranaj were just straight up boring. 
The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead: 3.5 stars, I see absolutely no reason why this needed to be fantasy. It was basically upper-class English girl heads to America for a new life and ends up as a pioneer. There were very few differences with real history aside from place name changes. I did enjoy the characters and the romance but I don't think I'll continue the series. I'm not as interested in the other characters and this had a complete ending.

Saturday 18 November 2017

Vera Made Me Read It: Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu

Vera Said: Picking Devoted for Clare was sort of an easy choice, as it is one of my all time favorite novels, and is very much on the underrated side, even though it DESERVES ALL THE LOVE. There are books with good, strong female friendships, but Devoted has, by far, one of the most beautiful and empowering female friendships I've ever seen. I 1000% needed to share that with Clare, and was hoping that she'd love Devoted as much as I do.

DevotedRachel Walker is devoted to God.

She prays every day, attends Calvary Christian Church with her family, helps care for her five younger siblings, dresses modestly, and prepares herself to be a wife and mother who serves the Lord with joy.

But Rachel is curious about the world her family has turned away from, and increasingly finds that neither the church nor her homeschool education has the answers she craves. Rachel has always found solace in her beliefs, but now she can’t shake the feeling that her devotion might destroy her soul.

I didn't actually know much about Devoted before starting except that it was a favourite of Vera's! I had also recently read Mathieu's Moxie and loved it so my hopes were cautiously high! 

Devoted is the kind of book you will never forget. The characters and their relationships stayed with me long after reading and I already know I will be re-reading it (probably soon). It was so emotional being in her head and I was so, so attached to her throughout the book. But I'll admit it was Lauren I properly fell in love with. She was so supportive and wonderful to Rachel even though it must have dredged up bad memories of her own time in the community. She was tough and loving and vulnerable and I adored her.

THE COMMUNITY though. OMG! It made me so mad. The way they treated women, and normalised it, was terrifying and super uncomfortable to read at times. They also humiliated and brainwashed teenagers - the book opens on a teenager who has just returned from a sort of brainwashing camp and is made to stand in front of the congregation and oh god did it make me feel anxious. But it made Rachel's struggle ever more emotional for me and just made me want more and more for her to get out and escape and find happiness. Because she deserved it. 

There is a really sweet romance here, although it's very much in the background of the story. Mark was really adorable and I loved him immediately and his interactions with Rachel were wonderful. As a romance this worked really well and I was so happy to have it there but not dominating a story that was so powerful on it's own. It complimented rather than detracted from the overall plot. 

But the best thing about this was definitely Rachel and Lauren's friendship. It felt so real and raw and they struggled at times because Rachel still held on to a lot of the beliefs she came from and was attempting to reconcile those with also believing in independence and equality whilst Lauren no longer believed at all. I thought both attitudes were really well dealt with and I could understand both Lauren's attempt to leave her experience behind entirely and Rachel's to find a good way to move forward and remain a Christian but in a healthy way. They supported each other throughout and encouraged each other, their friendship was such goals and I loved everything about it - even when they fell out. 

I am super grateful to Vera for getting me to read this because it's not necessarily a book I would have reached for otherwise and I am so glad I did read it! I am now well on my way to being a huge Jennifer Mathieu fan and obviously need to read everything else she has written or will write! 

If you want to check out Vera's review of the book I made her read - Dating Sarah Cooper - then you can click here! And hopefully we can try this out again in the future!

Monday 13 November 2017

Monday Highlights #32

The idea is to just link your favourite blog post from the past week (for example a post you're very proud of or just had a lot of fun making) and then I, and hopefully others, can discover new blogs to follow and interact with and discover more posts from blogs we may already follow!

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare), Facebook and Instagram to keep up with what we are reading.

Sunday 12 November 2017

Sunday Post 12th November 2017

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted at Caffeinated Book Reviewer, it's a chance to post a recap on the past week, show the books we have received and share what we plan for the coming week. Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Reading Reality and the aim is to show our newest books and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops or downloaded on to their e-reader.

Last Week on the Blog:

Books We Got This Week:

The BetrayalFantastic Beasts and Where to Find ThemThe Mitford Murders (Mitford Murders #1)
The Betrayal by Kate Furnivall: One of my favourite historical fiction writers ever. I had to grab this when I saw it in Tesco.
Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling: The illustrations are insanely gorgeous. I am currently reading this and loving it.
The Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellowes: This is apparently the perfect Christmas mystery so I'm putting it aside for Christmas and I am excited!

Reading Update:

The Marked Girl (Marked Girl, #1)
The Marked Girl by Lindsey Klingele: 4 stars, This was amazing but I didn't like the cliffhanger ending. Also the main male character got on my nerves a lot with his rudeness and stupidity. 

The Empress (The Diabolic #2)The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic (Grisha Verse, #0.5, #2.5, #2.6)Florence Grace: The Richard & Judy bestselling author
The Empress by S.J. Kincaid: 4 stars, This is a tough one. The ending was intense but I didn't feel the book as a whole was as good as the first book (The Diabolic). I also feel like I'm maybe on the wrong side by the end but I'll be very interested to see where this goes in Book 3.
The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo: 5 stars, Just. So. Incredibly. Beautiful. The illustrations, the tales themselves. It was all so perfect. If you love the Grishaverse you NEED this and if you've never read a Grisha book (then firstly go do that) then you would still enjoy these fairytales. 
Florence Grace by Tracy Rees: 3 stars, I adored Tracy's first book Amy Snow, this one had much the same enchanting writing. And as much as I loved the main character I just wasn't as entranced by the plot. And the ending wasn't to my liking.