Posted in General Musings

‘The Flatshare’ by Beth O’Leary [Book Review]

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When life gives you the perfect book at exactly the right time, share the hell out of it. That’s how the saying goes, right?

Title: The Flatshare
Author: Beth O’Leary
Released: 2019
Pages: 394
Rating: 9/10

Review:
“‘Your brain can do amazing stuff to protect itself from pain.'”

Have you ever read a book and felt like it was written for you? That was The Flatshare for me. It resonated with me on a personal level; I felt a deep affinity with our main character, Tiffy, who throughout the novel was struggling with unresolved issues stemming from a past relationship, all whilst attempting to keep up appearances with her friends and at work.

The novel is told from the dual perspectives of Tiffy, a quirky book editor, and Leon, a nurse who works night shifts in respite care. When Tiffy is essentially rendered homeless as a result of the fallout with her ex-boyfriend, she is forced to find alternate accommodation. With extortionate London rents, her options are limited, until she spots Leon’s advert for an unconventional flatshare arrangement with a stranger. Cue Tiffy and Leon’s new living situation.

The character development throughout this book is strong; both individually and as a pair, Tiffy and Leon’s stories mesh perfectly. The supporting characters and sub-plots are equally well executed. Additionally, the themes explored are serious and relevant; from gaslighting in toxic relationships, to racial bias and wrongful incarceration, this novel manages to successfully tackle a wide variety of topics.

Honestly, one of the best contemporary novels I’ve read in years, perhaps ever.

I cannot praise this book highly enough, and the fact that it has just been named as WHSmith’s Fiction Book of the Year speaks volumes. Thank you Beth O’Leary and The Flatshare for such a perfectly poignant piece of literature!

For more content, visit @charlottebibliophile on Goodreads, Instagram and YouTube

Posted in General Musings

‘Flight Risk’ by Dr. Stephanie Green [Book Review]

I’ve just finished my second read in as many days; clearly the sunshine in France is doing wonders for my aptitude to devour books. Today’s offering, medical memoir Flight Risk by Dr. Stephanie Green, was quite different to the crime/thriller novel I reviewed yesterday, Nomad by James Swallow, but it was no less enthralling.

Title: Flight Risk
Author: Dr. Stephanie Green
Released: 2018
Pages: 304
Rating: 6/10

Review:
“There’s an element in some people with a personality disorder that compels them to continually test the people around them; pushing them away to see just how far they can be pushed. Success in doing so will then confirm their belief that they are unlovable.”

I do love a medical drama, whether it’s on the page or the screen, so when I heard about ‘Flight Risk’, reading it was a no brainer. The biography of a doctor at Heathrow, the non-fiction work explains the highs and lows of being the first responder at Europe’s busiest airport. Dealing with everything from drug smuggling to on board fatalities, this proved to be a very interesting and informative work about the hidden world of Heathrow Airport.

Whilst the individual anecdotes of the passengers were entertaining and sometimes upsetting, the author also incorporated the work/life balance into her narrative, by mentioning her young family, which added a level of humility that was probably necessary. A quick, easy read if you’re a fan of medical memoirs.

Every time I finish a book like Flight Risk I’m always left wanting more, and I often struggle to find it. If you’ve got any recommendations for similar non-fiction titles (think Confessions of a GP by Dr. Benjamin Daniels), please leave a comment down below.

Now that I’m well and truly out of my reading slump, and acquainted with blogging, I’m excited to see what books the next few weeks and months are going to bring me.

For more content, visit @charlottebibliophile on Goodreads, Instagram and YouTube

Posted in General Musings

‘Nomad’ by James Swallow [Book Review]

On my sunbed (which as usual is currently situated in the shade) in France, I finished my first book since February, a fact which fills me with both shock and horror. It’s fair to say that, as stipulated in my recent post A Long Overdue Wrap-Up, I had become disillusioned and disinterested in the process of reading, or more accurately reading with certain goals in mind, be that a numerical target on Goodreads, or rating and reviewing completed books on my blog. As such, the entire process fell away; though I am happy to report that it, and I, am back on track once more.

Title: Nomad
Author: James Swallow
Released: 2016
Pages: 487
Rating: 6/10

Review:
“Speed and confidence were key. If you were fast enough, if you seemed assured about it, you could get a long way before someone looking right at you caught what you were doing.”

I picked this novel up on the pretext that it was recommended for fans of ‘I Am Pilgrim’ by Terry Hayes, which is quite possibly my favourite thriller of all time, however, the comparison proved to be a disservice to the epic tale. ‘Nomad’, unfortunately, turned out to be a pretty generic thriller, featuring a dull main character, and predictable plot twists.

There were a number of loose ends that weren’t tied up, which was a shame given the plot itself had scores of potential to be developed. Sadly, I think the disillusioned similarity between ‘Nomad’ and ‘I Am Pilgrim’ proved to be this novel’s downfall, as I was expecting a vast amount more action, and unexpected turns.

Despite the slight disappointment that my return to reading was not brought about by an outstanding book, I am content in the knowledge that I did enjoy this read, and it proved to be an easy and relatively enjoyable novel. Yes, the hero was a bit of a damp squib, and the plot could have been executed much better, but it was fast-paced and had me wanting more.

So, here’s me attesting to wanting more once again. More books. More reviews. Just more (like I wish ‘Nomad’ had).

For more content, visit @charlottebibliophile on Goodreads, Instagram and YouTube

Posted in General Musings

A Long Overdue Wrap-Up

When I logged into my blog last night, I was shocked to discover that it had been well over a year since my last post. That’s 436 days of reading, writing and blogging time unaccounted for.

It is true that to some degree I fell out of love with the entire process, but this was in part due to the culmination of my Master’s degree in English (which I have now obtained, I am very happy to say!)

…hopefully followed by a long overdue bookshelf reorder

Having now wrapped-up (so to speak) the academic part of my life (unless I one day take the plunge and embark on a PhD), I feel the time is right to reimerse myself in the book blogging community that has provided me with countless hours of entertaining and creative content from so many wonderful people, as well as the space to express my own love of literature.

So, a small reading wrap-up since *cough* June 5, 2018.

Books read: 30
Favourite book: The Truth Pixie by Matt Haig

June 6, 2018 – December 31, 2018
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (5/10)
The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown (8/10)
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (7/10)
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (6/10)
The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k by Sarah Knight (7/10)
Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence (4/10)
Animal Farm by George Orwell (8/10)
Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm (7/10)
England Your England by George Orwell (5/10)
Happy Mum, Happy Baby by Giovanna Fletcher (6/10)
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (8/10)
The Road by Cormac McCarthy (5/10)
Wildflower by Drew Barrymore (7/10)
The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman (6/10)
The Truth Pixie by Matt Haig (9/10)
Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli (6/10)
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (6/10)
This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay (8/10)

January 1, 2019 – August 15, 2019
The Dry by Jane Harper (8/10)
How To Be Champion
by Sarah Millican (7/10)
No Holding Back
 by Amanda Holden (5/10)
Brain Freeze by Tom Fletcher (6/10)
Skeleton Key by Anthony Horowitz (6/10)
Girl Online: Going Solo by Zoe Sugg (3/10)
Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading by Lucy Mangan (8/10)
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald by J.K. Rowling (3/10)
How Not To Be A Boy by Robert Webb (8/10)
Heartstopper Volume 1 by Alice Oseman (7/10)
The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell (8/10)
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (5/10)

Here’s to rejuvenated passions.

Posted in General Musings

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Decided To DNF/Put Down Recently

June 5: Top Ten Books I Decided To DNF/Put Down Recently
I’m not one to say I’ll never read a book, but lately I have been feeling disconnected with reading in general and have cast away many books. I’ve been flitting in and out of upwards of twenty books for years, and it’s definitely hampered my ability to just focus on and enjoy a really great read. You never know, I might well pick up and finish some of these one day, but that day is not today.

1. The Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz
I was really looking forward to reading this Disney retelling featuring the children of the villains as the protagonists, but I found it disappointingly juvenile and strangely slow-paced.

2. No Holding Back by Amanda Holden
As a big fan of Amanda Holden I was initially invested in her autobiography whilst on holiday, but then I put it down and never picked it up again. I’m sure I’ll finish it one day, as I’m especially interested in her time in South Africa.

3. The World According to Clarkson by Jeremy Clarkson
I’m certainly not Clarkson’s biggest fan, but he does make the occasional good point and backs it up with evidence. His columns are sometimes amusing, but I got bored of his writing style.

4. How To Be Single by Liz Tuccillo
This was one of my biggest bookish disappointments in recent years: I love the movie based on this book, but the inspiration for the film is so dull and dry.

5. Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige
The beginning of this YA novel had me completely hooked; a girl with psychological problems is locked up in a mental hospital, but then it became a cliche fantasy story.

6. Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell
At first I was totally drawn in by this mysterious book, but sadly it became dull and repetitive, and not at all scary.

7. Barry Trotter and the Shameless Parody by Michael Garber
I first read this when I was just a kid after reading Harry Potter, and I thought it was quite funny, but my attempt at a re-read failed abysmally. It is honestly the biggest rip-off in history and not at all amusing.

8. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
The Girl on the Train was one of my favourite thrillers, but Paula Hawkins second novel didn’t grip me from the beginning like her first. Perhaps I wasn’t really in the mood for a thriller and I’ll give it another go one day?

9. No Middle Name by Lee Child
This is a collection of Jack Reacher short stories released in a bind-up for the first time; I read the first one and enjoyed it, but I’m somewhat worried about spoilers, so I think I’ll continue with the series before reading this anthology.

10. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Years ago I began reading this psychological book, and I was really enjoying it, but it’s something that requires intense concentration, and I just don’t have that to dedicate to a book right now. One day I will further my learning on this matter.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Check out their blog and get involved!

For more content, visit @charlottebibliophile on Goodreads, Instagram and YouTube

Posted in General Musings

Wiping The Slate Clean (Unmarking As Currently Reading)

We are almost halfway through 2018, and my entire reading year has been shrouded in a deep reading slump. To put a number on it, in the first five months of 2018, I only read three books. Three. By way of comparison, in the same period in 2017, I read nineteen.

As with the 1st of any given calendar month, today’s blog post should be highlighting all the wondrous books I consumed in the previous month, but as with two of the past four months (February: On Not Reading; March: On (Continued) Reading Slumps), I have nothing to “wrap-up”.

I’m not going to lie and say that I’m entirely disappointed by my inability to read so far this year; the truth is that other things have taken priority in my life, and I’m so happy that they have. However, it does feel like there is something missing, and that something is the fictional worlds in which I have spent the past twenty-three years of my life, (I’m not counting my current twenty-fourth year given my reading slump), happily living.

Now, to the point of May’s “Wrap-Up”.

For the past few years, I’ve kept track of my book-blogging/bookstagram commitments in a Word document, laying out all the posts I’ve got to write, and accompanying photographs I’ve got to take, in any given month. Directly underneath the header for January, February etc. was my TBR, prominently listing all the books I began in previous months, but had yet to finish. This didn’t use to prove problematic for me, when the number of current reads was hovering around five, but for the past (almost) two years, that number has been more like twenty.

The twenty-one books I was “currently reading” as of 01/06/18

Over the past few months, I’ve been kidding myself that the number wasn’t bothering me, but the truth is, it was. It is. As a result, I’ve come to the long-overdue decision to scrap my “Currently Reading” shelf. Metaphorically, and physically to some extent, it has gone.

From today, I will no longer be marking any book as “Currently Reading” on Goodreads, or noting it down in any form. I’m simply going to read what I feel like reading, when I feel like reading it, and mark whatever I did read as finished (with no given start-date) upon completion, in the hopes that my reading becomes less about the numbers, and more about the enjoyment. To be honest, I already feel more free, and that is a result in itself.

Now, I think it’s time to read something, anything, for pleasure, and rediscover why I fell in love with books in the first place. If you’ll excuse me, I have fictional worlds to explore.

For more content, visit @charlottebibliophile on Goodreads, Instagram and YouTube

Posted in General Musings

Book Haul: May 2018

To put it simply, my resolution of buying fewer books failed abysmally in May, but I have no regrets, just look at that beautiful collection of new books (I’d insert the hearts eyes emoji here if I could!) Even more excitingly, seven of this month’s haul are signed first editions, and you all know how much of a sucker I am for collectables.

Most excited to read:
Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
The first book in this semi-series, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, is one of my favourite LGBT YA novels, so I’m very excited to see what becomes of the characters I grew to love.

Most excited to own:
Circe by Madeline Miller (signed)
Although I’ve yet to read Madeline Miller’s debut, The Song of Achilles, both books have received such stellar praise that I’m very excited to dive into her mythological novels soon.

N.B. The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k by Sarah Knight should have been included in April’s Book Haul, but I misplaced it.

For more content, visit @charlottebibliophile on Goodreads, Instagram and YouTube

Posted in General Musings

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Bookish Worlds I’d Never Want To Live In

May 29: Top Ten Bookish Worlds I’d Never Want To Live In
This week’s topic is interesting. We, as bookworms, always consider the fictional worlds we would like to live in (Hogwarts, Narnia etc.), but typically dismiss their horrific and dystopian counterparts.

1. Westeros (A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin)
Knowing my luck, I would not survive in Westeros (mind you, who does?!) The entire fictional world is at war, which is not something I’d want any part in.

2. District 12 (The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins)
I wouldn’t want to live anywhere in this dystopian universe, but District 12 would probably be the worst. At least in the Capitol residents have enough food to eat, and they don’t have to compete in the Games.

3. New York (They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera)
The plot of this incredible novel revolves around Death-Cast, a technological invention that allows every individual to know their death-day on the day they are going to die. I would simply not want to know my own D-Day.

4. Space (The Loneliest Girl In The Universe by Lauren James)
Being trapped alone in space would be horrific. Surrounded only by your own thoughts, and the ghosts of your past would be unbearable.

5. London (Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell)
Although we are (scarily) approaching something similar to this world, I would hate to have my thoughts monitored, and live in this oppressive society.

6. Vancouver (Nod by Adrian Barnes)
When the zombie apocalypse arrives as a result of the majority of the population being unable to sleep, humanity dissolves; attacking and murdering each other becomes the order of the day.

7. UK parallel universe (Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman)
Where racism prevalent, to the extent that terrorism is rife, and opposite-gender relationships are all-but banned, this world is just terrifying.

8. The Island (Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe)
I am not the most practical of people, and I’m pretty certain that I do not possess the ability to survive on a desert island on my own. So, no thank you.

9. Middle Earth (The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien)
Orcs and goblins running rife? Dragons? Giant spiders? Evil and death ruling the world? Not for me. Definitely not for me.

10. The Glade (The Maze Runner by James Dashner)
Surrounded by killer insects, hemmed in by a monstrous maze which the inhabitants have to find an escape from, surviving off the land and their own initiative: nope.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Check out their blog and get involved!

For more content, visit @charlottebibliophile on Goodreads, Instagram and YouTube

Posted in General Musings

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Best Character Names

May 22: Top Ten Best Character Names
I am a sucker for a good character name. I especially love all the classical names, especially if they are mixed with kickass modern counterparts. This week’s picks come courtesy of novels I have read to date; I am quite sure that there are many more incredible character names out there that I’ve yet to discover or read about.

1. Coriolanus Snow (The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins)
Ever since studying the Shakespeare play, Coriolanus, I’ve had a special love of this character’s name. A ruthless leader, he perfectly embodies his namesake, and his surname holds many appropriate connotations.

2. Cormoran Blue Strike (The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith)
J.K. Rowling possesses an amazing talent for creating inventive character names, and the hero of her crime novels is no different.

3. Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling)
What. A. Name. Of all the incredible character names in the Wizarding World, Albus’s is the most beautiful and wonderfully creative. Props JKR.

4. Atticus Finch (To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee)
This name is clear and crisp, yet highlights its owner’s deeper and more thoughtful individual character traits.

5. Celaena Sardothien (Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas)
Sarah J. Maas possesses the incredible skill of being able to think up the most wacky names. Often they are completely unpronounceable, which I view as a successful character name.

6. Richard Campbell Gansey III (The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater)
I love regal sounding names, and the male lead in The Raven Cycle is no different. Gansey’s name just appears so formal and proper.

7. Romy Silvers (The Loneliest Girl In The Universe by Lauren James)
Plain and simple, I think this name is beautiful. It is simple and understated, yet carries with is an edge of uniqueness.

8. Octavia Blake (The 100 by Kass Morgan)
Kass Morgan’s character names often seamlessly meld the classical and the modern, which is exactly why I appreciate them to such a high degree.

9. Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldo (The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot)
I don’t think anyone could possibly deny that Mia’s name is thoroughly royal, and perfectly suits her status as Princess of Genovia (I still can’t believe it’s not a real place!)

10. Daenerys Targaryen (A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin)
There are many character names in the A Song of Ice and Fire series that I think are wonderful inventions, but Dany is my favourite.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Check out their blog and get involved!

For more content, visit @charlottebibliophile on Goodreads, Instagram and YouTube

Posted in General Musings

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Disliked But Am Really Glad I Read

May 15: Top Ten Books I Disliked But Am Really Glad I Read
I don’t think that there’s a single book that I’ve not been glad to have read, or have got some positive reading experience out of. I genuinely believe that every book contains within its pages interesting or informative concepts, and as a result this list was surprisingly easy to compile. Every book listed on this week’s TTT only received two stars (out of five) on my Goodreads profile, but I certainly gleaned benefits from reading.

1. The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope
Upon completion of my first year of university, I enrolled on an online summer course about modern fantasy fiction, and this was the first novel studied. As far as fantasy goes, it couldn’t be further removed from the genre; it read more like historical fiction, and as my least favourite genre I simply didn’t connect with the subject matter.

2. Don Juan by Lord Byron
This epic poem was heavy going. It was intense and required intense study, but as required reading for part of my English Masters I definitely gained a significant insight into the work.

3. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
This novel is Jane Eyre accompanying novel: set a number of years before Charlotte Brontë’s masterpiece, it focuses on Mr Rochester’s first wife, Bertha, and their turbulent relationship upon a Caribbean island.

4. A Study In Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
Before reading the first Sherlock Holmes novel, I was convinced that I would absolutely devour and love the stories, but in reality I found it hard going and strangely dull, given that it concerned a murder.

5. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
Another novel that was required reading for my fantasy fiction course, it was certainly interesting to read the original work that inspired the Disney character, but it was actually much darker than I was anticipating.

6. Eragon by Christopher Paolini
I’ve read this particular novel twice; the first time I read it I was about twelve and I absolutely devoured it (this was during my most prominent fantasy-loving phase), but the second time I read it, only a few years ago, I found it incredibly slow and tedious.

7. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
Given that I absolutely adore the film series and the character portrayed by Renée Zellweger, I expected to love the novel that inspired the adaptation more. Sadly, I found it too trivial and colloquially written.

8. Antigone by Jean Anouilh
The very first text that I studied for my MA English was Antigone by Sophocles, which I genuinely loved, as it read very much like a modern day dystopian. However, this retelling set in fascist Germany felt dull in comparison, and it concerned a historical time period with which I am neither well versed, nor particularly interested in.

9. Paradise Lost by John Milton
The epic poem starring Satan that I read as part of my English MA was an incredibly detailed and heavy going read, and required intense concentration. Thankfully, listening to the audiobook whilst reading along provided a much more manageable reading experience.

10. A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
Having read and loved the first novel in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, A Game of Thrones, I was fully expecting to also enjoy the second volume. However, this book suffered from second novel syndrome, and was unfortunately incredibly dull in comparison.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Check out their blog and get involved!

For more content, visit @charlottebibliophile on Goodreads, Instagram and YouTube