Being brutally honest about books

Thursday, 20 April 2017

10 Books I Loved That Nobody Else Did

A few days ago I talked about 10 books everyone else loved that I didn't, always an awkward position to be in. But here's another awkward situation: when you love a book that nobody else loves. You can't rave about the book with other fans, and you wonder what you missed that made everyone else not love it. Why weren't other readers on the same page as you? So here are 10 books I loved but no-one else did.

Book covers link to Goodreads.

Goddess by Kelly Gardiner
This book is about a fascinating historical figure. She was a French swordswoman and opera singer, but that's not all. Do yourself a favour and read it. My review.

The Silver Blade by Sally Gardner
The French Revolution, murder, and magic. I loved this book so much as a pre-teen/young teenager; I even have it in hardcover. I'd probably roll my eyes if I reread it now, but I adored it at the time.

Derby Girl by Shauna Cross
I hadn't heard of roller derby before I read this book. I think the awesome concept of it is why I liked the book so much.

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
This is one of her less popular novels, but I loved it! Yes, it's long, but it's still a great book. Also has a fun genre shift partway through.

 The Elites by Natasha Ngan
A dystopian that's original and didn't make me roll my eyes? What? My review.

Dead Time (The Murder Notebooks #1) by
The series was so thrilling and so British and I loved it.

Sense & Sensibility by Joanna Trollope
A modern AU of a Jane Austen classic that isn't disguised as anything else (looking at you, Bridget Jones's Diary). My review.

Hysteria by Megan Miranda
Just look at that tagline. This is the thriller that got me into thrillers. Not that I read a lot of thrillers. In fact, I should read more...

Love in the Land of Midas by
No-one knows about this book and that's sad, because it's so good! A little tropey in terms of Adult fiction, but I was new to the genre then, and of course I always love reading about Greece. My review.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

10 Books Everyone Else Loved That I Didn't

I often feel like an odd cookie when my opinion of a book differs from the consensus. It's an awkward feeling, but surely it's something all of us experience at times? So I thought I'd share 10 books I didn't enjoy as much as everyone else, in no particular order. Maybe sometime I'll also do a post of books I loved that nobody else did...

Cover links go to Goodreads. 

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by
I guess I'll never relate to American high school students. I also got very angry when the main character mused that queer girls have it easier than queer boys. 

Night Swimming by
The idea was better than the execution. If it'd been better written, I could've loved it. 

The Lord of the Rings by
I adore Middle-earth, but I can't stand Tolkien's writing style. Too dry? Too formal? I don't know. What I do know is that there's too much scenery. 

The Kite Runner by
I couldn't relate to a single thing in this book, and I didn't find the story interesting either. I felt the author was showing off by using as many language/writing techniques as he could. The fact I had to study this book probably put me off the most.

Afterworlds by
This made me want to a) never publish a YA book and b) never go near paranormal fiction again. I liked the cute f/f relationship though, that was a nice surprise. 

We Were Liars
I hardly remember anything about it, but I read it and couldn't see what the fuss was all about. 

Ash by
The characterisation was just too weak for me to get into it. A shame because I like her other books.

How I Live Now by
It's been years and I'm still squicked out about her being in love with her cousin 😕

You're Welcome, Universe by
I learnt a lot, but I couldn't relate to any of the characters; I had nothing in common with any of them.

Juliet Takes a Breath by
I didn't connect with the protagonist because she was so angry. She had a right to be for sure, I just couldn't relate to that.

Conclusion: Most of the time I don't enjoy a popular book it's because I don't relate to the characters or the writing style doesn't click with me.

What popular books did you enjoy less than everyone else? Do you agree with any on this list? And how do you react when everyone else loves a book and you don't?

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Top 10 Most Unique Classics I've Read

Top Ten Tuesday is an awesome meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's theme is Top Ten Of The Most Unique Books I've Read. I decided to go with classics because there are some wonderful old books out there that get overlooked in the blogging community.

Click the covers to go to the Goodreads links.
War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
How many 1000+ page Russian novels that are set during the Napoleonic Wars and have such fantastic characters are there?
The Iliad - Homer
It's such an old book, it would be disappointing if it wasn't unique.
The Hunchback of Notre-Dame - Victor Hugo
It's so dark I can't believe they made a Disney movie out of this. Lots of architecture in this one.
The Lost World - Arthur Conan Doyle
Dinosaurs in the early 19th Century! Also the guy doesn't get the girl and it's for a pretty hilarious reason.
The War of the Worlds - HG Wells
One of the first stories about an alien invasion in London. (Why is it always London? Looking at you, Doctor Who writers. Are the rest of us not worth it?)
The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
A short novel about horrible people in 1920s New York. Cool.
The Phantom of the Opera -

The Color Purple - Alice Walker
A very important novel that I appreciated more as I studied it than when I was reading it. If you're a woman you should probably read this book.
One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel García Márquez
Happy families in South America. So many generations pass. I also vaguely remember there not being any chapter breaks.
The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
Like Doctor Who but even weirder, which is certainly an achievement.

What are the best or most unique classics you've read? Do you enjoy old books? Do you prefer to read classic lit or newer books?

Thursday, 6 April 2017

The good, the bad, and the ugly: Gladiatrix (Gladiatrix #1) by Russell Whitfield

Genderbent Spartacus with lesbians.

The good

  • It's about female gladiators! Hell to the yeah!
  • Scheming Romans 
  • The book assumes the reader knows stuff about ancient Rome, because you'd hardly read it if you didn't (thank you, author, for treating us as the knowledgeable people we are)
  • LGBTQ representation! There are: lesbian characters and F/F relationships (but they're gladiatrices, so don't expect happy endings) and a very very minor M/M relationship with a hopeful ending
  • The protagonist, Lysandra, is Spartan and looks like Xena (just putting it out there)
  • Her character growth is subtle but it's there
  • Her gladiator name is Achillia, the feminine form of Achilles (how cool is that?!)
  • Friendship, sisterhood, and kinship are very important to the characters in this book
  • Lots of gruesome action (this could be a negative, depending on your POV, but I found it was fun and provided more realism)
  • Gladiators that actually die
  • One of the side characters is a prostitute, and her male lover doesn't judge
  • The ending is happyish (the main characters don't get what they want, but it's not all bad) and sets things up for a sequel.

The bad

  • Typos and strange paragraph formatting, but that might just be because it's an ebook
  • No Roman matrons (c'mon, where are the Roman daughters, wives, and mothers?)
  • No descriptions of the classical architecture (what do the arena and temple look like?) (I love my columns)
  • It's quite long, so there's heaps in it, but it's not a quick read (which could be a positive, depending on your POV).

The ugly

  • The one black male character is a creepy and violent rapist drug addict and his name is similar to the word "nasty" (need I spell out RACISM?)
  • Rape. Not only that, but it's a violent gang-rape. Gross.


If it weren't for the rape and racism, I would've loved this book. In addition to that, if there were no typos and we saw some Roman women as well as the gladiatrices and slave girls, I'd definitely give this five stars. I'm definitely reading the sequel though.

I felt a bit strange that this was written by a man, but he did a pretty good job at writing a vaguely feminist novel whose main characters are lesbians. I'm impressed.

Overall, I highly recommend this book to fans of women warriors and Spartacus: Blood and Sand. There's explicit violence and sex, so avoid if you're not into that.

    The summary

    Under the Flavian Emperors the Roman public’s hunger for gladiatorial combat has never been greater. The Emperor Domitian’s passion for novelty and variety in the arena has given rise to a very different kind of warrior: the Gladiatrix.

    Sole survivor of a shipwreck off the coast of Asia Minor, Lysandra finds herself the property of Lucius Balbus, owner of the foremost Ludus for female gladiators in the Eastern Empire. Lysandra, a member of an ancient Spartan sect of warrior priestesses, refuses to accept her new status as a slave. Forced to fight for survival, her deadly combat skills win the adoration of the crowds, the respect of her Lanista, Balbus, and the admiration of Sextus Julius Frontinus, the provincial governor.

    But Lysandra’s Spartan pride also earns her powerful enemies: the Dacian warrior, Sorina, Gladiatrix Prima and leader of the Barbarian faction, and the sadistic Nubian trainer Nastasen.
    When plans are laid for the ultimate combat spectacle to honour the visit of the new Consul, Lysandra must face her greatest and deadliest trial.

    Add it on Goodreads

    Saturday, 1 April 2017

    10 Lessons to Take From War and Peace

    It's a classic, and my current favourite book. It's old and very very very long, so of course there are plenty of lessons to be learnt, some of which are more obvious than others. Here are 10 messages you can take away from War and Peace.

    Don't drink a bottle of rum while sitting on a window ledge and then tie a bear to a policeman and throw them both in the river. 

    This is just common sense.

    Don't challenge people to duels. 

    This is just common sense. 


    Don't fall in love with your second cousin. 

    This is just common sense.

    Don't go to war. 

    This is just common sense.
    By François Gérard - L’Histoire par l’image [1], digital version produced by Agence photographique de la Réunion des musées nationaux [2], Public Domain,

    Don't get married, never consummate it, have affairs, get pregnant, try to divorce your spouse, and then convert to Catholicism. 

    This is just common sense.

    Don't gamble away your family's roubles. 

    This is just common sense.

    Don't flirt with your daughter's companion. 

    This is just common sense.

    Don't plan a fake marriage when you're already married to someone else. 

    This is just common sense.

    When you see a grenade, move. 

    This is just common sense.


    Don't stay behind when your city is about to be invaded by Napoleon. 

    This is just common sense.
    By Unknown German - [1], Public Domain,

    Basically, War and Peace is a novel of what not to do. If you've read it, what did you learn from it?

    What are the most important lessons you've learnt from the classics? Do you like your books to have messages?

    Oh, and Happy April Fools'!

    I'm Alexandria, a 19-year-old reader/writer/blogger from New Zealand. I love language, history, and sci-fi. Hi! I'm always around if you want to talk, which you can do via comments, the contact form, or Facebook.

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