Being brutally honest about books

Friday, 31 March 2017

March Wrap Up



  • Uni's back in full swing, and I've got all these assignments at the same time. Help!
  • My driving lessons are continuing, but I'll say no more on that point...
  • I had a great reading month with a streak of nine 4-star books!
  • An author thanked me for reviewing his book!



Click the covers to go to the Goodreads links. 
18456025  7923473  18369509  27833741
24489079  30967830  25322449  3289162
22712093  25493869  25614492  34606519

Around the blogosphere

CW at Read Think, Ponder discussed characters with "difficult" names.
Cait at Paper Fury asked what is the perfect amount of pages for a book?
Puput at Sparkling Letters told us how to figure out your perfect blogging schedule.

As you can see, I had a great reading month this March! What did you get up to?

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

How To Conquer Your TBR in 7 Easy Steps

Since December I've been reading my way through my Goodreads TBR list. I'm currently at 72 books, and that's an improvement. A while back, it was much higher than that. But I'm far from the only one with an uncontrollable TBR, so I'm going to share with you some tips for conquering that massive list of books you want to read.

1. Frequently cull your TBR list

Tastes change. What you wanted to read a few years ago might bore you now. A new release on your TBR might receive reviews that change your mind. Listen to your instincts if you suspect you might not want to read a book after all. It's okay to delete books from your TBR. Nothing bad will happen, trust me.

Click OK. You'll be fine.

2. Read only your TBR books

This goes without saying. That shiny new YA fantasy with an assassin in a red dress might catch your eye, but don't let yourself get distracted. You can do this! I believe in you.

3. DNF if you must!

Starting a book on your TBR and realising it's not for you is disappointing. But don't waste time; ditch it and move on to the next one. Time is of the essence! Don't waste it reading disappointing books.

4. Read ebooks instead of physical books

Besides saving travel time to the library or bookshop, I've found that I read ebooks at a faster pace than I do physical books. This could be because without an ebook you're less likely to flip the pages to see how long a chapter is, or peek at the ending. Or perhaps it's because you're focussing on reading rather than not dropping a book on your face or your toe.

5. Read your TBR books instead of uni readings

Your teachers will frown on this. Your parents will frown on this. Your friends will also probably frown on this. But if you're going to procrastinate, at least make it worthwhile!

6. Don't mood read

Borrow as many ebooks as you can and start with the shortest one. When your TBR is in danger of destroying you, you can't afford to be picky. Don't let your TBR drown you. In a life or death situation, you don't have the chance to make decisions based on your mood.

7. Switch your TV time for book time

I know it's hard. But if I, someone who prioritised binge watching for 2 years, can do it, so can you. Time is precious. In 40 minutes you can get a lot of reading done. In the time it takes to watch a whole series, imagine how many books you could get through. Take a break from Netflix and start on your TBR. You'll thank yourself for it later.

I hope these tips are helpful! Use them well. 

Are you conquering your TBR or being smothered by it? How do you get through the masses of books you want to read? How often do you go and cull your list?

Saturday, 25 March 2017

The good, the annoying, and the ugly: For The Most Beautiful by Emily Hauser

Insta love, Stockholm Syndrome, and sex = love in Troy.

I'm going to pick apart this novel, so beware of spoilers for both the book and the Trojan War (which is a millenia-old myth, but hey, not everyone knows it).

The good

  • Gorgeous cover!
  • Retelling of the Trojan War that focuses on women!
  • The gods are included! Every so often there's a chapter where we get to see their pettiness, and it's so entertaining.
  • The writing style is pretty good, easy to read, and I loved the aesthetic.

The annoying

  • Spelling Chryseis as Krisayis (the author wanted to show that Greeks and Trojans had different cultures)
  • I thought this book was going to focus on several different women (my mistake) but it only focuses on Briseis and Chryseis Krisayis. These girls are essential to the plot of the Iliad but are both slaves of the Greeks, so we don't get a range of perspectives.
  • The two main characters are very similar (see above) and I often got confused about which one I was reading about.
  • Where's Thetis? You know, the mother of Achilles, a sea nymph who's a fairly important part of the Trojan War? She's mentioned by other characters but doesn't appear with the other gods. She may be a lesser god, but she's still important to the plot. It was her wedding, after all, where the Thing happened that kind of caused the Trojan War. The Thing that the title For The Most Beautiful alludes to.
  • We see Patroclus from Briseis's perspective, but he's portrayed as a kind of boring character who doesn't fight and is rumoured to be Achilles's boy toy (according to Plato, Achilles was Patroclus's boy toy (yes, the Ancient Greeks had ship wars)). He seems to be in unrequited love with Achilles. This book isn't about Patroclus, but he deserves some credit.
  • Aeneas is a son of Priam in this book???? Why? Aeneas was the son of Anchises and Venus/Aphrodite (that's right, the goddess). He's unnecessary to the book, so it's even stranger that his parentage is changed.

The ugly

  • The Trojan War lasted 10 years. In this book, it lasts less than a year, kinda similar to Troy (2004). It's such a simple canon detail, and it's ignored without explanation. (NB if you want to create a good work of fiction, don't do anything Troy did.)
  • The romances are really sudden and not developed. The romance tropes used include insta love, Stockholm Syndrome, and sex = love. Briseis's actual thought process: Wow, my fiancĂ© I've never met before is hot, I'm in love. *few months later* Achilles killed my husband so I will not sleep with him. *nek minnit* Achilles killed my family, I'm definitely never sleeping with him. Oh, he's apologised, I'm going to sleep with him now. Forgive me if I can't relate.
  • If it passes the Bechdel test, I don't remember it. A shame for a book intended to represent the forgotten women of the Trojan War.

The conclusion

This was a disappointing read, but I didn't put it down, so that's a point in its favour. 2.5 stars. If you're after a feminine (or feminist) retelling of the Trojan War that adheres to the mythology, look elsewhere.

    The summary

    Three thousand years ago a war took place that gave birth to legends - to Achilles, the greatest of the Greeks, and Hector, prince of Troy. It was a war that made - and destroyed - both men, a war that shook the very foundations of the world. But what if there was more to this epic conflict? What if there was another, hidden tale of the Trojan War that had yet to be told?

    Now is that time - time for the women of Troy to tell their story.

    Thrillingly imagined and startlingly original, For the Most Beautiful reveals the true story of true for the first time. The story of Krisayis, daughter of the Trojans' High Priest, and of Briseis, princess of Pedasus, who fight to determine the fate of a city and its people in this ancient time of mischievous gods and mythic heroes.

    In a novel full of passion and revenge, loyalty and betrayal, bravery and sacrifice, Emily Hauser breathes exhilarating new life into one of the greatest legends of all - in a story that has waited millennia to be told.

    Add it on Goodreads

    Sunday, 12 March 2017

    The good, the bad, and the ugly: New Pompeii (New Pompeii #1) by Daniel Godfrey

    Capitalising on time travel never ends well.

    The good

    • Time travel (they transport people from the past into the present, but it's actually quite complicated and gets confusing later)
    • Romans (always a plus)
    • But no romance! (even better)
    • Mother of all plot twists (I did not see that coming!)
    • Nice concise writing that's not too descriptive
    • Historical facts incorporated into the story (the author knows his stuff)

    The bad

    • Very confusing plot because of all the timeywimeyness (don't ask me to explain the plot)
    • I also got confused because there are too many characters

    The ugly

    • Not enough female characters (*spoiler*: there are 3, compared to a whole lot of male characters (that actually is a spoiler, because two characters are actually the same person))
    • No LGBTQ representation (you've got Romans and you've got people in the future, and none of them are queer? Really?)
    • The book shows that some people's  moral codes today (or in the near future) are no better than the Romans', which is quite sad.

    The summary

    In the near future, energy giant Novus Particles develops the technology to transport objects and people from the deep past to the present. Their biggest secret: New Pompeii. A replica of the city hidden deep in central Asia, filled with Romans pulled through time a split second before the volcano erupted.

    Historian Nick Houghton doesn't know why he's been chosen to be the company's historical advisor. He's just excited to be there. Until he starts to wonder what happened to his predecessor. Until he realizes that NovusPart have more secrets than even the conspiracy theorists suspect.

    Until he realizes that NovusPart have underestimated their captives...

    Add it on Goodreads

    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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