#20booksofsummer 2016

Review: The Innocents by Ace Atkins

the innocents

The Innocents by Ace Atkins, (Quinn Colson, #6), Netgalley copy, 12 July 2016, 384p.

4 out of 5 stars.

I have reviewed previously:
The Ranger, The Lost Ones and The Broken Places (Quinn Colson, #1, #2, & #3)
The Forsaken (Quinn Colson, #4)
The Redeemers (Quinn Colson, #5)

The Innocents is a glorious return to thriller form for Ace Atkins. Quinn Colson and the residents of Tibbehah County are fantastically interesting characters who live in a world believable but disjointed from my own reality. The world building that Atkins has put into this series is unrivaled (I actually googled a year ago to see if Tibbehah County was a real place. It’s not.) and when I step back into a Colson novel it is like visiting best friends who have been away on holiday.

When a woman is found walking down the highway, on fire, the community demands a quick result from the Sheriff, Lillie Virgil. She and Quinn Colson, recently back from training the police force in Afghanistan, have to investigate the crime and discover an insidious conspiracy of silence. As always, the focus of the investigation soon falls on the local titty bar, although it is no longer owned by Stagg. The new owner, Fannie Hathcock, is delightfully dark and a force to be reckoned with. While we are talking about Fannie Hathcock, let me just say that her name is even better in Australia – where a woman’s vagina is called a fanny. I assume in America it’s something similar, but we don’t say ‘fanny-pack’ here because that’s just too dirty. Anyway, I think that is the first time I’ve ever talked about genitals in a book review. ONWARDS!

The last two Colson novels were somewhat lackluster compared with the first three, and The Innocents certainly takes back the trophy and holds it high. The characters, setting and plot all combine to create an atmospheric thriller that took hold of my interest and didn’t let go. The atmosphere that Atkins creates in these novels is surreal, and his ability to get across a mood took me by surprise. My one pet peeve with the writing style of The Innocents is that the description of the people seemed over-done and unnecessary. We get hardly any description (which is what I prefer) of the main characters in this book, but know everything background characters are wearing (including brand names) and what they look like. It did lead to a fun game in which I tried to use Ace Atkin’s style to describe random people on the street to my boyfriend. This is such a minor issue that it feels silly to mention it, but it did stand out to me. I find this is the accepted style as opposed to what I actually prefer.

Now I have to wait for a year for the next book to be released. I really want to see what happens in Quinn’s personal life now that my shipping dreams have come true. I’m trying to avoid spoilers here, but oh, my god. Just grab yourself a copy of this book and be blown away!

 

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Ranty Roundup – June

June was a great blogging and pretty good reading month for me. I managed to read 5 books in their entirety, and knock off some classics from my classics club list. I’m expecting July to be a little slower in both blogging and reading, but I’m also committed to dedicating as much time as possible to reading, as I don’t want to commit to reading 10 books in August to finish the #20booksofsummer challenge.

The best nothing short of dyingbook from June was hands down Erik Storey’s Nothing Short of Dying. I’ve already talked about this forthcoming title a bit on my blog, but my review (and the book) aren’t due to be published until August, so I will hold back on anything too descriptive. Let me just say, it’s one of the best novels I’ve read, and one of only two five star rating books that I’ve read this year.

I’m currently half way through Sterne’s Tristram Shandy, and although I am enjoying it, I’m finding it slow going and I’m looking forward to completing it and reviewing it on August 1st for the Classics Club Spin pick.


eliotalong

In other Classics news – I’m participating in a readalong of Middlemarch, hosted by Bex at Armchair by the Sea. So far I am finding Middlemarch to be better than I was expecting and I will be trying to write a post of impressions, ideas and thoughts each week here on the blog, but my main priority will be keeping up with the chapters per week. I will also be reading another book a week – I don’t want to fall even further behind in my reading challenge on Goodreads.


20 books of summer

Yet another challenge I am currently focusing on is #20booksofsummer (in winter) I was hoping to be able to knock off 6 – 7 books from this list before the month was up, but then I hit Tristram Shandy and my progress just slowed right down. I’m going to be focusing a lot on getting pages read during July, as opposed to blogging so that I can catch up on this a little. My current total stands at 3 books completed and one book half finished. I’m going to need some serious dedication to get this challenge completed!


make me read it

Another exciting event happening in July is the Make Me Read It readathon, where you guys can choose which books (and in which order) I read between the 9 – 16 of July. I’d appreciate it if you guys could vote in my poll, I’m looking forward to being able to participate in this readathon, from what I can tell it is in it’s second year and is such a novel idea. From what my poll looks like now, I’ll be working my way through House of Mirth and Go Set a Watchman, but there’s plenty of time for that to change. Pretty sure you can still sign up if you wish, just head over to here and sign up.


24in48Last but not least is the 24 in 48 hour readathon. I haven’t yet signed up for this one but I fully intend on participating. I’ll be taking the weekend off and spending 12 hours a day reading my little heart out. I’ve done 24hr readathons before, and always burnt out, so this challenge seems better in regards to spreading out the workload!

Sign-ups are happening over here, and if you wanna ‘thon with me, this seems like a great event to get some serious reading done in!


Books read in June – 5

Nothing Short of Dying – Erik Storey – 5 stars
No Safe Place – Matt Hilton – 4 stars
Journey to the Center of the Earth – Jules Verne – 3 stars
Deathlist – Chris Ryan – 1 star
The Awakening – Kate Chopin – 4 stars


Book Reviews in June – 7 (and that might just be a record for this blog)

Off The Grid by C.J. Box
The Sandpit by Stephen Leather
Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
No Safe Place by Matt Hilton
Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte
First Response by Stephen Leather
The Awakening by Kate Chopin


Challenge Progress

Read My Books Challenge
Journey to the Center of the Earth
4 in 2016

Classic a Month/Classics Club Challenge
Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

Series a Month
Did not participate in the Series a Month Challenge in June.


July TBR

I’m going to aim to read 6 books in July. These will all be from my #20booksofsummer list and be heavily focused on the classics. The following are the books that I would have read in an ideal world, but 5 of these titles are part of the Make Me Read it poll, and I don’t fancy reading 4 400p books in one week while working, so I’m not going to aim to read all 8. I’ll also be whittling down Middlemarch.

Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne
The Innocents by Ace Atkins
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
Fire Point by Sean Black
Edge of Alone by Sean Black
Ghost Sniper by Scott McEwen
White Fang by Jack London
State of Emergency by Andy McNab
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

And that was a very long wrap-up!

Review: The Awakening by Kate Chopin

The Awakening by Kate Chopin, Dover Thrift Kindle Edition, 1899, 195p.

4 stars

I had no idea what to expect going into The Awakening, I’d heard that it was a feminist novel and quite different for its time, but I was shocked at how much I enjoyed it. I’m not sure if I would class this as a full blown novel, as it was quite short and seemed more like a novella in structure and tone, but that’s certainly not a detraction from this amazing book.

Chopin’s style is crisp and easy to understand – this is one of those novels that reads easily and without struggle. I read three quarters of this novel in ebook format, and listened to ten chapters in audiobook format. The audiobook seemed slower, while the ebook was much easier for me to follow. That’s most likely because I’m accustomed to reading as opposed to listening, but it was nice to be able to read while doing housework.

There was an amazing building of tension in The Awakening, after the first half I was constantly on tenterhooks waiting for the main character, Edna, to do what we were all waiting for her to do. Edna was sympathetically written and interesting, if at times seeming cold. Her descent into the ‘evils’ of lust and obsession is interesting and poignant. What I really loved is the way that this book is quite honest about emotions and the expectations of the time. While The Awakening is not erotic, it is honest about what is happening, and that this woman who was expected to be the perfectly proper woman was having these feelings that were not readily admitted to during these times. Edna is a brave character for Chopin to have written, and is wonderfully different from most of the other characters from the late 19th century (although Sybella from My Brilliant Career was also breaking stereotypes, but in a completely different way.)

I would have loved for The Awakening to have been a little longer, maybe for the affair to have developed more before the devastating ending occurred. Also, while talking about that ending – how heartbreaking! A more astute reader could have come to understand what the ending of the book would be half way through, but I was delightfully unawares and did not expect or suspect it! Which lead to me freaking out and yelling to the significant other what had just happened. Heartbreaking. Uh. Chopin – you brilliant writer, you completely trampled my emotions and now you’re returning them worse for wear. I’m not giving you back your deposit.

Review: Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne

Journey to the center of the earth

Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne, Kindle Edition, Dover,  1864, 240p.

3 stars.

Journey to the Center of the Earth is the first of Verne’s works that I’ve read, and although I enjoyed it, I won’t be running out to pick up another. I think because the ‘science’ that is used in this book is now so laughable, it doesn’t have that element of reality that I like in sci-fi or adventure novels.

There are plenty of things that I really enjoyed about Journey to the Center of the Earth, like all the talk of volcanoes. When I was younger, I was adamant on becoming a volcanologist. Sometimes to this day I regret the adults in child-me’s life for dissuading that career path. Yeah I know there’s no volcanoes in Australia. Do I care? Nope. It would have meant I got to travel. Anyway, I digress.

Journey takes the traditional adventure novel and pairs it with science fiction. The plot is essentially finding a way to the center of the earth, and then the journey to get there. What’s annoying is that the adventure is told in a narrative style, as having happened in the past. It leads to much of the story being told, not shown. There is little description, and hardly any build up to the thrilling parts. It’s not scary when you are told there was a rock slide – you need to have that rock slide described to you through illuminating words and description of what is actually happening to the characters. I suppose that means I’m not a big fan of Verne’s style in Journey, and I have a feeling that he continued in this same way in his other novels.

The characters were interesting, if a little sketchy. We had Professor Lidenbrock who I sometimes liked and other times loathed, and his nephew, the orphan Axel, who was the narrator for this story. I mostly hated Axel, I don’t like reading about cowardice in adventure novels, and Axel generally needed to be goaded into action and saved every twenty pages or so. Hans was my favourite character, but that could be because we know nothing about him. He was quite two dimensional, and I wanted to know more about him but was left hanging.

The ending was completely unbelievable, but the setting is somewhere I used to beg my Mum and Dad to take me during school holidays. They always said no. For good reason.

Overall, Journey to the Center of the Earth was not a complete waste of time to read, but it’s certainly not one of my favourite books. I’d advise fans of adventure and sci-fi novels give Journey a read, if only to see where their favoured genres have taken Verne’s work and made it their own.

#20booksofsummer (in winter) Challenge

20 books of summer

The 20 Books of Summer challenge is being hosted by Cathy over at 746 Books. Check out her blog, and join in if you so wish! I’m a little late to this party, but I’ve been undecided about what books I’m going to commit to. As always, these choices might get changed as I go, but I’m going to try and stick to this list as much as possible.

I’ve selected 10 books from my Classics Club list – in an attempt at making a serious dent in that challenge too. It means that quite a few of my books won’t be ‘easy’ reading, but I find I read more classics in winter anyway.

I’ve also made sure 10 of the books are by female authors (and I almost had 9, plus Evelyn Waugh! Oooops.) I’m trying to balance out the male/female issue I have, but then it just pained me to notice my Classics Club list is a sausage fest.

Anyway, onto the list.

# Title Author Pages Y.O.P M/F
1 Deathlist Chris Ryan 309 2016 M
2 The Innocents Ace Atkins 384 2016 M
3 This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen Tadeusz Borowski 278 2015 M
4 White Fang Jack London 155 1906 M
5 Blackout Chris Ryan 432 2006 M
6 A Clockwork Orange Anthony Burgess 141 1962 M
7 Tristram Shandy Laurence Sterne 630 1759 M
8 State of Emergency Andy McNab 350 2015 M
9 Fire Point Sean Black 424 2014 M
10 The Edge of Alone Sean Black 269 2016 M
11 Iron Lake William Kent Krueger 330 1998 M
12 Brave New World Aldous Huxley 268 1931 M
13 The House of Mirth Edith Wharton 416 1905 F
14 Dark Forces Stephen Leather 432 2016 M
15 Ghost Sniper Scott McEwen 416 2016 M
16 The Awakening Kate Chopin 195 1899 F
17 The Fighting Season Bram Connolly 336 2016 M
18 Journey to the Center of the Earth Jules Verne 240 1864 M
19 Bad Soldier Chris Ryan 375 2016 M
20 The Pigeon Patrick Suskind 77 1988 M

It is in no particular order, and includes 8 books off my shelves that I haven’t gotten to yet (hello Read My Books challenge), and a couple new releases I’m looking forward to during winter. Also included Tristram Shandy, my Classics Club spin, and Middlemarch for the Eliot-Along (which you should all join, btw. Details here.)

Extra brownie points will be awarded if I can manage to review them all.

Anyone else participating? Did you theme/restrict your lists like I did? Anyone else freaking out about all the guys hanging out on their Classics TBR lists?