reviews

Ranty Round Up – July

July was a strange month for me – I read quite a bit, but wasn’t as active with my blogging as I was in June, I found my month to be quite hectic, especially the last week or so. I’m only actually getting to do my wrap up a third through August, which should say something!

the house of mirthI read five books in July, I was hoping to get more read during July, while I am still on university holidays. Now I am back studying, I have less time to devote to leisure reading. The standout read for July was The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. My second of Wharton’s works, and I loved this more than Ethan Frome. My classics TBR is now bursting – I’ve just added The Age of Innocence to the list.

My participation in the readathons in July was luckluster, I barely participated at all. Just read a couple of hours and didn’t do anything out of the ordinary.

I’m still trucking along with Middlemarch, I’m about 40% through and have just stalled, but I am planning on tackling that with some gumption once I’ve finished my current pulpy read. The readalong (#eliotalong) officially ends today, but I am going to put some effort into finishing it in the next week so at least I can offer a detailed review.

August Events


20 books of summerI will be continuing on with #20booksofsummer (in winter), and I’m allowing myself to cross a couple of the bigger, chunky classics off the list and put some mood reading on the list – and I know that I will be able to finish more books if they are pulpier. So bring on the war thrillers and crime novels – I’m finishing this challenge even if it takes me out in a storm of pages. As of the 8th of August, I have read 11 of the books from my list in full, and Middlemarch is just under half way cooked – so it will be a push but I’ll put some effort in.


bout of books augus 16The other event that will be kicking off in August is Bout of Books, which is my favourite of the readathon events – but August is the ‘thon that I generally don’t take part in or low key participate. It runs from 22 – 28 August, and this year my Dad’s 60th falls just before that, and my own birthday too. My sister is also due to have her baby late August – early September and I don’t want to be focusing on something like Bout of Books when I should focus on helping and being with family. If I do participate, it will probably be a limited amount of time. Or even limiting myself to how much reading I complete.


Books Read in July – 5

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman – Laurence Sterne – 4 stars
The Innocents – Ace Atkins – 4 stars
Fire Point – Sean Black – 4 stars
The Edge of Alone – Sean Black – 2 stars
The House of Mirth – Edith Wharton – 5 stars


Book Reviews in July – 3 full reviews, 3 tiny ones.

The Innocents – Ace Atkins
The Edge of Alone – Sean Black
House of Mirth – Edith Wharton
Review Spree: Some Unholy War – Terence Strong, Birthdays for the Dead – Stuart Macbride, One Hit – Jack Coughlin


Challenge Progress

Read My Books Challenge
Tristram Shandy

5 in 2016

Classic a Month/Classics Club Challenge

Tristram Shandy
The House of Mirth

Series a Month
Did not participate in the Series a Month Challenge in July


August TBR

Well, I’ve already read three books in August, so I’m not going to actually list which books I’m planning on reading but have already read. I’m going to be focusing on finishing my #20booksofsummer and actually mood read. There’s a couple of new release military fiction releases that I’m eyeing off… so I might give myself leave to read them this month. I’m also going to aim for at three books off my classics club list – I’ve already read Brave New World, hopefully finish Middlemarch and then one other (shorter/easier reading) classic.

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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.

Hated the book, love the author.

Ranty Runt's Rants

Something devastating has just happened. I’d been waiting for a new book by one of my favourite authors, a long awaited follow up to a favourite novel. Once I had it in my hot little hands I cracked it open and started reading with glee.

Only to find I didn’t like it. The story was boring and then things got even worse. This author started to offend me. Casual racism and sexism. Rape culture being endorsed. I was positively seething. This wasn’t what I expected from one of my favourite authors. I started to hope that this was written by a ghost writer, and I couldn’t believe that I hoped that one of my favourite authors hadn’t written his book. I’d spent my hard earned on this, and it wasn’t worth it.

On top of the fact that I was offended to my very core, the characters were flat and one dimensional, the plot was badly constructed and boring. The novel read like a first draft. I knew that the author wrote a series of independently books that dealt with harder (as in violent) subject matter, but this book was a follow-up to one of his traditionally published novels. It was a follow up to a thriller that wasn’t overly sadistic. Violence is one thing, but torture and sadism for the sake of a thrill is a whole different ballgame.

I want to review this book. Usually I would have no problem giving a negative book review, I’ve done a few. But I’ve never ripped a book to shreds that was penned by one of my favourite authors. I’ve raved and recommended this author to lots of people on the internet and in real life, and I don’t feel right giving an honest review of this book when I’m such an advocate for this author. He re-blogs my reviews, comments on them and such. It just seems awkward. I’m not going to share the author’s name, but I’m sure if you’re interested you can wait for my review that corresponds with this discussion post.

I’m going to review the book. I’ve written some of my ideas, but it’s brutally honest. I was wondering how other bloggers deal with this conundrum when reviewing a favourite author. Do you still post detailed reviews of books that you’ve hated, even by a favourite author? Do you keep things short and sweet? Or do you just skip reviewing that title? Is there etiquette here? Has posting a negative review ever backfired on you? I want advice, my book blogging friends. Help me please.

Other installments in Ranty Runt’s Rants:

The worst time to love a reader
My personal war on romance
Breaking a blogging slump
Hated the book, love the author

Ranty Roundup – May

I took a bit of a reading and blogging break in March and April – a delicious combination of school, work, family commitments and my body falling apart meant reading took a backseat. However, May provided me with the opportunity to crack some spines (my own and some books) and get some reading in.

I participated – albeit on twitter – in Bout of Books 16, and that worked out well with the amount of commitments I have right now. I much prefer participating on my blog, so I hope next Bout of Books I will have the opportunity to actually fit in some blogging and challenges too.

51zj2wRqm0L._SX314_BO1,204,203,200_My favourite book I read this month was First Response by Stephen Leather. It was fresh, different and had an excellent main character. I will be posting a full review on Thursday, and will go into some of the things that I loved about this book. It’s a bit different for Stephen Leather, but it works well.

Plans for June include trying to get some review and recently published novels read and reviewed – there’s at least four novels published in the past few months that I’ve procrastinated on. I am going to attempt to be more consistent with blogging – aim for a post a week, minimum.

My other goal for June is to read at least one classic. I’ve been neglecting my Classics Club list, and I really need to get back to it and put some effort in. I’ve been sitting on a copy of Dracula for the last three months and I haven’t even opened it yet.


Books read in May – 5
Promise – Tony Cavanaugh
Some Unholy War – Terrence Strong
First Response – Stephen Leather
Off the Grid – C.J. Box
The Sandpit – Stephen Leather


Book Reviews in May – 1

Promise by Tony Cavanaugh 


Challenge Progress

Read My Books Challenge
First Response by Stephen Leather
3 in 2016

Classic a Month/Classics Club Challenge
Did not read a classic in May.

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


June TBR

I’m going to aim to read 6-8 books in June. I also have the second half of Chris Ryan’s Deathlist waiting for me.

Dracula – Bram Stoker
No Safe Place – Matt Hilton
State of Emergency – Andy McNab
Fire Point – Sean Black
Nothing Short of Dying – Erik Storey
The Wrecking Crew – Taylor Zajonc
The Twisted Knot – JM Peace

Review: Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

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Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton, Wordsworth edition paperback, 1911, 117p.

4 stars.

I picked up this Wharton in the wrong season – sweltering through a series of 40C days in Australia while the cast of characters in Ethan Frome were freezing through snow and a general feeling of melancholy.

Ethan Frome is the first book by Edith Wharton that I have read, and I fell in love with the setting and the style of this novel. It is a great book that can transport you so fully to another place that you start to shiver – while sitting outside sweating buckets.

I felt like we got to experience the misery of these characters in step with the narrator, and I was as excited to get to the bottom of the story as he was. Ethan Frome, the titular character, is so delightfully enigmatic that unraveling the layers seems difficult at times, but overall rewarding.

I would be remiss to review this classic without mentioning the way that Wharton excels at creating isolation, depression and ruin through her style and setting. The setting gives away quite early in the book that there would be no happy ending, and to be perfectly honest, I would have been annoyed and angry if the author had tacked on a happy ending.

Characters in Ethan Frome are permitted to love, to have deep passions – but these are always curbed by society or nature – and that is a wonderful thing to read, in a dark depressing way.

I felt like I could have enjoyed Ethan Frome more if it was fleshed out into a fleshier novel, the novella length generally doesn’t satisfy me when there is so much potential for a good story.

I will pick up more works by Wharton in the future, and most likely will venture into Ethan Frome at a later date for a deeper, more critical reading.

Review: Kingdom of the Strong by Tony Cavanaugh

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Kingdom of the Strong by Tony Cavanaugh, Netgalley copy, July 2015, 368p.

4 stars.

Kingdom of the Strong was the first book by Cavanaugh, and honestly I don’t know why I hadn’t picked one up sooner. I read so many books in which the main character is a hard cop who sometimes crosses the line – but for some reason I overlooked this Aussie writer, who is setting these brilliant cop stories in Australia. Kingdom of the Strong was set in Melbourne, and although the furthest east I have ever lived is Adelaide, I have visited Melbourne and know street names, famous places and events. This makes the book so much more relevant and suspenseful!

I really like Cavanaugh’s character of Richards- he is hard, brilliant and confused about his life. He certainly doesn’t have everything sorted out; he has turned his back on his career, the woman he loves, and his friends. When one of his oldest friends and mentor finds him and asks him to head up an investigation, he feels obliged to say yes.

What follows is a crazy look into Melbourne in the 1990’s and how the characters then have progressed with their lives. The death that Darian is investigating is convoluted, with at least three suspects who have motive and opportunity. The investigation is hurried because of political factors. I found the plot exciting and unpredictable – the end did shock me, but in the sort of way that you come to the realisation with the detective. As Darian was uncovering the truth, we were being let into the mystery too.

I really enjoyed the cast of characters in this book – Darian’s friend and always hungry fellow cop is Maria, who is dating a very interesting character of Casey. The character that stuck in my mind the most was that of Racine, who is such a grey but despicable character from the get go. He made my skin crawl on a couple of occasions.

I’m going to hunt down copies of the first three books in this series, and add them to my ever increasing TBR.

Review Spree: 19/12/2015

Matt Lynn - Shadow ForceShadow Force by Matt Lynn,  Trade Paperback,  2011, 448p.

4 stars.

Shadow Force is the third book in the “Death Force” series by Matt Lynn, and it was spectacular. I read it over a couple of weeks during my reading slump, and it really helped me get excited to read again. The characters in this series are wonderful, and I’ve got the fourth and final book in the series from the library to read at the moment. The end of this book had a MASSIVE twist, and it was interesting to see how these ex-soldiers handled the moral implications that popped up. I always hope that Steve stays with his vintage car yard, but he always seems to get himself involved in this crazy battles all over the world.
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Pale Horse Coming by Stephen Hunter, Paperback from Library, 2001, 594p.

Pale Horse Coming is one of those books that I’m not sure what to rate it as – I enjoyed the story, and just like the last book in this series, find the character of Earl to be really interesting. However, both this book and the last in the series, Hot Springs, took me months to read. I usually read books of this genre in days or maybe a week. Hot Springs caused a reading slump a year ago, but I didn’t think it had anything to do with the actual book I was reading. Pale Horse Coming happened to also put me in a reading slump – so I’m not sure if I am game to tackle the last book in the series, Havana. The strange thing is that I did enjoy this book – as Goodreads would say, it was okay – 2 stars.

6341252Brute Force by Andy McNab, Paperback, 2008, 480p.

3 stars

Brute Force is a solid addition to the Nick Stone series, but certainly not ground breaking or earth shattering. There is an enjoyable plot, which is packed with action and the writing is not as… over the top as some McNabs can be, and it certainly helped me get out of a reading slump. I’m glad that Andy McNab is writing the Buckingham series however, because I think the Nick Stone character has been dragged through enough novels now. I have a couple more of these paperbacks floating around my house/kindle – and I will most likely read them, but my excitement for Nick Stone books pales in comparison to my excitement for all things Buckingham!

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The Scarlet Plague by Jack London, Netgalley eARC, 2015, 192p.

3 stars

I’ve only recently discovered Jack London, reading (and loving) The Call of the Wild earlier this year. The Scarlet Plague is being released as a Dover Doomsday Classic with illustrations. The story is a dystopian end-of-the-world story in which an elderly man recounts his survival of The Scarlet Plague to his wild, savage grandchildren. I really enjoyed London’s prose, his was of describing action and adventure is second to none. The story consists of a retelling of past events, and therefore isn’t as action packed as some of London’s other works. I did enjoy this short novella, and recommend it to anyone who likes dystopian fiction or JJack London’s prose.