Recent Reads ¦¦ October

I didn’t really read much in September for various reasons (mostly sad kinds of reasons) but I picked things back up a bit in October. So here’s a summary of what I read in both months smooshed together.

Finders Keepers  Stephen King **** (audio) ¦¦ This was the second book in a trilogy which I didn’t realise when I downloaded it from Audible. I forged on regardless, and actually Stephen King explained everything from the previous books that I needed to know. It was a bit gory to begin with, and the middle character development bit was a bit dull. However, the story soon picked up a pace and I got quite into it. It set things up well for the third book too, which sounds far more unsettling than even this book was.
The Collectors  Philip Pullman ***** (audio) ¦¦ I’m not sure this counts as a book because it’s a 30 minute audiobook but… I thought it was excellent. Even if you haven’t read the His Dark Materials trilogy you’ll find this short story thrilling, dark and incredibly atmospheric. It reminded me a lot of the works of MR James, which can only be a good thing. Bill Nighy does an incredible job as a narrator, hands down the best performance of an audiobook I’ve heard. The voices of the characters were beautifully acted and distinguishable from each other without it sounding too much like cheesy ‘voices’ if you know what I mean. Plus I listened to the whole thing walking home from work one day. All-around-winner.
The Last Summer Of Us – Maggie Harcourt **** (audio) ¦¦ Apparently I’m mourning the end of summer (did we ever have one?) with the contents of my recent reads. The style of this book is a little ‘young’ which took me a minute to get used to, but was actually excellent. The narrator has a dry humour and I loved the Welsh accent and elements of the story. It was horribly fitting as life imitated art just the day after I finished reading (the book deals with the death of a parent) but in a way, it oddly prepared me for what was to happen. Anyway, if you can do YA I’d really recommend this.
A Home Of Their Own  Garry Jenkins *** ¦¦ My Mum and I are notorious in my family for needing A Nice Book About Animals to read when we’re feeling sad/stressed/down. September was certainly the time for ANBAA. This is actually well written and gives a good history of the dogs home as well as some nice stories about particular animals, but steers clear of being too saccharine or mawkish. I think that’s fairly unusual for this genre of book, which is why I’ve rated it so highly. It’s not life changing, no, and clearly the point of the book is to encourage donations, but given all that I think it was done extremely well. 
Smoke and Mirrors  Neil Gaiman *** (audio) ¦¦ Ooh he’s a bit brilliant, isn’t he? This collection of the slightly weird had me hooked from the beginning, but 10 stories of the macabre in and I was flagging a bit. And then it just kept going. Things began to feel a bit samey, and I read back the titles of the stories and honestly there were a few I couldn’t even remember. I think this is best enjoyed in short bursts, or else you get out-supernaturaled quite quickly.
The Ice Princess  Camilla Läckberg *** ¦¦ This is your token scandi-crime novel, which even though it starts out describing a fairly dramatic murder scene is really quite slow to get going. There is a lot of character development which slows things down to begin with but means you do understand the characters well by the end. Some reviews were annoyed at the fact there was a relationship in this book that was given a lot of words. I quite liked it, to be honest. There were a few subplots which weren’t resolved, and some which were totally meaningless, but I think there’s a follow up which may resolve some of them.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day – Winifred Watson **** ¦¦ This was given to me by my sister when I asked for a non-stressful holiday read. I loved this book! The old fashioned dialogue, descriptions of London in the 30’s, and pleasant happenings were all most enjoyable. No, this isn’t a literary great. But it’s a fantastic story and I’d highly recommend it as a light holiday read.

If you had to pick one book to recommend I read next, what would it be? I’d recommend Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day, I think. I can’t see how anyone would not like that book!

-Rachel

Life According to Steph
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33 Comments

    • 14th October 2015 / 22:16

      Good! I’m glad. I hope you like it!

  1. 13th October 2015 / 15:10

    I’ve actually never read anything by Stephen King! I’ve been wanting to give one a try but I don’t know which one I should try first. Any suggestions??

    • 14th October 2015 / 22:18

      Ooooh my favourite is The Green Mile, although I’ve only read that, Finders Keepers and Different Seasons which has the short story which The Shawshank Redemption film was based on. Interestingly, that’s the only book I’ve ever read where the film was better than the book (in my opinion!). Anyway, The Green Mile was absolutely stunning, but quite emotionally traumatising so prepare yourself for that!

  2. 13th October 2015 / 16:26

    I haven’t read Miss Pettigrew yet, glad you recommend it! Oh I could recommend a million books depending on what you are looking for lol. The Book Thief (maybe not, if you haven’t read this, Death is a character, so maybe skip it till later?), The Royal We, The Sea of Tranquility, The Martian, The Storied Life of AJ Fikry, Wonder (omg wonder. WONDER. SO GOOD). So many books haha.

    • 14th October 2015 / 22:24

      Yeah no not really up for any books with Death as a character just yet! The rest are now on my list. Wonder in particular looks really good, The Martian YES after the film (so good!) and The Storied Life of AJ Fikry may be saved for when I’m feeling a bit more stable…! I think The Royal We might annoy me a bit as I see enough of the royals in the tabloids, I’m royal-ed out! Still, I shall put my prejudices aside and put it on the list anyway 😀

  3. 13th October 2015 / 16:33

    All of your books sounds quite interesting. I’m adding Ice Princess to my Want to Read list. I’d recommend Cage of Stars.

    • 14th October 2015 / 22:26

      They were very interesting! The Ice Princess was good actually, and I liked the setting. If there was a follow up I’d definitely read it.

  4. 13th October 2015 / 17:11

    I could recommend so many books but it all depends on what you’re in the mood for before I’d even give you a suggestion.

    I didn’t realize Finders Keepers was a follow up to Mr. Mercedes, which is on my TBR, so obviously I’ll have to add it.

    • 14th October 2015 / 22:27

      Yes it is! At the beginning of Finders Keepers there’s a summary of what I later realised was Mr Mercedes, because a lot of the characters are the same – obviously the main detective chap, but also the other characters in the book are connected as well. Anyway, no spoilers, but I think I might have to go back and read Mr Mercedes – I think the third one in the series might be a real cracker.

  5. 13th October 2015 / 19:03

    Besides the Stephen King book, I haven’t heard of any of these books! I enjoy YA books so I’m adding The Last Summer of Us to my to read list.

    • 14th October 2015 / 22:28

      It was equal parts funny and touching, so I’d really recommend it. I hope you like it! I’d recommend the audiobook version if you’re an audiobook kind of person, mostly because of the Welshness!

  6. 13th October 2015 / 20:42

    I’ve heard of Miss Pettigrew but I guess I never really knew what it was about. But your review sounds great and like I need to add it to my list for this winter!

    • 14th October 2015 / 22:30

      It’s an awesome book! It’s basically a reworking of Cinderella set in 30’s London. But, without too many spoilers, it’s not a direct retelling so it’s not super obvious what will happen. Still, it’s a safe, enjoyable read that leaves you feeling happy and I do love that in a book.

  7. 14th October 2015 / 00:42

    The last two books sound really good. I saw commercial for the movie about Miss Pettigrew but haven’t seen it, maybe after reading the book.

    • 14th October 2015 / 22:33

      Yes I’m thinking I need to look up the film now. I did enjoy the book a lot, but I might have to check the reviews of the film first to make sure they didn’t ruin it! Those last two books were totally different, but both very enjoyable. I hope you like them 🙂

  8. Jen
    14th October 2015 / 03:58

    I absolutely love Stephen King! His books have never disappointed.

    • 14th October 2015 / 22:33

      He is an astonishingly good author. I think I need to read more of his stuff – current tally is only 3, which is terrible considering how much he’s written!

  9. 14th October 2015 / 08:24

    Oh the ‘a home of their own’ book sounds lovely and right up my alley! I’ll need to see if we have it at the library here, along with the Miss Pettigrew book! 🙂 Haven’t heard of it before, despite how old it is!

    Away From The Blue Blog

    • 14th October 2015 / 22:35

      It is a really good book. Just enough stories about animals to keep things cheerful! Your dog is a rescue dog isn’t he? So I can see it might be of personal interest!

      I think Miss Pettigrew went out of print fairly soon after it was published, and then was reprinted again recently by Persephone books. It’s excellent! I hope your library carries it.

      • 15th October 2015 / 12:34

        I’m hoping to get to the library tomorrow so will check then! 🙂

        Yep, Cooper is a rescue. I’ve always loved stories about dogs and happy stories for rescue dogs too, even as a little girl, getting to spend my gift certificate in a book store I’d pick a dog based book most of the time haha!

  10. 14th October 2015 / 14:30

    I’ve never read a Stephen King novel, but Finders Keepers sounds pretty good! And I remember seeing the previews for the movie Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day, but I never got around to seeing the movie. Good thing I didn’t, because I typically like the books better than the movies anyways.

    • 14th October 2015 / 22:37

      Yes me too with books better than films, but now I’m intrigued so I’m going to look up the film. I have enjoyed the grand total of 3 Stephen King books I’ve read, but I’m hoping to add to it. I wouldn’t recommend starting with Finders Keepers though, I recommended The Green Mile below and I think that’s a better book, personally. Plus Finders Keepers is no 2 in a trilogy and I hate reading things out of sequence!

  11. 15th October 2015 / 02:58

    Finders Keepers is on my to read list (I read Mr Mercedes and enjoyed it). I added The Last Summer of Us.

    • 15th October 2015 / 16:52

      I think I’m going to have to go back and read Mr Mercedes, I definitely feel like I’ve missed out on that one. I hope you like The Last Summer of Us!

  12. 15th October 2015 / 16:50

    Miss Pettigrew sound like it would be a most excellent audiobook for me…. I just love accents!

    • 15th October 2015 / 16:53

      If you love accents may I recommend The Last Summer of Us, featuring an excellent Welsh accent?! Hope you like Miss Pettigrew 🙂

  13. 16th October 2015 / 07:43

    I felt the same way about Smoke and Mirrors! I read about half of the stories and then put it aside for a while… and I think that was close to a decade ago! Need to dig it out and finish up!

    • 27th October 2015 / 13:25

      I’d definitely recommend finishing it, but I think you made a good decision to take a breather part way through! It was just too much by the end.

  14. 20th October 2015 / 04:38

    I keep meaning to read something by Neil Gaiman! I may have to pick that one up. The Summer of Us sounds really good to me too.

    • 27th October 2015 / 13:26

      It really was very good, but perhaps not the one to start with? I liked The Ocean At The End Of The Lane (but I’m not sure that’s one to start with either, necessarily…) and I’ve heard very good things about Stardust. The Summer Of Us was good!

  15. 20th October 2015 / 23:15

    I didn’t know that Pullman had a novella to go with Dark Materials. That series is one of my all time favorites and I have been meaning to go back and re-read them.

    • 27th October 2015 / 13:27

      Yes, I think it was a mini release by Audible last Christmas, which passed me by as well. I absolutely adored His Dark Materials and keep meaning to re-read them too! So good.

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