Recent Reads #1

As someone who used to read almost constantly, this year I've been trying to get back into the habit. I started off the year pretty well but the last couple of months have seen me lagging behind a bit, having only read 3 books in the last 2 months (one of which was a 150 page e-book, so I'm not even sure it should count towards that 20 book goal I set on Goodreads but I'm going to pretend it does).

So here's a run-through of all the books I've read in June and July.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

This is one I’d heard of a few times before, but something about it just didn’t sound like it was for me so I never bothered to pick it up. However, the impending film adaptation directed by Tim Burton prompted me to give it a read. I’m a huge Tim Burton fan and obviously knew I would be going to see it, but the purist in me always prefers to read the book before seeing the film. I have to say that I absolutely loved it- much more than I thought I would. I can be a bit snobbish when it comes to reading Young Adult fiction; with books in that genre, sometimes it just feels very obvious that I’m now quite a bit older than the teenagers it was clearly written for and I’m left thinking ‘Christ, I feel old’. This book didn’t have that issue- it was very well-written, in a way that’s intelligent enough for people in their 20s to enjoy while still being appropriate for older children and teenagers.

It's about a 16-year old boy who, traumatised after his grandfather's death, goes to solve the mystery sparked by clues his grandfather left behind. He discovers his grandfather lived in an orphanage, inhabited by children with 'peculiar' talents, which is locked in a time loop of a day in 1940 that replays over and over again. The plot is pure fantasy, but it's written in such a descriptive way that you are easily sucked in. I was left turning the pages for hours, desperate to know what would happen. An unusual, but effective, element of this book was the interspersing of vintage photographs throughout, used in conjunction with the story. The author actually collected these photographs and used them to build the narrative. It was a great read, and I really need to pick up the rest in the series.

The Girl on the Train
by Paula Hawkins

Again, this is another book/soon-to-be film adaptation that I'd been hearing a lot about but hadn't gotten around to reading yet. This is psychological thriller about a woman named Rachel who, on her daily train journeys to and from work, enjoys to watch a couple in the house the train stops opposite. She begins to feel like she knows them, inventing names and back-stories for them. However, one day she sees something unusual in that house and, soon after, the woman there goes missing. 

This novel is yet another psychological thriller, which has become quite the hyped-up genre after the success of Gone Girl. Every other novelist seems to be jumping on the bandwagon and riding on its coat-tails. However, I can't say this bothers me terribly- I love a good psychological thriller (note, I say a good psychological thriller. I've read a few stinkers). I can see why it's been compared to Gone Girl as it has some very similar elements- a twisting and turning plot, unreliable narrators and deeply unlikeable characters. Rachel is a very troubled character- an alcoholic torn up after a messy divorce- which I think is why I found her very difficult to relate to and, honestly, her narration was a bit odious at times. Because of this, it took me a while to get into the book but, when the plot started to pick up, I couldn't put it down. As I usually find with these kinds of novels, I don't like the character but I'm still desperate to know what happens.

This book had some decent twists and, overall, I thought it was pretty good. Not quite reaching the levels of hype people had been giving it, but still good and totally worth a read if you do enjoy the genre.

My Blogging Secrets: a guide to becoming a pro-blogger by Amber McNaught.

This one is a non-fiction e-book by fellow blogger Amber McNaught. She blogs over at Forever Amber- if you haven't checked her out, go do it now. She's excellent. I've been reading Amber's blog for some time now (a year? Two, perhaps? I've lost all sense of time) and I'm a big fan of her. Not only are her outfits amazing (girl rocks a midi skirt better than anyone I know) but her writing is utterly hilarious. Many a blog post of hers has had me in stitches. She frequently writes excellent posts about blogging tips and tricks, so when I found out she had released an entire book on the subject, I was all over it.

This book takes you through Amber's journey through blogging- how and why she started, how her blog has changed and progressed over the years and how she made a career out of it. It's full of handy guides and tips for blogging, in terms of how to make it successful and make money out of it. She's discusses, very honestly, how difficult it can be to blog professionally- there's absolutely no bullshit here. As well as super informative, it's also a really entertaining read. I find a lot of writing about blogging itself a bit tedious, but not this. Amber's typical humorous, engaging style of writing makes it very easy to read (I read it in one sitting). I was left feeling totally inspired about blogging and the idea of potentially doing it as a career. If you're considering blogging for money, or you're just a bit curious about how it's done, I would totally recommend giving this a look.

Have you read any of these books? Is there anything you've read recently that you'd recommend? I'm always looking for book suggestions (because, for someone who doesn't read as much as she'd like anymore, I still buy an awful lot of books) so hit me up in the comments.

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