August 2016 Book Haul

Some day I might be able to write my weekly post in a few days and calmly upload it on a Friday whilst living the rest of my week as normal!

However, once again I find myself frantically writing posts in advance for multiple reasons:

  1. My lovely boss appears to have transformed my casual part time weekend job into a full time occupation. As a result, I have been working nine hour shifts everyday for the last week. Any spare time has been dedicated to my writing which leads me onto point two…
  2.  Around my schedule I’ve been trying to write my next article for Society 19 about 20 Tips for Freshers (as soon as it’s published it will obviously be posted on here too – REVISED – CLICK HERE FOR PREVIOUS POST!!!). I had a much shorter deadline this time which lead to a great deal of stress for me – all self inflicted so I can’t really complain.
  3. The final reason is that my best friend’s family are taking me on holiday to Snowdonia for a few days!!! This means (amongst other things) that you can probably expect a holiday post at some point! Due to Wales being the land of no signal and WiFi (we’re also camping so no electrical appliances) this means that I won’t be able to write for the time that I’m there 😦

So because I’ve been working so hard this week, my bank account is finally through its stage of severe malnutrition. To ‘celebrate’ I did what all sensible, responsible adults do: blew a large proportion of my wages on a shopping trip.

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As previously promised I’ve decided to do a small ‘book haul’ which I have seen done by vloggers and book bloggers alike. I’ve really enjoyed writing this so I’m considering doing a few more of these posts in the future. Though one thing I must emphasize is that these are not book reviews, I haven’t been able to complete reading them all. Instead they are merely my reasons I’ve purchased them and my opinions based on what I’ve read so far.

So without further ado here is my August book haul!

HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD – J.K.Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne

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Well this was obviously going to be on my list. As well as the majority of the world at the moment, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on ‘The Eighth Story. Nineteen Years Later’. Any chance that I get to escape back into the world of Harry Potter I will take! (and even more excitedly I’ve just found out that I my be going to see the stage show in August next year!!)

There has been more publicity around this text than any other recently, possibly since the release of the Fifty Shades Trilogy. Note the use of the word ‘text’, this is important. I have seen countless reviews recently, everyone seems keen to get their opinion, and more importantly to them, criticisms delivered to the world. The most common quote I have picked up from reading reviews is “this doesn’t read like the Harry Potter Books we know and love”. Of course it doesn’t. ITS A PLAY SCRIPT!!

I must admit I was slightly disappointed and upset. In my opinion the text reads like someone who has taken the much loved characters and taken the story in the direction they would choose. I can’t quibble too much as Rowling’s influence is still noticeable and she must have condoned the story lines, but whereas in the novels you could picture the magic before your eyes through the vivid descriptions, this doesn’t quite come across through the script. That said, the story is meant to be sen rather than read so I’ll hold back on a complete judgement until I’ve seen the magic on stage!

THE WATCHMAKER OF FILIGREE STREET- Natasha Pulley

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I’m going to put this out there. This is one of the best books I’ve read in a LONG time. The interesting thing is that I knew it would be at first glance. I’m such a terrible excuse for an English student as I am actually judging a book by its cover here. The eye catching green and gold cover immediately piqued my interest, alongside the green pages edges. From a publishing perspective the overall design reminded me of one of my favourite books, The Night Circus. These two novels feature similar themes which is why I am so overjoyed my instinct has paid off!

Set in Victorian London and featuring a clockwork octopus with a penchant for stealing socks, Thaniel Steepleton’s life is altered when he discovers a golden pocket watch which will go on to save his life. When he goes in search of the watch’s origins he becomes embroiled with lives of the most bizarre and eccentric characters as well as being drawn into the dark side of the politics and the threat of terrorism.
The narrative runs in several different strands from a variety of different perspectives. The characterization of the three main characters ensures these extremely intelligent and vivid characters leap off the page and remain ingrained in the mind of the intrigued reader. Also the non linear structure encompassing flashbacks provides the reader with more context as we discover how what seems impossible has been made a reality. You can tell how much I love this book can’t you!!

This is Pulley’s first novel and I for one cannot wait for her following works; especially as she has recently confirmed a sequel to The Watchmaker!!

A GOD IN RUINS – Kate Atkinson

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Very excited to finally pick this up! I purchased a copy of Kate Atkinson’s most recent novel earlier this year for my mums birthday but had to buy it in hardback as it was only just out in time. Arguably I am not particularly organised when it comes to most things but its a different story when it comes to books (see what I did there? Completely unintentional ;)). Atkinson is now such a prolific writer that her books are published in a similar format each time: The same generic design and use of font with a simple color variation mean that her books are now a recognized brand which can improve sales through advertising. It also means that freaks like me aspire to complete the collection because they look so organised!

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A God in Ruins follows on from Atkinson’s bestseller Life After Life which I devoured last summer! Life After Life focused on the incredible life of Ursula Todd who, as the title suggests, was given the chance to live her life over and over again pursuing different paths until she reached the one she was meant for. Sounds complicated? This isn’t a light casual read, at the beginning you have to concentrate extremely hard to keep up with the narrative which can be complex and confusing initially. I can’t remember at which point but the novel soon became effortless and I couldn’t put it down!

Without giving away too much about Life after Life, A God in Ruins follows the life of Ursula’s younger brother Teddy Todd as a fighter pilot during WWII. All of Atkinson’s characters in previous novels have been been characterized so fantastically, I can’t wait to get stuck into this novel and back into the world of the Todd’s.

THE MINIATURIST – Jessie Burton

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In hindsight I can’t actually believe I’d managed to avoid buying this book for such a long time! Truth be told, this novel first came to my attention during a Publishing Lecture at University when scouring the lists of the best selling books in 2015. The general consensus from my classmates was this was well worth the read so when I found it amongst the piles in my local Waterstones I thought I’d see what all the hype was about.

The Miniaturist is the story of Nella Oortman who at eighteen is married off to a wealthy Dutch merchant. Instead of focusing on his new wife, he merely gifts her with a bizarre dolls house – an exact replica of their home. Nella requests the help of a miniaturist to furnish the new house however as items start to arrive foreshadowing real life events and secrets are uncovered she begins to question whether the miniaturist is in control of their fate.

This gripping thriller was named Waterstones book of the year in 2014 and has dominated book chart and recommendations ever since. I can’t wait to be drawn into this world and experience more of Burton’s writing. Which leads me on to the next book…

THE MUSE – Jessie Burton

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This was an additional purchase made several days after my haul. I am very ashamed that the purchase of this book was done based on the author’s name and reputation. Hopefully I won’t be disappointed by Burton’s second novel!

Similarly to the Miniaturist, Burton successfully manages a heavily detailed and researched representation of different historical time periods. In ‘The Muse’ she seamlessly ties together characters from 1967 London with the lives of several from 1936 Spain. The connection between the two lies in the secrets of an inherited oil painting, which leads to stories from both time periods. I can’t wait to start this novel either especially to see how the dual plot line incorporates and whether or not this becomes confusing for me!

Read a review from the telegraph about whether Burton has managed to top her success from The Miniaturist here.

SWEET CARESS – William Boyd

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As you can tell from this selection, I choose my books for a variety of different reasons. Some are based on author, recommendations and the occasional impulse buy. Though one place where I am always guaranteed to find a good quality book is The Richard and Judy Book Club from WHSmith. Three times a year they select a number of titles to review which are then displayed prominently in high street stores. I’ve found a great number of titles through this including Us by David Nicholls, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and I found out that The Miniaturist was also reviewed in early 2015!

The initial synopsis and content was what attracted me to this book. Claiming to follow the protagonist Amory Clay through several decades, the events are illustrated and observed through the lense of a camera. I was attracted tho this book because I adore lavish descriptions of life in different time periods and this book promises insights through 1930’s New York to World War II France and onwards. I’ve read of praise for Boyd’s previous works, so I can’t wait to see if he is an author that I would like to discover more about in the future.

ACCORDING TO YES- Dawn French

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My final choice was ‘According to Yes’ by Dawn French. This was another impulse buy and was also featured on The Richard and Judy Book Club this year (see above). What attracted me to this was, once again, the author. I’ve been a fan of Dawn French’s satirical biting humour throughout her career. IT’s possible embarrassing to admit that I own the box set of The Vicar of Dibley but the infamous puddle scene never fails to make me giggle (plus Richard Armitage?? Phwoaar 😉 ).

According to Yes is the story of a young woman who brings zest and eccentricity to the lives of a Manhattan family who appear to have a set rule against fun. The plot seems simple itself, take a strict family then throw a free spirit in the mix – I’m merely guessing here but I think the family will undergo a transformation as the novel progresses. Could be a fun lighthearted read, I’m imagining I’ll give it a go as some light fiction if I get too stressy next year!

 

So there you have it, my August Book Haul! I really enjoyed this post and I’m quietly planning a September one already. Let me know if you’ve read any of these books and what you think. Also if you have any other books you’ve read that you recommend. Anything but start in my summer reading list for next term – you’ll find me buried under a pile of Victorian Literature!!

Hannah
xxx

 

References:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/books/what-to-read/jessie-burtons-the-muse-almost-tops-the-miniaturist/

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