Reading Challenge Prompt: A book with an ugly cover #38

This is probably one of the most subjective prompts. What do you find aesthetically pleasing? What fills you with absolute horror?

I went through my ever growing list of books I want to read and picked the ones I’ve been putting off for ages, purely because of their dreadful covers. Yes, I’m shallow.

So, I’m going to close my eyes, and give these uglies some love.

Eleven Kind of Loneliness by Richard Yates
A collection of short stories exploring loneliness, failure, heartbreak, and the potentials of purple font in one’s cover design choices…

Roadside Picnic by Arkady & Boris Strugatsky
A shortish sci-fi gem about Red Schuhart, a stalker, who ventures into the Zone to collect mysterious artifacts left behind by aliens. Stalker, the famous movie directed by Andrei Tarkovsky was loosely based on this book.

Accelerando by Charles Stross
A sci-fi story set somewhere between 2010 and 2015, involving cutting edge of intelligence amplification technology and a robot cat. Meow!

Heroes Die by Matthew Woodring Stover
A testosterone filled fantasy story set in a futuristic, dystopian world and an alternate reality called Overworld. If this is not epic, then I don’t know what is… The buff dude on the cover is all right, I can live with that, but damn, those fonts look proper heavy!

Parable of the Sower by Olivia E. Butler
A coming of age story set in a near future (2025) where people live in small, walled communities to protect themselves from the drug crazed scavengers.

Spin by Robert Charles Wilson
A science fiction story set in our present days, revolving around an event called the Big Blackout that made all the stars go out at once. No more romantic, stare gazing dates… There was a time at some point in my kindergarten years when I also loved combining green with a lot of purple.

Dark Water by Koji Suzuki
A short story collection by the author of the Ring. Need I say more? Bonus: once you start reading, you won’t see the cover.

If you need more inspiration to find ugly covers, you can join us in the Goodreads Popsugar Challenge group.

Happy hunting!

Where the Memories Lie by Sibel Hodge

Where the Memories Lie by Sibel Hodge
Genres: Mystery
Published: 22nd September, 2015
Goodreads
Series: N/A
Rating: 3

Chilling family secrets, obsession and decades-old lies. How well do we really know the ones we love? A gripping psychological thriller from the #1 bestselling author of Look Behind You.
Twenty-five years ago Katie ran away from home and never came back. But now she’s suddenly reappeared in her best friend Olivia’s life—in the form of a chilling confession. Olivia’s father-in-law, wracked with guilt, says he murdered her all those years ago. Tom suffers from Alzheimer’s and his story is riddled with error and confusion. Except for one terrifying certainty: he knows where the body is buried.
As Olivia and the police piece together the evidence, they are left with one critical question. They have a crime, they have a confession, and now they have a body—but can any of it be trusted?


So, a family secret, you say? Blurted out by a frail Alzheimer’s patient? Would you really take everything at face value from someone who only last week was under the impression that he’s Gregory Peck? The story had potential, but imagine you stumble upon this secret in the man’s diary. The one he’d written when he was still at full mental capacity… Now that, I could get into.

This book is not really a suspenseful thriller, more a story about a tight knit family and the lengths they would go to protect those they love the most. How far would you go to keep a secret that could destroy your family? Would you ignore all your values and beliefs if they were not suitable anymore? Maybe you are one of those people who is a firm believer of giving out the highest possible sentence to criminals. But if it’s your child on trial? Would that make a difference?

We see the plot unfold from Olivia’s point of view. She’s Tom’s daughter in law, and potentially one of the most annoying characters I came across in recent months. As a nurse, I expected her to be the voice of reason, but as the outsider so to say, of course she had to be the one who triggers all the digging into the past. It just didn’t seem that plausible to me, purely because of the way she found out about the secret.

As we go along, the uneasiness grows, accusations fly around and everyone seems suspicious. Olivia is off the rocker, and the most painful of it all is that she doesn’t use her brain. You want to accuse someone? Fine, but at least don’t show all your “evidence”.

The end twist was nicely done, and I’m actually happy with the resolution. Is it a bit far fetched? Maybe. But I’ve learnt watching all those true crime documentaries is that people are capable of anything.

Get Where the Memories Lie on Amazon UK.

Reading Challenge Prompt: A book about or involving a sport #19

Whether you are going through the topics in order, or randomly, or ignore some, reading challenges are a good way to get inspiration for your book pics. It’s the first time I actually decided to join one. Other than joining the Goodreads Popsugar Challenge group for ideas, I’m not following any particular order they set. I feel I already imposed enough restrictions on myself. I’m such a free spirit, I know…

The first prompt that grabbed my attention was the sports related one. I’m not a fan of anything or anyone, don’t enjoy or follow any sports in particular, but this doesn’t mean that I couldn’t enjoy a book that has something to do with it. On the contrary. As long as it’s fiction, there’s always hope.

I was very liberal when I picked these eight books, but hey… If you are a sports hater like me, or just don’t enjoy technical non-fiction, these are all safe bets.

Beartown by Fredrik Backman
The book is about a murder, set in a small Swedish town whose only hope for revival is their up and coming ice hockey team.

Trail of Murder (Lee Squires #1) by Christine Andreae
An English teacher & poet turned cook as a protagonist, murder, hiking and horse riding through the wilderness. I told you I was liberal with my pics, and yes, hiking is a sport.

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott
A story about a fifteen-year-old gymnastics prodigy, murder, jealousy and ambition.

Spud by John van de Ruit
The absolutely hilarious story of John ‘Spud’ Milton, his friends (The Crazy Eight), prepubescent anguish and the love of cricket, set in a posh South-African boarding school during the early ’90s.

Deal Breaker by Harlan Koben
Secrets and lies surround sports agent Myron Bolitar and his favourite rookie quarterback Christian Steele in this suspenseful novel.

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King
A little girl lost in the woods, kept alive by her love for baseball and her fantasies about her favourite player, Tom Gordon coming to her rescue.

Blockade Billy by Stephen King
The chilling story of William ‘Blockade Billy’ Blakely, the greatest baseball player with a dark secret.

Gym Candy by Carl Deuker
A book about the struggles and dreams of running back Mick Johnson who is trying to navigate the cruel world of american football.

New Year, New Books

Happy New Year, fellow readers!

Pic from: Ian Schneider via Unsplash

Hope none of you are suffering from hangover from last night’s celebrations. I spent my New Year’s Eve watching Attack on Titan, stuffing my face with the most amazing festive burger ever (Camembert and cranberry sauce, just sayin’), and sipping on some whiskey because I like to think I’m sophisticated.

This morning the Goodreads Reading Challenge opened for 2018, and feeling empowered by last year’s success, I pledged another 65 books for this year.

So, what’s the plan for 2018 then?

Complete the Popsugar 2018 Reading Challenge. My first reading challenge ever, and while most of the topics are super inspiring and look like fun, I expect I will end up reading some weird shit along the way.

Finish Shift by Hugh Howie. This is the second book in The Wool Trilogy, and I’ve been struggling with it since last July. It’s only 500 pages, so I should have been done with it ages ago, but every time I read a chapter I just get depressed and look for something else. Why finish then? Apparently the third part, Dust, is awesome, and I can’t just skip the middle one, can I…

Get rid of some of my books that are just collecting dust and taking up space. I usually go through my shelves at least once year and donate a bunch of books to charity.

Organize my books on my Kindle. Even though they are not taking up actual shelf space, they can get messy pretty quickly, especially they way I bulk buy e-books. I knew I could create collections but until now I just couldn’t be bothered, because why do it today, if you can do it tomorrow, or in fact why bother, if you don’t have to. However, after I recently stumbled upon some books I had not a single clue I owned, I think it’s time…

Let 2018 bring us new adventures, great books, and fun times!

What are your reading plans for this year? Doing any challenges?

Boy, do I love stats – 2017

The end is nigh, my fellow readers, and it’s time to take tally of this year’s accomplishments. No, the apocalypse is not coming, but 2018 is just around the corner.

Without further ado, let’s see my year in books.

Until this day I don’t know how, but I managed to finish 65 books this year. Before anyone suggest I should get a life, I must say, I do most of my reading during holidays, and at work, in my lunchbreak. Having developed some kind of weird insomnia could also be blamed – I rarely sleep past 5.30 a.m., so I have plenty of time in the mornings too before I have to make the ten minute trip to the office.

The best book I’ve read this year was definitely The Collapsing Empire (John Scalzi), and you have to appreciate how hard it is for me to say this, because I did read a book from Stephen King as well, and he’s my one true love.

Worst book of the year goes to Say You’re Sorry (Melinda Leigh). What a fucking mess that was…

The longest read was The Wise Man’s Fear (Patrick Rothfuss) with a whopping 994 pages, and it was also the highest rated on Goodreads.

 

The Fifth Doll by Charlie N. Holmberg

The Fifth Doll by Charlie N. Holmberg
Genres: Fantasy
Published: 25th July, 2017
Goodreads
Series: N/A
Rating: 4

The bestselling author of The Paper Magician Series transports readers to a darkly whimsical world where strange magic threatens a quiet village that only a courageous woman can save.
Matrona lives in an isolated village, where her life is centered on pleasing her parents. She’s diligent in her chores and has agreed to marry a man of their choosing. But a visit to Slava, the local tradesman, threatens to upend her entire life.?
Entering his empty house, Matrona discovers a strange collection of painted nesting dolls—one for every villager. Fascinated, she can’t resist the urge to open the doll with her father’s face. But when her father begins acting strangely, she realizes Slava’s dolls are much more than they seem.
When he learns what she’s done, Slava seizes the opportunity to give Matrona stewardship over the dolls—whether she wants it or not. Forced to open one of her own dolls every three days, she falls deeper into the grim power of Slava’s creations. But nothing can prepare her for the profound secret hiding inside the fifth doll.


There is just something about Russian folk tales, that gives you the creeps. In a good way! This book is not one of those folk tales, per se, but does have all the magical elements that make one.

The Fifth Doll is a pretty neat, spooky tale set in a cutesy little village that is just a little bit too cheerful for its own good. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, you guessed right. Everything.

I wouldn’t call this book suspenseful, but there’s just something that keeps you turning the pages to try and get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding the villagers. I must admit, I had all sorts of ideas what’s wrong with them, but none of them turned out to be the case.

 

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A little bit after halfway I even thought they are all dead or something… Damn…


 

I could not agree with those reviews that said the characters are flat an uninteresting. Maybe a little bit dopey, but hey, it all made perfect sense at the end!

Matrona, the main character is a bit immature for a 26 year old most of the time, but every now and then her potential shines through and she proves that she’s wise beyond her years. Or at least wiser than I was at that age.

I’ve always wanted to be loved. I don’t know if Esfir’s passing closed my parents’ hearts, or if it’s just their way, but affection has always been lacking in my home. I fear it’s lacking in yours as well. I can’t be part of that.

Damn, girl, you tell him! Love it.

I loved Jaska, her sidekick. Shit doesn’t make sense? Let’s consider all our options, even the wildest ones! He’s openminded, loyal and quick witted. If I had a side kick, I would sure want them to be someone like him.

I will most definitely read some more from this author.

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris
Genres: Psychological Thriller
Published: 18th July, 2017
Goodreads
Series: N/A
Rating: 3.5

Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside—the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.

But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.

The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…


This was quite an addictive page turner from B. A. Paris. There was no dawdling around in this fast paced story, and I appreciate that.

The mental breakdown of Cassie started out with what seemed to be just some everyday forgetfulness due to stress. But her mental state quickly started going downhill after the woman she saw stranded on a stormy night turned up dead and other weird shit started happening to her soon after. Cassie’s mother was diagnosed with early onset dementia, and she obviously started to fear the worst. With mental illness looming in the background the tension quickly builds to seriously suffocating levels.

The answer to the question “Who’s fucking with Cassie?” was somewhat predictable, but to me it just added an interesting layer to the story. Seeing the why and the how unfold was quite entertaining on its own, even if some stuff was somewhat far fetched.

Although Cassie reached a seriously paranoid state towards the end, once everything was revealed, she was surprisingly chill. How? I mean, seriously?

Quick read, and certainly right up my alley.

Book Picks for Next Year

Last time I checked (around 5 minutes ago), I had 658 books on my Goodreads “Want to Read” shelf. With my current reading speed I will need approximately 10 years to go through them, if I don’t add any more. As if…!

So unless somehow (sorcery) I rise to the level of some people I follow (& admire) and manage to read over a hundred books a year, I’m in some shit.

Grim as it sounds, it has obviously not stopped me to pick some books for 2018 that have not been released yet. I’m always a sucker with my massive backlog and usually by the time I get to a certain book it’s pretty old news. Not this time!

Some of these six books coincide with some of the prompts from the Popsugar 2018 Reading Challenge, so I don’t have an excuse anymore.

Apart from Holly Black, whom I adore, I have not read anything from the other authors before.

Sunburn by Laura Lippman
The Immortalists by Chole Benjamin
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
Red Clocks by Leni Zumas
Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

Blue Monday by Nicci French

Blue Monday by Nicci French
Genres: Thriller, Crime, Mystery
Published: 23rd June, 2011
Goodreads
Series: Frieda Klein #1
Rating: 2

The stunning first book in a new series of psychological thrillers introducing an unforgettable London psychotherapist Frieda Klein is a solitary, incisive psychotherapist who spends her sleepless nights walking along the ancient rivers that have been forced underground in modern London. She believes that the world is a messy, uncontrollable place, but what we can control is what is inside our heads. This attitude is reflected in her own life, which is an austere one of refuge, personal integrity, and order.

The abduction of five-year-old Matthew Farraday provokes a national outcry and a desperate police hunt. And when his face is splashed over the newspapers, Frieda cannot ignore the coincidence: one of her patients has been having dreams in which he has a hunger for a child. A red-haired child he can describe in perfect detail, a child the spitting image of Matthew. She finds herself in the center of the investigation, serving as the reluctant sidekick of the chief inspector.

Drawing readers into a haunting world in which the terrors of the mind have spilled over into real life, “Blue Monday” introduces a compelling protagonist and a chilling mystery that will appeal to readers of dark crime fiction and fans of “In Treatment” and “The Killing.”


I just don’t get this book… There was a lot going on, but hardly anything actually happening in the first half. It was meant to be a story about a child kidnapping and the surrounding investigation, involving a psychotherapist. Sounds great, no? Well, that poor child was barely mentioned, he was more like an afterthought people every now and then remembered to mention in the background.

A strange mood enveloped the room where they sat, dreamy and sad.

And that strange and sad mood spilled our all over the whole story. The atmosphere was great. London at its most depressing. But there were just too many moments of staring out windows, sitting around tables and walks at 3 a.m.

Frieda Klein is a psychotherapist, or, according to her sister in law some kind of a doctor with a bunch of stuff after her name. But she’s also turned out to be a technophobe, Christmas-hater, miserable moron who is scared to be happy.

In fact, it had only been in the last year that she had finally bought an answering machine and she steadfastly refused to have a mobile, to the incredulity of all those around her, who didn’t believe that people could actually function without one. But Frieda wanted to be able to escape from incessant communications and demands.

Because having a mobile means having to be glued to it, doesn’t it? You can’t, like… heaven forbid, put it away or turn it off, can you?

Great start for someone who is supposed to be there for people to help putting their lives back together, right? But her constant negativity would put a damper on any happy person.

‘What am I doing this summer, you mean? I should warn you that I hate flying. And sunbathing on beaches.’

Yes, Frieda, we get it, everything’s shit. But we have no clue why, so it’s just annoying, sorry. I sometimes wondered if she even likes anything, apart from munching on toast in front of the fireplace.

There were quite a few pointless characters. Starting with Sandy, the boyfriend. What for? Poor dude appeared a few times, just so we get it that Frieda is afraid of commitment. I almost started feeling sorry for her that she’s taking so long to trust someone and not staying overnight or letting them come to her place, when the dude dropped a bombshell (new job, moving overseas) and turned out they know each other for some weeks only. WTF?

 

 

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Yet, he also thought it was a great idea to suggest she moves with him, and then when didn’t work, to suggest they get married. But sure, he’s the great, reliable dude, isn’t he.

 

 

Jack, Frieda’s student-protege-trainee whatever was another one of these people who just hung around to basically explain the obvious. Josef, the Ukranian dude who drove Frieda around, cooked meals for her and was perpetually confused because he didn’t bloody understand half the time what anyone was talking about and basic words had to be explained to him. Duh. Have they become friends? Fuck knows…

I did like Chief Inspector Karlsson though. A cool dude, who is trying his best. He at least resembled something we’d call a reasonable person.

Since this series is mainly about Frieda, I doubt I will read the next book.