Studious Saturday: Why we should read books in a different genre

studious saturdays

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”  – Dr. Seuss

Welcome to another Studious Saturday post! This one is based on genres and why I think it’s a good idea to for us bookworms to step out of our comfort zone and try a book in a different genre. If you read my previous post, Three Bookish Things Book Tag, you may remember that this was one of my goals for this year and I can safely say that I have achieved it by recently finishing one of my Science Fiction choices, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of reading something completely different to what I usually choose and wanted to share my views on why I think you should do the same.

• Understand your preferences better

Even if we leave the new book half-way through or decide it is not for us, it would still work in our favour because we would now have a much better understanding of our likes and dislikes and the types of books we have no interest in reading. The perfect example is Classics – many of us were forced to read at least one Classic at school and we may have decided that we have no interest in this genre based on the book we read years ago. However, we may be surprised upon reading a different Classic at a later age that we appreciate the characters and plot much more. Alternatively, we may choose a Classic or any other book in a genre we are not used to and soon leave it. It might not mean that we should completely discard this genre based on just one book but at least we would be in a better position to analyse what didn’t work and why we may or may not return to this genre at a later stage.

• Getting out of a reading slump

We all know the dreaded feeling of being unmotivated to start a new book or carry on reading the book we recently started. In these tricky situations I would advise to try a new genre. Changing to something fresh and distinct is always advised in many other circumstances in life so why can we not apply it to reading? In fact, I believe that experimenting with a completely unexpected reading choice is a healthy way to restart our motivation and put us on the right path back to our bookcase/library/book shop. Personally, I was feeling frustrated with some of the Thrillers that I had read before I decided to embark on the new adventure of Science Fiction but shortly after finishing it I realised that I was ready to return to my favourite genre and attack it with a newfound enthusiasm that I was lacking before.

• Different genre, different perspective

For me, the main advantage of switching genres is the fresh perspective we would encounter, a concept that I realise is difficult to grasp if we are used to always reading the same kind of books. New characters, a change in pace and a completely different setting are just some of the aspects we may face and of course there could be many more depending on the degree of the change in genre. In my case, jumping from my usual choice of Thrillers and Crime to Science Fiction felt like a huge step because the setting is  completely contrasting to that of the usual Thriller. However, I would not be surprised to see less disparity between Thrillers and Horror or Romance and Young Fiction, for example.

Question

Is switching to a new genre something that you may consider or do you prefer to stick to genres you know you enjoy?

That’s all for this week! I will spend the weekend looking through my feed and reading all your blog posts as I was not able to follow your posts as usual because of a very hectic and busy week. Have a relaxing weekend and happy reading!

 

Book review: In Her Shadow by Mark Edwards


Book Cover

Title: In Her Shadow

Author: Mark Edwards

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Publication date: 4th October 2018

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Summary:

“Isabel’s life seemed perfect. Successful business, beautiful house, adoring husband. And then she was dead.
For four years Jessica has never doubted that her sister Isabel’s death was an accident. But when Jessica’s young daughter seems to know long-forgotten details about her aunt’s past, Jessica can’t shake the feeling that there’s a more sinister truth behind the tragedy.
As Jessica unearths disturbing revelations about her sister, and about the people she loved and trusted most, it becomes clear Isabel’s life was less than perfect and that Jessica’s might also be at risk.
Did someone murder Isabel? Are they now after Jessica and her family? The key seems to lie in the hands of a child. Can Isabel reveal the truth from beyond the grave, or is the answer closer to home?”

My review:

I decided to request an advance reader’s copy of this book after finishing The Retreat by Mark Edwards which I found exciting and wanted to analyse his writing in greater depth. He has the ability to combine intense and dramatic moments with hints of paranormal activity in a unique and gripping way and I admire his bravery to incorporate this method in his books as a way of peaking the reader’s interest. Unfortunately, I felt that the plot lost focus for me due to the emphasis on the supernatural elements which I think were too excessive here, especially when Jessica’s daughter, Olivia, claimed to know the details surrounding Isabel’s death without ever having met her. I was impressed with the way Jessica was portrayed as a multilayered character with secrets and regrets but simultaneously I would have liked to explore the other minor characters such as Darpak further.

The other drawback from my perspective was the intense change in pace halfway through the book. It starts off at a relatively slow pace and quickly picks up after one of the many secrets is revealed. I realise that this was perhaps done intentionally to draw the reader’s attention back to the main suspects while discarding several others but I also felt that it disrupted the natural flow. Further on this note, I found the ending exhilarating and was kept on the edge of my seat until the last few chapters which I believe was partly due to the fast pace and plot twists disclosed at the very end. Exposing the murderer was a complete surprise and I appreciated the flashbacks leading up to this point to reveal Isabel’s killer as a different and fresh writing technique.

Overall, I found this book more difficult to follow and dig into in comparison with The Retreat but liked the fast-paced unexpected ending. If there had been a deeper focus on the characters and less of an emphasis on the paranormal elements from Olivia’s perspective I would probably have enjoyed this book more.

In Her Shadow is available to all this Thursday 4th October!

Many thanks to the publisher for providing a free advanced reader’s copy in exchange for my honest review.

 

Studious Saturday: The impact of books in a series

studious saturdays

 

Happy Saturday! I have stumbled upon several reviews in the Book Blogging community this week on Lethal White, the fourth book in the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith. They made consider the impact of books in a series and the key techniques used by authors to create a well perceived series. I have decided to explore these thoughts on this week’s Studious Saturday post and analyse these methods in further detail…

• Continuity in the story line

Something we all look for, perhaps even subconsciously, upon starting the next book in a series is the continuity in the story line. Many authors decide to disregard this aspect, especially those in a detective series where the crime scene changes each time. Nevertheless, continuity is a key technique used to remind the reader how the last book ended and flow into the story line of the new book. If a series doesn’t have any degree of continuity the plot may seem uneven and rushed.

• Character development

Most series include the same characters with perhaps a few new characters introduced in each new book. If there is no character development the plot appears stagnant and the reader may lose interest. However, that is not to say that characters must always be likable; in fact the most disliked characters are often unpopular because of the events leading up to a plot twist or milestone which indicates character progression. As characters grow and their traits are gradually revealed, the story line also matures and progresses to create a rich and engaging plot and advance the story line to the next book.

• Changes in pace

Pace has a crucial impact on how readers perceive a book and if they decide to read the complete series. In particular, pacing is often difficult to master depending on the genre. Adventure or fantasy series such as The Hunger Games usually have significant changes in the pacing throughout each book to encourage an element of surprise. In contract, the pace in a mystery or crime series often doesn’t change much until the very end where a plot twist is revealed to evoke tension and suspense. It is also important that the pace doesn’t change drastically between each book in a series to ensure that it doesn’t break up the continuity, although this arguably also depends on genre and I realise may affect certain genres more than others.

• Ending

Also linked to continuity, I believe that the ending of each book should reflect the writing and story line so far. It may not be justified to end a book in a series on a cliff hanger if there have been few hints of plot twists or surprises. On the other hand, an expected or neutral ending may not be as memorable and the reader may not be as willing to continue the series. However, depending on expectations, genre and other factors, a certain kind of ending may create a greater impact and interest the reader more.

• Does it measure up to the previous book in the series?

I think this is perhaps the most important point and something we all reflect on. Very often the first book in a series is considered the “best” for a variety of reasons. We may decide to skip the next books because they don’t measure up to the first one or even the previous one. This point consists of all the previous ones – continuity, pace and character development. If one aspect falters it could have a huge influence on our perception and therefore may not be as willing to set time apart to read the whole series.

Question

What traits do you think contribute to a successful series? Do you compare books in a series to each other and does this have an impact on the series as a whole?

If you have read this far then thank you for taking the time to consider this week’s reflections. I realise that this discussion post is more subjective and is not as balanced as it may be but I decided to post it anyway and open up this discussion to the community.

Book review: An American Family by Jackson Baer


Book Cover

Title: An American Family

Author: Jackson Baer

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Publisher: Evolved Publishing

Publication date: 1st October 2018

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Summary:

“Isaac Childs has the perfect life—until that life comes crashing down when his wife Ramie vanishes.
Isaac learns that his wife’s disappearance is the ninth in a string of similar cases. In the wake of this news, he struggles to cope, to be a good father to his daughter and college-bound son, and to reclaim something of an ordinary life even as he conceals his troubled past.
After the FBI makes an arrest, and his wife is presumed dead, Isaac begins to move on. Yet will his secrets catch up with him? Has he conquered his vices for good? And what of the FBI’s theory that the case isn’t completely resolved, after all?”

My review:

This book offers something to every reader. It is an excellent choice for those who appreciate flawed characters and perfect for anyone interested in an engrossing mystery. It becomes apparent as the story line progresses that the characters are vital to moving the plot along and simultaneously, as the plot develops, we discover secrets and imperfections of each character that transpire into an appealing and exciting story. I really admired the powerful use of both these writing techniques and I feel the author accomplished this exceptionally well.

Although all characters were multilayered and engaging, I could not find myself interested enough to follow their conversations. Perhaps it is based on my personal preference on dialogue, but their discussions felt strained and very matter-of-fact which attributed to several forced interactions. Nevertheless, the descriptions in between and after the direct speech were eloquent and concise. I would have preferred a more prominent emphasis on this as the period between Ramie vanishing and Isaac meeting Julia felt somewhat rushed. However, I also realise that this was intended to describe their accidental meeting and therefore the focus soon shifted to their life afterwards.

Few thrillers manage to incorporate emotion and grief in the story line and those that do often fall short of inducing empathy in the reader. In contrast, An American Family shines in this field and from the first page we are introduced to a mix of emotions from despair to heartbreak. I was pleasantly surprised by the ending, although it seemed somewhat implausible, and can safely say that this book left me with a sense of relief which was comforting after the rollercoaster of a ride we travelled on.

An American Family is out next Monday 1st October!

Many thanks to the author for providing a free advanced reader’s copy in exchange for my honest review.

Studious Saturday: The Sunshine Blogger Award

The Sunshine Blogger Award

Many thanks to Beth at About a Book Club for tagging me! Go and check out her answers and hop over to her blog!

This Studious Saturday post will be a tag.

What is The Sunshine Blogger Award?

The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to bloggers who are creative, positive, and inspiring. Once nominated, the blogger is required to write a post in which they:

• Thank the blogger who nominated them and link back to their blog.

• Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated them.

• Nominate 11 other blogs and give them 11 new questions to answer.

• Notify your nominees and display the Sunshine Blogger Award in your post.

studious saturdays

Here are my answers to Beth’s questions:

1) What has been your favourite book of the month so far?
I have to go for The Fix by David Baldacci. This book was published last year but I started reading it at the beginning of this month and finished it in 3 days. I love the Amos Decker series and highly recommend it to any readers who enjoy a fast-paced detective mystery.

2) Name a book that you have recently bought solely from a blogger’s review.
I am currently reading The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers after buying it when I read Kristin‘s review and I’m really glad I did. It’s entertaining and adventurous and even though I don’t usually read Sci-Fi I’m really enjoying this one!

3) Do you read multiple books at a time? Or just one?
I usually read just one on my kindle unless I also have a paperback that I’m also reading in which case I alternate between the two.

4) Name a book that you were disappointed by/felt had been over-hyped.
I was disappointed by Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee. I expected another thought-provoking read with controversial topics discussed but I thought it was average and it left me feeling empty.

5) Give an ‘unpopular opinion’ on a book/series that everyone else seems to love.
I don’t think that The Girl on the train by Paula Hawkins is as great as others make it out to be. It was interesting but I found it difficult to relate to the main character and follow the story line until the end.

6) What book have you read the most times cover to cover?
I read To Kill a Mockingbird several times at school and also a few times afterwards as well and it never disappoints. It’s usually the first book I recommend to anyone who is looking to read a Classic.

7) Favourite cover art of a book you own (include a picture, if you can!)
I love the cover of The Sisterhood. It’s a simple but beautiful design which also goes perfectly with the story:
The Sisterhood

8) Name a stand-alone book that you WISH had a sequel.
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

9) What setting of a book would you love to visit?
I’d love to visit the circus described in The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. There would be so much to explore!

10) Name something that bugs you about the book blogging community.
I would say the international blogger debate. I have seen so many discussions lately on this and I can relate to many points made.

11) Name something you LOVE about the book blogging community.

I love how inclusive and welcoming the community is. We all have different tastes in reading depending on age, genre, location etc. but we also all share our love of books and it’s so wonderful how book bloggers are always so supportive and helpful.

I nominate:

Recipe and a Read

Umut Reviews

Excuse my reading

Drizzle and Hurricane Books

Books and Dachschunds

Books and Me!

Brunching Bookworms

Not-so-modern Girl

Bookathon

Between the Pages

Dee Reads Things

My questions:

1. What was your favourite book when you were a child?

2. Name a book that you wish was made into a film/series.

3. Do you prefer to buy or borrow books? Why?

4. What language do you prefer reading in?

5. How do you get over a reading slump?

6. What would you say to your favourite author if you ever get the chance to meet him/her?

7. Name a character that you feel could have been developed more.

8. Which book that you read this year has pleasantly surprised you?

9. Share a quote that you like from the book you are currently reading.

10. Imagine that you meet your favourite character by chance. How do you react?

11. Has any book ever made you cry? Share a passage or your thoughts on it.

Thank you for reading my answers and I hope those of you nominated enjoy this tag. Please don’t feel obliged to do it but if you do decide to publish the award, please tag me in the post because I would love to read it!

 

Book review: The Coordinates of Loss by Amanda Prowse

Book Cover

Title: The Coordinates of Loss

Author: Amanda Prowse

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Publication date: 25th September 2018

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ✰

Summary:

When Rachel Croft wakes up on her family’s boat in Bermuda, it’s to sunshine and yet another perfect day…until she goes to wake her seven-year-old son, Oscar. Because the worst thing imaginable has happened. He isn’t there.
In the dark and desperate days that follow, Rachel struggles to navigate her grief. And while her husband, James, wants them to face the tragedy together, Rachel feels that the life they once shared is over. Convinced that their happy marriage is now a sham, and unable to remain in the place where she lost her son, she goes home to Bristol alone.
Only when she starts receiving letters from Cee-Cee, her housekeeper in Bermuda, does light begin to return to Rachel’s soul. She and James both want to learn to live again—but is it too late for them to find a way through together?

My review:

I decided to read this book after finishing Anna by Amanda Prowse which I really enjoyed. Needless to say, it didn’t disappoint. She chose a very complex subject matter and explored it through Rachel and James’ relationship after their son Oscar disappears at sea. Grief is a particularly difficult topic to discuss which I believe she handled well with a lot of carefully chosen words and phrases. Most notable of all were the different stages of loss that Rachel struggled through which I felt were especially well documented through the first person narrative.

Character development plays an important part in books written in this style and I must say that we saw all characters grow through expressing their thoughts and reflecting on the past. Cee-Cee was a very pleasant character, often driving the plot forwards and supporting Rachel with the healing process. Her empathy and kindness is so comforting and she quickly became my favourite character.

The Coordinates of Loss is an emotional and poignant book, perfect for readers who are after a true to life story and are keen on exploring family dynamics. However, it should also be noted that this book lacks a fast-paced plot and does not provide any relief until the very end, which is something I believe many readers may also be looking for.

Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing a free advanced reader’s copy in exchange for my honest review.

Studious Saturday: My favourite places to read

 

studious saturdays

“Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are” – Mason Cooley

Hello and welcome to another Studious Saturday post! I am one of those people that can read almost anywhere. I was almost tempted to pick up my book when I was waiting my turn for the dentist! This made me think about some of my favourite places to read and I decided to create a quick discussion post to discuss in more detail. So in no particular order my favourite places to read are…

• On public transport

If you are from the UK, you probably know how awkward it can be locking eyes with the person sitting opposite you. This doesn’t tend to happen in Spain but even so, I much prefer reading my book, especially on my commute to work or when I know a long journey is ahead.

• On a flight

I guess this is linked to public transport although the journey tends to be longer meaning more time for reading. I sometimes get through a whole book when flying and I love the feeling of completely ignoring anything and everything else on the plane and getting lost in the story.

• In the park

The park is probably my favourite place to read, especially on a sunny day with a slight breeze. Unfortunately we don’t get many days like this here in Madrid but when the odd day suggests the perfect weather I love to pick up my kindle and head to the park.

• At a café

On gloomy days I find nothing more appealing than walking to a café, making myself comfortable at a table by the window and starting a new book. Sometimes hours pass by and I finish one book and start another without even thinking about leaving.

• At home

My usual reading place is my bed or sofa, both of which are comfortable enough to get lost in a book, sometimes a bit too much when the plot is engrossing enough to keep me awake into the small hours of the night. Then I find myself tired at work the following day but I don’t mind too much because this is usually how I discover my favourite authors and books.

Question

What is your favourite place to read and why?

Have an amazing weekend and thanks for reading!