Saturday, 26 December 2015

Review: The Hound of the Baskervilles

Typical. Probably the most famous Sherlock Holmes story there is, and I'd read basically all of them except this one. I, as a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, should hang my head in shame.

But no more! Last month, I finally picked up this book after years of wanting to, which kinda what my Classics Catch-Up month was all about! Sure, this one wasn't actually on my TBR for the month, but I never stick to TBRs, and who am I to break the tradition now? ;)

Besides, as I said above, this is almost certainly the most famous Sherlock Holmes story, and I've seen quite a few adaptations of it. So I thought it was high time I read the real thing for myself!

Having read and loved all of the short stories, I found the longer ones I've read (A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four) to be a little disappointing. The stories themselves felt a bit like overlong short stories with a giant rambling explanation on the end, which is not exactly what I wanted from a novel.

But The Hound of the Baskervilles is much more of a fleshed out story, and has more of a novel-like feel to it. The tension builds much more slowly as the threads of the mystery are woven together. I loved the spooky atmosphere of the Dartmoor setting and the lurking threat of the Grimpen Mire, capable of swallowing up anyone who makes one false step.

As far as the mystery goes, I deduced who the villain was fairly quickly. But there were still plenty of satisfying loose ends to tie up after that. All in all, a highly worthwhile read. And it didn't take very long either!

Have you read The Hound of the Baskervilles?

What are you reading over the holidays?

Sunday, 20 December 2015

5 Fave "New to Me" Author Discoveries This Year

Hello! And welcome back to another post for #AMonthofFaves (check out the intro post for the details, including links to the hosts' blogs!).

Today's post is another one from last week (oops), and the topic is '5 favourite new-to-me authors of the year'. I read loads of authors this year that I'd never read before, so it'll be tricky to narrow it down!

Oh well, here goes nothing:

1.Thomas Hardy

"But Rachel, you didn't read a Thomas Hardy book this year!"

True. But I did listen to about half of the audiobook for Far from the Madding Crowd and absolutely loved it. I don't think audiobooks are for me (at least at the moment), but I did fall in love with Hardy's writing and I'm so so keen to pick this up in physical form soon.

2. Junot Diaz

"But Rachel, isn't this the first time you're mentioning Junot Diaz on this blog?"

Why yes, astute reader, I believe it is. This is a slightly embarrassing story... I read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao earlier in the summer, but I stopped about 6 pages from the end and still haven't finished it. Why? Not a clue!

I really loved the book though, and I can't wait to pick up This is How You Lose Her, which I bought recently with my birthday money.

3. Alice Walker

I LOVED The Color Purple when I read it this summer, and according to my sister the rest are just as good.

4. F. Scott Fitzgerald

I think my strategy for narrowing down this list is, rather than necessarily trying to choose my favourite (way too many!), to choose authors that have really made me want to delve deeper into their writing and read more of what they've got to offer. This kind of excludes writers like Harper Lee (I'm not that fussed about her new book) and Andy Weir, simply because it was their book as a standalone rather than their whole body of work which interested me. Hopefully that makes sense :P

Anyway, my absolutely favourite part of The Great Gatsby was Fitzgerald's writing style, and that's definitely something I'm keen to explore in his other works. I can't believe it took me so long to get to him, but I'm glad I finally did this year!

5. George R.R. Martin

Though he may not be my favourite author of the year, this guy has really made me want to read the rest of his books! I've been told they're not all as good as the first one, but that some of them are great. I can't wait to discover them!

So there you have it! My top 5 new-to-me authors of the year.

Who were your favourites?

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things in 2015

Plot twist: the bottom of this post is stuck on blue and it won't let me change it! 

Today's #AMonthofFaves topic is fun!!!

(Hop on over to Estella's Revenge or check out my announcement post for deets on what #AMonthofFaves actually is if you're not sure.)

Today's post is a list of favourite things from 2015, [Edit: I forgot to post this! It's the theme from December 3rd!] whether that's book-related or not. This is so great to reflect on - I've got so much to be thankful for, but I do such a bad job at remembering that. It's so good to be reminded once in a while of the good things in your life.

Favourite film of the year:

The Martian. Hands down. Loved the film just as much as the book and can't wait till it comes out on DVD.


My year of music listening has consisted very heavily of the Wicked soundtrack and (especially lately) Christmas music by Pentatonix. Judge all you like ;)


This year I was introduced by my housemate to the wonders of peanut butter and soy sauce and I've never looked back.


In my old flat we had a whole shelving unit filled with different teas, and it was wonderful. Clipper do an amazing blend called Snore and Peace (also, great name!), which is camomile and other loveliness. That was probably my favourite of the teas, but the rest were great too.

Item of clothing:

I got given a Ravenclaw scarf for my birthday last year and it got worn for a significant proportion of 2015. No regrets.


A pair of brown brogues. Great shoes = happiness :)

Internet decision:

Making a bookish Instagram. Best decision ever.


Honey Blossom scented candle from Yankee Candle. Closely followed by Cranberry Ice and Pink Sands. Not obsessed at all ;)

TV show:

Merlin. (Forever and always.)

Thanks buddy :')


Graduation! Actually quite a boring event in itself but it means I HAVE A DEGREE so that's always a good thing.

Outdoor activity:

Frisbee. Closely followed by cycling to work. (I also like Frisbee indoors)


Edinburgh. I went with a couple of friends in the summer and adored every second.

Animal encounter:

The elusive neighbour's cat (the cat is elusive, not the neighbour). But it's also the most adorable cat ever and I want it for my own.

Book-related gift:

This mug.

Thing to do:

Go for walks with my mum.

Biggest change:

Leaving education. Becoming an adult. Realising that I have to actively decide now what happens to me otherwise I'll stay in limbo in the same job forever and ever.

But I also get paid so... 

That's it for now! Let me know your faves of 2015 in the comments :) 

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

5 Popular Books Worth the Hype

Hello again! I only posted yesterday and here I am again. What is this madness???

In case you missed it, I'm participating in the blogging event #AMonthofFaves throughout the month of December. Read all about it here, and be sure to visit the hosts' blogs (and the other participants'!).

Today's theme is:

5 Popular Books Worth the Hype

...and it just so happens that I've read quite a few popular books this year that I thought were well worth the buzz. So many, in fact, that it was tricky to pick just five, but I think I'm happy with how I've narrowed it down. Let me know what you think!

1. The Martian

This book received a lot of hype when it was released, and even more when the film came out earlier this year. I absolutely loved it and thought it was worth all the hype 100%. Even my brother thought it was great, and he doesn't even read that much! So there you go.

2. The Great Gatsby

This is an incredibly famous book, so it was difficult to know how to prepare myself to read it. I think the way I did it - a spontaneous decision without any forethought - was the best way I could have chosen. For me, it definitely lived up to its reputation and I'm really keen to read more Fitzgerald in the future.

3. A Game of Thrones

This book is absolutely everywhere! It was recommended specifically to me by my brother (he even bought it for me!), which is high praise indeed from such a sporadic reader. But another friend whose opinions I trust didn't enjoy it at all, so I didn't know quite what to think. I finally read it this year and thankfully I really enjoyed it (it's always more fun to enjoy things I think!), and am very keen to pick up the rest of the books.

4. To Kill a Mockingbird

I read this for the first time this year and absolutely loved it. It's often difficult to know how you'll feel about a book as famous as this, and it can be a bit off-putting to know that everything you're thinking about it has been thought and expressed a thousand times before. But nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of this book, and for me it was well worth the hype.

5. The Catcher in the Rye

I wasn't sure where I would stand on this as it's so well known and so divisive. Some people love it and some absolutely hate it. I think I definitely chose the right time to pick this one up. Loved it!

What 5 books would you pick?

Share your #AMonthofFaves in the comments!

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

#AMonthofFaves {My Reading Year}

So this was supposed to get posted yesterday...?? Woops! Blogger, you fail!

Huzzah! It's here! December has arrived and I no longer have to fear judgement for blasting out Christmas music and wanting to eat mince pies every other minute.

December is also a fun time because of the #AMonthofFaves blogging event hosted by Girlxoxo, Traveling with T and Estella's Revenge, which basically involves writing a themed post for each day in December.


Today's post is all about bookish stats from this year, from best reading month to most-read genre and everything in between.

Total books read:

25 new books and 10 re-reads, including the entire Harry Potter series. Not spectacular by book-blogger standards (or compared with my previous years), but I'm pretty proud considering I was also doing finals for my degree.

Most read author:

J.K. Rowling - I re-read the whole Harry Potter series so that's 7 books. I think I only read one each by everyone else.. Though actually I did read two by Neil Gaiman so I guess he's second on the list.

E-books vs. physical books:

Of the 35 books I read in total so far this year only 3 have been e-books, so physical books win here by a large margin. Quite a contrast with last year where I spent a large portion of it abroad with only my kindle for company.

Most read genre:

I read a lot of classics this year, as well as a lot of books that I guess you would class as 'literary fiction'. But I did read a few fantasy books too (Harry Potter, Neil Gaiman books, GoT, Dracula...), and I'd love to read more soon.

Best/worst reading month:

I think July would probably have to be my best reading month as I read so many books on holiday, but I can't actually remember how many that was... Probably about 6 or 7.

As for my worst month, there were a couple of months where I read basically nothing at all, though I can't remember which those were. Almost certainly May and I think February as well. Sad times. But hooray for no more exams or essays!

Best book of the year:

Well that would be telling ;)

I'm not even sure I've decided yet! I think at the moment it's a tie between two that I really enjoyed. One because it felt so real and was so well researched and the other because it had such a unique voice. That's all you're getting for now!

How was your reading year?

Feel free to link to your #AMonthofFaves post in the comments! I'd love to read it :)
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