The Mud and Stars Book Blog

thoughts from a girl who spends her days in other worlds…

A long-overdue bookish catch-up!

on May 5, 2019

Hello bookish friends, and welcome back to my poor, abandoned little book blog!

I haven’t posted on here since November last year, and that makes me sad, so I wanted to come back and catch up with you all. This is the longest hiatus I’ve ever taken from blogging (5 months!), and there were several reasons for my absence:

1) It started with a terrible reading slump, where I didn’t feel much motivation to read for about 2 months. I did try to read, and I did finish some books, but most of them were very average and made my slump worse.

2) Then, I had some health problems. I was suffering from really low energy and fatigue at the start of this year, and some days I could hardly get out of bed. I thought it was linked to my mental health and that my depression was making a comeback, but thankfully after some blood tests I found out it was Vitamin D deficiency, and after a couple of months of taking supplements, I’m feeling a lot better (even though I still get tired really easily.)

3) Finally, I have been wanting to post again for a while, but anxiety has been holding me back. I freak out when I look at a blank word document I have to fill, worrying that what comes out won’t be good enough, or that everyone will have forgotten me!

But, I have worked so hard on building this blog, and, no matter how many breaks I take, I will always come back to it. I will never abandon it forever!

At this point in the year, I’ve read quite a lot of books, so I can’t possibly catch you up on everything I’ve read so far in 2019, but I thought I’d give you some quick thoughts on my favourites. It hasn’t been the best reading year so far, as not many books have really blown me away. However, these are the four that have stood out to me:


1) Pen Pal by Dathan Auerbach

220px-Penpal_cover_Auerbach

Pen Pal is probably my favourite book I’ve read so far this year. It’s a horror novel about a boy who gains a very creepy pen pal when he takes part in a school project (which involves releasing balloons with attached messages into the sky, in the hope that somebody will find them, when they land, and write back.) I can’t explain to you how creepy I found this book. The writing is so atmospheric and dreamlike; it reminds me of the off-kilter feeling of a nightmare, where everything looks normal, but you know that there is something (or someone) lurking in the shadows. My favourite part of this novel was one of the earliest chapters, where our main character wakes up in the forest alone in the middle of the night. It’s so strange and unsettling because he has no idea how he got there or how to find his way back home. My heart was pounding the whole time – the tension was perfectly written, and the feeling of being watched by someone unseen was undeniable. I got déjà vu whilst reading this chapter because it seemed so familiar, which almost added to how freaked out I felt, until I realised that I had actually read this chapter before on Reddit several years before (where this story was originally published.) I highly recommend this book if you like being creeped the hell out.


2) Monsters by Emerald Fennell (Trigger warning: child abuse)

monsterscover

I got this book from the library, however I might buy my own copy as I would love to re-read it someday. This is the story of two somewhat terrifying children who become friends during a summer spent at a hotel in Cornwall. The setting is very atmospheric and there were some references to Daphne Du Maurier which I loved! In this Cornish town there is serial killer at large, strangling women and throwing their bodies into the sea, and to say that these two children are morbidly fascinated by these murders would be an understatement. They decide to turn detective and solve the murders, but they are far more interested in the gory details than your average true-crime fan. This book was dark and twisted, and although the characters are not ‘nice’, they get under your skin. Miles is definitely a sociopath, however our main character, whose name we never find out, is, underneath her scarily emotionless exterior, a lost, lonely, and neglected child who has never been shown what love is. As such, her friendship with Miles, the only person to ever really pay her attention, becomes very intense, bordering on obsessive. It was a very interesting relationship dynamic to explore. I felt desperately sorry for our main character, even if some of the things she came out with were, frankly, terrifying, and I found her a very compelling narrator. I think this is one of the most well-written and distinctive character voices I have read in a long time.


3) Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare

qoaad

I just finished reading QoAaD last night (having stayed up until 1am to finish it!) and I have so many emotions! The Dark Artifices is not my favourite Cassandra Clare series, but reading it really makes me appreciate the depth and breadth of the Shadowhunter world. If you haven’t read any of them, the books are about Nephilim (‘Shadowhunters’) who are charged with protecting the human (‘Mundane’) world from Demons. There are so many characters at this stage in the story, but all of them feel distinctive and none are forgettable. I love how this book draws together so many characters from across all of Cassie’s series, and seeing them working together makes my heart so happy. I guess I can’t really say a lot about this book as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read the rest of the Shadowhunter books, but I thought the plot of this book was epic (so many twists!) and the ending really wowed me. What happens towards the end of this book is a gigantic turning point in Shadowhunter history, and I am so excited to see what happens in The Wicked Powers series, politics-wise. I loved the happy-endings that some ongoing storylines received here (my heart! 😀 ), with others not wrapped up quite so tidily (my heart! 😥 ). This book felt like a conclusion, but also the beginning of other exciting storylines which we will see develop in The Wicked Powers. All in all, I really loved this emotional journey. It was a big beastie of a book at almost 900 pages, but I made it, and I adored every second of it.


4) Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

crazyrichasians

Finally, I would like to talk about Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan. Funnily enough, I didn’t give this book 5 stars, because I felt like some of the characters were a little lacking in depth and development, however it’s a stand out book because of how much it entertained me. This story follows Rachel Chu, whose boyfriend Nick Young invites her to spend the summer in Singapore with his family. Little does Rachel know, but the Young’s are one of the most monumentally rich families in Asia, and they are NOT happy with Nick’s choice of girlfriend. This book was humorous, but a lot of the humour is subtle and satirical. It reminded me of the way Jane Austen writes, because it is filled with acute social commentary, and the way certain characters act when they are not intending to be funny provides the comedy in so many scenes (e.g. pompous, snobby Eddie Chen, whose pants split in a scene where he is forcing his long-suffering family to dress up as expensively as him to impress a society magazine photographer.) I really enjoyed all of the lavish descriptions of Nick’s family’s opulent lifestyle; it’s the kind of wealth that is so ridiculous it makes your mind boggle, and it’s so much fun to read about. I also really liked reading about Singapore, and every time food was mentioned I became instantly hungry. Funnily enough, I visited Singapore a month or so after reading this book, and whilst I didn’t see the ‘crazy rich’ side of it that these characters experience, I got excited every time I recognised something from the book (and of course, every time I sampled the delicious food!).  This book was all round entertaining, and I hope to read its sequels very soon!


And that concludes my big catch up blog post! I’m sorry I was away for so long, and I’m looking forward to blog-hopping now that I’m back and catching up on all of your posts too.

Hopefully I’ll be back again with another post soon. I am going to make some changes to my blog and revamp things a bit (perhaps even with a new colour scheme!) I also want to experiment with different types of content. The focus will still be on books, but I hope to write about some other things that are important to me too, including mental health. I am thinking of doing a travel post soon too, as I would love to share some of my stories and photos from the trip to Singapore I mentioned above!

Lots of bookish love to you all, and see you soon! Jess xxx


13 responses to “A long-overdue bookish catch-up!

  1. Welcome back! And I’m glad you enjoyed Crazy Rich Asians. Definitely a fun book!

    • mudandstars says:

      Aww thank you so much! ❤️ I totally agree, so much fun! Have you read the other two books in the series? I’ve got them on my shelf and looking forward to picking them up 😀 xxx

      • I have! And they very much fit the tone of the first book. With maybe a little more character development? If you liked the first, you’ll like the rest!

      • mudandstars says:

        Ooh that’s great to hear! I was really hoping for some more character development as I didn’t feel like Rachel and Nick were fully fleshed out in the first book. Can’t wait to read them! Xxx

  2. Marie says:

    Welcome back, Jess, I’m so happy you’re feeling better! ❤ ❤
    I loved Crazy Rich Asians, most of it all for the entertainment factor, it was such a fun book to read 🙂

  3. Welcome back!! Crazy Rich Asians is very entertaining! Great reviews 🙂

  4. Welcome back!!! I’m sorry you were having a rough go of it for the past months. I’m happy to see that you are starting to do better 🙂

    I also read Crazy Rich Asians and enjoyed it much more than I ever thought I would! Have you seen the film adaptation yet? That is so cool you got to visit Singapore! I’d love to sample all the food that the author describes. I was always hungry while reading it lol

    • mudandstars says:

      Thank you so much! 🙂 I’m really happy to be back. The last few months were definitely a struggle, but I’m doing a lot better 🙂
      I’m glad you enjoyed Crazy Rich Asians too! It was so much fun. I really enjoyed the film too! And oh my goodness, Singapore was so awesome – it’s my favourite holiday I have ever been on. My boyfriend went for work, and I tagged along and basically just did all the sightseeing on my own, but it was so good for my confidence and I had such a great time. The food was sooo good too 🙂 xxx

  5. […] haven’t done many posts this year, but my favourite is probably my first post of the year, simply because it took a lot of courage to write it and get back into […]

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