Book Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, together with the rest of the series, holds a very special place in my heart. Firstly, I grew up with these books. I read them starting as a teenager through until becoming a newly minted adult and I loved these books! I enjoy how the story and complexity scales throughout the series. That worked really well with how I read them initially, and also how I ‘aged’ with them.

I wanted to re-read these books as an adult. Mainly, I wanted to see if my experience of the books differed now that I was reading them from a more mature perspective. For the most part, I can’t say that they did; I enjoyed them just as much as I did back then!

 

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 251

Audience: Young Adult

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Publication Date: 02 Jul 1998

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Ever since Harry Potter had come home for the summer, the Dursleys had been so mean and hideous that all Harry wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he’s packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange impish creature who says that if Harry returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.

And strike it does. For in Harry’s second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor and a spirit who haunts the girls’ bathroom. But then the real trouble begins – someone is turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects… Harry Potter himself!

 

My Thoughts…

After the magic and drama of his first year at Hogwarts, you would think that going home for the summer would be a break for Harry. However, his aunt and uncle, and their son, treat him so awfully that he cannot wait to go back. Thankfully for us, it doesn’t take too long in the narrative and we get to dive into the magic and nostalgia of going to school very quickly.

This year is a little bit different, as they are no longer the newbies. However, the events that take place at the school or even stranger than the last. Students (and Mr Filch’s cat, Mrs Norris) are found petrified in school corridors. Tension rises and speculation begins on what is happening to them. Harry himself falls under suspicion. But, as we can only expect from these books, Harry ends up getting to the bottom of the matter. Not only that, but he finds himself in danger once again.

As with the first book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is a very quick read. I enjoyed the pacing of the book. It is full of action to keep the narrative moving along, but at the same time, we still get to see world-building and character development. I prefer the books towards the end of the series because I enjoy depth and complexity in my fantasy books. However, the fact that this book doesn’t necessarily fit into this category didn’t matter at all. The fact is, I knew going into it that these early books set a lot of foundation for the later books.

Whilst we don’t necessarily realise that at the time, significant events in this book or the introduction to a wider storyline come into play later on. When I think about where these events begin, it is Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets that immediately comes to mind. 

Whilst there is a lot of controversy around J. K. Rowling, I would recommend these books to anyone wanting to start out with reading fantasy, or anyone wanting to read a series without too much mental commitment. These books are really easy to digest. They are the kind of books that you could always get more out of with the next re-read. Equally, you can take them as you read them first time. They have a lot to give, and it is a series that I will go back and read again and again throughout my lifetime, I am sure! I know one of my friends re-reads these books regularly!

Have you read the Harry Potter series? Have you not read them? Let me know what you think in the comments.

 

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Sunday Summary – 25th September 2022

Good evening everyone! It’s the end of yet another week and here we are with another Sunday Summary update post. I don’t know about you, but things are starting to feel very autumnal now. It’s coming towards my favourite time of year – I can justify cozying in with a good cup of tea, a slice of cake, and a book. Not that I needed any excuse before like…

The changing of the season has come just in time. On Tuesday, I shared a Top Ten Tuesday post, in which I featured my top ten books to read in autumn. On that list, I have a number of books I have been meaning to read for some time, together with a couple of new ones. If you haven’t checked out that post already, there is a handy link above.

Later in the week, it was the turn of my Shelf Control regular feature. In that post, I featured a book that is on my September TBR. When I drafted the post, I hadn’t started the book as yet. However, I suspected that by the time it went live, I would be reading it – and I was right!

 

Books Read

I’m actually really pleased with this week’s reading progress. I’m going to be honest with you and say that when I shared my September TBR, I already felt defeated before I started. If you have seen that TBR post, you’ll know that I’m taking part in Bookoplathon. It is a game based on Monopoly, and I ended up really unlucky in my game. I ended up with three extra rolls, which means three extra books on my reading list this month. I had anticipated maybe one extra, but reading eight books in a month isn’t really achievable for me. That said, I have read quite a lot this week alone.

 

In Case You Missed It

As of last week’s Sunday Summary update, I was on my third book of the month, and coincidentally about a third of the way through it. I had DNF’d my previous read, and my first book was nothing special either. In Case You Missed It is not the type of book that I would’ve picked up without recommendation. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to think of it, but I was very pleasantly surprised.

As you are probably aware, Monday was a bank holiday here as it was the Queen’s funeral. I ended up watching quite a bit of the funeral, but also made time for reading. I ended up finishing In Case You Missed It on Monday. I read about 250 pages alone that day! What can I say, I really got into the book. The writing style is easy to digest and the events and characters are hilarious. It was exactly what I needed and I’m really glad I picked this up – so thanks for the recommendation Mum!

 

Treacle Walker

Next, I read a very short book that was not on my September TBR. I had been loaned this book by the CEO of the company I work for. He had enjoyed reading it and he wanted to know what I thought of it. Treacle Walker is only about 150 pages, and it was a very trippy, quick read. I really enjoyed it, even though I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on all of the time. I wanted to read this quite quickly as I know that this book was going to be passed on to somebody else after me.

 

Dark Matter

Next, I moved on to the next book on my TBR, and now my current read, Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. This is a bit of a twisty narrative, and I have no idea what is going on, albeit for different reasons to Treacle Walker! However, I am also really enjoying this one. There is a lot to unpick and it is going to take a while for me to work out what is what.

As of this post, I am exactly 20% through Dark Matter. I cannot wait to continue reading and update you in next week’s Sunday Summary post with more of my thoughts and progress!

 

Ordinary Heroes

Lastly, I started listening to Ordinary Heroes by Joseph Pfeifer. If you are unfamiliar with this book, it is the story of the first FDNY Chief on the scene of the 9/11 terrorist attack. I only started listening to this yesterday and I’m just a fraction off being halfway through already. I’m absolutely rattling through this one as it’s a really interesting read.

I quite enjoy listening to non-fiction – I find it easier to take the information in sometimes. Ordinary Heroes is a very easy listen. It is also quite a harrowing tale (but that goes with the subject). I have already learned things about the incident that I didn’t know from media coverage. As I am making very quick progress with it, I’m hoping to finish this within the next couple of days.

 

Books Discovered

No news is good news here this week. I haven’t added any books to the reading list, and I’ve actually just picked a couple off the list that I have changed my mind over. Nothing exciting to report here…

 

Coming Up…

On Tuesday, I am sharing my book review of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling. Before we get into the month-end wrap-up and reading list for October, I wanted to share another review with you.

I have quite a back-list, and it was good to pin my thoughts down on this second book of the series. I decided to re-read these books as an adult to see how they differed from my initial impression of reading them as a teenager. If you want to find out my thoughts, check out that post on Tuesday!

On Saturday, I will be sharing my month and wrap-up post. Normally I would post on a Friday, but as Friday is the very last day of the month, I could make further reading progress. So, to make sure I cover the whole month in my wrap-up, I will be sharing this post on Saturday instead.

That’s everything from me in today’s Sunday Summary post!

What have you been reading this week?

 

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Shelf Control #54 – 23/09/2022

Happy Friday everyone and welcome to today’s Shelf Control post!

Shelf Control is a regular feature on my blog. It’s a meme run by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies… a celebration of the unread books on our shelves! The idea is to pick a book you own but haven’t read and write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up!

If you want to read more about the Shelf Control feature, check out Lisa’s introductory post.

by the time this post goes live, I may actually be reading today’s featured book. This has been on my reading list since 2018. I am excited to pick up this science-fiction-style thriller novel.

Keen to find out what today’s feature is? Here are the details: –

 

Dark Matter – Blake Crouch

Genre: Science-fiction

Pages: 352

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Crown

Publication Date: 26 Jul 2016

 

 

Goodreads – Dark Matter

Jason Dessen is walking home through the chilly Chicago streets one night, looking forward to a quiet evening in front of the fireplace with his wife, Daniela, and their son, Charlie—when his reality shatters.

“Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.

Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.

Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream?

And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human–a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of.

 

My Thoughts…

Described as a science-fiction thriller, dark matter is the kind of book that you can dive into and enjoy regardless of your reading habits. At just over 350 pages, it is neither too big, nor so short that it lacks any plot to hold the story together.

Dark Matter has a high rating on Goodreads, and a number of reviewers I follow and look to for their opinions have really enjoyed this book. It has been sometime since I read a book marketed as a thriller. Given the time of year, I think it is the perfect time to finally pick this up.

Based on the synopsis and reviews, I have read, the narrative is cleverly written, so it is difficult to determine what is going on, and what is significant in the narrative until we reach the crux of the story. Personally, I really like a book and a narrative to try and unpick and work out for myself. So, you can see why this particular book really appeals to me!

As you may know, I have this on my reading list for September as part of Bookoplathon. I may be reading this particular book by the time this post goes live. In any case, I can’t wait to let you know what I think of this one.

Have you read Dark Matter? Do you like the sound of it based on the synopsis?

 

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Top Ten Tuesday – Books on My Autumn To-Read List!

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s Top Ten Tuesday post. In today’s post, I’m going to be talking about ten books that I hope to fit onto my Autumn TBR. The official title for this week’s theme is your ‘Fall TBR’, but I’m a Brit, dammit!

I have been reading quite a lot of late, and I’m excited to continue with some books that make up a series, and pick up some new and more seasonal reads. Now the nights are starting to draw in, we are heading into my favourite time of year. I enjoy the dark nights; it justifies cozying up with a cuppa, a blanket, and favourite books. Let’s dive into today’s Top Ten Tuesday post and get into what I plan to pick up in the next few months!

 

Assassin’s Quest

I have been really enjoying Robin Hobb’s writing of late, and so I would love to pick up Assassin’s Quest in the not-too-distant future. This is the last book of the first trilogy that contributes to the wider Realm of the Elderlings series. Whilst events of the first two books are fresh in my mind, I would like to conclude this opening trilogy.

 

Malice

I recently featured Malice in another Top Ten Tuesday post – that one talking about some of the oldest books on my TBR. This one is the oldest book that I physically own, and I would like to finally get around to it. If I really enjoy it, then it is yet another fantasy series, and new author, that I can dive into.

I did start this particular book between six and seven years ago. However, I only got a handful of pages in and I can’t remember a single thing! It will be great to start this from scratch and see what this book is all about!

 

Blink of the Sun

Blink of the Sun is a fantasy book, of which I own a review copy. I signed up to review this book on BookSirens, and this review is due towards the end of October. The synopsis caught my eye, and as the genre (epic fantasy) is right up my street, I am hopeful that this will be a fun read, as well as a comfort read.

 

Babel

Along with Autumn, Babel gives me dark, moody vibes that I’m really looking forward to exploring. The tone is significantly different from the books I have listed so far in this post. However, Autumn is the best time to read this type of book. Having sampled a very small part of the book, I think Autumn will be the perfect time of year to read it.

The opening involves a child being discovered in a house riddled with plague. Whilst I don’t know the rest of the story, I have been assured that it gets darker from there.

 

A Thousand Ships

I am really into Greek Mythology at the moment. Earlier this year, I read Pandora’s Jar, also by Natalie Haynes. I really enjoyed that particular book, and so I wanted to read another of hers that features the Trojan War. There is another book on that topic that I read after reading Pandora’s Jar (Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker) and both of these books were a pleasure to read. I cannot wait to see how Natalie Haynes’ book on the same topic differs from Pat Barker’s.

 

Dear Child

Dear Child is also the kind of vibe that accompanies Autumn nicely. It is a psychological thriller that is based around a kidnapping and subsequent attempt to escape. Other than that, I have deliberately kept my knowledge of events in this book vague, so I can uncover the story as it develops.

I haven’t read anything like this lately, so not only am I looking forward to the dark vibe, but also for a change of reading scene.

 

Starsight

A couple of months ago I read Skyward, the first book in Brandon Sanderson‘s young adult series of the same name. I have been wanting to continue with these books, especially as I already own a copy of Starsight ready to pick up. Whilst the events of the first book of fresh in my mind, it will be the perfect opportunity to pick it up – I already physically own it. It’s also the only science-fiction book on this list. I am really enjoying the genre and even though it’s aimed at a slightly younger audience, this is a really enjoyable read.

 

The Wastelands

There has to be a Stephen King novel on every Autumn TBR, but the book I’m featuring is the third book in The Dark Tower series, The Wastelands. Whereas some of the books on this list have been added because I would like to continue with series that I have been working on of late, The Wastelands is the exception to that group. It has been some time since I last picked up a book from The Dark Tower series. With that in mind, I would like to get started with reading this again. I already own the entire series and it’s sat on my bookshelf begging to be picked up.

 

Queen of Our Times

In light of recent events, I have been inspired to read a book about Queen Elizabeth II, who is arguably one of the greatest and most influential British monarchs. Queen of Our Times is written by the official Royal biographer and it has fantastic feedback. It is also a fairly recently published book, and discusses her reign during the likes of the COVID-19 pandemic and also touches upon her Diamond Jubilee. I fully expect that more books will come out in the future that cover out the entirety of her brain, but I would like to pick up a book about her in the near future. This one looks perfect to me!

 

If We Were Villains

Along the same lines as Babel, dark academia as a genre is appealing to me and Autumn will be a perfect time to pick it up. If We Were Villains centres around a troupe of actors who specialise in Shakespeare. I have heard great things about this book and again, I already own a copy which is ready to read.

 

I hope you have enjoyed today’s Top Ten Tuesday post! What books are you picking up as part of your Autumn TBR? Do any of the books in today’s list appeal to you? As always, let’s have a chat in the comments!

 

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Sunday Summary – 18th September 2022

Hello everyone and welcome to… you guessed it, another Sunday Summary post! Every Sunday I share my latest bookish updates – what I have been reading and books I have added to my reading list. I also cover the posts you can expect to see on my blog in the following week.

Before diving into that though, let’s quickly recap what I have shared with you this week. I wanted to finally commit my thoughts on Fire and Blood by George R.R. Martin. With the ongoing prequel series, House of the Dragon, currently airing, I thought this was perfect timing. A little fun fact for you – the events in House of the Dragon don’t begin until 340 pages into Fire and Blood. There is a lot of ground not covered in the show. It remains to be seen as to whether any of this is used either for a pre-prequel or a second season. If you want to find out my thoughts on the whole book, which spans a far greater time period the series, you can check out that post here.

Later in the week, I shared a First Lines Friday post. In that post, I shared a short and snappy introduction to a book currently sitting on my bookshelf and begging to be read. I have already read several books by this author, all part of another series he has written. However, I am yet to read anything of his set in the time period. I have read another similar book by a completely different author recently; I’m interested to see if there’s any commonality or whether it is just a certain famous character and setting that overlaps. If you want to check out what that book is, here is a link for that one as well.

 

Books Read

In last Sunday’s Sunday Summary update, I was reading Red Sister by Mark Lawrence. As I shared in that post, I wasn’t overly enamoured with the book. I made the decision that I was going to continue reading until at least 33% of the book before making a decision on whether to continue or not.

Unfortunately, my initial impression didn’t change in the additional 10% I read. I didn’t hate the book by any stretch of the imagination. However, I didn’t love it either. It just didn’t grip me or hold my interest particularly. With that in mind, I didn’t want to invest in a further 5 to 6 hours for a book that was just… meh. There are so many books out there, (God knows I have enough of them on my TBR already!). So, I really don’t need to waste my time if I know I’m not loving a book. I made it a third of the way through, I gave it a very good chance. However, this one just didn’t hit the mark. It is disappointing as I loved another series of Mark Lawrence as a teenager – The Broken Empire. Oh well, you can’t win them all!

Next, I moved on to my third read of my September TBR. I must admit I went into this not really knowing what to expect. It is not a typical read for me at all; romance isn’t really a genre I go for. However, I am really enjoying In Case You Missed It by Lindsey Kelk! I think it’s fair to point out that this is a romantic comedy, and it’s the comedy element that really works for me. The writing style is really easy to read, and the narrative and characters are hilarious!

I think maybe this book came at a good time. Clearly, my ‘typical reads’ aren’t meeting expectations at the moment. Perhaps going for a complete change is something I needed. In Case You Missed It is providing that for me. As of today’s Sunday Summary post, I am 132 pages into the book. That equates to about a third of the way through. It’s not the most reading progress in the world, but I do plan to read more of this tonight and tomorrow.

 

Books Discovered

I have added one book to my TBR this week, and you will probably understand why. You would have to be living under a rock to not know that Queen Elizabeth II passed away by now. There has obviously been a lot of talk about her and the British monarchy. As a result, it has made me realise that I would like to learn more.

So, I have decided to pick up a biography about her, and one that was published as recently as April this year. I want to learn more about her, her life and family to truly appreciate what she has done for us over the last 70 years of her life.

 

Coming Up…

My first blog post will be a Top Ten Tuesday post next week. I had an idea in mind for a similar type of post anyway, and so I decided to take part in this week’s theme. If you want to find out what I plan to read in the next few months, check out my post on Tuesday. In that post, I will be talking about 10 books on my autumn to-read list. You may just find the one I just mentioned above on that list!

As usual, I’ll be sharing another Shelf Control post later next week. In the post, I feature a book that I may be reading this time next week, as it is on my September TBR for Bookoplathon.

That’s the latest from me. I hope you have enjoyed today’s Sunday Summary update post! Have you read anything good this week that you would like to share?

 

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First Lines Friday – 16/09/2022

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s First Lines Friday post!

I’m really excited to share today’s book, as it is written by an author I am already familiar with. However, it is a bit different from another series of his that I have been reading. I also read something similar earlier this year (set in the same time period and featuring the same famous character of the period). I for one I’m really excited to see how I enjoy this book.

Without further preamble, shall we dive into today’s First Lines Friday intro: –

 

I died just after the clock in the passageway struck nine.

There are those who claim that her Majesty, Elizabeth, by the grace of God, Queen of England, France, and of Ireland, will not allow clocks to strike the hour in her palaces. Time is not allowed to pass for her. She has defeated time. But that clock struck. I remember it.

I counted the bells. Nine. Then my killer struck.

And I died.

 

 

 

Fools and Mortals – Bernard Cornwell

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 416

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Harper Collins

Publication Date: 19 Oct 2017

 

 

Goodreads – Fools and Mortals

Lord, what fools these mortals be . . .

In the heart of Elizabethan England, Richard Shakespeare dreams of a glittering career in one of the London playhouses, a world dominated by his older brother, William. But he is a penniless actor, making ends meet through a combination of a beautiful face, petty theft and a silver tongue. As William’s star rises, Richard’s onetime gratitude is souring and he is sorely tempted to abandon family loyalty.

So when a priceless manuscript goes missing, suspicion falls upon Richard, forcing him onto a perilous path through a bawdy and frequently brutal London. Entangled in a high-stakes game of duplicity and betrayal which threatens not only his career and potential fortune, but also the lives of his fellow players, Richard has to call on all he has now learned from the brightest stages and the darkest alleyways of the city. To avoid the gallows, he must play the part of a lifetime . . . .

Showcasing the superb storytelling skill that has won Bernard Cornwell international renown, Fools and Mortals is a richly portrayed tour de force that brings to life a vivid world of intricate stagecraft, fierce competition, and consuming ambition.

 

My Thoughts…

Earlier this year I read Twelve Nights by Penny Ingham. This book, as you can probably guess by the title, is influenced by William Shakespeare. William Shakespeare is a key character in Twelve Nights, and he is also prominent in Fools and Mortals.

The main character is Richard, William’s brother. Richard is an actor and therefore we find ourselves in a very similar setting to Twelve Nights. I really enjoyed that particular book, so I’m interested to see how Bernard Cornwell Write this kind of narrative in comparison.

It is very different from the series of his I am also reading at the moment – the Saxon stories (aka The Last Kingdom). That is a set of books I am really enjoying, and the character development is strong in those. I’m hoping for much the same in Fools and Mortals. As a standalone book, this will be a great way to try out a narrative in a different time period from Bernard Cornwell. If I go on to enjoy it as much as I expect I will, then it is only natural that I will go on to read the rest of his books… different time periods or not.

From the introduction, we have no idea who the character is. It is a very interesting introduction because straight away, a significant event happens to draw the reader in.

This introduction really captured my attention, and I hope it has captured yours too! Have you read Fools and Mortals? Would you like to based on today’s First Lines Friday post? As always, I would love it if you could let me know in the comments!

 

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Book Review: Fire and Blood – George R.R. Martin

I’m really looking forward to sharing today’s book review with you all for Fire and Blood. It is well documented that I am a huge fan of George R.R. Martin, and with the current airing of the prequel show, House of the Dragon, I wanted to share my thoughts on the book that inspired the series!

If you are unfamiliar with the book, Fire and Blood is the first of a two-part history of the Targaryen family line. The book begins with Aegon the Conqueror’s conquest of Westeros, and from there, history only gets, well… bloodier.

 

Fire and Blood – George R.R. Martin

Genre: Epic fantasy

Pages: 706

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Publication Date: 20 Nov 2018

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads – Fire and Blood

From the masterly imagination behind A Game of Thrones – one of the greatest fantasy epics of all time and an unmissable HBO hit series – comes a definitive history of Westeros’s past as told by Archmaester Gyldayn.

Unravelling events that led to A Song of Ice and Fire, Fire and Blood is the first volume of the definitive two-part history of the Targaryens in Westeros. Revealing long-buried secrets and untold lasting enmity, it sets the scene for the heart-stopping series conclusion, The Winds of Winter.

300 years before the events of A Song of Ice and Fire, long before the schism that set the houses of Westeros at each other’s throats, one house ruled supreme and indomitable. House Targaryen, the house of the last remaining dragonlords.

After surviving the Doom of Valyria the Targaryen’s established themselves on Dragonstone. This volume traces their legendary lineage from Aegon the Conqueror to the bloody Dance of Dragons; a civil war that pitted Aegon II and his half-sister Rhaenyra in a bitter conflict for the throne of their father, nearly wiping out the Targaryen dynasty forever.

What really happened during the Dance of the Dragons? Why did it become so deadly to visit Valyria after the Doom? What is the origin of Daenerys’s three dragon eggs? These are but a few of the questions answered in this essential chronicle, as related by a learned maester of the Citadel.

With all the scope and grandeur of Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Fire and Blood is the ultimate guide to Westeros’s past. Featuring more than eighty all-new black-and-white illustrations by artist Doug Wheatley this is an essential volume for any Game of Thrones fan’s library. For the first time the full tapestry of Targaryen history is revealed.

 

My Thoughts…

If you are watching House of the Dragon and wonder how it compares to Fire and Blood, you may be interested to learn that the events of the TV show don’t start until approximately 340 pages into the book. Those events are the passing over of Rhaenys as heir in favour of Viserys I (because God forbid a woman sits on the Iron Throne!). It was touched upon very briefly in the first few minutes of the TV show, and from there the rest unfolds.

Naturally, that means there is a good deal of history that the prequel show doesn’t even touch upon. Granted, I can see why that is the case. A significant portion of the book prior to these events covers the reign of Jaehaerys I Targaryen. By all accounts, Jaehaerys was a well-suited ruler and lived to a ripe old age. If you are unfamiliar, that’s about as rare as hen’s teeth in the Targaryen bloodline! Whilst good Kings are good for the realm, they don’t make the most interesting of stories!

My copy of this book is the illustrated hardback edition, illustrated by Doug Wheatley. The pictures are interspersed throughout the narrative and really bring the characters to life. Some of my favourite illustrations in the book are of Aegon the Conqueror and his sisters Rhaenys and Visenya, the portrait of Maegor the Cruel, as well as a number of the action scenes and dragon fights within.

I would be lying to you if I said that this first instalment of the Targaryen histories wasn’t dense. There are a lot of characters in this book. As a result, I benefited from taking a break and splitting reading the book into two. It gave me the opportunity to digest what I had read so far. That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy it, because I absolutely did! George R.R. Martin went to a great deal of trouble to incorporate the histories of both Westeros and Essos throughout the A Song of Ice and Fire series. I am glad that it made it into its own book(s), as the depth of detail deserves its moment in the limelight.

As I thoroughly enjoyed this first book so much, I cannot wait for the second half of this history. If it is anything like the first then there will be plenty of tension, drama, and conflict to look forward to. As we can only expect from George R.R. Martin, I am sure it will not be a short book either. There is nothing superficial about the world or characters he creates. For fans of epic fantasy like me, that leaves us a lot to dive into. These are the sorts of books to find some new detail in with every re-read.

If I had one wish about Fire and Blood, it is that it went further back in history. The book begins with the conquest of Aegon the Conqueror, which happens approximately 100 years after an event referred to in this book and the main series as the ‘Doom of Valyria’. Personally, I would like to finally understand what this mysterious event is. We don’t know what happened, other than Valyria is destroyed as a result. It is written into the lore of the world as to why we don’t know about what happened, but it’s an itch I would love to scratch one day. Surely he can come up with a loophole to finally leak the story somehow?!

Have you read Fire and Blood? Are you a fan of the A Song of Ice and Fire series? I would love it if you let me know and we could have a chat in the comments!

 

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Sunday Summary – 11th September 2022

Good evening everyone and welcome to another bookish update in today’s Sunday Summary post.

Earlier this week I shared a couple of blog posts with you. I started off the week with a Discussion Post on why reading diversity matters. I am always trying to branch out and read new things, but there are still plenty of books, authors, and topics that I am still yet to explore. In that post, I made a pledge that I am going to try and pick up more of these books in the future!

Later in the week, it was the turn of my regular Friday feature, Shelf Control. In that post, I talked about a book that has been on my reading list for a number of years. Having recently re-read the synopsis, it has reminded me just why I can’t wait to pick it up.

 

Books Read

As of last week’s Sunday Summary post, I was halfway through Silverthorn by Raymond E Feist. I enjoyed the book overall, but if I’m entirely honest, not as much as the first book. Whilst I could follow the events from the first book, Magician, it seemed to have a different feel about it. On the one hand, this was good because it was easy to pick up, but at the same time, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting either. In the end, I gave it a three-star rating.

Next, I started my current read, Red Sister by Mark Lawrence. I’ve had high hopes for Red Sister as I previously read and enjoyed The Broken Empire trilogy by the same author. 

If I’m honest, Red Sister hasn’t grabbed me as much as I hoped it would either. It’s a tough one. I don’t know if I’m going to carry on with it or not. It’s not that I hate it because I don’t. I don’t love it either though. I’m currently 20% of the way through Red Sister and I’m going to continue a little longer. If it still hasn’t grabbed me by about a third of the way through, then I will set it aside. There are still elements in the book to be explained that we haven’t come to yet. Maybe once I’ve got a bit more of the foundation down I will be able to get into it.

I’m going to pick up Red Sister after this post goes live with a view to getting to a third of the way through the book tonight. That way, I have decided whether I’ll carry on or not and that determines what my reading week looks like next week. I will let you know in next week’s Sunday Summary post how I get on.

I have officially decided to stop listening to The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn. I’ve just had enough of it and I’m not really inclined to finish it. So, I’m not going to force myself to. Instead, I might pick up another book on September‘s TBR in audio format instead.

 

Books Discovered

The CEO of the company I work for is as much an avid reader as I am. On Friday, he gave me a couple of reading recommendations.

The first of those recommendations is Treacle Walker by Alan Garner. This is quite a short book, and I like the sound of it based on what he told me of it. It is the first I had heard of this particular book, and given that I am trying to branch out with my reading, I have added this book to my reading list.

He also gave me a second recommendation, which is Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. When I read about this recommendation, I got really excited. It is set in one of my favourite periods of history, and the synopsis in my opinion is really interesting.

I can’t wait to pick this up and have a discussion with him about it!

 

Coming Up…

Next week, I plan to start the week by sharing a book review with you.

I’ve decided to share quite a topical review, particularly if you are a fan of George R.R. Martin and the A Song of Ice and Fire series (a.k.a. a Game of Thrones). You may or may not be familiar with the fact that the prequel show (House of the Dragon) is currently airing. This in fact covers some of the narrative and history of the Targaryen’s in his book, Fire and Blood. I read this book last year, and given its hot topic at the moment, I’ve decided to share my review on that.

I will be back on Friday with another regular feature post. Next week’s post will be a First Lines Friday, and I really like the sound of the book I have chosen. The opening lines set the book in motion immediately. I also read a book earlier this year in a similar setting and time period. It has also been all that I have a read number of books by, and enjoyed. I for one can’t wait to pick up his book myself– but if you’re interested to find out what that book is, don’t forget to check out my blog on Friday.

As always, You can find out all the latest updates in my Sunday Summary post next week.

For now, that’s all folks! What have you been reading?

 

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Shelf Control #53 – 09/09/2022

Happy Friday and welcome to another Shelf Control post!

Shelf Control is a regular feature on my blog. It’s a meme run by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies… a celebration of the unread books on our shelves! The idea is to pick a book you own but haven’t read and write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up!

If you want to read more about the Shelf Control feature, check out Lisa’s introductory post.

After reading the synopsis, I picked up a copy of today’s featured book a number of years ago. The book is written by an author who is new to me, and I can’t wait to give it a try! The book is written by an Italian author and has been translated into English. I don’t read many books that were originally written in a language other than English, so it will be interesting to see if I can pick up on the difference in the narrative or not.

Keen to find out what today’s feature is? Here are the details: –

 

Kill the Father – Sandrone Dazieri

Genre: Mystery

Pages: 499

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication Date: 10 Aug 2017

 

 

Goodreads – Kill the Father

‘The rock cast a sharp, dark shadow over a shape huddled on the ground. Please don’t let it be the boy, Colomba thought. Her silent prayer didn’t go unanswered. The corpse belonged to the mother.’

THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN STOP HIM IS THE ONE WHO GOT AWAY…

Dante Torre spent eleven young years in captivity – held by a man known only as The Father – before outwitting his abductor. Now working for the police force, Torre’s methods are unorthodox but his brilliance is clear. When a young child goes missing in similar circumstances in Rome, Torre must confront the demons of his past to attempt to solve the case.

Paired with Deputy Captain Colomba Caselli, a fierce, warrior-like detective still reeling from having survived a bloody catastrophe, all evidence suggests The Father is active after being dormant for decades, and that he’s looking forward to a reunion with Dante…


My Thoughts…

I am always keen to try new things. It’s one of the things I pride myself on when it comes to my blog. The same goes for my reading. There are always new things out there and you’ll never know if you like something until you give it a try.

I recently shared a blog post about reading from diverse authors, and this fits perfectly. I don’t think I have ever read something that was first written in Italian and then translated. At least, not to my knowledge. I’m looking forward to seeing if this has any impact on the narrative style of the book. If it flows well, then I probably won’t even be able to tell the difference. Maybe the only indicator will be in terms of choices in phrasing or cultural attitudes.

It has been a little while since I’ve read something like a mystery detective series, which is what I have gathered this is about. it will be nice to have a change of topic, as well as try something new. There aren’t many reviews on Goodreads in English either, so who knows – if it is any good and I can write a good review about it, I might be able to introduce this to fellow English readers. We’ll see.

Have you read Kill the Father? Do you like the sound of it based on the synopsis?

Don’t forget, if you’ve enjoyed today’s Shelf Control post and want to see similar posts, you can subscribe to be notified whenever I post new content by clicking the follow button below. In addition, you can find and get in touch with me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!

 

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Discussion Post – Diversity Matters!

Diversity matters. There are billions of people on this planet, and every single one of us counts. We are all unique, and have our own experiences… some good, others not so much. 

What is the best way to enable us to see things from a different perspective to our own? How do you put yourself in someone else’s shoes; experience something you could never possibly do in your own lifetime? Well, perhaps an obvious answer is to read a book!

Truly being able to empathise with others can be tricky. How do you understand what it is like to experience something when you have never experienced it for yourself? How do you imagine living in a life of fear and slavery, when you were born free and privileged?

It is important to read out of your comfort zone and experience new things. It is how we learn. Some people may be lucky enough to be able to garner such things from the experience of those they have grown up with. If someone can tell you, candidly, about an experience, it can enrich you. But, for a lot of people, we don’t have access to these perspectives.

 

We have books.

Reading a book from somebody else’s perspective, whether fiction or non-fiction, offers an intimacy that is rare to find anywhere else.

I have been making more of an effort to read books from different perspectives. One of the most recent I have read is The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker. When we think of Greek mythology and war, we immediately think of the male perspective/experience. Fighting, clashes, conquering. The Silence of the Girls flips this on its head. Rather than focusing on the role of men in the war, we instead look at the women who are enslaved within the war camp. The women who weave cloth and prepare food – are bed slaves to the men, who work in the hospitals and prepare the dead for burial. This is not the typical narrative of war, and it was enriching to read.

There is a very poignant bit at the end of this book. So often the narrative is about victory and people being conquered. But what is often overlooked is that those peoples are not really conquered. The men may have died in battle, but the women live on. They may be the children of their captors, but their mother’s stories, histories, and identities are taught to their children. In this particular book, a mother sings an old nursery rhyme to a child… prompting this revelation. The contrast in narratives was startling, but appreciated!

 

Diverse voices are out there.

As much as I am making an effort to read different perspectives, there are so many more out there to choose from! Now more than ever we are able to access books from ethnic or minority perspectives that weren’t readily accessible until quite recently.

With radical shifts in society, namely movements around LGBTQ+ and equality, it is far easier than before for authors to write diverse characters without prejudice or stigma. Whether these characters are from an #ownvoices perspective or not, it is a pleasure to see the drastic shift we have made regarding attitude towards others.

Take LGBTQ+ as an example. Earlier this year I read Dune by Frank Herbert; it is definitely a book written in its time. One of my biggest gripes about one of the characters (Baron Harkonnen), is that he is further demonised by being made to be so grossly fat he can’t support his own weight, but also by being gay. It may not have been so scandalous to characterise somebody in such a way back in 1965, but it certainly doesn’t sit well now.

I haven’t read so much recently from authors of ethnic minorities, but I do have them on my reading list. This isn’t a deliberate choice; rather, it is as a result of historic bias in the publishing industry. More recently I have added books to my reading list from diverse authors. I have books by Michelle Obama, N.E Davenport and Christina Soontornvat on my list. I have just read The First Binding by R.R. Virdi, which is an epic fantasy book but has themes of Asian mythology. I have also historically read children of blood and bone by Tomi Adeyemi (a series I need to continue with).

In a way I have struggled to write this post. Who am I to talk about the difficulties experienced by those in social minorities? I don’t fall into any of these categories. But just because we don’t fall into these categories, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about the experiences of those who do. It is only by being open and transparent that we can acknowledge the history and difficulties experienced, even sadly to this day.

It is important that we learn of these experiences, in order that we can empathise with those who have suffered so terribly and treat others with kindness.

Just because we have never had to go through the struggles ourselves, it doesn’t mean we are entitled to ignorance.

 

My pledge

I am going to be making even more effort to read books that explore the lives of ethnic minorities, those from an LGBTQ+ perspective, and to learn more about the history and culture of other countries. Because diversity matters! I have read Greek and Norse mythology so far, but something I have never explored is Asian mythology. It is every bit as rich, and so I can’t wait to read about it.

Here is my pledge. What is yours?

 

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