Author: fantasyst95

Monthly Wrap-Up – February 2024

I’m back again with my second monthly wrap-up post of 2024. Somehow we’re already two months into the year and honestly, I don’t know where that time has gone!

I was raring to go in January, with the new year excitement and all that. As you’ll see below, February’s reading tapered off somewhat. That’s okay though, because I’m still on track for my 2024 reading goal. I’ve just lost the lead I earned last month!

Shall we dive into this monthly wrap-up and take a look at what I’ve picked up this month?

 

Books Read

 

The Black Coats

The first book I read in February was The Black Coats by Colleen Oakes. The feminist slant on the synopsis caught my eye and I added the book to my reading list for that reason.

The story ended up being quite young adult in nature, but I still enjoyed the overall reading experience. It is a little far-fetched, but that shouldn’t be too surprising. I enjoyed the time I spent reading this book, and overall I rated the book 3 stars. I would recommend this for a younger audience than myself as the characters are more likely to appeal and be relatable. On the other hand, the storyline does get a little bit dark towards the end, and so readers should be on the mature side of YA.

 

Heart of the Sun Warrior

The next book I picked up, and admittedly I was reading for a while, is Heart of the Sun Warrior by Sue Lynn Tan. This book is the sequel to Daughter of the Moon Goddess, which I read in December 2022. This series is a duology, meaning that once I finished Heart of the Sun Warrior I was done with series and could tick it off my list.

Reading progress was a little slow as I picked up the book on my phone. This is because I borrowed it digitally from my library, and it’s easier to download it that way. It’s also more comfortable than reading on my iPad. It’s not my preferred method though, and that definitely played a part in the reading pace.

It was great to revisit this series and pick up on events from the first book. I was intrigued to see how the narrative would go and I wasn’t disappointed. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the love triangle for most of the book. However, the ending sold me. I expected it to go one way and honestly, I would’ve been a bit disappointed if it did. That wasn’t the case at all. I got something I didn’t expect, and that really improved the overall experience for me!

I also really enjoyed going back to an Asian inspired fantasy. I read a lot of westernised fantasy, so as a change, I loved reading something with Asian mythology and culture embedded throughout!

 

The Queen’s Gambit

In February, I also picked up my Instagram poll runner up, which was The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis.

I added this book to my reading list after enjoying watching the Netflix series a good few years ago now. The timing of picking up this book actually worked out quite well. Because it has been some time since I watched that series, I wasn’t so familiar with the portrayal on TV that I drew comparisons between the two. I still had the benefit of knowing roughly what happens in the story. But, it wasn’t too fresh in my mind either. I was able to read the book and enjoy it for what it was.

The Queen’s Gambit is only a short book, but it feels like the right length. I understand if readers may be put off by the heavy emphasis on chess in the storyline. However, you don’t really need to have any prior knowledge or understanding of the game in order to appreciate the book. It doesn’t go into that level of detail. It’s not required. I don’t doubt that it could inspire readers to go on and learn about it for themselves if they wanted to, but that’s not essential.

 

Hogfather

As of this monthly wrap-up post, I am currently making my way through Hogfather by Terry Pratchett. At the end of the month, I made it to approximately 50% through the narrative. I wish I had the foresight to pick this up in December as it is a fun festive read, poking fun at Christmas, seasonal characters and belief. Never mind though! I wasn’t waiting until this December to carry on with the series as that’s not one of my reading goals.

Hogfather is every bit the novel I expected it to be. It’s been a little while since I read anything from this series and I’m glad to get back into it. They are fun and fairly lighthearted reads. Yet, at the same time, they do have serious underlying messages if you want to read into them that much.

Personally, I am enjoying the lightheartedness of this book, and I’m having a great time reading it. Like with Heart of the Sun Warrior, I have borrowed a copy of Hogfather from my library digitally, so once again I’m reading on my phone. Again, not my favourite and it’s definitely contributing to the book taking longer to read. However, I chose to borrow it knowing this so I just have to get on with it!

 

The Atlas Six

The last book to feature in this monthly wrap-up is The Atlas Six. I have listened to and made some progress with The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake in February. Admittedly, I haven’t listened to audiobooks much this month. I tend to find this with audiobooks; I go through a phase where I will listen to them quite a lot, and I will make a good deal of progress. But then, other times I hardly touch them at all. Although I like listening to audiobooks, I would say it is my ‘least’ favourite way of reading.

It really depends on the type of book I’m listening to, but overall I would say that books read in this format don’t stick in my head the same as physically reading them. Also, more often than not, I decide to listen to music over audiobooks when I have the opportunity. It’s a conscious habit I have to be in, and I have let that slip this month.

This isn’t a reflection on my experience of The Atlas Six, because I am enjoying what I have read (listened to) so far. I’m intrigued by the setup of the book and how characters will interact with or conflict with each other. I don’t really know what to expect from this book so far and I am genuinely looking forward to finding out what happens.

I just need to get my butt in gear and start listening to it again.

 

Summary

I may have read fewer books in February than I did in January, but I have enjoyed the experience just the same. Life has been at a different pace this month and I’ve had to adapt. I picked up some great books in February, and I’m looking forward to continuing with my ongoing reads, and setting my reading list for March, very soon!

Thanks for checking out today’s monthly wrap-up post!

Have you read any fantastic books recently that you would like to recommend to me or your fellow readers? As always, I would love to hear from you!

 

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Discussion Post – How My Reading Tastes Changed Over Time

Since my teenage years, when I really got into reading, my reading tastes have changed quite significantly. That’s the topic of today’s discussion post, and I hope you are looking forward to this insight into who I am and my reading journey to date.

This post is in part inspired by a stack of books I purchased for myself last week with birthday vouchers. It was seeing that stack and talking about it in my Sunday Summary post that made me appreciate just how diverse my reading is now. It certainly didn’t start out that way. With this in mind, I thought it would be fun to share my reading journey and how my tastes have changed over time.

I hope you enjoy this discussion post and learn something about me along the way!

 

Teenage/School Years

Whilst I have always enjoyed reading, it was during my later years of school that I started picking up books for fun. I was lucky in that I had access to a school library. You know what testifies my love of books so much? That I volunteered a lot of my free time at lunchtimes to helping tidy and maintain the school library. It’s fair to say it was one of my favourite places.

This was before I started logging or tracking any of the books I read. I don’t have any records as to how much I read in this time, but this was really the start of my reading journey.

The vast majority of books I picked up at this time were fantasy. I did occasionally foray into a different genre. I distinctly recall reading The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier in my school years. Otherwise, I was picking up books like Raymond E. Feist’s The Riftwar Saga, Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series, Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind and Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn books. Yes, my love of Sanderson started early!

 

2017 – Restarting my Reading Journey

After I left school, my reading dropped off significantly. I found myself in a position where I was reading as much as the vast majority of the population – next to nothing. It was only after a multiple upheavals including family, health, and job uncertainty at around the same time that I found myself turning to books once again.

At the start of 2017 I was in a position where I had early starts at work, was coming home late at night, and I didn’t have the stamina to sit up and watch a TV programme before bed. Instead, I started picking up Terry Pratchett’s satirical Discworld series as a distraction. I could read as much or as little as I wanted. More often than not, I fell asleep reading. I confess that I woke up several times in the second or third week of this period with the bedside lamp still on at 4am having not brushed my teeth as I’d crashed.

Having read 20 books by the end of April, I had officially rekindled my love and habit of reading. At this point in time, I was just coming to the end of some of the less stable events in my life and I decided I needed an outlet to talk about the books I was reading. It was at this point that Reviewsfeed was born.

In terms of what I read in 2017, I started off reading a lot of Discworld, sticking to my fantasy roots whilst also dipping into satire. By April, I was starting to read historical fiction, classics, and a little horror and non-fiction by the end of the year. Emphasis was very much on my favourite genre – fantasy.

 

2019-2020 – Reading Boom

I enjoyed the pretty steady habit up until 2019. At this point, and I don’t quite know how I managed it to this day, I upped the reading ante and read a total of 72 books by the end of the year.

Honestly, I pushed myself really hard to do this and I’ve never been able to match this record. Equally, I’m not trying to either. As you will see in the next section, I strongly believe that this had some consequences further down the line.

Again, I had some personal stuff going on in 2019, and books became my distraction. I was having trouble with a neighbour at home and I got to the point where I was living with headphones in and doing my best to avoid interacting with them at all costs.

In 2020, we all know what happened. In addition to that, the neighbour situation came to a head and I ended up moving. I feel like this contributed a good deal towards the reduced reading compared to 2019’s total. Saying that though, it was on average with previous years, and so it was more of the return to ‘normal’ rather than a step backwards.

During these years I read historical, thriller and a little fantasy at the beginning of the year 2019. Mystery and thriller stick around throughout the year, with fantasy, horror, sci-if and a little non-fiction peppered in.

In 2020, similar themes remain with more bias on historical fiction, sci-fi and thriller. There is obviously a decent amount of fantasy thrown in as well, but it’s less a majority than it has been to date.

 

2021 – Reading Bust

In 2021, I burned out. So much so, this is the only year since the inception of my blog where I didn’t track or hold myself accountable to a reading goal. If I had, I think reading progress would have been a little better. At the same time though, I needed the break.

In all, I think I read around 20-25 books in 2021. Don’t get me wrong, that is a lot more than a lot of people and I recognise this is still an achievement. Compared to my previous reading stats, though, it is a definite step backwards and a reflection of my burnout at the time.

I had a lot of personal stuff on, including redecorating my home. Not only that, but I honestly believe that it was at this point, Covid had more of an effect on me. Locally, we had things far worse in terms of the pandemic in January and March 2021. Do I think this played a role? Certainly.

In 2021, I stepped backwards a bit and fantasy became the genre I read most of. It’s not the only genre I read. In this list are historical fiction books, as well as a few non-fictions. However, I think I slipped back into my comfort zone out of necessity.

 

2022 -2024 – Recovery

Since 2021 I have made a significant recovery and I’m now back to reading at about my average levels.

My attitude has also changed completely. Whilst I set myself a reading goal every year, I am more reserved and less ambitious than I used to be. I guess I’ve decided what’s important to me, and as much as I love books and reading, I love plenty of other things too. Family are important to me. I love to play games, and craft, and spend time with friends. Whereas before I kind of let those take a backseat, I will now fit reading around my other plans rather than the other way around.

I’ve achieved a balance that I am happy to maintain, at least for now. If things are to change in future, I think I’ll be fine with that as well. What’s important is that I enjoy the reading I do, and less focus is on enjoying hitting or beating targets. I love to read and support all the amazing authors I have come to meet and feature in my time on my blog. That isn’t going to change, and that is going to remain my priority going forward.

In terms of what I am reading, my reading diversity is higher than ever. In 2023, I set myself a reading goal of picking up more non-fiction than I have ever done before. That year, about 25% of the books I picked up were non-fiction. That’s the highest another genre has ever come towards my fantasy obsession!

Don’t get me wrong, that underlying love is still there and to this day, I still read more fantasy than anything else. However, I now enjoy plenty of other topics/genres and getting away from fantasy. As much as I love the genre, it can be very repetitive. I find this to be a contributing factor in my reading dwindling between my school years and rekindling my love in 2017.

To date, there is only one genre I would say I rarely touch and that is romance. Whilst there are some limited exceptions, I just find it gooey and vomiting inducing. If you love it, great! You do you. It’s not for me unless there is a divisive plot or ethical dilemma that I’m interested in behind that. At least, in my experience so far.

 

Summary

My reading tastes have changed significantly since I restarted reading seven years ago. I hope this discussion post has done my story justice! 

I’m happy with the diversity I get to enjoy today. My reading has improved in my willingness to read out of my comfort zone and try something new. I have experienced a couple of ruts, but this is only natural. Reading is a hobby I have come back to time and again; it’s not something I have any plans to stop doing any time soon!

Sorry not sorry! 🫢

How often do you pick up a book? If you have a reading journey you would like to share, we as a community would love to hear it!

 

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Sunday Summary – 25th February 2024

I’m back with my usual Sunday Summary update, and I’m looking forward to sharing what I’ve been up to this week! As always, I hope you’ve had a great one?

This week has been more chilled out than last, so I have more in the way of reading updates to catch you up on very shortly. First, let’s take a look at the blog posts I’ve shared so far this week.

My first post of the week was a Top Ten Tuesday post. In that post, I explored some of the fun superpowers I wish I had to help me along with my bookish endeavours. From infinite storage space to being able to remember every minute detail about books, I had a lot of fun thinking about this post. The content is a bit more whimsical than I’ve been posting of late and it was great fun to draft. If you haven’t checked out that post yet, as usual, I’ll provide a link to that here.

My next post was a Shelf Control feature. This is the third post I have shared of its kind so far this year, and once again I have shared a historical non-fiction with you. I obviously went through a flurry of adding these to my reading list! Although they are the same genre, each of the three books I have featured so far are all from different time periods. This week’s feature post explores history of Tudor England. It’s a short book, but when I’m looking forward to reading to refresh my knowledge on a topic I already know I love.

 

Books Read

 

The Queen’s Gambit

I left off from last week’s Sunday Summary post in between books. After some debate, I decided to pick up my Instagram poll pick runner-up next, being The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis.

I added this book to my reading list after watching the Netflix series several years ago. I already knew what to expect in terms of the storyline and characterisation. The time between watching the TV show and picking up this book has probably helped negate any real comparison between the two as it wasn’t too fresh in my mind. I was still able to enjoy the story without overthinking how it compared with the Netflix show.

The Queen’s Gambit is a relatively short book, and I read this in its entirety this week. I rated the book four stars as I enjoyed the storyline, characterisation and flow of the plot. Whilst I have some basic understanding of chess and how to play, this prior knowledge isn’t especially needed to be able to understand the book. If that’s something that worries you, don’t let that put you off!

 

Hogfather

Next, I picked up what is my current read as of this Sunday Summary post. I only started this book yesterday, but already I have read 37%.

Hogfather has a really approachable narrative and is generally a bit of fun. I wish I’d had the foresight to check when this was coming up in the series, as I’d have read it in December if I’d known it was next. Hogfather is part of the Death miniseries within Discworld, and pokes fun at the concept of Father Christmas and belief.

I’m really enjoying the book so far, and given that I’ve managed to read about 160 odd pages in 24 hours, I can’t imagine I will be too long reading this book. In any case, it’s a digital loan from my library so I’ll have to get my skates on.

 

The Atlas Six

Finally, I have started listening to The Atlas Six again this week. As usually happens with me, I have let progress in audiobooks fall by the wayside in the last few weeks. However, I’ve had the motivation to start listening again this week, and I’m glad I have. I’m still not very far into the narrative, but I’m intrigued by the characters and where events in the book are going to take us.

This week, I listened to about two hours of the audio. Whilst it’s not a huge amount, it is a start considering it has been nearly 3 weeks since I last picked this up. Now that I am back into the story and the characters, I’m going to look to find more opportunities to listen whenever and wherever I can!

 

Books Discovered

Remember last week I shared that I got some book vouchers for my birthday? Well, I may have spent some of them this week 😇

I picked up quite the range of books this week. From cyborg assassins (Lifelik3) to biology (The Song of the Cell), it’s fair to say I’ve got quite the range in reading taste!

In addition to these, I picked up a couple more non-fiction books – The Survivor and Normal Women. Whilst Normal Women wasn’t officially on my TBR, it has been on my radar. You may recall that I featured a podcast from Philippa Gregory of the same name in my Well, I Didn’t Know That! series. This podcast features research that contributed towards the book, and I really enjoyed listening to the particular episode I shared. I was aware the book was coming out soon, but I confess that it had escaped my notice that it was out already. I happened to see a copy of it just as I was turning to pay for the others I picked up. I’m glad I spotted it last minute, and I eagerly grabbed a copy!

 

Coming Up…

Usual scheduling will be put on hold this week as we are already at the end of February. Where on earth has the time gone?

My first post of the week will be a Discussion Post. In this post, I’ll share how my reading tastes have changed over time. I plan to cover my reading tastes from my teenage years onwards, so that’s quite a time span to cover!

On Friday I’ll share my Monthly Wrap Up for February. Overall, I’ve read less books this month than I have for a while. It shouldn’t be a particularly long post, but I’m doing my best to fit in as much reading before then as I can! Maybe I’ll surprise myself?

As always, I’ll round up the week with another Sunday Summary update for you at the same time next week!

Until the next post, that is all from me. What are you reading right now? Do you have any recommendations for me?

 

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Shelf Control #75 – 23/02/2024

This is the third Shelf Control feature I have shared in 2024, and it features yet another non-fiction historical book! I promise that it’s different to those I featured in the series so far this year, so stay tuned to find out what today’s feature is.

Shelf Control is a meme run by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies. It’s 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.

 

Henry VIII – Abigail Archer

 

 

Genre: Non-fiction / History

Pages: 116

Audience: Adult

Publisher: New Word City Inc

Publication Date: 12 Jan 2015

 

 

Goodreads – Henry VIII

Henry VIII ruled England from 1509 to 1547. As a young man, he was fond of sports and hunting, and was said to be uncommonly handsome. Standing more than six feet tall, he loomed large in the lives and minds of his subjects as he navigated his country through the tricky diplomatic and military hazards of the sixteenth century. A man of enormous appetites, Henry conducted affairs with many women, married six, and executed two. His infatuation with Anne Boleyn set in motion a chain of events that reshaped the church in England and eroded the dominance of Rome. But the popular image of Henry as a crude tyrant, dispatching courtiers, enemies, and wives with gusto, obscures a more nuanced and fascinating character. He was a true Renaissance king who presided over one of Europe’s greatest courts and nudged Western civilization onto a new course. Here, from Abigail Archer, author of The New York Times bestseller Elizabeth I, is the story of Henry VIII.

 

My Thoughts

So far in my 2024 Shelf Control posts, I’ve featured World War II and Ancient Egypt as historical topics of interest. Today’s feature is a brand-new time period completely. Tudor England, and particularly the lives of Henry VIII and his wives is a topic that I could go back to again and again!

At only 116 pages, I’m interested to see if the book is more of a summary of the history or whether it goes into any kind of detail. I personally enjoy detail, but I’m expecting Henry VIII to be on the lighter side. There’s nothing wrong with this either; if already shared reviews are anything to go by, there are some interesting tidbits to pick up from this book.

Books like this one great for those who want a refresher on a topic. Or, if you want to explore it for the first time to see if it’s of interest, that would be a reason too. I already know that I enjoy this topic. For me it is a refresher, but also I’m looking to pick up the book and share my thoughts to help other readers decide if this is the book for them!

Do you read historical or fiction books about Tudor England? Is it a topic that interests you? Let me know in the comments!

 

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Top Ten Tuesday – Bookish Superpowers I Wish I Had

In today’s Top Ten Tuesday post, we get to talk about a fun topic. Ever wish you had any book themed superpowers? As an epic reader, you can bet that I’ve got my fair share!

Let’s dive into this Top Ten Tuesday post in earnest!

 

Infinity – Book Shelf Space

As a bookworm, I would love to have all the bookshelf space in the world! Whilst my home is my castle, it is not the literal size of one. So, regretfully, I have to curtail the horde.

Fortunately in this digital age, I have the benefit of being able to access thousands of digital books in one place. It’s a compromise…

 

Time Travel – More Time in a Day to Read

There are never enough hours in the day, and as much as I love reading, it’s one of the last things I do. Unfortunately, I have to do boring stuff like go to work to pay bills and keep the house clean and tidy first.

BORING!

So, I would always appreciate an extra hour or two in a day to be able to dedicate to reading. If I could turn back time (and I hope you sang that!) then I would be able to find a way to get even more books read.

See what I did there?

 

Multitasking – The Ability to Read Several at Once

We talk about multitasking in our everyday lives, but it is a bit of a myth. In reality, the brain is chopping and changing between multiple tasks at once as opposed to doing them simultaneously. There are some good arguments out there for this actually being counterproductive, but that’s not why we’re here.

I would love to be able to physically read multiple books at once. Think of all the extra reading I could get done if I could even read two books at the same time!

 

Elemental Manipulation  – Endless Funds

Books cost money. And, a habit of my magnitude costs a good few pennies a month! If I had the means to make my own money though (besides the 9-5 at least), well, then it really would be no object wouldn’t it?!

I feel like that would be dangerous though! I’d be needing the space for all the books as well…

 

Psychic Powers – Recommendations

I love giving others book recommendations, and it’s something that can be quite hard to do. If I had the psychic ability to read minds and work out EXACTLY what someone wanted, well, it would remove a lot of the challenge and anxiety! 😂

 

Speed – Listen to Audiobooks Faster

I currently listen to audiobooks at 1.2x speed, but I would love to be able to follow along faster! Sadly my brain just isn’t that fast, and I can’t retain any information any quicker. Perhaps it comes with practice, but I’m not there yet.

It would have its perks of being able to read faster, but I feel like the audio quality would be compromised at the same time?

 

Eidetic memory – Retain Detail from Books

The most useful superpower I think I feature in this Top Ten Tuesday is all about memory!

For someone who reads with the intent of sharing reviews online, it is shocking how many basic details I will forget about a book. It is not uncommon for me to start drafting a review and have to remind myself of things like the protagonist’s name!

Maybe that’s a consequence of the volume of books I read in a year. Nevertheless, I’m sure there is plenty more detail that I would benefit from retaining if I had this superpower. But I don’t, so Google and Goodreads remain my friend.

 

Invisibility – Read in Peace

Don’t you just love when you’re sat at work in your lunch lunch hour and someone tries to talk to you when you’re reading? That’s maybe not a problem for everybody, but it is a problem for everybody who reads!

The unspoken rule of not interrupting a bookworm on their lunch hour is one that is clearly not very well known. I would love to be invisible so that I don’t have to encounter this problem, and I don’t have to re-read the same paragraph multiple times.

 

Omnilingualism – Read Books in Any Language

Think of all the extra possibilities that are, if you are able to pick up a book in every language and instantly read it!

Whilst I have very limited knowledge of German, I am largely bound to reading books in my native language, or books translated into it by others. There are so many books out there that I could read if I was able to understand the language, but I can’t! The reality of me learning another language at this point is pretty slim.

 

Atmokinesis – Rainy Days

The last superpower I feature in this Top Ten Tuesday is Atmokinesis.

There is nothing more satisfying than sitting at home on a rainy day, cosy up with blankets and tea with a book. If I had the power to alter the weather, I would make it rain every single day to justify not leaving the house.

Damn, books and coziness it is…

 

Are there any bookish superpowers featured in this Top Ten Tuesday that you wish you had? Do you share any of mine?

Let me know in the comments!

 

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Sunday Summary – 18th February 2024

Good evening readers and welcome to this Sunday Summary update!

This week has been an unusual week of social plans, and so you’ll find this post a little light when it comes to reading updates. I celebrated my birthday this week, so I’ve had plans with family and friends over different days for the occasion. For the first time ever, I’ve also taken part in tree planting with a local charity just this morning. It’s a coincidence that it happened to be this week as well, but I’m ready for a rest! 😂

I did manage to turn out a couple of blog posts earlier in the week. The first of those posts was my book review of Skyward by Brandon Sanderson. Whilst I’ve had the time to be able to share more reviews, I wanted to feature this young adult sci-fi as I have really enjoyed the series. I have already read the next two books in the series and will be reading the fourth shortly. It made sense to kickoff with my review of this first book so then I can follow on with the rest.

On Friday I shared a First Lines Friday post. This week’s feature was inspired by conversations I’ve had with family in the last week or so about a specific author. Mum has been reading other books written by the author of this week’s feature (that I’ve already reviewed on my blog). Plus, mum’s recommended me a TV series based on another book of hers I intend to pick up very soon. If you want to find out what that is, you can check out that post here.

 

Books Read

 

Heart of the Sun Warrior

As of last week’s Sunday Summary post, I was 75% into Heart of the Sun Warrior by Sue Lyn Tan.

My initial hopes of finishing this book quite quickly were quashed by the amount of ‘extra curricular’ stuff I’ve been doing this week. I have finished this book now, but I didn’t finish it until yesterday.

Overall, I rated this four stars. It could have been a three star, but I actually really enjoyed the ending. I wasn’t sure how the love triangle was going to play out. Had it gone the way I was expecting, I think that would have impacted the rating. The ending, however, was better than expected and so bumped it up to a four star.

I’m pleased that I can tick this off my reading list as complete as that is a series now wrapped up. It’s my first series concluded in 2024 – let’s hope it’s not the last!

 

Books Discovered

I didn’t receive any books for my birthday this year, but I was very fortunate to get vouchers so that I can spend them down the line…

I’m gutted! Can’t you tell? 😉

 

Coming Up…

My first post of the week will be a bit of a fun one. As I’ve shared some reviews lately, I want to lighten the content by sharing my version of this week’s Top Ten Tuesday post. This week’s topic is bookish superpowers I wish I had! There are many…

On Friday I’ll be back with another Shelf Control feature. I’ve already shared two non-fiction historical books in these features so far and I’ve got a third lined up for this week’s post. It’s a completely different time period and subject to those I’ve already featured in this series so far. I like to read about a lot of historical periods, clearly! I hope you can check out this post.

As always, I’ll be back this time next week with another Sunday Summary update for you. As of this post, I have a lot less in the way of social plans lined up so I’m hopeful that more reading will get done. We’ll see though!

Until my next post, happy reading!

 

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First Lines Friday – 16/02/2024

Happy Friday fellow readers and welcome to another First Lines Friday feature post!

When I decided to share this feature, I kept my options open as to the book I could feature in today’s post. I’m glad I did that, as conversations within my family this week inspired today’s choice.

I’m not going to give you too much ramble here because I am keen to get stuck in. However, one thing I will say in the interest of transparency is that today’s First Lines Friday introduction contains swearing.

Read on at your discretion…

 

‘It’s an unfortunate situation.’

Bishop John Durkin smiles, benevolently.

I’m pretty sure that Bishop John Durkin does everything benevolently, even taking a shit.

The youngest Bishop to preside over the North Notts diocese, he’s a skilled orator, author of several acclaimed theological papers, and, if he hadn’t at least tried to walk on water, I’d be amazed.

He’s also a wanker.

I know it. His colleagues know it. His staff know it. Secretly, I think, even he knows it.

 

 

The Burning Girls – C. J. Tudor

 

Genre: Horror/Thriller

Pages: 396

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Penguin

Publication Date: 23 Nov 2021

 

 

Goodreads – The Burning Girls

An unconventional vicar moves to a remote corner of the English countryside, only to discover a community haunted by death and disappearances both past and present–and intent on keeping its dark secrets–in this explosive, unsettling thriller from acclaimed author C. J. Tudor.

Welcome to Chapel Croft. Five hundred years ago, eight protestant martyrs were burned at the stake here. Thirty years ago, two teenage girls disappeared without a trace. And two months ago, the vicar of the local parish killed himself.

Reverend Jack Brooks, a single parent with a fourteen-year-old daughter and a heavy conscience, arrives in the village hoping to make a fresh start and find some peace. Instead, Jack finds a town mired in secrecy and a strange welcome package: an old exorcism kit and a note quoting scripture. “But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed and hidden that will not be known.”

The more Jack and her daughter Flo get acquainted with the town and its strange denizens, the deeper they are drawn into their rifts, mysteries, and suspicions. And when Flo is troubled by strange sightings in the old chapel, it becomes apparent that there are ghosts here that refuse to be laid to rest.

But uncovering the truth can be deadly in a village where everyone has something to protect, everyone has links with the village’s bloody past, and no one trusts an outsider.

 

My Thoughts…

The Burning Girls, and CJ Tudor, have been topics of conversation amongst my family in the last week. It’s this inspiration that led to The Burning Girls being featured in today’s First Lines Friday post.

Mum has been reading The Chalk Man, CJ Tudor’s debut novel and we’ve been chatting about it. I’m pleased to say that Mum enjoyed this debut just as much as I did, and she is very quickly moving on to The Taking of Annie Thorne.

The recommendations have also gone the other way. Mum and Dad have been watching the TV drama based on the featured book in this post, The Burning Girls. Mum recommended this to me to watch last weekend as they thoroughly enjoyed it. I do intend to watch the TV series, but it’s also making me think about picking up the book. Shock horror, you say?

I picked up a copy of this in paperback format fairly recently, even though the book has been on my TBR since December 2022. Part of the reason I wanted to pick this up and physical format was because that’s how I’ve read CJ Tudor’s other books to date. I also bought it in this format so I could pass it on to Mum to read if she wants to after me. I did the same thing with The Chalk Man and The Taking of Annie Thorne. Although in practice, Mum does the majority of her reading at lunchtime and so purchased kindle copies for ease. And why not!

Either way, I hope I enjoy The Burning Girls as much as I did her other books, and that I can pass on this copy as a recommendation once I’ve read it to somebody I think will love it!

Have you read The Burning Girls, watched the TV series, or any other books by CJ Tudor? Have you enjoyed this First Lines Friday feature? As always, I would love to hear from you!

 

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Book Review: Skyward – Brandon Sanderson

Whilst I have the time to catch up on some outstanding book reviews, I’m making the most of the situation and sharing some of my favourites. Today, I share my thoughts on the first book in Brandon Sanderson’s YA sci-fi series, Skyward.

I have a lot of great things to say about this book! At the time of publishing this review, I’ve read three out of the four books currently on the market. I’ll be looking to pick up the next in the series, Defiant, very soon!

 

Skyward – Brandon Sanderson

Genre: Science-fiction

Pages: 513

Audience: Young Adult

Publisher: Gollancz

Publication Date: 06 Nov 2018

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads –  Skyward

Defeated, crushed, and driven almost to extinction, the remnants of the human race are trapped on a planet that is constantly attacked by mysterious alien starfighters. Spensa, a teenage girl living among them, longs to be a pilot. When she discovers the wreckage of an ancient ship, she realizes this dream might be possible—assuming she can repair the ship, navigate flight school, and (perhaps most importantly) persuade the strange machine to help her. Because this ship, uniquely, appears to have a soul.

 

My Thoughts

 

Plot

Skyward has an interesting plot that sucks you in from the synopsis. In truth though, there is far more to explore underneath the surface.

The narrative in which we explore through Spensa’s viewpoint is far more complex than meets the eye. The world history, Spensa’s upbringing and the discovery of a mysterious ship only start us off on this detailed, action-packed narrative. Although we pick up events from Spensa’s discovery onwards, in reality the set up of what happens in this book begins far earlier, and we unravel this history throughout the present day narrative.

As a military sci-fi, fans of combat will have plenty to enjoy in this book. We graduate alongside Spensa through training into live fighting. The drama and suspense keeps us on our toes as we never quite trust that the characters we grow to love throughout the book are safe. They’re not…

 

Setting

Science fiction fans will not be disappointed with the rich descriptions and detail in Skyward. Both in terms of the physical setting and the political environment Spensa grows up in, there is plenty to explore.

Skyward excels in its ability to stand out in the science fiction genre without too much techno-babble and jargon. As a book aimed at young readers, it’s especially important that Sanderson got this right… and indeed he did! I enjoy science fiction, although I wouldn’t say I have the brains for too much techy speak. I was able to follow everything with ease.

What makes this book extra special is that over time, we come to realise that the world and plot introduced throughout the first 400-450 pages is just a small speck in the galaxy. Skyward paves the way for the epic series it is, and sets the scene for the remaining books excellently!

 

Characters

The book is predominantly told from the perspective of a teenager who has grown up in the shadow of her father. His name is tarred for turning against his fleet in the midst of battle. Many try to discount Spensa and prevent her from training to fly out of fear that she will do the same thing as her father.

And in fairness, Spensa is a loose cannon. She is impulsive and independent, which are not traits conducive to an environment where teamwork is essential. Spensa has a lot to learn over the course of the book, about herself, but also about the perceptions that have tarnished her name throughout her childhood.

Whilst the book does well in sharing a detailed plot with rich descriptions, character development is also very prevalent in this narrative. I would say the book has a reasonable 50-50 split of both of these elements. Whether you prefer an action driven narrative or a character driven narrative, there is ample of each.

 

Narrative Style

With a young adult audience in mind, the narrative needs to be easy to read and approachable for a younger audience. Brendan Sanderson does this very well. This makes both the book and genre approachable to new or less developed readers and would serve as a great introduction to the genre.

At over 500 pages, there is plenty of storyline here to sink our teeth into. It has its fair share of twists and unexpected events. These are entwined into the narrative seamlessly and are shocking but not so complex but they cannot be understood either.

 

Summary

If you are looking for a new sci-fi series to start reading without complex jargon, and with a strong female protagonist, Skyward is one I would highly recommend. As of this post, I have gone on to read further two books in the series, with the fourth book recently out and making it to my reading list soon!

Brandon Sanderson is an author I will go back to time and again regardless of genre. If you are a fan of his fantasy books, don’t let the change of genre put you off giving this a try. He is a fantastic writer and being able to lend himself to different storylines, and indeed genre.

Have you read the Skyward or any other books by Brandon Sanderson that you would love to recommend to my readers?

 

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Sunday Summary – 11th February 2024

Good evening friends – I’m back with my usual Sunday Summary post! If you are new here, Sunday Summary is my weekly update in which I share with you what I’ve been reading and sharing on my blog.

Before we get into the books I picked up this week, let’s do a quick recap of the blog post I’ve already shared.

The first post I shared this week went live on Wednesday. That post was a book review of Lost Solace by Karl Drinkwater. I have already read a number of Karl Drinkwater’s books before. They were part of a side series to Lost Solace. After months of trying to get to the book, I finally read it in November last year. It’s always a pleasure to feature this author my blog; I have enjoyed every single book of his to date. If you want to find out more about this introduction to his main sci-fi series with a strong female lead and a witty AI, you can find out more here.

On Friday, I shared the next instalment in my Shelf Control regular feature. This is the second post of its kind of this year, and it also happens to feature a second historical non-fiction novel. Where the previous instalment looks at World War II, we step back far further into the realms of Ancient Egypt in Friday’s featured book. It is a biography of a famous female pharaoh, and not the one you would imagine. If your interest is piqued, you can find that post here.

 

Books Read

 

Heart of the Sun Warrior

I’ve only really made progress with one book this week, but it is another reasonable size. I’ve still managed to read a good few hundred pages.

Heart of the Sun Warrior is the sequel to Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan. I initially read the first book of this duology last year. Given that I’m trying to read more series, picking up the sequel was a natural choice.

As I borrowed this from my library digitally, I’m actually reading this book on my phone. It’s not my favourite format, but I’m making do. I’m enjoying the book, the complexities of the plot and the character relations within. I especially enjoy this book as I like the Asian inspiration behind the characters and storyline. I’m very used to reading westernised fantasy. It’s making a refreshing change to pick up something different.

As of this Sunday Summary, I am bang on 75% of the way through and hopeful that I’ll finish it shortly!

 

Books Discovered

After watching the first episode of Fool Me Once on TV, I have added the book of the same name by Harlan Coben to my reading list.

 

Coming Up…

Midweek, I plan to share a book review with you. I have quite the backlog, and I want to share another fun sci-fi book series with you. I am a huge fan of Brandon Sanderson, and I have read three out of four books of his Skyward series so far. I am yet to review any of the books in his series so far, so that’s what I’ll be featuring this week!

On Friday, I’ll be back with my First Lines Friday feature post. As with the last time I shared this type of post, I’m going to keep the topic free so that I have flexibility to feature what I want nearer the time. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun to pose myself a challenge sometimes. However, I’m quite happy to allow myself full flexibility on this occasion.

You know what’s coming next. I’ll be back at the end of next week with another Sunday Summary update. I’ll catch you up on the books I have read over the course of the week, any I’ve added to my reading list, and lastly, what is coming up on the blog.

Thanks for taking the time to read this Sunday Summary post!

What are you reading?

 

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Shelf Control #74 – 09/02/2024

For those of us done with another working week – congrats on making it! If not, well, sorry… 😅 As you all know by now, I regularly share a Shelf Control feature post. It’s a great way to get excited about upcoming books on my reading list and share with you exactly what inspired me to add them in the first place!

As usual, I’ll share the official blurb and then we’ll get into the book that’s made it into this Shelf Control post!

Shelf Control is a meme run by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies. It’s 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.

 

The Woman Who Would be King – Kara Cooney

 

Genre: Non-fiction / History

Pages: 298

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Crown Publishing

Publication Date: 14 Oct 2014

 

 

Goodreads – The Woman Who Would be King

An engrossing biography of the longest-reigning female pharaoh in Ancient Egypt and the story of her audacious rise to power in a man’s world.

Hatshepsut, the daughter of a general who took Egypt’s throne without status as a king’s son and a mother with ties to the previous dynasty, was born into a privileged position of the royal household. Married to her brother, she was expected to bear the sons who would legitimize the reign of her father’s family. Her failure to produce a male heir was ultimately the twist of fate that paved the way for her inconceivable rule as a cross-dressing king. At just twenty, Hatshepsut ascended to the rank of king in an elaborate coronation ceremony that set the tone for her spectacular twenty-two year reign as co-regent with Thutmose III, the infant king whose mother Hatshepsut out-maneuvered for a seat on the throne. Hatshepsut was a master strategist, cloaking her political power plays with the veil of piety and sexual expression. Just as women today face obstacles from a society that equates authority with masculinity, Hatshepsut had to shrewdly operate the levers of a patriarchal system to emerge as Egypt’s second female pharaoh.

Hatshepsut had successfully negotiated a path from the royal nursery to the very pinnacle of authority, and her reign saw one of Ancient Egypt’s most prolific building periods. Scholars have long speculated as to why her images were destroyed within a few decades of her death, all but erasing evidence of her rule. Constructing a rich narrative history using the artifacts that remain, noted Egyptologist Kara Cooney offers a remarkable interpretation of how Hatshepsut rapidly but methodically consolidated power—and why she fell from public favor just as quickly. The Woman Who Would Be King traces the unconventional life of an almost-forgotten pharaoh and explores our complicated reactions to women in power.

 

My Thoughts

This is the second non-fiction book that I have featured in this series already in 2024. The last book was based around the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Today’s feature is a completely different period and topic, but it’s one that I’m no less excited to read.

Unlike my previous feature Auschwitz, I have a lot less knowledge on Egyptian pharaohs in general. I have watched some documentaries in the past, but it’s not a topic I have read about before. It’s for this reason that I added The Woman Who Would be King in the first place. Of course, I am also fascinated by the prospect of a female Pharaoh as they were few and far between.

Hatshepsut isn’t the first name that may jump to your mind when you think of famous female Pharaohs. Cleopatra is probably the most well-known, and she has been the feature of some of the documentaries I have watched in the past. I deliberately wanted to choose another famous female in order to broaden my knowledge.

I’m hoping I go on to enjoy this book as much as I think I will, as it is a period of history I would be interested in exploring in more detail in future!

Have you read The Woman Who Would be King or any other great non-fiction books about Pharaohs?

 

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