Author: fantasyst95

Setting A Reading Goal Can Boost Your Reading!

As we are coming to the end of 2022, it is only natural that you may be thinking about the year ahead and about setting a reading goal. Are you the kind of person to set yourself a challenge? Do you prefer to go with the flow? These are important things to know about yourself in order to manage your motivation.

With this discussion post, there is no right or wrong answer. On the contrary, it is all about understanding what is best for you! I hope this post helps you to consider what works best for you.

 

Like having a goal to aim for? Set yourself a reading challenge!

At the beginning of the year, I usually set myself a reading challenge. In the history of my blog, there is one exception to that rule, and that was an exceptional time. Even then, I don’t think my choice of not setting a goal helped me in the long run. It felt good at the time because I felt liberated. Unfettered. Free of expectation. However, as the year went on, I effectively allowed the status quo to continue, even when I had the capacity to get back into reading more. I had lost the habit of picking up a book. 

I like having a goal to work towards. It is funny – my blog and my reading are the only facets in my life in which I really set myself goals (outside of work anyway). Otherwise, I am very laissez-faire. However, as proven to myself during the year in which I didn’t set myself a reading goal, I need one. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an ambitious goal to motivate me. But, having a number to work towards effectively helps me schedule my time and manage expectations. The year I didn’t set a number was my ‘worst’ by far. Compare my 2020 wrap-up with my 2021 wrap-up post and you will see what I mean. 

I recently watched a short motivational video about writing a book, but the underlying principle is the same. The lesson stuck with me. The speaker was talking about how people will take as long as they allow themselves to complete a job. For example, if you give yourself three months to complete a task, you will use the whole three months to do it. If you give yourself a week, you’ll do the exact same task in a week. It’s a psychological mindset thing.

For some people, not setting yourself a goal and effectively having a timeless task can be detrimental. In 2021, I didn’t set myself a reading goal, but I fully envisaged that I would still read the same amount. It probably won’t shock you that I didn’t. As soon as I started setting goals again, I got back on track. 

 

Want to maintain a habit?

Setting a goal doesn’t have to be setting yourself a challenge. If you comfortably read 20 books a year, you could set yourself a goal to effectively maintain that standard. 

For example, one of the goals I am considering setting myself next year relates to maintaining the habit of reading every day. It doesn’t have to be for very long, and this is not a difficult goal to achieve. It’s not meant to be.

Even if you set out to read a chapter every day, or for just 10 minutes… it all adds up. My reading habit and my blog wouldn’t be here today if not for a change in my lifestyle in 2017. That change resulted in my picking up a book before bed every night. Initially, it was only a temporary arrangement as a result of circumstance. I started taking a book to bed to read for half an hour. Even after my circumstances returned to normal, I continued to read before bed. By the end of April, I’d read 20 books – more than I had read in the last several years combined. That is how reading became a habit for me. 

Setting yourself a goal if this type means that whatever it is you are trying to do is important to you. However, it can also help promote a healthy balance. I have found in my experience that after reading too much, my other hobbies suffer. In the end, my reading suffers because I over-compensate for not doing other things by doing just the other things.

 

Maybe goals just aren’t for you

I’m not going to say that setting a reading goal suits everybody. I’m sure it doesn’t! Just because I don’t categorise myself as one of these people, it doesn’t mean that you don’t exist. If you don’t like having a reading goal, that is entirely up to you. It is perfectly okay to enjoy a hobby with no strings or obligations attached.

If you are the kind of person who doesn’t set reading goals, I’d love to hear from you. I’m not going to profess that this works for me and that I understand this approach. I proved that the year I didn’t set any reading goals for myself.

If you don’t set yourself reading goals, is there anything else you do instead? I’d love to hear from you to add to the conversation! 

Have you set yourself a reading goal? Do you have a reading goal for 2023?

 

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Sunday Summary – 4th December 2022

Good evening and welcome to this week’s Sunday Summary update post. As always, I hope you’ve had a fantastic week!

It is now officially December and Christmas is on the way! Up until yesterday, I wasn’t really feeling it. However, after a good laugh on Saturday with some friends looking around Christmas markets, then Christmas wreath making, and finally ice-skating, I am now in the mood!

Things have been no less busy on my blog. On Thursday this week, I shared my monthly wrap-up post for November. As I always do in these posts, I discussed the books I read throughout November and my thoughts on each of these. If you haven’t had the opportunity to check out this post yet, you can find the link above for your convenience.

Yesterday, I shared my final TBR of 2022. It has been a crazy year and already I have surpassed my expectations and reading goals for the year. However, that doesn’t mean I’m taking my foot off the pedal. Instead, I trying to read 50 books by the end of the year. Wish me luck! If you want to see which books I’m picking up to make that goal, there’s a link above to do so.

 

Books Read

As of my last Sunday Summary update, I was just under halfway through my read of The Motivation Code.

This was a really interesting read. Not only did it give me the opportunity to learn more about myself and what motivates me, but also helped me to recognise what other people’s motivations might be. Whilst that may not seem that relevant, I think it will be helpful in terms of being more open-minded about how and why other people work differently. Not only that, but if I’m ever in a situation where I need to persuade somebody to do something, I can try to appeal to their motivations.

The Motivation Code is a relatively short read, and if you are interested in understanding psychology or even in a management position, this could be an insightful read.

Next, I moved on to the first book of my December TBR – Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan. I have decided to pick up this book as I have recently joined an online book club hosted by @ezeekat on Fable. It is also a book I have seen online and it has caught my eye previously. I thought this was the perfect opportunity to have a go at reading something a little bit different and to take part in the book club and see if this is something I’d like to do more of.

As of drafting this post, I am just under 20% through this book. It is a solid start and it has captured my attention very well. I can already tell there’s going to be a budding romance in here that may or may not affect my overall perception/enjoyment of the book depending on how well it’s written. However, I’m prepared to go into this open-minded for now and see what happens.

 

Books Discovered

Do you know what happens when I have several weeks of not adding any books to my TBR? I then have a week where I add several. And that is the story for today’s Sunday Summary.

The first book added to my TBR this week is called The Measure. I heard about this book through the Currently Reading Podcast. In essence, it is a speculative fiction that revolves around everybody over a certain age waking up to a box on their doorstep. In that box there is a piece of string; the length of which is how long you will live. I thought this was a really interesting plot line, and the description of the book on that podcast really caught my attention. So, I’d like to pick this one up for myself.

The second book added to my reading list this week was The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor. I confess that I don’t know very much about the synopsis of this book. I added it because it was written by C.J. Tudor. To date, I have read both The Chalk Man and The Taking of Annie Thorne. Both books were major hits for me and so I have high expectations for The Burning Girls.

The last book I added to my TBR is a psychological thriller called The Murder Box. When a detective receives a murder mystery game as a birthday present, it turns out to be anything but fun. The details are strikingly similar to that of a missing young person, and so sparks an investigation which has Frankie asking the question – what happens when she discovers the killer?

I really like the sound of this. Having read another psychological thriller recently, it’s at the forefront of my mind how much I enjoy the genre. So, I can’t wait to get round to this relatively short thriller.

 

Coming Up…

I have a couple of blog posts lined up for you next week that I can’t wait to share!

My first blog post of the week is a discussion post. As we are approaching the end of the year, I wanted to take a look at why there may be benefits to setting a reading goal ahead of the New Year. You will see in this post, setting a reading goal doesn’t have to be a challenge. 

Later in the week, I am going to be sharing a First Lines Friday post. As usual, I will be sharing the opening lines of a book of my choice and discussing with you why they appeal to me!

Then, I will be back as usual with another Sunday Summary update to round up the week.

I hope you can join me for those posts. In the meantime, tell me what your most recent read was.

 

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Monthly TBR – December 2022

We are in the final month of 2022, and I can hardly believe that I’m sharing my Monthly TBR for December! It barely seems like two minutes ago since I was setting my 2022 goals and resolutions for the year. And now, here we are, nearly at the end of it all.

It may nearly be the end of the year, but we’re not quite there yet! There is still one monthly TBR left in me for this year, and I am now striving to exceed my reading goal by 10 books by the end of the year. That means I need to read another five books throughout December.

Let’s take a look at my picks!

 

Fixed Reading List

 

Daughter of the Moon Goddess

 

 

Genre: Fantasy Romance

Pages: 512

Audience: Young Adult

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Publication Date: 11 Jan 2022

 

This month is a month of firsts. That may be an unusual thing to say in my last monthly TBR post of the year, but, you’ve got to try it sometime. New experiences aren’t just for January. The reason I say this is because I am taking part in my first online book club read!

I have decided to read Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan. Somebody in the bookish community I discovered through Instagram (@ezeekat) has recently started hosting a book club through Fable. It’s the first time I’ll use this app and take part in a group read in this way.

However, if I really enjoy it, this is something I would like to continue with. I have always liked the idea of book clubs because they encourage you to broaden your horizons. It is through such groups that you’re encouraged to read things out of your comfort zone.

 

TBR Jar Pick – The Secret History

 

The Secret History

 

Genre: Dark Academia

Pages: 559

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Vintage

Publication Date: 16 Sept 1992

 

A second first in today’s Monthly TBR for December is that I have decided to add a pick from a TBR jar.

The first reason I set up my TBR jar was to help out during times when I don’t know what to read. When I’m feeling indecisive or really open-minded, I would like to be able to select a book out of my dedicated owl mug at random and go on and read my selection.

The second reason I wanted to set this up was so it encourages me to pick up books when I wouldn’t necessarily choose them for myself. Whilst I will never force myself to read a book, the use of my TBR jar will allow me to overcome any bias I have at a given time.

My first TBR jar pick is The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I have actually been looking forward to picking up this book, and it’s crossed my mind since reading something similar – Babel. I’m also looking forward to it because I know another reader who has picked it up, enjoyed it, and recommended it to me this year.

 

Mood Reads

 

The Keeper of Lost Things

 

 

Genre: Contemporary

Pages: 288

Audience: Adult

Publisher: William Morrow

Publication Date: 21 Feb 2017

 

The Keeper of Lost Things is one of the oldest books on my TBR now. With that in mind, I would like to try and pick it up in December.

Along the lines of broadening horizons as mentioned above, The Keeper of Lost Things is more contemporary than I would usually pick up. However, I really like the sound of the synopsis. As a very sentimental person, I think I can understand the motivations and plot line behind this particular book.

It is a little bit different from my typical read, but this can be a good thing. Often, I need a break in routine. I have been reading a lot of fantasy of late, and so The Keeper of Lost Things will give me the chance to read something different during December.

 

The Secret Library

 

 

Genre: History / Non-Fiction

Pages: 256

Audience: Adult

Publisher: O Mara Books Ltd

Publication Date: 29 Sept 2016

 

I am really looking forward to picking up The Secret Library. In summary, it is a book of books. It explores some lesser-known literary tidbits from history that will sate my curiosity to learn.

On the one hand, I may find the odd one or two hidden bookish gems that I will want to pick up and read as a result of reading The Secret Library. Equally, my TBR pile may just explode. I can’t predict it. Either way, The Secret History looks to be a short, fun read full of history and literature.

 

Ship of Magic

 

 

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 897

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Publication Date: 01 Mar 1998

 

Now that I have recovered from reading Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb, I am looking forward to jumping into the next series within the wider realm of books. I have read the first trilogy out of a total of 16 books in the Realm of the Elderlings series. In that first trilogy, the universe is introduced (in reasonable depth) through the perspective of FitzChivalry Farseer.

Already a lot has happened in the first three books, but what I’m looking forward to in this next series is a complete change of perspective. It will be interesting to see if they ‘standalone’ well, add to my overall enjoyment of the universe, or whether it serves as filler for a main series.

 

Queen of Our Times

 

 

Genre: Non-fiction / Biography

Pages: 690

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Pegasus

Publication Date: 05 Apr 2022

 

As my audiobook listen of Queen of Our Times by Robert Hardman is still ongoing, I’m going to try and make further progress with this audiobook this month. This originally featured on my October Monthly TBR post. I have a lot of progress to make, as I have been a little lax on audiobooks in the last couple of months. 

Fingers crossed December is the month of steady progress!

 

So, that is my monthly TBR for December! I’m sorry if you’re a little disappointed that there aren’t any seasonal reads in this list. If I’m entirely honest, it’s not something I would generally pick up. Plus, by the end of the month, I’m going to be all Christmassed out anyway!

Have you read any of the books on my December TBR?

 

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Monthly Wrap-Up – November 2022

Somehow we are already into the final month of 2022, and that can only mean that it is time for my monthly wrap-up post for November!

I read quite a few books in November. All in all, it has been a very productive month. I took part in a couple of blog tours early on, and then went on to work my way through my whole reading list. That is something I haven’t achieved for a long time!

Let’s dive into the books I read in November!

 

Warrior and Protector

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Goodreads

My first book of the month was Warrior and Protector by Peter Gibbons.

This was the first read as I had a fairly imminent blog tour deadline to meet. That said, it was an incredibly easy read to pick up and enjoy. I read this in just a handful of days. If you enjoy books like Bernard Cornwell’s the Saxon stories, or anything set in 10th century England, I’d recommend this one highly.

I really enjoyed the character development in this particular book. It has a perspective that you wouldn’t necessarily expect from a book of this kind. If you want to find out more, you can check out my full review here.

 

Warrior of Mercia

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Goodreads

The next book I picked up was very similar in setting but was part of a series that I started earlier this year. I have been really enjoying the Eagle of Mercia Chronicles by MJ Porter.

When I received the invite to take part in the tour for Warrior of Mercia, I knew I would be daft not to take it up! The plot lines of these books are full of action, but equally do not script on character development either.

For entirely different reasons to Warrior and Protector, the protagonist of his book makes an interesting character in terms of his motivations. He is a dutiful young man, but his heart isn’t really in being a warrior. If you want to find out more, again, I have a full review where you can find out more.

 

Babel

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Goodreads

It was nice to pick up and be able to stick with Babel by R.F. Kuang. With my ongoing blog tour commitments, I was picking up and putting this down quite a bit. However, once all my obligations were over and done with, I read this book very quickly.

I really enjoyed how this book delves into language and translation. Although it is a fantasy fiction novel, it reads quite academically. The story is cleverly interwoven with the fantasy element, but also combines more serious topics including racism, colonialism, and even classism. To an extent, Babel was everything I expected it to be – however it was also so much better!

 

Malice

Rating: DNF

Goodreads

Malice by John Gwynne is the one disappointment in my monthly wrap-up for November. I have owned my copy of this book for a very, very long time. I attempted to pick it up once somewhere in the region of 2016. However, as this pre-dates both my blog and my Goodreads account, I can’t pinpoint exactly when I started it.

Unfortunately, the fact that I didn’t make it much further than the third chapter back then should have told me everything I needed to know. I gave this a solid attempt, but I just wasn’t getting into it at all. After three days of pushing through the first 50 odd pages, I decided to hang this one up. There was absolutely no point in trying to struggle on with it. I knew I was onto a good reading streak, and I didn’t want to spoil it.

It’s not the end of the world. Yes, it is a shame when you don’t enjoy a book as much as you would like. However, thinking on the bright side, I have enough ongoing series as it is without adding another one!

 

Dear Child

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Goodreads

Next, I decided to pick up a genre that I haven’t read very much of lately – psychological thriller.

I had wanted to read a book like this in my October TBR. However, I didn’t get around to it. I recently featured Dear Child in my Autumn TBR post. The synopsis has been playing on my mind ever since. Given that I already owned a copy of the book ready to pick up, it was a no brainer decision.

And this was a fantastic psychological thriller. For me, I determine a book like this to be a hit if I’m thinking about it even when I’m not reading. If I’m trying to work through who the characters are, and determine what potential motives and hidden plot twists there are yet to unveil, that’s a very good sign! Of course, I was doing it with Dear Child.

Another good indicator is how quickly I managed to read this book. I started it on a Sunday morning and finish it by Thursday the following week.

 

The Motivation Code

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Goodreads

Having worked my way through my November TBR at this point, it took me a while to decide what to read next. I hadn’t even considered my December TBR at this point, so I was at a bit of a loss. In the end, I turned to my recent TBR additions for some inspiration. I found The Motivation Code.

I recently took the online assessment that accompanies this book, and I wanted to find out what my results really meant. And in that way, this has been an insightful read. Some of the results I got were to an extent, a surprise. However, having read about these different motivation codes, I can see myself in them 100%. They go a good way to explaining why I like to work in certain settings, and equally importantly, how I like to work. I don’t necessarily just mean employment. I mean as in how I operate. How I do things. 

The book is also useful in that it highlights where there may be gaps in your skill set. For example, one of my top three motivators is to explore. That means I am good at delving into new things and starting many projects (hardly shocking news to anyone who knows me). However, one of my downfalls is that I might try to take on too many things and lose focus on what I’ve already started. I am the kind of person who, at times, needs to be re-focused away from the ‘new and interesting’. I can do this myself, but it is something I need to consciously do.

Reading The Motivation Code has helped me understand who I am and why I think it act the way I do. It is one thing to know it subconsciously, but to read this book and bring it to the forefront enables me to work on the elements of my personality that aren’t necessarily positive.

 

Queen of Our Times

Current Read

Goodreads

I haven’t really made much progress with Queen of Our Times this month. I started the month with every intention to pick up and listen to this audiobook more regularly. However, I will be completely honest and say that I haven’t done it.

Quite often, I’m in the mood to listen to music. Especially so this month, as Dermot Kennedy released his new album and I’ve been listening to it on repeat since it was released mid-month. I have no shame.

Also, I have been making more of an effort to watch more TV this month. As you are probably aware, I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here has just been on and I really enjoyed watching it! However, for me, watching a show like that is a commitment. My TV doesn’t go on that much, and certainly not as regularly as I’ve needed to keep up with the show. That’s also impacted on my time to listen to audiobooks.

This is a book that will rollover into December.

 

So, those are the books I’ve been reading throughout the month of November. Technically, I also started the first book of my December TBR on the 29th of November. However, I’m not giving any spoilers as to what that book is. Instead, you’ll have to check out my TBR going live on Saturday!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my monthly wrap-up post. Have you read any of the books on this list? Have any of them caught your eye?

Let me know in the comments, and until next time, happy reading!

 

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Sunday Summary – 27th November 2022

Good evening and welcome to my regular weekly update post, otherwise known as the Sunday Summary! It’s my opportunity to recap what I have shared on my blog throughout the week, as well as the books I’ve been reading. Later on in the post, you can also find out what I will be sharing on my blog in the next week – so stay tuned in for that!

But first, let’s recap the week just gone. My first blog post of the week was a review of Red Rising by Pierce Brown. I really enjoyed this science-fiction/dystopian fiction novel. It is the first book of the series, which I started this year.

Red Rising was a massive hit, as you will see in that review. I have already read the second book of the series and that one didn’t quite live up to expectations. Pierce Brown set the bar really high with Red Rising… maybe a bit too high? I’m going to continue with the series, but if you want to see where it all starts, I strongly recommend you check out my review.

On Friday I shared a Shelf Control post. Shelf Control is a roughly fortnightly feature on my blog. It is an opportunity to take a look at books I added to my TBR in the past and make sure they are still relevant to my current reading taste. Sharing why I’m excited about these books makes for great blog material. Who knows, maybe I can just make you a little bit excited about it too?

This week, I featured a non-fiction novel that I added to my TBR in 2017, having played the original Assassin’s Creed game. That probably sounds like a very bizarre introduction to the book, but the book itself is about a faction that plays a significant role in the storyline. It is a time and place in history I have never explored before, and I’m keen to find out more!

 

Books Read

Dear Child

In last week’s Sunday Summary post, I left off having read 10% of the book Dear Child by Romy Hausmann. I read that 10% last Sunday morning, and I was already excited about the book based on that introduction. I ended up really enjoying Dear Child just as much!

It has been a while since I read a psychological thriller or a book of that ilk. That’s why I wanted to read one if I’m honest. I enjoy switching up genres now and then. I wanted to get around to reading something like this in October, but I didn’t finish my TBR in time to do so. So, I picked this one up this month instead, and it was fantastic! As with all good psychological thrillers with an element of mystery, it has you thinking about the book, characters, and potential motives even when it’s physically not in your hand.

Dear Child is even more impressive as it is the author’s debut novel. It read really well, and the fact that I had finished all 350 odd pages by Thursday testifies just how easy to read it was!

After finishing Dear Child, I was in a very indecisive mood as to what to read next. It has been a long time since I’ve actually finished a reading list, so it was unusual not to have an idea of what I wanted to pick up next. This resulted in my picking up quite a few books off my shelf, reading the synopsis, and then putting them back down again. I had no idea what I wanted to read – and I was almost in a bit of a funk about it. However, I eventually decided to take a look at a recent non-fiction addition to my reading list. It was a good decision. 

 

The Motivation Code

I recently discovered an assessment online called The Motivation Code. The test has been devised by psychologists as a means of identifying an individual’s top three personal motivators. In summary, the test involves a degree of analysing some distinct, memorable achievements. It takes between 20 and 30 minutes to complete, and after that, you can take a look at either a purchasable assessment or The Motivation Code book, which I am doing. If you are interested, my top 3 motivators out of the possible 27 are collaborate, explore, and develop.

I was initially surprised by my top motivation, but having read the insights in the book, I can completely understand this now. I do like to feel like part of the team and I am most energised when the team is harmonious.

So far I have only read up on the first of these three of my motivators, collaborate, because I have been reading about the rest too. In reading some of the others so far, I have already been able to recognise and understand how other people around me work differently. For that reason, I am already finding it insightful – and I’m only 45% through at the moment! I trust that the rest of the book is going to be as helpful as it has been so far. It is also a really easy and relatively short read at 270ish pages.

 

Books Discovered

I would love to be able to update you and say that the reading list is going in the right direction – so I will! With ticking off Dear Child, and progress with The Motivation Code (both books on my TBR), the net position at the end of this week is still in the negative.

What I’m trying to say is I’ve added one book to my reading list this week. Having recently loved R. F. Kuang’s book Babel, I have decided to add another fantasy series she wrote to my reading list. I’m only starting with the first book so far, The Poppy War. If I enjoy this as much as I enjoy Babel, I can guarantee the rest of the books will be going on my list! But, we’ll see what the first book looks like before I get too hasty.

 

Coming Up…

Next week we will be saying goodbye to November and launching ourselves into the final month of the year. Is that not a scary thought?

With that in mind, I will be sharing my monthly wrap-up for November on Thursday and following up with my December monthly TBR on Saturday! I always enjoy writing these posts. It’s fun to talk/reminisce about books I have enjoyed in a month, but also look forward to my next reads! I hope you can stick with me for my November round-up and my December TBR.

Unsurprisingly, I will be back as I always am this time next week with my next Sunday Summary update to post. I hope you can stick with the blog to check those posts out. In the meantime, have a fantastic week whatever you’re up to!

Have you read any amazing books recently?

 

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Shelf Control #57 – 25/11/2022

Here’s hoping you are having the happiest of Fridays, and that you’re excited about another Shelf Control post from yours truly.

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.

This week’s feature is a little unusual; I have been inspired to pick it up based on a video game I played as a teenager.

 

The Templars – Dan Jones

Genre: Non-fiction

Pages: 448

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Viking 

Publication Date: 19 Sept 2017

 

 

Goodreads – The Templars

A faltering war in the middle east. A band of elite warriors determined to fight to the death to protect Christianity’s holiest sites. A global financial network unaccountable to any government. A sinister plot founded on a web of lies.

Jerusalem 1119. A small group of knights seeking a purpose in the violent aftermath of the First Crusade decides to set up a new order. These are the first Knights Templar, a band of elite warriors prepared to give their lives to protect Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land. Over the next two hundred years, the Templars would become the most powerful religious order of the medieval world. Their legend has inspired fervent speculation ever since. 

In this groundbreaking narrative history, Dan Jones tells the true story of the Templars for the first time in a generation, drawing on extensive original sources to build a gripping account of these Christian holy warriors whose heroism and alleged depravity have been shrouded in myth. The Templars were protected by the pope and sworn to strict vows of celibacy. They fought the forces of Islam in hand-to-hand combat on the sun-baked hills where Jesus lived and died, finding their nemesis in Saladin, who vowed to drive all Christians from the lands of Islam. Experts at channeling money across borders, they established the medieval world’s largest and most innovative banking network and waged private wars against anyone who threatened their interests.

Then, as they faced setbacks at the hands of the ruthless Mamluk sultan Baybars and were forced to retreat to their stronghold in Cyprus, a vindictive and cash-strapped King of France set his sights on their fortune. His administrators quietly mounted a damning case against the Templars, built on deliberate lies and false testimony. Then on Friday October 13, 1307, hundreds of brothers were arrested, imprisoned and tortured, and the order was disbanded amid lurid accusations of sexual misconduct and heresy. They were tried by the Pope in secret proceedings and their last master was brutally tortured and burned at the stake. But were they heretics or victims of a ruthlessly repressive state? Dan Jones goes back to the sources tobring their dramatic tale, so relevant to our own times, in a book that is at once authoritative and compulsively readable.

 

My Thoughts

I will fully admit that today’s Shelf Control feature came on my radar as a result of playing the original Assassin’s Creed game. What could possibly have made it onto my list that’s related to this, I hear you ask. Well, I wanted to learn more about a prominent faction throughout the storyline – the Templars. I’m not going to go spoiling anything about the game, so don’t worry on that front. All I will say is that having played it for myself, I wanted to learn more about the history and setting of the story.

The great thing about this book is that I am already familiar with the author through TV. Not only does he make use of books and writing as part of his profession, but he’s also prominent on television as a broadcaster for historical documentaries. I am sure I’ve watched a number of documentaries in which he features, and I really enjoyed his narration style. I’m hoping this carries through into today’s book.

Another reason I’m looking forward to picking up this book is that it will expand my wider knowledge of history. As you know, I am keen to learn new things. I’m also trying to make more of an effort to read more non-fiction, so this ticks that box as well. This isn’t a period of history that I have ever looked at before. Religion isn’t particularly prominent in my reading either, so The Templars stands out for that reason too. I for one I’m looking forward to exploring both elements together through this book!

 

Have you been inspired to learn about something based on a game or hobby before? Let me know in the comments! 

 

 

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Book Review: Red Rising – Pierce Brown

In today’s post, I am really looking forward to sharing my review of Red Rising by Pierce Brown with you. Having added the book to my reading list in July 2017, I finally got around to reading this first installment in the Red Rising series back in October last year.

I’m glad I took the plunge to start this series, as this first book was absolutely fantastic. I am a huge fan of dystopia and the fantasy/science-fiction genres, so this book was a natural fit. What I didn’t expect, was how bloodydamn good it was!

 

Red Rising – Pierce Brown

Genre: Dystopia / Science-fiction

Pages: 382

Audience: Young Adult

Publisher: Del Ray

Publication Date: 28 Jan 2014

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads – Red Rising

“I live for the dream that my children will be born free,” she says. “That they will be what they like. That they will own the land their father gave them.”

“I live for you,” I say sadly.

Eo kisses my cheek. “Then you must live for more.”

Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.

Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies… even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.

 

My Thoughts…

I love dystopian fiction, so it’s no surprise that Red Rising was a massive hit for me. Darrow and his people have been lied to their whole lives. They work, believing they are sacrificing themselves for a future society. However, soon in the narrative, it comes to light that civilisation began on Mars long ago, and yet the labour of the Reds has continued with them kept in the dark, and for little reward.

Eo, a young woman living in Red society, dreams for more. She sacrifices herself and in doing so, begins a revolution. Darrow is, under normal circumstances, quite a placid young man. However, when the society he slaves for kills his wife for daring to speak up against them, it inspires a hatred that lives up to his caste – deep and red and raging.

Reading the synopsis of this book is one thing, but I didn’t expect the narrative of this book to pan out the way it did. I really enjoyed it and it is refreshing to have a synopsis hinting as to what is going to happen, but is vague enough that it’s not obvious at the time.

I really enjoyed Darrow’s character development arc in this book. At the beginning, he is just a man who slaves away to eke out a small existence. But his life quickly turns to tragedy, and rather than lying down in the dirt, he digs deep within himself to have the courage to try and drive change. Darrow finds himself in a world he didn’t even know existed.

I also really enjoyed the combination of dystopia and science-fiction. These two genres work very well together, and for good reason. The technological advances that benefit the gold society are far beyond those we see in the modern world today. In comparison, the Reds live far worse than we do. The contrast between these two societies is stark – perhaps even exaggerated to an extent.

If you enjoy a lot of action in your novels, then red rising has plenty of that on offer. The passing of the book makes it a quick read, as there is plenty going on at any given moment.

Even so, the action doesn’t detract from the world-building and character development that also takes place in this book.

There is a great balance of both, making for a good, or rounded, introduction to a dystopian science-fiction series that I want to read more of. At the point of writing this review, I have already read the second book, Golden Son. It didn’t quite live up to the same expectations after this introduction. However, I’m going to continue with it for at least one more book to see if it picks up again.

Have you read Red Rising or any other books in the series? Let me know in the comments.

 

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Sunday Summary – 20th November 2022

Hello, hello – welcome to this week’s Sunday Summary update post. I hope you have had a fantastic week because I’m really excited to tell you about this week’s progress. Personally, it has been a good and productive one!

At the beginning of the week, I shared my review of Warrior of Mercia by MJ Porter. It was a pleasure to take part in this blog tour, as I have done so for the first two books of the series as well! This book lived up to every single one of my expectations. If there are further books in the series, I will be jumping on the bandwagon very quickly!

Later in the week, I shared a First Lines Friday post. I will hold my hands up here and say I made a bit of a boo-boo. I forgot to schedule this post in advance. The post was sat in my notes and ready to be edited and scheduled, but I just hadn’t done that bit. As a result, I shared it on Friday night after I’d noticed my error. Apologies if you were looking out for it earlier in the day.

 

Books Read

Babel

This week I made fantastic reading progress with Babel by R.F. Kuang. Ironically, I was partly motivated to read this book because I was excited to pick up my next read… one that I ended up DNF’ing quite quickly. More on that one in a moment. In my last Sunday Summary update, I was 172 pages into Babel. 

It was good to finally pick up Babel and stick with it. Because I have been juggling commitments with blog tours of late, I have been picking up and putting this book down quite a bit. Now that I had no further commitments, I was able to dedicate the due time and attention Babel deserved – and boy, did it deserve it! The fact that I read the remaining 370 odd pages in just a handful of days testifies how much I enjoyed this read. It is the kind of book that has you thinking about it even when you’re not actively reading it.

What I found refreshing about Babel is that it doesn’t read that strongly as a fiction novel. It is quite academic in tone. As someone who was interested in language and linguistics growing up, I enjoyed the little translation references dotted throughout. This book also has a reference to the Manx language in it, which surprised me! Even locally, it is only thought that about 2% of the population of the island is fluent in it. I know some passing phrases such as good morning (moghrey mie) and good evening (fastyr mie), but that’s about all.

 

Malice

Next, I picked up the book I have been really excited to read – Malice by John Gwynne. I have shared details about this book on my blog of late, particularly commenting on how long it has been on my reading list, and that it is probably the oldest book on my TBR.

Not anymore. I spent about three days struggling through the first 40 pages. When you compare that with my reading average earlier in the week of nearly 100 pages a day, that’s dreadful. The introduction to this book just didn’t grab me at all. When I first picked up this book many moons ago (before I started my blog), I only made it to chapter three. My perception can’t have been much better, because I put it down then as well.

I’m enjoying a really good reading streak at the moment, and I fear that if I try to struggle with Malice, I will lose it. Instead, I decided to DNF this book for good and swiftly moved on to the next (and last physical) book on my November reading list.

 

Dear Child

I started Dear Child quite late this morning, and I’m already 10% through the book. The introduction captured my attention immediately. I’m interested to learn about the dynamic of the characters and how events have come to pass to date. There’s not much to say about this particular book at this time, because I have only spent around 30 to 40 minutes reading it so far. I look forward to sharing a further update with you next week!

 

Books Discovered

Once again, no news is good news! With the reading progress I’ve made, I have effectively ticked a couple off of my reading list, and there are no new additions. The list is going in the right direction for once!

 

Coming Up…

Early next week, I have decided to share another book review with you. As I have quite a long list of books I have read, but not yet reviewed, I decided to knock one of those off the list. The book I am featuring next week is Red Rising by Pierce Brown. If you enjoy the science-fiction and/or dystopia genres, I strongly recommend checking out my review on Tuesday!

Later in the week, it is the turn of my Shelf Control regular feature post. This week’s feature is a bit of a funny one. I decided to add this book to my reading list as a result of playing the original Assassin’s Creed game as a teenager – I wanted to learn more about the facts behind some of the characters. If you are intrigued, then stick around and check out my post on Friday.

As always, I will be back next Sunday evening to share my reading progress with you in my next Sunday Summary post!

Until next time, have a wonderful week!

 

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First Lines Friday – 18/11/2022

Hello all welcome to today’s First Lines Friday post! It’s the end of another working week! If you are counting down the hours until the weekend, then I hope I can distract you with a fun introduction to a book I’m looking forward to picking up. Maybe I can inspire you to pick it up this weekend?

In today’s First Lines Friday post, I decided to repeat my method of choosing today’s featured book as I did last time. To recap, I went to my Goodreads homepage and looked through the books on my feed until a familiar author or title caught my eye. Whereas in my last post, I stumbled across my feature quite quickly, this wasn’t the case this time. A little bit of scrolling later, however, a Goodreads friend of mine published a status update about a book she is re-reading, that is also on my TBR.

Here is today’s teaser introduction!

 

Perhaps it was a tired thing, all the references the world had already made to the Ptolemaic Royal library of Alexandria. History had proven the library to be endlessly fascinating as a subject, either because the obsession with what it might have contained was bound only by the imagination or because humanity longs for things most ardently as a collective. All men can love a forbidden thing, generally speaking, and in most cases knowledge is precisely that; lost knowledge, even more so.

 

 

The Atlas Six – Olivie Blake

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 383

Audience: Young Adult

Publisher: Tor

Publication Date: 31 Jan 2015

 

 

Goodreads – The Atlas Six

The Alexandrian Society is a secret society of magical academicians, the best in the world. Their members are caretakers of lost knowledge from the greatest civilizations of antiquity. And those who earn a place among their number will secure a life of wealth, power, and prestige beyond their wildest dreams. Each decade, the world’s six most uniquely talented magicians are selected for initiation – and here are the chosen few…

– Libby Rhodes and Nicolás Ferrer de Varona: inseparable enemies, cosmologists who can control matter with their minds.

– Reina Mori: a naturalist who can speak the language of life itself.

– Parisa Kamali: a mind reader whose powers of seduction are unmatched.

– Tristan Caine: the son of a crime kingpin who can see the secrets of the universe.

– Callum Nova: an insanely rich pretty boy who could bring about the end of the world. He need only ask.

When the candidates are recruited by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they are told they must spend one year together to qualify for initiation. During this time, they will be permitted access to the Society’s archives and judged on their contributions to arcane areas of knowledge. Five, they are told, will be initiated. One will be eliminated. If they can prove themselves to be the best, they will survive. Most of them.

 

My Thoughts…

Sharing this particular book as part of today’s First Lines Friday post may be quite timely. If you aren’t following this particular book or author, then you might not know that the sequel, The Atlas Paradox, was released at the end of last month.

I only discovered The Atlas Six fairly recently. It is one of the most recent books on my TBR, so it’s unlikely that I will be reading this any time soon! However, that’s not to say I am not excited to give it a go.

What interests me about this particular book is that it was initially self-published by the author. It has done so well that Tor has since signed the author and from there, it has been ‘traditionally published’.

If that doesn’t speak volumes, then I don’t know what will. I discovered this book through a fellow blogger (incidentally, the same Goodreads friend re-reading this at the moment). I believe she first read this whilst the book was self-published, and by all accounts, is enjoying her re-read right now.

I’ve just enjoyed another book with similar dark academia vibes. Throwing in some magic to the mix can only make this better in my opinion!

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s First Lines Friday post. Have you read The Atlas Six, or the sequel, The Atlas Paradox? I’d love to chat about them if you have!

 

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Blog Tour Review: Warrior of Mercia – MJ Porter

Hello everybody and welcome to today’s blog tour review of Warrior of Mercia by M. J. Porter. This is the third book of the Eagle of Mercia Chronicles, and I have had the pleasure I’ve taken part in blog tours for the first two books of the series. If you want to catch up on those before jumping into my review of Warrior of Mercia, you can find links to Son of Mercia and Wolf of Mercia here.

Before I begin my review in earnest, I would like to say thank you to the author, Boldwood Books and Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour. It is the last day of the tour, and there are a number of fabulous bloggers who have contributed as well. I’ll share more details on those below.

Now, let’s find out more about the book!

 

Warrior of Mercia – M. J. Porter

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 316

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Boldwood Books

Publication Date: 09 Nov 2022

Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

 

Goodreads – Warrior of Mercia

Icel is a lone wolf no more.

Oath sworn to Wiglaf, King of Mercia and acknowledged as a member of Ealdorman Ælfstan’s warrior band, Icel continues to forge his own destiny on the path to becoming the Warrior of Mercia.

With King Ecgberht of Wessex defeated and Londonium back under Mercian control, the Wessex invasion of Mercia is over.

But the Wessex king was never Mercia’s only enemy. An unknown danger lurks in the form of merciless Viking raiders, who set their sights on infiltrating the waterways of the traitorous breakaway kingdom of the East Angles, within touching distance of Mercia’s eastern borders.

Icel must journey to the kingdom of the East Angles and unite against a common enemy to ensure Mercia’s hard-won freedom prevails.

 

Purchase Link – Amazon

 

My Thoughts…

If you enjoy historical fiction novels so full of action that they keep you on the edge of your seat, Warrior of Mercia is for you! With each new chapter, the detailed narrative and political landscape Icel lives in deepens.

Icel has come a long way from the first book in the series, Son of Mercia. By and large, he has kept to his roots and has far more affinity for healing people as opposed to causing harm. However, his character development throughout the series allows him to expand into a more traditional role expected in ninth-century historical fiction novels. England is divided, and invaders from the Norse lands threaten their every way of life. Icel has transitioned from a boy who quails at the idea of harming someone to a young man who will raise his seax willingly to defend his people.

That isn’t the typical plot development you would expect from these kinds of novels. However, it is for this reason that this series really works for me. It offers something different and unique. Icel’s perspective is, at least for me, unseen so far in this historical setting. Whilst comparable to the likes of Bernard Cornwell’s The Last Kingdom, the Eagle of Mercia Chronicles has a tale of its own, and from a fresh pair of eyes.

Warrior of Mercia is a fast-paced read. At just 327 pages, it is very easy to pick up and makes for a quick read. The chapters are also nicely broken out so none are too long. It is a small thing but makes a difference to the reading experience. It makes it easier and more enjoyable. You have the option to pick it up and put it down relatively easily – although, you won’t want to! Even though the page count isn’t too onerous, the quality and quantity of the narrative isn’t compromised. On the contrary, the narrative is full of in-depth battle scenes and political machinations. If these are elements you enjoy in your books, just as I do, then you will be just as thrilled with the book as I am.

I am glad I opted to take part in this blog tour. I had high expectations for the book based on the prior books in the series. Needless to say, Warrior of Mercia did not disappoint! It picks up nicely from events in the previous book. Events from the previous books are nicely summarised and spotted in quite naturally to refresh us as readers. Then, the narrative throws us back in to the tumultuous setting I have come to enjoy.

I hope I have inspired you to take a look at this book based on my review. If you are still unsure, I would like to find out more, there are a number of bloggers who have also taken part in the tour. David kicked off the blog tour with a smashing review. I agree with his view that the descriptions within the book are so immersive that you could be right there with Icel in the thick of it. I also enjoyed Amy‘s review. She correctly points out how well the narrative interweaves historical fact with elements of fiction for an all-round, entertaining read! These are but a couple of examples of contributors to the tour, and I hope you can take some time to check out their posts as well! 

I hope between us we can convince you to pick up Warrior of Murcia, or even the series as a whole if that’s your cup of tea! This book could be read perfectly well as a stand-alone, but I would personally recommend the whole series!

Author Bio

MJ Porter is the author of many historical novels set predominantly in Seventh to Eleventh-Century England, and in Viking Age Denmark. They were raised in the shadow of a building that they believed housed the bones of long-dead Kings of Mercia – so their writing destiny was set. The first novel in their new Anglo-Saxon series for Boldwood Son of Mercia was published in February 2022.

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