Category: For Fun

Shelf Control #77 – 10/05/24

In today’s Shelf Control post, I feature an anthology that has to be the longest I will ever pick up! At over 1000 pages and with big names such as Stephen King, George R.R. Martin and H.P. Lovecraft, it promises lots of great narratives within.

Before I share details of this anthology, here’s a reminder of what the Shelf Control feature is all about!

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 Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories

Genre: Anthology

Pages: 1,153

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Corvus

Publication Date: 31 Oct 2011

 

Goodreads – The Weird


A landmark, eclectic, leviathan-sized anthology of fiction’s wilder, stranger, darker shores.

The Weird features an all star cast of authors, from classics to international bestsellers to prize winners:

Ben Okri

George R.R. Martin

Angela Carter

Kelly Link

Franz Kafka

China Miéville

Clive Barker

Haruki Murakami

M.R. James

Neil Gaiman

Mervyn Peake

Michael Chabon

Stephen King

Daphne Du Maurier

and more…

Exotic and esoteric, The Weird plunges you into dark domains and brings you face to face with surreal monstrosities; You will find the boldest and downright most peculiar stories from the last hundred years bound together in the biggest Weird collection ever assembled.


My Thoughts

Anthologies aren’t the types of books I pick up on a regular basis, but I do like to try them now and then. Sometimes having a short read can be the break needed from longer or heavier narratives. In my experience so far, anthologies have served me well in this regard.

However, I have also never read an anthology that is over 1000 pages long! It’s a huge collection. In reality, I may find it easier to read this anthology in short bursts over a long a stretch of time rather than as the whole book in itself. Especially given it a style I don’t pick up that often, I think reading it all in one go would be too much. At least it does have ties back to my favourite genre, fantasy, which will keep me coming back! 

The beauty of having a book compiled of shorter stories is that it will be easy to pick up and put down at will. Whenever I need a break from another book, I’ll be able to pick this up quickly! Equally, I’m able to break between stories back to my regular reading.

I’m looking forward to reading short stories from many of the names within, including even Neil Gaiman. Well, I’ve never had a great experience with his full length books, I think I can palette his writing style in shorter doses.

Have you read The Weird, or anything else like it?

 

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Top Ten Tuesday – Unread Books on My Shelves I Want to Read Soon!

Just like every bookworm, I have a stack of books on my shelves waiting and begging to be read. In today’s Top Ten Tuesday post, I feature some of the unread books I will look to prioritise in the coming months.

Are you intrigued for today’s Top Ten Tuesday list? Let’s get stuck in!


The Ember Blade

The Ember Blade is my first feature in this Top Ten Tuesday and a fantasy by an author I haven’t tried before. I love the sound of the synopsis and I confess I was a little biased by how beautiful the cover is!

I’m excited to try a new author! Whilst I do love to return to firm favourites, I try to stretch myself now and then with something new. This is in the safety net of my favourite genre (fantasy) and does have some typical tropes of the genre. Still, I’m interested to see how the author takes these and plays events out.

The book has an average 4.2 star rating on Goodreads with over 5000 ratings. It sounds promising! The only factor I need to consider is that this book is over 800 pages long. I need to try and split out some of my larger reads so I’m not bombarding myself all at once.


Spare and Found Parts

In contrast, Spare and Found Parts is a relatively short read that will take me out of my comfort zone.

Combine science-fiction with a steampunk vibe, toss in some romance and an epidemic, and you have quite the setting! It’s unusual and not like anything I have ever seen before. I picked up a copy of the book precisely for this reason.

This book is also great in that it will make for a great read in between some of my larger ones – as both a shorter read and its unusual setting. It will be a complete change regardless of what I read around it!


Les Miserables

Les Mis is an epic classic that I’m looking forward to getting to! At the same time, it is going to be a mammoth read. I need to pick it up as and when I’m in the mood.

I’ve had a quick read of the first few pages and the overall impression was good. I was worried initially that the writing style might be a little bit tricky, but didn’t find this with the sample. I’ll have to try and spread this out from some of the other chunky reads on this list. I can’t read too many large books at once.


Wolves of the Calla

Speaking of chunky reads, Wolves of the Calla by Stephen King is another such book in this Top Ten Tuesday post. It’s also the fifth book in The Dark Tower series, which is an ongoing read.

As I’m trying to pick up and finish more series this year, Wolves of the Calla is a natural choice. It means then I will have just two books left afterwards to complete the series.

Not only that, but I have really enjoyed each book in The Dark Tower series to date. They are cleverly written and I enjoy the diversity of Mid-world versus Earth in various time periods of history. It’s an interesting contrast and I hope to see more of in future books. We’ll see!


The Devil and the Dark Water

After reading The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, I’m looking forward to picking up a second book by Stuart Turton.

I featured this book in a First Lines Friday post and I loved the introduction to this book. With this in mind, I hope to pick this up before long as a change of genre and to re-explore the writing of an author I hope to read more of in future.


The Bone Collector

I have been threatening to read The Bone Collector by Jeffery Deaver for the longest time! It’s been sat on my shelf for some time and it’s time to give it some love!

I recall we’ve owned a copy of the book this long because I distinctly remember my sister getting a copy of this whilst she was at university… about six and a half years ago!

Maybe time to pick it up, no?


Fool’s Errand

I’ve been trying to get to Fool’s Errand for a couple of months anyway. Robin Hobb is fast becoming one of my favourite authors of all time. I have loved and rated each book in the Realm of the Elderlings series 5 stars so far.

Fool’s Errand will be the seventh book of the series that I pick up. Will I keep up the streak of five star ratings? I sincerely hope so!

Obsidio

Obsidio is the last book I need to read in Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman‘s The Illuminae Files. Although the stories are angled towards a young adult audience, I have a really enjoyed the books and characters so far.

With this being the last in the series, it makes sense to pick up this final book. I want to see events I have read so far wrapped up, but also to mark the series as complete.

I love Top Ten Tuesday posts like these as they are often great reminders to get to these final books! 


Master of Sorrows

I’ve been trying to get to Master of Sorrows for a couple of months as well, but I’ve not managed it so far. It’s a book I pulled out of my TBR jar, so I do need to pick it up before long. At the same time, I’m not taking anything else out of that until this book is finished!

I’ve heard rave reviews about this book and series so far. Had I not pulled this out of the jar, I probably would have held off starting this series. However, the jar has spoken and so I will be picking up this book very soon.


Elektra

I have read another book by Jennifer Saint, Ariadne. I’ve also come to enjoy Greek mythology from other writers such as Pat Barker and even Stephen Fry.

Greek mythology is not my strong point, but that is precisely why I’m trying to pick up more books in the genre. It also makes an interesting change from my usual preferences. I’m always trying to read out of my comfort zone, but this is a comfortable step as I’ve already tried the author once before!

As books on this list compare, it’s one of the shortest ones I can pick up. In that sense, I have a lot of flexibility as to when I can read the book.


Have you read any of the books I feature in today’s Top Ten Tuesday? Do you have any books you would recommend I pick up first?

As always, I’m really excited to hear from you!

 

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First Lines Friday – 12/04/2024

Hello readers and welcome to my next instalment in the First Lines Friday regular series I feature on my blog.

This week’s feature is an upcoming read I’m looking forward to. Full disclosure here – it’s a book that takes an eye-opening view of the pandemic and how the NHS were left to handle the worldwide crisis on our shores. If it’s a topic you don’t want to read about right now, then this post (and book) isn’t for you.

I, however, am interested in the subject. If you’ve watched a Covid-19 related documentary on ITV lately then you may have an inkling of what is coming up.

If you’re ready, let’s take a look!

 

He lies on hospital sheets, but he’s drowning. Behind closed doors, with neither fanfare nor drama, he’s been quietly drowning all night. The act of voicing distress – alerting another human being to his plight – takes spare air he no longer possesses.

Wide mouth, wide eyes, face stunned and stricken. The mask clamps down on skin slick with sweat. His lips are grey, fingertips the colour of bruises. And though the oxygen roars, the highest flow we can manage, it’s still not enough, not remotely.


Breathtaking – Rachel Clarke

Genre: Non-fiction

Pages: 240

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group

Publication Date: 28 Jan 2021

 


Goodreads – Breathtaking

How does it feel to confront a pandemic from the inside, one patient at a time? To bridge the gulf between a perilously unwell patient in quarantine and their distraught family outside? To be uncertain whether the protective equipment you wear fits the science or the size of the government stockpile? To strive your utmost to maintain your humanity even while barricaded behind visors and masks?

Rachel is a palliative care doctor who looked after the most gravely unwell patients on the Covid-19 wards of her hospital. Amid the tensions, fatigue and rising death toll, she witnessed the courage of patients and NHS staff alike in conditions of unprecedented adversity. For all the bleakness and fear, she found that moments that could stop you in your tracks abounded. People who rose to their best, upon facing the worst, as a microbe laid waste to the population.


My Thoughts…

The ITV drama of the same name was based on revelations in this book. It was a heart-breaking watch, but I don’t want that to deter me from reading the source material.

It’s hard to stomach, but the stories and people within are real, even if their identities are protected under pseudonyms. Many undoubtedly suffered in the pandemic for a lot of reasons, and I think a lot of the detail was downplayed during the pandemic to avoid scaring the public. Now that the trauma isn’t so fresh, I want to read those stories. Understand what really happened. Pay my own respects to those who tragically lost their lives because we had no idea what hit us.

I appreciate this book isn’t going to be everybody’s taste, and that’s okay. There are many who will find this kind of book painful. I’m not one to shy away from a tricky subject though.

If you’re still here, thanks for taking the time to read today’s First Lines Friday post! Have you read or watched Breathtaking? What did you think?

 

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Shelf Control #76 – 29/03/2024

I break away from my recent deluge of non-fiction books in this series with today’s Shelf Control feature. The three posts I’ve shared so far this year have all featured non-fiction of various topics. Today, we get to explore a historical fiction novel that is unique for me in that it covers World War II from a German perspective.

Before we get into the detail, here’s a reminder of what my Shelf Control feature is all about!

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.

 

Playing with Matches – Lee Strauss

Genre: Historical fiction

Pages: 311

Audience: Young Adult

Publisher: ESB Publishing

Publication Date: 16 Nov 2012

 

 

Goodreads – Playing with Matches

Heinz Schultz’s word could send a man to prison. Though only a youth of fifteen, he was strong, tall, and blond. The boys in his Deutsches Jungvolk unit esteemed him and feared him.

And they wanted to be just like him.
Emil Radle wanted to be just like him.

A dedicated member of Hitler Youth, Emil was loyal to the Fuehrer before family, a champion for the cause and a fan of the famous Luftwaffe Air force.

Emil’s friends Moritz and Johann discover a shortwave radio and everything changes. Now they listen to the forbidden BBC broadcast of news reports that tell both sides. Now they know the truth.

The boys along with Johann’s sister Katharina, band together to write out the reports and covertly distribute flyers through their city. It’s an act of high treason that could have them arrested–or worse.

As the war progresses, so does Emil’s affection for Katharina. He’d do anything to have a normal life and to stay in Passau by her side. But when Germany’s losses become immense, even their greatest resistance can’t prevent the boys from being sent to the Eastern Front.
***

Enjoy reading this well-researched, dramatic story of what it was like to be a teenager in Hitler’s Germany. A slightly different perspective than many world war two novels.

 

My Thoughts

It’s not the first time I have read historical fiction from a German perspective. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak sounds similar to Playing with Matches in terms of setting, and it was a book I rated very highly! I love the sound of the synopsis and the danger these youth find themselves in. This book differs from The Book Thief in that is focuses on the oppressors rather than the oppressed Jews. That is a perspective I’ve not read before, so I am intrigued! 

If I’m honest, I am a little wary of representation given that the synopsis alludes to BBC broadcasting as the truth. I don’t know if this was the case, but it’s very likely it was propaganda in itself. The truth likely lay somewhere in the middle of the messages the allies and Germans were told. I’ll take that with a pinch of salt and otherwise see where the narrative takes us.

Whilst the characters in this book are fictional, the scenario in itself was very much real. Real people would have filled these character shoes and had to endure these experiences. That’s partly why I enjoy historical fiction around this topic so much. It’s harrowing, but it’s also an important reminder of what has happened to real people in the not-too-distant past.

Have you read Playing with Matches or any other World War II fiction set from a German perspective?

 

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2024 Reading Firsts Book Tag

Given I’m sharing a review later this week, I wanted to post some light and fun content. When I saw Misty’s version of this tag on her blog, I knew I wanted to take part!

One book is repeated on this list, but overall there’s a good variety showcasing the different genres and styles I’ve picked up so far in 2024!

 

First Book Read In 2024

The first book I completed in 2024 was Gemina by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman. It’s the sequel to Illuminae and I started the book at the very end of 2023.

I knew I was going to love Gemina as the first book in the series bowled me over. It shouldn’t be too long before I conclude it, but I’m glad 2024 got off to such a good start!

 

First Review of 2024

The first review I shared this year was for a book called Leadership and Culture by John and Katie McCann. I picked this book up last year from NetGalley as a means of working on some personal development. With the review outstanding on the site, I wanted to box this off quite early in order to improve my rating and potential acceptance for further books on the site.

If you are an aspiring, first time manager or someone looking for a practical refresh on leadership tips, please check out my review as you may find that or the book useful.

 

First Debut Read in 2024

I loved listening to the audiobook of Unmasked by Ellie Middleton. This is the first book Ellie has published, but I’m excited to say it’s not looking like the last. I noticed on Goodreads there is a book due to publish later this year. Based on my experience of Unmasked, I will be picking this one up too.

Whilst the book is a somewhat useful means of exploring what it is to be neurodivergent, but it also has a lot of Ellie‘s own experiences. This personal angle, coupled with some of the facts around the subject, made for a really interesting read! Whilst in some senses I do relate to Ellie, I decided to read the book as a means of understanding what it is like so I can be more accommodating and understanding for any neurodivergent individuals in my life.

 

First “New to Me” Author of 2024

I first explored Diana Wilkinson’s writing in The Girl in Seat 2A.

If you like mysteries or thrillers, Diana has published several for you to choose from. I’ve only read the one of hers so far, but I really enjoyed it and I’ve liked the sound of others she has published too.

If you’re interested in my review of The Girl in Seat 2A, here’s a link.

 

First Book of 2024 That Slayed Me

Obviously it was highly likely that Gemina was the front runner for this as I loved the book so much! I had high hopes for it after really enjoying the first book, and it didn’t disappoint!

 

First Book of 2024 That I wish I Could Get Back the Time I Spent Reading It

This question was a difficult one to answer, because I haven’t read any books that weren’t for me this year. They have all gotten at least a three star rating.

However, for the purpose of providing an answer to this question, I have decided to pick the book that was rated one of the lowest and also didn’t suit me most as a target audience. With this in mind, I chose The Black Coats.

The only reason I’ve chosen is because it is written for a younger audience, and that reflects in the narrative. I enjoyed the feminist angle of the storyline, but felt it was a little bit more ‘teen’ than I expected for the subject matter.

 

First 5 Star Book of 2024

No prizes for guessing which book features once again here – Gemina by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman!

 

 

I’m not going to deliberately tag anyone in this post, as I don’t want to bombard people. However, if you have read this post, like the look of it and want to take part yourself, then consider yourself tagged.

If you do choose to take part in this tag, I would love to see what answers you give to these questions. Let me know by tagging me in that post and I’ll take a look!

Thanks for checking out this 2024 reading firsts post! Have you read any of the books on this list?

Until next time, happy reading!

 

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Discussion Post – Books to Read if You Like The Last Kingdom

I read a lot of historical fiction. I’ve got two books on my current reading list in the genre, and one I’m reading at the time of drafting this post. You’ll hear more on that later. They are the inspiration for today’s discussion post.

There are books, genres and themes that I go back to again and again. Vikings is one of those. If you’re a fan of the historical fiction genre and the conflict of this period, there are a number of series I can recommend. If you’ve been reading or watching The Last Kingdom series and want to try something new, you are in the right place!

 

Recommendations

 

Eagle of Mercia Chronicles

A series I’ve been reading for a couple of years now, and will be picking up again soon, is M.J. Porter’s Eagle of Mercia Chronicles.

Like The Last Kingdom, Eagle of Mercia has a unique protagonist driving the storyline. Instead of being split in terms of loyalties, Icel is unique in that he does not relish his role as a warrior. In fact, going back to the first book, it is hard to believe that Icel ever becomes a warrior at all. He is a healer and places far more value on life as opposed to death.

Broadly the backdrop of the series is very similar. Of all the books in this discussion post feature, I would say this is the closest to The Last Kingdom. Just like that series, we have a lot of conflict and political intrigue set in the backdrop of a divided England.

Reviews:

Son of Mercia   Wolf of Mercia   Warrior of Mercia

Eagle of Mercia   Protector of Mercia

 

The Saxon Warrior

I started the The Saxon Warrior series a bit over a year ago now. It’s a more recent one than Eagle of Mercia, but it is no less captivating.

I really enjoy this series as the protagonist, unlike Icel in Eagle of Mercia, is a very keen warrior. Beornoth has been to hell and back after Vikings invade his homeland. He lost everything. Now he is determined to fight back the horde and take revenge!

With a protagonist who naturally gravitates towards the front line, we get a lot of action and even a bit of graphic detail in this series. If that doesn’t disturb you then I strongly recommend picking this up! Whilst there are elements of politics in the underlying actions, Beornoth is a far more pragmatic and action-driven character. Naturally, more of this comes through in the narrative as a result.

Reviews:

Warrior and Protector    Brothers of the Sword

Sword of Vengeance

 

Warrior Prince / Raven Lord

I have enjoyed reading Warrior Prince, and I’m currently enjoying reading Raven Lord, for its variation in setting. The Last Kingdom and other books I have featured on this list so far are notable for their Viking influence on British soil. Warrior Prince and Raven Lord differ as events instead take place in Eastern Europe.

It’s a different historical context, but we have the same backdrop of Vikings beyond their borders and looking to make a name for themselves. The protagonist in these books is quite a character as well. There is plenty of action, drama and conflict, so fans of these elements throughout The Last Kingdom series will enjoy these elements in this series too!

Reviews:

Warrior Prince

 

Wolf of Wessex

Wolf of Wessex is the first book in a series written by Matthew Harffy. As of this post, I have only read the first book. However, I enjoyed this book and its slightly lighter tone compared to books like The Last Kingdom.

Wolf of Wessex was compulsively readable and focused on a limited set of characters so as not to convolute the overall story. I think this could be an approachable series for anyone looking to explore the genre for the first time, or to pick up something similar, but not quite so heavy. Not that I think the likes of The Last Kingdom is heavy, but there are a lot of elements that come together in the wider story. Wolf of Wessex feels simpler.

 

Dunstan

If you are looking for more of a standalone in order to read around the genre a bit, then Dunstan by Conn Iggulden is an option I’d recommend.

If you are interested in this book more specifically, you can find a link to my review below. This review goes way back on my blog to the first year I started. The style is quite different to reviews I publish nowadays. However, I hope it still proves useful to you. Dunstan may be an ideal book to read as it’s set in the general backdrop of this time period but has a little less focus on the Viking element and more on English/Saxon religion and politics.

Reviews:

Dunstan

 

Summary

Regardless of what you are looking for, in your Viking era fiction, I have shared a variety of books that should scratch that itch.

Also, I am sure that there are many more that I am yet to read for myself and so have been unable to recommend them in this post. That is where YOU come in!

Have you read any books in the genre/period you would like to recommend either to me or to fellow readers?

 

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First Lines Friday – 08/03/2024

Welcome to the next instalment of my First Lines Friday regular feature series.

As soon as I started planning today’s First Lines Friday post, I knew I wanted to feature today’s book. It’s a book I recently obtained a copy of, and it’s the one and only pre-order I have been waiting on for a good few months now.

It’s not very often I pre-order books I must admit, but this was an exceptional case! Let’s see if you can guess the book from the introduction.

 

The dead boy opened his eyes.

All was still and silent, he among it, and most of all. A statue he was, his only movement in the yawning of his pupils, the soft parting of his bloodless lips. There was no quickening of breath as waking claimed him, no deeping drumbeat beneath his porcelain skin. He lay there in darkness, angelic and bare, staring at the timeworn velvet canopy above, and wondering what had woke him.

 

 

 

Empire of the Damned – Jay Kristoff

Genre: Gothic Fantasy

Pages: 756

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Publication Date: 29 Feb 2024

 

 

Goodreads – Empire of the Damned

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Nevernight Chronicle, Jay Kristoff, comes the much-anticipated sequel to the #1 international bestselling sensation EMPIRE OF THE VAMPIRE.

From holy cup comes holy light;
The faithful hands sets world aright.
And in the Seven Martyrs’ sight,
Mere man shall end this endless night.

Gabriel de León has saved the Holy Grail from death, but his chance to end the endless night is lost. Drawn into an uneasy alliance with the mysterious vampire Liathe, Gabriel must now deliver the Grail to ancients of the Blood Esani, and learn the truth of how Daysdeath might be finally undone.

But the Last Silversaint faces peril, within and without. Pursued by terrors of the Blood Voss, drawn into warfare between the Blood Dyvok and duskdancers of the frozen Highlands, and ravaged by his own rising bloodlust, Gabriel may not survive to see the Grail learn her truth.

And that truth may be too awful for any to imagine.

 

My Thoughts…

My original plan was to re-read Empire of the Vampire in February so that I was in a position to pick up Empire of The Damned this month. That’s not worked out, but Empire of the Vampire is high on my upcoming reading list. Technically it is not on my March reading list as I’ve changed the way I’m structuring those. However, it is very likely to be the next book I pick up after I complete March’s reading.

I am very excited to pick up this sequel, even if I wholly admit that I need to go back to the first book as a refresher. I read this book in 2022, but I also had covid at the time. I may have been on holiday, but the circumstances of reading this when I was ill has definitely impacted my recollection of events… if not how the book made me feel overall.

It would also be very rude of me not to pick up and read my special edition copy of Empire of the Vampire that my sister kindly gifted me…

Have you read Empire of the Vampire or any other books by Jay Kristoff? Do either of these books appeal to you for their dark and gritty nature? I would love to talk about these books, so let me know in the comments!

Thanks for checking out today’s First Lines Friday feature and I’ll see you again soon!

 

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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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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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