Category: For Fun

Top Ten Tuesday – Autumn 2023 TBR!

If you are looking for inspiration for spooky reads to pick up this autumnal season, then look no further! In today’s Top Ten Tuesday post, I take a look at some of the spooky reads I plan to pick up this autumnal season.

Autumn is one of my favourite times of the year. You may call me strange (and you wouldn’t be wrong), but I enjoy the nights drawing in a bit earlier, and the weather turning a little for the worse (although on the island, it’s rare we get a break from it at all!) It makes it all the easier to justify locking the front door, getting into my PJ‘s, and cosying in with a cup of tea and a good book.

Speaking of which, I trust I have quite the variety of those on today’s Top Ten Tuesday list. I have some classic authors on the list, as well as some other offbeat books which I feel suit the season well. I’ve been looking forward to sharing this list for quite some time, having shared both a spring and summer Top Ten Tuesday lists earlier this year, so I won’t keep you any longer!

 

The Shining – Stephen King

I have to start this Top Ten Tuesday with a classic King novel.

I have owned a copy of The Shining for several years now, but I am yet to pick it up. I’ve been saving it for a spooky season, but I’ve always allowed other reads to take priority in previous years.

That is not the case this year. I am making a commitment here and now that I will be reading The Shining this year. All being well, I hope to pick it up as soon as next month!

 

The Witches: Salem 1692 – Stacy Schiff

The Witches will make for a great read for me this spooky season. Not only is it obviously very topical, but it is also a non-fiction, helping me towards my goal of reading 15 non-fiction books by the end of 2023.

I have looked to start this book previously, but was intimidated by the page count and the size and formatting of the print in my edition. There is a lot to get through, put it that way….

Halloween (or Hop Tu Naa locally) will be the perfect time to read this though. If I’m ever going to be in the mood for such a work, then I can’t think of any better!

 

If We Were Villains – M.L. Rio

Another book I’m looking forward to picking up this autumn, although less obviously themed, is If We Were Villains. The book features crime and thriller/mystery elements, as well as the thrill and drama that only stage performers can lend to the narrative. As a dark academia novel, I think it has the perfect autumnal vibes.

I confess that I’m also looking forward to picking this up, as this is a genre I haven’t picked up again since the beginning of this year!

 

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

What book better fits the bill than a novel featuring an abandoned orphanage and children with supernatural abilities?

That’s the vibe we get in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Even from the synopsis, it is very clear that not all may be as it seems. There is a mystery to uncover, and the paranormal theme makes this best suited as a seasonal read.

If you like the isolated island/paranormal children vibe, but want to read something more wholesome than horror, then I would suggest picking up The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune. It’s a great book and one I would have recommended here had I not already read it. 

 

Carrie – Stephen King

Another King classic I am yet to pick up and read is Carrie. I have a vague idea of the plot, but neither have I read the book, nor watched the film.

Stephen King is a great author to pick up during spooky season. I have previously read one of his books in October before, and it was an epic. IT, to date, is the longest book I have ever read. I read that in October 2017, and I really enjoyed picking this up seasonally. I hope to make more of a habit of picking up King books in the autumn. There is just something about the tone of each that complement each other well.

 

The Good Samaritan – John Marrs

This Top Ten Tuesday wouldn’t be complete without including a psychological thriller. The Good Samaritan by John Marrs has been on my reading list for a few years now, and I hope to pick it up very soon. It will be my first experience of a John Marrs book, although I have added several to my reading list over the course of time.

The Good Samaritan has a sinister tone, and it’s the kind of book I want to pick up whilst cosied under a blanket and surrounded by my home comforts!

 

Incendium – A.D. Swanston

Incendium makes for a seasonal read, but slightly later than the majority of the books on this list. If you read the synopsis of this book, it is very apparent that the setting is reminiscent of the gunpowder plot.

With this in mind, I would like to make Incendium a book I pick up in November. I do like me a historical fiction, and as this will be the first book of this nature I have come across, it feels like the perfect time to read it…

 

The Outsider – Stephen King

I promise that this is the last Stephen King novel on today’s Top Ten Tuesday list! I appreciate there have been quite a few!

I have featured earlier books on in this list because they have certain elements fitting for this season. Crime, thriller, and paranormal are all genres worthy of being picked up the spooky season. The Outsider rolls all of these into one!

I really like the sound of the premise for this book, and it is one that has been sat on my bookshelf, begging for me to pick it up. My poor copy has been sat on my bookshelf that long that its spine has been bleached to the point of being unreadable. I wonder if anybody will be curious and/or brave enough to approach me and ask what I’m reading?

 

Killing for Company – Brian Masters

Another non-fiction book that I’m really looking forward to picking up soon is Killing for Company by Brian Masters. You may recall that this book featured on the recent Instagram poll in which I asked my followers to decide my next read. Killing for Company did not win the vote, but only by small margin. I already had in mind to pick this book up not long after the winner… and now feels like the perfect time to do so! Wouldn’t you agree?

 

The Burning Girls – C.J. Tudor

C.J. Tudor is an author that I have already read a couple of books by, and I’m looking forward to picking up again. The Chalk Man and The Taking of Annie Thorne have both had the sinister, spooky vibes that I’m looking for. I have no doubt that The Burning Girls will live up to that expectation!

C.J. Tudor has a way of incorporating tension into her narratives. Based on my experience of these two prior books, I can’t think of a better time to delve back into her thrilling narratives.

 

So, he concludes today’s Top Ten Tuesday post, and these are my planned autumn reads. Have you read any of the books on this list? Do you have any other recommendations to share for spooky reads to pick up this autumn?

As always, I would love to have a chat with you in the comments!

 

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First Lines Friday – 15/09/2023

Good evening friends and welcome to today’s First Lines Friday post!

When I shared that I was featuring a First Lines Friday post in last week’s Sunday Summary, I set myself a challenge. For this feature, I had to choose a book I’ve added to my to-read list in the last six months. I’ve added a few books to my TBR in that time, so I had some choice. The book I ultimately chose was recommended to me by a work colleague. Today’s intro has me looking forward to reading it!

Let’s take a look at today’s introduction!

 

She would come at daybreak – the woman whose letter I held in my hands, the woman whose name I did not yet know.

I knew neither her age nor where she lived. I did not know her rank in society nor the dark things of which she dreamed when night fell. She could be a victim or a transgressor. A new wife or a vengeful widow. A nursemaid or a courtesan.

But despite all that I did not know, I understood this: the woman knew exactly who she wanted dead.

 

 

 

The Lost Apothecary – Sarah Penner

Genre: Thriller / Historical fiction

Pages: 301

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Park Row

Publication Date: 02 Mar 2021

 

 

Goodreads – The Lost Apothecary

A female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them – setting three lives across centuries on a dangerous collision course.

Rule #1: The poison must never be used to harm another woman.
Rule #2: The names of the murderer and her victim must be recorded in the apothecary’s register.

One cold February evening in 1791, at the back of a dark London alley in a hidden apothecary shop, Nella awaits her newest customer. Once a respected healer, Nella now uses her knowledge for a darker purpose – selling well-disguised poisons to desperate women who would kill to be free of the men in their lives. But when her new patron turns out to be a precocious twelve-year-old named Eliza Fanning, an unexpected friendship sets in motion a string of events that jeopardizes Nella’s world and threatens to expose the many women whose names are written in her register.

In present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, reeling from the discovery of her husband’s infidelity. When she finds an old apothecary vial near the river Thames, she can’t resist investigating, only to realize she’s found a link to the unsolved “apothecary murders” that haunted London over two centuries ago. As she deepens her search, Caroline’s life collides with Nella’s and Eliza’s in a stunning twist of fate – and not everyone will survive.

 

My Thoughts…

Before Claire ‘s recommendation, I had seen this book around before. However, I hadn’t really looked at it in too much detail.

However, after her recommendation, I did take a look at the book… and I questioned myself why I didn’t sooner! Maybe it’s because I’ve seen mixed reviews in the blogosphere. Perhaps it was just one of many books I see and hear about and don’t look into. (If I did check them all out, my reading list would be nearer 500 books long as opposed to just the two…)

The Lost Apothecary has an interesting plotline with a bit of a feminist theme to it. I also like the idea of it being set across to different time zones, and exploring the contrast between the apothecary in the late 1700s, compared with a modern day woman discovering her secrets! The danger element alluded to the synopsis certainly has me intrigued! 

That’s all for today’s First Lines Friday! What did you think of today’s introduction? Does it make you want to pick up the book yourself?

 

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Shelf Control #69 – 08/09/2023

In today’s Shelf Control post, I am thrilled to share the details of a historical thriller novel originally published in German. There’s no particular reason for translated books making up only a small proportion of my TBR… I just don’t discover them all that often! That means when I do, I get really excited about them! 

Before I share the details of that book, let’s recap what the Shelf Control regular feature is all about!

Shelf Control is a regular feature on my blog – 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 Hangman’s Daughter – Oliver Pötzsch

Genre: Historical Fiction/Thriller

Pages: 450

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Amazon Crossing

Publication Date: 16 May 2011

 

 

Goodreads – The Hangman’s Daughter

Magdalena, the clever and headstrong daughter of Bavarian hangman Jakob Kuisl, lives with her father outside the village walls and is destined to be married off to another hangman’s son—except that the town physician’s son is hopelessly in love with her. And her father’s wisdom and empathy are as unusual as his despised profession. It is 1659, the Thirty Years’ War has finally ended, and there hasn’t been a witchcraft mania in decades. But now, a drowning and gruesomely injured boy, tattooed with the mark of a witch, is pulled from a river and the villagers suspect the local midwife, Martha Stechlin.

Jakob Kuisl is charged with extracting a confession from her and torturing her until he gets one. Convinced she is innocent, he, Magdalena, and her would-be suitor race against the clock to find the true killer. Approaching Walpurgisnacht, when witches are believed to dance in the forest and mate with the devil, another tattooed orphan is found dead and the town becomes frenzied. More than one person has spotted what looks like the devil—a man with a hand made only of bones. The hangman, his daughter, and the doctor’s son face a terrifying and very real enemy.

 

My Thoughts

The Hangman’s Daughter, or Die Henkerstochter, appealed to me initially as it’s a work of historical fiction. However, I’m also intrigued by the thriller and mystery element that takes place within the story.

If you like reading books that feature witchcraft, or speculation of witchcraft, then this should appeal to you as well. I haven’t read very many books from this angle, but I have several on my TBR (both fiction and non-fiction!). Off the top of my head, the only witchy book I’ve read is To Snare a Witch, now titled Bell, Book and Candle. 

The main protagonists in this book may be considered unsavoury, or at least unpleasant to deal with. Let’s face it, if you have business with a hangman it doesn’t look good for you! It’s a unique perspective to take in a book, and if done well, I think there is ample opportunity for character depth and exploration.

The Hangman’s Daughter is quite unlike anything I have read before. I’m looking forward to picking this up and exploring a new period of historical fiction and uncovering the mystery within.

That’s all for today’s Shelf Control post! Have you read The Hangman’s Daughter? Let me know what you make of this book either way in the comments!

 

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First Lines Friday – 18/08/2023

Good evening friends and welcome to today’s First Lines Friday feature! It’s turning out to be a rather miserable evening, but if we’re being honest, is there better weather for a bookworm? I’ll be cozying in with a blanket, a cuppa and my current read as soon as this post goes live. That’s what you’re here for, so let’s get right to it!

Today’s feature was chosen as a result of a challenge I set myself in last week’s Sunday Summary post – to feature a book from my physical TBR. For today’s First Lines Friday feature, I’m sharing a book by an author I have read once before and thoroughly enjoyed! It was popular a few years ago and features a plot with a Groundhog Day theme. It also has slightly different titles in the UK and US.

Can you guess what today’s book is based on those clues, or who it’s by?

 

Arent Hayes howled in pain as a rock slammed into his massive back.

Another whistled by his ear; a third, striking his knee, causing him to stumble, bringing jeers from the pitiless mob, who were already searching the ground for more missiles to throw. Hundreds of them were being held back by the city watch, their spittle-flecked lips shouting insults, their eyes black with malice.

‘Take shelter for pity’s sake,’ implored Sammy Pipps over the din, his manacles flashing in the sunlight as he staggered across the dusty ground. ‘It’s me they want.’

 

 

 

The Devil and the Dark Water – Stuart Turton

Genre: Mystery / Historical fiction

Pages: 548

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Raven Books

Publication Date: 06 Oct 2020

 

 

Goodreads – The Devil and the Dark Water

 

A murder on the high seas. A detective duo. A demon who may or may not exist.

It’s 1634 and Samuel Pipps, the world’s greatest detective, is being transported to Amsterdam to be executed for a crime he may, or may not, have committed. Traveling with him is his loyal bodyguard, Arent Hayes, who is determined to prove his friend innocent.

But no sooner are they out to sea than devilry begins to blight the voyage. A twice-dead leper stalks the decks. Strange symbols appear on the sails. Livestock is slaughtered.

And then three passengers are marked for death, including Samuel.

Could a demon be responsible for their misfortunes?

With Pipps imprisoned, only Arent can solve a mystery that connects every passenger onboard. A mystery that stretches back into their past and now threatens to sink the ship, killing everybody on board.

 

My Thoughts…

If you hadn’t guessed the answer to my clues, the book I was alluding to was Stuart Turton’s debut novel, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (or The Seven 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle in the US). 

I read that book four years ago according to Goodreads, and I thought it was great. Firstly, where had that time gone?! It doesn’t feel like it was four years ago…

With that experience in mind, I didn’t hesitate to get a copy of The Devil and the Dark Water. To be honest, I bought that book without really knowing much about it, other than it was written by the same author. That’s all that mattered. As it happens, I really like the sound of the premise and setting in this book and would have bought it for that reason as well. Having just concluded a series with heavy emphasis around ships and sailing, I’m definitely in the mood for it! Knowing my TBR though, it’ll probably be another four years before I get round to it!

Jokes aside, I’m not going to leave it that long… I PROMISE!

If the book is as cleverly written as the debut, then I have every expectation of enjoying this book. It’s also a great length to be able to enjoy a complex mystery, but without getting bogged down in so many details that I’ll become overwhelmed.

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s First Lines Friday post!

Have you read The Devil and the Dark Water, or The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle? What did you make of either of these books?

 

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Shelf Control #68 – 11/08/2023

Welcome to a happy Friday! It’s the end of another working week, and today marks the beginning of some annual leave for me! I’m planning to pick up several reads whilst I’m off from the 9-5, but I doubt I’ll make it to today’s Shelf Control feature just yet…

In today’s Shelf Control post, I share the details of a historical fiction novel from one of my favourite periods – the Tudors! Before we get into the detail of today’s post, let’s take a moment to recap what Shelf Control is all about if you’re unfamiliar!

Shelf Control is a regular feature on my blog – 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.

 

Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen – Alison Weir

 

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 602

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Publication Date: 31 May 2016

 

Goodreads

The lives of Henry VIII’s queens make for dramatic stories and Alison Weir will write a series of novels that offer insights into the real lives of the six wives based on extensive research and new theories.

In all the romancing, has anyone regarded the evidence that Anne Boleyn did not love Henry VIII? Or that Prince Arthur, Katherine of Aragon’s first husband, who is said to have loved her in fact cared so little for her that he willed his personal effects to his sister? Or that Henry VIII, an over-protected child and teenager, was prudish when it came to sex? That Jane Seymour, usually portrayed as Henry’s one true love, had the makings of a matriarch? There is much to reveal …

Alison will write about the wives in the context of their own age and of the court intrigues that surrounded these women and – without exception – wrecked their lives. She will transport readers into a lost and vivid world of splendour and brutality: a world in which love, or the game of it, dominates all.

 

My Thoughts

I am yet to read any books by Alison Weir. She’s a prominent writer in the genre focusing on royalty, and as a result has written several books about the Tudors. On the one hand I’d say it’s a wonder I haven’t picked any up yet. However, considering the constant number of books I want to read, I suppose it’s not really.

I’m looking forward to diving into her Tudor books. Katherine of Aragon is the first book in her Six Tudor Queens series. If I enjoy these as much as I expect to, I’m sure I’ll branch out to other books and periods she explores.

Katherine of Aragon has been on my TBR for a little over five years now. I distinctly remember reading an article in Writing Magazine and discovering her books as a result like it was yesterday. Isn’t it funny what you remember?! If only my memory were that good all the time… I’d forgotten when I started writing my regular Sunday Summary posts on my blog. I was surprised to find a Sunday Summary post mentioning the discovery when I searched for other posts on the book on my blog!

The combination of a new-to-me author and a favourite subject is one that I can’t wait to get to. This book, and potentially the series, are a promising jaunt into a turbulent and interesting period of history!

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s Shelf Control instalment!

Have you read any books from the Six Tudor Queens series, or by Alison Weir? What’s your favourite period of history to read about?

 

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Top Ten Tuesday – Books I Want to Read Because of Top Ten Tuesday

I’m looking forward to today’s Top Ten Tuesday post as I get to share a culmination of books that have made it onto previous Top Ten Tuesday posts!

The theme of today’s post is my top ten books I want to read because of Top Ten Tuesday. I could also have chosen the past tense and featured books I’ve since read. As fun as that would be, I need an additional motivator to pick some books up – I just have so many that it’s better to reflect on those still to read. As some of these earlier posts originally intended, I want to use today’s theme as a means of chivvying myself along to get to these books!

The books I feature today have been included on at least one, but more likely several, Top Ten Tuesday posts previously. I’ll share which posts they made it onto, and why I want to share them again today.

Let’s dive in!

 

Ship of Destiny

Ship of Destiny has made it onto at least two Top Ten Tuesday posts (Spring and Summer 2023 TBR). Robin Hobb, as well as other books in her series, have also featured on lists such as my Top Ten New Authors Discovered in 2022.

After coming up multiple times, I’ll be picking up Ship of Destiny next. I could start reading it as early as later tonight!

 

Yellowface

Yellowface is an anticipated release in 2023 that I’m looking forward to picking up. It makes it to this list as I featured the author with their bestseller Babel in my New Authors Discovered in 2022 post.

I really enjoyed the cultural elements of Babel, and I have no doubt those will come to the fore in Yellowface as well!

 

Wizard and Glass

Aptly, this featured book is on my list as the series featured on my Top Ten Series I Need to Finish post. That’s still the case, although I did pick up an earlier book in the series for the first time in four years back in May.

Wizard and Glass is also on my August TBR, so I’ll be picking up this next book very soon!

 

A Storm of Swords

Another book that also made it onto the Series I Need to Finish post, although by virtue of the series not being finished this time, is A Game of Thrones.

The next in my re-read of the series is A Storm of Swords – the third book and first within the series that is divided into two parts. I’ve initially pencilled in part 1 for next month!

 

A Thousand Ships

I first read Natalie Haynes’ Pandora’s Jar in July 2022. After thoroughly enjoying that book, I added A Thousand Ships to my Top Ten Tuesday Autumn 2022 TBR.

Clearly, I didn’t get around to this book then and as of this post, I still haven’t now. Whilst I haven’t got any concrete plans in terms of timeline for picking up this book, I can’t imagine it will be too long! Then again… who knows; I have so many to read! 

 

If We Were Villains

Another book that featured on my Autumn 2022 TBR, but still have yet to read, is If We Were Villains. This book also featured in my Authors Not Read Yet But Want To list.

With a focus on literature and theatrics, it’s still a book I’m looking forward to picking up in future!

 

The Shining

I’ve read a lot of Stephen King books, and yet, I still haven’t read this classic! I own a copy of the Shining ready on my bookshelf, so I imagine I’ll try and pick this up in October.

Spooky season seems like the best time for it!

 

The Lord of the Rings

A book I recently bought which made it to a Top Ten Tuesday post historically is Lord of the Rings. Bilbo Baggins featured as a top ten bookish character, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have an itch to revisit this iconic story.

I last read it in 2017, around the birth of my blog. I bought myself a physical copy of this book recently (it was always intended to be one book rather than a trilogy) as I knew it will be one I’d want to revisit again and again.

I’m sure I’ll give into temptation before too long!

 

The Bone Collector

I couldn’t tell you how long I’ve been intending to read The Bone Collector by Jeffery Deaver. The book made it to my Authors I Haven’t Read Yet But Want To list in April 2022. Guess what? Still haven’t read it!

Probably doesn’t shock you by now…

 

The Librarian of Auschwitz

The last book in this Top Ten Tuesday also originated from my Authors I Haven’t Read Yet But Want To post.

To date, Antonio Iturbe is still an author I am yet to pick up any books by, but that’s okay. If you can be sure of anything, it’s that a bookworm has a reading list as long as their arm. And I do! I’ll get to it at some point – hopefully not too long to wait!

 

Summary

So, these are my top ten books that I want to read because I’ve featured them in a Top Ten Tuesday previously!

I hope you have enjoyed today’s Top Ten Tuesday post! Have you read any of the books on this reading list? Are any of those shared today on your list?

 

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First Lines Friday – 21/07/2023

Good evening friends! I’m looking forward to sharing today’s First Lines Friday post as I am featuring the start of a military fantasy trilogy that I can’t wait to pick up and begin!

I have previously read one very well-known book by this author. It was both recommended and gifted to me by my sister’s fiancé. As I’m trying to finish reading ongoing series rather than pick new ones up, I have been resisting temptation to start. I’m not sure that’s going to last much longer, after today’s introduction.

Shall we take a look?

 

“Take your clothes off. “

Rin blinked. “What?“

The proctor glanced up from his book. “Cheating prevention protocol.” He gestured across the room to a female proctor. “Go with her, if you must.”

Rin crossed her arms tightly across her chest and walked toward the second proctor. She was led behind a screen, patted thoroughly to make sure she hadn’t packed test materials up any orifices, and then handed a formless blue sack.

“Put this on,“ said the proctor.

“Is this really necessary?“ Rin’s teeth chattered as she stripped.

 

 

 

The Poppy War – R.F. Kuang

 

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 527

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Publication Date: 01 May 2018

 

 

Goodreads – The Poppy War

 

An epic historical military fantasy, inspired by the bloody history of China’s twentieth century and filled with treachery and magic.

When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.

 

My Thoughts…

I was first introduced to this author by reading her now very popular novel, Babel, last year. It seems apparent that she is a very diverse author in that she can write very different books. Whilst The Poppy War seems very reminiscent of the fantasy structure I am used to seeing, Babel is quite different in its more historical setting and context. I’m also intrigued to pick up Yellowface, which was published earlier this year.

This introduction has me asking an awful lot of questions and wondering what on Earth is going on! It is definitely a solid hook for a reader in order to get them invested very quickly in finding out what is happening.

Having read the synopsis, I think I’m going to enjoy the underpinning commentary of race, social class and personal background. A lot of this is already alluded to in the synopsis, and based on how similar themes are tackled in Babel, I’m confident that this will add to the book rather than distract from any action.

I have a mixed experience with military fantasy in the past. I have enjoyed books like The Way of Kings, Words of Radiance, and Red Rising. However, I’ve also had less good experiences… and ironically, that’s with the second book of the Red Rising series, but I’ve just mentioned as a great experience! Overall, my experience has been more positive than negative. My only gripe with Golden Son is that the pacing felt off; there was too much action and not enough world-building. But, that is a specific book problem, rather than a genre problem.

Given my fantastic experience with this author already, and several recommendations, I will be venturing into The Poppy War with high hopes!

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s First Lines Friday post!

Have you read The Poppy War or any other books by R.F. Kuang?

 

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Discussion Post – Favourite Fantasy Tropes

In today’s discussion post, I’m looking forward to sharing some of my favourite tropes in the fantasy genre. As I’m sure you’re well aware by now, I read a lot of fantasy. I would safely say that the genre makes up about half of my reading overall. I started reading as a teenager, and it has been my favourite ever since then. So, I know exactly what I my favourite fantasy tropes are, and why!

 

Realistic Magic Systems

When it comes to magic in fantasy books, I like mine to err on the side of realism. There is nothing more frustrating than getting really into a book to come across a convenience in the plot facilitated by magic because the author didn’t know what else to do to get their main character out of their predicament.

With this in mind, you can probably understand why I am such a fan of Brandon Sanderson. A lot of his books contain magical systems, but they have limits. For example, in his Stormlight archive books, the magic system centres around electrical storm light, which is captured in crystals and stored until used. But, once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Likewise, in his Mistborn series, there are physical limitations to the abilities many characters use. Firstly, abilities are limited by what metals individuals have affinity for. And likewise, when it comes to restrictions, they have to ingest the particular metal to be able to harness their powers. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Not only do these physical limitations make for a more realistic story, but more often than not, they provide some tension. The sign of a well thought out magic system, in my opinion, is if an author can deliberately write in these limitations, incorporate them somewhere in the plot to make for a tricky situation, and then have the main character figure out a plausible way of getting themselves out of said tight spot.

 

Reluctant hero / Non altruistic characters

Plenty of narratives throughout history have been written in a structure where characters are either inherently good or inherently bad. Think fairytales, for example. But the reality is, most people are neither. We all have some good, and we have some bad, and that all combines to make us the morally grey people we are.

I like this to reflect in the fantasy I read, and especially so in the protagonist role. There are plenty of books I’ve read with this kind of character in mind. The Raven’s Mark trilogy by Ed McDonald is the first that comes to mind. There are much larger examples of this amongst my reading. Why do you think I’m such a fan of A Game of Thrones? There are no significant characters in that book that come out clean, shall we say.

 

Medieval setting

Whilst I have branched out somewhat in the last 12 months in trying to read more eastern inspired fantasy, I have a read far more that are inspired by a medieval European setting. Think large castles surrounded by vast swathes of villages, farmland and homesteads of the common people. It is very heavily used by Western fantasy writers, and I’m not even mad about it. I really enjoy this type of setting and it’s familiarity.

That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed branching out. In fact, it is something I’m going to be looking to doing more of in future!

 

Those are my top three fantasy tropes!

Are there certain tropes in fantasy you love reading again and again? Are there any fantasy tropes you really don’t like? Let me know by leaving a comment below!

 

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2023 Mid-Year Review!

Happy Wednesday folks and thank you for checking out my mid-year review post! Today, I’m checking in on new year resolutions I set at the beginning of 2023, weighing in on progress and seeing what action I have to take to set myself up to complete my goals by the end of the year!

I’ll recap my goals in this post, but if you’re interested in going back to my original 2023 Resolutions post, it’s linked here for you.

Let’s get my mid-year review underway!

 

Goodreads Challenge – Read 50 Books

As of the 30th June, I had read a total of 28 books and was mid way through a 29th. I’m sure you can do the maths and work out that I am more than on-track to meet my reading goal!

My current reading pace is really working for me. I’m about back to my 2020 levels of reading, and that’s without being stuck at home because of the pandemic. I still have time to enjoy other hobbies, as well as the blogging obviously. I think it also helps that I’ve signed up to fewer blog tours this year. I’ve been able to pick up and read books that I have wanted to read for a long time. It feels less like a chore and more like the hobby it is!

 

Read >15 non-fiction books

I’m a little behind on my reading goal of picking up more than 15 non-fiction books in the year, but not terribly. As of the midway point of this year, I had read 5 non-fiction books. That’s only a couple behind schedule, so this is easily something I can recover from.

I do have a few non-fiction books on my TBR, but it is something I have to consciously include on my reading lists. I definitely have a bias towards reading more fiction than non-fiction. This is something I am aware of, and so I have been trying to incorporate at least one non-fiction book on most of my monthly reading lists.

To catch up, I’m looking at needing to include at least two non-fiction books on most of my reading lists between August and the end of the year. That’s not the end of the world. If I’m honest, it’s probably won’t be difficult to achieve! The average page count of a non-fiction book could well equal half of the average fantasy novel I read. Swapping out the odd one of these in favour of non-fiction won’t be a problem!

 

Read 30 Minutes Daily

When I set my goal of trying to read at least 30 minutes every day, it was with the intention to make reading a regular habit as opposed to something I binge. I have to say, I’ve never been too bad on that front. Reading is certainly a habit and it’s something I do most days.

I haven’t read every single day in the first half of the year, and that is perfectly okay. Yes, I read a lot. But, between working full time, drafting content for my blog and the odd social event, there are days where it just isn’t feasible. There are days when I’m not in the mood. That’s fine too. Broadly speaking, I read several days in a week and that’s more than enough to make sure that reading is a habit. It’s a habit I’ll continue to foster as much as possible.

 

Finish Book Series

I have only finished (or caught up on) a few series so far this year, but that’s not to say I’m not making progress towards completing others.

I’ve read 10 books in the first half of 2023 that involve continuing series I’ve started, or indeed finishing it. If you’ve read my original 2023 Resolutions post, you will know that I have a lot of ongoing series! A lot of them are lengthy as well. We have everything on this ‘ongoing list’ from duologies or trilogies to multipart part series. The longest is 41, but I have several others that sit closer to the 13-16 book range.

This was never going to be a quick goal to achieve. That said, I’m really enjoying making progress with the series I’ve already started and taking the time to prioritise them this year. They are generally very highly-rated books by me. Some of those I’ve been reading towards are series that I haven’t picked up in several years (The Dark Tower by Stephen King, for example). It’s great to have a reason to go back and revisit them!

 

Summary

I feel like overall, I’m making good progress towards my goals for 2023. I’ll be looking to step up with more non-fiction reads, but other than that, I’m pretty on track!

Thanks for checking out my mid-year review post!

Did you set yourself any resolutions or goals for 2023? Are you on track to achieve them?

 

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First Lines Friday – 23/06/2023

Welcome to this week’s Friday feature – a First Lines Friday post! I suspect you are going to guess the book that made it to today’s feature.

I set myself a challenge with this post last Sunday. As I wanted to do a topical theme, I decided to feature one of the books that made it to my Summer TBR list. I shared that post on Tuesday. If you want to go and take a look at that before we get into today’s introduction, you can find a link above.

You may well be able to guess today’s book based on the introduction, as it gives the answer away. The book in question is a well-known one, so I would be surprised if anyone hasn’t heard of it before.

 

Having been born a freeman, and for more than thirty years enjoyed the blessings of liberty in a free State – and having at the end of that time been kidnapped and sold into Slavery, where I remained, until happily rescued in the month of January, 1853, after a bondage of twelve years – it has been suggested that an account of my life and fortunes would not be uninteresting to the public.

Since my return to liberty, I have not failed to perceive the increasing interest throughout the Northern States, in regard to the subject of Slavery. Works of fiction, professing to portray its features in their more pleasing, as well as more repugnant aspects, have been circulated to an extent unprecedented, and, as I understand, have created a fruitful topic of comment and discussion.

 

 

 

 

Twelve Years A Slave – Solomon Northup

Genre: Non-fiction/Memoir

Pages: 363

Audience: Adult

Publisher:

Publication Date: 05 Feb 1853

 

 

Goodreads – Twelve Years A Slave

Twelve Years a Slave, sub-title: Narrative of Solomon Northup, citizen of New-York, kidnapped in Washington city in 1841, and rescued in 1853, from a cotton plantation near the Red River in Louisiana, is a memoir by Solomon Northup as told to and edited by David Wilson. It is a slave narrative of a black man who was born free in New York state but kidnapped in Washington, D.C., sold into slavery, and kept in bondage for 12 years in Louisiana. He provided details of slave markets in Washington, D.C. and New Orleans, as well as describing at length cotton and sugar cultivation on major plantations in Louisiana.

 

My Thoughts…

I’ve wanted to pick up Twelve Years A Slave for a number of years, and I am finally making it a priority.

It is one of the oldest books on my reading list in terms of original publication date. As you probably gathered by the introduction, this reflects a lot in the language used in the narrative. It doesn’t necessarily flow in the same way you or I are used to. However, I find that really interesting.

It’s rare to find a memoir of such a harrowing personal experience, so this book has plenty to offer. This part of American history is often glossed over. I’m a firm believer that we need to acknowledge and remember these unpleasant parts of history. That way, we make sure they do not happen again.

Twelve Years A Slave is a classic novel that I intend to pick up very soon, and I’m optimistic that I will enjoy it!

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s First Lines Friday post!

Have you read Twelve Years A Slave?

 

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