Sunday Summary – 6th March 2022

Hello and welcome to my Sunday summary post!

It’s been a busy week here on the blog! I originally intended to share one post combining my monthly wrap-up for February and my TBR for March. However, when I started drafting that post I quickly realised that this format wasn’t really working for me. Whilst it does make sense to an extent, the post was becoming really long and I didn’t get the opportunity to include all the content I wanted. So, I decided to split these back out. So, my Monthly Wrap-up for February was posted on Tuesday and my Monthly TBR for March was shared on Thursday.

I also shared a First Lines Friday post to wrap-up the working week. In that post, I challenged myself to feature a book I’ve added to my TBR in the last three months. Let’s face it, I’ve added quite a few books in that time period and so I had plenty of scope to choose from. I’m really pleased with the book I selected and I hope you enjoyed the introduction as much as I did!

 

Books Read

When I left you in last week’s Sunday Summary post I was 60% through Blackwing by Ed McDonald. This was the book I picked up at the end of February, having swapped it from One Flew Over the Cuckoo‘s Nest.

I am glad I made the switch. I absolutely devoured reading Blackwing and the escapism fantasy books offer was exactly what I needed! I read this book in a matter of days and I’ve since decided that I’m going to continue with re-reading the trilogy.

Because I still want to read One Flew Over the Cuckoo‘s Nest, I added this to my March TBR and as of this post I am 40% through the book. I’m now doubly glad I made the switch last month because this book isn’t quite what I expected. In all honesty, I’m not sure how I feel about it. It’s perfectly readable but at the same time it’s not grabbing me in the same way either. It’s just something I feel very neutral about.

I decided to pick up a second book this week to give myself a break from it. I have picked up the next book on my TBR, Keep You Safe by Rona Halsall. This is going a lot better! I am enjoying reading this one and I managed to read 75 pages in one sitting yesterday. I expected to go into this book fully rooting for the main character. However, protagonist Natalie is a lot more complex than the synopsis lets on and I’m not sure who I’m rooting for at this point! For anyone like me who loves characters with moral shades of grey, I think it’ll be a good one for you.

I haven’t given up on One Flew Over the Cuckoo‘s Nest just yet. I’m going to continue with this next week and see how I get on. However, if it doesn’t pick up soon then I think this might be my first DNF of the year. We’ll see.

In better news, I started listening to my audiobook of A Storm of Swords again this week! It’s been a few weeks since I last put this on, however I was in the mood and I’ve managed to work my way through a few more chapters! Progress is progress!

 

Books Discovered

No new additions to the TBR for the first time in a few weeks, which is good! I’ve added enough lately, so I’ll have to give it a break if I want to delude myself that I’ll catch up at some point.

Haha, funny right?

 

Coming Up…

Next week I’ll be going back to my regular three post schedule.

It’s been a little while since I shared a Top Ten Tuesday post, and I like the sound of this week’s topic. The topic is Books With Your Favorite Trope/Theme. There are a lot of themes or tropes that could be looked at as a part of this post, so content on the blogosphere is going to be quite varied. My favourite theme for this post is going to be based around my love of fantasy books, and feature books which contain prophecies! It’s a very common thing in fantasy and it’s one of the tropes I don’t hate even though it’s a bit overused.

On Friday it’s the turn of my regular Shelf Control post. I’ll be taking another look at my TBR and sharing with you the next book on my list. I’ll share some details of the book, go into some detail as to why I added it to my list and why I still want to read it now.

Last, but not least, I’ll be back the same time next week for another Sunday Summary update!

Until then, I hope you have a good week and I’ll see you in the next post!

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First Lines Friday – 04/03/2022

Hello and welcome to today’s First Lines Friday post! First Lines Friday is a regular series on my blog. It’s a fun way to share books I love, those I am interested in and/or are on my TBR… or even just to experiment with something new!

For today’s post I set myself the challenge to feature a book I’ve added to my TBR within the last three months. There have been quite a few books added so I had plenty to choose from! Today’s choice was one I picked up on a whim.

Here is today’s intro: –

 

He had not allowed for the weight. The cold he anticipated, the water’s sluggish buoyancy, this to he considered. The darkness? The lantern does well enough, and his memory allows for shortfalls in sight.

But the weight… This is something else altogether.

The lantern itself is manageable. It is bound to his wrist with thick twine, affording movement in both hands, but it pulls down uncomfortably on his arm and the salt water stings where the twine has already rubbed the skin. The ropes are looped under each armpit – one for the salvage, one to raise him again – cumbersome, but they help balance is body as he descends.

The sinking weights, two, although bulky, can be endured.

The problem is the harness.

 

 

 

Pandora – Susan Stokes-Chapman

Goodreads – Pandora

London, 1799. Dora Blake is an aspiring jewellery artist who lives with her uncle in what used to be her parents’ famed shop of antiquities. When a mysterious Greek vase is delivered, Dora is intrigued by her uncle’s suspicious behaviour and enlists the help of Edward Lawrence, a young antiquarian scholar. Edward sees the ancient vase as key to unlocking his academic future. Dora sees it as a chance to restore the shop to its former glory, and to escape her nefarious uncle.

But what Edward discovers about the vase has Dora questioning everything she has believed about her life, her family, and the world as she knows it. As Dora uncovers the truth she starts to realise that some mysteries are buried, and some doors are locked, for a reason.

Gorgeously atmospheric and deliciously page-turning, Pandora is a story of secrets and deception, love and fulfilment, fate and hope.

 

My Thoughts…

Most books are added to my TBR after hearing or reading great things about them. Pandora is completely different, however. The honest answer as to how this ended up on my TBR is that I was drawn in by the gorgeous cover in a bookshop. But who wouldn’t be though, don’t you think it’s stunning?!

It was the cover that got me to pick it up in the first place, but after reading the synopsis I ran to the till to pay for this beauty faster than Mo Farah can sprint the 100m! I love the sound of this and the funny thing is, it’s since I’ve picked up a copy of this book that I have heard really good things about it. Bloggers I follow with similar reading tastes have also got themselves copies of this book, and they are just as excited for it as well.

I can’t wait to delve into this one because it’s a different type of read to my usual. I like the idea of it being a Greek mythology re-telling in a kind of historical fantasy setting. It’s an eclectic mix of genres, but you know me, the more the merrier! The last Greek mythology re-telling I read – Circe by Madeline Miller – wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be in my opinion, but I’m not going to let that stop me trying others! 

Have you read Pandora? Is it on your list of books to read? Have you enjoyed today’s First Lines Friday post? 

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Monthly TBR – March 2022

Hello everyone and welcome to my Monthly TBR for March. Somehow we are in the third month of the year already and I honestly have no idea where it’s gone!

Last month I decided to combine my wrap-up post for January and my February TBR. And it does make sense, to a degree. However, I thought the post was too long and I didn’t get the chance to include all the content I wanted. So, I’m experimenting with splitting these back out and if you have any feedback on which you prefer I’d love to hear it!

I’m really pleased with last month’s reading progress and I’m keen to keep the momentum going. Therefore, I’ve decided to avoid all historical fiction and non-fiction reads that I’ve had on my radar, mainly because they focus around war. It’s not a particularly pleasant topic at the moment in light of current events, so I’m putting these on hold for a little bit in favour of picking up some alternative topics. I have also chosen books of varying lengths. As some of these reads are a bit shorter, I have more titles on the list this month. 

So, shall we dive into what I am going to be reading?

 

Fixed Reads

One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest

This book was on my mood read list for February, however I decided to swap it out in favour of a fantasy book at the end of the month in order to experience some escapism. It’s for this exact reason that I make time for mood reads now; I’m glad I made the change!

However, I do still want to read this book and as of writing this post I’m currently around 20% through. I’m interested to see where this book is going to take me. Where I am at the moment, I am feeling pretty neutral about it. It’s perfectly readable, but equally it hasn’t grabbed a hold of me in the same way that some of my recent reads have. I’ll continue reading to give it a chance in the hopes it picks up; even still, if it stays the way it is it’s probably going to be a three star read.

 

Keep You Safe

I’ve had this book on my radar for a few years now. Not only does it sound great in its own right, but I also want to read it as it is written by a local author! I am intrigued by the mystery behind the synopsis and the potential for there to be an unreliable narrator, which I think is hinted at. What I also like is that it’s a very approachable length – it’s long enough to invest into but also not so long that I risk getting bogged down in a detailed and convoluted story. Sometimes that’s fine too, but lighter reads are my preference right now. 

I can’t wait to read this and share my thoughts with you!

 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I want to conclude my re-read of the Harry Potter series this month. I’ve been enjoying making progress with the latter books in the series and I am looking forward to picking this last instalment up again.

I last read this book 8-10 years ago now. That’s a scary thought for me! I loved it then and I have every confidence that I will again. I wouldn’t go so far as to say this is a ‘lighter’ read, as it’s fairly chunky and the subject matter quite dark for a YA fantasy, but I’m looking forward to it all the same! I still find these books engrossing!

 

Lean In

I want to try and read some non-fiction this month, and my sister recently loaned me a copy of this book. It was recommended to her through one of her more senior work colleagues for the purposes of development and I would also like to take something from this. I find myself in the middle in that I wouldn’t necessarily describe myself as a career woman, but I definitely care about my job. I don’t just turn up to get paid.

I’m sure this book has plenty of content and something that I can take away from it in order to develop myself and maybe even progress further!

 

The Thursday Murder Club

As well as Lean In, I’ve also been loaned a book by my sister’s boyfriend Chris. Not only did The Thursday Murder Club get a great review from him, but I’ve also been hearing great things about it in the wider community and it was already on my radar to add to my TBR and read.

I’m looking forward to picking this up because the protagonists are not from the generation you would expect to be sleuthing. I’ve also heard it’s incredibly funny and I hope it will be as intriguing and lighthearted as I’m expecting it to be.

 

The Original Folk and Fairytales of the Brother’s Grimm

I am also carrying over The Original Folk and Fairytales of the Brothers Grimm again. Whilst I did pick this book up a couple of times in February, I didn’t really make that much progress with it. I stand by my decision to chip away at this one again this month, but I need to find more balance between my current reads and also picking this one up regularly. I will continue to read this into March and even if I don’t finish it, I hope to make a lot more progress with it this month.

 

Mood Reads

Ravencry & Crowfall

I started reading Blackwing, the first book of The Raven’s Mark trilogy, on the 26th February. This was the book I decided to swap with One Flew Over the Cuckoo‘s Nest. Three days later, I’d read all 370ish pages. I devoured this book. It was exactly what I needed at the time; an epic fantasy that I could throw myself into and love all over again.

I read this book back in June 2018, so it’s been a while. Given that I loved it so much, I’ve decided that I want to re-read the rest of the trilogy again. Therefore, these are my mood reads for March! It’s not very often I’ll binge read a series like this – but if it’s good enough, I can engage and I’ll love every second of it!

 

As in previous months, my indicated mood reads aren’t set in stone and like last month, so I might choose to pick up something else at the time! Unlikely, given how much I loved Blackwing in February… but never say never!

Have you read any of the books on my monthly TBR? What are you reading this month? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

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Monthly Wrap-up – February 2022

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s monthly wrap-up for February. Up until just yesterday I was planning on combining this post with my March TBR (as I combined my wrap-up and TBR last month), however I feel like that post got a little long. I also didn’t have the full opportunity to say what I wanted, and so I’ve decided to experiment with splitting these out again. If you have a preferred format I’d love to know what your preference is.

 

Books Read

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

I carried over two reads from the end of January – Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and The Original Folk and Fairytales of the Brothers Grimm. I continued reading Harry Potter at the very beginning of February until I finished the book on the 3rd February. This book was every bit as fantastic as I remember!  Whilst it is about 600 pages long, I didn’t feel like it take took me that long to get through. I love the tone of the books later on in the series. I enjoyed this even when I was a teenager, but the added complexity and darkness to it just appeals to me. 

 

Clockwork Magpies

My next read was Clockwork Magpies by Emma Whitehall. The publisher, Northodox Press, advertised advance reader copies of this book on Twitter in January. I fell in love with the cover and the concept straight away, and given that it was published on the 28th January, I wanted to pick this up, read and review it quite quickly whilst the launch was still fresh. I picked up Clockwork Magpies on the 3rd of February and finished it by the 7th. It was a brilliant read and the genre and length of the book made for a great palate-cleanser read. I have also shared my full review of the book already, so if you haven’t checked out that review yet you can find out my thoughts on Clockwork Magpies here!

 

Son of Mercia

I took part in a blog tour for Son of Mercia this month, and with that deadline fast approaching this was my next read of February. I picked this book up immediately after finishing Clockwork Magpies on the 7th, and I finished this on the 16th of the month. Reading progress was a little bit slower at the time as I had family over visiting. As a result, I was spending a lot of time with them and less time at home (aka reading) than usual. Given that I was reading this for a blog tour post on the 21st, I’ve already shared my thoughts on this historical fiction novel as well! If this is your cup of tea, in particular if you like Bernard Cornwell’s The Last Kingdom series, I recommend you take a look at my review here.

 

The Diary of a Young Girl

The last book I finished in full this month was The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, which I read between the 16th – 24th February. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that this particular book is her diary and documents her life living in hiding during the Second World War. It’s not the easiest subject to read, but I found it really interesting to see the dynamics between the individuals stuck in a very limited amount of space together. Reading this book was made slightly more difficult by the ongoing current events; I finished this book on Thursday last week, which is the day Russia first invaded Ukraine. I have a lot of interest in history revolving around war, particularly the Second World War or the Cold War, but it’s a lot harder to read when it’s not an abstract idea and it’s playing out on the TV screen – it makes you realise it’s real.

 

Blackwing

Blackwing

I decided to change my last mood read of the month. In light of current events I wanted something a lot lighter and I wanted to guarantee picking up something I loved. I needed that pick-me-up and I decided to read Blackwing by Ed McDonald. This is exactly why I allow myself time for mood reads now. I do still want to read One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which was my intended read initially, but the end of last week just wasn’t the right time for it. As I said, I wanted a pick-me-up and I’m glad I made the decision to swap it out. I’ve absolutely loved revisiting this first book of The Ravens Mark series and it’s been just what I needed – to immerse myself in abstract fantasy and gain a sense of escapism.

This is the main book I am reading and carrying over into the very beginning of March, but only just. As of the end of the month I had just less than 100 pages left to read; I read more of the book in my lunch hour today and expect to finish it tonight!

So, those were my reads for the month of February. What have you been reading? Have you got any good book recommendations? As always, I’d love to hear from you!

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Sunday Summary – 27th February 2022

Good evening and welcome to my Sunday Summary post for this week! It’s been a bit of a strange one and there’s plenty of bad news going around, but I hope you’ve made the best of it?

My blogging schedule for this week started off very early, as I was taking part in the blog tour for Son of Mercia by MJ Porter on Monday. Because my sister has been over visiting, I ended up drafting this post last Sunday. It was a bit of a rush to squeeze in, but it’s just the way things fell. I managed to get that out in time for the tour and I’m really glad to have been able to take part!

Later in the week I shared the Shelf Control post that should have gone live last week, but didn’t go ahead due to illness. In writing this post I actually whittled a couple of books off my TBR; having spent some time looking into them for this post, I decided that there were reasons why I no longer want to pick them up. That’s not a bad thing because the list is ever expanding.

 

Books Read

As of last week’s Sunday Summary update post I was a quarter of the way through A Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. I have to say, given the current events of this week, that the timing of reading this book wasn’t the greatest. I actually finished reading this book on Thursday, the day events in Ukraine kicked off. But, it couldn’t be helped and I wasn’t going to let it stop me finishing this one. I know it sounds pretty obvious in hindsight, but it was strange how the diary just ended. I don’t know what I expected, but there you go. To mentally conclude reading the book I ended up doing some research on what happened to the Frank’s after they were discovered. Not the most pleasant reading either, but I’m glad I did. I learned from the experience at the very least!

My next mood read was pencilled in to be One Flew Over the Cuckoo‘s Nest, however when it came to it I decided I wanted something lighter. I wanted a book that I knew I was going to love and offered escapism from current events. Having recently gifted copies of The Raven’s Mark trilogy by Ed McDonald to my sister’s boyfriend for Christmas, I think this subconsciously influenced my decision-making. I decided to pick up Blackwing, the first book of the series, again on Friday and it was obviously the right choice. As of this update I am 270 pages in, which is just over 60% of the book. I’m glad I made the switch, and it goes to show that not treating my TBR too rigidly by having some time for mood reading is the right decision.

 

Books Discovered

It’s a good job that I took a couple of books off my TBR this week, because I’ve also added a couple!

I can’t remember where I discovered this, but I found out this week that the Netflix series of The Queen’s Gambit was actually based on a book. I had no idea before now! I really loved this series and so I decided to give the book a go as well!

In addition, I recently watched a video by Ashleigh at A Frolic Through Fiction on YouTube, in which she shared her favourite books of all time. In that list she talked about The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon, and it caught my attention. I’ve seen and heard of it before but I don’t know why I hadn’t added it to my TBR before now. That mistake has been duly rectified!

 

Coming Up…

Somehow it’s March next week. I have absolutely no idea where this year is going, but I feel like I say that all the time. Anyway, with the new month rolling in I will be sharing a brief wrap-up for the month of February, as well as sharing my TBR for March! I hope you can join me for that post!

I’ll be back again later in the week for a First Lines Friday post. I feel like setting myself a challenge this week, and so I’ve decided that my chosen feature will be from a book I’ve added to my TBR in the last three months. Everyone knows I’ve added plenty of books of late and it still leaves enough scope in terms of genre and content. I think this is the first time I’ve set this kind of challenge before, so be interesting to take a closer look at the books on my list and be able to feature one for you!

Then, as always, I’ll be back the same time next week for another Sunday Summary update!

Until then, I hope you have a good week, pick up some fabulous books, and I will see you in the next post!

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Shelf Control #43 – 25/02/2022

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s Shelf Control post! Shelf Control is a regular feature here on my blog (typically fortnightly on a Friday) and is a meme run by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies. It’s a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, 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!

For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out Lisa’s introductory post.

Today’s feature is a crime fiction novel – something that I don’t think I’ve picked up for a while. I added this to my TBR several years ago, but my interest in this book has not waned over time in the slightest!

So, do you want to find out what today’s book is?

 

99 Red Balloons – Elisabeth Carpenter

Goodreads – 99 Red Balloons

Two girls go missing, decades apart. What would you do if one was your daughter?

When eight-year-old Grace goes missing from a sweetshop on the way home from school, her mother Emma is plunged into a nightmare. Her family rallies around, but as the police hunt begins, cracks begin to emerge.

What are the secret emails sent between Emma’s husband and her sister? Why does her mother take so long to join the search? And is Emma really as innocent as she seems?

Meanwhile, ageing widow Maggie Taylor sees Grace’s picture in the newspaper. It’s a photograph that jolts her from the pain of her existence into a spiralling obsession with another girl – the first girl who disappeared…

 

My Thoughts…

Crime fiction novels are always a great genre for me to turn to. It’s not something I’ve read anything in recently, but it’s for that reason that I’m looking forward to picking this up. I really like reading this style of book and it’s always good to pick up something a little different and diversify every now and then.

What really catches my attention with this book is that the reliability of one of the main characters is called into question. This is an aspect I really like about books. I like how the bias of perspective can alter the way we interpret a storyline and if used effectively, it can provide opportunities for major plot twists!

Naturally, the storyline might not be for everybody. If the idea of children getting hurt or going missing is difficult for you to stomach, then this isn’t necessarily going to be a book for you. However, I don’t shy away from topics like these. Ultimately, this is a fictional narrative. Yes, there is reality that this could happen to somebody child, and that’s the hook that gets you to invest into the story and really feel for the characters involved, but at the end of the day it is just that – a story.

Have you read 99 Red Balloons by Elisabeth Carpenter, or anything like it? Let me know in the comments!

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Blog Tour Review: Son of Mercia – MJ Porter

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s blog tour review of Son of Mercia by MJ Porter! It has been a few months since I last took part in a blog tour, but I knew I wanted to take part in this one as soon as I saw it! Granted, I missed Rachel’s first email about it, but the day she contacted me in the hopes of signing me up was a happy one for us all! As always, I want to say a massive thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources and to the author for organising the tour and giving me the opportunity to take part!

It’s a pleasure to be able to share my thoughts with you today!

 

Son of Mercia – MJ Porter

Goodreads – Son of Mercia

Tamworth, Mercia AD825.

The once-mighty kingdom of Mercia is in perilous danger.

Their King, Beornwulf lies dead and years of bitter in-fighting between the nobles, and cross border wars have left Mercia exposed to her enemies.

King Ecgberht of Wessex senses now is the time for his warriors to strike and exact his long-awaited bloody revenge on Mercia.

King Wiglaf, has claimed his right to rule Mercia, but can he unite a disparate Kingdom against the might of Wessex who are braying for blood and land?

Can King Wiglaf keep the dragons at bay or is Mercia doomed to disappear beneath the wings of the Wessex wyvern?

Can anyone save Mercia from destruction?

Purchase Link – Amazon

 

My Thoughts…

The opening of the novel sets the scene of a turbulent and unstable way of life. Conflict, strife and war are in abundance. Mercia is left, after the death of Beornwulf, to be governed by weak and non battle-seasoned warriors. It does not bode well.

I enjoy how the narrative is shared mostly from the perspective of Icel. In a society where being a warrior or a skilled craftsmen, such as a blacksmith, Icel does not fit in. He detests violence, and instead he feels in himself a calling to heal. It is clear that he does not know something about his past even from the early chapters of the book, as he is frequently scorned by those around him, and not just for shirking his duty to do what’s considered ‘women’s work’. Some of Icel’s background is unveiled to us readers via another perspective in the book, which is a nice touch in helping us understand the circumstances, whilst keeping Icel ignorant.

This tumultuous situation is laid out for the first third of the book, at which point, events come to a point that put young I saw and the rest of Tamworth in danger. This is transformative for Icel. He always retains hatred for violence, but his exposure to danger increases tenfold and forces him to challenge himself in new ways.

I like Icel’s perspective throughout the book because we view the events of the novel through a lens which is not dissimilar to our own. The narrative is set in a time when men are expected to become warriors. Valour, honour, and domination are expected and it is difficult to pull off a narrative from a character of this nature and keep them relatable to the audience. It’s not impossible; I’m a huge fan of Bernard Cornwell‘s The Saxon Stories series (a.k.a. The Last Kingdom), and any fans of those books will really appreciate this book as it offers a similar setting (9th century Britain). It differs in that it focuses on the power struggles within English factions.

If you love history then the world-building in this book is something that you can really get behind. Every care is taken to set the scene of a politically turbulent England. At the same time, this is well-balanced with a wide range of characters that complement the story. There are a lot of characters that come and go throughout the book but I wasn’t confused by this. The author does a fantastic job of reminding us of who is who wherever relevant, which is a great help in following the interwoven storylines!

The pace of the narrative is enjoyable too. There is action and world-building aplenty, so neither is neglected. It makes for a great standalone novel, but if you are as invested as I am after reading it then you will want to follow and continue the series as I do!

 

Author Bio

MJ Porter is the author of many historical novels set predominantly in Seventh to Eleventh-Century England, and in Viking Age Denmark. Raised in the shadow of a building that was believed to house the bones of long-dead Kings of Mercia, meant that the author’s writing destiny was set.

Social Media Links

https://twitter.com/coloursofunison

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https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7163404.M_J_Porter

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Sunday Summary – 20th February 2022

Good evening everyone and welcome to this week’s Sunday summary post!

My blogging schedule didn’t quite go to plan this week. I started off well with sharing a review of Clockwork Magpies by Emma Whitehall. I recently read this book and given that it is a new launch, I wanted to feature it on my blog whilst it was still a recent event!

Later in the week things fell off the wagon. I had fallen behind from scheduling posts in advance (at least in part) as my sister has been over visiting. As a result, my Shelf Control post wasn’t prepared or shared in advance and it wasn’t done on Friday due to illness. I’ve got a cold for the first time in about 3 years, and on Friday I was suffering particularly badly. After a rough night’s sleep the day before, I just didn’t have the energy to draft my post that night. Sorry guys!

Even now I am still not 100%. Normally I would dictate these posts to draft them, but I’m having to manually type them at the moment as I’m plagued by an awful cough and hoarse throat. Don’t worry, it’s not the dreaded C word (I’ve been testing throughout so as not to risk passing it to my family… and I’ve been keeping as much distance from them as possible even still), but I can assure you I’m looking forward to the day my body decides to purge this cold. It can’t come soon enough!

 

Books Read

My main reading focus this week has been to finish Son of Mercia by MJ Porter, for reasons that will become apparent later in this post. As of my last Sunday Summary update, I was 60% through the novel. I finished this with more than enough time to spare! It’s a great historical fiction read (especially if you already enjoy Bernard Cornwell’s The Last Kingdom series as I do) and I am sharing my thoughts on this book for a blog tour imminently.

Later in the week I started my first mood read of February’s TBR – The Diary of a Young Girl written by Anne Frank. I was able to read just under a quarter of this in just one sitting. It’s really easy to get into and I am glad I picked this up. The narrative is a lot easier to read than I was anticipating, and I’m looking forward to making further progress with this over the next week!

 

Books Discovered

Whilst my sister has been over visiting I confess that I walked into a couple of bookstores… but it was only from one that I made some purchases. Look at me and my discipline hey?! Haha!

I purchased a copy of a book already on my TBR (so not technically an addition) – Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. It’s a classic that I’ve been looking forward to reading for some time, and I’m sure it’s the kind of book I’ll appreciate in paperback!

I also treated myself to something not on my list – Pandora by Susan Stokes-Chapman. I was initially drawn to the book by the cover, but the synopsis christened it for me as a purchase. The synopsis is as intriguing and full of mystery as the novel purports to be, and I can’t wait to dive in! This was an impulse purchase, but I’m sure one I won’t regret!

 

Coming Up…

I have partly caught up with drafting some of my blog posts ahead of schedule, but mostly out of necessity. I am taking part in the blog tour for Son of Mercia tomorrow, and so I have spent this evening committing my review to a blog post. I just about managed to dictate this part, with no small amount of editing to rectify what my indistinguishable croaks should have been! This is all ready to go live tomorrow, so I hope you can take a look at that when it’s live!

Later in the week I’ll be back what should have been this week’s Shelf Control post. I’ll try and get it prepared nice and early to give myself some of that breathing space I lost back.

And finally, I’ll be rounding off next week with another Sunday Summary update with all my latest reading news.

Thanks for bearing with me this week! What have you been reading?

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Book Review: Clockwork Magpies – Emma Whitehall

In today’s blog post I’m sharing my thoughts on a book recently published by Northodox Press. They recently advertised advanced reader copies available for reviewers and the cover caught my eye immediately! From there I went to look up the book and it sounded absolutely fantastic. Northodox Press were brilliant in providing a copy to me at my request and I am grateful to be able to share my honest review based on that today.

 

Clockwork Magpies – Emma Whitehall

Goodreads – Clockwork Magpies

By day, Ida is a quiet, standoffish maid in the employ of spoiled Lucinda Belmote. By night, she is the infamous sneak thief known as the Rat Prince, terrorising the wealthy inhabitants of Loxport; especially Lucinda’s lecherous suitor, Lord Devon Casterbury.

Soon the boundaries between her dual lives begin to blur, as her mask begins to drop around a delightful waitress and a charming jeweller who both insist on befriending Ida. All the while she is thrust into a conflict surrounding new and dangerous materials that could upend the order of the city, land her behind bars or worse: in Lord Casterbury’s employ.

A thrilling romp through the Steampunk city of Loxport, Clockwork Magpies is a story of found family, crimes plotted over tea and scones, and the sinister power of glowing gemstones.

 

My Thoughts…

Clockwork Magpies is a great palate-cleanser read. It’s just over a few hundred pages, so easily long enough to invest into the characters and the storyline. But at the same time, it’s not a huge commitment. And certainly for an avid reader like me, it doesn’t take very long to read at all! I read this within a few days… and the fact that I enjoyed it so much made this even easier to do!

I don’t often read steampunk themed novels, however if done right they blend well into the fantasy genre. Clockwork Magpies does this seamlessly! Industrial Revolution-esque technological advancement is the vibe in Loxport, and coupled with that is an antiquated social class and society that illustrates that there are leagues to go compare to our modern society.

Ida is a maid for a widower of the elite and considered more fortunate than most for that position of servitude. Her background is one much more humble, but her mother’s ambitions and nefarious skills has kept them all alive. These skills have been passed on and perfected by Ida, who is known more infamously for her thievery in the guise of The Rat Prince. She is well placed to choose her next victim, being connected to the upper circle. She has always taken care to keep these two personas separate, but events in the book watch them collide in spectacular fashion.

I enjoyed Ida’s personal character development arc for a number of reasons. At the beginning of the book, she is a focused young lady whose only real drive is to provide for her family still living in relative poverty. She does this out of a serious sense of duty and because it’s the only link she has left to her mother, the woman she loved and revered. But they are toxic to her. They only use her for financial aid and berate the way in which she provides for them.

Over the course of the narrative she becomes less dependent on them and teaches us readers a powerful lesson – that we can still do the right thing by such people, but in a way that removes the suffering from the toxic relationship. I feel like this is something people even today struggle with. It’s nice to have that represented in a book and allows the opportunity to raise awareness of these types of struggles. 

Ida’s focus means she does not permit herself friends. They are only connections that could unveil her secret identity. But, somehow Clem and Edith wheedle the way past her defences with steely determination. They teach her that friendship can offer some powerful allies and support when it’s needed the most.

Identity is a common theme throughout the book, and there are a couple of stand-out quotes I’d like to highlight. I personally really liked them and it’s advice that more people should take: –

“Seriously though, don’t let other people tell you who you are. Or what you are and are not good enough for.”

“My point is, we make ourselves into the people we want to be. Hang the rest, leave it all behind.“

The ending implies that there could be a sequel, and hand-on-heart I sincerely hope so! I feel like Clockwork Magpies lays the foundation for what could be a fantastic series! There is a lot of scope for this series to be taken further; I would love to see more of the dynamic between Ida, Clem and Edith. 

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Sunday Summary – 13th February 2022

Good evening and welcome to my Sunday Summary post for this week. As always, I hope you’ve had a great one?

On Tuesday I shared a Top Ten Tuesday post with you. This week‘s topic was around the theme of love. Now you know I’m not a big romance person and so to make this thing work, I decided to cover my top ten books I’d love to re-read. It’s a bit of a flimsy connection, I know. However, I’ve found a lot of books lately that I’ve decided I want to re-read. Therefore, it made sense to me to document these all in one place so I can go back to them later!

My Friday feature this week was a First Lines Friday post. I didn’t set myself a particular challenge or topic from which to choose my book from this week. However, I didn’t struggle to find one. And I’ve been thinking a lot about my reading just prior to setting up my blog, and in particular, Terry Pratchett. He has been a big influence on me and so it felt only natural to feature one of his books in this post.

 

Books Read

This week has been great for reading progress! As of last week‘s Sunday Summary update I was just over 10% through Clockwork Magpies by Emma Whitehall. I really enjoyed this book and I’ve flown through it this week (no pun intended)! It’s a great steampunk fantasy novel and and I really enjoyed the steampunk element. It’s not something I read a lot of, however I do really enjoy it. This book has not long been published and I received an advance reader copy in order to share my thoughts. I can’t wait to do that with you very shortly!

I then picked up Son of Mercia by MJ Porter and of sharing this post, I am around 60% of the way through the novel. Son of Mercia is a historical fiction novel which will appeal to fans of Bernard Cornwell and The Last Kingdom series. It’s because of my love of this that I agreed to sign up to the blog tour, and I’m honestly glad I did! The story is told (at least for a significant majority so far) from a unique viewpoint. I’ll share more of the details of that in my blog tour post on the 21st; it’s not what I was expecting but I think it’s better for that! I can’t wait to finish this over the next few days and to share my post with you in about a week’s time.

I have also picked up The Original Folk and Fairytales of the Brother’s Grimm one evening this week. I only read a few stories so it’s not a significant contribution, but it is there so I’m documenting it here. Once I’ve got my blog tour read out of the way, I plan to read this before bed a little more to help me get through it. As it’s short stories it’s not a book to read in one big lump. It’s better to pick up and put down little and often in my opinion.

 

Books Discovered

I confess that there are quite a few books added to the list this week! What’s interesting about them is that there is a wide variety of genres and stories represented in the selection. It goes a long way to proving how diverse my reading tastes are.

At the beginning of the week I was listening to a podcast by A Need to Read which featured Stolen Focus by Johann Hari. Stolen Focus is a non-fiction book which discusses a number of different causes to the human dilemma of our inability to concentrate. Some of the statistics are quite shocking – teenagers can focus on one task for only 65 seconds at a time, and office workers average only three minutes. Isn’t that dreadful? I want to read more about this and the studies that have been done into it, that’s why I’ve decided to pick up this book. Who knows, maybe even I can find ways to improve my own attention span!

The next book on my list was added to my list as a result of an Amazon recommendation (albeit for some reason they recommended the second book of the series to me!) This book is an epic fantasy adventure style novel, but the thing that stood out to me is the sound of the characters, and an author I really like has highly recommended this book. So, I’m really interested to give The Black Hawks by David Wragg a go.

The third book on my list is also a recommendation from a podcast called Currently Reading. Yes, I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately! Although Kaytee and Meredith talk about a lot of books in their podcasts, Meredith’s review of The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg really stood out to me. The Kingdom is a theme park, and the protagonist Ana is an AI within the park. However, when a park employee, Owen, is murdered, Ana is accused and an epic trial of the century ensues. One of the interesting things that drew me to adding this to my list is that the story is told through a variety of mediums. Courtroom testimonies, interviews and Ana‘s memories are examples of the way in which the narrative unfolds. It’s very unlike anything I have read before and for that reason, I can’t wait to give this a go!

Last night I went to see a show produced by a local theatre group  – The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It was a fantastic performance and hats off to everybody involved. Naturally, it has drawn the bookworm in me to want to pick up the novel by Victor Hugo.

It has also been my birthday this week, and I was very lucky to receive copies of A Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm. A Cuckoo’s Calling was already on my TBR, but I have added The Silkworm to my list as I now have a paperback copy of each sat on my shelf waiting to be read!

 

Coming Up…

This week I am going to be reviewing Clockwork Magpies by Emma Whitehall. Now typically it takes me a lot longer to get round to reviewing books after I’ve read them. However as Clockwork Magpies has just been published, I’m keen to share my thoughts with you whilst the publication launch is still fresh in the minds of anyone who may be interested to read it, or equally to put it on peoples radar if they haven’t heard of it yet. I really, really enjoyed reading this book and I’m sure that will come through in my review!

Later in the week I’ll be back with a Shelf Control post, and I’ll be featuring the next book on my TBR and sharing with you just why I’m excited to read it!

And finally, I’ll be rounding off the week with another Sunday Summary update.

What have you been reading this week?

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