Tag: amreading

Sunday Summary – 9th August 2020

Hey everyone and welcome back to another weekly update post! We’ve had a glorious weekend here and I’ve made the most of it – I’ve even caught the sun a little! Oops!

At the beginning of the week, I shared my reading list for August. It looks a little more ambitious than I have been recently, but it isn’t really. It just so happens that I have a couple of short books to read for blog tours, and the next few books going towards my Beat the Backlist challenge are also shorter. It works out quite nicely as I am looking to get back on track towards my reading goal if I can. If you haven’t checked out that post yet please do – have you read any of the books on my list?

In my First Lines Friday post I set myself the tricky challenge of featuring a non-fiction novel. As a general rule I don’t read many, so I had a limited pool of books to find an interesting opening for. I think I did pretty well and I’m pleased with my book choice!

 

Books Read

It’s going to get a cursory mention since I did technically finish it after last week’s post; I read the last 5% of The Burning Land by Bernard Cornwell last Sunday night.

As of last week’s Sunday Summary post, I was around 40% through This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay. I said I didn’t think it would take long to finish and I was right. I finished this in a matter of days and I’ve already returned it to the colleague who loaned me their copy! This is probably the best non-fiction book I have read in a long time – I seriously recommend it if you haven’t read it. It’s hilarious, equally sad and really highlights the day to day struggle of being on the frontline in the NHS.

I’ve also read Grubane by Karl Drinkwater in its entirety this week. I finished this whilst sat out in the garden this morning in fact. It’s a sci-fi novel I am reviewing for a blog tour later this month. It’s a really interesting side story in the Lost Solace universe. At around 114 pages it was really easy to read in a couple of sittings!

 

Books Discovered

I have actually added one book to the TBR this week. After reading and returning This is Going to Hurt to my work colleague, he mentioned that he thought the author had also published another Christmas themed book (yes – I just said the “C” word in August). I looked it up and he was right – it’s called Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas.

I know what I might be adding to December’s reading list…

 

Coming Up…

Next week I’m going to attempt to share a book review that I started drafting a couple of weeks ago. I tried on a couple of occasions to put my thoughts down for Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor, but I wasn’t happy with it. I love the book and the series so I wanted my review to reflect that… but it didn’t. For whatever reason, I don’t think I was in the right frame of mind at the time. I’m going to start again from scratch and fingers crossed I’m happy with the end result this time!

Later in the week, I am going to be sharing an interview with an author I featured as part of a blog tour. I read and reviewed Justice Gone by Nicholas Lombardi Jr in April 2019 and since then, the book has gone on to win multiple awards – it’s fifth just recently! In my post I’ll be sharing an interview with the author about the book, his inspirations and writing style, just to mention a few topics!

On Friday I’ll be publishing my next Shelf Control post. You might be pleased to know that I am coming to the end of my classics run (finally!) I hope you can join me and we can talk about the next book on my list.

That’s all from me in today’s Sunday Summary update! What have you been reading this week?

 

 

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Reading List – August 2020

I can’t believe another month has flown by and I’m sharing August’s reading list with you already! It only feels like five minutes since I published the last one.

My reading has been a little on the reserved side for the last few months. Given everything else I’ve had going on I think it’s completely understandable why. I’m still keeping busy with the house and work and all, but this month I want to make a push to clawing back towards this year’s reading goal if I can. As of writing this post I am 10 books behind schedule. Even if I can’t get back on target, I’d like to say I made an effort!

With that in mind, I’m going to try and read a few more, slightly shorter books than my usual this month. Two books are for upcoming blog tours and four more are on the list for my Beat the Backlist challenge. I wouldn’t say deliberately choosing something slightly lighter is cheating. If I dedicated a month to reading short stories out of nowhere, that would be a fair call. We’re still talking books that are mostly three-hundred-and-something pages at least, so they aren’t short to say the least. I just don’t fancy getting bogged down in five hundred page epics this month.

So, would you like to see what’s on August’s reading list?

 

This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay

Goodreads – This is Going to Hurt

Welcome to the life of a junior doctor: 97-hour weeks, life and death decisions, a constant tsunami of bodily fluids, and the hospital parking meter earns more than you.

Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, Adam Kay’s This is Going to Hurt provides a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line. Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking, this diary is everything you wanted to know – and more than a few things you didn’t – about life on and off the hospital ward.

 

This is actually a carryover from July, although it was a book I picked up pretty spontaneously. Long story short, I’ve just gone back to work and one of my colleagues read the book during lockdown. He says himself that he isn’t that much of a reader but he couldn’t put this one down… and I can see why! It’s brilliant! I read around 40% last month and have been reading more since the beginning of August. Realistically I am going to finish this very, very soon, but since I’ll have read most of it in August and I need to document it somewhere, it’s on this month’s reading list.

 

Grubane – Karl Drinkwater

Goodreads – Grubane

Major Grubane is commander of the Aurikaa, the most feared cruiser in the UFS arsenal.

His crew is handpicked and fiercely loyal. Together, they have never failed a mission, and their reputation precedes them.

But this time he’s been sent to a key planet that is caught up in political tensions at the centre of the freedom debate. What he thought was a simple diplomatic mission turns out to be the hardest choice of his career. His orders: eliminate one million inhabitants of the planet, and ensure their compliance.

Grubane has also rediscovered an ancient game called chess, and plays it against the ship AI as a form of mental training. But maybe it could be more than that as he finds himself asking questions. Can orders be reinterpreted? How many moves ahead is it possible for one man to plan? And how many players are involved in this game?

Lost Tales of Solace are short side-stories set in the Lost Solace universe.

 

I discovered this author when I read another short story, Helene, for a blog tour back in March this year. Since reviewing that book I have also received copies of the main Lost Solace series from the author to read in exchange for review. I haven’t gotten round to them yet, but I knew when I saw this second upcoming blog tour I wanted to read more based around the universe before I dive into the main series!

I’ll be sharing my thoughts on this at the end of the month, so I have plenty of time to read Grubane.

 

Mindworm – David Pollard

The placid life of a college librarian is plunged into a desperate fight for survival when he witnesses the death of his only friend. Suddenly he is forced to confront disturbing changes in his nature and appetites and their consequences.Suspected of murder and pursued by an implacable police detective he runs – but is he running from the law or from himself?

 

Mindworm is my second blog tour read; although my post isn’t due to be published until the beginning of next month. I wanted to read it in plenty of time before my post is due to go live! Mindworm is a psychological thriller novel and having read some great ones lately, I’m really in the mood for another good read from this genre!

 

Sleeping Giants – Sylvain Neuvel

Goodreads – Sleeping Giants

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square-shaped hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved – the object’s origins, architects, and purpose unknown.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top-secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the relic they seek. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unravelling history’s most perplexing discovery-and finally figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

 

Sleeping Giants was on last month’s TBR, but since I didn’t want to hang onto This is Going to Hurt too long on account of it being a loan, I chose to delay reading this until this month. It’s also the first read of the month that will go towards my completion of the Beat the Backlist challenge. Sleeping Giants has been on my TBR since April 2016… so it’s definitely overdue reading!

 

Steelheart – Brandon Sanderson

Goodreads – Steelheart

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his will.

Nobody fights the Epics…nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart — the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning — and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

 

At 386 pages, Steelheart is the longest book on this month’s TBR. It’s quite common for me to pick up books that are around or even well over 500 pages, so it’s short(ish) by my standards. I am a huge fan of Brandon Sanderson, as you may have guessed by the number of books of his I’ve read in the last year! Steelheart has been on my TBR for a long time as well – since January 2016! My Beat the Backlist challenge is the one I am most behind in and the TBR is growing slightly faster than it’s shrinking… I want to work on that and so a focus on some of the older books on my TBR kills two birds with one stone. Plus, if they’re that old I really do need to pull my finger out!

 

Lord of the Flies – William Golding

Goodreads – Lord of the Flies

At the dawn of the next world war, a plane crashes on an uncharted island, stranding a group of schoolboys. At first, with no adult supervision, their freedom is something to celebrate; this far from civilization the boys can do anything they want. Anything. They attempt to forge their own society, failing, however, in the face of terror, sin and evil. And as order collapses, as strange howls echo in the night, as terror begins its reign, the hope of adventure seems as far from reality as the hope of being rescued. Labeled a parable, an allegory, a myth, a morality tale, a parody, a political treatise, even a vision of the apocalypse, Lord of the Flies is perhaps our most memorable novel about “the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart.”

 

My recent Shelf Control posts have made me very aware that I have a cluster of classics that I need to read as part of my Beat the Backlist challenge. I don’t want to find myself trying to read them all one after another. With that in mind, I decided to include one in August’s reading list. Lord of the Flies is probably one of the ones I am looking forward to reading the most – I can’t wait to let you know what I think of it.

 

The Feedback Loop – Harmon Cooper

Goodreads – The Feedback Loop

Stuck in a virtual dreamworld called The Loop, a man named Quantum Hughes struggles to free himself from a glitch that forces him to live the same day on repeat. His life changes when a mysterious letter arrives one morning from a woman named Frances Euphoria, the first human player he has made contact with in a very long time. Once Frances appears, members of a murder guild known as the Reapers begin surfacing in The Loop, hoping to capture Quantum or worse — kill him. To further complicate matters, The Loop itself is doing everything it can to stop Quantum from finding the hidden logout point by turning everything in the virtual dreamworld against him.

With time running out, will Quantum break free from his digital coma before he’s captured or killed by the Reapers? Who is Frances Euphoria, and what does she actually know about how long Quantum has been trapped?

The Feedback Loop Series takes place thirty years before the Life is a Beautiful Thing Series. It shares the same world, but is a standalone series that focus on dream-based virtual reality worlds and the people who are trapped in them. The next book in the series will be called Steampunk is Dead, and will be released in the fall.

 

Last but certainly not least, I thought I could try and squeeze one more book onto the list to round off the month. I hadn’t actually realised that The Feedback Loop was that short! I didn’t expect it to weigh in just under 200 pages, but there we go! I’ve liked the sound of this sci-fi novel even though I haven’t read any of the books it relates to. I think it’s the perfect opportunity to give it a go and then if I enjoy it, I can consider the rest of them!

So, guys, that’s my reading list for August! It looks long compared to my previous lists, but in terms of page count I don’t think it is any longer than my previous ones.

What are you reading?

 

 

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Sunday Summary – 2nd August 2020

Happy Sunday everyone and welcome back to today’s Sunday Summary post! I hope you are all keeping well in these strange times? It’s fair to say I had a pretty good week overall; I managed a decent amount of reading as well as crocheting another blanket I’m working on. After several days of trying, I even got out into my back garden (finally)! I put out some garden furniture a couple of weeks ago now and in typical Manx fashion, the weather hasn’t been great since!  It was lovely and warm today though, so managed to get out for a read this morning.

This week’s posting schedule ended up being lighter than I intended. My Shelf Control post went live on Friday as planned, but my scheduled review of Days of Blood & Starlight didn’t. I sat down a couple of nights and put some time into getting my thoughts down, but I struggled with it if I’m honest. I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind to do it and in the end, I decided it wasn’t worth writing garbage for the sake of content. The book is fantastic and I want my review to do the book justice, so after a couple of attempts I figured shelving it and coming back to it later was for the best.

 

Books Read

I made a lot better reading progress this week. In last week’s Sunday Summary post I shared that I had only read around 30% of The Burning Land by Bernard Cornwell during the week. That’s not my worst effort by any means, but still, it hasn’t been difficult for me to step up either. As of writing this post, I am 95% through and since the last 5% is only going to take me 20-25 minutes to finish, that’ll be done by tonight!

In addition, I also started reading This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay. You may recall I mentioned this in last week’s Sunday Summary post as a work colleague has loaned it to me. Guys, honestly it’s hilarious! I don’t read many non-fiction books but this is proving to be a favourite so far! I’m around 40% through the book at the moment and I’m going to finish it after The Burning Land. I expect I’ll be finishing it quite quickly!

 

Books Discovered

For the first time in a few weeks, I have nothing to add here. It’s a good job really… my TBR pile is getting bigger instead of smaller!

 

Coming Up…

My first post of the week has to be my Reading List for August. Does anyone else think it’s scary that it is August already? I’ll be sharing my list either tomorrow or Tuesday, so please keep an eye out for that.

Later in the week, I’ll be sharing another First Lines Friday post. The last couple of times I have done this I have set a theme for my book selection. It makes it a bit more of an exciting challenge to find a book that meets the criteria. So, I’ll be setting a theme again for next week’s post. For this post, I have decided on a theme of non-fiction books. I don’t read much non-fiction so this really is a challenge – but one I’m looking forward to!

That’s all from me in today’s Sunday Summary update. What have you been reading?

 

 

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Sunday Summary – 26th July 2020

Good evening and welcome back to another Sunday Summary update from me! Have you had a good week? I’ve actually quite enjoyed mine, although you might laugh at me when you know the reason why. After months of disruption, I finally went back to work this week. I never thought I’d be saying that I looked forward to going back to work, but I was! It has been nice to get a sense of normality back.

As well as going back into work this week, I’ve been busy doing bits around the house and visiting my aunt as it was her birthday. I had originally planned for my audiobook review of Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman to be published earlier in the week, but this was eventually posted on Thursday. On Friday I shared another First Lines Friday post. This week I had fun selecting a book to feature from my physical bookshelves!

 

Books Read

Between going back to work, my social life, blogging and then several hours doing jobs around the house, I’ve been a busy bee this week! As such, I haven’t really gotten much reading done. I have made progress with The Burning Land, so I am now 36% of the way through the book compared to around 7%. I didn’t quote the percentage in my Sunday Summary dated 5th July, but I’m fairly sure that is where I got to. It’s not my best effort, but it could be worse too. I’ll be taking this up to bed with a cup of tea tonight, so I’m hoping to get to around 50% before I turn in.

 

Books Discovered

My work colleagues know that I am a little book mad and one of my teammates was telling me about a book he read during lockdown. He said that he isn’t much of a reader, but he read This Is Going to Hurt – Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay in one sitting. It was that good. He said it’s the kind of book that has you in hysterics one minute and nearly in tears the next. I was already sold on giving it a try. The next day, he had left his copy of the book on my desk to let me borrow which is really, really nice of him. You guys can guess what I’ll be reading soon…

 

Coming Up…

Since I have an abundance of reviews to write, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on another book in the next few days. Next on my list to review is the second book of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, Dreams of Gods and Monsters. I really loved this book so you can expect a glowing review!

Later in the week, I’ll be sharing another Shelf Control post. As I think is apparent from my recent Shelf Control posts I went through a phase of adding classic, iconic novels to my TBR. Next week’s feature is no exception, and it’s probably a book that a number of you have already read! I’m a wee bit behind…

Although I have less ‘other business’ next week, I’m keeping the blogging schedule a little light. I’m going to try and catch up on my reading, but these posts should keep you entertained until next week’s Sunday Summary update.

Have a good one!

 

 

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Sunday Summary – 19th July 2020

Hi guys and welcome back to another weekly update from me! Today’s Sunday Summary post is coming to you on schedule this week. I hope you have all had a good one? After a busy week around the house last week, I’ve enjoyed a bit of a breather and had a good day today spending the day with my parents. I do this every Sunday anyway, but this one was special as it’s my mum’s birthday! We had a good one and she was spoiled!

Over this week I published two posts to keep you entertained. The first of those was a look at the resolutions I set back in January and a mid-year review of my progress towards them. Whilst I am a little behind, I’m still happy and I think with a bit of effort I could claw it back. The second post was a review of The Dead Tell Lies by J. F. Kirwan for the ongoing blog tour. It’s a glowing review as this is one of the best books I have read this year; if you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, please check it out!

 

Books Read

I reported a lot of reading progress in last week’s Sunday Summary post thanks to the number of audiobooks I listened to. This weeks progress is more conservative, but I’m still happy with how I’ve done! My focus for the week has been reading The Dead Tell Lies for yesterday’s scheduled review. I really enjoyed this book, which I read towards the end of the week. Honestly, it was fantastic!

I’ve given the audiobooks a rest this week since I listened to so many the week before. Instead, I’ve taken to listening to history programs in the week and carrying on crocheting a blanket I am making for my lounge. It’s made a refreshing change as I haven’t done anything like that for a long time. Y TV rarely goes on!

Although I haven’t technically picked it up yet, I will be reading some of The Burning Land by Bernard Cornwell before going to bed tonight. It has been a few weeks since I started this, but these books are really easy to pick up. I remember what has happened so far, so I won’t have to start it again at least!

 

Books Discovered

Since I loved The Dead Tell Lies so much, I have actually added the first book of another series of his to my TBR this week. 66 Metres is a spy thriller, so slightly different to the psychological thriller I have just read. It still sounds really good though!

 

Coming Up…

Next week I want to share my thoughts on an audiobook I listened to at the end of last year. I have a little bit of a backlog on the audiobook reviews now, so I’ll be taking the time to review the oldest on the list, Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman.

On Friday I’m bringing back my regular feature post. This week it’s the turn of a First Lines Friday post. The last time I did one of these I set myself a theme to work with and I enjoyed the challenge. I’m going to do the same this time; next week’s feature is going to be a physical book I own.

Last, but not least, I’ll be filling you in with another Sunday Summary same time next week!

 

 

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Blog Tour Review: The Dead Tell Lies – J F Kirwan

Good morning everyone and welcome to today’s blog tour post for The Dead Tell Lies by J. F. Kirwan. It is books like this that make me very happy to be a book blogger and to have a place to tell people that they really must, absolutely and unequivocally read a certain book. I finished The Dead Tell Lies less than half an hour before writing this post and I can hand on heart say that this is one of the best psychological thrillers I have ever read!

Before I get stuck in with rambling about just how great it is, I want to say a massive thank you to the author and to Rachel @ Rachel’s Random Resources for the chance to read this book and take part in the blog tour. If you haven’t been following it or want to check out more details/opinions of the book, you can check out the other participants of the tour at the end of the post. Please go and check out their posts as well! There are also more posts coming up in the next few days, so don’t forget to keep an eye out for those too!

 

The Dead Tell Lies – J. F. Kirwan

Goodreads – The Dead Tell Lies

Greg Adams, a criminal psychologist at Scotland Yard, specialises in bringing serial killers to justice. He tracks down a spree serial killer nicknamed the Divine, who has already killed six teenage girls and is about to kill a seventh. Greg works out the location where he is hiding and joins a raid. The police capture the Divine and save the girl, but on the very same night, Greg’s wife is brutally murdered by another serial killer, known as the Dreamer.

A year later, unable to bring the killer to justice, Greg has quit his job and is ready to end it all, when he receives a phone call from a man who tells him the Dreamer is dead, and that he didn’t kill Greg’s wife, Kate.

Greg returns to Scotland Yard to work for Superintendent Chief Detective Donaldson in the hope he can re-examine the case with the help of two new detectives, Finch and Matthews.

As Greg delves into the case further, he becomes more convinced that the Dreamer wasn’t the man responsible for his wife’s murder.

But if it wasn’t the Dreamer, who was it?

In order to solve the mystery around his wife’s murder, Greg is going to have to delve even deeper into the mind of a terrifying psychopath. And this time he might not make it back in one piece…

 

Purchase Links –   Amazon UK     Amazon US

 

My Thoughts…

For me, the best indicator of a good psychological thriller is how obsessed you become about trying to work everything out. If it occupies your mind even when you have to put down the book to do the mundane things, you’re on to a good start. Find one that keeps you on the edge of your seat and guessing until all is revealed, and you are onto a winner! The Dead Tell Lies is both of these things. I have been thinking about it almost constantly for the past two days, the timeframe over which I have read the majority of the book.

The Dead Tell Lies is a psychological thriller in the literal sense; our main character Greg is a criminal psychologist, renowned for putting away six serial killers throughout his career. He has the scary ability to get into the mind of a serial killer to unravel their motives and use it to get them off the streets for good. When his wife turns up dead with the classic signature of The Dreamer’s killings, it seems that things have gotten personal.

Greg is a really likeable character. He’s wickedly smart but just as human and vulnerable as the rest of us. I think that is the part that appealed to me as a reader. He is the personality we get behind emotionally. When he summons his ‘cold fire’, his semi-detached emotional drive, to get under a serial killer’s skin and crack the case, he’s a completely different man. We stand firmly behind him as his motives are to save lives by catching the killer, but his demeanour and mental state when he is “in the zone” is unnerving!

The Dead Tell Lies is packed full of action and there is never a dull moment. It’s easy to pick up but impossible to put down once you are in the thick of the narrative and dying to know what happens next. The book is also very cleverly written. I found myself trying to find hidden clues and working out the subtext constantly, but alas, authors only leave behind clues for the things they want you as a reader to know! It makes it all the more exciting when it’s time for the big reveal.

With the way this book ended, it could equally remain a standalone or become part of a series. I seriously hope for the latter because I would love to don Greg’s shoes again and delve into another captivating thriller. I have already added another series written by this author to my TBR having loved this so much! I’ll just have to pick that up and cross my fingers in the meantime…

 

Author Bio

J. F. Kirwan is an insomniac who writes thrillers in the dead of night. He is also a psychologist, and has drawn upon this expertise, including being taught by a professor who examined serial killers for Scotland Yard, to pen the crime/mystery/thriller The Dead Tell Lies for Bloodhound Books. He wanted to shed light not only on the darkness of serial killers, but of those who track them down, who must inevitably step inside the serial killer’s worldview, and may not come out clean afterwards. He is also the author of the Nadia Laksheva thriller series for HarperCollins (66 Metres, 37 Hours and 88 North). His favourite authors include Lee Child, David Baldacci and Jo Nesbo. He is married, and has a daughter and a new grandson, and lives between Paris and London.

Social Media Links –

www.jfkirwan.com

@kirwanjf

https://www.facebook.com/kirwanjf/

2020 Resolutions – Mid Year Review

Although it’s a little past the midyear mark, I knew I wanted to have a look at my progress towards my reading goals halfway through the year. It’s a good opportunity to see how well I am doing and to see if I need to make any changes over the coming months to achieve my goals.

If you need a refresher of my 2020 Resolutions you can find that post here, however, I will touch on the key points in this post.

 

Reading Goal #1 – Goodreads Challenge

I have set myself a reading goal every year since 2017. I like having the challenge of a certain number of books to read before the end of the year. Most years have been started off quite conservatively and I have revised my goal later… I didn’t want to do that this year. I also wanted to attempt to set a new record, even if it is only by a few books from my previous one.

Admittedly, this year isn’t as much of a roaring success as previous years. In part, that’s because I set myself a target that was actually going to be a challenge from day 1. In addition, I’ve also made some pretty big undertakings outside of reading and blogging. The most significant of these has been moving house. It’s a big task anyway, but the way covid-19 panned out, I ended up packing up, moving out and unpacking again all by myself. My parents really wanted to help and didn’t want me to have to deal with it all alone, but unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way.

Although I have moved now, I am still doing a lot of stuff with the new house. I’ve just spent the last week redecorating three rooms and I still have halfway to go. That’s not the only thing, however. When I set my goals at the beginning of the year, I didn’t even know that I was going to get sponsorship to sit exams relevant to my job. I hadn’t even considered it. I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity though.

Is my reading goal in light of the above ambitious? Yes. But is it unachievable? No. I think I can still do it. To date, I am 7 books behind schedule. It’s enough, but I could claw it back. Even if I don’t, I’m not going to kick myself over it. It’s still a lot of reading to do in an already busy period. Even if I manage to keep pace and still finish the year 7 books behind schedule, I’ll still complete the year having beaten last year’s record. It’s still something to be proud of!

 

Reading Goal #2 – Beat the Backlist

I feel this challenge has fallen off the wagon a little bit, but I have and will continue to try and read the earliest books on my TBR to beat the backlist. The full list of books I wanted to read by the end of the year is on my 2020 Resolutions post if you want to check out what they are.

To date, I have completed 5/25 books on the list. It doesn’t sound like much, but I think it’s fair to note that I have also started and DNF’d an additional 3 books on that list. At the beginning of the year, I was good to religiously ensure these were added to my TBR, but since moving house I’ve not been so good at it. I do have one of these books on July’s TBR, so it is still in mind to complete. I’m sure I could make more of an effort to step it up though. This might not be achievable by the end of the year, but so long as I am trying to read and take books off the TBR then it balances out the new ones I’m adding!

 

Reading Goal #3 – Borrow from my local library

Covid-19 firmly put a spanner in the works with this particular challenge as well. The library I have registered with and borrow books from is actually near to my work. I haven’t been going into work since mid/late March, so I’ve not had the ability to pop in even when they did re-open a few weeks ago! I did make an effort to use their digital library to see if they had copies of the books I was interested in, but unfortunately in every single case I looked, they didn’t have what I was after.

All being well, I should be going back into work soon and be able to make use of the library (and their physical collection) more. The lack of progress on this challenge to date is entirely circumstantial. Should we be in the unfortunate circumstance where covid-19 comes back, I will be back in the same boat and honestly, I won’t want to borrow during that time anyway. Sorry, hygiene comes first! I’m not stressing about this particular goal, I’ll be honest. My justification for this goal in the first place was to try to save some money for the house move, but I’ve managed just fine as it is.

 

So, that’s where I am up to with this year’s resolutions. What are your reading goals for the year, and how are you doing with them?

 

 

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Sunday Summary – 12th July 2020

Hi everyone and welcome to today’s slightly belated weekly update. Yesterday I took part in a blog tour for Grace & Serenity by Annalisa Crawford. As it’s etiquette to not publish another post on the same day, my update is coming to you a couple of hours later than usual.

In addition to that, I’ve also shared a couple more with you this week. On Tuesday I shared a Top Ten Tuesday post; this week’s topic was Authors I’ve Read the Most Books By. The top names on the list weren’t really a surprise, but towards the end, there were a few unexpected ones! Later in the week I shared another Shelf Control post and featured a classic novel that others in my year at school studied, but I did not. It’s a well-known classic, so I imagine a lot of readers have picked it up – hence why I want to.

 

Books Read

This week has been a bit unusual, to say the least. Typically my updates largely feature physical books or e-books that I have read, and MAYBE I’ll have a wee bit of progress on my current audiobook on a good week. This week totally flips this convention on its head.

I have spent this week off work to catch up on redecorating my house. I’ve managed to give three rooms a fresh lick of paint and I’m really pleased with how they have turned out. As a result, I haven’t been reading much, but instead, I’ve been listening to audiobooks whilst I work.

As of my last update, I was around 40% of the way through Whispers Underground by Ben Aaronovitch. This week, I managed to finish this, as well as listen to Broken Homes and Foxglove Summer (the next two books in the series) in their entirety. I don’t think I have ever listened to so many hours in one week!

In the evenings whilst I was enjoying much-needed breaks, I did manage to read Grace & Serenity by Annalisa Crawford. It was quite a short read, so it worked out nicely to read the book just prior to reviewing but still be able to fit it into a busy schedule.

 

Books Discovered

Since I finished both Broken Homes and Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch, I bought the next two audiobooks in the series with credits I had. Other than that though, it’s fair to say I’ve been too distracted for book shopping…

 

Coming Up…

It’s a little late given that we are nearly midway through July already, but I want to take the opportunity to review my progress towards my reading goals set at the beginning of the year. With that in mind, this is going to be one of the first posts I publish next week.

I’m going to skip my regular First Lines Friday feature next week as I have a blog tour to take part in on Saturday. I’m going to be picking up The Dead Tell Lies by J R Kirwan and I need to read and have my review ready for Saturday morning.

Lastly, next week’s Sunday Summary post will be going live on Sunday evening, as usual.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s Sunday Summary update! What have you been reading this week?

 

 

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Blog Tour Review: Grace & Serenity – Annalisa Crawford

Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Grace & Serenity by Annalisa Crawford. I’m excited to be taking part and sharing my views on the book and the topics it covers. Usually, I’d be sharing my weekly update Sunday Summary post a little later today, but that will be going live first thing Monday morning instead.

Before we get into the details of the book and what I made of it, I always like to take the opportunity in this introduction to thank both Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources and the author for the chance to take part in the tour!

Now, here are the details of the book –

 

Grace & Serenity – Annalisa Crawford

Goodreads – Grace & Serenity

Living on the streets is terrifying and exhausting. Grace’s only comforts are a steady stream of vodka, and a strange little boy who’s following her around.

At nineteen, Grace has already had a child and endured an abusive marriage. But she’s also had her baby abducted by her vengeful husband and been framed as a neglectful mother. Even her own parents doubted her version of the story. So she did the only thing that made sense to her—run away.

The streets are unforgiving. Winter is drawing in. And Grace isn’t prepared for the harsh realities of survival. At her very bleakest, a Good Samaritan swoops into her life and rescues her. With a roof over her head and food in her stomach, she longs to see her baby again.

But nothing ever comes for free.

 

Purchase Links – Amazon UK     Amazon US

 

My Thoughts…

It’s hard to imagine the struggles the young girlish version of Grace we see at the beginning of the book will go through.

One of the biggest flags for how well a character is written is how much I get emotionally involved with them. Within the first few pages, we see Grace’s planned-out life spiralling out of her grasp and into trouble. A lot of the struggles she goes through throughout the book aren’t her fault and as a reader, my heart went out to her. I wanted to help her get out of the difficult situation she found herself in, just as you would if you met this person in real life.

Another character, Neil, made my blood boil. I can think of plenty of names for this “man”, but for the sake of keeping this review PG, I won’t mention them. Even just the mention of him riled me up. From the very beginning, his controlling nature is apparent, but Grace doesn’t see his true colours until it’s too late.

Many tricky subjects are covered in the book. Domestic abuse is one of the most prominent ones, but I also suspect Grace experiences postnatal depression. It isn’t really made a point of in the book, but there are some symptoms hinted at in the narrative. It just goes to show how easily it can go undetected.

I found the structure of the book to be really easy to read. The short chapters make the text digestible and it’s easy to justify the ‘one more chapter’ before bed. It was never just one more in my case… trust me! The action moves at a compelling yet steady pace, which keeps the narrative moving along nicely.

As the book is written from the perspective of Grace we experience her life in detail. Interwoven with all the action are her intimate thoughts and feelings. It’s really easy to find yourself in her shoes and understand her position. The delicate balance of character development and action means that there is no compromise on either side; Grace & Serenity has an enjoyable, detailed storyline and strong character development.

I really enjoyed this dark contemporary novel and it has been a pleasure to share my thoughts with you for the blog tour! If you want to find out more, please check out the listings on Amazon and/or the posts of other bloggers who have also taken part in the tour.

 

Author Bio

Annalisa Crawford lives in Cornwall UK, with a good supply of moorland and beaches to keep her inspired. She lives with her husband, two sons, and dog.

Crawford writes dark contemporary, character-driven stories, with a hint of the paranormal.

Over the years, she has won several competitions, and had many short stories published in small press journals and online. Highlights include being placed 3rd in the Costa Short Story Award 2015 and being longlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize and Bath Short Story Award in 2018.

 

Social Media Links –

Website: https://www.annalisacrawford.com/

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/annalisacrawford.author

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnnalisaCrawf

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/annalisa_crawford/

 

Top Ten Tuesday – Authors I’ve Read the Most Books By

Hey guys – welcome back to another Top Ten Tuesday post! It has been a little while since I posted one of these and I liked the look of this week’s topic. If you want to check out the schedule of topics, they can be found on the host’s blog at http://www.thatartsyreadergirl.com/top-ten-tuesday/.

The best book recommendations are the books you have read yourself. It’s fair and well recommending a book you have heard of based on its genre, for example, but it’s not the same as a recommendation based on your own experience of it. If I’m asked for recommendations I will always try to suggest something I have read personally. If you ask me for a romance recommendation, then you’re out of luck. Otherwise, I’m sure I’ve read something that may be of interest.

The best recommendations when it comes to authors, in my book, are for authors that you go back to again and again. There are a number of fantastic authors I don’t get to feature here as we are purely talking numbers. These top ten authors are the ones I have read the most books by. I had a good idea of who the frontrunners were going to be when I picked the topic, but others towards the end of the list were a bit less prominent in my mind. Would you like to find out who my top ten are?

 

Terry Pratchett – 18 Books

I have a bit of a confession. Sir Terry had actually slipped my mind when I was having a casual think about my list. He is the frontrunner by far with my reading his Discworld books. How I could forget about him is beyond me!

I like the Discworld series for the variety of characters, and that whilst the storylines have different themes and topics, there is plenty of diversity. The characters do tend to pop up again as well. I doubt any of them could avoid mischief if they tried!

In addition to the Discworld series, I also tried Good Omens, a collaboration between Terry and Neil Gaiman. I didn’t really get on with that book though. If I’m honest, I think its Neil Gaiman’s twist on the tale. Terry’s humour was there, but I wish there was more of it.

 

Brandon Sanderson – 8 Books

Brandon Sanderson was the first name that popped into my head for this topic. It’s only fair really considering I’ve read three of his books this year alone.

The thing I love most about Brandon Sanderson is that you find all the great qualities of his writing in all his books and across vastly different series. The main one I have read is the Mistborn series, but I have also started The Stormlight Archives and I read Elantris last year. His writing is consistently good across all the books I have read so far. I also have many more on the TBR, which is testament to how highly I rate him as an author.

 

George R. R. Martin – 8 Books

George R. R. Martin was also bound to be high up on the list. The current count stands at 8 books – I have read all the books of his A Song of Ice and Fire series (more than once!) and a collection of short stories called Dreamsongs. I also have Fire & Blood on my shelves to pick up… and maybe I’ll even pick up some other GoT related books whilst I’m waiting for the next book in the series.

Whilst he isn’t the frontrunner on my top ten list, he is by far my favourite!

 

J. K. Rowling – 7 Books

J. K. Rowling is a standout inclusion on the list. No prizes for guessing that she features on the list as I have read all the Harry Potter books. What makes her the most unusual author on this list is that I haven’t read any of her books for a long time. I’ve picked all the others up a lot more recently. I’m trying to think back and honestly, I can’t remember how old I was when I finished this series. I was definitely a teenager and still in school. I can even remember the summer holiday we were on when I read it, but not the year. It’s a long time ago anyway.

I am seriously considering a re-read of these books, perhaps next year. I really enjoyed these growing up, but I wonder if I’ll read them differently now I’m older and know the story. Are there details I missed?

 

K. J. McGillick – 7 Books

 

I hadn’t realised I had read so many of K. J. McGillick’s books now, so this was a little bit of a surprise to me. I’ve taken part in the blog tours for all the books I’ve read and every book has been consistently good. As a lesser-known name than some of the others I’m featuring in this list, I’d like to take the opportunity to give her a shout out and recommend you to read her books. If you are a fan of thrillers, please check them out!

 

Stephen King – 6 Books

Stephen King was another name I was certain would be on today’s list. I’ve read a bit of a mix of his books and I have plenty more on the TBR. I originally read The Green Mile, which is one of my favourite books of all time. From there I tried The Gunslinger, the first book in his The Dark Tower series. As a blend with fantasy, it was the perfect book to read to try more of his works. I fell in love with his writing style and shortly after read my first horror novel, Pet Sematary. That was shortly followed by IT.

I plan on reading a lot more of his books. Again, Stephen King is a fantastically diverse author and I enjoy reading his completely different stories. I have some iconic books like Carrie and The Shining to read yet…

 

Laini Taylor – 5 Books

I’m glad Laini Taylor made the top ten because I always enjoy talking about her books. I bought a copy of Strange the Dreamer having heard fantastic reviews and let me say, I’m so glad I did! I remember I picked up the book on a whim one day – I must have been having a slow time with my current read at the time. It wasn’t on my reading list, and yet I read it from cover to cover in a matter of days! I was hooked from the beginning and so excited for Muse of Nightmares that I pre-ordered a copy. I don’t pre-order books that often so the fact that I did should say a lot!

More recently I have fallen in love with her Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. You can find many posts on those on my blog so I won’t waffle about them here. I haven’t got any other books of hers on the TBR, but I’ll be watching closely for any new releases in case they catch my eye.

 

Jennifer Macaire – 5 Books

Jennifer Macaire was another surprise name on the list. To date, I have read four books from her The Time for Alexander series and another novel set in a different time period but linked to that series. I am always trying to broaden the topics and time periods featured in the historical fiction novels I read, although I will always have firm favourites as well. The Time for Alexander was a completely new setting for me and really fun to read.

Again as a lesser-known name, this is a shout out for historical fiction fans to check her out!

 

Terry Goodkind – 4 Books

Having gone through my read list, I had a few authors floating around the 4 books mark. It was a little difficult to choose who to feature at this point, but I felt it only fair to include Terry Goodkind. I discovered his Sword of Truth series in my high school library and I read the first few books whilst I was there.

Years later I picked up the fifth book of the series, Soul of the Fire, although since it had been such a long time since reading the previous books I struggled and eventually DNF’d it. I think I would like to try and get back into it again and finish the series – but it’s a long one!

 

Bernard Cornwell – 4 Books

For the same reason as Terry Goodkind, I included Bernard Cornwell on the list over other authors I have also read four books by because I am reading a fifth at the moment. I started The Burning Land, the fifth book in his Saxon Stories series just a couple of weeks ago and it’s on this month’s TBR.

So, there’s my top ten list! Have you read any books by these authors? Are any your favourite? Let me know in the comments?

 

 

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