Tag: audiobook

Sunday Summary – 23rd January 2022

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

I began this week by sharing a book tag post with you all. The Bookaholics Anonymous Book Tag was really fun to get involved in and to share my answers for. I like these posts because they’re quite casual, but also give you the chance to learn a little bit about me. If you haven’t checked out that post yet you can do so using the link above, and if you’d like to take part I’d love for you to link to me so I can see your answers!

My Friday feature post this week was a Shelf Control post. This week’s featured book is one from a genre I don’t read much of. That said, this author is also a bit of a go-to for me and I won’t hesitate to read any of his books even if they’re not normally my cup of tea. He’s a household name and I’m sure if you haven’t read the book yourself, you’ve probably watched a film based on it!

 

Books Read

I don’t know what happened this week, but the amount of reading I’ve done compared to recent weeks is off the charts!

As of last week’s Sunday Summary post I was just over 200 pages into Dune by Frank Herbert, which equates to 38%. I finished the book on Wednesday! I must’ve just hit a point in the narrative where it clicked for me. It was perhaps a little bit slow to start, or at least, there was a lot of groundwork needed before the action began. My progress up until this week was getting through that, but once the action started I was in and hooked! I enjoyed reading this book – it’s been on my shelf for five years nearly and I can finally tick it off the list!

In addition, I have been reading a further two books side-by-side this week. I started with reading The Original Folk and Fairytales of the Brother’s Grimm,  translated by Jack Zipes. This is a collection of the original versions of folk and fairytales collated by the brothers and published in 1812. Even from the few I’ve read so far, the tales have changed dramatically since they were originally published. The majority of these tales were previously passed down orally, which is apparent from the way they’ve been documented. Originally, the brothers aimed to maintain as much fidelity to the oral tales as possible. They lack polish, some of them are incomplete or have alternative endings and there are some significant changes from the fairytales we know today. I like how the book includes well-known fairytales, such as Cinderella and Hansel and Gretel, but equally, there are so many other stories that we don’t know. As of this update post, I’m 79 pages into this book.

I’m finding that it’s a book to pick up in short bursts, however. With that in mind, I have also started reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling. It’s nice to have a blend of short stories that I can pick up and put down very easily, and also a longer story that is easy to take in. This particular book is a re-read so I’m fully familiar with the story, but I’m still enjoying all the same! That is obvious by my progress; I’m 124 pages into this book already.

I have listened to a very small amount of A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin this week. It’s almost not worth mentioning because it’s probably only a couple of chapters, but it’s better than nothing right?!

 

Books Discovered

 

I’ve made two additions to my TBR list this week.

The first book I’ve added is The First Binding by R. R. Virdi. It is due to be published in August this year and I like the sound of the narrative based on the synopsis. To me, the narrative sounds like it could be very reminiscent of Patrick Rothfuss’ The Kingkiller Chronicles books. We shall see on that front, but I’m always open to new authors and this sounds like it could be a great fantasy series!

The second addition to my TBR is Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert, the sequel to Dune. There are quite a few books in the series and it’s one that I would like to continue with and chip away at over time.

 

Coming Up…

I have prepared a book review to share with you next week. I’ve been looking back through my list of books read and decided that I’m going to share a review of Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham. I don’t read much in the way of non-fiction, but I really liked how this book balanced the entertainment of reading element, but also managed to inform and educate me as a reader. I went into this book with very little knowledge of the disaster, but that didn’t matter. If you want to check out that post, that will be going live on Tuesday.

My regular Friday feature is a First Lines Friday post this week. For this post, I’m setting myself the challenge of featuring a book I read as a teenager in my pre-blog days. I’ve read so many great ones and there are several that I would like to go back to again. I feel like this post is probably going to encourage me to do this even more! You’ll have to check out my post on Friday to see which book I’ve chosen to feature.

And last but not least, I’ll be rounding off the week with another Sunday Summary update.

What have you been reading this week? Do you have any recommendations for me?

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Sunday Summary – 16th January 2022

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

I have been keeping busy this week. I’ve been doing quite well in working towards getting blog posts written a little bit more in advance compared to last year. I have managed to get myself organised nicely so this will be continuing going forward. It’s a little bit more work in the short term, but in the long term, I will be drafting posts in the same kind of frequency, just a week in advance!

The post I shared at the beginning of this week was a book review for Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. It’s one of those books that you start to review and honestly question whether you can do it justice! I enjoyed this book and I hope that comes across in my review; if there is anyone who dismisses reading classics because they read them at school or they think they’re boring and stuffy then I’d ask you to please give them a chance. Of all the books I’ve read, I would say Brave New World is a great one to try. It is easy to follow and it’s a relatively short read as well!

My Friday feature post this week was a First Lines Friday post. In that post, I set myself the challenge of featuring a non-fiction novel. This week’s excerpt is deliberately short because the scene depicted gets a little bit graphic after the opening paragraph. In the interest of not upsetting anyone I’ve excluded it, but the first paragraph gives you an idea of the content of the book. I am personally excited to read this one!

 

Books Read

As of last week‘s Sunday Summary update I was 62 pages into Dune by Frank Herbert. Dune has been my main area of progress this week, with a further 140 pages read.

I’m really enjoying the storyline, however in terms of what is going on and the writing style I find it quite dense. It’s the sort of book that is good to read, but is best picked up little and often. I usually find I get about 30 odd pages through before I have to put it down again to digest what I’ve read. It doesn’t detract from the story or anything at all; I am really enjoying it. I just can’t read it in large quantities! Having said that, the last time I picked up the book I think I managed to get around 40 or 50 pages through before I had to put it down. Maybe I’m getting used to it, or maybe it was just an exceptionally good part. I am looking forward to picking this up tonight once this post has gone live and continuing this over the next week!

As well as reading Dune, I’ve also been continuing to listen to A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin this week. I’ll hold my hands up and say that I haven’t listen to as much of this audiobook this week as I wanted to, or should have. That’s okay though! The important thing is to read and listen at a pace I’m happy with and what I have listened to has been really good.

 

Books Discovered

For the first time in a few weeks I can happily say that I haven’t added anything else to my reading list this week!

 

Coming Up…

Early next week I am sharing a book tag on my blog. It’s one that I saw completed by another blogger and I thought it would be fun to take part in! It’s been a little while since I’ve done anything like that. I really enjoy reading these posts because you get to learn a little bit about the person behind the blog. But also, they’re fun to write. This particular tag is called The Bookaholics Anonymous Book Tag and I hope you can check that out in the coming days.

My regular feature on Friday is going to be a Shelf Control post. This week’s featured book is a good one and slightly different from the usual content of my blog. There’s only one author I would read without hesitation who frequents the horror genre – Stephen King. I’m excited to be featuring one of his books later this week – but you’ll have to check my post out on Friday if you want to find out which book I’m talking about!

And as always, I’ll be rounding off the week with another Sunday Summary post.

Until then, I hope you have a great week! Are you currently reading or listening to any interesting books?

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Sunday Summary – 9th January 2022

Good evening everyone and welcome to my weekly Sunday Summary update. It’s been a busy week since my last post! Not only have I been working towards my goal of preparing blog posts a little bit earlier, but I’ve also been reading a lot more than I have been for several months.

At the beginning of this week, I shared my Monthly TBR post. Yes, I’m back to sharing reading lists, but with a little more flexibility than before. Instead of giving myself a completely fixed list for the month, I’ve decided on a compromise and I’m only setting myself a couple of books on each TBR. That allows me some time and space to pick up any other book(s) I want to read once those are done. This way I think I get the best of both worlds. I get the structure of having a couple of fixed ones, but also the flexibility to be able to pick up anything on a whim!

Later in the week, I shared a Shelf Control post with you. This week’s featured book is one that I’m excited to pick up. From what my mum has told me this is the start of the series that my grandad used to enjoy reading. I’m looking forward to picking it up and seeing if we have a commonality in enjoying this particular series. And it sounds good and I trust his judgement so I’m sure I will!

 

Books Read

As of last week‘s Sunday Summary update post I was 75% through reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. I had every confidence that I was going to be telling you I had finished this book this week and I’m pleased to tell you that is the case! I finished this reasonably quickly after sharing my last update with you! The narrative has a lot of different elements and I loved how it brought them together. It was a real mix of genres and I enjoyed how they were blended together.

Next, I decided to pick up The Feedback Loop by Harmon Cooper. This particular book is only a couple of hundred pages long and I wanted to capitalise on my newfound motivation. I’m glad I made this decision because I managed to finish The Feedback Loop within a couple of evenings. It was really easy to read, full of action and there’s plenty of plotline to keep the reader invested for those couple of hundred pages. From my experience of the first book I’m not sure I’ll go on to read the rest of the series, but it was a perfectly adequate standalone novel to pick up for a quick read!

And then last, but not least, I have made a start reading Dune by Frank Herbert. Given that there’s been a film released recently I’ve seen a lot of people getting copies of this book or even reading it as well. I had actually intended to read this earlier, but last year was a bit of a strange one for me and I didn’t have motivation to pick it up in earnest. However, that is not the case now! I’m currently 62 pages in so I’ve made a solid start. I’ve gotten further than I ever have before into giving this ago and I can’t wait to see how the plot unfolds. It seems like it’s an interesting science-fiction that’s going to have an underpinning element of politics between the characters. I i’ve really enjoyed these kind of elements in previous books (Game of Thrones being the obvious example) and so I can’t wait to see how this works within a science fiction!

Speaking of A Game of Thrones, I have also been listening to my audiobook, A Storm of Swords, as well. One of my plans to help get through this particular audiobook was to listen to it (at least) during my morning and evening commute to work. I didn’t quite do that every day, however I did it for most and I also managed to sneak in an extra hour or two here and there throughout the week. I’m pleased with how far I am through at the moment and I think I’m on track to be close to finishing this by the end of the month.

 

Books Discovered

I added a good few books to my TBR recently. In last week’s Sunday Summary update I shared a fair old list. Whilst I would love to say that I haven’t added any more because frankly I already have enough, I’d be lying. I decided to go for a look in our local Waterstones on Friday (as I had some vouchers that were obviously burning a hole in my pocket), and well, you probably know what’s coming. I bought myself a couple. Shock!

Now technically, only one of the books I bought is a new addition to my TBR. After the release of Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff, I promptly added this to my list to be read. I have really come to love he’s never night series and I knew straightaway that I wanted to pick this up. Having seen a gorgeous hardcover copy in Waterstones, I had to. I just had to!

The second book I purchased is Starsight by Brandon Sanderson. It’s the second book of the Skyward series; I already have the first book upstairs. Brandon Sanderson is a go-to author for me. I absolutely love his works and the variety between them and so this was a no-brainer to pick up. I was, however, surprised to see that although I had a copy of Skyward upstairs already, I hadn’t added this first book to my TBR. A slight oversight on my part, but now both Skyward and Starsight are safely on the list to be read.

At some point.

 

Coming Up…

Early next week I will be sharing a book review with you all! It has been about a month since my last one and so I felt it time to start sharing them again. If I’m going to be reading more than before I’m going to have to step up the number of reviews I’m sharing. I also have a bit of a backlog, so you can expect to see more of these soon. For this week’s feature, I am sharing my thoughts on Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I really enjoyed reading this classic novel and given that it’s a reasonably short one I think it’s a great one for anyone to pick up.

Later in the week I’ll be back with a First Lines Friday feature. Whilst I haven’t christened the particular book I’m going to be featuring yet (and I will be deciding and preparing this post imminently) I have decided that I’m going to set myself a challenge of featuring a non-fiction book. I hope you can join me on Friday to check out what this week’s featured book is!

And as always, I’ll be rounding off the week with another Sunday Summary update and sharing with you all my reading news.

 

Until then, I hope you have a great week! Are you currently reading or listening to any interesting books?

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Monthly TBR – January 2022

It has been a long time since I drafted a TBR post but I’m really excited to be here and sharing my TBR for January 2022 with you today! If you have checked out my 2022 New Year Goals/Resolutions post you’ll know that this year I am back with sharing TBR’s at the beginning of the month, but with some tweaks. Not only do I anticipate reading less than previous years (my goal is 40 books in 2022), but I’m also going to be incorporating the element of mood reading that I enjoyed in 2021. So, as a result, I will be setting a couple of fixed books on my monthly TBR, but I will also be leaving myself time and flexibility to pick up any mood reads.

So, what am I planning to read this month?

 

Books

Dune – Frank Herbert

Goodreads – Dune

I have tried to pick up Dune casually before but not really taken the time to invest and start it properly. It is probably fairer to say I’ve sampled it. That changes this month! I received a copy of it for my birthday back in February 2017 and given that I’ve owned it for so long and not read it, its way overdue!

I’m also really excited to pick this up. From what I have sampled I think this is one I’m going to really enjoy. It’s a science-fiction classic, and if you have read my blog you’ll know that I’m have been picking up more science-fiction. I like the concept of the synopsis and with the new lease of life I’ve found within myself I think it’s the right time to challenge myself to this one.

 

The Feedback Loop – Harmon Cooper

Goodreads – The Feedback Loop

Whilst I haven’t officially set myself the goal of clearing down my TBR, it makes sense that I continue this endeavour. I have nearly 200 books on my list, and unless I read them or take them off they are not going away!

The Feedback Loop is one of the oldest on my list and at around 182 pages, this is a another science-fiction that should be very easy for me to digest. Depending on how I get on with Dune, I may even end up reading this at the same time or as a little bit of a break. Equally, I might not. I’m not ruling anything out. If I have learned anything from 2020 and 2021 it’s that if I’m not in the mood to read something then there is no point in forcing it. I’ll go with the flow… but I fully expect to enjoy both of these.

 

Audiobooks

A Storm of Swords – George R. R. Martin

Goodreads – A Storm of Swords

I’ve decided that I will also be adding the audiobooks I intend to listen to onto my monthly TBR posts. I quite often find myself in a position where I will binge-listen to audiobooks and then I’ll completely fall off the wagon and not listen to any. So, I making it a regular feature to include these in order to regularise my habits.

I started listening to A Storm of Swords right at the end of December and my goal is to listen to as much of this as possible in January. A Storm of Swords is over 47 hours worth of audio, so I’m not going to beat myself up if it takes me a while. However, I will be making a deliberate effort to start listening to these on a more regular basis.

For example, I probably spend about an hour every weekday commuting, so this would be a good opportunity to pop an audiobook on. One of the other activities I have taken up fairly recently and will be doing in 2022 is Pilates. Again, it’s a great time to be able to listen to something – especially as I’m sure I’ll be desperate for a pleasant distraction whilst I’m doing it! But honestly makes it sound like I don’t enjoy it, which isn’t the case at all, but man does it hurt when you don’t have any abs…

Having done some maths I think I can get through most of the audiobook just by listening to it when doing these activities. However, if I can put in some extra time to get it finished then I’ll be a very happy bunny!

 

Mood Reads!

Whilst this section of the TBR is very much fluid and subject to change I have a couple of ideas in mind as to what I think I would like to pick up later in the month. It also depends on how I go as to how many I fit in; I may get round to both of these if I have a good month.

I’m currently torn between continuing my Harry Potter re-read with Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, or alternatively reading The Original Folk & Fairytales of the Brothers Grimm. They are both very different choices and I’ll leave it until I finished both of my ‘set’ reads before I decide fully. I may even change my mind completely in between now and then, but I think it’s a good idea to give you an indication of what I think I’d like to read.

You are always welcome to change my mind; if you have a book recommendation you think is absolutely fantastic then I’d love to hear it!

 

Have you read any of the books on my TBR? What are you reading this month? Let me know!

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Sunday Summary – 2nd January 2022

Good evening everyone and welcome to my first Sunday Summary post of 2022. I have a lot of optimism and motivation for the year! It has been a couple of weeks since my last Sunday Summary post, and so I have a few updates for you!

After my last Sunday Summary post on the 19th December 2021, I announced that I was going to be taking a short break for the festive period. I had family over visiting and it was lovely to just chill out and enjoy spending a wonderful Christmas with everyone!

That’s not to say that nothing was going on in the background, however. After Christmas I started drafting some blog posts ready for the New Year. In particular, I drafted and shared an End of Year Review post for 2021 and shared that on Friday. In that post I looked back at my goals and resolutions for 2021 and discussed how I feel I got on with them. Ultimately, I achieved what I wanted to, which was to take a step back and give myself break whilst still enjoying my hobby. I’m happy that I managed to do this and I still read a decent number of books, so I’ll take that as a win!

I also drafted and another post which I shared with you yesterday. In that post I talked about my New Year Goals/Resolutions for 2022. The main highlight from that post is that I’m back in the game. I got the break I needed and I’m motivated to start setting myself some challenges again. I’m doing so in moderation because I know that I don’t want to burn out again. Not only that, but I have expanded on other hobbies and interests and I will be continuing with those as well. My aim for 2022 is to achieve balance. If you want to read more you can do so using the link provided above to yesterday‘s post!

 

Books Read

Despite it being two weeks since my last update, I’ll confess that all of my recent reading progress has taken place in the last week. As of my last Sunday Summary update I was around 25% of the way through The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. In the last few days I’ve been making a solid effort with this and I’m now 75% of the way through the book. If you needed proof that I am back and raring to go then take this as a sign! I love all the different facets to the story and the most recent plot developments are really intriguing. At this rate, I’m hoping to be telling you next week that I’ve finished this. It’s a shame I’ll have finished it a couple of weeks late to return this to my sister’s boyfriend Chris, but never mind!

In my last Sunday Summary post I was nearly finished with Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell; I only had around 30 minutes of audio left. I’m pleased to say that I finished listening to this one whilst commuting home from work one day this week. To be honest I didn’t think I wasn’t going to achieve this. It was only a little bit left and I really enjoyed listening to this audiobook. Sebastien de Castell is a new author to me and I really enjoyed this book! I am definitely continuing with this series (I’ve already purchased the audiobooks ready to go). I also discovered this week is that I’ve had my eye on another series written by him (Spellslinger), but I hadn’t realised that it was the same author. If I go on to love the rest of these books as I have the first then it’s safe to say I’ll be delving into the second series!

For now though, I’ve started listening to another audiobook. It’s a solid favourite and I can’t wait to get back into this series. I have already read the ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series (a.k.a. A Game of Thrones) at least twice but I’m also now listening to the books. They are very long but audiobooks are an easy way to digest them. I’ve already listened to the first two in the series and so I have moved on to A Storm of Swords. This audiobook is over 47 hours long, so I have my work cut out for me to listen to it. My goal however is to make a habit of listening to it regularly. If I can achieve that then I think I can complete this by the end of January. Wish me luck!

 

Books Discovered

I have been very good and not added many books to my TBR for a good few weeks. But, you know, Christmas has been and gone and so that streak ends here.

I was very lucky to receive copies of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, The Appeal by Janice Hallett and The Promise by Damon Galgut for Christmas. I’m collecting clothbound classics and so the copy of Oliver Twist was very well received for that reason! I’m also really happy to have received the other two books. I hadn’t really read much about them up until I received them, however both books sound really interesting! They were also given to me by someone who has a similar reading taste, so I have every confidence that I’m going to enjoy them!

If that wasn’t enough, I’ve added a couple books to my TBR that I’ve come across as part of completing my CPD for work. I don’t tend to read much in the way of self-help, but I think I could benefit from these two books. The books I have added are Surrounded by Idiots by Thomas Erikson and How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. The crux of both titles is to help the reader develop ways in which to effectively communicate with others, particularly where differences of opinion occur. I’ll hold my hands up and say that I’m not the most diplomatic of people, so I am sure I have plenty to learn from these books!

And then last, but certainly not least, I watched The Imitation Game on New Year’s Eve. It was a fantastic film and all of the actors were brilliant! I don’t watch films very often but I really enjoyed this one. And obviously, we get to the end and I find out it’s based on a book called Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges. So of course, that’s now on the list as well!

It’s a good job I’ve found my reading motivation, right?!

 

Coming Up…

I already have a blog post scheduled for you that is going live tomorrow. If you’ve already read my New Year Goals/Resolutions for 2022 post then you will know that I am setting a monthly TBR for myself again. I’m doing so with a bit of a twist; I’m only setting a couple of books for the month and allowing myself time and space to pick up mood reads as and when those are done. I have shared my fixed list, as well as a couple of provisional titles that I might pick up. But, they may well change once I’ve read the fixed list. If you want to find out what I’m going to be reading in January then check out tomorrow’s post!

I will shortly be drafting the second post of the week, which is a Shelf Control post that will be going live on Friday. I’m working towards drafting my blog posts (with the exception of the Sunday Summary) at least a week in advance and I’m getting there. The book I will be featuring in Friday’s Shelf Control post is an interesting one, because if I remember correctly, my mum says that this is a series that my grandad enjoyed reading. The synopsis of this first book sounds really good, so even without that knowledge I would still be picking this up anyway. If I’ve piqued your interest then make sure to check out my blog on Friday!

And as always, last but not least, I’ll be back with you this time next week for another Sunday Summary update.

Until then, I hope you have a great week full of fantastic books and all the other fun stuff. What are you reading? Have you set yourself a reading goal for 2022?

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Top Ten Tuesday – Books on my Winter 2021 To-Read List

In today’s Top Ten Tuesday post I am going through the books on my winter TBR. Whilst the title does state it is my Winter 2021 TBR, we are already in mid-December and that doesn’t give me very much time until the end of the year. Even with the best will in the world, I couldn’t read 10 books by the end of the year. So, naturally, this list will span into 2022. 

I wanted to take part in today’s post because it’s allowing me to think of the books I want to read in the immediate future, but also those leading into the beginning of 2022 and any goals I have in mind to set myself. This year I have been flying by the seat of my pants are not planning ahead of time. Even when I have made loose plans, I haven’t stuck to them rigidly. I’ve been giving myself the chance to be a mood reader, so as with previous lists set this year it is not concrete, but certainly something I will aim towards over the coming months.

So, want to check out what books are coming up on my winter TBR?


The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

With Christmas just around the corner, winter has certainly started. Therefore, I think it’s important to include my current read as the starting point for this list. I have just picked up The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. It is a historical fiction novel, and I’m excited to read this because it’s unlike anything I have read before. It was a recommendation to me by my sister’s boyfriend Chris. The copy I’m reading right now belongs to him – he’s loaned it to me and I’m hoping to return it before he goes home after Christmas. So, there is no time like the present in reading this book!

 

Traitor’s Blade

Along the same lines as above, I think I should also include my current audiobook lesson on this list. I’m most of the way through it now, but I’m currently listening to Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell. This is a completely new book, series and author for me but I have had a great time listening to it so far. I can’t wait to reach the conclusion of this book and go on to listen to the rest of the series! Based on what I have listened to so far I have high hopes for enjoying this one.

 

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince & Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I had the idea in my mind that I wanted to re-read the Harry Potter series during 2021. We are fast approaching the end of the year and so it goes without saying that finishing this series will continue on into next year. However, the idea was a loose one and I’m not upset that I haven’t met the goal of reading it by the end of the year. In fact, I have really enjoyed reading the previous books at the pace I have. There is absolutely no rush and the point of re-reading these books is to enjoy them again. It’s not a race and I I know that I will love these two books as I did in the past!

 

Red Sister

I haven’t read a Mark Lawrence book for a very long time and so I’m hoping to rectify this issue within the next few months. I can’t lie, I was tempted to go back and pick up The Broken Empire series again. However, I have been re-reading a few books this year and given that this author has plenty more to offer, I’m going to try his other works before I go backwards. Red Sister has been on my reading list for quite some time now. It will be good to finally get this underway.

 

Dune

Another book that has been on my reading list for a very long time is Dune by Frank Herbert. I have casually started this book a couple of times before. It was more an experiment really; I wanted to get a feel for the book. At the times I picked this up I wasn’t ready to commit fully but this is a classic that I do want to take the time to sit down and read in full properly soon. I’ve been reading a lot more science fiction of light, so I’m in the best place to finally give this a go.

 

The Feedback Loop

One of the themes of this list is that I want to chip away at some of the oldest books on my TBR. Like in the case of Dune, The Feedback Loop has been on my list for a long time and as another example of a science fiction book that I want to read, it’s about time I got around to this one. The Feedback Loop isn’t quite as long as some of the other books on this list, so I think I might reserve this for a time when I’m either in a bit of a slump or just feel like I need the boost of a shorter book.

 

The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm

Several years ago I requested a copy of Grimm’s original fairytales for my birthday. You may think I’m a bit old to read these, but these are the original stories that modern day fairytales have stemmed from. They are not all fairies and happy ever after is. I wanted to read these original tales to see how they compare with the modern day versions. My understanding is that these are typically a lot darker, but that remains to be seen. The copy I have on my bookshelf waiting is also beautifully illustrated. It’s not the sort of thing I pick up very often so I’m looking forward to reading this for a bit of a change.

 

A Clash of Kings (audiobook)

I plan to listen to more audiobooks within the next few months. I’ve been doing really well with audiobooks of light and I wish to continue that trend. If you read my blog or listen to my rambling enough you will know that I love love love the A Game of Thrones series by George R. R. Martin. I have read the books at least twice and now I am making my way through the audiobooks. So far I’ve only listened to the first one, but I hope to change that in the next two months. A Clash of Kings is next on my list to listen to and given but I am now listening more regularly, this shouldn’t take as long as the first one.

 

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

I have been making a conscious effort to read more in the way of classics over recent years. One of those on my TBR pile that is definitely coming up due for a read is this book. I really like the sound of the synopsis and so it makes sense to pick this up shortly and tick it off the TBR. It’s also the only classic on this list and having the diversity in the books I choose to pick up can only be a good thing. 

 

I hope you have enjoyed today’s Top Ten Tuesday post and that you like the sound of the books coming up (fingers crossed) within the next few months. Have you read any of these books? Are any of them on your list to read at any point? As always, I’d love to hear from you!

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Audiobook Review: Whispers Under Ground – Ben Aaronovitch

In today’s audiobook review I’m featuring a book that I listened to well over a year ago! It’s scary that time has flown so quickly. I distinctly remember listening to this during the time when I was doing a lot of redecorating. I spent a week painting and this was one of the audiobooks that got me through.

After listening to Rivers of London and Moon over Soho, I had high hopes for this audiobook. The previous two were brilliant and I’m pleased to say that Whispers Under Ground lived up to expectations!

 

Whispers Under Ground – Ben Aaronovitch

Goodreads – Whispers Under Ground

In Tufnell Park, North London, a pair of railway tracks diver under a school, taking train to and from Kings Cross. Wet, filthy, dangerous. Lovely place. And one Sunday before Christmas a sweet (sort of) kid called Abigail took me and my long suffering colleague Lesley May down there to look for a ghost.

We found one.

And that was that, I thought, because come Monday I get to do some proper policing. Person Unknown has been stabbed to death on the tracks at Baker Street tube. Magic may have been involved. And sure enough, in the blood; vestigia, the tell-tale trail magic leaves.

Person Unknown turns out to be the son of a US senator and before you can say ‘International incident’. FBI agent Kimberley Reynolds and her firmly held religious beliefs are on my case.

And down in the dark, in the tunnels of London’s Underground, the buried rivers, the Victorian sewers, I’m hearing whispers of ancient arts and tortured, vengeful spirits…

 

My Thoughts…

Ben Aaronovitch has a fantastic way of melding magic and the real world together seamlessly. You wouldn’t think the two would go together so well, however, the magic in his Rivers of London series is so ingrained into its society that it’s very normal. Ghosts and magical deities governing the waters through London are all part of the day job for Peter Grant. It would be ludicrous in any other circumstance, yet somehow it just works! And you know me; I love magic in novels! What makes this a real winner for me is how even something so abstract can be written with rules that govern it. Things don’t just disappear because it’s convenient. There’s almost a degree of science behind it, which gives it some tangibility in our very black and white idea of reality.

I am enjoying the underpinning story that is developing throughout the series, but the charm of Whispers Under Ground lies in the smaller story of this book itself. In terms of the bigger picture, I feel like Whispers Under Ground is setting the scene for the later books to pick up from. There is nothing wrong with that and it is still enjoyable to see play out in the background.

The biggest selling point for me though is Peter Grant’s character. Telling an already fantastic story from the perspective of a funny, charismatic narrative voice, who isn’t shy with the dry self-depreciating wit or nerdy references just works! And props to the narrator for pulling off this character so well! I feel like I said this in every audiobook with you I’ve written so far, but it’s absolutely true! I also like that there is the consistency within the series; it would just be wrong otherwise.

As a general rule urban fantasy isn’t a branch that I read much of. However, it’s books like this series that prove why it’s good to push your boundaries. I’m really enjoying it so far and I can’t wait to see where the rest of the series takes us!

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Audiobook Review: Moon Over Soho – Ben Aaronovitch

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s audiobook review of Moon over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch. I started listening to this series last year and to date I have listened to over half of it. As you can tell, I’ve really gotten into it! If you would like to find out my thoughts on the first instalment of the series, you can find my audiobook review of Rivers of London here.

 

Moon Over Soho – Ben Aaronovitch

Goodreads – Moon Over Soho

The song. That’s what London constable and sorcerer’s apprentice Peter Grant first notices when he examines the corpse of Cyrus Wilkins, part-time jazz drummer and full-time accountant, who dropped dead of a heart attack while playing a gig at Soho’s 606 Club. The notes of the old jazz standard are rising from the body—a sure sign that something about the man’s death was not at all natural but instead supernatural.

Body and soul. They’re also what Peter will risk as he investigates a pattern of similar deaths in and around Soho. With the help of his superior officer, Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, the last registered wizard in England, and the assistance of beautiful jazz aficionado Simone Fitzwilliam, Peter will uncover a deadly magical menace—one that leads right to his own doorstep and to the squandered promise of a young jazz musician: a talented trumpet player named Richard “Lord” Grant—otherwise known as Peter’s dear old dad.

 

My Thoughts…

Rivers of London felt like it could’ve been a good standalone novel. However, Moon over Soho in my opinion, has more of a series vibe and does a good job of setting the scene for the series as a whole. In this particular book we start to see some longer plot elements coming into play and I really enjoyed how it picked up on the events from the first book.

The series is told from the perspective of rookie Detective Peter Grant. He operates in the only division of the police force that deals with the supernatural. His days on the beat are far from ordinary. Peter is a very typical young man raised in Britain and he is no stranger to English charm. He is very much in tune with the darker side of people, especially in a large city such as London. Growing up in such a setting it can only be expected that he has a typical British sense of humour and I really love that! The dry humour adds a lot to the narrative and keeps the reader engaged.

Moon over Soho has a quirky plot line and I enjoyed how Peter’s family are introduced in further detail. It adds a lot of depth to Peter’s character and I feel like we get to learn a lot more of his family dynamic than the first book. By including them, more we get to explore a brand-new set of characters as well as firm favourites from Rivers of London.

I have one pet hate about the female characters in these novels so far, as it is very clear that a lot of them are sexualised – especially young ones. Take Simone for example. Like Simone, I am a larger lady. As a larger lady, I can promise you that we would never, ever deliberately wear underwear too small for sex appeal. This book portrays it as sexy, with lumps and bumps exploding curvaceously in all the right places. You can tell she has been written by someone who has never had to wear an ill-fitting bra for a single day in his life. Women know the truth of how bras fit… or more importantly, how they don’t! Wearing bras that are too small emphasises back fat, underwires dig into your armpits and small straps can rub the skin off your shoulders, to name but a few issues they cause. That kind of pain is not something that women would deliberately choose to inflict upon themselves!

Still think this is sexy, Mr Aaronovitch? My point is it isn’t a realistic expectation of what women should look like or how they do look. In a world full of body dysmorphia I think it’s important to emphasise this. Women should absolutely not do it and frankly it’s not attractive!

Okay, rant over.

Don’t get me wrong, this hasn’t impacted how much I’ve enjoyed the book but it is becoming apparent that the author does have a penchant for sexualising female characters. I’ve gone on to listen to more of the audiobooks so clearly it isn’t a huge issue for me, but I wish that he didn’t. It hardly encourages anyone to see anything in women beyond the physical appearance, which at least is shallow and at most, well, insulting.

As this is an audiobook review it’s only fair to mention the format itself and how much I enjoyed this second audiobook being narrated by the same person. I’ve already raved about how good he is at bringing life to an already interesting character and to have the consistency in this book as well (and the rest of the series I’ve listen to to date) is very satisfying.

As with Rivers of London, the author’s love of the city shines through the narrative. I’m not one with much experience of London but I didn’t find the descriptions and geography of the city confusing. Honestly, I didn’t let myself get bogged down into it because I knew I wouldn’t have a hope of understanding it anyway! It has no impact on the enjoyment of the book and honestly, I think anyone can pick this up. You don’t have to be familiar with London in any way to be able to read and enjoy the series.

 

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Audiobook Review: Rivers of London – Ben Aaronovitch

Before I even took the plunge with listening to Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch, I had looked at the book previously and decided against reading it; it’s more of an urban fantasy as opposed to my preference of an epic fantasy. When it comes to audiobooks I am definitely more flexible on genre then I am regarding physical books. Don’t ask me why – maybe it is the different medium that makes it easier for me to listen to? I don’t know, but anyway I’m glad to say how wrong I was about passing up reading this book at first!

The fact that I went on to ‘read’ the next four books of the series in a three month period should tell you a lot! I’ve only really given it a rest so that I could enjoy listening to some different books for a change and so I haven’t caught up with the series. Then I’d be left waiting too long for the next instalment… and that just won’t do!

Would you like to find out more details about the book?

 

Rivers of London – Ben Aaronovitch

Goodreads – Rivers of London

Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.

 

My Thoughts…

Not reading or listening to Rivers of London would have been a huge mistake. To try to encapsulate the book in one sentence, I would summarise it like this – the plot is interesting and easy to invest into, the characters are frankly hilarious and the narrative style of the book makes sure you never want to put it down! That’s a big sentence and full of praise but I can assure you that it is justified.

My favourite aspect of the novel has to be Peter Grant’s character. As I have said he is absolutely hilarious; I get on with his sarcastic wit – typical British humour – and his eye for detail. Through his perspective we get a lot of information and description of the city of London as Ben Aaronovitch has sculpted it. From the foundations of London as we know he has built a whole new city within London. Magic and history of the magical and mysterious who dwell the municipality are chronicled and shared in captivating detail. Those who know me know that this is a big plus for me – the more detail the better in my eyes! What’s also relevant is that the information is relevant to the story. It doesn’t feel like it’s been added as filler and given that there is a mystery element to the book you never know which parts actually becomes relevant until later so you pay attention to it all. For that reason I’m always looking at those details to try and fit them into the wider picture.

One of the other things I love about Peter Grant’s character, and the wider book in general, is that his character ticks box for multicultural inclusion… without actually making a point of being a multicultural inclusive book. Now hear me out, I know that might sound a little bit contradictory. I love that this book isn’t a typical British magical realism with white race characters dominating the scene laced throughout. I think sometimes being ‘British’ can be inadvertently stereotyped as that. However, more so than ever Britain is far more multicultural and Peter’s family history being diverse, but not heavily made a point of makes our character feel far more relevant in the modern world. I love that it doesn’t scream its inclusion of multiple ethnic groups from the rooftops as if it’s a huge thing – because while to an extent it is, the fact is it shouldn’t be! It’s perfectly commonplace. I personally think Ben Aaronovitch got the tone just right with this one. Are some of the characters stereotypical in their writing? Undoubtedly. Other people may disagree with me, but I enjoyed how they are written into the book.

As this is an audiobook review it’s only fair to also comment on the narration. Kobna Holdbrook-Smith narrates rivers of London (and the rest of the series I have listened to to date – again a big plus in my opinion) and I think he does an excellent job of bringing the character of Peter Grant to life and telling the story through his eyes. As a character I think Peter is quite expressive and Kobna does a very good job of portraying this. I don’t know how to put it into words other than to say that he doesn’t just read what’s in front of him. In my days of studying performing arts we would call it ‘getting into the character’… and Kobna has definitely done this!

Last, but certainly not least, it is clear from the narrative and events from the book that the author has a detailed knowledge of London and a vivid imagination in building the events of the book into the city. It isn’t so much that the setting of the events is a coincidence; London is built into the heart and soul of the story – it just wouldn’t be the same anywhere else! That definitely shows. No landmark is too big and no sidestreet too small to have escaped the notice of Ben Aaronovitch; each winding alley has its history carved into the book. I am not going to pretend that I know London well – truth is I’ve only visited briefly twice. That being said, it didn’t impact my enjoyment of the book at all. I don’t think it matters if you know the geography of the city because ultimately that’s not the point. It’s how this comes together with the story of Rivers of London to create a fun, quirky urban fantasy novel that paves the way for a fantastic series! Does it help? Quite possibly, but equally it doesn’t matter if you don’t.

 

So perhaps now you see why I binged the next four books of the series within three months after listening to Rivers of London. If you haven’t read it yet, or question whether it might be your cup of tea I ask you to throw your misconceptions out the window. I am certainly glad I did!

 

 

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Audiobook Review: Head On – John Scalzi

Today’s audiobook review of Head On by John Scalzi has been on the list for review for some time. I listened to the audiobook just less than a year ago as of writing this review. I listened to this second instalment of the Lock In series having loved the first book.

 

Head On – John Scalzi

Head On (Lock In, #2) by John Scalzi | Goodreads

John Scalzi returns with Head On, the standalone follow-up to the New York Times bestselling and critically acclaimed Lock In. Chilling near-future SF with the thrills of a gritty cop procedural, Head On brings Scalzi’s trademark snappy dialogue and technological speculation to the future world of sports.

Hilketa is a frenetic and violent pastime where players attack each other with swords and hammers. The main goal of the game: obtain your opponent’s head and carry it through the goalposts. With flesh and bone bodies, a sport like this would be impossible. But all the players are “threeps,” robot-like bodies controlled by people with Haden’s Syndrome, so anything goes. No one gets hurt, but the brutality is real and the crowds love it.

Until a star athlete drops dead on the playing field.

Is it an accident or murder? FBI Agents and Haden-related crime investigators, Chris Shane and Leslie Vann, are called in to uncover the truth―and in doing so travel to the darker side of the fast-growing sport of Hilketa, where fortunes are made or lost, and where players and owners do whatever it takes to win, on and off the field.

 

My Thoughts…

I was taken with the idea of Hilketa immediately. In what other world could a sport be made out of attacking robots, or threeps controlled by humans? To recap from the first book, the people controlling the threeps are those with Haden’s Syndrome, a severe medical condition where people are ‘locked in’ to their bodies. They are fully aware but have no control of their bodies at all. It only affected a small number of those who contracted the contagious virus (1%), but for them, it had devastating consequences. The development of the technology to allow them a semblance of a real-life via threeps was a long time coming afterwards.

Agent Shane also has Haden’s and growing up he was a poster child for the technology. Now he is a detective investigating any crimes with a Haden link. He and Leslie Vann have their work cut out for them in this latest case.

I went into Head On with high expectations. Lock In was the first book I had read/listened to by John Scalzi and honestly, I wasn’t disappointed! The book followed on nicely from Lock In and the narrative was easy to follow. I daresay that you could even listen to Head On independently; reminders as to certain aspects of Haden’s and events in the first book of the series are re-capped. Obviously, reading Lock In first is an advantage as the events of the first book are alluded to, but equally, I wouldn’t say it was essential either.

The dynamic between Agent’s Shane and Vann is just as good as in the previous book. Chris Shane is a witty character and I enjoyed his perspective on events in the book. Despite his privileged background, his understanding of society, human nature and how the world works makes him a great detective. Agent Vann is her usual blunt, abrasive self. If there was a character I had to name who hates people the most, she would be top of the list! She’s so to-the-point with her bluntness that it’s hilarious!

The depth and detail that has gone into the planning of each book is both brilliant and unnerving all at once. When I reviewed Lock In back in 2019 I said that the virus was so well-developed in its history and the impact it had on the world as a whole and that it could easily be real. In 2021, that’s not a thought any of us will want to particularly entertain, but I stand by what I said!

 

 

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