Tag: book love

First Lines Friday – 12/04/2024

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

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

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

If you’re ready, let’s take a look!

 

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

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


Breathtaking – Rachel Clarke

Genre: Non-fiction

Pages: 240

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group

Publication Date: 28 Jan 2021

 


Goodreads – Breathtaking

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

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


My Thoughts…

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

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

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

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

 

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Monthly TBR – April 2024

Hi readers and welcome to a slightly later than planned Monthly TBR post!

To get through a slightly longer reading list in April, I’m making an effort to listen to more audio than usual. I’ve found in the past that non-fiction works best in this format, so that’s what I’ll be listening to. This also works great for my goal of reading more than 15 nonfiction books by the end of the year.

In addition to this, I’m picking up two fantasy reads and a sci-fi physically, and lastly, one e-ARC that I need to review by the 27th April. It’s a full list, so let’s get stuck in!

 

Monthly TBR


Empire of the Vampire

My first read of the month is my re-read of Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff. I’m looking forward to picking up the relatively new release of the sequel. However, before I dive into that I wanted a refresher of events so far.

As you’ll see from my last Sunday Summary post, I’m enjoying this read so far! I started reading it last month but had to put it aside for blog tour obligations. However, I’m back into it in full swing and loving the story as much as I did the first time.

 

Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before?

My first listen of the month is Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? Admittedly I started this audio on a whim after finishing The Atlas Six, but I have no regrets!

It’s just the kind of non-fiction that I can consume easily. I’m already 10 chapters or 2 hours 20mins in, and that’s been pretty easy to work through.

I’m looking forward to listening to more of this audio in the comings days, as well as looking at the exercises that come with it.

 

The Maiden of Florence

Next to feature on this monthly TBR is my one reading obligation this month, The Maiden of Florence. As I’ve already shared, I am reviewing this book on the 27th of the month.

I signed up for the blog tour as I was interested in the story’s ties to the Medici family. I love historical fiction anyway, but it reminds me of my favourite series in the Assassin’s Creed franchise. I could play the Ezio storylines over and over and not get bored!

It’s a period of history I haven’t read in a while, and all about casting light on a female character cast aside by history… which has me intrigued!

 

The Icepick Surgeon

The second non-fiction audio I hope to listen to this month is The Icepick Surgeon. I discovered this book when an Instagrammer I follow shared she was reading it in March. Initially I’d hoped to read it then as well. However, time as always runs away and I didn’t get to it at the same time.

But, a month late is better than never! As someone who enjoyed exploring this side of science in psychology, I’m looking forward to reading further around the subject!

 

Master of Sorrows

Master of Sorrows… how many monthly TBR’s has this been on now? Three perhaps? I’ve just not gotten to it so far, but I’m determined to at the very least start it in April.

Last month I deliberately didn’t draw another book out my TBR jar give myself chance to read this one. Given I’ve ended up carrying it over again, the same applies this month.

 

Stretch Goal

The Long Earth

On the off-chance I manage to read all the books above, I’m going to pick up The Long Earth next.

It has been on my TBR since February 2018, but I’ve managed to borrow a copy from someone at work who was discussing it with me recently. He has not long finished it, so I want to state my intentions to pick it up as soon as I can so we can compare notes!


Summary

I’ve plenty of reading to do and as of this post, I have two at currently reading status and no completions! Best get a wriggle on!

Have you read any of the books I feature in this post?

Until next time, happy reading!

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Monthly Wrap-Up – March 2024

A steadier pace was the aim for March, and taking the pressure off reading at such a pace was definitely needed and appreciated! Whilst I didn’t get to all the books I had hoped to on March’s TBR, as of this monthly wrap-up post I am still on track to read 60 books by the end of the year.

Shall we get into this monthly wrap-up post and look at the books I read in March?

 

Books Read

 

Hogfather

Hogfather was a carryover from February’s TBR. I had read about 50% of the book already, and my first aim of the month was to complete this read.

In the end, I rated Hogfather three stars. I enjoyed the play on belief and the festive vibe of the book. However, it wasn’t my favourite book in the Death mini-series.

The Discworld books are so readable. Just a few days into the month, I read the final 50% to finish the book. I’m glad I continued with the series. It’s the longest series I am progressing with and I hope to continue on further with it this year!

 

At the Stroke of Midnight

The first of my blog tour obligations this month was to read and review At the Stroke of Midnight by Jenni Keer.

I loved the sound of the book as it’s very reminiscent of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. It has a Groundhog Day theme just the same, set in a Manor House style setting.

Naturally it does has its differences, and the mystery that unravels within are compelling. I also enjoyed the development of the protagonist throughout! If you want to check out that review, here is a link to that here.

 

Raven Lord

Next I started my next blog your read, and the first of two historical fiction novels featuring Vikings!

Raven Lord is the sequel to Warrior Prince, which I reviewed last year. I really enjoyed that first book, and also the sequel, because it features Vikings as we know it, but in a unique setting. Rather than exploring British history, instead Harald and his band of warriors venture through Eastern Europe to secure fame and riches before trying to reclaim the throne of Norway.

The narrative style of this book is one that I love to come back to time and again. Not only that, but the book is full of action and political intrigue in equal measure. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the sequel and I can’t wait to see where the characters end up next.

As with the previous book, here is a link to my full review if you want to read on about this.

 

Enemies of Mercia

The second historical fiction book I picked up throughout the month of March is Enemies of Mercia by M.J. Porter.

This book is the sixth instalment in the authors Eagle of Mercia Chronicles series. Whilst this series does go back to British history, a subset of the genre I have read a lot of, the protagonist makes these books. In that review post shared on Thursday, I expressed that protagonist Icel is one of my favourite characters of the genre! He has undergone so much character development in the series to date, and there are no signs of him stopping.

This book also balances action and intrigue very well, so that fans of either can respect each part without one or the other overwhelming the narrative.

 

The Atlas Six

I’m pleased to share in this monthly wrap-up post that I finished The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake this week!

It has been a long time coming. Of all the ways in which I read books, I am the slowest with audio. It’s not my preferred reading method, but it does have its benefits. Over the last month or so, I have spent most of the time listening to The Atlas Six whilst working on craft projects.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book, but I am undecided as yet as to whether I’m going to continue with the series. The Atlas Six is a very hyped read. Most of the time, I don’t feel that these books live up to that. As good as it was, I think the same of The Atlas Six.

I have doubts as to whether I’m invested enough in the characters and the story to go out of my way to read more. Ultimately, I have a ridiculous reading list with lots of fantasy on there already. Do I need books I’m not sure about on that list? No.

 

Empire of the Vampire

The last book I’ll talk about in today’s monthly wrap-up post, as it is my current read, is Empire of the Vampire byJay Kristoff. I started this book a little after mid-month. However, I had to temporarily set this aside in order to read Enemies of Mercia ahead of my review date.

As of this post, I am 171 pages into this 720 page narrative. It’s a healthy start, and one I’m looking forward to building on in the next few days! This is a re-read, so not the first time I’ve picked up. However, I am enjoying reading a special edition this time round. It’ll also set me in good stead to pick up the sequel soon!

 

Summary

I’ve managed to break even this month and read the number of books required to meet my reading goal. Currently, I can’t ask for more!

Not only that, but I’ve enjoyed the books I picked up in March, the variety between them and I have an exciting monthly TBR coming up to get hyped about!

 

Thanks for checking out this monthly wrap-up post! What have you been reading recently? Have you read any of the books in today’s list? Do you have any recommendations for me?

 

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Book Review: Assassin’s Apprentice – Robin Hobb

Today, I review a book on my review backlist – Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb! I’ve published a few review for blog tours of late. It’s been fun, and I want to keep up momentum of reviews and recommendations. 

I first picked up the book on the recommendation of my friend Rachael. She loves Robin Hobb and I gave her a go based on that recommendation. I haven’t looked back since! Since reading Assassin’s Apprentice in 2022 I’ve gone on to read 5 further books in the Realm of the Elderlings series and loved every one. I’m also hoping to read Fool’s Errand soon and return to Fitz and his adventures.

But, I guess I need to introduce you to him first! So, let’s crack on!

 

Assassin’s Apprentice – Robin Hobb

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 392

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Publication Date: 01 April 1995

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads –  Assassin’s Apprentice

In a faraway land where members of the royal family are named for the virtues they embody, one young boy will become a walking enigma.

Born on the wrong side of the sheets, Fitz, son of Chivalry Farseer, is a royal bastard, cast out into the world, friendless and lonely. Only his magical link with animals – the old art known as the Wit – gives him solace and companionship. But the Wit, if used too often, is a perilous magic, and one abhorred by the nobility.

So when Fitz is finally adopted into the royal household, he must give up his old ways and embrace a new life of weaponry, scribing, courtly manners; and how to kill a man secretly, as he trains to become a royal assassin.

 

My Thoughts

Plot

In Assassin‘s Apprentice, we follow a young boy who is known to us as Fitz. In the opening of the narrative, he is just a small child, dropped off at the home of his father who is absent. Instead, he is cared for by his loyal man and stable master Burrich.

Fitz is eventually brought into the royal household, but his duties are far from regular. He serves the crown by training and executing his duty as the royal assassin. Not only that, but he is an irregular boy. Fitz shows signs of a form of magic frowned upon. Having been a part of his identity all his life, he fails to see why the superstition of others should prevent him from bonding with animals. It’s a point of conflict throughout an I expect this to become even more prominent in the later series. 

If you enjoy fantasy with plenty of political intrigue, then this book is a great foundation for a series rife with it! I really enjoyed the depth and attention to detail even in this opening book. It is shorter than the sequels to this mini series within the Realm of the Elderlings universe. Even so, it really paves the way and draws the reader in. Honestly, this description of the book really doesn’t do it justice, but I doubt I ever could!

 

Setting

Western medieval fantasy fans will be in their element. The vast majority of this first book is set in the location of Buckkeep. Home to the Royal family, it is where Fitz is brought as a young boy and we watch him progress into adolescence and role in court.

It is a very typical setting on its own, but it is vastly complimented by the introduction to the wider landscape and universe that Robin Hobb writes so well. We start to see some of this landscape explored in this first book and it adds a great deal of contrast to the political landscape we otherwise spend our time exploring.

 

Characters

Fitz is a wonderful and complex protagonist, and his perspective is one that I have enjoyed the most out of the series so far. At first I was a little bit disappointed when the second mini series deviated from his character arc. However, I quickly got over that because that set of books follow a completely different (but equally impressive) character set. I am excited to be going back to his storyline in the next mini series though, I can’t lie.

Fitz it’s a bit of an emotional rollercoaster in that his relationships with the people around him are constantly changing. Dynamics constantly ebb and flow, and it makes the events taking place in the book feel even more tangible and like real life.

In reality, Fitz is one of many in-depth characters in the series. There are many prominent characters in their own right, such as Verity, the Fool, Chade and Burrich. They all ultimately help shape and support the man Fitz becomes. Even beyond that, every character introduced has their part to play, however major or minor.

 

Narrative Style

Personally, I find Robin Hobb to be an author to take on the slower side. These books aren’t the quickest in terms of pace or readability. But, with the amount going on at any one time, that’s not a bad thing. There is a lot of depth and detail to take in and turn over.

Assassin’s Apprentice itself isn’t so bad, but this comes into play more as you get further into the series. I love these books, but I feel it’s only fair to advise this to potential future readers to manage expectations. There have been times I have wanted to read her books more quickly, but I’m not able to. You may have a completely different experience and find it easy to rattle through her narrative. If you do, that’s great! When it comes to Robin Hobb, I’m a “slow and steady wins the race” kind of girl.

In terms of the written style itself, I find there is a good balance of action, as well as world-building and general description. There is no lack of detail in these books, and especially so in this introduction. It’s the shortest of the series I’ve read so far, with the longest being near 900 pages. Even across these vastly different page ranges, the writing style is consistent throughout. Robin Hobb has a knack of lifting events off the page and portraying it vividly in the readers mind.

 

Summary

If you are looking for a new epic fantasy series to start, and aren’t intimidated by a large number of books (or page count), I strongly recommend Realm of the ElderIings. I only discovered Robin Hobb for the first time in 2022 and already she is one of my favourite authors!

I love this series and I am always looking forward to picking up the next book. I wanted to feature Assassin’s Apprentice in today’s review because I cannot scream loud enough from the rooftop that Robin Hobb is an author you need to try. Have I done her justice in the review? Who can say?

If you have read Assassin’s Apprentice or any other books by Robin Hobb and want to add to this sentiment, please let everyone know in the comments what you think! I’d love to persuade more people to start this series 😊

 

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Blog Tour Review: Raven Lord – J.C. Duncan

In today’s post, I’m excited to feature the sequel to Warrior Prince and share my thoughts on this second instalment of The Last Viking series! You may recall, I also read that book as part of the blog tour, and I’m back again and launching the tour for Raven Lord! No pressure…

Before I get into the book and my review, I always take the opportunity at the start of these posts to thank both the author, J.C. Duncan, and Rachel at Rachel‘s Random Resources for the opportunity to take part. It’s a pleasure to be able to read some fantastic books and share my honest thoughts with readers. With any luck, I’ll convince you to pick up this fantastic book!

So, let’s get to it, shall we?

 

Raven Lord – J.C Duncan

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 352

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Boldwood Books

Publication Date: 22 Mar 2024

Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

 

Goodreads – Raven Lord

 

Mercenary. Exile. Warlord.

At the edge of the world, the clouds of war are gathering…

1034AD

Cast out from the Kyivan Rus, Harald Sigurdsson’s quest for fame and fortune takes him to the far reaches of Europe; the lands of the Eastern Roman empire.

The empire is dying the slow death of decay and corruption. In desperation to fend off a myriad of foes, the emperor turns to the legendary Varangian guard for salvation. These deadly warriors from the far north, famed for their fearsome steel and battle skill, have become the empire’s greatest protectors.

From the golden gate of Constantinople to the holy waters of the river Jordan, Harald will march with the emperor’s finest. Joining their ranks promises him all the gold and glory he can desire, if only he can survive the desperate battles, the hostile land, and the ruthless ambition of a vengeful queen.

The fascinating next book in the extraordinary tale of Harald Hardrada.

Perfect for fans of Matthew Harffy, Peter Gibbons, Bernard Cornwell and Christian Cameron

 

Purchase Link – https://mybook.to/ravenlordsocial

 

My Thoughts

 

Plot

Raven Lord picks up after the events of Warrior Prince and spans Harald’s next three years of adventures.

With an intriguing, action-led plot with political motives underpinning the action, there is plenty for readers to dive into. Whether you enjoy detailed battle scenes or digging into the machinations of those in power, both are in abundance in this book. I enjoy both of these elements, and they were perfectly balanced in this narrative. Whether you are a fan of one, the other, or both, there is something for all readers.

Harald and the crew are out to make a name for themselves and secure a fortune to go and win the throne back from the usurpers back in the North. It’s a long, epic quest and not one without its hardships. With danger around every corner, we readers are kept on a blade’s edge wondering if those we have come to love in the narrative will see it through, or pay the ultimate price.

 

Characters

The series is made up of a handful of main protagonists, together with a fantastic supporting cast. Naturally, our narrator Eric, as well as Harald Sigurdsson (aka Harald Hardrada), feature heavily in the narrative. I enjoy both their character arcs and the development we see of both individuals in this second book of the series. That the tale concerns Harald and his journey to becoming a strong leader is undisputed; we see this growth throughout.

Admittedly, Harald wouldn’t be the man he was without his followers. There are characters we have come to know and love from the previous book, as well as new faces. The familiarity is comforting whilst new characters add a fresh flavour to the narrative and help build upon what has gone before.

 

Setting

Something I talked about in my review of Warrior Prince, and I will talk about again here, is the Eastern European setting. It’s quite common to find fiction of this time period and genre set in Britain. However, I really enjoyed this alternate setting. There is far more scope for travel, and it’s a pleasant break from reading the same narrative over again. Don’t get me wrong, I read a lot of the genre and I don’t get tired of it, but I do appreciate when something different like Raven Lord comes around.

This change gives us more of an idea of the people as well as the chance to look at some European history. There is some travel that takes place in the book, but it easy to follow what is going on when.

I especially enjoyed this as it gives us the chance to explore more of a multi-cultural narrative. In this second narrative, we build upon the characters and cultures already introduced and add Muslim representation as well. I really enjoyed how each of these cultures is featured and how they interact with each other. Naturally, some of the conflict in the book centres around this, and it was exciting to read!

 

Narrative Style

The narrative is told by Eric, who was Harald’s right hand man on campaign. This storyteller format is one I have read and loved time and again in books (I’m incidentally reading another one already). It lends a casual and conversational style to a narrative. It’s easy to read and imagine that you are sat around the fire and listening to the story for yourself.

What I also like about the style is that it lends some intimacy to the tale. We get hints about how characters are feel about events, not just the pure fact of what happens.

Naturally, the majority of the narrative is the retailing itself. However, I enjoy the brief flashbacks to present day that break up the narrative, and give Eric opportunities to look back in hindsight at what has happened in the course of his and Harald’s life. It is a unique perspective, and one I will not tire of!

 

Summary

If you enjoy Viking era historical fiction, and are looking for a slightly different premise and setting, The Last Viking series is one I would strongly recommend picking up. Full of both action and intrigue, this unique narrative has plenty to offer any historical fiction fan!

 

Author Bio

James has a 5 book historical fiction series ‘The Last Viking’ about the extraordinary life of Harald Hardrada being published with Boldwood books starting with ‘Warrior Prince’. When he isn’t writing or doing his full-time engineering job, James is happiest being an amateur bladesmith, forging knives in the shed he built in his garden.

Social Media Links –

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JCDuncanAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JCDuncanauthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/j.c.duncan/

Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/JCDuncanNews

 

First Lines Friday – 08/03/2024

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

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

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

 

The dead boy opened his eyes.

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

 

 

 

Empire of the Damned – Jay Kristoff

Genre: Gothic Fantasy

Pages: 756

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Publication Date: 29 Feb 2024

 

 

Goodreads – Empire of the Damned

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

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

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

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

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

 

My Thoughts…

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Monthly TBR – March 2024

My monthly TBR for March is going to be less ambitious than the lists I set myself in the first two months of the year. I am on track still to read 60 books by the end of the year, so I’m bringing this TBR to a level where I’ll keep pace with that reading goal rather than try and exceed it.

That tactic worked for me in January, but didn’t in February. Admittedly I had a lot of other things to juggle in February and this is more likely to become the norm. Therefore, I’m not going to pressure myself by setting too high expectations and feeling like I’m always falling short. Instead, I’ll set myself something much closer to the minimum, and if I manage to achieve more than that, it’s a bonus!

This Monthly TBR includes three reads I need to pick up for blog tours in March and the very beginning of April. In practice, I’ve already started reading these, and they will be my priority ahead of the rest of the books on this list.

Shall we take a look at the full list I hope to get through in March?

 

At the Stroke of Midnight

At the Stroke of Midnight is my first read of March given that I am taking part in the blog tour in a couple of weeks time. It is the first of my obligations this month and I’m already enjoying the book as of this post.

At the Stroke of Midnight appealed to me as it is a mystery very reminiscent of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. If you haven’t read that book, it is a mystery that involves events at a property, repeating themselves. It’s very groundhog day in nature. Where the books differ is that the perspective stays the same in At the Stroke of Midnight, whereas in the book I’ve compared it to, the perspective changes for the reader each day and we see how the narrative unravels through different characters.

So far, I’m just getting into the section of the book where the day starts to repeat itself, and the protagonist Pearl is trying to work out what is going on and why. There are a lot of unexplored elements to this narrative so far, but I’m looking forward to delving into as time and the day repeats itself.

 

Raven Lord

Raven Lord is the next book I’m reviewing for the upcoming blog tour, and that review is due on the 22nd of the month. With this in mind, it’s the book I’ll be picking up second.

I read the first book of the series, Warrior Prince, and reviewed that on my blog last year. I enjoyed the alternate setting of this series as I usually pick up Viking-based fiction where the setting is around Britain. I’m looking forward to picking up the second instalment in the series and seeing where and how events unfold further. If it is going to be anything like Warrior Prince, it will be full of action, intrigue, and vividly described battle scenes.

I’m looking forward to it!

 

Enemies of Mercia

Back into more familiar territory, a second historical fiction novel I will pick up in March is Enemies of Mercia by M.J. Porter.

I’ve reviewed each book in this series on my blog so far, all as part of blog tours organised for each launch. My favourite thing about this series is the protagonist Icel and his unique perspective. Whereas books in this setting are often told from the perspectives of bloodthirsty and vengeful warriors, Icel is a bit of a reluctant hero.

Whilst he has developed considerably since the first book in the series, he does not thrive on his duty to protect his people by picking up his seax. His preference by far would be to heal instead of harm. Whilst he does get some small opportunity to do that instead of defend, he is often thrown into situations where he must act with others interests instead of his own preferences.

I don’t know much about this latest book in the series, because as soon as I saw the title, I knew I wanted to read it regardless of the focus. Some books have been very Viking-battle focused, whereas as others have been quieter and more political. I’m honestly happy with either take, so I’ll have to read it to check out which side of the story this latest instalment leans into.

 

TBR Jar – Master of Sorrows

Last month I pulled Master of Sorrows by Justin Call out of my TBR jar. I’ve been a little little behind with these books in the past, so I’ve made the decision not to draw a book this month and catch up with Master of Sorrows. I’m hoping then that I will be reading these on a monthly basis as they are pulled out and I stay on top after that.

As the only physical read on this list that I don’t strictly have an obligation for, it comes behind the previously listed three physical books in terms of priority. That said, there’s no reason why I won’t be able to pick this up by the end of the month at minimum, although I’m hoping to finish it before then! I’ve heard great things about the book and have heard great reviews of it from fellow bloggers I trust. I’m letting that motivate me to finally get to the book!

 

January Insta Poll – The Atlas Six

The Atlas Six remains on my reading list, as it’s still an ongoing listen as of this post.

I have the benefit of having already started this audio, so I just need to pull my finger out and get into the listening habit once again. I’ve done my usual in letting this slip, and for no good reason. I am enjoying this audiobook and the setup I’ve listened to so far.

If anything, I find that if I’m going to put headphones in, I’m more inclined to listen to music rather than audiobooks. It’s not that I don’t have the time to listen, because that’s not true at all! I am most likely to listen either when I go for a walk at lunchtime, or if I’m around the house doing cleaning. Not the most fun jobs in the world, which is why I turn to music as a motivator. I also often listen to audiobooks when I’m doing craft related projects, but even I’ve been doing a bit less of that lately.

I just need to give myself a kick, so hold me accountable if I don’t readers! Please!

 

Summary

If I succeed in getting through the reading list I have set myself officially in this month’s Monthly TBR, I have several books in the pipeline that I’ve not got to in previous months that I will be looking to pick up.

Fool’s Errand, The Icepick Surgeon and Empire of the Vampire are in the pipeline and so it will be prime opportunity to start one of these!

Thanks for taking the time to read this monthly TBR!

Do you like the sound of any of the books I feature in today’s monthly TBR? Have you read any of them for yourself? As always I’d love your thoughts!

 

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Monthly Wrap-Up – February 2024

I’m back again with my second monthly wrap-up post of 2024. Somehow we’re already two months into the year and honestly, I don’t know where that time has gone!

I was raring to go in January, with the new year excitement and all that. As you’ll see below, February’s reading tapered off somewhat. That’s okay though, because I’m still on track for my 2024 reading goal. I’ve just lost the lead I earned last month!

Shall we dive into this monthly wrap-up and take a look at what I’ve picked up this month?

 

Books Read

 

The Black Coats

The first book I read in February was The Black Coats by Colleen Oakes. The feminist slant on the synopsis caught my eye and I added the book to my reading list for that reason.

The story ended up being quite young adult in nature, but I still enjoyed the overall reading experience. It is a little far-fetched, but that shouldn’t be too surprising. I enjoyed the time I spent reading this book, and overall I rated the book 3 stars. I would recommend this for a younger audience than myself as the characters are more likely to appeal and be relatable. On the other hand, the storyline does get a little bit dark towards the end, and so readers should be on the mature side of YA.

 

Heart of the Sun Warrior

The next book I picked up, and admittedly I was reading for a while, is Heart of the Sun Warrior by Sue Lynn Tan. This book is the sequel to Daughter of the Moon Goddess, which I read in December 2022. This series is a duology, meaning that once I finished Heart of the Sun Warrior I was done with series and could tick it off my list.

Reading progress was a little slow as I picked up the book on my phone. This is because I borrowed it digitally from my library, and it’s easier to download it that way. It’s also more comfortable than reading on my iPad. It’s not my preferred method though, and that definitely played a part in the reading pace.

It was great to revisit this series and pick up on events from the first book. I was intrigued to see how the narrative would go and I wasn’t disappointed. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the love triangle for most of the book. However, the ending sold me. I expected it to go one way and honestly, I would’ve been a bit disappointed if it did. That wasn’t the case at all. I got something I didn’t expect, and that really improved the overall experience for me!

I also really enjoyed going back to an Asian inspired fantasy. I read a lot of westernised fantasy, so as a change, I loved reading something with Asian mythology and culture embedded throughout!

 

The Queen’s Gambit

In February, I also picked up my Instagram poll runner up, which was The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis.

I added this book to my reading list after enjoying watching the Netflix series a good few years ago now. The timing of picking up this book actually worked out quite well. Because it has been some time since I watched that series, I wasn’t so familiar with the portrayal on TV that I drew comparisons between the two. I still had the benefit of knowing roughly what happens in the story. But, it wasn’t too fresh in my mind either. I was able to read the book and enjoy it for what it was.

The Queen’s Gambit is only a short book, but it feels like the right length. I understand if readers may be put off by the heavy emphasis on chess in the storyline. However, you don’t really need to have any prior knowledge or understanding of the game in order to appreciate the book. It doesn’t go into that level of detail. It’s not required. I don’t doubt that it could inspire readers to go on and learn about it for themselves if they wanted to, but that’s not essential.

 

Hogfather

As of this monthly wrap-up post, I am currently making my way through Hogfather by Terry Pratchett. At the end of the month, I made it to approximately 50% through the narrative. I wish I had the foresight to pick this up in December as it is a fun festive read, poking fun at Christmas, seasonal characters and belief. Never mind though! I wasn’t waiting until this December to carry on with the series as that’s not one of my reading goals.

Hogfather is every bit the novel I expected it to be. It’s been a little while since I read anything from this series and I’m glad to get back into it. They are fun and fairly lighthearted reads. Yet, at the same time, they do have serious underlying messages if you want to read into them that much.

Personally, I am enjoying the lightheartedness of this book, and I’m having a great time reading it. Like with Heart of the Sun Warrior, I have borrowed a copy of Hogfather from my library digitally, so once again I’m reading on my phone. Again, not my favourite and it’s definitely contributing to the book taking longer to read. However, I chose to borrow it knowing this so I just have to get on with it!

 

The Atlas Six

The last book to feature in this monthly wrap-up is The Atlas Six. I have listened to and made some progress with The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake in February. Admittedly, I haven’t listened to audiobooks much this month. I tend to find this with audiobooks; I go through a phase where I will listen to them quite a lot, and I will make a good deal of progress. But then, other times I hardly touch them at all. Although I like listening to audiobooks, I would say it is my ‘least’ favourite way of reading.

It really depends on the type of book I’m listening to, but overall I would say that books read in this format don’t stick in my head the same as physically reading them. Also, more often than not, I decide to listen to music over audiobooks when I have the opportunity. It’s a conscious habit I have to be in, and I have let that slip this month.

This isn’t a reflection on my experience of The Atlas Six, because I am enjoying what I have read (listened to) so far. I’m intrigued by the setup of the book and how characters will interact with or conflict with each other. I don’t really know what to expect from this book so far and I am genuinely looking forward to finding out what happens.

I just need to get my butt in gear and start listening to it again.

 

Summary

I may have read fewer books in February than I did in January, but I have enjoyed the experience just the same. Life has been at a different pace this month and I’ve had to adapt. I picked up some great books in February, and I’m looking forward to continuing with my ongoing reads, and setting my reading list for March, very soon!

Thanks for checking out today’s monthly wrap-up post!

Have you read any fantastic books recently that you would like to recommend to me or your fellow readers? As always, I would love to hear from you!

 

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Discussion Post – How My Reading Tastes Changed Over Time

Since my teenage years, when I really got into reading, my reading tastes have changed quite significantly. That’s the topic of today’s discussion post, and I hope you are looking forward to this insight into who I am and my reading journey to date.

This post is in part inspired by a stack of books I purchased for myself last week with birthday vouchers. It was seeing that stack and talking about it in my Sunday Summary post that made me appreciate just how diverse my reading is now. It certainly didn’t start out that way. With this in mind, I thought it would be fun to share my reading journey and how my tastes have changed over time.

I hope you enjoy this discussion post and learn something about me along the way!

 

Teenage/School Years

Whilst I have always enjoyed reading, it was during my later years of school that I started picking up books for fun. I was lucky in that I had access to a school library. You know what testifies my love of books so much? That I volunteered a lot of my free time at lunchtimes to helping tidy and maintain the school library. It’s fair to say it was one of my favourite places.

This was before I started logging or tracking any of the books I read. I don’t have any records as to how much I read in this time, but this was really the start of my reading journey.

The vast majority of books I picked up at this time were fantasy. I did occasionally foray into a different genre. I distinctly recall reading The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier in my school years. Otherwise, I was picking up books like Raymond E. Feist’s The Riftwar Saga, Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series, Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind and Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn books. Yes, my love of Sanderson started early!

 

2017 – Restarting my Reading Journey

After I left school, my reading dropped off significantly. I found myself in a position where I was reading as much as the vast majority of the population – next to nothing. It was only after a multiple upheavals including family, health, and job uncertainty at around the same time that I found myself turning to books once again.

At the start of 2017 I was in a position where I had early starts at work, was coming home late at night, and I didn’t have the stamina to sit up and watch a TV programme before bed. Instead, I started picking up Terry Pratchett’s satirical Discworld series as a distraction. I could read as much or as little as I wanted. More often than not, I fell asleep reading. I confess that I woke up several times in the second or third week of this period with the bedside lamp still on at 4am having not brushed my teeth as I’d crashed.

Having read 20 books by the end of April, I had officially rekindled my love and habit of reading. At this point in time, I was just coming to the end of some of the less stable events in my life and I decided I needed an outlet to talk about the books I was reading. It was at this point that Reviewsfeed was born.

In terms of what I read in 2017, I started off reading a lot of Discworld, sticking to my fantasy roots whilst also dipping into satire. By April, I was starting to read historical fiction, classics, and a little horror and non-fiction by the end of the year. Emphasis was very much on my favourite genre – fantasy.

 

2019-2020 – Reading Boom

I enjoyed the pretty steady habit up until 2019. At this point, and I don’t quite know how I managed it to this day, I upped the reading ante and read a total of 72 books by the end of the year.

Honestly, I pushed myself really hard to do this and I’ve never been able to match this record. Equally, I’m not trying to either. As you will see in the next section, I strongly believe that this had some consequences further down the line.

Again, I had some personal stuff going on in 2019, and books became my distraction. I was having trouble with a neighbour at home and I got to the point where I was living with headphones in and doing my best to avoid interacting with them at all costs.

In 2020, we all know what happened. In addition to that, the neighbour situation came to a head and I ended up moving. I feel like this contributed a good deal towards the reduced reading compared to 2019’s total. Saying that though, it was on average with previous years, and so it was more of the return to ‘normal’ rather than a step backwards.

During these years I read historical, thriller and a little fantasy at the beginning of the year 2019. Mystery and thriller stick around throughout the year, with fantasy, horror, sci-if and a little non-fiction peppered in.

In 2020, similar themes remain with more bias on historical fiction, sci-fi and thriller. There is obviously a decent amount of fantasy thrown in as well, but it’s less a majority than it has been to date.

 

2021 – Reading Bust

In 2021, I burned out. So much so, this is the only year since the inception of my blog where I didn’t track or hold myself accountable to a reading goal. If I had, I think reading progress would have been a little better. At the same time though, I needed the break.

In all, I think I read around 20-25 books in 2021. Don’t get me wrong, that is a lot more than a lot of people and I recognise this is still an achievement. Compared to my previous reading stats, though, it is a definite step backwards and a reflection of my burnout at the time.

I had a lot of personal stuff on, including redecorating my home. Not only that, but I honestly believe that it was at this point, Covid had more of an effect on me. Locally, we had things far worse in terms of the pandemic in January and March 2021. Do I think this played a role? Certainly.

In 2021, I stepped backwards a bit and fantasy became the genre I read most of. It’s not the only genre I read. In this list are historical fiction books, as well as a few non-fictions. However, I think I slipped back into my comfort zone out of necessity.

 

2022 -2024 – Recovery

Since 2021 I have made a significant recovery and I’m now back to reading at about my average levels.

My attitude has also changed completely. Whilst I set myself a reading goal every year, I am more reserved and less ambitious than I used to be. I guess I’ve decided what’s important to me, and as much as I love books and reading, I love plenty of other things too. Family are important to me. I love to play games, and craft, and spend time with friends. Whereas before I kind of let those take a backseat, I will now fit reading around my other plans rather than the other way around.

I’ve achieved a balance that I am happy to maintain, at least for now. If things are to change in future, I think I’ll be fine with that as well. What’s important is that I enjoy the reading I do, and less focus is on enjoying hitting or beating targets. I love to read and support all the amazing authors I have come to meet and feature in my time on my blog. That isn’t going to change, and that is going to remain my priority going forward.

In terms of what I am reading, my reading diversity is higher than ever. In 2023, I set myself a reading goal of picking up more non-fiction than I have ever done before. That year, about 25% of the books I picked up were non-fiction. That’s the highest another genre has ever come towards my fantasy obsession!

Don’t get me wrong, that underlying love is still there and to this day, I still read more fantasy than anything else. However, I now enjoy plenty of other topics/genres and getting away from fantasy. As much as I love the genre, it can be very repetitive. I find this to be a contributing factor in my reading dwindling between my school years and rekindling my love in 2017.

To date, there is only one genre I would say I rarely touch and that is romance. Whilst there are some limited exceptions, I just find it gooey and vomiting inducing. If you love it, great! You do you. It’s not for me unless there is a divisive plot or ethical dilemma that I’m interested in behind that. At least, in my experience so far.

 

Summary

My reading tastes have changed significantly since I restarted reading seven years ago. I hope this discussion post has done my story justice! 

I’m happy with the diversity I get to enjoy today. My reading has improved in my willingness to read out of my comfort zone and try something new. I have experienced a couple of ruts, but this is only natural. Reading is a hobby I have come back to time and again; it’s not something I have any plans to stop doing any time soon!

Sorry not sorry! 🫢

How often do you pick up a book? If you have a reading journey you would like to share, we as a community would love to hear it!

 

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Top Ten Tuesday – Bookish Superpowers I Wish I Had

In today’s Top Ten Tuesday post, we get to talk about a fun topic. Ever wish you had any book themed superpowers? As an epic reader, you can bet that I’ve got my fair share!

Let’s dive into this Top Ten Tuesday post in earnest!

 

Infinity – Book Shelf Space

As a bookworm, I would love to have all the bookshelf space in the world! Whilst my home is my castle, it is not the literal size of one. So, regretfully, I have to curtail the horde.

Fortunately in this digital age, I have the benefit of being able to access thousands of digital books in one place. It’s a compromise…

 

Time Travel – More Time in a Day to Read

There are never enough hours in the day, and as much as I love reading, it’s one of the last things I do. Unfortunately, I have to do boring stuff like go to work to pay bills and keep the house clean and tidy first.

BORING!

So, I would always appreciate an extra hour or two in a day to be able to dedicate to reading. If I could turn back time (and I hope you sang that!) then I would be able to find a way to get even more books read.

See what I did there?

 

Multitasking – The Ability to Read Several at Once

We talk about multitasking in our everyday lives, but it is a bit of a myth. In reality, the brain is chopping and changing between multiple tasks at once as opposed to doing them simultaneously. There are some good arguments out there for this actually being counterproductive, but that’s not why we’re here.

I would love to be able to physically read multiple books at once. Think of all the extra reading I could get done if I could even read two books at the same time!

 

Elemental Manipulation  – Endless Funds

Books cost money. And, a habit of my magnitude costs a good few pennies a month! If I had the means to make my own money though (besides the 9-5 at least), well, then it really would be no object wouldn’t it?!

I feel like that would be dangerous though! I’d be needing the space for all the books as well…

 

Psychic Powers – Recommendations

I love giving others book recommendations, and it’s something that can be quite hard to do. If I had the psychic ability to read minds and work out EXACTLY what someone wanted, well, it would remove a lot of the challenge and anxiety! 😂

 

Speed – Listen to Audiobooks Faster

I currently listen to audiobooks at 1.2x speed, but I would love to be able to follow along faster! Sadly my brain just isn’t that fast, and I can’t retain any information any quicker. Perhaps it comes with practice, but I’m not there yet.

It would have its perks of being able to read faster, but I feel like the audio quality would be compromised at the same time?

 

Eidetic memory – Retain Detail from Books

The most useful superpower I think I feature in this Top Ten Tuesday is all about memory!

For someone who reads with the intent of sharing reviews online, it is shocking how many basic details I will forget about a book. It is not uncommon for me to start drafting a review and have to remind myself of things like the protagonist’s name!

Maybe that’s a consequence of the volume of books I read in a year. Nevertheless, I’m sure there is plenty more detail that I would benefit from retaining if I had this superpower. But I don’t, so Google and Goodreads remain my friend.

 

Invisibility – Read in Peace

Don’t you just love when you’re sat at work in your lunch lunch hour and someone tries to talk to you when you’re reading? That’s maybe not a problem for everybody, but it is a problem for everybody who reads!

The unspoken rule of not interrupting a bookworm on their lunch hour is one that is clearly not very well known. I would love to be invisible so that I don’t have to encounter this problem, and I don’t have to re-read the same paragraph multiple times.

 

Omnilingualism – Read Books in Any Language

Think of all the extra possibilities that are, if you are able to pick up a book in every language and instantly read it!

Whilst I have very limited knowledge of German, I am largely bound to reading books in my native language, or books translated into it by others. There are so many books out there that I could read if I was able to understand the language, but I can’t! The reality of me learning another language at this point is pretty slim.

 

Atmokinesis – Rainy Days

The last superpower I feature in this Top Ten Tuesday is Atmokinesis.

There is nothing more satisfying than sitting at home on a rainy day, cosy up with blankets and tea with a book. If I had the power to alter the weather, I would make it rain every single day to justify not leaving the house.

Damn, books and coziness it is…

 

Are there any bookish superpowers featured in this Top Ten Tuesday that you wish you had? Do you share any of mine?

Let me know in the comments!

 

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