Tag: book love

Monthly Wrap-Up – January 2021

Hello readers and welcome to today’s first monthly wrap up post… well, ever! At the beginning of this year, I decided to change up the way I was running my blog and my reading. Previously, I was setting myself monthly reading goals at the beginning of the month with the aim of completing it by the end. That works reasonably well if you like the structure, which I did for a very long time. I like knowing what I had to read, but I had left in the month and it helped me organise my time accordingly.

However, within the last six months, I found that format not really working for me anymore. I’ve had a lot of other things on, and all in all my reading pattern and time spent on reading and blogging, in general, has declined slightly. That said, my ambitions hadn’t really changed and as a result, I was setting myself unrealistic targets when setting myself a new TBR every month. It’s a shame, but ultimately I decided I needed to change what I was doing in order to not feel bad about what I was not doing instead of celebrating what I was.

I have enjoyed the more relaxed pace this month even more than I expected. It gives me the freedom to read what I want when I want. When I read now, it’s because I want to and not because I feel I have to in order to get to the end of my list for the month. It’s definitely something I’m going to be continuing for the rest of the year.

And so onto today’s wrap-up post for January!

 

Books Read

I read a total of three books this month; these books being midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham, Harry Potter and the philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling and a remedy in time by Jennifer Macaire. In addition, I have also read just over 100 pages of fire and blood by George R.R. Martin and I have listened to around half of the audiobook for a Game of Thrones, also by George R.R. Martin.

From non-fiction to historical fiction and epic fantasy, I have enjoyed a broad range of genres in this month‘s book selection. I’m finding myself enjoying a range of genres far more so than in my younger years. Really it’s something that has come to pass within the last couple of years more than anything. Are used pretty exclusively read fantasy only, and that did come with the drawback of eventually burning out and growing bored of reading the same tropes all the time.

I’m pleased with this months progress. Whilst it isn’t anything like the amount of reading I was doing this time last year, it should be noted that I have been studying for an exam this month as well. I haven’t neglected other hobbies either; the point of taking the more relaxed stance to reading and blogging was that I could enjoy all my hobbies without feeling like I had to sacrifice one for another. I think it’s done me good!

 

Blog Posts

Since I’m going to the effort of writing a monthly wrapup post, it makes sense to take the time to summarise the posts I’ve shared within the month as well! That way, if you’ve missed anything, I can give you links to anything you might be interested in so you can go back and take a look.

Of course, my blogging year began with my goals for 2021, or the lack of as is the case this year! I published … reviews in the month, some of which have been on my list to do for some time. In addition, I also took the liberty of having some fun and sharing some more lighthearted books content, such as my Top Ten Tuesday posts.

Here are the posts I shared last month: –

 

That’s my January summed up for you! I hope you have enjoyed today’s post! If there is anything else you would like to see in my monthly wrap-ups, please let me know!

What books did you read in January?

 

 

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Blog Tour Review and GIVEAWAY: A Remedy in Time – Jennifer Macaire

I am very excited to be taking part in today’s blog tour for A Remedy in Time by Jennifer Macaire! The reason I wanted to take part today is that I have read a number of Jennifer Macaire’s books to date. These books include four books from The Road to Alexander series and A Crown in Time as well as this latest book. I have loved every single one to date, so when I got the email about this blog tour I had to say yes! As always, thank you to Jennifer Macaire and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour.

The timing of this tour might seem funny given the premise of the book. You’ll see what I mean. And yet, despite the casual link to certain current events going on right now, this is a very different story and was an excellent read for some escapism from everything going on. If you’re intrigued and want to find out more, here are the details of the book, my full review and a chance to enter a giveaway to win a $25 Amazon gift certificate: –

 

A Remedy in Time – Jennifer Macaire

A Remedy In Time: Your favourite new timeslip story, from the author of the cult classic TIME FOR ALEXANDER series by Jennifer Macaire | Goodreads

To save the future, she must turn to the past . . .

San Francisco, Year 3377. A deadly virus has taken the world by storm. Scientists are desperately working to develop a vaccine. And Robin Johnson – genius, high-functioning, and perhaps a little bit single-minded – is delighted. Because, to cure the disease, she’s given the chance to travel back in time.

But when Robin arrives at the last Ice Age hoping to stop the virus at its source, she finds more there than she bargained for. And just as her own chilly exterior is beginning to thaw, she realises it’s not only sabre-toothed tigers that are in danger of extinction . . .

 

Purchase Links – Amazon UK      Amazon US      Headline

 

My Thoughts…

A common theme throughout Jennifer Macaire’s books, and one of my favourite things about them, is the combination of science-fiction and historical-fiction genres. To an extent that’s to be expected in a novel encompassing time-travel. However, the time travel element of the book isn’t just a means of starting the story. From the act of time travelling itself, to advanced technology and having biodegradable equipment to avoid leaving any traces, the science-fiction aspect of the novel is present throughout the narrative. I love how well the two genres are blended together seamlessly!

Robin is a really interesting main character and I enjoyed her complexity. She is far from the prime candidate to be sent off on a mission for the Tempus University, but her expertise in variants of the virus ravaging the modern-day world gives her the opportunity to prove herself. However, she finds herself in deeper waters than she imagined, and the plot that unfolds had me questioning everything I knew so far. What was really going on, and who could Robin trust? In between all the action and mystery, as if this wasn’t enough, there is plenty of humour in the book too. I was laughing out loud on several occasions whilst reading A Remedy in Time.

12,000 years into the past, danger lurks around every corner. Wild beasts and the forces of Mother Nature are new territories for Robin, and for us readers. The descriptions of the landscapes and animals Robin discovers are absolutely beautiful and vivid. It was very easy to imagine myself as the reader in Robin’s shoes and discovering this entirely different world.

The novel is well-paced and full of action to keep us readers hooked. I found it very easy to sit and read A Remedy in Time for longer stints. There is so much going on and the underlying mystery is exciting and lures you into reading the next chapter, and the next, to see what happens next! I seriously didn’t want to put it down! In between all the action and mystery, as if this wasn’t enough, there is plenty of humour in the book too. I was laughing out loud on several occasions whilst reading A Remedy in Time.

I really enjoyed reading this book, as I am sure you have gathered from this review. It is the perfect mix of genres and tone to keep you reading for hours. I cannot recommend this book enough and I hope anyone who goes on to read it as well enjoys it as much as I did!

 

Author Bio

Jennifer Macaire lives in France with her husband, three children, & various dogs & horses. She loves chocolate, biking, & reading. She grew up in upstate New York, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. She graduated from St. Peter and Paul high school in St. Thomas and moved to NYC where she modeled for five years for Elite. She went to France and met her husband at the polo club. All that is true. But she mostly likes to make up stories.

Social Media Links –

https://twitter.com/jennifermacaire

https://www.facebook.com/TempusU

 

Giveaway to Win a $25 Amazon Gift Certificate (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494405/

 

25 Bookish Facts About Me

Hi guys and welcome to today’s post! I wanted to do something fun and share some of the more random bookish facts about me. I thought it would be a good way to help you get to know me. This is a book tag, however, I decided to take part having seen a few versions of the post online. I haven’t been tagged; I just liked the idea and decided I wanted to do it for myself! 

So, here are 25 bookish facts about me that you may, or may not have known: – 

 

1. I used to pretty much exclusively read fantasy when I was younger.

2. As a teenager, I couldn’t read more than one book at a time.

3. As a high school student I volunteered in my school library.

4. My favourite authors growing up were Jacqueline Wilson and Meg Cabot.

5. Non-fiction is my least frequently read genre (excluding those I don’t read at all!)

6. I’m not a big user or advocate of Netgalley, but thanks to blog tours and such I have a feedback ratio of 73%, which is just less than the recommended 80%.

7. My TBR is just over 200 books long – yikes!

8. The longest book I’ve read is IT by Stephen King. The edition I have is a whopping 1,396 pages and took me 2 weeks to read.

9. I don’t really have a preference in the e-reader/physical book debate. Both have their merits, and that’s why I like a healthy mix of both.

10. I have never read the Twilight series and frankly, from what I’ve heard I don’t think I ever will either. No hate, just not my thing okay?

11. Autumn is my favourite time of year to read. The nights are starting to draw in and it’s the perfect excuse to draw the curtains, lock the door and cosy in with a good book.

12. My favourite author of all time is George R. R. Martin.

13. I’ve only started listening to audiobooks in the last few years and they have really grown on me. I wasn’t sure if I’d take to them at first.

14. I have copies of all the A Song of Ice and Fire series (aka A Game of Thrones) published to date in all formats (physical, audio and e-reader).

15. I have never finished a book and rated it 1 star. If it’s that bad (in my opinion) I won’t finish it and don’t rate it.

16. I picked up my first Stephen King book (The Green Mile) only 3 and a half years ago. I haven’t looked back since!

17. I don’t borrow books from the library very often…

18. In the last four years (2017-2020) I have read 239 books.

19. My average rating on Goodreads is 4.32 stars out of 5.

20. I have never been to a book convention or literary festival.

21. Starting my blog is the reason I read as much as I do. Without it, my interest would probably have waned.

22. Book blogging is like a full-time job, but it’s a fun one!

23. I have a general rule that I will only buy and keep physical copies of books that I’m sure I’m going to read again. Otherwise, I’ll buy it on kindle or I’ll take them to a charity shop when I’m finished with it.

24. I hate cracking the spine of a paperback, so I always try to stretch it before I start reading to minimise the risk of damage.

25. Reading is my way of escaping reality. I spend more time reading than any other hobby.

 

I would like to say that this was quite an easy post, but actually trying to come up with all these facts was more challenging than I anticipated! 

What bookish facts do you have to share? 

 

 

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Book Review: Rags of Time – Michael Ward

Hi everyone and welcome to today’s book review of Rags of Time by Michael Ward. I very kindly received a copy of the book in exchange for review last year and I’m looking forward to finally sharing my thoughts with you here. Before that though – here are the details of the book: –

 

Rags of Time – Michael Ward

Rags of Time by Michael Ward | Goodreads

London.

1639.

Thomas Tallant, a young and ambitious Spice Merchant, returns from India to find his city in turmoil.

A bitter struggle is brewing between King Charles I and Parliament, as England slides into civil war. The capital is simmering with dissent. The conflict is ready to boil over.

But Thomas soon has other troubles to contend with. A wealthy merchant, Sir Joseph Venell, is savagely killed; then his partner Sir Hugh Swofford plunges to his death, in the Tallant household.

Suspicion falls on Thomas, who is sucked into a mire of treachery and rumour within the City of London. As the merchant struggles to clear his name, he becomes captivated by the enigmatic Elizabeth Seymour, whose passion for astronomy and mathematics is matched only by her addiction to the gaming tables.

Pursued by the authorities, Thomas races to unmask the real killer who claims a third victim to implicate him further, toying with his future in a deadly cat and mouse game.

In a desperate race against time, Elizabeth applies her powers of logic and deduction to unearth the clues that will point to the killer, but her way is barred by a secret message from the grave.

Can she crack its code before Thomas, now a wounded and exhausted fugitive, succumbs to the chase?

And, if she succeeds, has Thomas the strength to face his tormentor and win his life and reputation back?

Rags of Time is the first book in an engaging and entertaining new historical crime series, set during the upheaval of the 17th Century.

 

My Thoughts…

I am a huge fan of historical fiction and Rags of Time gave me the opportunity to try something completely new. Set in 1639, it’s a new time period of British history for me. Whilst the events of the book are fiction, the political and religious tumult within the book reflects the difficulties King Charles I experienced in his reign. This particular historical period isn’t one I’d had much exposure to before reading Rags of Time, and so I enjoyed reading something new!

I also enjoyed the more immediate action taking place in the book. Merchants are dropping like flies and Thomas Tallant finds himself prime suspect of the murders. Desperate to prove his innocence, he takes in interest in the murders in the hopes of discovering the truth to clear his name. But the Magistrates are after him, and with men of such power on his tail, he feels the walls closing in around him.

The wide array of characters within the book adds a lot of colour and intrigue to the narrative. From those trying to help Thomas clear his name to the men who set out to prove him guilty, an array of relationships build a dense web within Thomas must navigate. I think this aspect of the book is very well-written. There are a lot of moving parts in the book and so the character relationships are consistently shifting in line with the action.

There is plenty of action in the book to keep all readers entertained. In his efforts to maintain his innocence, Thomas finds himself in wild chases through the city and undertaking covert operations to uncover information. With the help of the incredibly intelligent Jane Seymour, can Thomas prove his innocence? Well, you’ll have to read Rags of Time yourself to find out because I won’t be spoiling it for you!

Thanks to the author Michael Ward for a copy of the book in exchange for a review. It was a pleasure to read!

 

 

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Book Review: Chimeborn – Daniel Curry

Hello everyone, and welcome to today’s review of Chimeborn by Daniel Curry. You may recall that I read another book by Daniel Curry not long after my blogging adventure began. His first book, The Kitsune in the Lantern, was a really fun novella aimed at children to read. I really enjoyed this, even though I’m not the target audience, and so when Daniel approached me again to ask for a review of Chimeborn, the obvious answer was a resounding yes! If you haven’t read my previous review, I’ve set up a link above so you can check that out of you wish!

Chimeborn is also aimed at a younger audience, however, it is very reminiscent of another certain story about a wizard attending a magic school. You know the one. I’ve actually just read this more famous story only a few weeks ago, and it was reading that book which reminded me that I also wanted to feature this particular review on my blog soon.

So, without further ado, here are the details of Chimeborn by Daniel Curry: –

 

Chimeborn – Daniel Curry

Chimeborn by Daniel Curry | Goodreads

Welcome to Whitby, the quaint, magical town on the sea. Its ruined Abbey watches over from the East Cliff, broken and long since abandoned. However a magic within watches over Darcy Colben and his friends – the Chimeborn.

Born in the witching hour of midnight and gifted with magical sight, Chimeborn can see the Abbey for what it really is. A centuries old academy for their kind, and home to the Council of Chime. The power of Saint Hilda still resides in Whitby and this power has been shattered among the modern Chimeborn. A battle brews for control of the ancient magic, and sides will need to be chosen by all.

Ideal for strong young readers, and an enjoyable story up to young adult, this tale of power and growing up will leave you desperate to explore the shores of the north-east of England and find the magic for yourself.

 

My Thoughts

The story of Chimeborn is set in a charming English town. Those blessed with the powers of the Chimeborn see quite a different side of Whitby, with the glorious Abbey seemingly transformed from ruins into their home and place of academic study. The descriptions in the book are very vivid – it is easy to imagine you are there and part of the story.

I really enjoyed the magic system introduced, explained and put it to full action in this novel. You know me, I love magic in stories. However, with a young audience in mind, I think it is perfect to spark their imagination. Each of the main characters has their own power, allowing us to experience the magic at their disposal first hand. They also work really well together, especially in the circumstances of being sent away from their families to study. Instead, they form their own family between them and they bond well.

Chimeborn is a fun, fantasy novel for children. The characters are engaging and relatable, and the action within will definitely hold a child’s interest. What I like about this particular book is that it would be a great way to introduce a book series, rather than a one-off story to a child developing their reading skills. I think there is plenty to offer in the Chimeborn universe and that it could be made into a very approachable series.

Chimeborn is a fun, coming-of-age tale perfect for young readers. I’m a twenty-something-year-old fantasy fan even I enjoyed it as a light-hearted read. I hope to see more adventures with Darcy and his friends follow on from this book!

 

 

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Top Reads of 2020!

We’re well underway into January, and I’m hoping to read as many great books in 2021 as I did last year – if not more! Today’s post is all about sharing the book love and talking about my favourite reads of 2020.

I shared a similar post last year and I enjoyed having the opportunity to feature all my top reads in one place. It’s also a great way for you, readers, to get a lot of recommendations all in one post. I hope your TBR’s can handle it!

I’ve picked my top 5 books/book series of 2020 and I list them in descending order:-

 

The Dark Chorus – Ashley Meggitt

The Dark Chorus by Ashley Meggitt | Goodreads

Oblivion awaits the Angel’s salvation

The Boy can see lost souls.

He has never questioned the fact that he can see them. He thinks of them as the Dark Chorus. When he sets out to restore the soul of his dead mother it becomes clear that his ability comes from within him. It is a force that he cannot ignore – the last shard of the shattered soul of an angel.

To be restored to the kingdom of light, the shard must be cleansed of the evil that infects it – but this requires the corrupt souls of the living!

With the help from Makka, a psychotically violent young man full of hate, and Vee, an abused young woman full of pain, the Boy begins to kill.

Psychiatrist Dr Eve Rhodes is seconded to assist the police investigation into the Boy’s apparently random ritualistic killings. As the investigation gathers pace, a pattern emerges. When Eve pulls at the thread from an article in an old psychology journal, what might otherwise have seemed to her a terrible psychotic delusion now feels all too real…

Will the Boy succeed in restoring the angel’s soul to the light? Can Eve stop him, or will she be lost to realm of the Dark Chorus?

 

I really enjoyed the characterisation and themes of The Dark Chorus. It’s rare to find stories with children/young adults as the main characters that also have sophistication to the narrative. The Dark Chorus alludes to themes that some people might not like to read, but if you’re not shy then I definitely recommend this book!

 

 

The Dead Tell Lies – J. F. Kirwan

The Dead Tell Lies: an absolutely gripping mystery thriller by J.F. Kirwan | Goodreads

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

This is an intense psychological thriller and it was that good, I read it in a matter of days!

For me, the best indicator of a good psychological thriller is how obsessed you become about trying to work everything out. If it occupies your mind even when you have to put down the book to do the mundane things, you’re on to a good start. Find one that keeps you on the edge of your seat and guessing until all is revealed, and you are onto a winner!

The Dead Tell Lies is definitely one of these books – if you love a thriller this might just be something you would like to read.

 

 

Darkdawn – Jay Kristoff

Darkdawn (The Nevernight Chronicle, #3) by Jay Kristoff | Goodreads

The epic conclusion to the internationally bestselling Nevernight Chronicle from New York Times bestselling author Jay Kristoff.

The greatest games in Godsgrave’s history have ended with the most audacious murders in the history of the Itreyan Republic.

Mia Corvere, gladiatii, escaped slave and infamous assassin, is on the run. Pursued by Blades of the Red Church and soldiers of the Luminatii legion, she may never escape the City of Bridges and Bones alive. Her mentor Mercurio is now in the clutches of her enemies. Her own family wishes her dead. And her nemesis, Consul Julius Scaeva, stands but a breath from total dominance over the Republic.

But beneath the city, a dark secret awaits. Together with her lover Ashlinn, brother Jonnen and a mysterious benefactor returned from beyond the veil of death, she must undertake a perilous journey across the Republic, seeking the final answer to the riddle of her life. Truedark approaches. Night is falling on the Republic for perhaps the final time.

Can Mia survive in a world where even daylight must die?

New York Times and internationally bestselling author Jay Kristoff’s writing has been praised by critics and readers alike and has won many awards, including four Aurealis Awards, an ABIA, and David Gemmell Morningstar and Legend awards.

 

I had no idea how this series was going to wrap up. Nevernight and Godsgrave were amazing… so good I was worried Darkdawn would let me down with the ending.

It was fantastic – I needn’t have been worried. I did have quite a book hangover for a day or two though. I didn’t know what I could pick up next because there was no way it was going to be able to compete!

 

Mistborn Books 4-6 – Brandon Sanderson

The Alloy of Law (Mistborn, #4) by Brandon Sanderson | Goodreads

Shadows of Self (Mistborn, #5) by Brandon Sanderson | Goodreads

The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn, #6) by Brandon Sanderson | Goodreads

(Synopsis for The Alloy of Law)

Three hundred years after the events of the Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial is now on the verge of modernity, with railroads to supplement the canals, electric lighting in the streets and the homes of the wealthy, and the first steel-framed skyscrapers racing for the clouds.

Kelsier, Vin, Elend, Sazed, Spook, and the rest are now part of history—or religion. Yet even as science and technology are reaching new heights, the old magics of Allomancy and Feruchemy continue to play a role in this reborn world. Out in the frontier lands known as the Roughs, they are crucial tools for the brave men and women attempting to establish order and justice.

One such is Waxillium Ladrian, a rare Twinborn who can Push on metals with his Allomancy and use Feruchemy to become lighter or heavier at will.

After twenty years in the Roughs, Wax has been forced by family tragedy to return to the metropolis of Elendel. Now he must reluctantly put away his guns and assume the duties and dignity incumbent upon the head of a noble house. Or so he thinks, until he learns the hard way that the mansions and elegant tree-lined streets of the city can be even more dangerous than the dusty plains of the Roughs.

 

I couldn’t pick just one of these books, so I have all three books of this second Mistborn series on my Top Reads list. Mistborn was the series that introduced me to Brandon Sanderson. Since reading that trilogy I have gone away and read more of his books and loved them all.

Revisiting the universe of the Mistborn with this follow-up series was like meeting up with an old friend. There are a lot of aspects of the original trilogy that are touched on in these books. Equally, they also have a bit more of a modern touch which I enjoyed. The update to the magic system originally constructed in the first series is very clever but also very feasible; it adds to the overall concept of progress/development we see across the two series.

I think I actually prefer the setting and characters of this second half of the series. It’s one I’m sure I’ll re-read again in future.

 

This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay

This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay | Goodreads

The Sunday Times Number One Bestseller and Humour Book of the Year
Winner of the Books Are My Bag Book of the Year
Winner of iBooks’ Book of the Year

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

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

 

This is Going to Hurt is one of those rollercoaster books. It had me howling with laughter one minute and crying the next. It’s also reaffirmed the respect I have for the staff in the NHS and just how much we owe to them for keeping us all going.

This is Going to Hurt was actually recommended and loaned to me by a work colleague. I hadn’t planned to pick it up last year at all, but I’m glad I did. I also went on to read Adam Kay’s later published novella, Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas too. As soon as I had read This is Going to Hurt I planned reading the novella in December.  It’s a book you end up thinking about long after you’ve finished reading it. Well, if you’re me at least.

It’s fair to say from this list that I really did pick up some great books last year… and from a diverse range of genres too! If you haven’t read these already, I am sure any one of these books could appeal to you!

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s Top Reads of 2020 post! If you have read any of these books, let me know in the comments! Alternatively, what was your favourite read of 2020? Please let me know!

 

 

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2020 Wrap Up Post

2020 was a crazy year. I don’t think that’s a stretch of the imagination for absolutely anybody at this point. It also, strangely, ended up being one of my busiest years personally. Unfortunately, not as much in terms of blogging and reading as I had hoped, but that’s okay. I’ve come to the realisation that in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter.

Before I get into my blogging and reading progress of the year, I’d like to tell you a little bit about the other things I ended up doing in 2020 as well. Ultimately, this played a part in the amount of time I had to commit to blogging and reading.

 

Background

At the end of 2019, I decided that I wanted to move house. I’m not going to go into the ugly details, but let’s just say they were external forces that drove me to that decision. Moving house is a huge undertaking at the best of times, but I ended up moving in May 2020, during the middle of lockdown here on the island. We were delaying the move as per guidelines, but unfortunately again, other factors meant it had to go ahead. That meant my family couldn’t help me as they had planned to, and whilst I was able to use a removal firm on the day, the rest was up to me. There were many tears on the day and my parents had to watch me bawl my eyes from the doorstep (unable to come in but dropping off some food) once I got here, but with the help and advice of my mum and dad I got it together and within a couple of weeks of moving in I had everything straight.

But that’s where the rest of the work began. The house I ended up moving into had some very interesting decoration, to say the least! Pretty much none of it was to my taste, so within a couple of months of moving in I started redecorating. What can I say, I had holiday to take from work and nowhere to go with it!

Whilst I had anticipated moving, I hadn’t really considered that I’d end up spending so much free time working on the house after I moved in. It’s not a problem, and ultimately I’m happier because I’ve spent the time making this place mine. It does mean, however, that it ate into my free time for reading and played a part in my not reaching my goal of 80 books last year.

What I also didn’t expect was how lockdown would affect me. When it was first announced, I was obviously upset that I couldn’t see anyone. But, I stupidly thought to myself, right I’ve got all this time to kill – I’ll read more. How I can laugh at myself in hindsight. What I didn’t expect was how much of a distraction lockdown would be and actually… I couldn’t concentrate on reading all that much. At least, not to start with. Some days were better than others.

So you see, there were multiple factors that contributed to my not reaching my already very ambitious goal of 80 books last year. I thought I would be disappointed with myself if I didn’t, but strangely I’m not. I know I read at every opportunity I could and wanted to, and equally, I didn’t force myself to read things I didn’t want to either. When I wanted to do something different I enjoyed other hobbies… saw my friends and family (sorry, feel bad for saying it but it’s true) and did the things I wanted.

My other challenges also flopped a little. Whilst I started off well, reading less also took its toll on my attempt to read more of the older books on my TBR. I was still signing up for blog tours and such, and so these took priority and my challenge fell off the radar. My final challenge was to read more from my local library. Ha! With covid, that went down the pan too. I did check to see if I could borrow electronic editions, but most of the time they weren’t available at my library. Maybe I’ll be better at this throughout this year (once it re-opens again)? 

Anyway, there’s the background. And now, onto the books I read last year! My final end of year stats are:

I think I DNF’d the highest number of books I have ever recorded in a year in 2020. I think this is in part because I started to go through my TBR and my reading tastes have changed since I added the books several years ago. That’s not always the case… in fact, some of the best books I read last year were added to my TBR four or five years ago!

There were definitely more hits than misses. All in all, I think there was a pretty good proportion of books that I knew I was going to love and some more adventurous read that I want to try. Some of those worked, but those I put down definitely fall into that category.

To summarise this year wrap up post, here is a list of all the books I read last year and their star ratings: –

 

2020 Books

Have you read any of the books on this list? Or any of them on your TBR? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

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2021 Reading Resolutions / Goals

Hi guys! Happy New Year! I can’t believe I’m writing my first post of 2021 already. Last year seems like a bit of a blur. I’ve enjoyed a lovely break over Christmas and I’ve had plenty of time to think about my goals for 2021 and today’s post. 

Before I get into this year’s goals, I’d like to take a quick recap over 2020. I’ll probably be writing a more detailed post on this in the next few days, but I think it’s only appropriate that I briefly talk about last years goals. This is the first year that I’ve not met my reading goal, but to be perfectly honest, I’m still proud of the number of books I managed to read in the circumstances. I ended up taking on far more than I ever imagined when I set my goal in January. Yet despite this, I still managed to complete 55 books last year, as well as ending the year reading Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham. I also DNF’d a surprising number of books this year. It’s rare that I give up on a book, but this year I’ve DNF’d a total of 5 books.

Inevitably, I have been thinking about my goals for this year. It’s funny because as a person I’m not a huge celebrant of New Year. Call me miserable if you wish, but I’m just the kind of person who is all too aware that the 1st of January is just another day. And most likely, it’s just like the last. Obviously, things are a little bit different with my blog, as setting new goals is kind of ‘the done thing’. If I’m honest, I started thinking about the goals I’m setting back in November and over the last couple of months I’ve convinced myself that this is the right thing to do. So, here are the ‘reading goals’ I’m setting myself for 2021: –

 

Goodreads Challenge

I have taken part in the Goodreads Reading Challenge for the last six years. Granted, 2014 and 2015 were distinct flops. This was before I started blogging and getting into reading full time, and so I only read 10 books out of the target 55 I set myself over the course of the two years.

Since getting back into reading and then beginning my blogging adventure, I’ve had a lot more success. I have met my reading goal every year until 2020. Admittedly, that goal of 80 books was very ambitious when I set it. I did that deliberately because I’ve always underestimated myself in the previous years. If I hadn’t taken on things that I ended up doing in 2020, I might just have reached it. I don’t beat myself up for not reaching it though. Towards the end of the year, I burned out. I am fully prepared to admit that to myself now. Between all the different things I ended up juggling, it all became a bit too much for me. Something had to give, and ultimately it was the reading aspect of my blog that ‘suffered’.

I worry that if I were to carry on in this manner, I’d end up not reading at all. Of course, I don’t want that to happen, so I’m doing something I never expected I’d do as a book blogger. I’m going against the grain and not setting myself a reading goal in 2021. That may sound a bit odd to you, but it’s the right thing for me. I’ve decided that I need to get back to my grassroots, and that’s reading what I want, at my own pace, and doing it for the enjoyment of it. It’s easy to forget that it’s supposed to be a hobby, as blogging ends up becoming like a job. It’s a full-time commitment, and when you’re trying to do other things like hold down actual paid employment, study and complete renovations on your home (to name just a few examples), it’s a lot of work. There are so only so many hours in a day.

The point of setting a Goodreads challenge is that it is supposed to be that – a challenge. This year, I don’t want to put that pressure on myself and risk a prolonged burnout. It’s as simple as that. I don’t see any point in setting myself a ‘challenge’ that isn’t going to be a challenge… hence why I’m not setting myself a goal at all.

 

TBR

Last year‘s goal of trying to chip away at the TBR ended up being a bit of a flop. I started off well, reading a couple of books a month. However, my problem is that I keep adding new ones as quickly as I read others. I was also taking on blog tours last year, which meant that I wasn’t reading enough of the TBR to counteract the books I was adding.

So, this year’s goal is to only read books on my TBR. I already know I’m not going to religiously stick to this one. I’m sure there will be new shiny books and catch my eye and I want to fast track them and read them there and then. The sentiment behind this goal is that I want to read exclusively off my TBR as much as possible and bring the number of books on that list down – significantly more than in previous years!

With this in mind, I’ll also be taking part in fewer blog tours – at least the number I provide reviews for. I will probably still take part, but I’ll be providing promotional posts or extracts as opposed to reviews. This means I can spend my time actually reading the books on my TBR without distraction or deadline. For the most part, I have deliberately not been signing up to them this year. There is one exception, and that is for a book by an author I have read a lot of historically. I have really loved her books to date and I didn’t want to miss out on providing a review for the second book of a series I’ve already started. I’ll be taking part in that tour this month, but aside from that, I have no obligations to review for a blog tour.

 

Review Requests

Technically, I haven’t really been taking many review requests over the last few months. Although, being the person I am, if someone approaches me with a really good book and say there is no time deadline, I can’t help myself to say yes. I love a good book – what can I say!

Well, now I’m saying this. I’m not taking any review requests in 2021, no matter how good the book sounds or whether there is a time deadline or not. I ended up taking on a couple of books towards the end of last year that were ‘non-time-sensitive’, and yet I still ended up getting chased on them. This is exactly what I was looking to avoid when I initially closed myself off to new review requests. My lesson has been learnt, so for this year, I won’t be taking any at all. I’ll honour the ones I have, and that is all l. At least, until next year.

 

Re-read: Harry Potter

My last goal of the year is to re-read the Harry Potter series. 

I had said to myself that I was going to do this sometime after I finished my re-read of A Game of Thrones. Now feels like the perfect time to do so. Harry Potter was one of my favourite book series’ growing up. I read Harry Potter throughout my teenage years, and they have a huge part to play in my developing a love of reading. As I am taking the opportunity to re-capture that essence and love of reading without the demands of competing against myself, or trying to reach that next target, it feels like the right time to re-visit one of the very series’ that kindled my love for reading in the first place. 

 

Have you set yourself any reading goals this year? What are your ambitions for 2021? Please let me know in the comments!

 

 

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Shelf Control #26 – 18/12/2020

It’s Friday… and welcome to another Shelf Control post. I have a great and popular book coming up in today’s post, so I hope you enjoy today’s post.

Shelf Control is a meme run by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies. It’s a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up!

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

Today’s featured book is a CLASSIC horror. You can probably guess the author just from that! I have a copy on my bookshelf waiting (begging) to be read. I very nearly picked it up a couple of months ago but didn’t. Soon, I think I will. Soon.

Shall we check out today’s featured book?

 

The Shining – Stephen King

The Shining by Stephen King | Goodreads

Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote…and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old.

 

My Thoughts…

I have really come to love Stephen King. Just a few short years ago, I hadn’t even picked up a single book of his. I know, hindsight is a wonderful thing and I honestly want to shake myself for that mistake!

I’ve picked up a few of his horror novels in the past and I can’t wait to give The Shining a go. It has so many good reviews from my friends on Goodreads, and knowing his writing style, I trust it’s going to be a good read. Stephen King is the kind of author you can go back to again and again with the confidence that you will like his books. At least, he is for me. A lot of them are very different in style and setting, but he has managed to pull off every single book I have read to date. I have given each book I have picked up a minimum 4-star rating.

Have you read The Shining? What did you make of it? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

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Reading List – December 2020

Hi guys! Today I’m sharing my last reading list of 2020. Literally, where has this year gone? In some respects it isn’t a bad thing… but still. It doesn’t feel like Christmas should be just a few weeks away.

You may have noticed that my reading pace has dropped off the last few months. I’m not reading as much as I need to for a variety of reasons. I started the year planning to move, which I did in May. Since then, I’ve been putting in the work on the new place to redecorate, fix up and make it my own. In amongst all this, I’ve been studying for work-sponsored exams too. That in itself is quite a bit to juggle, but my blogging on top of that too? It’s a handful.

That’s why my reading and blogging has had to slow down a bit. I was getting a bit burned out with it, but I didn’t want to give it up. I still really enjoy reading and putting in the time to sharing my thoughts with you all, but I’ve had to find a more sustainable pace. Up until this month, I have been pretty ambitious in setting my reading lists and just carrying over what I don’t read. This month, that changes. I’ve come to accept that I am now reading less than I was… and that it’s okay. Maybe that will change again in future, and maybe not. It just depends on what else I’m doing.

This month’s list has a couple of carryovers from last month, plus one seasonal addition. Have you read any of these books?

 

Auxiliary: London 2039 – Jon Richter

Auxiliary: London 2039 by Jon Richter | Goodreads

The silicon revolution left Dremmler behind, but a good detective is never obsolete.

London is quiet in 2039—thanks to the machines. People stay indoors, communicating through high-tech glasses and gorging on simulated reality while 3D printers and scuttling robots cater to their every whim. Mammoth corporations wage war for dominance in a world where human augmentation blurs the line between flesh and steel.

And at the center of it all lurks The Imagination Machine: the hyper-advanced, omnipresent AI that drives our cars, flies our planes, cooks our food, and plans our lives. Servile, patient, tireless … TIM has everything humanity requires. Everything except a soul.

Through this silicon jungle prowls Carl Dremmler, police detective—one of the few professions better suited to meat than machine. His latest case: a grisly murder seemingly perpetrated by the victim’s boyfriend. Dremmler’s boss wants a quick end to the case, but the tech-wary detective can’t help but believe the accused’s bizarre story: that his robotic arm committed the heinous crime, not him. An advanced prosthetic, controlled by a chip in his skull.

A chip controlled by TIM.

Dremmler smells blood: the seeds of a conspiracy that could burn London to ash unless he exposes the truth. His investigation pits him against desperate criminals, scheming businesswomen, deadly automatons—and the nightmares of his own past. And when Dremmler finds himself questioning even TIM’s inscrutable motives, he’s forced to stare into the blank soul of the machine.

Auxiliary is gripping, unpredictable, and bleakly atmospheric—ideal for fans of cyberpunk classics like the Blade Runner movies, Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon, William Gibson’s Neuromancer, and the Netflix original series Black Mirror.

 

I’m already a few chapters into Auxiliary and I can tell it’s a read I’m going to get on well with. I like the premise of the book and the narrative style is easy to read. The chapters are also nice and short so it’s easy to pick up. If you enjoy mystery and science-fiction genres, this might be one for you!

 

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley | Goodreads

Brave New World is a dystopian novel by English author Aldous Huxley, written in 1931 and published in 1932. Largely set in a futuristic World State, inhabited by genetically modified citizens and an intelligence-based social hierarchy, the novel anticipates huge scientific advancements in reproductive technology, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation and classical conditioning that are combined to make a dystopian society which is challenged by only a single individual: the story’s protagonist.

 

Brave New World has been on my TBR for a number of years, and after watching the TV series recently, I decided it was the right time to pick the book up! I didn’t get around to reading Brave New World last month, so I will be reading the book this month instead.

 

Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas – Adam Kay

Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay | Goodreads

Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas is the hilarious, poignant and entertaining story of the life of a junior doctor at the most challenging time of the year. With twenty-five tales of intriguing, shocking and incredible Christmas incidents, the British public will finally appreciate the sacrifices made and the challenges faced by the unsung heroes of the NHS.

Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas will be fully illustrated (as tastefully as possible) and will delight all of Adam’s fans throughout the festive period of Christmas 2019 and for many years to come.

 

I was introduced to Adam Kay earlier this year with This Is Going To Hurt by a colleague. The book was both heartbreaking and hilarious at the same time. I found out around the time I read it that there was a Christmas themed book also by him, so I have been planning on reading this book in December since then! If it’s every bit as good as This Is Going to Hurt, which I expect it will be, then this will be a great read to end the year.

 

So, that’s my reading list for the month! Have you read any of these books? What did you make of them if you have, or do you like the sound of them if you haven’t? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

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