Tag: book love

Book Review: Midnight in Chernobyl – Adam Higginbotham

In today’s blog post I’m going to be sharing a book review for a non-fiction book I read at the very beginning of 2021. I believe I carried this over from December 2020 to finish it, so it’s been quite a while since I read it. However, it made a lasting impression on me! I thought the book was really good and it’s about a subject that I wanted to learn more about as a result of a TV series I watched.

The events around and following the Chernobyl nuclear disaster are harrowing to read, but I think the book does an excellent job of informing the reader in a way that keeps them engaged and entertained. I certainly learned a lot from it!

 

Midnight in Chernobyl – Adam Higginbotham

Goodreads – Midnight in Chernobyl

The definitive, dramatic untold story of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster, based on original reporting and new archival research.

April 25, 1986, in Chernobyl, was a turning point in world history. The disaster not only changed the world’s perception of nuclear power and the science that spawned it, but also our understanding of the planet’s delicate ecology. With the images of the abandoned homes and playgrounds beyond the barbed wire of the 30-kilometer Exclusion Zone, the rusting graveyards of contaminated trucks and helicopters, the farmland lashed with black rain, the event fixed for all time the notion of radiation as an invisible killer.

Chernobyl was also a key event in the destruction of the Soviet Union, and, with it, the United States’ victory in the Cold War. For Moscow, it was a political and financial catastrophe as much as an environmental and scientific one. With a total cost of 18 billion rubles—at the time equivalent to $18 billion—Chernobyl bankrupted an already teetering economy and revealed to its population a state built upon a pillar of lies.

The full story of the events that started that night in the control room of Reactor No.4 of the V.I. Lenin Nuclear Power Plant has never been told—until now. Through two decades of reporting, new archival information, and firsthand interviews with witnesses, journalist Adam Higginbotham tells the full dramatic story, including Alexander Akimov and Anatoli Dyatlov, who represented the best and worst of Soviet life; denizens of a vanished world of secret policemen, internal passports, food lines, and heroic self-sacrifice for the Motherland. Midnight in Chernobyl, award-worthy nonfiction that reads like sci-fi, shows not only the final epic struggle of a dying empire but also the story of individual heroism and desperate, ingenious technical improvisation joining forces against a new kind of enemy.

 

My Thoughts…

Considering that the disaster only took place in recent history, I went into this book with only vague knowledge of what had happened. I had briefly covered the subject in school in terms of its relation to the breakdown of the Soviet Union in my studies of the Cold War. In addition, I had some idea of the lasting effects of the disaster as a friend of mine’s family have previously hosted a child visiting the Island where I live. There is a charity called ‘Friends of Chernobyl’, who give children who live in areas still affected by radiation the opportunity to visit places such as where I live for an extended period for the benefit of their health. My friend’s family used to look after a girl in the summer holidays. Aside from that, the rest of what I knew about the disaster came from the TV series Chernobyl.

That’s not very good really in my opinion, and that’s why I wanted to look into this further for myself. I’m glad I picked up Midnight in Chernobyl to do this. There is a lot of interesting detail in the book, but it’s delivered in such a way that it is entertaining to read as well as informative.

I liked the way this book is written out. Each chapter is documented with a time and date and follows in chronological order, so it’s easy to follow what happens. I enjoyed how the book covers the whole history of the plant and nearby town Pripyat as opposed to just focusing on the disaster. Naturally, this takes up the majority of the book but seeing how and why it was built and the consequences of how Chernobyl came to be the place it was at the time of the disaster was interesting.

If you can also appreciate a little bit of science then I think you will also enjoy reading the explanatory narrative about how the reactors were designed to work. It was a little bit of a technical section, but not horrendously complicated and it went a long way to helping me understand what ultimately went wrong on that fateful day.

I think even if you know what happened, it’s only when you read the intimate experienced of each individual involved, and the loss of their loved ones, that it hits home.

I’m not overly surprised at the events of the disaster given the reasons it happened, but also how it was responded to. There was a ridiculous amount of secrecy around events such as these in the USSR. Chernobyl is one of the most well-known disasters, the truth is that there were a lot of smaller-scale disasters at other nuclear plants throughout the USSR in the period. But, like me, you probably didn’t know about these. Just like the scale of the Chernobyl disaster at the time, the powers that be were determined to hush it up and underplay it as much as possible. It’s despicable really when you think about the human cost.

Midnight in Chernobyl is a great read if you want a balance of information and an interesting read. I think the author does a very good job of informing readers about the event but also doing it in a way that highlights individual stories and personal consequences with dignity, with a view to outing the truth after decades of secrecy.

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Shelf Control #41 – 21/01/2022

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

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

Today’s chosen book is a little unusual in that it is from one of the genres I read the least. Not the very least (cough cough romance), but pretty close. It is a well-known story written by a prominent author of the genre; even if you haven’t read the book, chances are you’ve watched the film. Although, I have to confess I haven’t… but my parents have! it

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

 

Carrie – Stephen King

Goodreads – Carrie

A modern classic, Carrie introduced a distinctive new voice in American fiction — Stephen King. The story of misunderstood high school girl Carrie White, her extraordinary telekinetic powers, and her violent rampage of revenge, remains one of the most barrier-breaking and shocking novels of all time.

Make a date with terror and live the nightmare that is…Carrie

 

My Thoughts…

I have read a few novels by Stephen King now, and despite the fact I don’t read horror very often, I will always be prepared to give his books a go! His writing style is one of my favourites, and the diversity between the different stories he writes keeps his books fresh and interesting to read.

I have a very vague idea of the character Carrie and the storyline, but not very much at all if I’m honest. I’d like to keep it that way though because it means I can enjoy the book all the more. I’m looking forward to picking this up and reading something out of my comfort zone. I have every confidence that I’ll enjoy it, and it will make a refreshing change to pick up something different.

It will also be a good one to pick up because it’s quite a short read. Sometimes a shorter story can be a good break from the 500 pagers and above I have a tendency to pick up! 

Have you read Carrie, or watched the film? Do you like the story? Let me know in the comments!

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The Bookaholics Anonymous Book Tag

I saw a really fun book tag post over on Love13Reading’s blog and I’ve decided to take part in the tag myself today! It’s just for a bit of fun and in addition, you also get the chance to learn a little bit about me!

I hope you enjoy today’s post and if you want to take part yourself, consider yourself tagged now!

 

What do you like about buying books?

Where do you even begin with a question like this? I love being in bookshops. I love acquiring new things. I love the uncracked spines and pristine pages, but above all, the smell of a brand-new book. Booksellers have mastered the art of displaying books and it just makes me want to read them all!

 

How often do you buy books?

I’m quite sporadic when it comes to buying books. I am more regularly adding them to my TBR than I am purchasing copies, but it really depends on whether I have any vouchers or gifts that enable me to get some. Or, sometimes I wander to a bookshop in my lunch hour ‘just for a look’ and well, the rest is history.

 

Bookstore or online book shopping – which do you prefer?

Absolutely going into a bookstore is my preference, although ordering online does have its benefits. Bookshops just have an atmosphere that can’t be replicated anywhere else. The experience of going and browsing is just as rewarding for me as the final purchased item itself! There are very many shops I will say this about, but I love bookshops for that reason. You will never catch me in a supermarket just hanging out for the vibes in the same way, put it that way!

 

Do you have a favourite bookshop?

I tend to shop in Waterstones more than any other bookshop, however I wouldn’t rule any out. In September last year I popped into a lovely quaint bookshop on the seafront in Port Erin (Bridge Bookshop) and it was refreshing to visit a small, locally run store as opposed to a chain.

I will also buy books from other stores such as The Works or WHSmith, but it really depends on what’s around at the time as to where I’ll go.

 

Do you pre-order books?

Very occasionally I’ll pre-order a book if I know I want to read it, but more often than not I’ll wait. In the last four years I have only pre-ordered two books – The Testaments by Margaret Atwood and Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor. When you consider the number of books I’ve read in that time, it’s obvious to say that I don’t pre-order very many at all!

Do you have a monthly book buying limit?

No, I don’t. I don’t buy books that regularly – as I’ve said before I tend to be a bit more sporadic. If I have bought a few books in any given month I might make myself wait until pay day again to get any more, but this is rare.

 

How big is your wishlist?

I don’t really have a Wish List, but if you were to use my Goodreads TBR as a substitute then I have around 200 books on my list.

I won’t be getting bored anytime soon… put it that way!

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s post – The Bookaholics Anonymous Book Tag! If you want to take part in the tag yourself then please do and tag me so I know you’ve done it and I can read your answers!

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Shelf Control #40 – 07/01/2022

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s Shelf Control post! Shelf Control is a regular feature here on my blog (typically fortnightly on a Friday) and is a meme run by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies. It’s a 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.

I’m excited to pick up this next book on my list because it’s a series my grandad enjoyed reading. I didn’t know this at the time I added it to my TBR, but my mum mentioned it afterwards having seen it on my blog. In its own way, I’m looking forward to picking it up so I have something in common with him… a reminder of him. Sadly none of my grandparents are still alive, but I still have connections to them through the memories and the things they taught me. For me, enjoying this series (I hope) is a way of connecting with him in a way I haven’t before.

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

 

Killing Floor (Jack Reacher #1) – Lee Child

Goodreads – Killing Floor

Ex-military policeman Jack Reacher is a drifter. He’s just passing through Margrave, Georgia, and in less than an hour, he’s arrested for murder. Not much of a welcome. All Jack knows is that he didn’t kill anybody. At least not here. Not lately. But he doesn’t stand a chance of convincing anyone. not in Margrave, Georgia. Not a chance in hell.

 

My Thoughts…

The synopsis of Killing Floor appealed to me even before I knew of my grandad’s interest in the series. I think it will be a fun and intriguing read. In a way, I like the vagueness of the synopsis. It encompasses the crux of the novel without going into too much detail. For a reader it allows the imagination to run wild and there is so much possibility with this book.

This will be my first read by Lee Child so I have no prior knowledge or expectations for this book. It’s a blank slate; I enjoy reading books by new authors and trying something new. I’m looking forward to moving a tad out of my comfort zone a little to try this one!

I’m also hoping I enjoy this first book because if I do, then I have a long series to look forward to continuing with. I had no idea there were that many books in the series when I added it to the list but I’m not daunted by it in the slightest! If it’s good (and I have every faith that it is) then I won’t be short of reading material for a very long time…

Have you read Killing Floor, any other book in the Jack Reacher series or any others by Lee Child? Let me know in the comments!

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Monthly TBR – January 2022

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

So, what am I planning to read this month?

 

Books

Dune – Frank Herbert

Goodreads – Dune

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

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

 

The Feedback Loop – Harmon Cooper

Goodreads – The Feedback Loop

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

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

 

Audiobooks

A Storm of Swords – George R. R. Martin

Goodreads – A Storm of Swords

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

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

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

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

 

Mood Reads!

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

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

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

 

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

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2022 – New Year Goals/Resolutions

2021 was a strange blogging year for me. I tipped everything on its head and tried a completely different approach. Part of this was because I burnt myself out in 2020 and I wanted a break. However, I also wanted to see how taking a less structured approach changed my reading habits. 

I read fewer books last year than ever before, but I knew that was going to happen. Ultimately, I got to read at a pace that suited me and also allowed me time to enjoy and take up new activities. If you follow me you’ll know that I’ve become a bit of a knitter and I’ve had the time to enjoy making so many projects. More recently I have also taken up doing Pilates as a way of getting fitter and a little bit stronger within myself.

Both of these hobbies are going to be carried forward into 2022, so I’ve been thinking about how I can maintain my efforts with all three and what changes I want to make to my reading/blogging in order to make that happen in a consistent way. I cannot tell you how much I’ve enjoyed taking a step back this year, but I am going to be reverting back to some of the methods I used to keep myself on track… But with some modifications for balance!

If you want to find out how I did in 2021 before jumping into my goals for 2022, you can find a link to my year in review post here.

 

Goodreads Reading Challenge

Last year I didn’t take part in a Goodreads Reading Challenge because I didn’t want to put any pressure on myself as to how much I was going to read. It was strange because I’ve set one for several years now, and I’ve decided to bring this back. I’m doing so without setting myself a huge target though, because ultimately I want everything to be kept at a sustainable pace. So, I’m setting myself challenge to read 40 books in 2022! That works out at a few books a month so it’s perfectly achievable whilst still allowing myself time to do all the other fun things I enjoy!

 

Monthly Reading Lists

I took a break from setting a monthly reading list at the beginning of every month so I had to complete freedom in my choice of reading material. It was fun and I enjoyed it, however I also benefitted previously from the structure of setting myself a list and the expectation of what I was going to read in any given month.

Going forward, I’m going to be taking a hybrid approach in order to give myself the best of both worlds. I am going to be setting myself a reading list, but I’m only going to be fixing a couple of books on the list every month. That means I have at least some set reading material, but I also have the time and opportunity to pick up any other books I fancy on a whim. That way I have a degree of choice of what I’m reading or listening to over the course of the month and by reading the fixed books first, I have an incentive to get them read to see what mood reads I can fit in at the end of the month! I think that’s a win-win situation!

 

Blog Post Writing

One of the goals I’m setting myself this year is to get a little bit more organised in terms of creating my blog posts. This is mostly a behind-the-scenes change.

Throughout 2021 I’ve taken a very relaxed approach to blogging and there were numerous occasions when I didn’t get a blog post ready for the expected publication date I set myself. I didn’t beat myself up about it; life happens and the most important thing to remember is that I blog for a hobby. I don’t make any money out of it and I do it purely for fun and the love of sharing all the bookish content; and, hopefully, encouraging for the people to read books I really enjoy!

That said, I do want to try and get myself a little bit more organised. Some blog posts, like my Sunday Summary weekly updates, can’t be written ahead of time. I will however be making an effort to write most of my blog posts at least one week in advance. That way you guys are less likely to be subject to disruption and my posting schedule is more consistent.

 

Are you taking part in the good read reading challenge this year? Have you set yourself any other reading or blogging goals for 2022? I’d love to hear in the comments if you are!

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

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

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

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


The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

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

 

Traitor’s Blade

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

 

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

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

 

Red Sister

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

 

Dune

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

 

The Feedback Loop

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

 

The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm

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

 

A Clash of Kings (audiobook)

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

 

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

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

 

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

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Shelf Control #39 – 10/12/2021

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

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

The next book on my list is one that is sat on my bookshelf upstairs. I have a weird kind of morbid fascination with the subject and having read a number of great books also of the same ilk, I had every confidence that I was going to enjoy this one and so bought myself a physical copy in advance. I haven’t read anything by this particular author before but I don’t think that matters!

Do you want to find out what today’s book is?

 

The Librarian of Auschwitz – Antonio Iturbe

Goodreads – The Librarian of Auschwitz

Based on the experience of real-life Auschwitz prisoner Dita Kraus, this is the incredible story of a girl who risked her life to keep the magic of books alive during the Holocaust.

Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious volumes the prisoners have managed to sneak past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the librarian of Auschwitz.

Out of one of the darkest chapters of human history comes this extraordinary story of courage and hope.

 

My Thoughts…

I don’t particularly know why, given that the subject is incredibly unpleasant, but I really enjoy historical novels about Auschwitz. I have read and listened to a good few books by now but this is one still currently sat on my TBR… and on my bookshelf ready to go!

The books I’ve read to-date give me high expectations, but I have every confidence that they will be met. I have a lot of interest in the subject and that goes a long way with books like this. The premise is about preserving literature in the camp and as a self-confessed bookworm myself, I can appreciate that any day!

I can’t wait to finally read this and see how it compares to the other books I’ve read and listened to on the subject in recent years. Probably the one that stands out to me most is The Tattooist of Auschwitz and Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris. I listened to the audiobook versions of these novels and they were absolutely fantastic. I can only hope that The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe adds to my list of brilliant works of fiction on the subject.

Have you read The Librarian of Auschwitz? Let me know in the comments!

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Monthly Wrap-Up – November 2021

Good evening and welcome to today’s monthly wrap-up post!

It’s official – we are in the last month of the year! How crazy is that? Much the same as last year, this one seems to have flown even quicker than normal. I don’t exactly know how that is but I won’t question it.

However, at the end of the month means it’s time to go over what I’ve been reading and sharing with you throughout November. So, let’s get into it!

 

Books Read

At the end of my previous monthly wrap-up post I was part way through reading Million Eyes II by C. R. Berry. I had signed up for a couple of log tours that both coincided in November. Million Eyes II was the first of these tours. Given that my post was due quite early in November, I started to read this in October. Needless to say, I finished this at the beginning of November in anticipation of my blog tour review.

Next I picked up and read The Warden by Jon Richter. This is the second book I had agreed to review as part of a blog tour and this post or shared roughly a week after the first. I had a reasonably quick turnaround to get this read but honestly, it was so easy! I thoroughly enjoyed reading both of these books and even taking part in the blog tours. Some people don’t like reviewing to a deadline and whilst I don’t have it all the time, it did make a change for me. There are links to both of those posts down below if you want to find out more about the books!

Finally, I returned to Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson. I had started reading this prior to having to put this down in favour of my blog tour reading. But I had only just started this, mind you, so it wasn’t a hardship in the slightest. I have since gone back to this day and I have read around 20% of the book. It doesn’t seem like a lot I know… but that and equates to around 2/3 of one of the previous books again. Words of Radiance is over 1000 pages long end so you can see I have made some progress, but I also have a long way to go!

I have been far more successful in terms of listening to audiobooks this month than I am generally. As of last week’s monthly wrap-up post I only had a couple of hours worth of The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch left. I really enjoyed going back to this series (as it had been awhile since I listened to the previous one); this didn’t take long to get through!

A short time later I started to listen to Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell. This is the first book I’ve picked up from this author and can I say I’m glad I have! I’m really enjoying the narrative and the audiobook is a nice easy listen. Whether I’m knitting or doing some Pilates (a reasonably new venture for me to try and improve my health a bit), I can listen to this at the same time and it is a wonderful accompaniment/distraction! I have listened to a lot of this towards the end of the month and I feel sure that in next months monthly wrap-up post I’ll be telling you that this is finished.

 

Blog Posts

I like to recap the blog posts I’ve published over the course of the month in my monthly wrap up posts. That way, if you have missed any of my content and see something you like the look of, you will find a handy link here!

That’s all from me in today’s wrap-up post for November; What have you been reading, or do you have any recommendations for me? I’d love to hear from you if you do!

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Discussion Post – How I Manage my Blog

How does someone like me manage my blog, as well as all the reading that goes along with it and day-to-day life in general?

That is the subject of today’s post. If you want a blogger and you’re looking for some insight (maybe you are considering becoming a blogger yourself), or even if you do and you curious about how I manage things compared to you, then you’re in the right place! There is always something to learn and I hope today’s post can give you some insight into what it’s like to be a book blogger.

 

Time

The first piece of advice I can give anyone considering starting a blog is that you have to really enjoy your subject. Having the knowledge to share in the first place is going to take time to learn. Even if you are already well-versed in a subject, there’s always going to be changes that you have to keep on top of.

From a book blogging perspective, it means that you’re going to spend a lot of time reading. If you enjoy it and already partake in the hobby then it’s okay – it doesn’t feel like a chore. If, however, your subject is not that familiar you could end up spending a lot more time on it. If you don’t enjoy it that much then it’s definitely going to be boring. What is the point in spending your time on something you don’t enjoy? The answer is none.

Aside from reading, you also have to manage a blog and draft content on a regular basis (note that by regular I don’t necessarily mean frequency – the emphasis is more on consistency rather than how many times you post a day/week/month). That of course takes time. To give you an indication, I typically post three times a week. I would say on average I spend around an hour to an hour and a half per post. This includes drafting, compiling any relevant information, editing and finally publishing it. That in itself is a decent amount of time to be spending on one post, never mind any pre-requisite reading/research etc. It’s not a ‘quick’ hobby, per se, but it’s very rewarding.

Personally, the speed in which I can create a blog post has increased over the last year. Previously, I drafted each blog post by typing it out on my laptop. Combining the time taken to do this with the rest, I would usually spend between two and 2 1/2 hours on a blog post. Things got a little bit quicker for me when I invested in a tablet. Instead of typing out a post manually, I have employed the use of the dictation function on my tablet to be able to draft my post instead. This makes drafting a lot quicker, but there is a trade-off that a slightly heavier hand is needed on the editing side. I didn’t think I had a weird accent, but some of the word combinations my tablet comes out with suggests otherwise!

If the prospect of spending an hour to an hour and a half on a blog post was already daunting, then you should know that in certain circumstances it can take longer! Honestly, the best advice I can give to anybody is to invest in a device or software that can make use of dictation and then learn to be able to use it. It didn’t come naturally to me when I first started creating posts this way. I often had to spend a lot of time thinking about each sentence before I dictated it. There wasn’t any kind of natural flow. This is something I’ve developed over time, so realistically I can dictate a post now in about 15 minutes tops. It used to take me a LOT longer.

Being organised helps. Having a scheduling plan, even if it’s just a loose one, can help you plan out your posts effectively. Readers know when to expect content from you and it can also help your statistics, if you’re interested in that sort of thing.

However, sometimes life does just get in the way. I was originally planning on sharing this post early on Wednesday evening this week. However, we had a brief power cut that ate into the free time I had and put an end to that plan. It just goes to show you can’t control everything; but doing everything in your power will help you manage your time and blog effectively.

 

Resources

Time is probably the most important consideration, but there are other factors at play that need to be considered when you start a blog. In particular reference to having a book blog, you need to have access to books! Sounds obvious I know, but this is the most basic example. Another is having access to the tools to share a blog. There are plenty of websites online that you can use for free to start a blog, but there are other options available, such as self-hosting. You will need to look into and consider in-depth if it’s something you’re interested in. There is little bit more to it than just using an online site, but at the same time I operate a self-hosted site and I’m no expert. I’ve got it set up and it works. I try not to touch any of the settings or play around with it beyond that.

Sometimes the resources you need to run a blog cost money. Whilst you can have a free blog run from a website such as WordPress, and you can access books from the library, there may be some costs need to take on. Self-hosting a blog costs money; the antispam protection costs money. And obviously, buying books cost money. What I’m saying here is that sometimes you have to be prepared to invest in your hobby; if you ask yourself that question and the answer is no, then I would really suggest you consider taking it on at all.

I hope I’ve been able to share something of interest with you and that you have learned something from today’s post. Are you considering setting up a blog? Do you have any further questions that I can help you with? Equally, are you already a blogger and have you got any tips you would like to share with others?

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