Tag: books

Sunday Summary – 25th September 2022

Good evening everyone! It’s the end of yet another week and here we are with another Sunday Summary update post. I don’t know about you, but things are starting to feel very autumnal now. It’s coming towards my favourite time of year – I can justify cozying in with a good cup of tea, a slice of cake, and a book. Not that I needed any excuse before like…

The changing of the season has come just in time. On Tuesday, I shared a Top Ten Tuesday post, in which I featured my top ten books to read in autumn. On that list, I have a number of books I have been meaning to read for some time, together with a couple of new ones. If you haven’t checked out that post already, there is a handy link above.

Later in the week, it was the turn of my Shelf Control regular feature. In that post, I featured a book that is on my September TBR. When I drafted the post, I hadn’t started the book as yet. However, I suspected that by the time it went live, I would be reading it – and I was right!

 

Books Read

I’m actually really pleased with this week’s reading progress. I’m going to be honest with you and say that when I shared my September TBR, I already felt defeated before I started. If you have seen that TBR post, you’ll know that I’m taking part in Bookoplathon. It is a game based on Monopoly, and I ended up really unlucky in my game. I ended up with three extra rolls, which means three extra books on my reading list this month. I had anticipated maybe one extra, but reading eight books in a month isn’t really achievable for me. That said, I have read quite a lot this week alone.

 

In Case You Missed It

As of last week’s Sunday Summary update, I was on my third book of the month, and coincidentally about a third of the way through it. I had DNF’d my previous read, and my first book was nothing special either. In Case You Missed It is not the type of book that I would’ve picked up without recommendation. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to think of it, but I was very pleasantly surprised.

As you are probably aware, Monday was a bank holiday here as it was the Queen’s funeral. I ended up watching quite a bit of the funeral, but also made time for reading. I ended up finishing In Case You Missed It on Monday. I read about 250 pages alone that day! What can I say, I really got into the book. The writing style is easy to digest and the events and characters are hilarious. It was exactly what I needed and I’m really glad I picked this up – so thanks for the recommendation Mum!

 

Treacle Walker

Next, I read a very short book that was not on my September TBR. I had been loaned this book by the CEO of the company I work for. He had enjoyed reading it and he wanted to know what I thought of it. Treacle Walker is only about 150 pages, and it was a very trippy, quick read. I really enjoyed it, even though I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on all of the time. I wanted to read this quite quickly as I know that this book was going to be passed on to somebody else after me.

 

Dark Matter

Next, I moved on to the next book on my TBR, and now my current read, Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. This is a bit of a twisty narrative, and I have no idea what is going on, albeit for different reasons to Treacle Walker! However, I am also really enjoying this one. There is a lot to unpick and it is going to take a while for me to work out what is what.

As of this post, I am exactly 20% through Dark Matter. I cannot wait to continue reading and update you in next week’s Sunday Summary post with more of my thoughts and progress!

 

Ordinary Heroes

Lastly, I started listening to Ordinary Heroes by Joseph Pfeifer. If you are unfamiliar with this book, it is the story of the first FDNY Chief on the scene of the 9/11 terrorist attack. I only started listening to this yesterday and I’m just a fraction off being halfway through already. I’m absolutely rattling through this one as it’s a really interesting read.

I quite enjoy listening to non-fiction – I find it easier to take the information in sometimes. Ordinary Heroes is a very easy listen. It is also quite a harrowing tale (but that goes with the subject). I have already learned things about the incident that I didn’t know from media coverage. As I am making very quick progress with it, I’m hoping to finish this within the next couple of days.

 

Books Discovered

No news is good news here this week. I haven’t added any books to the reading list, and I’ve actually just picked a couple off the list that I have changed my mind over. Nothing exciting to report here…

 

Coming Up…

On Tuesday, I am sharing my book review of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling. Before we get into the month-end wrap-up and reading list for October, I wanted to share another review with you.

I have quite a back-list, and it was good to pin my thoughts down on this second book of the series. I decided to re-read these books as an adult to see how they differed from my initial impression of reading them as a teenager. If you want to find out my thoughts, check out that post on Tuesday!

On Saturday, I will be sharing my month and wrap-up post. Normally I would post on a Friday, but as Friday is the very last day of the month, I could make further reading progress. So, to make sure I cover the whole month in my wrap-up, I will be sharing this post on Saturday instead.

That’s everything from me in today’s Sunday Summary post!

What have you been reading this week?

 

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Sunday Summary – 18th September 2022

Hello everyone and welcome to… you guessed it, another Sunday Summary post! Every Sunday I share my latest bookish updates – what I have been reading and books I have added to my reading list. I also cover the posts you can expect to see on my blog in the following week.

Before diving into that though, let’s quickly recap what I have shared with you this week. I wanted to finally commit my thoughts on Fire and Blood by George R.R. Martin. With the ongoing prequel series, House of the Dragon, currently airing, I thought this was perfect timing. A little fun fact for you – the events in House of the Dragon don’t begin until 340 pages into Fire and Blood. There is a lot of ground not covered in the show. It remains to be seen as to whether any of this is used either for a pre-prequel or a second season. If you want to find out my thoughts on the whole book, which spans a far greater time period the series, you can check out that post here.

Later in the week, I shared a First Lines Friday post. In that post, I shared a short and snappy introduction to a book currently sitting on my bookshelf and begging to be read. I have already read several books by this author, all part of another series he has written. However, I am yet to read anything of his set in the time period. I have read another similar book by a completely different author recently; I’m interested to see if there’s any commonality or whether it is just a certain famous character and setting that overlaps. If you want to check out what that book is, here is a link for that one as well.

 

Books Read

In last Sunday’s Sunday Summary update, I was reading Red Sister by Mark Lawrence. As I shared in that post, I wasn’t overly enamoured with the book. I made the decision that I was going to continue reading until at least 33% of the book before making a decision on whether to continue or not.

Unfortunately, my initial impression didn’t change in the additional 10% I read. I didn’t hate the book by any stretch of the imagination. However, I didn’t love it either. It just didn’t grip me or hold my interest particularly. With that in mind, I didn’t want to invest in a further 5 to 6 hours for a book that was just… meh. There are so many books out there, (God knows I have enough of them on my TBR already!). So, I really don’t need to waste my time if I know I’m not loving a book. I made it a third of the way through, I gave it a very good chance. However, this one just didn’t hit the mark. It is disappointing as I loved another series of Mark Lawrence as a teenager – The Broken Empire. Oh well, you can’t win them all!

Next, I moved on to my third read of my September TBR. I must admit I went into this not really knowing what to expect. It is not a typical read for me at all; romance isn’t really a genre I go for. However, I am really enjoying In Case You Missed It by Lindsey Kelk! I think it’s fair to point out that this is a romantic comedy, and it’s the comedy element that really works for me. The writing style is really easy to read, and the narrative and characters are hilarious!

I think maybe this book came at a good time. Clearly, my ‘typical reads’ aren’t meeting expectations at the moment. Perhaps going for a complete change is something I needed. In Case You Missed It is providing that for me. As of today’s Sunday Summary post, I am 132 pages into the book. That equates to about a third of the way through. It’s not the most reading progress in the world, but I do plan to read more of this tonight and tomorrow.

 

Books Discovered

I have added one book to my TBR this week, and you will probably understand why. You would have to be living under a rock to not know that Queen Elizabeth II passed away by now. There has obviously been a lot of talk about her and the British monarchy. As a result, it has made me realise that I would like to learn more.

So, I have decided to pick up a biography about her, and one that was published as recently as April this year. I want to learn more about her, her life and family to truly appreciate what she has done for us over the last 70 years of her life.

 

Coming Up…

My first blog post will be a Top Ten Tuesday post next week. I had an idea in mind for a similar type of post anyway, and so I decided to take part in this week’s theme. If you want to find out what I plan to read in the next few months, check out my post on Tuesday. In that post, I will be talking about 10 books on my autumn to-read list. You may just find the one I just mentioned above on that list!

As usual, I’ll be sharing another Shelf Control post later next week. In the post, I feature a book that I may be reading this time next week, as it is on my September TBR for Bookoplathon.

That’s the latest from me. I hope you have enjoyed today’s Sunday Summary update post! Have you read anything good this week that you would like to share?

 

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First Lines Friday – 16/09/2022

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s First Lines Friday post!

I’m really excited to share today’s book, as it is written by an author I am already familiar with. However, it is a bit different from another series of his that I have been reading. I also read something similar earlier this year (set in the same time period and featuring the same famous character of the period). I for one I’m really excited to see how I enjoy this book.

Without further preamble, shall we dive into today’s First Lines Friday intro: –

 

I died just after the clock in the passageway struck nine.

There are those who claim that her Majesty, Elizabeth, by the grace of God, Queen of England, France, and of Ireland, will not allow clocks to strike the hour in her palaces. Time is not allowed to pass for her. She has defeated time. But that clock struck. I remember it.

I counted the bells. Nine. Then my killer struck.

And I died.

 

 

 

Fools and Mortals – Bernard Cornwell

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 416

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Harper Collins

Publication Date: 19 Oct 2017

 

 

Goodreads – Fools and Mortals

Lord, what fools these mortals be . . .

In the heart of Elizabethan England, Richard Shakespeare dreams of a glittering career in one of the London playhouses, a world dominated by his older brother, William. But he is a penniless actor, making ends meet through a combination of a beautiful face, petty theft and a silver tongue. As William’s star rises, Richard’s onetime gratitude is souring and he is sorely tempted to abandon family loyalty.

So when a priceless manuscript goes missing, suspicion falls upon Richard, forcing him onto a perilous path through a bawdy and frequently brutal London. Entangled in a high-stakes game of duplicity and betrayal which threatens not only his career and potential fortune, but also the lives of his fellow players, Richard has to call on all he has now learned from the brightest stages and the darkest alleyways of the city. To avoid the gallows, he must play the part of a lifetime . . . .

Showcasing the superb storytelling skill that has won Bernard Cornwell international renown, Fools and Mortals is a richly portrayed tour de force that brings to life a vivid world of intricate stagecraft, fierce competition, and consuming ambition.

 

My Thoughts…

Earlier this year I read Twelve Nights by Penny Ingham. This book, as you can probably guess by the title, is influenced by William Shakespeare. William Shakespeare is a key character in Twelve Nights, and he is also prominent in Fools and Mortals.

The main character is Richard, William’s brother. Richard is an actor and therefore we find ourselves in a very similar setting to Twelve Nights. I really enjoyed that particular book, so I’m interested to see how Bernard Cornwell Write this kind of narrative in comparison.

It is very different from the series of his I am also reading at the moment – the Saxon stories (aka The Last Kingdom). That is a set of books I am really enjoying, and the character development is strong in those. I’m hoping for much the same in Fools and Mortals. As a standalone book, this will be a great way to try out a narrative in a different time period from Bernard Cornwell. If I go on to enjoy it as much as I expect I will, then it is only natural that I will go on to read the rest of his books… different time periods or not.

From the introduction, we have no idea who the character is. It is a very interesting introduction because straight away, a significant event happens to draw the reader in.

This introduction really captured my attention, and I hope it has captured yours too! Have you read Fools and Mortals? Would you like to based on today’s First Lines Friday post? As always, I would love it if you could let me know in the comments!

 

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Sunday Summary – 11th September 2022

Good evening everyone and welcome to another bookish update in today’s Sunday Summary post.

Earlier this week I shared a couple of blog posts with you. I started off the week with a Discussion Post on why reading diversity matters. I am always trying to branch out and read new things, but there are still plenty of books, authors, and topics that I am still yet to explore. In that post, I made a pledge that I am going to try and pick up more of these books in the future!

Later in the week, it was the turn of my regular Friday feature, Shelf Control. In that post, I talked about a book that has been on my reading list for a number of years. Having recently re-read the synopsis, it has reminded me just why I can’t wait to pick it up.

 

Books Read

As of last week’s Sunday Summary post, I was halfway through Silverthorn by Raymond E Feist. I enjoyed the book overall, but if I’m entirely honest, not as much as the first book. Whilst I could follow the events from the first book, Magician, it seemed to have a different feel about it. On the one hand, this was good because it was easy to pick up, but at the same time, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting either. In the end, I gave it a three-star rating.

Next, I started my current read, Red Sister by Mark Lawrence. I’ve had high hopes for Red Sister as I previously read and enjoyed The Broken Empire trilogy by the same author. 

If I’m honest, Red Sister hasn’t grabbed me as much as I hoped it would either. It’s a tough one. I don’t know if I’m going to carry on with it or not. It’s not that I hate it because I don’t. I don’t love it either though. I’m currently 20% of the way through Red Sister and I’m going to continue a little longer. If it still hasn’t grabbed me by about a third of the way through, then I will set it aside. There are still elements in the book to be explained that we haven’t come to yet. Maybe once I’ve got a bit more of the foundation down I will be able to get into it.

I’m going to pick up Red Sister after this post goes live with a view to getting to a third of the way through the book tonight. That way, I have decided whether I’ll carry on or not and that determines what my reading week looks like next week. I will let you know in next week’s Sunday Summary post how I get on.

I have officially decided to stop listening to The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn. I’ve just had enough of it and I’m not really inclined to finish it. So, I’m not going to force myself to. Instead, I might pick up another book on September‘s TBR in audio format instead.

 

Books Discovered

The CEO of the company I work for is as much an avid reader as I am. On Friday, he gave me a couple of reading recommendations.

The first of those recommendations is Treacle Walker by Alan Garner. This is quite a short book, and I like the sound of it based on what he told me of it. It is the first I had heard of this particular book, and given that I am trying to branch out with my reading, I have added this book to my reading list.

He also gave me a second recommendation, which is Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. When I read about this recommendation, I got really excited. It is set in one of my favourite periods of history, and the synopsis in my opinion is really interesting.

I can’t wait to pick this up and have a discussion with him about it!

 

Coming Up…

Next week, I plan to start the week by sharing a book review with you.

I’ve decided to share quite a topical review, particularly if you are a fan of George R.R. Martin and the A Song of Ice and Fire series (a.k.a. a Game of Thrones). You may or may not be familiar with the fact that the prequel show (House of the Dragon) is currently airing. This in fact covers some of the narrative and history of the Targaryen’s in his book, Fire and Blood. I read this book last year, and given its hot topic at the moment, I’ve decided to share my review on that.

I will be back on Friday with another regular feature post. Next week’s post will be a First Lines Friday, and I really like the sound of the book I have chosen. The opening lines set the book in motion immediately. I also read a book earlier this year in a similar setting and time period. It has also been all that I have a read number of books by, and enjoyed. I for one can’t wait to pick up his book myself– but if you’re interested to find out what that book is, don’t forget to check out my blog on Friday.

As always, You can find out all the latest updates in my Sunday Summary post next week.

For now, that’s all folks! What have you been reading?

 

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Sunday Summary – 4th September 2022

Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s Sunday Summary update post! I hope you have had a great week!

I have had a good one myself. It has been an exciting week, as I’ve had the opportunity to talk about my reading progress in August in my Monthly Wrap-Up post. Not only that, but I have also shared my humongous TBR for September. Having taken part in the ‘spring semester’ of Magical Readathon recently, I decided I really enjoyed taking part in it.

I saw that Becca is hosting her Bookoplathon readathon for September, and so I decided to take part. The board did not treat me kindly, and I have to read no less than eight books this month! If you haven’t checked out either my August wrap-up or my September TBR yet, you can find the links above to do so.

 

Books Read

In my last Sunday Summary update post, I was most of the way through Golden Son, I was part-way through The Silence of the Girls as a break from Golden Son, and in terms of audiobook progress, I had stalled a little with The Viscount Who Loved Me.

 

The Silence of the Girls

I decided my first priority of the week was to continue reading The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker. I was really enjoying this particular book, and it was just the break I needed from Golden Son. Needless to say, I made very quick progress with this book and finished it very early on in the week! I really enjoyed the contrasting perspective it offers to books around war.

It is not often we think of the lives of those living in the war camp, especially those who are not there by choice. I really enjoyed this one, and if you like Greek mythology I would strongly recommend you pick this book up to!

 

Golden Son

Having had a sufficient break, I went back to finish Golden Son by Pierce Brown. I’m glad I stuck with it in the end, as the ending picked up. It’s not that the book was boring or that there was nothing going on; in fact, the problem was quite the opposite. There was a lot going on. Maybe too much! It barely felt like we had gotten over one event before the next occurred, and the pace was a bit much for me. While this didn’t really change towards the end, I think a break allowed me time to process what has happened before and I like how the book has been left in terms of a cliffhanger.

 

Silverthorn

From there I have moved on to my first read on my September TBR – Silverthorn by Raymond E Feist.

I read the first book of the series, Magician, initially as a teenager, but then again back in 2017. My intention then was to read the book to bring me back up-to-date with events so I could continue with the series. This didn’t quite pan out as I thought. However, the addition of the book I have on kindle has an excellent summary of what has gone before in the beginning. I don’t feel like I have suffered for having not picked up the second book in a while.

I am currently around halfway through Silverthorn, and I’m really enjoying the narrative so far. In all, it is quite different from what I remember of Magician. Events have moved on significantly since that first book, although we are seeing some malign forces returning to the narrative. I hope to be able to make further progress with this read quite quickly. It is easy to pick up and follow what is going on. Since I haven’t picked up this series for a long time, this is no mean feat!

 

The Viscount Who Loved Me

I have made some further progress with The Viscount Who Loved Me, albeit marginal. I have managed to get around the cringey bee sting scene by skipping what was left all together. I’ve obviously missed one of the most significant events in the book, but it wasn’t exactly surprising given that I watched the Netflix series. It’s been easy to work around and I have listened to this a little bit more, although not much.

 

Books Discovered

I have deliberately not been looking at books out there at the moment, because I can’t really afford to add anything to my TBR. I have added a number of books of late, and I’m trying to keep the number down. My efforts don’t seem to be working!

 

Coming Up…

Early next week I am sharing a discussion post with you, talking about why it is important to pick up books from diverse authors. It’s not lost on me that I’m going to be sharing this at a time when I am reading a book by a cis white male. I cannot help the bias shown in the publishing industry historically.

As much as it is important to read books by diverse authors, it is also not fair to exclude authors from your reading list based on their background. That is the point of my post, but that also includes not ruling out majority authors either.

On Friday, I will be sharing a Shelf Control post with you. The book I am featuring in that post is one I purchased a physical copy of a number of years ago. It is sat on my bookshelf waiting to be picked up, and having reminded myself of the synopsis, I can’t wait to get around to it!

As always, I’ll be back with you this time next week for my Sunday Summary update. I’m hoping to share a lot of reading progress with you, as I have a lot to read this month.

That concludes today’s Sunday Summary update. What have you been reading?

 

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Sunday Summary – 28th August 2022

Good evening everyone and welcome to this week’s Sunday Summary post! I have lots of updates for you; I can’t wait to share with you what I have been reading this week.

Before we jump into that, let’s recap the posts I’ve shared on my blog this week. On Tuesday, I shared a book review for a non-fiction book I read earlier this year. It was not the easiest of books to read because of the subject matter. But, I think it’s very important that everybody gives it a go at least once. That book is The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.

On Friday I shared the opening lines of a newly released book I received a copy of very recently. I already cannot wait to pick this particular book up. The synopsis sounds really interesting, and the opening lines had me hooked! If you haven’t checked out that post already, you can find a link to my First Lines Friday post here!

 

Books Read

In last week’s Sunday Summary post, I was around a third of the way through Golden Son by Pierce Brown. I really enjoyed the first book of the series, Red Rising, last year. I’ve made a solid amount of progress with this book this week; I am now around 80% of my way through it.

However, I will admit that I have lost steam with this one. In my last Sunday Summary post, I mentioned that it was fast-paced, and that hasn’t changed. In fact, I think there’s too much action and too much going on if I’m completely honest. We’ve been on the throttle for most of the book, and now it is coming to the conclusion, I’m a bit bored. It’s lost the thrill of excitement.

This puts me in a bit of a dilemma because I’ve obviously invested a lot of time into getting to this stage of the book. A part of me wants to put this down, but another part of me doesn’t. For the sake of pushing through for an hour or so to get to the end, it may be worth it to persevere. It may even redeem itself. However, I’ve been lacking the drive to do so in the past couple of days. My plan is to try and push on to complete the read, but I’ll let you know what happens in next week’s Sunday Summary update.

Yesterday, in a bid to give myself a break from Golden Son, I picked up The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker. This is a nice concise read, and in a very short space of time, I’ve nearly read 100 pages of the book. Coming in at just over 300 pages, that’s a good amount of progress! It is also a lot easier to read, so I think I will fly through this one.

I’m also really enjoying the perspective. Instead of featuring the usual tales of men and the glory of war in Greek mythology, it speaks about war and conquest from the perspective of the women it affects. It discusses the men who die in battle not as glorious warriors, but as brothers, husbands, and sons. Women are taken captive and enslaved in every way you can imagine. Despite the horror, this is done relatively stoically, as if it is expected by the women. It is a shocking perspective. 

Switching up my current read to this book has definitely been the right move, and I think I will finish this one before going back to Golden Son.

I have made a tad more progress with The Viscount Who Loved Me on audiobook this week, but not as much as in previous weeks. I’ve only listened to it a couple of days whilst commuting, so consequently, I’ve only made about 10% progress through the audiobook.

If I’m entirely honest, I’ve gotten to the bee sting scene and just… yeah. It made me cringe so hard I couldn’t listen to it! I’m sure most people would think it an interesting and ‘spicy’ scene, but that just doesn’t work for me! I think I’ll just skip the scene and continue around it because I cannot listen to it otherwise.

 

Books Discovered

I wasn’t planning on adding any books to my reading list this week. However, I discovered that an author I have started to read has released further books in a series that I’ve started – that being Christopher Ruocchio and his Sun Eater series. I have read the first book and started the second, however, there are a further two out already, and the fifth book is out in December this year.

I’ve added them to my reading list so they aren’t forgotten!

 

Coming Up…

Next week I have both my monthly wrap-up post, and my September Monthly TBR to share with you! It’s always an exciting week when it comes to re-capping what I’ve been reading in one month, and discussing what I’m reading in the next.

With the end of the month not falling until Wednesday, I’ll be sharing my first post of the week on Thursday the 1st September. That way, you have the very latest updates from me in my monthly wrap-up post. I already have a good chunk of this post drafted, so I’ll just be adding the last bits to it on Wednesday before it goes live on Thursday.

Next month’s TBR is extremely ambitious to the point that I don’t think I’ll complete it. However, I’m going to have a very, very good go. You’ll find out why it’s ended up that way in my post on Friday.

And, as always, I’ll be back with another Sunday Summary update this time next week. Hopefully, I will be able to continue and finish both The Silence of the Girls and Golden Son. I also want to have made decent progress with my next breed, assassins quest. I’m not going to finish this in August, but I’m hoping I can at least make a start at this point.

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

 

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First Lines Friday – 26/08/2022

Happy Friday and welcome to another First Lines Friday post! First Lines Friday is a regular series on my blog. It’s a fun way to share books I love, am interested in and/or are on my TBR. Sometimes I like to experiment with something new!

I was inspired to share the opening lines of today’s feature, as I recently received my Illumicrate exclusive edition. The book sounds amazing, and the edition I received is absolutely stunning! I shared a reel last Friday on Instagram of my unboxing, so if you haven’t checked that out, please go and check out my Instagram page.

Without further preamble, shall we dive into today’s First Lines Friday introduction?

 

By the time Professor Richard Lovell found his way through Canton’s narrow alleys to the faded address in his diary, the boy was the only one in the house left alive.

The air was rank, the floor slippery. A jug of water sat full, untouched by the bed. At first the boy had been too scared of retching to drink; now he was too weak to lift the jug. He was still conscious, though he’d sunk into a drowsy, half-dreaming haze. Soon, he knew, he’d fall into a deep sleep and fail to wake up. That was what happened to his grandparents a week ago, then his aunts the day after, and then Miss Betty, the Englishwoman, a day after that.

 

 

Babel, or The Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution

Genre: Historical Fantasy / Dark Academia

Pages: 560

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Publication Date: 23 Aug 2022

 

 

Goodreads – Babel

Traduttore, traditore: An act of translation is always an act of betrayal.

1828. Robin Swift, orphaned by cholera in Canton, is brought to London by the mysterious Professor Lovell. There, he trains for years in Latin, Ancient Greek, and Chinese, all in preparation for the day he’ll enroll in Oxford University’s prestigious Royal Institute of Translation — also known as Babel.

Babel is the world’s center of translation and, more importantly, of silver-working: the art of manifesting the meaning lost in translation through enchanted silver bars, to magical effect. Silver-working has made the British Empire unparalleled in power, and Babel’s research in foreign languages serves the Empire’s quest to colonize everything it encounters.

Oxford, the city of dreaming spires, is a fairytale for Robin; a utopia dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. But knowledge serves power, and for Robin, a Chinese boy raised in Britain, serving Babel inevitably means betraying his motherland. As his studies progress Robin finds himself caught between Babel and the shadowy Hermes Society, an organization dedicated to sabotaging the silver-working that supports imperial expansion. When Britain pursues an unjust war with China over silver and opium, Robin must decide: Can powerful institutions be changed from within, or does revolution always require violence? What is he willing to sacrifice to bring Babel down?

Babel — a thematic response to The Secret History and a tonal response to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell — grapples with student revolutions, colonial resistance, and the use of translation as a tool of empire.

 

My Thoughts…

I’m excited I have received my copy of this book! When I initially signed up for Illumicrate’s book-only subscription, I didn’t know this was going to be the first book I received. However, I’m really excited it is! Fellow bloggers who have read advanced copies of this book have absolutely raved about it. As soon as I heard their thoughts, I knew I had to pick up a copy for myself. That I’ve got my hands on an exclusive edition only makes me happier! I had to feature it in this week’s First Lines Friday post. 

I’m most excited about exploring how the fantasy elements of the book entwine with the element of language and translation. It doesn’t seem to be a superficial element of the plot; if the content of the book has some academic element in itself, then this will appeal to me no end.

I had a place to attend university, but ultimately I made the decision several years ago not to attend. It wouldn’t have been for me in any case, (and in terms of career, I don’t think I could be more opposite in what I do now compared to what I intended to do, but I’m very happy with my decision). I get to explore the attendance of a university through this narrative and it is something that I’m looking forward to.

For readers who enjoy diverse character representation, then this book is right up your street! Written by American-Chinese author R.F. Kuang, this book is mainly told from the perspective of an Asian character. The author herself attended the University of Oxford, and in her exclusive letter included in this copy, she talks about her complex relationship with the institution. Described as both the university of her dreams, and yet also elitist and classist (to name just a couple of its less favourable traits), I hope to see the author’s own experience play out through Robin Swift‘s narrative.

If I go on to enjoy Babel as much as I suspect I will, then I have a number of books that R.F. Kuang has already published but I will be going back and reading. The Poppy War especially appeals to me!

I hope you have enjoyed this week’s First Lines Friday feature! Have you added Babel to your reading list? Does today’s introduction compel you to do so?

 

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Book Review: The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank

In today’s book review post, I am featuring my review for the first non-fiction book I read this year – A Diary of a Young Girl. I have been making more of an effort to read non-fiction of late, and so I felt it fitting that I also feature this on my blog. It reflects my current reading, and this book naturally led to some very strong emotions.

A Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank

Genre: Non-fiction/classic

Pages: 283

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Fingerprint Classics

Publication Date: 1947

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads – The Diary of a Young Girl

Anne Frank’s extraordinary diary, written in the Amsterdam attic where she and her family hid from the Nazis for two years, has become a world classic and a timeless testament to the human spirit. Now, in a new edition enriched by many passages originally withheld by her father, we meet an Anne more real, more human, and more vital than ever. Here she is first and foremost a teenage girl—stubbornly honest, touchingly vulnerable, in love with life. She imparts her deeply secret world of soul-searching and hungering for affection, rebellious clashes with her mother, romance and newly discovered sexuality, and wry, candid observations of her companions. Facing hunger, fear of discovery and death, and the petty frustrations of such confined quarters, Anne writes with adult wisdom and views beyond her years. Her story is that of every teenager, lived out in conditions few teenagers have ever known.

 

My Thoughts…

Having read so much historical fiction, particularly around World War II as I’m interested in the subject, I’m surprised I hadn’t read this book before now. Most of the narratives are about the overarching movements on the war, but it’s personal stories that really make it hit home. But this isn’t fiction. Anne Frank was a real young lady, who went into hiding because a regime did not like her faith. All the devastation that took place is disgusting.

Up until the family go into hiding, Anne lives a reasonably normal life. She has a school and classmates… A family who love her. All the things a child should have. Fear and doubt are not things that a child her age should know, but they come soon enough. There is a stark difference between the schoolgirl gifted a diary for her birthday, and the young woman confined into the Annex.

Throughout her diary we watch Anne struggle to come to terms with her new life, her relationships and living in a small space with very few provisions. Through the various chapters, we experience Anne’s day-to-day struggles, angst and moods, as well as her extended periods of melancholy. Anne becomes a teenager in The Annex; she has to battle with herself to come into her own, deal with her hormones and the like with no help or privacy.

The knowledge that this is a real girl’s diary makes the content all the more stark. That I concluded this read on the day Russia invaded Ukraine brought this to the forefront of my mind once again.

It is an educational read that helps those of us who have never known such hardship to really understand the atrocities experienced by the Franks, amongst others, had to live through. But, it also has a glimmer of hope – as it highlights those who risked themselves to hide and protect Jews. It is a pity it was in vain for too many people.

I don’t know what I expected, but the abrupt ending of the diary left me at a loss. Naturally, Anne had no inkling of their discovery and so there was no lead-up to that in her narrative. To mentally conclude the book, I researched what happened to the family after the events in her diary, and I was saddened by the reality. It is sad that anyone should go through this, but the truth is, so many lives ended in similar, or worse ways.

The Diary of a Young Girl wasn’t light reading by any stretch of the imagination, but I think it is important. It gives insight into the horrors that oppressed Jews had to live in, and only through wearing their shoes can we understand how they lived, suffered and fought for their lives.

Have you read The Diary of a Young Girl? What are your thoughts on this book? As always, let me know in the comments or on social media.

 

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Sunday Summary – 21st August 2022

Good evening everyone! It is the end of yet another week, and so it’s time to share all my updates in today’s Sunday Summary post. As always, I hope you’ve had a good week, whatever you have been up to!

It has been a fairly run-of-the-mill week here. My first blog post of the week was shared on Monday, and that was my blog tour review of The First Binding by R.R. Virdi. It was a pleasure to take part in the publication blog tour and I hope I have convinced somebody to pick up the book for themselves! If you haven’t heard about this epic fantasy yet, or you’re interested in my thoughts, you can check out my review with the link above.

Later in the week, it was the turn of my regular Shelf Control feature. This post went live on Friday (as usual), and this week’s feature is co-authored by father and son. Having read and enjoyed several books by Stephen King in the past, I can’t wait to see how his collaboration with his son compares. Maybe that’s enough for you to work out what book I have featured; if not and you’re curious, again, the link is above!

 

Books Read

In last week’s Sunday Summary post, I left off reading Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez. I was just about halfway through this particular book.

As expected, it didn’t take me long to finish. I ended up finishing this on Tuesday and I’m really glad I read it. I would be lying if I said it didn’t inspire a lot of feminist rage. The whole point of the book is to highlight the ways in which women are inadvertently discriminated against/disadvantaged. It’s done more out of ignorance than malice, although I would say in some circumstances it is done knowingly; in some cases, the consequences of excluding women are unknown or not considered. Some of the points this book raised shocked me.

For example, car manufacturers don’t test female test dummies in the driver’s seat. Consequently, 47% of women are more likely to be seriously injured or die in a car accident. That’s just ridiculous, and something that could be very easily remedied.

This book covers a lot of topics, from medicine to the workplace, product design, and home life. It was really interesting to read, and I’m glad I picked it up!

Next, I decided to pick up Golden Son by Pierce Brown. I read his first book of the series, Red Rising, last year. I really enjoyed the blend of science-fiction and dystopian fiction, which carries through into the second book. The story has moved on quite significantly since its humble beginning. However, there are plenty of reminders throughout the narrative to refresh your memory.

It is also proving quite fast-paced. I only started this book on Thursday; in three days (excluding today as I haven’t read anything yet), I’m already over a third of the way in. There is lots of action to keep us engaged, and in this book, there is more emphasis on some political aspects in the book, which I’m enjoying. Also seeing a lot of the familiar characters slot into place, and I can’t wait to see how this narrative progresses.

I have also been good with keeping up with listening to The Viscount Who Loved Me this week. I can be a little bit hit and miss with audiobooks, but I’ve been making the habit of listening to them when commuting to and from work. In my last Sunday Summary update, I was around a quarter of the way through this audiobook. I have been consistent with pacing as I’m now about halfway through.

Personally, I slightly prefer listening to these books rather than reading them. They are not my favourite genre, but I wanted to read them to give myself the opportunity to branch out a little, and because I want to read Penelope’s and Eloise’s stories. These come later in the series, so I have to read the earlier books first.

If all continues as well as things are going so far, then I am of a mind to continue with the series. Maybe even beyond the character’s I’m interested in, but, we’ll see.

 

Books Discovered

This week, no news is good news. I’ve been adding more than enough books to my reading list of late. Thankfully, I haven’t found anything new that really catches my eye. Maybe this week I will be able to tick off more books from my reading list than I put on!

 

Coming Up…

Next week I have some very good posts lined up for you! On Tuesday, I’m going to be sharing yet another book review with you.

I have quite a lot of books that I have not yet reviewed, and with that in mind, I’ve put my thoughts together on The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. I read this book earlier this year – in fact, I finished it the day Russia invaded Ukraine. The book is already about a difficult topic, but this made it all the more real. I can’t wait for that post to go live and tell you exactly what I thought about it!

Later in the week, my Friday feature is a First Lines Friday post. I am really happy with the book I will feature this week. It’s a book I have just received a copy of, and it’s a beautiful edition! Not only that, but I am excited about the topic and setting of this particular book. A BookTuber I follow really loved this book herself. I trust her opinion, so I am optimistic that I will love it just as much as she did!

That’s all from me in today’s Sunday Summary update! What are you reading this week? Do you have any recommendations for me? As always, I will be grateful to hear them!

 

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Book Review: The First Binding – R.R. Virdi

Hello everybody and welcome to today’s review of the most epic of epic fantasy novels, The First Binding by R.R. Virdi. Advertised as The Name of the Wind meets City of Brass, this book appealed to me instantly and I added it to my TBR back at the beginning of the year. As a huge fan of Patrick Rothfuss and his The Name of the Wind series as a teenager, this book was full of promise… and a little touch of nostalgia.

And I got that from this book. The narrative style is just what I was looking for, and there’s even the odd little Easter egg that relates to the series if you can spot it.

I’m excited to share today’s review with you, which is just ahead of the publication of the book (18th August if you’d like to get yourself a copy). Before I get into sharing my thoughts on this book, I like to say a massive thank you to Gollancz for providing me with a copy of the book so I could read it and tell you all about it today. All the opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own, and shared voluntarily. 

 

The First Binding

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Pages: 832

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Gollancz

Publication Date: 18 Aug 2022

Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

 

Goodreads – The First Binding

All legends are born of truths. And just as much lies. These are mine. Judge me for what you will. But you will hear my story first.

I buried the village of Ampur under a mountain of ice and snow. Then I killed their god. I’ve stolen old magics and been cursed for it. I started a war with those that walked before mankind and lost the princess I loved, and wanted to save. I’ve called lightning and bound fire. I am legend. And I am a monster.

My name is Ari. And this is the story of how I let loose the first evil.

 

My Thoughts

Ari, known as The Storyteller, recounts his youth and introduction to the ten bindings all men must know. Written in the same vein as The Name of the Wind, fans of the series by Patrick Rothfuss will recognise and enjoy the narrative style. This is one of the primary reasons that I wanted to pick up this book for myself, and in every aspect, it didn’t disappoint!

Ari, aka ‘The Storyteller’ does not shy away from the dramatic. An expert narrator, he teases his audience and dabbles in anticipation to his audience. Slowly, his stories unravel in a way that steadily builds to a grand crescendo – it appeals to the audience. And with the very same craft and skill does R.R. Virdi tease Ari’s narrative across 800+ pages.

Capturing our attention from the opening lines, we go back to the very beginnings of Ari’s life as an abandoned child. From there we watch Ari advance in years and in his desire to learn about where he came from. Along the way, he encounters a vast array of characters. Not all of them are good. Not all of them are kind to him. Through sheer grit and determination, and with a few friendly faces to help him along, Ari struggles to find himself and his place in the world. He has no foundations from which to build, and so he is determined to make his own.

Epic in scope, and full of adventure, magic, and misdeeds, we reminisce on Ari’s early years. And the best thing is that this is just the beginning of the story. Of his story.

The First Binding is very well written. Full of in-depth and detailed world-building, with its own history and myths/legends, The First Binding is every bit as well developed as other popular and well-known fantasy series. In particular, I really enjoyed how the last chapter plays out, as we are almost taken back to the beginning. Almost. We have enjoyed this expansive journey with Ari, and yet the setting reminds us of where we humbly began. Consequently, it also inevitably leaves us wondering, what happens next?

Another point that really sold this book for me is how I enjoy magic systems in fantasy that have rules relating to the physical world. Authors such as Brandon Sanderson are favourites of mine because he also does the same thing.

This is also true to an extent in The First Binding. When magic takes place, things don’t just appear and disappear at will. The magic alters them in such a way that it changes their state, or where something is, for example. It is these same rules, rooted in science, that make the magic seem more plausible. They have limitations, meaning that any inconvenient plot point cannot just be made ‘right’ with magic. It must be a lot more difficult to employ a magic system that has such constraints, so I have a lot of respect for authors who are able to incorporate this, and well, and make the magic all the more believable!

Every good storyteller knows how to construct a cliffhanger, and R.R Virdi has done just that in The First Binding! I cannot wait for the sequel to see what happens next. Inevitably, there are still unresolved plot points that have not yet been explored in full detail (such as the ten bindings themselves – we only know eight of them). Some of these I expect to span over multiple books. As a huge fantasy fan, I really enjoy this depth and the promise of what is yet to come! 

Undeniably, The Fist Binding is one of my favourite reads of 2022, and I hope I have convinced you to pick this book up for yourself!

 

Author Bio

http://rrvirdi.com/about/