Tag: books

Shelf Control #9 – 08/11/2019

Hi guys and welcome to today’s in-depth look at the next book on my TBR in today’s Shelf Control post.

As a refresher, Shelf Control is a meme run by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies – 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.

 

I am using Shelf Control to look in further detail at the books I have added to the TBR and then listed as keepers in my Down the TBR Hole posts. I talk about why I want to keep the featured book; it also acts as a second sweep for anything that I may have changed my mind about. I have actually deleted a few books doing this sweep. I won’t necessarily own all the books (yet), but I will have a reasonable number of them. I’ve also gone on to read a couple of the earliest books on the list, so this mini-series is proving useful!

 

Sleeping Giants – Sylvain Neuvel

Goodreads – Sleeping Giants

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square-shaped hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved – the object’s origins, architects, and purpose unknown.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top-secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the relic they seek. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unravelling history’s most perplexing discovery-and finally figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

 

My Thoughts…

It was the synopsis of the book that prompted me to add this to my To Be Read pile. It sounds so unusual! For those prone to question what you read, it immediately has you asking questions like who does the hand belong to? and, what does it all mean? I get the impression that our protagonist is much the same and so I think she will be really relatable!

I also love that this series has been published already. Don’t get me wrong, I’m more than happy to wait for books, but if I don’t have to then even better. There is some comfort in knowing that you COULD binge-read something if you really wanted to!

Have you read Sleeping Giants or any other books in the series?

 

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Halloween Horrors – Book Recommendations

Are you looking for inspiration on what to read this Halloween? If so, you have come to the right place! In today’s post, I am going to be recommending some of the spooktacular books/authors I have read.

 

Stephen King

Before I started my blog, I hadn’t read a single book by Stephen King. Stupid, foolish me. Since dipping my toe in the water with The Green Mile, I have gone on to read Pet Sematary, IT, the first two books of The Dark Tower series and listen to The Stand. I still have plenty of books of his to read, including some of the more classic horror novels, such as The Shining.

If you want to check out any of my reviews, I have linked them above.

 

Jay Raven

If you are in the mood for short stories or a novella, then either Game of Crones or To Snare a Witch may be if interest to you. I have read both of these books this year; I am reviewing To Snare a Witch in the coming days.

I enjoyed these reads for the theme of witches and their reverence/treatment by society. They are also great to pick up for a quick read, or a break from another genre.

 

H. P. Lovecraft

I bought my copy of the Necronomicon last year and whilst I am nowhere near having read the entire collection of stories, I have read a few. H P Lovecraft is an iconic writer of the horror genre and I can see why. His stories are pretty damn creepy, or outright weird…

 

My current read… Stephen Chbosky

This Halloween, or Hop Tu Naa locally, I will be continuing to read Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky. I love the story centring on 7 and a half-year-old Christopher. Children are really imaginative and suggestible, so you don’t know what is true and what isn’t! It makes happenings so much more sinister! I’m currently about a quarter of the way through this read, but I’ll be making more progress with it as I can in the coming days up to October 31st.

 

Have you got any other reading suggestions or recommendations I haven’t mentioned? What are you reading this Halloween?

 

 

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Blogging and Social Media

Social media is a huge element of blogging. Regardless of the content of your blog, you need to put yourself out there to get your content noticed. Which platforms you use is entirely up to you, and maybe dependent on the content of your blog. Sounds easy, right?

In some respects, yes. With a few simple settings, new posts I publish are automatically shared to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. All I have to do is write a brief description/summary I want to accompany the link and away it goes. I don’t even have to think about it.

It’s not all automatic though. There is a degree of effort you have to put in to maintain a presence online. Ultimately, readers are connecting with the person behind a blog, not just the content itself. A feed of links to own content can be a bit boring. Here is where I will admit that I fall down. I am not that good when it comes to proactively using social media. My feeds are pretty much as I have described above – links to my own blog.

I try to interact as and when I can, but I can honestly say I don’t really have the compulsion to use social media that much. On a personal level, I use Facebook to keep up to date with what is going on with friends and family, news and such and that is it. I am one of those ghost friends that hardly ever post. My blog has given me some purpose to post more in recent months, but it isn’t natural to me.

Even my ‘blog’ accounts aren’t all that up to scratch. I’m not at all consistent with my use of Instagram. Remembering to take pictures and create a visual medium for my blog is a conscious effort, but it’s one I am not conscious of all the time and so I lapse. I just don’t take that many photos. I change my Facebook profile picture maybe once every six months in a good year, and only when there is a change to the way I look really. Call me lazy, but I just can’t be bothered and I doubt anyone is really all that bothered about it – myself included.

Do you have any tips for me to get better with my use of social media? Which platforms do you find easiest to use and why? I’ll take all comments on board at this point!

 

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First Lines Friday – 25/10/2019

It’s Friday once again friends, so today I am sharing another First Lines Friday post! This post gives you the opportunity to sample something new without the bias of a front cover? Which book am I featuring today? Here are the first few lines from today’s featured book: –

 

When the steamboat Moselle blew apart just off the Cincinnati landing, I was sitting below deck in the ladies’ cabin, sewing tea leaves into little muslin bags and plotting revenge on my cousin Comfort for laughing at me during dinner.

I had many ways of getting back at her. Sometimes I put a few darts in her cuffs so that when her wrists swelled, which they always did when she was performing, she would have to cut the cloth later to get her arms out. Or I snipped her lace ties just a little, which kept her from pulling her corset as tightly as she liked; or I sewed a small pigeon feather into the back of one of her costumes so that when she walked across the stage the shaft scratched at her skin.

I was Comfort’s seamstress, dresser and trunk packer. And a hundred other things as well. She was the Famous Comfort Vertue. That was her stage name.

 

 

 

I found this book on Bookbub and purchased my copy in July 2017, having been blown away by the synopsis and in particular, the topic that it covers throughout. I also really enjoy historical fiction, so this was pretty much a no-brainer purchase for me!

Shall we find out what it is?

 

The Floating Theatre – Martha Conway

Floating Theatre

In a nation divided by prejudice, everyone must take a side.

When young seamstress May Bedloe is left alone and penniless on the shore of the Ohio, she finds work on the famous floating theatre that plies its trade along the river. Her creativity and needlework skills quickly become invaluable and she settles in to life among the colourful troupe of actors. She finds friends, and possibly the promise of more …

But cruising the border between the Confederate South and the ‘free’ North is fraught with danger.

For the sake of a debt that must be repaid, May is compelled to transport secret passengers, under cover of darkness, across the river and on, along the underground railroad.

But as May’s secrets become harder to keep, she learns she must endanger those now dear to her.

And to save the lives of others, she must risk her own …

A gloriously involving and powerful read for fans of Gone With The Wind and Tracy Chevalier’s The Last Runaway.

 

So, what do you think? Will you add this to the TBR? Is it on already?

 

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Autumn: The Season of Reading

Autumn is my favourite time of year for reading.

Gone are the long nights and the ‘day’ after the working day is over. The nights draw in and grow colder, and it’s the perfect time to snuggle in at home with a good book. I enjoy closing the curtains of a night, putting my feet up and burying myself in a slanket with a cup of tea to hand. Cosy in my own home. It’s my favourite place to be.

Autumn season is the calm before the storm of the festive season. The end of the year is a frantic period. Before all that business begins there is a chance to spend the colder, miserable days doing what I love best – reading. The weather turns very quickly here; we all know when our fleeting summer is over. I enjoy sitting indoors when the rain is lashing against the windows and the wind is howling outside. Last year, the weather was so fierce that I had rain forced inside my windows by the rain. That isn’t so fun – I spent the day running around with towels left, right and centre. I can’t say I enjoy it when I’m outside, so much. I’ve had that joy a few times this year already.

Evenings are my favourite time to read, but especially at this time of year. It has that atmosphere about it that encourages a quieter lifestyle and enjoying time to yourself. I wouldn’t say I feel all that guilty about staying home in the summer months, because I do in fact stay home. There is a part of you that makes you think you ought to make the most of the lighter nights and not waste them, although mine is pretty small. The way I see it, I am out most days at work. If I want to go home and spend my evenings with myself like a social hermit, that’s not a problem at all!

Do you have a favourite place or time to read? Do you find it makes you more productive as I do?

 

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Tips to Get Out of a Reading Slump

We all get to that stage where we lack motivation to read. Maybe you aren’t getting on with the particular book you are reading, or perhaps you’re sick of a particular genre or a trope within it. Hey, it happens. There is no point beating yourself up about it.

My TBR is never far from my mind and when I heave deadlines, I don’t have time for a slump. There are a few things you can do to get yourself out of it, if you really need to.

 

Read Something Else

If your reading slump is just beginning and you think it might be your reaction to a certain book, try to read something else. Taking half an hour to enjoy something else could be more advantageous than trying to struggle on through the current read. I know it’s tempting to try and slog through it but you won’t enjoy it and might contribute to a longer slump in the long run. Take a break! You deserve it!

If reading another book from a genre you read a lot of doesn’t cut it, then try something totally new! Why not try a short story or novella if you are struggling with a full length novel? Finishing the book is a lot more attainable and the sense of achievement from doing it could be the pickup you need to get motivated again. Alternatively, branch out into a new or under-read genre. If I was looking for something different, then horror might be a genre I would turn to as I don’t read as much of it as others.

 

Set Yourself Achievable Reading Goals

My TBR this month is one of the longest I have ever set. I have seven books on the list that I want to have finished come 1st November, plus an extra sample read for an author I have worked with. It works out at over 1,800 pages to read, which sounds horrendous. It’s not really though; when you break it down, it works out at 59 pages a day, which I know I can do. I am keeping on track with it too, even considering all the extra blogging I am doing this month.

Set yourself an attainable goal that you can look at on a daily or weekly basis and assess your progress. If that goal is proving unattainable, don’t be afraid to revise the plan. We’ve all over-stretched ourselves before.

 

Try a Different Medium

Tired of reading books? Have you tried picking up a graphic novel or a magazine instead? Maybe you could try listening to an audiobook instead. I like the variety of reading in different forms and it allows me to maximise my time. I can listen to audiobooks when I am getting ready for work, or when I am driving home at the end of the day.

 

Take a Break

It doesn’t have to be a long break, but give yourself time to enjoy doing something else. Give yourself the night off to catch up with friends or a TV program you love. In my spare time, I like to play Minecraft and spend time with my family.

It may be that a longer break would suit you; that’s fine too! We read for the enjoyment of it above all else, and if you aren’t enjoying it, what is the point in doing it? Nothing good comes of forcing yourself to do something you don’t want to do… so my advice is don’t.

Do you have any advice for anyone stuck in a slump? What works for you?

 

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Top Ten Tuesday – Bookish Worlds I Love

It’s Tuesday, so guess what guys… it’s another Top Ten Tuesday post I am sharing with you today!

This week’s theme for the post is Bookish Worlds I Love. I am a sucker for world-building so there are going to be some brilliant names on the list! Just because I love these worlds doesn’t mean I would necessarily want to visit them… but yeah!

 

Westeros (& Essos) – A Song of Ice and Fire series

For obvious reasons I love these… but I wouldn’t like to visit. Knowing my luck, I’d turn up and immediately get run over by a dung cart. That’s probably the best I could hope for. These worlds aren’t exactly known for their smothering kindness to its citizens.

 

Middle Earth – The Lord of the Rings series

Tolkien paints such a magical and vivid setting in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I would love to see the Ents and the power of nature in force. Hobbiton would be pretty quiet and quaint too. It’s just a shame I’ll be too tall to move in…

 

The Labyrinth – The Relic Guild series

Again, this wouldn’t be the most pleasant place to find myself in, but spectacular again for the magic. I wouldn’t really like the idea of being cut-off from society either.

 

Valengrad – Raven’s Mark series

Again, a dark world to want to visit, but the fabulous descriptions in the Raven’s Mark series mark this on my map! This is an unusual place on the list, as a wasteland known as the Misery in particular would be an amazing (and amazingly difficult) place to traverse. With a shifting landscape as a result of corrupt magic and few unmoving landmarks, it’s not your typical world.

 

Roshar – The Stormlight Archives

I’ve only read one of these books so far and already I have fallen in love with Roshar. It has such a depth of history and is so beautifully described. I cannot wait to see how the rest of the books live up to the first in this!

 

The Discworld – Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series

The Discworld is the fictional setting of 41 novels; it is a flat, circular world, balanced on the back of four elephants who in turn stand upon the back of the Great A’Tuin – a turtle. Yep. That pretty much sums up how crazy this place is, but even still I love the real, everyday problems that are encountered here. The Discworld books are really entertaining!

 

The Sollan Empire (and beyond!) – Sun Eater series

This world is so expansive that I don’t even truly know how to quantify it! I feel this series has a lot more to offer too; I haven’t read Howling Dark yet so I’m sure my horizons will be broadened even further after this book. It has so many unique systems, worlds and civilisations.

 

Orisha – Legacy of Orïsha series

Children of Blood & Bone

My favourite element of the world of Orïsha is the cultural aspect. I feel it truly celebrates a unique culture and consequently has a completely new insight into the world and the beauty of it.

 

Weep – Strange the Dreamer series

The narrative of Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer makes Weep sound hauntingly beautiful in its desolation. All her descriptions are vivid and amazing, but the sense of mystery about the lost city makes it all-the-more appealing.

 

Temerant – The Kingkiller Chronicles

I need to re-read these books and appreciate them again. It has been a really long time. The sophistication of the world-building in this series is why it makes its way onto the list. These books are some of my favourites in the fantasy genre.

Which book is your favourite bookish world from? Do you share any of these?

 

 

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Netgalley: Yay or Nay?

I signed up to Netgalley not long after I started my blog, however, I am still unsure really as to how I feel about it two years on.

Back in May 2018 I published a post called Five Reasons I don’t Rate Netgalley. Every point in that post still stands. I am only a very occasional user of the service. It comes in handy for some blog tours I take part in, but it’s rare that I go on and have a browse to find something of my own accord.

A lot of bloggers love the site and frequently brag about downloading too many books; I just don’t understand it. I can’t say I have ever found many books I want to download on there at any one time. At best, I’ll make the odd request here and there. I have one currently for The Mothers by Sarah Naughton, but that’s all.

My profile is too small to successfully request the newest and most popular books, but equally, I would feel that in order to get to a point where I would be accepted, I would have to read a lot of books I’m not that interested in to get there. I’m not doing it. I am not going to force myself to read books that don’t appeal to me.

If I’m honest, I think it is over-rated. I keep my account because it does come in handy. Sometimes it makes for a change to see what else is out there, or to try a debut author. I’ll never be one of these bloggers that live off Netgalley and I am okay with that. There are so many amazing books elsewhere that I don’t feel I am missing out.

Do you use Netgalley? What are your thoughts on the site?

 

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My Holiday Reads

I haven’t exactly made a secret of the fact I am going on holiday this month. For today’s post, I want to share with you my intended reading whilst I am enjoying some fabulous company and (fingers crossed) some good weather.

I feel like there is an expectation for women to read chick-lit on holiday. I know it’s supposed to be nice, light reading, but that’s not me. Reading women’s fiction is an exception, rather than the rule when it comes to my reading tastes. Instead, I’ll be taking a variety of genres away with me.

If you want to read why these books appeal to me, check out my Reading List for October.

 

Circe – Madeline Miller

Goodreads – Circe

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Goodreads – Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

 

Imaginary Friend – Stephen Chbosky

Goodreads – Imaginary Friend

We can swallow our fear or let our fear swallow us.

Single mother Kate Reese is on the run. Determined to improve life for her and her son, Christopher, she flees an abusive relationship in the middle of the night with Christopher at her side. Together, they find themselves drawn to the tight-knit community of Mill Grove, Pennsylvania. It’s as far off the beaten track as they can get. Just one highway in, one highway out.

At first, it seems like the perfect place to finally settle down. Then Christopher vanishes. For six awful days, no one can find him. Until Christopher emerges from the woods at the edge of town, unharmed but not unchanged. He returns with a voice in his head only he can hear, with a mission only he can complete: Build a tree house in the woods by Christmas, or his mother and everyone in the town will never be the same again.

Soon Kate and Christopher find themselves in the fight of their lives, caught in the middle of a war playing out between good and evil, with their small town as the battleground.

Christopher is seven years old. Christopher is the new kid in town. Christopher has an imaginary friend. The epic work of literary horror from the #1 bestselling author of THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER.

If I finish these, then I have plenty of books on my Kindle to choose from. I have already considered are The Book Thief by Mark Zusak and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I might also pick up When She Was Bad by Tammy Cohen, but it’s set in an office. Going on holiday is my getting away from that!

I’m not going to set any more books than this in stone. If I finish all the books on the TBR then I can treat myself to reading whatever I would like dependent on my mood. From fantasy to non-fiction; historical fiction to futuristic thriller… I have something for the occasion.

 

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Quintessential Quotes – Margaret Atwood

Good afternoon everyone! I hope you are all having a lovely day! In today’s post, I am going to be sharing some of my favourite quotes from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and her more recent book, The Testaments.

I think dystopian fiction can have some really poignant quotes that make us think about the stark differences in our lives compared to those that unfold on the pages. How can such truth come from something so twisted, so horrible and depraving of life the way it is?

But it does. Here are some quotes from each of the books that have stuck with me the most: –

 

The Handmaid’s Tale

“Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.”

Really true though, isn’t it?

 

“Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.”

Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

 

“Better never means better for everyone… It always means worse, for some.”

Someone always falls victim to change; it all depends on how loudly the oppressed can shout as to whether anything happens as a result.

 

“There is more than one kind of freedom,” said Aunt Lydia. “Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don’t underrate it.”

Yet the problem here, Aunt Lydia… is the distinct lack of freedom for these Handmaids to choose.

 

“That was when they suspended the Constitution. They said it would be temporary. There wasn’t even any rioting in the streets. People stayed home at night, watching television, looking for some direction. There wasn’t even an enemy you could put your finger on.”

… Sound familiar, my English friends?

 

The Testaments

 

“As they say, history does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.”

True – history never pans out exactly the same for we delude ourselves that we learn from our past. That doesn’t mean we avoid making the same mistakes, however.

 

“But it can put a lot of pressure on a person to be told they need to be strong.”

Especially in times where you are out of control and vulnerable.

 

“The corrupt and blood-smeared fingerprints of the past must be wiped away to create a clean space for the morally pure generation that is surely about to arrive. Such is the theory.”

Raising children, particularly girls, to be treated as glorified brood mares in service to their husbands justifies this?

 

“Our time together is drawing short, my reader. Possibly you will view these pages of mine as a fragile treasure box, to be opened with the utmost care. Possibly you will tear them apart, or burn them: that often happens to words.”

I like this quote for the way it addresses the reader. It pulls the reader into the story.

 

“Such regrets are of no practical use. I made choices, and then, having made them, I had fewer choices. Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I took the one most travelled by. It was littered with corpses, as such roads are. But as you will have noticed, my own corpse is not among them.”

Sometimes blending in to bide your time is the only way to make a difference. Let them underestimate you.

Have you read The Handmaid’s Tale or The Testaments? Do you have a favourite quote you would like to share?

 

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