Tag: fantasy

Monthly Wrap-Up – February 2024

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

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

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

 

Books Read

 

The Black Coats

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

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

 

Heart of the Sun Warrior

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

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

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

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

 

The Queen’s Gambit

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

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

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

 

Hogfather

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

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

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

 

The Atlas Six

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

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

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

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

 

Summary

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

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

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

 

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Discussion Post – How My Reading Tastes Changed Over Time

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

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

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

 

Teenage/School Years

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

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

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

 

2017 – Restarting my Reading Journey

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

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

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

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

 

2019-2020 – Reading Boom

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

2021 – Reading Bust

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

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

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

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

 

2022 -2024 – Recovery

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Summary

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

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

Sorry not sorry! 🫢

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

 

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Sunday Summary – 25th February 2024

I’m back with my usual Sunday Summary update, and I’m looking forward to sharing what I’ve been up to this week! As always, I hope you’ve had a great one?

This week has been more chilled out than last, so I have more in the way of reading updates to catch you up on very shortly. First, let’s take a look at the blog posts I’ve shared so far this week.

My first post of the week was a Top Ten Tuesday post. In that post, I explored some of the fun superpowers I wish I had to help me along with my bookish endeavours. From infinite storage space to being able to remember every minute detail about books, I had a lot of fun thinking about this post. The content is a bit more whimsical than I’ve been posting of late and it was great fun to draft. If you haven’t checked out that post yet, as usual, I’ll provide a link to that here.

My next post was a Shelf Control feature. This is the third post I have shared of its kind so far this year, and once again I have shared a historical non-fiction with you. I obviously went through a flurry of adding these to my reading list! Although they are the same genre, each of the three books I have featured so far are all from different time periods. This week’s feature post explores history of Tudor England. It’s a short book, but when I’m looking forward to reading to refresh my knowledge on a topic I already know I love.

 

Books Read

 

The Queen’s Gambit

I left off from last week’s Sunday Summary post in between books. After some debate, I decided to pick up my Instagram poll pick runner-up next, being The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis.

I added this book to my reading list after watching the Netflix series several years ago. I already knew what to expect in terms of the storyline and characterisation. The time between watching the TV show and picking up this book has probably helped negate any real comparison between the two as it wasn’t too fresh in my mind. I was still able to enjoy the story without overthinking how it compared with the Netflix show.

The Queen’s Gambit is a relatively short book, and I read this in its entirety this week. I rated the book four stars as I enjoyed the storyline, characterisation and flow of the plot. Whilst I have some basic understanding of chess and how to play, this prior knowledge isn’t especially needed to be able to understand the book. If that’s something that worries you, don’t let that put you off!

 

Hogfather

Next, I picked up what is my current read as of this Sunday Summary post. I only started this book yesterday, but already I have read 37%.

Hogfather has a really approachable narrative and is generally a bit of fun. I wish I’d had the foresight to check when this was coming up in the series, as I’d have read it in December if I’d known it was next. Hogfather is part of the Death miniseries within Discworld, and pokes fun at the concept of Father Christmas and belief.

I’m really enjoying the book so far, and given that I’ve managed to read about 160 odd pages in 24 hours, I can’t imagine I will be too long reading this book. In any case, it’s a digital loan from my library so I’ll have to get my skates on.

 

The Atlas Six

Finally, I have started listening to The Atlas Six again this week. As usually happens with me, I have let progress in audiobooks fall by the wayside in the last few weeks. However, I’ve had the motivation to start listening again this week, and I’m glad I have. I’m still not very far into the narrative, but I’m intrigued by the characters and where events in the book are going to take us.

This week, I listened to about two hours of the audio. Whilst it’s not a huge amount, it is a start considering it has been nearly 3 weeks since I last picked this up. Now that I am back into the story and the characters, I’m going to look to find more opportunities to listen whenever and wherever I can!

 

Books Discovered

Remember last week I shared that I got some book vouchers for my birthday? Well, I may have spent some of them this week 😇

I picked up quite the range of books this week. From cyborg assassins (Lifelik3) to biology (The Song of the Cell), it’s fair to say I’ve got quite the range in reading taste!

In addition to these, I picked up a couple more non-fiction books – The Survivor and Normal Women. Whilst Normal Women wasn’t officially on my TBR, it has been on my radar. You may recall that I featured a podcast from Philippa Gregory of the same name in my Well, I Didn’t Know That! series. This podcast features research that contributed towards the book, and I really enjoyed listening to the particular episode I shared. I was aware the book was coming out soon, but I confess that it had escaped my notice that it was out already. I happened to see a copy of it just as I was turning to pay for the others I picked up. I’m glad I spotted it last minute, and I eagerly grabbed a copy!

 

Coming Up…

Usual scheduling will be put on hold this week as we are already at the end of February. Where on earth has the time gone?

My first post of the week will be a Discussion Post. In this post, I’ll share how my reading tastes have changed over time. I plan to cover my reading tastes from my teenage years onwards, so that’s quite a time span to cover!

On Friday I’ll share my Monthly Wrap Up for February. Overall, I’ve read less books this month than I have for a while. It shouldn’t be a particularly long post, but I’m doing my best to fit in as much reading before then as I can! Maybe I’ll surprise myself?

As always, I’ll round up the week with another Sunday Summary update for you at the same time next week!

Until the next post, that is all from me. What are you reading right now? Do you have any recommendations for me?

 

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Book Review: Skyward – Brandon Sanderson

Whilst I have the time to catch up on some outstanding book reviews, I’m making the most of the situation and sharing some of my favourites. Today, I share my thoughts on the first book in Brandon Sanderson’s YA sci-fi series, Skyward.

I have a lot of great things to say about this book! At the time of publishing this review, I’ve read three out of the four books currently on the market. I’ll be looking to pick up the next in the series, Defiant, very soon!

 

Skyward – Brandon Sanderson

Genre: Science-fiction

Pages: 513

Audience: Young Adult

Publisher: Gollancz

Publication Date: 06 Nov 2018

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads –  Skyward

Defeated, crushed, and driven almost to extinction, the remnants of the human race are trapped on a planet that is constantly attacked by mysterious alien starfighters. Spensa, a teenage girl living among them, longs to be a pilot. When she discovers the wreckage of an ancient ship, she realizes this dream might be possible—assuming she can repair the ship, navigate flight school, and (perhaps most importantly) persuade the strange machine to help her. Because this ship, uniquely, appears to have a soul.

 

My Thoughts

 

Plot

Skyward has an interesting plot that sucks you in from the synopsis. In truth though, there is far more to explore underneath the surface.

The narrative in which we explore through Spensa’s viewpoint is far more complex than meets the eye. The world history, Spensa’s upbringing and the discovery of a mysterious ship only start us off on this detailed, action-packed narrative. Although we pick up events from Spensa’s discovery onwards, in reality the set up of what happens in this book begins far earlier, and we unravel this history throughout the present day narrative.

As a military sci-fi, fans of combat will have plenty to enjoy in this book. We graduate alongside Spensa through training into live fighting. The drama and suspense keeps us on our toes as we never quite trust that the characters we grow to love throughout the book are safe. They’re not…

 

Setting

Science fiction fans will not be disappointed with the rich descriptions and detail in Skyward. Both in terms of the physical setting and the political environment Spensa grows up in, there is plenty to explore.

Skyward excels in its ability to stand out in the science fiction genre without too much techno-babble and jargon. As a book aimed at young readers, it’s especially important that Sanderson got this right… and indeed he did! I enjoy science fiction, although I wouldn’t say I have the brains for too much techy speak. I was able to follow everything with ease.

What makes this book extra special is that over time, we come to realise that the world and plot introduced throughout the first 400-450 pages is just a small speck in the galaxy. Skyward paves the way for the epic series it is, and sets the scene for the remaining books excellently!

 

Characters

The book is predominantly told from the perspective of a teenager who has grown up in the shadow of her father. His name is tarred for turning against his fleet in the midst of battle. Many try to discount Spensa and prevent her from training to fly out of fear that she will do the same thing as her father.

And in fairness, Spensa is a loose cannon. She is impulsive and independent, which are not traits conducive to an environment where teamwork is essential. Spensa has a lot to learn over the course of the book, about herself, but also about the perceptions that have tarnished her name throughout her childhood.

Whilst the book does well in sharing a detailed plot with rich descriptions, character development is also very prevalent in this narrative. I would say the book has a reasonable 50-50 split of both of these elements. Whether you prefer an action driven narrative or a character driven narrative, there is ample of each.

 

Narrative Style

With a young adult audience in mind, the narrative needs to be easy to read and approachable for a younger audience. Brendan Sanderson does this very well. This makes both the book and genre approachable to new or less developed readers and would serve as a great introduction to the genre.

At over 500 pages, there is plenty of storyline here to sink our teeth into. It has its fair share of twists and unexpected events. These are entwined into the narrative seamlessly and are shocking but not so complex but they cannot be understood either.

 

Summary

If you are looking for a new sci-fi series to start reading without complex jargon, and with a strong female protagonist, Skyward is one I would highly recommend. As of this post, I have gone on to read further two books in the series, with the fourth book recently out and making it to my reading list soon!

Brandon Sanderson is an author I will go back to time and again regardless of genre. If you are a fan of his fantasy books, don’t let the change of genre put you off giving this a try. He is a fantastic writer and being able to lend himself to different storylines, and indeed genre.

Have you read the Skyward or any other books by Brandon Sanderson that you would love to recommend to my readers?

 

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Monthly TBR – February 2024

I have a great reading list line up for February, and today, I’m sharing that with you in this monthly TBR post!

I had a great start to the year in terms of reading progress in January. I recapped this in Thursday’s post, if you’re interested in checking that out. Trying to keep momentum, I’m setting myself another good size list as that seems to be motivating me at the moment. I have a re-read, some non-fiction and a conclusion to a series on the list. All these go towards my reading goals of 2024!

Shall we take a look at the list?

 

Fixed Reads

 

January Insta Poll – The Atlas Six

I might as well kick off this monthly TBR post by starting with my one carryover from January. I started listening to The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake at the end of the month, and to date, I’m just over 10% through.

So far, I am only really just in the introduction of the book, but I am enjoying it so far. I’m looking forward to listening to more of this audio as I’m enjoying the casting and overall production of it so far. The story definitely has interesting elements to learn about and I’m looking forward to exploring this more.

 

Insta Poll – The Queen’s Gambit

The runner-up to the Insta Poll I ran in January was The Queen’s Gambit. I like to try and read one a month, although The Atlas Six has bled over into February.

I watched the Netflix series years ago, so I am somewhat familiar with the story. However, it’s not so fresh in my mind, that reading the book will feel too much like repetition. I did really enjoy that series, so I have high hopes for this book.

It’s a shorter than I expected considering the length of the series, but I’m sure it will be good nonetheless.

 

The Icepick Surgeon

I discovered the The Icepick Surgeon via a fellow book blogger I follow on Instagram. Bibliobeth shared her intention to pick The Icepick Surgeon up in March this year. I like the sound of the book so much that I intend to pick it up now. Naturally, I want to keep up momentum with reading non-fiction as that is a reading goal this year.

I like the sound of this one as it covers, to an extent, subjects I enjoyed in psychology. You may call me morbid if you wish, but I found it both fascinating and horrifying. If you’re squeamish, then it may not want to go into too much detail. I’m ready for it though, and I’m looking forward to picking it up.

 

Heart of the Sun Warrior

Heart of the Sun Warrior is the sequel in the Daughter of the Moon Goddess duology. I read daughter of the moon goddess just over a year ago now so it feels like the right time to conclude the series. As you are probably aware, wrapping up series is one of my goals for this year. As I have just one book to read to complete, it’s an easy win… and what I’m looking forward to in any case.

What I liked about this first book is the Asian influence on fantasy as opposed to Western. I read a lot of westernised fantasy and I’m deliberately trying to branch out.

 

TBR Jar – Master of Sorrows

I’m not consciously trying to start new series, particularly this year, but the TBR jar has forced my hand. This time I pulled out Master of Sorrows by Justin Call.

I have a good few friends on Goodreads to have picked this up and really enjoyed the book. More specifically, though, it was the thoughts of Ashleigh that persuaded me to add the book to my reading list in June 2022.

Full of magic, a villain origin story arch and disability representation, it is a fantasy that offers some different elements to those I read normally.

 

Mood Reads

 

Hogfather

If I’d realised that Hogfather was the next Discworld book I needed to pick up, I would have been more proactive and read it in December. However, I didn’t, and I’m not waiting a whole year to keep going with the series!

I’m especially looking forward to reading Hogfather, as it is the fourth book in the death mini-series. If you are unfamiliar, the various books in the Discworld universe follow different types of characters. My favourite is The Witches series so far, but it is closely followed by Death.

I also love these books because they are satirical. It’s not a genre I read Emma, but I do enjoy the humorous plot, which is usually laced with a serious underlying topic or message underneath.

 

Fool’s Errand

It’s been a few months since I’ve picked up a book in the Realm of the Elderlings series. I wrapped up The Liveship Traders series in August last year and so it’s time to return.

With the next book, Fool’s Errand, we journey back to familiar characters from the first trilogy. I’m looking forward to revisiting those characters and seeing what happens next. I believe events jump forward in time from the first trilogy, so I have some catching up to do on what happened in between.

 

Empire of the Vampire

The last book to feature on this monthly TBR is a reread of a book I read in 2022. If you are unaware, the sequel to Empire of the Vampire is due out at the end of this month. With this in mind, I’m looking to pick up this first book in the series as a refresher, so then I can go onto to read Empire of the Damned – hopefully in March.

Whilst I could have just read a recap, I have since been gifted a special addition, copy of the book, and it will be rude not to appreciate it, right?!

 

Summary

I may only have eight books on February‘s reading list, as opposed to the 10 I featured in January’s monthly TBR. However, I read just under eight books in January, and some of these are longer than those I picked up last month too.

There is enough on this list to be a stretch without being too overzealous either. I’m looking forward to each of every book on this list, and I hope you can stick around for my thoughts and my reading progress.

For now though, that’s all from me in today’s monthly TBR post. Have you read any of the books on this list?

 

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Monthly Wrap-Up – January 2024

Happy Thursday February 1st, and welcome to my first monthly wrap-up of 2024! How are we one month into 2024 already? As they say, time flies when you’re having fun!

I set myself a chunky TBR back at the beginning of January. I’ve linked to that post if you want to see the full list of books I set myself. I didn’t get to all of them this month, which isn’t surprising given I set myself a list of 10! Saying that, I’ve read more than average this month, setting myself in good stead for the rest of the year (I can only hope!)

Shall we get to the recap of the books I read in January? Strap yourselves in – it’s going to be a longer post than usual!

 

Books Read

 

Gemina

Gemina was the physical read I carried over from 2023. I had only read about 40% of the book by the end of December. A solid start, but there was plenty of progress to make still!

As Gemina is a YA sci-fi written in a mixed media format, I gobbled up the rest of the book in just a couple of days. Like Illuminae, I found it difficult to put down! The way it’s written is easy to read and the different perspectives and data sources that make up this story keep the narrative interesting.

I also loved the characters within the book. There is some small overlap on characters, although broadly we enjoy two new perspectives in the overarching storyline. I can only hope all parties come together in the sequel and last in the trilogy, Obsidio.

It’s safe to say that I started off the year well; Gemina was a great first read of 2024, netting my first 5 star rating.

 

My Sister’s Keeper

In addition to Gemina, I carried over My Sister’s Keeper from 2023. At the beginning of the year, I was approximately a third of the way through this audiobook.

My Sister’s Keeper isn’t a type of book I would pick up very often, but I’m glad I did! I was drawn to it because of the synopsis and the question of morality over Anna and her lifelong role as a donor for her sister, Kate.

I loved how this book played out and the drama within. The end made me teary and I am so glad I pushed myself out of my comfort zone to pick it up. Not everybody loves the ending of this book and I can understand why. However, I think it depends on what expectations you go into the book with. If you go into it looking for an answer to the morality question, then you may not get what you’re looking for. However, I think the book is about asking the question of ourselves – and that I did throughout reading.

 

The Girl in Seat 2A

I downloaded a copy of The Girl in Seat 2A published by Boldwood books via NetGalley. I have reviewed multiple Boldwood books through Rachael’s Random Resources tours before, and this book caught my eye.

The Girl in Seat 2A has an interesting storyline and I enjoyed the wider plot. I confess that I didn’t love the main character Jade, but that is because we are very unlike each other. I struggled to relate to her as a person, and also her circumstances, meaning that I could only invest so much into her.

Hers is not the only perspective in this book though, and it’s that second perspective that made the book for me. I also enjoy how the plot really starts to come together from this alternate perspective and the action and drama was fun to read.

If you’re interested to read my full thoughts on this book, you can find my review here.

 

Betrothal and Betrayal

Another reading obligation to include in today’s monthly wrap-up post is my read of Betrothal and Betrayal as part of a blog tour I took part in mid-month.

Betrothal and Betrayal is a fun and relatively short historical fantasy novel. With a strong, fiery, female protagonist living in a man’s world, I got everything I wanted from this book. I loved the protagonist and her unwavering resolve, despite her circumstances. She is the kind of protagonist to make a great role model for all young women, so it’s great to see represented in fiction.

I’m not going to go too far into the book here as I have already shared my review as part of the blog tour. If you want to go and see that review, I’ll provide a link here.

 

Crime and Punishment

The slowest read on January’s TBR that I include in today’s monthly wrap-up is Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

And that’s not surprising. I am always slower with reading classics because I find the narrative styles differ from modern day. Until I’m used to it, there is an adjustment period. Although it took me a little longer to get into than the rest of the books on this monthly wrap-up, I still enjoyed picking it up.

In this narrative we follow the actions and fall-out of destitute student Raskolnikov murdering a moneylender. The booking itself explores mental health as that features heavily in the narrative, but also around morality of killing, and whether such actions can be washed out by any overall benefit to society as a consequence.

That is a very brief and probably not the best summary of the book, but it’s the best I can do with limited paragraph space!

 

Unmasked

The second audiobook I picked up in the month of January was Unmasked by Ellie Middleton. This is also the first non-fiction book I have picked up this year. If the rest are as good as this one, then I’m in for a good year!

The primary focus of Unmasked is about Ellie’s experience of late diagnoses of ADHD and autism. However, the book also takes an objective view of these neurodivergent conditions, as well as others, to educate readers about what it is like to interpret the world differently. Not only that, but the book explores how those who are neurodivergent are often discriminated against, and what steps we can take in society to be more accepting and accommodating.

I picked up this book to understand more about neurodivergence in general. I was surprised to find that I could relate to some of the traits of autism. That’s not to say I have autism, but it helped me appreciate overall how difficult it must be to grow up with these differences… especially if you grow up undiagnosed as most women do.

It was an eye-opening read, and if you’re interested in the subject, I would strongly recommend picking up Unmasked. I especially enjoyed listening to the audiobook as Ellie narrates this herself.

 

Sword of Vengeance

The last reading obligation I picked up in January that our feature on this monthly wrap-up post is Sword of Vengeance by Peter Gibbons. You won’t yet have seen the review for this book on my blog as it is going live tomorrow.

To date, I have enjoyed following along with the series and I’ve reviewed 2 out of the 3 prior books in the series as part of blog tours. I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts on this fourth book of the series tomorrow. In summary, the book was everything I expected it to be based on the high expectations from reading the earlier books in the series. Again, there is a lot of action in this book, as well as underlying political intrigue which I love to read about.

I hope you can stay tuned for my review tomorrow!

 

The Black Coats

As of this monthly wrap-up post, I’m currently reading The Black Coats by Colleen Oakes and I’m 40% into the book.

It’s an enjoyable read so far and I’m loving the feminist take. I can see the action only picking up from where I’m up to, so I think I’ll have the book finished within another day or two! If you want to find out more about this book, I’ll be talking about it in more detail in the coming days. 

 

The Atlas Six

My next ongoing read at month-end is The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake. As of writing this post, I’m just over 2 hours into this nearly 17 hour long book. For the stats nerds, that’s about 13%. Unlucky for some, but not me!

I’ve only really gotten introduced to the characters and basic premise so far, but I’m intrigued. There’s definitely a lot to be explored in the narrative. I’m also glad I went for audio; each character is separately cast, making it easier to follow who is who. I love the different voices and styles as well – it adds a layer of interest.

Given that I’m not too far into the book, there isn’t really much I can say right now. This is one to stay tuned to my blog for!

 

Summary

I needed to read 5 books to stay on target of 60 books by the end of the year. I let the new year excitement get away with me in setting 10 books. However, I think having a longer reading list has encouraged me to read a little more this month. It doesn’t always work this way, but it’s working at the moment!

Next month’s TBR is going to look much the same – there’s always more to read! If you’re interested to see that list, I’ll share my February TBR on Saturday! Stay tuned for that!

In the meantime, what are you reading?

 

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First Lines Friday – 26/01/2024

Welcome to my first First Lines Friday post of 2024 readers, and I have a great feature for you today!

More often than not, I find myself looking forward in these posts and featuring upcoming books on my reading list. Whilst I didn’t explicitly set myself a challenge this time, I decided tonight that instead I was going to look back in today’s First Lines Friday. I feature a five-star read from last year that I’m sure you will love too. Particularly, if you are a fan of Brandon Sanderson and read any of his young adult works.

Can you guess the book from the clues in the introduction?

 

A dark sphere appeared before me in the centre of the room. Scud. Was I really going to do this? In my hand, Doomslug fluted nervously.

The sterile, whitewashed, walls, enormous one-way mirror, and metal tables marked this as some kind of scientific facility. I was on Starsight: the massive space station that housed the regional offices of the Superiority. Up until this past year, I’d never even heard of the Superiority, let alone understood the nuances of how it – as a Galactic government – ruled hundreds of different planets and species.

To be honest, I still didn’t understand those nuances. I’m not exactly a “there are nuances to this situation” type of girl. I’m more of an “if it’s still moving, you didn’t use enough ammunition” type of girl.

 

 

 

Cytonic – Brandon Sanderson

 

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 432

Audience: Young Adult

Publisher: Gollancz

Publication Date: 23 Nov 2021

 

Goodreads – Cytonic

Spensa’s life as a Defiant Defense Force pilot has been far from ordinary. She proved herself one of the best starfighters in the human enclave of Detritus and she saved her people from extermination at the hands of the Krell—the enigmatic alien species that has been holding them captive for decades. What’s more, she traveled light-years from home as an undercover spy to infiltrate the Superiority, where she learned of the galaxy beyond her small, desolate planet home.

Now, the Superiority—the governing galactic alliance bent on dominating all human life—has started a galaxy-wide war. And Spensa has seen the weapons they plan to use to end it: the Delvers. Ancient, mysterious alien forces that can wipe out entire planetary systems in an instant. Spensa knows that no matter how many pilots the DDF has, there is no defeating this predator.

Except that Spensa is Cytonic. She faced down a Delver and saw something eerily familiar about it. And maybe, if she’s able to figure out what she is, she could be more than just another pilot in this unfolding war. She could save the galaxy.

The only way she can discover what she really is, though, is to leave behind all she knows and enter the Nowhere. A place from which few ever return.

To have courage means facing fear. And this mission is terrifying.

 

My Thoughts…

I have dual motives for featuring Cytonic as today’s First Lines Friday feature. Firstly, it is a book I wholeheartedly recommend and a series that I will press into almost anyone’s hands. Whilst I haven’t officially published reviews of any books in the series, as yet, you can find a summary of my thoughts for Skyward, Starsight, and Cytonic in my Sunday Summary posts around the time I finished the books.

Secondly, I’m also featuring the book today as a reminder that the fourth book in the series was released at the end of last year. I need to read it! It’s not very often that I keep up with series as they come out. Indeed, so far, I haven’t been keeping up with this one at all. But, that is my intention in future. With this in mind, I hope to pick up Defiant soon.

I enjoy reading from the perspective of the main character, Spensa. She is young, feisty, and angsty. She has a chip on her shoulder and everything to prove. Her temperament makes her a bit of a loose cannon and this keeps us as readers guessing as to what she’ll come up with next!

If you like science fiction full of action and a fighting scenes then this will definitely appeal to you. I thoroughly enjoy how these scenes are written and how Spencer‘s personality adds a little spice.

I hope you have enjoyed today’s First Lines Friday feature!

Have you read Cytonic or any of the books in the Skyward series so far?

 

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Top Ten Tuesday – Books I Didn’t Get to in 2023

Good evening readers! Posts like today’s Top Ten Tuesday are a great way to remind myself what some of my reading priorities were last year. In today’s post, I feature the books I intended to read over the course of 2023, but didn’t get to. It’s very likely I’ll try to prioritise them this year as a result!

I just about managed to scrape a list of 10 together. If I didn’t get to a specific book on a monthly TBR, I was pretty good at rolling it forward and picking it up in the following month(s) instead. There are some exceptions to that rule, though, and those are the feature of today’s Top Ten Tuesday.

Let’s see what those books were:

 

In Every Mirror She’s Black

This book was last on my February TBR and slipped the net for being rolled over into March. I’d bought my copy of the book on a whim in the 2022 post-Christmas sales. I’d chosen February to read it as February is when Black History month is celebrated.

I’m not intending to theme this February’s reading around Black History month. However, I’m always interested to read from a diverse range of authors and so I will be making an effort to do this throughout the year rather than in just one specific month.

 

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

I purchased a copy of The Hunchback of Notre Dame after going to watch a local production. This book is a tome, and whilst I had hoped to pick it up last year, I never got to it. It’s the sort of book I think you have to be in the mood for as well. Personally, I find that classics are books you need to have a certain amount of drive to pick up. The narratives don’t flow as well as modern day language; picking them up is a more deliberate action.

I did really enjoy this story, however, so I’m excited to get to The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It is just one book by Victor Hugo that I have on my reading list; the other is chunky as well!

 

To Shape A Dragon’s Breath

The next two books in today’s Top Ten Tuesday ended up on my TBR as a result of book clubs.

For a few months last year, I was reading along with an online book club. I discovered some amazing books through that, but in the end I stopped. As much as I was enjoying the books I was picking up, there was rarely any overlap with my existing reading list. Picking these up was taking away from the mountain of my own books I already have to read.

That said, I do like the sound of To Shape a Dragon’s Breath so I’ve left it on my TBR. This coincided was a busy month and so I didn’t get to start it, and the book club had moved on. As a result, there wasn’t any demand to go and read it quickly. Consequently, it temporarily fell off the list. I’ll be sweeping it up onto the list again, that’s for sure.

 

The Last Thing to Burn

The Last Thing to Burn is also a book I intended to read for a book club, but didn’t get to. Somebody in a local bookish Facebook group had posted an intention to start a book club and I was interested. However, it quickly spiralled into a large social group planning a meal out. In my opinion, the idea of the book club itself all but fell by the wayside. I had hoped to join to be able to have a good quality conversation with a few like-minded individuals, but it wasn’t meant to be.

As with To Shape A Dragon’s Breath, whilst the idea of a book club is great, reading books that other people ‘set’ take away from my time to read the books that I want to read for myself. By the end of last year, I wasn’t taking part in or reading books towards any book club at all and I’m happy with that. They are a good way to get out of your reading comfort zone, but I’m pretty good at pushing myself for now. I’ll never say never, but I have no plans to join anything any time soon.

 

Incendium

I hoped to read Incedium in November, as the book is loosely based around, or sounds similar to, the real life gunpowder plot. However, due to other reading obligations and carryovers from October, it didn’t happen.

I specifically wanted to read this book around bonfire night. Rather than land myself in the position of going into December trying to wrap up November’s books, I decided to let this one go with the intention of picking it up at the beginning of November this year instead! It’s a good job I published this Top Ten Tuesday as a reminder! 

 

The Black Coats

The Black Coats is my TBR jar pick from December. With the seasonal period, I ended up reading less than usual. As a result, I didn’t get this book before the end of the year.

However, I will be picking it up very soon. I have rolled The Black Coats onto my January TBR… although I’ll have to get a move on so I’m not rolling it on again into February! There’s still just over a week left of the month, so it’s manageable.

 

Firefight

Firefight is another book I intended to read in December but didn’t get to because of timing. There is a lot to do in December. From catching up with friends and family before the big day to actually doing the preparation for said big day… it’s amazing how much time that takes.

Plus, I had already met my official reading goal of the year and so the pressure was off. I think this contributed as well.

Whilst I won’t be reading Firefight in January, I am looking to pick this up next month instead.

 

A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, A Dance with Dragons

The last three books on this Top Ten Tuesday list all tie together. At the beginning of 2023, I set out my intention to re-read George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. I did read the first couple of books in 2023.

A Storm of Swords is a little bit of a stretch on this list, because it’s more of a book I didn’t get to finish as opposed to get to at all. I ended up putting that book on hold in order to pick up other reading priorities and I never got back to it. Consequently, I never progressed from that point onwards either, meaning that A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons also went unread.

I would like to continue my re-read of the series, however. So, I intend to chip away at these books, either in print or audio, throughout 2024.

 

So, those are the books that make it to today’s Top Ten Tuesday feature.

Have you read any of the books on this list? Are there any books on this list that you haven’t got to yet but can’t wait to pick up?

As always, I would love to hear from you!

 

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Monthly TBR – January 2024

Hello friends and welcome to my first monthly TBR of 2024!

Are you excited for the new year?

This week on the blog, I have wrapped up my reading progress for the month of December, the whole of 2023, and set out my reading resolutions for 2024. If you want to check out any of those posts, you can do so following these links. Today, I am setting out the books I plan to read in January and start me off on my 2024 reading journey.

Although I have set myself a reading goal which equates to picking up five books a month, I am being ambitious in January! What can I say? I’m excited for the fresh start. I’ll point out that a few of these books are carried over from December. Although I’ll feature 10 books on this monthly TBR, in reality I started two in December.

 To read each book in the intended format, I need to read 100 pages physically and listen to 28 minutes of audio every day of January. As of publishing this monthly TBR post, I’m already 50 pages and one hour ahead respectively. And I’ll be reading more before bed tonight!

Let’s talk about the books I plan to read in January!

 

Fixed Reads

 

December Insta Poll Runner Up – My Sister’s Keeper

I started listening to My Sister’s Keeper in December and it is the first of my carryovers. I kicked off 2024 having listened to just under a third of the audio in December.

As of this monthly TBR post, I am just over halfway through the audiobook and really enjoying the storyline. The premise is an interesting one; it tackles the law, ethics and morality of a child conceived as a donor for her older sister. What starts off as a one-off has turned into a series of increasingly invasive surgeries. Anna’s opinion on whether she wants to be a donor and undergo these procedures isn’t considered. At the start of the book, she is 13 years old and is starting to question both her identity and her role as donor for her sister Kate.

 

December TBR Jar – The Black Coats

I didn’t get to December’s TBR Jar pick last month, so I’ve had to carry it forward into January.

I don’t know much about the book other than the synopsis, but that is enough to draw me in! The protagonist Thea is invited into a group called the Black Coats. Their mission is to seek justice for girls and women who have been hurt/wronged by men by exacting revenge. Thea has an interest in the group’s activities as her cousin was killed by a man and got away with it. It definitely sounds like a feminine power story, but the suggestion of their revenge escalating out of hand is why I’m intrigued about the book.

I’m excited to pick it up and see what it’s all about!

 

January Insta poll pick – The Atlas Six

I had a dilemma with my most recent Insta poll pick. At the time I called the competition, both books had drawn level.

After consideration, I have decided that such an occasion means that I get to choose what I pick up first. In the end, I went with the book that I thought was going to win the poll – The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake.

Maybe this is going to be one of those books that ends up overhyped, but I’ll just have to check it out for myself. I read something similar in terms of genre last year and I enjoyed the book. I believe that one of my friends is also picking this up in January, so I’m looking forward to comparing notes with her.

 

January TBR Jar pick – Crime and Punishment

Although I am behind on my TBR jar reads, that doesn’t excuse me from picking one for January. This month I pulled out a classic that I’m looking forward to trying.

At 656 pages, Crime and Punishment is one of the chunkiest books on this monthly TBR. If my reading pace is going to slow down any, it might be with this book. That I’m ahead now buys me that wiggle room should I need it.

It’s not deliberate, but I don’t have many books on my reading list that are not originally published in English. Crime and Punishment is one of the exceptions to that rule. From what I understand about the book, it is in some ways and exploration of mental health at a time and setting where it wasn’t really understood in the same terms as today.

 

Betrothal and Betrayal

I’ve signed up to a blog tour this month for Betrothal and Betrayal by Janet McGiffin. Betrothal and Betrayal is a historical fantasy, in which our two protagonists start from very different walks of life. Thekla is a commoner, whereas Princess Irini is not. It is a narrative of these two women’s journeys, with hints at social and political strife in a setting that I am not that familiar with. I always like to learn about new places, so I’m excited to explore Constantinople and the Byzantium empire.

This review is coming up very shortly on the 18th of January. With this in mind, it’s going to be the next book I pick up to read. The only reason I didn’t pick this first after completing Gemina (my physical read carryover from December) is because I was having some technical issues with my copy. I’ve since got that sorted (I can read it on my phone but not my Kindle), so I’ll be picking this up very soon!

 

The Girl in Seat 2A

The second and last review obligation I have in January is due on the 19th January, just a day after Betrothal and Betrayal. I decided to pick up The Girl in Seat 2A in the meantime whilst I sorted my B&B technical issue out.

The Girl in Seat 2A is about a young woman who sets off to Marbella after winning a lump sum cash prize. She’s determined to live a life of luxury for the rest of her life, but she hasn’t exactly told the truth about her winnings…

The Girl in Seat 2A is my current read and as of this monthly TBR post, I am 40% into the narrative. I have mixed feelings so far. The book is written well and I’m intrigued as to where the storyline is going to go. However, I don’t really like or relate to the main character. That’s entirely personal.

The story and who she is are written well and I can somewhat understand her situation and motivations. However, she is not my type of person and I am spending the majority of the book questioning the decisions she’s making! I’m 90% sure they’re going to come back and bite her, but we’ll just have to see!

If you’re interested in the sound of this book, I’ll be sharing my thoughts in two weeks time.

 

Sword of Vengeance

I have signed up to review the fourth book in the Saxon Warrior series, Sword of Vengeance by Peter Gibbons on the 2nd February. I have really enjoyed the series to date. In this latest instalment, I am keen to see what happens next.

Picking up this book for the blog tour works well for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I get to feature a series and an author that I really enjoy and love to share with you. Secondly, I get to keep up with this series and give myself a nice tick on keeping up-to-date with the series. Doing so contributes towards my ‘Finishing series’ reading goal. If you’ve read my resolutions post, you’ll know that I’m including any series I’m up-to-date with as a completion until such time a new book comes out. So, after reading this book, I’ll have finished 1 out of my target of 10. 

As this post is due right at the beginning of February, I couldn’t leave it until then to pick up the book. I’m making a conscious effort to read the books for which I have review obligations first. So, whilst this is featured a fair few down on my fixed reading list, it’s one I’m going to be picking up sooner rather than later!

 

Mood Reads

 

Gemina

Ironically, this mood read is the first book I picked up in January as I carried it over from December. In theory, it shouldn’t be the priority, but I wasn’t going to put this book down!

After starting the series with Illuminae last year, I knew I wanted to keep up momentum in picking up the sequel. I also enjoy these books as they are written in a mixed media format. They are fun to read, different from traditional prose and both books so far have a great storyline backing up a cast of lovable characters.

I started off in 2024 having already read 266 pages of the book. I’ve devoured the remaining 400 odd pages in the first three days of January, and so this book is already complete as of this monthly TBR. It’s also also the reason why I’m ahead with my reading so far! Gemina has been a great start to my reading year and. Picking this up also works well for my ‘finishing series’ goal. Whilst it doesn’t mark a completion in its own right, it means that I have just one book left of the trilogy, Obsidio, to read before I can tick this series off the list!

 

Unmasked

Switching to my other reading goal of picking up non-fiction again this year, I have added Unmasked to my January TBR.

I originally discovered the author, Ellie Middleton, via one of my connections on LinkedIn interacting with her content. Ellie was diagnosed at 24 with ADHD and autism. She has become popular for vocalising her experience of living as a neurodivergent. Her recently published book, Unmasked, is about breaking down the barriers of understanding what it is like to be neurodivergent through education and her experience.

It’s a perspective that I’m interesting to read about and understand the ways in which people think and experience life differently. I also think the title is pretty clever given that girls are typically diagnosed with such things late because they are taught socially how to mask their ‘symptoms’.

 

The Measure

The last book I hope to pick up in January is a speculative fiction that I put on my 2023/2024 Winter TBR.

The premise of the book is that one day, every person receives a box on their doorstep. The box contains the person’s name and a piece of string which correlates to the length of their lives. The book explores what happens to individual characters, and I think to a certain extent to society, when people are faced with knowing that information or choosing to live in ignorance.

It’s really interesting premise, and it’s for that reason that I added this book to my reading list. When looking for interesting books to start 2024 with, this felt like a natural choice.

 

Summary

That’s a lot of books to keep me busy in January. But, with the dark nights and cold weather, is there anywhere else I would rather be than home, curled up reading a book?

Not really!

If you’re still with me, thank you for reading today’s monthly TBR post!

What book(s) are you reading in January?

 

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Monthly Wrap-Up – December 2023

Happy New Year gang – welcome to my final monthly wrap-up post relating to 2023! In today’s post, I recap the reading progress I made over the month of December. Tomorrow, I will be publishing an overarching review of 2023 as a whole, so if you’re looking for that content keep your eyes peeled!

With festive plans and lots of catch ups, reading progress naturally slowed down a little in December. However, as I had already met my official reading goal of the year, I wasn’t too bothered about this. I did set myself an unofficial goal, however, to try and get to books before the end of the year. Did I achieve that? Find out more below!

 

Books Read

 

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

I started the month of December carrying forward The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins. At the end of November’s monthly wrap-up, I was just over 25% into the book.

It was refreshing to pick up a mood read for a change. If you recall that post, I picked up The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes after DNFing another read on November’s TBR. I had just been to watch the film at the cinema, and I loved it.

It’s fair to say that I enjoyed the book every bit as much as the film, even if there did turn out to be those usual minuscule differences between the two. I also think knowing the ending impacted the speed of which I read this book… combined with the festive period, of course. That’s not to take away from my experience of the book though! I really enjoyed this prequel, and following on from this, I will be looking to re-read The Hunger Games trilogy this year.

 

The Success Code

With my non-fiction reading goal in mind, I picked up two non-fiction books in December. The first of those was a physical read of The Success Code by John Lees.

This book is great as it is made up of multiple short chapters. It outlines small steps we can take in order to represent ourselves as best we can, put our best foot forward and promote positive image of ourselves to others.

It’s content should be worked through sequentially, as some of the latter chapters build upon framework outlined earlier. I think that’s useful though, as this framework gives you a model to work around, rather than giving you some generic advice and expecting you to be able to implement it without any guidance. The baby step nature of it as well, stop you from getting intimidated and falling over at the first hurdle.

I’ll definitely be looking to take away some of the points brought up in this book, so it was definitely a worthwhile read!

 

Order and Chaos

My next physical read, was picking up Order and Chaos, a short story anthology. I read another anthology, contributed to by the same author that approached me, earlier this year. Having enjoyed the experience of reading that first book, it was easy to say yes to the second.

I’m not going to go too much into the details of why I enjoyed the anthology, because I have a review live on my blog that you can check out instead. In summary, though, the anthology is a fun and diverse collection of stories that all revolve around the themes of order and chaos. But, from there, are vastly different from each other! It was a nice short read that fit in perfectly around the busy Christmas period.

 

Gemina

The last book I picked up physically in the month of December is Gemina. As of the end of 2023 and this monthly wrap-up post, I have read 266 pages of Gemina by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman.

Yesterday, I was under no illusion that I wasn’t going to get through this book before the end of the year. I had read just over 200 pages at the start of the night. There was no way I was going to get through the final 450… even with the best of intentions! It doesn’t matter though. Through my reading to date, I did indeed meet my unofficial (larger) goal of reading 60 books by the end of the year. There wasn’t a massive push to get this finished. I’m also happy to take this through into January and set my reading year off right!

I read the first book of the trilogy, Illuminae, earlier this year and I fell in love with it. I love the way in which the books are written, the characters (different between both books, but that doesn’t matter one iota) and the overarching story. It’s a different format to what I usually pick up, but it’s working really well for me!

 

Audiobooks

 

November Insta Poll Pick – The Minders

I left off my November monthly wrap-up post having listened to half of The Minders by John Marrs.

I listened to the second half of this audio when making gifts for Christmas. Although not a festive read, I found it compelling to follow along with whilst doing something mindless. The narrative of this story is interesting. As it’s a conspiracy thriller, we’re always pondering what we don’t know or what is going to happen next.

I liked how this audio was cast. We had a couple of different narrators (one for each gender), and the characters were differentiated well enough that we could easily follow who was who.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Minders, and for sure, it won’t be my last John Marrs book!

 

How to Win Friends and Influence People

The second non-fiction book that made it onto December’s reading list was How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

I confess I went into this book with a preconception that it was going to be a little trickier compared to The Success Code. In comparison, the second book is more modern and considerably shorter. How to Win Friends and Influence People was first published in 1936 and the audio was around seven hours long.

In reality, How to Win Friends and Influence People was a very easy listen. Despite the age of the book, I still find a lot of the points raised in it to be relevant today. Well, some people may resent being told to smile more. But, there is definitely argument for why this can help you. Don’t worry ladies, this isn’t targeted at just us!

 

December Insta Poll Pick – My Sister’s Keeper

I ended the month of December having listened to just less than a third of My Sister’s Keeper. I wanted to pick up this book for the moral debate that makes up the vast majority of the story. Now and then I will read out of my comfort zone for a specific reason. For example, I read Me Before You in 2019 as it deals with the topic of euthanasia.

My Sister’s Keeper is about a 13-year-old girl, Anna, who was conceived as a donor match for her sister. Kate was diagnosed from a young age with an aggressive form of leukaemia. Throughout her childhood, Anna has undergone multiple procedures and surgeries in order to donate to her sister. However, the nature of her illness means more invasive treatment is required each time.

At the opening of My Sister’s Keeper, Kate is suffering from kidney failure and is in need of a transplant to save her life. Anna‘s parents expect her to undergo the surgery and give her a kidney, but she has ideas of her own.

I enjoy reading stories that take a look at some of the more difficult topics in life. It’s more than just a story to enjoy, but one to think about as well. Although I am only a third of the way through the book so far, the set up is giving me everything I was hoping this book would be, and more! It’s a nice easy listen and I hope the narrative going forward explores the issue in as much depth as it can.

 

Summary

I trust you can tell from this monthly wrap-up post that I enjoyed each and every read I picked up in December, whether I finished it or not. I’m taking forward some great books into 2024!

I have briefly mentioned that I met my unofficial goal of reading 60 books. If you want to see what other reading goals I set myself, and how I did with those, check out tomorrow’s blog post in which I take a look at my 2023 year in review.

I hope to see you in that post. But until then, thanks for checking out today’s monthly wrap-up… and happy reading!

 

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