Tag: Fiction

Shelf Control #60 – 27/01/2023

Happy Friday and welcome to today’s Shelf Control post! If you are looking for a fun, short sci-fi crime thriller, then stay tuned to check out today’s featured book.

Before I share the details on that book, here is a recap of what Shelf Control is all about.

Shelf Control is a regular feature on my blog. It’s a meme run by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies… a celebration of the unread books on our shelves! The idea is to pick a book you own but haven’t read and 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!

If you want to read more about the Shelf Control feature, check out Lisa’s introductory post.

Now, let’s dive into today’s featured book!

 

Punishment – Scott Holliday

 

Genre: Sci-fi / Crime 

Pages: 240

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Publication Date: 31 Jul 2018

 

 

Goodreads – Punishment

 

Do you want to know what it’s like to die, to kill, to really fear for your life? Then get hooked…

Detroit-based homicide detective John Barnes has seen it all—literally. Thanks to a technologically advanced machine, detectives have access to the memories of the living, the dying, and the recently dead. But extracting victims’ experiences firsthand and personally reliving everything up to the final, brutal moments of their lives—the sights, the sounds, the scents, the pain—is also the punishment reserved for the criminals themselves.

Barnes has had enough. Enough of the memories that aren’t his. Enough of the horror. Enough of the voices inside his head that were never meant to take root…until a masked serial killer known as Calavera strikes a little too close to home.

Now, with Calavera on the loose, Barnes is ready to reconnect, risking his life—and his sanity. Because in the mind of this serial killer, there is one secret even Barnes has yet to see…

 

My Thoughts

I can’t remember exactly how I discovered this book when I added it to my reading list back in 2018. However, now, I love the idea of the synopsis!

Punishment is a very short book at just 240 pages. I imagine it would be the kind of book that would be great for crime or mystery readers who want to try a cross-over of science fiction for a change. Having read other books about virtual reality, and seeing/experiencing things from alternate perspectives relating to crime (Ctrl+S and Dark Matter are good examples), I’m excited to see how this comes to play in the narrative.

with the inevitable psychological element to the plot (and the impact witnessing such events would have on detectives investigating such crimes), there is a lot of potential for character development and future exploration of the impact using this technology has on people. As a former student of psychology, I would like to see some of this introduced in this short book.

I’m not entirely sure how graphic the book will be in its descriptions, but I’m not intimidated by that. There is very little I will shy away from in a book. Once I read this one, I’ll be sure to let you know.

It seems to me that there is a lot to fit in to the narrative with such a small page count. I’m hoping for a fast paced, crime thriller, full of action and with an interesting sci-fi twist!

 

That is all from me in today’s Shelf Control post.

Have you read Punishment by Scott Holliday? Have you read any other books like it?

 

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Top Ten Tuesday – New-To-Me Authors I Discovered in 2022

In today’s Top Ten Tuesday post, I feature a diverse list of new-to-me authors I discovered in 2022! The list of names in this post really goes to show just how many new books and authors I tried throughout the year – I didn’t even have space to feature all the new names I read! These authors come from a broad array of genres; from fantasy (expected), to contemporary romance (not at all expected)!

 

Robin Hobb

Robin Hobb was by far the best author I discovered in 2022!

Her books have been recommended to me before, and I even made a cursory attempt at the first book in the series, Realm of the Elderlings before. But, somehow, I never got around to reading these in earnest. That is, until last year. I am enjoying these books so much that I can see myself making my way through the ret of the series over the next couple of years, maximum!

 

R.F. Kuang

In 2022, I picked up Babel and fell in love with the dark academia genre. Babel has a very loose tie to the fantasy genre, but that isn’t why I loved this book as much as I did.

Throughout this book, we get to conversationally explore some of the finer points of translation, which I found really quite interesting. Most importantly, though, I enjoyed how this book challenges, society, British history and culture in particular. Difficult topics, such as colonialism, classism, and racism are key points of the narrative. If they make you uncomfortable, it is because it is meant to. This book is quite academic in tone, but really point the finger at the less savoury aspects of the British in its history.

 

M.J. Porter

Over the course of 2022, I read three books by M.J. Porter. I read these as part of the blog tours organised for her Eagle of Mercia series. This series will appeal to you if you are fans of Bernard Cornwell and his Saxon series in particular. This is why I chose to pick up these books.

M.J. Porter became a repeat author to read because I loved reading from a familiar setting, but from a different perspective. In the series, we experience the English at war, from the perspective of a youth who initially detests fighting. Instead, he would rather heal. Over the course of the books he comes into the role he is expected to take up, but he does not relish it.

 

Pat Barker

I really enjoyed reading The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker in 2022. Having read another Greek mythology book not long before this one, (coincidentally featured below), I was really in the mood for it. I enjoyed the focus of women and their roles regardless of social status. It also paints a completely different light on war. Rather than glamorising it, it portrays the dirty business of it all.

 

Natalie Haynes

Pandora’s Jar is the book that reignited a love for Greek mythology.

Whilst only a short book, it does a great job of touching upon multiple stories throughout Greek mythology that focus on different women. Where The Silence of the Girls is more of a cohesive narrative, Pandora’s Jar is more of a non-fiction book in which we look at how the roles of women in Greek mythology evolve over time through numerous retellings.

 

R.R. Virdi

The First Binding made it to an honourable mention in my top reads of 2022 list. This book is the author’s debut novel, but I can assure you, it didn’t read like a debut at all. If you enjoy your big, chunky, in-depth, epic fantasy worlds, then this is a series you want to keep your eye on.

Fans of The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss will find similarities in narrative style. I also really enjoyed the character development that takes place in this first book. Even though it is a chunky book, it still succeeds in merely scratching the surface to what I hope is going to be a long, in-depth series.

 

Richard Osman

Richard Osman’s cozy mystery series, the Thursday Murder Club, was recommended to me by my sister’s boyfriend. He loaned me the first couple of books to introduce me to his writing– I haven’t looked back!

These are a completely different tone to the other books of my 2022 reading list. I personally really got on with the lighter aspects of the narrative (interspersed with odd, deep and meaningful moments which I confess made my cry). The characters are hilarious. Some of the plot points are perhaps a little ridiculous, but they make for entertaining reads.

 

Frank Herbert

I read the first couple of books in the Dune series in 2022. Whilst I don’t love every aspect of these books (in particular, the blatant homophobia in book one), they are great science-fiction books.

I think it’s important to bear in mind that the attitude of these books will be slightly different because they were published a long time ago. Along the lines of a conversation had at work today, social attitudes have changed significantly since then. Books, and indeed, TV programmes (as was the feature of today’s conversation), cannot express the same attitudes they once did. For the most part, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. 

 

Janice Hallett

In 2022, I read my first ‘multimedia’ book. If you haven’t read anything before in which the story is not written in traditional prose, I would strongly recommend you give The Appeal a try!

The Appeal is told through a series of communications written between the main characters of the book. Predominantly email, but also messages, posters, stage, scripts etc all come together to tell a complex story. I personally enjoyed having to read between the lines and work out what was going on. The subtext is not explained to you, and as a reader, it really makes you think. I loved this book, and so I will definitely read more by Janice Hallett in future.

 

Lindsey Kelk

Perhaps the most surprising author on this list is Lindsey Kelk.

Lindsey Kelk is an author that my mum adores. I wouldn’t like to guess how many of her books she has read. After accidentally ordering two copies of one of her books, In Case You Missed It, she gifted the other to me to try. I read this at a time when I wanted to change of genre and pace. It really worked for me in a way that I wasn’t sure it would.

Contemporary romance isn’t typically a genre I actively reach for on a regular basis. However, on the occasions I have chosen to pick one up, I have enjoyed them. Based on my read of In Case You Missed It, I will definitely reach for another Lindsey Kelk book when I want something from this genre.

 

Those are my top 10 new-to-me authors I read in 2022!

Have you read any of the books listed, or other books from these authors? Who did you discover in 2022?

 

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Sunday Summary – 22nd January 2023

It is the end of yet another week already – and so it can only mean that I’m back with a Sunday Summary update post for you. I have plenty of content for you this week.

Firstly, let’s recap the blog post I shared throughout the week. The first post I shared this week was a book review for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling. I re-read this series between 2021 and 2022. My primary aim was to see how my experience of the books compared between reading them as a teenager, and then again as an adult. If you want to check out my thoughts on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, there is a link provided here.

The next post I shared in the week went live on Wednesday. That post was my first of my brand-new series, Well, I Didn’t Know That! The point I’m emphasising that all reading is reading. It’s not just books that count. As I am trying to read more non-fiction, this series also gives me a space to talk about things I read and learn from the genre.

The last post I shared was my First Lines Friday regular feature. I had a grand plan to pick this week’s feature in a new way. However, it backfired on me a little. The plan was to select my next book from my TBR Jar (an owl mug) and feature that book. It turns out I’ve featured the book I pulled out already. The odds were ridiculously slim for that eventuality happening, but I’m not mad. I’ve pulled out a fantastic book, and I can’t wait to read it next month! If you want to check out the book, I eventually did feature, again, there’s a link here to that post.

 

Books Read

As of my last Sunday Summary update post, I was 425 pages into The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I made quite a push with this last week, and that continued into this week. I read the remaining 200 pages over the course of Monday and Tuesday alone. Overall, The Secret History was a good read. I’m not entirely sure about the ending, but it was still entertaining. I was mentally comparing this to another read in the genre I enjoyed last year – Babel. I still think that book was better, but The Secret History is certainly a complement to the genre.

The next book I picked up was Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. I must confess that I didn’t pick it up for very long though. Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow was on this month’s reading list as it is the book of the month in ezeekat’s bookclub on Fable. I didn’t even get through the first chapter. I wasn’t a fan of the writing style in the slightest. That’s a big dealbreaker for me. If I’m struggling to read a book based on the way it is written, even if it has a fantastic plot, I can’t jive with it. That’s what I found with this book, and so I promptly returned my library loan.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow is my first DNF of the year. Whilst it is a shame, I would much rather spend my time reading books that I do enjoy, rather than trying to force myself through ones I don’t!

I was a little down heartened to have to give up a book so quickly. However, I decided to jump straight into my next read with a change of genre. A few years ago, I read Me Before You. I am not a contemporary romance girl, but I wanted to see how the book dealt with the themes it does. If you know, you know. After a discussion about the sequel to that book with friends recently, I decided to pick it up for myself.

I wasn’t entirely sure if I wanted to jump back into the mess of emotions the book left me in. However, it has been long enough. This particular book deals with the grief of what happens in the first book. Even despite the difficult topics, these books have an effortless writing style and plenty of humour throughout. I picked up After You yesterday morning, and I’m already 22% through with hardly any effort whatsoever. I’m looking forward to continuing with this read over the next few days.

 

Books Discovered

I have two books to share with you this week – one I added to my reading list having seen it online, and the second I received as a gift today from my mum and dad.

The first book is called Don’t Fix Women by Joy Burnford. This particular book is about gender equality at work. It is obviously on my mind at the moment that I’m trying to read more non-fiction, and this appeals to me. Having read a book called invisible women last year, which dels with this topic to a limited extent, I would like to build upon them. I’m hoping Don’t Fix Women will do that for me.

On a much more fun note, I received an early birthday present today. Whilst in Waterstones having a browse, my mum pointed out The Rise of the Dragon.This is an illustrated history of the Targaryen dynasty. You guys know me – I am a huge, huge Game of Thrones fan. I also really enjoyed the written history of the Targaryen’s, Fire and Blood. Well, when my mum saw my face when she pointed this out to me, she very quickly connived with my dad to distract me while she bought it. And I have to say, they pulled it off very well. They did this right under my nose and I didn’t even have a clue!

I seriously can’t wait to pick this up!

 

Coming Up…

My first blog post planned for next week is a Top Ten Tuesday post.This week’s theme is a list of new-to-me authors of 2022. I read quite a few books by authors I hadn’t picked up before last year. I’m excited to feature them in this post.

On Wednesday, I will be sharing the second instalment in my series, Well, I Didn’t Know That. This week’s topic is about artificial intelligence, and and upcoming experiment in artificial intelligence being used in court to defend a plaintiff.

On Friday, I will be back with a Shelf Control feature. In this series, I review the books on my reading list, picking one in particular, and telling you all about why I’m excited to read it.

And, you know the drill by now. I’ll be back at the same time next week with another Sunday Summary update for you.

This evening, my plan is to continue making more reading progress with After You by JoJo Moyes, whilst resisting temptation to pick up The Rise of the Dragon!

What are you currently reading?

 

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Book Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J. K. Rowling

Hello everybody, and welcome to today’s book review of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling.

I re-read the Harry Potter series in 2021/2022. It had been a long time since I read the series – in the case of the earlier books, I started those as a young teenager and read the series over the course of around six years. I wanted to revisit the books to see if my experience and perception of them changed by reading them as an adult.

If you have not read any of my previous reviews of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, or Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, you can find links to those reviews here.

Now, let’s jump into today’s review of the next book in the series!

 

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J. K. Rowling

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 636

Audience: Young Adult

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Publication Date: 08 Jul 2000

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

 

Goodreads – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

The summer holidays are dragging on and Harry Potter can’t wait for the start of the school year. It is his fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and there are spells to be learnt and (unluckily) Potions and Divination lessons to be attended. But Harry can’t know that the atmosphere is darkening around him, and his worst enemy is preparing a fate that it seems will be inescapable …With characteristic wit, fast-paced humour and marvellous emotional depth, J.K. Rowling has proved herself yet again to be a master story-teller.

 

My Thoughts

Plot

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire has an interesting plot line. That’s not to say I don’t think it has its flaws, however. Installing a magical cup in the school and inviting those who think they are adept enough to take part in a dangerous tournament is one thing. Doing so around a community full of minors, well, can only go wrong somewhere. Especially when entering your name is a legally binding contract. It’s all a bit too convenient that Harry finds his name put forward.  

Despite this, it still makes for an interesting read. In particular, the tournament itself adds a lot of drama and action to the narrative. Its dramatic conclusion also adds to the book and the series as a whole. I’m not going to spoil it for you-you’ll have to read it yourself.

What I like about Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is that we, break away from a narrative almost purely set in the usual school year cycle. We see wider plot development. We still have that familiarity of the school year, which comes to a conclusion with the Triwizard tournament. However, there is a lot more to this book, and plenty of it is quite sinister.

In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, we are introduced to characters that come into this world and plot line later on. I would argue that in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, we start to see this take shape.

 

Narrative Style

Despite being significantly larger than its predecessors, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire still retains the easy narrative style readers can come to expect.

You know me, I’m not one to shy away from a chunky book. I really hope that the length of this book doesn’t put potential readers off. It is not complicated. Even if you are less enthused by big narratives with wider story arcs, and lots of elements that will inevitably come together at the end, there isn’t so much going on that it will confuse you. Equally, there are little bits and pieces you can pick up in hindsight that hint to what happens later on.

Personally, I think the latter part of the series is quite well balanced in that it offers a little bit more than the first few books in the series (which are for the most part, comparatively superficial). This works perfectly well for people like me who grew up reading these books. At age 11, I wouldn’t have the reading capability to be able to take on these later tomes. Even so, going back and reading these later on has made me appreciate the later books in the series even more. They are more similar to my reading taste a an adult.

 

Characters

As with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, we see a full new complement of characters introduced in this fourth book of the series. Some of these have a direct impact on the story, whereas others set the scene (for later books) and help develop the wizarding world in which these books are set.

I am a huge fan of world-building and the depth of detail that can be explored in these kind of books that fill out the whole story. Knowing everything from relatives of the main characters, down to the sports personalities, all comes together to make an immersive reading experience.

There are also a few introductions which will help us later in the series (particularly for the next book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix). I think this is pulled off very well so as to not overwhelm, but it does make a difference when you read the next book. Understanding who everybody is and what their role is ahead of time is a big help! Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix is the chunkiest book in the series by far. If we’d had to go through all those introductions in that book as well, then it would be significantly larger!

 

Summary

Despite the slightly convenient plot line, I rated Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire five stars. If you enjoy fantasy series with darker elements to the story, or broad, overarching story lines that run throughout a series, stick with this one until you’ve read this fourth book. It’s at this point we really start to see this woven into the storyline.

Have you read any books from the Harry Potter series? Have you re-read it? Let me know in the comments.

 

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Sunday Summary – 15th January 2023

Hello my lovelies, and welcome to another Sunday Summary update to round off this week. As always, I hope you’ve had a fabulous week whatever you have been doing! I have been spending my free time reading, knitting, and blogging.

The first blog post I shared this week featured my favourite reads of 2022. When I planned that post, three books stood out immediately as favourites. I also added an honorary mention to this post, as another book was very high on my list. But, there was just one small factor that detracted from my experience – and it was no fault of the book. If you are looking for some reading inspiration and want to check out that post, I’ve provided a link above as usual.

My next post of the week went live on Wednesday. I’ve decided to start a new series on my blog called Well, I Didn’t Know That. I have two aims with this series – to encourage myself to read more non-fiction and to encourage reading of any kind. By this, I mean I will shine the spotlight on reading from other mediums, such as magazines, news articles, online blogs… anything! It doesn’t matter how much you read – it’s all reading! This week, I shared the introduction post and what I want to achieve with this series. I will regularly update this page with an index of the posts shared as the series develops.

My next post of the week was a Shelf Control feature. I added this week’s featured book on a whim after discovering it. The main character is one that I am familiar with through a TV series I used to watch. Admittedly, I have very little knowledge about the plotline of the book. But, I want to see how it compares with the actor’s portrayal of this character in the popular TV series from a good few years ago. If you’re curious as to what, and who, that is, take a look at the post I shared on Friday.

 

Books Read

The Secret History

As of my last Sunday Summary update, I was 130 pages into my current read of The Secret History by Donna Tartt. This book had already made a good impression on me by this time last week. I’ve only read a little of the genre so far (The Secret History is the second book), but I’m really enjoying it.

This week, I have made progress to the tune of a few hundred pages, so I am now 425 pages in. In my opinion, the story slowed down a little bit in the middle, but it has just started to pick up again and gain momentum. Knowing what I know about the story so far, I’m eager to see what happens next.

Despite being a book about very intelligent students with an emphasis on their classical learning, The Secret History is an easy book to pick up. It may be academic in its setting, but it is by no means a challenge for a reader. You don’t have to know too much to enjoy the story as it is. I am not knowledgeable on classics, and there may some clever references in here I’m not getting or appreciating. But, that doesn’t matter! I am really enjoying this book at face value, and I can’t wait to finish it and see what happens.

 

Books Discovered

Once again, I have no new additions or book purchases to report in this week’s update!

 

Coming Up…

Over the course of the coming week, I plan to share a total of four blog posts with you.

The first blog post of the week is a book review. It’s been a few weeks since I shared my last review, so it’s time to feature another book I have read and share what I thought of it. This week, I am going to be sharing my review of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling. I re-read this series in 2021/2022, having not read these books for a long time. I wanted to see how these books compared when reading them from a more mature perspective. From Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, we start to see the wider storyline open up and these are the books I enjoyed the most. Check out my review this week for all the details.

The next blog post I will share will be going live on Wednesday. That post will be the first of my series, Well, I Didn’t Know That. In this post, I am featuring an article I read in Writing Magazine’s October 2022 edition. That article is all about how recently developed finance technology may be implemented in the publishing industry.

On Friday, I will share a First Lines Friday feature. I am going to choose the book I feature in a new way – I’ll pull a book out of my TBR Jar to read next month, (and that will also be the feature for this post). I hope you can stay tuned for that.

As always, I will be back at the same time next week to share my reading updates and for us to have a general catch-up in my Sunday Summary post. I hope you can join me for that!

For now, that’s all from me today. Tonight’s plan is to continue weaving in a multitude of yarn ends on pair of socks I just made, and then take The Secret History and a cuppa to bed with me.

What are you reading?

 

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Shelf Control #59 – 13/01/2023

Happy Friday and welcome to today’s Shelf Control post! This week, I’m excited to share my featured book. I have absolutely no idea what this book is like, and I have never tried this author before. However, I have added this book to my list as the main character of this book is one I’ve loved from a TV series I used to watch. If you want a sneaky hint before we jump into the book, the character was a detective, played by Idris Elba.

Do you know which character I’m talking about?

Before we get into it, I’ll quickly go through the usual recap of what Shelf Control is all about for any new readers.

Shelf Control is a regular feature on my blog. It’s a meme run by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies… a celebration of the unread books on our shelves! The idea is to pick a book you own but haven’t read and 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!

If you want to read more about the Shelf Control feature, check out Lisa’s introductory post.

Now, let’s dive into today’s featured book!

 

The Calling – Neil Cross

Genre: Thriller/Crime

Pages: 362

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication Date: 04 Aug 2011

 

 

Goodreads – The Calling

Meet DCI John Luther.

He’s brilliant. He’s intense. He’s obsessional. He’s dangerous.

DCI John Luther has an extraordinary clearance rate. He commands outstanding loyalty from friends and colleagues. Nobody who ever stood at his side has a bad word to say about him. But Luther seethes with a hidden fury that at times he can barely control. Sometimes it sends him to the brink of madness, making him do things he shouldn’t; things way beyond the limits of the law.

The Calling, the first in a new series of novels featuring DCI John Luther, takes us into Luther’s past and into his mind. It is the story of the case that tore his personal and professional relationships apart and propelled him over the precipice. Beyond fury, beyond vengeance. All the way to murder…

 

My Thoughts

I really enjoyed the TV series, Luther. I’m not convinced I started watching it from the very beginning, but what I did watch was great!

I had no idea there was a book about his character, never mind a potential series (there is a record on Goodreads for at least a second book). Idris Elba was a fantastic portrayal of Luther; he encapsulated the description of the character in the synopsis above perfectly. Of course, I want to read the book that inspired the character! I have added this to my reading list based on my enjoyment of the TV series alone. And why not?

I have no idea if the storyline in the TV series is related to the book, but I don’t think it would matter if it was. For one thing, it might fill in the gap in my mind of what happened in the first series. I’m pretty sure I missed that one. Even if it’s not, I am here for the character more than the plot line seen in the TV series. I’m going into this with a reasonably open mind.

If the execution of the character doesn’t meet my expectation, then that may colour my interpretation of the book. It’s rare that a TV series has made an impression on me before a book. That can be a make-or-break experience sometimes, but I’m willing to give it a go!

 

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Top Reads of 2022!

Hello everybody, and welcome to today’s post, which is all about my top reads of 2022! I read a total of 47 books throughout the year, and my average rating was actually quite high. It’s fair to say I had a great reading year!

Today’s post is all about the best of the best.

When going through the books I read in 2022, there were three very distinct books that jumped out at me as my favourites. There is also one honourable mention, and I’ll explain why this didn’t quite make the list.

If you enjoy fantasy or dark academia, then there is at least one book on my top reads list for you! I’m listing the books in chronological order, as there is very little between these books for me to rank them. They are a bit different, and I enjoyed them for these differences!

 

Top Reads

 

Empire of the Vampire

Empire of the Vampire is what I would describe as an epic Gothic fantasy, written by Jay Kristoff. If you are a fan of his other books (such as the Nevernight series), you enjoy stories that heavily feature vampires, and/or epic fantasy novels with elements of coming of age, detailed world-building, and character development, then Empire of the Vampire has something for you.

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this book. I wanted to give it a try because I have really come to enjoy Jay Kristoff’s writing style. Having listened to the audiobooks for the Nevernight series, I knew I like the way he dealt with darker topics. Personally, I’m not really one for vampire stories. There are some exceptions, this book and future series now being one of them. However, the narrative style (likened to Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind) and setting of the world appealed to me.

This appealed to me for all the right reasons! I love the way in which this story is told. As in the aforementioned book, the story is told almost in the style of a confessional, through the eyes of the main character as a mature adult. Throughout this narrative, not only do we experience the development of the main character, but we also come to learn a lot about the world in which the story is set, the lore behind the vampire families, and how they grew large.

This book has everything you would expect from an epic fantasy – complex and detailed world-building, a vast array of characters with detailed backstories and relationships, and a storyline that will inevitably span a large number of chunky books!

The cherry on top of this very large cake was how well the book managed to create and retain atmosphere. It definitely maintained Gothic vibes throughout. I really enjoyed this. You may not expect this to be the kind of book to would take on holiday to read in 20+ degrees sunshine, but that is exactly what I did. Even despite the vast contrast in the fictional and actual setting, my mind lived in this book whilst reading it… and for a long time afterwards!

I can’t wait for the sequel!

 

Assassin’s Apprentice

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb is another fantasy series I started in 2022. I can only ask myself why I didn’t start it sooner! This series has been recommended to me before, especially by a close friend of mine. She knew what this was all about, and I should have listened to her and picked it up before now.

Before picking up this book in earnest, I had trialled the first chapter or two previously. However, I had done so from the e-book on my phone. I just don’t read this way at all. I don’t quite remember the circumstances in which I picked this up on my phone, but the intention wasn’t just to sample it. Why I didn’t pick it up properly thereafter is beyond me.

Anyway, I finally got there in the end. I decided to pick up a physical copy of the book, trusting Rachael’s recommendation, and knowing that I really enjoyed the sample I had tried previously. I have since gone on to purchase seven books out of sixteen, and I read four of them in 2022. I’m sure that in itself will speak volumes, but I’ll go into some more detail about the book, and why I specifically enjoyed this one, below.

Assassin’s Apprentice is also an epic fantasy. Whilst the first book isn’t too chunky in itself, it is the opening book of the first trilogy in the Realm of the Elderlings universe. In my opinion, it is the perfect introduction to such a world – there is plenty of page count to set the scene, explore the characters, and establish the wider story arc, without intimidating the prospective reader either.

If you enjoy your fantasy with detailed plotlines and character relationships, then Assassin’s Apprentice will scratch that itch for you. There is already a lot going on in this first book. Royalty, political subterfuge and magic intertwine to set the scene in this first book. These are all elements I have enjoyed in other fantasy series and did not disappoint in this one either!

 

Babel

The last book in my top reads of 2022 list is Babel by R.F. Kuang.

Babel was my first real foray into the dark academia genre. If you are unfamiliar with the premise of this book, we follow a character called Robin Swift. He is taken from China as a young boy after losing his family. He is taken in by a professor at Oxford University, where he later studies translation in the titular building.

There is a lot going on in Babel, and a lot of it I didn’t expect in the extent that the book went to. Whilst part of the dark academia genre, there are elements of fantasy in this book. It is a nod to a genre I really enjoy, but in execution and tone, it doesn’t read like a fantasy. On the contrary, it reads quite academically. It is evident that the author knows her stuff when it comes to translation. Through the narrative, we explore ideas around translation, such as maintaining fidelity, and how that is best achieved.

But more surprisingly, it is the more difficult topics for which I really enjoyed this book. Babel in particular explores colonialism, racism and classism. It is a book that makes example of how the British empire has invaded, taken, and manipulated its way into other countries resources in order to selfishly better itself. There’s a lot of debate about this in the book, but also in the wider community at the moment.

Some people find this uncomfortable to read. Personally, I don’t think you should shy away from a book/topic that makes you uncomfortable. More often than not, it should make you uncomfortable – it’s intended. If you think that any person, country, or idea is perfect and shouldn’t be challenged, then you are wearing rose-tinted spectacles. Babel is very much an example of this kind of book, and I really enjoyed taking on these ideas in a loose fantasy setting.

It was everything I expected it to be, and a bit more besides. It has made an R.F. Kuang reader out of me!

 

Honourable mention

The First Binding

My honourable mention for this list is The First Binding by R.R. Virdi. I had the pleasure of reading this debut novel to review it in the blog tour organised by the publisher in August 2022.

There is definitely a theme to my reading and this post. Epic fantasy is a very significant genre that I read but also have high expectations for. Even so, this one has made it very close to the top of the list. Did I mention it was a debut?

Similarly to Empire of the Vampire, The First Binding is narrated by the main character after events have taken place. In this particular example, the character ends up taking on the role of a storyteller in the early days of the novel. Naturally, setting up a character in such a way raises expectations exponentially. Most authors would be setting the bar so high that they’d be setting themselves up to fail. However, R.R. Virdi does not disappoint in pulling off a flawless narrative with theatrics and compelling language to complement this already interesting narrative.

The only reason The First Binding is an honourable mention, rather than a top read, is because of the circumstances in which I read this book. I only had around two weeks to read and then review this book for the blog tour. At over 800 pages, this is quite the undertaking. As a result, I had to effectively set myself daily reading targets to get through this in time to review it. If I’d had the luxury of reading this book at my own pace, it probably would have been a top read. I almost had to force myself to read it, and that detracted ever so slightly from the experience. But I will stress, it is slight!

 

What was your favourite read of 2022? Have you read any books that made it onto my top reads list?

 

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Sunday Summary – 8th January 2023

I have a lot to catch you up with in today’s Sunday Summary post! I hope you are sitting comfortably with a cup of tea for this one.

Having just crossed the line of a brand-new year, I have been publishing a flurry of posts this week. On Monday, I shared my monthly wrap-up post for December 2022. In that post, I took a look at the books I read throughout December and catch you up with my thoughts on those. This post was the first of many this week!

Next, I shared my 2023 Resolutions with you on Tuesday. As you have probably gathered by the title, I share what my reading resolutions are for the upcoming year. Some of them are similar to those set in previous years, but I also have some new ones. If you haven’t checked out that post already, there’s a link for you to do so.

I was back on Thursday with my January 2023 TBR. Similarly to last year, I have set myself both fixed and mood reads so I have flexibility with my TBR. This month’s list has worked out approximately half and half. Normally I have fewer fixed reads on my list. But, since I’d already started a book on my December TBR, I wanted to carry forward another, and I wanted to take part in a book club read, it’s just the way it’s panned out this month. I’m excited to pick up everything on my list. Again, if you haven’t checked that post out yet, there is a link provided above.

My last post of the working week was shared on Friday and was my review of my 2022 resolutions. Overall, success with these resolutions was mixed. I can safely say that I had a good go at absolutely all of them. One was a resounding success, and two others were achieved differently from how I envisaged it at the beginning of the year. There is one last goal that I have carried forward into 2023 because it is one that I didn’t quite achieve in 2022. If you want to find out what worked and what didn’t, you can find out by following the link.

 

Books Read

As of my last Sunday Summary post, I was 11% through my read of The Secret Library by Oliver Tearle. I had just started this book at the end of 2022, knowing I wasn’t going to finish it to count towards those stats. I picked it up because I was in the mood to read non-fiction. If you like books about books, especially about lesser-known ones, then The Secret Library is definitely one I would recommend to you. 

I really enjoyed the structure of the book and how each chapter tackles a different setting or time period. Literature goes right back to ancient times. It may have only experienced a boom since the invention of the printing press and books becoming more widely available, but that’s not to say that literature hasn’t always been a big part of history – from ancient times to modern. The book covers its full history. 

Each section is also broken down nicely into a certain topic or featuring a certain author. This makes it really easy to pick up and put down as it’s cleverly organised and each section is relatively concise. We cover 99 topics across these 250-odd pages – if that gives you any idea as to how short each section is. Naturally, I made my way through this book quite quickly, finishing it on Friday.

Next, I moved on to my current read, The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I appreciate the titles are incredibly similar, but they are very different books. I picked up and loved a book in a similar genre to The Secret History last year – Babel by R.F. Kuang. Given that I enjoyed that book so much, I am optimistic that The Secret History will be just as much of a hit.

One of the elements I really enjoyed about Babel is the focus of language. In that way, The Secret History is working for me because classics and in particular, learning Greek, is prevalent throughout the narrative. We also have the same kind of setting – a very small but incredibly talented group of students. Whilst I can’t really comment on the events the narrative focus on at the moment and how it compares, it is promising. As of this Sunday Summary update, I am 130 pages into my 628-page edition. Given that I have read this much already and just a couple of days is good, and I will be further along by the time I go to bed tonight.

The Secret History is a book that I look forward to picking up and reading. I can only hope that it makes up to the expectations I have!

 

Books Discovered

This section is going to be short and sweet because I haven’t added anything to my reading list. Given that I added three books the week before, I certainly don’t need any more!

 

Coming Up…

I’m looking forward to a slightly more relaxing week next week; the blogging schedule is going to be more manageable than this week has been! I’m still going to be posting one more blog post but I would typically share in an average week, but I’m looking forward to drafting every single one of my features!

I am beginning the week with a post sharing my favourite reads of 2022. I’m all about encouraging reading, so I’m looking forward to talking about the best books I picked up in the year.

On Wednesday, I am introducing a new series on my blog. The crux of this series is to help with my goal of reading more non-fiction this year. Also, I’ll pass on tidbits of knowledge I pick up along the way that I find interesting. However, the point of this feature is to address that all reading is reading. For a number of the features I’ll share in future, I will be including reading material other than books, such as magazines etc. I will of course also be sharing books from time to time too, but I won’t be restricting myself to them either!

On Friday, I will be sharing my next Shelf Control regular Friday feature. If you are unfamiliar with this feature, I share a book on my reading list and go into some details as to why I’m interested to read it!

Lastly, I’ll be back with my typical Sunday Summary post to round up the week!

That was a bit of an epic Sunday Summary post, so if you’re still with me, thanks for reading!

What is your current read?

 

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Sunday Summary – 1st January 2023

Happy New Year friends! Welcome to today’s Sunday Summary update post. I hope you’ve had a lovely Christmas and New Year as I did.

In previous years, I have taken the time off between Christmas and New Year from blogging. However, I decided not to do that this year as I didn’t feel like I needed it. So, business was very much as usual.

On Thursday (slightly later than the planned date of Wednesday), I shared my review of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling. As I said, I was hoping to get this out on Wednesday. However, by Wednesday evening I felt the review needed a little bit more work and polish before it went live. In the grand scheme of things, I thought it was more important to allow the extra day for that to happen. If you’re interested in my review and haven’t checked it out, there’s a link above for your convenience.

On Friday, I shared a First Lines Friday post. I featured the sequel to a young adult fantasy series I started in 2018. The motivation behind this post was to get excited to pick up this sequel later this year. Having read the opening lines and the synopsis, that is definitely the plan! If you want to check out what that feature was, you can find a link to that post here.

 

Books Read

Despite having family over a couple of days after Christmas, and then going back to work, I’ve still made really good reading progress. Last week I was just over 500 pages through Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb. For the most part, progress with this book has been slow but steady. In my opinion, these aren’t books that you can ingest at high speed. They are dense, and there is a sizable page count to go with that.

This week, I had just over 360 pages to the end of this book, and I read every single one of them! It’s the most progress I’ve made on this book in any one week since I picked it up; I’m really happy with myself for that. Overall I really enjoyed the book. If I had one comment, I would say that it doesn’t need to be 880 pages long.

Then, yesterday, I started The Secret Library by Oliver Tearle. I already knew that I wasn’t going to be finishing this book in 2022. Although it is relatively short at 250 odd pages, that’s too much to read in one evening. Not impossible, but not likely either. Nevertheless, I decided to start it anyway as I was in the mood.

As of this Sunday Summary, I am one chapter in, equating to 11% and I am enjoying it so far. It’s full of interesting tidbits of knowledge related to literature, and I’m intrigued as to what I will learn from the rest of the book. Given that I managed to read this small section in a relatively short amount of time, this will be a quick read. Compared to Ship of Magic, it will be a very quick read! And, my first read of 2023!

 

Books Discovered

I was a very lucky girl and received a book voucher for Christmas from my mum and dad.

Needless to say, I was down at the bookshop at (almost) the earliest opportunity to spend it. As I was coming to the end of Ship of Magic by this point, I knew I wanted to try and get my hands on the next books in the series – The Mad Ship and Ship of Destiny. Thankfully, Waterstones had both of these books in stock for the first time since I started looking for them. Needless to say, I promptly whisked them both off the shelf.

On my way down from a browse of the self-help section upstairs, I came across a few sale items they had left. One book in that section caught my eye. It’s a contemporary novel, which as you know, isn’t really the sort of thing I pick up on a regular basis. It was the title that grasped my attention; In Every Mirror She’s Black by Lola Akinmade Åkerström. After picking it up and reading the synopsis, I knew I wanted to give this a try.

 

Coming Up…

The first week of January is always manic for a blogger like me, and this week coming is no exception!

Tomorrow, I will be posting my monthly wrap-up for December 2022. As usual, I will recap the books I read throughout the month and share links to the blog posts drafted and published in that period.

On Tuesday I am back with another post – I will be sharing my reading resolutions for 2023. With the exception of reading, I’m not one for setting resolutions. However, I prepared a list of things I would like to achieve in my 2023 reading about a month ago and I haven’t changed my mind on any of them. So, those are going to be my reading goals and I look forward to sharing them with you on Tuesday.

Thursday’s post will be my January 2023 TBR. We are already a few days into the month at that point and I may well have finished my first book at the time I share this post. However, I have a number of fantastic books on the reading list and I’m excited to share them with you!

On Friday, I will be publishing my review of 2022. In that post, I’ll be talking about the reading goals I set for myself this time last year and how I feel I completed them. I will also be talking about what worked and what didn’t so well so that I can take that feedback on board for a better reading year in 2023.

And as if that’s not enough already, I’ll be back at the same time next week with my Sunday Summary update! I’m hoping to make some reading progress amongst all the blogging, but we’ll have to see. Join me next week to find out!

That’s all from me in today’s Sunday Summary.

What are you currently reading? Have you set yourself any reading goals for 2023?

 

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First Lines Friday – 30/12/2022

Hello all welcome to today’s First Lines Friday post!

For today’s post, I have been thinking about one of my reading goals for next year. I am conscious of the fact that I have a lot of ongoing book series at the moment. I want to reduce the number I’m reading at any one time. With that in mind, today’s featured book is a sequel to a series I started several years ago now.

Since reading that first book, I haven’t read or heard much of what the sequel is like. However, I really enjoyed the first book and so I want to give it a go anyway. If I enjoy as much as the first book, then there are more books to the series I can continue with. If not, then this is a series I can write off as one I’m not going to complete.

Would you like to read today’s featured introduction?

 

I try not to think of him.

But when I do, I hear the tides.

Baba was with me the first time I heard them.

The first time I felt them.

They called out to me like a lullaby, leading us away from the forest path and toward the sea. The ocean breeze ruffled the loose coils in my hair. Rays of sun spilled through the thinning leaves.

I didn’t know what we would find. What strange wonder that lullaby would hold. I just knew I had to get to it. It was like the tides held a missing piece of my soul.

 

 

Children of Virtue and Vengeance – Tomi Adeyemi

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 404

Audience: Young Adult

Publisher: Henry Holt & Co

Publication Date: 03 Dec 2019

 

 

Goodreads – Children of Virtue and Vengeance

After battling the impossible, Zélie and Amari have finally succeeded in bringing magic back to the land of Orïsha. But the ritual was more powerful than they could’ve imagined, reigniting the powers of not only the maji, but of nobles with magic ancestry, too.

Now, Zélie struggles to unite the maji in an Orïsha where the enemy is just as powerful as they are. But when the monarchy and military unite to keep control of Orïsha, Zélie must fight to secure Amari’s right to the throne and protect the new maji from the monarchy’s wrath.

With civil war looming on the horizon, Zélie finds herself at a breaking point: she must discover a way to bring the kingdom together or watch as Orïsha tears itself apart.

 

My Thoughts…

I read the first book of the series, Children of Blood and Bone, back in April 2018. That is obviously a long time ago now, so the finer points of the plot our way back down in the depths of my brain. I am sure that when I pick up Children of Virtue and Vengeance, the pivotable aspects of the plot will come back to me. I am in a position where I have also reviewed the Children of Blood and Bone, I can always go back to that to get the gist of my thoughts.

I remember really enjoying this fantasy story, even though it is aimed at a younger audience than I. Based on the synopsis of today’s feature, Children of Virtue and Vengeance, there are aspects of conflict and politics that should come together to create the conflict in this book. Where this may surpass the first book is that I’m looking forward to seeing how the role of magic affects the events and dynamic of the book. These are aspects I really enjoy in my fantasy, so I’m optimistic that this book will also be a hit for me.

I’m really excited to dive into this series once again. Have you read Children of Blood and Bone or any other books by Tomi Adeyemi? If so, I’d love to know what you think!

 

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