Tag: goodreads

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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Reviewing my 2022 Resolutions!

Hello everybody and welcome to my review of my 2022 resolutions. This week I have shared my monthly wrap for December, my 2023 resolutions, and my January TBR. We are ending the working week with a review of my resolutions set for 2022, whether I succeeded with those goals and if I can do anything better.

At the beginning of last year, I set myself three goals – to take part in the Goodreads Reading Challenge, to take a more flexible approach with the reading lists I was setting myself every month in 2022, and lastly, to work on the admin side of managing my blog, and being more effective at doing so.

Let’s take a look at how I did over the course of 2022!

 

Goodreads Challenge – Read 40 books

In 2021, I deliberately didn’t set myself a reading goal as I was burned out. I didn’t want to compound that by constraining myself with a target. I had every intention of reading just as much as I would in any other year. Somehow, I was surprised when that didn’t happen. I read approximately 25 books in 2021. Don’t get me wrong, that’s more than a lot of people. But, if I’m completely honest with myself, I knew I could have done more.

With that in mind, I decided to resume taking part in the Goodreads Reading Challenge for 2022. So as not to overwhelm myself, I set myself a modest target of 40 books. I wanted to give myself a number that I could work towards, but not set so lofty a goal that I set myself up to fail. Ultimately, my aim for this year was to read more whilst maintaining a healthy balance of doing other things I love as well.

As of the end of the year, I had read a total of 47 books. Not only did I meet my target, but I did surpass it slightly. For a brief while, I entertained the notion of pushing it to 50 books, but I’m glad I didn’t. In December, I read some very chunky fantasy that meant that I didn’t get around to the volume of books, even if I was reading a significant volume of pages!

All in all, I got my reading motivation back in 2022, which is what I wanted. However, I didn’t do it at the expense of anything else.  I’ve given myself the time and flexibility for other hobbies and activities. This is exactly what I wanted from this resolution. So, in my opinion, it was a resounding success!

 

Reading Lists

In my 2022 resolutions post, I set myself a goal of being more flexible with my reading list. Historically, I set myself an entirely fixed list for the whole month. At the beginning of 2022, I changed this stance slightly. Instead, I set a mostly fixed reading list, with the option of one or two mood reads at the end of the month. This was a good idea in theory, but more often than not, I was only just getting to the end of the fixed list by the end of the month, if at all, so I never actually got the benefit of allowing myself mood reads. I decided to stick with this approach though to give it a fair chance.

It wasn’t until June that I changed my stance again. When setting my June reading list, I couldn’t decide what to read. I kept changing my mind. In the end, I decided to accept the mood I was in and set just one fixed read on my TBR, keeping the rest as mood reads. Finally, I got to see the benefit of the flexibility I was trying to allow myself. June, in theory, should have been one of my worst reading months, as I sat an exam at the end of that month. However, it was one of my best reading months of the year. Naturally, it was at this point of the year that I took the decision to allow myself more flexibility again, changing my reading lists to just a handful of fixed reads, and the majority being mood reads.

Having looked back at my reading progress throughout the year, I read 23 books prior to the end of June, and 24 more by the end of December. In terms of book count, that’s a fairly even split. However, I read slightly chunkier books in the second half of the year. Whilst the end result may be very similar, I was definitely happier with my reading in the second half of the year. There is no tangible evidence that reading was better in the second half of the year other than my subjective opinion that I enjoyed it more. That’s enough for me!

I’m really happy with the approach I’ve taken throughout the year and the changes I’ve made. What I have learned since starting my blog is that I work differently at different times. In the past, having a totally fixed list has worked for me. There are times when it hasn’t. There are times when I’ve allowed myself complete flexibility, and that has worked. Again, there are times when it hasn’t. More recently, I’ve taken this hybrid approach and that is currently working for me. I need to be flexible with myself and understand what mindset I’m in as to which approach is best at any given time. None of them are wrong. If I need to change the way I’m doing things in the moment, I need to just do it.

 

Blog Post Writing

In my 2022 resolutions post, I set myself a goal to be more organised with writing my blog posts. The aim was to draft blog posts approximately one week ahead of schedule. This would give me leeway to get post out to you on time. In my midyear review, this was the goal I hadn’t made much progress towards, but I was determined to turn this around.

I did get myself to a point where I was drafting blog posts ahead of schedule. It was really handy if something came up, or I just wasn’t in the mood to blog on a particular evening. My blogging schedule wasn’t compromised by this. What I didn’t foresee, however, is that logistically, some posts can’t be drafted ahead of time. For example, my month-end wrapups have some degree of last-minuteness to them. Even if I was drafting the majority of these posts ahead of time, I was having to finish them off last minute anyway.

Another thing I didn’t consider was that drafting things ahead of time was going to be confusing. Particularly when I was drafting my Sunday Summary posts, I would get confused with what was coming up in the following week compared to what I’d just drafted, as that was for the week ahead of that.

Ultimately, it has its benefits and its drawbacks. I have now reverted back to drafting blog posts in the week they are due to go live. Personally, I find this easier to manage. However, I have started being more forward-thinking to make sure my posts go out with fewer unforeseen changes to the schedule. Rather than drafting blog posts on the night they’re going live, I’m more likely to draft them a day or two ahead of time. It is a compromise, but equally not a perfect approach either. I have had a blog post delayed slightly since going back this way. But, for the most part, things go out as expected.

Overall, I would say that I have made progress towards this goal somewhat, even if it is not in the way I envisioned at the beginning of the year. And, it’s one of those things that will be constantly evolving. Sometimes, it will be a benefit to draft the week ahead of time, and I will do so. Likewise, sometimes it’s not possible and I will just have to manage my time and roll with it.

 

Read more Non-fiction

An additional goal I added to my resolutions in July 2022 was to read more non-fiction. You know me, I am very heavy in the fantasy and science-fiction genres. I really enjoy reading these, as well as other fiction novels. However, I like to learn new things. I’m always looking for ways to improve myself. Naturally, these are the kind of itches I can scratch with a non-fiction novel. When I drafted my midyear review in July, I set up my intention to add at least one non-fiction novel to each month for TBR, which I did.

However, I didn’t always read a non-fiction book in each month up until the end of the year. In a lot of cases, my chosen non-fiction read was downloaded in audiobook format, which is my slowest way of reading. As a result, it often took me longer to finish my non-fiction reads than I anticipated. At the end of the year, I succeeded in reading three non-fiction novels. An additional novel I had started by the end of the year, but not finished, was Queen of Our Times by Robert Jordan.

Admittedly, in the second half of the year, I read as many non-fiction books after setting the goal as I did before I set it. However, I did have more non-fiction books on my TBR; picking them up was a more conscious decision. It was something I was deliberately making time for rather than just allowing to happen naturally.

I wasn’t so successful in completing this goal. If you have read my 2023 resolutions post, you will know I have set myself a similar, but slightly different goal towards this end. This is something I can definitely work on more, and that is my intention in 2023.

 

So, those are my thoughts on how well I did (or didn’t) do in completing my 2022 resolutions! Did you set yourself any resolutions last year? How did you do? Have you set any goals for this year?

 

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2023 Reading Resolutions!

With the beginning of a brand-new year, it is prime time to talk about my reading resolutions for 2023!

With the exception of my blog, I’m not one for setting New Year’s resolutions. Frankly, I don’t stick to them. However, since reading is a big part of my life, setting myself targets within this is a lot easier for me to do rather than begin a new habit from scratch.

I’m going to be talking about my reading resolutions from last year in a post later this week – today’s post is all about what I’m looking to do in the next 12 months!

Let’s dive in!

 

Goodreads Challenge – Read 50 Books

Last year I succeeded in reading 47 books over the course of the year. It’s not the most I’ve read in any one year, but it is significantly more than I read in 2021 (approx. 25 books).

In 2021, I suffered from burnout. When I set myself my reading goal of 40 books for 2022, it was to get myself back into the habit of reading, but at a pace I could sustain. My burnout was in part caused by the pandemic, moving house, changes at work and being overzealous with prior reading goals.

Over the course of 2022, I found that I was more than able to reach that goal whilst not compromising on other things I want to do. I’ve had plenty of time to study and extend my qualification for work. I have enjoyed a number of creative projects, such as knitting and cross-stitching. Most importantly though, I’ve spent time with friends and family. Overall, it has been a very good, healthy balance.

Do I think I could have read a little bit more? Well, obviously. I have done in the past without causing harm or burnout. This year, my reading resolution is to stretch myself a little, but maintain the exact same balance that I am enjoying right now. If I can read anywhere near this amount then I’m happy… whether that’s over or under. Obviously, I prefer it to be a little over – I’m trying to stretch myself just that little bit. But, not so much that I burn out again. It’s not worth it.

 

Read >15 non-fiction books

This resolution is probably the greatest stretch of this year. In the second half of 2022, I set out to start reading more non-fiction. I was aiming for one book a month, but I didn’t quite achieve that.

This year, rather than committing myself to one a month, I am being a little bit more flexible in when I can read the books. But, I still want to make a commitment to read them. So, I’ve set myself a challenge of reading a minimum of 15 non-fiction throughout the year. I have a number on my TBR that I really need to get around to and read. It is the genre (that I consider myself to read) that gets the least attention from me. I want to change that.

The non-fiction books I have read so far are useful and insightful. In 2022 I enjoyed the change from reading the same or similar genres all the time. I’m hoping by committing myself to read non-fiction more that I can learn a lot of new things that I don’t know already. You never know, these facts might come in handy for future pub quizzes I end up in. Probably not knowing my luck…

 

Read 30 Minutes Daily

This is a goal I am setting, but I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t do it every single day. The purpose of setting this goal is to help build up and maintain a regular reading habit once again.

I used to read pretty much every day without fail. More recently, I am more likely to read for slightly longer sittings, but only 3/4 days a week. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that’s a lot more than most people do. However, I want to try and get myself back in the habit of reading on a daily basis – even if I can only commit to 30 minutes. This is what I used to do back in the days when I was just getting back into reading. I was taking a book with me before bed.

It all adds up!

 

Finish Book Series

Another of the larger commitments I am making to myself about my reading is that this year, when I’m not reading non-fiction, I’m going to chip away at book series I have already started but I’m yet to finish.

Previously, I have read what I liked, when I liked. This has meant that to date, I have approximately 30 book series which I’ve started but not finished. For a handful of these 30, I am up-to-date. However, I know there is going to be a future book or books and so the series is staying on the list, even though I can’t make progress right now. That’s more because I don’t want them to get forgotten about. And if I’m painfully honest, it’s not that many (4?).

So, you will find that this year, I am going to be spending more time reading sequels than I am ‘new’ books. That’s not to say I’m not going to let myself start anything new at all this year. However, before I allow myself to start a new series, I have to take at least one series off the list (be that by completing a series in full, or by reading all the books published to date). Maybe even at this starting point, I’m going to say that I have to take two off for every new one I start to make sure it starts going down!

I can work out the logistics of how I manage this as I go. However, for the purposes of this reading resolution post, my resolution for the end of this year is to have fewer than 30 ongoing series as I have right now. No pressure Rebecca!

 

So, as of the 3rd of January 2023, those are my reading resolutions for the upcoming year. As in previous years, I will review these goals on a regular basis to measure my progress against them, and also decide if any of them are no longer relevant, or if I want to add anything!

No matter how big or small, setting yourself a goal can be all the motivation you need to try something different.

Have you set yourself any reading resolutions or goals for 2023?

 

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Setting A Reading Goal Can Boost Your Reading!

As we are coming to the end of 2022, it is only natural that you may be thinking about the year ahead and about setting a reading goal. Are you the kind of person to set yourself a challenge? Do you prefer to go with the flow? These are important things to know about yourself in order to manage your motivation.

With this discussion post, there is no right or wrong answer. On the contrary, it is all about understanding what is best for you! I hope this post helps you to consider what works best for you.

 

Like having a goal to aim for? Set yourself a reading challenge!

At the beginning of the year, I usually set myself a reading challenge. In the history of my blog, there is one exception to that rule, and that was an exceptional time. Even then, I don’t think my choice of not setting a goal helped me in the long run. It felt good at the time because I felt liberated. Unfettered. Free of expectation. However, as the year went on, I effectively allowed the status quo to continue, even when I had the capacity to get back into reading more. I had lost the habit of picking up a book. 

I like having a goal to work towards. It is funny – my blog and my reading are the only facets in my life in which I really set myself goals (outside of work anyway). Otherwise, I am very laissez-faire. However, as proven to myself during the year in which I didn’t set myself a reading goal, I need one. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an ambitious goal to motivate me. But, having a number to work towards effectively helps me schedule my time and manage expectations. The year I didn’t set a number was my ‘worst’ by far. Compare my 2020 wrap-up with my 2021 wrap-up post and you will see what I mean. 

I recently watched a short motivational video about writing a book, but the underlying principle is the same. The lesson stuck with me. The speaker was talking about how people will take as long as they allow themselves to complete a job. For example, if you give yourself three months to complete a task, you will use the whole three months to do it. If you give yourself a week, you’ll do the exact same task in a week. It’s a psychological mindset thing.

For some people, not setting yourself a goal and effectively having a timeless task can be detrimental. In 2021, I didn’t set myself a reading goal, but I fully envisaged that I would still read the same amount. It probably won’t shock you that I didn’t. As soon as I started setting goals again, I got back on track. 

 

Want to maintain a habit?

Setting a goal doesn’t have to be setting yourself a challenge. If you comfortably read 20 books a year, you could set yourself a goal to effectively maintain that standard. 

For example, one of the goals I am considering setting myself next year relates to maintaining the habit of reading every day. It doesn’t have to be for very long, and this is not a difficult goal to achieve. It’s not meant to be.

Even if you set out to read a chapter every day, or for just 10 minutes… it all adds up. My reading habit and my blog wouldn’t be here today if not for a change in my lifestyle in 2017. That change resulted in my picking up a book before bed every night. Initially, it was only a temporary arrangement as a result of circumstance. I started taking a book to bed to read for half an hour. Even after my circumstances returned to normal, I continued to read before bed. By the end of April, I’d read 20 books – more than I had read in the last several years combined. That is how reading became a habit for me. 

Setting yourself a goal if this type means that whatever it is you are trying to do is important to you. However, it can also help promote a healthy balance. I have found in my experience that after reading too much, my other hobbies suffer. In the end, my reading suffers because I over-compensate for not doing other things by doing just the other things.

 

Maybe goals just aren’t for you

I’m not going to say that setting a reading goal suits everybody. I’m sure it doesn’t! Just because I don’t categorise myself as one of these people, it doesn’t mean that you don’t exist. If you don’t like having a reading goal, that is entirely up to you. It is perfectly okay to enjoy a hobby with no strings or obligations attached.

If you are the kind of person who doesn’t set reading goals, I’d love to hear from you. I’m not going to profess that this works for me and that I understand this approach. I proved that the year I didn’t set any reading goals for myself.

If you don’t set yourself reading goals, is there anything else you do instead? I’d love to hear from you to add to the conversation! 

Have you set yourself a reading goal? Do you have a reading goal for 2023?

 

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Top Ten Tuesday – Series I’d Like (Need) to Finish!

In today’s Top Ten Tuesday post, I am sharing my top ten book series that I would like to finish. Scratch that – I NEED to finish!

The theme of this post could also have been book series that I would like to start or continue with. Now, I’m a bit embarrassed to admit how many books series I have ongoing. The ones that I have selected for today’s post are just a small handful from a very big pot. They are, however, the ones I have made the most significant progress in, or ones that I am heavily invested in and therefore more likely to finish sooner rather than later. At least, theoretically… 

I didn’t want to share a post about books from a new series that I would like to start. It would only fuel my desire to start even more. I certainly don’t need any help in that department!

I’m hoping that this post will serve as a personal reminder of some of the series I have ongoing, and help me get around to finishing them. Some of the series featured today can’t physically be completed at the moment. I am fully up-to-date with some of them, and I’m awaiting further books to be published. However, for the most part, they are ready and waiting to go. The only thing stopping me is me!

So, without further ado, let’s dive into today’s list: –

 

Mistborn

 

The Mistborn series is split into several parts. I read the first trilogy as a teenager, but finally came back to reading the second trilogy last year. It was great to revisit the series and the magic system that I came to enjoy when I was younger. It was a gamble to see if I was going to enjoy the books set in a slightly more advanced time period, however, it really worked in my opinion.

The final book of this series has been awaiting publication for quite some time. However, that last book is due to be published in November. So, since I only have one book left, and the events of the second series are fresh in my mind, I would like to start this sooner rather than later!

 

The Dark Tower

 

I started The Dark Tower series at a time when I wanted to try Stephen King, but wasn’t feeling quite confident enough to read horror. They proved to be a good introduction. However, to date, I’ve only read the first two books of the series.

I actually own all of the series, and most of it is up on my bookshelf, waiting to be read. According to Goodreads it has been three years since I picked up The Drawing of the Three, the second book of the series. I didn’t think it was quite that long ago since I last picked it up. It proves the point that I need to pull my finger out and start reading these more seriously.

 

Discworld

Reading my way through the Discworld series is going to be a project. I have already made a good deal of progress though. The series has a total of 41 primary works, and to date, I have already read 18 of those.

What I really like about these books is that the wider universe is split down into smaller series. So long as these individual series are read in order, everything will make sense. I have taken the decision to read all of the books in order, but the beauty is, you don’t have to! You don’t even have to read the entire thing. I have some preferred mini-series over others, such as the witches and death series. Whilst I wouldn’t let that stop me reading all of them, anyone has the flexibility of choosing not to read all of them if you don’t want to.

The books in themselves are also reasonably short and very lighthearted. One of Terry Pratchett’s skills is addressing important or difficult topics in a satirical manner. It may take some time to get through the whole series, but it is one that I can chip away at and read quite easily.

 

A Game of Thrones

This is one of the series on my list in which I physically can’t progress at the moment. To date, I have read the entire published works of the A Song of Ice and Fire series twice. There are two books remaining in the series, and I can’t wait for them to come out so I can finally read them!

Whilst talking about this, I’d like to take the opportunity to call out people making angry noises about George R.R. Martin and the series because they’re having to wait for the sequel. Yes, it has been a long time since he published the last book, A Dance of Dragons. However, you’d also complain if he turned the last two books out quickly and didn’t put the full thought and planning into them that makes them as good as they are. If he rushed it, and you thought it was crap, you would also complain. The man can’t win!

They’re his books, and he’ll publish them when he’s happy with them. Don’t hate on him, and certainly don’t give up on the series because you’re impatient. That’s just cutting off your nose to spite your face.

 

The Name of the Wind

The circumstances of The Name of the Wind are very much the same as George R.R. Martin and the A Song of Ice and Fire series. However, we are waiting on just one book to conclude this three-part series (The Slow Regard of Silent Things shown above is a companion novella to the main series, but it is one I have also read).

Again, we have been waiting for a while, and the author is getting a lot of hate for it. I reiterate my comments above. Patience is a virtue. 

 

Dune

Dune is a series I started at the beginning of this year. I was gifted the very first book of the series about five years ago, and it has taken me that long to start it.

To date, I have also read the second book of the series and own the third ready to pick up. It is an interesting series, and it is unique to my TBR in that it is probably the oldest in terms of publication date. I typically pick up more modern books, and in some ways, Dune shows its age in its portrayal of some of its characters. However, I can see it is a series of its time and I haven’t let that stopped me reading it.

There are a total of 8 books in this series, and I can’t wait to pick up the next one. And the next one… you get the drill. 

 

Rivers of London

It’s not very often I have an audiobook series that I’ve made decent progress on, but Rivers of London fits that bill.

I started this series back in 2020 and to date, I have listened to six of the nine primary works currently published. Of course, as with any popular series, there are novellas and side stories that I could delve into if I wanted. However, my priority is to work my way through the main series. I only have three books (as things stand currently), so I think it makes sense to try and get a shift on with these.

 

Saxon Stories

The Saxon Stories is a series by Bernard Cornwell with which I’ve made solid progress… but there’s more work to be done yet.

This is also a lengthy series, currently standing at 13 primary works (unlucky for some). I have read the first five books so far, and I think I’ve actually progressed with the storyline via the TV series beyond this point. That’s a rarity in itself, but I haven’t felt my enjoyment of the books wane or be affected as a result of watching it on TV first.

Having checked out when I read the last book, The Burning Land, I need to pick this series up again. It’s been two years since I made any progress on it. It is clearly a genre and setting I enjoy, because I have read books very recently set around the same period. Maybe I need to focus my efforts on continuing what I’ve already started…

But where’s the fun in that!

 

Skyward

Skyward is a series by Brandon Sanderson that I started just this year. It is the first young adult narrative of his that I have read, and I really enjoyed the first book of the series. The next book of the series is up on my bookshelf and begging to be read. I very nearly added it to my November TBR. Depending on how things go, and whether my mood changes, it may very well worm its way on. We’ll see.

 

Realm of the Elderlings

This last series is another I started this year. Do I sound like a stuck record yet? Maybe now you see my problem? I don’t regret starting this one, as much as I joke about my tendencies to over-commit. Robin Hobb is an author that a friend of mine has been recommending to me for a number of years, and now I see why. In just the latter half of this year, I have already read the first trilogy that makes up a wider 16-book series.

These books have been absolutely fantastic. I’m simultaneously looking forward to a change of setting in the next mini-series (the Live Ship Traders), but also to going back and re-visiting the same characters at a later date. Whereas I have allowed other series mentioned in this post to fall by the wayside, I don’t think that’s going to be the case with Realm of the Elderlings at all!

 

So, those are my top ten series that I really need to get on and finish, as well as airing some dirty laundry on my bad habits!

Have you started or finished any of these series? Are you like me in over-committing to too many series at once? As always, I’d like to have a chat in the comments or on social media.

 

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2022 New Releases I’m Excited About!

In today’s post, I’m going to be talking about six 2022 new releases that I am excited to pick up and read for myself! There is a diverse range of books on this list, and even more besides out there in the big wide world.

The six books I list in today’s post are books that are already on my TBR; some of which I have copies of already. I’m looking forward to today’s post and telling you why I can’t wait to read these new releases… so let’s just get to it!

 

Babel

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 560

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Publication Date: 23 Aug 2022

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

I am really looking forward to receiving my copy of Babel. Not only does the plot sound dark and twisty, but one of my favourite BookTubers (Ashleigh @ A Frolic Through Fiction) absolutely adored reading this.

Through one of Ashleigh‘s discussions of this book, it became clear that this isn’t strictly just a fantasy. There’s a lot of depth and detail into the translation side of things. As somebody who nearly went to university to study linguistics, this focus on language and the detail put into it also appeals to me.

Not long ago, I signed up to the Illumicrate book-only subscription, and this is going to be the first book I receive!

 

Elektra

Genre: Greek Mythology

Pages: 291

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Publication Date: 3 May 2022

 

 

The House of Atreus is cursed. A bloodline tainted by a generational cycle of violence and vengeance. This is the story of three women, their fates inextricably tied to this curse, and the fickle nature of men and gods.

Clytemnestra

The sister of Helen, wife of Agamemnon – her hopes of averting the curse are dashed when her sister is taken to Troy by the feckless Paris. Her husband raises a great army against them, and determines to win, whatever the cost.

Cassandra

Princess of Troy, and cursed by Apollo to see the future but never to be believed when she speaks of it. She is powerless in her knowledge that the city will fall.

Elektra

The youngest daughter of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon, Elektra is horrified by the bloodletting of her kin. But, can she escape the curse, or is her own destiny also bound by violence?

I find that I want to explore more books about Greek mythology of late. Having read and enjoyed Pandora’s Jar just last month, I am continuing with reading about Greek mythology. I have also added a few to my TBR of late, including both Ariadne and Elektra.

I’m also enjoying the emphasis of female narratives in Greek mythology. As Natalie Haynes points out in Pandora’s Jar, Greek myths as we know them today have been warped considerably from their original tellings. Sadly, it is a more modern change in which we see women’s roles changed to make them insignificant, or altogether evil. I enjoyed how this book put the stories to rights, and I want to read more. I can only hope that I get this, and more, from Elektra.

 

The Blood Trials

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 448

Audience: Young Adult/New Adult

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Publication Date: 5 Apr 2022

 

 

It’s all about blood.

The blood spilled between the Republic of Mareen and the armies of the Blood Emperor long ago. The blood gifts of Mareen’s deadliest enemies. The blood that runs through the elite War Houses of Mareen, the rulers of the Tribunal dedicated to keeping the republic alive.

The blood of the former Legatus, Verne Amari, murdered.

For his granddaughter, Ikenna, the only thing steady in her life was the man who had saved Mareen. The man who had trained her in secret, not just in martial skills, but in harnessing the blood gift that coursed through her.

Who trained her to keep that a secret.

But now there are too many secrets, and with her grandfather assassinated, Ikenna knows two things: that only someone on the Tribunal could have ordered his death, and that only a Praetorian Guard could have carried out that order.

Bent on revenge as much as discovering the truth, Ikenna pledges herself to the Praetorian Trials–a brutal initiation that only a quarter of the aspirants survive. She subjects herself to the racism directed against her half-Khanaian heritage and the misogyny of a society that cherishes progeny over prodigy, all while hiding a power that–if found out–would subject her to execution…or worse. Ikenna is willing to risk it all because she needs to find out who murdered her grandfather…and then she needs to kill them.

Mareen has been at peace for a long time…

Ikenna joining the Praetorians is about to change all that.

Magic and technology converge in the first part of this stunning debut duology, where loyalty to oneself–and one’s blood–is more important than anything.

I heard about The Blood Trials when watching another BookTuber, Becca and the Books. She had been sent a copy of the book to read and review, and the synopsis caught my attention straight away. It reminded me to a certain extent of Nevernight by Jay Kristoff.

I also love that this book has diverse representation. It sounds like it has a classic fantasy structure, detailed world-building and complex inter-character relations, so this is full of promise.

 

Stolen Focus

Genre: Non-fiction

Pages: 357

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Crown Publishing Group (NY)

Publication Date: 25 Jan 2022

 

 

Our ability to pay attention is collapsing. From the New York Times bestselling author of Chasing the Scream and Lost Connections comes a groundbreaking examination of why this is happening–and how to get our attention back.

In the United States, teenagers can focus on one task for only sixty-five seconds at a time, and office workers average only three minutes. Like so many of us, Johann Hari was finding that constantly switching from device to device and tab to tab was a diminishing and depressing way to live. He tried all sorts of self-help solutions–even abandoning his phone for three months–but nothing seemed to work. So Hari went on an epic journey across the world to interview the leading experts on human attention–and he discovered that everything we think we know about this crisis is wrong.

We think our inability to focus is a personal failure to exert enough willpower over our devices. The truth is even more disturbing: our focus has been stolen by powerful external forces that have left us uniquely vulnerable to corporations determined to raid our attention for profit. Hari found that there are twelve deep causes of this crisis, from the decline of mind-wandering to rising pollution, all of which have robbed some of our attention. In Stolen Focus, he introduces readers to Silicon Valley dissidents who learned to hack human attention, and veterinarians who diagnose dogs with ADHD. He explores a favela in Rio de Janeiro where everyone lost their attention in a particularly surreal way, and an office in New Zealand that discovered a remarkable technique to restore workers’ productivity.

Crucially, Hari learned how we can reclaim our focus–as individuals, and as a society–if we are determined to fight for it. Stolen Focus will transform the debate about attention and finally show us how to get it back.

There are distractions all around, and when I saw the title and focus of this book, it resonated with me. There are times when I am really distracted. Sometimes, it manifests as the need to multitask and my brain constantly flits between multiple things at once. Inevitably, the job would probably get done better and maybe even quicker if I dealt with one at a time. That’s the thing with our modern world – we have countless information inputs that we ingest constantly. We always need to be doing more… and better.

Other times, I can just drift and lose my attention to something completely meaningless. It is easy to think of a lack of attention as a personal failing, but I’m interested to see the psychology behind it and also how I can take back control and improve my focus.

 

Pandora

Genre: Historical-fiction

Pages: 432

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Harvill Secker

Publication Date: 27 Jan 2022

 

 

London, 1799. Dora Blake is an aspiring jewellery artist who lives with her uncle in what used to be her parents’ famed shop of antiquities. When a mysterious Greek vase is delivered, Dora is intrigued by her uncle’s suspicious behaviour and enlists the help of Edward Lawrence, a young antiquarian scholar. Edward sees the ancient vase as key to unlocking his academic future. Dora sees it as a chance to restore the shop to its former glory, and to escape her nefarious uncle.

But what Edward discovers about the vase has Dora questioning everything she has believed about her life, her family, and the world as she knows it. As Dora uncovers the truth she starts to realise that some mysteries are buried, and some doors are locked, for a reason.

Gorgeously atmospheric and deliciously page-turning, Pandora is a story of secrets and deception, love and fulfilment, fate and hope.

This historical fiction novel dips into Greek mythology that I was talking about earlier. However, it is just an introductory foundation to a completely different story – one that I can’t wait to read. This blend of a mystery and historical fiction novel has a lot of components to it.

I believe there are also elements of romance. By and large, I don’t read a lot of romance or focus on romance in a book. Naturally, it happens, but it’s not something that I actively seek out. At the same time, if it’s not a huge pivotal element to the story, and it’s more of a sideline, that’s easier for me to read. It will be interesting to see just where this book is on the scale, and how much I enjoy it in comparison.

 

The First Binding

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 832

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Tor

Publication Date: 16 Aug 2022

 

 

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

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

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

The First Binding is released later this month, and I have been excited about this book since January. I am really fortunate to be taking part in the publication blog tour for this book – at the time of writing this post, I am currently reading it!

At around 250 pages, I can say this is living up to my expectation. Grand in nature, The First Binding is truly an epic fantasy. Full of magic and deceit, with themes of prejudice and racial discrimination, The First Binding is a narrative of one man who has gone to the ends of the world, loved and lost, made mistakes… and paid for them dearly.

The book is heavily inspired by The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, and it’s for this reason that I have been really excited to read this book. I read The Name of the Wind as a teenager, and I adored the way in which the story was told from the very beginning. Told candidly from the perspective of our main character in hindsight, both of these books do not glamourise the deeds these men have done. In fact, they shed light on how their tales have been altered in the telling by others, and setting right those wrongs.

I can’t wait to finish this book and share my thoughts with you later this month!

 

So, those are my top 2022 new releases that I can’t wait to read! Have any of these caught your eye? Have you read any of these books? Are there any other 2022 new releases I didn’t feature in this post that you think I should have? Let me know in the comments or on social media. You can find me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.

Feel free to follow me, and let’s have a conversation!

 

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Mid-Year Review of 2022 Goals/Resolutions

Hello everyone and welcome to my mid-year review post for 2022. In this post I’m going to take a look at the goals I set myself at the start of this year in my 2022 New Year Goals/Resolutions post. I’m going to evaluate where I’m up to so far, amend if necessary, and maybe even add another…

At the beginning of the year, I set myself three primary goals. After a year off, I wanted to take part in the Goodreads Reading Challenge once again. I enjoyed my break, however, I felt that taking part in the challenge provides me with some much-needed motivation. I also set myself a challenge regarding how I structure my reading. In previous years I have gone from one extreme of setting a static list for the month, to setting no list at all. I found that neither approach works perfectly for me, and so I challenged myself to take a more hybrid approach. Lastly, I set myself a challenge to get more organised with my blog post writing.

Of all the challenges set so far, I feel like the last of those is the only one where there is a lot to be desired. But, more on that below!

 

Existing Challenges

Goodreads Challenge – 40 books

40 books isn’t an overly ambitious target (for me), but it’s one that I felt I could reasonably achieve. When you consider that last year I only read about 25 books, it’s a step up. Equally, my record has been reading 72 books in one year.

That is a lot, and I don’t think it’s an amount I will ever achieve again. It’s partly because I went so hard at this that I ended up slumping last year. I’d rather take a slower and steady approach, and this is how I got to my target of 40.

At the end of June, I had completed 23 books and only DNF’d one! I’m pleased with this progress, as not only am I on track, but I’m also not so far ahead that I’ve made the challenge too easy. In previous years I have upped my goal because I had underestimated myself.

Here are the details of the books I’ve read in the last six months: 

Obviously, things can change in the next six months. I will be doing another review at the end of August with regards to my Goodreads challenge, but for now, it’s staying where it is!

 

Reading Lists

I have definitely been taking a more flexible approach to my reading list, although I don’t think I found the balance just yet. It may be that this is a constantly moving target and I just need to be a little bit adaptable with myself.

At the beginning of the year, I was setting myself a monthly TBR that was approximately 2/3 fixed and 1/3 flexible. I thought I would benefit from having more in the way of structure, with the opportunity to pick up anything I like at the end of the month if I get through those books. There are months where this worked, and there are months where this didn’t work quite so much.

It is only more recently that I have allowed myself a little more freedom. I was finding that a lot of the time, I wasn’t really getting to my mood reads, or I was only just getting to them towards the end of the month. That doesn’t really give me what I was setting out to achieve.

Quite by chance, I tried a different approach in June. When trying to set myself a TBR, I kept changing my mind as to what I wanted to read. I only had one real reading commitment, and so in the end I decided to set this as my only fixed read and to allow myself the flexibility with everything else during the month. As it happens, I did end up sticking with the books I’d penciled in, but I think the mentality that allowing myself the flexibility gave me motivation. This was also during a time when I had an exam to prepare for, and in theory, it should have been one of my worst months. But in reality, I think it was my best!

I want to continue with this more flexible approach in future.

So, in the meantime, I’m going to set myself a limit of only setting half of a monthly TBR as ‘fixed books’, although if I can be more flexible with myself then that is what I will try to do. This is dependent on reading commitments, so I’m not going to sign myself up for too much so that I can’t fulfill this goal.

 

Blog Post Writing

At the beginning of this year, I set myself the challenge to be more organised with writing my blog posts. Primarily, I wanted to pull my finger out and get my posts scheduled at least a week in advance. That way, if there are any unpleasant surprises, or I’m not in the mood, I had some leeway to get post out to you on time.

This is the only goal that I haven’t done so well with. I am still writing posts pretty much as and when they are scheduled to go up. This very post itself is already delayed from my original intended posting date, so that illustrates how I’m still struggling with this!

I’m going to make a concerted effort to start preparing my posts in a more timely fashion. It won’t take that much effort, but I just need to be a little bit more disciplined with myself in order to make this change a habit. Once it’s a habit, it’ll be golden.

 

New Challenge

Read more Non-fiction

I am well on the way with two out of three of my existing challenges. I have been considering adding an additional challenge for myself this year, and I have plenty of books that will allow me to do this.

As an avid learner, I would like to pick up more non-fiction books. Be it memoirs/biographies, histories or books aimed at personal development, I would like to explore the genre in more detail. It is one of the least read on my blog overall, and I would like to change that.

With this in mind, I am setting myself the challenge of reading/listening to at least one non-fiction book a month. I can either include this as part of my fixed TBR, or I can pick it up on a whim. Tying in with my existing challenge regarding reading lists, I’m going to make this fit within that. In June I listened to Hell by Jeffrey Archer, one of his prison diaries published in 2003. I have another non-fiction book ready for my July TBR, so this is a good start to this brand-new challenge!

So, that is where I am up to with my 2022 goals, and what I would like to make progress with in the next six months.

Have you set yourself any goals for 2022, and are you on track?

 

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Goodreads Book Tag

Welcome to my edition of the Goodreads Book Tag! I found this tag on Stephen Writer Blog and I thought it would be a lot of fun to do! It’s been a little while since I’ve shared this kind of post, and it’s a great way to learn a little bit more about me, how I read and how I operate my blog and all that business in general.

I hope you enjoy today’s post and either learn something from it, or even take something away.

 

WHAT WAS THE LAST BOOK YOU MARKED AS READ?

The last book I finished and marked as complete on Goodreads is Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. This is an interesting one to kind of feature here in today’s post, because it’s not something I would describe as a typical read.

This was a recommendation from my sister, after it was recommended to her by a work colleague. It’s about women in the workplace… And in particular in leadership or more senior roles. It discusses various problems that women come up against throughout their careers, including barriers set by other people and themselves!

 

WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

My current read is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows! I last read this book at around the age of 17/18 – I distinctly remember I was doing my A-levels at the time, but I’m not sure which year. My gut instinct is my first year. I wanted to pick up this series again because I loved it as a teenager. In addition, I wanted to see how reading the series as an older and more widely read person to see if my opinion has changed over time.

The crux of it is no, it hasn’t. I’m still loving every minute of it. I have perhaps a slight preference bias towards the later books in the series. The storyline is more sophisticated and a bit darker, which leans away from being a middle grade/YA series in my opinion. Those aren’t genres I read much of.

 

WHAT WAS THE LAST BOOK YOU MARKED AS TBR?

The most recent book on my TBR list is The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman. I’m actually going to be reading this book very shortly, as my sisters boyfriend Chris has loaned me a copy. That’s on March’s TBR, however as of sharing this post I haven’t quite got round to it yet. You can expect that to be carried over and read very soon!

 

WHAT BOOK DO YOU PLAN TO READ NEXT?

The above question answers this one as well, so I’ll expand a little bit to talk about the next couple books I plan on picking up after The Thursday Murder Club. In addition, I would also like to finish re-reading The Raven’s Mark trilogy. I read the first book on a complete whim last month and I have the urge to re-read the series now. They’re just so good, and the best news is that Ed McDonald has a new book being published in June this year.

I’ve also been watching the Lincoln Rhyme series on Now TV recently, which makes me want to pick up The Bone Collector by Jeffery Deaver.

 

DO YOU USE THE STAR RATING SYSTEM?

I do use a star rating system, although I’ll admit I’m a very emotional reviewer. I’m very flexible with it; I don’t have set criteria and I firmly believe that you cannot judge every book by the exact same rules. Every narrative is very different and you can’t possibly apply all categories to every book.

I tend to go by feeling more than anything. If I absolutely love a book and physically can’t put it down, then it’s going to get a better rating than one that was perfectly readable at the time, but also a bit forgettable. Obviously there’s going to be some significant differences between what makes a book okay and what makes it great, but I like not to constrain myself too much when deciding on a star rating based on these criteria.

1 STAR – honestly if I really feel a book is this bad, I haven’t finished it and therefore I won’t rate it.
2 STAR – also a very rare rating for me to give, as I’m very likely to have given up on this book before finishing it as well.
3 STAR – three star reads for me are ones that are ‘okay’. They may not have the best flow or engage me in the best way, but are still readable.
4 STAR – A four star rating would typically be given for a book that I really enjoyed, but maybe I had a slight niggle with it. Maybe I don’t quite like something in the plot, or characterisation could be a little bit better etc. Basically, it’s good, but it’s not quite perfect.
5 STAR – five star reads for me a ones that I either can’t find fault with, maybe have the smallest, tiniest little niggle. These are books that I love completely and would definitely re-read them again in a heartbeat!

 

ARE YOU DOING A 2022 READING CHALLENGE?

I am doing a Goodreads challenge this year! And I’m enjoying it too; I didn’t set myself a challenge last year and honestly I felt a little bit lost.

Goodreads challenges are great for motivation. At the moment I’m currently one book ahead of schedule, so I’m on track to read my target of 40 books this year. Even if you don’t necessarily set yourself an official challenge, it’s nice to have an end goal in my opinion.

 

DO YOU HAVE A WISHLIST?

Other than my TBR, no. Let’s face it, I want all the books! Well, not quite… but you know the kind of girl I am!

 

WHAT BOOK DO YOU PLAN TO BUY NEXT?

I don’t have a set book in mind, because I’m trying to read more of the books I already have and to work on reducing my reading list. I’m of the opinion that if I don’t put myself in a position of temptation, I can’t be tempted! It’s a simple as that!

As a more general goal, I am trying to collect some of the clothbound classics. This is a long-term goal, however. And, if prices of everything keep going up the way they are, then it’s going to be a loooooooonnnnnnggggggeeeeeerrrr  term goal.

 

DO YOU HAVE ANY FAVOURITE QUOTES?

I mark all sorts of favourite quotes, and I really like Goodreads because it gives you the option to share them. I honestly couldn’t tell you how many I have recorded on there and the range of books I have them for years quite significant.

From classics to fantasy, no genre is safe from my highlighting! On my Kindle, of course! I wouldn’t do anything so sacrilegious as to physically mark a physical book. You can find these on my Goodreads profile with this link here

 

WHO ARE YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHORS?

If I had to shortlist my favourite five authors, the list looks like this: –

  1. George R. R. Martin
  2. Brandon Sanderson
  3. Laini Taylor
  4. Ed McDonald
  5. Stephen King

A bit of an eclectic mix I know, but that is only testament to the variety of books I read!

 

HAVE YOU JOINED ANY GROUPS?

I don’t think so no. I used to be part of a Goodreads group, but I never read or contributed to it and so I think I left. I’m not part of any other group of any other kind (social media or in person).

I hope that you have learned a little bit about me in today’s Goodreads Book Tag post. I hope you enjoyed it and if you would like to take part in it yourself and consider yourself tagged! I’d love to see your answers so please link back to me so that I can take a look at your answers!

 

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Book Review: Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

Since it has been about a month since I last shared a book review I’ve decided it’s time to get my thinking cap on and share my thoughts with you on a previous read. When perusing through the list of books I’ve read I discovered that I hadn’t yet reviewed Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I confess that my first thought was along the lines of ‘where do I even begin reviewing this?’. But, I’m going to do my best to do the book justice!

Since classic novels are typically taught in school I think a lot of people have the misconception that they’re going to be dry, dull or that no one in a million years would want to spend their free time reading them. After I left school I said the same thing. I have a whole host of opinions on how the education system doesn’t promote reading, but that’s for another day. However, they do need to be given their due. Classic novels can be great reads. I’ve even gone back to books that I read and hated at school and I enjoyed them. I wish they were given more of a chance, and if I were to suggest you pick up any, Brave New World is a great one to start with!

And, if you’re not sure, there is a TV series based on the book on Now TV. You could always give that a try first? Although it’s not 100% true to the book (but covers the main topics and concepts well), I still enjoyed it regardless!

 

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

Goodreads – Brave New World

Brave New World is a dystopian novel by English author Aldous Huxley, written in 1931 and published in 1932. Largely set in a futuristic World State, inhabited by genetically modified citizens and an intelligence-based social hierarchy, the novel anticipates huge scientific advancements in reproductive technology, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation and classical conditioning that are combined to make a dystopian society that is challenged by only a single individual: the story’s protagonist.

 

My Thoughts…

Not only is the plot of Brave New World interesting, but it’s one of the shorter classic books I’ve read at just over 260 pages. This is why I think it’s a great place to start; it’s not intimidating and it has plenty to offer despite the reduced page count.

Some of the undoubtedly futuristic elements in Brave New World (considering it was published in 1932) are not so wild in the present day. One of the groundbreaking elements of the book is that humans are not born traditionally, but are genetically modified for desirable qualities, fertilised in vitro and are effectively incubated until birth. Whilst we don’t exactly have a designer baby thing going on, treatments such as IVF are now available and can involve an element of this.

Equally, the clinical aspect of birth control was in its infancy in the 1930s. Yes, for thousands of years there have been home remedies and techniques to prevent it. Even giving birth control advice was only allowed in Britain in 1930. It’s strange to consider because prescriptions for it now are so commonplace.

I find it fascinating to compare the ideas that authors had decades ago as to what was futuristic to them at the time and what similar theories we as a society have now about the next few decades. What I wonder the most about is whether the ideas written by these authors have given birth to the reality, or whether they did have an inkling of human capabilities and technological advancements that were within reach of mankind. Kind of like the chicken and egg argument.

There may be similarities between the societies of Brave New World and the modern-day, but there are also very distinct differences. For example, Brave New World has a completely different social class system, based on intelligence, to the one we used to. Citizens are effectively controlled by the use of ‘feel-good’ drugs and activities. There is no such thing as sadness or lack of purpose. Everybody has their role and they fulfil it to the best of their ability. They don’t have to think, they just have to do as they’re told. On the surface that might sound good, but I think it would be hell.

I’ve read plenty of other reviews that suggest this is a good read for anyone who has or has suffered from depression. It emphasises the point that feeling good all the time isn’t where it’s at. To appreciate the highs, sometimes you need to take the lows that go with it. And I can see that. It makes sense. If you always had the same thing you have nothing to compare it against.

Have you ever read Brave New World? Would you recommend it or would you be prepared to read it based on recommendation? As always, you can let me know in the comments or via social media.

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2022 – New Year Goals/Resolutions

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

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

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

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

 

Goodreads Reading Challenge

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

 

Monthly Reading Lists

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

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

 

Blog Post Writing

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

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

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

 

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

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