Tag: historical fiction

Blog Tour Review: Sword of Vengeance – Peter Gibbons

I feel especially privileged to bring you a review of Sword of Vengeance on both publication day and for the opening leg of this blog tour!

I’ve had the pleasure to feature two out of the three previous books in the series as part of tours – Warrior and Protector and Brothers of the Sword. I would have featured the second book in the series, Storm of War as well, if not for my oversight of missing the tour invite! This is a great historical fiction series to pick up if you love your Viking era literature.

Before we get into my review, I always take the opportunity to say thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, and to the author, Peter Gibbons for the opportunity to review the book as part of the tour.

 

Sword of Vengeance – Peter Gibbons

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages:

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Boldwood Books

Publication Date: 02 Feb 2024

Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

 

Goodreads – Sword of Vengeance

In the aftermath of the great battle of Maldon, justice is demanded and vengeance will be served!

992AD

King Aethelred’s the Unready’s army has been defeated at the historic Battle of Maldon by Viking invaders led by Olaf Tryggvason and King Sweyn Forkbeard.

The strategic turning point of the battle was when Godric, an East Saxon Thegn, fled the battlefield taking with him the Saxon army, leaving behind his brothers to be massacred in a welter of blood and Norse axe blades.

Saxon warrior Beornoth emerges from the ashes of defeat with his heart aflame with vengeance and when King Aethelred sends for Bernoth with orders to punish those traitors responsible for the crushing defeat, he heeds the king’s call.

With a small band of loyal warriors, Bernoth embarks on an unforgiving journey across the perilous landscape to seek out Godric and exact his bloody revenge. They must fight their way through a world teeming with political intrigue, shifting alliances and the ever-present threat of the Vikings.

Can Beornoth triumph over insurmountable odds in this pulse pounding quest for retribution?

If you enjoyed The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell, you’ll love Beornoth’s Quest for Vengeance!

 

Purchase Link

 

My Thoughts

 

Plot

Sword of Vengeance is a fact-paced and action-packed narrative. That’s hardly surprising as the precedent was set from the get-go in this series, Warrior and Protector.

Events of the book pick up immediately after the conclusion of book three. I’m not giving away any spoilers here, so rest assured. What I can say is that the consequences of that battle, and the drama, are the driving forces of events in this book.

Beornoth and his brave warriors demand vengeance, and these bloodthirsty men have no qualms in seeking it out themselves! As with previous books though, there is an element of underlying politics and a wider plot which still touches on this very personal narrative. As a prominent warrior, Beornoth cannot wholly serve himself, and his ties to some of the most powerful men in the country ensure his actions have both impact and repercussions across the country.

 

Characters

The narrative of Sword of Vengeance is a very personal one in nature. Through this, we find ourselves investing heavily in characters such as Beornoth and Brand. They are the favourites we have come to know throughout earlier books in the series. In particular, I love their individual intricate stories and relationship with each other.

I never quite know or trust what will happen to characters in these books. Peter Gibbons doesn’t spare characters from rough treatment and puts them in the firing line time and again. After the events of previous books, I cannot be sure that the characters we have come to know and love will come unscathed. It’s both terrifying and exhilarating!

 

Setting

Beornoth and his band undertake a fair degree of travel in the book. New settings are beautifully and vividly described. If you are the type of reader visualise such things as you read, you will not find the narrative or descriptions wanting.

Although the main focus of the plot centres around Beornoth and his quest for vengeance, we still get to enjoy the wider setting of turmoil and conflict. Vikings continue to plague the Saxon peoples. The solution presented by the church to deal with this problem is to try and pay off the Vikings. Naturally, this harbours resentment from those who ultimately end up paying the bill. The people. Warriors like Beornoth know that this is only a temporary solution, and will likely beget a larger problem once word of Saxon riches gets out.

On the whole, the depth of the narrative and setting in which events take place makes for full and comprehensive immersion in the storyline.

 

Narrative Style

What I’ve found really helpful when reading Sword of Vengeance is that main plot points in the earlier books recapped as the narrative goes along. They serve as a great reminder of what has gone before, so if it has been a while since you’ve picked up the series, or indeed, if you haven’t picked up those books yet at all, you still know what’s going on. The only reason I wouldn’t recommend reading Sword of Vengeance as a standalone is because you would miss out on three fabulous books before this one. You absolutely could though, if you wanted to. But why would you want to do yourself dirty like that?

Despite plenty of action, Sword of Vengeance is very easy to read. The action compels you to read on, and the narrative style itself is approachable for all readers. I love historical fiction, especially about this time period. As a result of this, and the ease of reading, it was a book I found myself easily getting lost in!

Peter Gibbons strikes up a great balance in these books between chapter length and descriptive detail. Neither one compromises the other, and we can appreciate both in equal measure. Some people love action in their books… others are more character driven. Sword of Vengeance brings both together in a healthy balance, meaning there are elements of this book for all readers.

 

Summary

If you love action-packed narratives full of conflict and detailed battle scenes, Sword of Vengeance will not disappoint! As a huge fan of the genre and time period of both this book and the wider series, it is very much what I hoped for!

I’ve enjoyed this series every bit as much as other books I’ve read by both big names like Bernard Cornwell and Conn Iggulden, as well as upcoming authors like M.J Porter and J.C. Duncan. If you have read any of my reviews of books by these authors and are looking for something similar, then I cannot stress enough how much you should pick up books by Peter Gibbons.

Although I haven’t read his Viking Blood and Blade series myself, I will share that it comes highly recommended to me by a work colleague of mine. Either of these series are great for fans in the genre, and I’ll be picking up that second one in my own time. If that isn’t testament to how much I enjoy Peter Gibbons writing, then I don’t know what is!

 

Author Bio

Peter Gibbons is a financial advisor and author of the highly acclaimed Viking Blood and Blade trilogy.

He comes to Boldwood with his new Saxon Warrior series, set around the 900 AD Viking invasion during the reign of King Athered the Unready. The first title of the new series, Warrior and Protector, will be published in October 2022. He originates from Liverpool and now lives with his family in County Kildare.

Social Media Links –

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/petergibbonsauthor

Monthly Wrap-Up – January 2024

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

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

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

 

Books Read

 

Gemina

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

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

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

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

 

My Sister’s Keeper

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

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

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

 

The Girl in Seat 2A

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

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

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

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

 

Betrothal and Betrayal

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

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

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

 

Crime and Punishment

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

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

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

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

 

Unmasked

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

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

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

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

 

Sword of Vengeance

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

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

I hope you can stay tuned for my review tomorrow!

 

The Black Coats

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

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

 

The Atlas Six

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

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

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

 

Summary

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

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

In the meantime, what are you reading?

 

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Sunday Summary – 28th January 2024

Good evening gang – it’s time for another Sunday Summary update. Why do the weeks just fly by? Next week is the start of February already; I honestly don’t know where January has gone! Before getting to the books I’ve read over the course of the week, let’s do a cheeky recap of the posts I’ve shared so far.

My first post of the week was a Top Ten Tuesday post. In that, I shared ten books I didn’t get to in 2023. This wasn’t so much a *top* ten as a list of ten that I just about scraped together!

On Friday I shared my first First Lines Friday post of the year. I didn’t set myself a challenge for that, so when it came to drafting it I decided to feature an opening from a favourite read of 2023. If you missed that post there’s a link above. Can you guess from the clues in the introduction what the book is?


Books Read


Crime and Punishment

As of last week’s Sunday Summary, I had read 484 pages, or just under 75%, of Crime and Punishment.

With the end in sight, I ploughed on and completed the book on Tuesday. Although it took me a little longer to read than other books I’ve picked up so far this month, I did enjoy Crime and Punishment. It was the book I expected it to be based on the synopsis and it was an interesting read. If you are unaware, the narrative explores the actions of a destitute young student who commits murder, and then struggles with his mental health and dealing with the consequences of his actions.

I am usually slower with reading classics, because of the difference in writing style and language. However, I’m glad that I’m finally able to take this one off my list as read!

 

Unmasked

I was just under half way through Unmasked as of last week’s Sunday Summary. Once again, I’ve made a good deal of progress and listened to the remaining three hours and change this week, taking me to 100% completion.

I really enjoyed Unmasked. I initially wanted to listen to the audio to understand how neurodivergence is such as autism and ADHD may affect people. Did I think I would relate to some of the symptoms or experiences as I did? No, but there we go!

If you are interested in the subject, Unmasked is written in such an approachable way that you can read as much or as little of this book as you want. It’s also a book you can go back to and read certain chapters of again. It’s well structured, comprehensive, and written very well. I also like that the audiobook is narrated by the author herself; Ellie talks a lot of her own experiences as a neurodivergent in this book, and it wouldn’t feel right to hear these narrated by someone else. It felt much more authentic coming from Ellie herself.


Sword of Vengeance

After reading the first chapter of Sword of Vengeance a couple of weeks ago at a hairdressers appointment, I picked up the book in earnest this week.

Sword of Vengeance is the fourth book in Peter Gibbons’ Saxon Warrior series. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will know that I have been following reading and reviewing the series as part of organised blog tours. See my reviews of Warrior and Protector and Brothers of the Sword here. This fourth book is no exception. If you are interested in the series, I will be reviewing this book next week – you can find out more about when below.

Sword of Vengeance picks up where we left off after the events of Maldon and the tragic battle that took place at the end of book three. I won’t want to go into too much detail on that so I don’t spoil that third book. What I can say is that events unfold from there and once again we are thrown into a narrative of action and intrigue.

Sword of Vengeance was everything I have come to expect having read the earlier books in the series. I enjoyed the plotline and the introduction of new characters, as well as the return of favourites. If you enjoy historical fiction, and in particular, reading battle scenes, Sword of Vengeance will not disappoint you.


What next?

It’s unusual that I have to feature a section with this title, as I am rarely writing a Sunday Summary being in between books.

I generally have a couple of reads on the go, one physical or e-book, and one audiobook. I am finally getting to The Black Coats by Colleen Oakes in e-book format, which was my December TBR Jar pick. For my audiobook choice, I will be listening to The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake. Stay tuned to find out more about my reading progress and thoughts on these books over the next week!


Books Discovered

No news is good news once again this week! I’m down to 196 books on my Goodreads to-read shelf… which sadly is the lowest it’s been for a while!


Coming Up…

Next week we are in the realms of month-end. That means that it’s time to share my monthly wrap-up post for January, as well as my monthly TBR for February.

In order to accommodate those, my blogging schedule is going to be out of sync. Normally I try to post consistently throughout the week. However, with the timing of month-end and other obligations, I will be sharing four posts all in the second half of the week.

Starting on Thursday, I will be publishing my monthly wrap-up for January. I didn’t want to leave this post too long to share with you, so I am jumping in there at the first opportunity. Literally, the 1st haha!

My second post of the week goes live on Friday, and this is my blog tour review of Sword of Vengeance by Peter Gibbons. I’m glad I got this book finished earlier today as that gives me several days to draft my review and make sure I’m happy with it before going live with the tour on Friday.

On Saturday I’m sharing my TBR for February. Whilst I could technically share this on Monday the fifth, I feel like that would be quite late. Thankfully, I’ve already decided what my reading list will be and drawn my TBR Jar pick. It’s going to be another busy month… put it that way!

Then, last but not least, I’m back again to round off the week with another Sunday Summary update! In that post, I’ll recap the books I’ve read in the last seven days and update you with any books I’ve added to my reading list. Finally, I’ll share what’s coming up on the blog.

 

Summary

I hope you check out my upcoming posts as they are published. In the meantime, that is all from me in today’s post. Have a fantastic week however you spend it!

If you are reading right now, what book have you picked up? Are you enjoying it? Will you recommend it?

 

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Blog Tour Review: Betrothal and Betrayal – Janet McGiffin

I’m excited to take part in the blog tour for Betrothal and Betrayal today in conjunction with TheWriteReads! It’s my first time taking part in one of their tours, and we have a great book to feature today!

Betrothal and Betrayal is a historical fantasy set around Constantinople in the Byzantine Empire. Set in the backdrop of a world run by men, we follow Thekla, a fiery female protagonist. She ventures out of her small town after being stood up by her betrothed for the third time. Her mission is to either find him and hold him accountable to his oath, or have him release her. It’s a foray into a richly set world as independently as any woman of her time can!

Let’s take a look at the details of the book before diving into my review:-

 

Betrothal and Betrayal – Janet McGiffin

Genre: Historical Fantasy

Pages: 250

Audience: Young Adult

Publisher: Scotland Street Press

Publication Date: 01 Aug 2023

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads – Betrothal and Betrayal

Seventeen-year-old Thekla needs her quick wits and knife to track down her betrothed, a soldier who has left her at the altar for the third time. Elias the monk travels with her to Constantinople where she meets Irini of Athens, an extraordinarily beautiful orphan her same age who has been brought by powerful Emperor Constantine to marry his son, Co-Emperor Leon. The two women join forces to survive this vigorous capital of the Roman Empire of the East which is rocked by religious and political strife. But will Thekla help the ambitious and ruthless Irini of Athens find the power that she craves?

 

My Thoughts

 

Plot

Despite the book being only 250 pages along, there is plenty of action throughout. It’s amazing how much content the author has packed into such a short page count! As a result, content-wise the book still feels like a full and detailed narrative, comparable to books that are significantly longer.

The storyline progresses significantly from its humble beginnings. Thekla, after being stood up at the altar and threatened with marriage to another suitor, sets out to find her betrothed. Whilst she sets out with the hope that she can convince him to marry her, ultimately, she wants any resolution. Even if it means her release from her commitment.

This is just the beginning, and from there we start to explore a more detailed and complex narrative. Thekla meets a variety of characters and learns a lot along her journey. She discovers her identity and what matters to her above all. Thekla is a determined individual who treads her own path. She’s not afraid to do it independently. We watch this young woman bloom. From there, she is wrapped up a wider plot.

 

Characters

Thekla is a fiery protagonist and a breath of fresh air to read about. She stands out from the crowd; she’s bold, is willing to learn and earn her way, and will defend herself and her rights. In a world of and run by men, she is a unique force to be reckoned with. For younger readers, I think Thekla makes a great role model.

Thekla sets off to locate her betrothed at the beginning of the book. However, from there she develops and comes into her own. She doesn’t allow herself to be defined by her experiences and she does everything she can to shape her own future. She is far from a superficial character, and she was a joy to read about.

Although bold and willing to look after herself, there is only so far she would be able to go on her own. Her character helps her makes allies along her way, namely in Elias. As a result, he helps her to travel when she wouldn’t be safe on her own and is regularly reintroduced at different stages throughout the narrative. There is an element of mystery to Elias and who he is, which I’m hoping this will be explored more in future books!

 

Setting

Firstly, I love the historical background in this narrative. I have very limited knowledge of the Byzantine Empire, and so I enjoyed learning about and experiencing this setting. The historical elements and events leading up to the present day have contextual links to plot. There is enough information to add depth to the storyline, but without overwhelming readers either.

Betrothal and Betrayal had religious elements to narrative, but not to the extent that it would make anyone feel uncomfortable. I enjoyed experiencing this perspective, and the narrative goes a long way to help us readers understand the history of the setting and conflicts in the plot.

Together with this, there are a lot of cultural references and terminology throughout. The terms are explained in the back of the book so this can be used as a reference. I read the book without really referring to these and I was able to pick up a decent amount from context alone. As this is a setting that I haven’t got much experience of, I enjoyed getting familiar with the cultural differences that are explored in this book. Betrothal and Betrayal would be a great way of introducing your readers to new cultures and social attitudes.

 

Narrative Style

Betrothal and Betrayal is a great for young readers and adults alike. It makes a great introduction to fantasy as a genre. Its historical setting is under-represented in fiction too. I confess that even though I am not strictly the target audience of this book, I took a lot away from it as well!

The chapters within are relatively short – very suitable with the intended audience in mind. Combine this with an easy to read narrative style, and we’re on to a winner!

 

Summary

If you are looking for a short historical fantasy, explore a new setting, or invest in a relatable and interesting protagonist, then Betrothal and Betrayal has something for you! I read the book in just a handful of days and I enjoyed the short foray into a new series!

I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next. This book is the first in the Empress Irini series. Betrothal and Betrayal feels like a set up to bringing these two characters together. Personally, I can’t wait to see how they grow together in future books!

 

About the Author

Janet McGiffin divides her time between her apartment in Manhattan, her family in Washington State, and her friends in Athens, Greece. She was born in Fairfield, Iowa into a newspaper family and learned to write copy as a teenager by writing obituaries for the Ellensburg Daily Record in Washington state. After university, she worked for the Milwaukee Health Department where she gained first-hand knowledge for her best-selling mystery series published by Fawcett Press, NY, featuring Doctor Maxine St. Clair, an ER doctor in an inner-city hospital.

She worked as a press officer for the Washington state senate, then moved to Athens, Greece where she wrote grant proposals for small non-profit women’s organizations in Mediterranean countries. She also wrote a humor column for the Athens News newspaper with field archaeologist Adrian Vrettos, wrote two English language easy readers for Cambridge University Press, UK, and a series of hiking articles for greecetravel.com. She researched her Byzantine-era Empress Irini Series through extensive travel in Greece, followed by six months of research at the Bodleian libraries in Oxford, England. She enjoys hiking in Greece, England, Wales, and Scotland.

Instagram: @janetmcgiffinauthor

Sunday Summary – 14th January 2024

In today’s Sunday Summary post I have plenty of updates to share with you. It has been a fantastic week of reading, and I can’t lie when I say I’ve enjoyed going back to a more relaxed blogging schedule. Yes, this week I was back to my regular three post schedule, and it’s been far more manageable.

The first of those posts was a book review of Leadership and Culture by John and Katie McCann. I read this book last year as a way of picking up another non-fiction, but also to work on some of my soft skills. This book would be great for either first-time managers, aspiring leaders, or even as a refresher for those more experienced. As always, I’ll provide a link in case you want to go back and check out that post.

On Friday, I returned with a Shelf Control post. If you are unfamiliar with this series, I use it to look at upcoming books on my reading list and share why I’m excited to read them. This week’s particular feature was another non-fiction book that is on my reading list, but about a completely different topic. It’s one that I am really interested in reading about even though it is not the most pleasant! If you want to find out what that was, there is a link above.

 

Books Read

My Sister’s Keeper

As of last week’s Sunday Summary post, I was 75% into this audio and hopeful that I was going to finish it soon.

I did indeed finish this audio on Thursday night, and oh my goodness, what an ending! I fully appreciate that some people don’t like the ending of this book. However, I really enjoyed it and I didn’t see it coming! It also made me cry my eyes out. It ended up being quiet in the office than usual on Friday, so no one noticed the puffy face. Then again, I do work with mostly men…

 

Betrothal and Betrayal

The second read I carried over from last week’s Sunday Summary was Betrothal and Betrayal. In that post, I shared that I’d read the first 20%, and it’s from there I picked up from.

I read Betrothal and Betrayal on my phone, which is something I don’t do very often. However, this is a review copy of the book and the deadline for reviewing it is coming up. Had I not been able to view the book on my phone I would have gone back to the organiser to see if I could get the matter fixed. As things stood, I could, and the book is only 250 pages long. I decided to work with what I had, and to be fair, it worked reasonably well.

As I’ve already mentioned, the review for this is coming up – as imminently as next week. I’m not going to go too much in detail as to my thoughts at this time. Overall it was a fun, short historical fantasy book in which we get to explore the life of a fiery female protagonist set an interesting setting – Constantinople and the Byzantine empire.

 

Crime and Punishment

I picked up Crime and Punishment for the first time after finishing Betrothal and Betrayal. I suspected this would be the book my reading pace slowed down with, and that is the case.

In order to read all of the 10 books I have on my January TBR, I need to read about 100 pages a day over the course of the month. Since Thursday, I’ve only read the first 132 pages of this classic. In fairness, I haven’t picked up read at all today, and I will be making some progress with the book tonight once this post goes live.

I already expected that the writing style of Crime and Punishment would make 100 pages a day a stretch. When you take into account the book was published in the late 1800s, by a Russian author and then translated, it doesn’t quite flow the same as modern language. This isn’t to say I’m not getting on with it, because I am. However, to get my hundred pages a day, I’m definitely going to have to read a couple of books in tandem. More on that later. As of this post,Crime and Punishment is my main read and my focus going into next week. If I can read 50 pages of this book a day, in tandem with 50 pages of another, I’ll be on track.

 

Sword of Vengeance

To help with keep up my reading pace and give me a change, I’m going to read Sword of Vengeance in tandem with Crime and Punishment. It so happens that I started the book yesterday whilst at my hairdressers anyway. I am reading Crime and Punishment in paperback form, but it wasn’t worth taking with me to the appointment. I was able to read the first chapter of Sword of Vengeance on my phone.

Sword of Vengeance is the fourth book of the Saxon Warrior series. I’ve kept up to date with it and so there isn’t too much in the way of investment to pick up and follow the action. I’ve already done the legwork and know what’s going on. It’s a completely different writing style, but it’s one that I find very easy to read. I’ll be using this book to switch to when I need a break and/or to try and make up page count in my daily reading.

I confess that, as of this Sunday Summary, I have only read the first chapter, or 5%. I’m looking forward to picking up more of the book next week. 

 

Unmasked

The last book I need to update you on this week is Unmasked.

I started this audiobook after finishing My Sister’s Keeper. It’s not an overly long one, so I’ve already made good progress. As of this Sunday Summary, I’ve listened to about 30%.

The book is about the author, Ellie Middleton, and her late diagnoses of ADHD and autism. Whilst the book’s aim is to go some way to educate readers about the conditions generally, it is particularly about her experience and how women and ethnic minorities are less likely to be diagnosed at an early age.

I’m enjoying the audio even more as it is narrated by the author herself. I don’t think it would’ve felt right being narrated by a third-party given that this is about her individual experience. I’m looking forward to listening to more in the coming days!

 

Books Discovered

It had been a little while since I’ve had a look on my library’s digital offerings. I confess I was originally looking to see if I can borrow one of my upcoming reads later in the month. No such luck. However, I did find an e-book written by author I enjoyed in 2020 with an interesting premise.

The Sentence sounds like an intriguing legal thriller. I’ve tried multiple drafts to sum up the story without really doing it justice (no pun intended). So, here is the synopsis instead:

A law intended to end capital punishment.

Prosecutors who seek the death penalty put their lives on the line if the guilty are later found innocent.

A lawyer convinced beyond reasonable doubt.

Justine Boucher is presented with overwhelming evidence in a brutal murder case. Her request for execution is granted.

But what if she’s wrong?

Coming Up…

I have two reviews due next week. With this in mind, these will be my priority posts in the week.

In order to space out these reviews, I will be reviewing the second book first. I appreciate that sounds contrary, but allow me to explain. This second book is due to publish on the 19th of January, but I haven’t necessarily committed to provide my review on that date. Instead, I look to have it prepared a few days in advance, so it is out in the world (and on Netgalley) by publication day. With this in mind, I look to share that review on Tuesday.

The other book I will be reviewing this week is one where I have agreed to do it on a set date, and that is Thursday. I’m taking part in a blog tour for Betrothal and Betrayal, organised by TheWriteReads. I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts on this book as I really enjoyed the action and setting. Stay tuned and you will find my thoughts, both on my blog and across my social media accounts on Thursday 18th.

Lastly, I’ll be back with another Sunday Summary update next week. Given the nature of the posts I am sharing this week, I’m not doing a Friday feature as well. Reviews take a lot of time to get right and I want to make sure I do both justice. As well, I’ve not long ago had a busy week of blogging during a busy period at work. I’m sticking to the three day schedule and I’m unapologetic about it!

For now, that’s all from me in today’s post. Have you read any of the books I talk about in this post? What are you reading right now?

 

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Monthly TBR – January 2024

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

Are you excited for the new year?

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

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

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

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

 

Fixed Reads

 

December Insta Poll Runner Up – My Sister’s Keeper

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

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

 

December TBR Jar – The Black Coats

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

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

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

 

January Insta poll pick – The Atlas Six

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

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

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

 

January TBR Jar pick – Crime and Punishment

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

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

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

 

Betrothal and Betrayal

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

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

 

The Girl in Seat 2A

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sword of Vengeance

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

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

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

 

Mood Reads

 

Gemina

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

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

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

 

Unmasked

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

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

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

 

The Measure

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

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

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

 

Summary

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

Not really!

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

What book(s) are you reading in January?

 

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Monthly Wrap-Up – November 2023

Happy first of December folks and welcome to my monthly wrap-up post for November! Before that, are your Christmas decorations up yet? I confess I put up my tree and some outside lights today. The rest is to follow tomorrow.

I usually put mine up the first weekend of December. However, as I have been on leave from work this week, I decided to make my life a little bit easier tomorrow and do some of the bigger jobs. Although I say that, the outside lights only took me 10 minutes as I packed them in the same way I strung them up last year – I just had to clip it all back in place!

Anyway, let’s stop talking about the c-word and start talking about the books I read in November. I had a great month of reading! I’ve also varied how I split my reading this month, making the list more manageable. Shall we get into my monthly wrap-up post and take a look at what I picked up?

 

Books Read

 

The Shining

At the start of November, I left off from my last monthly wrap-up having only read 30 pages of The Shining. I’d wanted to read the book around Halloween, but it transpired that I only started the book that night.

So, I read the vast majority of this nearly 500 page book in November. Whilst the timing didn’t quite pan out as expected, it didn’t hamper my enjoyment of the book at all. On the contrary, this book was everything I have come to expect from Stephen King. Although I am not a big reader of horror in general, I will always make an effort to pick up his books.

The Shining is a classic novel, and I’m glad I finally got around to it! It was every bit as good as I expected it to be, and I can’t wait to read more of his classics in future.

 

The Vikings in the Isle of Man

It feels like many moons ago, although in reality it is not, that I featured my Norsevember post. As part of my research for that post, I read a couple of books around Vikings and their presents in the Irish Sea, including and surrounding the Isle of Man. I read the majority of The Vikings in the Isle of Man in November. I had to prioritise reading this at the beginning of the month, so I technically completed this book before The Shining.

The Vikings in the Isle of Man was an informative read and touched upon topics and themes I had also read in Vikings of the Irish Sea. It’s quite a niche topic if we’re being honest. It is only because it relates closely to home that I wanted to pick it up and share a little bit of knowledge. I appreciate it’s not going to be everybody’s cup of tea, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

 

Lost Solace

Lost Solace has been on my reading list for quite some time. I’ve attempted to get round to the book for the last two or three months as well, and failed. That is, I’m pleased to say in this monthly wrap-up, until this month. At the beginning of November, I told myself that this month was the month I was going to pick it up. I’m glad I did!

If you enjoy science-fiction, and want a relatively short but action-packed novel, this would be perfect for you. Having read some related books by Karl Drinkwater before (Tales of Lost Solace), some of the characters were already familiar to me. I don’t think that specifically contributed to my enjoying the book anymore, but it was nice to go in with a degree of familiarity.

I won’t be leaving it so long to continue with this series!

 

November TBR Jar – The Boy Who Followed His Father into Auschwitz

Historical, whether fiction or non-fiction, is a genre I will enjoy going back to time and again. When I pulled The Boy Who Followed His Father into Auschwitz out of my TBR jar at the end of October, I was excited! Although a morbid subject, I have enjoyed multiple books that centre around characters and experiences around the concentration camps in World War II. Heather Morris’ books, The Tattooist of Auschwitz and Cilka’s Journey, are great examples.

Every bit is harrowing,The Boy Who Followed His Father into Auschwitz is a true story of a son who could not bear to be separated from his father, and opted to go to Auschwitz with him. They had already spent a good deal of time in captivity before they were transferred to the infamous camp. Shockingly, the treatment there is not the worst they received. Towards the end of the book, I was just begging that the both of them survived. They had already been through so much.

Well researched and written, this is one of the easiest non-fiction books I have picked up in terms of readability this year.

 

Ashes of Guilt

One of the last books I picked up to physically read in November was Ashes of Guilt by Isabella Steele. I had downloaded a copy of this book through Reidy discovery in order to provide a review by the end of the month. If you haven’t yet checked out that post, you can see my thoughts from Wednesday’s review here.

Ashes of Guilt is another relatively short, but equally compulsive, read. The synopsis was a great hook into the narrative, but quickly we worked through that and found ourselves in uncharted territory.

This is the kind of book that would be a great palette cleanser, or if someone wants to dip that to a genre for a reasonably short time before moving onto something else. I read Ashes of Guilt in just a handful of days. At 222 pages, it has to be one of the shortest books I’ve read this year.

 

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

For the first time in months, I have a mood read to share with you in this November monthly wrap-up. You’ll see why below.

Picking up The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is absolutely because I went to watch the film on Tuesday. It’s been a long time since I went to the cinema and I had a great time watching this film. After spending over 2 and a half hours in a cinema seat, I can remember why it’s not a regular occurrence… But I had a good time nonetheless.

I’ve been threatening to pick up this book since I started re-watching the hunger games films. After watching and loving the film, I literally couldn’t wait. Often, films deviate from content in the books, and I was curious to see what extent this does. As of this post, I am just over a quarter of the way through The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes and there isn’t too much variation, which is good!

 

Audiobooks

 

October TBR Jar – The Flood

Carried over from October’s monthly wrap-up post, I still had half of the audiobook of the flood to listen to this month.

I was a little late starting this considering I had already made progress with the book. I only really made progress in the last week of November. That’s because I’m not very good at listening to audiobooks in and around my normal routine. I started listening to The Flood when I was on leave from work last month. This week I have been on leave again (using the last of my holiday, can you tell?). Because I’ve been out of routine again, I’ve been able to make time to listen to the audio.

Overall, I had a good experience with The Flood. I strongly recommend listening to this book as the audio went along way towards my enjoyment of it. I didn’t anticipate the ending and I enjoyed seeing the mystery on full to reveal the truth right at the end.

 

Insta Poll Pick – The Minders

Given I had quite the number of books on this reading list, I decided to pick up the audiobook copy of The Minders. This book won my Instagram poll that I posted at the end of October. I was lucky in that I didn’t already have a copy of the book, so I had my pick of the format I went with.

This book would be great in any format, although I am again enjoying the audio. The book is told through multiple perspectives and these are told through two narrators.

As of this monthly wrap-up post, I am about halfway through The Minders. I still have just over 5 1/2 hours left of listening time, and I hope that time that I start to get some explanations as to what is going on. If you are unfamiliar with the book, it is kind of a conspiracy thriller. I’m deliberately not meant to know too much about what is going on, and I am hooked to find out how the plot evolves and ultimately resolves itself.

As experiences go, this is the first time I have picked up a John Marrs book and I doubt it will be the last!

 

Books DNF’d

 

The Witches – Salem, 1692: A History

We have a rare feature in today’s monthly wrap-up post – a DNF. It was quite a decisive one at that too. I ultimately made it through 30 pages of The Witches before I threw in the towel.

The writing style at the beginning was fine. The opening chapter is an introduction to events as they happened, including the numbers of people who died as a result of the witch trials, and a summary of the evidence available to the author, when putting together the book. In short, not much. It was the next chapter that threw me off completely.

I cannot help but feel that in the absence of tangible information, the author, then decided to fill in the gaps with pure fantasy and presented as. For example, the scene describes how two women flew on broomsticks to a given meeting location. This may be what they have been accused of, but presenting it as fact really didn’t sit well with me. It felt like filler and already had me questioning the information I’d been told.

The book is a reasonably lengthy one for a non-fiction, and I’ve already made my mind up at the 30 page mark that I wasn’t a fan. Had I struggled on, I wouldn’t of enjoyed the experience and could well have put myself in a readings lump because I didn’t want to pick it up. Frankly, life is too short… and my reading list is too long. So, onwards we go. Now you know why I picked up The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes instead – the timing of this DNF coincided with me watching the film!

 

Summary

In all, I had a great month. I picked up some varied and interesting reads. That was one miss two, but I didn’t let myself dwell on that one for too long!

In addition to reading some great books, I also met my Goodreads reading challenge of completing 50 books this year very early this month, which is cause for a pat on the back. Last year I read 47 books, so to be going into December having read 55 already is a great achievement. Am I unofficially pushing for 60 by the end of the year? Absolutely!

Here’s hoping for some great reads to get me there. If you’re keen to find out which books I will be picking up in December, I will be sharing my reading list early next week. Stay tuned!

Until then, happy reading!

 

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Sunday Summary – 19th November 2023

Good evening everyone and welcome to another Sunday Summary post. If you’re off watching I’m A Celebrity, then I’ll understand! I’m watching it as I write, which is why this post is a bit shorter than normal!

So, what have I been up to this week? The first post I shared with you was a Top Ten Tuesday post, discussing which mainstream authors I have not (as yet) read any books by.

On Friday, I shared a First Lines Friday post. I kept my options open for this post, and in the end, I featured a book related to a series I read years ago and I’m looking forward to reading.

 

Books Read

 

Lost Solace

As of last week’s Sunday Summary post, I had only read the first chapter of Lost Solace by Karl Drinkwater.

I really enjoyed this break and change of genre. Having read books in Karl’s Tales of Lost Solace series, I already had some knowledge and high expectations of the book.

It didn’t disappoint! I read Lost Solace very quickly and I thoroughly enjoyed it! There is plenty of action to keep us entertained, and just the right amount of detail/jargon so as not to overwhelm a non-techy reader.

 

The Boy Who Followed His Father to Auschwitz

After Lost Solace, I moved on to my current read, The Boy Who Followed His Father to Auschwitz.

It’s a difficult book to read for its topic, but it is compulsively readable in style. I’m really enjoying this book. It’s a harrowing topic, and awful to think that so many people lived through the horrors this book touches on! Even so, this is a fantastic book.

As of this Sunday Summary, I’m 240 pages into the book. Ignoring the appendices, that leaves me with another 100 pages to go. Already so much has happened in the narrative. A part of me wants to find out what happens to the titular Gustav and his son, Fritz – how their story ends.

 

Books Discovered

I’ve added one book to my reading list this week as a result of Friday’s post. I want to re-read the whole series again, this time including The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

 

Coming Up…

On Wednesday, I plan to share a book review with you. This week, I’m reviewing The Appeal by Janice Hallett.

On Friday I’ll be back with a Well, I Didn’t Know That! post! It’s been a while since I made a habit of listening to some podcasts, so I might try to incorporate that into this feature. Stay tuned to find out more!

Last, but not least, I’ll be returning with a Sunday Summary post. As always I hope to have plenty to catch you up on in that post.

In the meantime, that’s all for this Sunday Summary post!

What have you read recently?

 

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Monthly TBR – November 2023

Good evening readers – I hope you are having a lovely weekend? I’m looking forward to sharing all my upcoming reads for the month, and today is the day I share my monthly TBR!

The list looks larger than usual, as it is inflated by a couple of carryover reads from October, together with the fact that the average book length for this month is slightly lower.

I have around 2400 pages to read over the course of the month, which is about average. This doesn’t include my audiobooks for this month, of which I have about 16.5 hours listening time. That averages to just over half an hour a day, which is more than achievable!

Shall we get into my monthly TBR and discuss specifics of the books I’m reading in November?

 

Fixed Reads

 

October Carryover – The Shining

I picked up The Shining, the last book on my October TBR, on Halloween. I was hoping to be a little bit further into the book by that point, but still reading it for the spooky season. As it happens, I only read about 40 pages… But it is a start and I’ll take it.

As of this monthly TBR I am a more modest 180 pages, or roughly 40%, through the book. There was never really any doubt, but I am enjoying this story and the setting so far. Although I’ve been making my way through The Dark Tower series, it’s been a little while since I picked up a pure horror by Stephen King.

I’m looking forward to making further progress in the book and seeing how events unfold. There has been a lot of set up for what may happen later in the book; I’m keen to see if they play out as I hope they do!

 

October TBR Jar Carryover – The Flood

Throughout the latter half of October I started listening to The Flood by Rachel Bennett. Rachel is, I believe, resident on the island, and so I picked up this book to support a local author.

As I mentioned in my monthly wrap-up post for October, I am getting on well with this audiobook. I’m curious as to the history of some of the characters and how future events will unravel. There is definitely far more going on from the ‘historic’ timeline than we readers are aware of yet. I’m interested to see what bearing this has on the modern day aspect of the narrative.

 

Norsevember – Vikings in the Isle of Man

Norsevember is a reading event hosted by Blogs and Spells. Over the course of November, he and other creators feature all things Norse, from books to mythology. I have the pleasure of taking part this year and sharing a feature post on how the Norse touched the little island I live on.

I have already read one book that will contribute to my feature post next week, but I am going to be reading Vikings in the Isle of Man to supplement my knowledge ahead of this post. It’s also another great way to be able to support the event.

It’s only a short non-fiction at 140 pages, but I’m looking forward to picking it up!

 

Ashes of Guilt

I found Ashes of Guilt on Discovery as available to read and to provide a review for. I really like the sound of the premise for this book, so I’ve decided to give it a go! It’s a small-town mystery/thriller novel in which the main character has a shady childhood past; only, it may be that not all is as it seemed back then…

Ashes of Guilt is my only review obligation for November, which makes a nice change from the three I had to do last month! I shouldn’t complain, I sign myself up for these things. So, if there’s anyone to blame, I should just go look in the mirror…

 

November TBR Jar – The Boy Who Followed His Father into Auschwitz

Every month, I randomly pick a book out of my TBR Jar. November is no exception. Yesterday, I shared my pick on Instagram. If you’ve seen that already, then you know I drew out The Boy Who Followed His Father into Auschwitz.

I’m actually glad this book made it to November’s monthly TBR. I really love books around World War II and in particular Auschwitz. You can call me morbid if you want. I just find it a really interesting subject. What makes the pick even better is that it is a non-fiction novel. With the end of the year fast approaching, I am trying my best to meet my target of picking up more than 15 non-fiction books by the end of the year.

As of this post, I have read 12. Incidentally, I have three non-fiction books on this reading list (last one below), meaning that I have every chance of hitting that goal! Considering I was behind in my mid-year review post, that’s quite a turnaround. 

The fact that this book came out makes it even easier for me. I should, in theory, only have to read one in December to exceed my >15 goal. 

 

November Instagram Poll Pick – The Minders

In addition to the TBR Jar, I’ve taken to posting a poll on Instagram and getting my followers to vote between two books, the winner being the one I read next.

For the poll just gone, the books my followers had to choose from were My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult, or The Minders by John Marrs. The Minders won by quite the majority, and I’m glad it did! I have a few books by John Marrs on the reading list at this point, so I’m excited to be getting around to one of his at least! It’s also more fitting for the season. The Minders is a mystery/thriller novel with hints at government conspiracy in the synopsis. I hope you are as intrigued as I am, because I’m looking forward to telling you about it.

I have obtained a copy of The Minders via audiobook. I quite enjoyed the sample and honestly, I already had quite a lot of books on this reading list in either physical or e-book format. I needed another audio!

 

Mood Reads

The Witches – Salem, 1692: A History

The first of my mood reads in today’s monthly TBR is also the third non-fiction I mentioned above. I have had my copy of The Witches for about a year now. I have gone to pick it up before, but I was a little bit intimidated by the page count and the text size – it’s tiny!

This normally doesn’t bother me, but I looked at it before experimentally when I was looking for a change in read, and ideally something quite quick. That wouldn’t have been the case, so I didn’t pick up.

I am interested in the subject matter though, so I’m looking forward to getting around to it at last!

 

Lost Solace

A relatively quick read, and a change up in genre, is Lost Solace by Karl Drinkwater. I have had a copy of this book for the longest time to read. It’s also supposed to have been on the last three or four months TBR’s, but I just couldn’t fit it in.

Karl’s Lost Solace series in itself will be new to me, but I have read several short stories set in the same universe. I have really enjoyed those stories, so I’m looking forward to giving this mean series for dry.

It’s also been a little while since I read a science fiction novel. What do you believe, the last time I picked up the genre was when I read Cytonic by Brandon Sanderson back at the end of July! I certainly never intended to leave it that long. Then again, picking up Lost Solace has moved to or three times.

 

Incendium

The last book I would like to pick up in November is Incendium. It feels like the perfect month to pick this book up, as the plot sounds like it is very reminiscent of the gunpowder plot… which was foiled in November 1605.

I would’ve liked to pick up the book a little earlier in the month to coincide with bonfire night. However, it’s more important that I focus on my obligations, and so I will have to settle for reading it in the same month!

 

Summary

That’s a lot of books that I’m hoping to pick up in November, but honestly, I think it’s doable. Given that I am prone to reading 600-900 page books, and all of these on my list fall under that, there is absolutely no reason this is unachievable!

Thanks for reading today’s Monthly TBR post!

Have you read any of the books on my November reading list? Do you like the sound of them?

 

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Monthly Wrap-Up – October 2023

Good evening readers and welcome to this monthly wrap-up post for October! I had a pretty good month with reading progress, and I have plenty to share with you in today’s post.

In October, I had a few reading commitments towards the end of the month. That gave me plenty of time to read those books first and then make it to my chosen mood reads later on.

Shall we dive into my recap for October in earnest?

 

Books Read

 

Priest of Bones

My first read I feature in today’s monthly wrap-up post is actually a carryover from September. I started Priest of Bones at the very end of September, and ended up reading all but the first three chapters in October!

I had high hopes for Priest of Bones. I feel like it is one of those books that got a lot of hype. Do I feel it lived up to expectation though? Not particularly. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed the book. It was a decent read and I ultimately rated it three stars. I may continue on with the series, but I’m undecided as of right now.

 

The Puppet Maker

After reading Priest of Bones, I started making headway into my ‘fixed reads’ on October’s TBR. The Puppet Maker is the first of the blog tours I was taking part in during October, with my review due on the 20th.

The Puppet Maker was an opportunity to read a genre I haven’t picked up in a while. I have read mysteries, but not so much with a police procedural element. I enjoyed this change of scenery, so to speak. The book is also uniquely enjoyable for its representation of life as a new wheelchair user. Alana is the protagonist to this story, and she has to navigate multiple complex cases whilst personally coming to terms with her own personal tragedies.

If you want to check out my full review of the book you can find that here.

 

Warrior Prince

My next read, also for a blog tour, had me reading something new again. I’ve enjoyed multiple historical fiction novels featuring Vikings, but not outside modern-day England.

In Warrior Prince, we adventure along with exiled Harald Sigurdsson and his men throughout modern Eastern Europe. This new setting and political landscape made for a complete change to what I’m used to, and I loved that. There is a lot of conflict (not to be unexpected really) and complex character arcs/relations that drive the plot well.

Again, if you like the sound of this book and want to read my full thoughts, I’ll pop a link to my review here.

 

Cinderella’s Crimes

The last of my obligations for the month was to provide a review for Cinderella’s Crimes by the 31st October. Cinderella’s Crimes is a fairytale retelling with a lot darker nature than the traditional and well known version of the story.

Instead of sitting at home and hoping to attend the ball, Cinna takes matters into her own hands. In competition with her best friend Johann, she conducts a heist and aims to come out the better off of the two. She’s ruthless and cunning in pursuit of her revenge.

Cinderella’s Crimes is a fast paced tale and I liked how the events unfolded. As I’ve reviewed the book, you can check out my thoughts using this link.

 

TBR Jar – The Flood

My final ‘fixed read’ of October was my TBR Jar pick for the month. I have picked up The Flood by listening to the audiobook version. The narrator’s style is really lending itself to the book and genre. The story is compelling and the characters are clearly hiding things from us at the moment. I’m enjoying the dual timeline and I’m curious to see how this will come together at the end.

I’m carrying The Flood over into November to complete it. As of this monthly wrap-up post, I am coming up halfway through the book.

 

Surrounded by Idiots

Whilst reading the physical/ebook fixed reading list above, I also listened to Surrounded by Idiots.

I wanted to pick up the book as the content closely correlated to a work course I took recently. The two ended up complementing each other well, and now I feel I have some practical tips to take away. Taking the time to progress with the audiobook has also meant that it’s a subject I’ve gotten used to paying attention to and actively thinking about… which you have to if you want to make the most of the content!

Surrounded by Idiots was really informative and I’m glad I took the initiative to follow up on the content of the course through that audiobook when I did.

 

September’s Instagram poll runner up – Killing for Company

The last book I completed pretty much in full in October is Killing for Company: The Case of Dennis Nilsen by Brian Masters.

I added the book to my reading list three years ago, and it came up as the contender against Priest of Bones in my Instagram poll pick in September. It was always my plan to read the winner in September and the runner up in October; it’s ironic that I ended up reading both in October, but there we go!

Killing for Company is a grisly non-fiction about the life of Dennis Nilsen, who in adult life went on to murder 15 men and attempt taking the lives of several others. It’s not a book for those sensitive to grisly detail. It’s an intimate account of what happened for each of the men, as well as exploring the life and psychology of the man who fully admitted to and provided full accounts to the police about perpetrating the crimes upon capture.

 

The Shining

It was my intention to pick up and read The Shining late on in the month for Halloween (or Hop Tu Naa here). As it happens, I picked up the book to read the first 30 pages or so after visiting family that night.

Naturally, I’m currently continuing with my read of the book and I’ll be in a position to tell you more in my next monthly wrap-up!

 

Summary

Whilst I have carried a couple of reads over to November, I have managed to pick up everything on my October TBR, and a little more besides. I haven’t included that in this post, but you’ll see the fruit of that labour on my blog soon!

I’m looking forward to an equally productive November! Stay tuned for November’s Monthly TBR going live on Saturday.

Thanks for checking out today’s monthly wrap-up and until then, happy reading!

 

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