Tag: non-fiction

Monthly TBR – April 2022

Hello everyone and welcome to my monthly TBR for April. I’m really excited to be sharing the books I plan to pick up within the next few weeks! 

I didn’t get through all of my reading list for March. I did set myself an ambitious list and so I’m neither surprised nor disappointed by this fact. I knew when I prepared the list it was very likely I was going to carry some forward through to April – so most of the books on this month’s list have already been shared on last month’s TBR! 

Let’s see what I’m going to be reading very soon!

 

Fixed Reads

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows

I will be opening the month with my current read carried over from March, being Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling. I’m currently around halfway through this book and I’m excited to complete my reread of the series! I last read this book around nine years ago now, so I am keen to read this book again and experience it from a more mature perspective!

 

The Thursday Murder Club

I have been loaned a copy of The Thursday Murder Club by my sister’s boyfriend, Chris, to read. I didn’t quite get round to this one last month, but I still cannot wait to pick this up! I’ve heard great things about this book, in particular the characters and the humour!

 

Ravencry & Crowfall

I added Ravencry and Crowfall to my ‘mood read list’ last month, but since I didn’t get round to them I’ve decided I’m adding them to my fixed list for April! I have a couple of other ‘mood reads’ in mind that I’d like to pick up, and so the progression onto my fixed reading list felt natural!

Having recently re-read Blackwing, the first book in the series, I got really excited for the series again. So naturally, I wanted to read it all again as opposed to just the first book! I re-read Blackwing in just a matter of days, and I fully expect Ravencry and Crowfall to be much the same in terms of experience!

 

Mood Reads

The Duke & I

This addition to my TBR is experimental. I’m not sure if it’s a book I’m going to enjoy, however having recently enjoyed watching the second season of the Netflix TV show, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t.

If I do enjoy The Duke and I then I will continue with the book series. However, don’t expect me to suddenly start reading romance all the time; my enjoyment of these books, if indeed I do enjoy them, will be the exception instead of the rule.

What I can say, is having featured this book in a very recent First Lines Friday post, the introduction made a good impression on me! Let’s see how the rest of the book pans out, shall we?

 

The Bone Collector

I’ve also been watching the TV series, Lincoln Rhyme, on Now TV recently. I have a copy of The Bone Collector sat upstairs on my bookshelf, and now feels like the right time to pick this up for myself. I believe my sister has read at least some of this book and enjoyed it. I can’t wait to see how it compares!

 

As in previous months, my indicated mood reads are provisional and I might choose to pick up something else at the time! Last month I didn’t even get round to my mood reads, which is perfectly okay too. I feel like this reading list is a little bit less ambitious, though still plentiful enough to give myself a challenge!

Have you read any of the books on my TBR? What are you reading this month? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

 

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Monthly Wrap-Up – March 2022

Hi everyone and welcome to today’s monthly wrap-up post for March 2022. I set myself an ambitious reading list in March, and whilst I didn’t get round to all of it I’m happy with my reading progress overall! I’ve read quite a few different books over the month, from varying genres as well! Let’s jump into what I’ve been reading: –

 

Books Read

Blackwing

Blackwing

At the beginning of the month I carried over Blackwing by Ed McDonald. This was a last minute swap out from another mood read I listed in February’s TBR. I had every intention of picking up One Flew Over the Cuckoo‘s Nest, but with the breakout of war in Ukraine this wasn’t really going to hit the spot for me. Instead, I wanted to fall back on a book that I knew I was going to love, and I’m glad I made the switch! It was exactly what I needed, and it didn’t take me long to finish this book.

 

One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest

I then decided to read One Flew Over the Cuckoo‘s Nest by Ken Kesey, and it ended up being my first DNF of 2022. I’ve got about 40% of the way through the book before I decided that enough was enough. I just couldn’t get into it in the way I hoped I would. I made the decision to stop reading this because I wasn’t enjoying it and I didn’t want it to sap my reading energy and drive me into a slump.

 

Keep You Safe

I promptly moved on and read Keep You Safe by Rona Halsall. I added this book to my TBR years ago, having found out that Rona is a local author. I really liked the sound of this book and I’m glad I finally picked it up! In fact, I wish I picked it up sooner! It came at just the moment I needed. I’ll admit that it was very strange to read a book set so close to home. I could picture the events of the book so vividly, because they took place in places I’ve lived and worked etc. It was so familiar and at the same time, a completely new experience for me! The plot line was fantastic! I really enjoyed picking this book up and I’ll definitely be reading more from Rona in future.

 

Lean In

The next book I picked up varied a lot from those I’d already picked up in March. My sister had recommended Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg to me, after having a copy recommended and given to her by a more senior female colleague. If you are not familiar, Sheryl Sandberg is the COO of Facebook and through this book, she talks about her experiences as a woman throughout her career, in particular with regards to her advancement into leadership.

I’m one of those people that Sheryl describes, in that before reading this book I wouldn’t have necessarily described myself as a feminist. However, people get tied down with the negative connotations of being called a feminist and are often frightened to use the word. I’m not just about championing women, as is so often erroneously ascribed to the word, but a champion of equality for both sexes. That is what being a feminist truly means. As Sheryl points out in her book, that means women being given opportunities to step up in the workplace… and men being given the opportunity to step up at home.

It was very different to the sort of book I would have picked up myself, but I’m glad I did. I have definitely taken away snippets of advice and it has given me food for thought both widely and also in terms of how I see myself in the workplace.

 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

My last read of the month, and the book I’m carrying forward into April 2022 is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling. As of the end of the month, I was around a couple of hundred pages through this last instalment of the Harry Potter series. I’ve already made a good amount of progress in the first few days of April, and as of writing this post I’m around halfway through! I can’t wait to continue this re-read this month and to complete my re-read of the series at last!

 

There were a few books I didn’t get round to picking up in March, but I’m still happy with the reading progress I’ve made. Those books that I didn’t get round to reading will be carried forward into April. If you want to check out my full list of books on my April TBR, stay tuned and I will be sharing that post very soon…

What have you been reading this month? Have you got any good book recommendations? As always, I’d love to hear from you!

 

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Sunday Summary – 20th March 2022

Hello and welcome to my Sunday Summary update for this week! I hope it’s been a great one for you?

I originally intended to share a book with you at the beginning of this week for Harry Potter and the Philosopher‘s Stone by J. K. Rowling. And I started this post. However, I think I felt a little bit intimidated by the task. This is a fantastic book and series and I got stuck with how to begin. How do you even go about reviewing such a massive series? That’s something I’m going to have to figure out very quickly, because I still plan to share my review with you soon. Apologies it didn’t come when I said it was going to.

I did manage to draft and publish my First Lines Friday post this week. For that post, I set myself the challenge of featuring a book on this month’s TBR and I’m really happy with my choice. I picked up most of the books left on my TBR to gauge the opening lines and see which I thought was best/most interesting. For me, it was a clear winner! If you haven’t checked out that post yet you can do so with the link above, and let me know what you think of the introduction!

 

Books Read

I’m really happy with my reading progress since my last Sunday Summary update post. I had just over 130 pages remaining of Keep You Safe by Rona Halsall, and I said in my post that I was going to make a push this week to read it. The reality is, I started reading this book last Sunday after publishing my post and I finished reading the book at 12:15am that night! I could not put it down – the ending was brilliant and so engaging that going to bed before finishing this book was not an option! It’s an absolutely fantastic psychological thriller and I can’t wait to share my thoughts on the book with you – I cannot recommend it enough!

My next read of this week was a complete 180º – I picked up Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. This is a non-fiction novel written by Facebook‘s chief operating officer. It looks at women in the workplace and discusses female leadership in the corporate world, what limitations women have in advancing their careers (both internal and external factors) and offers advice on what women can do in order to empower themselves.

This was a recommendation by my sister, who in turn had the book recommended to her by one of her more senior work colleagues. Now, I wouldn’t describe myself as a particularly career driven person, but I am the kind of person who will take on responsibility and accountability in my job. I want to do the best I can, and likewise if I can make things better for other people I also want to do this. Work isn’t my whole life, but I want to do a good job and make a difference as well. Do you see what I mean?

Lean In was an interesting read because it’s not only focuses on limitations that women experience from other people (both men and women, you may be surprised to hear), but also the limitations they set themselves. It is all too easy to focus on the external factors, and very difficult to be introspective and acknowledge that women sometimes hold themselves back. For not shying away from this truth, I feel like Sheryl took a well-rounded approach to the subject and there are some pieces of advice in the book that I’d like to bear in mind going forward for myself.

Whilst I haven’t physically picked it up yet as of writing this post, I plan to start reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows immediately after this blog post goes live. And I’ll be making progress with this one over the next week. Whilst it’s a bit of a chunky book, I find these so easy to read so I don’t expect it will take me too long!

As in last week’s Sunday Summary update post, I am pleased to say that I’ve listened to another couple of chapters of A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin. This is going to take a very long time to get through at this pace, so I’m going to try and make more of a habit of listening to audiobooks again. I confess I’ve fallen off the wagon a little bit here!

 

Books Discovered

There’s some happy dancing going on here this week, because once again there are no new books on my TBR. And, having read and taken a couple off the list this week, the list is going in the right direction!

For now anyway!

 

Coming Up…

I will share my review of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone this week. I WILL share my review of Harry Potter and the Philosopher‘s Stone next week.

How many times do you think I have to say the sentence in order to commit? I’m disappointed that I wasn’t able to get this ready for you as planned this week, so I’m determined to publish this post in the next few days to make up for it.

Friday is my scheduled spot for a Shelf Control post. Last time I did this fortnightly feature I cut five books off my TBR. Whilst I am certainly not planning a ‘massacre’ of that scale again, I do like that this feature gives me the opportunity to review and do this if I feel necessary. It’s also great because I love featuring books that are coming up on my list and I can get excited about them at the same time!

And finally, this time next week I’ll be sharing another Sunday summary post.

Until then, I hope you have a good week, wish you happy reading and I’ll see you in the next post!

 

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Monthly TBR – March 2022

Hello everyone and welcome to my Monthly TBR for March. Somehow we are in the third month of the year already and I honestly have no idea where it’s gone!

Last month I decided to combine my wrap-up post for January and my February TBR. And it does make sense, to a degree. However, I thought the post was too long and I didn’t get the chance to include all the content I wanted. So, I’m experimenting with splitting these back out and if you have any feedback on which you prefer I’d love to hear it!

I’m really pleased with last month’s reading progress and I’m keen to keep the momentum going. Therefore, I’ve decided to avoid all historical fiction and non-fiction reads that I’ve had on my radar, mainly because they focus around war. It’s not a particularly pleasant topic at the moment in light of current events, so I’m putting these on hold for a little bit in favour of picking up some alternative topics. I have also chosen books of varying lengths. As some of these reads are a bit shorter, I have more titles on the list this month. 

So, shall we dive into what I am going to be reading?

 

Fixed Reads

One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest

This book was on my mood read list for February, however I decided to swap it out in favour of a fantasy book at the end of the month in order to experience some escapism. It’s for this exact reason that I make time for mood reads now; I’m glad I made the change!

However, I do still want to read this book and as of writing this post I’m currently around 20% through. I’m interested to see where this book is going to take me. Where I am at the moment, I am feeling pretty neutral about it. It’s perfectly readable, but equally it hasn’t grabbed a hold of me in the same way that some of my recent reads have. I’ll continue reading to give it a chance in the hopes it picks up; even still, if it stays the way it is it’s probably going to be a three star read.

 

Keep You Safe

I’ve had this book on my radar for a few years now. Not only does it sound great in its own right, but I also want to read it as it is written by a local author! I am intrigued by the mystery behind the synopsis and the potential for there to be an unreliable narrator, which I think is hinted at. What I also like is that it’s a very approachable length – it’s long enough to invest into but also not so long that I risk getting bogged down in a detailed and convoluted story. Sometimes that’s fine too, but lighter reads are my preference right now. 

I can’t wait to read this and share my thoughts with you!

 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I want to conclude my re-read of the Harry Potter series this month. I’ve been enjoying making progress with the latter books in the series and I am looking forward to picking this last instalment up again.

I last read this book 8-10 years ago now. That’s a scary thought for me! I loved it then and I have every confidence that I will again. I wouldn’t go so far as to say this is a ‘lighter’ read, as it’s fairly chunky and the subject matter quite dark for a YA fantasy, but I’m looking forward to it all the same! I still find these books engrossing!

 

Lean In

I want to try and read some non-fiction this month, and my sister recently loaned me a copy of this book. It was recommended to her through one of her more senior work colleagues for the purposes of development and I would also like to take something from this. I find myself in the middle in that I wouldn’t necessarily describe myself as a career woman, but I definitely care about my job. I don’t just turn up to get paid.

I’m sure this book has plenty of content and something that I can take away from it in order to develop myself and maybe even progress further!

 

The Thursday Murder Club

As well as Lean In, I’ve also been loaned a book by my sister’s boyfriend Chris. Not only did The Thursday Murder Club get a great review from him, but I’ve also been hearing great things about it in the wider community and it was already on my radar to add to my TBR and read.

I’m looking forward to picking this up because the protagonists are not from the generation you would expect to be sleuthing. I’ve also heard it’s incredibly funny and I hope it will be as intriguing and lighthearted as I’m expecting it to be.

 

The Original Folk and Fairytales of the Brother’s Grimm

I am also carrying over The Original Folk and Fairytales of the Brothers Grimm again. Whilst I did pick this book up a couple of times in February, I didn’t really make that much progress with it. I stand by my decision to chip away at this one again this month, but I need to find more balance between my current reads and also picking this one up regularly. I will continue to read this into March and even if I don’t finish it, I hope to make a lot more progress with it this month.

 

Mood Reads

Ravencry & Crowfall

I started reading Blackwing, the first book of The Raven’s Mark trilogy, on the 26th February. This was the book I decided to swap with One Flew Over the Cuckoo‘s Nest. Three days later, I’d read all 370ish pages. I devoured this book. It was exactly what I needed at the time; an epic fantasy that I could throw myself into and love all over again.

I read this book back in June 2018, so it’s been a while. Given that I loved it so much, I’ve decided that I want to re-read the rest of the trilogy again. Therefore, these are my mood reads for March! It’s not very often I’ll binge read a series like this – but if it’s good enough, I can engage and I’ll love every second of it!

 

As in previous months, my indicated mood reads aren’t set in stone and like last month, so I might choose to pick up something else at the time! Unlikely, given how much I loved Blackwing in February… but never say never!

Have you read any of the books on my monthly TBR? What are you reading this month? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

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Sunday Summary – 27th February 2022

Good evening and welcome to my Sunday Summary post for this week! It’s been a bit of a strange one and there’s plenty of bad news going around, but I hope you’ve made the best of it?

My blogging schedule for this week started off very early, as I was taking part in the blog tour for Son of Mercia by MJ Porter on Monday. Because my sister has been over visiting, I ended up drafting this post last Sunday. It was a bit of a rush to squeeze in, but it’s just the way things fell. I managed to get that out in time for the tour and I’m really glad to have been able to take part!

Later in the week I shared the Shelf Control post that should have gone live last week, but didn’t go ahead due to illness. In writing this post I actually whittled a couple of books off my TBR; having spent some time looking into them for this post, I decided that there were reasons why I no longer want to pick them up. That’s not a bad thing because the list is ever expanding.

 

Books Read

As of last week’s Sunday Summary update post I was a quarter of the way through A Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. I have to say, given the current events of this week, that the timing of reading this book wasn’t the greatest. I actually finished reading this book on Thursday, the day events in Ukraine kicked off. But, it couldn’t be helped and I wasn’t going to let it stop me finishing this one. I know it sounds pretty obvious in hindsight, but it was strange how the diary just ended. I don’t know what I expected, but there you go. To mentally conclude reading the book I ended up doing some research on what happened to the Frank’s after they were discovered. Not the most pleasant reading either, but I’m glad I did. I learned from the experience at the very least!

My next mood read was pencilled in to be One Flew Over the Cuckoo‘s Nest, however when it came to it I decided I wanted something lighter. I wanted a book that I knew I was going to love and offered escapism from current events. Having recently gifted copies of The Raven’s Mark trilogy by Ed McDonald to my sister’s boyfriend for Christmas, I think this subconsciously influenced my decision-making. I decided to pick up Blackwing, the first book of the series, again on Friday and it was obviously the right choice. As of this update I am 270 pages in, which is just over 60% of the book. I’m glad I made the switch, and it goes to show that not treating my TBR too rigidly by having some time for mood reading is the right decision.

 

Books Discovered

It’s a good job that I took a couple of books off my TBR this week, because I’ve also added a couple!

I can’t remember where I discovered this, but I found out this week that the Netflix series of The Queen’s Gambit was actually based on a book. I had no idea before now! I really loved this series and so I decided to give the book a go as well!

In addition, I recently watched a video by Ashleigh at A Frolic Through Fiction on YouTube, in which she shared her favourite books of all time. In that list she talked about The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon, and it caught my attention. I’ve seen and heard of it before but I don’t know why I hadn’t added it to my TBR before now. That mistake has been duly rectified!

 

Coming Up…

Somehow it’s March next week. I have absolutely no idea where this year is going, but I feel like I say that all the time. Anyway, with the new month rolling in I will be sharing a brief wrap-up for the month of February, as well as sharing my TBR for March! I hope you can join me for that post!

I’ll be back again later in the week for a First Lines Friday post. I feel like setting myself a challenge this week, and so I’ve decided that my chosen feature will be from a book I’ve added to my TBR in the last three months. Everyone knows I’ve added plenty of books of late and it still leaves enough scope in terms of genre and content. I think this is the first time I’ve set this kind of challenge before, so be interesting to take a closer look at the books on my list and be able to feature one for you!

Then, as always, I’ll be back the same time next week for another Sunday Summary update!

Until then, I hope you have a good week, pick up some fabulous books, and I will see you in the next post!

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January Wrap-Up & February 2022 TBR!

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s January Wrap-Up and February TBR post. I’ve decided to combine these two posts so I can briefly talk about what I have read in the last month, and also share what I plan to read over the next month. More often than not there is some degree of overlap and so I think it makes sense to share both of these. I’ll try to keep it concise so it’s not too long!

 

January Wrap-Up

I’m pleased with the last month’s reading progress. At the beginning of January I was around halfway through The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. I was kindly loaned this by my sister’s boyfriend Chris to read and I’m glad he shared it with me! It has a great diversity of genres and topics and it was a really interesting read because I probably wouldn’t have picked it up myself. That’s the good thing about recommendations; it encourages you to push the boat out sometimes.

Next I picked up a fairly short read, The Feedback Loop by Harmon Cooper. I deliberately picked up The Feedback Loop next because it is a reasonably short book at just under 200 pages. I’m really glad I did this as it kept up my reading momentum. I read The Feedback Loop in just a couple of evenings – a record for me in the last few months!

After that I went on to read Dune by Frank Herbert. This particular book had been on my TBR for just under five years. I had casually picked it up once before, reading the first 20 odd pages as a means of trying the book out. I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t going to be a light read and I think that’s why I haven’t picked it up since. I’m glad I did in the end however. I was right in that there was a lot to take in at first and I didn’t start off particularly quickly. However, once I got about a third of the way in and I had gotten all the foundation information laid out, I was flying! It was definitely worth the investment and I really enjoyed this book in the end – all 529 pages of it!

I concluded the month of January with two ongoing reads – Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and The Original Folk and Fairytales of the Brother’s Grimm. At the end of the month I was just under half way through Harry Potter and about third of the way through the folk and fairytales. I discovered that The Original Folk and Fairytales of the Brother’s Grimm was not a book to read on its own and was better to read concurrently with another book. So, this is why I started Harry Potter at the same time.

So, that’s that I got up to in January! And now onto the important bit – what am I planning to read this month?

 

February TBR

Fixed Reading List

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Naturally I’m starting the beginning of this month by finishing off my January reads. I’m currently just over halfway through Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Although it’s a chunky book it’s proving really easy for me to pick up and read. So, I’m hoping to get this wrapped up in the next couple of days!

 

Son of Mercia

As a huge fan of Bernard Cornwell, I was really excited to receive an invite for the blog tour for Son of Mercia. It is set at around the same time period and given that I’ve loved Bernard Cornwell’s series so much, I thought it would be great to read something similar but from a slightly different perspective. I really like the sound of the synopsis and I can’t wait to give you my thoughts on this book on the 21st of February!

 

Clockwork Magpies

Last month I saw a promotion for review copies of Clockwork Magpies and I fell in love with a synopsis immediately. Although I’m not reading too many advanced reader copies at the moment, I decided to make an exception for Clockwork Magpies. It’s a steampunk style of fantasy novel with a strong female protagonist that I think I can get behind. It’s a little bit different and I hope I love this as much as I expect to! It’s also quite a short novel as well at just over 250 pages, so it shouldn’t take long for me to devour at any rate!

 

The Original Folk and Fairytales of the Brother’s Grimm

Originally I had planned to sit and read throughThe Original Folk and Fairytales of the Brother’s Grimm as it is last month. However, I’m finding that it’s easier to pick up in small bursts. A lot of the stories are very short and so in my opinion it makes good companion reader. It’s great if you fancy a little bit of a change of pace, or just fancy something different. So, I will be reading this throughout the month alongside my other reads.

 

Mood Reads

Diary of a Young Girl

I am a big fan of historical fiction and in particular, one of my favourite topics is World War II. Having said that though, I regret to say that to date I have not read the diary of Anne Frank – not in full. Something in the back of my mind tells me I read an extract from it in my history lessons a long time ago. It’s a harrowing story but it’s one that I want to take the time to read. I’ve added it to my list for reading this month as I’m hoping to start reading a lot more. It’s definitely becoming more of a habit again. If I don’t get to it however, it’s not the end of the world.

 

One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest

I’ve got the urge to pick up a classic this month and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest particularly catches my eye. I really like the idea of the synopsis; it’s been on my list for a long time (along with plenty fo other books). Again, if I don’t get round to this by the end of February then I’ll carry it through to my fixed reading list in March. If I can take off another book from the TBR then I will be very happy though!

As with last month, my designated mood reads aren’t fixed and I might choose to pick up something else entirely! And, you are always welcome to change my mind; if you have a book recommendation I’d love to hear it!

Have you read any of the books on my TBR? What are you reading this month? Let me know!

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Book Review: Midnight in Chernobyl – Adam Higginbotham

In today’s blog post I’m going to be sharing a book review for a non-fiction book I read at the very beginning of 2021. I believe I carried this over from December 2020 to finish it, so it’s been quite a while since I read it. However, it made a lasting impression on me! I thought the book was really good and it’s about a subject that I wanted to learn more about as a result of a TV series I watched.

The events around and following the Chernobyl nuclear disaster are harrowing to read, but I think the book does an excellent job of informing the reader in a way that keeps them engaged and entertained. I certainly learned a lot from it!

 

Midnight in Chernobyl – Adam Higginbotham

Goodreads – Midnight in Chernobyl

The definitive, dramatic untold story of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster, based on original reporting and new archival research.

April 25, 1986, in Chernobyl, was a turning point in world history. The disaster not only changed the world’s perception of nuclear power and the science that spawned it, but also our understanding of the planet’s delicate ecology. With the images of the abandoned homes and playgrounds beyond the barbed wire of the 30-kilometer Exclusion Zone, the rusting graveyards of contaminated trucks and helicopters, the farmland lashed with black rain, the event fixed for all time the notion of radiation as an invisible killer.

Chernobyl was also a key event in the destruction of the Soviet Union, and, with it, the United States’ victory in the Cold War. For Moscow, it was a political and financial catastrophe as much as an environmental and scientific one. With a total cost of 18 billion rubles—at the time equivalent to $18 billion—Chernobyl bankrupted an already teetering economy and revealed to its population a state built upon a pillar of lies.

The full story of the events that started that night in the control room of Reactor No.4 of the V.I. Lenin Nuclear Power Plant has never been told—until now. Through two decades of reporting, new archival information, and firsthand interviews with witnesses, journalist Adam Higginbotham tells the full dramatic story, including Alexander Akimov and Anatoli Dyatlov, who represented the best and worst of Soviet life; denizens of a vanished world of secret policemen, internal passports, food lines, and heroic self-sacrifice for the Motherland. Midnight in Chernobyl, award-worthy nonfiction that reads like sci-fi, shows not only the final epic struggle of a dying empire but also the story of individual heroism and desperate, ingenious technical improvisation joining forces against a new kind of enemy.

 

My Thoughts…

Considering that the disaster only took place in recent history, I went into this book with only vague knowledge of what had happened. I had briefly covered the subject in school in terms of its relation to the breakdown of the Soviet Union in my studies of the Cold War. In addition, I had some idea of the lasting effects of the disaster as a friend of mine’s family have previously hosted a child visiting the Island where I live. There is a charity called ‘Friends of Chernobyl’, who give children who live in areas still affected by radiation the opportunity to visit places such as where I live for an extended period for the benefit of their health. My friend’s family used to look after a girl in the summer holidays. Aside from that, the rest of what I knew about the disaster came from the TV series Chernobyl.

That’s not very good really in my opinion, and that’s why I wanted to look into this further for myself. I’m glad I picked up Midnight in Chernobyl to do this. There is a lot of interesting detail in the book, but it’s delivered in such a way that it is entertaining to read as well as informative.

I liked the way this book is written out. Each chapter is documented with a time and date and follows in chronological order, so it’s easy to follow what happens. I enjoyed how the book covers the whole history of the plant and nearby town Pripyat as opposed to just focusing on the disaster. Naturally, this takes up the majority of the book but seeing how and why it was built and the consequences of how Chernobyl came to be the place it was at the time of the disaster was interesting.

If you can also appreciate a little bit of science then I think you will also enjoy reading the explanatory narrative about how the reactors were designed to work. It was a little bit of a technical section, but not horrendously complicated and it went a long way to helping me understand what ultimately went wrong on that fateful day.

I think even if you know what happened, it’s only when you read the intimate experienced of each individual involved, and the loss of their loved ones, that it hits home.

I’m not overly surprised at the events of the disaster given the reasons it happened, but also how it was responded to. There was a ridiculous amount of secrecy around events such as these in the USSR. Chernobyl is one of the most well-known disasters, the truth is that there were a lot of smaller-scale disasters at other nuclear plants throughout the USSR in the period. But, like me, you probably didn’t know about these. Just like the scale of the Chernobyl disaster at the time, the powers that be were determined to hush it up and underplay it as much as possible. It’s despicable really when you think about the human cost.

Midnight in Chernobyl is a great read if you want a balance of information and an interesting read. I think the author does a very good job of informing readers about the event but also doing it in a way that highlights individual stories and personal consequences with dignity, with a view to outing the truth after decades of secrecy.

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First Lines Friday – 14/01/2022

Hello and welcome to today’s First Lines Friday post! First Lines Friday is a regular series in which I take the opportunity to share the opening paragraph from a variety of books. These may be books I’ve already read, are looking to read, or am even just a little bit intrigued about! Sometimes I set myself a challenge for these posts, but other times I leave it open to feature whatever catches my eye. 

For today’s post, I set myself the challenge of featuring a non-fiction book. At first, I was going through my list of non-fiction books on my TBR to find one to feature, however, today’s book is one I discovered in Goodread’s lists or recommendations whilst I was browsing around.

Can you guess what today’s featured book is?

 

There would be plenty of time for questions later.

For now, the nurses and security were intent upon breaking the lethal nine-hour barricade inside the little corner of hell that resident murderer Robert ‘Bob’ Maudsley had created. Bob and his companion, David Cheeseman, had sealed themselves inside with a third patient, David Francis, a known paedophile. He had apparently riled Bob and David Cheeseman by conducting a homosexual attack on one of their friends. Inside sources had a reason to believe, though, that their preference if opportunity had presented was to ‘go for a member of staff’.

 

 

Inside Broadmoor – Jonathan Levi & Emma French

Goodreads – Inside Broadmoor

Broadmoor. Few place names in the world have such chilling resonance. For over 150 years, it has contained the UK’s most violent, dangerous and psychopathic.

Since opening as an asylum for the criminally insane in 1863 it has housed the perpetrators of many of the most shocking crimes in history; including Jack the Ripper suspect James Kelly, serial killers Peter Sutcliffe (the Yorkshire Ripper), John Straffen and Kenneth Erskine, armed robber Charles Bronson, gangster Ronnie Kray, and cannibal Peter Bryan.

The truth about what goes on behind the Victorian walls of the high security hospital has largely remained a mystery, but now with unprecedented access TV journalist Jonathan Levi and cultural historian Emma French paint a vivid picture of life at Broadmoor, after nearly a decade observing and speaking to those on the inside.

Including interviews with the staff, its experts and the patients themselves, Inside Broadmoor is the most comprehensive study of the institution to-date.

Published at the dawn of a new era for the hospital, this is the full story of Broadmoor’s past, present and future.

 

My Thoughts…

Doesn’t that extract draw you in straightaway? Now, I appreciate that today’s snippet is quite short, however that is deliberate. Something unpleasant happens to David Francis next, and in the interest of keeping my block neutral and not risking upsetting anyone with graphic scenes, I’ve left the rest out. So there is a warning to you – if you’re not squeamish and you want to find out what happens next then you’ll have to pick this up for yourself!

Obviously I have read it and although it’s unpleasant i’m not sensitive to things like this. Naturally growing up you’ve heard of Broadmoor. When studying performing arts in high school one of our plays involved a child who had links to Broadmoor. That said, I wouldn’t say I know that much about the institution or about the people incarcerated there. The thing I like about non-fiction is that it gives you the opportunity to learn something new, and I have much to learn here. As a former student of psychology as well I am interested in the people involved from that perspective as well. Every day is a school day, so they say!

Have you read Inside Broadmoor, or anything like it? Let me know in the comments!

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Shelf Control #36 – 01/10/2021

Happy Friday everyone and welcome to my Shelf Control post! Shelf Control is a regular feature here and is a meme run by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies. It’s a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up!

For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out Lisa’s introductory post.

I try to share these posts regularly so I can continue to review the books on my TBR, decide if I still want to read them, or whether my reading case has changed and it’s no longer for me. I have taken a few books off this list by doing these posts. It’s a productive exercise and gives me some bookish content to share with you. And who knows, by featuring those books I still want to read, maybe I can introduce you to something that will take your fancy as well!

This week’s featured book is a non-fiction novel that may not be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s about a difficult subject and touches upon some of the worst human behaviour there is. However, I am looking forward to reading about it. Here is today’s book: –

 

Twelve Years a Slave – Solomon Northup

Goodreads – Twelve Years a Slave

Twelve Years a Slave, sub-title: Narrative of Solomon Northup, citizen of New-York, kidnapped in Washington city in 1841, and rescued in 1853, from a cotton plantation near the Red River in Louisiana, is a memoir by Solomon Northup as told to and edited by David Wilson. It is a slave narrative of a black man who was born free in New York state but kidnapped in Washington, D.C., sold into slavery, and kept in bondage for 12 years in Louisiana. He provided details of slave markets in Washington, D.C. and New Orleans, as well as describing at length cotton and sugar cultivation on major plantations in Louisiana.

 

My Thoughts…

Twelve Years a Slave is not going to be an easy book to read, but that isn’t reason enough not to give it a go. It’s a subject matter that some will find upsetting, whether we like it or not it’s part of our history.

I’m not one to shy away from such topics and so I’m looking forward to giving this a go! In my opinion, it isn’t talked about enough. It’s a dirty subject; it’s a truth that we don’t want to acknowledge about ourselves. I’m a firm believer that we learn from our mistakes and so we must learn from them. The truth is, so many of us can enjoy our freedom today because of what has happened previously. So many have had to endure bondage and fight for their freedom… yet we take it for granted.

Have you read Twelve Years a Slave? Would you recommend it (the book, obviously)? As always I would love to know!

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First Lines Friday – 24/09/2021

Welcome to today’s First Lines Friday post!

I’ve gotten back into the habit of sharing one of these posts every couple of weeks, but what makes today’s post a slight exception is that I have set myself a challenge. In today’s post, my challenge is to feature the opening paragraph of a non-fiction novel. I don’t feature non-fiction very often, however that is something I am looking to change very soon. With that in mind I decided to start here and feature a non-fiction novel as part of this series.

 

Sometimes, even when you are a case-hardened professional, you see history differently. I had one such moment when I first visited the Great Hall of the National Archives in Washington. I was faintly shocked by the way in which the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were displayed, like Arks of the Covenant, on a dimly lit altar and between American flags and impossibly upright American marines.

But what really struck me was the presence of a copy of Magna Carta. It was, as it were, in a side chapel. Nevertheless, here it was, this archetypically English document, in the American archival holy of holies.

It was placed there out of the conviction that it was the ancestor, however remote, of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. And its presence set me thinking. Was this assumption correct? Does it help explain current concerns – like Britain’s, or England’s, reluctance to be absorbed in the European Union? Does it mean that there is an Anglo-Saxon way and European way, as the French undoubtedly think? Does the difference derive from the contrast between Roman law and English Common Law? Is it, finally, England versus Rome?

 

Crown and Country – A History of England Through the Monarchy – David Starkey

Goodreads – Crown and Country

An exploration of the British monarchy from the retreat of the Romans up until the modern day. This compendium volume of two earlier books is fully revised and updated.

The monarchy is one of Britain’s longest surviving institutions – as well as one of its most tumultuous and revered. In this masterful book, David Starkey looks at the monarchy as a whole, charting its history from Roman times, to the Wars of the Roses, the chaos of the Civil War, the fall of Charles I and Cromwell’s emergence as Lord Protector – all the way up until the Victorian era when Britain’s monarchs came face-to-face with modernity.

This collection of biographies of Britain’s kings and queens provides an in-depth examination of what the British monarchy has meant, what it means now and what it will continue to mean.

 

My Thoughts…

I will be the first person to hold my hands up and say that my knowledge of the British monarchy is terrible. I could name a few, but could I tell you which order they came in or what order they reigned in? Not really. Aside from the infamous Henry the eighth, I couldn’t even give you an estimate timeline.

British history was rather lacking at school. Yes, we learned vaguely about certain topics, but my later years in the subject, which were studied more seriously, was focused on the world wars, the Cold War and the economic boom and bust of the 1920s and 30s. When I added this book to my TBR it was to rectify this lack of knowledge on my part.

Not only does this fulfil the desire to learn more in general about British history and monarchy, but I also like that this book features biographies from reigning Monarchs. If there was a better book to gain insight of how Britain used to be, then I haven’t met it yet. I’m really excited to pick this one up and give myself the opportunity to learn more about more local history!

I hope you have enjoyed today’s First Lines Friday post! Did you learn about British monarchy at school? How does your knowledge compare?

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