Tag: non-fiction

First Lines Friday – 12/04/2024

Hello readers and welcome to my next instalment in the First Lines Friday regular series I feature on my blog.

This week’s feature is an upcoming read I’m looking forward to. Full disclosure here – it’s a book that takes an eye-opening view of the pandemic and how the NHS were left to handle the worldwide crisis on our shores. If it’s a topic you don’t want to read about right now, then this post (and book) isn’t for you.

I, however, am interested in the subject. If you’ve watched a Covid-19 related documentary on ITV lately then you may have an inkling of what is coming up.

If you’re ready, let’s take a look!

 

He lies on hospital sheets, but he’s drowning. Behind closed doors, with neither fanfare nor drama, he’s been quietly drowning all night. The act of voicing distress – alerting another human being to his plight – takes spare air he no longer possesses.

Wide mouth, wide eyes, face stunned and stricken. The mask clamps down on skin slick with sweat. His lips are grey, fingertips the colour of bruises. And though the oxygen roars, the highest flow we can manage, it’s still not enough, not remotely.


Breathtaking – Rachel Clarke

Genre: Non-fiction

Pages: 240

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group

Publication Date: 28 Jan 2021

 


Goodreads – Breathtaking

How does it feel to confront a pandemic from the inside, one patient at a time? To bridge the gulf between a perilously unwell patient in quarantine and their distraught family outside? To be uncertain whether the protective equipment you wear fits the science or the size of the government stockpile? To strive your utmost to maintain your humanity even while barricaded behind visors and masks?

Rachel is a palliative care doctor who looked after the most gravely unwell patients on the Covid-19 wards of her hospital. Amid the tensions, fatigue and rising death toll, she witnessed the courage of patients and NHS staff alike in conditions of unprecedented adversity. For all the bleakness and fear, she found that moments that could stop you in your tracks abounded. People who rose to their best, upon facing the worst, as a microbe laid waste to the population.


My Thoughts…

The ITV drama of the same name was based on revelations in this book. It was a heart-breaking watch, but I don’t want that to deter me from reading the source material.

It’s hard to stomach, but the stories and people within are real, even if their identities are protected under pseudonyms. Many undoubtedly suffered in the pandemic for a lot of reasons, and I think a lot of the detail was downplayed during the pandemic to avoid scaring the public. Now that the trauma isn’t so fresh, I want to read those stories. Understand what really happened. Pay my own respects to those who tragically lost their lives because we had no idea what hit us.

I appreciate this book isn’t going to be everybody’s taste, and that’s okay. There are many who will find this kind of book painful. I’m not one to shy away from a tricky subject though.

If you’re still here, thanks for taking the time to read today’s First Lines Friday post! Have you read or watched Breathtaking? What did you think?

 

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Discussion Post – How My Reading Tastes Changed Over Time

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

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

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

 

Teenage/School Years

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

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

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

 

2017 – Restarting my Reading Journey

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

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

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

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

 

2019-2020 – Reading Boom

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

2021 – Reading Bust

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

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

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

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

 

2022 -2024 – Recovery

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Summary

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

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

Sorry not sorry! 🫢

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

 

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Shelf Control #75 – 23/02/2024

This is the third Shelf Control feature I have shared in 2024, and it features yet another non-fiction historical book! I promise that it’s different to those I featured in the series so far this year, so stay tuned to find out what today’s feature is.

Shelf Control is a meme run by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies. It’s a celebration of the unread books on our shelves! The idea is to pick a book you own but haven’t read and write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up!

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

 

Henry VIII – Abigail Archer

 

 

Genre: Non-fiction / History

Pages: 116

Audience: Adult

Publisher: New Word City Inc

Publication Date: 12 Jan 2015

 

 

Goodreads – Henry VIII

Henry VIII ruled England from 1509 to 1547. As a young man, he was fond of sports and hunting, and was said to be uncommonly handsome. Standing more than six feet tall, he loomed large in the lives and minds of his subjects as he navigated his country through the tricky diplomatic and military hazards of the sixteenth century. A man of enormous appetites, Henry conducted affairs with many women, married six, and executed two. His infatuation with Anne Boleyn set in motion a chain of events that reshaped the church in England and eroded the dominance of Rome. But the popular image of Henry as a crude tyrant, dispatching courtiers, enemies, and wives with gusto, obscures a more nuanced and fascinating character. He was a true Renaissance king who presided over one of Europe’s greatest courts and nudged Western civilization onto a new course. Here, from Abigail Archer, author of The New York Times bestseller Elizabeth I, is the story of Henry VIII.

 

My Thoughts

So far in my 2024 Shelf Control posts, I’ve featured World War II and Ancient Egypt as historical topics of interest. Today’s feature is a brand-new time period completely. Tudor England, and particularly the lives of Henry VIII and his wives is a topic that I could go back to again and again!

At only 116 pages, I’m interested to see if the book is more of a summary of the history or whether it goes into any kind of detail. I personally enjoy detail, but I’m expecting Henry VIII to be on the lighter side. There’s nothing wrong with this either; if already shared reviews are anything to go by, there are some interesting tidbits to pick up from this book.

Books like this one great for those who want a refresher on a topic. Or, if you want to explore it for the first time to see if it’s of interest, that would be a reason too. I already know that I enjoy this topic. For me it is a refresher, but also I’m looking to pick up the book and share my thoughts to help other readers decide if this is the book for them!

Do you read historical or fiction books about Tudor England? Is it a topic that interests you? Let me know in the comments!

 

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Shelf Control #74 – 09/02/2024

For those of us done with another working week – congrats on making it! If not, well, sorry… 😅 As you all know by now, I regularly share a Shelf Control feature post. It’s a great way to get excited about upcoming books on my reading list and share with you exactly what inspired me to add them in the first place!

As usual, I’ll share the official blurb and then we’ll get into the book that’s made it into this Shelf Control post!

Shelf Control is a meme run by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies. It’s a celebration of the unread books on our shelves! The idea is to pick a book you own but haven’t read and write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up!

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

 

The Woman Who Would be King – Kara Cooney

 

Genre: Non-fiction / History

Pages: 298

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Crown Publishing

Publication Date: 14 Oct 2014

 

 

Goodreads – The Woman Who Would be King

An engrossing biography of the longest-reigning female pharaoh in Ancient Egypt and the story of her audacious rise to power in a man’s world.

Hatshepsut, the daughter of a general who took Egypt’s throne without status as a king’s son and a mother with ties to the previous dynasty, was born into a privileged position of the royal household. Married to her brother, she was expected to bear the sons who would legitimize the reign of her father’s family. Her failure to produce a male heir was ultimately the twist of fate that paved the way for her inconceivable rule as a cross-dressing king. At just twenty, Hatshepsut ascended to the rank of king in an elaborate coronation ceremony that set the tone for her spectacular twenty-two year reign as co-regent with Thutmose III, the infant king whose mother Hatshepsut out-maneuvered for a seat on the throne. Hatshepsut was a master strategist, cloaking her political power plays with the veil of piety and sexual expression. Just as women today face obstacles from a society that equates authority with masculinity, Hatshepsut had to shrewdly operate the levers of a patriarchal system to emerge as Egypt’s second female pharaoh.

Hatshepsut had successfully negotiated a path from the royal nursery to the very pinnacle of authority, and her reign saw one of Ancient Egypt’s most prolific building periods. Scholars have long speculated as to why her images were destroyed within a few decades of her death, all but erasing evidence of her rule. Constructing a rich narrative history using the artifacts that remain, noted Egyptologist Kara Cooney offers a remarkable interpretation of how Hatshepsut rapidly but methodically consolidated power—and why she fell from public favor just as quickly. The Woman Who Would Be King traces the unconventional life of an almost-forgotten pharaoh and explores our complicated reactions to women in power.

 

My Thoughts

This is the second non-fiction book that I have featured in this series already in 2024. The last book was based around the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Today’s feature is a completely different period and topic, but it’s one that I’m no less excited to read.

Unlike my previous feature Auschwitz, I have a lot less knowledge on Egyptian pharaohs in general. I have watched some documentaries in the past, but it’s not a topic I have read about before. It’s for this reason that I added The Woman Who Would be King in the first place. Of course, I am also fascinated by the prospect of a female Pharaoh as they were few and far between.

Hatshepsut isn’t the first name that may jump to your mind when you think of famous female Pharaohs. Cleopatra is probably the most well-known, and she has been the feature of some of the documentaries I have watched in the past. I deliberately wanted to choose another famous female in order to broaden my knowledge.

I’m hoping I go on to enjoy this book as much as I think I will, as it is a period of history I would be interested in exploring in more detail in future!

Have you read The Woman Who Would be King or any other great non-fiction books about Pharaohs?

 

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Monthly TBR – February 2024

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

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

Shall we take a look at the list?

 

Fixed Reads

 

January Insta Poll – The Atlas Six

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

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

 

Insta Poll – The Queen’s Gambit

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

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

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

 

The Icepick Surgeon

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

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

 

Heart of the Sun Warrior

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

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

 

TBR Jar – Master of Sorrows

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

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

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

 

Mood Reads

 

Hogfather

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

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

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

 

Fool’s Errand

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

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

 

Empire of the Vampire

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

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

 

Summary

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

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

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

 

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Monthly Wrap-Up – January 2024

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

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

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

 

Books Read

 

Gemina

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

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

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

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

 

My Sister’s Keeper

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

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

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

 

The Girl in Seat 2A

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

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

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

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

 

Betrothal and Betrayal

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

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

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

 

Crime and Punishment

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

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

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

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

 

Unmasked

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

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

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

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

 

Sword of Vengeance

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

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

I hope you can stay tuned for my review tomorrow!

 

The Black Coats

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

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

 

The Atlas Six

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

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

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

 

Summary

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

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

In the meantime, what are you reading?

 

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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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Sunday Summary – 21st January 2024

Happy Sunday everyone and welcome to this week’s instalment of Sunday Summary. If you are unfamiliar, I take the time every week to update you on the books I’ve been reading, the blog posts I’ve shared with you, and finally what to expect in the coming week.

This week reading progress has been slower, but this isn’t unexpected. I’ll share more on that below. First, let’s recap the blog posts I shared earlier this week.

So far I have shared not one, but two book reviews with you. The first of these book reviews was for The Girl in Seat 2A by Diana Wilkinson. Technically, this review was due second, but based on timing I decided to publish this earlier than the book’s publication date.

On Thursday, I shared my review of Betrothal and Betrayal by Janet McGiffin. This was part of a blog tour and so I had to publish on this on this set date. I already established in last week’s Sunday Summary that I had a great time with this book. If you want to check out my full thoughts, here is a link to that review so you can check it out for yourself.

 

Books Read

 

Crime and Punishment

As of last week’s Sunday Summary post, I left off having made 132 pages of progress into Crime and Punishment. As this is a classic and is one of the oldest books on my list in terms of publication date, I knew the narrative style was going to be clunkier. I fully anticipated reading progress to slow down with this book, so I’m not surprised that it has.

That said, I have made more progress in the last 24 hours than anticipated. I’ve been able to pick up the speed, either because the narrative is getting good or because I’m getting used to the style. I’m not sure which. Either way, I’m now 484 pages into the narrative which equates just under 75%. Now I’m coming towards the end of the book, I imagine the quicker reading pace will continue. I’ll share more about how I get on in next week’s post.

 

Unmasked

I listened to a further hour and 10 minutes of Unmasked by Ellie Middleton yesterday. This takes my reading progress of this book to just under half as of this Sunday Summary.

I really like how this book is structured and covers each of the topics within. It’s also proved easy to pick up again even though I probably haven’t made any progress in it for about a week.

It’s a really interesting audio and I would recommend anybody with interest in autism, ADHD or other forms of neurodivergence to give it a look. In the more recent chapters I’ve listened to, the narrative explores how different conditions may show up in real life. Particularly, I liked how it covered ways that symptoms differ from society expectations. I’m looking forward to seeing how the topics are explored further in the second half of the book.

 

Books Discovered

I’ve added nothing new to my reading list this week, which is as well given it constantly seems to hover at the same level and never go down!

 

Coming Up…

On Tuesday I plan to share my first Top Ten Tuesday of the year. This week’s topic is Books I meant to Read in 2023 but didn’t get to. I have a variety of books to share that fall into this bracket! Stay tuned for more on those next week.

On Friday I’m back with a First Lines Friday post. Sometimes I set myself a challenge for these posts, but I’m going to keep an open field and decide what to feature later in the week!

Lastly, I’ll be back with another Sunday Summary update this time next week. Until then I hope you have a fantastic week!

What are you reading?

 

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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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Shelf Control #73 – 12/01/2024

Happy Friday and welcome to today’s instalment of my regular Shelf Control feature!

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

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

Today’s book is a historical non-fiction about a topic I am morbidly obsessed with – the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. More specifically, the experiences of those who lived and suffered there. Today’s feature is a collective of over 100 interviews from those who experienced the camp first-hand. Their unique insight into the inner workings should make for compelling, if equally horrific, reading!

 

Auschwitz – Laurence Rees

Genre: Non-fiction / History

Pages: 327

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Public Affairs

Publication Date: 01 Jan 2005

 

 

Goodreads – Auschwitz

Auschwitz-Birkenau is the site of the largest mass murder in human history. Yet its story is not fully known. In Auschwitz, Laurence Rees reveals new insights from more than 100 original interviews with Auschwitz survivors and Nazi perpetrators who speak on the record for the first time. Their testimonies provide a portrait of the inner workings of the camp in unrivalled detail—from the techniques of mass murder, to the politics and gossip mill that turned between guards and prisoners, to the on-camp brothel in which the lines between those guards and prisoners became surprisingly blurred.

Rees examines the strategic decisions that led the Nazi leadership to prescribe Auschwitz as its primary site for the extinction of Europe’s Jews—their “Final Solution.” He concludes that many of the horrors that were perpetrated in Auschwitz were driven not just by ideological inevitability but as a “practical” response to a war in the East that had begun to go wrong for Germany. A terrible immoral pragmatism characterizes many of the decisions that determined what happened at Auschwitz. Thus the story of the camp becomes a morality tale, too, in which evil is shown to proceed in a series of deft, almost noiseless incremental steps until it produces the overwhelming horror of the industrial scale slaughter that was inflicted in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.

 

My Thoughts

For reasons I can’t put my finger on, I love reading about the Auschwitz camp. I’m fascinated by the subject and learning what happened to the poor individuals that ever passed through these gates.

I have read both fiction and non-fiction on the subject. If you are more interested in the fiction side of things, then I can recommend The Tattooist of Auschwitz and Cilka’s Journey. Three Sisters is on my TBR. More recently, I read The Boy Who Followed His Father into Auschwitz by Jeremy Dronfield. This is a non-fiction account of a father and son who refuse to be separated and endure together. Theirs is a unique story in that they are the only known pair to have been interred together and survive to tell their shared story.

Anyway, back to the current book of discussion! It’s the multi-perspective aspect of Auschwitz that I am excited for. I’ve read several books from same or limited perspectives in the past – see the above examples. The nature of the book featuring so many different voices and experiences should make for a rounded learning opportunity. As a result, Auschwitz promises detailed insight into the workings of the camp and what life was like there. 

Auschwitz has been on my reading list since 2018. It’s definitely coming up due to be read. What better time than the year I’m continuing with a reading goal of deliberately picking up non-fiction?

Do you enjoy reading about Auschwitz-Birkenau, World War II or similar? Do you have any recommendations for further reading for me to look at?

 

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