Tag: reading list

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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Top Ten Tuesday – Books I Didn’t Get to in 2023

Good evening readers! Posts like today’s Top Ten Tuesday are a great way to remind myself what some of my reading priorities were last year. In today’s post, I feature the books I intended to read over the course of 2023, but didn’t get to. It’s very likely I’ll try to prioritise them this year as a result!

I just about managed to scrape a list of 10 together. If I didn’t get to a specific book on a monthly TBR, I was pretty good at rolling it forward and picking it up in the following month(s) instead. There are some exceptions to that rule, though, and those are the feature of today’s Top Ten Tuesday.

Let’s see what those books were:

 

In Every Mirror She’s Black

This book was last on my February TBR and slipped the net for being rolled over into March. I’d bought my copy of the book on a whim in the 2022 post-Christmas sales. I’d chosen February to read it as February is when Black History month is celebrated.

I’m not intending to theme this February’s reading around Black History month. However, I’m always interested to read from a diverse range of authors and so I will be making an effort to do this throughout the year rather than in just one specific month.

 

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

I purchased a copy of The Hunchback of Notre Dame after going to watch a local production. This book is a tome, and whilst I had hoped to pick it up last year, I never got to it. It’s the sort of book I think you have to be in the mood for as well. Personally, I find that classics are books you need to have a certain amount of drive to pick up. The narratives don’t flow as well as modern day language; picking them up is a more deliberate action.

I did really enjoy this story, however, so I’m excited to get to The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It is just one book by Victor Hugo that I have on my reading list; the other is chunky as well!

 

To Shape A Dragon’s Breath

The next two books in today’s Top Ten Tuesday ended up on my TBR as a result of book clubs.

For a few months last year, I was reading along with an online book club. I discovered some amazing books through that, but in the end I stopped. As much as I was enjoying the books I was picking up, there was rarely any overlap with my existing reading list. Picking these up was taking away from the mountain of my own books I already have to read.

That said, I do like the sound of To Shape a Dragon’s Breath so I’ve left it on my TBR. This coincided was a busy month and so I didn’t get to start it, and the book club had moved on. As a result, there wasn’t any demand to go and read it quickly. Consequently, it temporarily fell off the list. I’ll be sweeping it up onto the list again, that’s for sure.

 

The Last Thing to Burn

The Last Thing to Burn is also a book I intended to read for a book club, but didn’t get to. Somebody in a local bookish Facebook group had posted an intention to start a book club and I was interested. However, it quickly spiralled into a large social group planning a meal out. In my opinion, the idea of the book club itself all but fell by the wayside. I had hoped to join to be able to have a good quality conversation with a few like-minded individuals, but it wasn’t meant to be.

As with To Shape A Dragon’s Breath, whilst the idea of a book club is great, reading books that other people ‘set’ take away from my time to read the books that I want to read for myself. By the end of last year, I wasn’t taking part in or reading books towards any book club at all and I’m happy with that. They are a good way to get out of your reading comfort zone, but I’m pretty good at pushing myself for now. I’ll never say never, but I have no plans to join anything any time soon.

 

Incendium

I hoped to read Incedium in November, as the book is loosely based around, or sounds similar to, the real life gunpowder plot. However, due to other reading obligations and carryovers from October, it didn’t happen.

I specifically wanted to read this book around bonfire night. Rather than land myself in the position of going into December trying to wrap up November’s books, I decided to let this one go with the intention of picking it up at the beginning of November this year instead! It’s a good job I published this Top Ten Tuesday as a reminder! 

 

The Black Coats

The Black Coats is my TBR jar pick from December. With the seasonal period, I ended up reading less than usual. As a result, I didn’t get this book before the end of the year.

However, I will be picking it up very soon. I have rolled The Black Coats onto my January TBR… although I’ll have to get a move on so I’m not rolling it on again into February! There’s still just over a week left of the month, so it’s manageable.

 

Firefight

Firefight is another book I intended to read in December but didn’t get to because of timing. There is a lot to do in December. From catching up with friends and family before the big day to actually doing the preparation for said big day… it’s amazing how much time that takes.

Plus, I had already met my official reading goal of the year and so the pressure was off. I think this contributed as well.

Whilst I won’t be reading Firefight in January, I am looking to pick this up next month instead.

 

A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, A Dance with Dragons

The last three books on this Top Ten Tuesday list all tie together. At the beginning of 2023, I set out my intention to re-read George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. I did read the first couple of books in 2023.

A Storm of Swords is a little bit of a stretch on this list, because it’s more of a book I didn’t get to finish as opposed to get to at all. I ended up putting that book on hold in order to pick up other reading priorities and I never got back to it. Consequently, I never progressed from that point onwards either, meaning that A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons also went unread.

I would like to continue my re-read of the series, however. So, I intend to chip away at these books, either in print or audio, throughout 2024.

 

So, those are the books that make it to today’s Top Ten Tuesday feature.

Have you read any of the books on this list? Are there any books on this list that you haven’t got to yet but can’t wait to pick up?

As always, I would love to hear from you!

 

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Monthly TBR – January 2024

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

Are you excited for the new year?

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

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

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

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

 

Fixed Reads

 

December Insta Poll Runner Up – My Sister’s Keeper

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

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

 

December TBR Jar – The Black Coats

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

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

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

 

January Insta poll pick – The Atlas Six

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

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

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

 

January TBR Jar pick – Crime and Punishment

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

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

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

 

Betrothal and Betrayal

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

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

 

The Girl in Seat 2A

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sword of Vengeance

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

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

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

 

Mood Reads

 

Gemina

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

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

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

 

Unmasked

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

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

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

 

The Measure

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

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

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

 

Summary

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

Not really!

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

What book(s) are you reading in January?

 

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My 2024 Reading Resolutions!

Good evening fellow readers! I’m excited to be looking ahead into the year just started and sharing some of my reading goals and resolutions with you.

Are you setting yourself any reading resolutions this year?

Some of my goals will be similar to those I set last year. I’ve set myself a goodreads reading challenge for six out of the last seven years, and 2024 is no exception! I am also setting myself one identical goal to last year, and modifying another. Lastly, I have another resolution that’s not specific to my reading, but to my blog and social media accounts. This is the most different of them all, and the goal that I’m going to have to work on the hardest this year.

Let’s go through the specifics of each goal and why I’m committing to the resolution in 2024:-

 

Reading Goals

 

Goodreads Challenge – 60 books

In last year’s resolution post, I set myself a goal of 50 books. I wanted to up my reading slightly from the previous year (47 books). It wasn’t much of a push as resolutions go, but in reality I managed to exceed this goal by a further 10 books.

If I had to choose a word that sums up what I want to achieve this year, it’s consistency. I’m not looking to push myself hard. The reading pace I’ve maintained in 2023 has allowed me to enjoy a vast array of different books, but not to the detriment of other hobbies. I’ve had time to play games, enjoy my crafts and spend time with the people I love. I want to maintain that.

With this in mind, I am looking to match my 2023 reading pace. That’s why I am setting myself a goal of 60 books. Like I say, I want to be consistent this year. Although I’m not pushing myself with this goal, I would also like to point out that I have only exceeded reading 60 books a year twice. Remember, that’s out of seven years that I have been blogging and reading ‘seriously’. It’s still a pretty high target for me, but definitely achievable!

 

Read >15 non-fiction

Do you remember in the intro to this post that I mentioned one goal coming back again exactly as I had it last year? This is it!

Although I had to make a conscious effort to read all the non-fiction books I did last year, I’m glad I did it. Open until then, I had been a very fiction-heavy reader. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there is also a wealth of knowledge and experience that can be picked up through non-fiction. Up until last year, I wasn’t really benefitting from it. 

Given that I achieved this goal in 2023 with completion of my 16th non-fiction book on the 24th of December, I would say that just over 15 is a sensible number. That’s also 25% of my target reading for the year, after all.

Again, this is definitely an achievable goal as I’ve done it before. Will I get competitive with myself and try to read more than 16 books this year? We’ll just have to see.

 

Finish 10 Series

This last reading goal is a more specifically defined reading goal than I had last year. In my 2023 reading resolutions post, I set myself an overarching goal that I wanted to finish ongoing series rather than start new ones.

This year, I am setting myself a very similar goal, but I am quantifying it a bit better. I also want to give myself some specifics, so I have a definite aim to work towards, and anything else is a bonus.

The advantage of the position I am in this year is that I have a number of ongoing series in which I am very close to the end. I have 18 different series in which I have anywhere between 1-3 books left to the finish line. As of this reading resolution post, six of those series require me to read just one book to complete it. Naturally, I’ll be prioritising these.

To complete this goal by reading the fewest number of books, I’ll still need to pick up 14 over the year. Between this goal, and my non-fiction reading goal, that still leaves me around half of my reading capacity for mood reads, standalones, and anything else that doesn’t fit into either of these goals. There’s no reason why this is unmanageable.

 

Blogging Goals

 

Make Social media a habit

In addition to the reading goals I have set myself above, I am also setting myself a brand-new goal of making social media a priority.

I have a love/hate relationship with it. On the one hand, it is a great tool that allows us to connect. However, I’ve always been conscious of the less pleasant side of social media though. It can be a place of negativity and so, whilst I have grown up with it to an extent, I’ve always tried to keep it at arms length.

I’ve had social media accounts for my blog and reading activities for a few years now, but I haven’t given them (and my lovely readers and followers there) the attention deserved. With my overall goal of consistency in mind, these are the steps I will be taking to step up my social media game in 2024:-

  • Post a variety of content to Instagram 4/5 times a week
  • Login to Threads daily and interact with followers/bookish accounts

I plan to step back from X (formerly Twitter). The truth is, I never really loved the platform when I set up my account back in 2017. However, back then it served a purpose. It drove traffic to my blog. Stats in this regard have been dropping since 2020. Last year, of the record 15,000 views I got on my blog, only 47 were referrals from X. Pants. Instead, I will be focusing my attention on Threads. I have been making an effort with this goal already, and in the last few days alone, I have gained 40 followers.

I’m specifically not using follower numbers as a metric for this goal/resolution. It’s a shallow metric; I want to engage using my accounts, not shout into a void like I am on X. I’ll know if I succeed because I’ll either be doing what I’ve set out above, or not!

 

So, these are my resolutions for 2024!

Are you setting yourself any resolutions this year?

 

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2023 – Reading Goal Review!

In today’s post, I look back at each reading goal I set myself back in January 2023. Did I meet them all? Make yourself comfortable, as well be diving into the details in this post.

Did you set yourself any reading goals in 2023? Did you manage to achieve them?

To quickly recap – what were the goals I set myself in 2023? If you want to check out the full post, it’s here. Otherwise, here is a summary: –

  • Goodreads Challenge – Read 50 books
  • Read >15 non-fiction books
  • Continue ongoing series
  • Read 30 mins daily

So, did I achieve any of these goals? Let’s take a look!

 

Goodreads Challenge – 50 books

For my Goodreads reading challenge, I set myself a goal of reading 50 books before the end of the year. I set myself this goal as I had read 47 books the previous year. Setting a goal of 50 was a small push on what I had already achieved, but equally, it was a manageable target.

In the end, it proved more than manageable! I met my target of 50 books in November 2023, leaving myself plenty of time before the end of the year. Thereafter, I set myself an unofficial goal to push the reading total up to 60 books, which I just managed before the end of the year.

I haven’t read this many books since 2019, so needless to say I’m very happy with what I’ve achieved! More importantly though, I am comfortable that I did it without stretching myself too far. Although I love reading, I obviously do the blogging aspect of the hobby as well, amongst many other things. I don’t ever want this to take over or prevent me from doing the other things I enjoy as well. That’s not been the case this year, so it’s a result all round.

 

Read >15 non-fiction book

When I set myself the reading goal of completing more than 15 non-fiction books, 15 felt like a nice number. It was a little more than one book a month over the course of the year. I didn’t really think about it in the context that it would mean non-fiction would constitute 25% of 2023 reading list. Even so, I’m happy I set myself this challenge.

I’m pleased to say that I completed my 16th non-fiction book on the 24th of December, meaning that I hit my goal with just over a week to spare. Here are the non-fiction books I read in 2023, in case you want to take a look:-

  • The Secret Library
  • Chimp Paradox
  • Becoming
  • Thanks for Sharing
  • Stolen Focus
  • Spike
  • A Brief History of Time
  • Leadership and Culture
  • Twelve Years a Slave
  • Killing for Company
  • Surrounded by Idiots
  • Vikings of the Irish Sea
  • Vikings in the Isle of Man
  • The Boy Who Followed His Father into Auschwitz
  • The Success Code
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People

Setting myself this non-fiction goal has meant that I have picked up more of the genre than I ever have before. Had I not set this goal, I wouldn’t have consciously picked up this many over the course of the year. I think doing so has been a great benefit, and it’s something I definitely want to continue with.

Not only has reading non-fiction benefited me in the short term, but I believe that that setting this goal has started paving the way for my reading more non-fiction in future. Comparing 2023 and the year prior, I added a further 16 non-fiction books to my reading list in 2023, compared to just 4 the previous year. I still have some way to go before reading non-fiction becomes a natural habit, but I’m definitely heading in the right direction.

 

Finish Ongoing Series

This goal was always a lofty one. At the start of 2023 I had a great number of ongoing series that I had started, but I was yet to finish. Without digging through my records, I think we’re talking about 40 ongoing at the start of 2023… yikes! 

With this goal, I ended up doing more in the way of progressing with ongoing series than completing them. I have a number of lengthy series on my reading list, including Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series (41 books), Robin Hobb’s the Realm of the Elderlings series (16 books split across five smaller series) and so on.

That said, I did manage to complete the following series in 2023:-

  • The Liveship Traders (Robin Hobb series 2/5 in Realm of the Elderlings universe)
  • The Miniaturist duology
  • Eagle of Mercia
  • The Saxon Warrior
  • The Hunger Games
  • Mistborn

Note that I am marking anything complete if the series is either fully finished, or if I am up-to-date with the series as published. In addition to the above full completions, I had one very close completion of the Skyward series. I was up-to-date with this series in July, but the sequel, Defiant, was published in November 2023.

Other series that I read in 2023, but didn’t necessarily complete, include:-

  • Terry Pratchett’s Discworld,
  • Robin Hobb’s the Realm of the Elderlings (as a whole),
  • Stephen King’s The Dark Tower,
  • Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You, and;
  • Bernard Cornwell’s The Last Kingdom.

If you compare this with my list of series I started in 2023, you’ll see the list of significantly shorter!

  • Lost Solace
  • Soul Identity
  • Illuminae

In addition to these, I did read some further ‘first’ books in a series, but they are books I read as standalone. I don’t intend to continue with the series and so I’m not including them in this statistic.

Overall, I made more progress with goal than expected. I had no easy way of tracking this goal throughout year. However, that is changing in 2024. I plan to do a lot more in the way of book stats and monitoring in the next year so I have a better idea of both what, and how much, I’m reading. Watch this space…

 

Read 30mins Daily

I didn’t set out to stick to this in the purest sense. Although I probably did read for 30 minutes a day for the vast majority of the year, it was the point of making reading a regular habit that I was looking to achieve.

I think it’s fair to say I did! I don’t think I could have met or indeed exceeded my reading goals in the way that I have without reading becoming a near daily habit.

In 2023 there were days when I read for several hours, and there were days where I didn’t read at all. Sometimes such as life, but also, sometimes that was down to choice. As I’ve mentioned earlier in the post, I want to be able to enjoy my reading in a sustainable way. I don’t want it to become a detriment to the other things I want to do. If there have been times where I’ve not been in the mood to read, I haven’t forced myself. I’ve done other things and taken a break and come back when I’ve been good and ready.

That’s the way I’ll continue to read into 2024 and beyond!

 

Summary

I think it’s fair to say that I should give myself a pat on the back for achieving my reading goals in 2023! If you are interested in seeing what reading goals, I set myself for 2024, check out my blog on Thursday! 

 

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Monthly Wrap-Up – December 2023

Happy New Year gang – welcome to my final monthly wrap-up post relating to 2023! In today’s post, I recap the reading progress I made over the month of December. Tomorrow, I will be publishing an overarching review of 2023 as a whole, so if you’re looking for that content keep your eyes peeled!

With festive plans and lots of catch ups, reading progress naturally slowed down a little in December. However, as I had already met my official reading goal of the year, I wasn’t too bothered about this. I did set myself an unofficial goal, however, to try and get to books before the end of the year. Did I achieve that? Find out more below!

 

Books Read

 

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

I started the month of December carrying forward The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins. At the end of November’s monthly wrap-up, I was just over 25% into the book.

It was refreshing to pick up a mood read for a change. If you recall that post, I picked up The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes after DNFing another read on November’s TBR. I had just been to watch the film at the cinema, and I loved it.

It’s fair to say that I enjoyed the book every bit as much as the film, even if there did turn out to be those usual minuscule differences between the two. I also think knowing the ending impacted the speed of which I read this book… combined with the festive period, of course. That’s not to take away from my experience of the book though! I really enjoyed this prequel, and following on from this, I will be looking to re-read The Hunger Games trilogy this year.

 

The Success Code

With my non-fiction reading goal in mind, I picked up two non-fiction books in December. The first of those was a physical read of The Success Code by John Lees.

This book is great as it is made up of multiple short chapters. It outlines small steps we can take in order to represent ourselves as best we can, put our best foot forward and promote positive image of ourselves to others.

It’s content should be worked through sequentially, as some of the latter chapters build upon framework outlined earlier. I think that’s useful though, as this framework gives you a model to work around, rather than giving you some generic advice and expecting you to be able to implement it without any guidance. The baby step nature of it as well, stop you from getting intimidated and falling over at the first hurdle.

I’ll definitely be looking to take away some of the points brought up in this book, so it was definitely a worthwhile read!

 

Order and Chaos

My next physical read, was picking up Order and Chaos, a short story anthology. I read another anthology, contributed to by the same author that approached me, earlier this year. Having enjoyed the experience of reading that first book, it was easy to say yes to the second.

I’m not going to go too much into the details of why I enjoyed the anthology, because I have a review live on my blog that you can check out instead. In summary, though, the anthology is a fun and diverse collection of stories that all revolve around the themes of order and chaos. But, from there, are vastly different from each other! It was a nice short read that fit in perfectly around the busy Christmas period.

 

Gemina

The last book I picked up physically in the month of December is Gemina. As of the end of 2023 and this monthly wrap-up post, I have read 266 pages of Gemina by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman.

Yesterday, I was under no illusion that I wasn’t going to get through this book before the end of the year. I had read just over 200 pages at the start of the night. There was no way I was going to get through the final 450… even with the best of intentions! It doesn’t matter though. Through my reading to date, I did indeed meet my unofficial (larger) goal of reading 60 books by the end of the year. There wasn’t a massive push to get this finished. I’m also happy to take this through into January and set my reading year off right!

I read the first book of the trilogy, Illuminae, earlier this year and I fell in love with it. I love the way in which the books are written, the characters (different between both books, but that doesn’t matter one iota) and the overarching story. It’s a different format to what I usually pick up, but it’s working really well for me!

 

Audiobooks

 

November Insta Poll Pick – The Minders

I left off my November monthly wrap-up post having listened to half of The Minders by John Marrs.

I listened to the second half of this audio when making gifts for Christmas. Although not a festive read, I found it compelling to follow along with whilst doing something mindless. The narrative of this story is interesting. As it’s a conspiracy thriller, we’re always pondering what we don’t know or what is going to happen next.

I liked how this audio was cast. We had a couple of different narrators (one for each gender), and the characters were differentiated well enough that we could easily follow who was who.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Minders, and for sure, it won’t be my last John Marrs book!

 

How to Win Friends and Influence People

The second non-fiction book that made it onto December’s reading list was How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

I confess I went into this book with a preconception that it was going to be a little trickier compared to The Success Code. In comparison, the second book is more modern and considerably shorter. How to Win Friends and Influence People was first published in 1936 and the audio was around seven hours long.

In reality, How to Win Friends and Influence People was a very easy listen. Despite the age of the book, I still find a lot of the points raised in it to be relevant today. Well, some people may resent being told to smile more. But, there is definitely argument for why this can help you. Don’t worry ladies, this isn’t targeted at just us!

 

December Insta Poll Pick – My Sister’s Keeper

I ended the month of December having listened to just less than a third of My Sister’s Keeper. I wanted to pick up this book for the moral debate that makes up the vast majority of the story. Now and then I will read out of my comfort zone for a specific reason. For example, I read Me Before You in 2019 as it deals with the topic of euthanasia.

My Sister’s Keeper is about a 13-year-old girl, Anna, who was conceived as a donor match for her sister. Kate was diagnosed from a young age with an aggressive form of leukaemia. Throughout her childhood, Anna has undergone multiple procedures and surgeries in order to donate to her sister. However, the nature of her illness means more invasive treatment is required each time.

At the opening of My Sister’s Keeper, Kate is suffering from kidney failure and is in need of a transplant to save her life. Anna‘s parents expect her to undergo the surgery and give her a kidney, but she has ideas of her own.

I enjoy reading stories that take a look at some of the more difficult topics in life. It’s more than just a story to enjoy, but one to think about as well. Although I am only a third of the way through the book so far, the set up is giving me everything I was hoping this book would be, and more! It’s a nice easy listen and I hope the narrative going forward explores the issue in as much depth as it can.

 

Summary

I trust you can tell from this monthly wrap-up post that I enjoyed each and every read I picked up in December, whether I finished it or not. I’m taking forward some great books into 2024!

I have briefly mentioned that I met my unofficial goal of reading 60 books. If you want to see what other reading goals I set myself, and how I did with those, check out tomorrow’s blog post in which I take a look at my 2023 year in review.

I hope to see you in that post. But until then, thanks for checking out today’s monthly wrap-up… and happy reading!

 

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Top Ten Tuesday – 2023/2024 Winter TBR

Over the course of 2023 I’ve been sharing Top Ten Tuesday seasonal TBR’s, (Spring, Summer and Autumn here) and today is no exception! In today’s post, I share the top 10 books I would like to prioritise reading in winter of 2023/2024.

I have a lot of books on my reading list and a rough idea of some of the goals I would like to set myself for reading in 2024. Some of them are a continuation of goals I set myself in 2023, and it’s with these in mind that I have put together this Top Ten Tuesday list.

Are you interested to see which books I intend to read in the next three months? Then, without further ado, let’s dive in:

 

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

The first of the books on this list are ones that I am picking up throughout the month of December. It feels appropriate to feature them first, given that I will be physically getting to them first.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is a book I have intended to read for a while, but chose to expedite and pick up as a mood read last month. I went and watched the film in the cinema and I loved the story. A combination of a busy festive period so far, and I suspect, knowing what happens in the book, has meant that reading progress is a little slower than usual. However, I am enjoying the content. Given that I’m getting into the meat of the book now, I’m hopeful to finish the book soon!

 

How to Win Friends and Influence People

The second book on this list is another I intend to pick up in December. Contributing towards my non-fiction reading goal, I’m looking to finish How to Win Friends and Influence People before the end of 2023.

A further motive I have for picking the book up sooner rather than later is because I feel the content will complement a workshop I attended at work recently. Like I did with a similar communication course, I decided to follow that up with a relevant book (Surrounded by Idiots) and that worked really well the first time. I found exploring the content again in more detail in audio, helped cement what I learned and practised in that workshop.

 

Gemina

The last book I feature in this Top Ten Tuesday post that is relevant towards my 2023 reading is Gemina by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman. Technically this book does contribute towards a reading goal of picking up and carrying on with series. However, the main reason I want to pick the book up is because I enjoyed the first one earlier this year and I don’t want to leave it too long before picking up the sequel.

This series is also a fun one to read as the story is told in mixed media format. That is something I have discovered this year and I have really enjoyed it! I’ve tried the format in multiple genres (sci-fi and mystery) and it works really well in both cases. I have quite a few books that I intend to read in December, and although Gemina is one of the longer ones, it will also be one of the easiest to read. I’m looking forward to it for the enjoyment factor alone!

 

The Hunger Games

As I briefly mentioned above, I have intended to pick up The Hunger Games trilogy again since watching and enjoying the films on TV not long ago. At the time, I didn’t realise that the film for the prequel was about to be released and that’s why they were showing. Once I found out, I decided that I was going to read the prequel and the series again in full, together!

I am currently reading the prequel, so I don’t intend to leave it too long before I go back in to the main series. By my reckoning, it’s been about 10 years since I picked up this original series and I’m curious to see how the experience will differ from last time!

 

The Good Samaritan

The Good Samaritan by John Marrs has been on my reading list for a little while. I always intended it to be my first John Marrs book, but my TBR jar put paid to that plan when I pulled out The Minders.

Incidentally, this is my current audiobook listen as of drafting this post and my experience of both the book and the author is a great one. I’m always slower on audio, but that’s no reflection on the book. It’s just not my preferred format. I’ve been listening to the book for a few weeks now and I’m getting to the point in the story where events are really picking up. I anticipate listening to the audio more intently as I’m intrigued by the narrative, and also mindful that I have at least one other audio that I want to get through before the end of the year!

Based on my experience of The Minders, I’m looking forward to picking up The Good Samaritan. The plot itself is what caught my attention, but the writing style of The Minders makes me think that The Good Samaritan could be even better than I expect!

 

Unmasked

I’m undecided as to whether I’m going to set myself non-fiction goal next year, but I want to keep up with reading them all the same.

Unmasked is a book I discovered and added to my reading list in the last few months. I’m intrigued to pick up Unmasked as it explores what it is like to live with neurodivergence such as ADHD and autism. I have a friend who was recently diagnosed with autism as an adult and honestly, I’m intrigued to read this perspective! We are all different people, have different values and think differently. However, I’m curious to read and experience a neurodivergent perspective and understand better what that means and the impact it has. 

 

Undoctored

Along the lines of continuing with non-fiction reads, I want to pick up the third non-fiction book by Adam Kay on my Top Ten Tuesday Winter reading list, Undoctored.

I have already read This Is Going to Hurt and T’was the Nightshift Before Christmas and I loved both books. Incidentally, this author came up recently in a chat amongst my friends, and that reminded me that I still had this book on my reading list to pick up. Whereas the other books on this winter TBR are either more serious or detailed fantasy/sci-fi worlds, Undoctored will add a degree of comedy to my reading that I don’t include much otherwise.

 

The Auschwitz Photographer

The last non-fiction book on this Top Ten Tuesday list is one that caught my eye in The Works ages ago. Whilst I don’t yet own a copy, I will happily read or listen to this book in any format.

Don’t ask me what it is, because I can’t rightly tell you, but I love books set around or about World War II. In particular, I have read quite a few that centre around experiences of the concentration camps. Previously I’ve enjoyed fiction (inspired by real experiences) such as The Tattooist of Auschwitz and Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris. More recently, I’ve read more non-fiction on the topic, including The Diary of Anne Frank and just last month, The Boy Who Followed His Father into Auschwitz by Jeremy Dronfield.

It’s a topic that I can (and clearly do) read over and over again!

 

The Measure

These last two books on today’s Top Ten Tuesday post are books that don’t necessarily contribute to any reading goal, but I want to pick up because I like the sound of them!

I added The Measure to my reading list just over a year ago. The synopsis grabbed my attention, and it immediately popped into my mind when thinking about what mood reads I might want to read in the next few months.

Imagine waking up one day and receiving a parcel that would tell you just how long you had left to live. Imagine the whole neighbourhood gets one, and the consequences that would cause. That’s the concept of this book, and it has some great ratings on Goodreads. I can’t wait to see if The Measure meets expectations!

The Kingdom

The Kingdom is a standalone fantasy novel, which makes it unique on my TBR. I am typically a series reader, but I am excited to pick up this standalone. What also makes it a little different is that it has an element of romance, and then different again, between a robot and a human.

Combine fantasy and science fiction with murder mystery, and you’ve got the components of The Kingdom. Told through courtroom testimony, we explore the truth of what happens to Owen through his accused murderer’s case.

Truthfully, I added this to my reading list because it is an interesting concept and very unlike anything on my reading list to date. I picking this up for the variety it offers to my reading!

 

Summary

Those are the books I’m featuring in today’s Top Ten Tuesday – Winter TBR.

Have you read any of the books I featured in today’s Top Ten Tuesday list? Do you have any books you would like to recommend me to pick up in 2024?

As always, I’m really excited to hear from you, so please get in touch!

 

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Monthly TBR – December 2023

Hello reading friends and welcome to my final monthly TBR post of 2023! Where has the time gone?

If you’re panicking about meeting your reading goal before the end of the year, please try not to stress. I hope that doesn’t sound patronising from me considering I have reached my goal already. I don’t want that to the point. Instead, the point is that we should all be enjoying the reading we are doing. It doesn’t matter how much you read, what you choose to read or how you go about it. The point is to have fun! Maybe to try and push the boundaries a little bit and try something new. But ultimately, it needs to be enjoyable!

That’s what I’ve been aiming for in my monthly TBR for December, and I have quite a range of books here on this list to see me in the new year. Am I likely to read them all before then? Not likely. However, I’m going to have a great time doing it.

Shall we check out the books on this monthly TBR?

 

Fixed Reads

 

November Carryover – The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

I picked up The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes on a whim after DNF’ing another read last month. As of this post, it’s my current read.

So far, I’m loving the fidelity between the book, the characters and the film. Sure, there are some subtle differences. However, in contrast, some of the dialogue is very close to the film. That they wanted to make the two as close as possible makes me very happy!

As of this monthly TBR, I’m 36% into the book and loving every moment!

 

November Insta Poll Carryover – The Minders

Another carryover from last month is my current audiobook, The Minders.

I’m halfway through this conspiracy thriller and I’m intrigued by the plot. It’s an interesting premise and I have no idea how the plot will look to resolve. It’s a compelling listen and the audio casting of the book is working well for me.

As my first John Marrs book, it’s made a great impression so far! If it carries on this good, or gets better, then I’ll definitely be reading more of his books in future.

 

Chaos and Order

I received a review request to pick up another short story anthology, and I am excited to oblige. You may recall that I read a short story anthology called Taking Liberties earlier this year. As someone who doesn’t read short stories very often, I enjoyed diving into this anthology with a theme between the different stories as a break from typical longer narratives.

Much is the case with Chaos and Order, and the themes are pretty self-explanatory. Chaos and Order is a relatively short book, and being made up of plenty of short stories, this should be an easy read to pick up and put down if I want to… although I might want to binge it after all!

I’m looking forward to picking this up and sharing my thoughts with you very soon.

 

Insta Poll Runner Up – My Sister’s Keeper

In the last few months I have made a habit of posting a couple of books on my TBR in an Instagram poll and letting my followers decide my next read. To make sure the ‘losing’ book doesn’t fall off the radar, I’ve taken to reading this the following month after the poll.

This month is no exception! After reading The Minders, which won the poll in November, I will be picking up My Sister‘s Keeper this month.

I think the premise is an interesting one. Whilst I had heard of the title, I wasn’t really familiar with the storyline behind it. I think this book will do well to explore humanitarian issues, as well as personal identity. This would be profound enough in a book with a teenage protagonist. However, considering her perceived (and conceived) role as a donor for her sister, this could get even more interesting!

 

December TBR Jar – The Black Coats

The last TBR Jar pick of the year is The Black Coats.

It feels like ages ago that I added this book to my reading list. As I have other reads in this monthly TBR that explore morality to an extent, there’s something that feels right about this book and the premise of revenge getting out of hand.

I don’t know too much about the book and I’m excited to go in knowing that little. It will be a pleasant surprise and an opportunity to try a brand-new author to me. That’s something I always look for, and I hope that has already come across in my reading.

 

Mood Reads

 

The Success Code

Another short read on this monthly TBR, and hopefully one of the last non-fiction reads of the year, is The Success Code.

Not only does reading this book work towards my non-fiction goal, but it also feels appropriate given that we’re going to be jumping into year end performance reviews and 2024 goal setting at work very soon.

I appreciate this isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, and to a certain extent, some of the formality around it isn’t my favourite either. However, I am the type of person who likes to push themselves and try new things. I’m not content unless I’m learning, and so these New Year opportunities have some appeal.

I might as well go into the conversation prepared, right?

 

How to Win Friends and Influence People

The very last non-fiction I intend to pick up this year is How to Win Friends and Influence People. I actually have a copy of this book on audio, so this is going to be my priority listen after finishing The Minders.

Again, this works of my reading goal for non-fiction. However, like I did after a communication training course at work, I have decided to pick up this topical book to add to what I learned in another workshop I attended through work. I did the same thing in picking up Surrounded by Idiots in October. Incidentally, those two mediums of learning went together really well, in terms of content. Having completed an ‘influence’ workshop a couple of weeks ago, I now hope How to Win Friends and Influence People can build upon and cement what I learned there into something I can put into practice.

 

Firefight

Firefight is a book I have intended to pick up in the last couple of months, but not gotten to. There’s a few of those that have made it onto the reading list recently, and Firefight is no exception. Regular readers will know I am a big fan of Brandon Sanderson. I have read a variety of his books, some series in full, whilst others I have dipped into.

I read the first book in his Reckoners series a few years ago now. I enjoyed the action-packed narrative and I’ve been looking to get back into the series. Sequels are something I am trying to read more of as well, so I can tick another box with this pick!

 

Gemina

Another sequel, and the last book on my December monthly TBR is Gemina by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman.

I read the first book of this YA mixed media series, Illuminae, in February. Although the books are chunkier in length, they are nice and easy to get through considering the medium they are written in.

I’m looking forward to picking up Gemina, partly as a change from traditional prosaic writing, but also as it’s a series I have loved so far.

I wouldn’t describe myself as a particular reader of the young adult genre, but I don’t feel ostracised or out of place by picking up these books. They are written very well and the mixed media aspects of the book make them interesting. I enjoy reading between the lines, and that is something we get to do in this format more than traditional writing styles.

 

Summary

In my monthly wrap-up post for November, I shared my hopes to unofficially up my reading goal to 60 books by the end of the year.

Although I don’t expect to get through everything on this reading list, there is plenty of material here to get me to that goal… and maybe beyond!?

Have you read any of the books or authors I have featured in today’s monthly TBR? What do you think of my final choices for the year? As always, I would love to hear your feedback.

 

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Monthly Wrap-Up – November 2023

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

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

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

 

Books Read

 

The Shining

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

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

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

 

The Vikings in the Isle of Man

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

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

 

Lost Solace

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Ashes of Guilt

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

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

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

 

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

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

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

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

 

Audiobooks

 

October TBR Jar – The Flood

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

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

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

 

Insta Poll Pick – The Minders

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

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

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

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

 

Books DNF’d

 

The Witches – Salem, 1692: A History

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

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

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

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

 

Summary

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

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

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

Until then, happy reading!

 

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