Tag: Robin Hobb

Sunday Summary – 9th April 2023

Happy Easter everyone and welcome to today’s Sunday Summary, regardless of whether you are religious or not! I hope you’re having a lovely weekend, however you are spending it.

In an ideal world, I’d have loved to have spent my whole weekend plonked on my backside and reading a book. However, household jobs get in the way, as always. I had to make the most of good weather on Friday to get out and tidy the garden. Thankfully I managed to get it all finished before the rain has come in. It wouldn’t be a British bank holiday without a bit of rain now, would it?

Onwards and upwards. This week I’ve had a busy one as I had to flit back to a four post schedule. Not only did I need to catch up and share my monthly wrap-up post for March, but I also had an obligation to review a book for a blog tour (Thanks For Sharing), and keep you up-to-date with my April TBR.

As always, I’ll provide a link to each of those posts above, if you want to go back and take a look at them.

 

Books Read

 

Thanks for Sharing

Due to the rapidly upcoming blog tour, in last week’s Sunday Summary post I shared that I was temporarily setting aside The Mad Ship in order to progress with Thanks For Sharing. As of that last Sunday Summary post, I had read the first chapter of the book, which was about 15% progress.

As my review was going live on the blog on Thursday, I had to get a shift on with this book. This was a really easy book to pick up. I was interested in the subject matter as I have recently been appointed a sustainability champion at work. I’ve also recently started recycling at home. I wanted to pick up Thanks For Sharing as a way of exploring other ways we can live a more sustainable lifestyle. Some of those are discussed in my review post on Thursday. If you want to check out more detail, I suggest you go back to that review.

Even though this book had an informative tilt, the narrative was really well written. Eleanor Tucker, embeds humour and plenty of real life anecdotes to bring us in to the family fold and her experiences of a sharing economy. I laughed out loud throughout reading this book. So, if you have any reservations about the subject matter being on the dry side, I can assure you, that is not the case!

 

The Mad Ship

With Thanks For Sharing now complete, I moved back to continuing progress with The Mad Ship by Robin Hobb.

I haven’t made any showstopping progress with this book – I read around 170 pages in the latter half of this week. I’ve had a busier blogging schedule this week, as well as jobs around the house and garden to do. It’s not surprising that my reading progress is less than I have enjoyed in the last couple of weeks. But, I’m still happy with the progress I’ve made and I’m looking forward to continuing this epic fantasy to see where we end up next.

 

Books Discovered

Recently, I started listening to a careers based podcast. I can’t exactly remember how I stumbled upon it. I must have been looking for a specific topic or episode, and from there, I started listening on a weekly basis. If you’re interested, the podcast is called the squiggly careers podcast.

After listening and enjoying more episodes featuring various topics that Sarah and Helen discuss, I discovered that they published a book in 2020 with a similar name to the podcast. That’s not the book I’ve added to my reading list. When looking into that first book, I discovered You Coach You, which they published in 2022.

Although a slightly different medium, I expect the same kind of narrative voice and feedback to come through from the book. As I’m trying to read more non-fiction this year, and I’ve already established a connection with these two authors, I imagine I will enjoy and find this book useful!

 

Coming Up…

I’m stepping back to a three post schedule next week. It is definitely a lot more manageable and sustainable in terms of my time, and also allows me to get more reading done. And let’s face it, that’s what I’m here for!

On Tuesday, I plan to share a discussion post with you. If you have been reading my blog in the last few months, you’ll know that I have started reading books as part of an online book club. In that post, I’m going to talk about the benefits I think there are to joining a book club and reading books out of your comfort zone.

On Friday, I’ll be back with a First Lines Friday feature post. As always, I’ll be taking a look for a book with an exciting introduction, and I’m telling you all about it!

My last post of the week will of course be my usual Sunday Summary update.

Now that you are all caught up, I am going to cosy in on this rainy Sunday evening and make more reading progress with The Mad Ship… and maybe tucking into Easter egg. Who am I kidding, there’s no maybe about it!

 

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Monthly TBR – April 2023

It’s the Easter weekend and I’m excited to share my monthly TBR post for April 2023!

March was a bit of an unusual one in that I read lots, and had a very successful month that way. The reads I picked up weren’t as highly rated as those I picked up earlier in the year. However, I’m really happy with the overall experience.

This month, I’m aiming for a repeat of that… albeit if I rate these books higher than those I did in March, that’s a bonus. I have a very different selection of books to pick up, but I’m looking forward to them all!

Enough waffle – let’s dive into this monthly TBR!

 

Fixed Reads

 

The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi

I am back to taking part in the online book club run by Ezeekat. This month’s featured book is a relatively new publication – The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi. I really like the sound of this new fantasy novel. It sounds like a little bit of an epic fantasy in setting, but with strong piracy themes. It’s a little bit different to the sort of fantasy book. I will pick up under normal circumstances, and that’s why I would like to give it a try!

 

Thanks for Sharing

As of writing this post, I’ve already read and reviewed Thanks for Sharing for a blog tour.

I wanted to pick up the book as a means of getting some inspiration for ways we can live a more sustainable lifestyle. It was an interesting read all about the various ways we can adopt a sharing economy for goods that are infrequently used, or by goods with expiry dates coming up.

If you want to check my review, you can find that here.

 

Eagle of Mercia

Another book I’m reading for an upcoming blog tour is Eagle of Mercia by M.J. Porter.

So far, I’ve already read the first three books in this series, Son of Merica, Wolf of Mercia and Warrior of Mercia. I’ve really enjoyed reading and reviewing the series so far, and I’m looking forward to continuing the series.

I’ll be sharing my review for the upcoming blog tour on 3rd May, so I’ll be reading this in April ahead of that date.

 

Wolf of Wessex

Once a month I pull a book out of my TBR Jar (aka an owl mug sat on my bookshelves). This month, I pulled Wolf of Wessex by Matthew Harffy.

It’s pure coincidence that I’ve ended up with two historical fiction novels in a similar time period on my TBR this month. Based on the synopsis, the setting of Wolf of Wessex is slightly different. The narrative doesn’t deliberately allude to conflict between Saxons, but that may well presented self in the narrative. The book is very highly rated, and as this is a period of history that I clearly enjoy as I read it a lot, I’m looking forward to seeing how the narrative unfolds and whether I wish to pick up more books by this author.

 

Mood Reads

 

The Mad Ship

A bit like last month, I’m not really reading my books in the typical order. In previous months, I have prioritised my fixed reading list, and then move onto my mood reads later.

This month, I started the month with 120 pages of progress into The Mad Ship. Starting this book was my stretch goal outlined in March’s monthly TBR post. I then had to put this down temporarily in order to prioritise Thanks For Sharing for the blog tour. Now that obligation is complete, I am back with continuing with The Mad Ship.

Hardly unexpected, but I’m really enjoying this book so far. The first book does a lot of the ground work in the setting of this new trilogy. Now that is all set out, we can dive into the narrative and further the storylines quite quickly. I am already a third of the way through the book and enjoying it completely.

 

Stolen Focus

I wanted to read another non-fiction book this month. Looking through my TBR, I decided to get my hands on a copy of Stolen Focus by Johann Hari.

Some days, I am really good at setting myself goals and achieving what I set out to do. Other days, I can be really distracted. I am the type of person who will do multiple things at once in the name of multitasking, but really, am I achieving much? No, most often.

One of the things I’m working on is trying to pinpoint where the distractions come from so then I can limit them. I’m hoping this book can help with some insight as to why this happens, what circumstances may cause this in order to work on it.

 

Stretch Goal

 

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

As I did last month, I am setting myself a stretch goal of starting The Hunchback of Notre Dame before the end of the month.The average page count per day required this month is slightly higher. As of writing this post, I’m also slightly behind on my daily target. With that in mind, I might not get there. But, it is a goal to aim towards.

Another reason for doing this is that splitting down larger books intentionally over a couple of months makes them a little bit more manageable. The Hunchback of Notre Dame is quite a hefty book. Don’t get me wrong, I can read chunky books over the course of a month. I did it last month, and I’ll be doing it this month as well. However, with this being a classic as opposed to a book from my favourite genre, I will find this more approachable to read if I’m splitting over the two months.

Even if I can just start the book, I’ll be happy bunny!

 

Those are the books on my monthly TBR for April. 

Are you reading anything over the Easter weekend?

 

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Monthly Wrap-Up – March 2023

Hello my friends and welcome to my monthly wrap-up for March 2023! I hope you have had a good reading month as I have!

This month was a little bit of a bizarre experience, because it seemed to start off quite slowly. Then again, I did start with quite a large book. By the time I worked my way through that one, the pages seemed to fly! In my monthly TBR for March, I set myself my typical TBR, but also included a stretch goal. That goal was to start one further book before the end of the month. And, I achieved that goal!

Normally, I tend to read books on my fixed reading list first in the month, and then revert to my mood reads. However, it didn’t really happen this month. Instead, I’m going to share the books I read in March in chronological order.

 

Books Read

 

Africa Risen

As of my last monthly wrap-up post, I was at 68% through Africa Risen and hoping to finish this early in March. I definitely pushed my way through this one.

It was an interesting book as it is written in a format I don’t read very often – an anthology. It made a change to read a collection of shorter stories and feature new perspectives, as opposed to those traditionally seen in westernised fantasy.

However, I didn’t love this book. I definitely prefer longer and more established narratives rather than collections of short stories. I like to get stuck in with a plot and engage with it in detail rather than check in with it superficially. These types of books do have good sides though. The main advantage of this shorter format was that I got to explore multiple different characters and perspectives.

As with all books, there were some elements/stories I wasn’t fussed on at all. There was some I did like. I’ve taken away what I wanted from them, but I will probably stick to predominantly non-anthologies in future.

 

A Game of Thrones

As I’ve heard on the grapevine that we can expect the sixth book in the series out in the not too distant future, I decided to start a re-read of the series. It’s going to take me some time to get through. Even this first book is approaching 800 pages long. Some of the books are so long that they are split into two. With that in mind, I wanted to make an early start, so I wasn’t having to rush through the books in order to be able to read the sixth one when it comes out.

As expected, I really enjoyed this re-read. This is the fourth time I have picked up A Game of Thrones. It is one of those books that I can pick up again and again and I will love just as much with every re-read.

As I mentioned in my introduction above, it did seem a little bit slow going at the beginning of the month. A 780 odd page book isn’t something to be devoured in a matter of days. I spent approximately half the month getting through this book alone! That said, it was great to go back to the beginning of the series, and I’m looking forward to picking up more books throughout the year.

 

The Book Eaters

Disappointingly, The Book Eaters didn’t live up to the expectation that the title led me to anticipate. Obviously, there is an element of book eating in the storyline. However, it wasn’t unique or pivotal enough for me to think it mattered. Ultimately, the main characters could have been substituted for any other minority group, and it would be the same.

The Book Eaters was a strange read in that I didn’t really enjoy it overall, there was enough intrigue in the plot to make me want to finish it. This book is also relatively short read at under 300 pages. By the time I made my mind up, I was a third of the way in. I decided to just crack on with it and give it a chance to redeem itself.

Sadly, I did end up disappointed with this book, and it achieved a rare rating from me – just two stars.

 

Feet of Clay

Looking for a bit of a pick me up, I then decided to read a firm favourite author – Terry Pratchett.

I’m a little bit embarrassed to admit how long it has been since I last picked up a Discworld novel. I like these books because they have a wide, overarching setting but with different sets of characters.

If I’m entirely honest, Feet of Clay wasn’t quite the pick me up I was hoping. It was still a decent read. However, the humour didn’t quite work for me in this particular book. I enjoy the city watch series in general, so I’ll still read the future books. But, it wasn’t my favourite either. Feet of Clay has some interesting messages and themes in the story, which I did appreciate. 

 

Soul Identity

Next, I picked up Soul Identity by Dennis Batchelder. This is a completely different genre and setting to the books I picked up so far in my March TBR. The best way I can describe Soul Identity is a scientific take on concepts like reincarnation.

Naturally, there is an element of religion and belief that comes into this narrative. I quite enjoyed how these concepts were explored both separately and together.

I didn’t overly love the main character, Scott, and I wasn’t a fan of the budding relationship between him and computer geek, Val. The author also has a terrible habit of describing female characters physically before going onto any other redeeming attributes. Although well noted for her intelligence, even Val falls victim to becoming most significant in the narrative because she’s pretty.

The relationship that forms between them didn’t really add much to the story, which I was hoping it would. It’s almost like it was added in there to give the narrative a bit more mainstream appeal and to make the subject matter a little bit more readable. I didn’t really do that for me, but that’s certainly the impression I get.

It was still a decent read, and I wouldn’t let it put me off picking up other books in the series.

 

Death of Kings

Death of Kings is where I really started to see some improvement in my reading experience! Death of Kings is the sixth book in the Saxon stories series, better known as The Last Kingdom.

I really enjoy the perspective we get in the use of books. Our protagonist Uhtred was born as a Saxon, but his settlement was raided and he was raised by Danes from a very young age. As a result, he has this ongoing conflict between these two factions and ways of life. He is a fierce warrior and ally to the king of Wessex, King Alfred. However, he also has ties to the Danes and in particular, their values in life and take on religion.

In this book, Uhtred stirs up a fair bit of trouble. I enjoy reading this mischievous side of him, and how he interject himself between these two rival sides. It undoubtedly gives him an edge, but also we experience the ups and downs of the conflict and his internal conflict throughout.

It is also been a little while since I last picked up a book from the series. I’m glad to say that I’m now back into it, and in line with my goal of reading more sequels this year, I’m hoping to continue with this one.

 

The Mad Ship

My stretch goal for March, after reading the books above, was to make a start on The Mad Ship by Robin Hobb.

I knew that I wasn’t going to get through this book in the slightest. On its own, this book is just over 900 pages long! My aim was to just get myself introduced to the characters and pick up from where we left off in the previous book. If I would put a figure on it, I was hoping to maybe get through the first 50-100 pages.

By the end of the month, I just exceed that goal in reading 120 pages. Even though I’ve already read that much, there are still characters we are getting reacquainted with. There are a lot of contributors in this narrative, and as each chapter is a reasonable length, I daresay I’ll be spending the first 200 odd pages picking back up where we left off!

Given that I read the first book fairly recently, there’s been less of an adjustment period compared to picking up the first book. That narrative was quite different from the first trilogy I read, so took some getting into. However, I’ve already read that book and invested in the storyline and characters. Starting this book was a breeze!

 

In all, I read close to 3000 pages in March… which is the most this year so far! If you’re till with me, thanks for taking the time to read this monthly wrap-up post. 

Have you read any of the books I’ve featured today? Are they on your reading list?

 

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Sunday Summary – 2nd April 2023

Good evening and welcome to today’s weekly catch up post – aka my Sunday Summary! I hope you’ve had a good week? I’ve had a good one as I took the latter half of the week off work. I did a couple of small jobs around the house. Otherwise, I dedicated my time to reading, gaming and some cross stitch!

Naturally, I’ve also been posting bookish content for you. On Wednesday, I shared my last review of my re-read of the Harry Potter series! I really enjoyed reading these books again as an adult. If you want to read all my thoughts on the books and the wider series, there is a link above to that last post. That also contains links to the previous reviews if you want to catch up from the beginning.

On Friday, I shared a Shelf Control post. In this series, I feature books coming up on my TBR and share them with you. I also talk about why I’m interested to pick these books up. I confess that behind the scenes, I’ve even whittled down my reading list by doing this series. This week’s featured book is a work of classical fiction by a Russian author and philosopher. No, not Leo Tolstoy. I was inspired to pick this up based on my experience of War and Peace though!

 

Books Read

 

Soul Identity

I picked up from last week’s Sunday Summary post by finishing Soul Identity by Dennis Batchelder. As of that post, I was 71% through the book. My plan was to finish the book on Sunday after my Sunday Summary post went live, which I did.

Two small comments I would make is that I don’t feel the relationship between the protagonist Scott, and Val, was necessary. Also, I didn’t like how the majority of female characters were introduced by their appearance. They’re not deal-breaking things, but it did bring my review down to 4 stars.

Otherwise, I enjoyed the book overall. It explores some interesting spirituality and religious concepts of reincarnation from a scientific perspective. I knew that was the premise of the book, but had no idea how the story would go about it. It was perfectly enjoyable and quite an easy read.

 

Death of Kings

Another easy read I picked up this week was Death of Kings by Bernard Cornwell. This is the sixth book in his Saxon Stories series, also known as The Last Kingdom.  At around 350 pages, this book is a good length to progress the story without getting bogged down in too much detail.

There is still plenty of action that takes place in these 350 pages. As ever, we see the conflict Uhtred has between his Saxon birth but Norse upbringing. Needless to say, it gives a unique perspective to this historical fiction narrative… and he gets up to a lot of mischief!

It was good to finally go back to this series. I read the previous book, The Burning Land, back in 2020. Now I’m back into the series, and actively looking to read sequels this year, you can expect I’ll be picking more of these books up soon!

 

The Mad Ship

So, with the last of the books on my ‘set’ TBR read, I achieved my stretch goal this month by starting The Mad Ship by Robin Hobb. Before the end of the month, I read the first 120 pages of this 906 page epic! As of this post, I am now 174 pages in – a healthy start!

In what I’ve read so far, we are only really just getting caught up with all the plot-driving characters in their various locations. Robin Hobb isn’t exactly known for short chapters. It’s taken that time to pick up where we left off in the last book. I can’t wait to see where the narrative takes us from here!

 

Thanks for Sharing

In addition to the above, I’ve also started a book on my April TBR. That’s because I’m taking part in a blog tour for the book next week. I signed up for it just a couple of weeks ago, so I need to get a shift on with it!

Thanks for Sharing is a short non-fiction book about sharing rather than purchasing new. The author spent about a year experimenting with different ways to share various goods and reduce consumerism/waste. I’ll admit I was inspired to take up the offer of this blog tour as I’ve recently taken up the mantle of sustainability champion at work.

I picked this book up just this morning and I’ve already progressed through the first chapter. That’s about 15% progress. Given the deadline, I’ll be prioritising this read in the short term and then going back to The Mad Ship once I’ve finished this one. Given that it’s only 250 odd pages, I should have this finished in a day or two.

 

Books Discovered

I’m back to a week of no news this week. Since I added four books last week, I haven’t been out or particularly looking for anything new.

So, no news is good news!

 

Coming Up…

I’ve enjoyed a three post per week schedule for the last fortnight, but out of necessity, I will be sharing four posts next week.

Since we are already into the beginning of April, my first post of the week will be my monthly wrap-up post for March. I’ve had a great reading month, so I have plenty to share with you in that post. I hope you can log on to check that out in the next couple of days.

Next, I have my blog tour post for Thanks for Sharing going live on Thursday next week. As I mentioned above, I’ve only just started the book today. However, I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts on the book and whether I’ll be trying anything featured in the book for myself. 

I also have my monthly TBR for April to publish. I’ve already christened the list, so I know what I’m picking up this month. You can expect that list later this week. I’ll be aiming to publish the list on Friday, but I won’t kick myself if it gets pushed out to Saturday.

I’ll round up the week with my usual Sunday Summary update, with all my reading progress in the usual format.

For now though, that’s all from me in today’s Sunday Summary.

What are you reading?

 

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Monthly TBR – March 2023

Happy Friday everybody and welcome to my Monthly TBR post for March 2023!

February was an ambitious month for me. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t get through the multitude of books I set out to. However, I read a really diverse range of books, and I’m really happy with the reading progress I made.

This month I am going to be a little less ambitious. Last month I proved that I can read a decent amount, but a target of just over 107 pages a day isn’t quite achievable for me. This month I’ll need to read an average of 70 pages a day. A much more manageable target. 

This month I am setting myself a mixture of ‘fixed’ and ‘mood reads’ as normal. I’m also setting myself a ‘stretch’ goal. This is and isn’t different from my usual reading list. Let me explain.

When I set myself a monthly reading list, I generally have an expectation that I might only start the last book on the list before the end of the month. This hasn’t changed for me, however, I’m being more transparent about that. Rather than having everybody think that I’m looking to complete this list by the end of the month, in reality, I’m hoping to get to and be on the last book. I’m especially declaring that intention this month as the last book on my list is over 900 pages long! There is no way I’m going to finish it this month. 

 

Fixed Reads

 

A Game of Thrones

The first book am I reading this month is a re-read of A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. You may ask why I am reading this book yet again. If you haven’t heard already, the next book in the series, The Winds of Winter, is due out later this year.

You know that I want to be in a position to be able to pick that up as soon as it comes out. So, I am starting a re-read of the series! Whilst I don’t strictly have to start it right now, I really enjoyed reading The Rise of the Dragon last month. I’ve got the itch and if I’m entirely honest, I’ve been looking for a reason to re-read this series anyway. Now I’ve got it!

 

Soul Identity

The next book I am picking up this month is the book I pulled out of my TBR Jar – Soul Identity by Dennis Batchelder.

I’m looking forward to picking up this book as something a little bit different. The premise caught my eye and I’m willing to give it a shot based on that. I also discussed this book with my dad and he seemed to think it would be something I would enjoy as well! I can’t wait to give it a try and let you know.

 

Mood Reads

 

The Book Eaters

I didn’t quite get around to reading The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean last month. As I shared in my monthly wrap-up for February earlier this week, I was a bit disappointed I didn’t get to it.

However, I really do want to read it sometime soon. With that in mind, it is the first book on my mood read list of the month. At just under 300 pages, this is a nice short book and is a complete change from the other books and genres I have on this monthly TBR.

 

Feet of Clay

I cannot remember the last time I picked up a Terry Pratchett Discworld novel. I’m going to go back and have a look, but I would say it’s probably been about a year since I read Maskerade.

(editing Rebecca here – in fact, I’ve not picked up a Discworld novel since 2019! Whoops!)

With this year’s aim being to work on ongoing series I have started, this definitely fits the bill. By no means am I going to finish the Discworld books this year. Even after reading Feet of Clay, which is the 19th book in the series, I won’t quite be half way through.

I really enjoyed the Discworld novels for their light and satirical nature. It has been far too long since I picked one up, and I hope that going back to the series now will kickstart me to pick it up more regularly in future.

 

Death of Kings

Another series I haven’t picked up for a while is Bernard Cornwell’s the Saxon Stories series. In March, I will be picking up the sixth book in this series – Death of Kings. I am already familiar with the story in this book from watching the TV series. However, I’m still excited to read it. Whilst both the book and the show are very good in their own right, they don’t spoil each other for me. They are both enjoyable for their own reasons.

I love Uhtred’s character and the perspective we get in these books. He is arrogant and not somebody I would ever choose to befriend. However, he makes for an interesting protagonist and I can’t wait to see how the events of history are portrayed in Uhtred’s perspective.

 

Stretch Goal

 

The Mad Ship

If I managed to make it through the five books already listed in this monthly TBR post, then I’m hoping to start The Mad Ship. I’m not even going to try and finish it. This book is the longest in the Liveship Trader series at just over 900 pages. Going for completion of this book as well would change my reading count from around 70 pages a day to 100. That’s obviously quite a big jump, and not all that realistic based on my performance last month. 

I love Robin Hobb and the Realm of the Elderlings books. However, I would be lying to you if I told you that they weren’t books you had to invest your time in. There is a lot of detail; they are not the quickest of reads. Even if I’m trying my hardest, I can’t binge read these books very well. Instead, I am going to take the slow and steady approach and aim to start this book before the end of the month and include/complete it as part of my next monthly TBR. We’ll see though. It’s still a beast, however I choose to tackle it. Wish me luck!

 

So, those are the books I am going to be reading as part of my Monthly TBR for March.

Have you read any of the books on this list? Is there anything on here that caught your eye as something you would like to try?

 

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Top Reads of 2022!

Hello everybody, and welcome to today’s post, which is all about my top reads of 2022! I read a total of 47 books throughout the year, and my average rating was actually quite high. It’s fair to say I had a great reading year!

Today’s post is all about the best of the best.

When going through the books I read in 2022, there were three very distinct books that jumped out at me as my favourites. There is also one honourable mention, and I’ll explain why this didn’t quite make the list.

If you enjoy fantasy or dark academia, then there is at least one book on my top reads list for you! I’m listing the books in chronological order, as there is very little between these books for me to rank them. They are a bit different, and I enjoyed them for these differences!

 

Top Reads

 

Empire of the Vampire

Empire of the Vampire is what I would describe as an epic Gothic fantasy, written by Jay Kristoff. If you are a fan of his other books (such as the Nevernight series), you enjoy stories that heavily feature vampires, and/or epic fantasy novels with elements of coming of age, detailed world-building, and character development, then Empire of the Vampire has something for you.

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this book. I wanted to give it a try because I have really come to enjoy Jay Kristoff’s writing style. Having listened to the audiobooks for the Nevernight series, I knew I like the way he dealt with darker topics. Personally, I’m not really one for vampire stories. There are some exceptions, this book and future series now being one of them. However, the narrative style (likened to Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind) and setting of the world appealed to me.

This appealed to me for all the right reasons! I love the way in which this story is told. As in the aforementioned book, the story is told almost in the style of a confessional, through the eyes of the main character as a mature adult. Throughout this narrative, not only do we experience the development of the main character, but we also come to learn a lot about the world in which the story is set, the lore behind the vampire families, and how they grew large.

This book has everything you would expect from an epic fantasy – complex and detailed world-building, a vast array of characters with detailed backstories and relationships, and a storyline that will inevitably span a large number of chunky books!

The cherry on top of this very large cake was how well the book managed to create and retain atmosphere. It definitely maintained Gothic vibes throughout. I really enjoyed this. You may not expect this to be the kind of book to would take on holiday to read in 20+ degrees sunshine, but that is exactly what I did. Even despite the vast contrast in the fictional and actual setting, my mind lived in this book whilst reading it… and for a long time afterwards!

I can’t wait for the sequel!

 

Assassin’s Apprentice

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb is another fantasy series I started in 2022. I can only ask myself why I didn’t start it sooner! This series has been recommended to me before, especially by a close friend of mine. She knew what this was all about, and I should have listened to her and picked it up before now.

Before picking up this book in earnest, I had trialled the first chapter or two previously. However, I had done so from the e-book on my phone. I just don’t read this way at all. I don’t quite remember the circumstances in which I picked this up on my phone, but the intention wasn’t just to sample it. Why I didn’t pick it up properly thereafter is beyond me.

Anyway, I finally got there in the end. I decided to pick up a physical copy of the book, trusting Rachael’s recommendation, and knowing that I really enjoyed the sample I had tried previously. I have since gone on to purchase seven books out of sixteen, and I read four of them in 2022. I’m sure that in itself will speak volumes, but I’ll go into some more detail about the book, and why I specifically enjoyed this one, below.

Assassin’s Apprentice is also an epic fantasy. Whilst the first book isn’t too chunky in itself, it is the opening book of the first trilogy in the Realm of the Elderlings universe. In my opinion, it is the perfect introduction to such a world – there is plenty of page count to set the scene, explore the characters, and establish the wider story arc, without intimidating the prospective reader either.

If you enjoy your fantasy with detailed plotlines and character relationships, then Assassin’s Apprentice will scratch that itch for you. There is already a lot going on in this first book. Royalty, political subterfuge and magic intertwine to set the scene in this first book. These are all elements I have enjoyed in other fantasy series and did not disappoint in this one either!

 

Babel

The last book in my top reads of 2022 list is Babel by R.F. Kuang.

Babel was my first real foray into the dark academia genre. If you are unfamiliar with the premise of this book, we follow a character called Robin Swift. He is taken from China as a young boy after losing his family. He is taken in by a professor at Oxford University, where he later studies translation in the titular building.

There is a lot going on in Babel, and a lot of it I didn’t expect in the extent that the book went to. Whilst part of the dark academia genre, there are elements of fantasy in this book. It is a nod to a genre I really enjoy, but in execution and tone, it doesn’t read like a fantasy. On the contrary, it reads quite academically. It is evident that the author knows her stuff when it comes to translation. Through the narrative, we explore ideas around translation, such as maintaining fidelity, and how that is best achieved.

But more surprisingly, it is the more difficult topics for which I really enjoyed this book. Babel in particular explores colonialism, racism and classism. It is a book that makes example of how the British empire has invaded, taken, and manipulated its way into other countries resources in order to selfishly better itself. There’s a lot of debate about this in the book, but also in the wider community at the moment.

Some people find this uncomfortable to read. Personally, I don’t think you should shy away from a book/topic that makes you uncomfortable. More often than not, it should make you uncomfortable – it’s intended. If you think that any person, country, or idea is perfect and shouldn’t be challenged, then you are wearing rose-tinted spectacles. Babel is very much an example of this kind of book, and I really enjoyed taking on these ideas in a loose fantasy setting.

It was everything I expected it to be, and a bit more besides. It has made an R.F. Kuang reader out of me!

 

Honourable mention

The First Binding

My honourable mention for this list is The First Binding by R.R. Virdi. I had the pleasure of reading this debut novel to review it in the blog tour organised by the publisher in August 2022.

There is definitely a theme to my reading and this post. Epic fantasy is a very significant genre that I read but also have high expectations for. Even so, this one has made it very close to the top of the list. Did I mention it was a debut?

Similarly to Empire of the Vampire, The First Binding is narrated by the main character after events have taken place. In this particular example, the character ends up taking on the role of a storyteller in the early days of the novel. Naturally, setting up a character in such a way raises expectations exponentially. Most authors would be setting the bar so high that they’d be setting themselves up to fail. However, R.R. Virdi does not disappoint in pulling off a flawless narrative with theatrics and compelling language to complement this already interesting narrative.

The only reason The First Binding is an honourable mention, rather than a top read, is because of the circumstances in which I read this book. I only had around two weeks to read and then review this book for the blog tour. At over 800 pages, this is quite the undertaking. As a result, I had to effectively set myself daily reading targets to get through this in time to review it. If I’d had the luxury of reading this book at my own pace, it probably would have been a top read. I almost had to force myself to read it, and that detracted ever so slightly from the experience. But I will stress, it is slight!

 

What was your favourite read of 2022? Have you read any books that made it onto my top reads list?

 

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Monthly Wrap-Up – December 2022

Today begins the start of a very busy week, catching up with my month and year-end reviews for 2022, as well as introducing my 2023 goals and reading list! Today’s post is my monthly wrap-up for December 2022. As usual, I’ll be recapping the books I read throughout the month.

Whilst I was hoping to have read around five books in December, it didn’t pan out that way. I should’ve known when I put a Robin Hobb on my TBR that it was not going to be a quick read. I always underestimate how long these are going to take!

Let’s dive into my monthly wrap-up in earnest and check out which books I read in December.

 

Books Read

Daughter of the Moon Goddess – Sue Lynn Tan

The first book I read in December was Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan. I read this as part of Ezeekat’s online book club hosted via Fable. I had been considering joining one for some time as I want to stretch my reading and start picking up books I wouldn’t necessarily choose myself. Having followed his Instagram for a while, there are plenty of overlaps with the books I read, but also enough variety that I get the stretch I’m looking for.

As it happens, this month’s pick – Daughter of the Moon Goddess – was already on my radar. It wasn’t on my TBR as yet, but I think it would’ve ended up being on it.

I’m glad I picked this up! I read a lot of fantasy, however, it tends to be very westernised fantasy. Daughter of the Moon Goddess is entirely different in that the fantastical world behind the events are based around Chinese mythology. It was a completely different setting that I was used to, and a lot of the characters and their development was very different. It was a refreshing change to read a book from a completely different setting and it’s something that I am going to try and do again!

 

Ship of Magic – Robin Hobb

The next and last book I completed in full in December was Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb. I really enjoyed this first instalment of The Liveship Traders trilogy. Having read and enjoyed the Farseer trilogy earlier this year, I knew I wanted to keep up the pace with reading the Realm of the Elderlings series.

But, as with all Hobb books I have read to date, they are quite the marathon. They are not small books in any case, but they are also very dense. There is a lot going on, and you cannot race through them. With every single book so far, I have underestimated the amount of time it was going to take me to read. Ship of Magic is 880 pages long, and in the average week I was reading somewhere between 200 and 300 pages. I think the only reason I succeeded in completing this book before the end of the year is because I had the week off work prior to Christmas. In that week, I read the last 360 odd pages – quite substantial! In context, I could be reading that number of pages as a whole book in itself!

 

The Secret Library – Oliver Tearle

The last book I started in December was very late to the party. I started this on the evening of the 31st of December, more because I was in the mood to pick it up more than anything. I knew I wasn’t going to be finishing the book for my December wrap-up or have it count towards my end-of-year reading total. But, that doesn’t matter. I only read a small amount of this book as a means of introduction to it – the first chapter, or approximately 10%.

So far, it’s an interesting little book. If you, like me, or a fan of books and are interested to learn a little bit about literature itself, then I’d recommend this book to you already. It’s one of those books that will be a very quick read, but there’s still plenty to learn from it!

 

So, that’s the end of my monthly wrap-up post – you’re up to date with my December reading! Have you read any of the books on this list? Let me know in the comments. I’ll be back again tomorrow with another blog post all about my 2023 resolutions – I hope you can join me for that!

Until then, happy reading!

 

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Sunday Summary – 1st January 2023

Happy New Year friends! Welcome to today’s Sunday Summary update post. I hope you’ve had a lovely Christmas and New Year as I did.

In previous years, I have taken the time off between Christmas and New Year from blogging. However, I decided not to do that this year as I didn’t feel like I needed it. So, business was very much as usual.

On Thursday (slightly later than the planned date of Wednesday), I shared my review of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling. As I said, I was hoping to get this out on Wednesday. However, by Wednesday evening I felt the review needed a little bit more work and polish before it went live. In the grand scheme of things, I thought it was more important to allow the extra day for that to happen. If you’re interested in my review and haven’t checked it out, there’s a link above for your convenience.

On Friday, I shared a First Lines Friday post. I featured the sequel to a young adult fantasy series I started in 2018. The motivation behind this post was to get excited to pick up this sequel later this year. Having read the opening lines and the synopsis, that is definitely the plan! If you want to check out what that feature was, you can find a link to that post here.

 

Books Read

Despite having family over a couple of days after Christmas, and then going back to work, I’ve still made really good reading progress. Last week I was just over 500 pages through Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb. For the most part, progress with this book has been slow but steady. In my opinion, these aren’t books that you can ingest at high speed. They are dense, and there is a sizable page count to go with that.

This week, I had just over 360 pages to the end of this book, and I read every single one of them! It’s the most progress I’ve made on this book in any one week since I picked it up; I’m really happy with myself for that. Overall I really enjoyed the book. If I had one comment, I would say that it doesn’t need to be 880 pages long.

Then, yesterday, I started The Secret Library by Oliver Tearle. I already knew that I wasn’t going to be finishing this book in 2022. Although it is relatively short at 250 odd pages, that’s too much to read in one evening. Not impossible, but not likely either. Nevertheless, I decided to start it anyway as I was in the mood.

As of this Sunday Summary, I am one chapter in, equating to 11% and I am enjoying it so far. It’s full of interesting tidbits of knowledge related to literature, and I’m intrigued as to what I will learn from the rest of the book. Given that I managed to read this small section in a relatively short amount of time, this will be a quick read. Compared to Ship of Magic, it will be a very quick read! And, my first read of 2023!

 

Books Discovered

I was a very lucky girl and received a book voucher for Christmas from my mum and dad.

Needless to say, I was down at the bookshop at (almost) the earliest opportunity to spend it. As I was coming to the end of Ship of Magic by this point, I knew I wanted to try and get my hands on the next books in the series – The Mad Ship and Ship of Destiny. Thankfully, Waterstones had both of these books in stock for the first time since I started looking for them. Needless to say, I promptly whisked them both off the shelf.

On my way down from a browse of the self-help section upstairs, I came across a few sale items they had left. One book in that section caught my eye. It’s a contemporary novel, which as you know, isn’t really the sort of thing I pick up on a regular basis. It was the title that grasped my attention; In Every Mirror She’s Black by Lola Akinmade Åkerström. After picking it up and reading the synopsis, I knew I wanted to give this a try.

 

Coming Up…

The first week of January is always manic for a blogger like me, and this week coming is no exception!

Tomorrow, I will be posting my monthly wrap-up for December 2022. As usual, I will recap the books I read throughout the month and share links to the blog posts drafted and published in that period.

On Tuesday I am back with another post – I will be sharing my reading resolutions for 2023. With the exception of reading, I’m not one for setting resolutions. However, I prepared a list of things I would like to achieve in my 2023 reading about a month ago and I haven’t changed my mind on any of them. So, those are going to be my reading goals and I look forward to sharing them with you on Tuesday.

Thursday’s post will be my January 2023 TBR. We are already a few days into the month at that point and I may well have finished my first book at the time I share this post. However, I have a number of fantastic books on the reading list and I’m excited to share them with you!

On Friday, I will be publishing my review of 2022. In that post, I’ll be talking about the reading goals I set for myself this time last year and how I feel I completed them. I will also be talking about what worked and what didn’t so well so that I can take that feedback on board for a better reading year in 2023.

And as if that’s not enough already, I’ll be back at the same time next week with my Sunday Summary update! I’m hoping to make some reading progress amongst all the blogging, but we’ll have to see. Join me next week to find out!

That’s all from me in today’s Sunday Summary.

What are you currently reading? Have you set yourself any reading goals for 2023?

 

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Sunday Summary – 25th December 2022

Good evening everybody – I hope you have had a lovely Christmas if you celebrate it, and a lovely day otherwise if not!

Whilst this post is intended to go live on Sunday, I do confess to drafting this week’s ‘reading progress’ as of Saturday night. If I’m honest, I’m not expecting to make any real reading progress on Sunday that will materially impact this post as I’m hosting our family Christmas celebrations this year!

Before we jump into this week’s reading progress, let’s quickly recap the posts shared with you this week! On Friday (admittedly a little later than initially planned), I shared my take on the 20 Questions Book Tag. I thought this post would be a fun way to share something of myself, but also it would be a nice and easy post to draft ahead of Christmas. Because I’ve been off work, my routine was off and that contributed to the lateness of this post. This also meant that my planned regular Friday feature post didn’t happen.

Then yesterday, I shared a short and sweet festive post. I just wanted to take the opportunity to acknowledge the festive season and how fortunate we are to be together at this time.

 

Books Read

My primary focus this week has been to make further progress with reading Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb. As of my last Sunday Summary update, I was around 270 pages into the book. This week, I’ve squeezed in a good deal more reading and I am now a healthier 519 pages in! I’ve been doing a lot of preparations this week for Christmas, so I’m happy with the amount I’ve read. These books are chunky and quite dense, so there’s a lot to take in from what I’ve already read. In terms of managing my own expectations on reading pace, I need to learn these aren’t books you can read quickly. 

 

Books Discovered

I’ve been very lucky to receive some bookish gifts today. I received two books for Christmas this year (in addition to a book token that will very gratefully be spent sometime soon no doubt!)

Both books received are already on my TBR, so thankfully, my reading list isn’t getting longer. I received both Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke.

 

Coming Up…

Next week is the last week of 2022. In previous years I have taken a break from blogging between Christmas and New Year. However, I’ve decided not to this year. Instead, I’m going to be posting as normal.

On Wednesday, I’ll be sharing my last book review of 2022. In that post, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling. Having concluded my re-read of the book series earlier this year, it’s about time I got on with my reviews of it!

Later in the week I’ll be back with my usual Friday feature. This week’s post ended up getting missed, so I’ll be posting it next week instead.

As always, I’ll conclude the week with my first Sunday Summary of 2023!

Have you had a good Christmas?

 

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Sunday Summary – 18th December 2022

Good evening everybody and welcome back to another Sunday Summary update post. I cannot believe that we are just one week away from Christmas day! Are you ready for it?

Earlier this week I shared my first audiobook review in quite some time. In that post, I shared my thoughts on the first book of the Greatcoats series by Sebastien de Castell, Traitor’s Blade. If you enjoy fantasy with in-depth world-building and lots of action, then I can certainly recommend Traitor’s Blade. I would especially recommend the audio as it is performed very well!

For this week’s regular Friday feature, I shared a Shelf Control post. In that post, I discuss a historical non-fiction novel on my TBR. I’m looking forward to reading this one as it will help me fill a gap in my knowledge of British history. It sounds like it’s full of interesting facts that will give me the opportunity to view England in a completely different light. If you’re intrigued to find out what the book is, you can find a link to that post here.

 

Books Read

I had a fantastic reading week last week. That’s not to say that this one hasn’t been a good one, but rather, I’ve had bits and pieces to do to get ready for Christmas and that has impacted my reading time.

As of last week’s Sunday Summary update post, I was 136 pages into Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb. This week, I have read a similar page count, taking me to chapter 12 which is 271 pages in. It’s not the most progress in the world, but I have really enjoyed this book this week. I am also going to be reading some more of the book tonight before going to bed, so I will have some more progress by the end of the night.

I expect to make a significant amount of progress with this book next week as I have the week off work! Whilst I will be getting the house ready for Christmas, you can bet that I will be making time for reading and relaxing ahead of the big day. I can’t think of a better book to do it with!

 

Books Discovered

Over the last couple of week’s I’ve added a number of books to my TBR. That is not the case for this week (thankfully!) I think I’ve added enough recently, and inevitably, I may be adding a few more very soon.

 

Coming Up…

I’ve decided to share something a little bit different this week. I am winding down a bit for Christmas, but I thought it would be fun to take part in the 20 questions book tag. This covers everything from book format preferences to how and where I like to read. It’s a fun post that will give you the opportunity to get to know me a little better!

On Friday, I’ll be sharing a First Lines Friday post. At the moment I haven’t christened how I’m going to decide next week’s feature – I’ll just see how I go! This will be my last FLF feature of the year. That’s a scary thought…

I also have an additional surprise post going live on Saturday. I’m giving nothing away about this one, so you’ll just have to check out the blog to see what it is.

Given that Sunday is the big day, I may or may not get around to sharing a Sunday Summary update with you. I’ll probably try and draft most of this ahead of time and chuck it out into the world if I have the chance. If not, I might publish it a little late on Monday instead.

For now, that is all from me! I hope you enjoyed today’s post and look forward to seeing you in the next one!

 

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