November Reading Wrap Up

I tried to keep my November tbr small and still failed, but I managed to get through a fair amount of them! I didn’t finish up my Goldsboro or Illumicrate books, so I’m going to leave those for now and if I do finish my December tbr in good time I’ll squeeze them in before the end of the year.

Dracula by Bram Stoker is the classic vampire novel that I was finishing up from October. Truthfully I had been expecting to just find this fine. But I loved it! The character development was so engaging and the female characters? Actually being appreciated and fleshed out? *French kiss*.

Mindwalker by Kate Dylan is another book I was finishing up from my October TBR. It’s a fabulous Sci-Fi story

The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean is the final book that I was finishing up from my October reads.

Van Gogh by Meyer Schapiro is a book that I found in a charity shop in October. It is a non-fiction which shows large prints of selected van Gogh paintings alongside Schapiro’s thoughts and analysis on the work. It was a little overly academic for me at times, but I did enjoy learning more about this artist that I love.

Between Starshine and Clay by Sarah Ladipo Manyika was sent to me by the wonderful people over at Footnote, and I’m so very grateful because this book was fantastic. I really enjoyed how Ladipo Manyika told us the stories she was learning, utilising different styles and methods. We hear so many stories from wide across the diaspora and I will definitely be looking to learn more about every person included in this book!

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb is a book Celine wanted me to read, and now I have I totally see why. This book was amazing! Exactly the type of fantasy that I adore and oh dear I’m in love with this series just one book in! Watching the growth of this young boy, isolated from everyone around him, and the struggles he faces. The character development. All of it is just amazing and you all (if you enjoy fantasy) need to pick this book up!

How To Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie is a book that Hannah had put on my tbr for October, clearly it didn’t happen that month but I wanted it to still happen so I got in gear and read it in November. At the start I hated our main character, but I pushed through and I’m glad I did! This is such a wild book and a lot of fun. The ending? Frustrating. Honestly Mackie WHY. But apart from that? Fun!

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal is the book that Hannah actually put on my tbr for November, and again she picked an amazing book. This is set in London and follows a young British Indian woman who doesn’t fit in with the cultural expectations but ends up with a job in her local temple… teaching the elderly women how to write erotic stories. But this book is about so much more. It’s about racism, feminism, community, and culture. It’s a really beautiful book and one I’ll definitely be recommending! There are scenes of written erotica in here, as we see the widow’s stories, which as a Demi weren’t what I was here for. But I did enjoy the rest of the book.

Dune by Frank Herbert was my final read for November and I buddy read this with Eleanor (and Chels tried but life was lifeing). There weren’t any chapter breaks in this book, which obviously was an issue while buddy reading. So that was frustrating. And the synopsis is written badly in my edition as it spoils something which doesn’t actually occur until over 200 pages in. I think I’ll appreciate this book a lot more on reread but it was simply fine for this first read through. Now I need to decide if I’m continuing with the series or if I’m leaving this here.

I did also read some of Silver Under Nightfall of Rin Chupeco and The Whispering Dark by Kelly Andrew, which hopefully I’ll be finishing up before the end of the year. I’m enjoying both of them, Silver a lot more, and I hope that carries on as I finish up the books.

Overall I’m really happy with how this reading month ended up, with a fair few books read! What is the best book you read in November? I’m debating between Assassin’s Apprentice and Dracula!

Mindwalker by Kate Dylan, a review

Mindwalker by Kate Dylan was September’s Goldsboro GSFF box book. A YA Sci-Fi set in Earth’s future. I always enjoy the GSFF box books so I was excited to dive in!

Mindwalker by Kate Dylan

Our protagonist is an 18 year old girl who has a supercomputer grafted into her brain in order to let her control secret agents when they need extraction, and anytime soon it’s going to blow. When Sil is forced to go on the run she joins with an unlikely band of people and learns more about the world she thought she knew.

This is such a fast moving book, which is something I always enjoy. Sil is a really interesting protagonist to be inside the head of, seeing how she starts the book and her thoughts and opinions of the company she works for and how these alter over the course of the novel. I also love that we get some alternative perspectives from the side characters. Both from those inside the company and out.

The core plot point in this book is relatively predictable. But I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. I think all of you know, from the minimal amount I’ve said so far, that Sil starts out loving her company she works for and then ends up realising it’s bad. However, the twists and turns and the commentary around this? It’s done so well! There is one twist in particular that I just *adored* how it was done! And there were so many interesting discussions and viewpoints.

The writing style itself is also a fun one. Dylan says that she’s emulating Marvel and I think she does that well (and I adore that Sil names her AI Jarvis!). It really does lend the book a fast pace and kept me hooked the whole way through.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Charcters: 8, Atmosphere: 8, Writing: 8, Plot: 7, Intrigue: 8, Logic: 7, and Enjoyment: 9 giving an average of 8 and a 4.5* rating.

Highlight here for content warnings: body horror, death, violence, blood, vomit, medical content, suicide.

I absolutely need more books from this world, and Kate Dylan commented on my insta post suggesting we’ll get just that… I’m so excited! This is a fantastic YA Sci-Fi that I think is light enough to entice newbies to the genre, as well as having enough of the core Sci-Fi components to satisfy those who love the genre. In other words? This book is so much fun. I really do recommend it. And this is another big tick to Goldsboro from me!

November TBR Time!

Is this tbr a little late? Yeah! But better late than never πŸ˜…

October did not go great for me reading wise, but it gave me the reality check I needed that reading is a hobby that I’m supposed to enjoy, not stress about. So although I’ve got a fairly big tbr for November, I’m not going to stress if I don’t manage to read all the books.

I’m also transferring books over from last months tbr, so let’s start with those before I move onto the new books on the list.

Dracula by Bram Stoker is a well known Gothic classic, and one that I got over halfway through in October. I’m really enjoying it so far and looking forward to finishing up the story.

Illumicrate’s book for last month, The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean is a horror standalone set mainly in the north east of England (love) about people who eat books and people who eat minds. I’m only about 20% of the way into this one but it’s another I have high hopes about enjoying.

And then Goldsboro’s GSFF book last month was Mindwalker by Kate Dylan. A YA Sci-fi with Marvel vibes, this is definitely a fun one and I’m looking forward to the conclusion.

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb is one of my “12 in 12 months” books and I’d like to be able to at least make a good dent in all of those. It’s also a high fantasy, which I’ve not read for a while.

And the last for transferred books is How To Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie. I only read 35 pages of this last month so I’ve barely scraped the surface of this one, but I’m intrigued and always down for a death themed read.

Now onto the books that are new for this month.

The wonderful people over at Footnote sent me Between Starshine and Clay by Sarah Ladipo Manyika, which is a non-fiction work where Ladipo Manyika has conversations with people across the African diaspora. It sounds completely fascinating and I’m really excited to dive in.

Then we have this month’s Illumicrate read: The Whispering Dark by Kelly Andrew. This has own voices deaf representation and seems like it’s going to be a dark read. Right up my street.

Goldsboro GSFF for this month is Silver Under Nightfall by Rin Chupeco. I loved The Never Tilting World so I’m excited to read this vampire book from them, I’ve not read a vampire book in years!

Then Dune by Frank Herbert is also on my “12 in 12 months” list so I’m trying to squeeze this one is as well, buddy reading it with Eleanor and Chels. This is a classic sci-fi space opera and the first time I’ve dove into one of those. Hoping I enjoy it!

And the final book on my tbr is Erotic Stories for Punjabi Women by Balli Kaur Jaswal, one that Hannah from Ladette M put on my tbr for this month. This is a contemporary, which I don’t usually read. But I trust Hannah so I’m looking forward to diving into this one!

And that’s the tbr! Like I said, if I don’t read these books it’s not the end of the world. Fingers crossed I do but I’m just taking it easy and looking after my mental health.

With us being almost half way through the month, I hope that your tbr is going well! Good luck for the rest of November!

My September TBR!

At this very beginning of September I’ve been finishing off my reads for the MiddleEarthAThon, so that has delayed me starting my actual tbr. It’s also tempting a slump because WOW I read a lot πŸ˜‚ but that’s why this tbr is a little late.

Ironically, my video version wasn’t late – so if you’d rather see this in video form then check it out!

But now onto the list version of my tbr! I do have one “secret” book on my tbr, that you folks won’t find out about until mid-October at the earliest. I really need to get reading on that one!

Babel by R.F. Kuang is one of the most hyped books of this month and I’m so excited to dive into this diverse dark academia. I’ve not read anything by Kuang yet (The Poppy War is on my tbr still) and so I really hope I enjoy her writing style – I have hope! This one was, of course, from my Illumicrate subscription.

My Goldsboro GSFF subscription brought me Lost in Time by A.G. Riddle and it’s definitely something very different to what I usually pick up! A man is sent back to the time of the dinosaurs as a punishment but he has to get back to the modern day. Sounds wild and I’m here for it.

Then for the Middle Grade Magic readathon which is taking place from the 1st to the 11th September I’m wanting to read two books. One is Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko which I’m wanting to read via audiobook, a YA high fantasy, magical, queer read. Always here for that and I’ve heard wonderful things. The other book is The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan, the second book in his Ancient Egyptian series The Kane Chronicles. This is one of the few middle grades that I have a physical copy of so it was the obvious choice.

And then I have four books on my general tbr, along with a fifth for my tbr jar pick.

Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin is a piece of classic LGBTQ+ literature that was gifted to me by my uncle (who runs this amazing page called On This Gay Day) and I’ve been meaning to read for a while!

Then one that I keep hearing amazing things about, The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss. Now that I’ve read more gothic literature, I’m excited to dive into this book that utilises both those tropes as well as the famous characters from these books, and I’ve heard the communication style is unique.

It’s been a while since I read a dystopian so I’m finally going to pick up Raging Star by Moira Young and finish the Blood Red Road trilogy. I’ve had this on my tbr for so long now that it’s slightly ridiculous. Time to finally read it!

Failure to Communicate by Kaia Sonderby is my last book before the jar and this is a sci-fi read that has autistic representation that I’ve been told is wonderful. It’s also an indie-published novel which I always love supporting!

And then for the jar. I went through the jar with Caitlyn from Mad Cheshire Rabbit and added and removed some entries – from the newly refreshed jar I picked out……

The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco! (which was gifted to me by Kari from Kar-ing for Books) This is a sci-fi fantasy read where the planet has stopped rotating. One half is freezing and the other is boiling – but the two must work together. I’m excited to try out this one.

And that’s my tbr. As always it’s far too big but fingers crossed I can get through all these reads and that I enjoy most of them, we’ll have to wait and see πŸ˜‰

What are you most excited to read in September? I’m assuming for most of you the answer will be Babel! I’m super excited for that one too!!

Miss Peregrine’s for Adults? πŸ¦…

I got Ordinary Monsters by J.M. Miro in a Goldsboro GSFF box, and god is it gorgeous. But on top of that, it’s a damn good book. Coming in at just under 700 pages it’s definitely a big boi, but I think it’s worth it.

Ordinary Monsters is set in late 1800s, in the UK (mainly Scotland but with time spent in England) along with travels to places including the US and Japan. There are children who have mysterious powers, and a man who has set up a school/community for them in the Scottish highlands sends out staff to find them and bring them back to the Institute. To keep them protected. We primarily follow Charlie and Marlow, two young boys from the US. One is Black and despite being in Mississippi and having been treated with violence, Charlie has no scars. The other travelled across the pond from London to end up working in a circus in the US, and he can make himself glow blue.

I’ve barely even scratched the surface with the details inside this book. I could go on and on about each and every character, their backstory, and what we learn about them. Everything within this book has been so well developed. I’ve even found myself wanting to know about each and every side plot that was mentioned. I want to know everything about this world.

Miro does such a great job at exploring this magical world nestled within our own. I’m able to understand the magic system (as much as our characters do) as well as the community that has been built up and what their aims are for themselves and for humanity. And yet despite this there is still so much more that I want to know about the world! I was so relieved when I finished this and saw that there would be two more books. There is so much that can still be explored within this series!

I’m doing such a bad job of explaining this book, and that’s because it was just that good! I’m trying not to give any spoilers while I gush about this amazing tome and it’s so difficult!

It’s a lot easier to describe this book if you’ve read the Peculiar Children series though. Because this seems very much like the adult version of that. We explore the outside world more than you do in PC (especially in the first book) as well as tackling much darker and more complex themes. But the core concept of the book is still the same. There are magical children, they are taken to a big old house where they look after them and teach them to use magic, but things aren’t as they seem and dark forces want to ruin everything.

Bloody fantastic. That’s what it is.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 9, Atmosphere: 9, Writing: 9, Plot: 9, Intrigue: 9, Logic: 9, and Enjoyment: 10. With an average of 9.14 and a 5* rating.

Highlight here for trigger warnings: violence, death, gore, racism, blood, murder, injury detail, body horror, child abuse, gun violence, child death, mental illness, physical abuse, self harm, slavery, torture, kidnapping, abandonment, death of parent, addiction, confinement, miscarriage, misogyny, rape, xenophobia, police brutality, gaslighting.

I think the only reason this didn’t rate higher is because I finished The Travelling Cat Chronicles just before it and that made me weep my eyes out! But this is an amazing and fantastic read. If I’ve piqued your interest at all, please please consider giving this book a shot!

Have you read this? If so I need to know what you thought! And have you read Peculiar Children? I know a lot more people have read those books, and they’re fun!

Back Into Reading! My July wrap up and stats!

I’ve had a big dip in my reading lately. Life came up on me and so reading had to take a back seat, but by the end of the month I seem to have gotten back into my stride. Despite that, I did “only” manage 7 books (I was averaging around 13 books before, 7 books is still a great number!).

I read 2410 pages this month, with 18 hours of audiobook listening. Which is the most I’ve done in any month so far. Despite that, I read mostly physical books, 6 in fact. With only the 1 audiobook (The Fellowship of the Ring). And surprising nobody, 4 out of the 7 books were fantasy!

I started out the month by reading Pompeii by Salvatore Nappo. This is a guide book to Pompeii that was published in 1998 and gifted to my family then. None of us ever got around to reading it, and seeing as I was in Pompeii last month now seemed like a good time! Despite it being a little old the information in here was still mostly accurate (what’s been excavated being the most inaccurate – obviously) and super interesting.

Then I finished Rivers of London by Ben Arronovitch and I couldn’t stop thinking about this book after I finished it! A Met Police PC discovers the occult and supernatural and ends up joining the department of the Met that deals with magical crimes. I did have a few issues with this book, but honestly I can’t get it out of my head and I’m definitely carrying on with the series.

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen was my next read. This is my fourth book by her (if you include Lady Susan) and yet again I really enjoyed it! I like how it played on the gothic tropes and made fun of them a little whilst also advocating for reading and having some great quotes. I don’t know why I like her books so much, because I wouldn’t think of picking them up if they were contemporary now. But I’m not complaining!

A translated piece of fiction from Japan, The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa made me sob. Honestly my face was not fit for public consumption. Christ. I was red as a tomato and sniffling like a child who just finished throwing a tantrum. This book is so beautiful, and so heartwrenching. I don’t want to tell you much, because it’s learning about the events themselves that give the impact of the book. But the general plot is that it’s a road trip across Japan with this man and his cat, as he tries to find a new home for the cat. 5 stars!

Goldsboro did it once again with their amazing GSFF box pick, Ordinary Monsters by J.M. Miro. Think Peculiar Children but for adults. The magic system in here was amazing, I loved the conversation about taking children from their homes and their loved ones. I loved each and every side plot in here and wish that we could have them all fleshed out. It was just an amazing experience and this is another 5 star read for me. Read it.

Unfortunately, my next book wasn’t so great, and that’s Book of Night by Holly Black. This was the Illumicrate book for last month, but because I wasn’t reading this month’s book (cause it’s racist) I thought I’d catch up on my missed reading from my holidays with this one. It’s fine? The magic is interesting but I just couldn’t get along with Black’s writing style. And given this is supposed to be an adult title it felt incredibly YA.

Luckily my final book puts things on an upspin with The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkein finally being on my read shelves! I listened to this via audiobook, which was a fantastic experience, and I’m so mad that I didn’t pick these books up sooner! I need to read the next two! I’m so glad Lizzie is hosting the MiddleEarthAThon to kick me into gear to read these!

And those are my reads! I seem to be getting back into my books now, fingers crossed (touch wood, and every other superstition available), and I’m looking forward to all the new stories I can get to next month! If you’d like to see how my balancing of the books went in July? Well you’ll have to subscribe to my BookTube channel so you get notified when that video comes out! (soon!)

What’s your favourite read of July? Mine has to be a tie between The Travelling Cat Chronicles, and Ordinary Monsters!

The Collarbound, a review

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Goldsboro does an amazing job at picking their GSFF books and I always know I’m going to enjoy the book each month. The Collarbound by Rebecca Zahabi has been no exception.

This is the first book in a new series, where we follow two POVs. It’s based in a city with a school for mages, as well as with a population of a different race that is treated as lesser. There are clear allegories to how Black people have been treated with this race. One of the POVs is of a refuge new to the city, she has tattoos that were given to her as a baby. These tattoos mark her out as belonging to a different race, one she doesn’t belong to, that is treated as less within this society. This combined with her being new to the city means she is treated very differently to the other students. The other POV follows a man who is collarbound. He has a golden collar around his neck, which marks him out as someone who is controlled. Someone who *must* do what is commanded by the one who put him in the collar.

As you can probably tell, I struggle to describe what this book is about. Unfortunately, that’s one of the few points where this book falls down. It’s an incredibly interesting story, and I will 100% be continuing with the series. But it doesn’t have a conclusive storyline currently. There is a lot going on and non of it is easy to explain.

Despite this, I did enjoy the book. Don’t get me wrong, it’s engaging! I really want to learn more about the world, about its magic system, and about the people we’ve been introduced to but we don’t know the backgrounds of. The character development is strong in this book, and is what saved it for me. There are so many different characters we are introduced to, and we get to see them interact with new information and learn more about their lives constantly. If you like character based books? This is one for you.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 8, Atmosphere: 7, Writing: 7, Plot: 7, Intrigue: 6, Logic: 7, Enjoyment: 7, which totals 7 and gives a 4* rating.

Highlight here for trigger warnings: racism, slavery, ableism, police brutality, violence, corporal punishment, emotional abuse.

This definitely isn’t a read for everyone, and like I said above I think it would be most suited to those who prefer a character based read. But if that is something you enjoy I recommend giving this one a shot, I think this series could develop into something amazing!

Jane Austen July TBR! 2022

Thank you for baring with a little post break. I might have gotten back from my hols on Tuesday but that didn’t mean I was recovered! (We got in at about 3am, boy was I tired) But that isn’t what you’re here for. It’s tbr time!

I chose not to pick something from my tbr jar this month. I clearly just need a bit of a break and so I’ll leave that for now. If you want to see my tbr in video form then please check that out here!

Considering just how badly I did in June (seriously, just wait for the wrap up, it’s bad) I tried to keep this tbr on the smaller side, as well as transferring over some books from last month.

The first book I transferred over was The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien which I want to read via audiobook. I’ve never read the Lord of the Rings book, and I’m determined to change that sooner rather than later!

Secondly I transferred Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch which is a high fantasy following a DC in the Met Police in a magical London. I took this all the way to Italy with me, and didn’t read a single page. But I did see that the font was pretty big, so this should actually be a nice and easy read.

The final transferred book is Book of Night by Holly Black which is another one that I just didn’t have time for. This was the Illumicrate book for last month and it kind of works out that I’m reading it this month, as I don’t intend on reading We All Fall Down by Rose Szabo because of the racist issues that some have highlighted. So I can read last months instead.

The first of my “new” tbr books is Ordinary Monsters by J.M. Miro which is the Goldsboro GSFF book I got last month. I knew nothing about it until I filmed my tbr, and I read the first paragraph of the synopsis and fell in love. So despite this being around 600 pages I’m really excited to dive in! Goldsboro seems to know my reading taste so damn well!

Pompeii by Salvatore Nappo is a non-fiction all about the buried Roman town. Possibly this is one I should’ve read before we went and had a tour by an active archaeologist… but regardless I think it’ll be fun. It is quite out of date, as it’s technically been on my tbr since 1997. When I was 1… So it’s not the most up to date but hey, it’ll be interesting nontheless!

The prequel to Pet, Bitter by Akwaeke Emezi is a short little book that arrive at the very end of June and I’m hyped for. It’s a fantasy that follows Pet’s mum when she was younger. I don’t want to say too much in case it spoils Pet!

And then finally, onto the title of this post. Jane Austen July.

The book that is definitely on my tbr is Northanger Abbey (by Jane Austen of course) because it’s the shortest one left of Austen’s that I’ve not read yet! Look I’ve been having a time and I need to make things easier on myself.

And the second Austen book, and final book on my tbr, is Sense and Sensibility which is the next shortest, and is also (I’m simplifying massively here) like a first draft of Pride and Prejudice. So I won’t be mad if I miss this one, but I think it should be one I can get through without too much trouble. We’ll see 😏

And that’s my tbr! 7 books in total, smaller than my usual tbr’s, but I hope I can actually get through them all and make a good dent. And if I read them all? Well then I can get through some of the books I’ve gotten so far this year that I’ve not read yet!

What are you wanting to read in july? Will you be reading any Austen? Please let me know!!

The Embroidered Book, a review

The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield is a historical fantasy starting in the 1760s, following sisters Charlotte and Marie Antoinette. Both who become Queens and have a major impact on their respective new countries. But in this world, people can do magic, if they know the ingredients, and are willing to pay the price.

Historical fiction used to be very much my thing when I was younger, but in recent years I’ve moved away from it. Meaning that without this being the Goldsboro GSFF pick I probably wouldn’t have read it. And boy oh boy am I so glad that I was influenced to pick this up!!

This book is incredibly historically accurate. Every friendship, every enemy, every political move and alliance, can all be backed up by historians. Heartfield did an incredible job in the research for this book. This book made me so interested in these two women that I went to research them myself, thinking that surely there would be things that were missed and/or not factually accurate. In reality it just confirmed everything that had been shown in the book.

The only historical inaccuracy I could find in this book? The magic! (obvs) And I thought the magic was done so well and was a magic system I’d never come across before! Individuals have to sacrifice something important to them (specified for the spell) at each point of a five pointed star, to make the magic work. This can be a physical object, or they can write down a hope/dream/love and this will be taken from them and sacrificed. I thought it was done fantastically and was such an interesting aspect of the story.

On CAWPILE I rated this book: Characters: 10, Atmosphere: 9, Writing: 8, Plot: 8, Intrigue: 8, Logic: 10, and enjoyment: 10. Giving an average score of 9 and a 5* rating!

I won’t lie to you folks, I did struggle a little to get through this book at first. Purely because it’s just so big! (it’s around 700 pages and my copy is hardback) and when I first finished it, I thought it was a 4 star read. But I just couldn’t stop thinking about it and every time I mentioned it I started gushing! And for me? Well that’s easily the signs of a five star read!

Highlight here for trigger warnings: death, violence, domestic abuse, misogyny, murder, arranged marriage, partner violence, child illness and death, miscarriage, endemic disease, racism, colonialism, imperialism, accusations of paedophilia, and mutilation of corpses.

Have you read The Embroidered Book, or would you consider reading it after this? I’m so so glad that I delved into this book and I’m very much here for more historical fantasies!