The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, a review (Kingsbridge #1)

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett is a huge book, coming in at over 1000 pages in my paperback edition. I had been intimidated by this book for a fair few years (I’ve had it since 2018) and me and Kari decided that buddy reading this one was the way to go.

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

Well I am so glad that we did because wow I would not have finished this without Kari! Whilst I can see why others might find enjoyment in this book, it was very much not for me.

Don’t be mistaken before you start this book, it is about building a cathedral. The characters and any other plot/world event is just background to the main course of the book. It seems to be incredibly well researched, and I now know more about cathedral building in Western Europe in the 12th century than I ever thought I would (never complain about learning something new!). Whilst this is interesting, I hadn’t expected just how much depth Follett was going to go into. Not bad necessarily, just really unexpected.

There are also scenes of intense violence, both generic violence and against women specifically. I don’t use content warnings personally (although I always provide them) but me and Kari checked that each other were okay after a certain scene. Yeah. That bad. Additionally, the same as my thoughts on Fall of Giants, Follett does a bad job of writing women. He means well, but he doesn’t succeed in portraying these characters as realistic women.

The interweaving of historical events through this book was incredibly interesting, and I’m very curious what was altered for literatures sake and what is accurate to the time. I do think that this part of the book was done well but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to save the book with the rest of the issues.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 3, Atmosphere: 4, Writing: 2, Plot: 4, Intrigue: 4, Logic: 5, Enjoyment: 1, giving an average of 3.29 and a 2* rating.

Highlight here for content warnings: rape, sexual violence, sexual assault, murder, death of parent, animal death, bullying, misogyny, physical, domestic and emotional abuse, torture, adult/minor relationship, animal cruelty, body shaming, paedophilia, body horror, child abuse, suicidal thoughts, abandonment.

This book… Is one I’m glad is over. And it has definitely put me off from finishing the Centuries trilogy or anything else by Follett. He puts a lot of research and effort into his books, but I feel like they’re just not for me.

October Reading Wrap Up ๐ŸŽƒ 2022

So it’s been more than 10 days since you last had a post from me, I’m sorry! Honestly I got really reading slumpy as well as just not that great overall, so I took some time away from work and from the bookish world and I’m doing a lot better for it. But I’m back with my October wrap up so let’s dive straight in!

I read very little this month, 2394 pages total but only finishing five books. Although I did read most of a few other books, those are carrying over to November (or as I’m calling it October Part 2) so they’ll be mentioned there.

First up? I finished Babel by R.F. Kuang! This was just the final 93 pages of the book that I finished up on the 1st October. I loved this book so much. It is a gorgeous dark academia set in 1800s Oxford that tackles racism, colonialism, the British empire and so much more. It’s heart wrenching, and despite being a very slow read (something I usually really don’t like) I found myself wanting more when I reached the final pages. It’s beautifully done and personally I think it deserves all the hype.

Next is The Imagination Chamber by Philip Pullman, one of my birthday books I was gifted (thank you Renette!) that is only 87 pages, and I needed a win so I thought why not! It’s a very quick read as it’s simply collections of Pullman’s extra ideas for scenes and character development within the world of His Dark Material’s and The Book of Dust. I enjoyed it a lot and I’m even more excited about the final book in the Book of Dust trilogy!

Then I read The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono, another birthday book (this time thanks go to Caitlyn!) that I picked up this month for a similar reason, it clocks at 42 pages. This one is an environmental read that is a gorgeous little ode to Mother Earth and I’m so glad I read it.

Then, the first book that I was actually on my tbr for this month, The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna. Five star read this book is amazing! This is a YA dystopian written by a Nigerian author that follows young women who are marginalised for having the “wrong” colour blood. Gold. This book dives deep into identity, misogyny, and so much more. It’s an absolutely beautiful work and I’m so excited to read the second book next year!

And finally, the book that gave me no end of trouble. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. I buddy read this with Kari, and without her I wouldn’t have gotten through this book! It’s a rough read. The final 250 pages I actually found mildly enjoyable, but considering this book is over 1000 pages long… that’s not exactly a glowing recommendation. This is a book that I recommend everyone reading the triggers for, but especially sexual assault and rape. I usually “hide” trigger warnings because I consider them spoilers, but it’s so severe in this book that I would be doing you a disservice if I hide those. On top of this, this book truly is just one huge essay on cathedral building with some historical fiction Follett decided to slide in. With this being such a behemoth to get through (both in page count and in content) it ground my reading to a halt. I wont’ be picking up any more Follett for a little while!

In the exact opposite of this… I got a ridiculous number of books in October because it was my birthday! I’m so grateful to everyone for all of these books, and very glad that I’m not doing balancing the books this month ๐Ÿ˜….

What was your best read this month? For me it was The Gilded Ones, that book is absolutely fantastic and I highly recommend it!

October TBR ๐ŸŽƒ

It’s officially spooky season!!! It’s also Gothtober season (hosted by the amazing Hannah), and it’s my birthday month!! (13th October, just saying). So this is always a super busy and hectic month for me… at least I’m not moving, starting a new job, and doing a video every single day like last year!! ๐Ÿคฃ

I also wanted to try and theme my tbr around Kari this month, with her birthday being on the 15th October and with us adoring the same books. It seemed appropriate and also like it would set me up for some fantastic reads! Matching up “Kari reads” along with the Gothtober prompts wasn’t exactly easy, but I think I’ve done an okay job ๐Ÿ˜‚

I’m also not doing the tbr jar this month, instead I’ve got a huge stack of “Kari reads” that I’ll delve into if I finish up my main tbr.

To get my prompts for Gothtober I had to play a game ๐Ÿ˜ˆ no really, Hannah’s brother Ciaran made a game for us to generate different prompt lists for everyone! I just ran it one time and decided to make the the prompts work damn it!

The first prompt is a gothic mood read and of course that could just be a random book I pick up, but I’m going to match The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean to this prompt. Because I’m always in the mood for dark, book themed reads! This is also the September Illumicrate book, so I’ve gotta squeeze it in somewhere.

Next is a book that completes you and for this I’m going with Foundation by Mercedes Lackey. This was gifted to me by my uncle but it’s also an author that Kari absolutely adores, and given it’s a YA high fantasy (the type of book we match most on) it’s a pretty sure bet I’m gunna love this one!

A beautiful book could be so many that are on my shelves, but I’m putting my Goldsboro GSFF book in here and that’s Mindwalker by Kate Dylan with it’s stunning bright pink cover with hexagons and a woman holding a gun? Gimme. All I know about this one is it’s a sci-fi soooooo, I’m excited!

Then for the prompts that everyone gets, because of course. These are books by a BIPOC/BAME author, an LGBTQ+ book, and a book with disability representation. I love to try and combine these all into one, and I actually found out (through the Gothtober twitter account) that The Book Eaters would count for this. But instead I’m going to be reading Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon because I adore everything I’ve read by them and I need an excuse to pick this up!

For a book that I forgot I had I’m going with Dracula by Bram Stoker, because how the hell did I forget about this classic? And it’s SO gothic that it’s just the absolute perfect choice rn. Give me bats! ๐Ÿฆ‡

The next prompt is a murder mystery read and that fits in fantastically well with How to Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie which Hannah challenged me to read this October. All about a woman who’s jailed for murder, and she is a murderer, but she didn’t do this one and she’ll be damned if she goes down for someone elses crime!

A heavy book could have a few meanings, but I’m going with a big book and that’s The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. I’m buddy reading this with Kari throughout October, and whilst I don’t think it actually is, it gives me dark academia vibes so I’m here for it being an October read.

My final prompt is a book that features a training montage and this is the perfect excuse to pick up The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna. This has been sat on my tbr for too damn long and I’m excited to pick it up!

Then I’ve only (not including the Kari books) got one book left on my tbr, which isn’t linked to Gothtober, and that’s The Ends of the World by Peter Brannen, an Earth Science non-fiction. Because it’s my birthday month and I wanna read it ๐Ÿ˜‡.

I’m hoping that this TBR is pretty manageable, and even slightly too easy, cause I want to get to some more of the Kari stack! But October is also going to be a really busy month for me. Lots of live streams, catching up with family, and even a trip to London for my birthday! (my amazing partner got us tickets for the Eng vs USA football game โšฝ). I’m also getting a new phone, finally. I’ve had mine since 2014…. ๐Ÿ˜ถ and so I imagine I’m gunna be pretty glued to that. Let’s hope I can still squeeze the reading in!

What are you wanting to read in October? And are you joining in Gothtober? I hope so! Have a great month folks!

Fall of Giants, a review

IT IS FINALLY DONE!!! This huge book took me 1139 days to read, starting in January of 2019 and not finishing until February of 2022!! Now I did take at least a year long break in the middle, but still. That’s a bit of a ridiculous amount of time for me to get through Fall of Giants by Ken Follett.

This is a historical fiction that starts not long before the First World War broke out. We follow a large number of POVs from various locations, Wales, London, Germany, France, Russia, and the US. Not exactly all over the world (and a penny chew to whoever guesses first the race of every one of these characters) but from some varying viewpoints non-the-less.

It was really interesting to learn a little more about WWI in this way, it’s clearly a well researched book by Follett and it was genuinely interesting. This historical accuracy throughout this really saved the day for me, for the war itself, as well as events around it.

Something that I can’t avoid, however, is just how strong the male gaze was in this book. I’ve not read a book that was so clearly written by a man in a long while and it was difficult to adjust to this. There was actually some interesting and nuanced discussions around women gaining the vote, so it’s not that the writing itself was sexist. But every sex scene and interaction between men and women was just so clearly written for the male gaze and so obviously didn’t have any influence from any women.

In CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 6, Atmosphere: 6, Writing: 6, Plot: 8, Intrigue: 7, Logic: 8, and Enjoyment: 7, which gives a score of 6.86 and a rating of 3.5*.

It’s not the highest rating, I know, but I do still want to continue with this series. Book 2 is based around WWII and book 3 around the Cold War. I think I could learn quite a bit from both of these and fingers crossed the representation of the female characters will be better.

Highlight here for trigger warnings: alcohol, death, family rejection, misogyny, murder, sexual content, sexual assault, rape, war.

First Lines Friday #13

It’s time for another First Lines Friday! Hosted byย Wandering Words!! It might be Christmas day but book blogs stop for nobody!! (and this was prescheduled in November, so sue me)

What if, instead of judging a book by its cover or its author, we judged the book by its opening lines?

Here is how it works:

โ€“ Pick a book and open to the first page.

โ€“ Copy the first few lines without revealing which book it is.

โ€“ Reveal the book!

Soโ€ฆ do these first lines entice you?

On the day King George V was crowned at Westminster Abbey in London, Billy Williams went down the pit in Aberowen, South Wales.

The twenty-second of June 1911 was Billy’s thirteenth birthday. He was woken by his father. Da’s technique for waking people was more effective than it was kind. He patter Billy’s cheek, in a regular rhythm, firmly and insistently. Billy was in a deep sleep, and for a second he tried to ignore it, but the patting went on relentlessly. Momentarily he felt angry; but then he remembered that he had to get up, he even wanted t get up, and he opened his eyes and sat upright with a jerk.

‘Four o’clock,’ Da said, then he left the room, his boots banging on the wooden staircase as he went down.

Scroll down to reveal the book!

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arrow-pointing-down-animation-with-transparent-background_sao3efrlx_thumbnail-full04  | Arrow painting, Arrow pointing down, Transparent backgroundarrow-pointing-down-animation-with-transparent-background_sao3efrlx_thumbnail-full04  | Arrow painting, Arrow pointing down, Transparent background
Fall of Giants - Wikipedia
Fall of Giants by Ken Follett

A first for my first lines fridays! All the other books I’ve mentioned so far I’ve not started, but I’m actually around 100 pages into this book. But… I’ve been 100 pages in for well over a year… Right look it’s a big boy. My edition is 851 pages long and a girl gets intimidated! But I am still really interested in this book and series. It’s a historical fiction with the first book being set during the Great War, the second being through WWII and the third in the Cold War (which I know the least about cause I’m British and we barely study it in school haha). I definitely plan on getting my butt in gear and reading this one, but it’s just pushing myself on through!

My January TBR| 2019

It’s the start of a new year, and it’s also the start of my assignment deadlines at university. In January I have two exams and a pretty big project, as well as other things due in next month, so I don’t know how much time I’ll have to read. Because of this I’m making my tbr even smaller than my December one! I’m only planning on readingย one book this month. Now to be fair, it’s a chunker.

fall of giants

Ken Follett’sย Fall of Giants comes in at over 800 pages in my copy, and the writing ain’t big! But I brought this book with me down to my university for this very reason. I was hoping that not bringing many books down would result in me reading some big books I had been avoiding. Instead, I went to the library and also bought more books… so that didn’t work. But this time this is the only book on my tbr, I’m going to read it!

I won’t be mad if I don’t finish it, I’d just like to make a decent dent in it. I also am not going to stop myself from picking up some other smaller books if I get the desire, this is just my main focus for the month.

I don’t think I’ve ever set a tbr for only one book but I really hope that I can do everything this month and get great results on my assignments, as well as reading as much as I can of this tomb and hopefully enjoying it!