๐ŸŽ…๐ŸปDecember TBR!๐ŸŽ…๐Ÿป

It’s Chriiiiiistmaaaasss!!! Or at least it’s December. Look I’ve waited until December started and we’ve all had such a bad year that we deserve to enjoy something! But yes, this means it’s time for my final tbr of 2022! ๐Ÿ˜ฒ

In the twist of the decade I’ve actually kept this months list short so let’s dive in!

First up are the book box books. Goldsboro GSFF box for this month with be The Immortality Thief by Taran Hunt which is another Sci-Fi book. 100% here for squeezing in some more Sci-Fi before the end of the year! And Illumicrate is giving us The Luminaries by Susan Dennard as a Daphne Press book. I’m excited to finally try out some of Dennard’s writing!

Then onto the books I already own. The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang is the last book on my “12 in 2022” instagram list, where I had people pick 12 books for me to read this year. After adoring Babel I’m so so excited to dive into more of Kuang’s writing! A Chinese history inspired political fantasy? Exciting!

The Spear of Truth by Caroline Logan was one of my most anticipated releases of 2022 and I need to get to it before the year is out! This is the final book in the Four Treasures series which follows a grumpy grandpa of a young girl who is coerced into being a bodyguard for some selkies! Scottish mythology combined with YA fantasy and I adore the series. I’m so excited and so nervous for this series to end!

My boyfriend adores the Discworld series, and yet after I’ve moved in with him I’ve not read a single Discworld book! So Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett is going on my December tbr. This series is a classic in the fantasy world and I’m excited to dive back into the madness!

The final book on my tbr is a reread, and that is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I’m going to be getting the train to my parents house on Christmas Eve, and this seems like the perfect travel read for the season!

That’s only 6 books! Six! That’s the smallest tbr I’ve made in ages! I won’t lie, it was surprisingly hard, and I had another 5 books that could’ve been added to the tbr. But I really want to be reasonable this month and not give myself too much to read.

What’s on your final tbr of the year? What do you need to get to before New Years Day?

Babel by R.F. Kuang, a review

Babel by R.F. Kuang. Where do I even start with this incredibly hyped and very popular book? With editions from Illumicrate, Fairyloot, Waterstones and Barnes & Nobles it looked like everyone had this book!

Babel by R.F. Kuang

This dark academia fantasy novel is set in Oxford in the 1800s following international students in a translation college at the uni. In this world, silver working provides the power that was made possible in the real world through the industrial revolution. This involves matching similar words across languages and utilising their meanings. But despite relying on foreigners for this work, the English still maintain their “superiority” over people of colour and look to exploit them and their work for their own gain.

The etymology side of this book is absolutely fascinating. The sheer research that Kuang must have done on such a large range of languages is incredibly impressive and really demonstrates the beauty of language.

Kuang also integrates the colonial ideals of exploitation of non-whites for the gains of the empire throughout this novel, and the impact both mentally and physically this takes on people of colour who have been taken under the wings of the empire. These people have been given the privilege of an education not offered to the rest of their countrymen, and they feel like they should be grateful for this. But they were only given this because there was a “use” for them that white students couldn’t provide. And none of the innovations developed will be passed on to China, India, the Caribbean – the places which provided our main characters with the culture and language that Oxford and the Babel Institute finds so useful. Seeing this complex play of emotions and manipulation through the lenses of our characters throughout the novel is fascinating and heartbreaking.

I really enjoyed how Kuang interlinked real history, historical events and technological innovation, with the magical potential discovered in this world. It adds an extra weight to the racism and sexism portrayed, as the reader can’t escape by thinking this is just a fantasy. These events happened, in a slightly different manner, in real life.

I really cannot speak truly to everything this book contains and all of the aspects of it. This book is a work of art. Also, as a white woman I’m not going to be impacted in the same way that others will be. But. This book is god damn gorgeous. I will say, for the reading experience, it is a very slow read. That is usually something that I really don’t enjoy out of a book, I like a fast paced read. However, it works absolutely perfectly within this book. I found myself wanting to savour and relish every sentence and I was more than happy to make my way slowly through this book. So go into this expecting it to be slow, but don’t let that put you off if you’re usually a fast paced reader like me.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 10, Atmosphere: 9, Writing: 9, Plot: 9, Intrigue: 9, Logic: 9, and Enjoyment: 10 which gives a score of 9.29 and a 5* rating!

Highlight here for content warnings: racism, colonisation, racial slurs, death, violence, xenophobia, classism, child abuse, grief, war, sexism, suicide, murder, gun violence, misogyny, death of parent, emotional abuse, enslavement, torture, physical abuse, cultural appropriation, hate crime, islamophobia, trafficking, gaslighting, addiction, confinement, drug abuse, infidelity, self harm, kidnapping.

In my opinion? This book is 100% worth the hype. It’s a gorgeous, multi-facited, read that has inspired me to reach for more books from R.F. Kuang. I’m hoping to read The Poppy War in December! This will sit pride of place on my shelves and is a definite contender for my book of the year!

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!

September Reading Wrap Up ’22

How the HELL did I read so many books this month? It’s actually slightly ridiculous, but I suppose it’s a good thing to balance out the birthday books coming next month! w Overall I read nineteen books. 19. How? How?! I really don’t know, but here we are. I had an amazing month. Not complaining! I also managed to actually read my whole tbr within these books too, so overall I’m really pleased.

Now. Let’s dive into these books and their mini reviews

The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was my first finished book of the month. This 1122 page behemoth is one I was reading for the MiddleEarthAThon and I was finishing up the final 500ish pages at the start of the month. My full review is incredibly in depth, so I’ll just say that I enjoyed this and I’m glad I’ve finally read all of the Sherlock books!

Leading on from my first read, I picked up The Essential Sherlock Holmes Stories from Running Press Mini. This is essentially just a summary of the Holmes stories and is a cute little shelf decoration.

Fake Law by The Secret Barrister was my “non-fiction of the month” and whilst it was incredibly anger inducing, it was also really insightful. It’s a discussion on how the law operates in England and Wales (as this is where TSB works) and how the media picks up and spins tales around cases to create headlines. A fantastic read and one I highly recommend.

Going for something a little different, a middle grade! The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan is the second book in the Kane Chronicles which is his Ancient Egyptian series. I enjoyed this book a lot more than the first, oddly enough, and it’s definitely invigorated my desire to finish up the series. And maybe even finally picking up Percy Jackson!

Then I finished my audiobook, Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko which is a fantastic YA fantasy that I should have picked up a while ago! I adored the magic system in this book, as well as the character development. I’m super excited to pick up the second book in this duology!

Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin was gifted to me by my uncle (who runs a page called On This Gay Day that you totally need to check out) and I truthfully didn’t think I would like it because it’s very much a slice of life style read. But I loved it? I’m so into these peoples lives and I’m 100% carrying on with the series because I need to stay with these characters!

Gothic vibes seemed appropriate as we moved into Autumn, and The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss fits the vibes perfectly. Retelling classic Victorian stories of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Frankenstein, and more. This is a fantastical, gothical, historical, mystery and it’s so much fun. I’m excited to continue with this trilogy!

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jeanette McCurdy is one of the most hyped books right now, and seeing as I loved iCarly when I was a kid and the topic generally interests me? Well this was an obvious pick. It’s a rough read, but a very well written one and I’m glad I picked it up. This is one of my highest rated books of the month!

This month’s Goldsboro GSFF read was Lost in Time by A.G. Riddle, a Sci-Fi time travel read. This one was let down slightly because I was expecting more dinosaurs! There were less than 100 pages! But the mystery/time travel aspect of the book was so utterly fascinating that I can’t even complain that much. This book just needed to be longer!! Give me another 200/300 pages with the dinos in there and I’ll be happy.

Air Awakens by Elise Kova is a book I listened to via audiobook and hooooo boy did I not enjoy this one. It had so much potential in its plot and the magic system that Kova has created. But it’s completely ruined by the pining love story going on that takes centre stage. Very much not my sort of read.

Another audiobook, but a very different vibe, No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference by Greta Thunberg is a collection of her speeches to various organisations, reminding those in power that climate change is reaching irreversible levels and what we will lose. Very short (like 100 pages/1.5 hours) and a little repetitive, because it’s from different speeches. But good!

And then my final audiobook for the month which was Funny You Should Ask by the QI Elves. I love how they added in sound effects for this audiobook, it really added that something extra. A fun non-fiction with lots of random, quite interesting, facts!

Failure to Communicate by Kaia Sรธnderby is a sci-fi book with great autism representation, and after reading it, I felt like it has such Murderbot vibes! I struggled to put this book down, it’s so so readable and I adored learning about the xeno-liason job our main character holds. I’m definitely grabbing the second one in this series!

Unfortunately, the next book wasn’t such a hit. Raging Star by Moira Young is the final book in the Dustland trilogy (with Blood Red Road as the first book). I… would have DNF’d this if it wasn’t the final book in the trilogy. The concepts in here were fab but Young just absolutely fails at writing and fleshing these out. Such a disappointment.

The first book in a duology, The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco, is just so good. This has fabulous worldbuilding, fascinating characters with fantastic development, and a great plot! I just wish it was made a little clearer which character’s POV we’re reading from when it switches. Super excited to finish this duology!

Then for a book I read all in one day, The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuka Natsukawa is the most fantastical Japanese cat book I’ve read. This one is actually a fantasy read, unlike many of the others I’ve read previously. I really enjoyed it! It’s not my favourite (The Travelling Cat Chronicles has my heart) but I did very much enjoy it. A book for readers as well as cat lovers.

Bitter by Akwaeke Emezi is the prequel to Pet, and whilst I didn’t love this as much as I loved Pet – I still loved it. It gives us so much depth to this world and to Jam’s parents, as well as about some of the adults in Jam’s life! This is, in my opinion, one to definitely read after the book it prequels. You’ll get a lot more depth out of it then.

We’re technically at the last book I finished in September! My Name is Monster by Katie Hale was not what I expected from this book. A lot more about humanity and motherhood than about survival after a sickness. Despite that I did still think it was a good review. Something I think mothers would get a little more out of than I did.

And then I feel like I should mention Babel by R.F. Kaung. This will be short because I technically finished this on 1st October, but damn is this book good. It’s a slow, deep, and beautiful read.

And that’s what I managed to read in September! 6245 pages in total, which is just ridiculous. And I’ve gotten my physical tbr down to 101 books! (ugh if I’d just finished Babel it would’ve been 100!). Just in time for my tbr to jump up massively because of birthday gifts in October! ๐Ÿ˜…

What’s the best book you read in September? I’m really struggling to pick just one! But I’m Glad My Mom Died definitely has a high spot ๐Ÿ’–

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 ๐Ÿ˜‚ 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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!!