RECENT READS | #12-16

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Hey, so. It’s been a while.

You might remember from my last post that I recently started a new job. I’ve been there almost two months now, which is kinda crazy, and things are going well! However, it’s taken some getting used to – there’s a lot for me to learn, and I’ve only ever worked retail. Plus, it’s hard being the new person! I was in my last job for five years, so it’s been a long time since I’ve been the new face. Like I said though, it’s going really well and I’m enjoying it. But I’m super tired and I’ve had so much going on that blogging just kind of fell to the wayside.

Unfortunately, the same can be said for my reading. I get the bus into work and I initially intended to read on the bus, but then I got kind of obsessed with a few podcasts? So reading is just…not happening. Or, well, it wasn’t until I decided to reread American Gods, because I’ve been super hyped about the TV show, but when it came to actually watching it I found that I wanted to reread it first. It’s been so long since I reread anything that I’d forgotten just how good it can be to read an old favourite. Since then, I’ve been reading pretty much every day after work, and it feels so good to finally be back on the horse.

Anyway, my recent reads posts clearly aren’t as frequent, or recent, as I’d initially intended. I’ve read 20 books so far this year, which puts me super far behind on my goal of reading 60 books this year, but that’s… fine. I guess. Honestly, I’m okay with this because I managed to cut down my TBR a bit by having a huge book clear out when I redecorated my room recently. I mostly got rid of books that I’d read and didn’t want to reread, but it’s just made my collection so much more manageable, and so much less daunting. I mean. I still have like 120 books that I own and haven’t read, but now I can see all of those books, and also I’m mostly over hoarding books that I know I’ve no interest in reading.

Now that I’ve done a sufficient amount of waffling, let’s have a look at what I’ve actually been reading shall we?

Covers = Goodreads.

Continue reading “RECENT READS | #12-16”

Update & Currently Reading

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Hello! You may or may not have noticed that I’ve been decidedly absent these past few weeks. There are a number of reasons for this, some of them, admittedly, to do with how much time I’ve spent playing video games, some of them to do with stuff that’s happening in my life right now. So, I thought I’d just give you guys a quick update, mostly just to get myself back into the habit of blogging again!

So the first thing, and the biggest thing, is that I have a new job! This is the main reason for my absence, as the journey to me actually getting this job is uh, insane. Two weeks ago I found out that my hours in my current job were being massively reduced, and I had absolutely no say in the matter. On a whim, I put my CV on a job website the following evening, and literally the next morning I was contacted by an agency telling me about a job, and wondering if I’d be interested. I said yes, because I really couldn’t stay in my current job much longer. Last Monday I signed up with the agency, I interviewed for the position on Tuesday, and was offered the job on Wednesday. I started there today. So, y’know, it’s a lot.

For the next two weeks I’ll be working two days at my new job, and four days at my old job. Initially I was having to give four weeks notice, so they asked if I’d be willing to work part-time. Fortunately, I’ve managed to negotiate down to two weeks. My new job is just admin stuff at a local hospital, and since it’s with an agency it’s just temp work, but it’s full time! It’s office experience! I don’t have to work weekends!!

As you can imagine, my schedule’s been pretty crammed, especially since I’ve been having to put in overtime at my old job. It’s likely not going to calm down for the next couple of weeks, but really miss blogging, and I’m actually hoping that the schedule of having a full-time job will actually help me, even though technically I’ll have less free time.

This, also, has cut into my reading. I finished The Wise Man’s Fear last month, completely loved it, and I think I’ve just had a very long book hangover since finishing it. I’ve been in such a mood for fantasy books lately, but they’re a huge time commitment since they’re usually well over 500 pages long, so I’ve been getting my fix through video games. Namely Dragon Age: Inquisition. I bought all three Dragon Age games in the Origin sale just before Christmas, and have spent most of my free time playing them. I’ve put many, many hours into Inquisition these last few weeks. Plus, since I’ve been feeling pretty low, I started a new character in Skyrim because I find Skyrim comforting? In a weird way? So, yes, my time is being spent very productively.

Speaking of being productive, a few weeks ago I decided to watch Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency on Netflix, watched the whole thing in basically a day, and then, when I was feeling ill later in the week, I watched it again in the hopes of cheering myself up. Then I binge-watched the entire second season of Jane the Virgin as soon as it became available, because I am an Adult Woman who makes Good Choices.

Still, I am actually attempting to read. In fact, I’m currently reading 3 books. One of these is Rogues, an anthology that I mentioned in my last wrap-up, and honestly I haven’t really picked this up lately. The trouble with anthologies is that some of the stories you’re going to love, and some of them won’t be to your taste in the slightest, and I hit kind of a bad streak where I wasn’t enjoying the ones I was reading, or they were companion stories to well-established series that I wasn’t familiar with, so I just wasn’t getting it. Because of this, I haven’t been inclined to pick it up, but I will soon, if only to read Patrick Rothfuss’ short story (especially since it’s about Bast!).

I’m also reading A Conjuring of Light, the last book in V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series. Amazingly, I’ve completely managed to avoid spoilers so far! I’m really enjoying it, and the only reason I haven’t finished it yet is because it’s so intense!! I keep reading when I’m on public transport and then having to stop because it’s Too Much. I’m really hoping to finish this one soon, and it’s likely that it’ll be the next book that I finish because I can’t put it off forever.

Finally, I’m reading Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. After peer-pressuring my friend Hannah into buying the lovely Penguin Threads edition of it, after I bought the Puffin in Bloom edition, we decided we’d read it for the first time together. We do have a schedule for how many pages to read, but I’ve been terrible at keeping on top of my reading so I’ve fallen behind! I’m enjoying this, too, and it’s been such a long time since I read a classic that I’d kind of forgotten how much I enjoyed them.

Once I finish reading Little Women and A Conjuring of Light, I have very grand ambitions for what I’ll read next. I’m so desperate to continue on with Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastard series, but also I have Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer sitting in my room, begging to be read. Though really I’m kind of tempted to read a couple of YA books just to kind of get my reading back on pace again. I’ve barely looked at Goodreads for weeks because I’m unwilling to feel the inevitable shame that comes with being behind on your reading challenge.

Finally, I recently hit 300 followers on my blog! Somehow I managed to completely miss this milestone, but regardless, thank you to everyone for following me! I promise I’ll be a better blogger soon.

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BOOK REVIEW | Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo

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Read: February 2017

UK Release: 2nd March 2017

Rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Literary fiction

Synopsis: Yejide is hoping for a miracle, for a child. It is all her husband wants, all her mother-in-law wants, and she has tried everything – arduous pilgrimages, medical consultations, dances with prophets, appeals to God. But when her in-laws insist upon a new wife, it is too much for Yejide to bear. It will lead to jealousy, betrayal and despair.

Unravelling against the social and political turbulence of 80s Nigeria, Stay With Me sings with the voices, colours, joys and fears of its surroundings. Ayobami Adebayo weaves a devastating story of the fragility of married love, the undoing of family, the wretchedness of grief, and the all-consuming bonds of motherhood. It is a tale about our desperate attempts to save ourselves and those we love from heartbreak. Goodreads.

I was provided with a copy of this book by Canongate via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 Stay With Me tells the story of Yejide and Akin’s marriage, and its eventual disintegration. The novel is told from both their perspectives, beginning in 2008, at the funeral of Akin’s father, where it is revealed that Yejide and Akin have not seen each other in 14 years. The bulk of the novel, however, takes place in Nigeria in the 1980’s, following Yejide and Akin’s struggles to have a child. This novel is absolutely heartbreaking, and throughout, it feels heavy with grief.

Yejide and Akin are under great pressure to conceive, and much of this burden falls on Yejide herself, as it is perceived to be some kind of ‘failure’ on her part. Yejide longs for motherhood, and it’s gut-wrenching what she goes through in order to become a mother. However, Akin, as a firstborn son, faces a pressure of a different kind. At the start of the novel, Akin’s mother introduces Yejide to the second wife she has arranged for him. Akin’s mother believes that Yejide is unable to have children, and that this is the only solution to their perceived problem. It is clear, in their reflections of the past, that Yejide and Akin loved each other deeply, and these outside influences who claim to ‘help’ their marriage, ultimately poison it.

One of the things I liked the most about this novel was Ayobami Adebayo’s characters. She manages to create realistically flawed, sometimes unlikeable characters, that I nonetheless felt so much sympathy for. Yejide, in particular, I found it impossible not to like. I’d expected to prefer Yejide’s narration over Akin’s, but this was not the case. I really liked the dual perspective, and felt that it really contributed to the narrative as a whole. As you might expect, Yejide and Akin keep plenty of secrets from each other, and many of these are revealed to the reader before the other party ever hears of them, meaning that while their chapters were often discussing the same period of time, you’re always getting new information. I also found that Yejide and Akin’s narrative voices were incredibly distinct; it was always clear whose chapter I was reading. This allowed for an intimate portrayal of both their characters and their relationship, and even when I didn’t agree with their actions, I could always understand why they were making the decisions they did.

Another aspect of the book that I liked was how the political situation in Nigeria was woven through it. It was something that I didn’t know too much about, but this didn’t hinder my reading in any way. I felt that this was as its most effective toward the end of the novel, as the political unrest and the catastrophe that Yejide and Akin’s relationship has become, come to a head at the exact same time.

Given that this book deals with societal expectations surrounding the family, it naturally discusses the impact this has on women. Some points in Yejide’s narration felt claustrophobic due to the intense pressure she was feeling, most particularly when she is forced to accept the presence of Akin’s second wife. As the novel progresses, Yejide’s situation only gets worse, and I found myself marvelling that she was able to get through it. Her grief in this book is almost palpable, and I honestly felt like I spent most of this book on the verge of tears. Akin, by contrast, feels distant, and it isn’t until later in the novel that its revealed how he struggles to cope with the expectations in terms of his masculinity. Akin hides plenty from Yejide, but he also hides things from the reader, and I really liked this. This book took turns I wasn’t expecting, particularly in regard to Akin’s character, and it kept me hooked throughout.

I know it’s only March, but so far this is definitely one of my favourite books of the year. Ayobami Adebayo’s writing is beautiful, I was highlighting so many passages as I was reading. It’s hard to go into this book too much without spoiling it, but I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys intricate, character-focused novels. This is an astonishing debut, and I’m really looking forward to whatever Ayobami Adebayo writes in the future!

Books for International Women’s Day!

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Happy International Women’s Day! In honor of today, I thought I’d share with you some great books written by women, all with a feminist theme. Feminism is a pretty nebulous term, so I’m by no means saying that these books entirely encompass it. In fact, they probably barely scratch the surface. There are a few here that I’ve read and highly recommend, and a few that are on my radar and I hope to get to soon. So let’s get into it!

Just as a warning, some of the books featured mention rape and sexual assault.

Continue reading “Books for International Women’s Day!”

RECENT READS | #6-10

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Hello! This is a new feature on my blog where I’ll be briefly talking about the books I’ve read this year. I did quarterly wrap up posts last year, but I decided that I wanted to do these wrap up posts with a little more frequency. Really, I’d just like to get into the habit of saying something about every book that I read, and I don’t always have enough to say about a book to warrant a full length review.

I’ve read 11 books so far this year — if you’re wondering why this post is starting at #6, it’s because I talked about the first four books I read this year in my #DAReadathon Wrap Up post back in January, and I’ve also written a full length review of Heartless by Marissa Meyer. I’ve had a great reading year so far, I honestly don’t know that I’ve ever read over ten books before the end of February before. Plus, I’ve given every book I’ve read a pretty good rating, so let’s get into it!

Covers = Goodreads.

Continue reading “RECENT READS | #6-10”

BOOK REVIEW | Heartless by Marissa Meyer

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Read: January 2017

UK Release: 9th February 2017

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling.

Synopsis: Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love. Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans. Goodreads.

I was provided with a copy of this book by Pan Macmillan Children’s Books UK via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

I’d been anticipating the release of this book for quite some time, as I’m already a fan of Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles. I really enjoy how she interprets and adapts popular fairy tales in that series, so I was excited to see her take on Carroll’s Wonderland. This, and the fact that I really enjoyed her last foray into a villain backstory—Fairest—meant that I was intrigued to see how she’d go about the villain origin story for the notorious Queen of Hearts. Overall, I did enjoy this book, but I found it lacking on certain points, so I gave it 3 stars. This review is spoiler free, for the most part. Really the only “spoilers” are things you already know are going to happen if you’ve ever seen or read Alice in Wonderland.

Continue reading “BOOK REVIEW | Heartless by Marissa Meyer”

BOOK REVIEW | The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

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Read: October 2016

Rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Fantasy

Synopsis: Told in Kvothe’s own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen. The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature. A high-action story written with a poet’s hand, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard. Goodreads.

It’s always intimidating to read a book that’s so widely well-loved and admired. This is likely why The Name of the Wind sat in my room unread for so many years. I bought it in about 2014 after seeing so many positive reviews. I hadn’t read much—if any—fantasy since marathoning the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series in 2012. Which was probably because I was feeling more than a little burnt out on fantasy novels after completing that particular task. I’d hoped that The Name of the Wind would inspire/motivate me to pick up fantasy books again.

Which it did, if a few years later than I’d originally intended. I loved this book, really all I’m doing here is contributing to its already considerable hype, but still.

Continue reading “BOOK REVIEW | The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss”

Top Ten Graphic Novels on my TBR

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This week’s topic for Top Ten Tuesday is all about the visuals, a kind of freebie topic focused on graphic novels/comics/picture books. Today, I’ll be talking about the ten graphic novels that are at the top of my wishlist. I’ve only really gotten into comics and graphic novels over the last couple of years, so a lot of the books that I mention here are probably already pretty well-established. I’ve heard amazing things about all of them, and I’m desperate to read each and every one of them!

As always, the covers will take you to the Goodreads pages.

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#DAReadathon Wrap Up

 

 

 

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It’s time for my (belated, as always) wrap up for the #DAReadathon! I managed to read a total of four books for this readathon, and so completed four of the challenges. I did get partway through my fifth, but ended up losing steam. Despite not hitting my seven book target, I’m not in the least disappointed. I really enjoyed all of the books that I read, so without further ado, let’s get into the books!

As always, the covers will take you to the Goodreads pages.

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OCTOBER – DECEMBER READING WRAP UP

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Here’s my (slightly belated) wrap up of all the books I read in the last three months of the year! You can read my January-March wrap up here, my April-June wrap up here, and my July-September wrap up here.

As always, let’s talk about the books I’m currently reading before getting into what I have read. I had the very lofty ambition that I would completely clear my currently reading shelf. It’s really no surprise that I wasn’t successful in doing this. So, once again, I am still reading House of Leaves. It’s such a commitment, so I’ve just been prioritising other books. I’m also about halfway through I Am Malala, which I’d hoped to read for the #DAReadathon, but will probably finish up in January regardless. I also got approved for two ARCs, those being Heartless by Marissa Meyer and Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo. While these are both sitting on my currently reading shelf on Goodreads, I’m only actively reading Heartless at the moment.

Now, here are the books I have read!

Continue reading “OCTOBER – DECEMBER READING WRAP UP”