Week 33 in Books

It’s been a fairly quiet week, but I haven’t read that much. This week, my hamster passed away, I did some home DIY, and I managed to do a 4 hour journey in 6 hours! Whoo, go me!

So yeah, I didn’t read much this week. In fact, I read one book, and a picture book at that… It was The Rereadathon, and I did start two other books for this readathon but I didn’t get around to finishing them. Oops.

Read

  • The Wish Cat by Ragnhild Scamell

Hauled

  • Death Sets Sail by Robin Stevens – the last book in this series! So sad!

What have you read this week? More than I have, I hope!

The Rereadathon #1 | TBR

The Rereadathon has technically already started, but I figure it’s never too late to post a TBR!

The Rereadathon is running from the 10th – 16th August 2020, and you can participate by using the hashtag #therereadathon on socials!

Here are the reading challenges, and here are my choices…

  1. Reread a childhood favourite.
    The Wreck of the Zanzibar by Michael Morpurgo.
  2. Reread a 2019 favourite.
    The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu.
  3. Reread a book & rewatch the film.
    Black Beauty by Anna Sewell.
  4. Reread a book you hated.
    A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas (loved at the time, slowly disliked it).
  5. Reread a picture book/comic.
    The Wish Cat by Raghild Scamell.
  6. Read a book you think you will want to reread in the future.
    Heroes and Villains by Angela Carter.
  7. Reread a sequel.
    A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas.
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So that’s my TBR! What’s on your list?

Mid-Year Book Freak Out! | 2020 Edition

I love this tag so much and I’m pretty sure I’ve done it the last few years as well! Well, it’s finally that time again, so let’s take a look back at the past 6 months… (PS, I’m prewriting this blog post so I may read my new favourite book between now and when this goes live!)

Best book you’ve read so far in 2020?

I found it really hard to choose but I think I’m going to have to go with The Binding by Bridget Collins. This is a fantasy world where you can bind someone’s memories into a book. Our main character trains to become a binder, a job which is feared and hated by society. This book was fantastic.

Best sequel you’ve read so far?

I haven’t read many sequels, so I think it’ll have to be Heartstopper Vol. 2 and 3 by Alice Oseman! This graphic novel series follows Nick and Charlie and their relationship and it is adorable.

New release you haven’t read yet but want to?

I believe this originally debuted in 2019, but my edition is from 2020 so I’m counting it: The Weight of the Stars by K Ancrum (author of The Wicker King, which was one of my favourite books a couple of years ago). I think this book is about space and love and longing, so I’m excited.

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year?

I’ve just preordered Requim for a Knave by Laura Carlin, who wrote one of my favourite books The Wicked Cometh which I just read. I’ve actually got no idea what this one is about, but I’m excited nonetheless.

Biggest disappointment?

I have two: Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver and All Fall Down by Sally Nicholls. In the case of Paver, this book was super hyped up, so I felt really let down by it. And in the case of Nicholls’, I’d read Things a Bright Girl Can Do and loved it, and this one was just a bit meh.

Biggest surprise?

Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon! I’d heard how good this book was but, believe me, I was not prepared.

Favourite new author?

I’ve actually only read one book by this author, but I would definitely read anything else they come out with (and I think I actually have one or two on my Kindle I need to get to!): Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of Daisy Jones and the Six. Daisy Jones wasn’t perhaps my favourite book of the year, but I love the concept of it and I think it was done really well. I’d love to read more.

Newest fictional crush?

Noah from The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater! I’ve only read book 1 of this series but I’m planning on ordering the other 3 once it’s payday (and it’s payday soon, folks!). I won’t spoil the plot twist about him in this book, but despite what happened, I still love him.

Newest favourite character?

I am such a plot girl, so this one was really hard for me. I loved the entire cast of The Raven Boys but I think I’ll have to go with the detective from Broken Harbour by Tana French: Mick Kennedy. I really want to read more of this series!

Book that made you cry?

Y’know, I don’t think I’ve actually cried at a single book this year? I think the one that came closest is The Starless Sea by Erin Morgernstern. Apart from that… not sure.

Book that made you happy?

So many books made me happy! For this particular round, though, I’ll choose How Do You Like Me Now? by Holly Bourne, which was her adult debut and it’s fab! I still can’t really believe I’m an actual adult, but at least I find adult novels more accessible.

Most beautiful book you’ve acquired this year?

My special edition of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling which I managed to find for £15 from a Facebook marketplace group! I love this edition, and as this is my favourite book of the series I was really excited to see that this was the one that was free.

What book(s) do you need to read by the end of the year?

All of them? Seriously, though, my TBR is sort of overwhelming… too many to list here!

Favourite bookish community member?

At the moment I am loving Nayareadsandsmiles who is a booktuber; her videos make me so happy and her enthusiasm is definitely infectious! Definitely go and check her out if you’ve never seen her videos before.

I love these kind of reflective tags but it’s sort of reminded me that a lot of the books I’ve read this year have been pretty “meh”. Not bad, but not particularly good either! I hope that in the latter months of the year I find some more favourites.

What is the best book you’ve read so far this year? Recommend me in the comments below!

Examining My White Privilege Through Literature

I have never had trouble finding myself represented in literature. From children’s classics and picture books to YA on the shelf, I’ve always been able to find people who look and sound like me.

And, despite being 22, I never questioned that, really interrogated it, until a few months ago. Of course, I’d read books from people of other races, genders, and sexualities, but I’d never realised that the books I see on the front pages of websites and the lists on blogs are often by white people.

My university has a programme called “decolonising the curriculum” which means that I have been reading far more widely than ever since I joined in first year. It’s no secret that the British education system is overwhelmingly white and oppressive, so, disgustingly, it was new for me to be reading books by a more diverse range of authors. I also read books that I may never otherwise have picked up, such as Citizen by Claudia Rankin (I took out my hatred of the module I had to read this for on this book, but I want to get a new copy soon).

But even though my university reading list was relatively mixed, my own, personal reading was not. I often read from bestseller lists, pick up books that do the rounds on Instagram, and when hunting for a general book, I chose from what is prominently on the table in front of me. And, you guessed it, the book industry shuns those who are not white. And yet, despite my university reading, despite the fact I was reading more widely both fictionally and non-fictionally, I never bothered to examine myself. Isn’t that ignorant? It’s not that I actively didn’t choose BAME authors or only wanted to read white authors, I just didn’t check myself, I didn’t think and actually understand what I was being fed by the media and the systematic racism in the bookish communities. And that was wrong.

I’ve had the privilege throughout my life of never being underrepresented, never even questioning who the authors are when I read a novel. Studying literature might mean I interrogate the work itself, but I’ve never thought so hard about where a novel comes from.

This year, I started creating a bookish spreadsheet. After the protests that have been happening recently, I added a column to my spreadsheet where I mark on if the books are by someone Black or a minority ethnic (BAME).

Out of 71 books, 11 are by BAME people.

That means that 15% of the books I read are by BAME people. Around 14% of the UK population are non-White, so whilst my reading may reflect the population, it does not reflect the world. Not only that, but I should still be reading from a wider range of ethnic backgrounds.

On the Twittersphere, authors, publishers, and book lovers have been interrogating the racism ingrained in the world of literature, and I have interrogated myself too. I am ashamed that I never even thought to consider this. I am sorry for the fact, too.

But there’s no point in being sorry. Sorry doesn’t change anything. We can say sorry, sure, but then we have to move forward and evaluate how we are going to solve the issue that was caused, that I have indirectly helped to cause. I can’t go back in time, but I can impact the future.

I cannot protest because in the time of COVID I am fearful for the keyworker children I look after. I cannot write powerful speeches or do beautiful drawings. Most of my indoor, non-work time is spent with some text or other in hand, or talking about some text or other on the internet. So, in order to do better, I am prevailing to read more books by BAME people in the future. Some of my favourite books by BAME people I’ve ever read are The Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon, Tail of the Blue Bird by Nii Ayikwei Parkes, and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, and there are hundreds and thousands of texts by non-white people all over the world that I have never bothered to go in search of.

If you, like me, are white, then it is your job to help equalise our world. Black Lives Matter. When I have a BAME child in my class, I never want them to be unable to find themselves on the bookshelves while white kids are hidden behind piles. It is our job to work together and decolonise our book lists, and you can start by buying and interacting with (reviews, blog posts, Tweets, Instagram pictures) some BAME literature and reading.

Here’s some more lists for you to look at:

I retweet a lot on Twitter as well, but please find original sources from BAME people too. And, please note that BAME people are NOT your dictionary. Unless you are asking specific, personal-but-not-too-personal questions like, “What is your favourite book?”, Google exists for a reason. Black people are not your personal librarians.

And if you were wondering what I’m reading, here are just 5 books by BAME authors that I want to get to soon because they sound amazing:

  • The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins
  • For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig
  • Pride by Ibi Zoboi
  • The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum
  • The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (I actually DNF’d this one once because I was reading it on my phone and I think the formatting got screwed up. Now that I have a kindle I’m going to tackle it again!)

What’s on your reading list? Please recommend me some BAME books in the comments!

Keep reading!

Week 24 in Books | 2020

I thought I’d start doing weekly “weeks in books” to showcase some of the novels I’ve bought and consumed every week! Im starting to read a lot more that I’m not at work everyday and my masters is over, and I wanted to share it with you! Every week I’ll discuss my haul, read books, and do a mini review for every book I’ve read.

Haul

  • The Austen Girls by Lucy Worsley
  • Pride by Ibi Zoboi
  • Good Girls, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson
  • The Weight of the Stars by K Ancrum

Read

  • The Austen Girls by Lucy Worsley
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Corbelo
  • The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Total read this year: 70

Challenges completed: 0

Reviews

The Austen Girls

Rating: 3/5

This was a really cute read! It follows two cousins, related to author Jane Austen, and how they navigate growing up in the Georgian era.

Our main character is Fanny, and I really enjoyed her character growth from beginning to end. I wish there had been a bit more internal thoughts going on – we knew somewhat what she was thinking, but I just wanted to hear more from her!

The plot itself turned a bit crimey part way through, but it did end unsatisfactorily which is why I gave it 3 rather than 4/5. The resolution just didn’t feel like it had done the rest of the book justice. This felt the same for the rest of the novel: the romance just sort of tapered off at the end, for example. I know it’s a children’s book and therefore length has to be taken into account, but I would have rather have an extra 50 pages wrapping things up properly than this quick deviation to the end. The author’s note/epilogue was also needed to add to the reader’s feeling about the book, which I don’t always agree with as I think a piece of work should be able to stand alone.

Nevertheless, this was such a cutesy read and I will be looking for others by Lucy Worsley because I really enjoyed the experience!

The Alchemist

Rating: 2.5/5

I’ve heard the Alchemist be hailed as life changing and to be honest I was expecting something wonderful. Whilst it was a thought-provoking, interesting tale, life-changing is not what I got.

It tells the story of a shepherd called Santiago and how goes searching for his “personal legend”; his journey from Spain to Egypt and back, discovering things about “his soul” and talking to the wind and other rubbish. It’s not that this book was rubbish, but it delved quickly into magical realism.

I am confused on the message of this book. On the one hand it seemed to tell me that everything I’ve ever wanted is right under my feet. On the other hand, I got the idea that I had to go on a great adventure to discover what my heart truly desires.

The world presented in the Alchemist is a utopia, where, whilst there are thieves and wretched, everyone helps one another and goes out of their way to make the world a better place.

Overall, a fairly nice fable, for anyone who isn’t me.

The Raven Boys

Rating: 4/5

I thought I would hate this book. I’d seen it all about on tumblr and thought, arrogantly, “It’s one that’s too popular and I won’t like it.”

Well, turns out, as per usual, I was wrong. This book was funny and strange and magical and I loved it!

Admittedly it had a slow beginning, and those initial thoughts seemed to be confirmed, but once I got about 1/3 of the way in, I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. I really enjoyed the character development, the magic, and the plot itself.

I think that, because it’s a sequel, this book did feel incomplete. It’s so obviously set up for book 2 that I have this real sense of wanting more, which is both good and bad. Good, because it means I want to read on. Bad, because it means this book can not stand alone. Either way, I’m getting the next ones!

What did you read this week?

#StayHomeReadingRush Wrap-Up | Mini Book Reviews

The #StayHomeReadingRush was an event hosted by The Reading Rush (Ariel and Raeleen) from the 16th – 19th April 2020 to bring together people to both read and stay at home. I had a great time reading the books I chose to fit in with the Reading Rush’s challenges, and I thought I would share my wrap-up and mini-reviews with you here.

Continue reading “#StayHomeReadingRush Wrap-Up | Mini Book Reviews”

Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon April 2020 | Hour 10

The original plan (after I discovered there were no mini challenges) was to post every 6 hours (so every 1/4 of the way through) to update you guys.

Unfortunately, as always with me and Dewey’s, plans never really work out.

I have read to page 200, which I’m pretty proud of (214 in fact), even though the original plan was to read 400 today and 400 tomorrow.

Continue reading “Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon April 2020 | Hour 10”

Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon April 2020 | Hour One

It’s a new Readathon! I have participated in a few of these before but I feel like this one may be the first where I can just sit and read.

This round, I am trying to read just one book: Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon. It weighs in at a hefty 804 pages, so here’s hoping I can get at least some of the way through it. I’ll admit there isn’t much else going on…

Continue reading “Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon April 2020 | Hour One”