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!

Mid-Year Reading Goals

Why do I get halfway through the year and decide to do something new? Honestly. I cause myself headaches sometimes.

After watching a few videos by the amazing booktuber Nayareadsandsmiles, I thought I would re-evaluate what I’ve been reading and how much I read! Therefore, I have a few more goals that I want to aim towards for the rest of the year.

2:1 Diet (of books)

Naia said that she wanted to read 2 books during the week and 1 at the weekend. I think this is a brilliant target and I want to take it on myself. Obviously I probably won’t always reach this, and I won’t stress about it, but it’s nice to aim for something.

1 eBook per week

This one is pretty self explanatory but I’ve already had this goal for 2 weeks and I have so far failed. Oops. I have a massive backlog of unread eBooks and I would like to get through some!

More BAME books

I want to read so many more BAME books! You can see my blog post about examining my white privilege through literature in which I talk about this in more detail.

And that’s it! What do you think about my goals? After evaluating your reading from the first half of the year, do you have any more yourself?

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?

Top Ten Books I Wish I Had Read as a Child

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is ‘Books I Wish I Had Read as a Child’! I haven’t done a TTT in quite a while, but this prompt just sounded really exciting.

I read some incredible books as a child, and I’m grateful that I have a mum who recognises the importance of, and also loves, reading! I read (and reread) Malory Towers, Peter Pan, obscure adventure books, and Horrid Henry, amongst others! But there are still some I wish I could go back and read when I was little.

Continue reading “Top Ten Books I Wish I Had Read as a Child”

5 of My Favourite Spring Reads

Spring is finally feeling properly here. There’s the smell of cut grass in the air, birds are chirping far more than normal, and the occasional frost crunches under my boot.

I bloody love spring. So, I’ve tried to bring in some of my favourite books to enjoy at springtime in the hopes that you’ll enjoy them too.

Inspired Adventures' Reading Guide: Strong Female Protagonist

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

This book screams of new beginnings, new friendships and romances, and the opening acts of summer. Especially considering what’s going on in the world at the moment, it’s the perfectly uplifting book to help get you through some dark nights. Elizabeth is such a spritely character, I challenge you to find a better spring classic!

Paper Plane Book Reviews: Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

On a whim, I asked a bookseller at a Waterstones in London to recommend me his favourite book, and Siddhartha fell into my hands. It’s about a man who goes on a journey of discovery. Spring is all about finding yourself anew and throwing off the constraints of winter. If you’re looking to renew yourself this spring, it might be worth seeing how a classic did it too.

The Bees | Books from Scotland

The Bees by Carol Ann Duffy

I noticed yesterday a rather large buzzy bee who was annoying my dog. I actually thought it was a hornet at one point, and got a bit scared, but it made me smile when it buzzed off to go and find some more flowers. I think bees are beautiful, and so is this collection of poetry by the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. A sunny poetry collection perfect for a weekend outside.

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A Room with a View by EM Forster

This one is more summery, but I think it speaks of new beginnings and being yourself. Following your heart, if you want to be so cliche. As it is, I love EM Forster, and as A Room with a View is probably his most famous and the first I read, I have to recommend this one. It’s nicely short, so will take an afternoon with a blanket to read.

The Geeky Nerfherder: #CoolArt: New Bloomsbury Modern ...

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Of course, I had to add on another romance. The Song of Achilles is one of my favourite books, and I challenge you to find one people love more! It’s beautifully rendered and brings Ancient Greece vividly to life. I highly recommend this one, and it’s perfect for reading in the sunshine and tucked up in bed.

Those are some of my favourite spring reads. What are some of yours?

Until the next time!

5 Of My Favourite Children’s Books for World Book Day

As a kid I absolutely loved reading – and I still do. I was and am very lucky to have a mum who values reading, and she fed me book after book when I was a kid. I appreciated it then, and I still appreciate it now. Here are 5 of my favourite children’s books to celebrate World Book Day!

  1. Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson

This book evokes me straight back in time to my childhood – and to the 1930s. I think it’s a wondrous story of adventure and friendship.

2. Peter Pan by JM Barrie

The actual story of Peter Pan is really rather horrifying, but the book is just a wonderful tale of fighting and pirates and fairies and mermaids. I read this book over and over when I was a kid.

3. Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne

Winnie the Pooh is such a classic! I grew up with the TV show, the magazine, and the books themselves. Pooh bear accompanied me throughout my childhood.

4. Wreck of the Zanzibar by Michael Morpurgo

I adored this book when I was younger! It’s one of my most prized possessions as my copy is actually signed by Michael Morpurgo when I had the exciting opportunity to meet him when I was in Year 5 at school. This story just absolutely captured me, but all of his work is amazing.

5. Malory Towers by Enid Blyton

School stories were a staple of mine! Malory Towers held my heart! I was so protective about these books – my mum asked me if I could lend them to someone and I actually refused because I loved them so much.

I wish there were World Book Day books for adults, but I’ve almost always buy a World Book Day book anyway. You can find these books in your local bookshop and sometimes in the supermarket. They cost £1/€1.50 or are free with a book token which are given out at schools or are sometimes in newspapers. McDonalds also have them printed on their Happy Meals!

What are you reading this World Book Day?

Book Review | All Fall Down by Sally Nicholls

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It’s 1349, and something has come to England. People are dying – but that’s happening far away, right? Isabel never dreams that the Black Death will come to her little village… until it does. Now she has only her wits, her courage, and hope to survive.

I was pretty disappointed by the start of this book, however it did finish by picking up and becoming engrossing.

All Fall Down follows the story of Isabel, a child during the Black Death in a little village near York in 1349. Considering the terror nowadays about all sorts of diseases (swine flu, bird flu, ebola, coronavirus…) this book is really interesting to read. It really puts into perspective how many people really did die of the Black Death, and what life would’ve been like when you lost basically everyone you’ve ever known.

Continue reading “Book Review | All Fall Down by Sally Nicholls”

Book Review | The Bees by Carol Ann Duffy

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The Bees is a collection of poetry by Carol Ann Duffy writing as Poet Laureate. It’s a collection about politics, war, and, of course, bees.

Nowadays, bees are becoming a symbol of global warming. The threats of them dying out and their genocide destroying our planet is very real, and I think that Duffy really evokes this idea of death and the destruction death can bring in this novel.

Continue reading “Book Review | The Bees by Carol Ann Duffy”

Book Review | Outwalkers by Fiona Shaw

I am delighted to be sharing this book review working alongside with David Fickling Books for the Outwalkers Brexit Book Tour. This timely dystopian novel looks at borders, freedom, and loyalty. You can read my full (unbiased, as always) review below.

I was gifted this book by the publisher in exchange for a review. As always, all opinions are my own.


Continue reading “Book Review | Outwalkers by Fiona Shaw”