Saturday, 28 December 2019

Favourite Books of 2019 | Second Half (My Year in Books)

I don't typically wrap up my year with a favourites post, as many do within the blogging community, however for the last two years I have shared a 'Recommended Reading' post as a wrap up - highlighting books that I think others should read for a variety of reasons. For me, there is a difference between my favourite books and my recommended reading. Of course I'd recommend all my favourite books (& some may even end up on my recommended reading post), but my recommended reading isn't made up of my favourite books.

When I think about the books I recommend, it is often to do with the book itself - enjoying a specific plot element, the characters were incredibly well written, or I enjoyed the message behind the story, etc. When I think about the books I'd call favourites, it is more about my feelings and overall reading experience. I hope that explanation makes sense!

Earlier on this year, I shared my favourite books of the first half of the year, and today I'm wrapping up the second half... I have had the pleasure of reading some wonderful books this year, however I will say that the first half of the year did feel a lot stronger, reading wise, than the second half.

So, on to my favourites from the last six months...


What book(s) have been your favourite this year?

Monday, 23 December 2019

52 Book Blog Post Ideas

Whether you're a seasoned blogger or a newbie to the book blogging community, it can be hard to consistently come up with content and feel inspired to create, so today I'm sharing 52 book blogging post ideas.

1. My reading routine
2. How I track my reading
3. Book buying + how I budget for books
4. My reading history
5. How I make time for reading
6. My reading comfort zone
7. How I organise my books
8. My reading & reviewing process
9. Tips for overcoming a reading slump
10. Where I read
11. Reading in childhood, including favourites
12. Why I read
13. How I pick my next read
14. Why I read more than one book at a time (or the opposite, why I'm a monogamous reader)
15. How I build my book collection
16. What I do with unwanted books
17. Library borrowing - share your library story
18. If you're a writer, share about being a reader that writes
19. When I'm not reading (share about your life beyond books)
20. My most owned author

21. Why I started book blogging
22. How book blogging has changed my reading habits
23. Why I do / don't accept books for review
24. Why I love the book blogging community
25. As a book blogger, do you still view reading as a solitary act?
26. How I stay on top of commenting & interacting within the book community
27. My favourite / go to bloggers
28. How I balance day to day life with being a book blogger / book reviewer

29. Share your unpopular reader confessions
30. Thoughts on fandoms & share any you are a part of
31. What makes a 5 star book
32. Why I love (insert genre)
33. Words that will instantly make me pick up a book
34. Fictional settings that I'd love to experience
35. Why I can / can't read a book with a protagonist I dislike
36. My thoughts on book to movie adaptations, including any favourites
37. Why I love (insert author)
38. Share why you feel a strong connection with a particular story
39. Why I don't read (insert genre)
40. Why I am / am not a part of a book club
41. If you love (insert TV show/film), then you'll love these books
42. My favourite book format is...
43. What I learnt from (insert book title)
44. Books I'd love to see in a visual format
45. Books you think should be required reading in school
46. Share your bookish joys - the simple things with books that bring you joy
47. Books I want to share with the children in my life
48. Tips on how to read more (or the opposite, benefits of slow reading)
49. Favourite opening lines
50. I'd love to be friends with (insert character)
51. Books for armchair travel (books that have allowed you to see the world)
52. Favourite book quotes
I hope this list proves to be useful... & happy blogging!

Friday, 20 December 2019

Notable Authors of 2019 (My Year in Books)

As the year draws to a close, we naturally start reflecting on the last twelve months... Here in the book blogging community, one way we do this is by reflecting on the books we've read & the authors we've encountered throughout the year. Today I'm talking about the authors; highlighting authors I've returned to, debuts I have loved, and also new to me authors I'd like to read more from.

Returning to tried & true authors is one my favourite things to do year by year, whether it be a new release or a backlist book I have yet to get to. 

Without a doubt my most anticipated release of 2019 was The Starless Sea by ERIN MORGENSTERN. I adore The Night Circus, it is one of my all time favourite books (& I have returned to it many times now), and the thought of a new book from Erin Morgenstern left me both nervous and excited... Only natural when you feel such a connection to the previous work of a writer. I pre-ordered my copy of The Starless Sea (something I rarely ever do) and delved in pretty much as soon as I got it - and, luckily, LOVED it!

Other authors I returned to this year and had super positive experiences with: DIANE CHAMBERLAIN (The Dream Daughter), JANE HARPER (The Lost Man), KATHERINE WEBB (The Hiding Places).

Authors I returned to this year and had good experiences with: CECELIA AHERN (Roar), JODI PICOULT (A Spark of Light), MICHELLE PAVER (Wakenhyrst), HARRIET EVANS (The Garden of Lost and Found), CLAIRE FULLER (Bitter Orange).

Sometimes, not often, but sometimes, you return to a tried & true author and the reading experience isn't quite what you had hoped... I had two such experiences this year with: KATE MORTON (The Clockmaker's Daughter) and ALICE FEENEY (I Know Who You Are).

Three debut novels really stood out to me this year, two being 2019 release and the other being a late 2018 release.

When All is Said by ANNE GRIFFIN was my first fictional read of the year, and proved to be a great start. The main character of this story, Maurice, takes us through his life story in the one single night - Maurice is a character who has stayed with me all year long.

The Way of All Flesh by AMBROSE PARRY is a book I borrowed from my local library, not knowing much about it, with it being one of those gem finds. Ambrose Parry is actually a pseudonym for a married couple writing together. The book itself is a historical crime fiction novel, set against the backdrop of Edinburgh with a medical element running throughout - the depth of the story, and writing style, is really what stood out to me. The Way of All Flesh is the first book in a series, but I have yet to get to the next.

The Familiars by STACEY HALLS is another historical fiction book, quite gothic in nature (much like the previous debut mentioned) with a focus on witches. For me, The Familiars was one of those books you easily fall into, cocooned from start to finish. Stacey Halls has announced a 2020 release: The Foundling, which I am keen to read also.

As well as discovering new to me authors through debuts, I've also come across a few more that I've read for the first time this year.

An absolute favourite of mine this year has been What the Wind Knows by AMY HARMON; a truly beautiful historical fiction book with time travel elements. The plot was well crafted, characters too, with the setting of Ireland being so immersive... It honestly just felt perfect; everything came together perfectly. Amy Harmon has quite a few books published, however I am eyeing her next release - Where the Lost Wander - as my next pick of hers.

KRISTIN HANNAH is another author I read for the first time in 2019... In fact I picked up two of her books. I read The Great Alone earlier on in the year, and very recently finished Winter Garden which was amazing!

Other authors I read for the first time this year and want to read more of: SHARI LAPENA (An Unwanted Guest), TAYLOR JENKINS REID (The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo), ANNA MAZZOLA (The Story Keeper), TAYARI JONES (An American Marriage), BRIDGET COLLINS (The Binding).
So that concludes this post... Some may have already noticed, but I thought it worth mentioning that I have only focused on adult fiction in this wrap up, not including middle grade & nonfiction (which I read a fair amount of also).

I would love to hear a little about the authors you've read this year, especially ones you'd recommend, so be sure to leave any in the comments below.

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Reading Record | Pages & Co: Tilly and the Lost Fairytales by Anna James

My reading record posts are a way for me to document all things bookish and reading in my life - I aim to post these consistently, with them most often being in a weekly format, however readathons and certain books have their own specific reading record.

In this post I'll be sharing notes I jotted down whilst reading the second book in the Pages & Co by Anna James: Tilly and the Lost Fairytales. I have previously shared a reading record post on the first book in this series, which you can find here.

Much like the first in the series, whilst I'm sharing my thoughts, I aim to keep this post spoiler free... However, being the second in the series, this could very well contain spoilers regarding book one, but I have tried to avoid these.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first Pages & Co book, finding it be a cosy middle grade full of books, magic and friendship; I am keen to see how the story continues.

Side note: When I went to purchase this book from my local Waterstones store, I was happy to see they had signed copies - YAY!

The story so far has done a good job of recapping the first book (jogging our memory shall we say) whilst jumping straight in to the plot of this book.

A new head librarian is to be appointed at the British Underlibrary (whose motto - to read is to wander - I still greatly admire) following on from events in book 1; due to this their is uncertainty in the world of bookwandering.

'... The one thing I am sure of is that something strange is afoot.' - page 50.

I'm intrigued to see how this pans out, and how it affects the bookwandering community that I've found myself so invested in. 

'"... Melville's plan to use so much book magic is deeply concerning."'

Interesting learning more about the inner workings of the Underlibrary and how book magic works.

Mention of Anne of Green Gables (Tilly & Anne are rather fond of each other) - I can't believe I STILL haven't got round to this book series yet.

PAGE 112
Tilly & Oskar (her best friend) are now in Paris visiting Oskar's family for a few days during the Christmas holidays.

'... Tilly thought how nice it would be to have two days without any bookwandering, or bookbinding, or any kind of magic at all.' - page 111

I think this is the time that adventures are going to ensue.

PAGE 129
What ?!? No way!

Tilly & Oskar are at a bookshop in Paris with Clara, Oskar's grandmother, and I did not see this revelation coming!

PAGE 222
I've just finished the fairytale section of the story and loved it! I like all the tales that have been included, and how they are all woven together also. 

Anna James has a delightful writing style, with the humour being something I'm particularly enjoying in book two.

PAGE 255-256
'"A book will welcome any reader; any age, any background, any point of view. Books don't care if you can understand every word in them, or if you want to skip bits or reread bits. Books welcome everyone who wants to explore them..."'

PAGE 320
Hmm... I don't know if I entirely trust this Gretchen character... Especially now.

PAGE 346
I think maybe Tilly should have listened to Oskar on this one... Things are taking a sinister turn.

PAGE 386
I'm interested to know more about the collection of items Tilly has amassed throughout this book. What do they mean? I believe this question will be answered in the finally book of the series, which I'm already greatly anticipating. 

I have loved every minute of returning to this book series.

Monday, 2 December 2019

Reading Record | Concluding Nonfiction November

My reading record posts are a way for me to document all things bookish and reading in my life - I aim to post these consistently, with them most often being in a weekly format, however readathons & certain books have their own specific reading record.

This reading record concludes the month of November & my participation in Nonfiction November.

Currently reading: 
Expeditions Unpacked: What Great Explorers Took into the Unknown by Ed Stafford (on page 104)
Waterfalls of Stars: My Ten Years on the Island of Skomer by Roseanne Alexander (on page 188)

Today I returned to fiction reading after a week of reading purely NF, picking up a library borrow: Say Say Say by Lila Savage. I don't know much about this book, only what the blurb states, so it'll be an interesting experience not knowing much going in... As book bloggers typically we've already heard a bunch about a book (often picking it up due to the recommendations of others) before delving in. I read 33 of the 162 pages; I like the detail with which the author writes.

I read another handful of explorer profiles in Expeditions Unpacked - I love how I'm learning more about modern day explorers as my current knowledge is largely of historical expeditions. 

Small amount read in Say Say Say today; I'm at the 50 page mark now.

I picked Waterfalls of Stars back up today, reading to page 207. 

This morning I read three more expeditions within Expeditions Unpacked, including the writer's own exploration of the Amazon - journeying the length of the Amazon river. I do think I'm on track to have this book completed by the end of the month.

I also did further reading in Waterfalls of Stars today, meaning I am now on page 262. Whilst it is wonderful reading all about the nature & wildlife on Skomer, there are some hardships and unpredictable experiences shared too which make for emotional reading at times.

I finished reading Expeditions Unpacked today - I loved it & would recommend it to anyone who is interested in this line of nonfiction. I have included a few pictures of the book above (front & back cover plus a couple of snippets inside). I enjoyed reading about all the explorers, with my favourite inclusion being of the Sherpa at the very end. Recommend!

I also read a little more in Waterfalls of Stars - on page 286.

Finished reading Waterfalls of Stars today, and would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in wildlife nonfiction, particularly here in the UK. Not only was the nature element interesting to read, but also the life story side of it too. Roseanne Alexander moved to Skomer, with her husband, to work as wardens of the island, and so the experience of living & working on a remote island (with visitors during the summer season) is quite a unique one. I did take me a while to finish this book, with that partly being to do with the size of it but also the fact that at times it did feel a little repetitive, however I think that is only naturally so given the overall topic at hand. 

Late evening I read more of Say Say Say, up to page 85, and ultimately decided to DNF it; I haven't been gravitating towards this book at all. As I mentioned much earlier on in the week, I did enjoy the writing style of observations & perceptions from the author (the every day if you will), however I just didn't find the overall story engaging. As I say, the book is largely about the day to day, mundane even, so I think it makes sense in a way that it moved at the slow pace and wasn't engaging (as often times that is day to day life) - I think I could have loved this book, however it just wasn't the right time for me. In contrast, the following day I picked up a book by James Patterson and have been whizzing through it.
So that concludes the month of November - I read 8 books in total this month, with 6 of those being nonfiction & 2 being fiction; it has been a good & varied reading month.


Happy reading!

Monday, 25 November 2019

Reading Record | A Week of Nonfiction Only

My reading record posts are a way for me to document all things bookish and reading in my life - I aim to post consistently, with them most often being in a weekly format, however readathons & certain books have their own specific reading record.

In this reading record you will see me focusing solely on my nonfiction TBR for Nonfiction November.

Currently reading:
The Art of Making Memories by Meik Wiking (on page 115)

I started today with just the one book, and have ended it with three!

This morning I picked up Expeditions Unpacked, reading about the first four explorers/expeditions within. This book takes a look at the kit that individual adventurers decided to take on their expeditions. Not only does it share the kit, but also a little bit of information about the person, and also the journey they undertook too. My plan from here on out with Expeditions Unpacked is to read a few entries a day here and there, between now & the end of the month, so that by the time November is over, I should have completed the book.

I read a further two chapters in The Art of Making Memories, and am now on page 161 with that book.

Both of these NF books are the kind of ones that you dip in & out of - coffee table book like - and so I wanted to have a more substantial book on the go (which if I were reading fiction this week, that would likely fill this gap), and so I picked up Waterfalls of Stars: My Ten Years on the Island of Skomer by Rosanne Alexander. I read the first chapter (21 pages) before calling it a night.

Much like yesterday morning, I read a few more profiles from Expeditions Unpacked.

This evening I continued with Waterfalls of Stars, reading a further three chapters, meaning I am now on page 55. Although I am still in the very early stages of this book (it is 350 pages in total), I can already tell I'm going to fall in love with the island setting & wildlife commentary. 

Wednesday is the day I usually do the least amount of reading... However, I have managed to read a chapter within The Art of Making Memories, and also a further two chapters in Waterfalls of Stars, which I'm happy about.

This morning I finished reading The Art of Making Memories by Meik Wiking - book number 3 for NF November complete. I really quite enjoyed this book, especially as someone who isn't the best with remembering & memory (I document my reading online for reason - ha!). I liked learning about some of the science behind memory making, and how the book was kept light but yet informative with the writing style. 

I also started & finished Sustainable Home by Christine Liu today, reading the book in its entirety in the one sitting. This book was a whim of a library borrow for me, and I'm glad I took it out now. In Sustainable Home, Christine talks a little about her own sustainable journey (I did not know of her previously, but it appears she is a blogger), and shares via chapters of rooms found in your average home (living room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom) ways in which the reader can also make more sustainable decisions & lifestyle choices. I found this book to be informative & insightful, not pushy in its message, and think it would be a great foundation for those looking to work towards a more sustainable lifestyle. 

Side note: I have already been on my own sustainable journey for a good while now and haven't actually read too many books on sustainability specifically, seeking this information online more than anything else. Whilst I already implement a number of the practices mentioned in my own day to day life already, I found the kitchen portion of Sustainable Home being the one that impacted me the most (as I do believe this is an area that me & my family could work on more).

This morning, after not picking it up for a few days, I read a handful more expedition studies within Expedition Unpacked.

I have also read more of Waterfalls of Stars, starting the day on page 81 and concluding it on page 120.

Really not much reading done today - 20ish pages in Waterfalls of Stars.

Another slow reading day, with two chapters being read in Waterfalls of Stars; I am currently on page 188 of this book, which means I am over half way through now.

The amount I was reading definitely tailed off a bit there towards the end of the week, but I think by adding in fiction books this coming week, it will help me to feel more of a pull to my books... I think... I hope!


Happy reading!

Monday, 18 November 2019

Reading Record | I Finished Three Books

My reading record posts are a way for me to document all things bookish and reading in my life - I aim to post them consistently with them most often being in a weekly format, however readathons & certain books have their own specific reading record.

In this reading record you will see that I finished three books, including my most anticipated book of the year, a fantasy historical fiction with a male/male romance, and a nonfiction title.

Currently reading:
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern (on page 236)
The Binding by Bridget Collins (on page 163 - on pause until I finished The Starless Sea)
The Secret Barrister (on page 108)

I read to page 319 in The Starless Sea this evening. It appears we are at the point now where the story is starting to be pulled together, but there are still more questions than answers at this point. There are 175 pages left... It would be nice to get them all read tomorrow, but I'm not rushing the read in any way - I'm truly immersing myself in and appreciating all the details of this fantastical world & unfolding story - so we'll see how that goes.

I did indeed manage to finish reading The Starless Sea today. It has taken me almost a week to complete the book in its entirety, but that time has been spent with a magical book... It has been a joy to read.

The Starless Sea is deeply woven and wonderfully descriptive, with a cast of characters you won't forget easily. If you enjoyed The Night Circus, or if you are unfamiliar with Erin Morgenstern's writing but love books about books, then The Starless Sea is the book for you.

Today I did a little bit of reading in The Secret Barrister, but literally only a few pages or so.

With The Starless Sea now finished, my attention will now move back to The Binding as my current fiction read, whilst also continuing with The Secret Barrister as my nonfiction read. Can I have both of these books finished by the end of the week... Or is that wishful thinking?

I read to page 220 in The Secret Barrister today - meaning I am well over the halfway mark now. I'm quite enjoying this look at the criminal justice system here in the UK (well, England & Wales); it is proving to be both insightful & thought provoking.

In the evening I returned to The Binding, reading the next few chapters and placing my bookmark on page 213.

I left The Binding at the end of part one, where the general premise of the plot was set up, introducing us to the focal characters, outlining the art of book binding, and presenting us a mystery... Having now moved on the start of part two, I can see more focus on the mystery element; things are slowly being pieced together. I'm happy to be back with this book.

Further reading in The Secret Barrister today: read to page 305, which means I have less than 40 pages left.

I also finished the remainder of part two in The Binding (page 295). I was correct in my thoughts on the piecing together of the mystery, with a big answer being shared in part two. I'm keen to see where the rest of this book is going to take us now.

This morning I finished reading The Secret Barrister. I liked the topic, voice and presentation of this book; the writer did a good job of presenting the system to a layperson, and setting out the book in a way that is easy to follow. If you're looking for a snapshot of the courts & justice system here in England & Wales, then I recommend picking this up. 

I started my third book for Nonfiction November later on in the day - The Art of Making Memories by Weik Wiking. This book is a library borrow for me, and I picked it up having enjoyed another book by this writer. I have a number of books still on my NF stack, however I opted for this book in particular to read next as I think I could do with something a bit lighter in theme given the other two nonfiction books I've read so far for the month. I have read the introduction & first chapter of The Art of Making Memories, meaning I am just over 50 pages in.

As well as NF reading today, I also read just over 50 pages of The Binding this evening.

This morning I finished reading The Binding. I loved this book - the plot as a whole, the unique concept of binding itself (in short: books being a person's memories), the love story, and also the way in which the story was told with the parts & different perspectives. If you're on the lookout for a fantastical historical fiction, then I recommend The Binding.

I did also read a further two chapters within my current nonfiction read also today.

Ending the week on a good note, with three books finished. I'm thinking about making the new week an exclusive nonfiction reading week, we'll see.


Happy reading!

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Nonfiction November | Ask The Expert (Journeys)

Last year one of my favourite bookish events here in the blogging community was Nonfiction November; it was my first time taking part but I quickly fell in love with it, for many reasons. Concluding the month, I just knew I had to take part again next year... And here we are!

This year I will be taking part in the weekly prompts (on a Wednesday), as well as posting reading record posts each week (on a Monday). My intention for the month of November is to work through some of the unread nonfiction titles currently sitting on my shelves, and to read more nonfiction books within the month than fiction.

For those unfamiliar, the weekly post prompts are linky style, and hosted by one of the five hosts of the event. You can see the host of this week's prompt written below, and all five hosts linked at the end of this post.

Three ways to join in this week! You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you'd like to read (become the expert).

This week I'm opting to ask the expert, and am looking to you all for recommendations... Please! 

Something I've come to learn that I quite enjoy reading is books about journeys, in three different ways.

Firstly, I enjoy books about journeys that are quite fact based & informative.

Secondly, I enjoy books about journeys that are of a person's experience journeying but still knowledgeable.

Lastly, I enjoy books that are memoirs with people on a journey, but also a path of self discovery.

I feel like the topic of journeys is quite broad, but hopefully by sharing specifics & examples of books I've enjoyed there will be a few new to me recommendations coming my way.

Monday, 11 November 2019

Reading Record | The Starless Sea + Nonfiction November

My reading record posts are a way for me to document all things bookish and reading in my life - I aim to post them consistently with them most often being in a weekly format, however readathons & certain books have their own specific reading record. 

In this reading record you will see snippets of reading for Nonfiction November and I also received my most anticipated read of the year.

Starting the month with bookmarks in the very early stages of two books:
The Binding by Bridget Collins (two chapters in - 36 pages read)
The Call of the Wild by Jack London (two chapters in - 34 pages read)

I often have a few books on the go at the one time, including a nonfiction. I finished my last nonfiction read a couple of days ago now and have been waiting on starting a new one... With Nonfiction November now here - I was keen to begin the month fresh with an unopened book - I can start a new nonfiction read.

The book I've chosen to start Nonfiction November with is The Salt Path by Raynor Winn. This is a book that I added to my NF wishlist this time last year during Nonfiction November, and I am happy to now be getting to it. 

I had heard so many positive things regarding this book, and having read the first two parts (99 pages) today, I can see why!

Raynor and her husband are at an immensely low point in life, and yet they have strength, hope and one another pushing them on as they traverse the South West coastline here in the UK. Reading about another's hardship is never an easy or pleasant experience, however Raynor's writing style means that the reader is emotionally invested in the couple, and kept easily engaged as she shares the highs & lows of their journey. I've found it hard putting this book down today.

In the evening I read (listened to) the first 52 minutes of The Shepherd's Hut by Tim Winton via the borrowing audiobook service through my library. I haven't really formed any solid impressions of this so far.

No reading.

Book one of NF November - complete! I finished the remainder of The Salt Path today (just under 200 pages), and what a great start to the month of immersing myself in NF it was.

Repeating the same reading routine as Friday, I listen to some more of The Shepherd's Hut in the evening once again - just over 50 minutes. I think the first person narration - stream of conscious almost - is really easy to listen to & fall into via audiobook.

I popped to the library today to return two books, and came home with four - isn't that always the way?! I borrowed one fiction & three nonfiction (will I get to them this month with my already stacked TBR?).

Reading wise, I focused on my fiction books today, with just under 100 more pages read in The Binding and also further listening of my audiobook.

This morning I read to the end of part 1 in The Binding (which was only about 30 pages) and decided it was a good place to take a brief break in my reading of this specific book as in the post today I had book mail: my preorder of The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. 

The Starless Sea is honestly my most anticipated book of the year (or ever!), and I just know I couldn't wait to complete my current fiction read before delving into Erin Morgenstern's newest release.

The reason I'm putting a pause on The Binding is not only because I want to focus solely on The Starless Sea when I read it (fiction wise), but also because both of them have a bookish theme to the story, and whilst I often read multiple books at a time, I like the plots to be vastly different as it makes following along a lot easier.

Ending the day having read 74 pages of The Starless Sea.

No reading.

After not getting any reading done yesterday, I did get a little bit done today with just over another 50 pages read in The Starless Sea.

Today I started my next NF pick for the month - The Secret Barrister - and have read the introduction + first two chapters, meaning I'll be continuing from page 85 when I next pick it up.

I did also read a little more of The Starless Sea today, with my bookmark now sitting at page 170. If I'm being honest, I definitely thought I'd have made more progress in The Starless Sea by now. It isn't the fault of the story - I'm absolutely loving being back in a world imagined by Erin Morgenstern - but the fault of the reader. This week has been quite a busy one personal life wise (& will continue so in to the weekend), and so reading hasn't been a main focus as it usually is in my spare time.

The Starless Sea is proving to be AMAZING (all that I could of hoped for, and more!), I just need to prioritise reading a bit more.

I managed to carve out a small amount of reading time today, with my bookmark now on page 236 of The Starless Sea.

Much less reading done today than yesterday, however I did finish the next chapter of The Secret Barrister. This NF book takes a look at the court system here in the UK, and I am really enjoying it so far - accessible and easy to read, as well as insightful.


Happy reading!

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Nonfiction November | Nonfiction / Fiction Book Pairing

Last year one of my favourite bookish events here in the blogging community was Nonfiction November; it was my first time taking part but I quickly fell in love with it, for many reasons. Concluding the month, I just knew I had to take part again next year... And here we are!

This year I will be taking part in the weekly post prompts (on a Wednesday), as well as posting reading record posts each week (on a Monday). My intention for the month of November is to work through some of the unread nonfiction titles currently sitting on my shelves, and to read more nonfiction books within the month than fiction.

For those unfamiliar, the weekly post prompts are linky style, and hosted by one of the five hosts of the event. You can see the host of this week's prompt below, and all five hosts linked at the end of this post.

BOOK PAIRINGS hosted by Sarah's Book Shelves
This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. It can be a "If you loved this book, read this!" or just two titles that you think would go well together. 

Of all the weekly prompts, this is one of my favourites. I find I come away with quite the list of pairings, and I enjoy seeing the ways in which other bloggers have decided to interpret the prompt & pair books. However, for me, it is also the hardest to write. 

I've only really gotten into nonfiction books properly in the last few years, and so naturally my knowledge of nonfiction is limited to that time frame; I think the more I continue to read nonfiction & widen my nonfiction net, the easier these posts will get to write... At least I'm hoping so!

Today I've decided to pair two sets of books, rather than specific titles. I'm pairing a nonfiction nature anthology series with the fictional writing of Kate Morton.

One of my favourite fictional authors is Kate Morton, there is such a depth & beauty to her historical fiction writing, and I find myself immersed in her stories so easily. One of the reasons I fall into her books with such ease is because of her writing style, and the picture she paints of the surroundings & settings. A number of her books feature the great British landscape in one way or another (titles that spring to mind: The Lake House, The Forgotten Garden, The House at Riverton, and The Clockmaker's Daughter), and that is why I'm pairing her books with a seasonal nature anthology edited by Melissa Harrison. With each of the four seasons being represented within the collection, the books reflect on a specific season and how it greets us here in the UK, with the reader being able to watch the season unfold in the eyes of a number of individuals through essays and such.

Although the link between my pairing isn't immediately obvious, I do think that if you enjoy the books of Kate Morton, then you'll enjoy some British nature writing also. 

Side note: for those who followed along with me last year during Nonfiction November, the seasonal anthology will be familiar to you as I mentioned it in the prompt of books that read like fiction.


Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Nonfiction November | My Year in Nonfiction... So Far

Last year one of my favourite bookish events here in the blogging community was Nonfiction November; it was my first time taking part but I quickly fell in love with it, for many reasons. Concluding the month, I just knew I had to take part again next year... And here we are!

This year I will be taking part in the weekly post prompts (on a Wednesday), as well as posting reading record posts each week (on a Monday). My intention for the month of November is to work through some of the unread nonfiction titles currently sitting on my shelves, and to read more nonfiction books within the month than fiction.

For those unfamiliar, the weekly post prompts are linky style, and hosted by one of the five hosts of the event. You can see the host of this week's prompt written below, and all five hosts linked at the end of this post.

Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions - What was your favourite nonfiction read of the year? Do you have a particular topic you've been attracted to more this year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven't read enough of yet? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

All the nonfiction books I've read so far this year (+ Goodreads links)

Going into the year, I had hopes of reading at least one nonfiction book a month - aside from the month of May when I set myself a challenge to read only from my unread middle grade books - and I have successfully achieved that. 

I've read some wonderful nonfiction this year - books about books (The Enchanted Hour + Why You Should Read Children's Books...), books with heart & strength (The Choice + No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference), books with lifestyle at the centre (The Minimalist Home) and books that have stirred wanderlust (Trekking Beyond + Around the World in 80 Trains + Tip of the Iceberg). I have enjoyed each and every one of the nonfiction titles I've completed so far this year.

There is one stand out book within the list of sixteen that I not only connected with the most, but would recommend the most - The Wild Remedy: How Nature Heals Us - A Diary by Emma Mitchell. You know those books that just speak to you on a different level, and you can relate to in many ways, The Wild Remedy has been that for me this year.

One area of nonfiction I do wish I had made time for this year is the topic of witches, witch hunts in the UK, and also the Salem witch trails. I have actually read a couple of fictional books surrounding these topics this year, but I haven't read any nonfiction. 

So that pretty much concludes my year in nonfiction so far. I don't have a specific TBR for the coming month of November, however I do have a significant stack of unread books already on my bookshelves that I'd like to make my way through. 

I've already shared my intentions for Nonfiction November above, but I would also like to add to that I am looking forward to meeting some new to me bloggers (I met so many last year!) & building my nonfiction wishlist.

To you all, happy reading this month!

Monday, 21 October 2019

Reading Record | Spookathon (My Lovely Wife + The Terror)

This past week I have been taking part in Spookathon, a week long readathon hosted by Kayla (of BooksandLala). I have taken part in Spookathon a couple of times now and it is such a fun event timed well, being so close to Halloween. 

Spookathon has been running for a good few years now, originally beginning to highlight & promote thriller books in the booktube community as they were not as widely read and recommended back then. Of course the book community has expanded greatly since then, however I love that Kayla keeps this event running as it is a great time to pick up some books that are slightly darker in nature. 

There are challenges in place, however this is quite a low pressure event, with reading a thriller being the overriding challenge. Going into the event I knew I would not meet all of the challenges outlined, however I did use them to form my TBR.

1. Read a thriller
2. Read a book with red on the cover
3. Read something with a spooky word in the title
4. Read something with a spooky setting
5. Read something you wouldn't normally read

Today I made a start in two books - My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing (102 pages read) and also The Terror by Dan Simmons (94 pages read). For now I am focusing on these two books as my TBR books, however I do have a third book I'd quite like to get to if possible... However, The Terror is nearly 950 pages, so we'll see how that goes!

My Lovely Wife is being counted towards the challenge of 'Read a thriller' and The Terror is being counted towards the challenge of 'Read something with a spooky word in the title'.

I focused solely on making progress in The Terror today and read to page 289, so nearly 200 pages read in total today. I think I could be further in this mammoth book by this point - even so early on in the readathon - however I'm happy to be reading at a steady pace with it, given I have been reading slower than usual for me lately. 

For those who may not be familiar with The Terror, it is historical fantasy horror fiction, focusing on the historical event of the failed 1845 Franklin Expedition to explore the Arctic, with a fictional spin. I chose this as my book with a spooky word in the title, but I would say the setting of trapped isolated ships & the polar regions, with it being unimaginably cold, is not only atmospheric but spine chilling & spooky too.

Wednesday is usually my busiest day of the week, so I anticipated getting little to no reading in today, however a number of things didn't quite go to plan today - just one of those days - which meant I actually got a really good amount of reading done.

I read over 100 pages in The Terror this morning, with my bookmark now sitting at the 400 page mark. I also picked up my thriller - My Lovely Wife - a couple of time throughout the day; I managed to read 136 pages on and off, now being on page 238 in the book.

I read a further 50 pages in The Terror & finished reading My Lovely Wife - book one of the readathon complete. YAY!

I feel quite conflicted in my thoughts of My Lovely Wife. 

The book follows a husband & wife who are murdered woman for pleasure, whilst continuing with their seemingly happy, normal life with a nice house, good jobs, and two teenage kids. Obviously I picked this book up because I was intrigued by the premise, but I had also heard a lot of positive feedback surrounding My Lovely Wife. 

I'm conflicted because I figured all the plot points (main points & sub plots) out along the way, quite a while before reveals, and I was also a tad unsure about the actual ending - I feel like elements were unrealistic/glossed over. However, I loved the writing of Samantha Downing - absolutely amazing for a debut novel - and did feel engrossed in the unfolding story. 

I am happy to have read this book though, and experienced it for myself.

Today I read just 20 pages of The Terror. I just wasn't in the reading mood, and I think it is so important to honour your feelings when it comes to reading - especially during a readathon!

Just two days left of the readathon and I have quite a big chunk of The Terror left to read. I did work out that I would need to read 233 pages each on both Saturday & Sunday to finish this book by the end of the readathon... Knowing that, I actually didn't end up reading my 233 pages for the day. I started on 470 and ended on 589. Bear in mind there are 936 pages in this book. I am a little worried about completing this solely tomorrow, but I am determined to finish The Terror during the readathon - whilst still giving it quality time - so I predict a BIG reading day tomorrow.

I did it! I finished The Terror - book two of the readathon complete! I had a couple of pretty intense chunks of reading time throughout the morning, and ended up finishing The Terror in early afternoon (much earlier than I would have anticipated).

Not only am I so happy to have finished this book during spookathon as I had hoped, but I feel a sense of achievement in general to have finished such a large book. I don't usually read chunksters - with this definitely being one of the longest books I've read - however I did find myself well invested in The Terror.

Despite the size of the book, the length of time in which passes throughout the book, the large cast of characters, and the varying POV that the story is told from, I did find The Terror to be an easy to follow read, with the plot holding me throughout. I didn't feel like any of the book was filler, with every chapter having its place and purpose. The multiple POV's really lent to a wider understanding within the book, and gave the plot great depth.

If you're someone who doesn't read horror books but is interested in starting, I think The Terror would be a good place to start.

(Goodreads links)

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

LibraryLoves Book Tag

Throughout the month of October I'm taking part in the Library Loves challenge - an event hosted by Jess (of Read by Jess) and a number of co hosts. The concept behind this month long reading event is to encourage those within the book community to show their local libraries some love & support. Here in the UK, libraries just don't have the support & funding they once did, so as a big library user myself, I'm all for showing the library love.

As part of the event, Jess has come up with a new book tag - you can watch her video here.

I don't know exactly, but quite young. I have such fond memories of using the mobile library (remember those?) during my childhood; it stopped at the end of our road and me & my sister would go along together.

Pretty regularly - more than once a month, but not quite weekly. It all depends on my reading pace & how many books I have out.

Yes... I've had late fees a couple of times - this is only when I've got the return date muddled and gone over by a day or two, so a few pennies or so.

Our local library is quite a small one, only open three days a week, but it has really good services on those days and brings the community together. There are great groups for all demographics (I have been to many groups with my son for varying kids ages) and there is just a lovely welcoming atmosphere whenever you pop in.

A bit of both. Often times I'll have reserved a book or two online and then browse when picking them up - this is at my local library. We have another library that is a couple of villages away in a town and I love browsing in that library as there is much more choice.

For this question (and the next) I thought I'd just focus on books I've borrowed this year. My answer would be All The Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry.

Again, honing in on just this year, I have two: The Way of All Flesh by Ambrose Parry & The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain.

I don't believe so.

There was a time when a short story collection I was reading felt so familiar - like I'd read those stories before - but there was no record of me having borrowed that book before so I think it was just a case of the same stories being grouped together in more than one collection. I didn't finish that book though as I knew everything that was happening, so stopped after the first five stories or so.

Not that I recall... Any recommendations would be welcome!

I actually haven't, no. I'm much more of a physical book reader, so those are the ones I borrow. I think it is great that books are available in varying formats though.

I honestly haven't been to that many libraries in my life... For the most part just small local libraries.

Our immediate local library (the village over from ours) is quite small and is only open 3 days a week, so if it was open more I'd probably use it more often - especially if it was open on weekends.

I don't often do tags, but I enjoyed this one. I'd love to hear about your library usage in the comments below!
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