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!
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