Wednesday, 30 December 2020

Favourite Books of 2020 | Second Half (My Year in Books)

The end of 2020 is near enough here now and with it my reading for the year has pretty much concluded (I am finishing a reread, but I don't include those in yearly lists) so I'm taking a look at some favourites. I have already shared my favourites from the first half of this year, and so the list I'm sharing today only includes books read in the last six months of the year.

What makes a favourite book is quite a personal thing, for me though a favourite is more about how I felt during my reading experience as opposed to the technical qualities and make up of the writing... Also, most of my favourites tend to have the rereadability factor too. 

All book links below will take you to Goodreads

The Highland Falcon Thief by M.G. Leonard & Sam Sedgman (representing the Adventures on Trains series)
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden (representing the Winternight trilogy)


What book(s) have been your favourite over the last six months?

Friday, 11 December 2020

Reading Ambience | Christmas

For a little while now I've taken to putting on background sounds whilst reading, turning to the plethora of ambience videos that can be found on YouTube. Following on from this I created my 'Reading Ambience' series, curating lists of ambience videos that share a common theme.

With just a couple of weeks left until Christmas Day now, I thought today I'd share eight videos I have been dipping in and out of that make the perfect accompaniment to any genre of festive fiction.

This list is slightly different to previous ones as half of the videos include music, not just sounds, which I know can be a hindrance to some when reading, so those videos are marked (M) as a guide.

All links will take you to YouTube

Whilst these lists are aimed at being reading ambience, I will admit to putting a couple of these on now and again, with no reading being undertaken, just to bask in the Christmas cheer!


Friday, 4 December 2020

Reading Wrap Up | November

In the month of November I finished a series that I had been long wanting to read, worked my way through a good number of short story collections, found myself enthralled in a thriller novel, and whisked away to a snowy smugglers inn through a middle grade mystery.

Links below will take you to my review of the book on Goodreads

Happy reading in December!

Monday, 30 November 2020

Reading Record | Festive Fiction - Mysteries & Ghost Stories

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 will have their own specific reading record.

In this post you will see me continuing with the three books I mentioned in my 'A Day of Reading' blog post.

I read three ghost stories within Ghosts of Christmas Past, and whilst I liked all three, This Beautiful House by Louis de Bernieres really stood out to me. 

Lots of reading done today. 

I read one short story within Midwinter Murder by Agatha Christie - this story featured Tommy & Tuppence, characters I had yet to encounter within a Christie mystery. I really liked the dynamic between the pair so will see about reading more from this series in the future.

Keeping with short stories, I also read one from Ghosts of Christmas Past - Christmas Eve on a Haunted Hulk, this is one of the longer stories within the collection and I did quite enjoy the build up of it. 

Lastly, I returned to Greenglass House by Kate Milford after not picking it up for a few days; I settled in and read 74 pages (3 chapters) this evening. Elements I'm particularly fond of: the setting of the inn & the way in which a role play game campaign is incorporated into the mystery.

My reading focus remained with Greenglass House throughout the day, reading 81 pages (3 chapters) over two sittings. 

Whilst reading the first chapter of the three, I realised something that may be important to the unfolding plot, specifically something to do with a certain female character... I could be entirely off track to be honest, but I wanted to note my thoughts down about it regardless. Of course with this being a spoiler free blog, I can't specify what that thing is, but I will for sure update if I was correct or not as I progress with the book.

I hadn't actually planned to, but I ended up reading the remainder of Greenglass House today - 138 pages that was. 

Whilst I wasn't entirely enthralled in this book like some other middle grade mysteries, I did have a good reading experience and found myself happy in the setting and the company of the characters, in particular, the Pine family. I think the length of the chapters drags this book a bit, but having said that, I would still return to this author & series as a whole.

Oh, and yes, I was on the right track about the plot element I mentioned on Wednesday!

Today I read two short stories within Midwinter Murder and made a good dent in the ghost story collection, reading a handful of stories.

I finished the last story within Ghosts of Christmas Past this morning, marking that as my tenth book finished for the month. Hmm... Can I finish the Agatha Christie collection before the month is over and make it eleven books read?!

This evening I felt like I wanted to add a fiction novel to my currently reading pile, and opted for The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter by Hazel Gaynor, reading 45 pages so far. This is my first reading experience with Hazel Gaynor, and wow, her writing is beautiful and captivating... I have a feeling I'm going to want to read all of her books (good job I already have The Cottingley Secret on my unread shelf too)!

Over the course of today I read three short stories within Midwinter Murder, meaning I now just have two left. It would've been nice to have finished the week with this book complete, but I think I'll for sure read the two remaining stories on Monday and have it completed by the end of the month, as hoped.


Happy reading!

Friday, 27 November 2020

A Day of Reading | Friday 20th November

After the intensity of being immersed in the Winternight trilogy I am currently reading books that require less of a commitment - think short stories & middle grade books.

I started reading Midwinter Murder by Agatha Christie - completing the introduction and first short story. The first short story in this collection features Poirot, and it was interesting as it was a case where he didn't quite wrap the conclusion up correctly. 

Continuing with short story collections, I returned to Ghosts of Christmas Past which I briefly started the yesterday; I read the 2nd and 3rd story in this sitting. Whilst I liked both the stories, I was particularly drawn to Dinner for One by Jenn Ashworth... Haunting indeed.

If you've read my last few reading record posts, you'll know I've been loving these short story collections that take place around the festive season... However, they are definitely on the darker side, not your average festive fiction.

As dinner cooked away I read the second story within Midwinter Murder... This one was a Marple mystery and I found myself invested throughout. I have yet to come away from any Agatha Christie book disappointed, but I do always say I prefer Marple over Poirot when it comes to 'detectives'.

Taking a break from short stories, I began reading Greenglass House by Kate Milford, a middle grade book that takes place over the winter holidays. This is the first book in a series and I believe it to be an adventure/mystery - my favourite kind of MG. 

I read the first 49 pages (2 chapters) and am filled with wonder and intrigue as to where this book is going to take me.

I decided to conclude my day with one more short Agatha Christie mystery before calling it a night.


Monday, 23 November 2020

Reading Record | Finishing the Winternight Trilogy

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 will have their own specific reading record.

I've actually extended this reading record post a little longer than a week as I was focusing on finishing the Winternight trilogy by Katherine Arden, and it made sense to me to keep all of that in the one post - so here is 10 days worth of reading.

I started the week by finishing the last three short stories within Murder Under the Christmas Tree, which is a short story collection of festive mysteries, that I carried over from last week. The book was varied, and as with all short stories collections, I enjoyed some stories more than others. Last week I read Murder on Christmas Eve, the same style of book, and I would say I preferred that collection of stories more than this.

Having now finished the short story collection, I can focus solely on the Winternight trilogy and dare I say, finish it this week?! (BLOG POST SPOILER: it took me longer than a week - I was a tad ambitious there).

This evening I read a further 33 pages within The Girl in the Tower (book 2 of the Winternight trilogy), meaning I have less than 100 pages left now.

I actually paused at a crucial turning point in The Girl in the Tower yesterday, so I found when I picked back up where I left off I was wholly engrossed in the book and finished the remaining pages in the ONE SITTING!

I have enjoyed my time with this book - in particular, I have really appreciated the folklore and politics and how those have both evolved; I'm looking forward to seeing the direction book three takes.

Although I'm looking forward to book three, I thought it would be nice to take a brief breather between the books in the series and downloaded a thriller on ebook from the library: The End of Her by Shari Lapena. I have read one other book by this author previously and it was a good reading experience, so I hope for much the same with this title.

This evening I read the first 101 pages of the 240 pages in The End of Her by Shari Lapena; you could say I am gripped! The storyline is really interesting, with much mystery & paranoia, and the cast of characters is varied and connect in unexpected ways - I feel for Stephanie, one of the main characters, not knowing who to believe in her life.

In two sittings today I finished the remainder of The End of Her. I was pretty invested in this book from the very beginning and would definitely recommend it to those who like this genre of book - it had a good build up, well written tension, with twists and turns towards the end; exactly what you look for in a thriller mystery.

Having said that, I do want to share a gripe I personally did have with this story, and that was the actions of one character in particular feeling very out of character as the story concluded. I obviously can't state what that was, in order to keep this spoiler free, however it did feel unexpected and as I said, out of character, so that did bother me a little as a reader... Hmm, perhaps I just more didn't want that for that specific character. There is much depth to this thriller and it definitely makes you think about people - what you think you know about them.

Anyway, this was my second Shari Lapena, and I don't see it being my last - I have more books in her backlist to work through. If you've thought about picking up one of her books before, then I urge you to do so.

I have started book three in the Winternight trilogy - The Winter of the Witch - reading 43 pages this morning. The story picked up right where it left off in the last book and there have been some pretty powerful scenes already.

Just under 100 pages read in The Winter of the Witch.

More progress in current read - 61 pages. I feel like at this point in the book the plot is well set up, which is when I tend to start reading at a slower pace (around the middle) so we'll see how my reading of this book goes from here.

I read to the end of part 4 in The Winter of the Witch today, I think this was just under 40 pages read in total. 

Still working my way through The Winter of the Witch, with 48 pages read today. Pieces are being pulled together for a conclusion now.

No reading done today.

This afternoon I read the remaining 70 pages within The Winter of the Witch, meaning I completed my aim of reading the Winternight trilogy in its entirely this autumn - YAY!

I have greatly enjoyed my time with this series; it has been wonderful, beautiful, and immersive. The series as a whole has such great depth - from main character Vasilisa, to elements of folklore, the politics of Russia, and much more. This is definitely the kind of series that you have to commit to, and I'm glad I waited until the series was finished publishing in paperback, so I could consume all three books close together as there are many finer details that are also very important to the story (& I would not of retained them had I read them by publication year). I'm so glad I took the time to read this series and I have come away with a great appreciation for Katherine Arden's writing.


Happy reading!

Friday, 13 November 2020

Reading Ambience | Cosy Crackling Fires

For a little while now I've taken to putting on some background sounds whilst reading, turning to the plethora of ambience videos that can be found on YouTube. Following on from this I created my 'Reading Ambience' series, curating lists of ambience videos that share a common theme.

The outdoors is very much teetering between autumn and winter now here, with bare trees, fresh and frosty mornings, wild winds, and winter woollens making an appearance, so to me it is the time of year when I like to cosy down at home and make my indoor surroundings inviting. One of these inviting elements includes a crackling fire... Now, I don't have a real fire, however by turning to ambience videos I can definitely indulge myself in the atmosphere provided - and that's what I'm highlighting today: Crackling Fires.

All links will take you to YouTube


Monday, 9 November 2020

Reading Record | Books Carried Over From October

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 will have their own specific reading record. 

The first week of November was about prioritising finishing the books I carried over from the month of October. 

I started my day by reading the 7th story within a short story collection that I am currently working through: Murder on Christmas Eve.

In the afternoon I returned to Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance and finished the remaining 23 pages I had left within this nonfiction memoir; first book of the month finished (although I did read most of it in October). I personally don't really like to 'review' memoirs, as it is someone's personal life story, but  I will say that my reading experience was pleasant enough and I found elements of J.D's story - in particular, childhood - relatable. 

Before calling it a night, I read the next story in the short story collection I mentioned from earlier on today. Although out of season, being Christmas crime fiction, I am quite enjoying dipping in and out of this collection.

No reading today.

Started the day by reading the last two stories in Murder on Christmas Eve - and oh boy, that last one really tugged on the heartstrings (On Christmas Day in the Morning by Margery Allingham).

This afternoon I returned to The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden (book two in the Winternight trilogy). I had briefly started this book at the very end of October, so am still in the early stages, leaving my bookmark on page 79. 

With not too long left on my ebook library borrow of Moonrise by Sarah Crossan, I decided to start this YA novel in verse this evening, finding myself wholly engrossed and reading 114 pages in the one sitting. This book is about a teenager, Joe, who is processing the fact that his older brother who has been on death row for ten years has now been given an execution date. Joe moves closer to the prison in order to spent the last few weeks of his brother's life with him, despite not having had little contact throughout the time he has been imprisoned for the murder of a police officer. I'm very invested in this story so far and am finding it to be quite emotive also.

No reading today.

I made progress in both of my current reads - The Girl in the Tower (63 pages) and Moonrise (56 pages).

I did also start a new book: Murder Under the Christmas Tree. Sound familiar to the short story collection that I just finished on Tuesday? Well, that's because it is. There are a number of books along this same line (a series even) featuring short stories that are dark in nature and take place around Christmas time. I have a couple of them coming up over the next month or so on my reading list. I started Murder Under the Christmas Tree by reading the first book within this particular collection. 

Read another short story within Murder Under the Christmas Tree.

The main bulk of my reading time today was spent with Moonrise - I finished the remainder of this book, roughly 130 pages. Moonrise is both poignant and beautiful, with so much emotion packed into so few words.

When adding Moonrise to my Goodreads pages I noticed that it is my 100TH BOOK OF THE YEAR!

Two more stories within the the festive short story collection read, one of which I had read previously (The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle by Arthur Conan Doyle) in a collection of Sherlock Holmes stories... Enjoyed it all the same though.

Continued with the short story collection - three more stories read; some really clever ones in this collection. 

I also picked up The Girl in the Tower again, reading a further 78 pages. I'm really liking how this series is progressing, so much so that I think going into the new week I'm going to focus on this trilogy a bit more, hopefully moving onto book three also.


Happy reading!

Monday, 2 November 2020

Reading Wrap Up | October

October has now come to an end (how are there only two months of this year left?!) and so it is time to reflect on the month that has been.

In October I found myself engrossed in eye opening nonfiction, transported with fantastical tales, and captured by some truly wonderful middle grade fiction. 

I read nine books over the course of the month and also took part in a bookish readathon event (Cosy Reading Weekend), which is something I haven't done for a good while now!

Links below will take you to my review of the book on Goodreads

Happy reading in November!

Monday, 26 October 2020

A Weekend of Reading | Cosy Reading Weekend

Over the weekend I took part in Cosy Reading Weekend, hosted by Lauren from Lauren and the Books. Typically Lauren holds this event of an evening, and the occasional afternoon, with three hours of relaxing reading time, however this time she decided to host a bumper event with a cosy reading night (Friday 7pm-10pm), cosy reading afternoon (Saturday 2pm-5pm) and a cosy reading morning (Sunday 7am-10am) - making one lovely cosy reading weekend!

Going into the event I had three books in mind to alternate between - The Ghost of Gosswater by Lucy Strange (a historical middle grade fiction & my only physical book), Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte (a classic that I'm reading via audiobook), and Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance (a nonfiction memoir that I had already started, briefly, in ebook format). 

I started the evening with a relaxing bubble bath, listening to the first chapter of Agnes Grey on audio - 25 minutes in total.

I followed this by picking up my physical book - The Ghost of Gosswater - reading the first 55 pages. I have loved both of Lucy Strange's previous middle grade novels, and so far this is proving to follow that same path. 

Although the reading time runs until 10pm... I was tucked up in bed by 9.30pm!

Today is a perfect reading day - the sky is covered with thick clouds and there is a constant rainfall. We did pop into the garden for a little bit of time - for some fresh air and to see the fish in the pond - but other than that, I plan to be indoors all day: under blankets, book(s) in hand, consuming copious amounts of tea.

I picked up both Hillbilly Elegy (reading 25 pages) and The Ghost of Gosswater (reading 30 pages) before the reading event today.

Much like yesterday, I started my cosy reading time with my audiobook, listening to a further two chapters in Agnes Grey, being roughly 40 minutes in length and having passed the hour mark as a whole in the audiobook.

I clearly stuck with the same pattern as yesterday, because after my time with my audiobook I picked up The Ghost of Gosswater once again - reading over 100 pages and passing the half way mark in this book. I have spoken about Lucy Strange and her writing on this blog before, but it is hard to put in to words just how beautifully she writes. 

In the evening I returned to Hillbilly Elegy and read a further 15 pages.

In comparison to my other current reads it seems like I'm getting through Hillbilly Elegy at a much slower pace... Which would make sense as it is denser than a middle grade fiction book, however it is also worth noting that some of the ebooks from the library have this TEENY TINY font meaning there is much more on a page than usual. My ebook for Hillbilly Elegy is just under 140 pages, whereas the hardback edition of this book has near enough 260 pages (according to Goodreads) - so that should given some comparison to the size of the font in the ebook. 

Anyway, the book itself is proving to be a good read - it is exposing me to an environment/community that I am not particularly familiar with being from across the pond in the UK... Despite that, I will say there are elements of J.D. Vance's life (well, childhood so far) that I have found myself relating to through own personal childhood experience.

The clocks changed overnight here in the UK, going back, and so initially when I woke up seeing 7.20am on my phone I thought I was late for the morning portion of this cosy reading event... But I do this every time when the clocks change - I FORGET MY PHONE DOESN'T CHANGE THE TIME AUTOMATICALLY (as I don't have a smart phone) - and so it turned out that I had plenty of time before the morning reading portion as it was actually 6.20am now. Dear me! So I had my morning cup of tea and breakfast before getting stuck into The Ghost of Gosswater at 7am on the dot. 

By 8am I had finished the remaining 100ish pages within The Ghost of Gosswater - my first, and only, book of the weekend complete. And what a pleasure that book was to read! There is something really special, and classical even, about Lucy Strange's books and the way in which she writes. So much so that I didn't even pick up another book within the 7-10am time frame, choosing to sit with my thoughts on The Ghost of Gosswater instead. 

If you are a reader of middle grade books I highly recommend checking out Lucy Strange's books - they are quite gothic in nature, with unfolding mysteries, and settings + characters that truly capture you.

I did think I'd read more outside of the cosy reading morning event today, but I actually didn't as the day just ran its course without me picking up another book. 

So I am going into the new week with time remaining on my Agnes Grey audiobook and also less than half of Hillbilly Elegy left to read... I hope to finish them before the end of the month (fingers crossed).


Happy reading!

Friday, 23 October 2020

Reading Record | Pages & Co: Tilly and the Map of Stories 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 will have their own specific reading record.

In this post I'm sharing the thoughts I jotted down whilst reading the third book in the Pages & Co trilogy: Tilly and the Map of Stories. I have shared similar style posts for book 1 and book 2 also.

Much like the other posts, I do aim to keep this post spoiler free... However, being the third in a series, this may include spoilers from the first two books, but I will do my best to avoid these also. 

Having flicked through the book, ever so briefly,  I have seen that Anna James has included a 'Previously in this series' feature at the start of the book - I LOVE and appreciate this.

Other than that, I look forward to seeing where this series goes and how it concludes.

'Tilly ran her fingers along her shelves, trying to summon that faith she had always had in the serendipity of a bookshelf - that you often ended up finding exactly the right book at the right time.'

Lots of familiar faces featured so far. 

Tilly is still set on wanting to find the Archivists by travelling to the Library of Congress in America, with her grandparents, in particular her Grandad, being against this... Is he just trying to keep Tilly safe, or does he know more than he is letting on?!

It also seems like there is going to be building of the relationship between Tilly and her mum, Bea.

Well, things escalated quickly...

'Good bookshops are hard to resist after all.'

PAGE 105
Ooo... Book wandering politics. 

PAGE 131
I love when characters in a book talk about how they AREN'T characters in a book... Is there a word for this?

PAGE 143
Dun, dun, DUN!

PAGE 184
Sesquipedalian - means long words, or the sort of person who loves using long words. 

You learn something new every day eh.

PAGE 235
Book magic is used in a great many ways, so it seems. 

PAGE 237
'"So the Archive is made of magic?" Oskar clarified. 

"Yes - it's made of imagination," Artemis said. "And imagination is pure magic."'

PAGE 250
The inclusion of classic literary writers - genius! 

PAGE 295
Anna James has such a way with words - double meanings, clever word play, and poetic even.

PAGE 375
'"...there isn't a book out there that hasn't meant something to someone at some point."'

Wait... That most definitely does not feel like THE END of a trilogy! I mean, the story of this actual book was resolved, yes, but yet still such an open ending.

Adding the book to Goodreads, I saw Anna James replied to a comment and confirmed that there will be more Pages & Co books, but this is the end of the first trilogy. Hmm... Interesting! I'm very intrigued by this.

Monday, 19 October 2020

Reading Record | Library Borrows + Book Mail

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 will have their own specific reading record.

This past week I have been conscious to work through my library borrows, as reserves kept springing up on me and I didn't want to be overwhelmed with due date deadlines; I am currently in a good & manageable place with my library books. 

I'm intrigued to know how the library services are running for you.

Here where I live in Wales, the libraries have been closed since March, so whenever I refer to library borrows they are of the digital format (ebook or audiobook). At the very end of August the local council set up a collect system for books - so you put your order in online and then the librarians gather the books and you just pick up the bundle - but I haven't used it personally... For two reasons, one: it is only at specific library branches and my nearest collect point is a bit of a distance and two: because I am quite content with the selection on the library app for now (as well as my own physical books now and again) and for me one of my favourite elements of visiting the library is the browsing aspect, which of course is not available right now.

So what are the libraries like at the moment where you live?

On to my week of reading... 

I carried my audiobook of Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain into this new week with just under 4 hours of listen time left - today I listened to half of that, two hours. 

Also, I started a new ebook today: The Silver Arrow by Lev Grossman. My impressions so far are that I'm in for a fun fantastical adventure with this middle grade read.

This morning I finished the remainder of my audiobook and would say I concluded the book having had a good reading experience overall. I did mention in my last reading record post about feeling detached from the present day timeline of this dual timeline narrative, and I still stand by that. I didn't really take to the characters within that side of the story and found it to be a bit repetitive at times, however I do acknowledge that it had its place and purpose in progressing the story as a whole. The other narrative - Anna's story from the 1940's - I was wholly engrossed in and it made the book for me. 

Further reading in The Silver Arrow, 40 pages.

I started a new thriller today - The Memory Wood - with the first 52 pages being read. It has been a little while since I last read a thriller, and this one has me intrigued.

43 pages read in The Memory Wood and I'm still holding positive impressions about this book. The story is unfolding with three narrators, each with their own timeline but all surrounding the same event of a child abduction - I think this is an interesting storytelling method and I like that all three voices are so distinct from each other.

This morning I finished reading The Silver Arrow - as I said when sharing my initial thoughts, this was indeed a fun fantastical middle grade adventure, and I like the important environmental message that was seamlessly woven in too. One of the things I love about being an adult who reads middle grade fiction is that I can scout out books that I think my son would love, and The Silver Arrow is going on that list of books to share with him.

In contrast to the lightness of middle grade fiction, I did also make progress in my thriller read today too. I have read over 160 pages now in total, which means I have passed the half way mark, and I am gripped by The Memory Wood; very dark & twisty.

To break up the darker read, I did also start a new nonfiction library borrow this evening: Happiness, a Mystery by Sophie Hannah. This book is a short read, at just over 100 pages, and there is such a bubbly tone to the writing... Exactly what I needed to run alongside my thriller mystery.

I found myself wholly engrossed in The Memory Wood this morning and finished the remainder of the book! It has been some time now since I picked up a thriller and found myself to be blown away by it - but that was the case with The Memory Wood. Given that this is a debut novel, it is so well written and incredibly clever... As I mentioned before though, it does feature child abduction at the centre of the plot, so I'd bear that in mind as I know some people don't like to pick up thrillers with children central to the storyline.


Earlier on in the week I ordered some books from Waterstones (one of the main high street book retailers here in the UK), and received three of them today (one was a January preorder). The three books that arrived were: Tilly and the Map of Stories by Anna James (Book 3 in the Pages & Co series), The Ghost of Gosswater by Lucy Strange and The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson. My preorder, for anyone wondering, is The Ghost Garden by Emma Carroll. So three middle grade books and one nonfiction. 

Having just my nonfiction book on the go, later on in the afternoon I picked up one of my new books - book 3 in the Pages & Co series. This series about a girl who can wander in to books and travel through stories and I have loved following along with the other two books. Previously I have written dedicated reading record posts for this series, so of course I will be carrying that on and share my thoughts on this book in that one post (it will probably be my next post after this one), but I will say, the Pages & Co series as a whole is full of imagination, intrigue and warm bookish goodness.... And so far, book three is continuing with that.

Over the course of about three sittings today I finished reading my nonfiction book: Happiness, A Mystery. This is one of those easy nonfiction books, with Sophie Hannah delving into various methods of happiness, attempting to solve the mystery of the much sought after feeling of 'happiness'. It is light, fun, and I flew through it as it is written in such a conversational tone.

Four books finished - this was a great reading week!


Happy reading!

Friday, 16 October 2020

Reading Ambience | Spooky Halloween Scenes

For a little while now I've really taken to putting on some background sounds whilst reading, turning to the plethora of ambience videos that can be found on YouTube. Following on from this, I created my 'Reading Ambience' series, curating lists of ambience videos that share a common theme. 

Today I am highlighting videos that are perfect for this time of year: spooky Halloween scenes. These videos will be great accompanying darker reads of the season - thrillers, mysteries, horror fiction and ghost stories.

All links will take you to YouTube


Monday, 12 October 2020

Reading Record | First Week of October

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 will have their own specific reading record.

Well, I haven't actually shared a reading record post since the end of June and we're in a whole other season now! Anyway, here are my notes on the reading I did in the first full week of October.

I am starting the week part way through two books: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden (92 pages read so far) and Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain (3 hours listened to so far).

What I didn't start the week with however, was any reading. Not a single page read today.

I got my reading going today with 62 pages read in The Bear and the Nightingale; this is the first book in the Winternight trilogy, a series I have been wanting to get to for quite some time now. The story so far has been mostly scene setting, character introducing etc, and I'm quite enjoying it. Over the autumn season I hope to read all three books within this trilogy.

I did also listen to 30 minutes of my audiobook: Big Lies in a Small Town... I haven't formed much of an impression of this book so far, but I am questioning whether Diane Chamberlain's writing is for me in audiobook format. Hmm.

This morning I spent a good chunk of time meal prepping to fill the freezer a little and whilst doing that I was able to listen to an hour and a half of my audiobook.

A little reading in my physical book today - 30 pages.

Another day in which I multitasked house jobs with audiobook listening - 1 hour and 15 minutes read this way, but I did also top up that listen time later on in the day, ending with 2 hours 20 for the day as a whole. Things are getting interesting now in the story...

I continued with The Bear and the Nightingale also, with just under 70 pages read.

My only reading time today was with my audiobook - 1 hour and 20 minutes listened to whilst I cleaned today.

I started my day curled up under a blanket with a cup of tea and my book in hand - 59 pages read in The Bear and the Nightingale. This book is so engrossing and I just love how strong of a character Vasya is.

In the evening I read a further 34 pages of The Bear and the Nightingale, meaning I now have less than 100 pages until I have finished it... I hope I can do that by the end of the week.

I did try to listen to my audiobook today but I was having some technical difficulties with the library app, so that was a shame. 

The library app worked today - yay - and I was able to listen to 40 minutes of Big Lies in a Small Town. I know I briefly touched upon some uncertainties with this book earlier on in this post, but I think the slight disconnect goes beyond the book format itself... I usually love Diane Chamberlain's books, more often than not finding little fault, but with this one I'm finding the present day narrative of Morgan (this is a dual timeline book) kind of boring and repetitive to be honest... But I am loving the 1940's narrative, and all the mystery that surrounds Anna and the town of Edenton. I have 3 hours 45 minutes remaining of this book - it will be carried over into next week - so I'll see how I feel once I've completed it I guess.

Speaking of completing books, I finished The Bear and the Nightingale - HURRAH! This was a joy to read, very immersive, and I look forward to seeing where book two goes. I have a couple of library reserves that have sprung up on me earlier than I had anticipated, but I will definitely move on to book two of the Winternight trilogy after I've worked my way through the library borrows.


Happy reading!

Friday, 2 October 2020

Reading Wrap Up | September

I thought I'd open up this past month's reading wrap up with a little bit of a chat before getting on to the books... 

For the month of September I read quite a small amount, for me, and also produced very little content here on Reading with Jade... The reason being for both of these is, quite frankly, September was a hard month. 

Obviously 2020 as a whole has not been the year we all envisioned back in January - it has been rough, especially with the pandemic. Of course as individuals we all approach things differently, but I do think for the most part everyone is just trying to get on through the days, the weeks, the months, and in turn make the most of the year. However, having said that, I do also think we all have that one month (or specific period of time) during the pandemic where everything was just too much... And for me, that has been September.

Here in the UK, the children returned to physical school for the new school year, and that in itself brought about some big emotions in our household... But coupled up with that, the week Alexander returned to school, our county was the first to go into local lockdown here in Wales due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. New guidelines and measures were put in place, although schools were to remain open. So, it was a lot all in the one short space of time pandemic wise, but on top of that there were other little concerns and issues arising that also just really took it out of me. 

My attention and focus were needed deeper in other areas of life - our household, my family, my own mental wellbeing - and other things did indeed take a backseat because of that.

However, I do feel like I'm striding forward in much better shape and with a positive mindset for the new month ahead, which is amazing!

I have missed finding pleasure in the reading world and of course, the blogging community - I hope you are all well and taking care of yourselves as best you can.

On to the six books I read in September...

Links below will take you to my review of the book on Goodreads

Happy reading in October!

Monday, 14 September 2020

Reading With My Six Year Old | Spring + Summer

Alongside documenting my own reading here on Reading with Jade, I also like to share about reading with my son, Alexander. 

The spring & summer months have looked a lot different to how any of us could have even imagined at the beginning of the year, but as with many other people around the world, we've just been doing our best to muddle through... One thing that has been a constant for us during this time is books and we've found great solace in reading.

I've mentioned in previous posts that Alexander's reading has been progressing at a good and steady rate, however he preferred to be read to rather than read aloud himself, with this being most evident in the school level reading system; the act of reading his weekly school book was very much a chore. Well, when the schools went into lockdown, Alexander's pace of reading and interest in reading aloud himself came on quickly and he has taken great joy in books... It has been wonderful to see him love reading himself, and for it not just to feel like a school work. 

Alexander loves reading in his bed of an evening, with a stack of books under his pillow and mini torch in hand, reading past bedtime... And I am more than happy to let him do so!

With regards to picture books (& honestly all things in life) Alexander is very much a child who sticks with what he knows and loves, so we've seen a lot of familiar faces these last few months with regards to picture books - PERCY THE PARK KEEPER and the MR MENLITTLE MISS books have been firm favourites, along with the occasional PADDINGTON book & THE DINOSAUR THAT POOPED series.

We have reread some of the ZOE'S RESCUE ZOO books, which are still very much loved around here. 

A new series has been enjoyed also - MONSTERS AND CHIPS. This is a series about a monster named Fuzzby who owns a diner that specialises in chips, but chips with some interesting additions. This monster world is uncovered when 'hooman' Joe discovers the diner by chance, and soon finds himself working there and being immersed in the monster world. Alexander finds this series hilarious and loves the whole cast of characters, with Barry (the cat who is most definitely not a cat) and the Guzzelin family (who appear throughout the story, and have funny little side remarks on the bottom of some pages) being his favourites. 

Usborne & DK are our go to publishers when it comes to nonfiction, with DK books being devoured during the last few months; in particular the DK Eyewitness range. 

During our last visit to the library (back very early on in spring before everything was locked down) Alexander picked out DK EYEWITNESS ANIMAL. We worked through reading this book together and absolutely loved it - the layout, the information, all great and engaging (even I learnt a few new facts). On the back cover of this book Alexander noticed others in the range and we ordered the DINOSAUR edition and also the one covering the AMAZON also (two of Alexander's favourite things). We've now read through these cover to cover also, and a request has been put in for the OCEAN and SHARK books.
Reading with Alexander is one of my favourite things to do, and I love that I'm able to document that here.

Monday, 31 August 2020

Reading Wrap Up | August

In the month of August I read 10 books in total... I've found my reading pace slow down this month, however I'm not viewing this as a negative, in fact I've leaned in to it and enjoyed savouring some of the beautiful books I was able to experience in August.

I did DNF one book in August - the newest Emma Donoghue: The Pull of the Stars. I DNF'ed simply because I just don't have the mental capacity to read a book about a pandemic during a pandemic, and apparently this wasn't evident to me until I'd actually borrowed the book from the digital library service... I managed like 20ish pages, and just knew now was not the time for me to be reading it, so swiftly returned.

On to the books that I actually did read...

Links below will take you to my review of the book on Goodreads

Happy reading in September!

Monday, 24 August 2020

A Day of Reading | Thursday 20th August

The Iron Trial by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare - 32 minutes of 10 hours 38 minutes

My only aim for today is to make progress with these books.

The way my reading has been lately, these books are likely to see me until the end of August - I have been reading at a slow but steady pace. I am in the early stages of all three books, and enjoying them all so far... I'm looking forward to seeing how they all pan out.

7.50am | I wanted to start my day by reading some of Once Upon a River, but I was having trouble loading the library app (this happens often), so I picked up Where the Crawdads Sing instead, reading 30 pages.

There is such a beauty & fragility to this story.

10.30am | I read a further 22 pages in Where the Crawdads Sing, pausing at the start of part 2.

So many emotions when reading this book... And the rawness of Kya as a character is just SO WELL WRITTEN.

11.25am | Got the library app working - hurrah - and read 25 pages of Once Upon a River. 

7.10pm | Yep, a big jump in time, with no reading done all afternoon. 

I listened to 35 minutes of The Iron Trial whilst in the bath, meaning I have passed the hour mark of this audio. 

One thing I'm finding a little bothersome about listening to this book, as opposed to reading it, is the main characters name... He is called Callum, which I would read as 'Cal-lum' but it is being read as 'Call-um', with the nickname 'Call' and it just feels all wrong to me. Random thing to note.

8.30pm | Last bit of reading for the day, spending thirty minutes with Once Upon a River and reading a further 22 pages.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
I've had this book sitting on my shelf for a while now, and was honestly hesitant to pick it up due to the LARGE amount of praise it was receiving (I know I'm not the only one that is a little intimidated by hyped books)... But so far, I can see it was all indeed true & deserved. I know Delia Owens has published some nonfiction works previously, but I'm kind of blown away by the fact that this is a DEBUT NOVEL.

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield
Although less than 100 pages in, I feel like this book really embodies storytelling... I realise this probably sounds a bit weird if you haven't read the book, however I feel like perhaps it would make perfect sense to those who have.

The Iron Trial by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare
This is the first book in a five part series (Magisterium) following a boy who ends up attending magic school... I enjoy magic books, particularly those of kids learning to do magic, so I'm enjoying it so far. There are a lot of Goodreads reviews stating this book is a HP rip off - but I mean, there are a lot of books out there within the MG/YA realms of kids going to magic schools, so I don't know... I've gone in open minded.
Some days you read a lot, some days you read nothing, but a lot of my reading days look like this with snatches of reading here & there and that slow but steady pace I mentioned in the opening of this post.
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