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!
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