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!
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