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On Technical Glitches

On Technical Glitches

I would be the first person to admit that I am not particularly good with coding.  I got into blogging because I wanted to talk about books, not because I had any illusions that I would be able to build an all-singing, all-dancing website.  I managed to sort of get by for about 5 years and then last weekend I came a-cropper.  I managed to botch an update to a plug-in and in the process put my blog (including its back up) firmly beyond my technically feeble reach.

And so here we are.  Lit Addicted Brit has survived but everything I’ve written since July is gone.  It had sort of survived in my app and I was readying myself to copy type at least the reviews (dedication) and then they expired too.  I’ve considered throwing in the towel but honestly I don’t think I really blogged a massive amount towards the end of last year and I’ve maybe posted three reviews in January so I’ve taken a hit but it’s one that I’ve decided to just manage with.  Because the thing is, not having a space to chat about what I’m reading just didn’t really feel like a nice option.  When I read, I just can’t help but think about what I want to talk about.

So let’s press on.  Onward and upward.

A Court of Thorns and Roses: The Series So Far (spoiler free!)

A Court of Thorns and Roses: The Series So Far (spoiler free!)

I was thinking about writing a review of the third book in the series, A Court of Wings and Ruin, but decided that was too niche and probably not overly helpful anyway. If you’ve read both of the first two books, it’s safe to assume that you’re invested and after the ending of the second, I can’t imagine not wanting to carry on. So instead, I figured I’d go for a few musings on my thoughts on the series so far.

The series is set in a fae world, Prythian, that sits alongside the human world, separated from it by a huge wall. Feyre lives in the human world with her father and two sisters, hunting for food so that they can survive the winter. During one hunting outing, she kills one of the fae in animal form and is swept away to Prythian by the High Lord of the Spring Court. The story that follows is a sprawling one that sees Feyre continuing to fight for survival as Prythian comes under threat and war breaks out.

So let’s start at the beginning. A Court of Thorns and Roses. A colleague leant it to me and said that although the first one was good, it was the second one where things really got going. Expectations appropriately managed, I flew through it. It isn’t perfect and it felt to me as though Sarah J. Maas had perhaps written it some time ago – the writing doesn’t flow quite as well as it does in Maas’ other books and it’s all a bit heavy-handed, especially when it comes to part that’s a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. For those flaws, it’s still very readable. If there’s one thing that Maas can do almost without fail, it’s write stories that I just want to be reading all of the time. The last third of this one in particular I devoured. I know that some readers find the romantic relationship at the centre of the book problematic and if that’s put you off the series, or if you didn’t like the fairytale retelling element, the next book is so much better and definitely worth giving a shot if you’re on the fence.

It was only a few weeks later that I picked up A Court of Mist and Fury and it’s so bloody good. It’s a fairly chunky book and I read most of it over the space of one weekend. I couldn’t put it down. There are new characters that I loved and the world that the first book hints at is fleshed out, with Feyre travelling to more of the Courts and meeting more of the High Lords. It’s all done gradually and the unravelling of the overarching story arc is well paced. Feyre grows as a character and I loved how the book showed Feyre dealing with the emotional effects from the events of the first book. Too many fantasy series just have their characters go through what would clearly be quite traumatic events only to come out the other side absolutely fine with it all. It doesn’t suffer from ‘Second Book Syndrome’ and it’s a really solid book. One of my favourite books of this year, actually, and nearly a five star read. It would have been five stars for me if there had been slightly less romance but that’s just personal preference. The ending in particular was a real gut punch – I was so invested in it and I went through a whole host of emotions. It was intense and frankly exhausting in a way that I still remember a few months on.

Having just finished the third book, A Court of Wings and Ruin, my enthusiasm waned a little bit in the middle, only to rally towards the end. The tensions in Prythian continue to build and there are huge battles (too many battles for me personally but there you go…) and world changing events but it all feels too drawn out. There are two battles, for example, that span many, many pages and feel very similar. One could have been cut and the book wouldn’t really have lost anything other than some paper. I enjoyed it (and did do some weeping over the ending, prompting an amused/slightly baffled look from my husband) but it took me nearly a month to get through its 700ish pages and towards the end I was bored of it being the book that I was reading. Not bored of reading it, just feeling as though I’d been reading it too long, if that makes sense? Anyway, overall it’s still got plenty that’s good about it and there are some stand out twisty moments but it needed much more editing. I’ve grumbled many times over the fact that what was originally marketed as a trilogy at some point shifted to a “series” but thankfully, this book actually has wrapped up the main plot of the first three. I think my expectation that the threads of the plot would be left loose and dangling at the end of this book actually detracted from my enjoyment; I was annoyed at the events that I felt dawdled because I was convinced that it was just wasting time and filling pages in a story that was supposed to be a trilogy, damn it! I’d even pre-written a ranty paragraph to go into this post when I had about 175 pages to go because I couldn’t see how everything could conclude and I predicted a great, annoying cliffhanger. I was wrong. Over the last three years, I’ve read 9 books written by Sarah J. Maas and this is the first time that I’ve read anything approaching an ending from her. I’m not a huge fan of all of the parts of the ending but there were some that were brilliant and it was an ending so I’ll take that! Enjoy this knowing that you have that coming up.

In May 2018, a “point 5” instalment is released, with book 4 following in 2019 and 5 and 6 presumably coming in 2020 and 2021. I’ll be honest, at this point it feels like Maas is pushing out books to meet a publishing timetable but at least I’ll be picking up the next ones when I want to and not in a resigned way because I feel like I have to drag myself towards any kind of resolution. So do I recommend reading the Court of Thorns and Roses series? Even with my disgruntlement with the third book, yes, I do. There’s enough about it that’s brilliant for me to set aside my grumbling. Apart from some of the last one, they’re absolute page-turners. The characters are particularly wonderful and it’s got just enough darkness that the at times sickly sweet romantic storylines are tempered and don’t become overwhelmingly irritating. And it will give you a pay back that so far the Throne of Glass series is denying us faithful readers by actually concluding stuff. Hurrah indeed.

We Got Married

We Got Married

I’ve been trying for a while to come up with a pithy blog post title or a first line that somehow sums up the past few weeks in a way that conveys how wonderful they’ve been without sounding twee. I haven’t been able to. The wedding and the honeymoon were everything we’d hoped they would be and then some.  I usually try to stick to bookish posts but I can’t seem to pass up any opportunity to chatter about my wedding and so here we are.
We chose to get married in Florence because it’s a city we love that we wanted to share with our immediate families and friends. Our wedding was small and we only invited 20 guests. We wanted to have a group of people we were close to at a quiet service and to treat them to some Italian food and wine in the sun. Our families were wonderfully supportive in the days that we were in Florence before the wedding day and were truly fabulous at the venue.  We’d chosen a villa that we could use the night before for a pizza and prosecco party so both sides of the family could get to know each other (Villa le Fontanelle, which I honestly couldn’t recommend more highly).  
After the obligatory few hours of getting ready, drinking a couple of glasses of prosecco with my mum and bridesmaids, we got married.  It was beautiful.  The chapel had just room for 20 people, we just had a violinist and a cellist for music and the weather was perfect.  Our reading was from The History of Love by Nicole Krauss (which remarkably my now husband chose without realising he was straying into literary territory!): 

Once upon a time, there was a boy. He lived in a village that no longer exists, in a house that no longer exists, on the edge of a field that no longer exists, where everything was discovered, and everything was possible. A stick could be a sword, a pebble could be a diamond, a tree, a castle.

Once upon a time, there was a boy who lived in a house across the field from a girl who no longer exists. They made up a thousand games. She was queen and he was king. In the autumn light, her hair shone like a crown. They collected the world in small handfuls, and when the sky grew dark, they parted with leaves in their hair.

Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.

I happy cried a few times but I smiled a whole lot more. The food was incredible, there was plenty of wine and it was perfect. There’s nothing that I would have changed and I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. Enough said, I guess.  

The day after we got the train out to Sestri Levante and spent the next two weeks travelling around Italy, eating some of the most delicious food and enjoying some stunning views and time away together. I read barely anything before the wedding (unsurprisingly) and then made up for that on our honeymoon. We balanced exploring towns and trying to see everything with a few days of relaxing and reading. I was going to write about my honeymoon reads together with the wedding but I feel like I’ve rambled on enough! 
Until next time, friends 🙂

 Left to right: Sestri Levante, Cinque Terre, Lake Como
2016 End of Year Book Survey

2016 End of Year Book Survey

This last month or so has flown and I can’t believe that it’s already 2017 and time to fill out Jamie’s (from The Perpetual Page Turner) End of Year Book Survey!  I actually wasn’t sure whether my brain was going to recover sufficiently today after a super late night to enable me to do this but I’ve vaguely rallied and answering questions about the books I read in 2016 seems like as good a way as any to stave off sleep until a more socially acceptable sleeping time.  Overall, I feel as though I’ve had a bloody good year personally (the less said about 2016’s wider failings the better…).  I got engaged, travelled to some wonderful places (Japan being the major highlight!), got a new job that I’m loving and celebrated turning 30.  It’s been fairly action-packed so blogging has fallen by the wayside a little but there are only so many hours in the day so that’s just one of those things.
Number Of Books You Read:  53 books
Number of Re-Reads:  4 (which for me is a lot)
Genre You Read The Most From:  I couldn’t say for certain but my guess would be fantasy.
Bonus facts!
Pages Read:  19,166 pages
Average rating:  3.8 out of 5 stars
1. Best Book You Read In 2016?

YA – Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (review coming soon)
Adult – it’s tough because I have a few really solid contenders!  Either White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi, Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye or A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki.
2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
Preludes and Nocturnes, the first volume in the Sandman comic series by Neil Gaiman.  I’d been expecting to love this because I’ve heard such great things about it but I really didn’t like it.  I may still pick up the next volume but I’m not sure.
3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  
Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik.  I picked it up after reading Katie’s review and was so pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.  It’s clever and funny and so charming.  It’s such a warm book and I adored it.  The world would be a better place if more people read and loved this book.
 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?
Haven’t a clue, actually!
 5. Best series you started in 2016? Best Sequel of 2016? Best Series Ender of 2016?

Same answer for all three questions – the Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo.  I read and reviewed Six of Crows a few months ago and I recently finished up the series with Crooked Kingdom.  I have a review going up over the next few days but in short, I loved both books but it’s Crooked Kingdom that is the real stand out.  
6. Favourite new author you discovered in 2016?
In graphic novels, Noelle Stevenson (both Nimona and Lumberjanes were so much fun).  More generally, I think Ransom Riggs.  I’ve read the first two novels in the Peculiar Children series this year and I love their quirky style.
7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

I read quite broadly and I can’t think of anything much from this year that I really felt was outside my comfort zone.
 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman.  Which reminds me that I really need to get to Gemina!
9. Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
I’ve recently started re-reading a bit (so far, only Harry Potter and the Wheel of Time series) but I won’t be picking up anything from 2016 next year.
10. Favourite cover of a book you read in 2016?

11. Most memorable character of 2016?
Kaz Brekker from the Six of Crows duology.  Most of the characters from that book for that matter!
12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016?
White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi is absolutely stunning.  The writing is incredible and I’m not sure how I can review it without doing more than just writing out quotes from it.
13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016?

Gosh, erm…A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson.  It’s a wonderful book (although I personally preferred Life After Life) that really spotlights the futility and wastefulness of war and it has a heck of an ending!  Not ‘life-changing’ but definitely thought-provoking.
14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read? 
The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham.  I’ve been meaning to read this for absolutely years and I wish I’d read it earlier.  There is definitely more Wyndham in my future.

15. Favourite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2016?

One evening she pattered around inside me, sipping something strong that wedged colour into her cheeks, and she dragged all my windows open, putting her glass down to struggle with the stiffer latches. I cried and cried for an hour or so, unable to hear the sound of my voice, so shrill and pleading, but unable to stop the will of the wind wheeling through me, cold on my insides. That was the first and last time I’ve heard my own voice” [Page 23 of White is for Witching, told from the houses perspective]

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016?

The shortest was Lumberjanes: Volume 1 at 112 pages.  The longest book was The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss at 994 pages but technically I “read” that on audiobook.  Next up that I did read in physical form was The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber at a still not insignificant 845 pages.  I ran a readalong for this one earlier in the year and I adored it until the ending.  That ending still bugs me to high heaven.

17. Book That Shocked You The Most
Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough lived up to its ‘WTF that ending’ hashtag easily.  I have a review written that’ll be up nearer to its release later in January.
18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
Oof – a question that I always struggle with because romance is round about the least thing I’m bothered about in a book. Landline by Rainbow Rowell and the complex but so real feeling relationship between Georgie and Neil was achingly perfect though.
19. Favourite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

The friendship between Nimona and Ballister Blackheart in Nimona was super fun.  I was going to go for the captor-prisoner relationship of another of my five star reads of 2016, The Collector by John Fowles but that seemed a bit morbid so fun friendship it is!

20. Favourite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

That’s got to be my re-read of Harry Potter.  I barely ever re-read but I decided to finally cave and read the script of Cursed Child but wanted to re-read the series first and I have loved going back to it.  I’ve read the first three in the series and am excited to get to Goblet of Fire soon.  It’s my absolute favourite so it’ll be a TREAT!  It also now turns out that I’ll be lucky enough to see the show next year so the purpose of my re-read is now to read them all so that I can re-watch the films with the friend I’ll be seeing the play with!

21. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure

I would never have heard of White is for Witching if it hadn’t been for Jean’s BookTube channel, Jean’s Bookish Thoughts, and it turned out to be one of my favourites of the year so that’s as good an example as anything else.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?

I can’t thing of a single answer to this question so clearly none worth mentioning.

23. Best 2016 debut you read?

The Joyce Girl by Annabel Abbs was the only 2016 debut I read, I think (I don’t really keep track of debuts and the like very well…), but it was a corker so that’s fine by me.
24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Ready to be bored by the same answer?  The world of the Six of Crows duology is sordid and dark and it feels incredibly real.  So, so much better than anything portrayed in the Grisha trilogy.
25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss (and its predecessor) are action-packed and glorious.  Like reading myths and legends being spun out and so readable despite being incredibly long.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016?

I literally always cry at books that are even the remotest bit sad.  I’m a crier.  I definitely properly cried at the end of A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (bloody hell that book made me cry) and Crooked Kingdom but also a couple of moments from various Harry Potter instalments.  Oh, oh! And Illuminae.  Many tears at that one!

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

According to GoodReads, the most obscure book that I read was The Jekyll Island Chronicles, Vol. 1: A Machine Age War.  It wasn’t super stand-out but it was reasonable enough.  Nothing else that I read could really be classed as “hidden”.
28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

A Tale for the Time Being gutted me in various places. It’s an absolutely wonderful book and I just haven’t a clue how to review it.  
29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016?

I’ll resist the urge to write White is for Witching and instead go with The Collector, which even nearly a whole year later really stands out in my mind.  
30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber.  That book made me so bloody cross.  800 odd pages of impeccable writing and character building.  800 odd flipping pages of getting tangled up in the life of Sugar and becoming deeply involved in the story only to encounter a truly terrible ending.  Awful.  The book just stops.

As will this post!  Thanks to everybody who stopped by in 2016 – you’re all fabulous!  Fingers crossed for a winning 2017!


A couple of weeks ago, I turned 30. 
I had a pretty fantastic time celebrating with friends and family (there was a heck of a lot of food and even more wine) but there’s still something about the big 3-0 that’s pretty unsettling.  I think because at 30, you’re indisputably an adult.  At 30, all of those questions that I could respond to with a “not until I’m in my 30s” (by which I mean those about children), I need a new answer to that isn’t just “shush”.
Things aren’t all scary.  I have a job that I love on a solid career path.  I own a house with a man who I’ll marry in less than a year’s time.  I really can’t complain.  And yet still I feel a bit weirded out by the milestone birthday.  Somebody at work was like, “Pfft – your early 30s will be the best.  It’s like your 20s but with money”.  Which is true but there’s a sense of big life changes just not being that far away…
The occasion was much improved by books (as so many occasions are).  I received some pretty damn brilliant birthday gifts from some pretty damn brilliant people (thank you!).  I had to work on my birthday because I’m low on annual leave this year after being paid out for a week when I left my old job in May.  I treated myself to some books to take the edge off.

The piles (that is still in my living room because I’m planning on using it as a sort of mini TBR over the next couple of months) look awesome…

The pile on the left are the books that were gifted, the books on the right are the ones that I bought for myself.  SO from Hanna, Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde, The Prestige by Christoper Priest and A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab.  I’m really excited about all of them, obviously.  Hanna and I have pretty similar wishlists and I always send her books that I either have read and want to force her to read or ones that I haven’t read but that I really want to read and want to use her as a guinea pig.  Hanna adopts the same strategy and all is good in the world.  Shades of Grey and The Prestige both come highly recommended from Hanna and I really want to get to them soon.  A Darker Shade of Magic falls into the second category and was one I’d bought for Hanna for her birthday a couple of weeks earlier.  It looks super fun and Hanna’s beat me to reading it (and reviewing it) and even though she didn’t love it, I’m still planning on reading it soon because the idea just really intrigues me.

Laura added to my burgeoning Penguin English Library editions with Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte and The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton.  I read Wuthering Heights absolutely years ago and I really want to re-read.  I love these editions and they look gorgeous all together.  I also really love the paper and how easy they are to read.  They’re the best.  I’ve never really heard much about The Man Who Was Thursday but there are secret policemen and an anarchist council and it sounds really, really good.

From lovely Ellie, The Five Orange Pips and Other Cases by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and V for Vendetta by Alan Moore.  I love Sherlock Holmes (who doesn’t?) and Orange Pips are a PEL so I can’t wait to get stuck into it.  V for Vendetta is a graphic novel that I’ve been meaning to pick up ever since I started reading graphic novels and comics.  I love the film version and the graphic novel just looks incredible and comes Ellie Endorsed so I know I’m going to love it!

Katie picked one of the books on my wishlist I was the most excited about, Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel.  The hardback is absolutely stunning and it just sounds wonderfully quirky.  It’s about a girl who falls through the earth and lands on a giant hand.  I can’t wait to read this and have really high hopes for it.

For myself, I headed to Waterstones and took a bit of a gamble that my wishlist was up to date (I opened my gifts later on and figured I could always return/gift on my duplicates if the worst came to the worst).  It’s been ages since I just wandered around a bookshop and bought what I fancied so I had a wander around Leeds Waterstones.  I took my time and browsed and it was a super birthday treat.  I bought The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson (a retelling of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale), Bodies of Water by V. H. Leslie (which I’ve heard nothing but incredible things about), Arcadia by Iain Pears (which a bookseller noticed I was carrying and stopped me to chat about how wonderful he’d thought it was, which cemented its place on my ‘to buy’ pile), The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard (which is about angels I think and sounds like something a bit different) and Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (a non-fiction written by a lawyer in the US about his experiences of race and incarceration that I first saw on Mercy’s Bookish Musings and sounds fascinating).

WHEW!  That got long!  Massive thank you to everybody who sent me books 🙂  I have some real treats in store, I’m sure. Have you read any of these?  Any I absolutely have to pick up right away?

2016 Resolutions and Whatnot

I don’t tend to make many resolutions.  I usually have things that I’m trying to work towards or goals but I never seem to stick to “proper” resolutions and I’ve stopped making them over recent years.  This year, I’ve spent the last couple of days mulling over a few habits that I want to change and some behaviours that I want to make stick so here they are.  Some are bookish and some aren’t but all are things that I think are achievable and are things I feel I can stick to.
1.  Read an average of one book per week (or really just make more time for books)

I’ve been busy at work this year and my reading has taken a bit of a battering in favour of idly watching Netflix in the evenings because it’s easier on my tired old brain.  While I am in no way being disparaging about television, I’d like to spend more quality time reading quietly and less time watching comedy repeats of things I’ve already seen.
Image from Pinterest
2.  Write something in my journal once a day

Even if it’s just a quote I like or a word that sums up my day, I want to make an effort to spend just 10 minutes in every day scribbling down something about how I’m feeling or an idea that I’ve had or whatever.  December was busy and I didn’t write as much as I’d have liked.  I’m not beating myself up about that or anything because December seemed to pass by in a blur of Christmas parties, wine and cheese and it was wonderful but January will almost certainly be much quieter so it seems a good time to get this habit firmed up.  I have plenty of lovely coloured pens and washi tape and stickers and I want to play around with format a bit.  I’m not necessarily the most creative when it comes to doodling or sketching but I just want to make my journal something prettier than pages of my tiny handwriting.

3.  Read at least 2 books from the Wheel of Time series

I read the first two books in 2015 and I’m itching to carry on.  The Dragon Reborn is up next and it’s one of my favourites from the series.  After that is where it gets a bit challenging because the fourth instalment, The Shadow Rising, is a whopping 1,006 pages and is one that I remember being a bit less action-packed on my first reading.  I obviously know that the next books return to form but that one might need a bit of effort.  Reading this series makes me happy so this might seem a bit throwaway but I really want to see how the characters’ stories ends and this focus will help make that happen.
4.  Do some form of exercise at least 4 times a week

I tried out a few classes at my new gym near where I work before Christmas and was surprised by how much I actually liked them and felt challenged by them.  I’m usually “a runner” but I’m injured and not running has been…unpleasant (Ellie at Lit Nerd wrote a post about not running that sums this plight up perfectly HERE).  Finding an alternative form of exercise that I enjoy has been a bit of a Godsend.  I’m hoping to do 3 classes (one Body Pump, one Spinning and one ‘Legs, Bums and Tums’) during the week and then to do something outdoors every weekend.  Not necessarily a run but at least a walk or gentle bike ride for some fresh air.
5.  Buy less

This doesn’t only apply to books but to Stuff generally.  Coffee, for example.  I usually head in a Starbucks/Caffe Nero direction once or twice a week but I got a coffee maker for Christmas and I want to use that instead and get into the habit of topping up my travel mug before I head out in the morning.  I want to buy fewer books and read some of the many, MANY books that I have stowed in the loft (which will be easier when we’ve put the reading room/study together later this year).  I want to buy fewer items of clothing, or at least sort out what I have before I do.  Really, I just want to think a little more before I spend this year.
6.  Post on Lit Addicted Brit once a week

When I’m busy, this is the first thing that can fall by the wayside, which is a shame.  I’ve been trying to change how rigid I am in my approach to blogging recently and my posting pace has picked up so I think the key is trying less to post reviews in the order I’ve read books, to accept that I probably won’t be able to review everything I read and to mix in posts that are personal or generally easier to write than reviews.  I need to cut myself some slack, basically and remember that this is supposed to be fun, not a chore.
Do you have any resolutions for 2016 or any habits that you want to try to cement?  Any bookish or blogging goals that you’ll be focussing on?

2015 End of Year Book Survey

Ah, end of year survey time.  It’s been a funny old reading year.  On the numbers front, I’ve read fewer books this year than I have in past years.  Achievement wise, however, I’ve toppled two pretty intimidating (and lengthy) classics and I’ve started a re-read of a favourite fantasy series that also includes some pretty chunky instalments.  All is well.
Thanks for this survey and the adorable graphics to Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner.  Not only is this survey about all my hangover-addled brain can cope with writing at the moment but it gives me chance to talk about some of the books that I didn’t manage to talk about while the blog’s been quiet.  On with the questions.  Links throughout are to my reviews.

Number Of Books You Read:   49 books (19,332 pages)
Number of Re-Reads:  2 books (a first for me) 
Genre You Read The Most From:  I’m not 100% sure but from gazing at the list of books I read this year, I’d guess fantasy.  Not a surprise.
1. Best Book You Read In 2015?
I read some excellent books in 2015.  According to GoodReads, my average book rating for the year is a pretty solid 3.7.  I gave 6 books a lofty five stars:
The Eye of the World and The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan
The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
The Ballroom by Anna Hope
Of those, I think I’d say that my favourite was Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.  The most fun I’ve had in book form for years.  
2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
The Abhorsen trilogy by Garth Nix.  I’d been hearing about the series for years, with seemingly endless numbers of fantasy readers singing its praises and citing it as a favourite in the genre.  I was completely underwhelmed.  Some of the ideas were good but the second and third books were both far, far too long and felt rambly, too many characters were awfully whiny and I found finishing a struggle.  I was so excited to see them appear on my library’s eBook site and they just weren’t what I was hoping for.
3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.  The 1,000 page plus Russian classic is an intimidating beast that I doubt I’d have picked up if it hadn’t been for Hanna‘s read-along over the summer.  What was surprising was how accessible it actually was.  I’m not saying I breezed through the pages and that it was all sunshine and balls but it was far more engaging than I’d ever dared hope.  I’m really looking forward to the BBC adaptation starting later this month.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

I don’t know if anybody’s actually read the books that I’ve been trying to force on them but I’ve been rambling about The Wheel of Time all year.  I ran a giveaway and also sent Hanna a copy because I’m that pushy when it comes to this series.  I have the third book ready and waiting and I’m excited to continue on with my re-read this year.
5. Best series you started in 2015? Best Sequel of 2015? Best Series Ender of 2015?
Best series started:  Easily the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson.  The first book is outstanding and I already have the next book ready and waiting on my Kindle.  This is one series that really is every bit as good as everybody says.
Best sequel:  If we’re talking next instalment generally, Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas because that series is incredible.  If we’re strictly talking ‘second book’ (which is kind of what comes into my head with the word ‘sequel’. it’d be The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan.  
Best series ender:  So it turns out that I only finished one series this year: the Blood of Eden series by Julie Kagawa.  By default, that makes me favourite series ender The Forever Song.
 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?
There are a few authors that I’m glad I found this year but I think topping the list would be Jon Krakauer.  I read very little non-fiction but I found Into the Wild to be such compelling listening and I will definitely be hunting down other books of his for 2016.
7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
The Mistletoe Bride and other Haunting Tales by Kate Mosse.  It’s not necessarily out of my comfort zone but I barely ever read short story collections and this one was stellar.
 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.  I absolutely flew through that novel and loved every single sentence.
 9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
As always, none.  I’m re-reading the Wheel of Time series but other than that, I won’t be re-reading anything next year.
10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?
11. Most memorable character of 2015?
Melanie from The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey.  It’s really hard to describe why without spoiling the book so this is a little bit of a lame answer but it’s the only one I have.
12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015?
The Mistletoe Bride and other Haunting Tales.  Absolutely stunning.
13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015?
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer.  I wasn’t expecting much but it’s really stuck with me since I finished it.  Christopher McCandless’ story is tragic but the detail that Krakauer enhances it with really make the book something really memorable.
 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read? 
The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett.  I’ve obviously read other Discworld novels but I haven’t ever read the first book before this year.  It was fun and witty and charming and everything I’ve come to expect from Terry Pratchett. 
15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?
“The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. If you want to get more out of life, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty” [Taken from a letter Christopher McCandless wrote to a friend from Into the Wild]

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2015?
Longest:  War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1,024 pages)
17. Book That Shocked You The Most
The Dinner by Herman Koch.  That book is messed UP.
18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)
Still Jamie and Claire from the Outlander series.  I read the second book, Dragonfly in Amber, this year and I still love those two.  That is one hot Scot.
19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
I love the friendship between Celaena Sardothien and Lysandra in Queen of Shadows but I think they’re pipped at the post by Kelsier and Vin in The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson.  In a lot of ways, it’s your normal mentor/mentee relationship but it’s perfect.
20. Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
The Ballroom by Anna Hope.  I read Wake last year and loved it and The Ballroom has cemented Anna Hope as one of my favourite authors.  Her latest book is set in an asylum at the edge of the Yorkshire Moors in 1911.  Every week, the men and women meet in the ballroom and dance.  The blurb describes it as a “a tale of unlikely love and dangerous obsession, of madness and sanity, and of who gets to decide which is which“.  Couldn’t say it better myself.  
21. Best Book You Read In 2015 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure
Moby Dick by Herman Melville.  Shame on you, Hanna.  Shame on you.
22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?
Rowan from Queen of Shadows.  I didn’t really get in in the third book but in the fourth, he’s frankly incredible.
23. Best 2015 debut you read?
I don’t think I actually read any.  Huh.
24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
The city of Luthadel and the magical system in The Final Empire were amazing.  
25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
Easy!  Ready Player One.  Next.
26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?
Oh, loads.  I do a lot of crying at books!  A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness completely slayed me.  To be fair, it’s a book about a young boy dealing with grief and anger while his mother is being treated for cancer so I should have guessed that I’d end up crying into my Kindle.  Add to that the fact that the story is based on an idea that Siobhan Dowd died before getting to write it herself.  It’s a real gut-puncher.
27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
The Notable Brain of Maximilian Ponder by J. W. Ironmonger.  Hanna recommended it to me but I’ve never heard of it before or since so I’m still counting is a hidden gem.  It’s a really quirky story about a man who has killed his best friend and is about to cut out his brain.  The story is told in a haphazard manner, with memories woven together loosely and doled out between excerpts from Maximilian Ponder’s writings.  
28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
A Monster Calls.  Oof.
29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?
I’d have to go with The Notable Brain of Maximilian Ponder, again.
30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
Moby Dick.  Someone needs to tell me why that utterly hateful book is a classic and why unsuspecting readers are still lead to believe that it’s worth reading.  Despicable.
HAPPY NEW YEAR, FRIENDS!  What were the highlights of your reading year?  Let me know what I need to have on my 2016 TBR pile!

Canongate Handpicked: Get On It

One gloomy Friday evening at the end of October, I was cooking dinner and browsing Twitter and spotted something that set my book loving heart all a-flutter: order any book from Canongate before the weekend was out and I’d get a free book, handpicked by one of their lovely staff members.
They had me at “free book”.  
As always, excuse my photography!

Deciding what to buy turned out to be a tricky task.  It has rarely (never) occurred to me to buy direct from a publisher’s website.  I don’t know why that is.  Maybe because, although there are publishers whose books I know that I almost always love (Canongate because I love the Canongate Myths books, Orion’s fantasy imprint Gollancz and Vintage because of their gorgeous red-spined classics), a book’s publisher isn’t what draws me in.  Browsing Canongate’s website and realising just how many great books they’ve brought to the world (and how many of these books I actually already own…) was an eye-opener.

In the end, I went for The Well by Catherine Chanter because the cover is delightfully creepy and it sounds excellent.  Also, give me a story about a family moving into a seemingly idyllic new residence that turns out to not quite be all it seems and I will be happy.  There was no way that I was going to be picking just one once I’d started exploring.  My second pick was The Ghost Rider by Ismail Kadar.  Who could resist this blurb?!

An old woman is awoken in the dead of night by knocks at her front door. The woman opens it to find her daughter, Doruntine, standing there alone in the darkness. She has been brought home from a distant land by a mysterious rider she claims is her brother Konstandin. But unbeknownst to her, Konstandin has been dead for years. What follows is chain of events which plunges a medieval village into fear and mistrust. Who is the ghost rider?

Not me.

I wasn’t sure what I was more excited for: the two books I’d chosen or my handpicked wildcard.

The two books arrived and while I was as excited as I ever am to receive new books, it then became apparent that I was in fact mostly curious and excited about the wildcard.  Thankfully, it arrived the next day.  Cue gushing.

What surprised me was that the package didn’t feel like a hastily thrown together freebie or a gimick designed to get people buying more on the run up to Christmas.  It actually felt like receiving something put together by somebody who loves books just as much as I do.  Obviously there couldn’t be a great deal of planning in what to get me personally because all the person doing the book selecting had to go on were the two books that I’d picked out on that occasion from their pretty hefty range but it still felt thoughtful.  It was nice to think that someone had taken the time to pick out a book, write out a postcard and bundle it up with a letter.  

And here’s another great and glorious thing.  Left to my own devices, I’d have almost certainly not have picked out No one belongs here more thank you but now that I have it, I can’t wait to read it.  I don’t usually read short stories but I’ve seen nothing but glowing praise for this collection so it seems as good a place as any to start.  So not only was it free, it might just push my reading in a new direction.  Book buying from other book lovers is always the best kind of book buying.

I have no affiliation with Canongate (sadly) and this post is entirely unprompted – I just think that in the run up to Christmas, there is little that could be better than a bookish pick-me-up.  Or pick-you-up.  That should be a phrase.

If you missed the chance to get yourself a free handpicked book the first time around, get over to Canongate now.  You have three whole days to order a book and then you’ll get your own package of loveliness at no extra cost.  I may have already ordered another book (The Crimson Petal and the White by Michael Faber) so that I can get another surprise…

2014 End of Year Book Survey

Hosted by The Perpetual Page-Turner

I’m trying to ignore the fact that I have to actually dress properly and go to work tomorrow and also the fact that I am still a little the worse for wear after an over-indulgent New Year’s Eve at 5.30pm and looking back over 2014 (again) seems like as good a way to do that as any!  As with last year, I’m sort of a day late and I’m declaring a clean state on the books I read last year but didn’t get round to reviewing.  If you’re really curious about my annual ramblings, 2012 and 2011’s offerings are here and here.  You’re welcome.

2014 Reading Stats

Number of books I read:  59
Number of re-reads:  0 officially, although I have read most of 1!
Genre you read the most from:  Fantasy, I’d guess…

Best in Books

1. Best Book You Read In 2014?
(If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist)

I recently posted my top ten books of 2014.  If I had to pick one of them as my absolute favourite, it would be Wake by Anna Hope (which I reviewed here).

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

World War Z by Max Brooks.  I read it as part of RIP IX but I just didn’t get on with it at all.  Although I am in awe of the level of detail, I found the journalistic tone and sheer volume of different perspectives kept me from really connecting with it and I found it quite…well, dull, if I’m being honest.  There were some good moments but all told I wasn’t a fan and I’d expected to love it.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014? 

It’s sort a tie between Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein and Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie.  Both had great moments that I was lucky enough not to know about before going into them.  They were both really great books that didn’t quite make the top ten cut but were close.  

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?

I don’t know if this counts but this year, after much nagging encouragement from me, Hanna finally read (and thankfully also liked!) The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.  I’ve also banged on about The Humans by Matt Haig but nobody’s read that yet.  Fortunately, I’m a patient book pusher!

5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?

The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas.  One of the best fantasy series I’ve started in a long time. Given that I started it, read the sequel and the latest instalment all in this year, I’m just going with that as my whole answer.  I don’t think I’ve actually wrapped up a series this year…whoops?

6. Favourite new author you discovered in 2014?

Sarah J. Maas, I think.  See above.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

A tie between The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson and NOS4R2 by Joe Hill.  Genuinely enjoying horror is a relatively recent phenomenon for me so I still kind of see it as “out of my comfort zone”. 

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Cruel Summer by James Dawson.  I loved this book – it was a complete throwback to the Point Horror books I read as a teenager but it was sharp and witty and managed to surprise me so it was everything that made Point Horror great and then some.  The kind of book you should read in one sitting.

9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

None.  I’ve embarked on my first re-read in years so that I can make my way to the end of the Wheel of Time series but generally speaking, I never re-read.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?

11. Most memorable character of 2014?

In a good way, Celaena Sardothien from the Throne of Glass series.  In a bad way, Charles Manx from NOS4R2.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?

I’m not sure it’s quite life-changing but Running Like A Girl by Alexandra Heminsley had the most real life impact.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read?

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. I came across a complete spoiler for this book a few weeks after I’d finished it so I’m lucky that I managed to read it before then.  Even without that, I can’t believe I’ve never read this classic Christie before this year.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?

From Wake by Anna Hope:

“And whatever anyone thinks or says, England didn’t win this war. And Germany wouldn’t have won it, either.”

“What do you mean?”

“War wins.” He says. “And it keeps winning, over and over again.”

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2014?

Longest:  The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas at 1,276 pages (I listened to it on over 40 hours of audio)

Shortest:  Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell at 119 pages

17. Book That Shocked You The Most
(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.  Many tears were shed.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)

I don’t want to spoil anything so I’ll just say the relationships in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas.  Oh, also Eleanor and Park from Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

All of the friendships in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer.  They warmed and broke my heart.

20. Favourite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Another tie.  I really must learn to choose between things.  This has actually made me realise how shockingly few books I’ve actually read by authors I’ve read previously!  My favourites were Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell and Villette by Charlotte Bronte.

21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

I don’t think any this year. I’ve read books because of recommendations but they were generally ones that I think I would have read anyway.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?

Meh.  Nothing springs to mind for this, either!

23. Best 2014 debut you read?

I read one 2014 debut this year – Wake by Anna Hope.  So that.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Here’s where we start to get repetitive!  The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. I don’t think this series would have been half as good if it wasn’t for the fabulous worldbuilding.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines.  Hanna bought it for my birthday a couple of years ago and I finally got round to reading it this year.  It was so much fun!  Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty band together to save Cinderella’s Prince Charming.  The characters were amazing versions of the Grimm fairytale characters and it was packed full of magical creatures and adventure and I loved it.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?

Oh, loads. I’m a big book crier.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

For me, The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Conan Doyle is obviously best known for Sherlock Holmes but I really enjoyed this vintage adventure story and am so glad I wandered off the Conan Doyle beaten track.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Gosh, how dramatic!  I was very moved by Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein,  Tess of the D’Urbevilles by Thomas Hardy crushed my soul for a very different reason – sheer awfulness.  It took me months to battle through and the ending is stupid.  Finishing it nearly killed me.  Now who’s being dramatic?

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?

Probably The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco.  It was a take on Japanese mythology that was completely new to me and I really found the change in culture refreshing.  I want more of that in 2015.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

A few, actually, looking back.  I bear each and every single one of these much animosity:  One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (bloody ridiculous and full of characters that all have the same name and nonsense); Tess of the D’Urbevilles by Thomas Hardy (I do not want to read about swede or about women that are their own worst enemies); The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens (I have never been so irritated by a book’s complete lack of direction and plot or by something so mind-numbingly pointless and tedious).  Blimey, what a sour note to end on!

So that was my 2014!  I hope you all had a tremendous years and are having a healthier start to 2015 than I am!  Which bookish gems did you come across in 2014 that I should be digging out in 2015?

Happy New Year, friends 🙂   

March 2014, You passed me by

Phewf!  What a month.  I know that all of us seem to feel the months flying by but I honestly couldn’t tell you what happened to March.  I’ve barely read a thing and I’ve barely had time to spare a thought for the blogging that I’ve not been doing.  I left my previous job because I wanted more challenging work and wow have I got it.  I’m unbelievably busy and I love how much I’m learning and the experiences I’m getting.   But that doesn’t mean that I’m not missing reading and talking about reading, because I am.  During one particularly cranky evening, I even contemplated just throwing it all in and resigning myself to the loss of my little space on the internet.  And then I got an email about the upcoming, wonderful releases from Gollancz and realised that I was being ridiculous.  So here we are!  Still quiet for the foreseeable future I expect but still here.
The Reading
I can sum up my reading from this month in one sentiment: why am I still reading Tess of the D’Urbevilles?!  I don’t hate it but it’s not exactly a relaxing read and my efforts to read something alongside it just resulted in me reading something else for a while.  To be fair, it was Running Like A Girl and I loved it so it was tricky to put that aside for Hardy.  I had planned on powering through the end of Tess over the weekend but I was out on Friday night and Saturday night and creating a vegetable patch in our back garden with Boyfriend on Sunday so that didn’t quite happen.
I almost don’t want to type the numbers…
Books read:  1 and a half…
Pages read:  I’m not sure, to be honest – 240 pages of Running Like A Girl and maybe 200 of Tess?
Audiobooks listened to:  1 and 2 halves (of different books, hence not “2”)
Reviewed in March
(Images link to reviews)


And that’s about it for March.  Hello, spring! May you contain many more books!