Winter Biannual Bibliothon 2018 – TBR

The Biannual Bibliothon is pretty much what the name suggests – a readathon which takes place twice a year. Each readathon is a week long and is hosted by a number of booktubers on the Biannual Bibliothon YouTube account, and there are both video and reading challenges for the week. This year’s Winter Biannual Bibliothon runs from the 20th to the 26th January – a full seven days which I will spend reading (and doing the things I cannot really avoid – like work).

I decided to take part in this year’s Winter Biannual Bibliothon for one simple reason – I wanted an excuse to read. With the fast-moving pace of life today, particularly with regards to social media, it’s very difficult to step away, slow down and read. There is also something strangely relaxing about sitting down reading and knowing that somewhere a stranger is doing the same thing, for the same reason.

While I won’t be taking part in the video challenges, I will be attempting the reading ones. There are seven in total and it is possible to double-up on some of them if you’re not able to read them all. I am going to have a different book for each challenge although, as it’s unlikely I’ll get to them all, I have selected some that will easily double-up with other challenges. I have also added the rule that all the books, with the exception of the group book, must be books I already own but have not read.

Here is my TBR for the Winter Biannual Bibliothon:

  1. Read the group book: OTHERWORLD by Jason Segel & Kirsten Miller

As I don’t already own this book, I have reserved it from the library (although, at time of writing, it has still to arrive). I did consider buying it for the challenge but, in an attempt to save money, I thought it might be a good excuse to support the local library. I just hope it gets to the library in time.

 

  1. Read a sequel: The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

I had a few books which I could have picked for this challenge but, unfortunately, most of them were quite long. I read the first book in this series about a year ago and, while I enjoyed the first book, I was not motivated enough at the time to pick up the second. I thought this challenge would provide me with the incentive to give this series another go. This book is also a potential double-up with challenge 7.

 

  1. Read a book you’ve never heard of before: Flawed by Cecelia Ahern

This was the hardest challenge to fulfil to start with as, by only using books I already own, nothing actually fit the bill, so I decided to change it slightly. Instead of reading a book I’ve never heard of before, I decided to read a book I had never heard of when the book entered my possession, something which instantly opened up options. I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while and, since it also fits with challenge 7, it seemed like a good time to read it.

 

  1. Read a book about mental illness: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Sadly, this was also a challenge for me as I struggled to find any books I owned but had not yet read which were specifically about mental health. After much searching through blurbs and reviews, I decided to include Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine for this challenge. I do have a couple of non-fiction options as well, should I change my mind during the bibliothon.

 

  1. Read a book that was mentioned in another book/movie/show etc.: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll.

For this challenge, I went with a classic. There has to be at least one book/movie/show in which Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland is mentioned and, I am ashamed to say, I have not read any of Lewis Carroll’s writing. The copy I have also includes Through the Looking-Glass, so I’m also using this book as a potential double-up for challenge 2 as well as challenge 7. Based on some arguments and discussions around this book, it could also work as a double-up for challenge 4, although I’m less inclined to use it for that.

 

  1. Read a book under 200 pages: How to Think Like Sherlock by Daniel Smith

This was a relatively easy choice as I only own one book which I have not read which is less than 200 pages long. That book is How to Think Like Sherlock, a non-fiction book which came in a book subscription box. As such, this book could also work as a double-up to challenge 3, along with challenge 7. It seems like a quick, fun read and so should be a useful book in this week-long readathon.

 

  1. Read a backlist title: Nation by Terry Pratchett

Of all the challenges, challenge 7 was the easiest to select a book for but, for the same reasons, was also one of the hardest. For the purpose of the challenge, a backlist title is one which was published before 2017; at least half, if not more, of the books on my TBR bookcase were published before 2017. As such, this challenge is the one I will most likely be doubling up on but, should I get to it, Nation is book the book of choice. It’s hard to go wrong with some Terry Pratchett.

So, there we have it, the books I have set out for my week of reading. I am not expecting to read them all, but I will at least attempt to complete all the challenges through doubling-up. I am also not confining myself to this particular TBR. The purpose of the readathon is to read and to enjoy yourself while you’re reading. If I’m not feeling a book, I’ll swap it out with another one to ensure maximum reading entertainment. Regardless, I’m looking forward to tackling my TBR and getting into a good book.

Bring on the Bibliothon!

 

Advertisements

Mini-Review Monday: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo and The Widow by Fiona Barton

It’s a new year and, as such, I thought I’d try something a little different. Last year, the only reviews I posted were those where I had received a book through NetGalley in exchange for a review. This meant that my thoughts on all the other books I read often went unheard.

One of my goals this year is to focus on reading the books I already own but have yet to read (which I have an entire bookcase of) which means that the NetGalley reviews will be fewer and farther between. With that in mind, I thought I would re-introduce Mini-Review Mondays. In these posts, I will give a short review of all the books I read in the preceding week (likely to be around 1-2 books), along with a brief commentary on a book’s chapter sampler (of which I have many lying around).

Without further ado, let’s begin. For reference, the way I rate is as follows:

1-Unable to Finish ; 2-Did not enjoy ; 3-Liked ; 4-Really Liked ; 5-Loved

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I first listened to Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo last year, as an audiobook. Unfortunately, by listening to the book, I ended up missing a lot of the nuances of the story and, in places, parts of the story itself. This meant that it did not quite click as well as I had originally hoped. Fortunately, a friend of mine convinced me to pick up the book again, but in a print format. And I loved it.

Six of Crows is a book about six criminals and outcasts who must work together to break into an impenetrable prison and retrieve someone imprisoned there. It is also much more than that. Every character in this book felt alive while reading, and the prison break serves as a backdrop as you see them develop before your eyes. The representation in the book is brilliant and the story got so under my skin that I ended up dreaming about it. I am so glad I decided to give Six of Crows a second chance and I’m already tempted to start if for a third time.

Rating: 5/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23437156-six-of-crows

The Book Depository*: https://www.bookdepository.com/Six-of-Crows-Leigh-Bardugo/9781780622286/?a_aid=rosienreads

The Widow by Fiona Barton (narrated by Clare Corbett)

The Widow by Fiona Barton is an audiobook I have been listening to for about a month and it contains the interesting concept of being about the wife of the perpetrator rather than the perpetrator themselves. In this instance, it’s a case of a paedophilic kidnapping. The main suspect of the case dies before they can be brought to justice and so the press and police turn, instead, to the suspect’s wife in the hopes that she would be able to reveal the truth and help them locate the missing girl.

The book is told from multiple perspectives and follows varying storylines as they intermingle, gradually revealing more and more to the reader. Admittedly, some of the storylines worked better than others. I thoroughly enjoyed the police investigation part of this, while press’ perspective did not really grab me at all. Even the widow herself was a little touch and go at the start, although she gradually became more and more interesting as the book went on. All in all, it was a good story with an emotional punch. It just, unfortunately, did not really work as well for me as it could have.

Rating: 3/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36068039-the-widow

The Book Depository*: https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Widow/9780552173070/?a_aid=rosienreads

 

Chapter Sampler: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Given how much I enjoyed Six of Crows, the choice as to which chapter sampler I would read was fairly simple. Crooked Kingdom is the second book in the Six of Crows duology. The sampler contains the first two chapters and, even though it’s only been a few days since I finished Six of Crows, I thoroughly enjoyed being back in Ketterdam with the gang. Bardugo’s way of writing really brings a story to life (these two chapters were proof enough of that) and Crooked Kingdom started off strong, with plenty of both action and character. I cannot wait to get my hands on this book and continue on with the story.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22299763-crooked-kingdom

The Book Depository*: https://www.bookdepository.com/Six-of-Crows-Crooked-Kingdom-Leigh-Bardugo/9781780622316/?a_aid=rosienreads

 

*I receive a small commission when purchases are made through the Book Depository links.

Rosie Reviews: Tribe of Mentors by Timothy Ferriss

Tribe of Mentors

Title: Tribe of Mentors

Author: Timothy Ferriss

Publisher: Penguin Random House UK, Ebury Publishing

Genre: Non-Fiction, Advice

Source: NetGalley

Review

The subtitle of Tribe of Mentors is: “Short Life Advice from the Best in the World” and the book does not hold back. Within its pages are an incredible number of interviews with people from a wide range of industries (from business to journalism to body-building), each imparting wisdom and advice gained through their own experiences.

The structure of the book is based on each mentor answering a specific set of questions (the same set was sent to nearly all mentors, although some did have a few variations). This sent a shiver of trepidation through me when I first learnt of it, as I was worried that the book would turn out to be repetitive and dull to read. I need not have feared. Not all mentors answered all questions, and Ferriss reshuffles them from person to person to aid with flow, as well as breaking the mentor profiles up with other segments (for example, examples of how to say no) to help reduce the repetition. Above that, however, the answers were interesting and varied enough that I did not care that the questions were the same. I was able to keep on reading through the answers, absorbing everything as I went.

As is to be expected, some of the mentors appealed to me more than others. But there are so many included in the book that it would be hard-pressed for any reader to not find one they connected to. The inclusion of people from multiple backgrounds and fields was interesting (although some fields were certainly more represented than others) and I found myself fascinated by the experiences of people in areas I would never have even considered before. Of the advice given, there were a few common recurrences (meditation and sugar-free diets were regular appearances, along with a certain few books) but, on the whole, everyone had something unique to offer. Reading it from cover to cover is probably not the best way to approach Tribe of Mentors as it does veer on the long side and could possibly be a little shorter but, that being said, cover-to-cover was how I read it, so it is possible.

With it being January and, with it, the time of resolutions, this book is a book you would want on your shelves. It is easy to dip into, and is incredibly motivating. It is also a book you want to keep coming back to, either to revisit certain ideas or to find something new to try. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to push themselves a bit further in life, work or even in their hobbies.

Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36200111-tribe-of-mentors

The Book Depository (I receive a small commission when this link is used): https://www.bookdepository.com/Tribe-of-Mentors-Timothy-Ferris/9781785041853/?a_aid=rosienreads

The Books I Read in December 2017

2017 has come and gone. For the duration of the year, I was taking part in the Goodreads challenge, with the goal of reading 100 books in the year. By the end of November, this goal was beginning to look more like a lost cause. But, thanks to a massive push in December, during which I read 17 books, I managed to meet the goal of reading 100 books in 2017 with a day to spare.

The 17 books I read were a mixed bunch, both in the type of book as well as in my rating. I read some brilliant books, but also some that I am unlikely to pick up again. The highlight of the month was easily The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie. I love Agatha Christie’s books yet had not ever got around to reading the book which is considered her masterpiece. A programme on the television (Agatha Christie Vs. Hercule Poirot) prompted me to buy the book and read it. I went in blind and absolutely loved the story. If you do ever want to pick up this book, don’t read anything about it beforehand; it’s the best way to enjoy it fully.

That wasn’t the only book I enjoyed in December, however. There were plenty of others, which you can see below in the complete list of the books I read, along with their ratings. For reference, the way I rate is as follows:

1-Unable to Finish ; 2-Did not enjoy ; 3-Liked ; 4-Really Liked ; 5-Loved

 

Audiobook

Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens – 3.5/5

Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger – 3.5/5

Kindle

Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss – 4.5/5

The Forever Ship by Francesca Haig – 4.5/5

The Rest Falls Away by Colleen Gleason – 3/5

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie – 5/5

Hardback

The Truth by Terry Pratchett – 4/5

The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell – 4/5

Everless by Sara Holland – 4.5/5

Paperback

Return to the Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz – 4/5

Northern Lights by Philip Pullman – 4/5

The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman – 3.5/5

The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman – 3/5

World Mythology in Bite-Sized Chunks by Mark Daniels – 1.5/5

I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells – 4/5

Rise of the Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz – 3.5/5

Feminism: A Very Short Introduction by Margaret Walters – 3/5

 

17 books. That, for me, is an achievement for a single month’s reading and I’m beyond happy to have completed my challenge to read 100 books. This year, in 2018, I am going to repeat the challenge. While it was difficult to do, particularly given the reading slumps I suffered during a couple of months, it was fun and led me to read a wide range of books, including some I probably would not have considered at the beginning of the year. Going into 2018, I am listening to the audiobook The Widow by Fiona Barton (read by Clare Corbett) and reading Zenith by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings. As for the rest of the year, I have no plans for what to read beyond just seeing what I’m in the mood for and enjoying every word (hopefully).

 

 

The Books I Read in November 2017

There is just one month left in 2017, a crazy thought, and the penultimate month has just come to an end. November was a much better reading month for me, despite my reading time being greatly reduced in order to make time for NaNoWriMo. As a result, while I have not read quite as many physical books as usual, the books I did read were focused on the formats most suited for travelling and busy lifestyles: kindles and audiobooks.

I read a total of 8 books in November, the majority of them were books which I liked or really liked, there weren’t any major standouts. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie was easily my favourite read of the month, but that is, in part, due to it being one of my overall favourite books. This particular version was brought more alive by the narration of Dan Stevens, which was phenomenal, and really allowed me to experience this book in a whole new way. The book which received the lowest rating was Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury, but that by no means implies that it’s a bad book. I enjoyed reading it and Ray Bradbury certainly can write; it just did not hit home with me the way I was expecting and others may get more from it than I did.

The full list of the books I read is below. For reference, the way I rate is as follows:

1-Unable to Finish ; 2-Did not enjoy ; 3-Liked ; 4-Really Liked ; 5-Loved

 

Audiobook

Best Served Cold by Jo Abercrombie – 3.5/5

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie – 5/5

Priestess of the White by Trudi Canavan – 4/5

Kindle

The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – 4/5

The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz – 4/5

Rise of the Phoenix by Jamie Mclachlan – 4/5

Paperback

Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury – 3/5

The Isle of the Lost by Melissa De La Cruz – 4.5/5

 

Those are the books I read in November. My goal for 2017 was to read 100 books and, with 83 books under the belt, it’s looking like December is going to be quite reading-heaving if I am to reach my goal. Fortunately, at the time of writing, I have already read 4 books and am close to finishing my fifth. It will still be quite difficult to meet the goal, but I am hopeful. I have two weeks off of work and a couple of long train journeys coming up which will allow me to get into reading properly. I’m still going to try and read a varied selection of books but I am not going to decide in advance which they will be, rather just choosing to read whatever I happen to be in the mood for at the time. That being said, I imagine my usual Winter reading themes will dominate – magic and murder. What more can you want in December?

Bring on the challenge of reading 17 books in one month.

Rosie Reviews: The Forever Ship by Francesca Haig

The Forever Ship

Title: The Forever Ship

Author: Francesca Haig

Publisher: Gallery Books

Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Dystopian

Source: NetGalley

Review

Francesca Haig’s The Fire Sermon trilogy has easily been one of the best series I have read this year, so much so that I did something I rarely do and read the second book almost immediately after finishing the first. Now, I have had the chance to read the third, and final, book in this trilogy: The Forever Ship. It did not disappoint.

In this book, the stakes are even higher; with Cass’ visions of fire moving ever closer to being reality and the freedom of the Omegas as a people growing ever more scarce. I loved that Haig does not shy away from the hardship of war; the reality of starvation, violence and death is never far from the surface and the themes of oppression, war and power resonate throughout. Yet, for all the bleak atmosphere, there is hope, and this is one of the reasons why I could not stop reading. I needed to see the characters survive and I wanted to see that hope bear fruit.

Speaking of characters, there is something about the way Haig writes which makes each of the characters step off the page. It was brilliant being back with Cass, Piper and Zoe. Even Zach’s increased presence in this book helped keep me interested, particularly in the ethical and moral arguments he presents. We also get to see more of the secondary characters, and even some new ones. Yet, for the large cast of people in this story, each one comes across as real, so much so that if I close my eyes, I can almost see them. It is the way they’re written which makes this world so much more real and, as a result, so much more terrifying.

While the second book captured more of the history of the world and setting up for this final book, The Forever Ship does a peculiar trick of both expanding outwards and inwards at the same time. We learn more of Elsewhere, and the world which exists beyond that which Cass and her team have only known. Yet, at the same time, we are seeing more exploration at an individual level – we’re seeing the views of the people that live in this world while also learning more about the characters we’re following.

All in all, I thought this was a brilliant ending of the trilogy. It stayed true to the core of the first book yet also allowed the reader to experience entirely new feelings and adventures while joining Cass and her friends on their journey. My only main issues are that, at times, the novel does struggle a little with pacing and the ending did not quite work for me, although I can see and appreciate why Haig ended it as she did.

If anyone is interested in starting a new dystopian series, particularly one which will make you think and leave you emotionally reeling at the end, then this is one I’d heartily recommend.

Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35011657-the-forever-ship

The Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Forever-Ship-Francesca-Haig/9781476767208/?a_aid=rosienreads

NaNoWriMo 2017 Update – Week 3 and the Beginning of Week 4

Writing Progress

The final week of NaNoWriMo is here and three days remain until the clock strikes midnight and the magic of November is over. It has been a while since my last update and that’s because I’ve been busy. The number of social commitments I’ve had this last week or so has meant that I have had five days where I have written nothing at all. Indeed, in the first half of Week 4, I have only managed to write 984 words.

Fortunately, the situation is not so dire as to be irretrievable. Thanks to a period of writing 2,000 words a day in Week 3, and a day in which I wrote over 6,000 words, I only need to write a minimum of 1,711 words a day in order to win. It is more than the daily average you need to win, but it’s not a horrendous amount of words and, as far as I’m concerned, I can still make it if I try. I might just have to suffer a couple of late nights.

Writing Inspiration

It’s hard to write of inspiration when I’ve just had a four day break from writing. That being said, a four day break may have been what I needed to refresh my mind and return to the pages with a cobweb-free head, and enough energy to charge onwards into the final few days.

One the main hurdles I’m facing at the moment is just being too tired to write, particularly after a long, cold day at work. It’s hard to find the motivation when you just want to be asleep under the duvet. While having naps may not be the best idea in the evening, letting yourself switch off for an hour or so after a busy day is vital for letting the brain get into the creative zone. Some people enjoy a walk, others a long, hot bath. For me, it varies. Often-times, I find that just watching an episode of a show will suffice. Once that hour is up, I am ready to make myself comfortable (often with a blanket if it’s one of those chillier days), get a cup of tea and start writing.

Writing Plans

Today, my push for victory begins. As I’ve said, I need to write a minimum of just over 1,700 words a day in order to win and win I intend to do. It is possible, even though I do have plenty of other things which need doing this week, and it is going to be my priority. To achieve this, I decided to look back on the days I wrote the most.

On a few, the words came from having no words at all. I started writing about something which I had experienced, such as a headache or being cold, and those ended up turning into more and more words, all perfectly relevant to the story. On others, I wrote in focused time periods, using the Pomodoro technique. I’d put on some background sound and write for 25 minutes, then took a break to do something completely different, before starting the 25 minutes again. This technique helped me write 6,000 words in one day. Other times, it was simply the goal and the story which got me to 2,000 – I decided to write that many words and so I did.

So, this week, I am going to do a combination of those. I am going to sit down to an empty page, and let either the story or my experiences guide me. I will write in sprints, with regular breaks for both eyes and brain, with the final goal of the day being 2,000 words. Some days I will succeed, other days I may fail but so long as I write more than 1,700 words a day, I should be okay.

Let the final days of NaNoWriMo begin.