Why Re-read Books?

I love re-reading books, yet there are people out there who look at me with confusion and the simple question of ‘why?’ across their faces whenever I say as much.

Here are a few of my answers:

You get something new with every re-read

One of the main arguments I hear against re-reading books is “you’ve already read it; you know the story.” While that is true for the most part, multiple reads of a book can reveal new things which you didn’t notice before. Often, I find, when first reading a book, you’re so focused on the story and finding out what happens at the end, that little attention is paid on the nuances of the book. Re-reading when you already know the story, particularly with series, can reveal hints that you had not noticed before or allow you to fully appreciate the characters and the writing of the book itself. You could even find that you’ve mis-remembered or forgotten parts of the story so end up discovering them again. I believe that, if a book is written well, there is always something to gain from a second, third or even fourth read.

They are great comfort reads

Sometimes, you may not be feeling up to reading a brand-new book. You’re ill, your brain hurts and the thought of trying to utilise your mind to imagine brand new worlds is just exhausting. This is where re-reading steps in. By picking up a book where you know the story, where you know the world and the characters within, the amount of effort that comes with reading is reduced – you simple have to pick up the book and let yourself be transported back into it. This is particularly true for childhood favourites, such as Harry Potter or, for those Percy Jackson fans, the Heroes of Olympus series. These are pure comfort reads and, sometimes, are just what you need when you’re feeling rough.

They make a nice break from all those other books you’ve got on your list

This is somewhat similar to the previous point but re-reading a book can make for a nice break between reading all those new books you’ve got on your list. It can be tiring reading new stories, going on new adventures and meeting new people every time you open up a book. Having that break where you can read a book that you’ve already discovered can refresh your mind and prepare you for all the brand new stories that are coming your way.

They can help you overcome reading slumps

We all encounter those times where we simply cannot bring ourselves to read. Whether this has been brought on by a completely marvellous or utterly dreadful book, or something else entirely, sometimes what you need to get back into reading is to go back and pick out a book you already know you enjoy and one that suits your mood at the time. If you know a story, it’s a lot easier to know if it is what you need to read at that point in time than one you have barely touched yet.

A re-read can give you a brand new perspective of a book

A lot of readers are mood readers – not only do we read based on mood but being in the wrong mood for a book can seriously affect how we read it. So say, for example, you pick out a book and start off really enjoying it but something happens and you come back to it at a later point but, this time, you aren’t really in the mood. You still read it, but it’s not quite as good as you remember. This disappointment might stop you from wanting to re-read a book but, you might find, that by picking it up again a month or even a year later you end up loving it as much as you thought you would at the start. Of course, if you absolutely hated a book then picking it up again might not be the best idea. As well as reading with a different mood, re-reading a book after a long period of time, might cause you to view the book in a different light. As we grow up, we have different experiences and become aware of new things. These will be reflected in how we read books. Our life, as we’ve lived it at the time, will affect how we experience a story – what stands out to us and who we relate to. So, re-reading a book, particularly after a long period of time may give us an entirely new perspective of the story itself.

Those are just a few of the reasons why I re-read books. There is just so much to gain from reading a book again and again and, if you own the book, there is really nothing to stop you; except maybe time. If I had time to read all the books on my to-read list as well as being able to re-read all the book I’ve already read, I definitely would.

Let me know in the comments what your thoughts are on re-reading books.

 

 

Rosie Reviews: Jack the Ripper, The Works of Francis Thompson by Richard Patterson

Jack the Ripper

Title: Jack the Ripper, The Works of Francis Thompson

Author: Richard Patterson

Publisher: Austin Macauley Publishers Ltd.

Genre: Non-Fiction

Source: Goodreads First Reads

Review

Most of us have heard of Jack the Ripper – the almost demonic presence which haunted London in 1888. Jack the Ripper was someone who was never caught, but speculation over their identity remains to this day, capturing the attention of countless, some even devoting their lives to the mystery. In this book, Richard Patterson introduces a new suspect into the fold, building on an article published by Dr. Rupp who first suggested this person in an article on the centenary of the murders in 1988.

Francis Thompson was born into a Catholic family, the son of a doctor, who failed to get into priesthood and went through Medical school 3 times, but failed to be become a doctor himself. Before long, he was addicted to laudanum and living on the streets of London. He was destitute, living with a prostitute. That is, until he came to the attention of the Meynells, publishers to whom he had submitted some essays and poetry. Mid-1888, on discovering Francis’ work published by them, the prostitute ended their relationship and disappeared. In the period of the Jack the Ripper murders, Francis is living in Whitechapel, searching for this prostitute. A few days after the final murder, he is admitted to hospital before being sent to an all-male hospice.

In Jack the Ripper, The Works of Francis Thompson, the author examines each piece of evidence, from aspects of Francis Thompson’s life to the words in his poetry. The case he presents is commendable and compelling, although relies heavily on circumstantial evidence. While the who and the opportunity is heavily explored and fairly convincing, where the book falls flat is the motive. Patterson does try to explore why Thompson might have become the Ripper, but none of the possible motives felt particularly convincing to me.

That being said, the book is thorough in what it contains, examining different facets of the theory and backing up hypotheses with evidence, albeit that evidence mostly coming in the form of poetry. Regular summaries are provided, so you gradually get a build-up of the various layers in the tale that Patterson is trying to get across. It is an interesting read and, while I was note entirely convinced, it is certainly a book for anyone interested in the mystery that is Jack the Ripper.

Rating: 3.5/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34385855-jack-the-ripper-the-works-of-francis-thompson

The Book Depository (I receive a small commission when this link is used): https://www.bookdepository.com/Jack-the-Ripper-the-Works-of-Francis-Thompson-Richard–Patterson/9781786934499?a_aid=rosienreads

Rosie Reviews: Godblind by Anna Stephens

Godblind

Title: Godblind

Author: Anna Stephens

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Genre: Fantasy

Source: NetGalley

Review

Summary

Intense, captivating and powerful; Godblind is the fantastic debut fantasy from author Anna Stephens. It is a novel that is filled to the brim with war, political intrigue and gods, capturing a number of different themes from free will to feminism, but all within the threads of the novel. It is set in a world where the Red Gods have been exiled and their people cast out, but now revenge is on the horizon and no-one can escape the call of the Gods.

Plot

I will admit, I really was not sure about this book when I began. The contents page told me that it would be told from a large number of character perspectives. The first page was full of so much world-building, it was near-impossible to take in. Yet, once the book got going, the daunting beginning turned into something which took you elsewhere, to the world within the pages. The multiple points of view worked well in creating a rounded narrative which both increased the intensity of the story and showed how a war can be fought on multiple fronts, with multiple perspectives.

My main gripe with the novel was the pacing, or rather the effect the pacing had on my reading experience. The pacing itself was perfect – it kept the novel moving and successfully navigated the balance between action and breathers. However, it also convinced me that I was reading a stand-alone novel. So much happened and it felt like Godblind was rounding up to a brilliant conclusion, and then the cliff-hangers began. This novel is not, as I first thought, a stand-alone fantasy novel, but rather the first in a series. The series, I have no doubt, will be brilliant, but it was such a frustrating ending to have gone through so much with the characters and then not have any conclusion at the end.

Characters

As I mentioned, this book features a lot of characters, both POV and secondary characters. This did concern me when I first started as I find that having too many character perspectives can be confusing and a bit of a turn off but Anna Stephens handles this beautifully. Each one has their own story-line, but at no point does it ever feel like the characters are there for no reason. Everything is inter-connected and every character feels integral to the plot. I also particularly enjoyed how even the more villainous characters got their own perspective, showing their motivations and how there are not just two sides to the war.

The Gods themselves are particularly intriguing. We only really see the Dark Lady in close detail, but it was fascinating to see her bring all her pieces into play, in her attempt to achieve her goals. The Gods’ interactions with the other characters was interesting to read, particularly as it made you question who really was in control at times.

World/Setting

The world in this book is phenomenal. Despite a rough start of intense world-building, it settles down quite quickly and the world begins to gradually rise around you as you read. The different character perspectives allow you to see a large number of different places and lifestyles of the world Anna Stephens has created and it is a fascinating one.

The cultures for both the Rilporians and the Mireces are well established, especially how their cultures have been built up around the traits of their gods. The interaction between the Gods and the mortals also added another layer to the novel, particularly with the similarities and differences between the worship of the Red Gods and the Rilporian Gods. I just wish I’d had a map, just to be able to better picture the distances and where the towns and cities were in relation to one another.

Final Thoughts

If you are to read any fantasy novel this year, this should be near the top of your list. It was unlike any fantasy book I’ve read recently and stood out to me both in story and writing. I do wish I had known it was the first in a series when I was reading it as the ended was a bit disappointing for me, especially since I’m going to have to wait so long for the sequel, but everything else worked brilliantly. Godblind is a fantastic novel and a remarkable debut.

Godblind will be released on the 15th June 2017.

Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32072924-godblind

The Book Depository (I receive a small commission when this link is used): https://www.bookdepository.com/Godblind-Ann-Stephens/9781945863066?a=aidrosienreads

The Books I Read in May 2017

May was a pretty dreadful reading month for me – I found myself in one of the largest reading slumps I have been in for a while and just not in the mood to read. As a result, I only managed to read three books in May.

There are two reasons for this slump and both of them are the books I read. The first of these, American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis, as the one that was particularly instrumental in removing my desire to read. It took all my power to actually finish reading this book and is the one book that has actually made me really question my resolve to finish every book I pick up, regardless of quality. Essentially, I just found this book insanely dull and could not see the point of it. The book itself alternates between incredibly materialistic descriptions which exemplify Bateman’s obsession with wealth and status, and very vivid descriptions of the torture and murders of all Bateman’s victims. While the latter should have, at least, held some interest, there was no substance to it at all and just came across as an attempt to shock. It did not help that I actually listened to it as an audiobook and, while the narrator was part of the reason I was able to keep going with this novel, it is unlikely to be a book I will ever read again. That being said, I am tempted to watch the film and see how that takes the book and converts to a visual format.

The second book which contributed to the slump was How to be a Productivity Ninja by Graham Allcott. It is slightly ironic that a book about productivity stopped me being as productive with my reading, but there are, again, to reasons for this. This first is that this book is non-fiction. It always takes me longer to read non-fiction and this book, in particular, took about three weeks to read. The second is that this book contains exercises and methods to include productivity so, while reading, I found myself more interested in putting the methods into practice and working through the book than reading other books as well. That being said, while it did get in the way of my reading, I do highly recommend this book if you want to get on top of work and life and reduce any related stress. It is easy to read and reads as something that is just there to help and guide rather than instruct.

Towards the end of the month, I started to get out of the reading slump and started and finished my favourite book of the month. Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh is a young adult fantasy novel about the daughter of a samurai who, undercover, joins the people who tried to kill her in order to find out why and restore honour to her family (there are a lot of Mulan parallels as well). In the end, I finished this book and instantly wanted to pick it up again (I still do). For a longer review of this book, click here.

It was a fairly mixed month of reading, although I am feeling a little bit more confident about this month’s reading – not least because I have started reading Godblind by Anna Stephens and am loving it so far. Fingers crossed I will be able to read and enjoy a lot more books in June!

In summary, the books I did read in May are below 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

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis – 2/5

How to be a Productivity Ninja by Graham Allcott- 4/5

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh – 4.5/5

Rosie Reviews: Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh

Flame in the Mist

Title: Flame in the Mist

Author: Renée Ahdieh

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Source: NetGalley

Review

Summary

Flame in the Mist is the story of Mariko, a girl who wants more than the role society has given her, who wants to do things on her own terms while still being honourable. She is also a girl who, in order to defend her family’s honour, goes running into deep, magical forest in search of the people who tried to kill her. Her path is one of confusion, both of the heart and mind, as well as one of magic, warriors and identity.

Plot

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It bares many similarities to Mulan, with its own twist on the tale (predictably so, since it’s set in Japan). The plot is one of surprises and, while there was the odd twist I could guess, there were plenty that left me surprised and ready for more. While the prologue was amazing and really drew me in, I found Mariko’s story-line slow to start off with. That being said, once it got going, it really got going. The only part which didn’t work for me was the big romance scene – this just came out of nowhere and felt like it was only in the book for the sake of being in the book.

Characters

Mariko is a phenomenal lead in this novel – she is cleaver, stubborn, conflicted and endearing. She makes plenty of mistakes and, no matter whose side you happen to be on at various points in the novel, above all, you want her to come out on top. Unfortunately, the other characters did not have quite the same impact. We’re only introduced to a small number of other characters, which does fit with the tones of the novel nicely. However, of them only Okami and Kenshin makes any real impact, and that’s only towards the end. This does work in the sense of them slowly developing as characters and becoming more complex than Mariko’s initial opinions of them, however it did make them difficult to connect to at the beginning of the novel.

I also feel like, as interesting as the other characters are, I did not get to see enough of them for them to make a lingering impression. This was particularly so with Ranmaru – we got hints of a fun, intriguing character, but not enough to make him feel real. I also wish we could have seen more of the Black Clan members as, aside from Okami, we only really get to know three of the others which reduced the idea of the clan being akin to a family for me.

World/Setting

Characters aside, this world is amazing. Set in feudal Japan, it incorporates Japanese history and custom with fantasy elements, creating a world that completely draws you in. Some of my favourite parts where when we really get to see the magical elements in action and Ahdieh describes these all beautifully. My only wish was to have seen more of it towards the beginning of the novel as, when we do start seeing the magic later on, it does feel a little out of nowhere.

Final Thoughts

While there were parts of the novel that did not quite work for me, the rest of it more than made up for any issues I did have. The book was simply an incredibly enjoyable read – it required no effort on my part and I was just drawn into the story. Ahdieh has a writing style that is perfect for weaving images in your head and getting to read a novel with strong feminist themes and a brilliant female lead just made me enjoy the book more. I cannot wait for the second book in this duology – Flame in the Mist has raised a few questions which I would really like answered and ended on a couple of cliff-hangers. I would really recommend this book, especially if you’re a fan of Mulan, or just want a stunning cover on your book case.

Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23308087-flame-in-the-mist

The Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Flame-in-the-Mist-Renee-Ahdieh/9781473664425?aid=rosienreads

Bookish Would You Rather

For a while I’ve had it in my mind to do a bookish ‘would you rather’ post – something fun and care-free. The only thing holding me back was that it was something which I felt did not quite fit with the tone of my blog. I like my posts to mean something, even if they just mean something to me, and for a long time I was struggling to find a connection to the concept despite really wanted to do it. So, after much thought, I’ve tried to make the questions relevant to my bookish thoughts and reading habits, and here we are. Enjoy!

Would you rather:

 Read a kindle or read a print book

This question is difficult in that both are very different – each has their pros and their cons. I have brilliant books sitting on my kindle and not so brilliant ones on my bookcase, and vice versa. Ultimately though, I would have to say a print book. The feel of a print book adds to the enjoyment of reading and kindles are just lacking in that extra bit of personality for me, despite it always being in my bag, ready for travel.

Own a signed book or a first edition

This is tough but, on the whole, I think I would go for a first edition. As much as I love signed books and that, generally, if you have it signed you’ve probably met the author, there is nothing quite like having a pristine, first edition of a book, especially if no-one has read it. As well as being beautiful, it’s also an investment and a treasure. A signed paperback doesn’t quite mean the same thing to me. Although, if I did have it my way, a signed first edition would be glorious.

Professionally review books or write them

If I could afford to, I would write books, no question. As much as I love reviewing books, and I do, there is nothing quite like putting pen to paper and letting a story emerge. That being said, given I’ve had a few manuscripts rolling around in the attic-space for a while, it may be that I’ll be on just the reviewing side of things a little while longer. Again though, the dream would be to do both – review and write.

Lose your Goodreads account or your book database

This is a difficult one. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. I’ve had my Goodreads account the longest, and it includes a lot more of the books I’ve read. Yet, I’ve spent more time building my book database and, as well as including books I’ve read and own, it also includes the books I have to read, the books I’ve lent to other people and those I’ve borrowed. I think, having already lost my books database once and rebuilding it afterwards, I would probably say to lose that again. I have much more of a history with my Goodreads account and, to be perfectly honest, I actually really enjoyed putting together my book database for a second time. I’m pretty sure I’d enjoy a third as well.

Would you rather read a book adaption of your favourite TV show or watch a TV adaption of your favourite book?

I really enjoy watching adaptions of books (after I’ve read the book, of course) but then there is always the danger that it would be done wrong. I think, all in all, I would rather read a book adaption of my favourite TV show. It would be a different way of watching the show (and probably a quicker way to) and, if there’s a power cut or the apocalypse comes, I would be able to continue enjoying that show despite not being able to watch it.

Those are my five bookish would you rather questions and answers. I hope you enjoyed that, and feel free to let me know what your answers would be in the comments.

 

 

 

Q2 2017 Goals

Q1 of 2017 has come and gone, and, with it, the resolutions I made for that time period. I decided at the start of this year that, due the inflexibility of having year-long goals, I decided to create my resolutions on a quarterly basis, giving me a chance to reflect and set new resolutions accordingly. The reason this one is slightly later is because I decided part way through Q1 to shift each quarter by a month; this was to avoid the burst of energy which comes with new resolutions from clashing with the energy needed for all the quarterly reports and tasks at work.

These have been divided into three categories:

Creative Pursuits

  • My first resolution was to send off my manuscript to at least one agent.
    • This did not happen. I found that, in trying to achieve this, I was rushing what I was doing and not giving myself the time or space to get it right. This quarter, I am aiming to completed the final checks of the manuscript and complete the needed research before starting querying in the summer.
  • The next was develop my social media presence.
    • I have started picking up my social media a little bit – I try to tweet on a regular basis, although I am yet to reach at least once a day. I have also started picking up my YouTube channel again and building on my video editing knowledge. I will be continuing this at a similar pace this quarter, with the goal of bringing my twitter, YouTube and blog together into one central brand to work from.
  • The third was to get back into art.
    • My art did suffer a little this quarter. I encountered the problem where I would pick up one project, receive a burst of inspiration for another and so on and so forth. This has resulted in a lot of half formed ideas and projects. This quarter, I will take that list, determine which to focus my efforts onto and develop a plan for delving into them so that, by the end of July, I will have a number of projects completed; be it sewing, painting or general crafts.

Reading

  • Reading gets its own section because it’s a big part of my life, not least because of the sheer amount of books I own. The first resolution with this was to have read at least one shelf’s worth of books on my to-read bookcase.
    • This is quite hard to judge. While I am fairly sure I have read a shelf’s worth of books, very few were actual physical books I own and I am nowhere near clearing a space. Most of my reading the last few months have been kindle-reads, audiobooks and borrowed books. This quarter I am going to continue the resolution but with the goal of actually clearing a shelf of to-read books.
  • The second resolution under reading was to read more variety in genres and diversity, reading at least three different genres a month.
    • With regards to genres, this was a success. I have read and am still reading a wide range of genres each month and am really enjoying it. I’ve felt like my resolution to read more diversity has not been quite so successful, and this will be my goal for Q2 2017.
  • Finally, my resolution was to restrict my book-buying to only buying one or two books a month maximum.
    • I have achieved this, simply put. The only times where I have bought more than two books a month were when the extra books were gifts, and I don’t think that counts. Despite achieving this goal, however, I am going to continue with it in Q2 as it’s quite an easy way to save money and I want to prove to myself that I can continue the buying-restriction.

 Personal Development

  • Improving health, both by eating healthier and doing more regular exercise, was the first resolution at this point. This was also the one goal I thought would be the hardest to fulfil, and I was right.
    • The first few months were, admittedly, a struggle. It didn’t help that it was dark outside. However, last month, I successfully completed 30 days of yoga and that has given me the motivation to continue; that, and the decision that I will go and trek up to Machu Picchu in the next two years. I have started Couch to 5K, am continuing yoga and have also continued my walking although on a more regular basis.
  • My second goal was about learning code. I hadn’t decided on which code to start learning at the start of the year, but I knew I wanted to go about learning one.
    • This particular resolution has been partially fulfilled in that I have decided which code I want to learn and have started it. As well as continuing to learn Excel VBA, I am also starting to learn Python. These will both be continued this quarter, with the goal of applying it either at work or at home, depending on where it would be most useful.
  • Finally, my last goal was, simply, get out the house more. I do enjoy ‘me-time’, where I’m curled up with a book or in front of a movie; but I do know that getting out and about, meeting friends and experiencing culture are all really important for a fulfilled existence.
    • I will admit, when the winter months were still upon us, I did not do this as much as I would have liked. That being said, now that the weather is much nicer, I have started doing a lot of these things, with the goal of doing one social activity and one film a week (I’ve got a Cineworld Unlimited card so I don’t have to worry too much about the cost of film)

Those are where I am with my resolutions from Q1. As you’ve probably noticed, I decided to continue them into this quarter as I did not get off to quite the head-start as I would have liked. That being said, I am hoping to have a achieved a lot of these by the end of this quarter which would allow me to change them up a little in the second half of the year. I have found that this way of doing things has given me a touch more flexibility in my approach which I am enjoying, although I’m not quite full-agile yet.

Here’s to the next few months!