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: 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

Rosie Reviews: Dunstan by Conn Iggulden

Dunstan

Title: Dunstan

Author: Conn Iggulden

Publisher: Michael Joseph

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: NetGalley

Review

Summary

Dunstan is a historical novel which demonstrates Conn Iggulden’s mastery of words. It takes a saint and makes him human and weaves an intriguing tale from the threads of history.

Plot

This novel follows Dunstan from childhood all the way to being an old man who had seen seven kings on the throne in his lifetime. As records from the time period are sparse, the novel does take some artistic license in what it describes; each addition or change really helps build the character of Dunstan that Iggulden wants to portray as well as moving the story along.

While it does take a while for the story to get going at the start, as we’re still being introduced to the characters, getting used to the world through the pages and watching Dunstan grow into adulthood, it is once Dunstan gets his first taste of power that this novel really takes off. The second half is so full of political intrigue, scheming and changes in kings that it made for quite gripping reading.

Characters

The strangest part of this book for me was that I both enjoyed reading about the main character, Dunstan, while also disliking him as a person. He is extremely misogynistic, manipulative and arrogant, caring mostly for his own personal advancement. Yet, there are glimpses of kindness in him, of guilt and sorrow that take the edge off of that hatred; it also helps that those he surrounds himself with are really likable. How Conn Iggulden has written Dunstan here is a lesson in writing complex characters and it helped make me see this figurehead as simply human.

Dunstan is the only character which remains throughout the novel; even his brother Wulfric dips in and out, so we only see glimpses of him from time to time. The other characters are there for such fleeting moments, yet each one stands solid and present in my mind’s eye. Despite their short presence in the novel, you really get the sense of how each one impacted Dunstan and of their own characters as well.

World/Setting

The world-building also added an extra layer of depth to the novel. By the end of the novel I was convinced that I could simply step back through history and understand what awaited me there. The only times where I struggled were at the abbey when Dunstan was a child and whenever the novel moved around the country. I really could have done with a map during those latter sections as I found it really difficult to picture how far or how close these places were. That being said, I was reading on my kindle so I’m not entirely sure a map would have been much help at all.

Final Thoughts

The more I think about it, the more I enjoyed Dunstan. I will admit, I was worried in the first half – I found Dunstan dislikable and there was little else for me to grab onto then; everything else was still setting up and I had not got to know the other characters yet. But, after having read the rest, that first section is really important for making sure future events make sense and it all takes on a lot more meaning. Conn Iggulden’s writing is beautiful; it’s a novel which I think would be a delight to listen to as an audiobook, if simply just from the writing. In all fairness, I would probably buy this book just for the writing ability, but the story within the pages really helps make it shine.

Dunstan is out now.

Rating: 3.5/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32510568-dunstan

The Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Dunstan-Conn-Iggulden/9780718181444/?aid=rosienreads

 

 

Rosie Reviews: Knights of the Borrowed Dark / The Forever Court by Dave Rudden

Title: Knights of the Borrowed Dark / The Forever Court

Author: Dave Rudden

Publisher: Puffin

Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Source: NetGalley

The Knights of the Borrowed Dark

Knights of the Borrowed Dark is a novel which constantly takes you by surprise. It takes a storyline we’ve all heard before – an orphan boy discovers he’s part of a secret, magical world – and turns it inside out. Rather than being met with wonder, Denizen is thrown into a magical war that is unforgiving, dangerous and deadly.

Denizen discovers the world is plagued by shadowy monsters, Tenebrous, who thrive on fear and chaos. Only a small group of people have the power to push against these creatures, and it comes with a Cost, one that cannot be undone. Rudden is incredibly creative with how he depicts this, particularly in the Tenebrous themselves; each one is unique and, with that, they step up from being a two-dimensional enemy to a very much present and complex one.

The writing is the perfect balance for a middle grade novel. It captures the world that Denizen finds himself in perfectly, yet in a way that is easy to read and absorb. There were so many twists and turns while the pacing kept me griped to the novel. That being said, it does get dark in places so younger children (and some older ones too, for that matter) may find it a little bit scary.

Knights of the Borrowed Dark kicks off this series with a bang and, with what this book demonstrates of Rudden’s creativity and writing skill, the sequels are going to be equally as thrilling, if not more so. This book wraps up well but leaves plenty more for us readers to get our noses into later on; and it’s a book which will keep you thinking about it even when you’re not reading.

Rating: 4/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34844398-knights-of-the-borrowed-dark

The Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Knights-of-the-Borrowed-Dark-Dave-Rudden/9780141356600/?a_aid=rosienreads

The Forever Court

I am not sure what I was expecting when I started the sequel to Knights of the Borrowed Dark, but after reading The Forever Court, whatever I was expecting was surpassed, trodden on and forgotten.

The Forever Court takes what we learnt in the first book and expands it, twists it into something deeper and more complex. I cannot say too much about the plot, for fear of spoiling previous events, but this book sees a new villain arise, one more terrifying than the Tenebrous we see in Knights of the Borrowed Dark and all the more human. Denizen also continues his ventures into the world of the Knights and, in the process, opens it up to the reader.

Where Knights of the Borrowed Dark works as a set up to the series, The Forever Court takes that foundation and steadily builds upon it. Everything we see is developed in an organic manner – nothing felt forced and the more fantastical elements were nicely integrated into the realistic aspects of the story.

I really liked the addition of the Croits; they were easily my favourite part of the book and I could barely tear my nose away from the page during their chapters. They expanded what we knew of the Knights and Tenebrous while also introducing a sinister cult family element. The Croits’ storyline paralleled nicely with Denizen’s and this kept the pace of the book going while keeping my own interest firmly in place.

If you enjoyed the first book, you will love The Forever Court. It does everything a sequel is supposed to and steps far away from the dangers second novels usually come up against. I am very much looking forward to what the next book has to offer and am only disappointed that I will have to wait so long to read it

Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30287713-the-forever-court

The Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Forever-Court-Dave-Rudden/9780141356617/?a_aid=rosienreads

 

 

The Books I Read in April 2017

I am really pleased with my reading month for April. Not only did I read a variety of genres, but I enjoyed each and every one. I will admit, the books aren’t as highly rated as previous months, but each book did affect me in different ways. I was left thinking about the books long after I had finished reading and most have prompted me to further explore books of similar topics and themes.

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

American Gods by Neil Gaiman – 4/5

Kindle

The Forever Court by Dave Rudden- 4.5/5

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier – 4/5

Paperback

The Loney by Andew Michael Hurley – 3.5/5

The Complete Maus (Maus#1-2)- 5/5

The Disney Touch by Ron Grover -3.5/5

Life Hurts by Dr. Elizabeth McNaught – 3.5/5

Hardback

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – 5/5

 

I read eight books in April, which, while not as many as previous months, is an amount I’m pleased with. I read a lot of longer books and got to spend more time on the books themselves, rather than charging through them. I’m going to try and keep this balance in the coming months. In May, I already have a few ideas of what I would like to read. From listening to the American Psycho audiobook to having a Pride & Prejudice week to read both Pride & Prejudice as well as the zombie take on the classic, I think I have an interesting reading month ahead of me.