Tag | The F.R.I.E.N.D.S Book Tag

I saw this tag recently over on Kristin’s blog, but it was originally created by Roxanne from An Average Life. I love Friends, and it’s definitely a show that I keep coming back to for nostalgia and comfort reasons – I don’t think that will ever change, although my opinions on each of the characters and their decisions always seems to as I get older! But before I end up just ranting how terrible Ross is, let’s just get on with the tag instead.

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Top Ten Tuesday | Backlist Books I Want to Read

Welcome one, welcome all, to Top Ten Tuesday! For those who are unaware (or who might need a reminder) Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by book bloggers and list lovers, The Broke and the Bookish, and is now hosted fantastically by Jana from That Artsy Girl! Each week a topic is chosen for bloggers to respond to.

This week’s topic is Backlist Books I Want to Read. It’s a pretty self-explanatory topic: what are the main books that I want to read that aren’t… well… new releases. So since “backlist” basically means anything that isn’t the current publishing season, I can even include books that were released in Spring/Summer 2018. So that leaves quite a large category of books to choose from! In an effort to filter down this list, I’ve decided to make this the top ten backlist books I want to read before the end of 2018, the real priorities on my far too big TBR list. Now, that’s not to say I will at all get to all 10 of these before the end of December because who knows what will happen with my reading pace? Still, it never hurts to have a plan!

 

crazyrich10) Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Although this backlist book is from 2013 and doesn’t seem like something I’d necessarily read, I feel as though I’ve seen tonnes of people online reading this because of the film adaptation which came out this year. Before that, this book hadn’t really been on my radar in a big way, but after hearing some good things about the film, and that the book was hilarious and a really enjoyable read, I promptly bought it in the hope of it being a light read for my holiday to Orlando. I’m really hoping it fits the bill in that respect since I do love reading (and watching TV shows) about annoyingly rich people, haha.

 

bear.jpg9) The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

I’m ashamed to say that, despite the fact this book is firmly on this list, I’m not sure I recall why I first decided I wanted to read it. I know it’s Russian-inspired fantasy steeped in folklore and tradition. And I know that a lot of readers seem to have found this very enchanting and evocative so I’m sure I will love this novel once I have a chance to set proper time aside to sink into the story it has to tell. I was recently reminded of this book’s existence by a YouTuber I watch, lexcanroar, so I’m glad for that timely reminder that I need to get to this book sooner rather than later.

 

villains8) If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

As with a fair few other books on this list, this book by M.L. Rio is one that I’ve been meaning to read for months at this point but that I’m hesitant to ultimately pick up. The reason why? I’m sure I’ll love it. That seems like a dumb reason not to read something but I’m so hesitant to pick this book up because so many people (myself including) are pretty sure I’m going to love this and I’m worried it could disappoint me. I’m told this is very The Secret History-ish but with Shakespeare-obsessed students rather than Classics ones so that does sound like something I should love – fingers crossed for me and this book, huh?

 

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Wrap Up | October 2018

Welcome one, welcome all, to my October Wrap Up. As we’re nearing the end of the year my reading pace seems to be slowing down slightly but that’s ok and I partly blame being on holiday for that. My holidays have been stacked towards the end of the year which means I haven’t read quite as much as I otherwise might have. Very excitingly, I write this post from my hotel room in the Caribbean Beach resort at Disney World in Orlando, tired after a long day wandering around Magic Kingdom and watching their fireworks show Happily Ever After. It’s my first time at Disney and it’s been amazing so far… but all this merriment hasn’t left the most time for reading and I’m kind of ok with that. However, the rest of the month was pretty good for reading I think.

As always seems to be the case, I took part in a couple of readathons: the Charms Extra Credit readathon and Victober. I did better than my cynical self thought I would do with both of them so I’m reasonably pleased with that. Both the readathons were wonderfully hosted so I’d recommend checking them (and their hosts) out and joining in in the future if either of them seem like your jam. As I was taking part in Victober – a readathon in which you read Victorian novels throughout the month of October – a large portion of my reading was (understandably) focused around that. However, I got organised, made a schedule and everything, so that I could finish my Victober efforts just before I went off on holiday, so that my holiday reading could be less… demanding of me, shall we say? I think it worked out quite well even if, as it stands at the time of writing, I’ve only started one book so far on this holiday – and that was on the plane journey here. Still, we’ll see what November brings… but first, let’s wrap up October properly.


In October, I read a total of 5 books 5 fiction and non-fiction – and were re-reads (go me!). This amounted to 1242 pages in total.

In terms of format: 3 were paperback and were ebooks.

As for genre, 4 were comic books/graphic novels and 1 was a classic. (I know, I’m as surprised as you are by these stats for October.)

Onto the books themselves…

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T5W | Characters You’d Cosplay

Welcome one and all to this week’s Top 5 Wednesday post! For those of you who don’t know Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme/challenge which was created by the wonderful Lainey from gingerreadslainey and is now overseen by the equally lovely Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. Every Wednesday, participants devise their Top 5 based on a given topic.

This Wednesday’s topic is Characters You’d Cosplayfeature some characters you’d like to cosplay as or you think would make a fun Halloween costume.

I’m not the biggest fan of Halloween, truth be told, never have been… but in my time I’ve dressed up as the requisite witch or two when I was younger. In fact, I think my Mildred Hubble costume from The Worst Witch is still lurking in my parents’ house somewhere! I can’t deny though that there are a few characters I’d love to cosplay as if I got the chance at an event or convention purely because I love their costumes.

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Discussion | Rating Favourite Authors’ Books

Howdy folks! Today I bring you the lesser spotted discussion post in which I muse on something that’s caught my attention lately. For today’s post, I was inspired by my recent read of Vicious by V.E. Schwab, a book which I enjoyed but struggled to settle on a rating for. I thought I’d unpack why and, when it came down to it, the ‘why’ was essentially because V is a fave of mine.

It may surprise Schwab fans to learn that I, an also proclaimed Schwab fan, took three attempts to actually successfully read Vicious. That’s right, three attempts – I had previously DNFed (or, the more charitable/optimistic/misguided PAFNed ‘put aside for now-ed’) this book twice before now. Why? To be honest, Vicious wasn’t really my thing. And, despite everything, it kind of… still isn’t. This seems to be an unpopular opinion around the bookish community online, especially amongst fans of Schwab’s other work. I wouldn’t dream of taking anything away from anyone who does like Vicious most, because it is just personal preference and, for me, I prefer Schwab’s more portal fantasy-esque novels as that’s the line my taste generally runs along anyway.

But the fact remains that, actually, I didn’t love that book, I just enjoyed it, and really appreciated the skill I could see already in Schwab’s earlier work. But I just felt that she has written better (in fact, I suspect that Vengeful will be what I hoped Vicious was) and I’d read better examples of her work. Then came the moment when I realised this and felt like I was somehow betraying an author who I basically considered one of my favourite authors writing nowadays. Which brings me onto the point of this discussion post: I think I automatically look on books more fondly immediately purely because they’ve been written by a favourite author. That might sound obvious to some but I realised recently that this actually affected my baseline average rating for books.

As a rule, when I rate a book I start with 3 out of 5 stars, 3 to me says ‘it was average’, there was nothing special about the book but nothing particularly wrong with it either – it was just ‘ok’. If a book has a problematic element in it, I’ll probably deduct a star or two. If it was poorly written, I’ll probably deduct a star or two. If it didn’t have a logical plot-line or the character motivations seemed skewed, I’ll probably deduct a star or two. Likewise, the flip-side is true. If a book touches on important issues in a constructive and thought-provoking way, I’ll add a star or two. If a book is well-written or the writing style draws me in, I’ll add a star or two. If the plot sweeps me away on a journey and keeps me turning those pages, I’ll add a star or two.

So it’s easy to see how books by my favourite authors can end up getting inflated ratings even if I didn’t necessarily enjoy the theme of the stories within them as much as I have other stories. My baseline for rating a book by a favourite author, a ‘just ok’ book by them, is automatically a star (or more) higher than it would be for just any other random authors’ book. I just can’t be unbiased. I think this was the case with Vicious and it’s likely the case with some of my other favourite authors such as J.K. Rowling, Leigh Bardugo, and Neil Gaiman. If I’d rated Vicious purely based on enjoyment overall and I hadn’t settled it firmly in my head as a Favourite Authors’ Book, it probably wouldn’t have got a 4-star rating – and, ultimately, the review probably wouldn’t feel quite so tricky to write either!

Do you experience this too? Or maybe you’re able to divorce the artist from the work more than me and rate everything as an entity without that bias? I’m really curious about this topic so, if you have an opinion, please share it below in the comments and let’s chat about this.


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Review | The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

montecristoTitle: The Count of Monte Cristo (1844)
Author: Alexandre Dumas
Translator: Robin Buss
Publisher/Edition: Penguin Clothbound Classics
Read: 3rd July – 18th August 2018
Genre: classics
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“A beautiful new clothbound edition of Alexandre Dumas’ classic novel of wrongful imprisonment, adventure and revenge. Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dantes is confined to the grim fortress of the Château d’If. There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and becomes determined not only to escape but to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration. A huge popular success when it was first serialized in the 1840s, Dumas was inspired by a real-life case of wrongful imprisonment when writing his epic tale of suffering and retribution.”
(Synopsis from the publisher)

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Review | Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

Title: Scrappy Little Nobody (2016)
Author: Anna Kendrick
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Read: 24th – 29th August 2018
Genre: memoir; humour
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

“Even before she made a name for herself on the silver screen starring in films like Pitch Perfect, Up in the Air, Twilight, and Into the Woods, Anna Kendrick was unusually small, weird, and “10 percent defiant.” At the ripe age of thirteen, she had already resolved to “keep the crazy inside my head where it belonged. Forever. But here’s the thing about crazy: It. Wants. Out.” In her autobiographical collection of essays Scrappy Little Nobody, she invites readers inside her brain, sharing extraordinary and charmingly ordinary stories with candor and winningly wry observations. Enter Anna’s world and follow her rise from “scrappy little nobody” to somebody who dazzles on the stage, the screen, and now the page—with an electric, singular voice, at once familiar and surprising, sharp and sweet, funny and serious (well, not that serious).”
(Synopsis from the publisher)

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Charms Extra Credit | Wrap Up

This past week I’ve been loosely participating in the Charms Extra Credit readathon, as orgnanised by the lovely Gi of the Book Roast. This is supplementary to the OWLs and NEWTs readathons that she runs and is a fun and creative way to get a little head-start on your exams before the next round of the readathons. If you have no idea what I’m talking out, it might help to check out Gi’s Extra Credit announcement video!

I decided to take part even though I’m focusing most of my energy this month on the month-long Victober readathon. Because Victober can be quite demanding in terms of the types of books you’re reading, I decided to take it easy with Charms Extra Credit and help myself out a bit by being kind to myself and choosing mostly graphic novels and comic books for my TBR. Let’s wrap this readathon up and see how I did, shall we?

The Challenges & How I Did

✓ Alohomora: read a book that’s first in a series 
Lumberjanes, Vol. 1 by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, and Brooke Allen
This was really cute! I already knew I’d adore the art style and bright colours because I’ve had a peek at Noelle Stevenson’s character styles before thanks to Nimona . The story line was weird and wacky but it completely fit with the larger-than-life colour palette. I’m hoping to read more volumes in this series and see where it goes!

✓ Accio: book that’s top of your TBR
Saga, Vol. 9 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
I cannot with Saga anymore. I was not prepared for this and, friends, neither will you be for this volume. I hated that I loved it because, oh boy, that ending was something. I love this series with all my art, the story, the CHARACTERS, the art style, the HUMOUR, the HEARTBREAK, and, yep, I now officially feel personally victimised by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples.

✗ Incendio: words ‘fire’ or ‘flame’ in the title/series name, or flame picture on the cover
Ten Thousand Skies Above You (Firebird #2) by Claudia Gray
This is the book I unfortunately didn’t get to during the readathon. In a previous month I’d listened to maybe 40% of the audiobook before setting it aside and I thought this readathon would be a good opportunity to maybe pick it up again. I think the problem I’m having with it is that it’s not immediately gripping me like the first book in the trilogy did (I loved the imperial Russian setting), so I’m less excited to make it a priority in my TBR. It’s a shame, but I didn’t even think about reading this book this past week.

✓ Rictusempra: book that ‘tickles you the right way’ (exciting trope/theme/genre)
Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince, Issue 1 by V.E. Schwab, Enrica Eren Angiolini and Andrea Olimpieri
The comic I have waited months for and it was awesome! I wasn’t sure what I’d think of the art style at first, and even as I turned the first few pages, I still wasn’t sold… but then I fell into the story of V.E. Schwab’s Red London all over again and I was hooked. Maxim is going to be a fantastic protagonist to this comic book series (well, he already is) and I’m super excited for the next issue. (Full disclosure: it felt a little bit lot like cheating including a 32-page comic for a readathon challenge whilst some participants are over here reading full-length books but, hey, I’ll readathon how I like.)

✓ Lumos: book with a light cover
Captain Marvel, Vol. 1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick and David Lopez
I really enjoyed this one! I’m a sucker for the MCU so I’ve always meant to pick up some of the more recent comic book arcs and this has always been on that list. The art was bold and colourful but, to me, still felt recognisably ‘superhero comic book’ style. I’m not going to lie, though, some of the storylines in this confused me because I thought I was missing something. As it was the first volume in a new iteration of Captain Marvel, I thought I wasn’t expected to have knowledge of her previous escapades, but even so I felt like at times the story just expected me to go along with stuff that wasn’t explained all that well. Controversial opinion? I don’t know, maybe I’m just not used to reading this kind of comic book series where there’s so much history and lore behind the character. I’ll still try to pick up other volumes though because Captain Marvel is bad-ass and I dig it.

 

So, all in all, I think 4 out of 5 challenges is pretty damn good! (We’ll ignore the fact they were all really short books, ‘kay?) This means that, if/when I participate in the OWLs readathon next year and if/when I choose to study Charms, I’ll be able to start my book for that challenge 4 days earlier than the official start date of the readathon. Not bad, eh?

Did you take part in the Charms Extra Credit – what did you read? If you didn’t, let me know what you’ve been reading lately anyway as I always love to hear book recommendations. Let me know in the comments below!


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Top Ten Tuesday | Longest Books I’ve Ever Read

Welcome one, welcome all, to Top Ten Tuesday! For those who are unaware (or who might need a reminder) Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by book bloggers and list lovers, The Broke and the Bookish, and is now hosted fantastically by Jana from That Artsy Girl! Each week a topic is chosen for bloggers to respond to.

This week’s topic is Longest Books I’ve Ever Read. I should point out that, for the purposes of this, I’m not counting any anthologies that I had to read in university, nor am I counting the likes of The Faerie Queene or Les Misérables which I say I’ve kind of read but haven’t really finished properly enough to say I’ve read it cover to cover. Mileage may vary, haha.

But, as far as topics go, this one is a very straightforward one that requires little to no explanation… so shall we just not waste any time and get to the books? These are not ranked per say but listed by how many pages they clock in at.

10) A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V.E. Schwab (666 pages)

I’m surprised that this ended up on this list because whilst it was a chunker compared to the other books in the trilogy, I didn’t expect it to reach ‘longest books I’ve ever read’ levels. However, it seems I can’t go one tag or weekly meme without mentioning either Leigh Bardugo or V.E. Schwab so looks like this one will be the token Schwab book this time! I ended up trying to eek this book out because I didn’t want it to end, there was so many highs and so many lows and V, how dare you?

 

9) The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3) by Brandon Sanderson (748 pages)

Brandon Sanderson is clearly fond of writing a tome or two, and this one is no exception, but such is often the way with writers of epic fantasy series. In fact, you may very well notice that theme running through a lot of the books on this list. Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive series books are like 1200 pages apiece (and often split into two parts when published in the UK!) so this one from the Mistborn trilogy is practically a baby in comparison. Still, it’s pretty damn hefty…

 

8) Breaking Dawn (Twilight #4) by Stephenie Meyer (756 pages)

I had no idea that Breaking Dawn ended up being so long! I think we can all agree, though, that it would have been immeasurably better had a good editor been allowed to have a crack at it and removed some of the… weirder bits, right? I remember precisely zero about the reading experience of this… I must have blocked it out of my memory, for better or for worse.

 

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Unboxing | Illumicrate Magic & Mayhem

Today I bring you a rare but anticipated unboxing that I am delighted to share. I love a good book box, but I’m often hesitant to subscribe to them – I tend to opt for the ones that offer single purchase options so that I can make sure I’m likely to enjoy the theme and featured book before I buy. So I like some surprises but I also like to be reasonably confident that I’m not going to hate said surprises!

When Illumicrate announced their upcoming special box was themed around none other than V.E. Schwab and her work, I knew I had to have it because there was, frankly, no way in hell that I wouldn’t enjoy the box. I have to say, even though I was confident in Illumicrate’s curation and pretty damn sure that nothing attached to celebrating the fictional worlds of V.E. Schwab could possibly be disappointing, I was astounded by the quality of this particular box. It was well worth the anticipation, the price tag, and the wait. But let’s not tease any more, shall we? Let’s get to the unboxing of the Illumicrate: Magic & Mayhem: The V.E. Edition.

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