The Full Monte Readalong | Week Two

Bonsoir mes amis et bienvenue sur le blog pour la deuxième semaine du ‘Le Comte de Monte Cristo’.

Ok, that officially exhausts all my French language knowledge. For those unaware of the reason for my (frankly shoddy) French, I am currently taking part in Laura from Reading In Bed‘s 2018 summer readalong for Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo. We’ve reached Week Two which meant joining the Count in chapters 21 through to 40, and boy what a ride it was – we had sailors, bandits, hash (not kidding), carnivals, public execution, and some important conversations too.

To catch up, check out my sign-up post and my week one update which contained a “summary” of the first twenty chapters of the book. You can also see how I’m doing (or not doing) every single day, by checking out my reading progress spreadsheet and I’m also updating periodically in a Twitter thread, using the hashtag #TheFullMonte.

At the end of Week One, we left Dantès in a rather precarious situation as he was sinking in the sea with a cannonball strapped to him. Suffice it to say, he survived, and the last section has been something of a transformation, along with a spot of cultural appropriation for good measure because why not. Would it really be a 19th century novel if it didn’t? But let’s take a peek at what happened in my usual overly long and slapdash (but not at all comprehensive) manner…

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Review | An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

emberTitle: An Ember in the Ashes (2015)
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Read: 22nd – 24th June 2018
Genre: young-adult; fantasy
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

“Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. When Laia’s grandparents are brutally murdered and her brother arrested for treason by the empire, the only people she has left to turn to are the rebels. But in exchange for their help in saving her brother, they demand that Laia spy on the ruthless Commandant of Blackcliff, the Empire’s greatest military academy. Should she fail it’s more than her brother’s freedom at risk… Laia’s very life is at stake. There, she meets Elias, the academy’s finest soldier. But Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.”
(Synopsis from the publisher)

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The Full Monte Readalong | Week One

If you’ve been around these parts for some time, you may remember my participation in the War and Peace Newbies Readalong last year. I didn’t actually finish the book (I still haven’t, ok?) but I enjoyed the hell out of myself reading War and Peace and doing weekly summary posts of what had went down in Russia in the chapters I’d read that week. This summer brings Laura from Reading In Bed‘s 2018 readalong pick which is Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo – you may have seen my sign-up post last week – which is the book I am officially reading over the next six weeks.

I have a fancy reading progress spreadsheet with which you can track my progress down to the very page, and I’m also updating periodically on Goodreads and via Twitter, using the hashtag #TheFullMonte. However, I will also be continuing the tradition and doing weekly summary posts in which I recap how what has happened in the book in the past week’s chapters and how I feel about the story so far.

Week One brought with it the first 20 chapters of The Count of Monte Cristo, starting with the oh so excitingly titled ‘Marseille – Arrival’ and ending with ‘The Graveyard of Château d’If’ which, I think we can all agree, is something of a morbid downer. Let’s take a peek at what happened in my usual overly long and slapdash (but not at all comprehensive) manner…

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Review | The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton

innislearTitle: The Queens of Innis Lear (2018)
Author: Tessa Gratton
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Read: 7th – 17th June 2018
Genre: fantasy; retellings
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

“The erratic decisions of a prophecy-obsessed king have drained Innis Lear of its wild magic, leaving behind a trail of barren crops and despondent subjects. Enemy nations circle the once-bountiful isle, sensing its growing vulnerability, hungry to control the ideal port for all trade routes. The king’s three daughters – battle-hungry Gaela, master manipulator Reagan, and restrained, starblessed Elia – know the realm’s only chance of resurrection is to crown a new sovereign, proving a strong hand can resurrect magic and defend itself. But their father will not choose an heir until the longest night of the year, when prophecies align and a poison ritual can be enacted. Refusing to leave their future in the hands of blind faith, the daughters of Innis Lear prepare for war – but regardless of who wins the crown, the shores of Innis will weep the blood of a house divided.” (Synopsis from the publisher)

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Wrap Up | June 2018

Welcome one, welcome all, to my June Wrap Up. Let us all ignore the fact that we’re 6 days into the month and I’m only just posting my Wrap Up, ok? Cool cool cool cool no doubt cool cool. (Can you tell I’ve been watching Brooklyn 99 lately?)

In terms of life, June was pretty damn ok. Work’s being a little bit busy and generally stress inducing, a fact I only realised when my eczema flared up on my hands). For some reason, the UK at the moment is enjoying actual summer, as in it’s summery and sunny and not just a sun peeking out from behind grey cloud every once in a while. It is properly summer which is… novel. And kind of teasing when you’re mostly stuck in work 9-5 Monday-Friday. It turns out that this is what being an adult is like – watching university students outside your office window enjoying themselves chilling out with a nice cold pint outside a pub whilst you’re squinting at data at your job. I used to be on the other side of that equation (mostly, anyway), so now I’m getting major envy of anyone able to enjoy the sunshine. Yes, I am actually enjoying it being warm – it’s something of a revelation this year and I have to say I’m glad for it, after being a winter person for so many years of my life. Turns out summer isn’t as unbearable as I thought it was!

Aside from the weather, I have very little to report in June. Liz and I went to Chester Zoo finally and it was a very nice day and a fun day out for all involved. We also went for a walk at Croxteth Hall which, again, was very nice and I should have visited it sooner considering I’ve lived here for almost 2 years now and I’m quite the sucker for period houses. I also visited Wagamama’s for the first time ever and discovered I probably quite like it and ought to go back soon and explore more of their menu. We went there for tea before going to the cinema to see Ocean’s 8 and I have to say I thought it was a bloody great film. I don’t think it deserves anything like the criticism it’s getting, it was a completely necessary film, and fucking refreshing, let me tell you. It helps that Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett are some of my favourite people ever and seeing them concoct a heist plan whilst dressed in leather pants and/or in suits is (apparently) my jam. I’m not mad about it.

But, enough about my rather mundane life, how was my reading during the month? Once I discovered it existed, most of my reading month was wholly dedicated to Jami’s Marvel-A-Thon so my reading was dictated by the challenges there. Let me tell you, it worked, I’ve read the most I’ve ever read in a month (I think?), and I had a great time doing it too. I think I like longer readathons like this that have a lot of prompts/challenges, because it’s super challenging, but also very rewarding. And, let’s face it, the fact it was MCU themed really helped keep up my motivation. The downside was that the TBR I wrote for June was concocted before I knew about the readathon so I only managed to complete 2 out of the 8 books on there – I still don’t think that’s too bad though?


So without further ado, let’s take a look at the books I read in the month of June:

In June, I read a total of 13 books 12 fiction and non-fiction – and were re-reads (marked by *). This amounted to 4303 pages in total.

In terms of format: 4 were paperbackwere hardback, was an eARC, and 3 were audiobooks (marked by ^).

And as for genre, very broadly speaking, 4 were YA fantasywere children’s fantasywas YA mysterywere fantasywere graphic novelswas non-fiction, and was YA contemporary.

Onto the books themselves…

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Review | The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Title: The Cruel Prince (2018)
Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Read: 19th – 22nd June 2018
Genre: young-adult; fantasy
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

“One terrible morning, Jude and her sisters see their parents murdered in front of them. The terrifying assassin abducts all three girls to the world of Faerie, where Jude is installed in the royal court but mocked and tormented by the Faerie royalty for being mortal. As Jude grows older, she realises that she will need to take part in the dangerous deceptions of the fey to ever truly belong. But the stairway to power is fraught with shadows and betrayal. And looming over all is the infuriating, arrogant and charismatic Prince Cardan…” (Synopsis from the publisher)

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Review | The Summer of Us by Cecilia Vinesse

summerofusTitle: The Summer of Us (2018)
Author: Cecilia Vinesse
Publisher: Hachette Children’s Group/Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: 14th June
Read: 30th June 2018
Genre: young-adult; contemporary
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Five friends. Five cities. Two complicated love stories… Aubrey and Rae have been planning their European tour since the moment they met. It was meant to be the perfect way to spend their last summer together before university, but now it’s not just the two of them… There’s Jonah, Aubrey’s seemingly perfect boyfriend, and Gabe, who Aubrey may have accidentally kissed. Then there’s Clara, the friend Rae is crushing on, hard, even though there’s no hope because Clara is into guys, not girls. And on top of all that Aubrey and Rae’s friendship appears to be falling apart. Things are more complicated at eighteen than they were at ten. Set off on a romantic adventure that embraces warm summer nights, the thrill of first kisses and the bittersweet ache of saying goodbye to the past.” (Synopsis from the publisher)

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Marvel-A-Thon | Wrap Up

Welcome all – how are we on this lovely Sunday afternoon? It’s July. Ju-ly. Can you believe it? I can’t. If it wasn’t for the strangely seasonal and sunny weather we’ve been enjoying in the UK for the first time in as long as I can remember, I wouldn’t believe it was July. However, the fact it’s now 1st July means we say goodbye to the month-long Marvel-A-Thon readathon which has been running all throughout June.

(If you have NO IDEA what I’m talking about, please pop over to my Sign Up & TBR post first because I explain about the readathon and its challenges over there.)

I did surprisingly well during the Marvel-A-Thon – I even kept up to date using my tried and tested method of the Twitter updates thread. More importantly, I was smart about saving my “skips” in the earlier rounds, utilising the buddy read system, and taking tactical “buddy give/gain” opportunities when they came round. So I’m REALLY pleased with the challenges I managed to read for during the readathon and I LOVED the entire concept of the readathon so I really hope Jami runs more (or similar) readathons in the future too. For now, though, let’s look at how I did in more detail…

marvelathon_progress2

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The Full Monte Readalong | Allons-y!

Bonjour, mes amis. ‘What is all this poor French in aid of?’ I hear you ask. Well, mes amis, it’s that time of year again when Laura from Reading In Bed hosts her annual summer readalong. Each year, she picks a daunting classic to tackle over the summer months. Last year, I participated for the first time when we all headed to Russia and hung out with those craaazy Bolkonskys and Rostovs in Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Unfortunately, I went on holiday during the end of the readalong and completely fell off the wagon and never finished War and Peace but shhhhh don’t tell anyone, let’s move on and foolhardily take on another long classic instead, shall we? Très bien!

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This year, the classic chosen is… The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, and the readalong is amusingly titled The Full Monte, because it really IS the Fully Monty, none of these abridged versions in sight, just the real deal. It also means we all have an excuse to post multiple Full Monty gifs now. Très bien!

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Review | Eat Up! by Ruby Tandoh

eatupTitle: Eat Up!: Food, Appetite and Eating What You Want (2018)
Author: Ruby Tandoh
Publisher: Serpent’s Tale
Read: 10th – 19th June 2018
Genre: non-fiction; cookbooks
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“Think about that first tickle of hunger in your stomach. A moment ago, you could have been thinking about anything, but now it’s thickly buttered marmite toast, a frosty scoop of ice cream straight from the tub, some creamy, cheesy scrambled eggs or a fuzzy, perfectly-ripe peach. Eating is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Food nourishes our bodies, helps us celebrate our successes (from a wedding cake to a post-night out kebab), cheers us up when we’re down, introduces us to new cultures and – when we cook and eat together – connects us with the people we love.

In Eat Up, Ruby Tandoh celebrates the fun and pleasure of food, taking a look at everything from gluttons and gourmets in the movies, to the symbolism of food and sex. She will arm you against the fad diets, food crazes and bad science that can make eating guilt-laden and expensive, drawing eating inspiration from influences as diverse as Roald Dahl, Nora Ephron and Gemma from TOWIE. Filled with straight-talking, sympathetic advice on everything from mental health to recipe ideas and shopping tips, this is a book that clears away the fog, to help you fall back in love with food.”
(Synopsis from the publisher)

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