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Reading my Collection

2017 – WHOLE year without buying books

2017 Challenge

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So here it is, the 6th day of January of the year 2017 and so far it’s going ok. Today I started my fourth book and at a friend’s suggestion I tell you all about it but first, every story, no matter how unusual needs a beginning. This is mine.

Call me Nella, most people do and I feel that if I write this as if I am writing to someone, hopefully I wont ramble too much. This is how I ended writing book reviews. Most people make spur of the moment New Year’s resolutions, ‘I want to lose this much weight in 3 days’, ‘ I’m going only eat green vegetables’, ‘I’m never drinking again’ etc, whereas I have made the same resolution for years…’This year I will travel more’, and generally I have managed to go new places, see new things and take lots of pictures of beautiful (and not so beautiful) places. This year I wanted to do something different.

So In November 2016, I decided in 2017 that I wasn’t going to buy any books. I have shelves and shelves of them and so many unread. I love books, I love reading but have managed to make more time for buying, than reading them. Despite this initially being  a money saving idea, I might have had a sudden worry on NYE that I didn’t have enough and bought 8 more books ready for the year. This was equally about making more time to read and then very quickly it became a challenge. By 10am on the 2nd of Jan I had read 2 full books, cover to cover and I realised that with work and dedication I could read all my unread books by the end of the year (well at least all of the fiction).

So to clarify I set myself some  rules:

  • I will attempt to read the books I already own.
  • I can borrow books (from friends, family and even the odd library).
  • I can accept and read books as gifts.
  • I can buy other people books as gifts but not for self gain.

I have also set up a ‘Wishlist’ so every time I see a book I would normally purchase (both spur of the moment and on Amazon ) I will now add it to the list. This way when my birthday comes around people have an idea what to get me but also I feel like the ‘book-buying’  itch is appeased for a short period of time. Currently my list is over 20. I’m sure by the time this year is finished it will be in triple figures.  I have lots of non-fiction books and although I am not ruling them out of the reading list, I doubt i will read as many of them.

That is the background, but I ended up sitting here, writing this because a friend suggested that not only  should I blog about how I am doing but maybe review my reading list in a ‘non-pretentious’  way.  Just a 30-something, reading a range of books and telling you all about it. The plan is to give you an idea of how I am coping without book-shopping, an oversight of plot (without too many spoilers) and an idea of similar books or series links.

So dear reader, I am going to start by asking for your help. Any hints, tips and reminders of this task will be appreciated and obviously the loan of any book would be lovely. Wish me luck as I’m aware this is insanity!!

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Who knew there was extremist Buddhism?

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BOOK FEELINGS: This was another book I was asked to review, luckily for me it has already been published so I don’t have to put my review on hold.

First day. New Job. Dead Boss. Steve is having one of those days, he woke up with a hangover, he found the body and how many of his new colleagues think he did it?

DI Maya Rahman comes back from a tragic, traumatic Christmas break to find the Headteacher of her old school in the Tower Hamlets has been killed. First case back and her boss doesn’t think she’s up to it.

This book covers the changing world of education, the conflict management between the community, the police and the school, and just how easily the media can manipulate opinions. Its a murder, wrapped up in a cultural misunderstanding and topped with a religious vendetta.

The books jumps between 2 or 3 point of view characters which if the narration came from first or third person perspective would have been find but it jumped between and in early chapters I had to check who was the POV. It got easier and after a while the story flowed so well that the POV didn’t really matter. Everything was relevant to the storytelling. images

This book was easy to read, easy to follow but difficult to work out. A gripping murder mystery with a unconventional themes and a diverse cast. I really enjoyed it. So as it is Dear Reader, you know a little about me… One thing I haven’t talked about it is where I stand on religion. This book made me think a bit about religion, faith and being so devout that murder seems like a viable option.

Maya’s relationships with her family, co-workers and beyond is what makes this book appealing, she is strong, determined and driven. She character complements the laid back Aussie Dan and is a firm contradiction to her boss. Steve’s new job is a bit more dramatic than he was expecting and see how he is key ot this investigation.

 

Happy Reading

Iron Age Norfolk with a modern mystery

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I had 2 credits sitting in my audio account, a rare and brilliant occurrence. I wanted something new, a series and something I had a connection with. I love the Jack Paralabane series because they make me laugh, I love Katy Reiches because I see Bones from the TV and I like finding a narrator who has good character awareness.

Brief pause while I rescue the pink mouse from under sofa because my cat is walking across my laptop until she gets the pink mouse back.

I downloaded ‘The Crossing Places’ after checking out the sample, and instantly I was transported back to my childhood. I grew up very near the Norfolk Broads, so many of the places mentioned I know and understand. The introduction of Dr. Ruth Galloway was brilliant. She was instantly relatable and I couldn’t wait to find out more.

Dr. Ruth gets a visit from a northern DCI, working out of Kings Lynn. They have found some bones, DCI Harry Nelson is desperate for Ruth to date them, could they be the answer he has been waiting 10 years for? Within 10 minutes I was hooked and as we met Eric ‘the Viking’ who had been Ruth’s mentor at University, David the head of the Bird sanctuary that Ruth lives near and SParky and Flint her adorable felines, I knew this was a story and series I wanted to devour.

We learn about Ruth’s parents, her ex-husband and Harry Nelson’s perfect family, all through anecdotes that are weaved into the plot. Is the latest missing girl linked with the case that has plagued Harry for years?

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The plot is a mix of a modern murder mystery, an archaeological dig, and an English lesson on referencing. We learn about Norse folk law, hear a fair few bible references and who knew Norfolk had druids? The history of the henge, the accuracy of the digs and the very intricate plot is gripping. I want to know more. I want to hear more.

The resolution of the main plot was unexpected, the affairs were not altogether predictable and 2 senseless murders later I was invested in Ruth’s world. I have already downloaded the second book, knowing there are 10 in the series I feel like Ruth’s world is only going to get more exciting.

So on that note, time to get on the bus home and listen to some more. Happy Reading!

Love on The Spotted Custard.

BOOK FEELINGS: I love Gail Carriger books, the fact she quoted one of my reviews in her chirrup newsletter was amazing and so when I found out ‘Competence’ was being released, you can bet on the fact I pre-ordered it.

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It would be wrong of me to write about Gail Carriger or her books without including a picture of a cat. It turns out Billie can’t read but she didn’t attack this book so I’m taking that as a win.

This book starts with 2 most peculiar things, Rue is not in London. The Spotted Custard and its motley crew are in Singapore and secondly, Prim is running. yes, Dear reader, you read that right, perfect prissy posh Prim is RUNNING. I would love to talk about some of the other major events but firstly you know I don’t do spoilers but also this book has bee out about 4 days so I wouldn’t do that to everyone that hasn’t had the chance to finish it yet.  Minor events include running out of hats, Christmas pudding with extra lard and a mushroom called porcini.

I’m going, to be honest, I didn’t think there was enough Rue in this. I liked RPim’s development in this and even Percy wasn’t quite as insufferable as usual. I liked the layer that Formerly Floote brings to the mix and Tash has well established herself as part of the crew. Spoo in a dress was my favourite silly detail in this book.

Part 3 of the custard protocol, made me laugh. I think I will always miss ‘Dama’ and if he was to make a guest appearance in a later adventure, I for one would love that. Some of the subplots were very soft and endearing. I needed more Quesnel, I needed more Rue and I think I needed more tea. That being said, I loved it. I love the adventure, I loved the story, I loved the development and I am still invested in and addicted to this world.

I’m off to play board games with a friend, but Happy Reading to you!

Old favourites, New series and my ridiculous cat.

Good Morning readers,

the last time I wrote to you I was in fact off work. so you guessed it. I have taken a study day and rather than doing my essay I decided it was blog time. I have a big cup of tea and several books and audiobooks to tell you about. I have decided to write a few and publish them over the next few weeks rather than you guys getting loads today and then nothing for weeks (uh…months).

So I was working in Bath delivering training about 3 weeks ago and the weather was glorious. it was reaching 31 degrees every day, so in the evenings I was reading in the garden. I got so engrossed I realised I was going to finish before my train journey home, so I utilised my free Amazon Prime trial (other book subscriptions are available) and ordered 3 more books to be delivered to my hotel. I slightly overdid it but I am loving reading proper books in this heat.

I have been on a reading mission, so Dear Reader let us talk about some of those stories. I have read Vinyl Detective book 3, The custard protocol Book 3, ‘Want you gone’ another Jack Paralabane book and last night I finished ‘The Crossing Places’ by Elly Griffiths.  Apparently, I’m back on a murder mystery kick!!

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So time to write my reviews. My cat isn’t going to make this easy but Happy Reading!

For those of you that didn’t know…I’m soft!

My spontaneous confession isn’t just giving you new information about me, it is in fact about a book. On my unexpected day off I got to read an entire book, in one afternoon for the first time in ages. I sat down with a fresh beautifully brewed coffee, ate crepes and was transported to Italy.

‘Call me by your name’ by Andre Aciman is beautiful coming of age story that I thought I knew the plot for. I thought it was going to a be a typical boy meets boy, they fall in love, one dies, the other spends his life mourning that loss etc. Was I wrong? well not completely but this story is beautifully tragic. I cried. Yes, for the people that know me this isn’t a big deal, I am soft. I cry A LOT. However, that doesn’t take anything away from the emotional journey this story took me one.

This wasn’t a book I couldn’t put down, it was a book I didn’t want to put down. I found Elio a wonderful relateable character, full of life and just enough geek to keep him interesting. Oliver, on the other hand, was wise beyond his years, a bit of a Romeo and fun, so very fun. I am writing this about the book, I haven’t seen the film and after reading this I’m not sure I can bare it being corrupted by the big screen treatment. Although that being said I do have the book with the movie cover, not this one.

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I thought it was amazing, I thought it was honest, real and filled my mind with all the emotions I had as a teen worrying about my own sexuality. I never juggled with 2 people at the same time, but Elio’s innocence in this is very endearing, albeit a little bit wrong.

I have so many books, and yet so few that I would happily read again. This book sits firmly on that shelf. Oliver believes in love so strongly, Elio believes in Oliver wholeheartedly and it is magical. It is a story that will hold up, I will read it in 20 years and it will still feel fresh, raw and no doubt make me cry all over again.

If you have read it, there are obvious reasons I will not be recommending this book to my mother, but it is a book for anyone that believes in love. In fact, it is a book for anyone, especially those that don’t believe in love, as it is enough to convince them otherwise.

Happy reading.

The unexpected day off!

BOOK FEELINGS: Just a quick one, today I turned up for a course that actually starts tomorrow. So I’m having today off and wandering around the fine city of Nottingham. I started today with 1 book in my suitcase (a rookie error I know) but I wasn’t expected much time to read.

I’m finishing today with 4 books in my suitcase, two of which I have read. That’s right, I finished the book I brought with me and one of the ones I bought this afternoon. I have started a 3rd one too! The last time I read an entire book in one sitting I was on holiday, well I was off work at least. It just shows that having a job gets in the way of reading.

Talking of which, I am trying to get my job home based, which although would mean fewer audiobooks due to fewer bus journeys, it would mean more time to read and review books!!

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So ‘Traitor Queen’ by Trudi Canavan is complete, review to come and I started and finished ‘ Call me by your name’ by Andre Aciman this afternoon. ‘Tainted Love’ by Anna Chilvers has an intriguing beginning and I have been wanting to read the first in Laura Lam’s trilogy, ever since listing to her guest slot on ‘Breaking the glass slipper’.

I’m going to grab some dinner and get reviewing.

Happy Reading.

A missing record, a missing person and long standing msytery.

The vinyl detective is back! This book I preordered last New Years Eve and it was sent back because it was delivered to the wrong address, so I have had to wait over a year to read this. I read the first one and immediately wanted this…and then had to wait, and wait, and wait. It was not ok.

The Vinyl detective is back with the whole crew, Nevada, Clean Head, good ol’ Tinkler and of course Fanny and Turk. We start with the recovery of a very rare record, as we’d expect but the journey has only just begun.

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Pause for cat cuddles… and the cat just ran across the keyboard, just like fanny and Turk. The vinyl detective still remains nameless, and baring in mind he was nearly killed this time it would have been a very odd tombstone.

That’s right, this story is about the missing son of a sixties legend. In the search for him, we meet massive strong Americans, a dodgy shrink and the cats have learnt to be sneaky! In some ways, this story isn’t as exciting as the first… I think it is because this is about a missing person, not a missing record.

The change in dynamics is interesting, it is a partnership rather than a lone wolf on the hunt. It is the Scooby gang facing up to dangers like poisoned tea, grave-robbing and random trips to Morrocco.

This flowed as well as the first book, and I am enjoying the change so the series doesn’t become formulaic but i’d like book three to be back on the record trail.

Happy Reading!!

The boy on the other side of the creek and his missing father.

BOOK FEELINGS:

I got a book for Christmas, I got a book for Christmas, I got a book for Christmas, I got a book for Christmas, I got a book for Christmas, I got a book for Christmas!! Yeah, that’s right this book was one of my Christmas presents. christmas-book

I have read about this book online and how it helped John Green understand his own mental health, so I was really keen to get started. Ignoring that this review is coming out in ermmmm….march, I started reading this on Boxing Day!

Review:

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Aza is different. She worries and panics and frets about a cut on her thumb. She struggles with life and a break from routine and she thinks she has a heart of gold.  Aza and her best friend Daisy want a real-life adventure.

Daisy’s world is mainly Star Wars fan-fic, her way of escaping feeling poor, feeling neglected and a having a best friend that is very hard work. Daisy and Aza use coupons to have dinner at the diner whilst doing homework and it is there, they discovered the local billionaire has gone missing!

The $100,000 reward catches Daisy’s attention and they are off, rowing the creek, searching for hidden cameras and reuniting with old friends. This tale involves lizards, Doctors and proper high school romances, add Aza’s ever-tightening spiral of thoughts and Davis’s star-gazing, we have the making of a true John Green classic.

I laughed and fell in love and gasped along with the characters, I worried about my own issues with things having a set place but most of all I was so pleased that it was a classic whodunnit with a teenage twist.

For the first book and review of the year, this made me remember why I love reading.

Happy reading!

A gender bending circus detective… what more could you want?

AR_TheBulletCatchersDaughter Good afternoon Dear Reader,

Its the funny bit between Christmas and New Year so what is the best thing to do…Read obviously. This year I got 2 books for Christmas, and its enough to keep me going until I can buy them again and I might have got my Amazon basket ready for New Year’s day.

I haven’t been sleeping very well as an old shoulder injury is making it difficult so instead I put my headphones on and listened to the end of my book.  Don’t get me wrong the gender-bending in this is simply a plot device and has nothing to do with a trans* character but I think some of the research for the characterisation has been amazing.

So what on earth am I talking about? Well, Elizabeth Barnabus lives on a houseboat ‘with her brother’, or does she? In fact, she lives alone and cross-dresses to become her brother a renowned private detective. She was raised in the circus as a bullet-catcher, an escape artist and pure illusionist. They are hired by a local aristocrat to find her missing brother, the twist is he is on the other side of the border.

This story set in the alternative history of the Luddite Rebellion means the Patent Office has a strict border and Elizabeth has the get through to infiltrate a travelling circus like the one she grew up in, to try and find the missing man. This wonderful steampunk AU is full of mystery, intrigue and best of all the start of a series. I have already got the next two lined up for when I got back to my silly commute. Evanna-Lynch

The best bits for me include the extracts from the ‘The bullet catchers handbook’ at the beginning of each chapter, the fact the Rod Duncan is very funny and that this book is a very good detective novel. This is a great book, easy to read and full of cunning wordplay. Happy New Year all, so let’s keep reading in 2018!

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