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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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I’m still reading!

Sorry its been so long, I am still reading, but in the 2 months since my last blog I have moved house, been away from home far too many days, not had the internet and then to top it all off. WE GOT A CAT!

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So I do apologise for the lack of posts, however, I still haven’t bought a book. I am 10 and a half months in and am only reading books that I own or have been bought for me. I’m super impressed with myself.

I have updated my ‘story so far‘ page with the books i have read or listened to in the last couple of months. If I can I will write retrospective reviews but I want to get back on top things first.

So my next review will be “A Natural History of Dragons; A memoir by Lady Trent’ by Marie Brennan or ‘The Word is Murder’ by Anthony Horowitz as I finished that audiobook on the train yesterday.

French engineers, Spotted custard and a lioness.

BOOK FEELINGS: I love Gail Carriger’s books. I have tried to read other things but this steampunk extravaganza is in fact addictive, I currently have several books on the go, which I don’t like doing but they keep calling me back.

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So I have had this book since very early this year, but i have had the sequel for over a year, and i have finally got round to reading it. After all the Parasol books, I took a break with other books, a few of the audio variety and few with real pages. The recent beautiful weekends have been helping, sitting in the garden with sun beating down and a cold one (to be honest normally a cup of Redbush) and a good book. Feet up, eyes down and lost in another world.

Life has been very busy, I have in fact bought a house. Not alone, but I will soon be moving to a house with a garden, a desk (so I can work from home) and most importantly with all my books! This is an amazing but terrifying prospect but equally i can’t wait to live with Carol.

download (3)REVIEW:  This book is ridiculous, wonderful and fantastic. This series revolves around the adventures of Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama, or Rue to her friends. The metanatural is going on an adventure, with Queen Ivy’s daughter Primrose and son Percival and Madame Lafoux’s adoptive son, engineer Quesnal. The purpose of this adventure… well obviously it is for the greatest treasure in the world. Tea.

Having loved the ‘Parasol’ series, I had great expectations but was equally wary. I made the mistake of reading the comments, and there were a few people that were not too impressed by this series. I think the critics are wrong. I loved the journey to India on ‘The Spotted Custard’, I mean what a great name for an airship, did I mention it was decorated like a giant ladybird. prudence-fan-art

In India, Rue is frivolous with Prim’s reputation, daring with her wardrobe and finds more supernaturals to transform into outside the standard werewolf and vampire. Percy and Quesnal fight over everything, Prim can’t handle anything but tea and Spoo is the wonderful boy that isn’t, well a boy that is.

I didn’t like putting this down, or putting it aside and when I did the most catastrophic thing happened… I BROKE THE SPINE. I took this to mean, that I shouldn’t put it down until I finished it.

It was a delight reading the adventures of the grown up children of characters I came to love. The limited touches of Alexia, Paw and Dama added a hint of the old days, the unexpected joy of reading that Uncle Lyall was also in India was wonderful and made me smile far too much. That is enough for any protectorate lover to read this book, but if need more there is were-monkeys, a lioness, and of course Tea.

Can the nation’s newest Sundowner follow in her parents footsteps? Is it even possible for her to cause more trouble then her mother? My dearest readers, I have even started the sequel.

So for now… Happy Reading!

Hard Magic!

So I found this audiobook in the recommendations after listening to the Glass and Steele series and the Parasol protectorate and sure enough the algorithm was right. I loved this book.

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Jake Sullivan is a ‘Heavy’ unless you ask him, then he is a gravity spiker. Faye is a traveller and Heinrich is a fade. Dan is a mouth and Lance, well he is cog. You need to find out how these 5 take on the Imperium.

It is a book full of quotes and alternative history.

  • the Titanic did not sink, it was saved by an Active.
  • When he was elected President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was not in a wheelchair, having been cured of polio by a Mender as a child.
  • Dirigibles/Blimps are common air carriers.
  • National Socialism (Nazism) never rose in Germany, as Hitler was shot by a firing squad long before he developed any kind of following before the events in the books take place.
  • In the Great War, the Kaiser’s forces employed magic that turned all of the battlefield dead into zombies. At the end of the war, the remaining zombies were herded into Berlin and surrounded by a big wall to keep them in. They are still there to this day, and it is now referred to as “Dead City”.
  • The Great War was ended by the invention of the Peace Ray, a weapon invented by Nikolai Tesla (a Cog) capable of hitting any target with a 300-mile line-of-sight range and utterly destroy it. Now, all countries have Peace Ray installations, and out-and-out war is a thing of the past.

J Edgar Hoover is in charger of the BI and trades Jake’s jail time for his service in hunting down dangerous actives. During his pursuits he is reunited with Delilah and meet the rest of the Grimnoir. Upon meeting him, Faye tries to kill Jake thinking he is his brother Maddy, one Jane heals them both and together they go after the Chairman.

The flow is a little stunted sometimes, there will be chapters where no very much happens and others where you are overwhelmed with the progress but it seems to work. This book is funny, strange and very well written. I liked the narrator and how the thoughts of the characters were said in their voice, the writing echoed this.

Happy reading!!

 

Glass, Steele, Poison and Love.

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The whole crew is back; India, Matthew, Sheriff Payne and Letty. India is closer than ever to telling Matt her true feelings, Matt is frustrated that Chronos cannot be found and Sheriff Payne is after Matt. Letty hasn’t given up on marrying Matthew to the most appropriate eligible young lady, but he still is resisting. Willy, Duke and Cyclops play their part as always but nowhere near as much as they have before.

Still living in the glory of solving the mapmakers apprentice murder, Glass and Steele are after Chronos. Matt’s watch is still working but it doesn’t last nearly as long s it used to.  Again they are called upon to look at a mysterious death, this time an apothecary outside the guild.  Dr Hayle is in the paper for magically bringing back the dead. But did he really? India wants to solve this one as this time it is Matt in the firing line. Why would anyone think Matt killed this Dr?

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It is quickly realised the Dr has been poisoned, our heroes have their lives threatened on multiple occasions and Letty finds her voice.  I like these two but some of the subplots surrounding them are distracting. I am bored of Letty and her matchmaking,  I do agree with keeping the books in-keeping with the time period but the whole high class proposals for business just don’t seem to fit with the ‘working’ level of the main plots.

Dear reader, this series is keeping me coming back. I like the magical elements, I like the mystery around Chronos and I want to know more but I think sticking with Duke, Cyclops and Willy is the better side of the stories. I like the humour and I love the chemistry between them, although the tension is just as fun. I am looking forward to seeing where it goes. I want to see what happens…If you haven’t started already. Read this book.

So dear Reader, it is time for me to sign off…no it wont be so long until the next one.

Dear Reader. A letter to you…

Good afternoon Dear Reader,

forgive me it has been a month since my last blog. I’m terrible at this. The truth is I have missed it, I have missed writing to strangers and apparently pouring out my life on a page, much like the author I have so much time for.

I could make a hundred excuses why I haven’t written about the books I have read this month. The truth is a mix of lack of time and severe lack of energy, although I love my job it is draining. The commute can be miserable, one night I left Marble Arch at 5:15 pm and didn’t get out of London until just after 8, not getting home until about quarter past nine. I am aware that this is a project for me and the fact that anyone takes time out of their day to read my random ranting is wonderful.

I thank you, its a kind of therapy and I have started to enjoy this bit nearly as much as the reading (and listening). So on that note I have a review or 2 to give you. I have been reading, just not as much as I would like. I have been listening (as I still can’t read on the bus) but I am after your input. Books recommendations please.

So until next time (soon I promise),

HAPPY READING!

Battle of the ‘Beauty Queens’…

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Firstly an apology… I called her Ida May, she is actually Ida Belle. I was obviously and appropriately excited about the first book and may have gotten this wrong in my haste. So just in case Jana DeLeon ever reads this (I appreciate that is highly unlikely) and for reasons of accuracy, she is in fact, Ida Belle.

Moving swiftly on, I know that you know that I finished this book a while ago, but I feel I had to break up the cheese with something a little bit more intellectual. The time has come though, to tell you all about ‘Lethal Bayou Beauty’ by Jana DeLeon, the second ‘Miss Fortune Mystery’ and it’s just as funny, ridiculous and enjoyable as the first one.

For anyone that knows me or has a vague impression of what I am like in real life, they will understand that the idea of a beauty pageant is horrific. I don’t like make-up or being the centre of attention and Fortune is very similar. Due to her cover as Sandy Sue, former beauty queen turned librarian, she has been roped in to helping arrange a junior pageant.  As if this wasn’t enough to contend with, she has to cooperate with Pansy, Celia’s prodigal daughter.

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That is until someone kills her.

Just Fortune’s luck, in her second week in the Bayou when she is trying to lay low, she is being framed for murder.  Can the Sinful Ladies get her out of this one? Can she keep her director in the dark or will her cover be blown? How many times will Carter see her in a state of undress this time?

More Ida Belle and Gertie hilarity, there’s more of Ali’s cakes and despite the mournful tone of the subject matter it is funny! Marie is back and as panicky as ever. The character development of Walter is wonderful and again I just lapped it up. It easy to listen to; fun to be part of and just a bit of silly escapism in a world for of really serious stuff. Somehow during this investigation Fortune finds time to educate herself on some ‘cultural’ references… i mean who knew Lady Gaga wasn’t royalty?!

Dear Reader I have already finished book 3 but I am keeping that in my back pocket for another day. These books make me laugh out loud on my commute which I am not sure is appreciated by all but I think they are classic ‘beach books’. I should really be reading as its lunch time and I have borrowed something completely different (so far S&M, kidnapping and assassins) so until next time… Happy Reading.

Max, Matthew and maps…

So I can’t help but think it’s all over. That this is it, this is the last St Mary’s book.  The last chance we have to see Max watch the world go white.

The blurb of this book says ‘She’s no safer at St. Mary’s. Tragedy strikes not once but several times, and with no Leon, no Markham, and no Peterson at her side, Max’s personal life slowly begins to unravel. From the Egyptian desert to the Battle of Hastings, and from Bayeux Cathedral to the Sack of Constantinople, Max must race through time to save the ones she loves’. 

Whats brilliant Dear Reader, is that although I have listened to 7 of these full stories and several, erm…let’s call them novellas, I honestly thought his name was Malcolm, not Markham… the disadvantages to listening to a book rather than reading it I suppose. I have to say that all those years ago I might have had deliberations of how to pronounce Hermione Grangers name, so the written word isn’t always clearer.

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It was fantastic… Ronan, Max and Peterson where in fact amazing. I missed certain dynamics that had changed and I like this new side of Max. We’ve seen her as a student, adjust to responsibility and grow in strength, we seen her love and survive loss and we’ve seen her as a wife. Now we see her as a Mother… a hopeless, lost, confused but wonderful mother. A strong, faithful and dedicated mother and it was brilliant.

The history was still there, the humour was still there and Jodi Taylor captured the magic of the earlier books. I was reminded of adventures with Kal, it had some of the early carefree jumping but equally the ‘new’ historians kept things interesting. Matthew seemed to fit right in and it was bizarre that i forgot he was a child sometimes.

Did I miss Leon? Kind of. but I love, LOVE LOVED!!! that this was focussed on Max. Everything from the jumps, to pods antics and worry to the tears, joy and anger throughout. It was amazing.

I should say that as much as this is probably FULL of spoilers, it is book 8 in the Chronicles of St Mary’s series and if you haven’t read them, (or listened) you should.
I have 2 more reviews to write so I’m off. Happy Reading!

Black magic in the strangest of places…

1560312 It feels like an age that I have been reading this. It was an adventure and a talking point.

I have really enjoyed this series so far, ‘The Rogue’ by Trudi Canavan picks up a matter of weeks after the last one finished. Sonea is working with Cery to find the Rogue magician known as Skellin, Lorkin is living with the Traitors and Dannyl is off on another adventure.

This is about magic stones, jealousy and family. It was easy to read, the story flowed and I couldn’t help rotting for the characters all over again. The Naki subplot was not enough to keep Sonea busy. Lorkin was always on her mind, plus the arrival Dorrien and his family might have confused her a bit. The Guild are adapting to Black Magic, rebellions within and the what to do with a murderous teenager?

I liked the development of Anyi in this story and how her relationship with Cery is developing. The stone making and history elements of Lorkin and Dannyl were possibly my favourites.

As I was looking for my pictures for this I came across this alt cover and loved it. I just wanted to share it with you Dear Reader. I hope they make more of them for all countries.

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Happy Reading!

Absences snd guilty pleasures…

BOOK-FEELINGS: Hello Dear Reader, I appreciate it has been a while. I have just completed week 4 of my new job and finally have a rhythm to my day and naturally to my reading opportunities.  I am still making the most of my 2 hours on a bus everyday with an audiobook or two but am yet to master the art of actual reading… to be honest with you I try my best to sleep when I can. This leads to many missed chapters and subsequent the confusion but the ability to do my job and make attempts at conversation when i get home!

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THIS WILL BE ACHIEVED!!

REVIEW: So its review time, and as the title might give away I have been listening to some easy listening “trash”. I mean its not a rubbish story and for the most part the characters are well rounded and show signs of growth and development. I simply mean it would be a beach book, that’s right Dear Reader, I have indulged in a guilty pleasure. I’m not only talking about the book(s) but also the fact the sun is out and I’m sitting typing this in the garden with a chilled diet coke!

This book involves no thinking, long southern accents and the feistiest pensioners you are every likely to meet. ‘Louisiana Longshot’ by Jana Deleon is the first of the ‘Miss Fortune Mystery’ series and it really sets the scene. Fortune is in trouble, she is in the CIA and has just killed the brother of an International Drug Lord. Her boss has sent her to the bayou to pretend to be his niece, an ex beauty queen turned librarian. For those of you that have seen Miss Congeniality (this blog is full of guilty pleasures) you can imagine the picture of her I built up in my head. She has long blonde extensions glued to her shaved head and is under strict instructions to keep a long profile in the sleepy town of Sinful.

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It turns out the town is anything but sleepy, Sinful by name and sinful by nature. On her first night of being ‘Sunny Sue’ her lacklustre dog Bones digs up a human shin bone in her back garden bank of the bayou. She is roped in to competing for Banana pudding and she is befriended for better or worse by the ‘Sinful Ladies’ founders, Ida May and Gurdy.  She has a ropey start with town deputy Carter and soon realises that keeping a low profile in this town just isn’t going to happen.

Can they work out who framed Marie for the murder of her husband? Will Fortune keep her true identity safe? and who will win the banana pudding next Sunday? This is a silly story, I can quite happily put my hands up and say it, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it. Vietnam vets, Alligators and hidden identity, what more could you want? I loved the narration, the silliness and the characters.

In fact I loved them so much as soon as I finished this I downloaded the second one! Review coming shortly but until then Happy Reading!

 

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