Way back in May (gosh how long ago does that seem!) I set myself a Summer TBR list here on the blog. Then I filmed a video in June and changed it a little bit and now, as we reach the end of summer I thought it was time I did a little update.
First and foremost I have to admit that I am not great when it comes to setting myself a TBR. I am very much a mood reader and when I am looking for my next read I like to just browse my shelves and see what takes my fancy. If I feel like I am being forced to read a book then I tend to just switch off.
So I was quite surprised when I realised that of the 8 books I planned to read, I actually managed 6 of them. Albeit I didn’t tackle the two trickiest books but I think that’s pretty good going!
If we take it from the date I filmed my TBR to the present day; I actually read 25 books over the summer which I am absolutely amazed at. Usually I would hope to read that in a year!
If you are interested in hearing more about those books then do hop over to my Youtube channel but for today I am just going to share about the books which were on my Summer Reading List:-
All The Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
I had heard such good things about this book that I was a little intimidated about picking it up but I am so glad that I did. It is definitely a contender for one of my favourite books of the year! Set in World War Two it follows the story of two young people; a blind girl living in Occupied France and a boy who lives in Germany and ends up part of the Hitler Youth Movement. I found the dual perspectives to be really interesting, particularly the parts to do with the Hitler Youth as I haven’t read anything featuring that before. I thought the writing was beautiful, the story was moving and well told and although there wasn’t a lot of ‘action’, it was still enough to keep me hooked all the way through.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K.Rowling
These were first time re-reads for me and I had honestly forgotten how much I enjoy J.K.Rowling’s writing style and how much more detail you get in the novels compared with the movies. In particular I have noticed a difference between how I felt as a teenager reading them and how I feel now as an adult and parent! I don’t think there is much point going over the plots of these books but I thoroughly enjoyed reading them again.
The Lake House – Kate Morton
This was one of the books which I was most excited to read over the summer. I had specifically put off reading it until we were away in Wales because I knew I would want to just keep reading once I started and I was right. I am a huge Kate Morton fan and this was everything that I wanted and expected from a Kate Morton book. It follows two time periods; the 1930s and the present day and follows the story of the Edevane family who suffer a terrible tragedy in 1933 which forces them to leave their Cornwall estate forever and Detective Sadie Sparrow who comes across the abandoned estate in the present day; she is on a forced sabbatical from work and discovers there is a mystery surrounding the sudden departure of the Edevane family and decides to try and solve it. I love the way that Kate Morton explores human emotions, the things which drive us to behave the way that we do, and how situations can appear so differently depending on whose perspective you are viewing it from.
Girl of Ink & Stars – Kiran Millwood-Hargrave
This is a middle grade book (aimed at children aged 8-13 years) and is a short fantasy about two young girls who live on an island which has been cut off from the rest of the world. After something happens the two girls leave their section of the island and their adventures unfold from there. I found this to be a quick moving book with not a lot of world-building but plenty to keep me interested. I think it would be a great book for anyone in this age bracket.
Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo
Another book which is easily likely to make it onto my favourites of the year was Six of Crows. This is a high fantasy book about a group of criminals who are employed to take on an impossible heist; they need to break into a military stronghold known as the Ice Court and retrieve a hostage before the world is devastated by a magical discovery. This book is very character driven and although it is described as a book about a heist, the heist doesn’t actually happen until the very end of the book and then you are left on a cliff-hanger! Really it’s all about the characters and the world. The second book in this series, Crooked Kingdom, comes out this month and I already have it on pre-order!
I will be posting my Autumn TBR very shortly but do let me know if you have read any of these books and what you thought, and if you have any suggestions for great books you have read which you think I would enjoy as well.
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It’s no secret that I love reading and at the start of the year I decided to blend a slightly different focus into my Youtube content and began sharing regular book videos. I was excited to discover that there is a whole community of ‘booktubers’ who love nothing more than sharing and discussing their thoughts on books. I was in heaven!
There was so much going on from Q&A’s to monthly round-ups, book hauls to readathons and I have been dipping in and out of joining in with them all. This past week has seen me joining in with something called the ‘BookTube-A-Thon‘ a week dedicated to reading and various different challenges.
The basis of BookTube-A-Thon means that you pretty much have to read one book a day, something I have never previously managed to do but having finished my freelance work for the summer with the kids still at school and the sun blazing down, I was pretty confident I could give it a whirl. Who needs clean clothes, a tidy house and home cooked food anyway?!
So far, so good. I have read two books and completed the first two challenges.
I’m about halfway through my book I’m reading ‘only after sunset’ (see my TBR video here for the different challenges involved) and 100 pages into The BFG which is my choice for the book to movie adaptation challenge.
Unfortunately, I have left my biggest books until last which is making me a little less confident about getting them all read by Sunday; I did notice with Cinder that I had to keep reminding myself to slow down and take in the words and not speed-read. Whilst the purpose is to get the books read within the week I still think you need to appreciate and enjoy the books themselves, surely?
Hopefully though the rest of the week will be just as successful! I’ll let you know.
I realise this post should probably have been done at the exact midpoint of the year but I’ve had so much going on over the last few weeks that I’ve actually only just recently come to appreciate that we are halfway through 2016. I mean seriously…when did that happen?!
I’m not sure whether it’s the influence of Booktube or just getting my reading mojo back but I have been flying through books since January. Usually I set myself a reading challenge of 50 books and I’ve actually yet to meet that target. Given that I’ve read 37 books already this year, I’m feeling pretty proud of myself!
So, onto my favourite books of the year, so far.
Fools Assassin by Robin Hobb
Fitz has been living a quiet life as Tom Badgerlock on a country estate with his wife Molly. But one night a messenger arrives seeking an urgent meeting with Tom. Before he can get to speak with the messenger they disappear, leaving nothing but a trail of blood. Tom is thrown back into his old life as Fitz and must face up to his past.
I am a huge Robin Hobb fan and I was delighted when I saw that she was writing another book venturing back into the world of Fitz and the Fool. Her previous trilogies featuring these characters are some of my all time favourite reads and this was everything I had imagined it would be.
A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray
The Bradley family are a normal family living in Liverpool, until one day a terrible tragedy strikes and they lose a child. The Bradley’s are also Mormons and this book follows how each remaining member of the family deals with Issy’s death, how they cling to their faith or push it away, how they try to find the new ‘normal’ in this terrible situation.
This was my first time reading one of Carys Bray’s novels and it was such a moving read. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain of losing a child but Carys managed to convey all the emotion and then some. I loved that her characters were realistic and flawed and that although there was no action (so to speak) the story flowed well and I found myself utterly absorbed.
The Nightingale by Karen Hannah
Set in World War Two in occupied France, this tells the story of two sisters who could not be more different. Vianne is a sensible, family woman whose husband leaves to go to the front and she is left with her young daughter. A German officer moves into her home and Vianne must somehow face herself and her neighbours in the light of her new life. Isabelle is headstrong and stubborn, prone to running away when things get too much. She decides to join the resistance and actively fight against the German occupation.
This story was simply beautiful. I loved that the two sisters seemed so different initially and yet each was incredibly brave in their own way. I found Isabelle a difficult character to like at the start of the story but as it unfolded I began to see why she behaved the way she did. I won’t lie…when this story ended I CRIED. Big, ugly, tears. I’m not one for re-reading books but this is one I will definitely be picking up again in the future.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
World War Two, occupied France. Marie-Laure lives in Paris with her father who works at the Museum of Natural History. Blind since the age of six, Marie-Laure has had to learn to accommodate to her new world. When the Nazis begin to invade, she flees with her father to Saint-Malo where they move in with her great-uncle. Werner is a young boy living in a mining village in Germany. His interest in engineering and electronics leads him to be picked up and trained by the Hitler Youth.
I was initially unsure about picking this book up so soon after reading The Nightingale as the setting is essentially the same but I am so glad I did. This is a wonderful story set against a harrowing backdrop about two young people struggling to find their place in a changing world. I loved that you got the perspective of Werner who so desperately wants a better life for himself and is so aware that something isn’t right in his home country but is at a loss as to how to fit into that world and not lose his own identity and I loved that Marie-Laure is such a strong person despite her obvious difficulties. Quite probably my favourite book of the year so far.
After You by Jojo Moyes
Lou Clark has to find a way to move on after the death of Will Traynor; she is in a job she doesn’t enjoy, living in a flat which doesn’t feel like home and is estranged from her family following her decision to accompany Will to Dignitas at the end of Me Before You. Then one night she answers the door to a complete stranger and everything changed.
I LOVED this book. I enjoyed Me Before You as a quick and moving read but I never really connected with Will as a character and found it difficult to feel empathy towards him. However, with this book I found the characters much more relatable (I adored Sam) and I enjoyed discovering the ‘what happened after’ which I know many people were wondering. Highly recommend if you enjoyed Me Before You.
Have you ever had a moment where you do something, semi absentmindedly and then you have to take a second look when the information finally sinks in?! I had a moment exactly like that this month when I flicked open the front cover of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and realised that it was first released in 1997…making it 19 years old!
I read the Harry Potter books when they were first released, waiting with bated breath each year for the next one to come out. We even spent two summers in a row hunting out an English book shop in Spain because we were on holiday on the release date. That is dedication for you.
But then, somehow, I just sort of let my love of the books dwindle. I think with the release of the films I felt like I was still connected to the books and I didn’t need to re-read them again. In fact, despite badgering from James, I have never re-read the Harry Potter books. Until now.
Firstly, I’m not much for re-reading. I remember things in such minute detail that re-reading for me often ends up with skim reading and my eyes glossing over. I have to really focus hard to absorb the words because my brain is busy shouting ‘we’ve already read this.’ Imagine how hard I found it editing the manuscript for my novel…that took some serious commitment!
I was given a beautiful set of HP books for my birthday and that, really, is what prompted my decision to re-read but oh my goodness am I glad that I did. I had completely forgotten how much rich detail and beautiful structure there was. So much that you don’t capture from the films, not to mention all the small magical details which J.K.Rowling included but which didn’t make it into the films in the first place.
If I could physically fall back into the world of Harry Potter then I absolutely have. I devoured the first book and am now racing through the second. I find it difficult to believe that I haven’t re-read them before now to be honest.
A favourite booktuber of mine; Katie from Life Between Words recently shared a video on some books she wanted to re-read and she commented on how re-reading a book when you are at a different stage of life from the first time around can have a real impact so I’m excited to see how that will apply here. I was a teenager when I read the books for the first time and now I’m an adult and a parent.
I’m sure it will often me the chance to look at the books from a slightly different perspective.