top ten tuesday

Reasons I’ve DNFed a book

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each week a new theme is suggested for bloggers to participate in. Create your own Top Ten list that fits that topic – putting your unique spin on it if you want. Everyone is welcome to join but please link back to The Artsy Reader Girl in your own Top Ten Tuesday post.

This week’s topic is Petty Reasons You’ve DNF’d a Book.

I’m still learning to DNF books – I’ve always been a bit of a Magnus Magnusson “I’ve started, so I’ll finish” but over the last 18 months or so, I’ve started learning that it’s ok to stop reading a book I’m not enjoying for any reason. It doesn’t matter if I’m 5% or 65% of the way through – it’s not fair on the author, on the book, on me and life is too short/my TBR is too big to read a book I’m not enjoying.

Although I do find, especially with Libby and Borrowbox where I try more different variety of book than I otherwise would, that there’s a lot of books I stop reading somewhere in the first parag/first page and they don’t even get logged as started in order TO DNF – I basically class them as not started. But I will be including them here.

So, in no particular order – and I don’t know petty some of these are per se:

Layout/formatting issues or choices
If there’s no paragraph breaks and I’m facing just a huge wall of text, that’s an instant nope for me. The same goes for no speech marks when characters are talking – It just gives me the ick.

Lack of editing
I once DNFed a book because the tense had changed three times on one page and the guitarist was playing a ‘cord’. It’s a lack of care, and I’m not reading something that hasn’t had even the most basic of editing.

Short chapters
I HATE short chapters – when they’re just two or three pages long. It feels like I’m being constantly thrown out of the story, especially when the POV or scene changes every time. It feels like the author doesn’t know how to finish a scene so just… stops. I refuse to read James Patterson because of it.

I don’t like the narrative voice
Sometimes, you just don’t like the ‘sound’ (I don’t listen to audiobooks so I mean the written voice as it were) of the narrative – often for me it’s because it feels flat or boring and leaves me not caring. I also don’t have a huge amount of patience for an unreliable narrator.

Multiple perspectives/POV but they sound the same
Following on from that, when a book is being told from multiple characters’ perspectives, but the narrative voice doesn’t change and sounds exactly the same. I should be able to tell without your header telling me that this is a different person narrating this bit of the story because no two people sound the same.

Story/topic just doesn’t grab me
I have ADHD and all the related attention-span fun that comes along with that. If a book doesn’t grab my attention within the first couple of pages then chances are, I’ll put it down to do something else and never pick it back up again.

It started off well but lost my interest
Sometimes, a book will get past that initial attention-grab, I’ll keep reading it and it seems like everything’s going well. Only then I’ll realise I haven’t picked it up in 6 months, I don’t actually care about the characters or the story, I pass over it every time I’m picking what I’m going to finish/read next, and I just don’t want to read it. And so it gets DNFed.

Unlikable characters
I prefer plot-based stories to character-based ones, I like books where something happens but at the same, I have to care about the people that the plot is happening to. If I don’t care about them or the things happening to them, there’s no point in continuing to read.

Jumping the shark
When a story hits the point where its just throwing in random ideas out of completely nowhere that have nothing in common with anything else in the story, I end up just rolling my eyes and being completely DONE. There was one book I was reading last year that I DNFed at 46% because out of the blue the narrative just went ‘oh, BTW, main character’s secretly actually a hellhound’ and NOPE.

Hyperfixation over
This is more for non-fiction books but quite often I’ll have a hyperfixation on a particular topic and start reading All The Things. But then that hyperfixation can disappear as quickly as it starts and I have absolutely no interest in finishing, for example, the random chemistry/geology/astrophysics (to name a few examples from the last year or so) book that I started months ago.

What are some things that will make you DNF a book?

www wednesday

What I’m Reading Wednesday

WWW Wednesday was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?

From Memory to Written Record – England 1066-1307 by M.T. Clanchy It’s a history of writing and record keeping in England. It’s interesting but it’s one of those books that was written to be written, not written to be read and it’s a bit of a slog. Fascinating but not an easy read at ALL. I’m just under halfway through.
Murder at Queen’s Landing by Andrea Penrose Book 4 in the Wrexford & Sloane series, and just as enjoyable as the others. I love how the characters are getting more fleshed out, and we’re learning so much more about them. Although the growing UST between Wrexford & Sloane is starting to bug me, but then it always does. I’m 70% through and its due back to Libby tomorrow night, so this evening/tonight I’ll be focusing on finishing it.
Black Hole Survival Guide by Janna Levin Physics is… not generally my thing. But last week I read one of Li’s library books about Quantum Mechanics, and this one just jumped off the shelf. It’s written very plainly and I’m actually understanding the science of black holes which is awesome.
Temple by Matthew Reilly This book just keeps getting more and more bonkers, and honestly I fucking love it! I’m 80% of the way through now and on track to finish it this week.
Kitty’s Countryside Dream by Christie Barlow and in my favourite style of books, a grandmother Kitty didn’t know she had, just died and left her a chicken farm! I’ve only just started it, but I am a fan of Christie Barlow so I’m looking forward to finding out what happens

What did you recently finish reading?

A Regency Guide to Modern Life by Carly Lane which I gave 4 stars to. A really fun little book written in the style of an agony aunt column, answered by a Regency Lady A, but to today’s life problems. The illustrations were also amazing
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie because apparently I’m trying all the new things as I work my way through the non-fiction section of Honiton library. Another 4-star read, a published version of a TED talk the author gave about what feminism means and some of the less obvious divides between men and not-men.
Quantum Mechanics by Jim Al-Khalili is the aforementioned physics book that Li had out of the library. I started reading this at 23:45 on Sunday which you would not think would be the optimum time to learn about quantum physics. And yet Al-Khalili broke everything down to a point I could understand and Li and I had some amazing late night/early morning conversations about subatomic particles. I legit want to know more now because y’all, this is fascinating shit!

I also DNFed Angel Of The Crows by Katherine Addison. Essentially, a supernatural steampunk Sherlock fanfic which started off really strong, but the book tried to do too much, and started getting a little bit ridiculous. You know those fics that keep going because the author doesn’t know how to end the story? Yeah, I DNFed at 46% when there was a random curveball of ‘oh, BTW, Watson (who’s the narrator) is actually a woman’… completely out of nowhere, and that was a few hundred pages after being told Watson was a hellhound. I just… no.

What do you think you’ll read next?

But then… I’m not great at sticking to these so LOL

www wednesday

What I’m Reading Wednesday

WWW Wednesday was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?

Queer: A Graphic History by Meg-John Barker& Jules Scheele has already taught me more Queer History in 20 pages than a lifetime of being queer. Another one of those books I wish I’d had as a wee queer teen.
Thanátou by Natalie J Case isn’t really my thing, a little too fantasy for my liking, but the author is one of my best friends. A witch who’s powers had been hidden from her to protect her is being hunted by a cult who are dedicated to wiping her kind out. She’s currently in an alternate universe learning how to use and control her powers.
Murder at Kensington Palace is the third of the Wrexford & Sloane series of historical mysteries and so far is just as wonderful as the first two. We have a young man who’s been accused of murdering his twin brother, Sloane knows them and is adamant he didn’t do it and so the investigation begins.
Temple by Matthew Reilly is fucking terrible and I absolutely ADORE it. It’s like a bad SyFy monster movie. Military & scientists go to retrieve a lost Aztec idol made of checks notes material from an asteroid that has the power to destroy the world. The Germans are also after it and currently, everyone is being attacked by uh giant jaguars. It’s chef’s kiss beautiful and exactly what I was hoping for!

What did you recently finish reading?

The Scenic Route by Christina Baker Kline which was my Amazon First Reads, a short story about a woman who starts van life after a tragedy. I gave it 2/5, I just found it very unsatisfactory – I found the narrative flat and emotionless, and the story predictable.

I also DNFed The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester. I was struggling with the narrative style, and kept not picking it up… I didn’t like any of the characters and found I just didn’t care what happened

What do you think you’ll read next?

Lies Sleeping I’m about half-way through, and I did bring it to Devon with me.
I’ve just checked The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well out of the library – I’ve been wanting to read it for a while

book reviews

Some drive-by mini reviews

It’s been a while since I’ve done any mini-reviews (and, y’know, actually finished reading any books to write a review of) so here’s a little round-up of what I’ve been reading recently.

I’ve DNFed two books in the last week:
The first one was Kelly Ambers – Her First Collar: A Beginning to Pet Play (Kitten Play BDSM Book 1). I’m not entirely sure how a nice little BDSM erotica could be so flat, but I gave up about 3 pages in. There was no life to it and I was bored.
The second one was Tangled Rhythm: An Anthology. By the time the tense had changed three times on one page, and the guitarist was playing a ‘cord’… nope. Yes, as an anthology by multiple authors, another story in the selection could have been better, but if the editors had let the first one be that bad? I’m not risking it.

Mira Grant – Symbiont (Parasitology #2)
4/5, horror, post-apocalyptic, science-fiction, zombies
I really enjoyed Symbiont. I didn’t find it quite as unputdownable as Parasite, and like many a ‘middle of a trilogy’, there were a few points where it felt a little ‘filler’ and I got a little frustrated with the lack of common sense and decision-making abilities of Sal – but then when you consider who and what she is (trying to not spoil anyone here LOL), it’s understandable from a story-telling perspective. Absolutely nothing like I was expecting and I think my current world anxiety stopped me from enjoying a good apocalypse as much as I usually do, but still a bloody good read.

Anne Rice – Interview With Interview with the Vampire (The Vampire Chronicles #1)
5/5, gothic, historical-fiction, horror, vampires
I first read Interview when I was a young teenager, I came out of seeing the movie and went straight into WHSmith where I bought Interview, Vampire Lestat, and Queen Of The Damned. I’ve been in love with these books ever since. I absolutely love the storytelling, Anne Rice’s descriptions are so vivid and beautiful. I don’t, however, particularly like Lestat or Louis as characters but as an introduction to them, to the other characters, the world-building, and the beginnings of the mythology, this is a fantastic book and I re-read it regularly. I love Louis’ voice, I love lines like “That morning, I was not yet a vampire. And I saw my last sunrise. I remember it completely, yet I do not think I remember any other sunrise before it I just wish he was… less whiney but when you think about everything that happened to him, it makes perfect sense

Heidi Swain – Summer at Skylark Farm (Wynbridge #2)
4/5, chick-lit, contemporary, romance
I think I’ve mentioned before how much I love the ‘city girl ups and moves to a farm’ kind of storyline and this was a wonderfully fluffy, feel-good example of the genre. I loved watching Amber grow from being completely out of depth and gaining her confidence, her relationship with Jake growing, and making friends with the somewhat eccentric cast of characters that make up Wynbridge. It was nice to catch up with the characters from Cherry Tree Cafe too. I’m looking forward to reading the third book in the series.

Sarah Pomeroy et al. – A Brief History of Ancient Greece: Politics, Society, and Culture
4/5, ancient-history, classical-studies, history, non-fiction, reference
So this is actually one of the set books for my current university module. But I wanted to read the whole book before I started needing to dip in and out of it – both so that I wouldn’t get distracted by carrying on reading, and also so that I’d have some familiarity with the content when I needed it. I found this to be a really good overview of the topic, it was presented in an easy-to-understand way – and I’ve made notes in the margins on things I’d like to know more about if they’re not included in my course.

Nancy Warren – The Vampire Knitting Club (Vampire Knitting Club #1)
5/5, cozy-mystery, paranormal, urban-fantasy, vampires
I’ve been wanting to make a start with cozy mysteries for a while – I’ve had a few false starts but was still determined to find one. I had no idea there was such a thing as paranormal cozy mystery and let me tell you it was love at first page. I accidentally read this all in one sitting. When I was supposed to have been working. The mystery kept me guessing til the end, I didn’t figure whodunnit, and all the characters are such… characters. I can’t wait to see what happens to them next – I’ve already downloaded books 2-4 as they’re on Kindle Unlimited and have made a note of the other series by Nancy Warren.

Mary Beard – Pompeii: The Life of a Roman Town
4/5, ancient-history, classical-studies, history, non-fiction
I have loved all things Pompeii since I first read about it as a child and I was lucky enough to go there in 2018. The place is absolutely mindblowing, magical and wrecked the tyres of my wheelchair – it’s many things but disabled accessible is not one of them. I wish I’d read this book before going because I feel I would have seen it in a whole new light, and I really want to go back and see it again with Beard as guide, even virtually. She really brought the town and it’s inhabitants to life, and I love how she admits what we don’t know, that the evidence doesn’t tell us everything but explains how the theories have come from the traces left behind

monthly wrap up

April Wrap Up

April has been incredibly stressful, I’m not going to lie. My mental health hasn’t been great but I’m powering through and y’know, I’m still alive and kicking so there’s that. I’ve started therapy which is much more work than I thought it was going to be and we’re already working a few things out… but it’s exhausting.

I have been pretty consistent with reading – even if not blogging about it quite as regularly as I would like. I’m contemplating maybe pre-writing some of the weekly link-up answers, I don’t know. But I am pleased with myself for keeping going for four months and have bought myself a domain name as a reward. My betrothed is going to host me (and maybe design me a layout) and we’re hoping that should happen later this month.

But the books I finished in April were:

And I’m impressed seeing it laid out like that, I read more than I thought I had. Go me!

I DNFed:

I spent a great portion of the month reading but not finishing:

but I’m on track to finish reading in early May

Looking back at my April goals:
finish 4 books I finished 5, hurrah!
submit assignment 5 – due on the 7th, 800 words of plan for my independent investigation I submitted it on the 6th April and got 96% which, as you can imagine, I’m thrilled about
lose 6lb I did lose weight but not that much, just under 4lb – I comfort eat and I’ve been stressed. I’ve been pretty good at getting out and walking though… just need less chocolate!
sort out my morning routine. Hah! Nope, not at all. I’m still not sleeping great so I’m struggling to get out of bed – I eventually fall asleep around 3, so when the alarm goes off at 7, I hit snooze, sleep until just before 8:30, roll out of bed and start work. Although, frustratingly, I do know that sorting out my morning routine can help with the sleeping thing.

My goals for May
* Write, edit and submit my End Of Module Assignment – 2500 words on ‘How can the study of ancient places help us to better understand religion in ancient culture?’ I’m using Sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi and Sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia as examples, and arguing that the lived experience of religion was the same across poleis.
* finish 4 books
* lose 4 lb
* start practising daily mindfulness and gratitude
* figure out using tiktok

How was your April and do you have any goals for May – bookish or otherwise?
monthly wrap up

March Wrap Up

I’m not going to lie – March hasn’t been the best reading month for me. Well, no, that’s not quite true. I’ve read most days but because I’m trying to read ALL THE THINGS, I haven’t done very well at actually finishing things.

But the books I did finish in March were:

I DNFed:

I spent a great portion of the month reading but not finishing:

but I’m on track to finish reading at some point in April.

I’ve already finished two books in April so… yeah, March wasn’t great LOL

I think I’m starting to find a rhythm with blogging. I’m definitely enjoying it and feel like I’m getting more confident with writing reviews.
I also love linkups like Top Ten Tuesday, Weekly Wednesday Blogging Challenge and Book Blogger Hop that allow me to also enthuse and flail about the books I love.
I want to figure out how (if?) I’m going to use instagram alongside the blog.
And I want to try and get over my fear of tiktok/my hatred of how I look and sound on video to join in with the bookish side of things over there – I watch and enjoy so many booktokers and it looks so much fun!

Healthwise, I’m still struggling with my mental health (depression, anxiety, agoraphobia) but have received a date to start ‘intensive CBT’ later in April. I’m still waiting for a date for my adhd/autism assessment but have been told if I don’t hear from them by the end of April, to give them a call. I’ve been managing to get out for walks with my betrothed 3-4 a week (thank the Gods for Pikmin Bloom), I’ve been cooking and eating well at least 5 nights a week and I’ve lost 5.6lb in weight

Schoolwise, I had a creative writing assignment – short story of 900 words based on a provided first line from an existing book and a 300 word reflective piece. Absolutely thrilled that I got 98% on it and my tutors comments were absolutely fantastic!

My goals for April:
* finish 4 books
* submit assignment 5 – due on the 7th, 800 words of plan for my independent investigation
* lose 6lb
* sort out my morning routine.

How was your March and do you have any goals for April – bookish or otherwise?

top ten tuesday · weekly wednesday blogging challenge · www wednesday

Classic Literature, Mythological Creatures and What I’m Reading Wednesday

So, yesterday’s Top Ten On Tuesday asked 21st Century Books I Think Will Become Classics and honestly, I don’t have an answer to this, mostly because the kinds of books I read aren’t ones that would be considered for that status. It did, however, inspire quite the conversation between me and the betrothed about what it takes for a work to be a classic, what makes a work a classic and what it means when something gets awarded that status

That makes two thinkythought posts brewing:
One about fantasy
One about the nature of classic works
Are you interested in reading these, and if so – which one would you like to hear first?

Now, moving on to today’s link-ups:
Weekly Wednesday Blogging Challenge asks What mythological animal you’d like to have as a pet and knee-jerk reaction is a unicorn. 
But then… there’s dragons and chimera and mermaids and sphinxes and griffins and phoenixes and cerberus etc etc and that doesn’t even begin to cover Pegasus! 
No, I’m totally not a mythology geek. No, I’m totally not studying Classical Studies because of my love of mythology… why do you ask? LOL

And last, but by no means least, we have WWW Wednesday asking:
What are you currently reading? I’m trying to focus on finishing three books right now: Dr Amanda Brown – The Prison Doctor; Bill Bryson – The Body; and Sarah J. Maas – A Court Of Thorns and Roses
What did you recently finish reading? I DNFed Rainbow Rowell – Eleanor & Park at the beginning of the week. I read the first 30 pages of it about 10 days ago, wasn’t really feeling and just couldn’t be bothered to pick it back up again. I think a mixture of not being the target audience and being very frustrated with how information was being drip-fed too slowly – I had no reason to care, and not enough interest to read enough to find out. 
What do you think you’ll read next? I think it’ll either be Matt Haig – Notes On A Nervous Planet and finishing two other in-progress books Rainbow Rowell – Fangirl and Liv Albert – Greek Mythology

book reviews

DNF: Natural Causes: Life, Death and the Illusion of Control by Barbara Ehrenreich

Title: Natural Causes: Life, Death and the Illusion of Control
Author: Barbara Ehrenreich
Dates read: 18/01/22 – 23/01/22
Rating DNF

Publisher: Granta Books
Number of pages: 256
Fiction or non-fiction: non-fiction
Subject or genre: health, science

Book blurb: Bestselling author of Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich explores how we are killing ourselves to live longer, not better.

A razor-sharp polemic which offers an entirely new understanding of our bodies, ourselves, and our place in the universe, Natural Causes describes how we over-prepare and worry way too much about what is inevitable. One by one, Ehrenreich topples the shibboleths that guide our attempts to live a long, healthy life — from the importance of preventive medical screenings to the concepts of wellness and mindfulness, from dietary fads to fitness culture.

But Natural Causes goes deeper — into the fundamental unreliability of our bodies and even our “mind-bodies,” to use the fashionable term. Starting with the mysterious and seldom-acknowledged tendency of our own immune cells to promote deadly cancers, Ehrenreich looks into the cellular basis of aging, and shows how little control we actually have over it. We tend to believe we have agency over our bodies, our minds, and even over the manner of our deaths. But the latest science shows that the microscopic subunits of our bodies make their own “decisions,” and not always in our favor.

We may buy expensive anti-aging products or cosmetic surgery, get preventive screenings and eat more kale, or throw ourselves into meditation and spirituality. But all these things offer only the illusion of control. How to live well, even joyously, while accepting our mortality — that is the vitally important philosophical challenge of this book.

Drawing on varied sources, from personal experience and sociological trends to pop culture and current scientific literature, Natural Causes examines the ways in which we obsess over death, our bodies, and our health. Both funny and caustic, Ehrenreich then tackles the seemingly unsolvable problem of how we might better prepare ourselves for the end — while still reveling in the lives that remain to us.

How I discovered or acquired this book: It was on the recently returned shelf in Wellington library, and the title and cover appealed to me. A quick read of the blurb and I was pretty interested in what the book had to say

My thoughts I DNFed it about 30 pages in. It takes A LOT for me to DNF a book (see The Autobiography for Mr Spock which I bitched about the whole time I was reading it). It was very hostile in tone, felt very preachy in an ‘my way is clearly the only way you should do things’ kind of manner and essentially harps on that the entire medical field is a hoax, everyone in it is a greedy sadist, we shouldn’t have medical testing because that’s why all the rates are going up and hey, you’re just going to die anyway. She did raise some good points about the corporate greed of the US medical system but I was so annoyed with the way she was talking at me that I actually slammed the book shut and went ‘nope’