top ten tuesday

Books that defied my expectations

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 Books That Defied My Expectations and I’ve got five books that exceeded my expectations, and five that failed to live up to them.

Starting with some books that disappointed

Paul Cartledge – Ancient Greece: A Very Short Introduction. It takes… a certain amount of skill to take a subject as exciting as Ancient Greek history and make it as dull as dishwater to read. Cartledge has that skill in bucketloads!
Olivie Blake – The Atlas Six. Booktok raved about this book for months. It was queer, it was dark academia, it was beautifully written. It had magic and mystery… yeah no. I found it boring, nothing happened, I couldn’t tell the characters apart, didn’t touch it for months because I Did Not Want to pick it up.
Kerry O. Ferris & Scott R. Harris – Stargazing: Celebrity, Fame, and Social Interaction. There was nothing wrong with it, it was very interesting but it all felt a little surface level on how fans interact with celebrities, and nowhere near enough of the sociology/psychology/social anthropology (not sure which is the right ology LOL) behind it. I wanted… more.
Tabitha Carvan – This Is Not A Book About Benedict Cumberbatch. Considering the tagline is ‘the joy of loving something like your life depended on it’, there was a decided lack of joy in Carvan’s fannishness and far too much angst about it instead. It could have been so good but, sadly, didn’t quite work for me.
Kaleb Cooper – The World According To Kaleb. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I don’t know what the point of the book was, other than to make money. He has no life/world experience, the whole book fell flat – except for the few times he talked about farming.

And now we move on to 5 books that exceeded my expectations.

Sarah J Maas – A Court Of Thorns and Roses. I started coming out of a huge mental health breakdown/reading slump at the end of 2020, which is also when I discovered the online book community. I was feeling a little floundery, didn’t know what I wanted to read so picked it up to see what the fuss was about. And fucking loved it!
Jeremy Clarkson – Diddly Squat: A Year On The Farm. I knew I was going to like it. I did not expect that I would find it completely unputdownable and finish it in one afternoon!
Juliet Ashton – The Fall and Rise of Sadie McQueen. I was expecting chick-lit, and based on that assumption, I thought I knew how the story would go. I was wrong on both accounts. It was so much more filled with mystery and surprise and heartbreak and family and found family and was just amazing
Matt Haig – Notes On A Nervous Planet. I read this in the midst of going through therapy for agoraphobia, and it turned out to be just the thing I needed to read, exactly when I needed to read it. It wasn’t preachy, and Haig didn’t try to ‘fix’ me, he just understood, and felt very soothing and calming.
Nancy Warren – The Vampire Knitting Club. I had no idea that paranormal cozy mysteries were a thing. I’d been trying to get into cozy mysteries for a while but having no luck. I found this on my Kindle, having checked it out on KindleUnlimted at some point and completely fell in love, read it in one afternoon and introduced me to a whole new subgenre which I LOVE!

top ten tuesday

Books beginning with S

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 a freebie, so I’m randomly doing Books beginning with S

Dani Atkins – A Sky Full Of Stars
Nancy Warren – Stitches & Witches
Maggie Alderson – The Scent Of You
Mandy Baggot – Staying Out For The Summer
Nicholas Carr – The Shallows: What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains

Kirsty Loehr – A Short History Of Queer Women
Amy Jeffs – Storyland: A New Mythology of Britain
Elenav Armas – The Spanish Love Deception
Holly Martin – Spring at Blueberry Bay
Kelley Armstrong – The Summoning

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

stacking the shelves

Stacking The Shelves #3

Stacking The Shelves is a meme hosted by Reading Reality all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

I’ve been purposefully not adding anything to my reading piles lately, I’ve been feeling very overwhelmed with both the amount of books I’ve managed to end up with in progress and the amount of books on my TBR which doesn’t actually feel like it’s gone down this year.

This last 10 days or so, that kind of went to pot and I ended up with a little collection of new books.

Firstly I had an email from Amazon offering my 40% off the Kindle version of Dan Jones’ The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses and the Rise of the Tudors. While I generally prefer paperbacks for my history books, what was I supposed to do – ignore the offer?!

Then, I realized I still hadn’t brought myself a copy of The Plantagenets, which I most definitely want to re-read before re-reading Hollow Crown. It’s practically mandatory! So I picked up a cheap used copy from Abe Book.

I recently finished Summer at Skylark Farm – #2 in the Wynbridge series, so clearly had to buy Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market. I’m generally not a big Christmas book reader so it tells you how much I enjoyed the first two books.

I accidentally read all of The Vampire Knitting Club on Monday, so promptly checked the next three out on Kindle Unlimited. I’ve also made a note of the other paranormal cozy mysteries that Nancy Warren has written because I’m already a little bit in love

I also popped into my local library the other day to find out if I could study there, did I need to book in advance and was happily told that no, it was absolutely ok to just rock up with my laptop and textbooks at any time, she confirmed the un-manned opening hours for me. I’ll be trying that one weekend when I need a change of scenery when studying.
However the library was clearly waiting for me and I came home with