Reading Challenge Update

2018 was a great year, I achieved quite a lot.  I set up my blog which I had been wanted to try for a long time, I also got engaged and married, a very tiring experience, haha.  In addition I adopted two lovely little kitties who have made my family complete.

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Hansel and Gretel

This year, as I mentioned in by Back to Blog post recently, I really want to dedicate more time to reading and writing.  One thing I decided to do to help me achieve this was participate in a reading challenge.  There are so many good ones out there, I looked at the Modern Mrs. Darcy reading challenge which looked really interesting, I also considered the Read Harder Challenge, which was hard to pass over but as this is my first time doing a reading challenge I wanted to stick with something relaxed and simple.  This is why I decided to pick #52booksin52weeks as there are no rules or limitations on which books I pick up.

I found out about the challenge over on Instagram but I believe that it originated here if you would like to check it out in more detail.

I am keeping track of my progress on my Goodreads account (saviour!) and I have decided to do a regular blog update at any mini milestones.  As I have reached 10 books read this week I have decided this is the perfect chance for blog update numero uno.

10books

So if nobody minds I am going to do a brief overview of the 10 books I have read so far this year!

1. SNAP

Snap
Front Cover, Snap, Belinda Bauer

I couldn’t resist picking this one up in Waterstones, Newcastle when I read the synopsis after finding it on the buy one get one half price table.  It sounded right up my street and I wasn’t exactly disappointed after reading it!  You have to understand that I am not generous when giving out stars on Goodreads, I try to keep in my mind the best books I’ve ever read and try to measure what I am rating against those books and therefore, this one got a 3 out of 5 from me, very respectful score for a good pageturner.

2.  A Very Murderous Christmas

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Front Cover, A Very Murderous Christmas, Cecily Gayford

It was early in the new year and I was still feeling festive so I decided to give this collection of short stories a whirl.  This was great, well worth its 4 stars which I gave it on Goodreads.  Helped me over the post Christmas blues!

3. Where the Missing Go

missing
Front Cover, Where the Missing Go, Emma Rowley

This was a Kindle read, another 3 star thriller.  The twist was very easy to guess and the protagonist was super annoying (deliberately I would guess) but it was well written and I couldn’t have scored it any lower than 3.

4. Some Veil Did Fall

Veil
Front Cover, Some Veil Did Fall, Kirsty Ferry

I bought this book at the Write Festival which I attended at a nearby library and cultural venue in my hometown, I wrote about this event previously, here.  Some ladies of Choc Lit were there talking about how they got started as writers and how they became published, it was a great evening and I ended up going home with one of each of their novels.  I finally got round to reading this one because I couldn’t keep passing over its gorgeous pink cover.  I only scored this 2 stars but not because it is a bad book, I do not usually read chic lit so it is not my preferred genre.  I thought the writing was good, the time-slips were done really well and the way the mystery unfolded was well handled.  I just had a few issues with some of the dialogue and the attitudes of the main characters.  I will definitely read more of Kirsty Ferry’s work.

5. Ready Player One

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Front Cover, Ready Player One, Ernest Cline

Ahh Ready Player One, loaned to my by my S.O. was a really good book.  I devoured all of the cool references in the pages of this and loved how the future and the past were merged together so seamlessly!  I am going to write a longer post on this one, I have to as I have so much to say about it!  4 star read for me!  Lets not talk about the movie though…

6. Friend Request

Friend
Front Cover, Friend Request, Laura Marshall

Back to a thriller next, you would never be able to tell my preferred guilty pleasure genre would you?  Another Kindle read, 3 stars mainly because I enjoyed the use of social media in a thriller setting.  Other than that there was not really a lot going for this one, no suspense, extremely verbose and also some issues with clutching at straws in order to get the plot moving forward.

7. The Rumour

Rumour
Front Cover, The Rumour, Lesley Kara

I found this hardback when doing my weekly food shop one weekend and it was on offer so I chucked* it in the basket (*gently placed it in my arms and cradled it while continuing my shopping).  I actually enjoyed this thriller quite a lot, there were loads of red herrings, a really good reveal and an even better ending.  Easy 4 stars.

8. The Birds Nest

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Front Cover, The Bird’s Nest, Shirley Jackson

This one I have already discussed in more detail over here it was great to read some American Classic literature and even better because it was a female author who was fairly controversial in her time! 4 star book, highly recommended.

9. It Should Have Been Me

ME
Front Cover, It Should Have Been Me, Susan Wilkins

Another thriller that I picked up on my weekly food shop, I am starting to form a bit of a bad habit of refusing to leave the book isle without taking one with me!  This was another 4 star read, this rating was given more so because I felt the writing deserved recognition, along with the characterisation, as I found this to be of a high standard.  The story wasn’t bad but there was no suspense and the twist was very easy to guess.

10. The Wife Between Us

Wife
Front Cover, The Wife Between Us, Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkaneh

I treated myself to this one on the Kindle as there was quite a lot of chatter about it last year and I do like to base my choices on recommendations sometimes, obviously it is also a thriller which I am partial to.  It was good, I gave it 4 stars and found it really difficult to put down.  It was one of those stories where I wished my train journey to work could have been longer so I could keep on reading.

If you have made it all the way to the end then thank you so much for reading my progress post on my 2019 reading challenge!  I hope you enjoyed this and if you have any recommendations or comments on any of these books then please share!  Remember to hit follow if you want to see what I read next!

Amy

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To Find A Birds Nest

Shirley Jackson, a horror and mystery writer whose career spanned over two decades published her first novel in 1948 and the novel I will be discussing today in 1954, later republished by Penguin Publishing in 2014.

I had heard of Shirley Jackson recently due to The Haunting of Hill House being adapted for Netflix and a lot of bookish people I follow on Instagram etc had been picking up another of her works, We Had Always Lived in the Castle and speaking positively of it.  I was curious as to why I had not come across any of her novels before, which I mentioned to one of the friendly sales advisors in my local Waterstones while browsing her collection.  I walked in to the store all set to purchase one of the two aforementioned popular titles but after looking at the synopsis of each Shirley Jackson novel on the shelf I found that it was The Birds Nest which really drew me in.

Personification

We first meet the protagonist Elizabeth inside the museum where she works, the building is in a desperate state, just as Elizabeth’s mental state is on the verge of catastrophe so is the museum as the foundations are about to collapse.  There seems to be a direct link between the building and Elizabeth.

“It is not proven that Elizabeth’s person equilibrium was set off balance by the slant of the office floor, nor could it be proven that it was Elizabeth who pushed the building off its foundations, but it is undeniable that they began to slip at about the same time.”

Therefore it is natural that as the building is undergoing repairs this would be the ideal time for Elizabeth to be taken along to a doctor by her aunt who has grown concerned over Elizabeth’s headaches, insomnia and strange outbursts that she seemingly can not recall as soon as they are over.  However as the building is being repaired by the builders, Elizabeth’s mind is deconstructed through her sessions with Dr Wright.

“Elizabeth, Beth, Betsy, and Bess, they all went together to find a bird’s nest…”

Although I draw comparisons with Dr Wright and the builders who are repairing the museum, as I have just done, there is another thing that strikes me and that is Dr Wright’s role as a Curator of Elizabeth’s mental illness.  As a Curator in a museum discovers artifacts and labels them, Dr Wright discovers the other personalities within Elizabeth is responsible for naming them.  However, either of these analogies leaves us still with the museum as a manifestation of Elizabeth.

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The Bird’s Nest, 2014, Book Cover

When Bess is in the main personality in charge, she is not only arguably the most unlikable of the 4 she is also the one who seems to have no idea of time passing around her.  Each time she visits Dr Wright or speaks to her aunts she believes that it has been 3 weeks since her mothers’ death which happened many years before.  After this first claim of being only 3 weeks into the grieving process time continues to stand still for Bess who months later still believes that only 3 weeks have passed and cannot be persuaded otherwise.  Bess visits the museum and is aware that she has wandered around the exhibits but notices nothing, as if the museum is empty like Bess’s own memories of the time since her mother passed on.

A Person Renovated

At the end the museum is visited once again, this time things are noticed, admired and appreciated.  This is not Elizabeth, Beth, Betsy or Bess, this is someone with new eyes, seeing everything for the first time and enjoying it.  The museum is fully repaired.  For our protagonist there is a change in appearance, in attitude and in name….

“I am happy”

Thanks for reading my little post on my first Shirley Jackson novel, A Birds Nest, this certainly won’t be my last!  In fact I plan to read her entire published works now.  I hope you enjoyed this and if you have anything you want to ask, or add please do!  Remember to follow if you want to see my next posts!

Amy

Back to Blog

I have been gone for such a long time! I have missed my little space for writing down my thoughts about books and reading.

My extended break from blogging started in the summer.  I got married in October 2019 and felt like the prep for that just took up all my thoughts and energy, didn’t leave me time for my beloved blog writing.  I never thought I would have to take a break so soon after starting but I found myself putting it to one side, I just didn’t seem to have space for it in my mind.  I knew that I would come back to it though and I thought it would be straight after the wedding.  However…

A Lovely Day

It really was a lovely day but I was so relieved when it was all over, I was excited for the free time I would have again and to be able to go back to my day to day hobbies, namely the blogging community.  It didn’t work out that way though, as pretty much straight after the wedding I had to start thinking about Christmas, and I also found myself massively behind on my TBR’s, also, in all honesty, I really felt like being lazy.

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I think I left my get up and go back at the beach!

New Year Goals

When 1st of January rolled around I decided something, I was going to dedicate more time to reading and writing.  I picked up on the #52booksin52weeks challenge first of all, and I have spent January getting through some really good reads.  Now I am picking my blog back up, right from where I left off.  I hope that I will still have some people interested in reading!  It would be lovely to find some new people too throughout the year.

Who is still with me???

The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.

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New year goals

Thank you for reading! It is lovely to be back again. I hope that I still have some blogging friends left and hope to make some new ones too.  Please remember to follow to see future posts!

Amy

Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab

I saw a post on Twitter  by Rachel’s Random Resources a while ago inviting bloggers to take part in a blog blitz.  Being fairly new to the blogging world I wasn’t entirely sure what a Blog Blitz was so I decided to inquire further.  It sounded like a very interesting way to promote a book and when I looked at the information of the book that this blitz was in aid of it piqued my interest!  Read below to find out why

What is Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab?

Barnabas Tew, a detective in Victorian London, is having a hard time making a name for himself, probably because most of his clients end up dead before he can solve their cases. His luck is about to change, though, for better or worse: Anubis, the Egyptian god of the dead, notices him and calls him to the Egyptian underworld. A terrible kidnapping has occurred; one that promises to put an end to the status quo and could perhaps even put an end to the entire world. It is up to Barnabas (along with his trusty assistant, Wilfred) to discover the culprit and set things to right. Can he turn his luck around and solve the most important case of his life?

Purchase Link – mybook.to/Barnabas

Victorian Detective you say? Egyptian Underworld is it?

Then let me blitz away.

Now if you have read any of my blog posts before you will know that I don’t do reviews, what I like to do is more of a discussion piece (maybe even a mini essay type thing sometimes) on a book.  There is one theme in this book that stood out to me that I would like to discuss, and that is strong female characters.

Barnabas Tew - Cover

If you have ever been slightly obsessed with period crime mysteries like myself, such as Poirot, Miss Marple or Sherlock Holmes you may have noticed that very often the only time you will see a female character who is strong and capable is usually when she is also evil and a murderess so it was quite refreshing to see a few female characters in this book, which was in the style of a period crime novel, who drove the narrative in a positive way.  Indeed it is my opinion that Barnabas and Wilfred probably would have struggled to get anything done at all without the female characters in this book.

The woman leapt down from her perch with feline grace.  As she walked across the room toward them, they saw that she pranced forward standing entirely on her tip-toes like a cat.

My favourite of these strong female characters in this novel is Bastet, the warrior cat Goddess who just loves to put people in their place.  She is unbeatable in battle and shows no fear in the face of her enemies.  Although I really enjoyed meeting all of the Egyptian gods in the book and reading about their individual personality traits that came through in their behaviours and actions, Bastet really stood out to me as a very well written character, her movements were described as wholly cat like and her personality went from lazing around to ready for business in the blink of an eye, just like my own Egyptian Mau cat, and I imagine that if she were to develop human characteristics she would be very much like Noonan’s version of Bastet!

Who is Columbkill Noonan?

Barnabas Tew - ColumbkillNoonanPhoto

Columbkill Noonan lives in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, where she teaches yoga and Anatomy and Physiology.  Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines. Her first novel, “Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab” by Crooked Cat Books, was released in 2017, and her latest work, “Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Nine Worlds”, is set to be released in September 2018.

In her spare time, Columbkill enjoys hiking, paddle boarding, aerial yoga, and riding her rescue horse, Mittens. To learn more about Columbkill please feel free to visit her website (www.columbkill.weebly.com), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ColumbkillNoonan) or on Twitter (@ColumbkillNoon1).

Thank you for reading!  Please feel free to comment for any further discussions about this book, or any others, and I am always looking for recommendations.  Please remember to follow if you are interested in reading further discussions on other books I have enjoyed.  

Amy

3 Days, 3 Quotes Challenge – Day 3

Many thanks to Anna The Fangirl for the nominating me for this challenge! Check out her lovely blog full of cool content about movies, TV shows, music etc, it is worth a visit!

Rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Post a quote for three consecutive days (a quote for each day).
  3. Nominate three bloggers each day.

Day 3 Quote:

‘Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it, don’t wait for it, just let it happen. It could be a new shirt at the men’s store, a catnap in your office chair or two cups of good hot black coffee’ Agent Dale Cooper, Twin Peaks

My third choice for the quote challenge is a bit of a detour from the theme, as this is not from a book.  This is from the TV series Twin Peaks of which I happen to be a massive fan, like all the best people are!

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Everything about Twin Peaks is awesome, from the opening credits to the soundtrack, the acting and the script.  It is hilarious and terrifying and weird and comforting and so many other things all at once.

Dale Cooper’s words of wisdom here are something that I like to remember, when I am having a bad day or some stress at work is starting to get to me.  That is when I think, it is maybe time for me to give myself that present now, a hot black cup of coffee, coming right up!

My final three bloggers to nominate are;

jennifertarheelreader

bookishbrunette

What’s in my Wonderland?

Thank you!

Amy

 

 

3 Days, 3 Quotes Challenge – Day 2

Many thanks to Anna The Fangirl for the nominating me for this fun and interesting challenge! She’s got a lovely blog full of cool content about movies, TV shows, music etc, go have a look!

Rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Post a quote for three consecutive days (a quote for each day).
  3. Nominate three bloggers each day.

Day 2 Quote:

‘He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.’ Catherine Earnshaw, Wuthering Heights

For day two I felt that I had to chose a quote from a book that is full of the most descriptive and emotive language that I’ve ever read.

I remember my first time reading through Wuthering Heights, there were numerous times when I had to physically put down the book because I had read something so beautiful that I needed a moment to process it properly, and then a few more moments to read it over again to make sure I was fully appreciating the genius on the page in front of me.

Emily_Brontë_by_Patrick_Branwell_Brontë_restored
Emily Bronte, photo in the public domain.

I love all work by the Brontë’s, obviously, as do most people who have an appreciation for literature, but Wuthering Heights is on another level for me.  There is nothing I have ever read before or since where such raw emotion can come through so vividly through words on a page.

Wouldn’t it have been lovely if Emily could have lived longer and given us more of her beautiful words!

Three more bloggers to nominate today and they are;

Reader Voracious

Audio Killed the Bookmark

The Travelling Inkwell

These are three blogs that I love reading so I can’t wait to see what quotes they come up with!

Final quote coming tomorrow.

Thank you for reading!

Amy

3 Days, 3 Quotes Challenge – Day 1

Many thanks to Anna The Fangirl for the nominating me for what I think is going to be a very interesting challenge! She’s got a lovely blog full of cool content about movies, TV shows, music etc, go have a look!

Rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Post a quote for three consecutive days (a quote for each day).
  3. Nominate three bloggers each day.

Day 1 Quote:

‘And though she be but little, she is fierce’ Helena, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

I bet it is no surprise that I chose a Shakespeare quote for my first day of this challenge!

The reason I picked this quote in particular is because I am also quite little and can be very fierce when needed, both in the way it was intended in this quote but also in the Tyra Banks sense of the word.

AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL
Photo from https://www.imdb.com by Jonathan Mannion – © © 2009 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Smize!

The quote above actually infuriates Hermia when it is directed at her by Helena, she does not like being called little, oh how times have changed for us women!

 That is day 1 done, and the three bloggers I would like to tag are;

Jenniely

readingwithjessica

The Mystique Reader

Looking forward to seeing what you three amazing bloggers chose for your quotes!  Of course if you have already done this challenge then I’m sorry for replicating, feel free to ignore!

I will be back tomorrow with my next quote.

Thank you for reading!

Amy