So this is it! The end of another year. 2018, as I have said before, has been my best reading year to date! I read 32 books this year and I can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store. I try not to plan things to extensively but check out my “Plan for 2019” blogpost which I posted about a week ago to have an idea of how I am going to attack 2019 head one!
I won’t try to overload you with loads of information but I took the stats from my Goodreads Wrap Up and have applied it here. These stats have been compiled by Goodreads.
I read 11,486 pages over 32 books this year.
My average book length was 358 pages.
My average rating for 2018 was 4 stars exactly!
The shortest book I read in 2018 – 156 pages
The longest book I read in 2018 – 659 pages
My most popular book.
This book was read by 5,611,021 people on Goodreads.
My least popular book.
This book was read by only 297 other people on Goodreads.
The highest rated book on Goodreads that I read in 2018
This book was been rated on Goodreads an average of 4.55 stars.
Now we are going to break it down into what books I gave a certain number of stars to. Since I started this blog at the end of the year, it will also help you see what books I have been reading. One good thing this year is I gave no books 1 star.
Books that I gave 2 stars – 2
The Princess Saves Herself in This One – Amanda Lovelace
The Magician’s Nephew – C.S. Lewis
Books that I gave 3 stars – 8
Murder on Christmas Eve – Edited by Cecily Gayford, written by Various Authors
One of Us is Lying – Karen McManus
The Sacrafice Box – Martin Stewart
Fight Club – Chuck Palahiniuck
The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller
Everless – Sara Holland
The Colour of Magic – Terry Pratchett
The Mermaid – Christina Henry
Books that I gave 4 stars – 9
It Devours! – Jeffrey Cranor and Joeseph Fink
Mythos – Stephen Fry
Battle Royale – Koushun Takami
The Riviera Express – T.P. Fielden
Uprooted – Naomi Novik
The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One – Amanda Lovelace
The Bear in the Nightingale – Katherine Arden
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K. Rowling
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
Books that I gave 5 stars – 13
Red Queen – Christina Henry
Lost Boy – Christina Henry
Caraval – Stephanie Garber
Senlin Ascends – Josiah Bancroft
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J.K Rowling
Gemina – Amie Kaufman
Scythe – Neal Shusterman
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton
Children of Blood and Bone – Tomi Adeyemi
Circe – Madeline Miller
The Murder on the Links – Agatha Christie
The Hobbit – J.R.R Tolkien
I added 11 of these books into my all-time favourites list proving how successful my 2018 has been.
Lastly, for my 2018 wrap up I will break down the different genres I read this year and how many books of that genre I read. There will be overlapping as some books fit within multiple genres.
I heard so much about this series but to me, it was so well-loved and highly praised, I was quite scared to even attempt to read it as I was worried I wouldn’t like it. I hadn’t read much high fantasy before this book so I wasn’t sure if it was my thing. But I thought I would just go ahead and see what happens. I mean, I got the whole set for £4 at a charity event so that gave me the push I needed to give the series a go.
The Plot: Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who loves the safety of his hobbit hole and doesn’t have an adventurous bone in his body. One day he is approached by a mysterious wizard and a band of burly Dwarves and is whisked away on an epic adventure to steal the mounds of riches from the evil dragon, Smaug!
Tolkien’s world building is unmatched! I have never read a book with such intricate world building, I hear that the Lord of the Ring series is a lot more detailed so I am looking forward to that. What made Tolkien’s world building so great is that it allowed you to visualise and place yourself within the scene. You feel as if you’re there with the characters experiencing all the events alongside them. The world building was also important for the battle scenes. I tend to find battles scenes long, boring and most of the time I don’t understand what is going on half the time but with the use of the world building it gives you a clearer image of where they are and where people are positioned, making it easier to understand.
The description of the battle scenes was incredibly intricate. I was never bored reading the scenes as he always managed to keep it light and fast-paced but without losing any detail as he goes. The detail in which he described the fighting styles and the positioning of all the characters was really interesting and as I said before, worked really well with the image of the battlefield he conjured up beforehand. The battle scenes were intense and at moments I couldn’t tear my eyes from the page as I had to know what happened next.
All characters were varied and unique and I don’t think I came across any characters who were similar to each other. Characters of notability include;
Bilbo. Bilbo was by far my favourite character from this book, he grew so much and I loved seeing him change from a man who didn’t like any form of change to a quick-thinking, brave individual who stands up to leaders and dragons! I felt very connected to him as I saw parts of myself in him. (Mainly when he was complaining of being hungry and tired.)
Bombur. Bombur was by far my favourite dwarf. He was endearing and funny and he was a constant throughout the story adding moments of comedy during the dark and morbid moments. He stood out to me the most in this novel as he was so unlike the other dwarves.
Smaug. I was quite shocked by how little Smaug featured within the novel. He was only in about 4 chapters but he made his presence known. I loved his dialogue, you could quote Smaug so easily. All his interactions with Bilbo were really interesting to read and it was fun to watch them bounce off and try to outwit one another
Tolkien’s narrative voice was another element of the story that I really liked. The story is spoken in 3rd person and Tolkien acts as an omnipotent voice following Bilbo and his journey. I loved how he sometimes mentioned things to show he knew more about the story than we did and how he would give extra information about characters or events that the characters didn’t know yet. This just added to the intricacy of the whole novel.
I haven’t read a book about a quest in over two years so I was really excited to go on this epic journey and experience the ups and downs and the problems that the characters were going to face. I loved visiting all the new places and it was just so refreshing to read a story about getting from A to B and the bumps along they way as it’s the kind of story I haven’t read in so long.
The last thing I loved was the realism of the novel. Important characters die, people lose things that are incredibly important to them and after the events of this adventure nothing is ever really the same and I loved that about this book. While I love a happy ending where everyone is ok, it made the novel fell more believable and realistic that the stakes were high and not everyone made it.
My only problem with the book was that initially I found it quite hard to get into it. Tolkien’s writing style for me was a bit hard to get used to so I struggled with the first couple of chapters. Once I had sat down and focused more on the words in front of me I finally got immersed into the story.
This is the last book I will read in 2018 and I look forward to see what books 2019 will bring!
I have done really well this year. I will end 2018 on 32 books by the end of this week and I am incredibly proud with how much I have read. My original goal was 22 books so I was very happy to beat that goal.
I have 5 areas that I want to complete during 2019. They cover authors, genres and reading challenges. I wanted to plan a bit more for 2019, as this year I just picked up anything I liked and read it. But since then I have started but not finished a lot of series and I have signed up for reading challenges and book subscription boxes. I wanted to approach 2019 in a more organised way.
How many books do I plan to read in 2019?
For 2019, my goal is to read 25 books. I was deciding to possibly aim for 30 but this year I was very fortunate to go on a couple of holidays where I spent a lot of time reading and I was also in college with a lot of free time so I managed to get a lot of reading done between lessons. Now that I have started full-time employment I don’t want to give myself an unachieveable goal.
I started a lot of series in 2018 that I was un-able to finish. So on Goodreads, I created a shelf called my 2019 sequels shelf which was dedicated to the sequels to the book series I had started within the year. My plan is to read these books before the month of June, so the first half of the year is dedicated more to finishing or continuing series from 2018 and the 2nd half of the year is dedicated to new series and books. There are twelve books on this shelf and they include;
The Arm of the Sphinx – Josiah Bancroft (Book 2/4 – The Tower of Babel series)
The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien (Book 2/4, I am counting The Hobbit in this series.)
The Girl in the Tower – Katherine Arden (Book 2/3 – The Winternight Trilogy)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J.K. Rowling (Book 4/7 – Harry Potter series)
Legendary – Stephanie Garber (Book 2/3 – The Caraval series)
The Light Fantastic – Terry Pratchett (Book 2/41 – The Discworld series)
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis (Book 2/7 – The Chronicles of Narnia)
The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in this One (Book 3/on-going – The Women Are Some Kind of Magic series)
Obsidio – Amie Kaufman (Book 3/3 – The Illuminae Files)
Poirot Investigates – Agatha Christie (Book 3/41 – Hercule Poirot series, not including the new books by Sophie Hannah)
Resort to Murder – T.P. Fielden (Book 2/on-going – A Miss Dimont Mystery series)
Thunderhead – Neal Shusterman (Book 2/on-going – The Arc of the Sycthe series)
The ONTD Reading Challenge
On Goodreads, there is a group currently called “2018 ONTD Reading Challenge”. It’s run by two women and they pick a theme for each month of the year and you must follow the theme and read a book each month that fits within the theme. I thought it would be really fun to do this as it means I would read books I would have never thought of picking up. I also tried to apply some of the books from my 2019 sequels list to some of the themes between Jan and June. So I have made a small plan, of books that I could read during the month, and it looks like this:
January – Read a book that has been adapted into a movie or TV show.
The Light Fantastic (TV episode)
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (Movie)
The Fellowship of the Ring (Movie and TV episode)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Movie)
Poirot Investigates (Multiple TV episodes)
February – Read a romance or a book in which a couple breaks up.
I am not really a romance fan so the books I looked at all have elements of another genre.
Cinder – Marrisa Myer (Sci-fi)
The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern (Fantasy + Historical Fiction)
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid (Historical Fiction)
March – Read a non-fiction book.
The Devil in the White City – Erik Larson
This Is Going To Hurt – Adam Kay
A Thousand Naked Strangers – Kevin Hazzard
The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures – Aaron Mahnke
April – Read a book about time-travel.
11/22/63 – Stephen King
All Our Yesterdays – Cristin Terrill
May – Read a book set in a country you have never been to.
The Girl in the Tower (Russia)
Confessions – Kinae Minato (Japan)
Shadow of the Fox – Julie Kagawa (Japan)
The Widows of Malabar Hill – Sujata Massey (India)
June – Read a book about friendship.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire/Order of the Phoenix (I would read OotP if I read GoF earlier in the year.)
The Fellowship of the Ring/The Two Towers (Same as above)
Neverworld Wake – Marisha Pessl
July – Read a re-telling.
Dorothy Must Die – Danielle Paige (The Wizard of Oz)
The Afterlife of Holly Chase – Cynthia Hand (A Christmas Carol)
The Child Thief – Brom (Peter Pan)
Spinning Silver – Naomi Novik (Rumplestiltskin)
August – Read a thriller where a female lead is in danger.
The Cheerleaders – Kara Thomas
Sometimes I Lie – Alice Feeney
Unraveling Oliver- Liz Nugent
Broken Things – Lauren Oliver
September – Read a comedy.
Three Bags Full – Leonie Swann
My Lady Jane – Cynthia Hand
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue – Mackenzi Lee
October – Read a book about war.
A Tattooist of Auschwitz – Heather Morris
November – Read a graphic novel/manga.
From Hell – Alan Moore
Fullmetal Alchemist – Hiromu Arakawa
The Prince and the Dressmaker – Jen Wang
December – Read a book that won an award in 2019.
This book I would have to pick closer to the time. These are just books I have in mind that fit the theme, I may decide later to read something else.
Any authors you plan to read more of?
I would love to read some of Brandon Sanderson‘s books. I have heard great things about his work and it seems like the kind of thing I would enjoy.
Any genres you plan to read more of?
I would love to read more classics. It’s probably the only genre I haven’t attempted to read, outside of school. So it would be good to try the genre out.
So, I thought I would give a bit more of an insight into my reading habits and opinions by answering a few questions to do with all things books.
1.What was the last book you read? The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis
2. What book are you currently reading? I am currently reading The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkein. One of my best friends adores the series and she nearly cried when I told her I had decided to pick it up!
3. How often do you read? I try to read every day. I read on the bus mostly, when I’m commuting to and from work.
4. What was the last bad book you read?The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis. It was just so boring and lacklustre.
5. What’s your favourite book? I’d say right now my favourite book is Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft. The worldbuilding, the intricate plot, the characters! Oh my gosh, it was amazing and I highly recommend it!
6. What’s your least favourite book? Probably Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. I never got the hype surrounding the book. I preferred the movies a lot more.
7. Do you prefer physical books or e-books? I prefer physical books, I like collecting books and seeing them all organised and colourful on my shelf. Also, it’s a lot more satisfying reading a physical book than an e-book.
8. What was your favourite book you had to read in school? It wasn’t actually a novel but it was the play, An Inspector Calls by J.B. Presitly. I love a good murder mystery so this appealed to me a lot!
9. What is your favourite book series? I would have to say, the Harry Potter series and the Percy Jackson/Heroes of Olympus series. Both series I read in my childhood and plan to re-read now i’m older.
10. What is your favourite genre? I can’t pick just one sadly, so i will have to go with, Fantasy, Murder Mystery and re-tellings (not sure if that’s a genre).
11. Who is your favourite fictional character? Again, I can’t pick just one! Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series, Circe from Circe by Madeline Miller, Hercule Poirot and James from Lost Boy by Christina Henry.
12. Has a book ever transported you somewhere? I think all good books must be able to transport the reader to their world. Notable books where I found this happen includes; Senlin Ascends,Scythe by Neal Shusterman, Alice by Christina Henry and Caraval by Stephanie Garber.
13. How long does it take your to read a book? It depends really on how much I enjoy the book. If I really enjoy the book it could take 3-5 days but on average it takes me just over a week.
13. Where is your favourite place to read? I mostly used to just read in my bedroom but now that I must commute to and from work on the bus. I find that that’s where I love to read the most as it’s a perfect way to relax after a hectic day.
15. Who gave you your love of reading? Probably my Nan. She was the one who introduced me to Harry Potter which was the first set of books that I loved. I am now the person in my family who inspires other people to read which is really lovely.
16. What book is next on your list to read? I have a massive TBR list and I know that more books are coming due to Christmas being in a number of days but off the top of my head I’d say, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
17. What book have you re-read the most?Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I have read that book 4 times so far.
18. Do you prefer to read one book at a time or several books at a time? I tend to read one book at a time but recently I have started reading two at at time. I find it hard to balance two books though so I will probably go back to just reading one.
19. What’s your policy on book-lending? I tend to not lend my books out to people. I have only ever done so with my mum and those books were And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie and The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.
20. A genre you rarely read. I tend to not read contemporaries or romances. I don’t read a lot of contemporaries because they represent real-life and I prefer to get away from it and be transported into another world. I would only read a conetmporary if another genre was mixed in such as mystery or thriller. I don’t read romances as to me they can get quite boring, cringey and repetitive. I only read romances if it’s mixed in with another genre like fantasy.
21. Name a case in which hype ruined the book you were reading. I would say A Princess Saves Herself In This One by Amanda Lovelace. I was shocked and disappointed with what I read. It was the first poetry anthology I had ever read and I didn’t understand why it was hyped up as much as she was. I then read her 2nd anthology A Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One and that was AMAZING!
22. If you could read in a foreign language, what language would you choose? I would choose Japanese. I have a lot of Japanese authors on my list and one of my favourite books this year was written by a Japanese author. Battle Royale by Koushun Takami. It also means I get to read a variety of manga on initial release.
23. Books I am likely to bring on holiday. I would bring whatever is available. For example, if I have a lot of books given to me for Christmas that I haven’t read I will take them or I would just buy some books at Waterstones. Whatever I fancy to be honest.
24. Name a book you could not finish. I have DNF’d only a couple of books which I am happy about. The most recent book is The Magician’s Nephew. Others would include, New Moon by Stephanie Meyer, The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch, Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead and Wicked by Gregory Maguire. I mainly DNF’d these because the writing was hard to follow or because the plot was boring.
25. Do you like to keep your books organised? Yes. I organise my shelf by alphabetical order of authors surname and then by chronological order if it’s a series.
26. Have there been any books you have been avoiding? I read Senlin Acsends in April of this year and I still haven’t read the sequel, The Arm of the Sphinx, as I’m worried I might not enjoy it as much as the first. The same goes for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I couldn’t really get into the Prisoner of Azkaban until the final 6 chapters so I am worried that if I re-read Goblet of Fire I won’t enjoy it that much.
27. Name a book you didn’t expect to like but did. I was shocked by how much I enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant is Completley Fine by Gail Honeyman. I thought I wasn’t going to enjoy it because it was an adult contemporary (which isn’t a genre I read a lot) and by what people had told me I thought it was going to be sort of like a self-help book about learning to live instead of just surviving. But I was enthralled by the characters, the diaglouge and the plot wasn’t what it seems to be first hand which impressed me.
28. Do you wish to be a writer? I feel like I have great ideas that could be really good books but I lack the skill and could never produce a book that would make someone go wow! I would have to hire a ghost writer.
29. A book that was ruined by the movie adaptation. For me Percy Jackson and the Lighting Theif/Sea of Monsters. I read the series because I really enjoyed the movies and I was shocked by how bad the movies were compared to the books.
30. A movie that has done a book justice. For me I would say the original Death on the Nile movie starring Peter Ustinoff as Hercule Poirot. It’s quite dialogue heavy but it’s so intricately done.
2018 has probably been my best reading year to date. So far I have read 31 books beating my target of 22 and I still have one book left that I want to read in the last 2-3 weeks left of December. Now that we are nearing the end of the year I want to look forward and start planning books I would like to read in 2019 and while that post will be coming in the following weeks. This post is a bit different.
The books in this list are a mixture of series I have completed and want to read again and series I started reading a couple of years ago but never finished, with this series I would start with re-reading the books I had already read and then continuing where I left off.
The reason this isn’t in my 2019 plan is that I wouldn’t be able to finish all of these series in one year as well as reading other books. This is more of a plan to cover the next 2 or 3 years. First up…
Series: Harry Potter
Author: J.K Rowling
Status: Currently Re-reading
Last Book I Read: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
No. of Books: 7
I decided early this year that I wanted to re-read the Harry Potter series. I have tried so many times to re-read the series, which I first read when I was 11, but I always gave up when it got to “Goblet of Fire”. The last time I tried to tackle this series I was 14 and got to the First Task chapter of the 4th book. Since then I have been listening to a variety of Harry Potter themed podcasts and it’s reignited my love for Harry Potter and the desire to re-read the series. One of the other main reasons was that I couldn’t remember much about the series from “Goblet of Fire” onwards especially not “Half-Blood Prince” and “Deathly Hallows” so I wanted to re-jig my memory and read the series through older eyes.
So far I have read; “Philosopher’s Stone”, “Chamber of Secrets” and “Prisoner of Azkaban”. I loved the “Philosopher’s Stone” as it brought back a lot of fond memories for me and I loved the “Chamber of Secrets” due to the murder mystery element to it. My opinion of the book actually changed due to the re-read, I love it a lot more this time around. I liked “Prisoner of Azkaban” but didn’t love it. It was still very good but I just wasn’t drawn into the world as much as I was with the other two books. My plan is to read “Goblet of Fire” next year and carry on the series. After I read Harry Potter I will then begin to re-read…
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Author: Rick Riordan
Status: Finished series
No. of Books: 5
I got this series a couple of Christmas’ ago after my dad and I watched the movie and I loved it so much I asked for the books for Christmas and boy was I shocked by how bad the movies were. Those movies were the epitome of “the book was better”. I was always a massive fan of Greek Mythology and the idea of mixing modern day and ancient gods together blew my mind!
I finished this series nearly 5 years ago and remember loving it but that’s the only thing I can remember about these books as I have completely forgotten what happens in this series. The movies can’t help you as they were so badly done and there were only 2 made! So one of the reasons I wanted to read this book was to remind myself about what happens.
Another reason is I remember loving it so much! This series to me was one of the first series where I realised that there wasn’t just Harry Potter out there. I didn’t think I would ever find a series that would match my love for Harry Potter and yet here we are.
Series: The Heroes of Olympus
Author: Rick Riordan
Status: Need to finish
Last Book I read: The Mark of Athena (Book 3)
No. of Books: 5
You are going to see a lot of Rick Riordan in this post, just to make you all aware. I was really scared reading the Lost Hero as I thought I wasn’t going to love it as much as I loved the previous series. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like the new characters and I wasn’t sure what direction this book was going to go. I was relieved when I finished this book that I loved it just as much as I loved the original series and to me, it felt fresh and new, not using recycled storylines which was what I feared it was going to include.
I haven’t finished this series, when I was reading the third book, “The Mark of Athena” the last book came out and I saw loads of spoilers posted by fans so I wasn’t really interested in finishing the series as I now knew the outcomes. So my plan is to re-read the first three books which I have already read first just so I can remind myself what is happening and then continue from there.
Series: The Trials of Apollo
Author: Rick Riordan
Status: To be read
No. of Books: 3
So I haven’t actually read the Trials of Apollo series. I haven’t even read one book. The reason this series is in the list is it’s continuation of the same world that “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” and” The Hereos of Olympus” series are in and I know that big things happen to characters introduced in the previous series’ so I feel like I need to complete this world as it’s not the end of the journey for Percy and other characters, hence why this series is here.
Series: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard
Author: Rick Riordan
Status: Need to finish
Last Book I read: The Sword of Summer (Book 1)
No of Books: 3
I read this book two years ago during the summer holidays when I first decided I was going to focus on reading more. It was one of the first books I ever logged into Goodreads. To me this book was not Rick’s best work but I still enjoyed it regardless. I love Rick’s stories and imagination and to be honest I don’t know much about Norse Mythology so it would be nice to learn more about it as well as finishing this action-packed trilogy.
Series: The Chronicles of Narnia
Author: C.S. Lewis
Status: Currently Re-reading
Last Book I Read: The Magician’s Nephew (Book 1)
No. of Books: 7
I have had the entire book series standing on my book-shelf for I don’t know how long! I read up to “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” but haven’t read any of the following novels. During December I like to read smaller books just to amp up the numbers on my Goodreads reading challenge so I decided to pick up the Magician’s Nephew in the hopes of a quick read. That book is left unfinished at it was quite dull. I am hoping when I re-read the next book I won’t be so disappointed. I mainly wanted to read this series as I love this world so much, I watched the first 3 movies and adored them and I want to continue being in this world.
Series: Agatha Christie’s entire collection.
Author: Agatha Christie
Status: Need to Finish
Last Book I Read: The Murder on the Links (Book 2 in the Hercule Poirot Series)
No. of Books: To many to count
I have watched adaptations of Agatha Christie’s work since I was about 10. I have the whole box set of every episode of the Hercule Poirot TV series but I have only ever read 3 of her books. Two which were from her Hercule Poirot series and one which was a standalone story. I want to read Christie’s work because I love her imagination and genius. Having watched everything unfold on the screen I would love to now watch it unfold on the page. I also love the fact that there are so many books and I want to challenge myself to read all of them. I love a challenge.
So there you have it. Quite a lot of books to get through. The next book I will be reading starting Monday will be The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien.
Date Read: 04.12.18 – 10.12.18 (Did not finish, stopped on page 148)
Rating: 2 stars
“Make your choice, adventurous stranger; Strike the bell and bide the danger, or wonder, till it drives you mad, what would have followed if you had.”
This book was disappointing, to say the least. I remember reading it a couple of years ago and liking it. When I thought about reading the Chronicles of Narnia series I was quite excited to re-read this book. I wish I didn’t.
The magic in this book is really lovely. I loved the idea of the rings that took you to a magical wood that could take to a variety of worlds and I loved the idea of Charn being this post-apocalyptic world caused by a jealous Witch. I really enjoyed the scene where Narnia forms and we see Aslan for the first time. They were all great ideas and were written really well. I just loved the imagniation.
Lewis’ writing when describing magic and scenes where magic is abundant was really beautiful, he had a way with words that I have always tried to replicate but never mastered. I really enjoyed his description of the “Wood between Worlds” and the beginning of Narnia, he places you within the scene as if you are seeing the events unfold alongside the characters.
The characters were incredibly two-dimensional and black and white. You were either evil or good there is no in-between. This made for very bland characters that I didn’t care that much about. The children were incredibly boring which was frustrating to read, as it was their story and their journey. Queen Jadis was my favourite character but again she was very bulk-standard. She was just really evil, which I don’t normally mind but it just seemed that, like with all the characters, she lacked personality.
The first half of the plot was incredibly rushed. Within one paragraph we are meant to believe that Digory and Polly become the best of friends who open up about the tough times in their life. It was quite hard to believe and another reason why I couldn’t warm up to them as it all felt slightly fake and forced. I loved Charn and really liked the chapters when they were there but again it was rushed, not much was explored which was really disappointing as it was a really interesting, probably the most interesting, part of the story. And then suddenly, Queen Jadis is living it up in London causing havoc and it just felt like the plot was all over the place which was also disappointing.
Overall the story was lacklustre, great ideas but bad execution.
About two years ago I started listening to podcasts as I was getting a bit bored with the music on my playlist. My trips to college would take 15 – 30 minutes each way so listening to the same kind of music got tiresome. Trawling through Spotify I noticed a button to podcasts and was shocked by the vast amount and variety. I have been listening to podcasts ever since. I mainly listen to podcasts during my commute to work and back, it’s the best way to relax after a long day at work.
Most of the podcasts I listen to are based on books or story-telling while I try to vary what I listen to I always come back to the same couple of podcasts. Which I am about to introduce to you now…
Harry Potter and the Sacred Text
Harry Potter and the Sacred Text is my favourite podcast at the moment. The premise of the podcast is using the novels from the Harry Potter series as if they were sacred and holy texts and see if we can learn something from each chapter, characters or important events. Each chapter is seen through a specific theme to help better the discussion between the two hosts e.g. Book 1, Chapter 7 they view the chapter “The Sorting Hat” through the theme of vulnerability and they discuss that theme alongside the chapter.
You don’t have to be a religious person to enjoy this podcast, I love listening to the two co-hosts, Vanessa Zoltan and Casper ter Kuile, discuss and analyse each chapter in depth and seeing how the content can relate to my life or something I have been through. For many listeners the advice that Vanessa and Casper give have helped them through very tough times.
So far they have just started reading the 5th book in the series, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” and I love hearing them discuss more serious topics now that the series is getting more and more darker.
HPST has a specific structure that they follow each episode.
The Story – The first part of the episode focuses on one of the two co-hosts telling a story of something they experienced in their life that follows the theme of that week’s episode. e.g. A time they felt vulnerable.
The Discussion – This part of the episode they discuss important moments where they saw the theme occur in the chapter.
The Sacred Practice – This part focuses on using religious practice and applying it to the text. e.g. Sacred Imagination, where one host reads part of the chapter and other must close their eyes and place themselves in the scene. After placing themselves within a scene they then discuss what they feel called to do. If they were in a scene where Neville is ridiculed by the trio they then call themselves to reach out to friends they may have been harsh or neglectful to etc.
The Voicemail – Some listeners send over voicemails about their thoughts and feelings from previous episodes, they may ask the hosts a question or just say where they saw a theme pop up in the chapter or how their podcast has helped them during times of struggle.
The Blessing – Finally at the end of the podcast they give a blessing to one of the characters in the book. Maybe it’s for their bravery or their intelligence or just for them being present in the chapter. Vanessa also decides to only bless women in the books, to raise up female characters in the series.
Notable episodes include:
Book 1 Chapter 7: Vulnerability – The Sorting Hat
Book 1 Chapter 10: Friendship – Halloween
Book 1 Chapter 16: Destiny – Through the Trapdoor
Book 2 Chapter 3: Curiosity – The Burrow
Book 2 Chapter 6: Attraction – Gilderoy Lockhart
Book 2 Chapter 16: Grace – The Chamber of Secrets
Book 3 Chapter 5: Foresight – The Dementors
Book 3 Chapter 7: Humor – The Boggart in the Wardrobe
Book 3 Chapter 19: Mercy – The Servant of Lord Voldemort
Book 4 Chapter 6: Acceptance – The Portkey
Book 4 Chapter 23: Guilt – The Yule Ball
Book 4 Chapter 26: Loyalty – The Second Task
Book 4 Chapter 34: Grief – Priori Incantatem
Potterless is a podcast by Mike Shubert, he has never read the Harry Potter series and decides to read it for the first time as an adult. He discusses important parts of each chapter with massive Harry Potter fans and its fun to listen to him guess plot points, character alignment and the ending of the series based on what little knowledge he has.
He talks about his hatred for the game Quidditch and my favourite part of his podcast is him delving deep into the plot holes that litter through the novels. I am currently listening to him read the 4th book, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”. His episodes focus on him grouping a couple of chapters together so I don’t have a particular favourite episode but I did enjoy him talk about the final five chapters of the Prisoner of Azkaban as his reactions were really funny.
Fantastic Geeks and Where To Find Them
The newest podcast on the list. Fantastic Geeks and Where To Find Them is a podcasts by YouTubers, Tessa Netting and Anna Brisbin, also known as Brizzy Voices. They focus a lot on Harry Potter but also talk about topics such as Marvel and Star Wars. They awnser your questions about their thoughts on specific topics, they debate controversial moments in Harry Potter and have a section where they sort characters not from the Harry Potter series in Hogwarts Houses. It’s a very positive podcast which is a lot of fun to listen to when you want to forget about the stressful things in life.
I have really enjoyed their first three episodes where they discuss, Harry Potter, the first Fantastic Beasts movie and Black Panther. They have just celebrated their first season, which is 40 episodes long so there are a lot of episodes to binge-listen too.
Myths and Legends
Moving away from Harry Potter. I have been listening to this podcast for the past two years. It’s pretty much what it says on the tin, Jason Weiser tells the story of a variety of myths and legends from around the world. He talks about Greek myths, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Vikings, African and Native American Myths. A whole variety!
I personally love when he is telling the story as he adds in little side comments and his opinions on certain matters and it gives you abit of an insight into who Jason is as most of the time he is just the story-teller you listen to on the way to work. The variety is also very good so you consume more culture and learn new things.
Some of my favourite episodes include:
Episode 4: Mulan
Episode 20: Prayers (Korean Folklore)
Episode 21: The Snow Queen
Episode 26: Wisdom (Japanese Fairytales)
Episode 42: Cinderella (Original Chinese Version)
Episode 55: A Grimm Fairytale
Episode 61: One Ring – King Solomon
Episode 72: Kelpie
Episode 77: Mrs Piggy (Romanian Folklore)
Episode 81: Trolls
Episode 84: The Rule of Three
Episode 98: Runner in the Night (Native American History)
Episode 107: Golem (Jewish Tale)
The first podcast I have ever listened to Aaron Mahnke’s Lore has cultivated in not just a podcasts but a TV show on Amazon and a trilogy of books called, “The World of Lore”.
The podcast focuses on supernatural and paranormal stories/tales from mainly the Victorian era and the first “settlers” of America and the American revolution but he also focuses on other eras but mainly from the 1930’s downwards.
Working with composer Chad Lawson, Mahnke manages to create a spooky and tense atmosphere. His narration draws you in as he paints a terrifying picture for you, of the horrible acts of mankind and after every episode, I question “Do ghosts really exist?” He posts every two weeks and I am fully up to date with his episodes and I can’t wait to listen to the next one.
I love every single episode of this podcasts but he titles each episode as stories and doesn’t detail much in the description about what he is going to talk about so trying to find my favourite episodes was hard.
“You may know all about cigarettes and match ends, Monsieur Giraud, but I, Hercule Poirot, know the mind of man.”
– Hercule Poirot
I am a massive fan of Agatha Christie’s work that being said I have only read 4 of her books, including this one. I have mainly consumed her work through TV and film and only now as I am older have I started to read her books instead of watching the mystery unfold on the screen.
Plot: Poirot gets sent an urgent letter by a man called Mr Paul Renauld upon urgent matters he would tell him about upon his arrival but when Poirot arrives to France per Mr Renauld’s request he finds that he is too late. Mr Renauld is already dead! With a mysterious past and the rumour of affairs, Poirot finds himself in a truly complicated case.
The characters were incredibly fleshed out which I really appreciated as my first thought was they were going to be walking stereotypes. My personal favourites were Poriot himself and Giraud, the French detective bought in to solve the case. These two characters are complete polar opposites to each other. Poirot is more calculating and takes his time while Giraud was like a puppy on a scent and was boisterous in his approach, overlooking certain elements. Poirot’s dialogue was perfection throughout the whole novel especially in the scenes between him and Giraud. I loved the scenes where they butted heads and had differing opinions.
Hastings as a character was quite infuriating especially near to the end of the novel, he was naïve and at times just plain stupid. I had moments where I wanted to shout at him because he was clearly making mistakes and had a constant lack of judgement. But as a narrator I loved him. This novel wouldn’t have worked if it was Poirot as the narrator or a random member of the accused party. We got to be as close to Poirot’s brain as possible but because Hastings didn’t fully understand certain elements of the case or what Poirot is saying as a reader we aren’t given all the information like we would be if Poirot was the narrator.
The plot was incredible. I can’t put into words how intricate and complex it was, just when you thought it was all sorted another twist or turn or point to consider was thrown into the mix and you are never fully settled until the last page. I was kept on my toes throughout the entire book. Christie has a really good ability to hand you loads of vital information but without revealing the core question which is, “Who killed Mr Renauld?” And that’s what kept me going as I was still waiting for this key question to be awnsered.
The plot is the main driving force on this book, the writing is average I was astounded by the writing style and you don’t need to be as the plot is so smart you forget about the writing and are waiting for the next big moment or reveal.
One part where I wasn’t sure if I liked or hated it was halfway through the book Poirot and Hastings just summarise points made in the last couple of chapters. This was good from a wrap-up point because if I was confused by anything it was explained but also felt slightly out of place to the rest of the narrative. But I can’t pinpoint my thoughts on it.
I loved the book for keeping me on my toes throughout the it’s entirety and being utterly unique. I don’t think anyone can match Christie’s work, I cannot wait to read more.
I have read a lot of books over the last two years when I started using Goodreads as a way of tracking my progress. Over the past two + years, I have cultivated a list of my all-time favourite books. I think this a good thing to include early on in my blog as it gives you all an idea of the kinds of books I read and love. This is an ever-expanding list so I will always mention in my reviews whether this book makes it to my list or not and I will probably do another wrap up later on next year. So let’s get going, in no particular order…
Author: Christina Henry
Series: The Chronicles of Alice (Book 1 of 2)
Genre: Fantasy, Re-telling
Date Read: Feb 6th – 16th 2017
Plot: The story centers around Alice who was committed to a mental institute for insanity after her trip to “Wonderland”. All she can remember years later, is a tea party, long ears and a lot of blood, leaving her with a long scar on her cheek. One night the institute burns down and she escapes to find out what happened all those years ago.
Reasons why I loved it: It started my love of re-tellings, which has now become one of my favourite genres. I loved how dark the book was, the original Alice in Wonderland is known for its whimsical and quirky world but this book did a complete 180 and made it dark and dangerous. The themes explored in this book are not for the faint-hearted and can possibly be distressing to some people. Personally, that’s what made me like the book so much because it was so drastically different to the original and I liked seeing how Henry would twist certain original elements or characters to fit her new and dark world. All the characters were exceptional, these characters were not always black and white, some were incredibly evil and some were morally ambiguous. This is what made the story so compelling to read because you never knew the intentions of any characters Alice would meet. One thing Henry did capture from the original story was the high level of imagination, the world was so incredibly rich with originality and wonder but in a terribly dark way. The plot was incredibly interesting, full of mystery, horror and magic. The plot allowed us to meet a variety of characters, explore various parts of the world and see elements of magic both terrible and good. Christina Henry has become one of my favourite authors.
Title: And Then There Were None
Author: Agatha Christie
Genre: Murder Mystery, Thriller
Date Read: March 4th – 7th 2017
Plot: Ten people get invited to a Devon manor by a host who never arrives. Each character has been involved in a murder and this is their reason for being invited. As one by one they begin to die before the weekend is out there will be none. And all have the motive to do it.
Reasons why I loved it: The characters were so rich and flawed so when they were all slowly being killed off one by one you had a plethora of characters who it could possibly be which makes you want to read to the end. The nursery rhyme played at the beginning telling the characters how they will die was quite scary, while most of Christie’s work is cosy murder mysteries this book had the added edge of thriller to it which I really liked. The ending was really satisfying and I really like the reasoning behind inviting everyone to the manor and killing them off. The book was incredibly smart and it makes you want to applaud Christie’s writing because it was so well done!
Title: Battle Royale
Author: Koushun Takami
Genre: Dystopian, Thriller, Action
Date Read: March 14th – June 13th 2018
Plot: Every year a high school class is chosen to be part of the Battle Royale program as part of an Authoritarian scheme to oppress the people of Japan. This year, a class is taken to a deserted island, handed a map, bread roll, water bottle and a weapon and must kill each other until one person is left standing.
Reasons why I loved it: The characterisation in this book was exceptional. Takami structured the book so at least a chapter or two was dedicated to each student, it sounds overwhelming as this class is very big but it is done really well so each student gets a moment to be in the forefront of the story. This is also incredibly heartbreaking, we connect more with the students as we read about their lives before the game and then see them die horrible deaths. We also so see a variety of relationships; platonic friendships, romantic relationships, unrequited love and friendships that fell apart. All of these relationships are explored thoroughly and I liked how all the students were connected in one way or another and again it made it more heartbreaking when they have to kill each other. Overall this book showed a lot of humanity and makes you look deep inside yourself.
Author: Stephanie Garber
Series: Caraval (Book 1 of 3)
Genre: Fantasy, Mystery, YA
Date Read: Feb 13th- 16th 2018
Plot: Scarlett has always wanted to visit Caraval, a travelling performance show where the audience gets to participate. Stuck on the Isle of Trisda with a horrible father, Scarlett and her sister Donnatella finally receive the long-awaited invitations but no sooner do they arrive Donnatella is kidnapped by the Master Legend (shocking name) the owner of Caraval. Scarlett must find her sister before Caraval ends and Donnatella is lost to her forever.
Reasons why I loved it: The world of Caraval was so beautiful and magical and full of so much imagination from the colours to the rules of the game. Everything is so well thought out and I didn’t feel overwhelmed with the description of things and the immensity of the world. The plot had loads of twists and turns and the ending was a lot more shocking than I thought it was going to be. Garber’s writing is the kind of writing I try to stay away from, overly flowery and not very logical, focusing on imagery, but I felt that it worked really well with the world she has created.
Plot: (Taken from my review last week) Circe is all about the life of the famous witch of Greek mythology. The book details her life from her birth to the end. You see her life intertwine with other well-known characters and myths and you see another side to the somewhat evil witch.
Reasons why I loved it: Circe as a character has a very strong character arc starting off as weak and naïve and ending as an all-powerful witch who can do as she pleases. The writing was really well done I felt it added a level of magic to the story. The description of places whisks you away so you felt like you were there with her. I loved the episodic structure of the book focusing on 10 key moments in her life in detail and giving you an insight into how it changed her. I also loved how her story intertwined with so many well-known myths!
Title: The Five People You Meet In Heaven
Author: Mitch Albom
Series: TFPYMIH Duology (Book 1 of 2)
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Historical
Date Read: Aug 1st – 3rd 2016
Plot: Eddie, a wounded war veteran, is killed in a tragic accident trying to save a little girl. He awakes to find he is in heaven and proceeds to have the meaning of his time on earth spoken to him by five of the most important people in his life. But they aren’t who you think they are.
Reasons why I loved it: It was an incredibly inspirational story about the mark you leave on the world that made me so incredibly upset but also happy. Eddie was an amazing character that could be anyone, he hads his flaws, his doubts, his great moments and his worst moments.
Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files (Book 2 of 3)
Genre: Sci-fi, Action, Romance
Dates Read: Apr 30th – May 12th 2018
Plot: The story follows Hanna and Nik. Hanna and Nik live on space station called the Heimdall, Hannah is the captain’s daughter highly pampered with a great life while Nik is a reluctant member of a crime family. Due to the events of the first book, a strike team lands on the space station and begins to kill everyone on it and it’s up to Hanna and Nik to defend their home before it’s too late.
Reasons why I loved it: One of the stand out things about the series is the fact that the story is presented through files, so text messages, transcriptions of scenes etc. This was done really well and I was still just as drawn into the story with this style as I am with normal prose. The comedy in this is done really well, the transcription guy and Nik were stand out performers. Nik was a brilliant character that I warmed to immediately and while initially, I wasn’t sure on Hanna she came through and ended up being a strong female character. The story was a lot more interesting and compelling compared to the first book.
Title: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Author: J.K. Rowling
Series: Harry Potter (Book 2 of 7)
Genre: Fantasy, Mystery
Dates Read: May 31st – June 18th 2018
Plot: Harry Potter heads back to Hogwarts for his 2nd year even after the ominous warning from the House Elf Dobby about terrible things about to happend. Harry thinks nothing of it until the warning start to ring true as students begin to get attacked but “The Heir of Slytherin”.
Reasons why I loved it: I loved the mystery element of this, it was kid’s murder mystery and it was done extremely well. It made me realise that while I painted the first 3 books off as the lighter of the series this is wrong because I was shocked by how dark this book was. We see the introduction of blood supremacy, Ginny being taken over by Voldemort, Harry’s relationship with Voldemort and Slytherin. I am so glad I re-read this.
Title: The Last Days of Jack Sparks
Author: Jason Arnopp
Genre: Paranormal, Thriller
Date Read: June 14th -18th 2017
Plot: In 2014, Jack Sparks, a controversial journalist dies in mysterious circumstances. Everyone knows his next book was on the occult when a tweet went viral after he took the mick out of an exorcism. Nobody knows what happened to him until now, this book details the last moments of Jack’s life and they are horrifying.
Reasons why I loved it: Jack was an incredibly charismatic character which even though he might have annoyed you, you can’t help but love him. I found his character incredibly interesting to read. The paranormal elements of the book were fantastic I was hooked from the beginning with this book. The last third of the book I couldn’t put down because it was so crazy and the pacing made it feel as if I was being chased by something horrible.
Title: Lost Boy
Author: Christina Henry
Genre: Re-telling, Fantasy, Horror
Dates Read: Feb 11th -12th 2018
Plot: This book is the origin story to Captain Hook and how he went from Peter Pan’s right-hand man and best friend to his worst enemy.
Reasons why I loved it: This the first book I have ever cried over. I loved James as a character he was so kind and didn’t deserve all the stuff he was put through. Peter Pan was an amazing character I loved how twisted he was it was, in a weird way, refreshing to read a character so opposite to stuff I normally read. Like I said with Alice, Neverland is a beautiful and magical world but in this story, Henry turns it into a nightmare and I love to see how she takes well-known parts of Neverland and twists it. This book was so heartbreaking to read and I felt completely drained when I finishhd it.
Author: Neal Shusterman
Series: Arc of A Sycthe (Book 1 of 3)
Genre: Dystopian, Sci Fi
Dates Read: July 10th -14th 2018
Plot: In this story, the world we live in has evolved. It has solved world hunger, cured all illnesses and learent how to reverse death so that no one can die. To keep the population size under control certain people known as Scythes must randomly choose people to die and are the only ones who can kill. Our main two chacrters Citra and ROwan are apprentices under orders to become the next Sycthe under Scythe Faraday, but their is a catch only one of them will be chosen and the person who sin’t chosen will be killed instantly by the other.
Reasons why I loved it: In this novel we see many different way a scythe can kill somone and this is automatically linked with their philosophy on death which was really interesting to read about. Rowan was my favourite of the two apprencticeships, because he is given a better character growth. The world building was really good and set up the premise of the story really well.
Title: Senlin Ascends
Author: Josiah Bancroft
Series: The Tower of Babel (Book 1 of 4)
Genre: Steampunk, Action, Adventure
Dates Read: March 16th – April 9th 2018
MY FAVOURITE BOOK OF ALL TIME!
Plot: Thomas Senlin and his wife Marya are on their way to the Tower of Babel for their honeymoon, a place that Senlin has been researching for a long time. It’s a marvel, where each level of the tower is drastically different to the level below and above it. On their arrival Senlin loses Marya in the busy streets, after hearing rumours that once you lose someone in the Tower you may never see them again. Senlin sets of in search of his missing bride.
Reasons why I loved it: The tower is so original and imaginative and I remember being blown away by the vastness of it. I loved how different each “ringdom” as they are called are. Each character that Senlin meets is important or impacts him and his quest in a certain way and no character feels unnecessary to the plot at all. The pacing was really good I never felt the story lull in any way. There was a good mixture of keeping on track about finding Marya and also exploring the ringdom he is in. Each level is like a small episode and it bring new characters and new hints to Marya’s whereabouts and about the mystery of the Tower. The story gets more and more intense as it goes on and allows enough wonder to make you want to read the next book.
Title: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Author: Stuart Turton
Genre: Murder Mystery
Dates Read: July 17th -21st 2018
Plot: Aiden Bishop must find out who killed Evelyn Hardcastle, a murder than no-one was able to solve. He has 8 days to find out who did it but here’s the catch. Each day he wakes up in a different body of someone who was at the party where she died and each day is repeated on loop. He must find out who did it or else his brain will be wiped and he must start again.
Reasons why I loved it: Aiden Bishop was the character I was waiting for, I wanted to see him succeed so badly through this book. I felt that the entire premise of switching bodies and repeating the days was executed really well, I never got confused by the large cast of characters or their different opinions or reasons. I felt that Turton managed to leave something of interest in each chapter so it would keep you reading. The final quarter of the book just drops in it and I couldn’t believe what I was reading, i devoured the pgaes.
I am really excited to see what 2019 brings and to see what books will be added to this ever expanding list.