Where have I been? An update on my blogging and my reading

Anyone who says blogging is easy clearly doesn’t know what they’re talking about. It’s hard, much harder than I thought before I started. Coming up with ideas, taking pictures, putting your thoughts into words…that’s all hard. So over the past couple of months I just haven’t been doing it. I just haven’t felt the motivation. So I’ve stopped.

However, during this time I keep thinking to myself “I should do a post about this” or “I should do a post about that”. So I thought it was finally time to sit down and start writing again.

One of the things that I wanted to write about is a recent reading slump. In October I had possibly my best reading month ever. I read 11 books and was feeling great about it! But then in November I just didn’t feel like reading any more. I think I read 4 books, which was a lot lower than for the past few months. I think it was because of the types of books I was picking up. None of them were really grabbing my attention or pulling me in, so I was easily distracted by other things. I’m going to talk about this a bit more in a couple of reviews I have planned…so watch this space.

I’m not sure how to change this in December. I’ve got a few books in mind, and I think I’ll put them down more quickly if I’m not really enjoying them. Here’s hoping this is a better month for me!

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November Most Anticipated

Okay, so it’s been a long time and I’ve been neglecting my blog a little bit. Life happens! But I’ve got a lot of content planned, so hopefully I’ll be back in full swing now!

It’s a bit late, but I thought I’d do my November most anticipated read, as well as Wrap Up my October most anticipated. My October pick was Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier and as I expected I loved it!

Rebecca is the story of a young girl, who meets Mr Maxim de Winter while in the South of France, marries him, and follows him back to his home in England; Manderly. However, the new Mrs de Winter finds herself living in the shadow of his previous wife, Rebecca, who died tragically. I can’t really tell you more about the plot without spoiling anything, but the descriptions of the landscape and scenery are absolutely beautiful, as well as having a twisty turny plot.

For me, I think I probably preferred My Cousin Rachel, but I’m not sure if that’s just because it was my first experience with Daphne Du Maurier, or maybe it was just the reading mood I was in at the time. I’m planning on re-reading both next year, and will update on how I get on!

My pick for November is The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. After reading The Night Watch last month, I went straight out to pick up another of Sarah Waters’ books, so this hands down had to be this month’s pick! This book is set post war, where Dr Faraday is called to an old estate to see to a patient. It is the home to the Ayres family -a family struggling to keep pace with a changing society. The back reads:

Little does Dr Faraday know how closely, and terrifyingly, their story is about to become entwined with his.

I think it’s going to be gripping!

Non Fiction November: What’s on my TBR?


I’m sure if you read book blogs or watch BookTube you will be aware that it is Non Fiction November this month. The point of Non Fiction November is to encourage more people to read non fiction, and you can participate by reading as many of as few non fiction books as you like (as long as you read one!). I mentioned in a previous post about trying to read different genres that I want to focus on non fiction this month, and I’m making it a goal to try to read four non fiction books in November!

I’m not big on strict TBRs, so I thought I’d do a list of books I’m choosing between, as well as some books I’m hoping to pick up this month!

NEW BOOKS


This Is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay. This is the honest diaries of a junior doctor working in the NHS and I think this sounds absolutely fascinating.

First Women by Kate Anderson Brower. I love American history and politics, and always pick up books about 20th century presidents. When I saw this one about the First Ladies in Waterstones I knew I couldn’t leave without it!

What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton. I was absolutely devastated when Hillary lost the election – she’s one of the people I find most inspiring. In this book she tries to examine what went wrong during her campaign, and I’m really looking forward to reading what she has to say. I’ve downloaded this on audio because she narrates it herself! Win!

BOOKS PREVIOUSLY HAULED

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo Lodge.

Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay

BOOKS I WANT TO PICK UP

Names for the Sea: Strangers in Iceland by Sarah Moss. This book follows Sarah Moss and her family as they move to Iceland during the recession. I love Sarah Moss’ books, so this is on my to buy list!

I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell. I’ve heard wonderful things about this novel, which chronicles O’Farrell’s 17(!) encounters with death. Sounds absolutely fascinating! 

What are you planning to read this month?

Autumn Readathon Wrap Up

Mercedes from the channel MercysBookishMusings (you can check it out here) has been hosting the #autumnreadathon this past week in celebration of reaching 30,000 subscribers on YouTube. I’ve never participated in a readathon, however I absolutely adore Mercedes’ channel and autumn, so thought this was the perfect one to join in on!

I’ve already written a post talking about the various challenges and some of the books I was choosing between for the Readathon (linked here), but today I thought I would wrap up what I read over the last week. The Readathon ran from last Sunday until yesterday (Saturday) and in that week I read 4 books, which I thought was a good effort!

The first book I read and finished was The Night Watch by Sarah Waters. I have definitely found a new favourite author! I absolutely loved this book, which is set during the Second World War in Britain, and is told backwards, starting after the war in 1947 and ending in 1941. It follows four characters, and how they try to go about their ordinary lives against the backdrop of the war. This was a slow burning, beautifully written book, which I absolutely adored. I think Sarah Waters is an incredible story teller – all of the characters are incredibly well developed, and you end up really caring about them. I can’t wait to read more of her work and I would highly recommend this book! 

Readathon category: historical fiction

Star rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The next book I read was Elmet by Fiona Mozley. This was my pick for a novel set in a cold country, and follows our main character Daniel, who lives in a house his Daddy built in Yorkshire with Daddy and his sister. They are recluses, and reject mainstream concepts of land ownership and societal expectations. This again was beautifully written, however the writing style wasn’t my favourite. I enjoyed the story and plot though, and it’s one that I’ve kept thinking about after finishing which is always a good sign! 

Readathon category: book set in a cold country

Star rating: 3 out of 5 stars

The next book I completed was my audiobook pick for the week, The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell. This is a book which is highly recommended by Mercedes and Lauren from LaurenAndTheBooks. This is a non fiction book about Helen Russell’s experience moving to rural Denmark when her husband gets a job working for Legoland. She vows to spend her year figuring out what makes Denmark the happiest country in the world. I absolutely LOVED this book. I found it a really fascinating in sight into cultural, social and political aspects of Danish life (though I have seen some reviews that suggest Russell glosses over some of the negatives). I would recommend listening on audio, as it’s not something that you need to mark or highlight, so is a good non fiction audiobook in my opinion. Definitely check this one out of you’re keen to learn more about another country!

Readathon category: autumnal non fiction 

Star rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My final read for the week was The Birds by Daphne Du Maurier. I have loved everything I have previously read by Du Maurier, however I have to admit that this wasn’t my favourite. I think it’s because my favourite thing about Du Maurier’s books is the way they slowly build, but then have a big climactic ending (at least that has been my experience with My Cousin Rachel and Rebecca) and I don’t think that experience translates as well in short stories. However, I did enjoy some of the stories, in particular ‘Kiss Me Again Stranger’. 

Readathon category: Gothic or spooky book (and also counts for the bonus prompt of short story collection)

Star rating: 3 out of 5 stars 

On the whole I had a pretty excellent reading week. Participating in the Readathon made me conscious to pick up a book rather than watching rubbish on TV, so I found that a positive thing. I can’t wait to find out what everyone else read! 

His Dark Materials / The Book of Dust


With the recent release of The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman, I’ve seen a lot of people talking about how much they loved Pullman’s original series, His Dark Materials. I have a confession to make – I’ve never read the series.

I’ve had a funny relationship with the series, as growing up it was one that I was desperate to read. I thought the books (in particular The Amber Spyglass) looked so so beautiful, and they seemed very sophisticated and grown up for a children’s story. Time and time again they would be on displays in bookshops and the library, hailed as a top read for children. I, however, just didn’t get on with them.

I’m sure I must have taken the first one out of the library six or seven times, and I even bought my own copy in the vain that that might help me get into it. However I had no such luck. Every time I gave up I felt disappointed that I wasn’t going to get to read The Amber Spyglass, because I was too dumb (my rationale at the time) to make it through even the first book! 

I’m not sure what it was that didn’t gel with me. I’ve never been a huge lover of fantasy (Harry Potter aside), as I’ve always struggled to get to grips with worlds very different to our own. It’s not that I need to read about people exactly like me (I love books about other cultures and books that have diverse representations), it’s just that I struggle to process the different elements of magic and dragons and swords. And then there’s the names. There always seems to me to be SO MANY characters in fantasy novels. Take A Song of Ice and Fire for example

With that background to the series, it’s been so interesting to watch so many people talk about the books as some of their favourites. This has made me want to try them again, and see how I get on with them as an adult. I really want to read The Book of Dust because how pretty is that cover?! So when I saw this beautiful edition of Northern Lights I just had to pick it up. 

I’ll report back on whether I get on better with the series as an adult…

Trying New Genres: YA

Recently I’ve been trying to push myself to diversify my reading, both in the content and genre of books I’ve been reading. I see a lot of people really enjoying YA fiction, which is something I haven’t really read since I was a young adult myself. 

Last month I read One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus which I really enjoyed. I figured it was a good place to start as it combines YA with thriller and mystery, which is a favourite genre of mine. While I didn’t love it, I did still really enjoy it.

Next I picked up The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James and it wasn’t my favourite. I enjoyed the premise of the story, but I found it so far fetched and the romance element felt unrealistic to me. I just didn’t buy that a sixteen year old who I did like the ending though, which redeemed this book for me. 

Then I picked up a YA book which will definitely be making my top books of the year list – The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. This book follows Starr, a young black girl who witnesses the shooting of her unarmed best friend by the police. This book was absolutely incredible – I was completely engrossed by the story, and found this to be a powerful and moving book. I would highly encourage anyone to pick up this book, even if, like me, YA isn’t typically your sort of thing.

I’ve stopped in my pursuit of reading YA for the moment (Mercedes’ Autumn Readathon is on at the time of publishing, so I’m stuck into that – see my previous post with some books from my TBR), but I’m thinking of continuing to try to expand my reading further. I’m finding that this year I’m into reading so much more than in previous years, and the habit of doing so is improving my reading. I’m finding that I’m able to read more challenging books, and absolutely loving some books that a year ago I would have DNF’d. I think for me as a reader I really want to challenge myself to keep reading things that intimidate me.

Next month is Non-fiction November, and while I’m not ready to commit to a whole month of only non-fiction, I thought I’d make non-fiction my next genre to really try out. At the moment I usually read one non-fiction every couple of months, so in November I’m going to make a goal to read 3 non-fiction books. TBR to follow….

Cosy Reading Night Wrap Up

Last night was Autumn Cosy Reading Night hosted by Lauren @ Lauren and The Books and the first Cosy Reading Night that I participated in. The idea behind Cosy Reading Night is that between the hours of 7 – 10pm you get cosy and read books. Basically the perfect evening!

We prepared for the evening by ducking out for a quick dinner at one of our favourite Indian restaurants Tuk Tuk, and then headed back to the flat for the 7pm start. We got cosy in comfies,  pulled the duvet onto the couch and were ready to go!

My book of choice was Night Waking by Sarah Moss, which I was about 100 pages from the end of. I absolutely loved this book, and it was definitely a five star read for me! I’m very eager to rush out and buy Bodies of Light and Signs for Lost Children now! 

When I finished that I started on The Night Watch by Sarah Waters. This is a novel which follows four londoners during the 1940s. It’s set backwards, so the book starts in 1947 and finishes in 1941 (I think!). 

In terms of cosy snacks we didn’t really want many, as we’d been out for food, however we did have a cup of tea and an Eton Mess desert from Marks and Spencer’s. 

It was a great night, and I can’t wait for the next one!