The Young H G Wells – Changing the World by Clare Tomalin

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge

This is the first book that I have read as part of the 2022 NonFiction Reader Challenge hosted by ShelleyRae at Bookd Out I have previously read Clare Tomalin’s biographies of Dickens and Jane Austen and so when I saw this in the half price sale in Waterstones, it seemed like a good place to begin my non fiction journey this year.

The Synopsis from Goodreads:
Claire Tomalin’s remarkable and empathic biography, focusing on HG Wells’ early life, offers a new understanding of one of Britain’s most influential writers. From his impoverished childhood in a working-class English family, to his determination to educate himself at any cost, to the serious ill health that dominated his twenties and thirties, and the sudden success of The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds which transformed his life and catapulted him to international fame – Claire Tomalin paints a fascinating portrait of a man, a misfit, a socialist, a futurist and a writer whose new and imaginative worlds continue to inspire today.

I knew nothing at all about H G Wells, having only read his most popular works and a couple of his short stories so I was intrigued by the title of this book. How did a writer I only knew from his very early Science Fiction writing change the world?

H G Wells was certainly a very complex character and in many ways, an extremely unpleasant one. He was also incredibly intelligent and hard working.
As always when I read biographies, the most interesting parts for me are the early lives of the subjects. H G Wells overcame many difficulties to become a writer, not the least of which was his mother’s insistence that he become a draper! I really enjoyed the first part of the biography showing how he overcame the difficulties caused by his family life and his ill health and was fascinated by his determination to achieve his ambitions. His capacity for work and learning seems to have been almost boundless.

He was also incredibly selfish and single minded at pursuing his aims and desires and Tomalin shows this side of him very clearly. He was a good son and brother and cared for his parents and supported his brother Frank. However, he appears to have been much less satisfactory as a husband and lover especially towards his wife Jane who even had her name changed by him. He was also a loyal friend and many of the greatest writers and thinkers of the time such as George Bernard Shaw were good friends with him. Tomalin also shows us how his friendships could very quickly go sour if his friends disagreed with him.

He was certainly a visionary and foresaw many of the developments of the twentieth century. His pamphlets and articles arguing for socialist ideals did influence other thinkers and politicians especially Churchill. Tomalin tells us in the final chapter that his work The Rights of Man published in 1940 was one of the sources for the 1948 Declaration of Human rights and it is clear that he was influential in changing society during the first half of the twentieth century.

This was an easy to read and enjoyable book and a worthwhile read for anyone interested in H G Wells.

Sundays in bed with ………..The Court of Miracles

The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant

Sundays in bed with is a meme hosted by Midnight Book Girl but I came across it recently on Jill’s Book Blog. It is simply a chance to share the book that is by your bed at the moment (or that you wish was by your bed). This week, the book is The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant

As a long time lover of Les Miserables, i can’t believe that it’s taken me so long to read this book. It’s classed as fantasy but is almost Historical Fiction and is a alternative retelling of Les Mis but without Marius

Blurb:
In the violent urban jungle of an alternate 1828 Paris, the French Revolution has failed and the city is divided between merciless royalty and nine underworld criminal guilds, known as the Court of Miracles. Eponine (Nina) Thénardier is a talented cat burglar and member of the Thieves Guild. Nina’s life is midnight robberies, avoiding her father’s fists, and watching over her naïve adopted sister, Cosette (Ettie).

When Ettie attracts the eye of the Tiger–the ruthless lord of the Guild of Flesh–Nina is caught in a desperate race to keep the younger girl safe. Her vow takes her from the city’s dark underbelly to the glittering court of Louis XVII. And it also forces Nina to make a terrible choice–protect Ettie and set off a brutal war between the guilds, or forever lose her sister to the Tiger.

This is Eponine’s story. She is the Black Cat of the Thieves Guild and can steal anything from anywhere including part of the crown jewels from around the neck of the Dauphin. She is a brilliantly written character and I am absolutely loving this story so far.

Six for Sunday

I haven’t done Six for Sunday for ages but it was the first ever meme that I took part in so I thought it was time to get involved again. Six for Sunday is the brainchild of Steph and has been running since 2017. All of the prompts and details can be found on her blog https://alittlebutalot.com/sixforsunday/.

The prompt for this Sunday is bookish resolutions so here goes:

  1. Read more non fiction. I’m currently reading Clare Tomalin’s biography of H G Wells and I have the Abandoned Places book on order from the library so that’s a good start.

2. Keep my NetGalley review rating at over 80% This means resisting the temptation to request every book that looks slightly interesting or that I see recommended by other people. 😃

3. Read more diversely. I guess this is partly linked to Number 1 but also to try and read a wider range of authors. I read a lot of books with LGBT characters but I think I could do a lot better on reading authors from non white and non European/USA backgrounds.

4. Actually read my physical TBR pile. I never used to have unread books for more than about a week but somehow, I’ve managed to acquire a pile of nearly 20 books

5. Not buy any more books until I have achieved number 4 (or at least partly). Hmm. We’ll see how long that one lasts😘

6. Keep a physical reading journal. I log my books on Goodreads but don’t generally review them unless it’s for Net Galley. I thought it might be nice to keep a physical log of my books too. Again, I’m not sure how long this will last. I’m currently about 4 books behind. If it becomes too much of a chore, then I will give it up as I don’t want it to become something that is like work.

That’s my current set of Bookish Resolutions. Thank you to Steph for another lovely set of prompts.

What are your Bookish resolutions for 2022?

Stacking the Shelves 25

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Welcome to my 25th Stacking the Shelves post. Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Reading Reality and details are on her blog. The gorgeous graphic is also used courtesy of the sit

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

My STS posts are generally my library books. The library is where I get most of my books and I hope that maybe I can inspire other people to use their local library. Our libraries are constantly under threat of closure but the more people that use them, the less likely that is.

This post is a bit late this week due to the fact that we were in London again today. Last night we went to see The Book of Dust at the Bridge Theatre which was brilliant. Baby Lyra made the whole audience go Aaaah!

As we’re in London I haven’t been able to go the library this week. That means that this post is actually about the books that I got last Saturday. Eagle eyed readers will spot that I’ve already read one of them.

Magpie by Elizabeth Day
I had seen a lot of love for this book on Insta and different blogs so when I saw it on the shelf, I had to pick it up. The twist in the story took me completely by surprise and I ended up enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would at the start.

Empire of the Vampires by Jay Kristoff
This was a book that I had requested. It was huge at over 700 pages but was actually quite quick to read. I really enjoyed this story of Gabriel who has spent his life fighting the vampires who have taken over his world. He is now in prison and telling his story to a vampire historian. It’s a dual time line as he switches from recent events to his early life. Definitely one to recommend for any fantasy lovers out there.

The Appeal by Janice Hallett
I have had this on request for so long, I was actually surprised when it finally turned up. Since requesting this, I’ve read her second book which I didn’t really enjoy that much so I will be interested to see what this one is like.

The Witcher – Blood of Elves by Andrzei Sapkowski
The library had what seemed to be the whole set of Witcher novels so it seemed like a good time to revisit these.

So these are the books that I have added to my shelves this week. What have you added to your shelves?

Get to know the Fantasy Reader Tag

It’s Thursday and I don’t have any brilliant ideas for a blog post so I thought I would do a book tag. I felt I needed to post today to celebrate the fact that yesterday, over 30 people visited my tiny of the internet and read at least one of my blogs. That might not be a huge number to most of you but to me, it’s a record for my baby book blog.

To find a tag, I visited that oracle of all book tags Zezee who has compiled a huge list of tags. Have a look at the post, it’s an amazing list. As a lover of all things fantasy, I decided to do the Fantasy Reader tag. This was created by  which booktuber the Book Pusher adapted from Bree Hill’s Get to Know the Romance Reader Tag. Zezee’s own post is also here.

What is your fantasy origin story? How did you come to read your first fantasy novel?

9780140301328 - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Puffin Books) by C.  S. Lewis

Like many people around my age, my first memory of a fantasy story was having The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe read to me at school. I was 7 and can still remember parts of it really vividly. That led me to getting the rest of the series from the library and I was hooked on fantasy from then on.

If you could be the heroine in a fantasy novel, who would you want to write it and what’s one trope you would insist on being in the story?

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I would want my story to be written by Australian author Jennifer Fallon. I love her writing and would adore being in one of her books. As for the trope, well obviously I would need to be the chosen one. We mostly lead fairly ordinary lives but don’t we all dream of being chosen to do something special one day?

What’s a fantasy that you’ve read this year that you want more people to read?

It’s only January so I’ve cheated a bit and gone back to the end of last year too. Raybearer and Mask of Mirrors are both great books but I haven’t seen them in any bookshops so a lot of people will not know anything about them.

What is your favourite fantasy sub genre and which sub genre have you not read much from?

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I’ve never really thought much about sub genres but I guess my favourite would be Epic or Heroic fantasy. I love it when I get transported to a completely different world and get involved in the politics, battles and romances. Lord of the Rings set me up nicely for series such as Wheel of Time and A Game of Thrones as well as the examples I’ve mentioned already in this post.

I don’t read much magic realism or paranormal stuff. I prefer my fantasy to be completely removed from my real world. I did read Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo last year and enjoyed that but it’s not my preferred form of fantasy reading.

Who is one of your auto-buy fantasy authors?

This is so hard to answer. I don’t think I could say just one. Jennifer Fallon for certain, Mercedes Lackey and L E Modessit would all be authors that I would definitely buy whatever they published.

How do you typically find book recommendations?

Definitely through book blogs. I used to really struggle to find recommendations. If I didn’t see it on the shelf in a shop, then I didn’t really hear about it. The library sometimes has new fantasy authors but there doesn’t seem to be much demand for fantasy books in Leicestershire so they don’t put much money into buying stock. Discovering the world of Book blogging has been a revelation. I have discovered so many amazing books over the past 6 months that I would never have heard of otherwise. Thank to all the people who have written posts about fantasy books that I have gone to love.

What is an upcoming fantasy release that you are excited for?

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Definitely the Age of Ash by Daniel Abraham. I loved his series The Dagger and the Coin and this one sounds really interesting. It’s the story of a single city over a year with different stories all impacting upon one another.

What is one misconception about Fantasy that you would lay to rest?

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Lord of the Rings can lead people to believe that all fantasy is about elves, dwarves etc which can have a fairy tale aspect and lead people to dismiss fantasy as a bit childish. To be fair, they do appear in a lot of other popular series such as Shannara but Fantasy is so much more more than that. You can probably find a fantasy book to suit any reader. Joe Abercrombie is one of my favourite authors and definitely no elves here.

If someone had never read a fantasy book and asked you to recommend the first 3 books that came to mind as places to start, what would they be?

The Lord of the Rings trilogy has to be a great place to start. If you don’t read that, then you can’t recognise the huge debt that so many other fantasy writers owe to Tolkein. It is a bit light on good female representation I admit but still a great story.

Six of Crows is just a such a brilliant cast of characters. There has to be someone in there that everyone can identify with.

Magician is one of the all time great fantasy stories. Yes, it has elves, dwarves and dragons so maybe reinforces stereotypes but it is just a great read.

Who is the most recent fantasy content creator you came across that you would like to give a shout out to?

Ummm. Sorry but I can’t answer this as I don’t really look at YouTube or TikTok so I haven’t come across anybody. Maybe that’s something that I need to look into. Does anyone have any recommendations of where I could start?

That’s my fantasy reading tag. Thank you for reading this so far. And thank you to Zezee for her brilliant list of tags.

WWW Wednesday – 12th January

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It’s Wednesday again. Doesn’t it come round quickly? Wednesday means that it’s time for WWW Wednesday. This is one of my favourite memes and I love taking part in it and reading everybody else’s posts. It’s currently hosted by Sam and it can be found on her blog Taking on a world of words which can be found here.

The idea of WWW Wednesday is just to answer three questions about what you are reading, have just finished and are about to read so here goes for this week.

Currently Reading

Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff is a very dark (literally) fantasy novel. It’s set in a world where the sun has been darkened and the people are living in almost total darkness. This darkness has allowed vampires to rise and take over the world. Among the few people who can stand against them are the Silver Saints. The story is told by the last silver saint, Gabriel, as he tells his history to a vampire historian. I’m loving the book so far. The illustrations are also brilliant.

I’m also reading my first non-fiction book of the year. I’ve signed up for the non fiction reader challenge in an effort to read more widely this year.

Recently finished reading

This was a really interesting book. I didn’t like it at all to begin with as I didn’t really like the characters but having skipped to the end, I found myself having to read it properly as I couldn’t work out how the ending had been arrived at.

I really enjoyed this one and my review is here

What I’m intending to read next

That’s my current state of reading for this week. Have you read any of these? Let me know what you think in the comments. I would love to hear from you.

Top 5 Tuesday – Top 5 anticipated reads in early 2022

this week I thought that I would join in with Top 5 Tuesday. Top 5 Tuesday is hosted by Meeghan at Meeghanreads.com. This week’s theme is the top 5 books that you are anticipating reading in the first quarter of 2022.

There are so many books that I’m looking forward to reading in the first few months of 2022 but these are the ones that are top of my list at the moment. This list of course is constantly subject to change as I hear about new books!!!!

The latest in the Inspector Lynley series. I can’t believe that there have now been over 20 books in this series.

I loved Daniel Abrahams series The Dagger and the Coin and this new series telling the story of a city over a year sounds brilliant.

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Raybearer was one of my favourite fantasy books last year and I am definitely looking forward to this next part of the story.

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This is another sequel that I am really looking forward to reading. The Mask of Mirrors was a brilliant read and I’m hoping that this one is just as good.

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This is my final choice for this week’s top 5. I’ve read several reviews of this and am really intrigued.

That’s my top 5 of the books that I am looking forward to reading in the next few months. Along with all the others of course! All cover pictures taken from Goodreads as I haven’t actually got any of these books yet.

What are you most looking to reading?

Violeta – a review

I had never read anything by Isabele Allende before but I certainly will after reading this. I loved this book and found it really hard to put down as I just wanted to know what happened next.

The book tells the story of Violeta who was born in the middle of the Spanish Flu epidemic in 1920 and dies in 2020 in the middle of the Covid Pandemic. She is born and lives in Chile but during her life travels around South America as well parts of the USA such as Miami. She is born into a fairly wealthy family but her father’s businesses all collapse during the depression and her family has to leave their home and begin a totally new life almost penniless in a remote part of the country.

The story of Violeta’s life is told by herself in a letter that she writes to someone she loves dearly. Her life story itself isn’t especially earth shattering but she is witness to the major events of the twentieth century and we see how they impacted upon the lives of the people who lived through those events. From the fall into poverty during the Wall Street Crash and her life in the far south of the Country to her life in Miami, the reader is transported into a completely different world. We live through the political upheavals in Chile as well as the impact of the second world war on their community.

The book spans several locations and all of these are described vividly giving the reader a brilliant picture. As well as amazing locations, the characters in Violeta’s life are just so memorable. The small details described by Violeta really bring them to life. I especially loved her maiden aunt who may or may not have fallen in love with the local farmer.

One of the loveliest aspects of the novel for me was the loyalty and love shown by so many of the characters for each other and their country. In the book, there are some beautiful examples of people loving others despite everything which has a really uplifting message.

The historical sweep of the novel is impressive but it is the small personal details and emotions that stayed with me.

I received an advance copy of this book from Net Galley and the publisher, Bloomsbury Publishing. This book will be published on 25th January.

Support Book Bloggers Challenge – 10 blogs I enjoy reading

To help support and promote book bloggers further in 2022, Briana at Pages unbound is hosting a (very casual) “Support Book Bloggers” Challenge. The idea is simple: we will work together to read blog posts, share them, comment on them, and boost book bloggers in other ways. The original post with the 12 ideas of how we can support book bloggers in 2022 can be found here

This month’s idea is to list 10 bloggers who you have enjoyed reading over the years. My blog has only been going since March as a book blog so I haven’t read any blogs for that long. I have loved diving into the world of book blogging though and these are 10 of the blogs that I have enjoyed since starting this adventure.

https://alittlebutalot.com/
Steph was my first introduction to book blogging with her Six for Sunday posts which I discovered on Twitter. She is passionate about children’s books and education generally. A great blog to read for anyone interested in children’s books

https://bookcraic.blog/
Another blogger who is passionate about Middle Grade reading.

https://thebashfulbookworm.com/
Wendy at the bashful bookworm is so supportive and regularly posts comments which have encouraged me to keep going when hardly anyone read my blog posts. I’ve had some great suggestions for books to read from her posts.

The rest of my ten are blogs that I have enjoyed reading. They are all bloggers who feature a wide range of different books on their blogs.

https://kerrimcbooknerd.home.blog/

https://biblionerdreflections.com/

https://readingladies.com/

https://stephenwriterblog.wordpress.com/

https://monogamistreader.wordpress.com/

https://cosywithbooks.com/

https://potpourri2015.wordpress.com/

And of course, Briana’s own blog at pages unbound which is always interesting and often thought provoking.

I know that all of these blogs are well established already and have many followers but they have all helped me with comments and so this is a chance to show my support for them.

Sundays in bed with ……. Magpie

Sundays in bed with is a meme hosted by Midnight Book Girl but I came across it recently on Jill’s Book Blog. It is simply a chance to share the book that is by your bed at the moment (or that you wish was by your bed). This week, the book is Magpie by Elizabeth Day.

Blurb
Sometimes Marisa gets the fanciful notion that Kate has visited the house before. She makes herself at home without any self-consciousness. She puts her toothbrush right there in the master bedroom, on the shelf next to theirs.

In Jake, Marisa has found everything she’s ever wanted. Then their new lodger Kate arrives. Something about Kate isn’t right. Is it the way she looks at Marisa’s boyfriend? The way she sits too close on the sofa? How she constantly asks about the baby they are trying for? Or is it all in Marisa’s head.

I started reading this last night but decided towards the end of the evening that I wasn’t enjoying it that much so couldn’t be bothered to finish it. This happens very rarely but in my usual style when faced with a book that I can’t be bothered to read , I skipped to the end just to find out how everything is sorted out.

Well, that threw me completely as I couldn’t possibly see how the ending could be arrived at from the story that I had read so far! So now, I have to go back and read the book to see what happens in the middle!!!! In fact, I’m going straight back to the book once I’ve posted this😃 Don’t you just love it when books take you by surprise?

When were you last completely surprised by a book?