WWW Wednesday

This meme is currently hosted by Sam and it can be found on their blog Taking on a world of words at https://samannelizabeth.wordpress.com/. The idea is just to answer three questions about your reading:

The three questions are: What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you will read next?

The Drowned City by K J Maitland

This is my current read, It was sitting on the library shelf last week so I picked it up as have read previous books by the same author. This is lot less magicial or mystical than her previous books which I imagine is why this has been published under a slightly different name. It’s a historical crime novel similar to other books by authors such as S J Parris and Andrew Taylor but is set in a less familiar period, the reign of James 1 just after the gunpowder plot. It’s also interesting in that unlike many of these books, it isn’t primarily set in London but in Bristol and the impetus for the story is an actual historical event. So far, I’m really enjoying it

Queen of Storms by Raymond Feist

I have just finished this which I read straight after finishing King of Ashes. It’s a fairly standard fantasy epic and has a lot in common with the Serpentwar books Feist wrote as part of the Riftwar Saga. However, I really began to like the characters which is always an important element for me and will definitely look out for the final part of the trilogy when it comes out.

The Survivors by Jane Harper

My next read will definitely be this one. I loved all three of her previous novels and have been wanting to read this one since it came out last year. I finally have a copy and will be starting it next.

So that’s my three for this week. Have you read any of these? What did you think? I’d love to hear.


Bullet Journal – Cats in June

A friend of mine suggested that I needed to do a cat theme for my bullet journal and as I felt it was time to try something different, I thought about how I could do it. First I needed to practise drawing cats. A quick look on google revealed lots of help for this . A search for cat doodles came up with lots of ideas with one of the best being a blog post by Sweet Planit which you can find here https://www.sweetplanit.com/home/how-to-draw-a-cat. There were also ideas on Instagram from @doodlingashley and @impawfectdoodles. I also decided to cheat a bit and see if there were any cat washi tapes out there. Of course there are! I do try not to use Amazon too much but sometimes it’s just too easy. Once I had my doodles and my cat stickers, I was ready to go.

My set up pages were the same as usual with pages for exercise, books and the other stuff I might do. I mainly used the stickers for the first pages partly because they were quite cute but also I have been really pushed for time this month. June was also a funny month as it started and is going to end mid week so that means two part spreads . If only all months were as well organised as February!

I really liked this idea for a cat based weekly spread. I shamelessly copied it from @doodlingashley on Instagram. It was quick to do as well.

The first full week was where I used my expertise in doodling cats!
I decided to give the cats a bit of a rest and had a fishy week instead. There is a sort of theme there.
Back to cats for the last full week of June with a mixture of doodles and stickers.
A final part spread to finish the month

The cat theme was fun and I enjoyed practising how to draw cartoon cats. I’m already planning what is going to be on my July pages.

20 Books of Summer – June/July

20 books of Summer is hosted by Cathy at https://746books.com/ It’s a really free and easy challenge where you don’t have to read 20 books at all, it can be 15 or 10 or whatever. As I’m retiring this July, I’m anticipating having more time for reading and maybe getting around to reading some of the things that I have always intended to but not got around to.

The five books above were my choices of books to read in June. My intention was to try and read more classic fiction over this Summer. However, that didn’t exactly work as I didn’t even open Great Expectations. Instead, I read Zadie Smith’s On Beauty which probably counts as a classic.

I didn’t find this to be a gripping read. I was interested in the characters and their situations but never really felt that I cared about any of them particularly.

Strawberry Thief – When I bought this, I didn’t realise that it was effectively the fourth part in a series. I have read Chocolat years ago but didn’t remember much of the detail. This was an OK read but certainly wouldn’t rush out to read any others.

Ninth House – I knew that this was going to be very different to her YA books and it certainly was. It has more in common with series such as The Dresden files. It took me a while to get into it, in fact, I had to go back and restart it as I was getting lost. Probably my own fault for trying to start a new book at 9 o clock on a Saturday night after several glasses of wine. Once I had got into it properly the next day, I did enjoy it and will certainly look out for the next one.

Dancer – Another disappointment. I didn’t really enjoy this. The early parts about WWII in Russia were quite harrowing and although I liked reading the story of Nureyev’s early life, the later parts were less enjoyable.

The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde – I did enjoy this one and like how the author frames the past events inside the present.

They were my first 5 books out of the 20 and so now I need to choose the next 5 for July. Happily, the library is now doing reservations again so I can reserve the books that I want to read rather than buy them or just wait for them to appear on the shelves. My next 5 books are all currently sitting on my reservation list and two of them are apparently in transit to my local library branch. Well, 4 out of 5. I’ve put Great Expectations in there again and will try to at least start it in July.

I’m hoping that this month’s books work out better than June’s choices.

MG takes on Thursday

This is a weekly meme hosted by Bookcraic on her blog https://bookcraic.blog/ and the purpose is just to celebrate some of the amazing Middle Grade books that are out there at the moment.

How to take part:

  • Post a picture of the front cover of a middle-grade book which you have read and would recommend to others with details of the author, illustrator and publisher.
  • Open the book to page 11 and share your favourite sentence. 
  • Write three words to describe the book.
  • Either share why you would recommend this book, or link to your review.

This week I’m celebrating Wildspark by the amazing Vashti Hardy.

WildSpark by Vashti Hardy. Published by Scholastic

My favourite sentence on Page 11 reads:
Mum always said he had a smile and a twinkle in his big browns that could light up the darkest room, but Prue couldn’t help but see the shadow of sadness in the edges that hadn’t left this past year.

Three words to describe this book: Adventure, Family, Friendship

This is brilliant adventure that should appeal to lovers of Cogheart and Tin. In the city of Medlock, there are many machines but these machines are inhabited by the ghosts of real people. Prue Haywood desperately wants to be able to bring back the ghost of her brother and takes his place at the Personifcate Guild to try and do this. During this time, she makes friends, both human and personificate, and foils an evil plot. She also learns that some things cannot be fixed.

It’s an exciting read with some really great characters who you really feel for.

WWW Wednesday

This meme is currently hosted by Sam and it can be found on their blog Taking on a world of words at https://samannelizabeth.wordpress.com/. The idea is just to answer three questions about your reading:

The three questions are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you just finish?
What are you planning to read next?

Currently reading – Feist’s original Magician trilogy is one of my all time favourites together with the linked series he wrote with Janny Wurtz. The next books were OK but the sequels kept on coming and in the end I got a bit bored (and frustrated with reincarnations). This is a different series so I’m giving it a try as the second book was 99p on Amazon last week. So far, it’s an OK fantasy read.

Recently finished – I finally finished this. It’s very unusual for a book to take me a whole month to complete. The lives of the characters are interesting especially how actions have consequences but sadly, I just didn’t really care about any of them that much. How much I enjoy a book is directly linked to how interested and engaged I am with the characters. For some reason, I didn’t really feel anything for any of them in this.

Hoping to read next – I really enjoyed The Martian. This is currently on order from the library and I really hope that it arrives quickly.

That’s my current past, present and future in reading. Let me know if you have read any of them. What did you think?

Six for Sunday – Favourite LGBTQIA+ characters

It’s June which means it’s Pride month and Six for Sunday is celebrating with prompts all connected to LGBTQIA characters and books. Six for Sunday is the brainchild of Steph and details can be found on her blog https://alittlebutalot.com/sixforsunday/.

This month we’re on favourite LGBTQIA+ characters so here are my choices. As usual, they span my favourite genres of crime, fantasy and Sci fi and a couple of them are books that were published last century!

I read this as a result of a previous Six for Sunday recommendation and the character of Sid is brilliant. She gives up her position as princess rather than deny her sexuality. A great fantasy read.
Mercedes Lackey has been writing gay characters into her Valdemar books for decades. Vanyel is my all-time favourite character. The early Valdemar books are by the far the best and this trilogy still brings a lump to my throat.
Another brilliant trilogy and Zaire is an amazing character. Rebellious and hot tempered but always loyal.
Science Fiction now and Glynn Stewart is another author who writes LGBTQIA characters into all of his books. I love Kelly from the Starship mage series.
There are less LGBTQIA characters in the crime novels that I have read but Elly Griffiths has created a great one in Harbinder Kaur, a DS in Brighton.
Sylvester Tate in Elizabeth Pewsey’s Mountjoy novels is everyone’s favourite uncle. Definitely a favourite character.

So that’s my Six for Sunday choices for this week. Have you read any of them? What characters would you choose?

I’m really interested to seeing what choices other people have as I’ve found it’s a great way of discovering new books.

MG takes on Thursday (or Friday)

This meme belongs to Book Craic on her blog https://book/craic.blog/2021/06/17/mg-takes-on-thursday-42. The idea is to celebrate middle grade fiction. I’ve just bought a few new books for my class so it seemed like a good chance to share my feelings about them.

The book I want to celebrate this week is

Shark Caller by Zillah Bethel. Illustrated by Saara Soderlund. Published by Usborne

Sadly, I can’t choose my favourite sentence from page 11 as it is a picture so instead I went for page 21:

But this is a place of silence and no words are ever spoken.

Three words to describe this book would be:

Friendship, Courage, Emotive (definitely tears in my eyes at the end)

I had seen this book recommended on Twitter and took it to read on my residential trip last week. It’s the story of an unlikely friendship between a girl who has never left her island home in Papua New Guinea and a girl from America. The culture clash between the two causes them to dislike each other but as they get to know one another, they discover that despite ,their differences, they have a lot in common.

It’s a powerful story of friendship and family ties as well as understanding another culture very different from your own as well as being a fantastic adventure story. It also packs a huge emotional punch at the end. I loved it and it definitely brought a tear to my eye at the end.

Definitely a story for every upper KS2 classroom

First Lines Friday

This is a meme which is hosted by Wandering Words. I’ve seen a few posts in recent weeks and then I read this opening which really resonated with me.

First times you can easily recall. First date, first kiss. First day at the job, your child’s first birthday. Your first view of the house you fell in love with, the first time you held the keys to your new car.
But last times come and go, and you never notice. The time you held his hand, the time you saw her smile: you overlooked those moments, and they slipped by unremarked. Only in hindsight, can you see them for what they were.
That hasty parting from an old friend, the visit to your mum that you cut short: if you realised they might be endings, mightn’t you stay a little longer, take the time to say a heartfelt goodbye?
Be mindful of such moments with your loved ones. One of them, one day, will be the last.

I think because I am in my last four weeks and very conscious that I am doing a lot of things for the last time. I’ve just finished writing my last set of reports and I’ve come back from my last ever residential trip but those are known endings. It’s the ones that you don’t know are the last times that are really painful.

Izzy and Tristan appear to have the perfect marriage but this is destroyed when Tristan is attacked at wedding reception. The hunt for his attacker and the repercussions of his attack and the investigation turns lives upside down.

I really enjoyed this book. The characters were well-written and the plot had plenty of twists but they all seemed to arise naturally rather than being contrived.

What first lines or pages have stuck with you lately?

WWW Wednesday

This meme is currently hosted by Sam and it can be found on their blog Taking on a world of words at https://samannelizabeth.wordpress.com/. The idea is just to answer three questions about your reading:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Current Read

I picked this up in the library with the view of broadening my reading from my normal diet of Crime and Fantasy. I started it two weeks ago while on holiday but haven’t got back into it. It’s the sort of novel that I classify as interesting but not gripping. The characters and situations are interesting and I enjoy reading the book but when I put it down, I’m not too fussed if I read any more or not. Whether I will finish this remains to be seen. Watch this space.

Recently finished

This was brought home from the library with the same intention as the previous book. I am trying to read more widely and discover new authors. I recently read Zoli by the same author and this story of the life or Rudolph Nureyev appealed to me. I really liked the early part of the book covering his early life and the different viewpoints were interesting. I didn’t enjoy the second half so much though, partly because he seemed a much more unlikable character.

Future Read

I am looking forward to this one. I really enjoyed The Rosie Project and its sequels and I always like the idea of second chances.

So that’s my current past, present and future in books. Have you read any of these? Let me know what you thought.

Pride Month Recommendation

It’s Sunday again so it’s time for Six for Sunday. This is hosted by Steph on her blog at https://alittlebutalot.com/2021/03/19/sixforsunday-does-april-may-and-june/. As June is Pride Month, it’s all about LGBTQIA books and characters this month. This week’s prompt is to recommend LGBTQIA books and as usual I have found the challenge quite tricky. In fact, this month, I’ve decided to only put one book in the post so it’s going to be just One for Sunday this week.

I know that the whole issue of sex and gender is a highly emotive one at the moment and I have thought carefully about this post as I really don’t want to offend or upset anyone.

Symptoms of Human by Jeff Garvin is one of my favourite LGBTQIA books this year and definitely a book that I would recommend to anyone. I hadn’t really thought about the issues of people who struggled with gender identity before and this book definitely gave me an insight into how difficult life would be for someone growing up and not identifying as either male or female. Gender is probably the first thing that we notice about someone when we first meet them and if you can’t fit people into one of those two groups, I imagine it could make you feel uncomfortable and especially for teens, create a barrier. People who don’t fit into established groups often end up being targets of bullying and this is what happens here.

I have read reviews from people who identify as nonbinary who have said that they really dislike the way Riley is depicted and that the book shouldn’t be recommended. However, I believe that Riley’s story has made me think more about this issue and therefore it might be the case for others as well. It isn’t presented as true so the fact that it isn’t a real experience doesn’t make it any less valid. I think that the story does increase empathy for nonbinary people and their situation and so that’s why it’s my choice this week.

What are your choices for this week’s prompt?