20 Books of Summer – Nearly there

We’re half way through August and so there are only 2 weeks to go before the end of the 20 Books of Summer challenge hosted by Cathy at https://746books.com/ . I’m still on holiday and really enjoying being able to read without being too tired to take in what I’m reading.

Out of the 10 books on my list for this month, I have read 5 of them and so I’m well on schedule to finish the challenge.

Map’s Edge is the first in a new fantasy series by David Hare. I loved his previous series, The Moontide and the Sunsurge quartets and this was a good start to a new series. A whole community takes to the road to travel to an unexplored part of the country in the hope of discovering a precious mineral which will make their fortunes. The community is full of interesting characters with tensions between them as well the pursuit of the group by the occupying empire’s forces. This was a great first book in a series and I’m looking forward to the next instalment.

Cecily is the story of the life of Cecily Neville, the mother of Richard 111. She was a strong character who influenced events in the early years of the Wars of the Roses in the fourteenth and fifteenth. This was a great fictionalised account of her life and really showed how women could influence things behind the scenes .

Both Cecily and Map’s Edge were read courtesy of Net Galley and the publishers.

The Smoke Thieves was given to me by my daughter and is the first in a YA fantasy trilogy. I enjoyed this more than I expected. The characters are engaging and while there is nothing really new in the setting or events, the book is well written and I’m looking forward to reading the next two.

The Salt Path was also given to me by my daughter. This is based on the true story of a couple who lose everything and end up walking the South west coast path rather than become homeless. It’s an amazing story detailing their hardships and joys as they walked the path. I really enjoyed reading this and it certainly made me think about our attitudes to people who are homeless.

The Vanishing Half was given to me as a birthday present. It’s the story of a identical twin girls who leave their home town in America to find a better life out in the world but one of the twins disappears without a trace. The story is set in 1968 and 1978 and covers the issues of segregation, racism and identity as well as being a good story. It definitely made me think about how someone could just start their life again as a completely new person with no ties to their previous existence. I don’t think that I could do it.

So I have now read 15 out of my original 20 (as well as all the other books that I have managed to squeeze in. Just 5 to go. How’s your Summer reading going?

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Six for Sunday – Books I’m excited for

It’s Sunday and If it’s Sunday, then it must be time for #SixforSunday. This meme is the brainchild of Steph and details can be found on her blog https://alittlebutalot.com/2021/08/01/s4s-2021-faves-so-far/ . This week’s theme is 6 books that you are excited for.

September and October are always a great time for new book releases as publishers get ready for Christmas but this year there are some fantastic books coming out that I am really excited for. Most of these are fantasy books and some will end series that I have enjoyed so I am especially looking forward to those

I really cannot wait to see how Malorie Blackman ends her cycle of books in this series. One of the books that I am super excited about.

I loved the previous two this trilogy and am eagerly waiting for the conclusion. A brilliant fantasy series.

Another book in a series that I love. Skyward and its sequel were both brilliant so definitely looking forward to reading this although anything by Brandon Sanderson is always an exciting event.

I was introduced to The Midnight Lie through Six for Sunday as it was featured in a post because it had a snake on the cover. I read it and loved and am really excited for this next book by Marie Rutkoski

A Deadly Education was brilliant. Hopefully this will be just as good.

And a totally different book to finish off my six. I love Ann Cleeves and have been waiting to read this second book in her series set in Devon for ages.

That’s six of the books that I am excited about reading at the moment. I’m sure that there will be loads of others though as release dates get announced.

What are you excited about reading next?

All covers taken from Goodreads this week as I don’t actually own any of these yet.

Stacking the Shelves 4

Stacking the shelves  is a meme hosted by Reading Reality and details can be found here https://www.readingreality.net/2021/05/stacking-the-shelves-meme-official-re-launch/. The gorgeous graphic is also used courtesy of the site.

My stacking the shelves posts are all about the books that I get from my local library. Libraries are continually under threat of closure or reduced hours but they are such an important way of getting books into people’s hands that they need supporting. By highlighting the amazing books that I pick up every week, I hope to inspire maybe just one person to visit their library and borrow a book

My library visits are a bit all over the place at the moment with holidays getting in the way of regular Friday visits but this is my current stack that I picked up this week. Three of them are books that I had ordered through the library reservation system which I love as a way of being able to read newly released books.

My Current Library Stack

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint I saw this book in Waterstones and it really appealed to me. I can’t wait to find out what really happened to her.

Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal This is another one that I spotted on display at Waterstones and thought that it sounded interesting.

One Hundred Years of Lennie and Margot I have seen this rated really highly on several book blogs lately so ordered this one too.

The Best Things by Mel Giedroyc This was just sitting on the library shelf as I went in. Celebrity books can be very variable in my opinion but I haven’t read a book that is supposed to be funny for a while so I thought that I would give it a try.

So that’s my Stacking the Shelves post for this week. Have you read any of them? Let me know what you thought.

MG Takes on Thursday

This meme belongs to to Book Craic who hosts it on her blog https://bookcraic.blog . Each week the aim is to celebrate Middle Grade books, those amazing books being written for 9-12 year olds. The idea is that you choose a book, post a picture of the cover and also show the publisher and illustrator. Then turn to page 11 and find your favourite sentence on that page. After that, describe the book in three words ( I always find this really hard) and finally, write your review or post a link to your review of the book. Simples!!!!

This week, I’m celebrating a book that hasn’t yet been published but I read an advance copy in exchange for a review and I absolutely loved it.

The Book of Stolen Dreams by David Farr Published by Usborne on 30th Sept

My favourite sentence from Page 11 – In his spare time, he was a writer of articles, funny jokes, plays, gardening tips, recipes, satires, on alternative medicine, one good novel, thirteen bad novels, hundreds of letters to his family, even more letters to the government, love songs to his wife and a small Latin dictionary.

This novel in three words: bravery, family, thrilling

This is the debut novel by David Farr who is far better known for his work on TV series such as The Night Manager but what a debut! This is a great story with engaging characters and an evil villain who has to be got rid of. What more could any 10+ reader want? The book pulled me in immediately with the author talking directly to the reader and inviting them right into the story. And such a great story.

Rachel and her brother Robert are left alone when their father is imprisoned but they have to protect the Book of Stolen Dreams as this is needed by the evil dictator Charles Malstain as it will cure him and let his despotic rule continue for ever. They meet various characters during their adventures and it is hard for them (and the reader) to know who they can trust.

I loved this book. The world building is amazing and the characters really came alive for me. I will definitely be getting a copy for my classroom when it is published in September and can’t wait to see what the author writes next .

WWW Wednesday

This is one of my favourite memes. It’s currently hosted by Sam and it can be found on her 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 have you recently finished reading?

What are you planning to read next?

I am currently reading The Other Bennett Sister by Janice Hadlow. I had seen this mentioned on a couple of book blogs and when I saw it on the library shelf last week, I had to bring it home. It’s the story of Mary Bennett, the bookish sister who always seems to try and put a damper on everything. I am really enjoying it so far, The author uses much of the dialogue from Pride and Prejudice and hearing those conversations from a different point of view is interesting. The book is much longer than I expected so there’s obviously a lot more story to come and I am can’t wait to see what is in store for Mary Bennett.

The Last Library by Freya Sampson was the last book I finished which was an advance copy from Net Galley. It’s the story of a small village library earmarked for closure by the local council. I reviewed this on Monday and the review can be found here https://wordpress.com/post/witchyreading.wordpress.com/2089. It was definitely an enjoyable read. It’s on Goodreads with the revised title of The Last Chance Library so I’ve updated the title of my review to reflect the new title.

The next book I’m planning to read is Ariadne by Jennifer Saint. I love the Greek Myths and definitely looking forward to reading about what the myth doesn’t tell us about Ariadne.

There’s definitely a link running through this week’s books. Two of them are centred on women who feature in books and in The Last Chance Library, Pride and Prejudice gets several mentions.

So that’s my reading for this week. What will your WWW Wednesday look like?

The Last Chance Library – a review

The Last Library by Freya Sampson

A book about a library. How could I resist? This is the story of a small village library which is under threat of closure by the local council and of June, the library assistant for who the library is really her whole life. Closure of libraries due to funding cuts is a subject that’s really close to my heart and so this book ticked all the boxes for me.

June is a 28 year old library assistant who doesn’t really have a life apart from her job at the library after giving up her hopes of university to nurse her terminally ill mother who was the previous librarian. The story is as much about how June is still grieving as the plan to try and save the library and her journey through the book is a heart – warming story. I loved all of the book references too although I don’t think that I will be reading the zombie version of Pride and Prejudice any time soon.

I wasn’t sure about all of the characters, they sometimes seemed a little bit stereotypical – the good hearted neighbour, the grumpy old woman who has had a tragic life etc but the story carries you through. There are some lovely comic moments too as the local inhabitants fight the council to save the lbrary.

I really enjoyed this book and loved the ending. It is exactly what has happened to the library near my school and so rang completely true to me. Definitely a book for library lovers everywhere.

Huge thanks to Net Galley and Berkley Publishers for letting me read this in advance of publication in return for an honest review. It is on Goodreads titled The Last Chance Library so I have changed the title of the review to reflect this.

Six for Sunday – My TBR pile

It’s Sunday and If it’s Sunday, then it must be time for #SixforSunday. This meme is the brainchild of Steph and details can be found on her blog https://alittlebutalot.com/2021/08/01/s4s-2021-faves-so-far/ . This week’s theme is just 6 books on your TBR. What could be simpler than that?

I do actually have a TBR at the moment which isn’t always the case. There are more than 6 books in it but the next 6 books that I will probably read are below. It’s always subject to change though depending on what might be in the library or on the shelf in Waterstones.

I am really excited about getting to read all of these. Have you read any of them? What did you think? What’s on your TBR pile at the moment?

Cecily – a review

I love all historical fiction written around the Wars of the Roses. Two of my most read books are Anya Seton’s Katherine and Sharon Penman’s Sunne in Splendour. Now comes Annie Garthwaite to fill the gap between those two great historical novels.

Cecily tells the story of Cecily Neville who played an influential role in the beginning of the War between the rival families of York and Lancaster. The story begins with her witnessing the burning of Joan of Arc in Rouen as the young wife of Richard, Duke of York and takes us right through to the crowning of her son as Edward IV.

The story isn’t as emotionally gripping as the two earlier novels but Cecily isn’t that type of character. She’s proud, hot tempered, ambitious and pushes her husband to fight for what she feels is his rightful place. We see the couple at odds when her ambition comes between them but they always reconcile before long. Although this isn’t by any means a romance, the love between Cecily and Richard is a strong part of the story.

This is the story of two strong female characters, Cecily on one side and the Queen on the other. It is sometimes easy to overlook the role that women played in important events. The author makes if very clear that the role of women is very different to that of men but still a vital part of how politics was conducted at that time.

I loved this book and am sure that anyone who has an interest in this period or historical fiction will love it too. The only thing I wanted was an appendix to let us know what happened next. I had to resort to Wikipedia to find out that Cecily lived on for many years to see the founding of the Tudor Dynasty.

This is book 11 of my #20booksofsummer and I read it thanks to Net Galley and the publishers, Viking, in exchange for an honest review.

MG Takes on Thursday

This meme belongs to to Book Craic who hosts it on her blog https://bookcraic.blog . Each week the aim is to celebrate Middle Grade books, those amazing books being written for 9-12 year olds. The idea is that you choose a book, post a picture of the cover and also show the publisher and illustrator. Then turn to page 11 and find your favourite sentence on that page. After that, describe the book in three words ( I always find this really hard) and finally, write your review or post a link to your review of the book. Simples!!!!

A Pinch of Magic by Michelle Harrison Published by Simon Schuster

This week I am celebrating A pinch of Magic by Michelle Harrison. My favourite sentence from page 11:

Time had nudged it like an elbow and now the whole building slumped drunkenly to the left.

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

This is a brilliant book about the three Widdershins sisters, Betty, Charlie and Fliss and their quest to break the curse on their family which means that they can never leave the island of Crowstone. Each of the sisters has a magical object which at first sight, don’t appear to be magical at all. Their quest takes them to a prison and also involves shipwrecks and sorcery. It’s a great adventure and each of the sisters has their own personality which means, as in all families, that they don’t always agree.

I loved this book as did my 33 year old daughter! It’s the first book in a set of 3 about the Widdershins sisters but this one is complete in itself. If you haven’t read anything by Michelle Harrison then give her a try as her writing is truly magical.

WWW Wednesday

This is one of my favourite memes. It’s currently hosted by Sam and it can be found on her 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 have you recently finished reading?

What are you intending to read next?

The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green

This book was given to me by my daughter as she had just finished it. It has the prettiest cover! It’s a fairly standard YA fantasy story but the central stories of the two young girls, one involved in the illegal demon smoke trade and one a princess are both really engaging. I am less interested in the third part of the story with the young thief who discovers that he is actually a prince but the book as a whole is very readable and I’m looking forward to seeing how it all ends up.

Witness for the Dead by Katherine Addisont

I have just finished reading this. I’ve been waiting for this book since I read The Goblin Emperor which is one of my all time favourite books. It was lovely to go back to the world of the The Goblin Emperor and I do love her writing style. However, this one didn’t grip as much as the previous one. In the Goblin Emperor, the Emperor Maia is the central character and his journey really involves the reader. Thura Celehar doesn’t have the same level of engagement and although I enjoyed the book, it wasn’t on the same level as the previous one.

Cecily by Annie Garthwaite

I am so looking forward to this. I’m a Wars of the Roses addict and definitely on the side of Richard III so really looking forward to reading this book about his mother Cecily Neville. Mother of two kings and Grandmother of the Tudor dynasty, she is a fascinating character.

It’s August so I’m on holiday and hoping to do lots of reading. I’m also looking forward to reading what everybody else is reading at the moment.