Down the TBR Hole #1

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When I think back to a year ago, before I had started blogging or joined Goodreads, memories spring to mind of a life where a “TBR” consisted of the maybe two or three unread books sitting on my bookshelf (note bookshelf – back in my old flat I didn’t own a bookcase!).

Fast-forward a year, and I have inevitably become a book buying addict, purchasing books at a far quicker rate than I can possibly read them. And so when I saw Lost in a Story’s fabulous method of conquering your TBR, I had to give it a try.

Here’s how it works (taken directly from the source):

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

So, let’s get started…

The Books

The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles, #1)The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
This is a YA fantasy novel which has a pretty good overall rating on Goodreads. It sounds pretty intriguing, but I’ve found the fantasy series I’ve started in the last few months pretty hit and miss so I’m a little apprehensive about giving this one a go. Another reason I haven’t picked it up is that it’s not been available at any bookshop I’ve visited, nor on Amazon – but I’ve found out that it is on Book Depository, so I think I will give it a go.

Judgement: KEEP

 

Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948

Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948 by Madeleine K. Albright
I added this book to my TBR when I had some sudden inspiration for a WWII Historical Fiction about a young musician fleeing to London from Prague. This idea never came of anything, so while I’m sure this will be an interesting read, I don’t see myself picking it up anytime soon.

Judgement: GO

 

 

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, #2)Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
I listened to the audiobook for Cinder, the first book of The Lunar Chronicles, and really loved it, so I want to keep on listening to the audiobooks for the rest of the series. I’m pretty slow with audiobooks, and I’m currently listening to His Dark Materials to remind myself of the story before reading La Belle Sauvage – but once I’m done with that, I’ll be moving straight on to Scarlet.

Judgement: KEEP

 

 

Glass Roses: A Victorian Fairytale

Glass Roses: A Victorian Fairytale by Britain Kalai Soderquist
Back in January I marked Glass Roses as one of my Top Priority Reads for 2018 – and this is definitely still the case!

Judgement: KEEP

 

 

 

 

The Undesirables

The Undesirables by Chad Thumann
Similarly to Glass Roses, I read the first draft of The Undesirables on Wattpad – and to this day, it’s still one of the most stunning books I’ve ever read on the site. It’s a beautiful WWII Historical Fiction, and just thinking about it now is making me excited to read the published version.

Judgement: KEEP

 

Results

This Round: Kept 4/5
Overall: Kept 4/5

Let me know what you thought of my decisions, and I’ll be back with another round whenever I next feel begin to feel overwhelmed by my ever-growing TBR!

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Jane Austen’s London #2 | St James’s

For the original post in this series, click here.

My second Jane Austen walk around London began in Leicester Square. Nowadays it is known as a hive of entertainment, with several cinemas and shops for tourists (including the Lego store with a giant Lego Big Ben!), and plenty of street performers to watch.

Interestingly the square has been known for its interesting shops and attractions since Jane Austen’s time; though the entertainment was more along the lines of Italian sopranos and displays of needlework back then, rather than the beatboxers and breakdancers of today!

Away from the crowds gathered in Leicester Square is the relative serenity of the impressive St James’ Palace. Until the Regency period, this was the main residence of the royal family – but upon being made Prince Regent, George IV decided it was inadequate for a king and ordered Buckingham House (which we now know as Buckingham Palace) to be redesigned and extended so that he could live there instead.

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Just around the corner from St James’ Palace is a street of elegant shops fit for Regency gentlemen, including Lock & Co. Hatters, and Berry Bros wine merchants, where Jane Austen’s brother Henry, a banker in this part of London, purchased his wine.

Next door to Berry Bros is a shop front which captured my interest for a reason quite unrelated to Jane Austen. I’m sure those of you who have seen the Kingsman films will recognise this as being the location for Kingsman HQ in the films, and will also fondly remember the suits on display from the second film.

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After that unexpected stop came the part of the walk I’d been most excited about. In all its glory (if you imagine the cars outside are fancy stagecoaches), I present to you the one and only Almack’s Assembly Rooms – the hottest ticket in Regency London. Almack’s on a Wednesday night was the place to be during the London Season if you were on the marriage mart, and tickets were notoriously difficult to come by.

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One gentleman who would certainly have attended Almack’s is Mr Beau Brummell, Regency style icon. It was fitting, therefore, for a statue of him in all his Hessian-booted and cravat-ed glory to feature as part of this walk. I can definitely imagine some of Jane Austen’s more dandified characters (John Thorpe in Northanger Abbey, anyone?) dressed in such attire.

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The final part of the walk passed by several gentlemen’s clubs, including the infamous White’s which features in many a Regency romance novel. Jane Austen’s brother Henry attended the club for a grand ball in 1814 which included guests such as George III and his son; a subject of great interest and pride for Henry’s sister!

And so concludes the second instalment in this eight part series on Jane Austen’s London. All facts mentioned in this post have been taken from Louise Allen’s Walking Jane Austen’s London, which I would highly recommend checking out if you’re interested in taking these walks yourself!

 

 

20 Questions Book Tag

I first saw this tag done by Ashley at Thrifty Bibliophile, and it seemed like a fun one so I decided to do it myself!

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1. How many books is too many books in a series?
It depends on how long the author planned the series to be. Long series can be great, but not when the author keeps adding new books just for the sake of it.

2. How do you feel about cliffhangers?
I’m quite strange in that I don’t actually mind them – cliffhangers give me a good reason to pick up the next book in a series as soon as it comes out!

3. Hardcopy or paperback?
Paperbacks for me – I travel a lot with work so they’re a lot easier to transport with me.

4. Favorite Book?
If I had to pick just one favourite book, I think it would have to be Emma by Jane Austen.

5. Least Favorite Book?
Maybe it was just the trauma of having to dissect it for English Lit GCSE, but I really didn’t like Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.

6. Love triangles, yes or no?
Meh.

7. The most recent book you just couldn’t finish?
The Final Cut, the 3rd and final book in the House of Cards trilogy.

8. A book you’re currently reading?
Still Me by Jojo Moyes. I’m really liking it so far!

9. Last book you recommended to someone?
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, which I specifically recommended to my mum, but in all honesty I recommend it to everyone!

10. Oldest book you’ve read?
The oldest I can think of is Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (published 1811).

11. Newest book you’ve read?
Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas, published September 2017 – I’m terrible at keeping up with new releases!

12. Favorite author?
Jane Austen, as is probably evident by the number of times I’ve already mentioned her in this tag 🙂

13. Buying books or borrowing books?
I recently moved into my own flat so I’m enjoying the novelty of buying books to fill my bookcase – but libraries will always be an important part of my life.

14. A book you dislike that everyone else seems to love?
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly has loads of great reviews, but the writing style just wasn’t for me.

15. Bookmarks or dog-ears?
Bookmarks. ALWAYS BOOKMARKS.

16. A book you can always re-read?
This is probably quite a cliché, but definitely the Harry Potter series.

17. Can you read while hearing music?
Sometimes I like having some piano music on quietly in the background – nothing with words, though.

18. One POV or multiple POV’s?
Whatever works best for the story!

19. Do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days?
I have so much respect for people who can read a book in one sitting – even if I’m loving a book, I couldn’t concentrate for that long!

20. Who do you tag?
Anyone and everyone who would like to do this tag 🙂

 

Review: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

HomegoingIt’s taken me a while to gather my thoughts about this book coherently enough to write a review. There are some books I find myself desperate to review the moment I’ve finished them – but with this masterful debut novel I wanted some time to reflect on what I’d just read.

Homegoing tells the stories of Effia and Esi – half-sisters born in the country we now know as Ghana. The sisters are destined never to meet: one marries a British slave trader and remains in Africa, whilst the other is captured and sent to America to be sold as a slave.

Each chapter alternates between Effia and Esi’s families – and what makes this novel so unique is that with each new chapter, we move one generation further down each family tree. The chapters can almost be thought of as short stories, each covering the life of a different member of the family – but the overarching storyline is present throughout, bringing the novel to a beautiful, satisfying conclusion.

At 300 pages, this novel is relatively short – especially when considering the fact that it covers over 200 years of history. I was worried this might make the story feel rushed, but I needn’t have feared – the story was conveyed at a pace that neither felt too fast nor too slow, allowing the reader to savour each stunning page.

That being said, Homegoing is not the sort of novel which is packed full of exciting plot twists. I went into it expecting to find it very educational and eye-opening, which it definitely was – but for me, it was also so much more. Despite each character only getting a chapter’s worth of development, every single narrator felt fully fleshed-out, with hopes and dreams and despairs that made me feel so much for them.

Another aspect which endeared the characters to me was the often harsh reality of what Gyasi wrote. She certainly didn’t hold back from describing the atrocities of slavery and the fight for racial equality, painting a haunting picture of the world’s recent history for the lives of African people. The story she tells – the impact of slavery both on the formation of America as a country, and for the world as a whole – is an incredibly important one which I think everyone needs to hear.

This novel both educated and moved me, and I will be recommending it to everyone I know. It is an absolutely stunning debut, and I’ll be waiting with eager anticipation for whatever Gyasi chooses to write next.