Blog Update: I’m Back (Sort of)

Hello everyone! It certainly has been a while since I’ve last posted. However, my exam’s have been over for a couple weeks now, and I’ve been slowly catching up on everything I missed while I was dealing with them. I feel like I’ve done well, but only time will tell. It feels strange to wake up and have nothing specific that needs to happen, yet I have definitely needed some time to just do nothing to recharge.

Based on the title, you might be wondering why I’m only sort of back. The reason is that I’m going away for the next week to visit some family, so I won’t be posting again for another week, at which point I’ll be back on schedule. I wanted to write this post before I went away though, as I thought it would motivate me to actually get on and write my book reviews when I get back, instead of telling myself I’ll write them and then the day mysteriously vanishing and I’ve still made no progress.

During my time away, I did give a decent amount of thought to my blog, and whether I wanted to change anything. However, I think I’m going to keep my schedule of posts roughly the same, although perhaps writing a little less than before, and just take it from there. I want to make sure it is sustainable when I have other things going on in my life, but I’m not entirely sure how that happens, and if anything even needs changing.

I read a decent number of books while I was absent, although maybe not as many as I would have liked. I’ll probably retroactively review some of them – it might be interesting to see how much of an impression they left on me a few months later on. I think my favourite during this period was probably Legendborn by Tracy Deonn, which I read for a book club. I didn’t know that much going into it, but it was considerably better than I thought it’d be. I was surprised at the depth it managed to access in its themes without sacrificing any of the fantasy elements. I’d strongly recommend taking a look at it if you haven’t before and you like fantasy.

I also read a really excellent non-fiction book called The Crusades: The War for the Holy Land by Thomas Asbridge. I like history, but have never been that interested in this time period before. However, this book was written so fluidly and the whole narrative of the Crusades was so easy to follow that I was captivated right from the start. In places, it almost felt like I was reading a piece of fiction, between the author’s accessible writing to the remarkable events he was recounting.

Weekly Preview 14/3/21

Hello everyone. This past week has been a pretty slow one, where I’ve been cramming revision into most of my waking hours. Not exactly glamourous, but it needs to be done. Next week, however, is much more exciting. To start with, I’m going back to school tomorrow, which hasn’t happened in a year. I’m definitely looking forward to it, but there are some nerves too. Then I start the training for my census job on Tuesday. Not really sure what it’s going to be like. Anyway, all this combines to give me a very busy week. Given this, for the foreseeable future I’m going to try to post one or two book reviews a week, as well as my continued analysis of The Grapes Of Wrath, Music Monday, and this weekly catch-up post. I think trying to do any more than that is just setting myself up for failure.

I’m planning to review Lustrum, which I really enjoyed as it tied directly into the topics we cover in my latin lessons, as well as being an exceptional political thriller. I felt like it continued the story of Cicero well, and I plan on reading the final part of Robert Harris’ trilogy soon. Also, I hope to review Something Wicked, which was a surprisingly good indie book about a police investigation of vampires. I’ve also started The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson, but it is a pretty meaty book.

Weekly Preview 7/3/21

Hi everyone. You might remember that I said I was going through a period of demotivation last week. Well, I’ve come out the other end, and everything seems to be looking up (even if I’m still not happy about the exams situation). I think part of the reason for this is that I now have a lot on my plate. Alongside near constant revision, and the possibility of returning to school, I’m also starting my job in just under a week and a half. I find having a lot going on helps me stay focused. The downside of this is that I’m not sure how much time I’ll have to write blog posts, but I’m hoping it won’t be affected too much.

Bookwise, I’ve read a lot this week. I reviewed two indie books, both of which were very good, Realms and Penny Pinching Tips For The Morally Bankrupt. I also finished reading The Empire Of Gold, which is the final book in the Daevabad trilogy (reviews for the first two here and here). I thought it was a pretty satisfying conclusion, although I think I enjoyed it a bit less than the previous two. My full review will be coming soon.

This week I’ll be reading another indie book, Her Mad Song. I’ve read the first few chapters and I can’t say I’ve been particularly captivated, but there is still plenty of time for that to change. I’m also just over halfway through Lustrum, and I’m loving it. The politics of ancient Rome is absolutely my thing. I’ll probably be reviewing one of these this week as well, although which one depends on my mood at the time, as well as how quickly I finish them.

February Wrap-Up: Homo Deus, The Devil And The Dark Water, and more

February was a strange month for me. I spent a large part of it being generally demotivated from a combination of factors, and so didn’t read or blog anywhere near as much as usual. However, I’m feeling more energized now, and am hopefully out of the slump I was going through.

I got through 5 books this month, which is less than I would have liked. I think part of the reason is that, while I liked most of the books, only one of them felt exceptionally good. I think the average ratings for books this month has been by far the lowest since I started blogging.

However, I still managed to keep learning and improving my blog. I’ve found new places to read ARCs, although I’m yet to actually use them yet. I’ve also continued to strengthen relationships with people in the community. This is definitely something I intend to continue to focus on next month. I’ve decided to only have a top two books this month, given how few I’ve read (click on the book cover to get to my review):

Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari

An earth-shattering look at where we might be heading as a species (6.5 out of 7).

The Devil And The Dark Water by Stuart Turton

A clever mystery with fantasy and historical elements interspersed (5 out of 7).

Next, I want to spotlight my favourite indie book of the month again. I think it’s important to help them get more exposure, since they can be great and easily overlooked.

Tokyo Mayday by Maison Urwin

A chilling yet very realistic dystopia, with a relatable take on immigration (4.5 out of 7).

Finally, links to my reviews of the other books I read this month, with the one that I read for the book club I’m part of first:

Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer (3 out of 7)

Pariah’s Lament by Richie Billing (4 out of 7)

Weekly Preview 28/2/21

Hello everybody. I hope you’re all having a better time than me. Most of my week has been pretty standard (as much as is possible during covid), but two big issues have made the last few days worse. Firstly, the announcement about what was to replace exams happened. We’re getting teacher assessed grades, with no algorithm, which I guess is the best we could have hoped for. But it’s left me feeling completely nihilistic about the situation (if it’s even possible to feel nihilistic about something). I just don’t see the point in going to school to revise for months for exams we’re not even taking to obtain grades that are likely to be completely inaccurate. I can’t help but think is the months of revision worth my time, because does it really make a material difference what grades I get, as long as I get into the uni I want to go to? If anyone has a different perspective on this to me, I’d love to hear it.

The second thing that happened was my step-dad explained the situation with pensions to me. Who knew the future looked so bleak. I guess the only positive is that we’re all living longer.

Turning to books, last week I reviewed both The Devil And The Dark Water, and Tokyo Mayday. They were both good reads, with one being a decent murder mystery, and the other having strong themes to carry it. I’m currently in the middle of Realms by Patrick Morgan (which isn’t on Goodreads yet). I really enjoyed his debut novel, and was grateful that he reached out to me to provide an ARC of his sophomore book. His writing style, being slow-burning and introspective, line up perfectly with what I like to read. Hopefully I’ll have a review coming on Tuesday.

I’m also reading Penny Pinching Tips For The Morally Bankrupt, which is an excellent series of short stories (some extremely short), which are both comedic and thought-provoking. And sometimes very chilling. Review coming Thursday.

Weekly Preview 21/2/21

Last Sunday, I set out my intentions for the following week, as usual, and then promptly failed to fulfill them. They were absolutely my plan initially, but as the week drew on, I realized just how much I needed a break, before the coming months of intense study. So I spent the week spending time with my family and friends, as well as playing xcom 2, an extremely cerebral game, and discovering new and diverse music.

However, half term is over now, and so I’ll be resuming my usual amount of content, at least for a few weeks. I got accepted for the census job that I mentioned a few weeks back, and I start in mid-March. So I’m likely to reduce output again then, at least until I adapt to the new circumstances.

The government should also be announcing what’ll happen with the replacement for exams tomorrow, which will be nice. I’ll finally know what’s happening and how to prepare effectively, which will be another weight off my shoulders.

In terms of books, I’ll probably just write the posts I was going to write last week. namely, a review of The Devil And The Dark Water, something about what I learnt from Homo Deus, the next part in my analysis of The Grapes Of Wrath. Not that any of that is new to you probably.

Weekly Preview 14/2/21

I know I’ve been MIA for the last few days. I already was at the usual low point that I often get before a school break, but then I had an old family problem rear its ugly head again, which just threw me off completely. But I made it, and it’s half term, and I’m just going to take it easy (so there might be reduced number of posts again this coming week).

In other news, my application to be a discovery reviewer was accepted, so I’ll be spending some time figuring out exactly what I’m doing with that. I also reviewed both Homo Deus and Instant Karma last week.

This coming week, I’ll have a review for The Devil And The Dark Water, which I thought was an decent blending of murder mystery with fantasy elements. It did have a few issues. but was overall very enjoyable. I’ll also have my second post for Homo Deus, talking about what I learnt, which I promised last week. My breakdown of The Grapes Of Wrath will be resuming as well.

I’m definitely going to be reading Tokyo Mayday over half term, but as I’m off school, I’m hoping to get through some other books too. I’m thinking I might read A Court Of Mist And Fury, but I haven’t fully decided.

Weekly Preview 7/2/21

I’ve been pretty demotivated this past week in general. Not entirely sure why, but I’m hoping I can just push through it for one more week and get to half term and relax. This did mean that I didn’t read that much last week, and I only reviewed Pariah’s Lament. However, my reading has picked back up again in the last few days.

I’m planning on writing two posts about Homo Deus this week, because I think it deserves it. Firstly, an ordinary book review (spoiler alert, I really liked it), and then a post about what I learnt from it. Honestly, this book completely shattered my perspective of the world in a way I don’t think anything ever has before.

I’m currently reading Instant Karma, which is well-written and keeps me coming back for more, but I don’t like the main character. I’ve also just started The Devil And The Dark Water, but I’ve only read a few chapters and don’t have much of a judgement for it yet.

January Wrap-Up: House Of Blood and Earth, Circe and more

January has ended, so it’s that time where I review the month again. I finished my second Slow Reads book, The Catcher In The Rye. You can find my detailed reviews spanning 4 weeks here. I found some elements enjoyable, and there was a lot of interesting things to analyse, but overall I didn’t like the book that much.

I got through 8 books this month, which seems like a pretty sustainable number. Falling into the routine of reading about two a week has definitely been good. In addition, I’ve been experimenting with other types of posts, some of which have been more successful than others.

Once again, I’ve learnt a lot in terms of blogging, and met even more people in this lovely community. I’ve really been enjoying myself, and everything here has helped to keep me stable in such turbulent times. Now, onto my top three books of the month (click on the book cover to get to my review):

The Invisible Life Of Addie LaRue by V.E Schwab

A gorgeous, heartfelt character study on the dangers of immortality (7 out of 7)

Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

A thrilling heist with some of the most consistently complex characters I’ve ever read (6 out of 7)

The Kingdom Of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty

High fantasy with rich and unusual world-building, full of political intrigue (6 out of 7)

Next, I want to spotlight my favourite indie book of the month. I haven’t done this in the past, but I think it’s important, since they can be great and easily overlooked.

There Was Music by J.D. Grubb

A unique character’s journey through overcoming her suffering in a fantasy setting (5 out of 7)

Finally, links to my reviews of the other books I read this month, with the two that I read for the book club I’m part of first:

Kingdom Of The Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco (4 out of 7)

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong (5.5 out of 7)

A Court Of Thorns And Roses by Sarah J. Maas (4.5 out of 7)

Numbers by Rachael Ward (5 out of 7)

Weekly Preview 31/1/21

I’ve got some good news and bad news this week. Starting with the bad news, I didn’t get into Cambridge. While it definitely would have been nice if I had, I’m not too cut up over it since I hadn’t even decided I definitely wanted to go there. There is a course at UCL called the BASc (Arts and Sciences), which focuses on interdisciplinarity and creating a flexible, personalized degree, that I’ve already had an offer from and was very excited about. Assuming I get the grades, that’s definitely where I’m going now. Nevertheless, I’m glad I applied to Cambridge, as it really help me focus what exactly what I’m interested in at a very early point in the application process.

The good news is I applied for my very first job! I’m trying to get a role working on the Census. I’m quite excited, because if you know anything about me, I really like politics and hopefully it’ll be an interesting experience to be interacting with an assortment of citizens in an official governmental capacity. The downside is, if I do get the job, it might mean that I reduce the amount of content I’m posting for the six weeks it lasts, since it is quite a significant time commitment alongside my normal school work.

In book news, last week I reviewed These Violent Delights and Numbers, both of which were decent books with pretty deep subject matter. I also finally really found my feet with my most recent Slow Reads book, The Grapes Of Wrath. I feel like my analysis was much better this week than in previous ones.

This week I’ll have a review of Pariah’s Lament and Homo Deus coming. Also, I’ll have the usual monthly wrap-up coming on Wednesday and hopefully another political article on Saturday, although it depends on how much time I have. No idea what I’ll start reading next.