November Wrap-Up: Wasteland, Sapiens and more

November is over, so it’s time for another monthly wrap-up. This has been another great month for the blog, despite the distractions of mocks and other school work. I read 9 books this month, which was less than last month, but still a lot more than I was reading before starting the blog. I completed my goal of reading 50 books in the year (something I wasn’t sure would happen before the blog urged me to read so much more). I also got an e-reader, which I have absolutely loved so far. It makes a world of difference compared to reading on a phone.

A lot of new things happened too. I started the Slow Reads recurring post, starting with The Color Purple, where I dissect a book as I read it. I’ve loved the opportunity to dive deeply into such a rich novel. Also, I joined Rosie’s Review Team after taking part in the #RRABC. It has been a very rewarding experience so far, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops. The blog also had over double the views it had in October. I’m not particularly stats driven, but it is nice to see that it’s growing.

Without further ado, onto the books I read in November:

Sapiens: A Brief History Of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Superbly written non-fiction with a unique perspective on world affairs (7 out of 7)

Wasteland by Terry Tyler

Gripping plot with fast-paced action and surprisingly deep themes (6 out of 7)

The Priory Of The Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

A magnificently crafted court intrigue with a feminist slant (6.5 out of 7)

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

A very creepy adventure, with excellent writing (6 out of 7)

Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig

The profane hurricane returns! A truly dark urban fantasy (6.5 out of 7)

Here are the rest of my reads (some of which are also excellent, but I can only spotlight so many).

Jonah by Carl Rackman

The Silent Bluebird by Elle M Holmes

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

Synthetic Selection by Arda Karaca

How was your November? Did any book stand out to you? Have you read any of the books I did? What are you most looking forward to reading next month?

Weekly Preview 8/11/20

Hi everyone. Hopefully you’ve had a good week. I haven’t got through as much reading as I would have liked this week, as I’ve been distracted by the US election. However, I did review Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children and Wasteland last week.

I only got partway through We this week, and I’m hoping to finish it in the next few days. I also read Jonah as a second book for the #RRABC, and should have a review written for Tuesday.

I’m also taking a deep dive into the first part of The Color Purple on Friday as part of my new weekly post Slow Reads. Use the link if you’re interested to learn more about it.

Looking to what else I might read this week, I’m thinking of starting Pompeii by Robert Harris since I liked Imperium so much. Hopefully I’ll get the time.

Let me know your plans for the week.


#RRABC Book Review: Wasteland

Today’s book review is special, as it’s part of Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge. I’d like to thank Rosie for the free copy of Wasteland I got for the challenge, and I think there is still time to participate if you’re interested. Without further ado, onto the review!

Wasteland just got better and better as I was reading. It might start off slowly, since it’s worldbuilding is monumentally ambitious, but once it gets going it never slows down. The book has plenty to say about family, poverty, activism and democracy, social media, liberty… the list just goes on. I could spend all day dissecting its multifaceted themes. For me, it felt very reminiscent of the Children of Men film.

The novel is set in a dystopian version of the UK far in the future. Most of the population has moved or been moved into megacities – vast urban centres that can meet all needs, so that their residents never have to leave. The government controls almost every aspect of its citizens’ lives, and they are taught not to question. Outside the megacities is the wasteland, home to those who have escaped the government’s iron fist. 

The story centres on Rae, a young woman who has grown up in the orphanage system within a megacity. Upon learning that her family might still be alive, she starts to question what it is that she wants. Along her journey, there is a constant flow of diverse characters – it’s a real strength of the book. We can see the effects of the harsh world upon a whole host of characters, which gives small insights into a whole host of differing viewpoints and allows for interesting discussions of the various themes.

While Rae’s story was great, and she evolved seamlessly throughout the book, it was Dylan’s journey that was a highlight. His part was relatively small, since he was a secondary character, but I believe it to be crucial to understand the human aspect of the government’s policies. He encapsulates the idea that luck has a lot to do with your position in the world, and I found it impossible not to feel for him.

I found that the themes of the book mesh together to act as a study of humanity. It painted a poor picture of us, often being very cynical. Yet, despite all the flaws it exposed, it manages to maintain a spark of hope throughout – the idea that no matter what, humanity will find a way. I also don’t feel that Terry Tyler’s exploration of themes in any way impeded the overall flow of the story, something I’m always wary of when books have a strong message. However, the ambitious nature of the novel did mean that some themes are only touched on at a shallow level. I didn’t find this an issue personally though, since there is more than enough food for thought.

In my opinion, the book really comes into its own in the last 3rd. There was a twist that I didn’t see coming at all, which was great, and then the pace is relentless from there on out. It’s one of those that I just couldn’t put down, since the tension and stakes are so high and I was hugely invested in the characters.

Overall, this book has made me really excited to read more of Terry Tyler’s work. It was really easy to read as a standalone book, despite kind of being a sequel (it’s set in the same world as another book, but many years later). My only small criticism is that the writing occasionally was a bit awkward, so I had to reread bits which I misunderstood because I’d missed a word that was in an unexpected place. However, it didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment, and would suggest that you don’t let it put you off in any way. Therefore, I give the book 6 out of 7, and would easily recommend it to lovers of sci-fi and dystopia. I’d also recommend it more widely, but warn that it can be quite bleak in places, so don’t go for it if that’s not your thing.


Weekly Preview 1/11/20

I have some exciting news this week – I’m taking part in Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge. It’s kind of exhilarating because I got a free copy of Wasteland by Terry Tyler, and now I feel like a real reviewer! The book has been good so far and you’ll get to see the review soon. Also, I’ve been really impressed with how helpful and quick to respond Rosie has been. There is still time to participate in this challenge (I think), and this could be a great way to get into reviewing if anyone is interested.

Beyond that, last week I reviewed Life of Pi and One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich, both of which were decent books. I also participated in my first ever book tag.

There’s a review of Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children coming on Tuesday as per usual. It had some pretty creepy pictures in it, which was a really unique part of the book.

I’m hoping to keep up the sci-fi slant to the blog by reading We next week (as well as finishing Wasteland). I’m pretty excited about this one since it is supposed to have inspired Orwell’s 1984, which will definitely be interesting to see.

Finally, I’ve got some more ideas for the blog coming down the pipeline. I want to try and find more recurring content, so that I can start to post every day. At the moment, I would need to write 5 book reviews in a week to accomplish this, which just isn’t going to happen. Therefore, I’ve had an idea for something I’m currently calling ‘slow reads’, with more information to follow on Friday. Also, I want to take some Saturday’s (normally my day off) to post more political content (the original concept for the blog). You might recall me saying I was going to read The Communist Manifesto, which I did last week, so look for something about it on Saturday. Although I might end up talking about the American election or other pressing news if I feel it is more relevant.

That’s all for the preview. What are you most interested to read? Is there anything else you want to see on the blog? What did you most enjoy reading in October?