Down the TBR Hole #1

I bring you a brand new feature on this blog today and that is Down the TBR Hole. I first saw this via Emma on Emma’s Library and this meme/project was originally created by Lia at Lost in a Story. My TBR has long since been getting out of hand so I think it’s about time I took a good hard look at myself my Goodreads shelf and actually figure out if I still want to read half of the things that I once put on there – this feature is perfect for helping (/forcing) me to do that. At the end of March, I did an impromptu cull to get it under 1000 (prompted by the TBR tag I was doing at the time) and I felt so much better once I did so, clearly, participating in this kind of project would be a really great idea for me. I also want to seriously look at my actual physical TBR and weed out the outliers I just will never read but, first things first, let’s fall Down the TBR Hole…

This is how it works:

  • 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?

Simple, right? (Question: anyone else have The Clash’s Should I Stay or Should I Go? in their heads now? Just me? Ok.) I thought it would also be interesting to note if I actually own these books or not, and whether that plays some part in how hesitant I am to ditch stuff off my TBR (I’m sure it will play a huge part in it!). Let’s just get going on the first 10 books…

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Tag | Feelings Matter Book Tag

It’s Tag Thursday time everyone! (Have we made fetch it happen? Is “Tag Thursday” an accepted feature on my blog?) That means I bring you my weekly tag post and this week’s tag (as is so often the case) comes courtesy of the lovely ladies at Thrice Read whose post you can see here, and who have also reliably informed me that the original tag video can be viewed here. This week’s tag is called the Feelings Matter Book Tag.

lotoffeelings

What book made you feel confident, either about yourself or your life?

In a strange way, The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer. I was hitting an uncomfortable period in my life where I felt lost leading up to graduating from university and not knowing what I wanted to do with the rest of my life and The Interestings helped me to realise two very sobering things: that some people “make it” based on nothing more than sheer dumb luck and that some people might look as if they’ve “made it” and are doing so much better than you but you have no idea what is going on behind that veneer of success. We’re all just mostly floundering along in life – it’s time more people admitted it openly and this book kind of did.

What book made you feel sympathetic or sympathise greatly with the characters?

I tend to read fantasy so, um, not so much with the sympathy with characters off gallivanting on quests. However, it is skillful of a writer to make you feel sympathy towards a character with which you have precisely zero in common and who maybe don’t deserve sympathy (cough Cersei Lannister cough), but let us stray from that avenue of thought and back to the question. One thing that does stick in my mind is how much this quote hit me, from It’s Not Me, It’s You by Mhairi McFarlane and I still remember it, a year later: “Instead of trying and failing, Delia never tried. She told herself that failure was inevitable and she’d only look silly in the process. It was fear, cloaked in rationalisations and self-deprecation.” Girl, I feel you.

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T5W | Books as Event Themes

It’s going to be a quick one from me today, folks, mainly because I’m tired but also because it’s Bout of Books this week and I’d like to dedicate most of my free time to reading for that – I think that’s an acceptable excuse, right? That being said, I had to participate in this week’s Top 5 Wednesday because it’s such a fun topic! For those of you who don’t know Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme/challenge which was created by the wonderful Lainey from gingereadslainey and is now overseen by the equally lovely Sam from Thoughts of Tomes. Every Wednesday, participants devise their Top 5 based on a given topic.

This Wednesday’s topic is Books as Event Themesit’s party season, whether that is high school prom, weddings, or summer holiday events. What books would make a good party/event theme? I’m definitely not much of one for parties or a party-planner (and I think it shows), but I’ve tried nevertheless because, hey, it’s just a bit of fun after all!

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Bout of Books 19 | Stating My Intentions

It’s that time again – it’s Bout of Books 19! Those of you who have been around the blog for a while may remember I participated in the last few rounds (check out my BoB 18, BoB 17, or BoB 16 updates posts for how I did) but for those of who you don’t know about Bout of Books here’s a quick overview:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 8th and runs through Sunday, May 14th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 19 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

As you can see, it’s a very low-key readathon which is my kind of readathon since there are very few challenges and/or expectations of you other than to simply read. That’s the kind of readathon I can do (hopefully anyway). However, I still have a few books in mind that I’d like to get to so this is my tentative TBR for the upcoming week ahead:

  1. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
    I’ve started this and I’m really enjoying it so it makes sense to carry on reading it for the readathon. Plus the TV show (which I’ve been highly anticipating) premiered last week so I’d like to start watching it asap before I miss too many episodes. So, yeah, I need to finish the book itself asap because it looks amazing.
  2. Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny
    I got an eARC of this through NetGalley since I’d heard Sam Missingham from Harper Collins raving about it over on Twitter. Honestly, though? I don’t think I’m the right audience for this (since I’m not middle aged and/or married) but it’s entertaining enough. I don’t know if I will actually finish it but a readathon would be a good way to shift through it and make sure I finish it so I can review it.
  3. Spellslinger by Sebastian de Castell
    Again, another eARC I got through NetGalley, but this one sounds much more promising. I mean, for a start, it’s fantasy. Secondly, these phrases are included in the synopsis “Magic is a con game” and “perfect for fans of The Dark Tower, Firefly, Guardians of the Galaxy, Ben Aaronovitch and Jim Butcher”. Why yes, I am that easy.
  4. Rotherweird by Andrew Caldecott
    I’m going to copy and paste this book’s synopsis too (sorry/not sorry): “The town of Rotherweird stands alone – there are no guidebooks, despite the fascinating and diverse architectural styles cramming the narrow streets, the avant garde science and offbeat customs. Cast adrift from the rest of England by Elizabeth I, Rotherweird’s independence is subject to one disturbing condition: nobody, but nobody, studies the town or its history.” I mean, come on, of course I want to read that. Plus I have an eARC and it’s released soon so, you know, I need to get on this right now.

I’m sure I’m going to end up reading precisely none of these books, as is the tradition with readathons, but it’s always nice to have a plan in mind. Over the course of the readathon my main hope is just to read as much as I can, prioritising that as an activity over watching a TV show or a film. I also would like to try to interact with other BoBers via Twitter, Instagram, and on here of course. I think that’s a pretty damn achievable goal so watch this space…

If you want to keep up with my (admittedly sparse) updates during the course of the readathon, I’ve started a Twitter thread of my updates.

Are you participating in this round of Bout of Books? Comment below if so, I’d love to chat books and we could help cheer each other on during the readathon. 


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Friday Reads | 5th May 2017

Well guys, not to sound like a broken record here but it’s the end of another working week which means it is high time for another Friday Reads in which I will discuss the book I’m currently reading and my bookish plans going into this upcoming weekend.

I haven’t done a Friday Reads in a few weeks (my last one was back in March, yikes!), mainly because I was battling through A Feast for Crows for what felt like for-ev-er but in reality was only a fortnight or so but, believe me, I felt every single minute of that time. Which is weird because I actually ended up really enjoying this fourth volume in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. It’s safe to say that this book is very politics heavy… there aren’t a lot of action scenes (especially not compared to the bloodshed that takes place in the previous books) but everything feels very calculated and conniving and you just know that though the characters aren’t actively moving from one place to the other they are moving their little pawns all over the board in the hopes of gaining the upper hand. All of this is why I ended up loving the book, as I was sure I would if I just stuck with it. People are right, though, if you’re in it for the political machinations of the Tyrells and the Lannisters and their scheming at King’s Landing, then this volume could well be your favourite, but if you’re more so in it for Jon Snow and his brothers on the Wall, well, I hate to spoil things but he doesn’t even make an appearance in this one.

Now, I’m not enough of a masochist to move straight on to reading the next ASOIAF book, A Dance with Dragons, though I do really want to get to that soon so I don’t end up forgetting what is going on in this series. However, I am enough of a masochist to move from one mammoth of a book to another, this time with Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. I was so excited to hear of the TV show being developed, especially when Bryan Fuller was attached to it, because I knew it would turn out stunning. But (and it’s a big ‘but’) I would like to read the book in its entirety before I allow myself to watch the show on Amazon Prime. I’ve previously tried to read American Gods, both in paperback and via audiobook formats, but never got any further than the scene where Shadow and Wednesday visit Czernobog and the Zorya Sisters. (No, I categorically do not know what it is about that scene that’s a sticking point for me because it’s really good so why on earth I stop at it each time I do not know for the life of me.) Anyway, I need to properly commit to this and give it another chance because I love Neil Gaiman’s writing and I’m sure I will adore this once I get fully invested in the storyline. It features gods and mythology after all – I am all over that crap.

At the time of writing this post, I can officially state that I have now read further than I ever did before (i.e. past that scene with the Zorya sisters) so I am hopeful that the rest of today and this weekend will bring even more progress on American Gods. I would certainly like to be a chunk of it through the novel by Monday, so maybe then I can allow myself to watch the first episode of the TV show since it premiered this past Monday.

Aside from that, I don’t anticipate reading much of anything else in the coming days. This past week was the start of my new job so I’ve been a big ol’ ball of anxiety and, you know what guys? That’s tiring as hell. So this weekend had better be full of a lot of not doing much or I will end up very grumpy indeed. Liz and I are planning a Tavern breakfast and that is the full extent of my plans for this weekend. Sounds good to me to be honest, I’m well in need of a very low-key weekend and a rest. Let’s hope a good chunk of reading happens amidst all that rest, eh?

That was my Friday Reads for this week but enough of me – what are you currently reading going into this weekend? Are you planning much for the next couple of days? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear it!


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Tag | Beauty and the Beast Book Tag

Tag Thursday time folks! And I decided to have a pop at this tag on this fine Thursday afternoon as I’ve semi-recently seen the new Beauty and the Beast film and really loved it and it would be a shame to let this one pass by so… it is with deepest pride and greatest pleasure that we welcome you tonight and now we invite you to relax, let us pull up a chair… (I couldn’t resist)… let’s go:

Rules

“TALE AS OLD AS TIME” – A POPULAR THEME, TROPE OR SETTING YOU WILL NEVER GET BORED WITH READING

Hmm how about characters that bicker but obviously really love each other obviously? Or smol badass girl and tol guy who is stupidly and completely smitten with this smol ball of anger and badassery and just a little bit in awe of her general ‘take no prisoners’ vibe… I’m a huuuge sucker for that one (I also forum RPed that one for years so, yeah, no surprises this one lingers for me).

BELLE – A BOOK YOU BOUGHT FOR ITS BEAUTIFUL COVER THAT’S JUST AS BEAUTIFUL INSIDE TOO

As mentioned in my very recent Top 5 Wednesday post on my Favourite SFF covers, I adore the cover for The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers and I’d say that the story within its pages definitely matches up to the beautiful cover art. If you haven’t read it, go read it, please.

BEAST – A BOOK YOU DIDN’T EXPECT MUCH FROM BUT PLEASANTLY SURPRISED YOU

Embarrassingly, you know what book I immediately thought of? My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick – I make no secrets of the fact I’m not the biggest YA contemporary fan (where’s the fun and magic?!) so I was very pleasantly surprised by just how much fun I found this book, I mean, come on, I somehow gave it 4.5 stars after my momentary high of reading it.

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T5W | Favourite SFF Cover Art

Welcome one, welcome all, to ‘Emma Remembers Top 5 Wednesdays Exists And Decides To Join In’… again. Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme/challenge which was created by the wonderful Lainey from gingereadslainey and is now overseen by the equally lovely Sam from Thoughts of Tomes. Every Wednesday, participants devise their Top 5 based on a given topic.

This Wednesday’s topic is Favourite SFF Cover Art and this is a Booktube SFF Awards Babble Crossover Topic – basically, it’s what it says on the tin, it’s a chance to show off some of your favourite science fiction and fantasy cover art! Book designers have been killing it lately, especially when it comes to very pretty fantasy cover design so it’s unsurprising to learn that a lot of my favourite covers handily happen to be SFF-related. Let’s have a little peek at the shiny shiny…

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April 2017 | Wrap Up

Well, well, well, yet another month has passed – does anyone actually remember April happening? Because I sure as hell don’t know how it’s May already (cough it’s gonna be May cough) and yet here we are. I think a large part of that is due to the fortnight-long readathon that I took part in in the middle of April. The Tome Topple readathon meant that I focused more on getting through some hunkers of books rather than the amount of books read this month… which is my way of saying I didn’t read many books so there’s my excuse. Plus, with finishing up at my job, this month has seen me be a little bit preoccupied with one thing or another – that will change as we head into May and I (hopefully) get settled into my new work place with no huge problems. Mostly though, I am glad I got round to a couple of books that I was really long overdue to finish and I hope to continue this kind of finishing spirit into next month as I still have some A Song of Ice and Fire to catch up with. But, for now, let’s look back at how April’s reading went…

In March, I read a total of 4 books – 4 fiction and 0 non-fiction, amounting to 2036 pages in total, and, of these, 1 book was a re-read.

In terms of format: 2 were paperback, 1 was an e-ARC, and 1 was an audiobook.

And as for genre, very broadly speaking, books were fantasy and 1 was a classic.

Onto the books themselves…

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Tag | The Reader’s Questionnaire

Tag Thursday time, folks! This week’s tag comes courtesy of my friend Liz whose post you can see here, and it’s called The Reader’s Questionnaire. Pretty simple but here are my answers to some bookish and readerly questions, because we all need to know that kind of stuff of every self-respecting book blogger.

1. What is your favourite book?

That’s a tough question to ask any reader, and for the first question up… at least buy me a drink first before pulling that out…

No, seriously though?

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, Persuasion/Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling… bit of everything really. I’d probably say Rebecca if pressed though. I need to re-read it soon just to check it’s still my fave.

2. What are your goals? For the year? For your life?

Goals, what goals? (See my recent post entitled ‘Feeling Goalless’ for more info.) Although, to be fair, I did make New Year’s Resolutions (as seen here) so even though I’m terrible at coming up with bigger, more important life and career goals, I do still set pointless and breakable resolutions every year. So, you know, I’m trying.

3. Are you a writer? If so, tell me about your work.

Writer is a very optimistic way of describing my creative endeavours. Not to blow my own trumpet but I was pretty good at researching and writing essays at university – I never really had that much trouble putting together words and sentences that made me sound vaguely informed.

As for the more creative sort of writing, I used to forum roleplay in Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and NYC-based forums – not all at the same time, obviously, that would have been quite something – but don’t much anymore (yes, I miss it). Because of this background, I’m good at envisaging characters and character building and putting together dialogue, but I’m less good at fleshing out worlds or plot lines, since these were nearly always dictated by the forum’s initial setup or spontaneously decided. I’ve tried NaNoWriMo previously and never got very far because of this tendency – I need to work on that because I actually really enjoyed my story idea.

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T5W | Authors You Want to Read More From

Welcome one, welcome all, to ‘Emma Remembers Top 5 Wednesdays Exists And Decides To Join In’… again. Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme/challenge which was created by the wonderful Lainey from gingereadslainey and is now overseen by the equally lovely Sam from Thoughts of Tomes. Every Wednesday, participants devise their Top 5 based on a given topic.

This Wednesday’s topic is Authors You Want to Read More From. As Sam says: “Talk about some authors that you’ve only read one or a few books from, and you NEED to read more!” I have a horrible tendency of enjoying a book and then completely and utterly failing to pick up other books by that same author unless it’s part of a series… and even then I sometimes read the first book, love it, and then promptly abandon the series accidentally! There are also a lot of authors whose work I enjoy but have not actively pursued or kept an eye on… let’s see the top 5 of those authors, shall we?

5. John le Carré

I first tried to read John le Carré back when the Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy film was out – I’d been to see the film, really enjoyed it, and wanted to get stuck into the source material. I never made it even halfway – I was way too confused by the novel. Fast forward a few years and it was announced that Tom Hiddleston (yeah, him again, sorry/not sorry) would be starring in an adaptation of a le Carré novel called The Night Manager. I picked up the book, I read it, I loved it, and was firmly convinced that the casting people deserve gold stars for their casting of Pine, Roper, and Corky. (Like, seriously, Tom Hollander as Corky is spot on.) Fast forward a few more months and I haven’t read another le Carré despite the fact that I now think I have the right reading level to follow his plots and I’ve bought a couple more of his novels with the very intention of reading them sooner rather than later. I need to correct that, stat.

4. Donna Tartt

The Secret History is one of my favourite novels, and yet I haven’t read anything else by Donna Tartt – why not? I am more than certain that I adore her writing style thanks to the slow, languid pace of The Secret History and I thought her character development and characterisation was super intriguing. She only has three novels currently published so it’s not as though she has an extensive back catalogue that I need to work through and The Goldfinch sounds right up my alley… it’s getting faintly ridiculous that I haven’t yet picked up another Tartt novel and yet I persist in re-reading The Secret History.

3. William Shakespeare

I took a final year course dedicated entirely to the Bard himself. My postgraduate/MA dissertation was completely focused on the excessive body in Coriolanus. I graduated with a distinction in early modern literature. And yet I still do not consider myself fully versed on enough of Shakespeare’s plays. To be fair to me, there are quite a few to get through, but I’m still annoyed at myself that I haven’t read/watched more of them. At last count I’ve managed (in some guise) 23 out of 36 which, hey, is not bad by any means but a large portion of those were speed-read before a seminar soooo it’s safe to say I might not have entirely appreciated them to their fullest. I need to sort that out soon – is it too ambitious to decree that I want to be completist and read all of them?

 2. Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman has wrote some of my favourite novels (cough Good Omens cough), I love him as a writer regardless of what age he is writing for, and I pretty much sit in awe of his existence, even as I just casually scroll through his Twitter. Despite this… I’ve only read a couple of his books – why?! I’ve never yet finished American Gods (it’s long and complicated, ok guys?!) or Neverwhere (nope, I got no excuses here), despite adoring The Graveyard Book with every fibre of my being and being super creeped out and intrigued in equal measure by The Ocean at the End of the Lane. The film adaptation of Stardust (whilst different from the book apparently) is kind of one of my favourite (not so guilty pleasure) films – I mean, come on, sky pirates – and I’m curious to read that story told in the darker, more gruesome tone that I’m told the book has. I think I probably just need to read all the Gaiman ever.

1. Daphne du Maurier

Daphne du Maurier wrote possibly my favourite book of all-time, Rebecca, and yet I have only read one other novel by her (Jamaica Inn for what it’s worth) – that’s very dumb of me. I have My Cousin Rachel sat staring at me every night when I go to sleep (my bookshelf is right by my bed, ok, it’s less creepy than it sounds) and yet I still haven’t picked it up properly. I’m so serious about needing to read more du Maurier that I recently deliberately bought Frenchman’s Creek, Rule Britannia, and The Scapegoat in the editions I’m collecting (no, not the pretty ones, sadly, but I have to get them to match my Virago Modern Classics copy of Rebecca I have because that’s my copy, you know?). I have no more excuses, I now have plenty of du Maurier to be getting on with… so get to getting, Emma!

So there we have it folks – those were my top 5 authors that I want to read more from. Do you agree/disagree with my choices? Which authors do you want to read more from in the future? If you have a Top 5 Wednesday list, be sure to link it below – I’d love to take a look!


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