War and Peace Newbies Read-Along | Week Three

Welcome one, welcome all, to the third of my weekly progress reports  for War and Peace. I am happy to report that I have officially now read further than I did on my previous attempt to tackle this mammoth of a book – if nothing else, that’s progress, and we can call it a success even if I don’t read a word more. I mean, obviously I’d prefer it if I did read significantly more words and finish the entirety of the book but still…

You may have seen my previous weekly post summarising my week 2 progress, if not please do pop on over to it to see how it went. And for those who have no idea what I’m going on about at all, you may want to head on over to the blog of the War and Peace Newbies Read-along host Laura from Reading In Bed.

Every week I’m doing a short progress post or wrap-up of my thoughts so far on the book, all very low key, probably in the form of bullet points, and likely not always coherent. So don’t expect eloquence or a comprehensive guide to the novel is what I’m trying to say – at best, my approach is scatter-gun and what catches my eye probably isn’t the most important detail in the text. Expectations lowered accordingly? Ok, then let’s see how Week 3 went, which covered Part I, Volume III of War and Peace…

  • If you want an added level of difficult to your already difficult read, try reading on a Monday morning train ride into work when you’ve not had any coffee yet, feel like crap because periods, it’s hot and you’re uncomfortable, and then three chattering Scouse women sit down next to you and talk at a volume best described as “loud enough for the entire train to hear them”.
  • It’s Tuesday morning. I opened my book happily on the train – the SAME GROUP of loud women got on again in the carriage I was in. I swear this is a conspiracy so that I can NEVER concentrate on War and Peace. How dare people do such heinous things as talk to each other on public transport, ughhhhh.

ughrolleye

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War and Peace Newbies Read-Along | Week Two

Welcome one, welcome all, to the second of my weekly progress reports proper for War and Peace. You may have seen my first post summing up how my first week reading Tolstoy’s tome went but, for those unaware, I’m taking part in the War and Peace Newbies Read-along, as hosted by Laura from Reading In Bed.

Every week I will be doing a short progress wrap-up/my thoughts so far on the book, very low key, probably in the form of bullet points, and likely not always coherent. So don’t expect eloquence is what I’m trying to say. Expectations lowered accordingly? Ok, then let’s see how Week 2 went, which covered Part I, Volume II of War and Peace…

(spoiler alert: I put gifs in this post to try to disguise the lack of content)

  • It’s Monday, it’s the second Monday of Wimbledon, I have a day off and frankly I don’t expect to do much more than sit and watch ridiculously fit people hit tennis balls at each other. And maybe bake a cake. Because my life is just that exciting. War and Peace, you say? What War and Peace? (Spoiler alert: I read none of War and Peace on Monday.)
  • Not entirely sure how I feel about the representation of Denisov’s lisp – it feels like it’s going to turn into cheap comedy??
  • I still don’t really understand what’s going on during the war. It just seems to be a lot of miscommunication or flat-out lack of communication… and people looking stupid because they didn’t set fire to a bridge or something and SO MUCH PETTY BUREAUCRACY and… I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT’S HAPPENING I’M JUST READING WORDS BUT THE WORDS DON’T MAKE SENSE.

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War and Peace Newbies Read-Along | It’s Go Time

Since we’re in this for the long haul, I thought I would introduce a weekly feature to my blog in which, every Monday, I will be looking back at how I’ve done in the past week with reading the one, the only, the mammoth that is Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. For those unaware, I’m taking part in Laura from Reading In Bed’s summer read-along of the book which runs from the start of July through until mid-September.

Based on her posting schedule (Mondays too) I have come up with my own little schedule of what page number/chapter I should be up to by the end of any given week and (because I’m obsessive) any given day. That’s right, I busted out a spreadsheet, and even put some formatting on it so that it gives me a nice green box if I’m on track or ahead of schedule.

I’ve even accounted for when I’ll be away in the US for a week and calculated how much I’ll have to read once I’m back in order to still make it through to the end. A tad obsessive, you say? You may have a point. But also I know myself well enough to know that if I don’t keep on top of this every single day I will definitely fall behind very quickly – this way I don’t want to break the chain! (I’m a child when it comes to positive reinforcement.)

So this is what the general schedule roughly looks like for reading my edition of War and Peace and it doesn’t sound too horrendous does it?

As I said, I’ll be away in the US for a week towards the end of the readalong so I’m planning to either catch up the pages I missed in the week following or to make sure I’m enough ahead of the curve in these early weeks so that it doesn’t affect my reading progress. And no, needless to say I will not be taking War and Peace with me – it is a proverbial brick and I don’t think carting it about DC will endear me to it any more. 

Still at it stands I’ll be reading, at most, 24 pages per day which is very doable – whether I can keep up with what’s going on in the story itself is another matter entirely (especially when it gets to the “war bits”) so I’m sure I’ll need the support of my fellow readalong participants, Google, and maybe the BBC miniseries to keep me going.

So folks, until next Monday and my first progress report, let’s do this thing.


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TBR | Harry Potter Cosy Reading Night

Greetings witches and wizards, today marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone! Since that very first opening line “Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much” the Harry Potter books have gone on to sell over 450 million copies and have been translated into 79 languages. Not only have they spawned a series of blockbuster films and enchanted both readers and viewers of all ages, the series has had an immeasurable impact on an entire generation of fans who grew up with Harry Potter. I’d like to consider myself one of that number.

And it’s because of that that I will be participating in the Harry Potter Cosy Reading Night. For those unaware, to mark the occasion Lauren from Laurenandthebooks over on YouTube will be hosting one of her Cosy Reading Nights especially for all things Harry Potter – you can check out her announcement video here. Taking place on 26th June (today!) between 7pm-10pm BST, it’s a low-key readalong in which you make yourself comfy, get some snacks, and just READ! I very much enjoy Lauren’s Cosy Reading Nights because of how snack-based and low-key they are, so when I heard she was organising a Harry Potter one I was delighted.

This won’t be a very surprising TBR; given that it is a TBR for a Harry Potter related event that leaves a finite number of books I could possibly be reading. But tonight I have decided to go back to where it all began with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The first book has such a strong sense of nostalgia for me (it’s definitely a “cosy” read) and I get something new from it every time I (re)read it. As today is the 20th anniversary of its release it seems downright rude not to join in the Cosy Reading Night with the book that started it all. I’m going to try to make it through the entirety of Philosopher’s Stone – some quick maths (bear with me, it’s not my forte) suggests I’d need to read 223 pages in 3 hours, so that’s 74 pages an hour or just over a page per minute. That’s doable, right? Wish me luck?

Most importantly, though, I’ll be wearing my Harry Potter pyjamas, snuggling down with Philosopher’s Stone and a mug of tea and eating some lovely snacks, enjoying all things Potter for a lovely evening, and maybe popping into the #hpcosyreadingnight hashtag on Twitter. I encourage you to do the same and read along with us! And remember…

Are you joining in the Harry Potter Cosy Reading Night tonight? Have you participated in a Cosy Reading Night before, or a Harry Potter related readalong? Let me know in the comments and let’s chat all things Potter!


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Review | A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

asoscoverTitleA Storm of Swords (2000)
published as Part 1: Steel and Snow, Part 2: Blood and Gold 
Author: George R.R. Martin
Read:  Part 1: 18th July – 17th August | Part 2: 21st August – 29th August
Genre: fantasy
Rating: Part 1: 3.5 out of 5 stars | Part 2: 4.5 out of 5 stars

The third book in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire saga, A Storm of Swords takes the feuding kings and lords of Westeros into a territory fondly know as ‘shit meets fan’ and leaves the series in grittier and darker places than ever before. All the political manoeuvring and scheming to this point, and throughout the course of this book, tips the narrative over a precipice from which it can never return, not to mention many of its principle characters.

” ‘Woman?’ She chuckled. ‘Is that meant to insult me? I would return the slap, if I took you for a man.’ “

Opening in the aftermath of the Battle of Blackwater Bay, A Storm of Swords sees a retreating Stannis Baratheon’s plans pitted against the “rightful” claim of his nephew, King Joffrey, to the throne of the Seven Kingdoms. The Young Wolf, Robb Stark, proclaimed King of the North, continues to rule over territory through a mixture of wars and alliances whose cracks truly begin to splinter and show. Meanwhile, on the edges of the picture, exiled Daenerys Targaryen makes her way across the Dothraki Sea accompanied by the remaining paltry excuse for a khalasar and her three growing dragons, heading for Slaver’s Bay and its army of slave soldiers in the hope of gathering more men behind her. And the fringe threat of the barbaric wilding army also appears, roaring, on the horizon of the Seven Kingdoms, promising terror and blood.

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#readasoiaf | Progress Update

Well, since we’re over halfway through August I thought it was high time to share my progress in the #readasoiaf readalong challenge.

readasoiafprogFor those unaware, I’ve been meaning to read George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series for years at this point and, whilst I was at university, the TV show blew up in a huge way and it seemed like I was the only one not watching it. (It’s kind of a running joke between me and one of my ex-housemates that I still haven’t “caught up” yet with the TV show, despite numerous occasions and plenty of time to do so.) Whilst I really want to watch the TV show (and I have a boxset of the first 4 seasons to get me going) I also feel like everyone ever says they will read the series at some point. I was one of those people… until I realised that if I didn’t just commit to the challenge, I would never actually get round to it. So, enter the #readasoiaf readalong, which came at the perfect time for me.

The concept is simple. Read a book a month, until October. It started back in June with Game of Thrones, then came A Clash of Kings in July, and in August we’re reading A Storm of Swords before we’ll move onto A Feast for Crows in September and A Dance with Dragons in October. Continue reading

Friday Reads | 12th August

Just a quick Friday Reads post from me today! I’m going to ambitiously share what I plan to read this Friday and into the weekend ahead but, as we all know, I rarely follow through on reading plans once I document them here. However, I am sitting pretty at 49 out of 52 books in my 2016 Reading Challenge so I think I’m doing just fine.

Which is a good thing because my reading this week thus far hasn’t been brilliant. I should probably finish up some books I am halfway through so I can get my reading down to one, or two, items, but I’m nearly always a polygamous reader so I’m sure I will be diving into all of the following books intermittently over this weekend:

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#readasoiaf | Stating My Intentions

Yep, you guessed it, it’s time for ‘Emma signs up for another read-a-long despite the fact she has no sense of sticking power firm enough to last out the duration’. Otherwise known as: I need to re-read the first couple of A Song of Ice and Fire books before trying to get through the third again (I DNFed A Storm of Swords because *yawn* but deeply regret my prior laziness) so, since a readalong is happening, I might as well join in.

Because, if no one knows you failed to finish a book, you’re only disappointing yourself, but if someone else knows you’re committing to something then it makes it nigh on impossible to disappoint them. Or so I’ve heard. And that’s enough reasoning to make me think I should give the #readasoiaf readalong a go – well that and Kayla, one of the readalong hosts, made a pdf with circles for each chapter which you can colour in as you complete each. You know, to track your progress visually? It’s an excuse for colouring so that’s more than reason enough for me to jump aboard that bandwagon.

For those who are interested, there is a Goodreads group, the progress circle checklist I mentioned, and Lizlovesliterature’s announcement video which is where I first stumbled across the readalong.

File_000Basically, grab your copies of A Song of Ice and Fire and read one book per month starting next month and running until the end of October, like so:

June – A Game of Thrones
July – A Clash of Kings
August – A Storm of Swords
September – A Feast For Crows
October – A Dance With Dragons

The beauty is in it simplicity… I say ‘simplicity’, the books are anything but simple but hey, I like a readalong that’s low-key in its challenges, if not in its expectations of how many pages I’ll end up reading if I finish it.

We’ll see how long I stick with this one for.


Please do comment below if you’re planning on participating with the readalong or might be interested in dipping in and out here and there, maybe to read your favourite book of the series? Or, if you’ve read the series, let me know how you find the reading experience. (Back when I read the first two books last year I found myself pleasantly surprised by how quickly I could get through them, once I got into the storylines. I’m curious to know if this continues throughout the series!) Any more thoughts/comments/queries? Leave ’em below!


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