Rinn Reads – January 2019

Somehow February is now upon us, and we’ve already gone through the official worst month of the year – January. The post Christmas haze has cleared and life is back to normal. For me, that means reading as many books as I can get my hands on.

So what did I read in January?

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Gorgeous book, gorgeous cover.

 

  • Circe by Madeline Miller – an excellent novel from Madeline Miller, who also wrote the absolutely heartbreaking The Song of Achilles. This one focuses on Circe (surprise), her growing witchy powers and her exile to a deserted island.
  • Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy – this is really not a book I expected myself to pick up, let alone enjoy, but I watched the Netflix film in December and really enjoyed it. It was a fabulous coming-of-age piece with lots of Dolly Parton and cameos from some excellent drag queens. The film was a good adaptation, leaving out the stuff that dragged the book down.
  • Skullsworn by Brian Staveley – apparently this is technically a prequel/set in the same world as Staveley’s Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne series, but can easily be read as a standalone. Which is lucky, because I’ve read the first book and don’t remember a thing about it. It’s a serious disorder called book amnesia, and affects something like 75% of all book bloggers* because our brains are just overflowing with plots, characters and infuriating story arcs, so some of it just has to get pushed out.
  • Cold Earth by Sarah Moss – this was lent to me by my mum, who recommended it to me as it’s about archaeologists on excavation in Greenland. It’s told from multiple points of view, and the first character, Nina, seriously needed to get a grip. I was hoping for some redeeming qualities but then her section just suddenly ended, which was frustrating. The ending of the book itself was also super disappointing.
  • The Martian by Andy Weir – I re-read this book, which I’ve been meaning to do ever since I watched the film. First time round I read it on my Kindle and I think that dampened my enjoyment a bit. It went from a 3 star rating to 4 stars!
  • Puddin’ by Julie Murphy – a sequel to Dumplin’, this was some cute fluff but not as enjoyable as the first book.
  • Yes She Can by Ruth Davidson – I grabbed this in the library because I was interested by the premise – women who are ahead of their fields or the first to do something. Just goes to show how little I know about politics – it’s written by the leader of the Scottish Conservatives. Definitely a interesting read though.
  • How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu – this was another random library choice, and it fell really flat. I didn’t quite know what the whole point of the story was…
  • Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass #7) by Sarah J. Maas – the conclusion to the Throne of Glass series that first appeared when I started book blogging, I’ve really enjoyed the stories of Aelin and her companions. There are moments in these books that have me unintentionally laughing out loud, especially some of the sex scenes, but in general it’s been a fun fantasy series to follow.

(* not scientifically proven)

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What did you read in January? Have you read any of these titles?

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The Life of a Bookworm (in GIFs!)

This was originally posted on my book blog, Rinn Reads.

Who doesn’t love GIFs? They can be used to demonstrate a wide range of situations, and you can express so much through them. So what about the life of a bookworm, as shown through GIFs? Obviously this post is image heavy!

When you don’t want to be disturbed whilst reading:

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When someone says they don’t like reading:

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When you think about tackling your TBR pile:

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On entering a bookshop/library:

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On finishing an amazing book:

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On finishing a rubbish book:

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Packing for your holiday:

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When you REALLY want your friends to read a certain book:

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When you both love and hate an author for writing such amazing, heartbreaking stories:

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The smell of books, new and old:

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Have you got any others to add? 🙂

Rinn’s Year in Books 2018

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Just like last year, I’m sharing my year in books for 2018!

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I read 42,948 pages across 106 books. Quite a bit less than last year (147), but I joined Twitch at the end of 2017 and started playing video games even more.

The longest book I read was The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, at 704 pages. This was a re-read of a book that I’d previously loved, but it just didn’t seem to be all that great the second time around.

The shortest book I read was The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It’s only 168 pages and is a pretty interesting self-development book.

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My rating breakdown looks like this, with an average rating of 3.3 stars (lower than last year), which doesn’t sound great!

  • 5 stars: 11
  • 4 stars: 37
  • 3 stars: 30
  • 2 stars: 26
  • 1 star: 2
  • Did not finish: 0

Unlike last year, I didn’t DNF any books! However, I seem to have read quite a few books that I didn’t particularly enjoy, and I’m amazed I only gave 11 books 5 stars. Maybe this year I need to be more picky about what I read?

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The highest rated book on Goodreads that I read in 2018 was The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1) by Suzanne Collins. Unsurprising, and this was also the fourth or fifth time I’ve read it. The lowest rated was Bottoms Up in Belgium by Alec Le Sueur, which I read on a travel writing binge.

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This year also saw a couple of re-reads, but perhaps not as many as I thought. I’m planning to do quite a bit of re-reading this year anyway, mostly because I need to continue a few series and have completely forgotten the contents of the first book(s)…

HOW WAS YOUR YEAR IN READING?

Dragons & Jetpacks: Books of the Month, July 2018

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Dragons & Jetpacks is a science fiction and fantasy bookgroup, based on Goodreads. The group is open to all, all that is required is a Goodreads account. We read two books a month, one fantasy and one sci-fi – the second week of each month is when members make suggestions, and the third is used for voting. We’re always happy to meet fellow fans of the genres, so you’re more than welcome to join the group!

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Why The Lord of the Rings is ‘My Precious’…

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This was previously posted on my book blog, Rinn Reads.

When I was ten years old, I picked up this huge fantasy book that I’d never read before. I was (and still am… obviously) an avid devourer of fantasy fiction, and here was one I hadn’t yet read! It was written by the same author who wrote The Hobbit – I’d read that a few years before and loved it. I’d also heard there was a film version of it coming out next year, and it’s always more fun to read the book first. That book was J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, and it changed my life.

It wasn’t long before I’d finished all three books, and I was obsessed. It didn’t really help that the films were coming out soon, which meant there was merchandise EVERYWHERE. I bought countless movie guides, guides to Tolkien, books about Tolkien himself, art books, the video games, posters, trading cards, figures… I even had one of those huge cardboard promotional cutouts. Seriously. My local video shop sold off cutouts and posters so I ended up coming home with a Two Towersone, which took up the majority of my tiny bedroom at the time. Totally worth it. I did tons of fanart (a lot of which I still have), I learnt to write ‘like a hobbit’, I tried (and failed) to learn Sindarin, I ran several different Lord of the Rings websites and fanlistings. I didn’t hide my love for it either, everyone at school knew my obsession. Sometimes I felt that it alienated me from others and that they looked down on me for being so passionate, but eh.

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It’s difficult to give a toss about how people perceive you for liking something, when that something is so important to you. Reading, particularly the fantasy genre, has always been a HUGE part of my life. From a young age I was encouraged to read: to my parents, by myself, before bed, whenever I could. The Lord of the Ringsonly made me delve deeper into the fantasy genre, and I have so much to thank it for.

I know it doesn’t appeal to everyone. Tolkien’s language is old-fashioned, but that’s what I LOVE about it. I love the archaic words, the feeling that somehow this could have been our past in an alternate universe, the hobbits and their country bumpkin lifestyle – it sounds pretty idyllic. It’s a tale with unlikely heroes: within the Fellowship we’ve got an heir to the throne of Gondor, the Gondorian Steward’s son, an Elven prince, an Istari (or wizard), a Dwarven warrior (who is of the royal line, however distant) – and four hobbits. Two of which prove to be the strongest of them all, and we can’t forget what Merry and Pippin went through either.

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Tolkien turned the traditional ‘epic quest’ tale on its head when he made his bumbling country folk – who’d normally rather spend the day fishing or farming, followed by an evening with a mug of ale – the true heroes. Despite the fact that Frodo and Sam’s journey to Mount Doom will most likely kill them and their chances of ever seeing the Shire again are slim, they carry on. That very thought of their beautiful home pushes them through. The message is clear: it’s not who you are that matters, it’s what you do. You don’t need to be the long lost heir to the throne, a rich prince or a grizzled warrior to have an impact. It’s essentially, when stripped to the bare bones, a story of good overcoming evil and how even the littlest person can change the future. To me, it also speaks of overcoming prejudices: it’s well known that elves and dwarves do not get along. But Legolas and Gimli end up forging a strong friendship, although they were distrusting of each other at first. There’s so much more within the books than a tale of nine people going on a long and arduous journey.

But you know what impresses me even more than the positive message Tolkien sends out through The Lord of the RingsHis sheer and utter dedication to thoroughly creating the world of Middle-earth. He invented entire languages, and not just the words and sentences he used in the books, but an entire new vocabulary and syntax. A whole history of Middle-earth was written, cultures and peoples that the reader barely catches a glimpse or even mention of were created. Inspired by myths and legends of other cultures, Tolkien sculpted this beautiful world that feels so real to me. I’m pretty heartbroken that I can’t just move to Middle-earth, to be honest.

To round it all up, The Lord of the Rings is a series that breaks my heart – in the very best way – yet simultaneously every time I read the books I feel like I’m at home. There just isn’t another like it.

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4 Fantasy sequels I’m dying for in 2018

Long time no-speak guys!

Today I’m writing about 4 books that I’m quite excited to get my hands on in 2018. Some of these are more urgent than others, but either way – I think 2018 will be a good year for publishing!

1. Grey Sister (Book of the Ancestor #2)9781101988886_GreySister_FCOmech.indd

I’ve not written a review of it yet because I want to do it justice (I’m planning a reread of it this year and I have the audiobook to get through as well), but this has to be the book I’m most looking forward to reading in 2018. I loved the world that Lawrence made for this series and I have an (a?) hypothesis or two as to how the Book of the Ancestor world was made and formed. Either way, I’m desperate to return to Nona Grey and see how she’s fared, as well as my beloved Sister Kettle and Sister Apple!

2. Nevernight 3

I’ve loved this series so far and between Red Sister by Lawrence and Nevernight by Kristoff, they’ve made me into a hooked grimdark fan. I love the world that Kristoff has made and I think I’m into that whole “person goes to school thing and shenanigans ensue”. I guess it’s no coincidence that some of my top reads of 2017 involved assassin-boarding-schools. Maybe Harry Potter started off a trend for me… either way, I’m addicted! I’m eager to see how Kristoff will conclude this series and where he takes our girl, Mia Corvere.

 3. The Hyena & the Hawk (Echoes of the Fall #3)36161270

I have mixed feelings about this series. I thoroughly enjoyed the first, The Tiger and the Wolf but the second (The Bear and the Serpent) left me feeling a bit wanting. I just wanted Tchaikovsky to get to the point of who the bad-guys were and stop dithering about. That being said, despite my frustrations, I full intend to read the final edition in this series so I can finally see who the bad-guys are and why they’re coming.

4. Songwoman (Skin #2)36624923

I read the first in this duology in 2016 so I was surprised to find out that a second was to be released in 2018. I did enjoy the first in the book because I think Tampke did celtic-meets-magic well despite some seriously odd sex scenes. I will admit that Ailia does feel a tad Mary Sue but I am intrigued to see how the world continues and what Ailia does now, now that she has… well, power.

That’s all folks! Are there any books (fantasy or non-fantasy) that you’re excited to get your hands on this year?

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin | 5 stars

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5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I’ll admit this this book was a slow start for me in the beginning. I wasn’t completely sold on the concept or the book when I bought it (it was on sale for 2 pounds so I really couldn’t say “no”) and I let it gather dust in my room for a good 2 months before I decided to start it. And when I did, I barely made it 30 pages in before I left it again for another month!

But I’m glad that I pushed through because I became very invested in the characters and the world within a few pages. I loved Jemisin’s world building here – she created a ruptured earth full of terrifying seasons and weather, and she did it so well that you felt the terror of the people.

Within this earth there is a fifth season that creates cataclysmic weather that basically destroys all life as you know it. This means that people on this world are terrified of shakes, quakes and unusual weather. Within this world, there are also individuals that are called orogenes that can harness earth’s power (and like all power, for good and evil reasons). I won’t say more because of spoilers but think X-Men on a ruptured earth. Oh, and everyone in this world is hella diverse!

Another aspect that I greatly enjoyed was the cultural and societal comm system she created. Here communities are the lifeblood of survival and each community has a stratified culture with each person belonging to a group, and each group playing a role in the survival of many. OK, so this is the anthropologist in me freaking out and many won’t give a crap about this part of the book but it is definitely a plus! This cultural and societal reaction is significant however to the survival of some of the main characters.

I could go on and on about other aspects of the book I like (think Stone People) but I’ll say something that irked me: This book is multi-perspective which isn’t exactly my cup of tea and took me a while to get used to. Jemisin does it well, and I get why she chose to use this narrative style, but eh, it was odd at first.

Other reviews I liked:

So that’s my brief review – I’d highly recommend it. Have you read it?