Monthly Wrap Up – September 2020

I can’t believe it’s time for another monthly wrap up already! This month I managed to complete my GoodReads goal of reading 70 books! This has been the most I have ever read in a single year, even before I had my book burnout, where I was just about managing to read one book a year, I never read more than 50 books. I’m not going to increase my goal as I’m just happy to see how the number ends up at the end of the year, but I’m still very pleased with how I’ve done!

As it was September, my Top Five Friday posts and my Thoughtful Thursday post was very much centred around university, regardless of whether you’re in your first year or last year. It was very nice to take a trip down memory lane, I hope the posts were useful to my student followers too!

This month I have read some amazing books, some of my favourites in the year so I feel very lucky with my book choices this month. 

Books read this month

This month I read a total of 12 books (7 physical books and 5 ebooks)

  1. Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
  2. Jessicaca by Suzy Blackledge (Review Request)
  3. The Lost Soul Atlas by Zana Fraillon 
  4. Hagen’s Curse by James Emmi (Review Request)
  5. The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang 
  6. These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong (ARC)
  7. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
  8. The Broken Hearts Honeymoon by Lucy Dickens (ARC)
  9. Whistle in the Dark by Emma Healey
  10. The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld
  11. Crowned a Traitor by Kate Callaghan (ARC) 
  12. Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi
www.blackwells.co.uk

Favourite books read this month

The Lost Soul Atlas by Zana Fraillon
This novel probably has one of my favourite friendships in a novel this year. I just completely adored Twig and Flea and could have read an entire series about their adventures. Additionally, this novel had so many unexpected twists and turns that it was a joy to read and I had no idea how it was going to end. 

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
You’ve probably seen a lot of people talk about The Poppy War by now and all I can say is that it deserves all of the praise that it has been getting. Kuang’s novel is such an amazing, albeit difficult at times, read and it has me excited to read the rest of the series. 

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
I’m a complete sucker for modern retellings of classic Shakespeare plays and this is easily one of my favourites that I’ve ever come across. Who knew that 1920s Shanghai would lend itself to be a perfect setting for such a classic tragic romance? Regardless of if you love or hate Romeo and Juliet, Gong’s These Violent Delights is definitely a novel you should look out for when it is released on 17 November 2020! 

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
I thought that Hamnet would win the award for most heartbreaking novel of the month, but then along came The Song of Achilles. I already knew, for the most part, the story of Achilles and Patroclus, but nothing could prepare me for this novel. I loved Miller’s interpretation of one of the best Greek heroes in mythology and offered some brilliant insight into some of the actions of some of the Iliad’s major players.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi
This book was such a delightful surprise, I wasn’t sure what to expect from a collection of stories set in a time travelling cafe. I knew I would enjoy it but within a few pages it became a favourite of the month. Each story was so touching for a variety of reasons and I felt myself tearing up multiple times. I’m very excited to read even more of the tales in the second book!

Lastly, on a different note, today is the last day of my current blog theme as over the weekend I will be taking the site offline whilst I update the theme and upgrade to a domain. I feel much more positive with this blog and blogging experience, than I ever did with my previous book blog. I’ve already been testing the changes (which will be fairly minor) on a test site and I’m very happy with the outcome and I’m excited to share the new look with you!

How has your month been? Are you sad Summer is over or excited Autumn is finally here? Let me know in the comments!

www.blackwells.co.uk

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

Publisher: HarperVoyager UK
Publication Date:
01/05/2018
Length: 531 pages
Genre:
Fantasy

CW: sexual assault, graphic violence

Blackwells.co.uk

When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.

GoodReads
Continue reading “The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang”

Book Haul – September 2020

My September 2020 book haul

This month I went a little rogue and went over the budget I allow myself for books… But I just couldn’t resist! I think a lot of these books have an autumn feel to them, books that I can get all cozy with. After reading the most books I’ve ever read in a month in August, I was very excited to restock my shelves! Check out the GoodReads description for the books below. 

The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld 

I thought about being too small for so much, but that no one told you when you were big enough … and I asked God if he please couldn’t take my brother Matthies instead of my rabbit. ‘Amen.’

Jas lives with her devout farming family in the rural Netherlands. One winter’s day, her older brother joins an ice skating trip; resentful at being left alone, she makes a perverse plea to God; he never returns. As grief overwhelms the farm, Jas succumbs to a vortex of increasingly disturbing fantasies, watching her family disintegrate into a darkness that threatens to derail them all.


Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship–the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.


The Children of Jocasta by Natalie Haynes

Jocasta is just fifteen when she is told that she must marry the King of Thebes, an old man she has never met. Her life has never been her own, and nor will it be, unless she outlives her strange, absent husband.

Ismene is the same age when she is attacked in the palace she calls home. Since the day of her parents’ tragic deaths a decade earlier, she has always longed to feel safe with the family she still has. But with a single act of violence, all that is about to change.

With the turn of these two events, a tragedy is set in motion. But not as you know it.


On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family’s history that began before he was born — a history whose epicenter is rooted in Vietnam — and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation. At once a witness to the fraught yet undeniable love between a single mother and her son, it is also a brutally honest exploration of race, class, and masculinity. Asking questions central to our American moment, immersed as we are in addiction, violence, and trauma, but undergirded by compassion and tenderness, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is as much about the power of telling one’s own story as it is about the obliterating silence of not being heard.


Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

What would you change if you could go back in time?

In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a café which has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time.

In Before the Coffee Gets Cold, we meet four visitors, each of whom is hoping to make use of the café’s time-travelling offer, in order to: confront the man who left them, receive a letter from their husband whose memory has been taken by early onset Alzheimer’s, to see their sister one last time, and to meet the daughter they never got the chance to know.

But the journey into the past does not come without risks: customers must sit in a particular seat, they cannot leave the café, and finally, they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold . . .


The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang

In the aftermath of the Third Poppy War, shaman and warrior Rin is on the run: haunted by the atrocity she committed to end the war, addicted to opium, and hiding from the murderous commands of her vengeful god, the fiery Phoenix. Her only reason for living is to get revenge on the traitorous Empress who sold out Nikan to their enemies.

With no other options, Rin joins forces with the powerful Dragon Warlord, who has a plan to conquer Nikan, unseat the Empress, and create a new Republic. Rin throws herself into his war. After all, making war is all she knows how to do.


Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.

There is one other person in the house-a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.

Have you read any of the books I got this month? Are any on your wishlist? Let me know!

www.blackwells.co.uk

Book Haul – August 2020

My August 2020 book haul!

So, this month I have got quite an eclectic mix of books! Due to the heatwave, I’ve not got through as many books on my TBR as usual, however that wasn’t going to stop me from ordering more! Especially as I filled up my Waterstones loyalty card stamps and had a £10 voucher to spend! Check out the GoodReads descriptions for the books below.

How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee

Singapore, 1942. As Japanese troops sweep down Malaysia and into Singapore, a village is ransacked, leaving only two survivors and one tiny child.

In a neighboring village, seventeen-year-old Wang Di is strapped into the back of a troop carrier and shipped off to a Japanese military brothel where she is forced into sexual slavery as a “comfort woman.” After sixty years of silence, what she saw and experienced still haunts her.


A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

This was never the story of one woman, or two. It was the story of all of them…

In the middle of the night, Creusa wakes to find her beloved Troy engulfed in flames. Ten seemingly endless years of brutal conflict between the Greeks and the Trojans are over, and the Greeks are victorious. Over the next few hours, the only life she has ever known will turn to ash…


The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.


Whistle in the Dark by Emma Healey

Jen’s fifteen-year-old daughter goes missing for four agonizing days. When Lana is found, unharmed, in the middle of the desolate countryside, everyone thinks the worst is over. But Lana refuses to tell anyone what happened, and the police think the case is closed. The once-happy, loving family returns to London, where things start to fall apart. Lana begins acting strangely: refusing to go to school, and sleeping with the light on.

With her daughter increasingly becoming a stranger, Jen is sure the answer lies in those four missing days. But will Lana ever reveal what happened?


The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

When Zachary Rawlins stumbles across a strange book hidden in his university library it leads him on a quest unlike any other. Its pages entrance him with their tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities and nameless acolytes, but they also contain something impossible: a recollection from his own childhood.


The Lost Soul Atlas by Zana Fraillon

A boy awakens in the Afterlife, with a pocketful of vague memories, a key, a raven, and a mysterious Atlas to guide him as he sets out to piece together the mystery of his final moments…

Back on Earth, Twiggy is a street kid with a missing dad. But when he meets Flea, a cheerful pickpocket, the pair become fast friends, better even than blood family itself. Together, Twig and Flea raise themselves on the crime-ridden streets, taking what they need and giving the rest to the even-poorer. Life is good, as long as they have each other. But the all-powerful Boss who rules the streets has other plans.


The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Finnmark, Norway, 1617. Twenty-year-old Maren Magnusdatter stands on the craggy coast, watching the sea break into a sudden and reckless storm. Forty fishermen, including her brother and father, are drowned and left broken on the rocks below. With the menfolk wiped out, the women of the tiny Arctic town of Vardø must fend for themselves.

Three years later, a sinister figure arrives. Absalom Cornet comes from Scotland, where he burned witches in the northern isles. He brings with him his young Norwegian wife, Ursa, who is both heady with her husband’s authority and terrified by it. In Vardø, and in Maren, Ursa sees something she has never seen before: independent women. But Absalom sees only a place untouched by God, and flooded with a mighty evil.


Have you read any of the books I got this month? Are any on your wish list? Let me know!