Let’s Talk Bookish: How Have Your Reading Habits Changed Over Time?

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion. Today’s theme is ‘How have your reading habits changed over time?’.

I have loved reading for a very long time and my reading habits have certainly changed. Before I went to university, I read quite a mix of books. A lot of YA but also some more literary books. Then when I went to uni to study English Literature with Creative Writing I didn’t have much spare time for reading outside the course material. So I read a lot of classics and literary fiction for those three years. I read some great books and I enjoyed my degree, but I did miss being able to choose what I read.

Then when I finished uni (3 years ago now!) I didn’t want to see another classic! I’ve read almost solely YA since then. I’ve also read mostly fantasy and sci-fi. I think having read so many literary and challenging reads during my degree, I just wanted to be sucked into a great story again. I just wanted to be swept up in a fantasy adventure.

Having spent 3 years reading as part of studying, it did take me a little while to get back into reading for fun. At first, I didn’t enjoy reading as much as I used to, because while I was studying it was something I had to do and I had to read particular books. Having the freedom to choose what to read again was great, but it did take me a little while to get back into it.

Over the last year or so I’ve got back into really loving reading for pleasure again and consequentially I’ve started reading more too. Having my love of reading rekindled again has been wonderful.

I’ve also done a lot of reading this year thanks to lockdown. Even though I’m still working full time (from home) I’ve had a lot more free time since I’ve not been able to go anywhere! I expect the amount of reading I do will go down again a bit whenever we finally get back to ‘normal’. So I’m making the most of the time I have to read and write.

I’m actually reading a classic at the moment though – Emma by Jane Austen. As I’ve read a lot of fantasy lately it is nice to read something different. There are a lot of classics I want to read, but I probably won’t read them that often. At the moment I’m reading about one a year. Maybe that will change though. It will be interesting to see how my reading habits have changed in a few years time!

Have your reading habits changed over the years? Has the kind of books you enjoy shifted? Share your thoughts with me in the comments!

Book Review: The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant (eARC)

The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Publishing Info: eARC from Harper Voyager

Pages: 464

Star Rating: 3/5

Back Cover Summary:

Les Misérables meets Six of Crows in this page-turning adventure as a young thief finds herself going head to head with leaders of Paris’s criminal underground in the wake of the French Revolution.

Liberty

1828 and the citizens of Paris still mourn in the wake of their failed revolution. Among them, in the dark alleys and crumbling cathedrals of the city, the most wretched have gathered into guilds of thieves, assassins – and worse. Together they are known as The Court of Miracles.

Family

Eponine has lost more than most. When her father, Thénardier, sells her sister to the Guild of Flesh she makes a promise to do anything she can to get her sister back, even if that means joining the Court of Miracles, the very people keeping her sister a slave.

Treachery

Eponine becomes perhaps the greatest thief the Court has ever known, finding a place among them and gaining another sister, Cosette. But she has never forgotten the promise she made, and if she’s to have any hope of saving one sister, she will have to betray the other.

This beautiful reimagining of Les Misérables tells the stories of your favourite characters and what might have happened if the French Revolution had not come to pass.

Thank you so much to Harper Voyager and NetGalley for the eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book was one of my most anticipated releases of the year so I was super excited to get my hands on an advanced copy. It’s been billed as a retelling of Les Misérables and The Jungle Book meets Six of Crows, which are certainly very attention-grabbing comparisons. This is a dark reimagining of 1800s France and that darkness and grittiness comes through really well. Unfortunately, this book wasn’t as good as I’d been hoping. I enjoyed reading it. I was engaged and absorbed throughout thanks to the great writing, but I didn’t connect with it.

This book didn’t meet my expectations for a retelling. In some ways the Jungle Book retelling element works better than the Les Mis element does. The villain of the book is known as the Tiger and (thanks to the actions of our protagonist) is after Ettie, which seems to be representing the tiger from The Jungle Book, Shere Khan, being after Mowgli. It includes most of the characters from Les Misérables and there is the element of the revolution and the barricades, but it doesn’t retell the book in any meaningful way. To be honest, I felt that this book might actually have been stronger if it had not been written as a retelling of Les Misérables. It just didn’t really feel like a retelling. For many of the characters, there’s too much reliance on readers’ knowledge of the original characters, rather than doing something different with them or developing them as individuals separate from the original work.

The book is set into separate sections with some quite big time jumps in between that make for a disjointed reading experience. The one that caused the most problems for me comes early on in the book. We rejoin Nina about to enact her plan to get her older sister, Azelma, back from the Tiger, but at the cost of her younger adoptive sister Ettie. After setting this in motion, Nina very quickly changes her mind and ends up needing to protect Ettie (who she put in danger in the first place) and then the rest of the book revolves around keeping Ettie safe from the Tiger. But we don’t know anything about Ettie or her relationship with Nina due to the time jump, so this shift comes a bit out of the blue. We don’t have any understanding of their relationship or why Nina would move heaven and earth to protect a character we only just met.

At the start, Nina is driven by her goal of helping Azelma. But then when her goal shifts to protecting Ettie it’s like she’s completely forgotten about setting Azelma free. Because of the time skip, this sudden shift in the protagonist’s goal is jarring. We’ve only just met Ettie and there isn’t anything at first to show that Nina cares about Ettie as a sister. Their relationship develops well and I enjoyed seeing the two characters interact later on. But at first, there’s nothing to show why Nina would suddenly change her mind and give up on her plan to save Azelma and instead focus on protecting Ettie, a character we know nothing about and don’t yet care for. One moment, Nina is willing to sacrifice Ettie to save Azelma, which she has been carefully planning, and the moment she puts that plan in motion she makes this sudden u-turn.

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Top 10 Tuesday: Favourite Classics I've Studied

How is everyone doing? We’re in lockdown now here in the UK. It’s a bit surreal.

Today’s Top 10 Tuesday is a genre freebie. At first I was going to do something fantasy-related but decided to do something a bit different. This summer it will be three years (three years!) since I graduated from university. I studied English Literature with Creative Writing and had a lot of reading to do over the years I was studying! So here are 10 of my favourite classics I studied during my degree (either they were required reading or additional reading as part of research for the creative writing modules).

Top 10 Tuesday was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish, but has now moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. If you’re interested in taking part click here.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – The history around this book is so interesting. If you know nothing about it except what’s around in popular culture, I’d recommend reading about Mary Shelley (and reading the book of course). It also explores the theme of what it means to be human, which I found really interesting.

Dracula by Bram Stoker – Probably the most famous vampire book, ever. We read this for a Gothic fiction module and I loved it.

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen – How could I not include a Jane Austen on this list? This is another from the Gothic fiction module. It’s essentially a satire of Gothic novels and thoroughly entertaining.  

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick – This wasn’t required reading, but one I read as part of research for a science fiction piece for one of the creative writing modules. It’s the book the film Blade Runner is based on.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie – An interesting module we had was Detective Fiction! This book has a big twist. I won’t spoil it. You won’t see it coming!

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle – Another one from the Detective Fiction module. Got to love a bit of Sherlock Holmes! I do like a classic mystery.

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keys – I read this one as part of research for my creative writing dissertation. This book is thought-provoking and also heart-breaking. I felt a real connection to it when I read it.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë – I’d read this before I went to uni and was happy to see it on the reading list. It’s quite a long book, but I remember really enjoying it. I must read it again sometime.

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman – I don’t very often read short stories, but I found this one really engaging. It explores attitudes towards women with mental health problems in the 19th Century. It’s incredibly vivid and I found it fascinating reading around the subject and analysing the text.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – For our Children’s Literature in final year we had the option to use books not from the module. The Hunger Games was on the reading list and I chose to compare the trilogy to Ender’s Game. That was a fun and interesting topic.

Top 10 Tuesday: Books I Loved But Never Reviewed

This week’s Top 10 is a freebie, and I came across this topic a while ago, so am excited for the opportunity to finally write this blog post. The books I love most, I actually often don’t review, because I’m not sure what to say beyond a paragraph of gushing. Some of the books in this list I also read before I started my blog, hence they didn’t get a review.

Top 10 Tuesday was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish, but has now moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. If you’re interested in taking part click here.

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Top 10 Tuesday: Longest Books I’ve Ever Read

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday caught my attention as I know I’ve read a lot of long books, but I wasn’t sure which was the longest.

Top 10 Tuesday was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish, but as of January has now moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. If you’re interested in taking part click here.

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I’ve sorted this list by order of pages according to Goodreads for ease (where possible for the edition I read), or I could spend ages deciding what is ‘longest’. The Lord of the Rings is listed as one book partly because the edition I own has it in one volume, but largely because this is how J. R. R. Tolkien intended it.

It’s no surprise to find most on this list are high fantasy, nor that a long classic made it into the top ten. There is also more than one book from some series – Paolini’s Eragon series clocks in three books, while Jordan’s Wheel of Time series has two in this list.

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Top 10 Tuesday: Books By My Favourite Authors That I Still Haven’t Read

There are so many books I have enjoyed, but haven’t read any more works by the author. I really should read the books on this list.

Top 10 Tuesday was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish, but as of January has now moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. If you’re interested in taking part click here.

1) Leigh Bardugo, Six of Crows – I finished the Grisha trilogy this year and now I’m looking forward to diving into another of Bardugo’s series.

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2) Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Prince and others – I feel very behind on Clare’s books. I still haven’t finished the Infernal Devices series and she keeps bringing out more and more novels.

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Top 10 Tuesday: Books I Disliked/Hated but Am Really Glad I Read

Some of these are books I disliked but am glad I read because I learnt something from them. As much as we can learn what makes a great book, as a writer you can learn what not to do from what you don’t like about books you’ve read.

Top 10 Tuesday was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish, but as of January has now moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. If you’re interested in taking part click here.

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Top 10 Tuesday: Books with my Favourite Colour on the Cover

Top 10 Tuesday was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish, but as of January has now moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. If you’re interested in taking part click here.

This week’s topic is books with your favourite colour on the cover or in the title. My favourite colour tends to vary a bit from year to year, at the moment I’m partial to purple so that’s what I’ve chosen for my list. This was a fun topic to research. Without further ado, here are some resplendent purple covers for you to enjoy…

1) Shadow and Bone Leigh Bardugo

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Top 5 Wednesday: 2018 Reading Resolutions

The first T5W of 2018 is about our reading goals for the next year. I don’t usually do this kind of thing, but it was actually interesting to sit and think about where I want my reading to take me over the next 12 months. T5W is a group hosted on Goodreads, if you’d like to participate check it out here.

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1) Read more. In 2017 I read 38 books, but a lot of these were from my degree, when I had to sit and read them really quickly. When I don’t have that kind of deadline, it usually takes me 2-4 weeks to read a book. I want to spend more of my spare time reading, as I’ve not been spending as much time doing it as I used to.

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2) Read some classics. After spending 3 years slogging through classics (most of which I wouldn’t have chosen myself) I got kind of fed up of them and haven’t touched them since I finished my degree in June 2017. Months later, I finally feel like reading them of my own free will! So I want to get back into some classics of my own choosing this year.

3) Time for some contemporary. I read a lot of fantasy and sci-fi, and would like to read a few more contemporary/general fiction books.

4) Review the books I read. I don’t get round to reviewing a lot of the books I read. This year I want to blog reviews of as many of them as I can. I enjoy thinking about what I’ve read and sharing my thoughts, so really I ought to do it more.

5) Take a chance on me. With the Mamma Mia Here We Go Again trailer coming out, this song just popped into my head. I want to take a chance on books more this year. I want to not just keep reading safe books by authors or in genres I know I love. I want to step out of my comfort zone and read some books I’m not sure whether I’ll like, because I might just find a gem I might not have looked at otherwise.

Books I Want to Read in 2018

I don’t usually plan what I’m going to read. I like to see what takes my fancy. But these are some of the books I am desperate to read in 2018.

Series I want to continue

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Ringer by Lauren Oliver: The concept of this series – having the two stories in one – really caught my attention, but it’s also the story and characters that make me want to read the next book.

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare: After finally getting round to reading the first book in Clare’s Infernal Devices series at the end of 2017, I am excited to read the second in the series!

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo: I enjoyed the first and second books in this trilogy, so am eager to read the final instalment. I hope it makes a good ending.

 

Series I want to start

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Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin: As soon as I read the blurb for this book, I wanted to read it. It’s been sat on my kindle for a few months but I just haven’t got round to it yet. I will definitely be reading it in 2018 though!

Throne of Glass by Sarah J Mass: Another one that has been sat on my kindle for a while. I’ve heard so much about this series and there are quite a few books in it now. I really should get around to reading it.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer: I have wanted to read this book since it first came out, and have finally got a copy. I haven’t read many fairy tale retellings, but this one caught my eye. Combining a fairy tale retelling with sci-fi just sounds like something I would love. I hope it doesn’t disappoint.

 

Classics I want to read

After reading so many classics during my degree, I had really had enough of them by the time I’d finished. Now I have reached the point where I feel ready to get back into reading some classics in 2018.

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The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins: Having enjoyed the TV adaptation of The Moonstone, I am interested in reading one of Wilkie Collins’ works.

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen: Eventually I will read all of Austen’s novels. So far, I have ticked off Northanger Abbey and Sense and Sensibility. I’m planning to read Mansfield Park next.

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy: I read Tess of the D’Urbervilles a few years ago and loved it. I was totally enchanted by Hardy’s style of writing.

 

What are you looking forward to reading in 2018?