Books

Reading Routine

In response to Ms. Victorious blog entry about her reading routine, I am writing this post. I am not sure how long it’ll be, but I am sure I may have a lot to say.

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My bookshelves now look different

1. How I tend to read books

I’d say the best way to answers this is “any way”. I have a tendency to sit next to the bookcase (on the floor) and just read, there on the floor without any preparation beforehand or any thought about it. I used to do this at my parents house, sneaking behind the dining room table and in front of the bookcase, reading my mother’s YA novels (this is 70’s and 80’s YA books) since she thought I was too young for them (I probably was but it was books and I love reading) or maybe reading the Juvenile Encyclopaedia (I can’t remember the exact name but it had language lessons, encyclopaedia articles, stories, etc. I read Rikki-Tikki-Tavi on it (amongst other things but I just have the memory of it).

But I digress, sorry!

How I tend to read is just by grabbing a book and submerging myself into it. Quite simple I have to say. Of course I have preferred ways of doing this, such as going to bed with a cup of tea and reading for a few hours, or sitting next to my bookcase and reading or just on the couch. But unplanned reading is as welcome as planned.

As for my reading speed, I am a very fast reader. I have yet to meet someone that reads faster than me (doesn’t mean there isn’t someone who does). Which means I don’t like reading out loud, my eyes+brain are about 10 pages ahead of my mouth and hands, so it becomes a chaos of stumbling upon words because yes, my mouth is reading the first line in the first paragraph, but my eyes are already several paragraphs ahead and insisting that I say those words too. It is a struggle for me to slow down when reading (it helps if I’ve read the book before, since I have photographic memory and that means I remember the words so I don’t have to read as much and can concentrate on wording them out). Being fast also made it difficult to keep track of where the group was reading when it was one of those classes at school where we each read a paragraph in order and yeah. I would usually count the people and mark my paragraph so I knew what I should read out loud when my turn came.

My mum has a funny story that when I was in elementary school, something like Y4 or Y5 (8-10 years old) on a parents meeting thing the teacher was adamant that parents should make sure their children read for 15 minutes everyday and my mum asked “very well, but how do I make my child read for just 15 minutes a day? She won’t stop!”. In all fairness, I learnt from her, she would read a lot too, so she was to blame for this.

And as for the environment, I don’t mind music or silence, I admit I prefer a quiet room so I can concentrate better but if ideal conditions aren’t met, I can still read perfectly fine.

2. What kind of books I tend to read

I can say all kinds but to be honest I read an eclectic picky mix. My main reads are fantasy (and it’s many variations, urban, high, etc) and sci-fi, but for example I am not very fond of Asimov and a few other Sci-Fi giants and prefer more obscure ones. Same with fantasy. Of course, I read a lot of YA. And I have a soft spot for Mary Higgins Clark’s mystery/thriller novels or anything from Kathy Reichs.

I can also read contemporary though I am not as keen and I prefer for those kind of reads things like Cecilia Ahern and such, or japanese writers (Murakami is the most known but there are others). And my other favourite thing is historical. It can be historical fiction or non fiction. I have a lot of books on WW2 and aircraft, but then I also have books on colour, costumes, drawing, the art of, etc.

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And last but not least, I like graphic novels (but I am not wowed by Marvel/DC). This of course includes manga.

Most of what I have read (until I started buying book boxes) is older books and authors that either are famous now or ar not known anymore except by older people. Authors like M.M Kaye (learned a lot about history and the West Indies), Brian Jacques, Madeleine L’Engle, Robin Cook, Robin McKinley, Ken Follet, Anne McCaffrey, etc. (If you saw my post on my favourites, most of the books are old or they are new editions bought to replace the broken old ones). Some of my favourite books are now out of print or it is hard to get hold of them because people aren’t buying them anymore.

3. Where I tend to read

Short answer: everywhere. Long answer: everywhere, for real. I don’t know exactly when but it was in my teenage years (probable between 10-13 years old) I made the habit of almost never leaving the house without a book. You never know when you can sneak time to read, so I can say I’ve read while waiting (standing or sitting) in a queue, at a bus stop, waiting for the train, sitting outside a classroom, while in class (killing time after having finished the assignment), I’ve read on a plane, in a car, etc. The list goes on. I just read everywhere.

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My favourite places are bed, couch, floor and under the stairs (there is a tiny space there and I just sit among the coats and cleaning stuff and all that and read, somehow it is comforting). Another favourite occasion is sneaking some reading on a boring event (I may sin of being rude by taking out my book and reading at a conference during a talk or things like that, but I am multitasking most of the time and whatever the person is talking about I either already know it or it is not interesting me).

4. What kind of snacks keep me company while reading

I don’t prepare snacks for reading time, as you can gather from all I’ve written already, I basically just read. If I am reading before bed I try to take a cup of tea with me, but what usually happens is I forget about it while I read and only drink it once it is cold. If I am reading at a coffee shop then of course I will be drinking something and maybe having some cake (every now and then I go to a Costa or something, buy some coffee/tea and a cake and read and eat and drink in peace there, change of environment sometimes helps and is needed, sometimes I like being alone in a busy place). Snacks may happen at other times of reading but it is very variable so can’t say I do specific something. Tea is the most probable answer to be fair, but I drink tea almost a cup per hour so the odds are stacked in favour of tea.

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So now it is your turn, what is your reading routine?

What kind of books do you read? Is there a particular place that inspires you to read for hours? Coffee or tea while reading? What kind of snacks work for you?

Pictures this time include old shelves, a visit to Costa coffee, December’s Book Box Club and a lovely window seat with a view to snow in the valley (I was very lucky to have this as part of my job at the time).

 

Books

Written in Red Review

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Written in Red by Anne Bishop

As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut—a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg’s Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard—a business district operated by the Others. 

Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she’s keeping a secret, and second, she doesn’t smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she’s wanted by the government, he’ll have to decide if she’s worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow.

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20pxMoonKestrel Logo2 20pxMoonKestrel Logo2 20pxMoonKestrel Logo2 20pxMoonKestrel Logo2 20px Grey

I’ll start this review by saying urban fantasy is really up my street, but I am also quite picky with it (so for example, I’ve read Twilight but didn’t like it). I don’t want the urban fantasy to be an excuse to wrap some high school drama or some romance and love triangles and make it ‘cool’.

Written in Red thankfully doesn’t fall into any of those categories. There is little to no romance involved (there is romance in the sense of others have it, it exists, whatever, but it isn’t exactly the main thing in the plot or the important thing about Meg or Simon), no annoying love triangles *chorus of aleluyas* and no romanticising the Others.

The story happens in an alternative Earth where humans and Others (vampires, werewolves, elementals, and many others) coexist with the uper hand being on the Others.

Meg kind of stumbles into the Courtyard and realises she can ask for a job there and be given a place to stay, an income and some sort of anonimity which is exactly what she needs. Being a blood prophet, Meg has little knowledge of how the world actually works or who she is, and she has just escaped her limited life.

This whole “discovering the world and who I am” bit could have gone very wrong, but somehow there is something adoring about Meg doing it, without it being unrealistic or annoying. It seemed legit on how she navigated the world, and the way she interacted with the Others in the Courtyard (the beauty of not really having any prejudices).

There are several subplots going on here, which tie up nicely around Meg and that she inadvertely either stumbles upon or triggers off.

There is the annoying would-be actress with her own agenda to push that keeps trying to befriend Meg and find out more about the Others. I kept wanting to wring her neck but even though you as a reader can see her purposes from miles away, it is also true that mostly no one else would’ve given the circumstances.

There is also the cutest subplot that involves Sam, Simon’s nephew and a “safety line for adventurers” leash which causes mixed reactions and some interesting drama. But all I wanted was to hug Sam and have him over to my house.

Another subplot is the sickness affecting the Others in the North and without adding spoilers, the way it is tied up so that you could just be content with reading this one book and not go to read the next was quite crafty and oh so simple.

Then there is obviously being introduced to several kinds of Others and how they interact with each other and also how they discover humanity and “tolerate it”.

On a subtle way, the book touches on cutting and other mental health issues, friendship, humanity, brutality and violence, how people can be manipulated, kindness, and all wrapped up nicely into a beautiful urban fantasy rich in detail.

I have to admit I had bought this thinking it’d be not so good, but as soon as I finished it I ended up ordering the next books (one is only in hardback so I am waiting to get it in paperback and the next one isn’t out yet).

Moon recommends

If you like urban fantasy I’d recommned you look into Jim Butcher’s books and The Dresden Files (warning, there are so many of them but they are fun to read). Or you can try Patricia Briggs, she has several series one including a werecoyote (Mercy Series). Or maybe you want to go further back in time and read The Riddle of the Wren by Charles de Lint (2002-09-16) who is considered the father of urban fantasy.

If you want to buy it Written in Red or you can read my Good Reads review of it here.

 

Props on picture are a red envelope from a generic card, the same puzzle used for the What is your favourite book? post, Beast Funko Pop, Miss Peregrine’s falcon also from Funko Pop (it came with Miss Peregrine) and a swan feather quill made by yours truly during my reenactment times (Enlighs Civil War).

Disclaimer: There is an Amazon Associates link, but if you choose to use them and buy from them, know that you’re just helping me buy more books and feed my reading needs. Book synopsis is from Good Reads.

Books

Review and Rating system

To make things easier, here is the way I will be doing reviews and what the little foxes mean.

Reviews will feature one or more pictures of the book (current edition used), they may contain quotes of content from the book and will quote the synopsis found on Good Reads.

The Moon Kestrel rating systemTM  has two symbols.

MoonKestrel Logo2 20px which means a full “star”

MoonKestrel Logo2 20px Grey which means a half “star”

Notice the different sizes and colouring to make this easier. The usual range is MoonKestrel Logo2 20px Grey to  MoonKestrel Logo2 20pxMoonKestrel Logo2 20pxMoonKestrel Logo2 20pxMoonKestrel Logo2 20pxMoonKestrel Logo2 20px (0.5 to 5 foxes/stars) but there might be exceptions where I consider a book/product so good it will receive extra foxes.

Most of the ratings will be displayed below the title and before the synopsis. Amazon Associate links will be added to most of the books reviewed (I do this so I can buy even more books to read and review, because books and my bank account isn’t infinite). There will also be a Good Reads link to the review displayed there (if I wrote a full review, otherwise only to the book’s main page).

There may be recommendations of similar books to read or check out similar to the one reviewed.

If you would like to submit a book for me to review, do not hesitate to contact me. Here are some pointers on what I would prefer:

  • Sci-fi, fantasy or YA. I do not mind younger reads or other genres but these are the preferred ones.
  • Physical copies are preferred over digital ones but I may make an exception for shorter reads or specific ARC/Proofs. This is due to the fact I do not own an ebook reader. If you want me to make an exception you have to make it worthwhile for me (really sell me your story). I spend all day reading logs in front of a screen, I do not want to be reading more on a PC/mobile.
  • Book does not need to be recently published or an ARC/Proof.
  • I will provide a honest review, please, do not attempt to change my mind or suggest what I should write. The review will follow the guidelines provided above.
  • Book Box Club books get priority on being read first, after that it will depend on mood and what I am aiming for. I will do my best to get to your book as soon as possible, but I cannot guarantee it will be my next read. If the copy you provided is ebook I cannot guarantee when it will be read.
  • Posts are scheduled in advance, if you require the review for promotional purposes to be published by a specific date, please make this clear and we can try to work out how to fit it in at the right timing.
  • I can also review on GoodReads, Amazon and Instagram, and all my blog posts are shared to Twitter.
  • Any other questions, I am happy to answer them. Please use the contact form.

If you would like to submit a subscription box for me to review, please consider the following:

  • Book, bookish merchandise and gaming are preferred content. Crafts and others will be considered.
  • I DO NOT review make up subscription boxes since my use of make up is limited to mascara and a couple of eyeliners, on a fancy occasion I may wear some lipstick. It would not be a good match and I’d rather it goes to someone who can provide a better review.
  • Subscription boxes will be added to the latest “Collection” post (they are scheduled after I’ve accumulated several new boxes). They will also have an entire post about the contents of the box, and an unboxing will be done over Instagram stories.
  • I am happy to provide a code in the review for others to use when they subscribe.
  • Please refer to unboxing blog entries on what to expect.
  • Any other questions, do not hesitate to contact me.

 

 

Books

What is your favourite book?

Have you ever come across the ‘What is your favourite book?’ question? Do you also get a slight panic attack when you realise it means one book? ONE book? (Or is it just me?)

I mean, how can you choose just favourite book? Just one? How will your other favourite and well read books feel? Those books with broken spines, or yellowed pages, or spots of food/drink/something , the books that are so old that you fear they will break apart just by breathing near them but re-read anyway… I can’t do that to them.

But I can tell you a series of favourite and beloved books that usually come to mind when the dreaded question comes up.

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A Ring of Endless Light, Madeleine L’Engle

This is a book that always makes me cry, every single time I read it. It tells the story of Vicky and her family (the Austins, this is the fourth book concerning the family), and a summer spent near a dying Grandfather and how Vicky deals with being sought after by two completely different young men. My favourite character is Adam (and if you want more of Adam, then there is The Arm of the Starfish). Also, Madeleine L’engle has a way of introducing philosophy and science into her books. This particular book touches on life, death, and dolphins.
When do I re-read this book: When I need to cry, or need to reflect on life and death or feel a little bit alive. It is the sweet kind of sad.
If you’d like to buy it: A Ring of Endless Light

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The Love Letters, Madeleine L’Engle

Another one by Madeleine L’Engle. This is a more adult novel and as good as it is, it definitely isn’t YA or younger. There are two parallel stories here, one were a couple is going through a rough patch and she has gone to Portugal to find some answers to her own storms in her heart. The other is about a nun who commits adultery and falls in love, yet she becomes the abbess later in time. The Love Letters mentioned are the letters found from the nun and published (it is based on truth). Once again quite philosophical and it ponders on love, divorce, marriage and even upbringing and how that may affect your choices later in life.
When do I re-read this book: When I want a more adult book and I am trying to figure out what is bothering me.
If you’d like to buy it: The Love Letters

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After The Fire, Will Hill

This is a much modern book (as in written more recently) and is the recounting of life in a cult by Moonbeam and what led her to be in a hospital recovering from wounds. Moonbeam has been told not to talk to strangers and that The Governement is evil all her life, so it is interesting to see her retelling bits and pieces and learning about the ‘real world’. My favourite read of the year (2017) so far.
When do I re-read this book: Not re-read yet (it’s too new) but probably when I want to let go of some PTSD, when I want to appreciate humanity and want a story without a romance in it.
If you’d like to buy it: After the Fire

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The Hero and the Crown, Robin McKinley

The prequel to The Blue Sword, this book tells the tale of Aerin and her wish to be a dragonslayer, to be more than the daughter of the king. Aerin has always been somewhat of an outsider in her own country, so her adventures are interesting. This is not a perfect “fairy tale” and the happy ending is different than what you would expect. Aerin is a seriously strong female character and goes on to become a legend (she is mentioned in The Blue Sword).
When do I re-read this book: Anytime I am feeling down or sad or not okay. Also good for being okay. Those moments when I want to curl up and sleep or disappear or both.
If you’d like to buy it: The Hero and the Crown

The Blue Sword, Robin McKinley

Imagine finding out that that feeling of not belonging has a deep reason. For Harimad, she learns that when she meets Corlanth and is abducted to join him and his warriors. An epic story of saving a country when no one believes them that there is imminent danger and discovering your own worth. Another strong female character in a delightful fantasy setting.
When do I re-read this book: When I want an adventure, some fantasy. Or when I am not okay or sad. Curl up moments too.
If you’d like to buy it: The Blue Sword

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DragonRiders of Pern, Anne McCaffrey

A series, and I have a hard time choosing one from it. Basically, the series tells the story of how Pern was colonised, dragons were genetically modified/created to protect the planet from Thread (a menace that rains into the planet when another planet’s orbit brings it nearby). It shows how they survived and how some things were forgotten. Then it shows stories of the different holds, and the people in Pern throughout time and the different ‘Passes’ until the point when it appears they have found a solution to the Thread problem. It is rich in dragons, adventure, and going against the odds. It is full of strong characters (female and male) and not everything is black and white but there is a lot of grey and it is good.
When do I re-read this series: When I am in the mood for dragons, or want to remember some of the science in it.
If you’d like to buy it: Dragonflight or try The Harper Hall Trilogy

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The Time Quintet, Madeleine L’Engle

Another series, sorry. But you can’t just have one of them, you need them all! My most favourite is ‘A Swiftly Tilting Planet’. But the whole series was a good base for my love for physics and science. A Wrinkle in Time talks science to you as if it was normal, and it is. The illustrations help you understand easily things and when Meg confronts IT, it makes you be proud of being human, flaws and all. Then ‘A Wind in the Door’ introduces you more unto biology and medicine and once again, introduces concepts at an early age that are university/PhD level, and you know what is the best part? You are able to understand them as a 12 year old (or at least I was and years later when wondering how I knew so much about mytochondria, I could say it was this book’s fault). ‘A Swiftly Tilting Planet’ is moving characters through adulthood but Charles Wallace is still going through his teenage years and trying to be alive, this is a book about hope and about trusting instinct and once again about humanity. ‘Many Waters’ throws you into Noah’s arc time and you get to enjoy time with the twins. ‘An Acepptable Time’ is one I didn’t read as part of the series and only recently acquired so my opinion isn’t as settled on it (mostly because it has only been read once, whereas the rest have been read countless times).
When do I re-read this series: When science calls, or I need a pick me up, or to feel useful and not just anyone.
If you’d like to buy it: The Wrinkle in Time Quintet Boxed Set

So now, what is(are) your favourite book(s)?

If you are interested in the cute props, the background is The Bizarre Bookshop 2, 1000pc Jigsaw Puzzle, candle came from FairyLoot box and is made by witchwoodremedies, hearts bunting was part of one of Book Box Club‘s boxes, coaster is souvenir from Krakow, Poland and bookmark has a design by Alphonse Mucha.

Disclaimer: Those are Amazon Associates links, but if you choose to use them and buy from them, know that you’re just helping me buy more books and feed my reading needs.
None of the other links are sponsored nor do I get anything from promoting them except sharing the love.