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Read 100 Books in 2017 - SEPTEMBER-DECEMBER

Ok I'm backdating furiously because it's now 2018 and I've started a whole new reading challenge, so it's time to wrap this one up before we all die of old age. Ready for a whistle stop round up? Let's go. 


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Favourite: It would be massively pretentious to say Moby Dick but... I'm gonna say Moby Dick. This is my twelvetieth attempt at reading the damn fishy brick and I finally made it. And it's not because it's boring or particularly difficult to read, but it can be... dense. And tangential in parts. It's also so full of detail that your brain sort of explodes trying to process everything. But such a joy. Fucking hilarious, too. And unexpectedly beautiful. Love a bit of Dick. Ahem. 

Least Favourite: This was a really good month of reading, despite the comparatively low book count, so least favourite is pretty relative, although I struggled a bit with the Pinter collection. His treatment of women is... questionable at times. 

Also Worth Mentioning: I can't remember who recommended Sofia Khan is Not Obliged (by Ayisha Malik) to me but THANK YOU. It was a fucking delight, and I immediately bought its sequel and spent about 4 hours I should have been working tearing through them both. 



Favourite: So I had a slight meltdown this month and couldn't find ANY fiction that could hold my attention, hence the dabbling in graphic novels (Deadpool FTW) and non-fiction (I'm researching 18th century smuggling for a story) and plays (I went to see Dido at the RSC donchaknow). So in between all that I decided to embark on a marathon re-read of the Terry Pratchett back catalogue because GNU. Couldn't give you a favourite as such but I do love Rincewind with every fibre of my being. 

Least Favourite: I have been trying to read If, Then since the beginning of the year. It's now October. It was one of the first books I started and... it's beautifully written. It really is. It has a fascinating premise and engaging characters and a mindboggling plot (plus, its author lives in my hometown, where the story is also set) BUT I felt like it didn't quite know what it wanted to be. It's trying to be many different things but I think in doing so it sacrifices its plot - or reader connection - or something. Anyway. I enjoyed it, and was realllllllly happy to finish it eventually but I couldn't help feeling like I was missing something.  



No favourites or least favourites for November. This was a Pratchett-heavy month which is always a good thing. I think I got through one every 1.5 days. Not sure I can choose a fave from those, though Granny Weatherwax is possibly my favourite character in the world ever, followed very closely by Samuel Vimes, so Wyrd Sisters and Guards! Guards! are up there. Whole lotta love for Ms Marvel, too, which I'm reading with my 9-year-old and who is now his favourite superhero. Oh, and my first time reading Jane Eyre which utterly surprised me, as I had fully expected to hate it. And last but not least, Carrie Fisher's Princess Diaries, which are unspeakably sad at times, but also full of poetic philosophies. Good month. One more to go.



Favourite: Reaper Man made me cry. Witches Abroad is, well, almost perfect. And having always eschewed reading Pride and Prejudice I was really quite shocked at how much I enjoyed it. Laugh out loud moments throughout. 

Least Favourite: I had some issues with The Ship because I kinda wanted to throw the protagonist overboard for half the book. But I know a lotta people who love it so I'll leave this review there. 

Also Worth Mentioning: Finished The Goblet of Fire with my son after an epic few months of bedtime reading. We both had to stop and have a little cry/hug when Cedric died, but then quickly recovered when Voldemort stepped out of the cauldron butt naked, which my kid thought was the funniest thing ever. 


And we're done. Made it to the end of 2017 with a grand total of... 102!


And I'm so glad I did it. It's more than I've read in the last three years combined, I think. And it's got me out of some shitty social media/TV bingeing habits and made reading just another daily pleasure.

I tend to have two or three books on the go these days - one downstairs for reading-while-cooking or cramming in a few chapters in the witching hour between dinner and the kids' bedtime (massively assisted by our brand new wood burner - perfect reading environment). I also have another book or two upstairs, usually on my kindle, and read for at least an hour while I'm putting the kids to bed and then another good hour or so before I eventually pass out with my glasses askew. 

I've already jumped on the 2018 challenge but you can see a full list of my 2017 books on Goodreads HERE if you so wish... You can also join the #Read100Booksin2018 Facebook group here!

One final note: 

So... uh... we never finished Sarah's #ClassicReads challenge. We both gave up on Gulliver's Travels because ughhhhhhhh. Life is too fucking short. But if you have any recommendations for 2018 shout at me on Twitter or leave a comment. 

Happy reading/New Year!

Posted on December 31, 2017 and filed under Life, Projects, Reading.

Read 100 Books in 2017 - AUGUST

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New Personal Best: 28 frickin' books in August! I'm now on on a grand total of 73... Helped enormously by a week away in France where I basically ate cheese, drank wine, sat in the sun and read. I'm also taking part in the Writers' HQ #sarahreads challenge in which I'm forcing my WHQ co-director Sarah conquer 10 classics she's never read. I'm only slightly better - I've only read 5 of 'em and a long time ago in my English Lit A-level days, so I'm reading along with her. We're currently 2 in and will be updating with (ever so slightly drunk) vlogs about our progress, like this somewhat scathing review of Gatsby - check out the list below if you wanna join in.

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Right, back to my August reads. 

Favourite: Gnnnaaaauughh don't make me choose. So many good ones this month. In non-fiction I absolutely LOVED Cleopatra by Stacey Schiff, closely followed by the puntastic Away With Words (Joe Berkowitz), the whistle stop tour of A Million years in a Day (Greg Jenner), and the dramatic philosophy of Impro (Keith Johnstone). In fiction, I'd highly recommend The History of Love (Nicole Krauss) and The Coward's Tale (Vanessa Gebbie) if you want to cry over beautiful words and uplifting-yet-tragic stories. It was also veerrrrry interesting (and also depressing and infuriating) to read The Hate U Give (Angie Thomas), The Color Purple (Alice Walker), and To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee) back to back, which demonstrated that racial issues in America are still (obviously) very much fucking shit. 

Least Favourite: I gotta say I had very little time for The North Water, even though it was sort of a warm up for attempting yet again to read Moby Dick. I'm on a bit of a roll with not enjoying Man Booker longlisters and this did not buck the trend. See also The Many, on the nautical theme. Both books were very well written - amazing imagery and wonderful words, but I just couldn't ENGAGE and was left feeling kinda mehh. Oh, I also fucking hate The Great Gatsby (see video link above) but that's nothing new. 

Also Worth Mentioning: In desperate anticipation for Patrick Rothfuss' next instalment of the Kingkiller series, I ripped through The Slow Regard of Silent Things which made me uncommonly emotional about inanimate objects.

Next up: For the #sarahreads challenge, Frankenstein, and for my own pleasure, Brutus and Other Heroines by Harriet Walter.

Join the #Read100Booksin2017 Facebook group here, check out our Writers' HQ video updates here, and stalk me on Goodreads here.  

Posted on September 1, 2017 and filed under Projects, Reading, Writers' HQ.

Read 100 Books in 2017 - JULY

  • The Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan
  • If We Were Villains by M L Rio
  • Immortal by Gene Doucette

THREE? Is that all? Yeah, I've been busy. I'm also 3 behind schedule (even though my grand total is a pretty smug 54). But in my defence I have 15,000 words of Shakespearean dissertation to write in the next two months and one of the books I did read was a brick.

Favourite: If We Were Villains - what's not to love? A murder mystery involving a bunch of beautifully pretentious Shakespeare college students/wannabe actors. 

Least Favourite: Immortal - I mean, I still enjoyed it, but out of the three it came last. Sorry. Interesting premise (immortal guy dealing with 21st century technology as someone tries to track him down) but I kinda... drifted occasionally. 

Middle favourite: The Shadow Rising  - since there are only three, thought I'd say something about this one. So my dad bequeathed his fantasy book collection on me when he moved (and switched exclusively over to Kindle) so I've been working through these mothersuckas. I love this world, but the cover art is horrendous, which makes them a bit embarrassing to read in public. And they're all about 3 times as long as a 'normal' novel so do NOT help with the trying to read 100 books in a year thang. Ho hum.

Next up: The History of Love by Nicole Krauss - another on-the-shelf-forever book that deserves some love, and highly recommended by several trusted friends/family members. 

Join the #Read100Booksin2017 Facebook group here, check out our Writers' HQ video updates here, and stalk me on Goodreads here.  

Read 100 Books in 2017 - JUNE

  • Star Wars: Aftermath by Chuck Wendig
  • King Lear by William Shakespeare
  • Wise Fools in Shakespeare by R H Goldsmith
  • The Lear World by John Reibentanz
  • The Fools of Shakespeare by Frederick Warde
  • Shakespeare's Motley by Leslie Hotson
  • The Princess Bride by William Goldman (re-read)
  • Fool by Christopher Moore
  • Ms Marvel Vol 1 by Willow G Wilson (re-read)
  • Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Favourite: Everything I Never Told You - there was full on crying when I finished this one, and I tore through it in about a day and a half. Closely followed by Ms Marvel - a re-read with my 9-year-old son who has now declared her his favourite super hero EVER). Oh and The Princess Bride for the most meta fairy story ever to exist.

Least Favourite: Hey, guess what my dissertation's about. I actually enjoyed all my research reading, though Frederick Warde is talking out of his ass. I also felt a bit disappointed by Aftermath, despite loving both Chuck Wendig and the Star Wars EU. It read too much like a screenplay and had waaaaay too many minor/incidental characters to allow me to actually give a shit about the main ones. Kinda like Rogue One (sorry).

Next up: If We Were Villains by M L Rio - and probably not much else because now I have to stop reading and actually WRITE my frickin' thesis. 

Join the #Read100Booksin2017 Facebook group here, check out our Writers' HQ video updates here, and stalk me on Goodreads here.  

Read 100 Books in 2017 - MAY

  • Saga Volume 7 by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples
  • The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett (re-read)
  • Rawblood by Catriona Ward
  • The Bone Readers by Jacob Ross
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J K Rowling (re-read)
  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (re-read)
  • The Good Immigrant (ed) by Nikesh Shukla
  • Shakespeare's Clown by David Wiles
  • Performing Shakespeare's Tragedies Today (ed) by Michael Dobson
  • Praise of Folly by Erasmus
  • The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Favourite: Don't make me choose - so many good books this month. Favourites-plural were The Good Immigrant, Rawblood, and on a dissertation-nerdy level, Erasmus is my dude (no, seriously). Also enjoyed Long Way... Planet and Knife of Never Letting Go and Bone Readers for totally different reasons (a romp of a space opera; high-stress close POV sci fi; Caribbean murder mystery). There were ALSO a coupla re-reads on there, which are always fun. All in all a very enjoyable reading month.

Least Favourite: Honestly, I didn't not-enjoy any of them. 

Next up: More Shakespeare, and Chuck Wendig's Star Wars: Aftermath.

Join the #Read100Booksin2017 Facebook group here, check out our Writers' HQ video updates here, and stalk me on Goodreads here.  

Posted on May 31, 2017 and filed under Life, Projects, Reading.