Tag Archives: authors new to me

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of The Library of the Dead – Book 1 of the Edinburgh Nights by T.L. Huchu #BrainfluffNETGALLEYbookreview #TheLibraryoftheDeadbookreview

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I found the premise of this one fascinating – a post-apocalyptic Scotland and a young, gutsy protagonist straddling two cultures. And I can’t deny that the cover also blew me away.

BLURB: When a child goes missing in Edinburgh’s darkest streets, young Ropa investigates. She’ll need to call on Zimbabwean magic as well as her Scottish pragmatism to hunt down clues. But as shadows lengthen, will the hunter become the hunted?

When ghosts talk, she will listen…

Ropa dropped out of school to become a ghostalker. Now she speaks to Edinburgh’s dead, carrying messages to the living. A girl’s gotta earn a living, and it seems harmless enough. Until, that is, the dead whisper that someone’s bewitching children–leaving them husks, empty of joy and life. It’s on Ropa’s patch, so she feels honor-bound to investigate. But what she learns will change her world. She’ll dice with death (not part of her life plan…), discovering an occult library and a taste for hidden magic. She’ll also experience dark times. For Edinburgh hides a wealth of secrets, and Ropa’s gonna hunt them all down.

REVIEW: Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Ropa is an engaging protagonist and given the awful circumstances she finds herself battling with, the fact that she is only fourteen worked for me, although I am aware some reviewers had a bit of a problem with her youth. But children in difficult times grow up fast and she still demonstrated that odd mix of maturity and flashes of someone much younger that makes up a teen personality. I thought the characterisation of the protagonist was the main strength of the book, though I also liked the depiction of a civilisation steadily falling apart. It didn’t bother me that I wasn’t aware of exactly why everything was quite so dire – given we are in Ropa’s viewpoint, pages of explanation about the political situation would have been out of character.

I also liked the members of Ropa’s family – her relationship with her younger sister could have so easily become a bit treacly, and I was pleased that it didn’t. The constant friction between the girls over the use of her phone was nicely realistic, having had to step into the middle of similar fights between my grandchildren. Her granny is also an intriguing personality, who taught Ropa the magic she uses, drawing on her Zimbabwean culture to be able to speak to the departed and help them. All this worked really well for me.

However, I wasn’t quite so impressed with the plotting. The story was completely predictable and I guessed (successfully) what was going to happen from about halfway through the book. As you can see from the score, that wasn’t a huge dealbreaker for me as Ropa’s personality made this an entertaining read anyway. I’m not wholly convinced about the library angle of the story, either. To be honest, it felt a tad tacked on, and wasn’t in the same league as Ropa’s characterisation, and the interesting world she is forced to operate in. There are some fabulous magical libraries out there already – ranging from the hilariously dangerous version at the Unseen University in Pratchett’s Discworld with an orangutang for a librarian, through to Genevieve Cogman’s highly successful Invisible Library series. Huchu is going to have to work at making this version really stand out.

That said, I would happily read the second book in this series just to spend a bit more time with Ropa. Recommended for fans who particularly enjoy strong young protagonists operating in difficult circumstances. While I obtained an arc of The Library of the Dead from the publishers via Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.
8/10

My 2018 Reading Year – the statistics #Brainfluffbookblog #BrainfluffReadingYear2018

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It’s been a really great reading year with loads of choice within my favourite genres. Although I kept my reading challenge to read and review at least 100 books, I ended up reading 162 books with 125 reviews published and another 23 in hand.

 

I have read 104 books written by female authors and 60 by men – the sharp-eyed among you will have notice that adds up to 164, but there were two books in this year’s list with joint authorship – Windhaven by George R.R. Martin and Lisa Tuttle and Athena’s Champion by David Hair and Cath Mayo.

 

In a related challenge I set myself the task of reading at least two books by female authors previously unknown to me in the Discovery Challenge, as set out by Jo Hall. I managed to read 43 books in this category, which is 27% of my 2018 reading list, while 32 books were by male authors I hadn’t previously read, which means that 47% of the book I read last year were by authors new to me. I’m really happy with that – it means I am continuing to expand my reading experience, rather than only sticking with authors I know and like, which was the case before I started this challenge.

 

I have continued requesting review copies from Netgalley and have also occasionally taken review copies from writing colleagues, so that during 2018 I read and reviewed 64 new releases. I also was determined to read more books on my ever-teetering TBR pile – in the event I managed 55 books, which I’m really pleased about. The huge shock is that this year we only read 6 library books – this simply won’t do. I am a real fan of our local library and I am determined that during the coming year, we will be using the library a whole lot more, otherwise we risk losing it.

 

In 2018 I read 72 science fiction books, 57 fantasy books, 19 crime adventures, 6 contemporary fiction, 4 historical books, 4 non-fiction books. Science fiction includes sub-genres such as space opera, colony adventures, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic, time travel, alternate history, military, futuristic crime, literary and steampunk. Fantasy includes sub-genres such as epic, urban, swords and sorcery, musket and magic, sand and sorcery, underworld, historical, grimdark and coming of age. While I’m aware I probably should widen my reading, I’m not going to. I read for pleasure and escape, these days. I reckon I’ve earnt the right.

 

So much for my determination to read more children’s books… I’m going to give up on this one. It clearly isn’t going to happen, given this has been an ongoing target ever since I started monitoring my reading statistics and each year it’s been a failure. But this year that failure has reached a new low – last year I read 19 children’s books in comparison to the measly 6 of this year. Whereas YA is holding fairly constant at 34 this year, compared with 30 last year.

 

This is a new category I have added. I have read 52 books by small presses and self-published authors, which is 32% of my 2018 reading list. This is an outcome I would like to improve on next year.

How did you get on this year with your reading targets and challenges?

My 2016 Reading Year – the Statistics

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Yes, I know. It seems a very long time ago, but as it was a remarkable reading year for me I thought I’d share some of the statistics around my book choices.

In total, I read 153 books, of these 57 were written by male authors and 96 books by female authors. I started paying attention to the gender of authors I read when I realised that I was reading far more books by male authors than I had thought, so it was a target to read more women writers and I am satisfied with this ratio.

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Another related challenge I set myself was to read at least two books by a female author previously unknown to me – the Discovery Challenge, prompted by Jo Hall. During 2016, I read 45 books by women writers I hadn’t previously encountered, and 22 books by male authors I hadn’t read before. So 43% of books I read were by authors new to me.

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A new challenge I undertook last year was to start reviewing new releases and properly activate my previously-dormant NetGalley account, which I did. I read and reviewed 75 new releases during 2016 and by the end of the year, I earned my 80% feedback ratio badge with NetGalley. This has been one of the highlights of the year and has also put me in touch with the book blogging community – a joy to be able to chat about books with like-minded people. I also wanted to clear the books stacking up on my Kindle and beside my bed – this aim was less successful as I only read 25 of these. Next year I want to read more books from my TBR pile.

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Last year I read 59 fantasy books, 48 science fiction books, 4 historical adventures, 10 contemporary fiction, 17 crime and 14 others. Science fiction includes sub-genres including time travel, steampunk, apocalyptic, post-apocalyptic, military, space opera and literary. Fantasy includes sub-genres including epic, urban, swords and sorcery, musket and magic, grimdark and coming of age.

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As an ex-primary school teacher, I still enjoy reading children’s books – I read 19 in 2016, along with 30 YA books. The rest were adult/new adult. I must confess, I was surprised at this one – I was under the impression I had read more YA books. I think that during 2017, I should ensure I read more children’s and YA books.

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What about you? Are you happy with the gender ratio/genres/TBR books you’ve read during 2016?