Reading Challenge #3 Complete!

CloseChal32019

This section of my yearly reading challenge centred mainly around the works of Jodi Taylor, Terry Pratchett and Alan Dean Foster. I’m still working my way through The Chronicles of St Marys, Discworld and Alien series bit by bit.

You can see the previous sections of my reading challenge Here (Part 1) and here (part 2)

So here’s what I’ve read:

36. Pyramids – Terry Pratchett
37. Guards! Guards! – Terry Pratchett
38. A Symphony of Echoes – Jodi Taylor
39. Alien: Covenant Origins – Alan Dean Foster
40. When a Child is Born – Jodi Taylor
41. A Second Chance – Jodi Taylor
42. Star Wars: Cloak of Deception – James Luceno
43. Roman Holiday – Jodi Taylor
44. Unseen Academicals – Terry Pratchett
45. Alien: Covenant – Alan Dean Foster
46. Star Wars: Episode 1 – Terry Brooks
47. Knightmare Arcanist – Shami Stovall
48. Alien – Alan Dean Foster
49. Christmas Present – Jodi Taylor
50. My Best Friend Runs Venus – Katrina S. Forest

I think my favourite of the selection was probably Knightmare Arcanist by Shami Stovall (you can read my very short review here.)

It didn’t take long to complete this portion, so I’ve upped the book count to 25 for the next 2 sections. So up next is:

OpenChal42019

Reading Challenge #1 Complete!

CloseChal12019

Despite a majorly slow start to the year, I have managed to complete my first reading challenge of the year! 24 books in total!!

I couldn’t have done this without the revelation that audiobooks and absolutely the bee’s knees, the cat’s pyjamas and the dog’s whatsits! I listen to them all the time now, and it’s been brilliant. I’m particularly loving the Star Wars audiobooks as the production value is awesome, what with sound effects, background music and some mostly spot-on impersonations of well-loved characters.

So without further ado, here is the full list of books I’ve read for this challenge:

1. Descendant of the Crane – Joan He
2. The Light Fantastic – Terry Pratchett
3. The Wee Free Men – Terry Pratchett
4. Monstrous Regiment – Terry Pratchett
5. Equal Rites – Terry Pratchett
6. A Hat Full of Sky – Terry Pratchett
7. Mort – Terry Pratchett
8 Going Postal – Terry Pratchett
9. Kids Write Jokes – Various
10. Business Cat: Hostile Takeovers – Tom Fonder
11. Rolled & Told Vol. 1 – E. L. Thomas
12. Thud! – Terry Pratchett
13. Sourcery – Terry Pratchett
14. The Ultimate Cartoon Book of Book Cartoons – Various
15. Tamamo the Fox Maiden and Other Asian Stories – Various
16. Bleak House – Charles Dickens
17. Wintersmith – Terry Pratchett
18. Little Witches: Magic in Concord – Leigh Dragoon
19. Darkwood – Gabby Hutchinson Crouch
20. Wyrd Sisters – Terry Pratchett
21. Emiline: Knight in Training – Kimberli Johnson
22. The Very First Damn Thing: A Short Story – Jodi Taylor
23. Star Wars: Tarkin – James Luceno
24. Star Wars: Ashoka – E. K. Johnston

You may notice there are a lot of Terry Pratchett books included in this list. I’m trying to finish the series on my kindle, and restart the series on audiobook. What can I say, I adore the Discworld.

My favourite book in this list was probably Star Wars: Tarkin by James Luceno. You can find a quick review of this book here!

Next up on my reading list:

1. Star Wars: Dooku, Jedi Lost – Cavan Scott
2. Just One Damn Thing After Another – Jodi Taylor
3. Pyramids – Terry Pratchett
4. Making Money – Terry Pratchett

Next target is set at 35 books! Can I get there before my birthday? (17th July) Who knows!

Queen of Zazzau (J.S. Emuakpor)

NGBanner
I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link | Author Website

Totally kick-ass!

TL;DR – A smashing tale of war, love, magic and gods, with seriously strong female characters

5Button

Ragdoll Rating: 5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Fans of historical fantasy, fans of strong female leads

About the Book…

Amina is a princess, heir to the throne of Zazzau and a destiny of war and bloodshed. Amina must prove herself as a warrior and lead Zazzau against hordes of foreign enemies and strange magic. But the god of war has his sights set on Amina, and ruling the nation soon proves to be far more complicated than Amina could have possibly imagined.

Queen of Zazzau follows Amina from her beginnings as the heir apparent, through war and love and impossible bargains. The book takes place over some 80 years, during which Amina becomes a strong military leader, a Queen and the wife of a god. It is full to the brim with battles and magic, gods and romance.

What I thought…

I put off reading this book for a while as it is pretty long, clocking in at 510 pages – and what a selection of pages they are!

My favourite thing about this book is its lead character, Amina. Amina is a wonderful example of well-rounded, strong female lead. She’s powerful, clever, loving, dedicated – she is brilliant. We get to explore so many facets of Amina’s character as the story progresses, from romantic interests, battle tactics, diplomacy…even an unexpected pregnancy. Life throws so much at Amina, and she doesn’t take it lying down, but at the same time, she has this fragile side that feels so real – she struggles to keep going at times, allowing fear and panic to take hold of her. Amina is such a great character for so many reasons, and I’m super pleased to have read her story.

Another thing I loved was the way religion is explored in this book. Strictly speaking, the Zazzauwa are Muslim, but for many, if not most of them the old religion still exists – a host of other gods hold some sway over the workings of the world and I found it really interesting to see how the two quite disparate set of beliefs gelled together into a functioning belief system.

My only complaint about this book was the ending. Now, I need to say before I go further, that I did like the ending – I’m just not sure I’m comfortable with it. Feel free to skip this paragraph as it does contain spoilers and isn’t hugely important.

So an old prophecy has linked Amina and the god of war for years, and when he first appears, Amina wants no part of it. She’s quite happy as she is, she is already in love with someone else but the god of war insists that she will be his eventually. This turns out to be true, but when she finally does go to him, she offers herself in exchange for his influence over a battle that will decide the fate of her kingdom and everyone in it. So Amina becomes his wife, and then the god drops the bombshell that she will now feel intense sexual desire, which he will only satisfy when he feels like it. She is free to sleep with other men, but they MUST die afterwards. I think we can all agree this is beyond creepy and straight up abusive – but that’s gods for you, those guys are jerks. Anyway, because of this, Amina is prevented from properly experiencing love for her entire life – which, incidentally, is spent eternally young, so for 80 years she can’t allow herself to love another man, instead of taking a number of ‘temporary husbands’ and killing them, or periodically having sex with the god of war. Which brings us to the end. Turns out, after all this, she completely loves the god of war and they ride off into the sunset together.

OK spoilers over, on to my point. As I’ve said in other reviews, I’m autistic – I have trouble understanding how other peoples minds work. But to me, the end doesn’t make sense. I’m not sure what I would have wanted in its place, and I’m not begrudging the bitter-sweet ending, but still, it doesn’t sit quite right with me. But that could just be my weird interpretation – don’t let it prevent you reading the book and making up your own mind.

Final Thoughts…

This book is an epic tale with so much to love about it. I’m really pleased I read it and will definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for anything J.S. Emuakpor might release in the future.

___________________________________________
Please Note: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Announcement! 2019 Reading Challenge Category Reveal!!!

CatRev

That’s right you beautiful somebodies. The big day is here, the wait is finally over. The categories are being revealed so you can go out and stockpile your books ready for next year.

Before anything else, a request. Please, please, PLEASE spread this about, I’d love for people to get involved. Share it anywhere you like (as long as you link it back here, or to @RagdollReads on twitter). If you or somebody you know decides to take up the challenge, let me know. Now back to what you came here for.

The reading challenge is in three parts. Light ReadingRegular and Serious Book Dragon editions.

cooltext30352622618610012 categories – one book for each category. (Plus a special WILDCARD category for the holidays)

That’s one book per month, and one bonus book for the holiday season.

Follow this link for the full write-up: The 2019 Ragdoll Reading Challenge (Light Edition)

RRCLIMG

Track your progress with this nifty, downloadable chart: The 2019 Ragdoll Reading Challenge – Light Chart PDF

RegEd

24 categories – one book for each category. (Plus a special WILDCARD category for the holidays)

That’s one book every two weeks. Or two books per month if you prefer. Or roughly 0.00204918 books every 45 minutes if you want to be completely absurd about it! (I think!)

Follow this link for the full write-up: The 2019 Ragdoll Reading Challenge (Regular Edition)

RRCIMG

Track your progress with this nifty, downloadable chart: The 2019 Ragdoll Reading Challenge Chart PDF

 

cooltext303526472099866

52 basic categories

4 ‘free read’ categories

3 ‘Wildcard’ categories

That’s 59 books for those of you who can’t be bothered to work it out. 1 read a week, plus a few extras thrown in. Finish this, and you can consider yourself a Serious Book-Dragon!

Follow this link for the full write-up: The 2019 Ragdoll Reading Challenge (Serious Book-Dragon Edition)

RRCSBDEIMG

Track your progress with this nifty, downloadable chart: The 2019 Ragdoll Reading Challenge – Serious Book Dragon Edition PDF

Please enjoy the challenge. I hope you’ll spread it around (remember to tag me here or @RagdollReads on twitter). Enjoy your reading ❤ Much love all!!!

 

 

Announcement: 2019 Reading Challenge!!

sketch-1540499464889.png

That’s right you beautiful somebodies (especially the beautiful somebody who has been checking back pretty much every day for this news, I super love you), in 5 sweet, sweet days, I will be revealing the categories for the official Ragdoll Reads 2019 Reading Challenge!!

In case you don’t know about the challenge, here are some deets!

There are three levels;

  • Lite Reading
  • Regular
  • Serious Book Dragon

The level you choose will depend on how many books you think you can manage.

The Lite Reading edition contains 12 categories plus a special bonus category. That’s a book a month, and one for luck!

The Regular edition contains 24 categories plus a special bonus category.

The Serious Book Dragon edition contains a whopping 52 categories, 4 ‘free reads’ and a super special bonus category.

The editions build on each other, so if you completed the Lite Reading challenge, you would have completed half the categories from the Regular edition. You see? Fun!

I would loooove it if people got on board with this, and if you do plan on doing the challenge, please let me know in the comments or hit me up on twitter (@RagdollReads)!

Weekly Roundup

Roundup Banner

About my week…

Apparently it’s been 2 weeks since I did on of these, the reason being that the last two weeks have been all kinds of horrible. I’ve been ill, my brain has been fighting against me and not a lot got done. BUT I started my new degree and managed to get some studying done, so I’m calling it a victory.

This weeks reading

This week I’ve been reading (links to Goodreads)

This weeks posts

New acquisitions

Books added to the collection this week (links to Goodreads)

Soundtrack to the week

3 songs that had me hooked this week (Links to YouTube)

Weekly Roundup #7

Roundup Banner

This week I’ve been suuuuper busy. I’ve reworked my entire WIP into a format closely resembling it’s original outline, and shunted the trimmings into a separate project, and I’ve written something like 20 pages in the last couple of days which is pretty good for me. I also semi-accidentally wrote a worship song with my little sisters, which for a non-christian was a pretty strange experience, but there you are.

This weeks reading

This week I’ve been reading (links to Goodreads)

This weeks posts

 

New acquisitions

Books added to the collection this week (links to Goodreads)

 

Soundtrack to the week

3 songs that had me hooked this week (Links to YouTube)

 

Reading Challenge Complete (#3)

OK, so far this year I’ve actually completed FIVE reading challenges:

  • 2018 Badass Books Reading Challenge by MeHawkins.com (#1) – see the write up here: Reading Challenge Complete (#1)
  • 2018 Badass Books Reading Challenge by MeHawkins.com (#2) – see the write up here: Reading Challenge Complete (#2)
  • 52 books read in total
  • 80 books read in total, and finally
  • 2018 Badass Books Reading Challenge by MeHawkins.com (#3) which you are now reading about!

The 2018 Badass Books Reading Challenge was from a book blog I found – mehawkins.com18 unique categories. Doing this challenge actually inspired my to write my own challenges for next year (and the Around the World 2018 Reading Challenge you can try out already!!)

So here is the rundown of my progress through the challenge. (Please note: I read these in no particular order)

Pinterest-Graphic-1
Graphic and content from mehawkins.com

The 2018 Badass Books Reading Challenge (Run #3)

A book published in 2018.

ButtonAn Argumentation of Historians by Jodi Taylor (2018)

Think ‘Female Indiana Jones’ + Time Travel and you’re pretty close to the premise of this book. A real fun read.

See the full review here: Book Review: An Argumentation of Historians (Jodi Taylor)

Rating: 4/5 Buttons

 

A book published the year you were born.

ButtonMattimeo by Brian Jacques (1990)

Book 3 in the Redwall series. The young mouse, Mattimeo and his friends are captured by an evil fox, and must be rescued. Exciting fantasy for young and old.

Rating: 5/5 Buttons

 

A classic book or a book published over 100 years ago.

ButtonThe Mysterious Island by Jules Verne (1874)

Four men and a dog find themselves stranded on a deserted island after a mishap with a hot air balloon. This is the story of how they survived.

Rating: 5/5 Buttons

 

A book that you’ve started before and never finished.

ButtonRing for Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse (1953)

The continuing hilarious adventures of everybody’s favourite valet, Jeeves..

Rating: 4/5 Buttons

 

A book you should have read in school, but didn’t.

Button

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1892)

Another short story collection, featuring the worlds most famous detective duo.

Rating: 5/5 Buttons

 

A Book you’ve already read – time for a re-read!

ButtonStonehenge by Bernard Cornwell (1999)

A tale of war, betrayal, murder and temples. An epic novel worked around the building of stonehenge.

Rating: 5/5

 

A book that you’ve put off reading.

ButtonThe Stonehenge Legacy by Sam Christer (2010)

An ancient cult, and a murderous conspiracy. Can Gideon expose the cult that murdered his father, or will they get to him too!?

Rating: 4/5 Buttons

 

A banned book.

Button1984 by George Orwell (1949)

“Orwell’s nightmare vision of a totalitarian, bureaucratic world and one poor stiff’s attempt to find individuality.” (Goodreads)

Rating: 4/5 Buttons

 

A book by an author you’ve never read.

ButtonFoundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett (2018)

Sancia is offered the job of a lifetime – steal one item for more money than she could ever hope to see in her lifetime. She takes the chance, and then her world falls apart.

See the full review here: Book Review: Foundryside (Robert Jackson Bennett)

Rating: Exceptional (Book of the Month August 2018)

 

A popular author’s first book.

ButtonThe Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (1900)

“Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first person she meets and then teams up with three strangers to kill again.” (Newspaper clipping…do I really need to tell you what this is about?)

Rating: 4/5 Buttons

 

A book turned movie you’ve seen but haven’t read.

ButtonThe Maze Runner by James Dashner (2009)

A group of boys are trapped in a colossal maze, filled with murderous machines. One day, a girl is dumped in their midst and then everything goes wrong, fast!

Rating: 5/5 Buttons

 

A book turned TV show you’ve seen but haven’t read.

Button

Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death by James Runcie (2012)

 If you like the whole “Sleepy little town has more murders than small countries” genre, and you like priests you’ll probably like this book.

See the full review here: Book Review: The Grantchester Mysteries – Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death (James Runcie)

Rating: 5/5 Buttons (Book of the Month May 2018)

 

A funny book.

ButtonThe Pirates! In an Adventure with Romantics by Gideon Defoe (2012)

The Pirates head off on a quest to find a lost manuscript on how to woo the ladies, with Lord Byron, Percy and Mary Shelly in toe. Hilarity ensues.

See the full review here: Series Review: The Pirates! In an Adventure with… (Gideon Defoe)

Rating: Exceptional (Series)

 

A book that will make you smarter.

ButtonMindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Gunaratana (1992)

A useful guide to the practice of Vipassana (insight) meditation.

See the full review here: Book Review: Mindfulness in Plain English (Bhante Henepola Gunaratana)

Rating: 4/5 buttons

 

An award-winning book.

ButtonAmerican Gods by Neil Gaiman (2001)

A book about Gods, their dwindling power and the coming war. This book is cleverly crafted, brilliantly written and endlessly entertaining. Once again Gaiman delivers a cracking read! A must have for fans of fantasy and myths.

See the full review here: Book Review: American Gods (Neil Gaiman)

Rating: Exceptional

 

A book based on a true story.

ButtonDragon Teeth by Michael Crichton (2017)

A team of pioneering paleontologists set out to discover new and interesting fossils. But William Johnson gets separated from the group and is left to fend for himself in the wilds of the west.

Rating: 5/5 Buttons

 

A book chosen for you by a friend.

ButtonBuddhist Meditation by Kamalashila (2013)

This book is a great guide for any meditation practitioner – from the absolute beginner to the more advanced users

See the full review here: Book Review: Buddhist Meditation: Tranquility, Imagination and Insight (Kamalashila)

Rating: 4.5/5 Buttons

 

A book set during Christmas.

ButtonThe Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder (1992)

A sort of backwards look at the history of Christianity…also a kidnapping…this book made me insanely irritated.

See the full review here: Kwik Review: The Christmas Mystery (Jostein Gaarder)

Rating: 1/5 Buttons

 

So there we have it. Badass Books Reading Challenge #3 is complete. I’m only 8 books away from completing  Reading Challenge: Around the World 2018, and 16 books away from 100 books total, which I reckon I should manage by the end of the month.

Last thing before I go:

Top 3 of the Challenge:

You gotta pick a top three, so here are mine (Drum roll please):

sketch-1535753890432

You should go out and read these books immediately!!

Finally, a big thank you to mehawkins.com for writing the reading challenge in the first place.

Book of the Month (August 2018)

sketch-1523985472721

This just in!!

The Ragdoll Reads Book of the Month pick for August 2018 is:

Button

Foundryside

by Robert Jackson Bennett (2018)

TL;DR – In a world controlled by magical enchantments, only a small-time sneak thief and her associates can prevent a world-ending catastrophe!

See the full review here: Book Review: Foundryside (Robert Jackson Bennett)

See the full Book of the Month list here: Book of the Month

 

Book Review: Coraline (Neil Gaiman)


Goodreads Link | Author Website

I cannot overstate how much I adore this book.

TL;DR – A truly creepy tale.

EBBanner

RAGDOLL RATING: Exceptional

Why I read it…

I got this book signed at a talk Gaiman did at Ely Cathedral years ago – it’s the pride of my book collection! I read it again today (all in one sitting) because I’ve been trying to read books aimed with a younger audience in mind (as I am trying to write a book for younger audiences) and this is probably my favourite of them all.

The Story…

Coraline Jones is bored. She has just moved house, her parents are busy working, her toys are not fun anymore and there is nothing for her to do. Until she discovers a doorway to another world – a world full of colour, with attentive parents, delicious food and excitement by the bucket-load.

But all is not what it seems, and Coraline must learn the a lesson in the hardest way possible. The grass ain’t always greener on the other side – and if it is, it’s probably poisonous!

Why I love It…

I freely admit I am biased. I adore Gaiman’s work, but there is a reason for that. I like the way the man writes. It dances merrily between serious and silly, formal and informal. Behind it’s sometimes playful wording, lies a seriously creepy tale of terror. It’s the kind of thing I wish I’d been read as a child, or alternatively, wish I had a child to read it to.

I love Coraline (the character). Her motivations are so believable, boredom, curiosity, and a vague sense that nobody is really interested in her or her thoughts lead her to dive into this new and exciting world. But she is also clever, brave, resourceful and ever so caring. It would be so easy for her to have just stayed in the Other world (except, perhaps, for having buttons sewn onto her eyes), but instead she risks her own safety to save the souls trapped by the Other mother.

I also love the supporting characters. Gaiman has a knack for making characters interesting in as few words as possible. It’s a skill I infinitely admire, and am super jealous of. Characters such as Mr Bobo (Bobinski in the film), and his all-mouse circus.

‘The reason you cannot see the mouse circus’ said the man upstairs, ‘is that the mice are not yet ready and rehearsed. Also, they refuse to play the songs I have written for them. All the songs I have written for the mice to play go oompah oompah. But the white mice will only play toodle oodle, like that. I am thinking of trying them on different types of cheese.’

One paragraph and Mr Bobo and his world have come instantly to life. I can’t think of many authors who can make me so interested in the inner workings of a supporting character in so few words – heck, many can’t do it in a whole book.

I would also love to talk about how much I love the ending of this book – specifically the part about the picnic – but I can’t think of a way to do so without spoiling the ending for those who haven’t read it, so you’ll just have to trust me that it is wonderful.

Recommended For…

I recommend this book to everyone. Everybody should read this book at some point. It’s fun, it’s creepy and it’s brilliantly told. It is a beautiful example of the art of writing. Although I should point out that it could scare the impressionable youngsters (depending on their temperament), but they should read it anyway and just accept that being scared is a price well paid for such excellent and fun reading.

Final thoughts…

I love this book. The children I used to work with (primary school) loved this book. My sister saw the film this book inspired, and was completely (and hilariously) traumatised by how scary it was. It is truly excellent. Read it. Immediately.

___________________________________________
Please note: I am in no way affiliated with the author or publishers. I bought this book with my own money for my own reasons. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!