Book Review: The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal

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Published: 2nd May 2019 by Pan Macmillan

Length: 338 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Netgalley

Goodreads Avg. Rating: 4.20

My Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

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Hello Readers!

This is the first book review of the year on this blog and what a way to start. Prepare yourself for seeing this book everywhere because I have a feeling this is going to be a popular release come April.

Set in Victorian England, a girl who dreams of art is given an opportunity to become an artists model, earning lessons in return. But to accept this amazing offer she would be forced to leave her sister and risk her reputation. In the shadows watching this story unfold is a troubled man with increasingly dark thoughts.

This is Macneal’s debut novel but everything about this writing was practised and skilled. It’s descriptions are beautifully rich and each character became so vivid in my mind. It transported me to Victorian England and explored parts of it I have never seen before. You can tell she really did her research.

For a while this book feels like a quiet story about Iris,  a girl who dreams to be free. But it slowly takes a dark turn when we are introduced to Silas, a taxidermist who becomes obsessed with Iris. The creepiness of those scenes advance so subtly and his thoughts were so unsettling to read.

This book has a chillingly gothic feel that had me hooked from the get go. When I was forced to put it down I was itching to pick it back up again. I recommend this to anyone looking for a good historical fiction to read on these cold winter days. 

Thanks for reading,

Jess X

 

Top 5 Tuesday – Reasons I Love Reading

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Note: Hosted by BionicBookworm

Hi Readers

This weeks top 5 Tuesday is an exciting one and I can not wait to read everybodies response to it. It’s reasons we love reading. Let me tell you, it’s hard to narrow it down to five, but I’ll give it my best shot.

They allow me to explore the world from my bedroom.

Seeing and understanding others experiences. 

Getting to talk about the books I read with other readers. 

It brings me comfort. Hense the name.

Most of all, it’s given me something to blog about: I love to blog but I honestly don’t think I would be doing it if it wasn’t for books and reading.

What the thing you love most about reading? 

Thanks for reading, 

Jess X

 

Revisiting My 2018 NaNoWriMo Project

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Hi Readers

Last year I was able to complete NaNoWriMo and write 50k words of a novel in the month of November.

I haven’t really looked at what I wrote since then. I didn’t really have time in December and I knew I wanted to change a lot of things so I thought I’d start working on it again in the new year. 

I have however been making lots of plans, jotting down ideas on how I can improve it and where I want the story to go. Now I’ve gotten to the point where I have opened the document and sorted out my notes and I’m basically rewriting the whole thing. 

I kind of figured during NaNoWriMo this was going to happen because I was having a lot of issues with this one character. Who happens to be a main character and is basically in every scene. 

So yes, I’m rewriting a character which means I’m rewriting everything. I was a little disheartened by this at first until I saw this tweet…

So I’ve decided to persevere with this project and, no matter how many times I have to rewrite it, I will get this book to a place where I’m happy with it. 

I’m going to do monthly update posts on how my writing project is going. Mainly because that will encourage me to actually do it. 

Because we’re already half-way through the month I don’t have too high expectations for this month. I’m going to set a goal of 10,000 new words before February. Lets see how I do!

Thanks for reading, 

Jess X 

Ideas On How To Track Your 2019 Reading

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Hi Readers

When it comes to the end of a reading year I can’t be the only person here who loves a good statistic. How much I read, what genres, what authors etc. But to get those stats we need to keep track of everything we read throughout the year.

I’ve been tracking my reading since I was 15. In that time I’ve tried and tested so many different ways. Today I want to share with you what I think are the best and most fun ways of doing it.

swirlyFirst, the obvious and probably most popular way of keeping track of your reading is Goodreads.

This site is perfect for people who want to make their reading more social. You can update what you’re reading as you go, interact with other readers and at the end of the year Goodreads gives you a list of all the books you marked as ‘Read’.

There’s also the Goodreads Challenge which allows you to set a goal for yourself for how many books you’d like to read in a year. You can set it at any number you think you’re capable of.swirly

I also keep a reading journal. This is good for anyone who is as obsessed with notebooks as I am. This is how I keep track of not just what I’m reading but my thoughts as well. I’ll update it as I’m reading and sometimes write in quotes I like or predictions.

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This last one is my personal favourite, Google Sheets!

Here’s a link if you want to take a peek at what it looks like. Essentially, this is if I want more indepth statistics at the end of the year. It’s a bit more work and it’s not for everyone, but I love the info it gives me about my reading. 

So this year I’ve made a few changes in order to get more out of it.

Ratings – On my spreadsheet last year my ratings chart didn’t turn out very clear so this year I’m sticking with the 5 star rating system.

Pages – I’d love to know what size books I’m more inclined to pick up and read.

Year First Published – This is a completely new addition. I’m curious to see what years my books come from and whether there’s any gaps I’d like to fill.

Series – Another new addition. This is to keep track of where I’m at with my series (whether they’re ongoing or complete) and how many standalones I read.

Status – This is how I’ll keep track of rereads and DNFs. Everything else will be marked ‘read’

Source – Library, Own or ARC

Diversity? – In this column I’ll track what diversity the books I am reading has in them. I’m doing this for two reasons, one, to encourage me to think about what I am reading more but also to help me when it comes to recommending diverse books.

Reviewed? – If I have wrote an individual review for the book I’ll put yes. I’m curious to know how many of the books I read in the year get a review.

Author Nationality – I’ve always had this but before I would just put White or POC. Now, if I can, I want to give this category a little more detailed. So now I’ll put British, American, African American, Asian etc. etc.

New to Me Author? – Another yes or no column, just to see whether the author influences what I read in any way. I have no idea if I tend to stick with authors I know or not.

I also have a sheet where I keep track of what I’m borrowing from the library. I just have three columns for it, the book name, the return date and whether I’ve read it or not.

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Let me know how you’re going to track your reading in 2019!

Thanks for reading, 

Jess X

 

 

 

A Long List Books I Need To Read in 2019

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Note: Hosted By BionicBookworm

Hi Readers

It’s the first top 5 Tuesday of 2019! I haven’t taken part in this for a while but I wanted to join in again and it just so happened that this weeks topic was a post I planned on doing anyway.

For 2019 I have made a list of 50 books I want to read in 2019. At the end of the year I can look back on it and see how well I did.

I’ll start with the five books I absolutely HAVE to read in 2019 and then just list the rest below.

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Beloved by Toni Morrison – I actually hope to read a lot of Morrisons works this year, if I like this.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel – I’ve been putting this off because I’ve heard mixed things but I’m still curious.

Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon – This is going to be released in February and I don’t think I have ever been more excited for a book.

Eon by Alison Goodman – This is probably the oldest unread book on my bookshelf. It’s about time I get to it.

Narrow Road to the Deep North – I was so excited about when I first bought this but I just never picked it up.

I also hope to read these…

  1. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
  2. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
  3. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
  4. Astonishing Colour of After by Emily X. R. Pan
  5. My heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga
  6. One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest by Ken Kasey
  7. Every Last Word by Tamara Island Stone
  8. Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  9. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
  10. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  11. Again, But Better by Christina Riccio
  12. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniak
  13. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
  14. Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
  15. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
  16. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
  17. Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
  18. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
  19. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  20. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
  21. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  22. The Reckoners series by Brandon Sanderson
  23. Sabriel by Garth Nix
  24. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  25. IQ84 by Haruki Maurikami
  26. The Unseen World by Liz Moore
  27. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
  28. Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
  29. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
  30. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegurt
  31. The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
  32. The Diviners by Libba Bray
  33. One Hundred Years Of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquiz
  34. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchet
  35. I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes
  36. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
  37. Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas
  38. The Martian by Andy Weir
  39. Oryx and the Crake by Margaret Atwood
  40. Oranges are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
  41. Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  42. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Locks
  43. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  44. Shirley by Charlotte Bronte
  45. The Long Way to a Small and Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

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Thanks for reading,

Jess X

Some Goals for 2019

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Hi Readers

Towards the end of last year I told myself I wouldn’t set myself any goals for 2019 just because it’s very rare I still remember them by August.

But, I have the bug again. Seeing other peoples posts and optimism has made me want to join in. Plus, there are a few things I’d like to do in 2019.

Not all of these are book related but, because my life revolves around books, of course most of them are.

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To Learn French – I learnt a little French in school but never took it as a GCSE and I’ve regretted it since. I’ve always wanted to be able to understand another language so I’m going back to learning French. I’m using Duolingo as a starting point. 

To Keep Track of My Reading More – I’ll do a post on how I am doing this which should come your way soon. 

Be Less Critical In My Reviews – Honestly, I feel like my reviews are too negative. I’d like to just get back to the love of reading. 

Write More – I’m still working on my first draft of a Fantasy novel. By the end of 2019 I’d like to have finished a second.

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So, those are my goals! Let me know what goals you’re setting yourself for 2019!

Thanks for reading, 

Jess X

Last Minute TBR for Bout of Books 24

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Hi Readers

Bout of Books is a readathon that starts tomorrow (Jan 7th) and ends on Sunday (Jan 13th).

I had no plans to take part in Bout of Books, mainly because it’s a readathon I’ve consistently failed at. But my reading year has had a pretty slow start and I think a readathon is just what I need to give me a boost.

I haven’t even made a dent in my January TBR so I’ll be using this readathon to get started on that… 

White Teeth by Zadie Smith – The amount of TBRs I’ve put this book on is embarrassing. Time to get it off my TBR all together. 

The Long Way to A Small and Angry Planet by Becky Chambers – I’m so excited for this and have such high hopes for it!

The Dollmaker by Nina Allan – This is a book I have on Netgalley that I really need to read soon. 

Are you participating in this? Let me know!

Thanks for reading,

Jess X