How do you count collections and volumes as part of your reading challenge?

I’ve talked before about the dilemma of whether or not to count graphic novels and audiobooks as part of my reading challenge, but recently I’ve come across another slightly tricky dilemma: how do you count something which contains potentially more than one book?

For example:
Graphic novels/Comics in trade paperback form: eg Infinity Volume 1 contains Infinity #1-3, Avengers #18-20, New Avengers 9-10. Theoretically, this could either be one book on your Goodreads challenge, or 8, depending on how you count them.
Collections of multiple books in one volume: eg This edition contains all three Lord of The Rings books – is that one book or three for challenge purposes?

This isn’t something I’ve given a lot of thought to before, since it’s only really come up with graphic novels for me so far. I read graphic novels almost exclusively in trade paperback form, and that’s the way I count them – it means I can track my progress on Goodreads properly, and I only have to have one edition on my goodreads shelves.  Counting them this way also means each is a bit longer, and a single 200 page book alters my numbers of books read/average pagecount a lot less than reading 7 or 8 short books of only 25 pages or so, so my reading challenge doesn’t get artificially inflated.

For the first time though, I’m considering a book which runs the other way around: the Definitive Sherlock Holmes collection narrated by Stephen Fry contains 71 hours of listening time, more than 1500 pages, 9 separate books. Given my average book length of 365 pages, to read all of these in one audiobook and just count it as a single book would be a big setback for my goodreads challenge.  I’m not sure what the alternative would be though – to list each volume separately on goodreads as I get to them? Which of course isn’t TRULY an accurate reflection because the edition I’ve read won’t be the one listed on goodreads.  But otherwise, with a goal of 75 books, reading 9 and counting it as 1 is pretty much ensuring I won’t hit my goal.  I’m currently thinking of listing them as separate books, because otherwise I’m worried I’ll never want to start the book – 71 hours of audiobook is a pretty intimidating prospect, especially without a nice inspiring boost to my challenge as a result.  It feels like cheating on the one hand, but on the other – it’s my challenge, and if it’s the difference between reading the books or not, surely the option that makes me want to pick them up is the right one?!

How do you count multi-book editions?

Review: Strange The Dreamer

Review: Strange The DreamerStrange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
Published by Hodder & Stoughton on March 28th 2017
Pages: 544
Goodreads

A brand new, heart-stopping novel and the first in a thrilling duology from the much-loved author of the DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE trilogy, Laini Taylor.

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around - and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he's been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?
The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries - including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo's dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

In this sweeping and breathtaking new novel by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, author of the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, the shadow of the past is as real as the ghosts who haunt the citadel of murdered gods. Fall into a mythical world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage.

I was late to the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, only picking up the first book at the beginning of 2016, despite having had it on my TBR for a long time.  I ended up loving it (as everyone had predicted) so I wasn’t sure what to expect from Strange The Dreamer – could it possibly live up to Taylor’s original trilogy?  In particular, where Daughter of Smoke and Bone was urban fantasy, Strange the Dreamer is true fantasy and while I much prefer new worlds, I have to admit that made me a little nervous – would Taylor’s world-building for a totally new world be as addictive?

Short answer: yes, and yes. I needn’t have worried!

Strange the Dreamer opens with a gripping mystery – the blue girl who died, and the people’s terror of her – and it had me hooked pretty much straight away.  After the intial drama of the opening, Lazlo’s life at the library is definitely a slightly slower pace, but I still loved getting to know Lazlo, the mysterious background of Weep, and to a lesser extent, Thyon Nero.  Taylor’s writing is beautiful, and between the way the writing flows so smoothly and the gripping story, I flew through this in a week – and I have to admit, I was savouring it, and could have finished more quickly but I just didn’t want it to end!

The characters in Strange The Dreamer are great, and although I can understand there maybe wasn’t space given how long the book is already, I’d have liked to see a bit more of some of the supporting cast.  Calixte is already a firm favourite, and Lazlo is a character I found very easy to connect with – his wishful dreaming of the mysterious city while everyone dismisses him, the way he doesn’t quite fit in, his love of books and of stories all made him so relatable.  I was seriously intrigued by Thyon Nero, Eril-Fane and Azareen, and I loved Sarai and the others.  This isn’t a black-and-white, good-and-bad kind of story (notice how my favourites never are?!) and I loved the depth of each of the characters, their flaws and shades of grey.

Strange the Dreamer has everything I hoped for and more; the romance is sweet, and tender, the story is addictive and full of twists, the writing is beautiful and the characters are just great fun.  All in all, I think I loved this even more than Daughter of Smoke and Bone – the fact it’s fantasy rather than urban fantasy, and the depth of the world-building and story made this feel more like a fantasy with a romance, than a paranormal romance, which Daughter of Smoke and Bone occasionally felt like.  If you’re new to Laini Taylor’s writing, or you didn’t quite love Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I’d definitely pick this up!  And if you’re already a fan, pick this up for more of what we’ve come to expect from Taylor: beautiful writing, wonderful characters and swoon-worthy romance.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Top Ten Tuesday: Books to read in one sitting

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature hosted at The Broke and The Bookish where they post a list idea and everyone is welcome to post the list with their own answers. This week’s theme is “Books to read in one sitting“.  I’ve tried not to just pick my all-time favourite books but books that I genuinely couldn’t put down the first time I read them.  Interestingly, although I read mostly fantasy and sci-fi, a lot of the books I read in one sitting are contemporary – I love savouring a good fantasy novel, whereas I’ll burn quickly through a contemporary or a thriller with an addictive plot.

Something to make you think

If you’re looking for something thought-provoking with a serious emotional punch, you can’t go wrong with any of the four above.  All four have stuck with me long since finishing, even though they only took a day or so each to read.

Something fun

Fangirl, What’s a Girl Gotta do and Carry On are just great fun, addictive reads I didn’t want to put down, despite the fact I wasn’t necessarily convinced I’d love any of them!

Something escapist

Ah, my favourite – sci-fi and fantasy!  The Martian is one of my absolute favourites because it’s addictive and funny, and both The Girl with All the Gifts and The Three are something totally unusual.

Review: A Game of Thrones (20th Anniversary Illustrated Edition)

Review: A Game of Thrones (20th Anniversary Illustrated Edition)A Game of Thrones: The 20th Anniversary Illustrated Edition by George R.R. Martin
on 18/10/16
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Hardback
Source: From my shelves
Goodreads

Published in celebration of the twentieth anniversary of George R. R. Martin's landmark series, this lavishly illustrated special edition of A Game of Thrones-with gorgeous full-page illustrations in every chapter-revitalizes the fantasy masterpiece that became a cultural phenomenon. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the North of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom's protective Wall. At the centre of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a region of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavours to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

I got given A Game of Thrones a few years ago as a present, and didn’t really get into it.  I didn’t get very far before I gave up and put it down, but when I eventually came back and gave it another try I got hooked pretty quickly, and it’s become one of my favourite series.  I’ve been thinking about re-reading for a while now, since it’s been so long since I first read the books, but I’ve been putting it off because I’m worried about finishing the re-read and then still having another year or more to to wait for Winds of Winter – in which case I’ll have forgotten everything again by the time it gets here!  I knew when I first saw the Illustrated edition that I wouldn’t be able to resist it, and when I got it for Christmas I decided it was time to finally start that re-read.

The text itself of course, is the same as that of the original edition, but I found I enjoyed it at least as much if not more on second reading.  The story takes a little while to really take off, and I think knowing that it does pick up, and it is awesome, and it is absolutely worth investing the time in, made all the difference to my enjoyment – I wasn’t reading it and wishing it would hurry up, or daunted by the prospect that maybe the whole book would be slow, so I didn’t mind the pacing, and I really enjoyed getting to focus on the background set-up and details without feeling impatient.  Martin’s characters are amazing, and it’s funny how on second reading my opinions have changed: the first time around of course I loved Tyrion, Jon Snow and Daenarys, but the second time around, knowing so much more about the characters, I’m also analysing so much more some of my new favourites (like Jaime Lannister and the Hound <3).  The story is addictive, and although I don’t truly love Martin’s writing style all the time, there are some amazing quotes too.

The illustrated edition is truly beautiful, and I definitely felt like the illustrations added to the overall reading experience.  The images are stunning, and it’s impossible not to get sucked into admiring and analysing them everytime you come across one.  The book itself is pretty heavy, and I was conscious of damaging it, so in terms of practicality, it’s definitely one I’d rather read at home than carry in my bag to read on my lunch break.  The other thing that’s worth bearing in mind is that the illustrations aren’t always in the perfect placing – if you haven’t read the book before, there’s at least one illustration I can think of which comes right before a significant chapter and plot twist that would spoil things for you if you didn’t know what was coming.  Personally, I’d only pick up an expensive gift edition like this if I was very confident I’d love the story (either because I’d already read it, seen the show, or because it was a favourite author).  That, plus the fact that Game of Thrones spoilers abound, I think it’s unlikely you’d end up reading this not knowing what was coming, but it’s worth bearing in mind the possible spoilers if you are (somehow!) coming at it totally fresh.  A worthy purchase for any fan!

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my Spring TBR list

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature hosted at The Broke and The Bookish where they post a list idea and everyone is welcome to post the list with their own answers. This week’s theme is “Books on my Spring TBR list“, and although I’m normally not great at sticking to the seasonal TBRs, they’re such fun I can’t resist making them!

Sequels I can’t wait to read

Robin Hobb is an absolute favourite author, so I’m beyond excited to read Assassin’s Fate, the final book in the Fitz and The Fool trilogy. I ended up enjoying A Court of Thorns and Roses a lot more than I expected so I’ve been looking forward to A Court of Wings and Ruin, especially since the sixth book in the Throne of Glass book has been delayed.

Re-reads

It’s been a long wait for Assassin’s Fate – I finished Fool’s Quest in September 2015, and my memory is a little hazy.  Assassin’s Fate is bound to recap enough for me to remember and keep up, but I’d like to really get the full enjoyment out of the final book, so I’m hoping to re-read books one and two before it arrives.  I’m planning to re-read A Court of Thorns & Roses and A Court of Mist and Fury for similar reasons – although it hasn’t been that long since I read the first two books, I burned through them pretty quickly so I’d like a refresher before the final book!


Upcoming releases

I actually wasn’t 100% convinced about Flame in The Mist based on the cover, but having read the description I’ve totally changed my mind: it sounds awesome!  I’ve only read The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness so far, but I’m intrigued by this one. Plus I have a friend who’ll definitely want to read and discuss it!

Backlist choice

I haven’t read a Maria V. Snyder in ages, but I always really enjoy her books, and I’ve had Dawn Study sat on my kindle for ages, so I think it’s finally time to read it!