24in48 Readathon TBR

This weekend, (in less than 4 hours actually) I'll be participating in the 24in48 readathon. I've never done a lengthy readathon like this, but with an over-zealous summer reading list, and August fast approaching, I thought this would be a great opportunity to make a bit of a dent in that list of mine.

The readathon takes place this weekend, Saturday and Sunday (July 22nd-23rd), and the goal is to read for 24 out of the 48 hours. You can break up the hours in whichever way you'd like over the two days, so commitments don't need to be missed. And there's plenty of time for sleep, a shower and meals. There are some great tips, guidelines and even prizes for the readathon, for more info and/or to sign up visit 24in48.com.

I've been making lists, calculating reading times, and putting together the books I'd like to read. It has been recommended to mix up your reading material so you don't burn out. So I also have a few comics, journals, and even an audiobook I can pop on, if I need to take a bit of a break. I've been meaning to crack open a few new adult coloring books, so an audiobook will be the perfect accompaniment. I also have a plethora of favorite snacks, comfy loungewear, candles and even a jaunt to a favorite cafe planned for tomorrow, to keep me motivated. I'm all about the cozy and comfy vibes!

I decided to put together a TBR for the readathon, since I'm a bit of an organizational freak. And, having a bevy of books to choose from, will help me complete the 24 hour goal. These are the books I chose:

1. Hum If You Don't Know The Words
I'm about half way through this, and can see why this has been raved about. Set in the 1970's, the story is told through the voices of Robin Conrad, a nine-year-old white girl and Beauty Mbali, a Xhosa woman. Both, cross paths unexpectedly during the Soweto Uprising. And their alternating perspectives, weave a story rich with emotion, taking a close look at racism, loss, and the definition of family.

2. The Resurrection of Joan Ashby
This is an ARC I received from Flatiron Books and will be released in September 2017. The book is brilliant so far. And reminiscent of J. D. Salinger, Truman Capote and Joan Didion. I think Cherise Wolas will be an author to watch out for after this debut novel.

3. Slightly Foxed, The Real Reader's Quarterly – Issue No. 54 Summer 2017
This is my favorite literary magazine! I look forward to the new publication (released quarterly) as soon as I've finished an issue. I've been savoring this summer issue, since it's release. And this will be the perfect in between read, when I need a break during the readathon. Slightly Foxed introduces you to books that are no longer new or popular today, but stand the test of time. With a good dose of humor, and lightheartedness each essay is an absolute delightful.

4. Home
Last month I read Marilynne Robinson's novel Gilead for my Real Readers book club and absolutely fell in love with this moving story! Gilead is part of a trilogy, and Home is the second book, which tells the same story in Gilead, but from the perspective of a different character. You can see my mini review for Gilead on my Instagram account. Robinson will forevermore be an author I pick up.

5. The Elegance of the Hedgehog
One that's been on my list since 2010 (according to Goodreads). I've had it recommended to me, several times. I've also been told it is very French, which I love, and discusses, philosophy, culture, Paris and language. I'd also like to see the movie after reading the book.

6. The Dream Keeper's Daughter
Another ARC provided by JKS Communications and Ballantine Books. This one deals with time travel, archeology, lost love and a plantation in 1816 Barbados during an historic slave uprising. I can't wait to get to this one, it sounds fab!

7. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
Another one that's been on my list for ages. I love the Millennium series by Stieg Larsson, but haven't gotten to the third in the series until now. Nordic Noir is one of my favorite genres; dark, thrilling, with lots of twists. Lisbeth Salander is also a favorite literary character; a strong, female protagonist is always fun to read about! Mysteries, crime fiction and thrillers also tend to be my go to, if I'm ever in a slump. So this will be perfect if I need a pick me up during the readathon.

8. The Moonstone
The Moonstone is the book choice for my Real Reader's book club for July. I have about 150 pages left in this classic, and have really enjoyed it thus far. It is considered the very first detective novel. A young heiress inherits a stunning diamond on her 18th birthday. Unaware that the precious gem is known as The Moonstone and has a dark history, after being stolen from a Hindu shrine. When it goes missing, divergent accounts share details, making the recovery of the diamond complex and full of twists and turns.

This may seem like quite a few books, but I wanted to make sure I had a great stack to pull from, for the full 24 hours. I'll be posting updates of my progress on Instagram, Twitter and Litsy (@catebutler). Followed by a wrap-up once the weekend is over.

There's still plenty of time to join, or even just pop in to say hello over the weekend. If you do participate, I'd love to know what you're reading. Just comment below, or let me know where you'll be posting, so I can check it out.

Cate xx

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Blog Tour Review: The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George


Title: The Confessions of Young Nero
Author: Margaret George
Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Publisher: Berkley Hardcover
Published: March 7, 2017
ISBN: 9780451473387
My Rating: 4/5

Built on the backs of those who fell before it, Julius Caesar’s imperial dynasty is only as strong as the next person who seeks to control it. In the Roman Empire no one is safe from the sting of betrayal: man, woman—or child.

As a boy, Nero’s royal heritage becomes a threat to his very life, first when the mad emperor Caligula tries to drown him, then when his great aunt attempts to secure her own son’s inheritance. Faced with shocking acts of treachery, young Nero is dealt a harsh lesson: it is better to be cruel than dead.

While Nero idealizes the artistic and athletic principles of Greece, his very survival rests on his ability to navigate the sea of vipers that is Rome. The most lethal of all is his own mother, a cold-blooded woman whose singular goal is to control the empire. With cunning and poison, the obstacles fall one by one. But as Agrippina’s machinations earn her son a title he is both tempted and terrified to assume, Nero’s determination to escape her thrall will shape him into the man he was fated to become—an Emperor who became legendary.

With impeccable research and captivating prose, The Confessions of Young Nero is the story of a boy’s ruthless ascension to the throne. Detailing his journey from innocent youth to infamous ruler, it is an epic tale of the lengths to which man will go in the ultimate quest for power and survival.

I vaguely remember learning about Nero, in one of my history classes in high school. As an adult reader, when I tried to draw forth an image of him, all I could remember was the saying, “Nero fiddled while Rome burned”, something about him killing Christians in a diabolical way, and how he was one of the most notorious Caesars. And yet, before the tyrade, murdering and corruption, he, like all mankind, was once an innocent baby, a young child and an awkward teen, not yet, the Nero of legend. This is the crux of Margaret George’s new novel.

When Berkeley Publishing contacted me on Instagram and asked if I’d like to read and review an historical fiction novel featuring Ancient Rome, and Nero’s early life, I jumped at the opportunity. Not only is historical fiction one of my favorite genres, but I’ve had an obsession for Greek and Roman myths, history and civilizations, since 6th grade history.

I can always tell when a book will hook, when I have a hard time putting it down, and this book, checking in at over 500 pages actually read very quickly. Quite the surprise, when I arrived at the last five chapters in just a few short reading sessions. The narrative, as told from the perspective of Nero, retells his life story, from his earliest recollection of almost being drowned by his deviant uncle Caligula, up to the moment, he is told, Rome is burning.

Throw in a Shakespearean number of murders, including the death of several Emperors, his own Mother, Agrippina, who is also another infamous character from history, (she’d be a fascinating character to write about in more detail), and a few friends and countryman who didn’t quite see eye to eye with the vision of Nero, you quickly find the book has a rollicking pace. My favorite part of the book included the subtle and twisted changes that begin to shape and mold young Nero from a good intentioned and dutiful son to the historical figure he is best known for. There were several parts, that any modern psychiatrist would enjoy, where Nero begins to speak of himself as spilt into three different people.

There is also a wealth of insight into Ancient Roman life, not only about the upper echelons, but also the daily ruling and lawmaking of Rome throughout the world. Including several references to Britannia, Boudicca sacking London, and even a moment where Nero meets and is impressed with the Christian prophet Paul; who is arrested and taken to Rome to be tried by Nero himself. Ancient Christianity in this book is known as an upstart and dangerous new religion, based on the teachings of a man named Christ, who had died some 30 odd years before Nero’s rule . Kind of fun to see other historical figures make an appearance as contemporaries of Nero.

Overall, Margaret George, does a great job mixing in historical facts documented during this time in history. As well as providing an interpretation of what may have happened when Agrippina died mysteriously (all historical documents, differ on this point), how the great fire in Rome started and finally how Nero became the Nero of history. In truth, Nero may have been an inauspicious man who loved the arts and longed for the glories and beauty of previous civilizations. Not the corrupt and vile man he is painted to be in historical accounts, including the Bard, himself.

If you enjoy historical fiction, have a fascination with Roman history, or are intrigued by the reigns of Roman rulers, I can’t recommend this enough. It was truly a treat to read.

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