Author's Note

December Decimation

I’ve been making such great strides with my TBR lately, but I’m a mood reader at heart, so there are flaws in any method I use to choose my next read. Keeping up to date with new releases means the oldest books on the list languish unread for years; but focusing on the books that have sat there the longest means I don’t get to recently acquired books until they’re old too!

So I’m trying something different – I’m going to decimate my TBR. I know ‘decimate’ is usually just used now to mean ‘do a lot of damage to’, but it actually comes from an Ancient Roman punishment: soldiers were split into groups of ten and one from every ten was executed. Reading will be a little more joyful and a little less execution-y, of course, but the plan is to pick one book out of every 10 on my list, making a shorter TBR that’s perfectly evenly spread across old books and new.

Since my TBR is now down to 300, a tenth is just 30 books, which is definitely doable for me in a month! Want to see what I picked and why?

Continue reading “December Decimation”

November Wrap Up!

Well, December is here and the year is drawing to a close. But there are still 31 days of reading left, so despite everyone’s ‘Best Books of 2021’ posts going up on all sides, I’m doing mine at the very last moment possible – for now, let’s just look back at November’s books!

Goodreads Challenge

In November I read 58 books – I can’t believe I equalled last month’s amazing total! That means since the start of October I’ve read 116 books, and it pulls me up to 474 for the year so far. And there was me last month upping my goal to 450! I’m aiming for 500 now, which means I need to read 29 books or more in December – cheer me on!

My Owned TBR

In my wrap up for October I said I wanted to get my TBR down from 328 to 315, but I actually managed to get it down to 300, which I’m astounded by! I’ve been making a big effort to read from the TBR rather than picking up new things, but I did get an absolutely magical array of review copies which raised my numbers again, so I’m genuinely so impressed I managed to lower the number by 28 in total.

My December plans are going to be detailed more fully in a post tomorrow, but assuming that I might get a few books for Christmas, I’m going to set a goal of maintaining the TBR at 300 or fewer by the end of the year. That would be a reduction of more than 200 books over the course of the year, as I started January with 505!

Wrap Up

Least favourite: The Duchess War by Courtney Milan

Favourites: Slippery Creatures by KJ Charles; The Bachelor’s Valet by Arden Powell

Shortest: Two Bears by Patricia Hegarty and Rotem Teplow

Longest: Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

How was your reading month? Leave me a comment below and let me know!

Tags and Fun

TBR Spotlight: Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

This week my random pick has one of the prettiest covers I’ve seen this year – Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim!

Shiori, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs through her veins. Normally she conceals it well, but on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted, but it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother.

Raikama has dark magic of her own, and she banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes, and warning Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die.

Peniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori searches for her brothers, and, on her journey, uncovers a conspiracy to overtake the throne—a conspiracy more twisted and deceitful, more cunning and complex, than even Raikama’s betrayal. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she’s been taught all her life to contain—no matter what it costs her.

I’m always a sucker for retellings of the Wild Swans fairy tale, and this version mixes it up with East Asian mythology for a new spin on things. I actually haven’t yet read Lim’s earlier duology, though it’s also on my TBR, but I’ve heard really good things about how lyrical her writing is, so I’m thinking this will be a great winter read. Have you read this one? I’d love to see more reviews!

Tags and Fun

TBR Spotlight: Terciel and Elinor by Garth Nix

This book has only recently arrived, but that’s how the numbers shake out sometimes – it’s #293, Terciel and Elinor by Garth Nix!

A thrilling, atmospheric dive into the history of the Abhorsen, featuring Sabriel’s parents, Terciel and Elinor.

In the Old Kingdom, a land of ancient and often terrible magics, eighteen year-old orphan Terciel is learning the art of necromancy – but not to raise the Dead, rather to lay them to rest. He is the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, the latest in a long line of people whose task it is to make sure the Dead do not return to Life.

Across the Wall in Ancelstierre, a steam-age country where magic usually does not work, nineteen year-old Elinor lives a secluded life, her only friends an old governess and an even older groom who was once a famous circus performer. Her mother is a tyrant, feared by all despite her sickness and impending death . . .

Elinor does not know she is deeply connected to the Old Kingdom, until a plot by an ancient enemy of the Abhorsens brings Terciel to Ancelstierre. In a single day of fire and death and loss, Elinor finds herself set on a path which will take her into the Old Kingdom, into Terciel’s life, and will embroil her in the struggle of the Abhorsens against the Dead who will not stay dead.

I fell in love with Sabriel and its sequels when I was younger, with their mix of magic, horror, adventure, and practical young women getting stuff done, so I was delighted when this popped through my letterbox unexpectedly from Hot Key Books! I actually missed reading Goldenhand, the most recently published book before this one, but as Terciel and Elinor is set well before everything that’s happened so far, I think I should be okay to start this soon, and I’m really looking forward to returning to the Old Kingdom world. Hopefully it will capture the magic that enthralled me as a kid!

Is this on your TBR, or have you read it? I’d love to see your reviews!

Book Reviews

Kitten Corner: Christmas Reads!

It still seems very early to me to be talking about Christmas, but since you have to be prepared, here’s a selection of adorable new festive reads for little ones! All these books were sent to me free of charge, but opinions are my own.

I Love You More Than Christmas by Ellie Hattie and Tim Warnes, from Little Tiger Books

This picture book is adorable! I really love the way these bears are drawn – they have such kind faces and feel so full of love. They kind of remind me of Bear in the Big Blue House, but I might be dating myself with that reference! This is a sweet book full of the chaotic joy of Christmas – so much to be done and made, so many people to see – with a clear message that what matters the most in all of these things is who you celebrate with. There’s a mixture of rhyming text and plain prose, which sounds odd but works really nicely in context for reading aloud. And bonus points for not giving Little Bear a gender on page, which makes this easy for a kid to see themself in. Between the warm, cozy artwork and the cute family feel, I think this one will easily be a favourite for years to come.

Is It Christmas Yet? by Jane Chapman

Ted can’t wait for it to be Christmas, but there’s so much to do beforehand! This sounds similar to the previous book, with bears doing a whole host of Christmas activities, but it’s got a more humorous slant than a cosy one, with lots of things going wrong – Big Bear will ring very true with stressed out parents whose festive to-do lists are miles long! I was surprised to find that this actually has a lot of text for a board book – it’s more like a sturdier, smaller picture book than a book for really tiny ones, so it packs a lot into its small size. The illustrations are sweet and funny, and overall this is a very cute read.

Nibbles: Christmas by Emma Yarlett

This is my first time coming across Nibbles, but I’m thoroughly charmed and will definitely be looking up the other books in the series. This is a board book that makes great use of flaps and cutouts to get kids to interact with Nibbles the Book Eating Monster – you might not be able to tell at first, but he’s chomped a hole through every page of the book (even the back cover!). The story is told in a clever counting rhyme that had me smiling, and I can’t resist Nibbles’ cheeky little face. It’s great fun!