Book Reviews

Review: The Egyptians

This flap-filled history book is the most stunning kids’ non-fiction book I’ve ever seen. I would have swooned for it as a child, and I’m really looking forward to sharing it with my son when he’s older!

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Author's Note

My Favourite Books of 2020!

After much deliberation (and three days wrangling WordPress’s terrible new block editor), I’ve finally managed to narrow down my top 21 books of 2020!

Yes, I may have intended it to be 20, and yes a few of them are series rather than individual books, but I couldn’t work out what to cut! I’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of amazing reads this year – well over 90 five stars, out of my 350 books – so this was very difficult, but I think these really are the crème de la crème of my reading 2020. They’re in no particular order, and not sorted by genre or age range, so please enjoy the jumble!

Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch by Julie Abe

This beautiful middle grade tale of a young witch out to make her name by helping the people of a seaside town has strong Kiki’s Delivery Service vibes, but is very much an original tale. I fell in love with Eva’s pluck and determination – check out my review!

Our Bloody Pearl by DN Bryn

This book totally took me surprise – I went in expecting a rollicking tale of bloodthirsty sirens and pirates out for revenge, and although that was amply provided, it also offers a genuinely sweet tale of acceptance, love, and found family. Add in awesome queer and disabled rep and you’ll see why I want everyone to read this – more details in my review!

Continue reading “My Favourite Books of 2020!”
Author's Note

My 2021 TBR goals (and how I did in 2020)

You don’t need me to say that 2020 has been a weird year. It’s felt long and short at the same time, and I don’t think many of us have spent the year doing exactly what we planned. Still, although I’m under no illusions that 2021 will be a sea change right away, it’s still a good time for me to check in on my 2020 goals and set some new ones.


I had five goals in 2020:

  • I had four series I wanted to finish, but sadly I didn’t manage to finish a single one. I just had too much going on to focus on books with long plot threads across multiple volumes, so I read a lot more standalones this year.
  • I did mostly retire from blog tours! I still sign up for the odd one, but only for books I am already invested in, and I’ve really benefited from it – no more reading panickily or trying to force myself to like something because I need to be positive for the tour.
  • I did get my NetGalley shelves down to 0! Yes, in May I hit that wonderful 100%! I started requesting books again in September, and I currently have 24 awaiting review with a 95% feedback ratio, but I feel like I have a much tighter handle on things now. I’ve just got to watch how much I request so it doesn’t get too unmanageable, and make sure not to request books I think I will handle better on paper, like intricate fantasy.
  • My owned TBR goal was almost a total fail. I wanted to reduce it from 574 to 450, but I definitely didn’t manage that. I had it down to 451 at the end of summer, but then my reading speed dropped drastically while my book buying and requesting speed stayed the same. The TBR number shot up, and at this point it’s at a shameful 505 books (with quite a bit of damage done in the Boxing Day sales).

And last but not least…

  • My Goodreads challenge goal was 200 books, which I set pretty low for me because I didn’t know how much time I’d have to read after my baby was born. It did take some adjusting, and my reading speed suffered for a few months this autumn, but I managed to pull it back and resoundingly beat this goal, ending up with 350 books for the year. Part of me’s kicking myself for not pushing harder to make it up to 365 for a book a day, but actually, I’m really impressed with myself!

So I had three successes and two fails – an interesting mix! I can definitely see what I need to improve on this year, so let’s set some new goals.


Goodreads Challenge

The big one first – I think I’ll aim for 300 books read in 2021. There’s every possibility I’ll be knocked sideways by another baby development stage, but hopefully I should be able to keep reading at a similar speed to now.

My Owned TBR

This is the last year I want to see this number over 500! It’s ridiculous to have so many books waiting on my shelves unread, and it puts a lot of pressure on me to be reading new things, meaning I’ve missed out on some of the rereads I would have loved to have done this year. Rather than the whole year, which can feel rather nebulous, I’m going to be making quarterly checks to make sure this is headed downwards, with book buying bans applied accordingly if necessary! My goal for April 1st, then, is to have only 480 books on the list – that’s 35 down. I can definitely read that many in three months, so I just have to stem the tide of books coming in!

Physical Review Copies

I have really let myself down on physical review copies this year. Although I much, much prefer to read in paperback than on a screen, a lot of my reading this year has been done on my phone in a dark room during naps and night feeds. This has meant that my Kindle and NetGalley shelves are looking pretty healthy, but my physical TBR is appalling. I currently have 47 physical review copies. I’d like this to be less than 10 at any given time, so I can be much quicker to turn them around, but in the interests of doable goals, I think this should also be a quarterly goal – by April 1st, I’d like to have 30 physical review copies waiting.

Book of the Month

I think one of the things I’m going to do is have three or four “books of the month” that I have to read each month, so I’m making sure to focus on some of the chunkier or more complex stories rather than just easy standalones. I’ve really enjoyed doing a readalong for Kushiel’s Dart over Christmas, which is over 900 pages long and very dense – we read around 100 pages a day and it went really well. I think this might be a good way to give some focus to longer books I’ve been struggling to devote time to. January’s books will be:

  • Master Artificer by Justin Call
  • Heart of Stone by Johannes T Evans
  • Dead Man in a Ditch by Luke Arnold
  • Winterkeep by Kristin Cashore

Blog miscellaneous

I couldn’t really think of a category for this, because it’s more of a note than a resolution, but I’ve decided I’m no longer going to be giving cats out of five for board books, picture books, and other books aimed at ages younger than 5. It never seems fair to rate them against books with significantly more plot and details to measure, so from now on these reviews will just be me talking about them and no final rating.

I think that’s enough to be going on with! Hopefully it’ll be a great year of reading. Wish me luck and link me to your goal posts if you have them!