Author's Note

#SweepUpYourSmols TBR!

Two TBRs in a week?! I know, it’s unheard of! But this weekend is the third round of #SweepUpYourSmols, my mini-readathon where the goal is to read as many books under 300 pages as you can. So, do you want to see the books I’m choosing from? There’s no way I’ll get to all of these, but I’ve got a nice selection!

I actually found myself really having to search for small books to include! I think I’ve been picking them off and leaving the longer chonks to wait, which is not ideal… Still, there’s an eclectic mix of things so I feel like I’ll be fine for some mood reading.

The Game by Diana Wynne Jones

I’m working my way through the few books on Diana Wynne Jones’s backlist that I didn’t read as a child, and this sounds like an interesting one – I’m in the perfect mood for one of her magical, fun stories.

Beauty and the Beast stories edited by Maria Tatar

This is a collection of different animal spouse fairytales from around the world – Maria Tatar’s name on it makes me sure it’s going to be interesting, and I always love adding new variations of fairytales to my repertoire!

Wood Angel by Erin Bow

I’ve seen lots of warnings that this is a pretty grim book for middle grade, violent and quite sad, but I was still tempted into it by its talking cat and witchy vibes, so I’ll give it a go, and if I’m not feeling the darker side of it, I’ll DNF.

Grayling’s Song by Karen Cushman

More witchy middle grade! This sounds like the kind of charming adventure I really love, with a girl out to stop a curse and rescue her mother. I think this would make a good bath read.

A True Princess by Diane Zahler

Diane Zahler’s fairy tale retellings are always great – a little dark, but really beautiful takes on their original stories. I’ve actually just finished writing my own take on The Princess and the Pea, so this might be a good time to read A True Princess!

Dark Breaks the Dawn by Sara B Larson

These next three were in my TBR during the last round of Sweep Up Your Smols – maybe this is the right time to get to this YA retelling of Swan Lake?

The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie

I don’t know too much about this one other than that it has a fantastic cover and queer female pirates, which honestly was enough to sell me on it!

Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells

This actually popped up in my TBR Spotlight a few weeks ago, so head there for more of my thoughts on it!

Hawk of May by Gillian Bradshaw

This Arthurian retelling has been on my shelf for longer than I can remember. I’m actually a lot pickier now with Arthurian stories than I used to be, so I’m not sure if I’ll get on with this one, but it’s a high priority for me to at least try it and see if it’s a keeper, or if I can have some more space!

As You Wish by Cary Elwes

I love The Princess Bride movie – who doesn’t? And I also love love love behind the scenes books, so I’m really looking forward to this look back at its filming, from the horse’s mouth. I read the introduction when I got this book and decided to save it for a rainy day, as it was just so charming.

Will you be joining in with #SweepUpYourSmols? I’d love to see your short book picks!

Author's Note

September TBR: To Be Re(a)d

I noticed this month that several of the books I wanted to read had red covers, so I thought I’d lean into it and pick some more for a satisfyingly red September TBR!

Look at that beautiful stack! Books I was given for review will be marked with a star.

Blood Sisters by Sarah Gristwood

This is a non-fiction book about the women of the Wars of the Roses. I saw a recommendation for it on Twitter, though I can’t remember from whom, and decided to buy a copy since it’s an area of history I’d like to know more about. I like to have a chunky non-fiction book on the go between novels; my last few have been folklore-themed, so I thought it was time for some history.

Venom by Bex Hogan*

I mentioned in my August Wrap Up that I was looking forward to tackling some sequels this month, and I’m so looking forward to rereading Viper (which I adored) and then finishing up the series! This is one of those books I’ve been putting off until the perfect time, but it got a little lost in the TBR pile, so I’ve decided now is the time.

As the Shadow Rises by Katy Rose Pool*

The second sequel on this list that will require a reread of the first! I had great fun with There Will Come a Darkness (review here), but I’ve forgotten a lot of the details – time to refresh my memory and then read this before book three comes out this month!

All the Tides of Fate by Adalyn Grace*

One more for the sequel stack – All the Stars and Teeth was a favourite read of mine last year (review here), and I’m ready to finish the duology. I have a NetGalley e-ARC of this, but Justine gave me the pretty paperback for my birthday.

An Illusion of Thieves by Cate Glass*

I’m about halfway through this fantasy heist caper as I write this, and I’m having a whale of a time. An ex-courtesan, a Renaissance Italy inspired world, forbidden magic, art theft… it’s brilliant!

Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

You might notice this has carried over from my August TBR, as it was one of the two books I didn’t get to. I’m hoping that my smaller reading goals this month will mean I have the time to reread Strange the Dreamer and then read this – it’s a big commitment both in terms of the page count and the emotional weight! I’m looking forward to it though – Strange the Dreamer was stunning and Laini Taylor is always a good bet for me.

So that’s my little red stack of books for this month. What should I read first?

Author's Note

August Wrap Up!

August has been a strange one. I had a great first week, then a slumpy bit, then a panicked final week, so some of my August reads feel like such a long time ago!

Goodreads Challenge

During August I read 46 books, so weirdly I exactly matched last month! That brings me up to 328 books read this year, which is fantastic – I crossed that 300 mark, which was my original year-end goal. I’m now aiming for 365 books read in 2021 – I’ve done it before, so let’s hope!

My Owned TBR

It was a real stretch, and even a week ago I didn’t think I was going to make it, but I did it: I got my TBR down to 365 books! That’s just a single year’s reading for me (on average) so I’m really starting to feel good about my downwards progress. This month it was mostly actual reading, rather than DNFing or unhauling unread books, too, so that’s a lot of effort there. I’m really proud – that’s 25 books down from the start of August. I also read all but two of the books from my Twitter Friends Pick My August TBR post!

Since I’ve hit a major TBR goal, and term’s starting again tomorrow, I’m going to give myself a slightly easier ride in September, and only aim to get down to 360 by October 1st. It’s a reduction of just five books, but any downwards movement is still good, and it will give me a bit of breathing space. 

Having a lower TBR goal is also designed to let me shift focus a little – I want to tackle sequels this month! I have a lot of sequels and later books on my TBR for which I really ought to reread previous books to refresh my memory, but when I’m rushing headlong into reducing my numbers, I rarely feel like I can spare the time to reread, as it doesn’t move the needle downwards. In September, I’d like to tackle at least a couple of these that have been hanging on for a while. I’d definitely like one of them to be a reread of A Memory Called Empire so I can read A Desolation Called Peace! 

Physical Review Copies

I’ve been focusing on ebooks as far as review copies go, as I noticed my NetGalley percentage had slipped a bit. I’ve been keeping on top of newer review copies, particularly kids’ ones, but I’ve not knocked out many of my older, adult review copies. The sequel focus I mentioned above will hopefully let me crack on with the large amount of second books I need to review!

I made a tiny bit of progress on my 20 Books of Summer challenge, by which I mean I read one more book. The review will be going up this week or next, so I’m going to count it, but that still means I only managed to do 9 of them. I’m going to leave the remaining 11 as a priority, even though the challenge is finished.

Wrap Up

Least favourite: While Beauty Slept by Elizabeth Blackwell

Favourites: A Posse of Princesses by Sherwood Smith (terrible title, but great book!); Marshmallow Pie On Stage by Clara Vulliamy; Catalyst Gate by Megan E O’Keefe

Shortest: Tiptoe Tiger by Jane Clarke and Britta Teckentrup

Longest: Catalyst Gate by Megan E O’Keefe

I’d love to read more wrap up posts, so leave me a comment below if you have one!

Author's Note

June 2021 Wrap Up

June was a real blink-and-you’ll-miss-it month for me. I’ve been so busy with various writing, editing, and other projects – I feel like it’s only been about a week since my May Wrap Up!

Goodreads Challenge

I read 41 books in June, so slightly fewer than last month but still up at the top of my range! #SweepUpYourSmols was instrumental – I read 12 books that weekend alone. That takes me up to 236 for the year so far, so I’m closing in on my original goal of 300. If I hit it before September I’ll consider moving it up to 365 again and seeing if I can get a book a day in… I still haven’t updated my Goodreads, and honestly it’s just so much easier to keep track here on my TBR page, so I might give up on trying to keep it updated, apart from copying across reviews every so often.

My Owned TBR

My goal for June was to decrease the number of books on my TBR by 13 books, and it was a hard-fought battle, but I finally managed it and even got lower than that. After being so good about buying and requesting books in May, I went off the rails in June and had 34 books come in, which is the opposite of helpful (though I’m pleased to have all of them individually)! But I did make it down to 418, for a reduction of 15 books (and 100 books down since February)!

I’m going to try and stretch myself this month and get the TBR down to 400 – 18 books lower than it is right now. It would be so refreshing to have only a year’s worth in stock, as it were!

Physical Review Copies

My physical review copies are down to 48, and I have several half-written or scheduled reviews, so I’m making some progress finally! The 20 Books of Summer challenge is proving helpful, and I’ve ticked off seven of the twenty so far, which is about right for the first month. I need to get a bit more focused though, as there are some long books coming up.

Wrap Up

Least favourite: All a Woman Wants by Patricia Rice

Favourites: Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston; Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend

Shortest: Mooncat and Me by Lydia Corry

Longest: Unfettered, edited by Shawn Speakman

I’d love to read more wrap up posts, so leave me a comment below if you have one!

Author's Note

May 2021 Wrap Up

I’ve changed the name of my TBR Check In this month – it’s shifted over the years to a more conventional wrap up, so I’m going to lean into it!

Goodreads Challenge

I ended up reading 46 books in May, which I’m very happy with! I was vaguely aiming for one a day, but I had a few really productive reading days, especially this last weekend. That takes me up to 195 for the year, though I haven’t updated my actual Goodreads in a good few months – it’s just so clunky to use and takes more effort than simply keeping track on my TBR page… I must go through and copy my reviews across, though. I’m over 60% of the way to my year’s goal of 300, with only 40% of the year gone!

My Owned TBR

My goal for May was to fix the damage done to my TBR by my birthday book haul, and get the total back down from 473 to 460 books – and I’m pleased to report I’ve done even better than that, and I’m down to 433! That’s a reduction of 40 books from May 1st. I didn’t go on an official book buying ban, but I think I only bought two books for myself, and I’ve been trying to keep my requests to a minimum too, so I only had 19 books come in during May. I also DNFed a few older Kindle freebies. This is really starting to feel doable!

I’d like to keep going with the monthly goals, since they still seem to be working, so I’m going to aim to get my TBR down to 420 by the end of June. That’s 13 books down – fingers crossed!

Physical Review Copies

My physical review copies are only down a little bit, to 57, but several more books have been read and are just awaiting review, and a good quarter of books remaining on the TBR are picture books or board books, so they’ll easily be swept up into Kitten Corner posts! I wish I’d made a little more progress, but maybe this month I can get it down to 50.

Wrap Up

My reading was a little bit less intense this month, but I still had some books I really enjoyed! 

Least favourite: The Light of the Midnight Stars by Rena Rossner; To Love A Scandalous Duke by Liana de la Rosa

Favourites: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune; Jackdaw by KJ Charles; Fine Deceptions by Stephanie Burgis

Shortest: Princess Princess Ever After by Kay O’Neill

Longest: Some of the Best from 2016

I’d love to read more wrap up posts, so drop me a comment below if you have one!

Author's Note

TBR Check In: May 2021

April disappeared in moments and it’s May already! I feel like I blinked and missed it, so this isn’t the most progress I’ve ever made on my reading goals, but still, let’s see how I got on…

Goodreads Challenge

April definitely wasn’t as good as March’s 56 books, but I read a respectable 25 books! I’m up to 147 for the year, so almost halfway through. I’ve been focusing on slightly longer reads, but I’ve also been hard at work on some other projects and jobs, so I’ve simply not been doing as much reading. I think May should be a pretty good reading month, so I’m hoping to match or better April’s tally.

My Owned TBR

My goal for April was to get down from 473 to 460 books on the TBR, and I’d like it to be a matter of public record that I totally achieved this before my birthday knocked things out of whack again! On April 29th I had 456 books on the TBR, so I aced it – but then yesterday I was treated to far more books than I was expecting by my lovely family and friends, and it’s now crept back up to 473… I’d say unfortunately, but actually I’m so happy and grateful to have so many lovely new books! And it is still technically a reduction, so it’s a good job I did the reading I did!

I’m still setting monthly goals for this one, as they seem to be working, so I’d like to hit 460 for real by the end of May – and then keep it under that number!

Physical Review Copies

I sort of lost track of the spreadsheet I use to track my review copies, but I’m pretty sure this has gone up to 60 physical review copies awaiting review, though far more of them (25!) are read and just waiting on me to have the time to type my review up. I think I’d better focus on the actual writing rather than the reading this month, and clear that backlog. I’d like to get this down to 50 by the start of June.

Wrap Up

My reading was a little bit less intense this month, but I still had some books I really enjoyed!

Least favourite: Random Sh*t Flying Through the Air by Jackson Ford

Favourites: The Midnight Bargain by CL Polk; The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller; Otherland by Louie Stowell

Shortest: Find Tom in Time: Ancient Rome by Fatti Burke

Longest: Daughter of No Worlds by Carissa Broadbent

How was your reading month? If you have a wrap-up post, I’d love to see it!

Author's Note

TBR Check In: April 2021

It’s already April, unbelievably, so it’s time to check in on not only the last month, but also the quarterly goals I set myself at the beginning of the year! This will be quite a chatty check in, so I’ve bolded my new goals for easier reading.

Goodreads Challenge

This month has been a phenomenal reading month for me – my best since I started keeping track on the blog! I read 56 books in March, bringing me up to a total of 122 so far this year.

This was definitely helped by the introduction of #SweepUpYourSmols, which is my new readathon – you may be aware I’ve run #ConquerAChonker for a good while now, which is where you spend a weekend making time to read a long book, but I’ve just added this sister readathon, where you spend the weekend after reading the shortest books on your TBR. When I take the time to read a longer book over several days, I always feel like I need to swing back the other way to avoid getting slumpy, and it definitely did what I wanted it to! I read 11 books under 300 pages over the #SweepUpYourSmols weekend alone.

It also helped that I started to get very frustrated with my TBR, as I’ll discuss in the next section, so I really made a huge push to weed out some older things I knew I wouldn’t want to keep or review! I DNFed a bunch of things too, but I don’t tend to count those anywhere.

As a reminder, I’m aiming for 300 books read in 2021, so I’m pretty sure I’m doing okay… I really need to work on actually logging these in Goodreads, though!

My Owned TBR

My goal for April 1st was to go from 505 books to 480 books on my TBR. I ended up at 473, which I’m really pleased with! During March, I realised I had totally failed on getting the TBR below 500 – it went up during January, and I started March at 509 books. So really, all the reading down happened in the last month!

However, I’m even more frustrated with my TBR as a whole than I was on January 1st. It’s got to the point where even books I was incredibly excited to read when I got them have started to feel more like obligations, and I genuinely hate having to choose my next read because I have to prioritise one book over all the other hundreds waiting.

I feel like having such a large TBR keeps me on the back foot when it comes to reading. I’ve not been able to do any rereads for a long time, which means some of my very favourite books I haven’t touched in a couple of years. I also feel like it means I don’t get the chance to show you the books that really represent my reading taste, but are less current – I never talk about my love of Robin Hobb, for example! At my current reading rate, I have just about a year and a half’s worth of books planned out for me in advance, and that’s really not as much fun as being able to read more freely – plus, I have a baby, a job, and a ton of other hobbies, so I can’t spend all my time as focused as I was in March! Great books are only going to keep getting released, so something has to give. Clearing out my TBR to be somewhere under 100 would give me so much breathing space – I don’t know when I’ll get there, but I’m determined to make it at some point.

This time, I’m going to be setting a monthly goal (to avoid that last minute crunch again), so by May 1st, I’d like to have no more than 460 books on the TBR. It’s only a reduction of 13 books overall, but my birthday is at the end of April so I’m leaving lots of room for any book-shaped presents!

Physical Review Copies

I’m back down from 62 to 57 physical review copies, with 11 read and awaiting review, 7 of which are for two Kitten Corner posts. This is definitely not going well! I started the year with 47, and although there has been a lot of turnover, I have been hugely lucky with ARCs being sent to me both requested and unsolicited, and I spent a lot of time in March focusing on clearing out books other than review copies, as I mentioned. I was supposed to be getting down to 30 by April 1st, so I’m clearly going to need to rethink this one. It’s not just about reading them, it’s about making time to review them too! I think a smaller monthly goal will help, so let’s say I’ll try to get this down to 50 by May 1st. I don’t have too many requests in with publishers for April/May, so hopefully I’ll surpass this.

Wrap Up

I actually had a great month, despite having to re-evaluate some of my goals. Most of the 54 books I read I really enjoyed, even the ones I decided not to keep!

Least favourite: A Frozen Heart by Elizabeth Rudnick; The Book of Swords Part 2 ed. Gardner Dozois

Favourites: To Be Taught If Fortunate by Becky Chambers; Voidbreaker by David Dalglish; The Raven Heir by Stephanie Burgis

Shortest: Sometimes by Stephanie Stansbie and Elisa Paganelli

Longest: Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin

How was your reading month? If you have a wrap-up post, I’d love to see it!

Author's Note

New Books from February 21st – March 6th!

I missed a week last week – life got in the way – but I only had a couple of things to show you, so I’m just going to roll them together into today’s post!

ARCs and Review Copies

Even and Odd by Sara Beth Durst

I enjoy Sarah Beth Durst’s writing in all age brackets, so I’m looking forward to this middle grade fantasy I picked up on NetGalley, which follows twin sisters on a magical quest. It promises wizards, unicorns, and a portal to another world, which is definitely a recipe for a book up my street!

The Way of the Argosi by Sebastien de Castell

This is the prequel to one of my favourite YA fantasy series (check out my Spellslinger review for more about that). We know Ferius Parfax as the card-fighting, gun-toting, hat-wearing mentor to Spellslinger‘s protagonist, but in this new book we get to glimpse her youth and her first steps onto the path of the Argosi. I’m so excited – this is a NetGalley eARC but I will eventually be buying the hardback!

Continue reading “New Books from February 21st – March 6th!”
Author's Note

TBR Check In: March

Goodreads Challenge

I’m very behind on logging books into Goodreads, but my own TBR tells me I read 38 books in February, which is brilliant, especially for such a short month! February is historically a really good month for me reading-wise, I don’t know why… I’m at a total of 67 books read currently so ahead of where I need to be for reaching that goal of 300 for the year, but I’ve been pretty slumpy for the last week or so, so I’m not sure how much reading I’ll get done in March – we’ll see!

My Owned TBR

I promised an unhaul last month and I ended up doing a huge one! Over 60 books left my shelves, and though the majority were books I’d already read and decided not to keep, I did knock a few things off the TBR that I’d lost interest in. The total is down this month, from 517 to 509 (though it’s still higher than January 1st thanks to a lot of lovely review copies!) so I’m making some progress towards my quarterly goal. Tracking all the books that come in has been a great idea for keeping me on top of it, and I’m also keeping a tally of how much I spend on books, which is definitely making me think twice about buying more. Wish me luck getting this down again – I’d love to report back on April 1st and tell you I’ve hit that goal (just, uh, 39 books to get off the list…)

Physical Review Copies

Last month I had 57 physical review copies awaiting review, and this month it’s 62. I have reviews for 12 of them scheduled or part-written, so it’s just a case of getting those up and then getting stuck into the rest. I’m so annoyed that this category is only getting worse – I really need some time to write up these reviews, but I’m just so busy with baby things!

Book of the Month

February’s books of the month were:

  • Dead Man in a Ditch by Luke Arnold
  • Winterkeep by Kristin Cashore
  • Master of One by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett

and I only managed to read Dead Man in a Ditch. It was brilliant, though, and I’m so glad I made time for it! I’m going to drop to two books for March to try to coax my mood-reading self into actually getting to them, so I’ll be aiming to read:

  • Dragon Tamer by Ophelia Silk
  • Beneath Cruel Fathoms by Anela Deen

Wrap Up

I’m adding a new section! I thought it would be nice to give you a little glimpse into what, as well as how much I’ve been reading, so:

Least favourites: The Forever Sea by Joshua Phillip Johnson; The Jewel by Amy Ewing; Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows

Favourites: Dead Man in a Ditch by Luke Arnold; A Song for a New Day by Sarah Pinsker; Picklewitch and Jack and the Sea-Wizard’s Secret by Claire Barker; The Gentle Art of Fortune Hunting by KJ Charles; Botanical Curses and Poisons by Fez Inkwright

Shortest: Love by Emma Dodd

Longest: The Forever Sea by Joshua Phillip Johnson and Dead Man in a Ditch by Luke Arnold tie at 464 pages!

How was your reading month? If you have a wrap-up post, I’d love to see it!

Author's Note

This Week’s New Books #7

I thought I was doing so well this week but then I put this post together and realised that I really wasn’t, haha! I write these posts on Friday mornings, even though they go up on Saturdays, and I had a totally unexpected huge delivery last Saturday morning that played havoc with my numbers (although I’m delighted to have had it)! Read on to see what’s been added to the TBR this week, from picture books to epic fantasy and more…

ARCs and review copies

I had the most amazing parcel from the fabulous Little Tiger Books this week, absolutely chock-full of lovely picture books and board books for me to review on Kitten Corner! Just take a look at all of these pretties!

Bear and Mouse: Birthday Party by Nicola Edwards and Maria Neradova

I Can Learn My First Shapes: Busy Day by Lauren Crisp and Thomas Elliott

Where’s My Dinosaur? by Kate McLelland

Little Hen Little Hen What Can You See? by Amelia Hepworth and Pintachan

These four board books all have different fun interactive elements, from flaps to sliders to feely bits to twirly bits – they’ll be great for little hands! Look out for reviews in an upcoming Kitten Corner post!

Continue reading “This Week’s New Books #7”