Author's Note

TBR Check In: March 2020

February has mostly been a good month! I’m finally starting to get some energy back, and though I’ve had a lot on, between #Februwitchy and my drive to finish my NetGalley shelf by May, I’ve been roaring through my TBR!

Goodreads Reading Challenge

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Somehow I read 50 books in February, which makes it my best reading month since starting blogging! My previous best was 49, in April 2019, which included two 12-hour flights and a bunch of train travel, so I’m genuinely not sure what made me read like the wind this month, but I’ll take it! Like last month, the majority of it is stuff that’s been sat there for a while, or was waiting for a review, so it feels really productive!

My Owned TBR

My TBR is all the way down to 519! It was 565 at the beginning of February! I destashed 27 books, 13 of which were from the TBR, so that helped, and I’ve been heavy on DNFing things that didn’t grab me, so I think that balanced out my ins this month (lots of bookpost from publishers and a couple of things from friends’ unhauls).

Kindle Unlimited

I read one and DNFed one of my Kindle Unlimited books, so there are four left for me to finish up and return. Though I didn’t finish them before March, I will try to squeeze them all in this month so I can cancel my subscription.

  • Fire Falling by Elise Kova
  • The Confectioner’s Coup by Claire Luana
  • A Thief and a Gentlewoman by Clare Sager
  • Heartless by Anne Elizabeth Stengl

Finish Series

The focus on witchy books and review copies meant these didn’t see any love this month either. I need to put some more work into this goal!

  • the Flavia Albia series by Lindsey Davis. 1/7 (with the 8th coming in July 2020).
  • The Chronicles of St Mary’s by Jodi Taylor. 2/10 are read, with the 11th coming in April 2020, plus bucketloads of short stories and a spin-off series that already has one book out.
  • The Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman. 4/6 are read, and 7 and 8 are coming but don’t currently have publication dates.
  • The Spellslinger series by Sebastien de Castell. 3/6

NetGalley

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I made it over 80%! I was at 74% at the beginning of last month, so you can see I really put a lot of effort in here! I have 79 books to review (was 106 on Feb 1st), which is really starting to feel like progress. I submitted 33 reviews, and was approved for just 4 new titles. I have 3 requests pending, but I only expect to be approved for one of them.

Overall

I’m thrilled with my progress for February, and I think March should be another good month. I’d like to keep chopping away at NetGalley, and I’d like to get my TBR down to 500 books (which means just 19 books if nothing else comes in, but really, how likely is that!). It went up to 500 in March last year, so that would be neat, if nothing else… I’d also like to focus on my physical review copies and get those reviews up on the blog – it would be nice to have some desk space back!

Author's Note

TBR Check In: February 2020

I’ve seen a lot of people say that January felt interminable, but for me I feel like it’s gone in a flash! Let’s see how I got on with my reading goals this month…

Goodreads Reading Challenge

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31 books for me in January, which is a book a day (I totally forgot about one of them until a few days later, so the above picture is wrong)! All but one of them were from my TBR, and more than half had been there at least six months, so backlist reading is going well.

My Owned TBR

My TBR is down at 565 from 574, so 9 books fewer than the start of the month. I did gain a fair few books – I bought ten, and also had a lot of book post from publishers, and NetGalley approvals. I think a book buying ban in February might be a good idea to get this chopped down faster – and it is the shortest month, so might not be too painful!

Kindle Unlimited

I read two and DNFed two of my Kindle Unlimited books, so there are six left for me to finish up and return before March:

  • Cara’s Twelve by Chantel Seabrook
  • Fire Falling by Elise Kova
  • The Confectioner’s Coup by Claire Luana
  • Enchanting the King by ED Walker
  • A Thief and a Gentlewoman by Clare Sager
  • Heartless by Anne Elizabeth Stengl

Finish Series

I didn’t read a single series book in January, oops!

  • the Flavia Albia series by Lindsey Davis. 1/7 (with the 8th coming in July 2020).
  • The Chronicles of St Mary’s by Jodi Taylor. 2/10 are read, with the 11th coming in April 2020, plus bucketloads of short stories and a spin-off series that already has one book out.
  • The Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman. 4/6 are read, and 7 and 8 are coming but don’t currently have publication dates.
  • The Spellslinger series by Sebastien de Castell. 3/6

NetGalley

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Up to 74% on Netgalley, from 71%, with 106 books to review (down from 115). I submitted 19 reviews in January, and was approved for 10 new books. I’m pleased with this, but still need to speed up a bit if I want them all clear by May! I have four requests pending (one of which I’m definitely going to be declined for because HMH Teen have never once approved me) so if I can be restrained, this should be a quiet month on NetGalley.

Overall

I’m hopeful for February! I have a readathon running, #Februwitchy, which should give me good motivation to get through a few more neglected backlist books, and maybe even let me make some space on the shelves. I’m also considering taking part in Tome Topple, to get a couple of longer books out of the TBR. Wish me luck!

Author's Note

#Februwitchy Readathon

In case you missed it over on Twitter, I’m hosting a readathon for the first time! Introducing… #Februwitchy – because why should October get all the witchy fun?

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Read witchy books!

The aim is super simple: read books about witches for all of February. There are no prompts, but any books with ‘witch’ in the title, or where the main character is a witch, will count – and to be specific, that’s where the main character is explicitly referred to as a witch on page, not just a book with a magical heroine. Non-fiction about witches is also welcome!

To clarify:

  • The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol would be perfect – it both has a ‘witch’ title and a witch main character!
  • The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton doesn’t have ‘witch’ in the title, but is a witch, so it counts!
  • Witchmark by CL Polk doesn’t refer to its magic-doers explicitly as witches, but it does have ‘witch’ in the title, so it’s in!
  • BUT Harry Potter books would not count – there’s no witches in the titles, and he is explicitly referred to as a wizard, not a witch. See what I mean?

We’ll have reading sprints!

Reading sprints will be held over on Twitter on Wednesday nights from 7pm-8pm (GMT). Follow me @cat_book_tea, and join in with some chunks of reading time and some fun games about what we’re reading. I may award extra broomsticks during these sprints!

There’s also… a prize!

While you take part in #Februwitchy, you can earn broomsticks, and the person who has the most broomsticks at the end will win a book of their choice (up to £10). This is open anywhere the Book Depository ships.

To earn broomsticks:

  • Post a witchy TBR with the hashtag (only once!)
  • Finish an eligible book
  • Participate in a reading sprint (there may be extra broomsticks available during these)
Sign up!
Does this sound like your cup of tea? You can sign up in this Google Doc and add your TBR and finished books! Please don’t alter the ‘broomsticks’ column – I’ll take care of that!
You can take part anywhere you like – your blog, Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, anywhere you talk about books – but bear in mind I am only on Twitter and WordPress, so if you want me to see it, you need to tweet me, comment here, or put your posts in the spreadsheet. You can take part as much or as little as you like – not all of your February reads have to be witchy, just as many as you like! And you don’t have to play for broomsticks, they’re only if you want to be in with a shot at the prize – you can read witchy-ish but non-eligible books alongside, I’m still interested to see those even if they don’t earn broomsticks!
And let me know if you have any questions!
I hope you feel like taking part – I’d love to see your TBRs and chat about your favourite witches! We start February 1st 2020 and run until February 29th 2020!
Author's Note

My Friends Pick My TBR!

I had a lot of fun the last time I let people pick my TBR for me (way back in November 2018!), so I thought I’d give it another go! I asked Justine, Judith, my mum and my husband to choose a few things each that they wanted me to read (and then I snuck in a few myself), so let’s see what they went for…

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Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton: Justine says, “I think you’ll love this. It’s a harem book with lots of politicking and backstabbing and ladies with shifting alliances.” I recently finished the first book in the series, so I’m excited to read this.

The Mortal Word by Genevieve Cogman: This is one of my sneaky picks. I mentioned in my goals post yesterday that I wanted to continue with this series, and I don’t want to lose momentum as I’ve been reading one a week so far!

The Year of the Snake by MJ Trow and Maryanne Coleman: Perry says, “It’s a New Year read and this had Year and Snake in the title!” I won this in a competition ages ago and can’t believe I haven’t got round to it yet.

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff: Mum says, “Because if you don’t like it, that’s a whole trilogy you can knock off the list. And if you do (training montages up the wazoo) you need to catch up!” Two very fair points!

Wicked Like A Wildfire by Lana Popovic: Judith says, “I want to see what you think of it, because people are mixed, but I liked the concept.” To be honest I forgot I had this, so it’s good to bring it up to the top of the list.

A Dress for the Wicked by Autumn Krause: This is my other pick, because it’s one of my oldest ARCs and needs reviewing ASAP!

An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard: Mum says, “I think you’ll know quickly if it’s for you.” Mysterious, but I’m looking forward to it.

Seafire by Natalie C Parker: Justine says, “Pirates! Reportedly good female friendships! Also, I want you to report back on it because it has been sitting on my shelf for a while.” It’s been on mine for ages too, despite buying the US edition to get it earlier than the UK publication date, and I do like pirates…

The City of Brass by SA Chakraborty: Perry says, “Taps to add one mana of any colour, but you lose 1 life.” I assume this is a Magic: The Gathering reference I don’t get, but it’s as good an excuse as any to read this, which has been waiting a while!

Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor: Mum says, “So I can finally discuss and not fear spoilers. And it’s beautiful. In all ways.” I may need to read a quick recap of Strange the Dreamer before I start, but I do very much need to finish this gorgeous duology.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid: Mum says, “This is like a glossy afternoon movie, you’ll whisk through it quickly.” I’ve certainly been meaning to read it for ages, so it’s good to hear it’s quick!

Blood Heir by Amelie Wen Zhao: Judith says, “Because honestly, I don’t know if I want to read it, and that way you can just tell me if it’s worth it.” I requested this before I knew it was based on the story of Anastasia, and since that’s a bit of a pet hate of mine (along with most things set in Russia/fantasy Russia, I don’t think I’m going to like it. But I need to at least try as it’s a NetGalley ARC!

A Harmony of Fire and Earth by Antonia Aquilante: Perry says, ” You’ve got to have one “An X OF Y AND Z” title in there.” Perry has heard me rant about how boring YA fantasy titles are before! This is actually not YA, but is the sequel to an adult m/m fantasy romance I really enjoyed last year, so I’m looking forward to reading it!

And that’s it! 13 books for me to try, (mostly) on the recommendation of others. And they haven’t gone easy on me either, there are some big old books in there!

Author's Note

TBR Check In: 2020 Goals

I thought it would be fun both to look back at what I thought I might achieve this time last year, and to set myself some new goals!

Hanging over everything is the query as to whether I will have much time for reading and reviewing after May. I’m going to be really lenient with my yearly goals, and much more focused on smaller, more achievable ones.

Goodreads Reading Challenge

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I absolutely smashed my goal of 365 books in 2019, finishing up with 450 for the year! I’m really proud of this, as I think it’s probably the most I’ve ever read (I didn’t start seriously tracking til April 2018, when I started this blog).

For 2020, I’m thinking 200 will be a fairly safe goal. It’s definitely not me at my reading best, but leaves me loads of time to chill out and not worry about anything. And if it turns out I can still read at my normal pace while looking after a baby, well – I can always move the goalposts up!

My Owned TBR

As of January 1st 2019, my TBR page had 395 books, and I wanted to cut it down by 20 books each month, leaving me with no more than 155. That was… optimistic? Laughable? As of today, my TBR’s sitting at 574, which means a total gain of 179 over the year. I’ve been making great progress getting this down (at one point it was approaching 650!), so I’d like to continue this. I did achieve my later goal of keeping the TBR under 600 by the end of the year.

Let’s aim to get it under 450 by the end of 2020. Since I’m pulling back from NetGalley and blog tours, I should have only review copies I’m extremely excited for, and I definitely won’t have much time or money for book shopping after the spring!

Blog Tours

I am semi-retiring from blog tours. I’m only going to take them if they are for authors or series I already know I adore. I find the pressure of knowing I need to write a positive review (or pull out) hugely influences the book while I’m reading it, which often ends up with me not allowing myself to just enjoy a book. I’d rather read without worrying and then review if I feel like it, as I feel it’s fairer to me and the book.

Kindle Unlimited

I want to read all 10 titles I currently have out with Kindle Unlimited, and then cancel my subscription – I have so many books to read that I really don’t need to pay for the privilege of keeping 10 more on my TBR! The books are:

  • The Horse Lord by Peter Morwood
  • The Complete Dukes of War collection by Erica Ridley (I only need to read two of these)
  • Cara’s Twelve by Chantel Seabrook
  • Fire Falling by Elise Kova
  • The Confectioner’s Coup by Claire Luana
  • Enchanting the King by ED Walker
  • Poseidon’s Academy and the Deadly Disease by Sarah A Vogler
  • Ruthless Magic by Megan Crewe
  • A Thief and a Gentlewoman by Clare Sager
  • Heartless by Anne Elizabeth Stengl

Hopefully I can do this before the March billing comes around!

NetGalley

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When I started 2019, I had only 55 NetGalley books, and I wanted to halve them. What an innocent I was. After going nearly all the way up to 150, I’m on a downwards turn and currently sitting at 115. A few of these are read and just waiting to be reviewed (if I can remember what they’re about…). I’m currently at 71%.

Here’s my goal for 2020: completely clear the list by the end of May. Yep, have NO books on the list, and hit that elusive 100%. It’s gonna be tough. It’s going to need focus. But I think I can do it. This also relies on me not requesting new things, which I have been getting better at, but I’m definitely not perfect yet… The thing is, I prefer physical books so much that I might as well request physical ARCs, in order to prioritise them, or wait for the release date so there’s no time pressure.

Finish Series

I’ve shamelessly stolen this idea from Justine at I Should Read That, because I have so many series sitting around unfinished! I’d like to move on with all of these:

  • the Flavia Albia series by Lindsey Davis. I’m an enormous Falco fan and have read his 20 books multiple times, but I’ve gotten so behind on this spin-off series about his adopted daughter Albia. Currently I’ve only read 1/7 (with the 8th coming in July 2020).
  • The Chronicles of St Mary’s by Jodi Taylor. I love the first two books of these smart, fun time-travel romps, but I’ve never got further than that! 2/10 are read, with the 11th coming in April 2020, plus bucketloads of short stories and a spin-off series that already has one book out.
  • The Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman. These books are utterly fantastic, and I’ve been catching up in the last couple of months. I need to keep up to date. 4/6 are read, and 7 and 8 are coming but don’t currently have publication dates.
  • The Spellslinger series by Sebastien de Castell. Awesome Wild West-y magic that by all descriptions shouldn’t be my thing, but totally is. I’ve read 3/6 (but at least the series is finished, ready to be caught up with!).

Wish me luck! I’d love to see your goals, if you’ve done a post, or let me know in the comments what you’re hoping to read this year!

 

Author's Note

TBR Check In: December 2019

Well, it’s the last check in of the year already! This year has been a very interesting one: the trip of a lifetime, my first WorldCon, some rotten phases of health, and for those of you who haven’t seen on Twitter, the big news is that I’m pregnant! It’s a wonder I’ve got any reading done at all, to be honest, but I’ve read even more than I was hoping to this year, and discovered some new favourites that will stick with me for a long time.  On to the goals!

Goodreads Reading Challenge

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As I said last month, I haven’t upped my goal from 365 even though I’ve passed it, as I’m enjoying seeing how many more books I can finish without any particular pressure. November was a great month for reading, with 41 books read, bringing me up to 409 in total. If I can match that this month, I’ll hit 450 for the year, but it seems a little unlikely since Christmas is likely to knock out a few days. Still, I’m very pleased to be back to normal amounts after my worst month all year in October.

My Owned TBR

My TBR is down to 588, which is amazing for me! That’s a real downwards trend, 31 books down despite adding 15 through #bookpost and NetGalley and buying one. I had a bit of help from my mum and Judith to clear the shelves of things I wasn’t interested in anymore, and I’ve been very ruthless with books that don’t grab me in the first 100 pages. I’m really hoping to keep it under 600 by the end of the year, and maybe even get it down further..?

NetGalley

Last month I wanted to get my NetGalley shelves down from 148 to 130, and I’m pleased to say I did that and more, making it all the way down to 121! I read lots, and I pulled together several reviews that had been waiting a while for already-read books, and I submitted a total of 32 reviews in November. I had a few approvals for new books, but I haven’t requested anything much in ages, so this is doing well.

Blog Tours

Just the one blog tour this month – The Naseby Horses by Dominic Brownlow, on the 7th December. I’ve been making a conscious effort to step back from accepting tour invites, as I find the deadlines stressful, and often have to pull out because I haven’t enjoyed a book – I’d rather read and review at my leisure, with no pressure to write a positive review.

The TBR

I’m taking part in KA Doore’s #NaNoReadMo, which is a low pressure reading challenge based on NaNoWriMo. I’m planning on using it to chop down through my stack of physical review copies, as they take up quite a bit of space on my desk! Here’s what we’re playing with:

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So that’s 29 books (Jade City is there because I have a review copy of Jade War, but need to read the first book before I can start it, so it counts as two)! I don’t expect to get through them all, as I have some Kindle reading to do too, and I like to leave myself space for mood reading, but I’d like to at least get this down by half so I can have one stack to start the New Year with. Looks like it’s going to be a pretty fantasy-heavy month! Anything here you think I should start with?

Author's Note

TBR Check In: November 2019

So you might have noticed I was offline for most of October – I announced a hiatus over on Twitter as I’ve been struggling with my health and needed a few weeks without the pressure of reviewing. Still, I’m back now, and trying my hardest to catch up – I have about a dozen reviews I’ve read the books for and need to write so I’m aiming to get my list clear in November, as well as several blog tours. I might be posting twice some days to get things up to speed!

Goodreads Reading Challenge

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I made it! Despite a lacklustre reading month (my worst so far, at only 24 books), I hopped over the finish line of my Goodreads Challenge and have officially read more books than there are days in the year. #Hallowreadathon helped squeeze in three more before the end of the month for a total of 368 books. I’m not going to up my goal, just keep reading and see how far I get in the next two months. Continue reading “TBR Check In: November 2019”