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May TBR Challenge: Mid-Month Check In

I can’t believe it’s already the middle of May – the last two weeks have flown past! I’ve still managed to read a few of my May Challenge books, though. If you want a refresher on the TBR, pop back to my original post, but otherwise, read on for some mini-reviews!

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Time for #SweepUpYourSmols!

Tomorrow marks the start of another round of #SweepUpYourSmols, the sister to my #ConquerAChonker readathon. Where #ConquerAChonker asks you to read a big book (over 450 pages), #SweepUpYourSmols is all about ticking off as many little books (under 300 pages) as you can manage in a weekend! I thought I’d show you the books I’ll be choosing from this weekend – it’s an eclectic mix, with little in common between the books other than their length…

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Blog Tour: Sister to a Star by Eloise Smith

Today I’m so happy to be helping kick off the blog tour for Sister to a Star, a new middle grade adventure full of Hollywood hijinks and sibling drama! I don’t often read middle grade contemporary, but you may or may not know that I really love behind-the-scenes stuff on films and TV shows, so Evie’s journey as a young stunt fencer was really tempting. I just finished the book over the weekend and it’s absolutely delightful – but I’m not posting a review today! Instead I have something special to show you: a letter from author Eloise Smith to her unpublished self.

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Blog Tour: Hedgewitch by Skye McKenna

You might have caught me raving about how much I loved Hedgewitch in my review a couple of weeks ago – but I’m back to show it off even more, because this book is just so wonderful! I have some fun profiles of some of the main characters, plus some stunning art to tempt you into picking up this lovely witchy read…

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April Reading Challenge: Spring Cleaning Wrap Up

This post is coming to you a little early this month, because I managed to fill up the last few days of the month with blog tour posts! If you would like a refresher of April’s challenge this month, you can check out my TBR post, and if you want to see the eight challenge books I read in the first half of April, that’s here. Two weeks ago I had five books left on the list – I didn’t manage to finish them all, but I did tick off three!

First up was Dark Breaks the Dawn by Sara B Larsen, which was a DNF for me. I think I probably would have enjoyed this much more if I’d read it as a teen; unfortunately it only came out in 2018, and I think even by then, its super-perfect lavender-haired, violet-eyed princess heroine and its learning-to-use-your-royal-magic themes would have been a bit dated. The first 100 pages of the book were mostly flirting, training sequences, and descriptions of how stunningly gorgeous everyone was, and I just really struggled to become interested. It’s a shame, because I think Swan Lake is under-used as inspiration generally!

After that I tackled A Darkness of Dragons by SA Patrick, which as I mentioned in my TBR post, I’d started before and not managed to get very far into. This time I persevered, and I really do think that the first 150 pages of this book are a slog, and not necessarily representative of the rest of it. The beginning is very slow and extremely dark – like mass murder, horrifying prison conditions, cruel punishments and insane prisoners screaming through the night dark – but the rest of it is a fairly standard upper middle grade fantasy adventure, with bandits, a girl cursed into the form of a rat, various odd magic users and a half-dragon, half-griffin. It’s a little bit dark, definitely 10+, but not nearly as violent or grim as the beginning – it’s a jarring switch and I honestly would have started the book with Patch’s escape from prison and hand-waved the backstory to get things moving earlier. Once the second part of the book was underway, though, this is a pretty fun fantasy adventure, if a little bit heavy on the ‘your princess is in another castle’ trope. I’d read the sequels if I saw them in the library!

My next read was The Archived by VE Schwab, the first book in The Dark Vault bind-up. I was surprised how much I liked it – I was only planning to read a few dozen pages to test the waters, but I ended up finding myself at 100 pages before I knew it. Like all of Schwab’s writing, it’s certainly very readable, and the concept is cool. I didn’t love the main character, who was a bit too much of a traditional punchy YA heroine for me, and the romance particularly felt very predictable by YA standards, but it’s an enjoyable time. There’s a lot of discussion of death, particularly child and sibling death, so it’s one to go carefully into if that’s not your favourite thing. I think I’ll try to read the sequel quite soon, so I can see if the duology overall is one I want to keep!

So I didn’t manage to get to Grounded or Sherwood, but given that I added two books halfway through, I suppose I did actually tick off the planned amount of spring cleaning books! Though I enjoyed most of them more than I thought I would, I ended up deciding to rehome 9 of those 12, so that’s a decent chunk of shelf space regained (though you wouldn’t be able to tell!). I’m definitely going to try this again at some point – it’s been a great exercise in recognising where my tastes have changed.

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My #Februwitchy TBR

February is here and with it comes the start of #Februwitchy! This is my second year running this very casual witchy readathon, and I’m really excited to show you my TBR – if you need more details about the readathon itself, you can find the introductory post here.

I’ve picked out thirteen books that meet the witchy requirements – this is a dual-purpose TBR that works for both #Februwitchy and my general monthly TBR challenge, so let’s see what’s on the cards this month!

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Twenty Questions Book Tag!

I was tagged to answer these twenty questions a good while back by Judith at Dead Good Book Reviews, who is not only an excellent booktuber but also one of my real life best friends – you should check her out! I’m not usually much for tags, but I like these questions a lot, and it’s been a long time since I’ve answered any bookish questions, so here we go…

1. How many books is too many books in a book series?
I can already see so many of my answers to this being “it depends”, but let’s start as we mean to go on: it depends! Some series can stand to be longer, and some need to be shorter as they have more focused plots to tell. I like everything from standalones to trilogies to super-long series! Some of my favourite series have upwards of a dozen books: Lindsey Davis’ Falco books have 20 (and then a spin-off series that’s already up to 9 books and still going!), while The Chronicles of St Mary’s by Jodi Taylor is up to 12, and I think there are more planned. If the series is good and the structure suits more adventures, then I’m happy for it to keep going.

2. How do you feel about cliffhangers
?

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The Return of #Februwitchy!

Way back in February 2020, I ran a month-long readathon called #Februwitchy, focusing on witchy books and fun. I always intended this to be a yearly event, but the start of 2021 was not a great time for me (or for most people), so running a long event was the last thing on my mind. But this year, I’m delighted to say, the witches are back!

The aim of this readathon is really simple:

Read witchy books!

That’s it, just read books about witches in February. We’ll start on the 1st and finish on the 28th, and just make our way through as many witchy books as we can!

I’ve made a few changes this time around to make things even more flexible. Here’s what will count for the readathon:

  • A book with ‘witch’, ‘spell’, or ‘potion’ in the title
  • A fictional book with a witch as one of the main characters
  • A non-fiction book about witchcraft or the history of witches

The other big change this year is that there’s no sign up, Twitter sprints, or tracking – if you’d like to take part, please just join in at your own pace! There’s a graphic below for you to use to select your TBR, if you’d like to, and I’d love to see what you’re planning to read.

Please do tag me on Twitter or leave me a link in the comments here if you post about #Februwitchy – I’m looking forward to reading your posts! My TBR will be up at the start of February, and I have some great things on it!