Another pretty hefty week – but I’m not feeling too bad about things as I did do an enormous unhaul and got rid of nearly 40 physical books from my shelves! I should probably cool it on NetGalley for a few weeks, though…
ARCs and review copies
The first three are all from NetGalley!
Jane Austen Investigates: The Abbey Mystery by Julia Golding
This new series, featuring a young Jane Austen investigating mysteries, looks like a lot of fun – and that’s a really cool cover.
The Magic Place by Chris Wormell
I’m always on the lookout for middle grade fantasy featuring cats, so this was an obvious one for me to request (the cat is named Gilbert!).
I’ve read several books recently that seem to be on a similar theme, so I thought I’d scoop them all up into one post of mini reviews. None of these were quite my usual cup of tea, but they should all be hits with those who love middle grade mysteries set in the real world!
All three of these were sent free of charge for me to review; the first two were unsolicited physical proofs from Nosy Crow and the last was one I requested from NetGalley.
Fez Inkwright’s Folk Magic and Healing now has a darker sibling! Botanical Curses and Poisons looks at the folklore and science behind evil, cursed, and poisonous plants in a book just as beautiful as its companion.
Sometimes what you need is a book so warm and heartfelt that reading it feels like your brain is nestled in a comfortable armchair by a roaring fire, and if that’s what you’re in the mood for, then Heart of Stone is the perfect fit.
Oof, it’s been a big week for new books for me! I can’t believe how many have come in since last Saturday – someone at NetGalley had a funny five minutes this week and approved me for a whole bunch of requests that had been hanging around for ages, which has done a lot of the damage (everything without a physical copy here is from NetGalley!), but they’re all things I’m excited for – so let’s get to it!
ARCS and review copies
Sprite and the Gardener by Rii Abrego and Joe Whitt
I’ve really enjoyed the graphic novels I’ve read from Oni Press before, and this one looked like it had really beautiful art, so I jumped in when I saw it on NetGalley without knowing too much else about it. This should be a fairly quick read for me, I hope.
The Tangleroot Palace by Marjorie Lu
I’ve never read Monstress, but I’ve always admired the art style, so I’m very intrigued by this collection of shorter dark fantasy fiction from Marjorie Lu. This was another cover-induced click – I mean, just look at it!
Nightingale by Deva Fagan
Middle grade fantasy is one of my favourite things, and when I saw the words “stealing a magical sword right out from under the nose of Prince Jasper” and “heist goes off the rails” I was sold!
I mentioned in my 2021 goals post that I was stopping star ratings for baby books, as it hardly seems fair given they’re judged on an entirely different metric than books where the story is the focus. But I still want to highlight some of the amazing board books and picture books that are coming out, so I’m introducing a new feature! Kitten Corner will be a less structured round-up of the things I’ve been reading with my little one – I hope you enjoy it. Books in these posts will be marked with a star if they were sent to me for review.
We’re all about the interactive books at the moment! If it has a flap, slider, or textured bit to grab, it’ll be a hit. The very first ones we tried, and a collection we love, is Nosy Crow’s Felt Flaps series by Ingela P Arrhenius – recently we’ve been loving Where’s Mr Narwhal? and Where’s Mrs Tiger?*. The bright colours, simple artwork, and huge soft flaps make these great for babies just starting to be interested in grabbing books. Each of the books has four animals (or people – I’ve previously reviewed Where’s Mrs Queen?*) to find, and a final flap that hides a mirror – you wouldn’t think something so short could provide so many hours of fun!
Books with fuzzy bits are something that have only just come into the spotlight here – I’ve been encouraging my baby to touch the That’s Not My… books for a while, but he’s only started to go for them himself in the last few weeks! One of my favourites is That’s Not My Bat, written by Fiona Watt and illustrated by Rachel Wells, because the bats are just too cute, but we’re also fans of That’s Not My Robot and many of the others. More recently, I received Who Said Cheep?* by Becky Davies and Yi-Hsuan Wu from Little Tiger to review, and it was an instant hit! This book combines feely patches with flaps – each noise-making animal is hidden behind another, wrong, animal with a little bit of texture poking through a cut-out in the flap, and the combination is apparently hilarious. We get giggles whenever we read this one!
Probably my favourite of all the current interactive series at the moment is the new Peekaboo series by Camilla Reid and Ingela P Arrhenius (again! She’s so talented!). We received Peekaboo Apple* and Peekaboo Bear* just before Christmas, and I was wowed by the clever design, simple but effective rhymes, and fantastic construction quality. Some of the sliders are a little bit advanced for an eight-month old who hasn’t quite got the precision of older hands yet, but they’re so much fun to work, even for an adult, and they have a lot of humour in the art, too. Peekaboo Love* just arrived last week, and is already a new favourite, with some brilliantly cute images!
I know not all of you who follow me are parents or are interested in baby books, but I hope this new feature is helpful to some of you! I’d love to know what your favourite books to read with a baby are!
The first book in this series, Master of Sorrows, was a smart and entertainingly fresh take on academy fantasy – you can check out my review here for my thoughts on it as a whole, but I loved it! So when Justin offered me the chance to read an extra-early ARC, I almost snapped his hand off… but then I ended up having a bit of a brain-crash and it took me forever to have the energy to actually read it. Finally, though, I managed to get back to it, and it more than lived up to my expectations!
I read 27 books in January, which is a pretty good, if not spectacular, month for me! That puts me more or less exactly on track for that 300 in 2021, so that’s excellent. If you’d have asked me offhand, I don’t think I would have said it’s been a particularly good reading month, but I did have some wonderful reads, including two proofreads of forthcoming books that I’m very excited for. I also lucked out by reading a strong contender for favourite book of the year as my very first read – Half a Soul by Olivia Atwater was a great way to kick off January!
My Owned TBR
So, I’m aiming for 480 books by the end of March, and I’m going to be honest… it’s not going well. Over January my TBR has increased from 505 to 517. You may have seen that I’m now tracking the books that come in each week, and it’s definitely making me think twice about requesting and buying new books, so I’m determined that next month will be better. I also feel like an unhaul is on the cards…
Physical Review Copies
I spent some time this month making a much nicer spreadsheet for my review copies, and while that’s been really helpful, I’m sorry to say that this number has increased too, from 47 to 57. Eleven of those are picture or board books, so shouldn’t be too bad, but I do need to crack on with a few of these!
Book of the Month
January’s books of the month were:
Master Artificer by Justin Call
Heart of Stone by Johannes T Evans
Dead Man in a Ditch by Luke Arnold
Winterkeep by Kristin Cashore
and I did read the first two! I’m especially pleased I found time for the enormous chonk that is Master Artificer – I loved it (my review will be up soon), but I really had to sit down and focus on something with so many plotlines and characters. Even though it helped to have this mini TBR to focus on, I still found myself getting sidetracked over the month, so I think I’ll make it a little easier this month and just choose three. Dead Man in a Ditch and Winterkeep will carry over, and joining them will be Master of One by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett.
How was your reading month? If you have a wrap-up post, I’d love to see it!
I almost managed not to buy any books this week! That doesn’t mean I don’t have plenty of new ones to show you, though…
ARCs and review copies
Switch-A-Picture: Day and Night by Harriet Evans and Lirios Bou; I Can Learn: Dinosaurs by Lauren Crisp and Thomas Elliott; and Who Said Cheep? by Yi-Hsuan Wu
These three board books from Little Tiger all have different kinds of interactive flaps and sliders. These kinds of playful books are getting a lot of love at the moment in this house, so I’m hoping that these will also be a hit – so far Day and Night has been the favourite, with its sliding images! Dinosaurs is a bit advanced for my little one, with a lot of words on each page and quite delicate flaps, but is so lovely and I’m looking forward to sharing it with him once he’s a little older.
A Little Bit Worried by Ciara Gavin and Tim Warnes; I’m Sorry by Barry Timms and Sean Julian; and Along Came A Fox by Georgiana Deutsch and Cally Johnson-Isaacs
Little Tiger also sent me these three gorgeous picture books to review, and they make a surprisingly co-ordinated set with their night settings and orange forest animals! It’s always nice to find stories that tackle the topics of emotions, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the first two handle anxiety and apologies.
Dragon Tamer by Ophelia Silk
I really enjoyed DN Bryn’s Our Bloody Pearl, which was a wonderfully cute story that made my top books of 2020 list – my review of that is here! So when they offered me a chance to review their newest work (as part of writing team Ophelia Silk), I couldn’t resist – this fantasy romance looks like it’s going to be just as much fun. I love the description ‘idiot of idiots’ for the heroine in the blurb!
Journey Beyond the Burrow by Rina Heisel
I grew up on the Redwall books and I’m still a sucker for a mouse on an adventure, so I couldn’t resist requesting this on NetGalley – it looks so lovely! This should be a nice read to have on hand for when I need a bit of a palate cleanser between adult fantasies.
Purchased by me
A Sea of Pearls and Leaves
I was doing so well with not buying any books this week! But then I saw this gorgeous cover pop up in my BookBub recommendations, and when I clicked on it, the blurb sold me – a bi princess with a sorceress girlfriend and seven princely suitors competing for her hand! Plus, it has fantastic reviews, so it sort of accidentally fell onto my Kindle.
Have you read any of these? Or are you tempted by any of them? I’d love to know your thoughts!
(running 2021 total: 36 books in, 23 read. TBR at 517)