Author's Note

This Week’s New Books #2

It’s time for my second weekly haul already, and I’ve been fairly restrained this week! Just (ha!) seven books for your perusal today…

ARCs and Review Copies

All books in this category were provided free of charge by authors or publishers.

Relics, Wrecks and Ruins edited by Aiki Flinthart

I saw a tweet asking for reviews of this SFF anthology, put together as a last hurrah by editor Aiki Flinthart, and I couldn’t resist that line up of amazing authors. I’m looking forward to dipping into this one story at a time.

Continue reading “This Week’s New Books #2”
Author's Note

This Week’s New Books!

I’ve been thinking about how better to keep a track of books coming in as well as books I’m reading, and since I often have more than 50 in a month, an end-of-month haul is going to be way too much effort for everyone involved! So I thought I might try a weekly haul instead and see how that goes – I’ll list things as they arrive, rather than as I buy them, which is how I log them on my TBR. Let me know what you think!

ARCs and review copies

All books in this category were provided free of charge by authors or publishers.

The Gentle Art of Fortune Hunting by KJ Charles

I adore KJ Charles’s smart, dark, and queer historical romance, and I’m excited for this standalone! She says it’s fairly fluffy for her, which is exactly what I’m in the mood for, so I think I’ll get to this soon.

The Duke’s Runaway Bride by Jenni Fletcher

You know by now I’ll read anything Jenni writes, and I can’t wait to dip into book three of her Regency Belles of Bath series – books one and two were in my top reads of 2020!

Continue reading “This Week’s New Books!”
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.

2020

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.

2021

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!

Author's Note

My Top 5 Books I DIDN’T Read This Year

While everyone’s posting their favourite books of the year, I’m putting mine off for a bit, because there are still several hours of reading time left – who knows if I’ll discover a new favourite for the year in that time?! But what keeps sticking in my mind is how many amazing books I didn’t get the chance to read this year, even though they have been sitting on my TBR tempting me. I’ve mentioned quite a bit in my monthly check ins that I’ve not had the brain power for anything particularly intricate recently, but I wanted to highlight a few books that I wish I’d gotten to, and that I’m pretty sure are going to be 5 star reads when I do get to them!

(A quick note that all these books were sent free of charge for review, with the exception of Lady of Shadows, which I won from the publisher in a competition.)

Call of the Bone Ships by RJ Barker

The Bone Ships blew me away with its inventive world and swashbuckling style – you can see my review here, where I described it as “weirdly wholesome but also deviously dark”. The story so far plays with gender in clever ways, and has some wonderful characters – I’m excited to read this sequel and carry on with the story.

Dead Man in a Ditch by Luke Arnold

Another sequel to a book I adored – you can check out my ten-cat review of the masterful urban fantasy noir, The Last Smile in Sunder City here. I’ve actually been putting this off simply because I want to save it for exactly the right time, and let it wash over me in a wave of brilliance the way the first one did – I might have to book some babysitting time so I can devour it in one go.

Lady of Shadows by Breanna Teintze

Look, this is mostly all sequels, because a) a lot of them came out this year, and b) when I’ve had a taste of how good a book can be, I want to savour any subsequent books in the series – which isn’t ideal when I don’t have much savouring time. Anyway, Lady of Shadows is a continuation of Lord of Secrets, which is one of the most perfect fantasy adventures I’ve ever read (think if The Mummy films were about disaster wizards, thieves, and necromancers!) – you can find my review for that here. This is a book I’m saving for a real pick-me-up and I can’t wait to see what trouble the characters can get into next!

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E Harrow

Not a sequel! This is, however, Alix E Harrow’s second book, and after she hit my elite ten-cat favourites list with the gorgeous, hopeful The Ten Thousand Doors of January (review for that here), I was even more excited to hear about this alternate history tale of suffragette witches. I’m expecting this one to be a slow, but beautiful read – plus, look how lovely and chonky it is!

Hollow Empire by Sam Hawke

The sequel to the immensely fun City of Lies (review here), Hollow Empire is sneaking onto this list even though I’m actually halfway through it already. I won’t finish it this year, because I’m squashing in a few shorter things to boost my numbers tonight, but it’s on track to be finished soon and I am so excited to see how things progress, because it’s engrossing so far! This is super smart political fantasy with a great central sibling relationship and a spot-on depiction of that ‘I need an adult – wait, I’m an adult’ feeling I think a lot of us have had this year.

So, there we go – my five favourite books I didn’t actually read this year. I hope I’m not the only one who puts off their most anticipated books for too long..?

Author's Note

TBR Check In: December 2020

Wow, that’s two whole years of check in posts… Did November fly by for anyone else? I feel like it was an okay reading month – not as great as October, but still pretty good!

Goodreads Reading Challenge

I read 23 books in November, which is not bad! That brings me up to 300 for the year, so I’m doing well even though I may not get to 365 (my secret stretch goal) unless I start reading a lot of graphic novels and chapter books. I struggled to find time to read this month as things have been fairly intense baby-wise – he’s delightful but very hands-on! Ten of those books were historical romance, and only three were middle grade, so I am at least starting to get through some adult fantasy, which is great. I wish I’d read more though, as I am definitely feeling like my book buying and book reading speed are getting further and further apart…

My Owned TBR

The TBR is up this month, eek, even though I thought I’d slowed down a bit on the books coming in. 45 books came in, which means I’m up to 489 on the TBR – so unless I do some serious reading and unhauling in December, I likely won’t make my goal for the year to get it down to 450. And that’s not even taking into account Christmas! I’m quite disappointed in myself for not getting on top of this – I didn’t think I was so much of a hopeless case. And I’m not even sure a book buying ban will be doable, as I always get tempted to shop around this time of year because I hate living in the dark. Hm, I’ll have to think about this.

NetGalley

I have 23 books awaiting review on NetGalley, but I only submitted 5 reviews this month. Four of the books waiting have been read, but just need their reviews typing up, but I need to make an effort to focus on NetGalley this month to make sure nothing here goes overdue. I’m super excited for The Mask of Mirrors by MA Carrick and The Theft of Sunlight by Intisar Khanani.

Overall

Overall it was a good reading month, but a bad one for my TBR! I think I need a plan of attack for December that has three prongs:

  • A book buying ban til Christmas – review copies should slow down through December anyway.
  • An unhaul of unread books – there must be stuff I no longer fancy.
  • A push to read some of my shortest books just to get them out of the way!

I’m not sure I’ll knock 50 books off the list, but I can maybe make a bit of progress towards that goal!

Author's Note

TBR Check In: November 2020

Well, October raced by, and despite a month of sleep deprivation, it looks like I got lots of reading done! I’m slightly dazed but very pleased!

Goodreads Reading Challenge

I actually managed to finish 31 books in October, which is fantastic! I must have slotted in a lot of reading time during naps, because the majority were even adult books, including three non-fiction books and one enormous fantasy chonk! I’m up to 276 for the year. I’m really hoping this is a return to form and I can keep this level of reading up – it will certainly help with the TBR, which is still needing a lot of intervention…

My Owned TBR

The TBR is down from 471 to 469, which is only a tiny bit of progress, and I decided for the first time to start tracking how many books actually came in this month, so that I can see how long they stay on the list. Between purchases, review copies, NetGalley books, and Kindle freebies, I added 55 books to my TBR this month. 10 of them I’ve already read, which is at least something, but I’m more than a little shocked! I have got to put the brakes on… maybe a book buying ban in November? I did do an enormous unhaul earlier in the month, and I also DNFed a lot of old Kindle freebie books, so at least the overall number has gone down, but I can’t believe how many new books that is (which is, to be fair, why I started tracking!).

NetGalley

I have 16 books awaiting review on NetGalley, and I submitted 17 reviews, so there’s actually been almost a total changeover of what the titles are! I’m most looking forward to tucking into Hit Me With Your Best Scot by Suzanne Enoch, which I was approved for this month – I loved the first two books in this series, It’s Getting Scot In Here and Scot Under The Covers.

Overall

Overall I think I read a very nice mix of things, though I’m still leaning heavily on historical romances as they don’t require me to retain as much information between reading sessions! I’m over the moon to see how much I’ve managed to read this month – here’s hoping it’s a trend that will continue… How was October for you, in terms of books?

Author's Note

A Mini October TBR!

TBRs and I have a long history of not clicking. I’m a mood reader through and through, and really struggle to make myself pick up a book I’m not exactly in the right frame of mind for, so when I make a list I pick things I fancy at that moment, but they may not be what I want when I actually come to read. Trouble is, the only thing I’m really reaching for at the moment, as I mentioned in my monthly check in, is historical romance and middle-grade fantasy. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that at all – except that I have so many other brilliant books waiting for me on my shelves, some of which are due for review or need to be given back to the people I borrowed them from! 

I’m putting together a tiny list of books I need to make an effort to get to in the next few weeks. It’s tiny for two reasons – one, so I still have plenty of time to read as many comfort books as I fancy, and two, because two of them are well over 850 pages long. It’s not that these are books I don’t want to pick up – just ones that might require a little bit of discipline!

Continue reading “A Mini October TBR!”

Author's Note

TBR Check In: October 2020

September’s been a strange old month, going from heatwaves to having to put the heating on! We’re getting a slightly more consistent nap schedule going, so I’ve had a little more time to read this month, and even managed to run a round of #ConquerAChonker, my randomly reoccurring readathon where the only rule is to read a book over 400 pages! I ended up finishing two chonkers that weekend, which I’m very proud of!

Goodreads Reading Challenge

I managed 18 books in September, which I’m really pleased with! Up to 246 for the year, so I’m sure I’ll manage to get past 250, which was my hope, even though I didn’t want to set the challenge higher than 200. Slow and steady wins the race! As I said above, two of those were big fantasy tomes, so that feels extra good!

My Owned TBR

My owned TBR is still much higher than I’d like, but it has dipped from 476 to 471. I need to make a little bit of effort to get reading, as I know I have at least five books on their way to me! I did close to review requests again, which should hopefully make a little bit of difference. Downwards to 450!

NetGalley

I have 14 books awaiting review on NetGalley – I’m getting dangerous again… One of them I just need to copy my review across to tick off! I didn’t manage to get either of my big coffee table books read, so that’s my priority for this month.

Overall

I said last month that I wanted to make sure I was reading more of the adult fantasy on my TBR, and I did achieve that – 3 of my 18 were long adult books. I also read two long YA fantasies, but the rest was, as last month, my comfort reading norm of kids’ books and romance – fun, but not so helpful for the huge chonky books on my TBR. So I’m going to plan another month with a bit of fantasy focus –#Hallowreadathon is coming up at the end of the month, so that seems like a good time to crack into something a little magical! I’m pleased this month was a little better for me, so let’s see if I can match September’s total in October!

Author's Note

TBR Check In: September 2020

August felt like it flew by, and I certainly haven’t had much time for reading!

Goodreads Reading Challenge

Another 12 books down in August – I think this might be the new normal, at least until I can get a more consistent nap schedule going for the baby! I’m up to 227 overall (that June book still doesn’t have a listing, and another unlisted book has joined it!), so on track for 250 books by the end of the year.

My Owned TBR

My owned TBR is, um, having a bit of a crisis… There are just too many great sounding books, okay! I’m all the way up to 476, higher than it’s been since April, so I really need to stop buying and requesting books – I’m still doing that at my usual rate, even though my reading rate has slowed. I may have to close to review requests again, and get someone else to change my NetGalley password, if I have any hope of getting it under 450 by Christmas!

NetGalley

I have 10 books awaiting review on NetGalley – so much for ‘not letting it creep any higher’… One is already read, and awaiting review, but I do need to crack on with the others! I did receive my first audiobook through NetGalley this month, Dragon Mountain, which is getting listened to in small, useful chunks when I have my hands busy! I have a couple of big coffee tables books that I’ll need to read on my iPad to make the most of, so I must find time to do that.

Finish Series

I might have to ditch this section – it’s so embarrassing to keep having to write ‘no progress’!

  • 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. 6/11 are read, 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. 4/6

Overall

My reading’s at least consistent, even if I’d like it to be more impressive. One thing I did note though was that I was a bit over-ambitious in setting my planned TBR, as I’ve been reaching for comfort reads; middle grade, chapter books, and romance are always what I want to read when I’m tired, so my huge adult fantasy TBR doesn’t get much of a look in. I think I’ll make a much smaller TBR this month so I’m more likely to tick off a few must-reads than a lot of would-like-to-reads! How’s your August been, reading-wise?

Author's Note

My August TBR

Since I’m not flying through my stacks of books so quickly any more, I thought it might be a good idea to get a little more targeted in my reading, so I’m actually setting myself a TBR for August! I picked five review copies I want to get to soon, and then did the tried-and-tested method of asking Twitter to pick the rest… So let’s see what there is!

IMG_3840 Continue reading “My August TBR”