Tags and Fun

TBR Spotlight: The Fairy’s Tale by FD Lee

Monday’s rolled round again, and the random number generator this week picked book #214, The Fairy’s Tale by FD Lee!

Whoever said fairy tales were easy has never been a wannabe fairy godmother. The truth is, making dreams come true can be a total nightmare.

Bea is a lowly cabbage fairy, but she dreams of being an official Fairy Godmother. So when Bea is finally given a chance to prove her worth she is determined to make a success of it. Besides, how hard can a Happy Ever After story be? Every girl wants to be rescued by a handsome man, don’t they?

Apparently not.

Bea’s heroine doesn’t want to be in her story, and her hero is much more interested in the ugly sister. The same ugly sister who is trying to overthrow the Kingdom.

Suddenly, Bea must confront the fact that her characters are as real as she is – and just like her, they are determined to go their own way. The problem is, if Bea fails to finish the story, she faces a fate much worse than being put to sleep for a hundred years. 

Now Bea must figure out what Happy Ever After really means – and whose Happy Every After she’s prepared to fight for…

I love a snarky take on fairy tale tropes, so this take on fairy godmothering as an industry seems like it will be right up my street! This is a self-published book I picked up at Worldcon 2019, where I met the author in person after following her on Twitter for ages – which means it’s sat on my shelf for nearly two years at this point, eek. It’s the beginning of a series, so I’m really hopeful that if I like it as much as I think I will, then there’s plenty more to dive into!

Have you read this one? I’d love to know your thoughts – or if you have any recommendations for other sideways looks at fairy tales!

Tags and Fun

TBR Spotlight: Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly

Today’s random number pick is book #284, Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly!

Once upon a time, a girl named Sophie rode into the forest with the queen’s huntsman. Her lips were the color of ripe cherries, her skin as soft as new-fallen snow, her hair as dark as midnight. When they stopped to rest, the huntsman pulled out his knife . . . and took Sophie’s heart.

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Sophie had heard the rumors, the whispers. They said she was too kind and foolish to rule — a waste of a princess. A disaster of a future queen. And Sophie believed them. She believed everything she’d heard about herself, the poisonous words people use to keep girls like Sophie from becoming too powerful, too strong . . . With the help of seven mysterious strangers, Sophie manages to survive. But when she realizes that the jealous queen might not be to blame, Sophie must find the courage to face an even more terrifying enemy, proving that even the darkest magic can’t extinguish the fire burning inside every girl, and that kindness is the ultimate form of strength.

I loved Donnelly’s take on the Cinderella story in Stepsister, which I reviewed here, so I when I spotted her Snow White retelling pop up on NetGalley I couldn’t resist requesting it. However, I then went into a big YA slump in the second half of last year, so this kind of got pushed to the sidelines a little bit. I’m definitely starting to enjoy YA again, so I’m really looking forward to diving into this soon. There are so many interesting things you can do with Snow White, and I’ve seen people say that this draws more from the bloody Grimm story than the sanitised Disney version, so I’m intrigued. Hopefully I can get to this before long!

Have you read this one, or is it on your TBR? I’d love to know your thoughts!

Tags and Fun

20 Books of Summer 2021 Challenge

I’m a little late signing up to this reading challenge, but I only just spotted some of my friends talking about it! This is a three-month challenge hosted by Cathy at 746 Books, running from June 1st to September 1st. The aim of the game is to read 20 books across the summer, and while I’ll definitely manage that, I think this would be a great way to tackle my review copy list, which is stacking up. I’ll be aiming to read and review these 20 books – read on for my TBR!

Continue reading “20 Books of Summer 2021 Challenge”
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 Tor.com 2016

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

Tags and Fun

TBR Spotlight: How to be a Hero by Cat Weldon

Mondays come around fast! Today’s random number pick is book #358 from my TBR, How to be a Hero by Cat Weldon!

A no-good viking thief. The worst-ever trainee valkyrie. An ungodly case of mistaken identity.

When failing trainee valkyrie Lotta mistakes an unconscious viking thief, Whetstone, for a fallen hero and takes him triumphantly to Valhalla, things are definitely not turning out to be epic or glorious. Having lost a precious talking cup, Whetstone is also desperate to cover up his mistake and the two embark on a quarrelsome journey to find it and regain their heroic status. But Loki the trickster God is desperate to get his hands on the cup with a plan to unleash chaos across the nine worlds. Can Whetstone prove himself a hero after all when it matters most?

The first in a hilarious and fast-paced trilogy about how to be brave, what it means to be a hero and just how confusing the Norse Gods really are. Fully illustrated throughout, Cat Weldon’s How to Be a Hero is perfect for fans of How to Train Your Dragon and Who Let the Gods Out.

This is the first physical book I’ve turned up on the random number generator! I bought this earlier this year from my local indie bookshop, who were offering free bike delivery in the area – what better excuse to get books than if they come to you? I really liked the sound of this fun Viking story, and I thought it might fill a gap in my shelves, as there’s very little middle grade I like with a male protagonist (as you know, I often find them a bit too reliant on zaniness and not enough on emotions!), but I want to find some before my son starts asking for them (in, like, eight years). I’ve got my fingers crossed that the dual lead in this book will be a good way to ease into it for me! Plus, the dragon on the cover was very tempting.

Have you read this one? I’d love to know if you enjoyed it!

Tags and Fun

TBR Spotlight: The Prince of Secrets by AJ Lancaster

It’s Monday so it’s time to shine another spotlight on a random book from my TBR, and this week, it’s book #138, The Prince of Secrets by AJ Lancaster!

Well-bred women should not be seen kissing their butlers. Even when the butler in question is secretly a fae prince.

Wyn knows falling for Hetta Valstar is a bad idea. She’s not only human but the new magically bonded ruler of Stariel Estate. If their relationship gets out, it’ll cause a scandal that could ruin their attempts to sort out the estate’s crumbling finances.

And it doesn’t help that Stariel has decided it doesn’t like him.

But more than jealous sentient estates and Hetta’s good name are at stake. Wyn’s past is coming back to bite him. Ten years ago, he broke an oath and shattered the power of his home court, and the fae have been hunting him ever since. Now they’ve found his hiding place, they won’t rest until he’s dead or the debt is repaid–and they don’t play nicely. 

The Prince of Secrets is Book 2 in the Stariel Quartet.

I own an ebook copy of this book, and it was sent to me by the author for review. I really need to get to this one soon! It’s been long enough since I read (and loved!) The Lord of Stariel, which I reviewed here, that I’d quite like to reread it before plunging back into the series, but this is a fabulous cosy gaslamp fantasy with a touch of romance that ticked basically all my boxes, so even though I’ve been slow to get to it, I’m very excited to continue the story. I loved Wyn, so I’m looking forward to more of him in this book!

Have you read this one (or the first book)? I’d love to know if you enjoyed it!

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!