Tsundoko Tuesday – the series edition

Copy of First Line FridayIn which my unread book collecting has gone beyond shame

There was a time, many years ago, when I promised myself I would never buy a sequel before I’d read the first book in the series. Otherwise, there’s a chance I might not actually LIKE the first book, and then where would I be, with a stack of unread books I didn’t actually want to read any more.

Oh, how present me looks back and laughs. And laughs. And… okay, you get the picture. So here are a few of the offending series.

An Ember In the Ashes

DSC_1008~2Oh dear, I don’t even remember buying book 2. What made me decide to break my policy for it? Was it a present? I have absolutely no idea! And I also have no idea why I haven’t read them yet. Everyone loves them. Sabaa Tahir is hilarious on social media. The fourth book comes out this year so if I don’t read them soon, that’ll be ANOTHER book I end up buying without knowing if I’m committed to a series. And yet, here we are.

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Even the Darkest Stars

DSC_0996~2This sounds so good! I got it in a Fairyloot box (ah yes, unread subscription box books. I have a lot of those) over two years ago and I’ve just never got round to it. Then, confronted with a fantastically good value deal at the publisher stall at YALC last year… I caved and bought book 2. But it’s so pretty! It can’t have been a bad decision. Right?

Kamzin has always dreamed of becoming one of the emperor’s royal explorers, the elite climbers tasked with mapping the wintry, mountainous Empire and spying on its enemies. She knows she could be the best in the world, if only someone would give her a chance.

But everything changes when the mysterious and eccentric River Shara, the greatest explorer ever known, arrives in her village and demands to hire Kamzin—not her older sister, Lusha, as everyone had expected—for his next expedition. This is Kamzin’s chance to prove herself—even though River’s mission to retrieve a rare talisman for the emperor means climbing Raksha, the tallest and deadliest mountain in the Aryas. Then, Lusha sets off on her own mission to Raksha with a rival explorer, and Kamzin must decide what’s most important to her: protecting her sister from the countless perils of the climb or beating her to the summit.

The challenges of climbing Raksha are unlike anything Kamzin expected—or prepared for—with avalanches, ice chasms, ghosts, and other dangers at every turn. And as dark secrets are revealed, Kamzin must unravel the truth about their mission and her companions—while surviving the deadliest climb she has ever faced.

The Knife of Never Letting Go

DSC_0997~2Alright, this one I have zero guilt for. It’s a clear violation of my policy – I bought all three at once and hadn’t even read a single book by Patrick Ness at that point. But they were all sitting there together in a second hand bookshop. In near-perfect condition. Matching editions. They were £1 each! What would you have done?

Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee—whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not—stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden—a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives.

But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear your every thought?

Share the tsundoku confessions

Are you a series hoarder? What’s the longest series you own that’s completely unread? Or maybe you’ve learnt the hard way – have you had to unhaul a whole series after disliking the first book?

(thanks to Rachel is Writing for the inspiration!)

Tsundoko Tuesday – lockdown comfort buys

Copy of First Line FridayIn which I confess to a bad habit

Comfort buying of books has always been an issue. When my mental health is particularly poor, I’ve had a tough day, or any number of reasons for feeling a little down, there are all the bookstores of the online world right at my fingertips and… Well, I am weak.

So, as you might have anticipated, the added stresses of our wonderful lockdown situation have not been kind to my bank balance or my TBR pile. I don’t even want to count the number of impulse ebooks I’ve bought over the last few weeks, especially when so many lovely authors and publishers have been holding flash sales to feed the bookworm’s habit. So we’ll stick with a few of my physical purchases for this week’s Tsundoku Tuesday.


DSC_0995_2It’s been ALL OVER book Twitter, and it sounds intriguing and fabulous, and I just couldn’t help myself. Maybe I was dazzled by Ryan La Sala’s liberal application of sparkles to his Twitter feed. Or maybe I know a good book concept when I see one. The synopsis:

All Kane Montgomery knows for certain is that the police found him half-dead in the river. He can’t remember how he got there, what happened after, and why his life seems so different now. And it’s not just Kane who’s different, the world feels off, reality itself seems different.

As Kane pieces together clues, three almost-strangers claim to be his friends and the only people who can truly tell him what’s going on. But as he and the others are dragged into unimaginable worlds that materialize out of nowhere—the gym warps into a subterranean temple, a historical home nearby blooms into a Victorian romance rife with scandal and sorcery—Kane realizes that nothing in his life is an accident. And when a sinister force threatens to alter reality for good, they will have to do everything they can to stop it before it unravels everything they know.

This wildly imaginative debut explores what happens when the secret worlds that people hide within themselves come to light.

Blood Heir

DSC_1000~2This one was deliberate, the timing mere coincidence, I swear! I read an excerpt of the first few chapters before it was published and I was sucked in to this world of Affinities and prison breaks. And it’s a (loose) Anastasia retelling; what more could you want? If that hasn’t convinced you, maybe the synopsis will:

In the Cyrilian Empire, Affinites are reviled. Their varied gifts to control the world around them are unnatural—dangerous. And Anastacya Mikhailov, the crown princess, has a terrifying secret. Her deadly Affinity to blood is her curse and the reason she has lived her life hidden behind palace walls.

When Ana’s father, the emperor, is murdered, her world is shattered. Framed as his killer, Ana must flee the palace to save her life. And to clear her name, she must find her father’s murderer on her own. But the Cyrilia beyond the palace walls is far different from the one she thought she knew. Corruption rules the land, and a greater conspiracy is at work—one that threatens the very balance of her world. And there is only one person corrupt enough to help Ana get to its core: Ramson Quicktongue.

A cunning crime lord of the Cyrilian underworld, Ramson has sinister plans—though he might have met his match in Ana. Because in this story, the princess might be the most dangerous player of all.

Only Mostly Devastated

DSC_0990~3It’s queer Grease. That’s it, that’s my comments done.

Summer love…gone so fast.

Will Tavares is the dream summer fling―he’s fun, affectionate, kind―but just when Ollie thinks he’s found his Happily Ever After, summer vacation ends and Will stops texting Ollie back. Now Ollie is one prince short of his fairy tale ending, and to complicate the fairy tale further, a family emergency sees Ollie uprooted and enrolled at a new school across the country. Which he minds a little less when he realizes it’s the same school Will goes to…except Ollie finds that the sweet, comfortably queer guy he knew from summer isn’t the same one attending Collinswood High. This Will is a class clown, closeted―and, to be honest, a bit of a jerk.

Ollie has no intention of pining after a guy who clearly isn’t ready for a relationship, especially since this new, bro-y jock version of Will seems to go from hot to cold every other week. But then Will starts “coincidentally” popping up in every area of Ollie’s life, from music class to the lunch table, and Ollie finds his resolve weakening.

The last time he gave Will his heart, Will handed it back to him trampled and battered. Ollie would have to be an idiot to trust him with it again.

Right? Right.

Share the tsundoku confessions

Have you been impulse buying, or have you been a model bookworm and used this unexpected time at home to reduce your TBR instead of adding to it? Spill all down below!

(thanks to Rachel is Writing for the inspiration!)

Tsundoko Tuesday – and make it Latinx

Copy of First Line FridayIn which I do the blogging equivalent of a sub-tweet

If you’re active in Book Twitter, you’ll know what prompted this post. I’m not going into the politics of it; I’m not the best positioned or qualified to do that, and a few quick Google searches will turn up a much better summary of the whole ugly mess than i could manage.

What I can do is use my platform (small as it is) and privilege to shine a light on some books from the Latinx writing community that’s had such a rough couple of weeks.

More Happy Than Not

DSC_0726~2Adam Silvera’s first book was actually the last of his to end up on my shelves, and though I’ve loved everything else I’ve read from him, I still somehow haven’t made it to this one. The synopsis, for your delectation:

Sixteen-year-old Aaron Soto is struggling to find happiness after a family tragedy leaves him reeling. He’s slowly remembering what happiness might feel like this summer with the support of his girlfriend Genevieve, but it’s his new best friend, Thomas, who really gets Aaron to open up about his past and confront his future.

As Thomas and Aaron get closer, Aaron discovers things about himself that threaten to shatter his newfound contentment. A revolutionary memory-alteration procedure, courtesy of the Leteo Institute, might be the way to straighten himself out. But what if it means forgetting who he truly is?

Contemporary with a dash of sci-fi – it sounds like the sort of genre-crossing mind game of a novel I simply adore. Plus queer, plus with the usual Silvera touch of heartbreak, or so I’ve heard. With all that lining up in it’s favour, the more I write, the more surprised I am that I still haven’t read it! Hopefully, this one will shortly be rectified. And, in the sort of coincidence I’m becoming alarmingly good at, I’d already planned to put it in today’s post when the announcement was made yesterday – there’s a five-year anniversary special edition planned, with a new chapter set a little while after the main story. Hooray!

When The Moon Was Ours

When the Moon Was Ours#2

Okay, this one I have an excuse for! I bought it with every intention to read it, then joined a travelling book organised by a few Instagram friends and now I’m waiting my turn with the annotated copy despite frequent urges to cheat by reading my own version ahead of time. I will be good! Even though this sounds amazing:

To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.

Woven In Moonlight

DSC_0725~2A (very) recent addition to the unread pile – I only got this last month, but it’s too pretty to not be featured! Plus, it’s inspired by Bolivian history. BOLIVIA, people? When did you last see a book with that sort of background? Also, I briefly adopted Bolivia as my second football team during a World Cup in my youth, based on nothing but the colour of their kit and liking the sound of the name, and I have to confess I still have a lingering fondness for the country!

Ximena is the decoy Condesa, a stand-in for the last remaining Illustrian royal. Her people lost everything when the usurper, Atoc, used an ancient relic to summon ghosts and drive the Illustrians from La Ciudad. Now Ximena’s motivated by her insatiable thirst for revenge, and her rare ability to spin thread from moonlight.

When Atoc demands the real Condesa’s hand in marriage, it’s Ximena’s duty to go in her stead. She relishes the chance, as Illustrian spies have reported that Atoc’s no longer carrying his deadly relic. If Ximena can find it, she can return the true aristócrata to their rightful place.

She hunts for the relic, using her weaving ability to hide messages in tapestries for the resistance. But when a masked vigilante, a warm-hearted princess, and a thoughtful healer challenge Ximena, her mission becomes more complicated. There could be a way to overthrow the usurper without starting another war, but only if Ximena turns her back on revenge—and her Condesa.

Share the tsundoku confessions

Let’s keep it on theme this week – share with me a book or two by a Latinx author that you keep meaning to read?

(thanks to Rachel is Writing for the inspiration!)

Tsundoko Tuesday – surprise sequels

Copy of First Line FridayIn which I am shamefully ill-informed

About everything. But in particular, I cannot keep up with all the new releases and anticipated releases and books I want to read but haven’t.

So every now and again, a book I (often for no good reason) firmly believed was a standalone turns out to, well, to not be.

Generally this revelation comes courtesy of the sequel turning up on bookstagram and me going wait, what? It happens with longer series, too, a trilogy that turned out to be four books long and another that was actually five – and in both cases the final books aren’t out yet so I couldn’t read the series all in one lovely binge to avoid the dreaded cliffhanger scenario.

The most recent surprise sequel

I have a weakness for dystopian. I don’t care if it was overdone to the point of death a few years ago, it never actually flatlined and I’m doing my level best to keeping it ticking over until the inevitable resurgence (sideline – I think we may already be creeping that way. I’ve seen & read a few more recent additions that are stretching the genre beyond its cliches. Maybe that’s another post).

DSC_0603~2So Zero Repeat Forever was a bit of an impulse buy based on nothing more than having seen it around and knowing it was dystopian. And it’s happily sat on my shelf with all the other unread books ever since. Until last week, when I spotted Cold Falling White on a bookstagram feed. Cue also linked revelation that it’s written by a female author called Gabrielle, and not the bloke called Graham I had apparently invented from thin air in my head. I don’t know, there’s no point asking.

So here’s the synopsis of book one, which has jumped right up my TBR list so I can decide whether to buy the sequel. Though, if we’re honest, buying sequels and indeed entire series before I know whether I like the first book is another weakness of mine…

He has no voice, or name, only a rank, Eighth. He doesn’t know the details of the mission, only the directives that hum in his mind.

Dart the humans. Leave them where they fall.

His job is to protect his Offside. Let her do the shooting.

Until a human kills her…

Sixteen year-old Raven is at summer camp when the terrifying armored Nahx invade, annihilating entire cities, taking control of the Earth. Isolated in the wilderness, Raven and her friends have only a fragment of instruction from the human resistance.

Shelter in place.

Which seems like good advice at first. Stay put. Await rescue. Raven doesn’t like feeling helpless but what choice does she have?

Then a Nahx kills her boyfriend.

Thrown together in a violent, unfamiliar world, Eighth and Raven should feel only hate and fear. But when Raven is injured, and Eighth deserts his unit, their survival depends on trusting each other…

Share the tsundoku confessions

What books are sitting around unread on your shelves despite your best intentions? Have you ever been taken by surprise by a sequel, or more than one?

(thanks to Rachel is Writing for the inspiration!)

Tsundoko Tuesday – cover buys

Copy of First Line FridayIn which I have a weakness for fancy fonts

I do try to avoid cover buys. I’m as susceptible as the next bookworm to having my eye caught by a pretty cover (or a pretty spine, or ESPECIALLY sprayed pages). But I do at least glance at the blurb to see if I’m likely to enjoy it. Most times. If I’ve seen it around Instagram and people have been generally positive, a pretty cover might push me over the edge.

There’s a theme, in the covers that tend to catch my eye. Ones that do something interesting with the font, are always begging to be picked up. And sometimes stroked, but we don’t talk about that. Lots of intricate details is another sure attention-grabber, though I have been known to be equally drawn to something boldly simple.

(thanks to Rachel is Writing for the inspiration!)

Excuse me, but are those pink stained pages?

DSC_0481~2Why yes, yes they are. And they were the seal of death to my chances of not picking up this book and buying it. Did I know anything about it? No. I saw an bookshop event for it alongside a number of authors I’ve read and enjoyed before. That’s the limit of my prior exposure to this book. There’s copper foiling on the cover details and PINK STAINED PAGES. What more does anyone need to know?

And here’s the synopsis, which of course I read AFTER having bought the book, but hey, it still sounds like my sort of read!

The house at the end of the lane burned down, and Rita Frost and her teenage ward, Bevan, were never seen again. The townspeople never learned what happened. Only Mae and her brother Rossa know the truth; they spent two summers with Rita and Bevan, two of the strangest summers of their lives… Because nothing in that house was as it seemed: a cat who was more than a cat, and a dark power called Sweet James that lurked behind the wallpaper, enthralling Bevan with whispers of neon magic and escape. And in the summer heat, Mae became equally as enthralled with Bevan. Desperately in the grips of first love, she’d give the other girl anything. A dangerous offer when all that Sweet James desired was a taste of new flesh…

I’m getting serious vibes of The Yellow Wallpaper from that synopsis, anyone else? That was only a short story, a classic we studied in English at school, but it creeped me out very thoroughly, so hopefully a good sign!

And when I say simple and bold…

We set the dark on fire

I mean like this. Seriously, how could anyone not love it? Plus, notice the fancy fonts. Fonts plural, at that. It was never going to be left unbought, really.

The synopsis:

At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children, but both are promised a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class. Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her bright future depends upon no one discovering her darkest secret—that her pedigree is a lie. Her parents sacrificed everything to obtain forged identification papers so Dani could rise above her station. Now that her marriage to an important politico’s son is fast approaching, she must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society, where famine and poverty rule supreme.

On her graduation night, Dani seems to be in the clear, despite the surprises that unfold. But nothing prepares her for all the difficult choices she must make, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio. Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her, or to give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio—and a chance at a forbidden love?

Share the tsundoku confessions

What books are sitting around unread on your shelves despite your best intentions? What was your last cover buy – and have you read it yet? Confess in the comments – we’re all in the same boat here!

Tsundoko Tuesday – the subscription box edition

Copy of First Line FridayIn which I show you yet more books I haven’t read

When I say subscription box, I pretty much mean Fairyloot. I have been known to buy the odd one or two boxes from other suppliers, but mainly because of the cost of international shipping, Fairyloot have always been my go-to. And to be fair, they’ve generally been brilliant, a good mix of fandoms and items (as always, I could use less SJM, but that’s just me), and a whole host of books I’ve been looking forward to reading.

And by looking forward to reading, I of course mean looking forward to putting on my shelves, thinking about reading and then not doing so, for the next couple of years. Hence Tsundoko Tuesday; tsundoko is a Japanese word referring to the habit of collecting books (or reading material in general) and then letting them pile up unread.

(thanks to Rachel is Writing for the inspiration, btw – her Tsundoku Tuesdays tend to be on Instagram, but as I’ve said before, if I can cheat my way out of thinking of my own blogging topics, I will)

The tower of bookish shame

Are you ready for this? We’re not talking one or two unread books, here.





Ouch, right!? Worse still, Fairyloot actually introduced readalongs on their blog at the end of last year, and I was ecstatic to think I’d finally have the impetus to read my beautiful books as I get them, instead of adding them to the TBR pile. Well, I participated in some. But too often, I have every intention of joining in and then never quite seem to get the time to do it. So 3 of the books in that pile are ones where I’ve failed at readalong-ing as well as just reading.

And yes, two ARCs. Given how rarely I get ARCs, as I’m not a big enough blogger to be sent them by publishers, or organised enough to sign up for Netgalley, I can’t believe I let these two sit around unread for so long that both already have sequels!

I promise to read more books!

Here we go, a public commitment to reducing this stack by the end of the year! With two and a half months left, I should be able to get through three that I was especially excited for: Daughter of the Burning City, Grace and Fury, and Daughter of the Pirate King. If I fail, you can all point at this post and ask what my excuse is this time!

And we’ll all just ignore the fact that all three of them were already on my backlist TBR at the beginning of the year.

Share the tsundoku confessions

What books are sitting around unread on your shelves despite your best intentions? Do you have a bad subscription box habit as well? Are any of the books in my pile ones I should drop everything for?

5 books I’m avoiding reading

spooky reads (1)In which it transpires I am a coward

I’m not talking about books I don’t want to read. Ones that will never darken my door or my bookshelf, or ones that I’m completely ambivalent about. And I’m not talking about the ones I haven’t quite got round to yet; they’re on my radar and I will get to them as soon as my mood and availability of time coincide.

No, these are books I like the sound of, usually ones I’ve had on my shelf for several years, and I just can’t bring myself to pick them up. No matter how many times I put them on my TBR, list them in my backlist challenge or take bookstagram pictures with self-deprecating captions about how long I haven’t been reading them. Somehow they’re always the ones to slip.

The reasons might sound like they vary, but in reality they all boil down to the fact that I’m scared of these books.

The Lies of Locke Lamora

Lies of Locke LamoraI may have mentioned a few times that I’ve been intending to read more adult fantasy for the last few years. And I really mean it, every time I say so. I used to read adult fantasy all the time, before I rediscovered the joy of YA. Only now, YA fantasy makes up the vast majority of my diet, and then I come across a book like this. It’s got good reviews. Including from people I know who read a lot of the same YA books as me but somehow haven’t managed to be completely scared off the adult stuff too. It’s even been described as an adult fantasy Six of Crows, I mean, come on!

But it’s So Big. It’s huge. I’m out of the practice of reading books this size. And it’s epic fantasy, so if I don’t seriously concentrate on it while reading, I’ll find myself five chapters in with no idea who half the characters are, what’s happening, what are wordz. And I have this kind of instinctual fear that adult fantasy books will involve Politics, and I can’t keep politics straight in my head if my life depends on it.

King’s Cage (and War Storm)

IMG_20181102_191127_161Right, let’s dive straight into the unpopular opinion. I enjoyed Red Queen and Glass Sword. Yes, Red Queen wasn’t the most original plot around, and Mare wasn’t the most original character. But unlike a lot of people, apparently, I failed to spot the Maven-based plot twist. Possibly because I didn’t want it to be true? And then Glass Sword with Mare in full-on unlikeable protagonist mode. I don’t need my protagonists to be necessarily likeable. There’s plenty of good reasons for her to be unpleasant, after all. And it makes for good conflict.

The thing is, I hardly know anyone who agrees with me! And even less people rated King’s Cage. I’m going to have to re-read Red Queen and Glass Sword before I can move on, because I’ve forgotten too much, and what if I suddenly realise I was mistaken and these books actually are terrible and I don’t like them any more? What happens then? Don’t mind me, just having me whole worldview upended here!

Wuthering Heights

IMG_20180209_221907_415Ooh, the Intimidating Classic. Come on, I bet a lot of you would avoid reading this one too! I do want to read it. It’s a classic for a reason.

But there’s so much controversy around it, whether it should be read as a romantic story or not. Is Heathcliff the ultimate Brooding Hero™ or a seriously problematic arsehole? If I read the book, I’ll be forced to have an opinion one way or another, on this eternally divisive issue.

Plus, you know, it’s big.

The Long Earth

IMG_20180915_195518_147The “I love one of these authors but what if it’s completely different because it’s co-authored” book. Yep, I am a HUUUUUGE fan of Sir Terry Pratchett, and in theory the co-authoring shouldn’t be a problem, because Good Omens was co-authored with Neil Gaiman and that’s one of my favourites of either of theirs.

But this book – this whole series – is more serious adult sci-fi, and what if I don’t enjoy it? Can I still call myself a Terry Pratchett fan? Am I just too emotionally immature for Proper Books? Help!

Strange the Dreamer

Strange The Dreamer#1I actually started this book, within a couple of months of getting it, as well. And it was good, the first few chapters. But the writing style is not conducive to a quick read, and I wasn’t in a place where I could really give it the concentration it deserved. So back on the shelf it went, and now it has morphed into an intimidating blue monster, glowering malevolently at me whenever I catch sight of it.

I mean, pretty much the whole of Bookstagram loves this book, and I DNF’d it! What was I thinking? How dare I? How can I ever recover from such a faux pas?

Tell me I’m not alone!

Do you have certain books you always seem to find an excuse not to read? Are you scared of your own bookshelves? Please help, I can’t be the only one!

Three books you meant to read last year

spooky reads (1)In which three is an unfairly small number

This is today’s Blogtober prompt from Anniek and Hâf, and I really have to ask what they were thinking. Three?! Three books?! I could list thirty books without breaking a sweat, that I meant to read last year and not only didn’t, but still haven’t!

But, I’ll play along, because I like you. Perhaps I should get on board with Tsundoku Tuesday, and make more inroads into my confessions of all the books I haven’t yet read.

Book 1: A fantasy sequel I want to read

IMG_20180108_222059_387Well, there are actually two here, so it’s a tiny little bit of a cheat, but I read The Queen of the Tearling… um… actually three years ago now, wow. That’s even longer than I thought! Why am I like this?

I’ve been meaning to reread it to refresh me on what happened and who all the characters were (to be fair, there were quite a lot of them!) so I can move on to the Invasion and Fate. But I haven’t. This is a pretty good summary of my bookish life; those 30 books I could name quite easily could probably all be filled by sequels I haven’t read because I need to reread the first.

Book 2: A sci-fi book by my favourite author

DSC_0446If you’ve been around for a while, or maybe a week or two, you’ll have come across me raving about VE Schwab. I LOVE everything she’s ever written. Shades of Magic is my favourite series. Steel Prince got me reading comics. Her debut The Near Witch is head and shoulders above other YA books of its time (it’s just my opinion, don’t @ me). City of Ghosts is the template for the perfect middle grade book, as far as I am concerned.

And somehow, with no real explanation to offer, I still haven’t read Vicious. I’ve owned it ever since I fell in love with ADSOM. You can tell by the original UK cover that I’ve so far resisted replacing to match the sequel. I’ve seen many, many book community friends and acquaintances heap praise on it. Some people, whose opinions I trust, even rate it higher than ADSOM. I know!

Verdict: Must do better!

Book 3: A contemporary I really have no excuse for

DSC_0455#1On the theme of favourite authors who I inexplicably fail to just pick the damn thing up and read it, Adam Silvera is an auto-buy for me, and has been ever since I finished History Is All You Left Me. Well, ever since I finished it and patched my poor battered heart back together, anyway. I snapped up The Both Die At The End the second it was published (although, UK cover NOT my favourite here, has to be said.) For the record, that was September 2017. Yeah.

Contemporary YA are my light relief books. I know, I’m talking about the same book I just accused of ripping out my heart and stamping on it. But they’re a lot quicker to read than most fantasy and sci-fi; apart from tending to be shorter, they don’t require as much concentration as learning a new world and magic system from scratch every time you crack open a front cover. Switching genres frequently is my best advice for avoiding a reading slump, and YA contemporary is one of my go-tos when I feel one looming. So, with all that said, why haven’t I grabbed this one for one of my refreshers? I honestly have no idea!

Join the confessions

What books have you been meaning to read for ages and just somehow never quite get round to? Let’s all be ashamed of ourselves together!

Reading challenge update

2 hatsIn which I wonder why I bother

Setting myself personal challenges, that is. I love the Goodreads goal, as a way to track my progress more generally, but every damn year I set myself a few personal goals alongside, and every damn year I fail. Miserably. Or succeed only by cheating… More on that later.

We’re three quarters of the way through the year now, and if that doesn’t terrify you, you’re made of stern stuff indeed. Also, the mid-year check-in I had planned didn’t happen because I was on a blogging… let’s call it a hiatus rather than a just-gave-up. So, thanks again to Anniek and Hâf for the Blogtober prompt, and let’s see just how much planned reading I’ve got to squeeze into the last three months of 2019.

It’s all about the numbers

I’m talking about Goodreads, of course. I set myself 125 books for this years goal, and I’m very pleased to report I met that target at the end of September. Let’s celebrate by buying another book… or ten…*

Since it became apparent I was going to meet my goal ahead of time, I’ve been toying with the idea of really challenging myself by aiming for 200. I’m not going to change my Goodreads goal. I’m not even sure if it’s realistic, or just a nice number to have hovering in my head. But last year I read 164 books, my highest total to date, and it would be nice to maybe beat that.

*I would like to note that I didn’t actually buy myself any books as a reward for meeting my goal. It’s just coincidence that I went on an unplanned bookish spending spree in the same month. Honest.

Beat the Backlist 2019

IMG_20191006_230952_693Oh dear, I’ve been a truly terrible participant in this challenge. I signed up at the beginning of the year over on Novel Knight, and for the first couple of months I diligently updated all my backlist reads for my house. And then I… didn’t. Sorry, fellow Hufflepuffs! If you lose the backlist house cup, you can chuck some of the blame my way.

I’ve actually met this goal, technically. I wanted to read 65 backlist books, and by the rules of the challenge, that means any book published in 2018 or earlier. And I’ve done that, by some margin. Unfortunately, what I haven’t done is actually reduce my backlist. Because a lot of those books, although they were published in the right time, I only bought this year. Or I borrowed from the library. Or downloaded as my monthly audiobooks. Of the books which were on my shelves at the beginning of the year, I’ve read 25. Which, actually, is better than I expected before I counted, but still, a long way off where I wanted to be.

Why am I like this?

Read a classic a month

DSC_0469~3This is a recurring challenge I set myself every year. It’s not linked to any particular blog or bookstagram challenge, it’s just something I’ve wanted to do since I realised how few classic books I’ve actually read.

I’m not doing so well with this one. 12 books in a year ought to be easy peasy. I read more than that in most months. But when it comes time to pick my next read, somehow the classics never seem to leap into my hand. No matter how pretty their covers!

I’ve read 3.

Finish my unfinished series


I’m just going to go and cry over this one, I think.

I’m terrible at finishing series. Unless I own all the books so I can binge them (and if I’m honest, I don’t always manage even then) I have a habit of reading the first, maybe the second, and then never quite get round to finishing. It’s often because I need to reread if I’ve had to wait for the next instalments. And while I like doing rereads, I don’t like putting off all the unread books in order to do it. Yes, I know, there’s no logic there at all.

There were five series I started the year with one or two books read, and wanted to finish. Can you guess how many I’ve completed?

Yeah. None.

Adult fiction

IMG_20190120_213711_338Aha! A success! I have met and exceeded by some margin my goal of reading 12 adult books this year. Congratulations, me.

You know how at school and work they tell you to set SMART targets? Or some other acronym that basically means be specific or you won’t know when you’ve met them.

I am sorry to report, dear reader, that they were right.

I meant this goal to mean adult SFF, or historical-ish fiction. I didn’t specify, because occasionally I also read some other genres. Literary, or contemporary or things I don’t actually know a proper name for. Even (hold back your shock) once or twice, a thriller. I know.

KJ Charles#1What I actually read, when it comes to adult fiction, is queer romance. KJ Charles is the main culprit; I would read a shopping list if she wrote it. Having said that, I’m mildly intrigued to know what she would do with a shopping list…

She’s not the only author I read, I’ve binged a series here, a series there, tried a few authors I’ve seen around bookstagram… The upshot is, I could easily fulfil this goal just with queer romance novellas. Even if I limit myself to one credit per series.

I’m slightly exaggerating, I admit. Not about the amount of queer romance I read; that’s accurate. But I have read a fair amount of the other adult fiction I intended this to cover, even if not quite enough to fill the twelve slots on its own.

Next year, I will be more careful with my wording!


IMG_20180328_220236_370I wish I could remember who started this challenge so I could tag them, but basically this is to read books by Asian, or Asian diaspora, authors, and the aim was to read one a month. I haven’t kept up with that, but if I average out I am broadly on track, with 7 books finished and one (that one!) in progress.

And there are loads more on my shelves, so even allowing for my mood reading tendencies, I should get this one done by the end of the year.

A bookworm problem that’s not going to go away

I think writing out this post has really brought home exactly how much I over-commit myself in terms of goals! It shouldn’t be this hard; I ought to be able to fill most of my smaller or personal challenges with books that count towards my backlist, and obviously they all count for Goodreads (which would be why I exceeded that one). But I’m too much of a mood reader, coupled with the unfortunately habit of stress-buying books when I’m having a bad couple of days. It’s probably healthier than stress-eating, but sadly, it doesn’t stop me from doing that as well!

No matter how much self-awareness I’ve just discovered, we all know that when January 2020 rolls around, I’ll do the same thing all over again!

What sort of reading goals do you set yourself? Just Goodreads, or like me do you sign up to every challenge going? And how’s your progress looking?

Hello June

Brightly coloured notebooks with pinecones and coloured pens in the background, with a caption reading #amcurrently - read, write, etcHello and welcome to summer! If you’re in the northern hemisphere like me, at least. Though I’m looking out of my window right now at miserable grey skies and I haven’t yet retired the fluffy socks and big jumpers, so I guess even here that’s questionable.

Do you have big plans for June? Or small ones? I’m great at making plans – yearly, monthly, weekly – and not so great at sticking to them. But June is the month when the looming halfway point of the year reminds me I need to pull my finger out with all those big goals I set back in the optimistic mists of January. I’m doing alright with the reading – in terms of numbers, anyway, and my goal to read more adult fiction has been a lot easier to meet than I expected. I think when I set it, I forgot how many queer romance novellas I get through in a year!


Right now I’m halfway through an audiobook of Echo After Echo, which is like nothing else I usually read. I’m not even sure if it’s YA or NA or adult. It’s part mystery and thriller, part coming-of-age story, part romance… And it’s pretty damn good, actually. After adoring The Brilliant Death (also way back in the mists of January) I immediately went looking for Amy Rose Capetta’s back catalogue, and what do you know but Audible had this one with a decent narrator just sitting there waiting for me. It took a while longer to get to it – I had commitments to audiobook sequels and so forth and had to be in the right mood – but I’m going to be finishing it off this month.

And… I’m reading King of Scars! Finally, you all cheer, and TBH so do I. I had every intention of reading it straight away, since Grishaverse is always a win and Nikolai is Nikolai, but a combination of overflowing bookshelves and nerves about the hype got to me and it’s taken me this long to steel myself to pick it up again. Early thoughts – intrigued by goings on, loving Nikolai’s scheming and sass, loving Zoya’s scheming and sass, and not sure how I feel about Nina minus the Dregs. Watch this space.

IMAG4559~2My TBR for the rest of June has got a tiny bit out of hand. With June being Pride Month I wanted to make an effort to fit in LGBTQ+ books and authors, and then there were a few readathons I felt like joining, and then one of my fave authors announced a readalong for a book of hers that I happen to have sitting and waiting…

And before you know it there’s fourteen books on my virtual June shelf and I’ve gone and piled on all the pressure. Again.


Ah yes. It may have been a while since I posted about the writing, but I’m pretty sure the last time would have been when I had not long started my first draft of the still-not-exactly-named Sleeping Beauty retelling. It’s currently called Curse and Ghost until a proper title comes along. And that would still be what I’m currently writing. I’m about a quarter of the way through the first draft. Mental health, work commitments, family commitments, sheer bloody laziness and pathological procrastination… They’ve all had a part to play.

Curse & Ghost quoteBut, leaving aside the general shittiness of first drafts, I’m pleased with what I’ve got so far. Snowflake outlining and a hefty pinch of flexibility have kept me on track. In previous drafts by this point I’d have written at least 12K unnecessary build up words working myself into the story, and would be realising exactly how unnecessary they were and how much cutting I’d have to do. This time, though, I’m actually approaching the first quarter turning point at roughly the wordcount I wanted to be. So three cheers for trying new outlining methods and remembering that writing is always about learning what works best for you.

This month I’m aiming for a relatively modest 5K added to the draft. If I do more, brilliant. If not, well, I can build on it next month. I am definitely more tortoise than hare, but I can still hope for the same end result…

#amcurrently …

… Doing a few other things that actually have nothing to do with books. I know, what even is this? But I’m determined that this will be the year I don’t neglect the rest of my life, and I want to be a bit more real both here and on my social media about it all.

I’ve so far failed to join a gym (again) but I’m still planning on getting to that. Don’t expect any pre- and post- workout selfies or poses on the running machines, though. I’m joining for the swimming pool and the pilates classes. Don’t I sound grown up? Realities of life with a disability – swimming and aqua aerobics are weight-bearing so my stupid knees don’t end up worse than they started, and yes I was the youngest person in the aqua aerobics class by a good 25 years last time I went. Pilates is doctor’s orders to try and strengthen the core muscles that are currently failing to hold my back in proper fashion. Fun times.

Working towards living plastic-free and zero-waste living has slowed right down, after we knocked out the easy wins last year and are now wading through the sludge of things that are a lot harder and/or more expensive to replace or do without.

three star-shaped cookies next to a stack of books

Children persistently come home from school or birthday parties or Grandma’s with plastic packets of sweets, plastic-wrapped boxes of cakes and biscuits, cheap plastic toys that won’t last two weeks before they too end up in the bin. But I’ve converted all of them (and the husband) into scouring charity shops for secondhand books, toys and clothes so we’re cutting down on our impact and packaging there, and my list of recipes to work through to replace manufactured and mass-packaged food is going pretty well. Homemade yoghurt and granola have been on the menu for a while, homemade soups, biscuits and cakes are just tastier anyway, and May’s big and largely successful experiment was homemade Nutella, after I realised the commercial stuff is packed full of habitat-destroying palm oil.

Related was my plan to have a fruit and veg garden overflowing with delicious plastic-free bounty, but that’s… well, not really happened. Still time to get some summer produce in, but it’s not going to be the amount I was hoping for. At least I can partially blame the awful weather this spring. And there’s always next year, right?

The Big Question

Am I going to have a productive June? Will I slay my TBR, find my groove with Curse and Ghost and spend many happy and productive hours growing salad and swimming laps? Or is my mid-year wrap-up post doomed to become a morass of self-pity and missed opportunities?

Encouragement below please! And share your own mid-year goals and thoughts – do you go big and ambitious or try to stick to something you know you’ll meet? Or are you a seat-of-the-pants take things day by day sort of person (if so, I envy you!)