Thursday, January 19, 2017

2016 Reading Resolution Review and 2017 Reading Resolutions

I love January as there’s loads of bookish posts! So far I’ve had my Top Books of 2016, Book Riot Read Harder Reading Challenge 2016 Review, 2016 Reading Stats (lots of graphs and nerdy maths!) as well as my review for the amazing Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. I still have a few more posted planned and this post is to go through my 2016 Reading Resolutions to see how I got on and to put down some new resolutions for this year.

2016 Resolutions Review

1. Do the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge

This I successfully completed! You can read my wrap up post here where I list out all the books I read for the challenge and my overall thoughts on it.

2. Reduce the Amount of Books I Own

This one wasn’t a great success. Partly because I won some books and partly because I read so many NetGalley books.

3. Read 90 Books

This I completed, I read 129 books. But a lot of these were graphic novels and single short stories. Though even discounting those books I still managed to read 90 books, which surprised me as I thought it would be under 90 so I’m pleased with that.

4. Read more Irish Authors

Yes I did this! I did my all Irish March again (well, minus one book this year towards the end of the month), but while in 2014 I read all Irish authors I hadn’t read before, this year I read a mix of new and favourites. And I continued to read more Irish authors during the year, including reading Donal Ryan for the first time when I read the excellent All We Should Know.

 

So my goals last year were small and realistic enough. And this year they will be similiar.

2017 Reading Resolutions

1. Read 52 Books

So I lowered my goal this year to 52, a book a week. And seeing as I plan to continue reading graphic novels this will be an achievable goal. I lowered it though because I wanted to concentrate more on quality and not quantity. Not that I think I was trying to achieve that last year but I do think the higher goal made me shy away from larger books and books I’d read at a slower rate.

2. Read more non-fiction

Now this is going to be a tricky one in one sense. I already read non-fiction so it’s not much of a challenge but I read less non-fiction last year and I think it’s partly to do with the larger reading goal on Goodreads. I tend to read non-fiction at a slower rate and I think I shied away because it takes me longer to read non-fiction. But I’m not going to force myself to read non-fiction or make it a target I have to meet. I just want to be less hesitant to pick up non-fiction.

3. Lessen the amount of books I own

I need to try pick books off my shelf more often, I have loads that look interesting and need to get excited by them again. Again I’m not going to put a target on it (I want to lower it by X amount or more books out than in) but it’s something I want to be more conscious about it.

4. Read more Irish authors

I’ve seen a lot of people online committing to a British Books Challenge for 2017 and I want to continue supporting local home talent and read Irish authors. I’m going to do an All Irish March again, I think I’ll try and concentrate on new authors for then as well if I can. I have a big list from last year that I didn’t get to try all of so I have plenty of talent and books to try.

5. Book Riot Read Harder 2017 Challenge, Pop Sugar 2017 Challenge and BookTubeAThon

I’ve decided to stick with the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge as my main challenge as I liked the format last year and enjoyed it. I might try and do the Pop Sugar one as well but instead of just one book per prompt I might try and use one boo for 2 or more prompts so I can get through the list faster. I plan on doing BooTubeAThon should it be on again (and I’m sure it will be).

So nothing that do or exciting to be honest but I’m happy with these goals for the year. I want to less pressures to have a high reading count and just enjoy my reading for the year.

Do you have any reading resolutions? Let me know in the comments below!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

2016 Reading Stats

Hello! The past 2 years I’ve taken a look at my reading habits for the years (here’s 2014 stats and 2015 stats). I like seeing the changes from the year before.

Fiction to Non-Fiction Breakdown

Fiction vs nf

So again I read more books than the year before and read more fiction books. The percentage of non-fiction books I’ve read has gone from 35% in 2014, to 29% in 2015 to 20% in 2016. This is something I was aware of and tried to address by doing Non-Fiction November and will be something I’ll try not to shy away from in 2017.

 

Physical Books vs E-Books vs Audiobooks

Pysical vs E-Book vs Audio

So there’s some changes again this year when it comes to the way I read books. For physicals books I went from 51% in 2014 to 56% in 2015 down to 49% in 2016. E-books had seen a drop in 2015 (35% from 2014’s 45%) and in 2016 46% of the books I read were in e-book format. And while I read the same amount of audiobooks in 2015 and 2016 (7 in all), the % dropped down to 5%.

 

Female to Male Authors

female vs male authors

2016 has seen another rise in the amount of female authors I read, even though it’s a very small amount. 60% in 2014, 65% in 2015 and 66% in 2016. It was a bit trickier to measure it this year as I read a lot of books that had more than one author, especially graphic novels. I chose the first or main author credited with the work. It’s not a perfect system, I know, but I don’t think it would have changed things that much doing it another more complicated way.

This year I also saved the Goodreads Stats that the website provided me which was fun!

goodreads 1

goodreads 2

Other fun facts

-My library books (physical and audio for this year, no e-boos) increased this year. 2014 it was 33, last year it was 29 and this year it was a whopping 52!

-My NetGalley books also greatly increased, I read 51 books through NetGalley (2014 it was 14 and 2015 it was 17)

-Out of my own books I read 8 of them, which is pretty bad (I only counted physical books even though I also read e-books and audiobooks that I had purchased.). This was a decrease from 2015’s 17 books and only a slight improvement from 6 books in 2014.

From this I’m going to think about my reading resolutions, I have a few ideas about what I want to concentrate for the upcoming year and I’ll have a post up in next week or so.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi Book Review

homegoing

Homegoing is a rich debut novel that follows the lives of two half sisters: Effia and Esi. Both their lives change in different ways when they reach the Cape Coastal Castle in Ghana. Effia lives upstairs, the wife of a white English governor who's in the slave trading business. Esi is downstairs, in the dungeon, waiting to go to the American South as a slave. The story follows the descendants of each woman, alternating from one of Effia's descendants to one of Esi's, going down through six more generations. Effia's side of the family stay mainly in Ghana, while Esi's side are in America. Both have their successes and struggles, from such issues as slavery in America, colonisation, drug addiction, sexuality, violence, death, doing what's right for you vs what's expected of you.

I'm just blown away by this book. There's a lot of hype surrounding it but it lives up to this hype. For such a short book (compared to the amount of people's stories we read) Yaa Gyasi packs in so much depth and detail. When it comes to multiple perspectives, sometimes the story or character development can suffer but I never found this the case. If there was ever one person's story or an event I wanted more to know more about, usually I found out more when it came to the next descendant's story.Through the generations there's an importance on telling stories and we get to see moments in history and how they impacted that character's life. We see family traits and fears pass through the generations, sometimes without them knowing that they affected the previous generations. This is especially the case when it comes to the themes of fire and water and I loved seeing how this theme crops up with Effia and Esi and with the final generation. And if the sheer number of characters sounds overwhelming (there's 12 perspectives after all!), I didn't think it was confusing and there's a family tree within in the book to help you keep track. With some many of the issues I mentioned above being bleak, this book isn't the happiest at times and it can be a bit tough (I was describing the book to my fiance and he said 'this doesn't sound cheerful at all!') but the book warmed my heart while reading it and has had me thinking about it days after finishing it. Yaa Gyasi's writing is superb and such a delight. I was interested in each character along the way and looked forward to picking up this book every night. Believe the hype, it's well worth picking up!

I received this e-book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I’m not required to post a review on here and all thoughts are my own.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2016 Wrap Up

Hello! So in this post last year I mentioned I wanted to do the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge. In 2015 I did the PopSugar Reading Challenge and only found out about the Book Riot one when 2015 had started. So when the 2016 challenges were both announced, I looked at them both and decided I wanted to try the Book Riot one. I liked that there were less categories (only 24) but some of them did seem to be a step out of my comfort zone which I really liked. Here’s a round up of each book I read for the category in the order I read them in.

book riot 2016 1

Read a non-superhero comic that debuted in the past 3 years- Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson

Read a book of historical fiction set before 1900- The Body at the Tower by Y.S. Lee

Read a non-fiction book about science- Forensics by Val McDermid

Read a book about politics (fiction or non-fiction)- Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell

Read a book under 100 pages- The Robber Bridegroom by the Brothers Grimm

Read a book that is by an author from Southeast Asia- Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai

 

book riot 2016 2

Read a book over 500 pages- It’s Not Me, It’s You by Mhairi McFarlane

Read a non-fiction book about feminism or dealing with feminist themes- I Call Myself a Feminist by Victoria Pepe

Read a middle grade novel- The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth by Katherine Woodfine

Read a collection of essays- Making It Up As I Go Along by Marian Keyes

Read a play- Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel

Read a dystopian novel- Flawed by Cecelia Ahern

 

Book Riot 2016 3

Read a biography- Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA by Brenda Maddox

Read a book by or about a person who identifies as transgender- The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

Read the first book in a series by a person of colour- Death of a Red Heroine by Qiu Xiaolong

Read a book about religion (fiction or non-fiction)- Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik

Read a book that is set in the Middle East- Chicken With Plums by Marjane Satrapi

Read a book that was adapted into a movie and then watch the movie. Debate which is better- Civil War by Mark Millar

 

book riot 2016 4

Read a book originally published thedecade you were born- Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

Read a book with a main character that has a mental illness- When We Collided by Emery Lord

Read a horror book- The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

Listen to an audiobook that has won an Audie Award- Mandela: An Audio History by Desmond Tutu

Read a book out loud to someone- Danny Wallace and the Centre of the Universe by Danny Wallace

Read a food memoir- Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

So a little review on the challenge itself. The first 18 books (so the first 3 lots of pictures) I read from January to June. I raced through the challenge and then it took me another 6 months to finish the last quarter of it. I don’t know why, those challenges weren’t particularly hard. I’m surprised the very last one I managed was the food memoir one, I have loads of the saved on my TBR I’m interested in reading and yet I could never pick one when it came down to it. I do think the audio challenge and the reading out loud ones were the hardest for me and I probably kept putting them out. I had some bad luck with the audio one in the sense that 3 of the audiobooks I had listened to in 2015 were winners and I would have saved one if I had known this challenge was coming up! As for the reading out loud one, I had originally started reading Good Omens to my boyfriend but we only got 10% through as he kept falling asleep! So I picked this out of the library as it’s very short and figured we’d be able to get through it all.

Overall I really enjoyed this challenge. It had the perfect mix of categories that fit with my general reading habits and interests and categories that made me push myself out of my comfort zone. I’ve chosen to do the Book Riot Challenge again this year (it’s a lot more challenging this year!) and I might do the PopSugar one as well but instead of just one book per category, I’ll use one book to fit two or more.

Did you do any reading challenges last year? Have any planned for this year? Let me know in the comments below!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Top Books of 2016

This year I managed to read 129 books. This is partly because I read a lot of graphic novels and shorter texts like short stories and plays. Because of this I’ve decided to split my favourite books into four categories: Fiction, Non-Fiction, Graphic Novels and YA. I just want to point out that I don’t YA fiction in a different category to my fiction because I think it’s ‘lesser’ or anything. In fact it’s because I wanted to highlight it more as I love reading YA and thought it would be interesting to have it’s own category. The graphic novels are a mix of fiction and graphic memoirs (easier to just say graphic novels overall). Also the books are in no particular order when it comes to favouritism, it was hard enough to pick 5 books for each category, let alone put them in order!

Top 5 Fiction Books 2016

fiction 2016

1. All We Shall Know by Donal Ryan. Ok, I know I just said there’s no particular order but this might be my favourite. It’s hard to call! Ryan just writes so beautifully and poetically and not to the determinent to the plot which was great too. Review

2. The Muse by Jessie Burton. Last year The Miniaturist got an honourable mention. I loved The Muse though, Burton is another effortless writer and with lots of little twists and turns you’ll be guessing all the details down to the end. Review

3. The Trespasser by Tana French. All hail Queen Tana! I met here at the Irish Book Awards and was excited to chat to her for a few minutes. The Trespasser is book 6 in the Dublin Murder Squad and follows tough cookie Antoinette Conway. I love how French gets the tone of each character right and how to book has you on tenterhooks waiting to see how everything plays out. Review

4. The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney. Winner of the 2016 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, McInerney shows us several characters on the grittier side of life in Cork, linking together the likes of a big career criminal and his mother, 15 year old drug seller and his abusive alcoholic father, a nosy do gooder, and a drug addicted prostitute. Grim and gritty with a side of humour. Review

5. A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. I loved this book set on a spaceship. There’s some action but in between I loved hearing about the life on board the spaceship and all the different alien species. It was heartwarming and fun and I also enjoyed A Closed and Common Orbit, set in the same world with some of the minor characters from the first book. Review

Honourable mentions to Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent, The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon, Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik, Poison City by Paul Crilley and the Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger

 

Top 5 Non-Fiction Books 2016

2016 nf

1. Grunt by Mary Roach. I adore Mary Roach books and this one we get to hear the science behind the army and war. Review

2. Animal by Sara Pascoe. I read a lot of feminist non-fiction this year and this was probably my favourite. It’s not perfect and lacks intersectionality (something Sara is aware of and addresses) but it made me laugh out loud and got me thinking. Review

3. Forensics by Val McDermid. Fascinating insight to the different fields of study in forensics, without being too heavy and highlights postitives and negetives of each study. Review

4. Mandela: An Audio History by Desmond Tutu. This is short, just over an hour long but packed full of information, interviews and news clips. Almost brought me to tears on the train while listening to it. Review

5. The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell. The author moves to Denmark for a year and spends that time researching what makes the country the happiest place in the world, while trying to navigate the new culture and language. Review

 

Top YA Books 2016

YA 2016

1. The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson. David has a secret to tell his family: that he’s actually a girl. Leo is new in school and wants to stay hidden. Together they help each other deal with friends, family, bullies and being oneself. Review

2. When We Collided by Emery Lord. Vivi is a whirlwind that arrives in town one summer and instantly falls for Jonah and his family. Jonah and Vivi are polar opposites but he helps her with her bipolar condition and she helps him with his grief of losing his father. Review

3. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Another one set on a spaceship, this follows Kady and Erza, a couple who have just split up the day a big corporation attacks their planet. They end up on different escape ships and this book is a series of documents, interviews, diary entries and IMs as the two try to work out what’s happening in their lives. Review

4. One by Sarah Crossan. Told in free verse form, One is the story of conjoined twins Tippy and Grace who go to school for the first time when they turn 16. Beautiful and unique. Review

5. The Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton. Gritty and determined Amani enters a shooting competition dressed as a boy so she can win money and leave town. I loved the western vibe of this book as well as the magical realism elements. Review

 

Top Graphic Novels 2016

graphic 2016

1. Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson. 5 kick ass girls at a summer camp who get into all sorts of mysteries and fun. Love the characters and their friendships together. Review

2. Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton. Part historical humour, part modern day observations, this book had me chuckling outloud several times. Review

3. Ms Marvel by G Willow Wilson. Kamala Khan, an ordinary Muslim schoolgirl in New Jersey, suddenly has superpowers and must learn to balance all aspects of her life. Cameo of a well known Marvel character in Volume 2 had me squealing! Review

4. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang. 3 different stories that eventually come together (which I LOVED) and deals with racism and acceptance. Review

5. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. Fantastic space opera that is full of violence, bad language and sex. I read the first 5 volumes back to back! Review

Honourable mentions Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan, Jane, the Fox and Me by Fanny Britt, Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol and Blankets by Craig Thompson.

 

And that’s my 2016 books! If you’ve read any of the books above or have any questions please leave a comment below

Saturday, January 7, 2017

December Reads 2016

Hello and Happy New Year to you! I’m a bit late saying that and with this post but I was away over New Year’s and didn’t want to put up my reading post as there was one book that I was hoping to finish by the end of the year but wasn’t sure if I had the chance (spoiler alert: I finished it). Reading in December wasn’t great, I was sick again and then there was the rush before Christmas. But I did well enough. Onwards to the reads!

December Reads

Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

christmas-at-little-beach-street-bakery

This is book three in the series which follows Polly and her life running a bakery in the little Cornish village of Polbearne, along with boyfriend Huckle and puffin Neil. Polly’s best friend Kerensa is married to Huckle’s best friend Rueben, who is a very rich loud man. He asks Polly to cater for his family when they are visiting for Christmas. This puts a lot on Polly’s plate, along with wanting to save puffin sanctuary, trying to keep Kersena’s big secret and worrying about her own relationship. On top of that a big mystery from Polly’s background comes to the foreground. I felt like this book tried to pack too much in, there was enough drama to fit into two books (but I think Colgan plans to finish this series at this book so that’s probably why everything was crammed in). This tends to add to a feeling of anxiety and when you’re reading a Christmas book, you want it to be more feel good than worrying. If it had cut out one or two of the story lines, it would have been a much more enjoyable read. I did like it but I was a bit let down considering how much a preferred the other books in the series. You could probably pick this up as a Christmas read with the other two books but I usually find it’s better to have the whole story. [NetGalley]

 

Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

julie-and-julia

I had one more book left for the Book Riot Read Harder challenge and surpringly enough it was the food memoir one. I picked up the audio version of this and listened to it while knitting Christmas presents. Most people are familiar with the story (due to the film) but if you’re not this memoir is from Julie Powell, a government secretary living in Queens who is bored and decides to take on the challenge of cooking all of the recipes from Julia Child’s book Mastering the Art of French Cooking. We follow Julie for a year of her trying to complete all 524 recipes in the book. Fair warning, this doesn’t really centre much around the food. So of course it’s mentioned and it is a big part, but it’s not done in the timeline how she did everything in the actual year. Instead we anecdotes and memories that are told and then the cooking is tied in to this. We don’t hear a lot about how to food was cooked or how learning the skills helped her, which is fine once you know that’s what you’re going in to. It can be a bit repetitive at times and the language can be quite vulgar (it didn’t bother me) but I didn’t find it as bad as a lot of other people did. That said, I won’t be rushing to pick up her other book.

 

Hygge: A Celebration of Simple Pleasures. Living the Danish Way by Charlotte Abrahams

hygge charlotte abrahams

I showed this book in a haul post and it is a beautiful book! So pretty and feels lovely to hold. Hygge (hoo-gah) is a Danish word and it roughly translates into ‘cosiness’. If you haven’t heard of this concept then you must be living under a rock because it’s all over the place! Hygge is about staying in, with warm blankets, candles, good food, good wine and great company. Denmark is often said to be the happiest place to live and hygge is said to play a big part of this.

This book is a lot more than a simple ‘how to hygge’ book. It’s a mixture of the history of hygge and it’s role in Danish society, a memoir of Charlotte’s life and then how she tried to incorporate more hygge practices in her life. I must admit I found it a bit heavy to read at times. The section of Danish furniture design was a bit too much for me and I was disappointed the food part had no recipes. But I think this book is perfect if you want a big more in depth explantion of the Danes and their lifestyle. And I liked the section at the end ‘How to Hygge: The Soul’ with some tips about making yourself happy (like taking a bath or going for a walk) or embracing the simple things (drink from a nice mug or pick some pretty flowers). If you’re someone who’s heard a lot about hygge but want a more in depth read about history and culture around it, then this book is for you [Requested a copy from publisher, Trapeze Books]

 

The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

the year of living danishly

So I actually started to listen to this in September and after reading the above Hygge book, I felt compelled to finish it. Helen is an overworked, stressed journalist who moves to rural Jutland after her husband is offered a chance to work for Lego for a year. We discover a lot about Denmark and Danish culture such as their love for rules and traditions, the fact everyone loves to be part of clubs and societies, how important hygge is and other things like work ethic, education, childrearing and taxes. It was an interesting read, I enjoy finding out about other countries and I liked how this tied into Charlotte Abraham’s Hygge book too. With hygge being such a big concept this year, it’s nice to have a memoir like to explain this concept but also oter aspects of Danish life. And I enjoyed listening to it too, it was an easy listen.

 

Winter by Marissa Meyer

winter marissa meyer

This book 4 in the Lunar Chronicles, the conclusion to the story. Like the other books it centres roughly around a fairytale and the main character in this is Winter, the step daughter to the evil Queen Levana. Winter is beautiful but because she refuses to use her Lunar glamour gift, she suffers from hallucinations. Though Winter isn’t as weak as her stepmother might think. I won’t say much else about this book as it might ruin some other things but I did like it. The Lunar Chronicles has an interesting world, part sci-fi futuristic with cyborgs and living on the Moon, part dystopian. Even though the book came out last year it took me a while to pick it up for some reason, I was actually really interested in finishing the series but wasn’t inspired to pick up this book. Overall though I did like it as an ending to the Lunar Chronicles and look forward to first of all picking up the short story that follows and then trying out Meyer’s new book called Heartless which centres around a young Queen of Hearts.

December Stats

Number of Books Read- 5

Ratio fiction to non-fiction- 2:3

Number of eBooks- 1 (Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery)

Number of Audiobooks- 2 (Julie and Julia and The Year of Living Danishly)

Number of Books Borrowed from Library- 2 (Julie and Julia and Winter)

 

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge Completed

Read a Food Memoir- Julie and Julia

And that’s 2016! I have several posts to come in the next few weeks including my Book Riot Read Harder Wrap Up, My 2016 Reading Stats, 2016 Resolutions Review and 2017 Resolutions, and 2017 Book Releases to name a few. I’ve started gathering some of the information for my stats post which is great, I love making the graphs and seeing how things measure out compared to other years. For this month however, I was pleased I managed to read some more non-fiction and very happy I managed to finish Winter before 2017! I have some more books I’m in the middle of reading that I’ll carry over but it was good to have that one finished.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

PS Nail Polish in Burnt Orange

Hello! Happy New Year's Eve everyone. I should probably be posting a more sparkly New Year's Eve nail look but I'm currently in London and I wanted to continue showing some of the polishes I showed in the December Nail Polish Haul post. So far I've showed the Essence Little X-Mas Factory polishes, the Barry M 2016 A/W Superdrug Exclusives, the Essence Colour of the Year in Jeans On! and the Barry M Jingle Bells polish. Phew! Not bad for someone who is usually dreadful at showing the polishes after I've done a haul post. Today's nails are the PS Nail Polish in Burnt Orange.

I have a few PS Nail Polishes but haven't used them a lot. They are usually good though for picking up on trend colours and when I saw Burnt Orange I had to have it! Yes, it's more of an autumn colour, the reason it drew my attention is because it reminded me of Essie's Playing Koi, as well as giving me the same kind of vibes as Essence's Colour of the Year My Love Diary. While I haven't got my hands on Playing Koi to compare them, I don't think they're going to be a dupe, but close enough.

Primark Penneys PS Nail Polish in Burnt Orange

I probably won't be turning to this much now that autumn is over but it'll always be there for next year. Speaking of, I hope you have a great New Year's Eve and a Happy New Year to you!

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