Tuesday, January 15, 2019

2018 Book Stats

I love looking at how my reading habits over the years change. I know I planned to do this last year, I remember writing everything out and getting it all together. Only I didn’t write the blog post. But I’ll use the stats here so yay!

Fiction vs Non-Fiction Books


27% of the books I read last year were non-fiction (and a lot of those were read during Nonfiction November tbh). I don’t know what I expected this to look like but I am pleased. Since 2014 my non-fiction book reading has been dropping (35% in 2014, 29% 2015, 20% 2016 and a shockingly poor 12% in 2017) so it’s nice to see it rise again! I think Nonfiction November really helped, looking back on when I first tried it in 2016 it worked then too (about half the non-fiction books I read that year were read in November and December!)

Physical Books vs E-Books vs Audio Books

graph (2)

As per 2014-2017, physical books are the main type of books I read. 2018 55% of the books I read last year were physical books. Over 50% of the books I’ve read 2014-2018 are physical books (except for 2016 when it was 49%). 2017 and 2018 saw decreases in e-books (46% in 2016 to 38% to 27%), probably because my audiobook usage increased from 5% in 2016 and 2017 to 18% in 2018! Its interesting to see that this increase in audiobooks has taken away from e-books but not the physical books I read.

Book Sources

graph (3)

I thought it would be interesting to see where I get my books, especially because I want to try tackle more of the books that I own. 39% of the books I read last year were books that I had purchased (be it physical books, e-books or audiobooks), compared to 40% from the library (physical books, e-books and audiobooks) and 21% Advanced Read Copies (I think all but one last year were e-books). I only have 2017 stats for this to compare to but in 2017 20% of the books I read were my own books, compared to 50% and 30% for library and ARCs respectively. So I’m pleased with that!

I didn’t really bother looking at looking at female vs male writers like I’ve done in the past. I know it’s still majority female and I can’t see it changing much this either.

I like that Goodreads gives you a snazzy graphic to breakdown your reading!

2018 books

2018 part 2

Average rating of 3.5 seems about right to me, there were some books I didn’t really enjoy much and being in a reading slump didn’t seem to make it any better.

Other fun facts

-I marked 4 books as DNF (Did Not Finish) on Goodreads, two which I had started in 2017 and didn’t finish.

-13 of the audiobooks I listened to were from Audible. 6661 minutes on their app! With November being the month I mostly used it (makes sense I was doing Non-Fiction November then)

-2018 is the first year I haven’t done BookTubeAThon since it started in 2013. I just wasn’t feeling the challenges this year, it felt a bit lacklustre challenge wise but I might join this year depending on the challenges or just to join in on Instagram and Twitter.

-Two themed months: Irish authors in March (4th time doing it since 2014) and Non-Fiction November (2nd time doing it). Both of which I’ll most likely do this year. I might also look into other themed weeks or months like Women in Translation or #OwnVoices October.

-Yearly reading challenge was Book Riot Read Harder challenge which I completed. You can check out the results in this post here.

Maybe this doesn’t interest anyone else but I like stats and numbers and seeing where things can be improved. The main thing I want to improve on in 2019 is reading more non-fiction and reading more of the books that I own (mainly so I can buy more!)

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Paperback Crush by Gabrielle Moss Book Review

Paperback Crush: The Totally Radical History of '80s and '90s Teen Fiction by Gabrielle Moss book coverAs a tween and teenager, I devoured Sweet Valley and Baby-Sitters Club books. I just couldn't get enough! I was constantly at my library and I remember being very jealous a friend of mine got one of the Unicorn Club books out of the library before I had checked it out. I still love Sweet Valley stuff, I recently bought copies of Elizabeth and Jessica's Secret Diaries and the Double Love podcast is one of my favourites. So when I discovered Paperback Crush, I felt that same excitement I felt when seeing new Sweet Valley books: I just couldn't wait to get my hands on it!

Paperback Crush was an interesting look at 80s and 90s teen fiction, with some mentions to YA in the decades before then and how cultural changes in the 80s changed YA novels from that time. It is packed with nostalgia, full of series and covers of books popular from that time. As someone born in the late 80s, I wasn't familiar with a lot of the series but it was still fun to see the covers and learn about them. I was mainly familiar with Sweet Valley books, BSC, Point Horror and Fear Street but this book reminded me of the Anastasia Krupnik series by Lois Lowry (yes, she of The Giver fame!), I remember reading some of the Anastasia series. And THANK YOU for reminding me of those Isla Fisher books! Completely forgot they existed.

Favourite parts

-Nostalgia through the roof
-Seeing some of the ridiculous covers and laughing at them
-Interviews with authors, cover models, ghost writers
-The design is perfect, beautiful and I liked how the book was split into different chapters like Love, Friendship, Jobs etc
-Calls out the lack of diversity in these novels, how they often centred around white, rich middle class kids
-A list at the end for the publisher and cover art designer for each cover shown in the book. Which was great as I couldn't BELIEVE how similar the Dream Girls series by Rosemary Joyce looked compared to Sweet Valley ones, only to discover they were both done by the same artist James Mathewuse.

Sweet Valley High Jealous Lies, Dream Girls Anything to Win, Sweet Valley High Miss Teen Sweet Valley book covers

Jealous Lies was published first, then Anything to Win (both 1986). Miss Teen Sweet Valley  was in 1991, which looks like it in turn was influenced by Anything to Win. They have the same font Full circle!


-The books tries to balance between looking critically at these books and being snarky and funny and made it fall flat in places. I think I would have preferred it to poke fun more at how ridiculous these books could be.
-I felt it ended abruptly, there was no conclusion or wrap up. Once the Terror chapter ended, that was it, except for a list of Extra Reading and the credits cover art used in the book.
-At one point the All That Glitter series by Kristi Andrews is mentioned 'All That Glitters …. eponymous six book series' yet the cover shown on that page is for Award Night, which is book 8 (and you can clearly see it on the cover). My copy is an ARC from NetGalley so I thought it might be corrected, but a friend sent me a picture of her finished copy and it also says 6. It makes me wonder if there are other slips like that

If you grew up reading these books or want to know about the trends and history of YA books in the 80s and 90s, this is a good place to start. If you want something snarkier, there's plenty of blogs and podcasts that will have you covered.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

2019 Aims

It’s 2019! It’s been a while since I’ve done a New Year’s Resolutions post but there are some things that I want to improve on. Not so much resolutions, I looked at the meaning for that and it’s something you absolutely intend to do or not do. I don’t like the sound of that, it’s too firm and rigid for me. So I’m calling them aims, something I have the intention of achieving. At the moment I just want to put down my intentions, I’ll work on setting goals to help me get there. And I’ll assess these things as I go along, something that’s important now might not be in a few months time, things change, people change. But for now these are the things I have in mind.

1. Reading

I have in the past done Reading Resolutions posts but for now I’ll just keep it to this post. I want continue doing the Book Riot Read Harder challenge, reduce the amount of books I own that I haven’t read and read a big book, preferably a Russian classic.

2. Creativity

I own a lot of cooking, baking and crafting books, as well as using Pinterest and Ravelry to save things I’m interested in. So I want to make at least one thing from each of my books, as well as some Pinterest and Ravelry items. I own a lot of craft supplies too, I get swept up in wanting to try things but then once I have the supplies I get scared to use them in case I mess things up and ‘waste’ the supplies. Essentially I need to work on my fears that it’s ok for something not to be 100% perfect.

3. Small Changes

The title of this is a bit vague but I saw something recently on Instagram about small changes when it comes to being eco. I want to incorporate that with buying less stuff, clearing out my home and using up things I have. Choosing the item with less packaging, not buying that cheap t-shirt, bringing a reusable cup when I get coffee, supporting more indie shops and businesses in person and online, eating more vegetarian meals. Just being a bit more aware of how I impact the world around me.

4. Planning for the future

Specifically money and health wise. But also jobs, travel plans, being more vocal on issues that are important to me etc. I know this is vague but I guess while the previous point was about how I impact the world, this one is to be more aware of how my actions now impact my future and the person I want to become.

So that’s it for now. Like I said, I’ll work on setting goals for these things, I might do a post on that or I might just get a notebook. Happy New Year and may 2019 bring great things for us all!

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2018 Results

I missed doing all my usual wrap up posts last year, I had great intentions to do them but work was busy and then I felt a bit silly posting those type of posts in May. They felt more like January and February posts. So I’m hoping to get a start on them now and get them up in the next month or two.

This was my 3rd year doing the Read Harder challenge and I’ve noticed a pattern. I get hyped about it when it’s announced, put together a list with potential reads for each challenge, read about half of them in the first 4-5 months, forget about it for a few months then rush to finish all the challenges I’ve been putting off. This year was no different. But I still succeeded!


1. Read a book published posthumously- Ariel by Sylvia Plath

A collection of poetry, which I mostly enjoyed.

2. A book of true crime- The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale

A true life whodunnit, a murder is committed in Victorian England in a locked house. Was it a stranger or an inside job?

3. A classic of genre fiction- The Murder of at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

The first Miss Marple book from the Queen of Crime herself, Agatha Christie. Really enjoyed this and want to read more from her.

4. A comic written and drawn by the same person- Ghost World by Daniel Clowes

Slightly strange graphic novel that I mostly enjoyed but I was a tad bit baffled at times.


5. A book set in or about one of the five BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China or South Africa)- Riot Days by Maria Alyokhina

Written by one of the Pussy Riot members, it tells the tale of their rise to fame and her subsequent jailing. The book was written in a style of a stream of consciousness which didn’t translate well to my e-book copy, I think I would have preferred it as a physical book. But it was still a fascinating read.

6. A book about nature- H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

Following the death of her father, Helen buys a hawk and attempts to train it. Not exactly what I thought it would be at times but I did like it and it was beautifully written.

7. A western- Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

I struggled with choosing something for this and went with a YA book as it would be shorter and easier to read. Lots of fun and I loved the characters, there’s a follow up companion novel that I might pick up if I want to return to this world.

8. A comic written or drawn by a person of color- Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley

Didn’t love it as much as Scott Pilgrim series but I still liked it.


9. A book of colonial or post-colonial literature- The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Covers being both colonial and post-colonial.

10. A romance by or about a person of color- The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

I saw this recommended by squibblesreads and it was a light enjoyable romantic story set mostly in San Francisco.

11. A children’s classic published before 1980- The Twins at St. Clare’s by Enid Blyton

I loved this series as a child (as well as the Mallory Towers series) so thought it would be fun to reread the first book.

12. A celebrity memoir- Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson

I loved this, I highly recommend the audio version as Mara narrates it herself.


13. An Oprah Book Club selection- The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

14. A book of social science- Dent’s Modern Tribes by Susie Dent

Probably the loosest choice for any of the categories, there were other books that suited the social science element better but it does work! A look at the lingo used by  particular to groups within society; from bird watchers and bin men to doctors and politicians.

15. A one sitting book- Dear Ijeawele by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This is a letter Chimamanda wrote to her friend when she had a baby, with suggestions on how to raise your child to be a feminist. Lots of interesting points and a super short read.

16. The first book in a new-to-you YA or middle grade series- Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertelli

I wasn’t sure if ‘new-to-you’ meant a series that I only discovered in 2018 or one I hadn’t read before. I took it to be the latter. I enjoyed this, I think I would have preferred to have physically read it instead of as an audio book as the emails being read out was annoying but it was cute and I liked the film.


17. A sci-fi novel by a female author with a female protagonist- Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

This novella (is that cheating? I don’t think so!) came recommended by booksandpieces.

18. A comic that isn’t published by Marvel, DC or Image- Archie Volume 1 by Mark Waid and Fiona Staples

I chose this reboot of the Archie comics as I enjoyed watching the Riverdale series on Netflix.

19. A book of genre fiction in translation- The Little Breton Bistro by Nina George

A romantic novel translated from German. I mentioned this is my Women in Translation post earlier this year.

20. A book with a cover you hate- Almost Love by Louise O’Neill

In general I hate people on covers and this is no exception. The book was a let down too.


21. A mystery by a person of color or LGBTQ+ author- Rivals in the City by Y.S. Lee

The final book in the YA The Agency series about a teenage spy in Victorian times. Thoroughly enjoyed the series

22. An essay anthology- Feminist Don’t Wear Pink curated by Scarlett Curtis

Probably not a proper essay anthology, I saw a lot of different explanations for what it meant and I decided this counted.

23. A book with a female protagonist over the age of 60- Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon

I did enjoy it while reading it but not as much as Joanna’s first book The Trouble With Goats and Sheep.

24. An assigned book you hated (or never finished)- The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

So if you were observant you’d have noticed that The Poisonwood Bible is there 3 times. Now usually I only use one book per challenge. The hardest challenge this year was the final one, an assigned book you hated or never finished. I finished all the books assigned to me in school and liked them all. So I decided I’d find another book that was on our reading list the year I did my exams and I’d read that.

I started reading The Poisonwood Bible for the Oprah or colonial challenge. When I started it, I hadn’t decided which one it would be for. My plan was to finish it and then pick which challenge it was for based on what I wanted to read next. But as I was sick in December, by the time I finished it I didn’t have the energy to read another book for the challenge so I decided it would work for both those challenges. And seeing as it also fit for the assigned book one, I decided if it worked for two it would work for three! I would have preferred a separate book for each challenge, as I had done for the previous 2 years. But there’s no real or ‘proper’ way to do the Read Harder challenge and it’s still completed and that’s all that really matters!

Does the Read Harder challenge encourage me to read harder? Yes, I think it does. I picked up a western, maybe not one of the classics of the genre but it was something new for me. I finally read The Poisonwood Bible, I think it was one of the very first books I marked to read when I joined Goodreads. Looking up books for the challenge helps me find new things that I’m interested in reading too. However I do think it stifles me a bit, I can find a lot of books already on my TBR that fit into categories but sometimes there isn’t a book and I need to hype myself up to read something I hadn’t heard of before. I find that having to plan in these books to read brings down the spontaneity of just being able to pick at random what I want to read next. That being said, I plan on doing the 2019 Read Harder Challenge and have already started my lists. Let’s up it doesn’t all come to a rush next October/November to get it all finished!

Monday, November 19, 2018

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart TurtonThe Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle opens with the narrator waking up in the forest, covered in blood, in a different body and no idea what is going on. He makes it front door of a large country house and from there he discovers that's he's Aiden Bishop and that he has 8 chances to stop the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle. Each day he will wake in a different host body and have the chance to relive the day and hopefully stop the murder. He has some advantages (he remembers his memories from the previous days and which host he is so he can set up and change scenarios) and disadvantages (He's hindered by his hosts' physical attributes, like being overweight or old as well as the hosts' personalities like their temper or impulsivity). Plus there's other obstacles in his way to further complicate things. Can he solve the puzzle on time? And what will happen if he doesn't?

I loved this book! It sucked me right in. It's like Gosford Park and Agatha Christie meets Inception and Groundhog Day. A murder mystery with a twist. It was really atmospheric and descriptive, I loved finding out who the new hosts were and was constantly guessing what was going on and how things would work out. Of course I wasn't anywhere close to getting it right! Complex and thrilling, I'll definitely reach for it again in the future to reread as I’d love to see if there’s anything new I pick up on.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Autumnal Jelly Nail Look

Years ago I saw a nail look on Pinterest and wanted to try it. If you look for nail looks on Pinterest then you’ve probably come across it. It’s with an orange jelly polish with leaves stamped in between layers. It took a while for me to source out the original link but I think it was from SaltyStyle Nails. I tried to recreate it last year stamping but I’m rubbish at it. I also tried punching out leaf shapes from strips of dried nail polish but it was a mess.

This year I decided to try again but this time with nail stickers from Ali Express! I’m happy with how it turned out, it’s not the same as the original but it’s still pretty.

Autumnal Jelly Sandwich Nail Polish look Orange jelly Maybelline Edgy Tangy with leaf nail stickers

Autumnal Jelly Sandwich Nail Polish look Orange jelly Maybelline Edgy Tangy with leaf nail stickers

The polish I used was Maybelline Color Show in Edgy Tangy, with the nail stickers between layers of polish. I’ll definitely try it again next year, I think it’ll be a staple autumn look for me every year.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Nonfiction November 2018

I like reading nonfiction but sometimes I’m a bit slower at reading it and that makes me hesitant at picking it up. Two years ago I did Nonfiction November and I found it did help me reach for nonfiction books more so when I saw this year’s video by abookolive on my YouTube sidebar, I decided to watch it and it inspired me to take part. Especially as I’m hoping knock out a few of my remaining Book Riot Read Harder 2018 challenges (as per usual, I’m slacking on that!)

The aim of Nonfiction November is just to get people reading nonfiction, even if it’s just one book. But there’s also 4 challenges that you can try complete, for you to interpreter whatever you want.

1. Past time/ Pastime

2. Self/Shelf

3. Wander/Wonder

4. Micro/Macro

Here are my picks for each challenge

1. Past time/ Pastime

lily allen my thoughts exactly book coverI know past time is probably more to do with history but I decided to pick My Thoughts Exactly by Lily Allen which I guess you could twist to say it’s about her life and anything to do with memoirs is technically past time. If that’s too much of a reach, then one of my pastimes is listening to music and I loved Lily Allen’s first album Alright, Still when it came out, it was the soundtrack to my summer in 2006. I got the book on Audible as I thought it would be interesting to listen to Lily narrate it.

2. Self/Shelf

feminists don't wear pink and other lies scarlett curtis book coverA relatively new addition to my shelf, as I only got it last month, but I thought Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and Other Lies curated by Scarlett Curtis would be a good pick for this challenge as I do consider myself a feminist. And it’ll help me finish the complete the Read an Essay Anthology challenge for Read Harder.

3. Wander/Wonder

H is for h is for hawk helen macdonald book coverHawk by Helen Macdonald was one of my choices for the previous Nonfiction November but I never got around to it then. I’m hoping I will this year, especially as I need to Read a Book about Nature for Read Harder.

4. Micro/Macro

dent's modern tribes the secret languages of Britain by Susie Dent book coverDent’s Modern Tribes by Susie Dent is all about slang used by different professions and groups and I thought it fit in with a micro as it focuses on smaller groups of people. It will also help me complete the Read Harder challenge of Read a Book on Social Science.

I’m also currently listening to the latest book by No Such Thing as Fish called The Book of the Year 2018 and I’m reading Timekeepers by Simon Garfield. There’s a new Simon Garfield book out called In Miniature which would be perfect for the Micro/Macro challenge but I didn’t want to start a new Garfield book without finished the current one! I think the books suit the challenges well, they might even fit some of the other challenges as well (H is for Hawk could be in Pastime as it’s about falconry and Lily Allen’s book could be in wonder about a celebrities life). I’m not sure I’ll get to read them all in November but if not I’ll continue into December to get them finished.

If you have any nonfiction recommendations let me know below in the comments or on Twitter.

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