Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Cruel Acts by Jane Casey Book Review

Leo Stone was convicted a year ago of murdering 2 women and sentenced to life with no chance of parole. However his original trial is deemed a mistrial as it comes to light the jury, against advice, looked up Stone's previous criminal convictions and clouded their judgement. Stone is released and it's up to Detective Maeve Kerrigan and her colleagues to reexamine the evidence for a pending retrial. There is also a potential 3rd victim, who's body was never recovered and was only linked to Stone in a dubious manner which Maeve is determined to investigate more thoroughly.

I read the first chapter as a sample on another website and couldn't wait to get my hands on this. I was hooked from the word go! I love Casey's writing, about midway through the novel I thought I had it all figured out perfectly but there were more layers and surprises to go. Everything feels right, there doesn't seem to be shocks or twists just for the sake of them which I find happens sometimes with this genre. I enjoy Maeve and Josh Derwent's relationship most of the time, it's interesting and there's a chemistry there that is laced with love and hate. It shows how easy it is to trust someone's instincts or respect their work manner but at the same time be absolutely driven mad by them! I do wish we saw a bit more of Maeve's personal life. I know work is pretty much her life in some sense but I think Maeve could do with loosening up a bit. That said, it's a cracker of a book and I'm already looking forward to book 9!

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Recipes for a Nervous Breakdown by Sophie White Book Review

Recipes for a Nervous Breakdown by Sophie White book cover
I'll admit, my Irish Authors Month in March did not go well. At all. I finished two books in March, with only one of them being Irish (Things in Jars by Jess Kidd). Nothing from the TBR took my fancy. And then I remembered this book. I was at the Irish Book Awards when it was nominated in 2016. And Chloe from NurseFancyPants rated it highly too so I decided to get it from the library in a bid to break my reading slump.

Part memoir, part cookbook, Recipes for a Nervous Breakdown is a searingly honest account of Sophie White's experiences with mental health, her tempestuous relationship with her mother, the devastation of her father being diagnosed with early onset dementia, marriage and motherhood. It genuinely made me laugh, cry and ponder on events in my own life.

We also learn about how Sophie came to train as a cook and each chapter has recipes inspired by the subject of that chapter. I loved this format! For example when it came to the recipes for the chapter on her relationship with her husband, Sophie says she could have picked more traditionally romantic foods but instead chose curries as it sums them up better and honestly, I felt that. I've already earmarked a few recipes I want to try out. The photography in the book is beautiful too which is a bonus. A well balanced book.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Things in Jars by Jess Kidd Book Review

Things in Jars in Kidd's 3rd novel. Set primarily in 1863 Victorian London, we follow Bridie Devine, flame haired detective living with her 7ft tall housekeeper Cora. Bridie is still recovering from her last case so she's surprised when she's approached to find Christabel Berwick. But Christabel is no ordinary child, she has teeth like a pike, a burning bite, attracts snails and newts and can pull the deepest of memories out of your mind. Throughout this mysterious case, Bridie is accompanied by the ghost of of a tattooed pugilist Ruby Doyle. Bridie and Doyle takes us around London trying to find Christabel and to discover who and what Christabel is.

This is my first Kidd book and at first I wasn't sure what to expect. There is such whimsy and fun in the writing at times but not too much that it was overly try hard. Once I got used to the flow and bounce of the prose I really enjoyed it. Kidd conjures up Victoria London so well, the sights, sounds and smells of city leap off the page. I loved Bridie. Smart, feisty, complex and quirky without feeling like a stereotype. We learn of Bridie's past too, how she came to possess the knowledge and skill of surgery that would see her working in the medical profession if she wasn't a woman. While there's plenty of fun in the book, Kidd also does an excellent job with the villains in this, the fear was palpable at times.

As someone who enjoys books set in the Victorian times, especially with a female protagonist, it's up there with my favourites. The supernatural, mythical element added something new and fresh. I'd love to see these characters again for another book! Charming, strange but beautiful.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid Book Review

Daisy Jones and The Six tells the history of the rise and fall of legendary 70s rock band. The book's format is very unique, transcribed as oral history from the band's members and other people in their lives such as family, manager and their sound editor to name a few. We hear how The Six formed, Daisy Jones's history, how she came to collaborate with them and how it all came crashing down so suddenly.

This story is the epitome of sex, drugs and rock n roll. The descriptions are so rich and delicious, from the fashion choices (denim on denim for Billy, the long luscious locks for the Daisy along with all her bangles and big hoop earrings) to the simmering and sometimes explosive tensions between band members. There's one scene where they are shooting their album cover and it's clear that the photographer is focusing on Billy and Daisy and while the other band members hate it, there's nothing they can do about it. It reminded me of the Don't Speak by No Doubt music video. Though let's be real, while reading this there's only one band on your mind, Fleetwood Mac. It's so evocative of their story, Jenkins Reid takes elements of it and makes it her own. I liked that there were layers in the band's story. Going in I thought it might be one dimensional but so much is touched on, who despised who, those that had more of a love/hate relationship, who was there for the good times, who loved who. You go in thinking that the downfall of the group is going to be one thing but see that it's a combination of different personal relationships as well as individual demon's that causes the implosion.

The writing style is done where the people are interviewed individually and then the story is told in chronological order. I liked the nuances where one person recounted an event one way only for the next line to be a different character relating it a different way. The only problem I had with this  format is that it would have been cool to have the individual interviews but also have sections where two or more people were interviewed together so you could see more of a discussion between them about the events. It would have added a nice extra layer, to see the characters interact with each other some bit rather than to just hear how they had previously interacted. I also thought the climax would have a much bigger impact, possibly because I was expecting something like The Seven Husband's of Evelyn Hugo so I was a bit disappointed by that. However this book still has me super excited about a number of things

1) the audio book has multiple narrators, one for each character, which I think sounds like such a fun way to consume this book, like an audio documentary. I might listen to it again once it's released.

2) It's being made into a TV series because Reese Witherspoon loved the book so much and if done correctly it'll be such a visual treat

3) The end of the book has song lyrics and if they can nail the Fleetwood Mac vibes then it'll be incredible

4) There's a Spotify playlist to go along with this book which I just love the idea of. On the Come Up by Angie Thomas has a playlist too and I think these touches for books, especially books with music at the centre of the story, is such a cool

You know you've read a good historical fiction book when you want to know everything about what you've just read. Reading this book will make you want Daisy Jones and the Six to be real. You'll want to know everything about them. Unfortunately as they're not real you'll have to do what I'm doing now, Googling 60s Sunset Strip, 70s fashion, delving into the history of Fleetwood Mac while listening to the Rumours album, waiting for the TV show to be released.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

March 2019 Irish Authors TBR

After the incredible 3 month long January and 4 hour feeling Februrary, we're finally in March. And I love to read Irish authors in March. Why this month? Probably because of St. Patrick's Day to be honest. And I like that we're now into the 3rd month of the year and it's a good time to have a themed or set reading month. With all the excitement of new releases and reading challenges with the new year starting, there's no way I'd be able to focus on a themed month in January or February.

I started reading only Irish authors back in March 2014 and since then I pretty much only read Irish authors. Every now and again towards the end of the month I might pick up something else and I like not being too tied down to the theme. I've mainly tried to stick to people born in Ireland but I think after this year I'll start branching out to people of Irish descent too. I have some books I own that I want to try read, I might not get around to all of them but thought I'd put together a TBR list for this month for some of the choices I'll probably pick up. Let's start with the physical books.

Stack of four books. The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir by Lesley Allen, We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan, Beatlebone by Kevin Barry, Solar Bones by Mike McCormack

I own a nice stack of books by Irish authors but these are the ones I think I'll try focus on this month.

1. The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir by Lesley Allen. I got this free when I went to the Irish Book Awards in 2016. I don't know much about it, the book starts off with the main character Biddy ringing in to a TV show on the subject of bullying and she tells her story.

2. We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan. I couldn't tell you what this book is about without having to look it up first. To be honest I don't even know if I looked at what it was about when I bought it! I probably picked it up as I've enjoyed Sarah Crossan's other books One and Moonrise. That and it was a good price.

3. Beatlebone by Kevin Barry. I've read Dark Lies the Island the author, a collection of short stories that were haunting at times. Beatlebone is a fictionalised account set in 1978 of John Lennon going to the island he bought off west coast of Ireland. 

4. Solar Bones by Mike McCormack. Most of the people I follow on Goodreads have said not to read the blurb when it comes to this book which is what I've done. I bought this in 2017 and showed it in a haul post (which also included The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir). I've read half of those books, proving I'm rubbish when it comes to reading the books I buy.

Now on to the ebooks and audiobooks

4 book covers in a row. Things in Jars by Jess Kidd, The Wych Elm by Tana French, When All Is Said by Anne Griffin, Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

1. Things in Jars by Jess Kidd. I featured this in my most anticipated reads for 2019 and I'm happy to say I have an ARC and I've already started it. Set in Victorian London with a female detective investigating a missing child, I'm really enjoying it so far.

2. The Wych Elm by Tana French. Another book featured in my most anticipated post, I love Tana French and I'm hoping her first book not set in the Dublin Murder Squad world doesn't disappoint.

3. When All is Said by Anne Griffin. This has been on my radar for the last week or so, mainly because it keeps popping up on the Rick O' Shea Book Club. 84 year old Maurice sits at a hotel bar and orders 5 different drinks, toasting a different person who impacted and shaped his life. In doing so we hear his life story. It's intrigued me so I requested a copy on NetGalley.

4. Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney. If you haven't heard Sally Rooney's name, then you probably live under a rock. I got this as an audio book during one of Audible's 2 for 1 sales.

There's a few other books I might pick up over the month. I'm mainly hoping I can get an early copy of Cruel Acts by Jane Casey as I've read the first chapter and I loved it. I have no non-fiction here so I might need to find one to break the month up too. 

If you've read any of these books let me know, it might help me pick it up faster!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Anticipated Book Releases 2019 January-April

There’s something about the beginning of the year, new year new book releases new reading challenges, that gets me hyped about reading. I love seeing if any favourite authors have upcoming books and coming across books from authors I haven’t heard of before. I’ve come across so many releases that I’ve split them into different blog posts. This one will concentrate on the first four months of the year.

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen McManus
I really enjoyed One of Us is Lying, which was a murder mystery meets a mixture of The Breakfast Club and Gossip Girl. So I’m looking forward to reading the next book from the same author. I don’t know too much about it as I want to go into it cold. Ellery has to move in with her Grandmother in Echo Ridge, a town that has mysteries (her aunt disappeared from there at the age of 17) and dark secrets (5 years ago a homecoming queen was murdered). Of course, secrets have a way of coming out and causing mayhem. This book is already out, it was released January 10th and I’m on the wait list at the library

Duped: Double Lives, False Identities and the Con Man I Almost Married by Abby Ellin
After discovering that her fiancĂ© was lying about who he was, Abby Ellin explores her own story, looks into the art of lying and talks to other people who have had similar stories. It sounds so fascinating, I’m always floored when I hear stories about people who have successfully lived double lives. January 15th

The Dead Queens Club by Hannah Capin
Take the story of Henry VIII and his wives, put it in a modern high school setting and you get a story that’s being billed as The Tudors meets Mean Girls. There’s a lot of mixed reviews for it on Goodreads but I’m just hoping for some campy good fun! January 29th

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
The Hate U Give was one of my favourite books from 2017. There’s a reason it’s so hyped and it’s well deserved. The story and characters are fantastic and the messages in the book are so so important. I was disappointed On the Come Up was pushed back from its release last year but I’m sure the wait will be well worth it. 16 year old Bri is the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died before he hit it big. Bri really wants to become a rapper and when her mom loses her job and bills start piling up, Bri no longer just wants to hit it big, she needs to hit it big. February 5th

The Wych Elm by Tana French
I mentioned this book in my September to December 2018 Book Releases post. It seems it was released in the US last October, as The Witch Elm, but it’s due to be officially released here in February as The Wych Elm. It’s Tana’s first stand alone novel, it’s not part of the Dublin Murder Squad series. I’ve heard it’s very slow paced and atmospheric but worth reading. As I’m a big fan of Tana, I’ll definitely be picking it up. February 21st

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Written as an oral history of a fictional band, Daisy Jones and the Six, it tells the story of their rise in popularity and why the band split at the height of fame in the 70s. The concept sounds super unique, I’m getting a Fleetwood Mac vibe off the whole thing and it’s already been opted for a TV series by Reese Witherspoon’s company Hello Sunshine. And she has soon good taste in books judging by her book club! If that wasn’t enough, given that The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was one of my favourites last year, it makes me even more hyped about this book. March 7th

The Department of Sensitive Crimes by Alexander McCall Smith
Alexander McCall Smith perfectly nails cosy crime books with his other series (I’ve read a lot of the No.1 Ladies Detectives Agency as well as some of the other ones too). Scandi-noir crime novels are dark, bleak, moody with serious subject matters. This is being billed as the opposite, Scandi-blanc! Detective Varg and his department deals with cases that the other police deem not worth the time, things that seem strange or inconsequential. Like why the local business owner was stabbed in the back of the knee. It sounds like the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency if it was set in Sweden and I know I’ll probably pick this up if I’m looking for something gentle but different. March 7th

Sounds Like Titanic by Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman
When Jessica joins a classical music ensemble as a violinist in New York City, she thinks it’s a dream come true. Until she discovers the whole thing is a sham, the microphones are never on and the music is coming from a CD that sounds suspiciously like the Titanic soundtrack. From what I can tell this book doesn’t just centre around the story but is also a memoir of her life. The story alone though as me intrigued as it sounds batshit crazy! March 12th

Microtrends Squared by Mark Penn
I read the original Microtrends book back in college, about 10 years ago. It focuses on how the behaviour of tiny groups of people can have a larger effect on the population (off the top of my head I remember soccer moms being one of the groups in the first book!). With so many changes and advances over the past ten years, it’ll be interesting to see what’s being proposed as the next big small things in society. And it’ll be perfect for the Book Riot Read Harder challenge for a business book as it’s all about microeconomics. March 20th

The Mobster’s Lament by Ray Celestin
The Mobster’s Lament is book 3 in City Blue Quartet. The first book is The Axeman’s Jazz (set in New Orleans) and the second book is Dead Man’s Blues (set in Chicago). I’ve only read Dead Man’s Blues but it didn’t spoil The Axeman’s Jazz for me (I have a copy of this actually, I didn’t know Dead Man’s Blue was the follow up when I started reading it, otherwise I would have started with The Axeman’s Jazz!). The Mobster’s Lament is set in New York City and I plan on picking up The Axeman’s Jazz before this one! March 21st

Reasons to be Cheerful by Nina Stibbe
I’m a big fan of Stibbe’s books and this will be the 3rd book with Lizzy Vogel, the first being Man at the Helm and the second Paradise Lodge. Lizzie is now 18 and trying to be an independent woman. Though she has a lot to learn about the realities of life and love. I’m sure it’ll be a great mixture of Stibbe’s usual charm, dry wit and dark humour. March 28th

Sex Power Money by Sara Pascoe
Animal by Sara Pascoe is one of my favourite books on feminism. It’s not perfect as it doesn’t have a lot of experiences with intersectionality but a lot of it is from Sara’s own experiences and Sara acknowledges and addresses the lack of intersectionality by saying she doesn’t expect her book to be the definitive in feminism, she just wants to be apart of the conversation. I expect this will be a follow on look at feminism and I’m hoping it’ll be just as funny as Animal. The publisher’s catalogue says March 28th but Amazon says 27th August so fingers crossed it’s sooner rather than later! March 28th

Things in Jars by Jess Kidd
I’ve heard of Jess Kidd before and you probably have too (Himself and The Hoarder) but have yet to pick up any of her novels. This caught my eye as it’s a Victorian murder mystery with a female detective. Er, yes please! Sign me up! April 4th

The Rosie Result by Graeme Simsion
This is book 3 in The Rosie Project series, book two The Rosie Effect came out 2o14. I enjoyed the previous two books, though as I was unaware this series was to be continued I’m not super hyped for it. However I’m sure I will pick it up at some stage as I am interested in seeing how the story progresses. April 4th

Cruel Acts by Jane Casey
Book 8 in the Maeve Kerrigan detective series and I can’t wait to read it! One of my favourite crime series and this book can’t come out quick enough. I read books 2-7 over the space of a month in 2017 so it really can’t come quick enough! April 4th

I’ve already started to keep tabs on the releases for May onwards but I’m going to wait to post these until the end of March or beginning of April. Let me know what new books you’re most looking forward to reading this year.

On another note, I wrote this post in January but then Open Writer, the programme I use to write and publish posts, developed some issue with Google changing something to do with how photos are uploaded or something. IDK. Anyway, I ended up removing the photos, adding this as a draft to edit on Blogger and then got super frustrated because I can NEVER get my posts to look the way I want them to using the Blogger editor. It took me ages, editing the HMTL to get the post to look semi decent and it makes me regret not choosing WordPress when I originally started the blog. Sigh

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Favourite Books 2018

I read 82 books in 2018, which was more than my Goodreads target of 52. I’ve gone through them and picked my 5 favourite fiction, non-fiction and YA books. As I’ve pointed out in a previous favourites post, I keep YA separate not because I think it’s lesser but because I love reading it and think it deserves its own highlight.
Top 5 Fiction Books 2018

1. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I was suffering a horrible reading slump during the summer and this book pulled me out of it! Legendary actress Evelyn Hugo has agreed to do a rare interview. She specifically requests Monique Grant, a low level magazine writer, much to the confusion of Monique and her boss. Evelyn tells her amazing life story through her seven husbands. It’s full of glamour, secrets and drama and I can’t wait to pick up more by Jenkins Reid.

2. From a Low and Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan. Take three very different men in a small town in Ireland: Syrian refugee Farouk, 23 year old heartbroken Lampy and elderly dying John. They are all struggling with their own lives and pasts. Their stories are beautifully written, so poignant at times. Donal Ryan has such an amazing way with words. And while the characters look like they have nothing in common, their lives are all invisibly threaded together, which becomes clear by the end of the novel. And my heart wrenched when it happened, the same way it happened when reading Ryan's previous novel All We Shall Know. Beautiful in a heart wrenching way.

3. Dear Mrs Bird by A.J. Pearce. When Emmeline Lake takes a job at a magazine, she has visions of being a Lady War Correspondent during World War II. Instead she finds herself working for the formidable Henrietta Bird, typing out response for her advise column. Mrs Bird has strict instructions, any letters with Unpleasantness must be binned IMMEDIATELY. However these letters tug on Emmy’s heart and she finds herself replying to them secretly as Mrs Bird. While this book at first seems a bit like if Anne from the Famous Five grew up (lots of jolly goods and smashings!), underneath the fizzy frothiness is some really heart and bravery. A real feel good charming novel.

4. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. The books opens with the narrator in a different body and has to find out who he is. He discovers that Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 10pm and he has seven days to figure it out. He wakes in a different body each day, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.  A murder mystery with a twist! Full review here.

5. Lethal White by Robert Galbraith. After a 3 year wait, we finally got our hands on book 4 in the Cormorant Strike series! It was a big hefty read (the biggest book I read last year) but it had me hooked and I loved seeing Strike and Robin again.

Honorary mentions to Binti by Nnedi Okorafor and The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory.

Top 5 Non-Fiction Books

1. Eat Up! by Ruby Tandoh. A book on the relationship of food, eating disorders, feminism, fatness, class, culture, privilege and pleasure, amongst other issues too. Reading this book was a pleasure and Ruby has such a refreshing attitude when it comes to food. I have a full review on my Goodreads which I’ll probably post here in it’s own blog post.

2. My Thoughts Exactly by Lily Allen. Lily doesn’t hold back in this memoir, it’s a warts and all book that highlights the highs and lows from her life. I was a big big fan of Lily’s first album, I listened to it constantly the summer of 2006. While I knew bits and pieces of Lily’s life (mostly through the tabloids), it was interesting to hear it from her own perspective. There was a lot I didn’t realise, like the story with her stalker which is terrifying. I listened to it on audiobook and really recommend it this way as Lily reads it herself.

3. I Am I Am I Am by Maggie O’Farrell. Maggie replays 17 brushes with death that had an impact on her life, from her own childhood illness to being away from home at 18 years old to giving birth and almost drowning on holiday. I decided to listen to this book after seeing Jen Campbell listening to it when going for a walk. Within the first 5 minutes of listening my mouth was agape (first story is the one being 18 years old and encountering a man when on a walk alone). A beautiful and powerful read that will stick with you for a long time.

4. James Acaster’s Classic Scrapes by James Acaster. I love James and his sense of humour so I decided to give this a shot. And boy am I glad that I did. We do get the story of James and his upbringing but mainly it’s a series of hilarious stories (or the scrapes that only James can get himself in to) that will have you laughing til you cry. Another one I listened to and highly highly recommend it, it had me snorting and stifling giggles in the work canteen and in Lidl.

5. From Here to Eternity by Caitlin Doughty. As I’ve stated here before I’m a big fan of Caitlin and her work (her YouTube channel and previous book Smoke Gets in Your Eyes). Caitlin travels the world and explore death in different cultures, which was fascinating. Seeing as I enjoy listening to Caitlin in her videos, I listened this one too as an audiobook. Caitlin now has a podcast too Death in the Afternoon which I also recommend!

Honourable mentions to both of the No Such Thing as Fish books, Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson, Shrill by Lindy West and Feminists Don’t Wear Pink curated by Scarlett Curtis.

Top 5 YA Books 2018

1. Save the Date by Morgan Matson. Set over the weekend of her sister’s wedding, anything that can go wrong will go wrong for Charlie Grant and her family. I really enjoyed how the story was told over a weekend and as Charlie’s mother is the creator of a comic book strip based on the family, we got a comic strip at the beginning of each chapter which was very cute. Coming from a large family, I loved the family dynamic in this and I could see this as a movie.

2. Wing Jones by Katherine Webber. Wing lives with her mother, brother, her Ghanaian grandmother and her Chinese grandmother. Wing doesn’t fit in and spends a lot of time with her brother, his girlfriend and his best friend. When her brother is in an accident, Wing begins to run and discovers she’s pretty good at it. Set in the 1990s, it’s a sweet coming of age story that explores being different, finding your strengths and learning who you are. I loved that the book didn’t shy away from some of the harsh realities of life, like money problems. A slow burner, you’ll find yourself cheering on Wing.

3. Rivals in the City by Y.S. Lee. The last book in The Agency quartet, Mary Quinn is an undercover agent and spy in Victorian times. I loved the series, I enjoy books set in Victorian times and having a spy element just makes it much better. Book one is A Spy in the House.

4. Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson. The second Matson book on the list, I would have avoided doubling up on authors but this made me feel things. Taylor and her family go to their family lake side house for one last summer together. Taylor hasn’t been to the lake house in years and when last there, something happened that caused a fallout with her best friend and her first boyfriend. Of course both these people are there for the summer and Taylor must come to terms with her past while trying to deal with the future for her family. Poignant novel that made me cry and smile.

5. Obsidio by Aime Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Final book in the Illuminae series, it’s a fun sci-fi series set in space. The books are told through files, transcriptions and the musings of a crazy computer system which is super unique and interesting.

Honorary mentions Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman, a western which was something new for me and To All the Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han, which I read before watching the Netflix film which was super cute and Lara Jean has a fantastic wardrobe.

I read some graphic novels as well this year but unlike my 2016 post I didn’t include any favourites because my favourites were continuations from series that I’m in the middle of and enjoying (Saga, Paper Girls, Ms Marvel) and if they weren’t part of a series I already like, then I wasn’t overly impressed or blown away by them. My library is also behind on these series, particularly Lumberjanes and Squirrel Girl which is such a shame.

While the books avoid were fantastic and I loved them, overall I think my reading year was quite blah. There was a lot of 2 star reads, I DNFd some books and I had a big reading slumping. I’m just glad that there were some highs and that I read these gems.

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!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...