Tag | Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

Greetings one and all, today on this auspicious day I bring you a tag which you may very well have seen floating around A LOT – the Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag. The tag was originally created by Ely and Chami, and it does the rounds at this time of year as all us book bloggers, Booktubers, and book enthusiasts alike look back over what we’ve read so far in the year and (maybe) freak out about all the fantastic (and not so fantastic) books we’ve read. I think that’s all the introduction it needs so, without further ado, let’s freak out…

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2018.

This question is never not tricky. If we’re discounting re-reads, then The Language of Thorns, The Power, The Girl from Everywhere, The Essex Serpent, The Lie Tree, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, and Genuine Fraud have been my 5-star reads. As far as my favourite goes, that would probably be either The Essex Serpent or The Lie Tree, I read them at a similar time though so maybe I was just in the right head-space to REALLY love what I was reading. Both were full of mystery and definitely NOT what I expected them to be. But I’m not choosing between them.

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2018.

Despite my commitment to finish series this year (a resolution I have been failing hard), I actually haven’t read that many sequels at all – I can literally count on one hand the amount of sequels I’ve read, and have fingers to spare. So, the choice is limited but, thankfully, I’ve read a pretty good sequel and that was the second book in Marie Rutkoski’s Winner’s Trilogy, called The Winner’s Crime. The stakes were raised so much higher from the first book and this sequel had much more court politics and intrigue and spying so, suffice it to say, I loved it.

3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to.

I’m really bad at reading things on time, ask my protesting pile of eARCs on NetGalley if you don’t believe me! How “new” is new though? Because I still haven’t read Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi and that came out back in March. I’m a bad reader, I know.

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year.

I’m sure there are many others that I’m forgetting right now as I’m faced with this question but the thing that sticks in my head is the two books we have to look forward to from V.E. Schwab, Vengeful, sequel to Vicious (which I still haven’t read, I know, I need to), and City of Ghosts which is about a girl who can see ghosts and is set in a very haunted Edinburgh. That’s all I need to know, I’m in.

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Down the TBR Hole #22

Welcome folks to the twenty-second round of Down the TBR Hole! As I mentioned in my last round of DtTH (nope, that acronym isn’t particularly attractive, is it?), this little project has been a great way of weening down my TBR over the past year so I’ve decided to keep it up and make it a semi-regular feature in order to spring clean my TBR aka be realistic about what books I aspire to read and what books I actually will read.

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, check out the previous posts via the tag or check out Lia at Lost in a Story who is the creator of this wonderful meme/project.

I’m trying to make this a regular feature of my blogging schedule because it’s good to regularly reevaluate if/why you want to read a book – that way you don’t come back to your TBR years later and have no clue why a title piqued your interest in the first place. I’ve also added a summary of results bit at the bottom of each round so I can track how many books I’ve kept and ditched from my TBR shelf in each round and overall.

Just a reminder of how this works:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

Outside of doing these posts semi-regularly I have also been culling my TBR list at random points when I’m bored – all of this is good in terms of getting my TBR to a reasonable amount of books but it also means that these posts are getting harder for me to do as I’m beginning to really agonise over whether to ditch or keep books on there. Not that any of this is a bad thing! Let’s get going on the 10 books under scrutiny today…

1. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Why is it there? Back when I was trying to find more graphic novels to read, I stumbled across this one. The stark colours of red, white, and black on the cover immediately made me buy it, but the fact it’s a bit spooky has put me off reading it ever since. Even so, I think this may very well be one I get to this Halloween, or during a readathon near Halloween at least.
Do I own it? Yes
Verdict? Keep

2. The Archivist by Martha Cooley

Why is it there? This one seems a little random as it (shock horror) seems to be a recommendation from someone “offline”. A peer from university recommended it generally on Goodreads once, and I suppose that was reason enough for me to add it to my shelf then. However, since then, I’ve seen neither reviews, nor sight of this in the flesh… so I think I might be sadly saying goodbye to it, for now.
Do I own it? No
Verdict? Ditch

3. Secret Society Girl by Diana Peterfreund

Why is it there? This is about a secret society at an Ivy League university… why wouldn’t I have added this to my TBR? I have a feeling this is going to be overly dramatic and ridiculous but I’m kind of into that? If it doesn’t end up being like The Life and Death Brigade a la Gilmore Girls, I’ll be sorely disappointed.
Do I own it? No
Verdict? Keep

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Marvel-A-Thon | Progress Report

Well folks, we’ve reached the mid-way point (or thereabouts) for the Marvel-A-Thon readathon so I thought I’d do an updates post, a progress report if you will, to hold me accountable for what I said I’d read and to also try to reassure me that I have read a lot, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now. Of course, I’ve been doing my usual Twitter updates thread for the readathon but I figured it might be nice to sit down and do a slightly more lengthy post explaining what I’ve achieved so far and why I skipped some challenges etc.

(If you have NO IDEA what I’m talking about, please pop over to my Sign Up & TBR post first because I explain about the readathon and its challenges over there.)


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Tag | Norse Mythology Book Tag

It’s that time of the week again: it’s Tag Thursday. Hold the applause, please.

Considering I’m right in the thick of re-reading (this time via audiobook) Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology and I am quite a fan of an MCU character based on a certain trickster god from the Norse pantheon, I couldn’t not do this tag when I saw it over on Zoe’s blog a couple of days ago. Lots of credit must also be given to the creator of this brilliant tag, Kyera and you should definitely check out both of their blogs.

But, for now, onward, to the rules and the tag questions!

The Rules:

  • Link back to my original post on Kyera’s Library so I can see all your answers! (Be sure to do this via pingback, I don’t get notified if you just tag my URL)
  • Thank the person(s) who tagged you… show the community some love!
  • Obviously, come up with your wonderful answers!
  • Don’t forget to tag others to keep the tag going!

Odin is the All-Father, the leader of the Norse Gods. He is the god of wisdom, poetry, battle, death, wine, and war, among other things.

The problem with reading so much YA fantasy is that very few books actually end up being standalones; in fact, YA fantasy has a habit of claiming to be a standalone only to have a series book deal announced shortly after the publication (and success) of a book. However, thankfully, one of my favourite books of all-time is a standalone and that is The Graveyard Book by the ever-wonderful Neil Gaiman. This book has my heart and soul and it is truly heartwarming and uplifting in the end, which is strange for a book that starts “There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.”

Thor is the god of thunder, weather, warriors, strength, and storms, so his might packs a punch. He is married to the beautiful Lady Sif.

Weirdly connected to my previous answer by way of marriage is The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer, a non-fiction book/memoir exploring the idea of creativity and why we (as creators, as humans, as family members) struggle to admit that we need help and ask someone else for their knowledge, expertise, or (simply) money. Given that I am not a freelancer or busker or performer of any kind, I wasn’t expecting to be hit so much by this book but it ended up speaking so true to life in general and I did tear up at a few points when Amanda Palmer got a little personal.

Loki is the god of mischief, thieves and thrives on chaos.

I’m just going to say it: Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys. In hindsight, it’s SO fucking obvious, and WHY didn’t I see it… it’s literally said right there on the page but I skipped over it on first read and chalked it down to banter. I can’t tell you what or who this answer pertains to because HUGE SPOILERS but, yeah, bit of a plot twist really…

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Review | The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Title: The Hazel Wood (2018)
Author: Melissa Albert
Publisher: Penguin
Release Date: 8th February 2018
Read: 25th – 30th March 2018
Genre: young-adult; fantasy
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the strange bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate – the Hazel Wood – Alice learns how bad her luck can really get. Her mother is stolen, by a figure who claims to come from the cruel supernatural world from her grandmother’s stories. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: STAY AWAY FROM THE HAZEL WOOD. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began…”
(Synopsis from the publisher)

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T5W | Summer Reads

Welcome one and all to this week’s Top 5 Wednesday post! For those of you who don’t know Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme/challenge which was created by the wonderful Lainey from gingerreadslainey and is now overseen by the equally lovely Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. Every Wednesday, participants devise their Top 5 based on a given topic.

This Wednesday’s topic is Summer ReadsWith summer finally kicking off, now is the time to recommend your favourite summer reads, whatever that means to you! I think we all know what, for a lot of people, this question calls to mind many a YA contemporary or a romance to consume over summer. I wouldn’t say I’m immune to this phenomenon but I will say I am also the girl who read Bram Stoker’s Dracula sitting beside the sea in Spanish heat whilst on a family holiday. So… you know… I’m not the most consistently summer-y of readers in actual summer. That being said, I’ve covered this topic in some capacity quite a few times since I’ve started this blog (my Top 5 Wednesday Summer Reads from 2017, for example) so I’m just going to go ahead and recommend you some new, fun YA books that I’ve read since chatting about the topic around this time last year.

Honourable Mentions

Since I seem to have read sooo many great things that fit the bill since I last did this topic in May 2017, I’m going to just go ahead and list all of the ones that didn’t quite make the Top 5 but are still really great summer reads because, hell, why not? Are you ready for it?

The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven (my review)
Royals by Rachel Hawkins (my review)
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (my review)
Sourdough by Robin Sloan (my review)
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne (my review)
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
A Room with a View by E.M. Forster (my review)

Phew. Now onto the actual Top 5 Summer Reads.

5. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Kicking this off with something not quite as fun and summery as some of the other reads but I stand by my choice all the same. Big Little Lies is certainly a page turner, which is what we all need during the summer, don’t we? This would be a perfect book to take on a relaxing summer holiday – the topics in it aren’t exactly sunshiney and cheery but I guarantee you it will suck you into its story and not let go until the final page.

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Review | Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

Title: Genuine Fraud (2017)
Author: E. Lockhart
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Read: 1st – 2nd June 2018
Genre: young-adult; mystery
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

“Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat. Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete. An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two. A bad romance, or maybe three. Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains. A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her. A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.”
(Synopsis from the publisher)

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Marvel-A-Thon | Sign Up & TBR

I know what you’re thinking – Emma, didn’t you just post a monthly June TBR? Why yes, astute reader, I did… but then I learnt from Kelly that the Marvel-A-Thon readathon was a Thing that was happening, and pretty much any TBR plans I had were kicked to the kerb because I love the MCU. I decided it would be pretty poor form to bypass the opportunity to take part in a Marvel-themed reading challenge… so here we are with another TBR post in the space of a few days. But it’s ok, everyone loves a TBR, right? Right!

If you haven’t heard about the Marvel-A-Thon, let me explain: it’s run by Jamieson of Jamishelves and you should pop over to her blog to see the official announcement post with all the relevant details. Put simply, it runs from midnight on 1st June until midnight of 1st July and there are 21 MCU-based reading prompts to try to read books for. These challenges are split into the Phases of the MCU and you must complete a phase before moving onto the next. You’re allowed two skips per phase, and you can carry over any skips you didn’t use in a previous phase. Also, if you buddy read something with a reading pal then you can also ‘give’ one of your reads to your buddy, and vice versa. E.g. if you buddy read something for ‘Hulk’ you can give your buddy the ‘Thor’ challenge, and get the ‘Avengers’ challenge read from them – which is what myself and my buddy are probably going to do!

Sound fun? You in? Well, Avengers Assemble and let’s look at the challenges and what I’ll be reading for them:

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Wrap Up | May 2018

Welcome one, welcome all, to my May Wrap Up. As a month, May has been pretty damn great. We’ve had not one but two Bank Holidays (which has meant glorious 3-day weekends), during one of which I went home to visit family and during the other of which me and Liz had a couple of our friends from university visiting Liverpool. We took advantage of the very lovely (suspiciously so) weather we’ve been having here in England and walked around Liverpool before chilling with a picnic in the park with them on one day and visited beautiful Chester on the other day. It was a very low-key and enjoyable visit and it makes me realise I actually don’t hate summer and hot weather after all – for someone who has vehemently defined herself as a “winter person” for so many years, this has been quite the life-altering revelation.

As far as other fun happenings, I managed to score tickets to see one of my favourite comedians, Dara O’Briain, at the Liverpool Empire whilst he’s touring his latest show. It was SUCH a good night and the show is, as expected, hilarious. I took Liz along and she came away saying she really, really enjoyed so I’m really glad I persuaded her to come and that she enjoyed Dara’s stand-up – I was like 87% sure she would though, to be fair! I also managed to handily coordinate needing to be in Oxford for a work meeting with visiting my friend Ceyda there for a couple of days and getting to see V.E. Schwab give Pembroke College’s Annual Tolkien Lecture (I have a post about that, if you’re interested!). Oxford was, as always, beautiful, and I even participated a little bit in the (frankly ridiculous) tradition of May Morning which resulted in a 4:30am wake-up call so that I could stand at 6am at the foot of Magdalen Tower and hear a choir sing a hymn before walking down the High Street amidst Morris dancers and folks dancing to drums. It was very odd and very Oxford and I’m glad I made the effort to see it because it really is quite something. (I posted about it on Instagram, if you’re curious to see evidence of the weirdness.)

But, enough about my life, how was my reading during the  month? Well, it’s safe to say I pretty much ignored my well-intentioned (but very ambitious) May TBR (apart from 2 whole books from that list) but I did still read a few books, so that has got to count for something, right?

So without further ado, let’s take a look at the books I read in the month of May:

In May, I read a total of 5 books 5 fiction and non-fiction – and were re-reads. This amounted to 2066 pages in total.

In terms of format: 3 were paperbackwas an ARC, and 1 was an e-ARC.

And as for genre, very broadly speaking, 1 was YA fantasywas fantasy, and were YA contemporary.

Onto the books themselves…


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June TBR

As you may have noticed in my May TBR, I am often very ambitious and very fool-hardy when it comes to setting TBRs as I almost never stick to them 100%. If I’m lucky, I stick to them 50%. Not to spoil my May Wrap Up but I’d say this past month has been about 16.66666%, and I’ve stalled on another book I was reading so I can’t even really count it into that percentage calculation. The point is, I am neither a mathematician, nor a strict enough disciplinarian when it comes to TBR lists. So, the focus this upcoming month is to clear out that NetGalley backlog.

I’m trying to be really strict with myself now so if I don’t read any of these eARCs by the end of June, unless I have a really good reason (and I’m meaning like humongous reading slump or illness), I have to DNF them and tell the publisher my reading interests have changed, I’m no longer interested in the ARC so my review wouldn’t do the title justice etc. etc. It’s high time I did this because it’s getting ridiculous now given when some of these titles were actually released. I’ve been a bit better about restraining myself from requesting too many eARCs on NetGalley so I just need to work through this pile as soon as possible… and I’m also trying to quickly get on top of the ones that are released soon!

June TBR

  1. The Summer of Us by Cecilia Vinesse (eARC)
  2. The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green (eARC)
  3. Fragile Lives by Stephen Westaby (eARC)
  4. The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin (eARC)
  5. The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton (eARC)
  6. Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody (eARC)
  7. Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
  8. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (I’ve had <300 pages left to read for months, it’s time.)

What books are you planning to read in the month of June?
Are there any new releases you’re really looking forward to picking up this month?
Are there any readathons happening this month that you’re taking part in?
Let me know in the comments section below!