T5W | Most Disappointing Reads of 2018

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 Most Disappointing Reads of 2018: these are books you read in 2018, not only ones released in 2018. 

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Obviously there’s a huge disclaimer that I should state before we even get into this post: these are reads that, for one reason or another, slightly disappointed me. That’s not to say that these books are bad books and that’s not to say that I necessarily disliked them; rather, it’s just that because of a multitude of possible reasons (a big one likely being hype in the bookish community), the books just felt a little short of the expectations I (maybe wrongfully) placed upon them. So it’s not the book’s fault necessarily – it’s not you, book, it’s me, I promise.

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Travel | Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World

When it comes to Disney parks, I think anyone who knows me would suspect that maybe, just maybe, I would enjoy Hollywood Studios. The clue is in the name: this is the park that mostly closely considers the actual process of filmmaking and the magic behind the proverbial curtain. Because of this, it isn’t just themed rides that you will find in Hollywood Studios, but also plenty of stage shows and performances. When I was trying to decide on the order of writing these posts about Disney in order of my favourites, I struggled to decide whether I preferred Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios more. The thing that swung the balance in Hollywood Studios favour was simply the feel of the park; the aesthetic of the studios is very much my jam, and this is a fact that travel buddy Liz would attest to. Even before I went there, I knew I’d prefer it.


Hollywood Studios opened in May 1989 and was the third of the four Disney World theme parks to be built. It focuses on film, TV, music, and theatre and is definitely heavily inspired by the Golden Age of Hollywood. Originally, it was intended to function as both a theme park inspired by this and also operate as a production studio, complete with working backlot. Nowadays it more so goes for “the feel” of a functioning studio lot and it’s probably also the park that most closely resembles competitor Universal Studios.

“The World you have entered was created by The Walt Disney Company and is dedicated to Hollywood—not a place on a map, but a state of mind that exists wherever people dream and wonder and imagine, a place where illusion and reality are fused by technological magic. We welcome you to a Hollywood that never was—and always will be.”

The park is split into six areas: Hollywood Boulevard, Echo Lake, Grand Avenue, Animation Courtyard, Sunset Boulevard, and Toy Story Land. Work is currently underway for a new Star Wars land which will expand the park, and feature two rides themed on the film franchise, as well as a new themed hotel. Because of this there was a bunch of construction going on at the Studios, with some areas blocked off, so this won’t be an exhaustive list of the attractions there but is a pretty accurate travel diary of what I thought of what I did go on…

Hollywood Boulevard

img_2242Operating as the Studios’ version of Main Street USA, Hollywood Boulevard is lined with shops selling merchandise – but obviously everything is themed to within an inch of its life. At the top of Hollywood Boulevard sits a replica of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre which will soon host a new ride, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, the first to feature Mickey and Minnie Mouse. It is also onto which the projections during Disney Movie Magic are positioned, and is the backdrop for the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular display on an evening. As it’s the main street from the entrance of the park, it’s also a prime location for parades throughout the day, and you’ll be sure to find something marching up and down – most likely a band of scary stormtroopers. (Don’t try to slip-stream their parade though, they double back on themselves, as we quickly discovered!)

I actually thoroughly enjoyed Disney Movie Magic which was a projection show we only even saw because we arrived super early in the area to wait for Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular fireworks having expected a huge crowd to gather for that and wanting to scope out a good spot early. I have to say, I LOVED Disney Movie Magic. It’s projected onto the Chinese Theatre which makes for an incredible backdrop as footage and music of everything from Mary Poppins to 101 Dalmatians and Beauty and the Beast to Doctor Strange is combined into this 10-minute long celebration of all things Disney films. It was glorious and I even felt myself get a little tiny bit choked up watching it when I realised just how many of my favourite films were produced, in some way, by Disney. I’m sad that it’s going to be replaced in 2019 so I won’t get another chance to see it properly.

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However, the “main event” if you like of the area’s nighttime attractions is Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular. Guys, I wish with all my heart that I could give you a proper full review of this show but there was one very key thing that stopped me from focusing my entire attention on the show: literally the second that the proverbial lights went down and the show began, the heavens opened and Florida showed its particular qualities within, what, five seconds. Torrential downpour, no word of a lie. Now, when you’re trying to look up at a theatre to see the enormous fireworks and projections going on, having torrential rain beating down on you isn’t the most ideal of situations: for one, you get drenched, soaked to the bone, and stand shivering; for two, you can’t see if there’s so much rain that even creating a shield with your hands over your eyes doesn’t help. So, I mean, what I saw of it was phenomenal, but what I saw wasn’t very much. We had to run/wade our way to some tables near Dockside Diner to even try to take stock of the very soggy situation we were in (imagine a nice flowy, layered skirt suddenly SATURATED with water, it was like walking with weights on my legs guys) and we caught some of the show then whilst we were ringing out our clothing to the best of our ability. I can say that after that development, the enormous wall of heat you experience when the Dark Side shows up in the projection show is very much welcomed. If my review leaves something to be desired (and I’m not surprised by this) then just go watch someone’s HQ recording of the show, that’s what we did when we got back to our hotel room that night!

Sunset Boulevard

img_1786Inspired obviously by the actual Sunset Boulevard, the main focus is the The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror which sits at its far end. I’m going to be honest, I was too chicken to even try the Tower of Terror but whilst I waited for Liz in the scaredy cat waiting area at the end I perused the gift shop and can definitely report that I adore the entire aesthetic of the Hollywood Hotel, if not the prospect of the randomised drop sequence inside an elevator that makes up the actual ride within it.

Nearby is yet another ride I was too chicken to try: the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith. This is an indoor dark roller coaster with the schtick that you’re late for a gig so end up in a high-speed limo being fired to the venue, all to a soundtrack featuring (you guessed it) Aerosmith. There’s a couple of inversions in there too because why not? Since I didn’t go on this ride, I spent a while hanging around in the courtyard outside and it was probably the nicest area to chill for a while (even when it started raining) because they played a lot of rock music which was my jam.

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Sunset Boulevard is also home to two outdoor theatres – the Theater of the Stars, which hosts Beauty and Beast Live on Stage (which was… well, an experience, kind of crap but in the very best and cheesiest of ways) and the Hollywood Hills Ampitheatre which is home to Fantasmic (an experience in and of itself).

First to Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage which is, you guessed it, an abbreviated version of the film performed on stage. The performers are talented, no doubt about it, but when any performer is shoved inside a squishy suit in the shape of a teacup… well, that shit is just funny to anyone over the age of, say, 10? Me and Liz kept looking at each other and giggling in amusement. The real MVPs of the show weren’t Belle or Gaston or even the Beast but rather whoever played Lumiere, that candle-stick sure had a wiggle of a walk and it kept us amused throughout the entire thing. If you want somewhere for a low-key downtime break with the kids to break up the day? Take them here. I don’t know how given the loud singing but there were kids legit sleeping throughout the entire thing.

Fantasmic, on the other hand, is something which I feel is best experienced whilst under the influence of the substance of your choice: be that drugs, alcohol, caffeine, or just pure Disney joy. I certainly felt high whilst watching it and I’m pretty damn sure that someone on the Imagineers team was on LSD when designing this entertainment show. I’m going to try and explain the show and undoubtedly fail to capture its… uniqueness… so please do go watch this HQ recording of it for a better idea of it. Taking place on a small lake, imagine walls of water (which when the wind changes mid-show will slightly soak you in your seat if you’re near the front) onto which animations are projected. Now imagine Mickey Mouse appearing to do some magic spells every so often, and to help the water along. Now imagine the villains popping up and everything going a bit dark and scary. Now imagine the show closing with a steamer boat with all your favourite Disney characters on, waving as they dance along to the song and sail past. Imagining that? No, you’re nowhere close to visualising how surreal of an experience it is: go see it for real.

Toy Story Land

The newest expansion of the park, it contains three attractions: Toy Story Mania, Slinky Dog Dash, and the Alien Swirling Saucers, all inspired by characters from the Toy Story films. I passed by the swirling saucers because motion sickness plus spinning round isn’t a good idea.

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Slinky Dog Dash is probably the “Flight of Passage” of Hollywood Studios, in that it frequently enjoys ridiculously long wait times even after the park has only just opened for the day. Slinky Dog Dash is an outdoor roller coaster which was a lot of fun. You ride in Slinky Dog, going round and round and over bumpy track, and everything feels just a little bit like it could run out of control at any point. The ride theming is bright and colourful and it’s like you’re a toy yourself as huge replicas of colourful building blocks, crayons, and some familiar faces in Rex, Jessie, and Woody line the track. And the ride operators call you “toys”. It’s a lot of fun. But I think it says something about the ride that, entertaining though it was, halfway through and at its highest point us and the two guys in front of us were distracted by the view we got of the under-construction Star Wars area. (Top tip: if you want to see how Galaxy’s Edge is progressing, go on Slinky Dog Dash; you get a great view of behind those barriers. And yes Galaxy’s Edge looks like it’s going to be incredible.)

The other attraction in Toy Story Land was Toy Story Mania which I can safely say was one of my favourite rides in the entirety of Disney, likely because it’s not a roller coaster at all but rather a carnival game style ride using 4D technology and blasters on the ride cart, a little like Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin but with less aliens and Zorg and more smashing plates and taking out green plastic army men. The “blaster” in this case is activated by pulling repeatedly and quickly on an elastic string… I won’t demonstrate what practiced wrist movement is most useful to be good at this ride but… you can probably put that joke together yourself if you’re an adult. The amount of time collectively that Liz and I spent in there probably makes it one of our most ridden rides in our entire time there and, I’ll tell you something else, if/when I go back to Disney World, I’ll be making a beeline for this one on any Hollywood Studios day.

Echo Lake

img_2287I’m informed that allegedly Echo Lake is inspired by the Echo Park neighbourhood of LA and designed to echo the “California Crazy” form of architecture from Hollywood’s Golden Age – I must bow down to Wikipedia’s alleged collective knowledge here. All I know is Echo Lake has a huge dinosaur in it called Gertie. We weren’t there late enough to see her sporting a Santa hat but said hi as we passed by all the same. Something you definitely should stop by is the Dockside Diner which contains possibly one of the sloppiest but best things I ate: Carolina All-Beef Foot Long Hot Dog. Yes, that’s right, a foot long hot dog topped with pulled pork. Because what do you need to serve with pork? MORE pork. I kid you not, it was a beast of a hot dog, and I loved it. The Minute Maid Frozen Lemonade is also A++.

Echo Lake is the section mostly focused on all things Lucasfilm and it happens to be home to something I knew would be one of my favourite things in the whole of Disney: the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! It took three times for us to successfully see the entirety of the Stunt Spectacular, largely because part of it is outside so relies on it not raining (something of a feat in Florida which enjoys thunderstorm level rain like clockwork in the afternoon) and on the large props (a plane, for one) working properly. It’s dangerous for all the performers if either of these things are at play, so they tend to cut the show short, or not perform it at all. Still, the stunt show was one which I knew I’d enjoy even before I stepped foot in Hollywood Studios. I’d seen bits and pieces of it before on people’s Instagrams and in their Disney vlogs and I am a sucker for anything that explains Behind the Scenes parts of the movie-making process, especially anything about fight sequences and stunt performers. Add in the Indiana Jones theme and I’m sold. (I was just about talked out of buying an Indiana Jones hat at the nearby gift shop. I still kind of still slightly regret not wasting that money on a useless hat, to be honest.)

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When it comes to all things Lucasfilm, Star Wars is something that I enjoy in passing, but I’m not a huge fan. However, Star Tours – The Adventures Continues was a lot of fun. The ride is what it sounds like: a 3D motion simulator that is a virtual tour around the galaxy, piloted by an incompetent C3PO. The schtick here is that the Empire has been informed there’s a wanted rebel hiding within the tour group so you end up having to fly at light speed to lose them from your tail, and then Jar Jar Binks pops up, and there’s crashes and all sorts of Star Wars goodness that I’m sure I would have appreciated more if I’d been a proper fan. Still, the technology was really great, and it was fun. The queuing area alone will be like a candy store for any Star Wars fan.

Speaking of fun, if you ever have time to kill and you happen to be in the Echo Lake area: stick around and watch the kids do Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple. They basically round up kids (willing, or pushed into doing it by their jealous parents) and give them jedi robes and lightsabers and teach them how to fight. Then, the temple opens and they have to face their trial: fighting Darth Vader and Kylo Ren. I feel sorry for the people who have to stand in Florida heat in black robes, I hope they’re fairly compensated for that, and the fact that children are literally encouraged to whack the shit out of them with plastic lightsabers. The fun in this is largely in watching the very envious parents and adults without children standing about when this spectacle happens. But it’s ok, there’s crowd participation necessary: when Yoda’s voice is heard and he asks everyone to really concentrate and channel the Force to help defeat Darth Vader and Kylo Ren once and for all. It shouldn’t be so funny to see grown adults passionately hold their hands up in front of them with supreme concentration on their faces but it is.

(I presume that these Star Wars-related areas will eventually marry up to the construction happening on Galaxy’s Edge and it is going to be a huge attraction for anyone even remotely interested in the franchise. As I said, I’m barely interested in Star Wars and even I am marking down the date to come back and see it once the construction is finished and the new land is opened in Hollywood Studios.)

img_2297Tucked into the other side of Echo Lake is something that I don’t understand why was allowed to be placed next to all this Lucasfilm business but I’m glad it was: For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration. I know what you’re thinking, Frozen, I’ve heard those songs a billion times anyway, why would I willingly go to a sing-along of it? I’ll tell you why, it’s hilarious. Maybe it was the time of day we went (evening) or the scarcity of people in the audience but the two storytellers who are responsible for padding out the sing-along elements of the soundtrack into a proper entertainment length show are HILARIOUS. All the jokes they cracked were borderline risqué – like I said, might just have been the performers we had, might have been the time of day, might have been our own slightly hysterical emotional states, but it was SO much fun, would highly recommend. Also you get covered in fake snow at the end of it so, you know, WORTH IT.

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All in all, experiencing Hollywood Studios was indeed some of my favourite days in Disney. Although I was too chicken to try out all the rides, I just loved the entire feel of the park, it’s so very much my aesthetic and the whole “behind the scenes” studio vibe is very much my jam. If you like getting a glimpse behind the magic and celebrating some of your favourite Disney films as pieces of cinema, I would very much recommend you make a beeline for Hollywood Studios if you’re fortunate enough to have the chance.


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My 2019 Resolutions

As you may have seen from my final quarterly check-in of my 2018 resolutions, I did pretty ok at my somewhat ambitious yearly goals last year.

As always, I tend to do better at the reading goals than I do at anything else, partly because reading is always (and has always been) a priority of mine so I’ve never had to really work at those kind of resolutions. Even so, I still like making them because the process of deciding on them and actually checking in on how I’m doing at various points in the year actually really helps me to work out what I want to do with my year. Of course, it’s life so priorities shift throughout the year and I don’t expect any resolutions I make at the start of a year to have all been completed by the time we come to the end of a year, but it’s still nice to have something to aim for, isn’t it?

In that spirit, here are my 2019 goals…

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(I’m just kidding… mostly.)

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Winter Biannual Bibliothon 2019 | TBR

Hello everyone! As you can probably tell from the title of this post, this is a TBR post for the upcoming Winter Biannual Bibliothon. As I’m subscribed to one of the readathon’s hosts, LittleBookOwl on YouTube, I always see videos relating to this readathon but I’ve never taken part… until now! I’m finding out about this readathon a little late but still in enough time to get together a TBR and participate, even if it does overlap slightly with Bout of Books. Still, let’s see if we can start off 2019’s reading strong, shall we?

(I need the kick up the bum; I’ve only finished 1 book and it’s already 10th… who am I?)

For those who don’t know the Biannual Bibliothon takes place (yes, you guessed it) twice a year, there’s a summer and a winter edition and this is the Winter edition! It’s taking place between 12th until the 18th January – head over to the readathon Twitter for more info.

As well as fun Instagram and video challenges to keep you busy during the readathon, there’s a set of Reading Challenges to help choose your TBR:

Reading Challenges

1. Read the Group Book: Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean
Providing my order on Amazon comes through in time, I’ll try to get to this one which has been on my radar but not necessarily top of my TBR. I don’t know anything about Japan, to be honest, so maybe reading a Japanese-inspired fantasy could be the first step in broadening my horizons?

2. Read one of the hosts’ 5 star reads: Pivot Point by Kasie West, Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia, Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor, Emergency Contact by Mary HK Choy
Ooo the temptation to re-read The Graveyard Book is SO strong! It’s one of my favourite books too and I’m well overdue a re-read. However I am going to resist (barely) and instead choose to read Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choy which is a book I know precisely nothing about. However, it’s available as an audiobook on Scribd and from its Goodreads reviews, I reckon it might be something I enjoy, especially if it is as cynical/bitter as one reviewer said it was!

3. Read a book that got you into reading
Matilda by Roald Dahl. Not only were Roald Dahl’s books some of the first I read, the entire spirit of Matilda champions reading so it’s the PERFECT book to read during a readathon.

4. Read an adult genre
Based on how Christina Lauren’s other books are I’m going to go ahead and assume that Dating You/Hating You is an adult contemporary/romance. It’s also a book I’ve been meaning to read ever since my friend Liz read it and said I’d probably really like the setup of the (inevitable?) couple who are both high-powered agents at competing Hollywood firms that end up merging, meaning they go up against each other for the same job. Sounds fun!

5. Combine your favorite genre with your least favorite format or the opposite
Well, my favourite genre is probably YA fantasy and my least favourite, I guess, would be ebook, so I’m going to pick… hmmm… let’s be prompt and read Enchanteé by Gita Trelease which I was just approved an eARC of and should get to sooner rather than later. It had the magic words in the synopsis “French Revolution” and I was instantly hooked.

6. Read a book with a cover you don’t like
You know, I’m not overly fond of the cover of Emergency Contact, from what I’ve seen of it on Goodreads. The pink and gold thing isn’t really working for me (though I’m sure it could be other people’s jams) so I’ll double-up on challenges with this book, I think.

7. Read a book by an author you’ve never read before
I’ve never read anything by Gita Trelease before… mostly because this is her debut novel but shhhhh, it’s not really cheating to double up on this challenge.

My TBR

Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean (#1)
Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choy (#2, #6)
Matilda by Roald Dahl (#3)
Dating You/Hating You by Christina Lauren (#4)
Enchantée by Gita Trelease (#5, #7)

 

There we have it, there’s what I will be attempting to read during the Winter Biannual Bibliothon. Are you taking part? Share your TBR below! Otherwise, tell me which book you’re planning on picking up next, I’d love to hear about it!


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TBTB Secret Santa 2018

If you’re an avid reader, you may remember that in 2017 I took part in the 8th Annual Broke & Bookish Secret Santa as ran by the lovely Jamie and Jana. Well, it was back for 2018, and I had to take part, even when the announcement and sign-up period happened when I was enjoying a holiday at Disney World in Florida. So, I dusted off my sign-up email all about me from last year, added a couple of things, and sent it off almost immediately. Then came the waiting game until I got my Santee and got to see their email/letter to Santa.

For those unaware, every year Jamie and Jana host a brilliant Secret Santa event for the online bookish community. The aim of the game is to act as someone’s Secret Santa and send them some presents based on the letter they send to their “Santa”. It’s a super fun way of getting all the community together – book bloggers, bookish tweeps, Bookstagrammers, readers alike – and getting in the festive ‘giving and receiving’ spirit.

After the success of last year, in 2018 I decided to go hard (or go home) and chose option C: 2+ books and goodies, because I knew from my first experience of TBTB Santa that I liked shopping for a fellow book lover and making their gift as brilliant as possible. I always go overboard once I start, so I thought I might as well state from the beginning that I would and let the inevitability happen!

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Bout of Books 24 | Sign Up & TBR

Hello all and welcome to this, the first of the ‘Emma signs up for a readathon with an overly ambitious TBR she abandons almost immediately’ posts for 2019! This is fun, isn’t it? Exciting. Will it be more of the same in 2019 or will Emma actually follow through on the readathon aspirations she has this year? Who knows… only time will tell.

Quite handily for me, however, the first readathon I’m choosing to participate in this year is the Bout of Books readathon, a firm favourite of mine because of its low-key setup and challenges. In fact, there are no reading challenges or prompts that you have to fulfil with you TBR; rather, the main aim of Bout of Books is simply to read. I can get onboard with this. For those of you who haven’t come across Bout of Books before, here’s the schtick:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 7th and runs through Sunday, January 13th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 24 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog.
– From the Bout of Books team

When it comes to Bout of Books, you are encouraged to be as low-key or ambitious as you like, it really is what you make of it. This potentially comes at quite a good time for me as I’ve been struggling these first few days of the month/year with what to read – sometimes, when you have SO MANY options to choose from, you actually end up struggling to decide on one. (Seriously, it’s a legitimate Thing.) At the suggestion of housemate and friend Liz (you may know her by my frequent mentions of Travel In Retrospect, I’m sure) I’m reading a kinda so-bad-it’s-good romance novel and it’s working as something of a palette cleanser. But I’m still eager to start my reading of other things too which is where Bout of Books comes in as it has forced me to confront the issue of my indecisiveness head on and pick a (albeit tentative) TBR for the upcoming week’s readathon.

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Best Books of 2018

Welcome one, welcome all, to the downright obligatory Best Books of 2018. As is often the case with these ‘best books of the year’ posts of mine, the top 10 that make the list may not necessarily be the books that I gave 5-stars when I finished reading them. Because I make my ratings’ decisions immediately after finishing a book, they can be impulsive and would, on reflection, be altered. I make a point of not altering ratings once I’ve set them, but this annual best books list is a good way to “reassess” the ratings I’ve given books in the past year and decide, once and for all, which books were actually deserving of that moniker. The results is that these books are the ones that have stayed with me, for one reason or another, and were, completely subjectively, the “best books” that I read in 2018.

(If you’re looking for my more stats-based wrap up of 2018 then please do pop over to my 2018: A Bookish Year In Review post!)

Without further ado, let’s do this like the music charts, in reverse order, shall we?

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2018 | A Bookish Year In Review

As you can see from the title of this post, this is my ultimate monthly wrap up – it’s my year in review for 2018. This means I’m going to look back at the stats for everything I read in 2018, month by month, and there’s some nice visual representations of the books too. If you want to see what my top books of the year were, please see the companion blog post: Best Books of 2018.

But, first things first, let’s take a good look at every single book I read this year, because even the simple graphics and basic statistics are deeply satisfying to me.

JANUARY

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The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin | 3/5 stars | Review
* Princess Diaries: Take Two (Princess Diaries #2) by Meg Cabot | 3.5/5 stars | Review
The Winner’s Crime (Winner’s Trilogy #2) by Marie Rutkoski | 4/5 stars | Review
The Fandom (The Fandom #1) by Anna Day | 3/5 stars | Review
Sourdough by Robin Sloan | 4/5 stars | Review
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert | 4/5 stars | Review
The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo | 5/5 stars | Review

Read: 7 books | 2236 pages
Fav: The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

FEBRUARY

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* Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell | 5/5 stars | Review
The Power by Naomi Alderman | 5/5 stars | Review
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli | 4/5 stars | Review
How Not to Be a Boy by Robert Webb | 4.5/5 stars | Review
The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig | 5/5 stars | Review
Carol by Patricia Highsmith | 3/5 stars | Review

Read: 6 books | 2292 pages
Fav: The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

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Wrap Up | December 2018

Welcome one, welcome all, to my December Wrap Up. After a reasonably slow reading month in November, largely due to concentrating my efforts on NaNoWriMo instead, I was back with a vengeance in December and determined to finish the year on a high. I’ve long since surpassed my Goodreads Reading Challenge of reading 52 books in the year but I still had a fair few prompts from Around the Year in 52 Books to address and, as you might have seen in my December TBR, I became determined not to end the year without having at least tried to catch up at the eleventh hour and finish the challenge. So how did I do? Let’s see that, and which books I read in December…


In December, I read a total of 11 books 9 fiction and non-fiction – and were re-reads (marked by *). This amounted to 3144 pages in total.

In terms of format: 2 were paperbackwere hardback, and were audiobooks.

As for genre, were fantasy, 3 were classics, 2 were non-fiction/memoir1 was a contemporarywas YA historical fiction, and was gothic.

Onto the books themselves…

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My 2018 Resolutions | Quarterly Check-in #4

As you may have seen if you’re been around the blog for a while, throughout 2018 I have been doing check-ins for my yearly resolutions as a way of keeping me accountable to more people than just myself. At the end of the first quarter of 2018, I posted my first check-in, at the end of June I posted my second check-in, and my third check-in came at the beginning of October. Today’s post is my fourth and final quarterly check-in and will, ultimately, also deliberate on whether I completed my goals and aims for 2018 or not.

(If you need/want an in-depth reminder of my 2018 Resolutions you can find that post here before diving in to see how I did below.)

READING GOALS

1. Complete Goodreads 52 Books goal

Verdict: Completed
At my last check-in I’d read 63 books and I mentioned that I was hoping to get to 75 by the end of 2018. well, I surpassed that. I’m quite proud of myself for that. Presuming I finish off the book I’m currently reading tonight before that arbitrary ticking over of the clock from 11.59pm on 31st December 2018 to 12.00am on 1st January 2019 then I will have read 83 books in 2018 and will be rather pleased with myself for that.

2. Complete Around the Year in 52 Books

Verdict: Completed
Progress on this slowed considerably in the third quarter of 2018, and I had many challenges left. December dawning weirdly motivated me to keep going because I was behind but not insurmountably so, if I just sat down and worked out what I needed to read to complete the challenge. As I sit and type this post up, it’s New Year’s Eve and I have one book left to finish the challenge of “a gothic novel”. About 120 pages stand between me and saying I completed Around the Year in 52 Books so I’m going to optimistically say I’ve completed this resolution and hope that, by doing so, I haven’t damned myself.

3. Finish off the books in a series I have yet to read

Verdict: Failed
As mentioned at my last check-in, I didn’t even think about finishing any series and that tradition carried on into the rest of 2018 too. It just wasn’t a priority for me anymore and, do you know what? I think I’m ok with that.

4. Finish War and Peace and read another Russian classic

Verdict: Failed
It’s becoming a joke right now but, nope, I still haven’t finished War and Peace. It’s getting faintly a little ridiculous now. I just can’t decide if I’m going to need to start afresh or at least read a length summary of the first five volumes before I can finally read the sixth part of the book – not wanting to face up to this possibility is what has definitely put me off picking up Tolstoy’s brick again. I also didn’t read another Russian classic but, hey, I read a huge French classic in the form of The Count of Monte Cristo so does that count?

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