Long time no see, eh? If you’re even a slightly-frequent reader of this blog, then you might have noticed that I have been MIA for the past few weeks. In truth, since September really, I’ve not entirely been feeling my blog. Every post I’ve written has felt like a chore. That’s not to say I haven’t been reading, but even that has been less frequent that I would like. I’ve still been around generally but I haven’t been participating in as many readalongs or readathons and I’ve felt much less engaging with the online book community than previously. My Booktube watchlist is at a frankly horrifying number of unwatched videos so the less said about that the better. The upshot of which, though, has been that even when I haven’t felt inspired on my own, I also haven’t felt inspired by other people’s content either. I could say it’s a combination of things that has caused this slight hiatus but, if I’m honest, the overwhelming thing has just been a lack of inspiration and motivation.
However, as NaNoWriMo has come to a close in the last few days, I’ve had more time to think about writing things that aren’t fictional. I have realised I do miss blogging which has been a slight revelation. It wasn’t that I ever thought I’d want to quit blogging, but I didn’t realise just how much I enjoyed having an outlet until I wasn’t using it as an outlet. I have been writing some fictional bits and pieces for NaNo in November (and I won, for the first time ever, a discussion post about which I’m sure will come!) and I do enjoy the act of writing. And I miss blogging.
So, I’m going to try to make a real effort in December, and in the months to come, to blog more. I did think ‘oh maybe I should wait until 2020 and do a revamp of my blog, New Year, new start etc. etc.’ but then I realised, the passing of one year to the next is just the arbitrary passage of time so why not do things now, instead of waiting for January? I think I may accidentally end up doing Blogmas but we shall see if the motivation holds out long enough for that!
This is just to (re)say: hi, hello, howdy, hola, how have you all been? Have you been doing well? What’s changed in the last few months? Do you have any super important life or reading updates I should know? Let me know in the comments and I hope to be around more this month, and in the months to come!
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Welcome one, welcome all, to my October Wrap Up! October proved to be a strange sort of month. I’d hit something of a slump, life-wise, reading-wise, blogging-wise, and I’m still not entirely sure I’ve climbed out of that slump and got back on track. (The fact that I’m only just posting a wrap up and it’s already nine days into the next month speaks to that idea.)
October was also my birthday and I celebrated in a relatively low-key, but typical, way by going to eat food (yum yum Mowgli Street Food was a hit) before watching Les Misérables as the musical is touring the UK and stopped by Liverpool. Having already seen Killian Donnelly’s Jean Valjean in the West End, me and Liz jumped at the chance to see him reprise the role on the tour, and we’re SO glad we did as the musical was fantastic. They’re trying out new orchestrations and staging on the tour and I’m pretty sure those are the changes they will be making to the musical when it reopens in the West End in the newly refurbished and renamed Sondheim Theatre. (Let’s be real, no one is going to refer to it as that who has known it as the Queen’s.)
So, for all October felt a bit slump-y there were definitely things of note in the month. I also managed (somehow) to get a few books read.
In October, I read a total of 4 books – 4 fiction and 0 non-fiction – and 1 was a re-read (marked by *). This amounted to 1289 pages in total.
In terms of format: 2 were paperback and 2 were hardbacks. As for genre, 1 was a graphic novel, 1 was dystopian, 1 was literary fiction and 1 was fantasy.
Onto the books themselves…
Shall we talk about the elephant in the room? The fact I haven’t been around on the blog or in the online book community much over the last month or so? Ok well, in short, I ran out of mojo; my reading and blogging was affected by it and I don’t think I’m actually back to my usual self yet. However, I am trying. And we all know the best way to get yourself back into reading is to take part in a readathon, readalong, or reading challenge, right? Enter: Non-Fiction November.
Non-Fiction November takes place (funnily enough) throughout the month of November and is hosted by the lovely Olive from Abookolive. She is a voracious non-fiction reader and, to be honest, I envy her knowledge of the genre. You can find out more about the initiative in Olive’s announcement video or watch her TBR and recommendations video. It’s primarily run on Booktube but there is a Twitter account, a Goodreads group, and an Instagram challenge, if you’re so inclined. There are challenges to help you pick your TBR if you need some guidance and, of course, checking out the #NonfictionNovember hashtag on any social media will be sure to return a wealth of fellow participants and recommended reads alike.
Non-fiction is always something I intend to read more of – I even put it in my resolutions this year – but I inevitably forget it exists, unless I hear that a particularly compelling memoir has been released on audiobook. In fact, the only non-fiction I’ve consumed all year was Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally’s The Greatest Love Story Ever Told (audiobook gold, to be honest) and Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell’s Art Matters (gorgeous presentation and Liz bought me a signed edition last Christmas!). So, since I’ve pretty much entirely failed to read non-fiction thus far in 2019, I have decided to take part in Non-Fiction November to try to rectify that neglect. But ‘what will you be reading?’, I hear you ask – wonder no more…
Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson
Notes: Will likely listen to audiobook. Also fulfils Around the Year Week 2 challenge.
The Gender Games by Juno Dawson
Notes: Also fulfils Around the Year Week 33 challenge.
Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado-Pérez
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Notes: Will likely listen to audiobook. Also fulfils Around the Year Week 48 challenge.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
Notes: Will likely listen to audiobook.
So, that’s my TBR for Non-Fiction November. Are you participating? Let me know what you’ll be reading! Or, if you’re not, do you read non-fiction regularly? Got any recommendations? Comment them below, I’d love to add them to my TBR!
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Title: The Ten Thousand Doors of January (2019)
Author: Alix E. Harrow
Publisher: Little, Brown
Read: 2nd – 5th September 2019
Genre: historical fiction; fantasy
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
“In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored and utterly out of place. But her quiet existence is shattered when she stumbles across a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page reveals more impossible truths about the world, and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.” (Synopsis from publisher)
Welcome folks to the thirty-fifth round of Down the TBR Hole! 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. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison by Michel Foucault
Why is it there? Back when I was taking a critical theory course at university, Michel Foucault’s work always seemed accessible, more so than other theorists at least (hello Derrida, I’m talking about you), so I added the full-length text to my TBR of something I’d only studied extracts from during the course. Fast forward several years and it’s still sitting on my TBR, unread, so I think it’s safe to say that it won’t be getting read anytime soon.
Do I own it? No
2. Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman
Why is it there? Neil Gaiman’s novels are some of my all-time favourites but I am yet to really fall in love with his short stories. This is one of the few short stories collections of his that I have on my TBR and I do hope to get to it sometime soon because, like I said, he’s one of my favourite authors and I feel kind of bad I haven’t read any of his shorter works.
Do I own it? No
3. The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell
Why is it there? I love Chris Riddell’s illustration style, especially when he collaborates with Neil Gaiman. (Odd and the Frost Giants is adorable and beautifully drawn!) I really need to get to this one as I have a hunch I’ll really enjoy the story too.
Do I own it? No
Title: My Sister, the Serial Killer (2018)
Author: Oyinkan Braithwaite
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Read: 21st – 23rd August 2019
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
“Korede’s sister Ayoola is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola’s third boyfriend in a row is dead, stabbed through the heart with Ayoola’s knife. Korede’s practicality is the sisters’ saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood (bleach, bleach, and more bleach), the best way to move a body (wrap it in sheets like a mummy), and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures to Instagram when she should be mourning her “missing” boyfriend. Not that she gets any credit. Korede has long been in love with a kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where she works. She dreams of the day when he will realize that she’s exactly what he needs. But when he asks Korede for Ayoola’s phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become and how far she’s willing to go to protect her.” (Synopsis from publisher)
Sometimes, I make resolutions/goals for the year.
Mainly so I have something to write in the front of my bullet journal. Sometimes I succeed at them, sometimes I fail (spectacularly), but it’s always nice to have something to aim for and work towards. In recent years I’ve found that doing quarterly check-ins helps to keep me accountable to these aspirationally-set resolutions throughout the year, rather than just panicking and trying to do everything in December. So this is what it says on the tin, folks, this is a check-in of how I’m doing at my 2019 Resolutions after the third quarter of the year. If you want to know how I did in previous quarters, take a look at my first check-in or my second check-in.
1. Read the 5 books on my ‘Books I Didn’t Get To In 2018’ list
Guys, I have done nothing on this since the last check-in, I am failing miserably at it, in fact. However, I think October may well be the month that I get to some of those dark academia books (i.e. We Were Villains)because Leigh Bardugo’s Ninth House is released at the start of October and I will likely be keen to read all books set in pompous colleges. We’ll see what happens with the rest of the books on this list, haha.
2. Read at least 1 classic each month from my Classics Club list
I have not been succeeding at this at all. I’ve only read 2 classics in the entirety of the year and I should have read 9. October brings with it Victober though, so maybe I’ll prioritise some classics then? Fingers crossed!
3. Read at least 1 non-fiction book each month
Surprise surpise, I’m kind of failing at this goal too. Although, since the last check-in (at which point I hadn’t so much as looked at a non-fiction book), I have read technically two whole non-fiction books, Art Matters (which is barely a book but, hey, it’s on Goodreads so it counts!) and The Greatest Love Story Ever Told. Something tells me that I’m going to need to participate in Non-Fiction November if I hold any hope of completing this goal.
Welcome one, welcome all, to my September Wrap Up! As you may be able to tell from the dismal amount of blog posts on here and the books I read below, September was not the greatest of months. I can’t really pinpoint why this might be, it just was a bit… flat for me. I was on holiday for the first week or so of the month (which is actually when I read the books I did read in September) with my parents and that was chill and mostly fun but then when I got back to Liverpool, I just didn’t really want to blog or read. It coincided with me rediscovering the joy that is forum roleplaying, so any words I was consuming or writing was mostly in that arena.
Then, at the very end of September, Liz and I met up with our good friends from university in London as we went to see a couple of shows I had really been looking forward to – Waitress and the Les Miserables Staged Concert. Both were INCREDIBLE, for very different reasons, and I now have both of their soundtracks stuck in my head pretty much constantly. Let me tell you, having both I Dreamed a Dream and Bad Idea rolling around in your head makes for the weirdest of mashups ever. (I also now have a huge crush on the Dr Pomatter we saw, David Hunter, who reminded me of John Krasinski a little. No one is surprised by this crush, least of all me.) Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend but now that I’m back, the fact that it’s October (WTF?!) is sinking in, slowly but surely. Expect all the panicky ‘it’s almost the end of the year!’ posts to follow in due course… But, for now, let’s see what I read in September, shall we? (It won’t take long to recap!)
In September, I read a total of 2 books – 2 fiction and 0 non-fiction – and 0 were re-reads (marked by *). This amounted to 736 pages in total.
In terms of format: 2 were eARCs. As for genre, 2 were historical fantasy. (This might be the simplest set of stats I have ever had to put together. Maybe I should have reading slumps more often? I jest, please do not repeat.)
Onto the books themselves…
Welcome one, welcome all, to my TBR for the upcoming Gilmore Girls Readathon. It takes place from the 1st until the 15th October – the perfect time for the start of Autumn and cosying up with a cup of coffee and a book. Rory Gilmore would be proud! It’s hosted by @livs_library, @pastel_pages, and @mackenzielane_ but you can find out more about the readathon on the readathon Twitter too!
It wouldn’t be a readathon without some themed reading prompts/challenges to based your TBR on and this readathon is no exception to that fun. So, let’s take a look at my TBR, shall we?
A book with a school setting
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
✓ A mother/daughter relationship book
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
✓ Any cosy book set during fall/winter
Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks
A book with complicated love interests
Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater SWAP: The Gap of Time: A Novel by Jeanette Winterson
A book by an Asian author or has Asian representation
The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang
The next book in a series you haven’t finished (rereading) yet
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
A book with food on the cover or is a crucial part to the storyline
Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu
After what has been a pretty dismal reading month in September I’m really hoping this themed readathon will help me feel inspired to finish some more books in October. That’s the hope anyway! I’ll likely update my reading over on Twitter so be sure to follow me there for all the progress updates.
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Title: Gods of Jade and Shadow (2019)
Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Imprint: Jo Fletcher Books
Read: 5th August – 1st September 2019
Genre: historical fiction; fantasy; mythology
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
“The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy scrubbing floors in her wealthy grandfather’s house to do more than dream of a life far from her small town in southern Mexico. Until the day she accidentally frees an ancient Mayan god of death, who offers her a deal: in return for Casiopea’s help in recovering his throne, he will grant her whatever she desires. From the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City and deep into the darkness of Xibalba, the Mayan underworld, Casiopea’s adventure will take her on a perilous cross-country odyssey beyond anything she’s ever known. Success will make her every dream come true, but failure will see her lost, for ever…” (Synopsis from publisher)