T5W | Books You Didn’t Get to in 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 Books You Didn’t Get to in 2018: discuss the books you didn’t quite get around to this year but are at the top of your list for 2019! I think this is pretty self-explanatory so let’s waste no time and get straight down to the books, shall we?

5. A Dance with Dragons, Vol. 2 by George R.R. Martin

There was a readalong many moons ago for the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series and I managed somehow to make it as far as this book before I properly faltered. At this stage, I’ve got book and TV show mixed up, and I’m not sure where either of them are up to for each of the characters, which makes the idea of picking this book up less and less appealing as time passes and I forget even more.

 4. If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

Often compared to Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, this is precisely why I’ve successively put off reading this book from M.L. Rio. The Secret History remains one of my favourite books of all-time so anything that’s compared to it has rather large shoes to fill. However, this has its own merits because it is heavily focused on Shakespeare – rather than students of classics, as they are in Tartt’s novel, the students in If We Were Villains are at an elite conservatory for drama. I’m sure that it’ll be a case of life imitating art imitating life with its Shakespearean themes but I’m just nervous to try it out in case it proves to be disappointing – I have such high hopes.

3. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Can you believe I still haven’t finished the sixth and final section of War and Peace? No? Well neither can I. I did so (/reasonably) well back during the War and Peace Readalong but many months have passed and I still haven’t managed to finish that final elusive section. It’s starting to get to the point where it’s been so long I barely remember anything that happened in the first 800 or so pages and that’s a dangerous place to be if you hope to pick it back up to finish soon. Maybe 2019 will finally be the year?

2. City of Ghosts by V.E. Schwab

Basically, it’s surprising that there’s a V.E. Schwab book that was released this year that I haven’t immediately read upon its publication. This and The Dark Vault (which was a bind-up/re-issue of The Archived and The Unbound) were both released in 2019 and yet I haven’t finished either of them. At least I’ve picked this one up, via the audiobook that I was surprised to find on Scribd straight after it was released, but I haven’t yet finished listening to it. I really need to fix that.

1. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

I think this is going to be on every single one of these lists until the end of time. I love this series, I don’t want it to end, therefore I constantly put off reading the fourth and final book, so it never has to be over. To this day I am astounded I’ve not been spoiled for its ending (or, in fact, anything at all that happens in it) but it feels like, as more time goes by, the more likely it is that I will be by a random blog post. So I should probably read The Raven King at some point, to avoid that happening by mistake but I do wonder if this will be a running joke of a book I just can’t (or won’t) read.

 

What books did you want to read but not get to in 2018? Do you have a Top 5 Wednesday post for this week? Be sure to link me below if you do!


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Blogmas Reflection & Happy Holidays

I could make this a long post, or I could keep it simple. I’ll try for brevity, for once.

If you haven’t gathered, I’ve been trying to bring a little Blogmas spirit to the blog since the start of the month and I’m slightly surprised I managed to keep it going until today, Christmas Eve.

Blogging everyday has helped me to better schedule, understand my own limitations and motivations, and to force myself to write every day, something which NaNoWriMo in November helped me to do too with the more fictional words. It has also helped me to reevaluate why I blog and focus more keenly on what kind of content I want to most write for this blog. All of those things are valuable, regardless of the topics that are the focus of those posts. Thank you for this excuse, Blogmas.

Since no one could provide a definitive answer as to when Blogmas’ start/end date was I’ve decided to call it today. All that remains is for me to thank every single one of you reading this for sticking around this little book blog. Thank you for all your views, your likes, your comments, but mostly your friendship, encouragement and support- this is the reason I stick around the blogosphere. Christmas is a time when I think we could all do with pausing to take stock and think about all the things we’re grateful and thankful for, so this is my moment.

However you celebrate it (or if this is simply another day to you), I wish you a very merry 24th December and I hope you are happy and healthy.

Feature | Weekend Watching #7

Welcome one, welcome all, to a new feature to this blog which I have decided to call: Weekend Watching. This will be a hopefully regular post uploaded on Saturdays or Sundays (hence the “weekend watching”) where I talk about a film, TV show, or maybe even YouTube channel/video that I’ve particularly enjoyed recently. I’m hoping to spotlight at least one thing to watch each week and hopefully someone at least will get a kick out of these posts – I will, if no one else does!


This time, since I’m bringing you this post during Blogmas, I thought I would make things suitably festive and showcase a few of my favourite holiday films. These may not all necessarily be about Christmas, or even set during it, but they’re all films that I inevitably reach for around the holiday season. (Warning: I’m extremely basic, you probably won’t find anything too left field here.)

Family friendly films

Miracle on 34th Street
Growing up, I was a huuuuge fan of the film adaptation of Matilda (and, to be fair, I still am) so it’s no surprise that I also love this Christmas film starring Mara Wilson. I adore this film, it has my entire heart, and I still grin like an absolute idiot when the people secretly wear the “I Believe” badges. I’m not hugely into the earlier film but this one is on regular, heavy rotation during the festive period for sure.

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Mary Poppins
Another of my favourite films of all-time, Mary Poppins was a childhood favourite that stayed. I’ve seen it countless times, could quote every single word, and I’m incredibly excited for the new Mary Poppins Returns film (even if just a little bit worried in case they ruin it!). As a child I aspired to be Mary Poppins and Bert had my heart – and both of those things are probably still a little bit true. This always gets watched by me and my mum during the festive period, whether it’s on TV or not.

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Harry Potter
I debated whether this really belonged in this category but here we are anyway. The Harry Potter film series will always hold a certain amount nostalgic for me – going to see the first couple of films was one of the ‘end of term before Christmas’ treats that they organised when I was at primary school – and the fact that ITV seem to insist on replaying the entire series over the festive season definitely helps keep that nostalgia alive. I love the books, I love the films, I won’t really consider it truly Christmas until I’ve seen Harry excitedly run down the stairs into the Gryffindor Common Room when he realises he’s actually been given some Christmas presents. My heart!

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Down the TBR Hole #27

Welcome folks to the twenty-seventh 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. Shakespeare And The Loss Of Eden: The Construction Of Family Values In Early Modern Culture by Catherine Belsey

Why is it there? As you might have gathered from previous Down the TBR Hole posts, sometimes in the past I have gone through weird phases of suddenly adding more academic books to my TBR – this is one of those. That’s not to say that I’m not not interested in the book nowadays, it’s just that now I’m out of education, it’s harder to both get hold of the book (no more university inter-library loans) and to find the motivation to actually read it.
Do I own it? No
Verdict? Ditch

2. Over Her Dead Body: Death, Femininity and the Aesthetic by Elisabeth Bronfen

Why is it there? Much like the previous title, this is an academic title that I added whilst on a roll at university. I’m still interested in the concepts this book undoubtedly addresses but it’s not something that I can foresee casually picking up of an afternoon, you know?
Do I own it? No
Verdict? Ditch

3. Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forster

Why is it there? Last year I read A Room with A View and Howards End and was really very pleasantly surprised to find that I thoroughly enjoyed both of them. I didn’t know anything about E.M. Forster or his writing before I’d picked them up – and I think that was probably why I ended up being so positively surprised by what I found. I’m hoping that will continue to be the case sometime in the future when I get round to this one…
Do I own it? Yes
Verdict? Keep Continue reading

Tag | Bookish Book Lover Tag

Welcome one, welcome all! Today, I’m here with the Bookish Book Lover Tag, which was created by Shantelle @Shantellemaryh Although it seems her blog doesn’t exist anymore, oh no! I saw this tag recently thanks to Stephanie from Adventures of a Bibliophile. Let’s not waste any more time, let’s jump straight into the questions…

What books are you currently reading?

At the time of writing this post (though hopefully not at the time of publishing this post), I’m currently reading a few things: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Stories by Edgar Allen Poe, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, and If We’re Not Married By Thirty by Lucy Bell. The first three of those are audiobooks and the first two are for the sake of completing a couple more Around the Year challenges. The latter two are just for fun!

What’s the last book you finished?

I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell – I didn’t really know what to expect at all because I’ve never read anything from this author before but it came highly recommended from someone at work. It turned out to be awful and shocking and kind of morbid but also weirdly uplifting too and I really enjoyed the writing style (even though it’s non-fiction, so can you really tell what someone’s fiction will be like from that?) so I’ll be checking out some more Maggie O’Farrell in the future for sure.

Favorite book read this year?

I have to choose just one?! I’ve had a pretty damn good reading year, all in all, and there have been a lot of 4+ star reads, but off the top of my head some major contenders are: Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Furyborn by Claire Legrand, The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry, The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig.

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T5W | Most Anticipated 2019 Releases

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 Anticipated 2019 Releases: Pretty explanatory. If you can’t narrow it down, give your selections for only the first half of the year or even just for winter 2019. 

When I first saw this topic on the Goodreads group, I thought I would struggle to come up with 5 books for my list, as I’ve been feeling a little out of the loop when it comes to new releases. I had thought that I was pretty content with the set of books I had on my physical TBR and that there weren’t too many books I was waiting for that hadn’t yet been published. Turns out I was wrong and there are indeed a few releases that are making me wish away the rest of 2018 so that 2019 is closer.

starlessseaHonourable Mention: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

I really don’t know what to expect from this as it’ll be the second book from Erin Morgenstern, author of the phenomenally enchanting The Night Circus. The synopsis promises a masquerade party in New York, a subterranean library, twisting tunnels and lots of magic. That sounds plenty good enough for me.

 

royals25. Her Royal Highness (aka Royals 2) by Rachel Hawkins

I read the first book, Royals, this year and it was a lot of fun, once you ignore the entire idea of a Scottish royal family. But, hey, if you’re already suspending the disbelief anyway, what’s a little bit more? Since it took place largely in Edinburgh, I really enjoyed the first book. I’m not sure what this second book will bring but since it’s about the Princess Flora at boarding school I’m sure it will be a hell of a lot of fun.

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Discussion | TBRs – Guidelines or Rules?

Welcome folks, on this rather late evening, to another discussion post. Today, I’ve been (once again) poring over my remaining challenge prompts for an annual reading challenge, the reading prompts I want to cover in an upcoming readathon, and the TBR I set for myself back at the start of December. Trying to juggle all these things whilst also maintaining the motivation to actually read has led me to think… how do you see TBR lists? Do you treat them as rules or, as Captain Barbossa says, “more what you call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules”?

I know fellow readers who love a TBR. Those who relish the challenge. Those who love to stand in front of their bookshelves at the start of a new month and withdraw some books and place them proudly on their nightstand, ready to read throughout the month. Those who go to their local library, scribbled-down TBR list in hand, hunting for their next reads on the shelves and coming proudly home with their haul. Those who love to use challenges and readathons to help construct their monthly (and maybe even weekly) TBR lists. Those who love the satisfaction of being able to tick off/cross out a book from the same list once they’ve turned that last page.

Then, I know other readers – those who find TBRs nothing but restriction. Those who are well and truly mood readers and, when they wake up in a morning, don’t know at all what they’ll end up reading. Those who go into each month without their heads spinning with the particulars of this readathon or that book club reading list. Those who shudder away from making TBR lists because they feel like a teacher assigning you a book at school. And you may very well have wanted to read that particular book, but once someone has told you that you must, you lose all desire to do so because it has now become a chore. Those who may even go so far as to optimistically (/hopefully) construct a TBR list, only to find themselves completely ignoring it after they’ve finished writing it in their reading journal or on their blog.

I think I sit somewhere in the middle – I prefer to think of TBRs as guidelines. Even when I’m feeling at my most completionist, I very rarely set a TBR list and find myself completing every single book on there. I get bored. Or I lose motivation. Or I lost interest. Or I read a really great book that reminds me that I really want to read that other book with a similar theme, even if it wasn’t on the TBR I set mere days before. Even when it comes to short, week-long readathons, when I let myself construct a strict TBR in mind because of the short timeframe of the challenge, I often find myself deviating from my initial ideas, looking for alternatives that might be twisted to fit the challenge requirements.

I’m not posing this as a discussion point because I think either way (or anything in-between the two extremes) is the ‘right way’ to read. I’m just curious, because I see many a monthly TBR, but I don’t actually know everyone’s views on them to begin with. So, I’m asking you now: TBRs, do you treat them like rules or merely (vague) guidelines?


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Classics Club | December 2018 Check-In

For today’s post, I was inspired by Olive from abookolive‘s recent 12 Classics Books I Want to Read in 2019 video. At the end of every year she plans ahead which classics she would like to tackle in the coming year, in effect creating an annual TBR for herself. I think that’s a great idea since, roughly speaking, 1 book a month doesn’t seem too unmanageable, even if you’re still reading a lot of other things alongside these choices.

Now, back in March 2018 I created my very first Classics Club list, that is a list of 50 classics I would like to read, with my self-imposed deadline of 31st December 2022. Since creating that list I have read 4 of the 50 books which, let’s face it, isn’t exactly great. At that rate, I would be far from finishing off my Classics Club list when the end of 2022 rolled around. So, in an effort to combat me forgetting about this project, I’ve decided to start doing what I’m tentatively calling “check-in” of the list at semi-regular intervals, seeing how I’ve done since the last check-in and also reassessing if I still want the same books on the list.

What I like about the Classics Club project in particular is that they don’t expect you to limit yourself to the 50 books you picked once upon a time, as they say “The idea is to create living lists. It’s assumed these lists will adapt to our exposure to literature. The point isn’t to challenge people to read by a strict list — but to create for ourselves a habit and a curiosity about literature. […] It’s great if our lists reflect that growth throughout the event — changing and adapting as we become exposed to more literature, insight and feedback. So absolutely — switch up the titles on your list after you post it, at any time during the duration of your challenge.” So, I’ll very likely be doing that in the course of these check-ins, even though it will most certainly upset me to have to live with an outdated spread in my bullet journal! We all have our crosses to bear…

So, to December 2018’s Check-In…

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Tag | The Greek Gods Book Tag

Hi folks! Today, on this Thursday evening, I bring you a fun book tag, who would’ve guessed? I wasn’t actually tagged but I saw this tag very recently over on Luna’s blog and it was created by Zuky. Since it’s about greek gods and I loved learning the mythology and legends when I was younger (still do, if I’m honest), it seemed like an impossible tag for me to pass over. So here we are – let’s get straight to it!

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The Rules

  • Pingback to Zuky here so she can read all your posts!
  • You can use her graphics if you like, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to.
  • Tag as many people as you want, but please share the love.

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ZEUS: KING OF THE GODS – YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK

I have too many: Pride and Prejudice, Rebecca, Good Omens, Persuasion, The Graveyard Book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Six of Crows, The Secret History, Fangirl… I could go on.

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HERA: QUEEN OF THE GODS – A BADASS FEMALE CHARACTER

Speaking of Six of Crows, can we talk about Inej Ghafa for a minute? Because Inej. Need I say more? I think not, the Wraith speaks for herself.

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T5W | Books to Give Poetry Newbies as Gifts

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 Books to Give _____ as GiftsCreate a recommendations guide for a person. Be creative with this. It can be simple such as “books for parents”, more elaborate like “books for Ravenclaws”, or expert level like “books for -insert your favourite fictional character here-“. You can even take out the category completely and have all 5 be suggestions for different types of people!

At this time of year, every publisher knocks it out of the park with their stunning gift collections, pretty editions of classics, and illustrated books. I think these are often the perfect things to gift to your nearest and dearest, whether they’re voracious readers or not, and they can often be the gateway books into a new genre or medium. In an effort to make this list a tad more specialised, I decided to focus my efforts on Books to Give Poetry Newbies as Gifts. I myself am something of a relative newbie to poetry so I feel I’m well-placed to say what would/wouldn’t intimidate me if I were gifted it during the holidays – and a nicely illustrated or packaged edition always helps!

wishingforbirdsHonourable Mention: Your favourite poetry collection!

It may sound obvious but, hey, if you have a favourite poetry collection, this is the perfect occasion to spread the love! I myself have gifted Elisabeth Hewer’s Wishing for Birds collection to some people in previous years for Christmas. It’s a poetry collection which I immensely enjoyed and which I think isn’t too challenging or demanding for people who are new to poetry. It’s also full of themes which I think/hope a lot of people could relate to.

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