Evermore Book Tag

Hi everyone! You could probably guess this one was coming, Taylor Swift released another surprise album Evermore in December (she’s had a more productive quarantine than the entire world combined). Surprise, surprise, I loved it, it’s got quite a different feel to folklore, but it’s still quite clear why it’s a “sister album”. As always my favourite songs change the more I listen to them, but at present my favourites are: no body, no crime, champagne problems, happiness and long story short.

This is an original tag created by Ahaana @ Windows To Worlds, who also created the graphics that I’ll be using in this tag, which are super beautiful so thank you for allowing us to use them. Here are the rules for the tag:

-Link back to the original creator, Ahaana’s post.

-Tag at least 5 people.

-Thank the person who tagged you and link back to their post (I wasn’t actually tagged to do this, I just wanted to, so I guess I self-tagged!)

-Feel free to use Ahaana’s graphics (as I have done) but make sure to credit her in your post if you do.

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I dare you to read this book and not fall in love with Percy, Grover and Annabeth! I dare you. This series will always be super special to me, as it was how me and Hannah became friends, so even though I feel I’ve aged out of Rick Riordan’s books, Percy will always have a special place in my heart.

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This was the first book I thought of when I saw this prompt, as Sephy and Callum’s relationship is doomed to be broken from the very beginning due to the society they live in. Also it fitted quite well for me because Champagne Problems is a heart-breaking song and this is an heart-breaking book.

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I will admit that gold rush is one of my least favourite songs from evermore, so “love with all my heart” doesn’t really fit how I feel about the song. Still, it had to be A Darker Shade of Magic, it’s one of my all time favourite books, it has everything, memorable characters, fantastic world building and a brilliant plot. Plus it had to be a Schwab book for this one, she’s one of my all time favourite authors.

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Ali returns to Daevabad after five years away, so this seemed like quite a fitting book to use for this one as a lot of it finds him trying to reconnect with his brother and sister and the city that he left behind in the first book.

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I’m not talking about Feyre and Rhys here, rather I thought Feyre and Tamlin was quite fitting for this prompt. Feyre suffers so much because of Tamlin in this book.

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There are plenty of bodies and crimes in this one, it’s a murder mystery revolving around Jack The Ripper! In fact all of the books from this series could have fitted with this prompt as they are all historical murder mysteries.

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I didn’t want to go for Harry Potter because it seemed too obvious, so instead I went for this one as I really did enjoy The Princess Diaries series when I was a young teenager, but it’s not the kind of series I would go for anymore, far too romance heavy for me now!

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One of my favourite female friendship books, this seemed like the perfect one to choose for this prompt as Carmen, Lena, Bridget and Tibby have basically been friends since birth and this series is all about their friendship.

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I notoriously do not cry at books, this is one of only two that I’ve ever cried at, both were WWII based books. The bit where Lina exchanges the pocket watch for her brother’s life really got to me, and there were so many other truly harrowing moments in this book, particularly when you remember that what happened to Lina in this book, really did happen to millions of people under Stalin.

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My Sister’s Keeper was not my usual read, I didn’t really read adult fiction before I found this book when I was 13 and I definitely wouldn’t have thought a contemporary book about a girl who was born to save her dying sister would become a favourite of mine, but it’s a really heart-breaking, beautiful story and I ended up really loving it.

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I could have gone for Six of Crows for this one, but I wanted to highlight my other favourite gang of thieves here! I really enjoyed this heist romp last year and can’t want to read the sequel next month.

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Were you a bookworm child if you didn’t read Matilda? Anyway, Roald Dahl was a childhood staple for me (though of course we now know that he was pretty terrible person) and Matilda was definitely one of my favourite childhood books.

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This is such a moving book in general but I found the Rabbits’ stories particularly moving, which were based on real women who were experimented on under the Nazis and were left with horrifying physical damage, if they survived at all. It was definitely an incredibly moving and emotional read.

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I’ve been impatiently waiting for this one since I read the first book in September of 2019, and it’s finally going to be here in March. I can’t wait to see how Tavia, Wesley, Saxony and Karam’s story ends.

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I don’t know if 5 books counts as a long series, but since I mainly read trilogies, 5 is quite a lot of books for one series to me and the final book in the first arc of the Camp Half Blood universe was a really perfect and satisfying finale.

I don’t really know who to tag, so if you’d like to do this then consider yourself tagged!

Top Ten Tuesday #299

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Hi everyone! I hope you’ve had a good week since I last did one of these, mine was relatively quiet, I was working on edits for the next two chapters of my novel over the weekend, but I’ve finished those now. Still got a fair way to go, I’m only about a quarter of the way through, but I’m getting there!

Anyway, it’s Tuesday, which means another Top Ten Tuesday, courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week is our annual list of shame, the 2020 releases that we were excited for, but didn’t get to and whoa boy, this list is going to be a long one! I actually did read a fair number of 2020 releases last year, but as always there were still some I didn’t get around to. So here there are the 2020 releases I missed reading last year (and would like to try and catch up with this year:

  1. Where Dreams Descend-Janella Angeles

I was so excited for this one, it sounded so good, it had musical theatre comparison titles, which are basically catnip for Jo, but did I get around to it? No. I wanted to, but my reading really slowed down toward the end of last year and I didn’t get to as many books as I’d have liked. Still, this one is one of my #RockMyTBR challenge books for 2021, so I’ll definitely be getting to it this year.

2. The Silvered Serpents-Roshani Chokshi

Again, one I really wanted to get to last year, but because I was reading Seasons of War through pretty much all of November and December, I didn’t get around to any of the other books I wanted. I’m super excited to get to this one next month though, I’ve been hearing such good things and I loved the first book so much, so I’m really excited to be back with the characters from this series!

3. The Lives of Saints-Leigh Bardugo

This one is fairly slim as it’s a short story collection, so it should be pretty easy to squeeze in this year, I really enjoyed The Language of Thorns, so I’m looking forward to seeing what Leigh Bardugo did with this one.

4. Dangerous Remedy-Kat Dunn

I was actually approved for this on Netgalley but it expired before I could download it, so I never got around to reading it. It still sounds super good though, lots of LGBTQ+ sorcerers causing chaos in the French Revolution? Yes please! I may get the audiobook for this later in the year.

5. All The Stars and Teeth-Adalyn Grace

Another one where it expired before I could download it, it had no archive date set on it and then Netgalley suddenly changed it before I was able to download it! Dark magic, mermaids and pirates? It sounds super fun and I hope that I’ll be able to get around to it this year, again probably through the audiobook.

6. The Foundling-Stacey Halls

In all fairness, I got this one from my friend Hannah as a Christmas present, so I wouldn’t really have had time to read it in 2020. Still, I definitely want to try it this year as it sounds really interesting and I know Hannah really loved it, so it must be good!

7. Good Girl, Bad Blood-Holly Jackson

Ah sequel to A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder which was one of my favourite reads of last year, so this one is definitely on the high priority list for this year. I would have been fairly happy with AGGGTM as a standalone, but I’m not going to say no to more of Pip and Ravi and I look forward to seeing what they get up to next.

8. Devil, Darling, Spy-Matt Killeen

I read the first book in this series, Orphan Monster Spy around two years ago, and I got Devil Darling Spy last year but I never got around to reading it, so it’s definitely one I’d like to get to in the not too distant future.

9. Difficult Women: A History of Feminism In 11 Fights-Helen Lewis

I won this in a giveaway last year, but haven’t got around to it yet. It combines two things I love: History and Feminism and I am trying to read more non-fiction this year, so hopefully I get around to it at some point.

10. House of Earth and Blood-Sarah J Maas

I meant to get around to this one last year, I really did, but after reading both of the Daevabad trilogy sequels, I was kind of burned out on super long audiobooks! I will definitely try and get around to the audiobook of this one this year though.

11. A Promised Land-Barack Obama

I got this as a Christmas present, so again, it’s probably not really fair that it’s on this list. It is a hefty beast though, so I may dip in and out of it through the year as it’s easy enough to do that with a memoir.

12. Scavenge The Stars-Tara Sim

This Count of Monte Cristo retelling sounds so good, I just don’t know where to get it from! If I’m able to find it from a non-Amazon source then I might get to it this year. UK PUBLISHERS PLEASE PICK UP TARA SIM’S BOOKS. SIGNED, SAD UK FAN.

13. The Love Hypothesis-Laura Steven

This one sounds like a lot of fun, I just wasn’t really in the mood for contemporary last year! I would definitely like to try and get around to Laura’s newest release this year though, as I loved The Exact Opposite of Okay.

14. The Tower of Nero-Rick Riordan

Technically I still have to read The Tyrant’s Tomb before I can get to this…..I know, I know, I’m super behind, but I’m still really excited to see how Rick Riordan has tied up the Camp Half-Blood universe stories.

So that’s it, that’s my 2020 list of shame! Have you read any of these? Did you enjoy them? Are you planning to read any of them this year? Let me know in the comments!

I’ll be back next week with another Top Ten Tuesday, this time it’s perennial favourite, New To Me Authors I Read In 2020, and I discovered a lot of great new authors last year, so I’m really excited to share this one!

Seasons of War (Skulduggery Pleasant #13) Review

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Book: Seasons of War (Skulduggery Pleasant #13)

Author: Derek Landy

BECHDEL TEST: PASS-Valkyrie and her mum talk about her sister, Alice.

Content Warnings: Death, violence, war, transphobia, PTSD, blood, gore, torture, mutilation, grief, addiction, imprisonment

SPOILER ALERT: There will be some major spoilers for Book 12 in this review, and for other books in the series. If you are not caught up, stop reading now.

I was really excited for the latest Skulduggery Pleasant book, after really enjoying the 12th book last year. Sadly, it was unlucky number 13 for Skulduggery, as this 13th outing fell considerably short of my expectations. It was a rather messy book, with too many plot threads crammed in, slow pacing and one of the main plot threads of this new arc of the series being resolved far too easily. I still love Skulduggery but this was definitely one of weaker instalments of the series. Here is a short synopsis of the book:

The thirteenth thrilling novel in the internationally bestselling Skulduggery Pleasant series, SEASONS OF WAR will test the Skeleton Detective and Valkyrie like never before…

War is coming. To avert catastrophe, Skulduggery and Valkyrie are sent on a secret mission that takes them away from everything they know, to a forsaken land of magic and grim, unrelenting terror. It is here that Valkyrie will have to fight the hardest ― not only against the enemies who want her dead, but also against her own self-destructive impulses. It’s only by crawling through darkness that she’ll be able to once again stand in the light… 

So I’ll start off with my biggest problem with this book, our old friend pacing rears its ugly head again! This is a super thick book, and it’s not very well paced at all. A lot of this book is JOURNEYING, which is never my favourite thing in the first place and here it really ground things to a snail’s pace. All the excitement really happens in the last 200 odd pages. The chapters are really short which helps, but I think it still could have used some trimming off the page count.

There’s also a lot of subplots in this that add very little to the overall story. The Flanery subplot, which has been fairly weak throughout Phase 2 of the series, has very little impact here, he’s only present for two or three chapters and since his plot to expose magic was foiled in the last book, I don’t really understand why he’s still present at all. The Sebastian and Darquesse subplot is JUST WEIRD, I don’t want to go to far into it because it would be super spoilery, but yeah….wasn’t a fan.

I also didn’t think the Temper Fray plot added a lot? I reckon had the book simply focused on Omen and Skulduggery and Val’s adventures in the Leibniz Universe, then it would probably have had a better focus and would have been a more enjoyable read.

However, there were things I did enjoy in this book. One of the highlights of this whole Phase 2 of the series has been Valkyrie’s journey with her mental health, YA fantasy books have a tendency to not really explore the impact that traumatic events have on their teenage characters and Val has dealt with A LOT over the years, so it was really cool to see that journey come to a head in this book, and for her to acknowledge that her coping mechanisms have been unhealthy and that she needs therapy was really great. I hope we get to see more of Val working through her trauma in the next two books.

Saracen’s power reveal! We waited years for it and it was hilarious! I’d always figured that some sorcerers must pick a fairly limited use power that seems super cool at the time but turns out not to be and it was so funny to see that with Saracen. Like if you give an 18 year old free reign to pick any magic they want, chances are some of them are going to pick something that’s really only appealing when you’re that age and get stuck with it for hundreds of years!

I’ve been watching Heroes over the past few months (I know, super late to the party, but in my defence, I was like 10 when it first came out, so it wasn’t really suitable!) and Valkyrie’s ability to be able to mimic other people’s powers in this really reminded me of Peter Petrelli in that series. I look forward to seeing more of it, because I think it’s pretty cool.

The whole Last of The Faceless Ones thing that was a super big reveal in the last book? I was really disappointed that hardly anything was done with it in this book. I mean I get that Mevolent is a big deal and they needed to get rid of him, but Valkyrie learned a huge new thing about herself and she barely spends any time digesting it? As a reader, I just wanted more to be done with that.

It was really nice to see the whole group of Val, Tanith, Skulduggery, Saracen and Dexter back together in this book, I think this series really thrives off the group dynamics and I was kind of sad that they got split up for most of the book because the series really thrives on that dynamic.

I was especially sad that we didn’t get as many Val and Skulduggery scenes in this book because I loved that they were finally getting closer again in the last book. Having said that, the ones we did get: GOLDEN. They definitely seem to be getting back into their old rhythms now, which I love.

The dialogue is still great, all the sarcasm and wit that we know and love from this series is definitely still a firm feature. I will say though that I’m not sure this was Derek Landy’s best written book? A lot of the sentences seemed kind of clunky, and I know that this has never been a particularly description heavy series, but this book in particular, they seemed very sparse! I will admit though, some of this may come from the fact that I was editing my own novel whilst reading this and I have some similar issues with description!

It was nice to see Val’s whole family back in this book, it’s been ages since we’ve had a whole family get together!

Also can we talk about Serpine for a second? I was not expecting to enjoy him as much as I did, but he was one of the highlights of this book for me! He was a really entertaining addition to this book and his dynamic with Valkyrie was strangely charming!

The fact that the Leibniz Universe has the same name as a biscuit makes me laugh every time.

It was nice that Omen had more to do in this book, though his storyline had very little to do with what was going on with Val and Skulduggery. I am a little peeved that Landy had to introduce Omen having feelings for Never, WHY CAN WE NEVER HAVE PLATONIC FRIENDSHIPS?????? I mean I’m glad he doesn’t seem to want to act on it, and at least Omen and Axelia seem to have found their platonic friendship groove, but it would be nice if Omen didn’t have to have romantic feelings for all his friends!

Landy always does really great action scenes, though I will admit, a lot of the tension was kind of drained from the final battle with Mevolent because we take a big break in between the first wave of the battle and then the second one. There’s also a lot of deus ex machinery bits with Valkyrie’s injuries in this one as she always seems to be easily able to find a doctor whose powers she can use to heal herself.

It does seem really convenient that Landy has brought back pretty much all of the main villains from the series now! I mean don’t get me wrong, he has had some great villains over the years, but it would be nice if we got to see some new ones rather than Val and Skulduggery defeating the same big bads over and over again. I also felt that Mevolent felt kind of flat as supposedly the biggest bad of the big bads? He could have been way more scary!

I was really disappointed by how the whole King of The Darklands thing was handled, that’s been a plotline that’s been building up throughout the series and I wasn’t expecting it to be resolved as easily as it was.

I’m really interested in Crepuscular, he definitely seems like he’s being set up to be a villain but in this book he’s fairly helpful to Omen, so I’m still kind of wondering what side he’s going to be on? He was actually way more interesting than Mevolent, and his backstory with Skulduggery is really cool, so I hope that gets explored more instead of some of the other weird series subplots in the next book.

I was really sad with the way Saracen’s story was handled in this book, I think it could have been done so much better and I didn’t really feel enough of the emotional impact from it.

The whole Religious Freedom Act was an interesting addition to this book, I look forward to seeing how this is explored in the upcoming two books, this series has kind of touched on religion before but never really gone deeply into it, so it would be nice to see that explored more.

Overall, this book was definitely a pretty messy instalment of the series, it did have some good aspects but it’s definitely not amongst my favourites of the books. I hope that the next book is better and I look forward to seeing what adventures Val and Skulduggery have next.

My Rating: 3/5

My next review will be of Rory Power’s Burn Our Bodies Down.

Top Ten Tuesday #298

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Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all had a good week since I last did one of these, I had a big job application due last week so that’s what I spent most of my time on, but that’s all done now so this week looks set to be quieter.

Anyway, it’s Tuesday, which means another Top Ten Tuesday, courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week we’re talking about our Goals for 2021. I’m not planning on making any life goals for this year, since that just seems doomed to failure, but reading, writing and blogging goals? Those I can definitely do! I always love doing these posts at the beginning of the year, because I like having things to work towards during the year. So here we go, these are my Reading/Writing/Blogging Goals For 2020:

  1. Complete my Goodreads Challenge

As with every year, I will be working towards completing my Goodreads Challenge. Like always, I’ve started it at 24, but I plan to put it up throughout the year, I just like starting with something I know I can achieve and putting it up so that it feels more low pressure. I read 45 books for my challenge last year and I’d really like to make 50 this year if I can.

2. Complete my #RockMyTBR Challenge

Another annual one, I have another 12 books on my challenge list this year and after only making it to 10 last year, I’d really like to complete the full 12 this year. Half of the books I read for the challenge last year made it onto my Best Books of 2020 list so I’m hoping this year will be just as successful.

3. Finish current round of edits on This Is Not A Love Story

Hannah and I are continuing swapping chapters of our novels this year and I’d really like to be able to have mine fully edited by the end of the year. I’m not sure whether I’m going to send this out for querying again or not, but it would be nice to have a fully polished MS by the end of this year.

4. Get Netgalley Ratio to 80%

Ah the elusive Netgalley Ratio. My Netgalley ratio actually ended up going down at the end of last year after I went on a bit of a requesting spree, so I’m hoping this year to read all of the books I’ve requested and hopefully finally reach the elusive 80%.

5. Catch up on 2020 releases

Another annual one. I actually don’t have as many 2020 releases to get to as I did 2019 releases, purely because there were less 2020 releases on my list. I do have some really anticipated sequels to first books that I only read last year to read though: like The Silvered Serpents and Good Girl, Bad Blood.

6. Read more new to me authors

I found so many great new authors last year, so I wanted to bring this goal back again this year as I love finding new authors to support and trying new authors means more potential favourites.

7. Continue reading more by authors of colour

I discovered a lot of great books by authors of colour last year and I really want to find more this year in my continued efforts to diversify my reading.

8. Read more non-fiction

I had this one a couple of years ago, but I decided to bring it back this year as I still have quite a lot of non-fiction books on my shelf that I want to read. I particularly want to try and get to Laura Bates’ Everyday Sexism this year after really enjoying Men Who Hate Women last year.

9. Try and have Writing Corner posts more regularly

My Writing Corner posts kind of fell away last year, what with me not really writing fiction for a large portion of the year due to the pandemic and not really being able to get many guest posters (again probably largely due to the pandemic) so I’m hoping to get it started up again a bit more this year.

10. Don’t buy any physical books from Amazon

Now, I’m not really under the illusion that I’ll be able to cut off all my Amazon usage completely, since I’m pretty attached to Audible and I like using Goodreads, plus Amazon Prime has a lot of great shows. However, what I can do is make sure that I’m supporting actual bookstores over Amazon, so this year, I’m going to make sure that all physical books I buy come from either Waterstones, Blackwells or independent bookstores.

So those are my Reading/Writing/Blogging goals for the year. Do you set goals for the year? If not, then why not? What are your goals for 2021? Do we share any? Let me know in the comments!

I’ll be back next week with another Top Ten Tuesday, talking about Books I Meant To Read In 2020 But Didn’t Get To.

#RockMyTBR November/December Update and Wrap-up (2020)

Hi all! I hope everyone’s doing okay with the new lockdown, I’ve been pretty busy with a job application this week, but that’s done now. I’m trying to keep occupied as much as I can to stave off the lockdown boredom, I’ve got an intensive Spanish course starting on the 18th, I’m doing editing on my friend’s novel and obviously my never-ending job hunt is still ongoing, so I’m hoping that I’ll have enough to be going on with for the next few weeks of lockdown.

So I kind of dropped the ball on my #RockMyTBR updates towards the end of last year, so this is going to be a fairly lengthy post updating everything I read in November and December and then wrapping up my thoughts on all of my 2020 #RockMyTBR reads. 2020 may have been mostly a trashfire of a year, but aside from my amazing trip to South Africa, I also had a great reading year, reading 45 books for my Goodreads Challenge, which is my best ever end of year total. My reading kind of slowed towards the end of 2020, I only read 4 books over November/December but you know what it was an exhausting year, so I’m not going to be hard on myself about it. I also didn’t actually read any #RockMyTBR challenge books over November or December, so this post will just be my regular reads:

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A Song of Wraiths and Ruin (A Song of Wraiths and Ruin #1) by Roseanne A. Brown:

My audiobook read for November. I really enjoyed this one, the characters were great and the anxiety representation was so beautifully done. There were a few debut teething issues, like pacing and slightly confused magic system and world-building, but overall it was a really good read and I’m looking forward to the sequel. I read this one from 2nd-26th November. Here is my review of it:

https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2020/12/03/a-song-of-wraiths-and-ruin-review-audiobook/

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The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult:

My November/December Netgalley e-ARC (I was mostly reading it in November, but it carried over a little into December as well). It was kind of disappointing for a Jodi Picoult book, I usually love her stuff, but this one was super slow paced and kind of suffered from an overload of technical information and trying to focus on too many things at once. I read this one from 19th October-12th December (was very on-off, I was reading another Netgalley e-ARC at the same time). Here is my review of it:

https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2020/12/17/the-book-of-two-ways-review-e-arc/

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Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman:

This was my audiobook read for December. I loved the TV show, but I found the book actually left a lot to be desired. The plot was very confused, the humour relied on a lot of incredibly dated stereotypes and there were way too many characters to keep track of. I read this one from 27th November-17th December. Here is my review of it:

https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2021/01/08/good-omens-review-audiobook/

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Kingdom of The Wicked (Kingdom of The Wicked #1) by Kerri Maniscalco:

This was my other Netgalley e-ARC for November/December. I was kind of disappointed in this one, the pacing was off, the worldbuilding was kind of lacklustre and I wasn’t a big fan of the main character. I read this one from 13th November-31st December (again kind of on/off). Here is my review of it:

https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2021/01/09/kingdom-of-the-wicked-kingdom-of-the-wicked-1-review-e-arc/

So that’s my final update of 2020, or first update of 2021 depending on how you look at it! I put together my list of 2021 challenge reads at the beginning of December, which is the post just below this one under the #RockMyTBR Challenge tab, marked #RockMyTBR 2021 Challenge, if you’d like to see what I’m planning on reading for my challenge this year. For the rest of this post, I’m going to rank my reads for my 2020 challenge and look forward to what I’ll be reading for the rest of January:

My 2020 #RockMyTBR Reads Ranked In Star Order:

  1. The Gilded Wolves-Roshani Chokshi-4 stars

Roshani Chokshi was one of my favourite new author discoveries of 2020, The Gilded Wolves hit all the things I love, historical setting, heists, found family and lots of humour. The Silvered Serpents is one of my challenge reads for this year and I can’t wait to read it!

2. The City of Brass-S.A. Chakraborty-4 stars

Another of my favourite new author discoveries of last year, I tore through all of S.A. Chakraborty’s published books (ie her Daevabad trilogy) in 2020. The City of Brass was a wonderfully immersive fantasy read, with brilliant characters and it’s one I’m definitely glad I had in the miserable days of Lockdown 1.0.

3. The Dead Queens’ Club-Hannah Capin-4 stars

Hannah Capin’s debut novel was super fun, I loved all of the Tudor references, I thought the humour was great and I loved how feminist it was too, it was so cool to see a Tudor retelling that centred Henry VIII’s wives rather than the man himself (and which acknowledged that Henry was categorically THE WORST).

4. The Lady’s Guide To Petticoats and Piracy-Mackenzi Lee-4 stars

Lady’s Guide was so fun, not as good as Gentleman’s Guide but I loved how this book focused on female friendships and I loved how Lee tackled internalised misogyny in a historical setting. It was great seeing Felicity take centre stage and I can’t wait to read the final book focusing on Felicity and Monty’s younger brother coming out this year.

5. Circe-Madeline Miller-4 stars

Being a massive Greek mythology fan, I was super excited for this one, and it definitely lived up to expectations. Miller wove lots of different Greek myths into Circe’s story in a really cool way and her writing was just stunning. I’m also always here for stories that explore the relationship between women and power.

6. Spin The Dawn-Elizabeth Lim-3.5 stars

I enjoyed this but not as much as I expected to, I think I kind of fell victim to the hype monster for this book. The concept sounded so cool, but the tailoring aspect really wasn’t utilised enough, I didn’t like the romance, the world building was kind of lacking and I found it really off-putting that the main female character had like no other female friends. I did love the diverse world and characters though.

7. Tunnel of Bones-Victoria Schwab-3 stars

This was originally meant to be City of Ghosts, but I swapped it out after City of Ghosts was chosen for me to read in May as part of my Goodreads Book Club’s Pick-It-For-Me group. I don’t usually read middle grade, but I enjoyed the first book in the series, and this one was super fun as well, I preferred City of Ghosts for the atmosphere and setting, but I still really loved the friendship focus here and it was a nice fast read.

8. King of Scars-Leigh Bardugo-3 stars

I was really disappointed with this one, I’ve been looking forward to Nikolai’s book for years and it just wasn’t as enjoyable as I hoped. It was kind of slow and Nikolai didn’t really have as much of a role as he should have given that it’s his book. Nina’s storyline also didn’t really fit with the rest of the book. I did however really love Zoya’s plotline and backstory, I thought that was the highlight of this book.

9. The Devouring Gray-Christine Lynn Herman-3 stars

I didn’t originally have this on my list, but I swapped it in after I DNF’ed my September read and swapped it for Tunnel of Bones, so this ended up being my October read. I didn’t love this one as much as I’d hoped sadly, it wasn’t as creepy as I’d have liked and it was very slow paced which meant it took me a while to get through.

10. Unhooked-Lisa Maxwell-3 stars

I loved the concept for this one, but it was executed poorly. It was such a slow paced book and I didn’t really connect to any of the characters, which was a real shame because I loved the idea of a Peter Pan retelling.

So that’s a wrap-up of what I thought of my 2020 reads, here’s what I’m planning on reading in the first month of 2021:

I’ve already read my first book, Seasons of War by Derek Landy which was a carry over from last year, so it won’t be included here, though you will see it on my January update.

A Court of Wings and Ruin-Sarah J Maas

I’m planning on catching up with the ACOTAR series before the release of A Court of Silver Flames, as I’ve still not read the third book. I have to admit, I’ve been putting it off because of its length, but since I have almost the entire month of January to read it, I’m hoping I’ll be able to get it done.

A Court of Frost and Starlight-Sarah J Maas

I’ve heard mixed things about this novella, but I still want to read it before A Court of Silver Flames comes out so that I’m fully caught up on the series.

The Midnight Library-Matt Haig

My January audiobook read, I’m almost halfway through it and it’s been pretty good so far, Carey Mulligan is a great narrator and the whole concept behind the story is pretty cool.

Burn Our Bodies Down-Rory Power

My Netgalley read for January, I wasn’t a massive fan of Wilder Girls by the same author but I thought her new book sounded cool, so I decided to give it a try. Hopefully I enjoy it more!

I’m so pleased with how well my reading went in 2020, having my highest Goodreads Challenge total ever was a nice way to cap off a not-so-great (to put it mildly) year. I’d really like to try and hit 50 on my challenge this year, but I’m not going to push myself to get there, as I like to focus more on the enjoyment of the books I read rather than the number. I’d also really like to actually read all 12 books on my challenge list this year as I know I fell slightly short this year! Here’s to 2021 being another great reading year!

How did everyone else’s November/December reading go? What was your first read of 2021? What did you set your Goodreads Challenge to this year? Let me know in the comments!

Kingdom of The Wicked (Kingdom of The Wicked #1) Review (e-ARC)

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Book: Kingdom of The Wicked (Kingdom of The Wicked #1)

Author: Kerri Maniscalco

Published By: Hodder and Stoughton

Publication Date: 27th October (sorry!)

Format: e-book

BECHDEL TEST: PASS-Emilia and Carolina talk about summoning spells

Content Warnings: Gore, violence, blood, self harm (in the context of blood offerings for spells), loss of a loved one, depiction of grief, murder, death, brief mention of unwanted touching, magical compulsion

Thank you to Netgalley UK and Hodder and Stoughton for allowing me to read this book early, this in no way affected my opinion of the book.

I discovered Keri Maniscalco with her Stalking Jack The Ripper series in 2019 and finished the final two books in the series last year. I enjoyed the series, though I definitely admit to being pretty disappointed with the final book in the series, Capturing The Devil. Still, when Kingdom of The Wicked was announced, I was super excited for it because a witchy fantasy that involved the seven deadly sins as Princes of Hell sounded really fun. Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed by the end result, the book wasn’t as exciting as I was expecting and the worldbuilding was sparse and confused. Here is a short synopsis of the book:

Two sisters.

One brutal murder.

A quest for vengeance that will unleash Hell itself…

And an intoxicating romance.

Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria are streghe – witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution. One night, Vittoria misses dinner service at the family’s renowned Sicilian restaurant. Emilia soon finds the body of her beloved twin…desecrated beyond belief. Devastated, Emilia sets out to find her sister’s killer and to seek vengeance at any cost-even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden.

Then Emilia meets Wrath, one of the Wicked-princes of Hell she has been warned against in tales since she was a child. Wrath claims to be on Emilia’s side, tasked by his master with solving the series of women’s murders on the island. But when it comes to the Wicked, nothing is as it seems…

As usual, my biggest problem with this book is something you’re probably sick to death of me going on about…..can anyone guess? Yes, it’s PACING. The pacing in this book was all over the place, after a really gripping opening, and a fairly good first couple of chapters, the middle of this book SAGGED. It did pick up again towards the end but there was quite a large portion in the middle where I was honestly just super bored? Not much was really happening, except Emilia wandering around and badly trying to solve a murder. I don’t need action all the time for a book to grip me, but I do need to feel that something is going on, and all too often I found my mind wandering whilst I was reading this.

My other main problem was the worldbuilding. For one thing, for a supposedly historical book, it really didn’t feel that way? You don’t get a very good sense of the setting (obviously we know it’s Sicily, but the settings on the island felt pretty poorly described), and the time period isn’t really properly defined. We know it’s the Kingdom of Italy, but that could put the time anywhere between 1861 and 1946, and there aren’t really many real clues to suggest as to where this book falls in that. I was quite surprised because Keri Maniscalco was pretty good at the historical details in the STJR series, so it was strange that things were so loosely defined here. You don’t really get much of a sense from the writing either, obviously no writer is ever going to go full 19th century in their writing, but I felt in Stalking Jack The Ripper, she at least made a better attempt to not make the characters sound like they were straight out of the 21st Century.

The fantastical elements could also have used some more development. I loved the idea of basing the demon princes around the seven deadly sins, but aside from Lust, it didn’t feel like their powers really all that developed? I thought Maniscalco could have done much cooler things with Greed, Envy and Wrath than she did, considering that with Lust, he was able to cause people to feel an overload of happiness and joy and then suck it all away leaving them hollow? That was super cool and I wish she’d been a little more inventive with what the other three princes could do. Also for a book called Kingdom of The Wicked, we never really get to see their Kingdom which felt like a bit of a cheat!

I’d also have liked to learn more about the Witch families, we learn that there are thirteen of them and that they’re descended from the first witch (called La Prima) but because they aren’t allowed to interact, we don’t really get a sense of any other the other families’ histories. There’s also loads of lesser demons introduced later on in the book, with very little explanation. There’s this whole thing about “shadow witches” and “star witches” as well which didn’t seem to be properly explained.

On the upside, all of the food sounded delicious, and I was super hungry when I was reading this, I just wish Maniscalco had given the same attention to setting description as she did to food!

Emilia’s grief over her sister was really well drawn, but I wish we’d got to see Vittoria for a little longer before she’d been killed. Since we as readers didn’t know her that well, even though Maniscalco does a good job describing Emilia’s grief, it doesn’t have as much impact as I would have liked, because we’d barely got to know Vittoria before she’d been killed and everything we find out about her is very second hand.

Speaking of the family, for someone who is supposedly so close to her family, we don’t really get to learn all that much about them and Emilia is separated them for much of the book. Also her parents and grandmother are somehow totally fine with her moving out? Nope, do not believe it.

It’s a problem that the book suffers from with all of the secondary characters, none of them were developed massively well.

As for Emilia herself, I wasn’t a big fan. She was kind of bland as a character, and she didn’t really drive the story forward, she more stumbled into a bunch of stupid decisions. I like introverted main characters, but they need to be active in driving the story forward and Emilia felt very passive. I did like that she was starting to come into herself more towards the end, but for the most part, she was fairly dull as a protagonist. From the little we know of Vittoria, it sounds like she probably would have made a more interesting main character!

I wasn’t a fan of the romance, I know, surprise, surprise. I really just don’t love mortal/immortal romances, it’s a bit of an awkward power dynamic, not to mention a ridiculous age gap. I mean I suppose this is slightly different because Emilia is a witch, not a human, but it still felt kind of weird for this immortal creature to be interested in an eighteen year old girl. I also just don’t think Kerri Maniscalco writes romance scenes very well, every time I read one in this book I cringed.

The romance also wasn’t really developed properly? Wrath and Emilia spend most of the book hating each other and then it feels like a switch flips and suddenly they love each other? As a couple they didn’t really make much sense to me, Emilia is pretty awful to Wrath for most of the book and he doesn’t really do anything to deserve it. I mean they had some decent banter, but aside from that, I didn’t really feel their connection as a couple.

Speaking of Wrath, for a demon of war, he’s super tame, I would have liked it if he’d been a bit more scary! Also why do all demons have to be incredibly attractive? Seriously do authors think pretty immortals are revolutionary? At this point it would be more unique to actually have an ugly demon!

There’s some iffy consent in this book, or rather lack thereof: there’s a scene where Emilia and Wrath are required to be naked in a bathtub for some spell and she’s unconscious when he removes her clothes, which is a complete no in my book. There’s no excuse for it, Maniscalco could have thought up another way for him to save her life that didn’t involve him removing her clothes without her consent. There’s also the scene at Lust’s party where Emilia is under his compulsion which involves invisible demons touching her, which she’s obviously not in the right mind to consent to, though that is addressed in the book, where the previous incident is not. The spell to summon Wrath involves Emilia accidentally betrothing the pair of them, again without Wrath’s consent, which is addressed in the book but again, I didn’t feel was really necessary.

The map was super cool, but since we don’t actually go to the Kingdom of The Wicked, kind of unecessary!

I wish the eerie atmosphere that Maniscalco created in the prologue was kept throughout the book, I was expecting this really dark, spooky read and it didn’t really deliver the way I hoped it would.

I was really annoyed by how much Nonna kept from Emilia! I mean I do get it, the plot kind of relied on Emilia being oblivious to a lot of the things Nonna knew, but it seems so strange that you wouldn’t arm your granddaughters with the information they needed to fight the Wicked, if you knew they were going to have to go up against them one day.

The murder mystery was far more convoluted than it needed to be, which is an issue I had with a couple of Kerri Maniscalco’s other books as well. It was pretty obvious who the murderer was from the start, but she made the whole explanation super confusing, where it could have been far more straightforward.

THE ENDING. I AM SO ANGRY WITH THAT ENDING. I NEED SO MUCH EXPLANING ABOUT PRIDE AND WRATH AND HOW THEY ARE LINKED, AND THE WAY IT JUST STOPPED AS THINGS WERE GETTING EXCITING? NOT COOL.

Overall, I thought the concept for this book was cool, but everything was super underdeveloped and I wasn’t happy with the cliffhanger ending. I will probably read the next book because I’m interested in what happens next, but I don’t have high expectations.

My Rating: 3/5

My next review will be of my first read of 2021, which is really a hangover from 2020, Seasons of War by Derek Landy.

Good Omens Review (Audiobook)

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Book: Good Omens

Authors: Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Narrator: Martin Jarvis

BECHDEL TEST: FAIL-Anathema Device is really the only main female character of significance, Adam’s friend Pepper has a role but the pair never really interact.

Content Warnings: Racism, sexism, animal abuse, blood, reference to slavery, snakes, starvation, violence, war, death, mild gore, insects

I only really became aware of Good Omens after I watched and loved the TV miniseries when I watched it with my mum last year, which yes, I realise is quite late, but in my defence it did come out before I was born! Anyway, after watching the TV show, I became interested in reading the book, and got around to it in November/December of last year. Sadly, this is one of the rare cases where I felt I enjoyed the TV show more than the book, I felt like the book plot was kind of confused and hard to follow. Here is a short synopsis of the book:

The world will end on Saturday. Next Saturday. Just before dinner, according to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, the world’s only completely accurate book of prophecies written in 1655. The armies of Good and Evil are amassing and everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except that a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture. And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist.

So I’ll start with my main issue with this book: the plot was super confusing. And this is coming from someone who had seen the TV show first, so I already knew the plot! But the TV show definitely streamlined A LOT, there are a lot of tangents that the book goes off on that aren’t massively relevant, and it honestly stretches what could be a pretty solid novella into a full length novel with a plot that has very little direction. There are plot threads introduced that seem to be completely forgotten about (like what on earth the not-Antichrist is doing during in all this) and characters who are seemingly irrelevant that are brought up before being quickly dropped again. Honestly if I hadn’t watched the TV show, I wouldn’t have had a clue what was going on.

The chapters are also WAY TOO LONG. I mean Saturday, which is the apocalypse chapter is over SIX hours long! That’s half of the entire book. By the time you get to the end of the chapter, it’s honestly difficult to remember everything that happened! The pacing is also super off, they cover eleven years of story in one chapter: NO!

The narrator did do a great job though, I think that was actually the highlight of the book for me, Martin Jarvis’ performance was excellent and he was very good at capturing all the different voices.

The relationship between Crowley and Aziraphale, much like the TV show was the highlight of the book. However, I felt like it wasn’t really focused on enough? They had such an interesting dynamic and I would much rather have seen more of the pair of them than Adam and his friends (know in the book as the “Them”). Aziraphale owning a bookshop, but not wanting to ever sell a book is definitely a mood.

It was mildly amusing, but it seemed like it was trying too hard? Like the authors were constantly laughing at their own jokes and expecting everyone else to find them funny as well? It’s not a terrible satire, but a lot of the humour just didn’t particularly land for me.

A lot of it probably came from the fact that the humour relied on a lot of sexist, racist and homophobic observations that were probably commonplace in the 90s when this book came out, but feel incredibly dated now (and obviously shouldn’t have been tolerated then).

Being that the book came out in the 90s, all the technology mentions also feel super dated, like I get that desktop computers and landlines would have been impressive in the nineties, but reading it in the 21st century? Not so much.

The character development was kind of lacking, aside from Aziraphale and Crowley, the other characters all felt super flat.

I wasn’t a fan of footnotes, and especially in an audio format, they felt really strange.

I was really expecting the apocalypse to be more action packed, for what is essentially the climax of the book, it was actually fairly pedestrian! I also thought that the whole chapter that followed was kind of jumbled and confused.

I did however love the idea of a hellhound being a tiny dog!

Overall, this was a fairly disappointing read, for such a well loved book, it was a bit of a mess of a plot and the characters felt fairly flat. I definitely preferred the TV show for this one which is strange for me to say!

My Rating: 2/5

My next review will be of my last read of 2020, Kingdom of The Wicked by Keri Maniscalco.

Top Ten Tuesday #297

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Hi everyone! I wanted to be able to say Happy 2021, but with the UK going back into full lockdown, it doesn’t really seem appropriate, so instead I’ll say, I hope you’re all okay, especially my UK followers. I know that it’s necessary, but honestly, I’m feeling very frustrated, and sad, and tired by the whole thing. The thought of being locked down for another seven weeks, possibly longer, is something that I’m massively struggling with especially since I know how hard it’s going to be this time.

This sucks, and it’s ok to admit that, we don’t have to be positive all the time. If you are also having negative feelings about this new lockdown, then you aren’t alone. I just wanted to say that at the top of this post, because social media seems to get flooded with “positive vibes” whenever a new lockdown is announced, so if like me, you’re not really in a “look for the positives” place right now, then that’s fine and valid, and you’re not the only one who feels like everything sucks right now. 

Anyway, sorry for that super lengthy intro, clearly had a lot to get off my chest! It’s Tuesday, the first Tuesday of 2021, and that means another Top Ten Tuesday, courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. As with last year, we’re starting off 2021 talking about our Most Anticipated Releases For The First Half of 2021. The first half of this year is jam packed with a lot of great new books coming out, and these are the ones I’m most excited for (in release date order, so number is no indication of level of excitement!):

  1. Lore-Alexandra Bracken-Releases 7th January

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You know me, obsessed with Greek mythology, so obviously this new release from Alexandra Bracken is right up my street. It sounds very Hunger Games-esque, with Greek heroes teaming up to try and kill Greek Gods and that just sounds like an awful lot of fun, so I’m really looking forward to reading this one.

2. Tales From The Hinterland-Melissa Albert-Releases 14th January

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I have an e-ARC of this from Netgalley, though I’m not sure when I’m going to get to it as I’m still behind from last year! I wasn’t a massive fan of The Hazel Wood, and I didn’t read the sequel, but I’m really looking forward to this book as the snippets of the Tales in The Hazel Wood were my favourite parts, so I think the whole book of them will be really great.

3. The Mask Falling (The Bone Season #4)-Samantha Shannon

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Ah my most anticipated release of the year. We’ve been waiting for The Mask Falling for A LONG TIME and I can’t wait to see what happens to Paige and Warden next. I have an e-ARC of this from Netgalley so I should be reading it very soon!

4. Muse (Muse #1)-Brittany Cavallaro-Releases 2nd February

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I’m not entirely sure when or if this is releasing in the UK, but it releases in the US in February. An alternate history American monarchy sounds super fun, and I’ve definitely been on a historical fantasy kick in recent years, so I’m hoping this will be another one I enjoy.

5. A Court of Silver Flames (A Court of Thorns and Roses #4)-Sarah J Maas-Releases 16th February

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I do hate the cover, but thankfully, I’m going to be reading Sarah J Maas’ books in audio from now on as they’re simply too large to consume in physical format! I’ve still got ACOWAR and ACOFAS to read before I get to this but I’m hoping to finish both of them this month before this book is released.

6. Liberte (Enchantee #2)-Gita Trelease-Releases 18th February

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Enchantee was one of my favourite books of 2019, and I’ve been desperately waiting for Liberte for two years, so I’m super excited that it’s almost here. I can’t wait to see what Camille gets up to next and to dive deeper into the French Revolution. 

7. Bridge of Souls (Cassidy Blake #3)-Victoria Schwab-Releases 4th March

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I’ve got to admit, I don’t love this cover, I think it’s a little crowded and prefer the US one. But I’m super excited for this book, I really enjoyed City of Ghosts and Tunnel of Bones last year, and these small books are the perfect palate cleansers in between a lot of my chunkier fantasy books!

8. Phoenix Flame (Havenfall #2)-Sara Holland

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I wasn’t massively in love with Havenfall when I read it last year, but I did think it had potential and wanted to see what happened next, so I’m cautiously looking forward to the sequel. I just hope it’s more exciting than the first book!

9. City of Spells (Into The Crooked Place #2)-Alexandra Christo

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Into The Crooked Place was one of my favourite books of 2019, and I’ve been waiting over a year to find out what’s going to happen next to Tavia, Karam, Wesley and Saxony, especially as the first book ended on such a cliffhanger! 

10. Rule of Wolves (Nikolai Duology #2)-Leigh Bardugo-Releases 30th March

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It sounds like this is going to be the end of the Grishaverse for a while, as Six of Crows 3 doesn’t seem to be on the horizon for a while, so I’m looking forward to seeing how Leigh wraps things up in this book. I was a little disappointed by the first one, I’m hoping more of the Crows might appear in this one and that it’s a little more exciting than King of Scars.

11. Dead or Alive (Skulduggery Pleasant #14)-Derek Landy-Releases 1st April

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The penultimate Skulduggery Pleasant book! I’ll admit, I didn’t love the 13th book as much as I would have liked and this new “phase” of the series has been a little uneven, but I always love spending time with Skulduggery and Valkyrie so of course I’m excited for their next adventure. It’s going to be so weird when this series is over, I’ve been reading Skulduggery Pleasant books for half my life!

12. Mina and The Undead-Amy McCaw-Releases 1st April

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I’ll admit, I’m not usually a horror reader (I know Skulduggery has horror elements, but it still fits pretty firmly into Urban Fantasy), but Amy was my Secret Sister for the #otspsecretsister project in the August-January ’17/’18 round and she was so lovely, so I’m super excited that she’s releasing a book and really want to support her as an author! I have this on Netgalley and am super excited to start reading it closer to the release date.

13. Ariadne-Jennifer Saint-Releases 29th April

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Can I just take a second to say how gorgeous that cover is? Because WOW. Anyway, as already established, I’m a massive Greek myth nerd, so naturally, this Ariadne and Theseus retelling is right up my alley and I really enjoyed Circe last year, so I’m looking forward to reading another Adult Greek mythology retelling. 

14. Sky Breaker (Night Spinner #2)-Addie Thorley-Releases 4th May

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Night Spinner was a really lovely surprise from last year, so I’m super excited to find out how Enebish’s story wraps up in the final book of this duology. I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to get hold of it, since I got the first book on Netgalley and I’ve not actually seen the first book in the UK, but we’ll figure that out closer to the time!

15. Mister Impossible (Dreamer Trilogy #2)-Maggie Stiefvater-Releases 18th May

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Ha ha is anyone at all surprised that I’m excited for the new Maggie Stiefvater book? You shouldn’t be. Call Down The Hawk didn’t quite live up to my expectations, but I’m hoping now that the groundwork for the series has been laid, this second book will be more fun with a less messy plot!

16. A Psalm of Storms and Silence (A Song of Wraiths and Ruin #2)-Roseanne A. Brown-Releases 1st June

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I really enjoyed the first book in this duology last year, and it definitely left off in a super exciting place, so I’m looking forward to seeing where this second book takes Malik and Karina and how it wraps up their stories.

So that’s my most anticipated releases for the first half of the year! What books are you looking forward to this year? Any of these on your list? Let me know in the comments!

I’ll be back next week with another Top Ten Tuesday post, this time we’ll be talking about our Resolutions/Hopes For 2021, though I prefer to frame them as Goals, so my post will be my Goals For 2021.

End of Year Check In (2020)

Hello everyone! So it’s the end of the year, and I think I speak for many people when I say, thank goodness it will soon be over. I’m not expecting things to magically get better in 2021, but I do feel a cautious sense of optimism that things might at least start getting better next year. Anyway, as I always do at the end of a year, I’m going to look back at the goals I made at the beginning of the year and see how I did with them:

  1. Complete My Goodreads Challenge-SUCCESS

Okay, so technically at the time of writing this I still have one book to go, but I only have about 20 pages left of my last book of 2020 (very poetic), so by the time the 2021 rolls around, I will have finished, so I’m counting it as success early! I started off with a challenge of 24 books at the beginning of the year and by the end, I will have read 45, so I think we can count this as an extremely successful reading year (in fact my best ever).

2. Complete My #RockMyTBR Challenge-SUCCESS

Okay, so I didn’t actually make all 12 books this year, in fact I’ll be finishing on 10 but I’m not going to count that as a failure, because it’s 2020 and calling yourself a failure for missing 2 books from your challenge list seems overly harsh!

3. Finish the first draft of either This Is Not A Love Story sequel or Underground Magicians-FAIL

Okay so yeah….this one didn’t quite go to plan. I had the best of intentions when I made this goal at the beginning of 2020, but I obviously did not predict the whole global pandemic thing and my creativity just kind of lapsed through the year. I did get back to writing with edits to This Is Not A Love Story over the summer though, so this year hasn’t been a total waste writing wise and hopefully I’ll be able to get back to these drafts next year.

4. Read more adult fiction-SUCCESS

I ended this year with 7 adult books, both fiction and non-fiction and I think that’s pretty good, last year I think I did about 6, so it’s slightly up on that. I still read majority YA, but since that’s what I most like to read, I don’t really mind that (and I really needed the YA escapism this year!).

5. Read more books by authors of colour-SUCCESS (but can always do more)

My final count on this was 11, which is much better than last year and about a quarter of my total reads of the year, but I always want to be able to do better on this, because I feel like there’s always more you can do to make your reading more diverse, so next year I definitely want to be seeking out even more authors of colour to read (especially as several of the books I read by POC this year were among my favourites of the year: Cinderella Is Dead, The Gilded Wolves, A Song of Wraiths and Ruin and Night Spinner).

6. Catch up on 2019 releases-SUCCESS

I actually only read 5 of my initial list of 10 2019 releases that I missed out on, but I read another 8 2019 releases that weren’t on that list, so in the end I caught up with 13 2019 releases which I feel like is probably the best I’ve ever done!

7. Get Netgalley ratio up to 80%-FAIL

Not only did I not get up to 80%, my Netgalley ratio is actually lower than it was at the beginning of the year *cries softly in a corner*. I had a last minute requesting spree this month and got approved for A LOT, so that kind of knocked my ratio back.

8. Buy less physical books/do another unhaul-SUCCESS

I definitely acquired fewer books this year than I have in previous years, mostly due to not being able to go into bookshops for a large portion of the year. I mean don’t get me wrong, I still acquired quite a few new books, but there were definitely months this year where I didn’t get any books at all, so I’m counting this one as a success.

9. Tackle some of the 500+ page books on my TBR-SUCCESS

Of the books I read this year, 7 of them were 500+ pages and I have an eighth still in progress, so all in all, that’s pretty good going for a girl who tends to avoid long books! I definitely chose to tackle a lot of longer books in audio form this year, which seems to work well for me, so I think that’s definitely something I’m going to consider going forward, especially as big books take up a lot of space on my bookshelf!

10. Read more new to me authors-SUCCESS

I’m super proud of how well I did on this one this year, out of 45 books, 20 of them were from authors that were new to me this year, which is really great! I also found several that I definitely want to read more from next year, which is always what you want when reading new authors.

So there we go, that’s how I did on my 2020 goals, 8 out of 10 were successful and honestly for a year like 2020? I will TAKE THAT. How did you guys do on your 2020 goals if you made any? I realise that this has been a disaster year for everyone, so definitely don’t be too hard on yourself if you didn’t get to all the goals you made in January. You survived, and that is honestly enough! Do you have any plans for goals for 2021? Let me know in the comments!

That was my last post of 2020! I hope you guys have a good New Year’s Eve, however you’re seeing it in, and I will be back with my first post of 2021 over the weekend, which will be my review of Good Omens! I’m also hoping to get my final #RockMyTBR posts of the year over the next week (I fully did intend to have my November/December update up before 2020 was over, but I still had a book to finish so it will just have to carry over to next year now!).

End Of Year Book Survey 2020

Hi everyone! So we’re here again, the end of the year, the longest year in the history of all years, and I don’t know about you, but I am super glad that 2020 will soon be over. Anyway, with the end of the year, comes the annual End of Year Book Survey, created by Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner as a way of looking back and celebrating our year of reading and blogging. I always love doing this, but this year it feels even more important to be able to celebrate something, as there has been so little of that this year. You can find the questions on Jamie’s blog here:

2020 Reading Stats:

Number of Books You Read: 45 (or at least it will be by tomorrow!).

Number of rereads: 0

Genre you read the most from: Fantasy

Best In Books

  1. Best Book You Read In 2020?

Laura Bates’ Men Who Hate Women was definitely an eye opening, and slightly terrifying read, I knew a little about online misogyny (mainly Incels) but I had no idea the full extent of it, so I definitely learned a lot from this book. I don’t read much non-fiction but this one was definitely a very powerful read, and I look forward to reading more of her books in the future.

2. Book You Were Excited About and Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

This has to be Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Virtue and Vengeance, I had been super excited about it since I read the first book in Summer 2018, and I had really high expectations. Unfortunately, it definitely suffered from a severe case of middle book syndrome, the plot felt like it was going around in circles and the characters regressed.

3. Most Surprising (In A Good Or Bad Way) Book You Read?

The Gilded Wolves! I’d heard a lot of very mixed things about it, so I wasn’t exactly sure what I would think, but I ended up really loving it, it was one of my favourite books of the year. I can’t wait to read the sequel next year!

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read And They Did?

Again, I never really know what to respond for this question, as I tend to only push books on my IRL friends and I haven’t been seeing them as much as I’d have liked this year. I feel like The Gilded Wolves and The City of Brass are probably the two I’ve talked about the most here this year, so I’ll go with them!

5. Best Series You Started In 2020? Best Sequel of 2020? Best Series Ender of 2020?

Best series I started in 2020, I’m going to go with The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi, it was such a fun read and I cannot wait to read the sequel, The Silvered Serpents next year.

Best sequel I read in 2020 was The Lady’s Guide To Petticoats and Piracy, I really loved Felicity in Gentleman’s Guide so it was great to have her take the starring role in this book and it was a super fun read. I’m really looking forward to the final Montague Siblings book next year.

Best series ender I read in 2020, I actually only read 3 but my favourite of those was definitely The King of Crows, the final book in the Diviners series. Sure the pacing was a little off in places, but it tied up in a really satisfying way which is what you want in a series finale.

(I realise only one of these was a 2020 release, but I read them all in 2020, so that counts!)

6. Favourite New Author I Read In 2020

Ah this is really hard because I read so many great new authors in 2020, but I’m going to go with S.A. Chakraborty as once I read The City of Brass in April, I enjoyed it so much that I quickly read The Kingdom of Copper and The Empire of Gold in the next couple of months.

7. Best Book From A Genre You Don’t Typically Read/Was Out of Your Comfort Zone?

Laura Bates Men Who Hate Women, I’m not usually a non-fiction reader, but I really enjoyed that one and I’m definitely planning on getting to more of my feminist non-fiction next year.

8. Most action packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Not Even Bones definitely fits the bill for this one, it was a quick, action packed read that I flew through in less than two weeks (which is very quick for me).

9. Book You Read In 2020 That You Would Be Most Likely To Reread Again This Year?

Probably none, I’ve pretty much accepted by now that I just have so many new books to read that rereads just aren’t really something I have time for anymore.

10. Favourite Cover Of A Book You Read In 2020?

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VE Schwab’s books always have gorgeous covers, and this one is one of her best. I had an e-arc of this, but I also have a physical copy for my collection because it’s just such a gorgeous book. My copy is the Waterstones exclusive edition, it has gold stained pages, these beautiful endpapers, a secret cover under the dust jacket, it’s just one of the loveliest books I’ve ever seen.

11. Most Memorable Character of 2020?

Could I choose anyone other than Addie LaRue for this? Addie definitely has a lot more strength and endurance than me, I don’t think I could go through three hundred years being forgotten by everyone.

12. Most Beautifully Written Book of 2020?

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue had to be my choice for this one. It’s one of the most gorgeously written books I’ve ever read, I was completely in awe of it!

13. Most Thought Provoking/Life Changing Book You Read This Year?

I think Men Who Hate Women fits really well for this section, because I learned so much from that book. I’m really amazed at Laura Bates’ bravery at going undercover in all those extreme misogynist groups because that was really risky to her own safety and I don’t think I could ever do anything like that!

14. Book You Can’t Believe You Waited Till 2020?

I mean it only came out in 2019, but if I’d known how much I was going to enjoy A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder, I would have read it as soon as it came out because it’s the best thriller I’ve read in a while, and another of my favourite books of the year.

15. Favourite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2020?

“History is something you look back on, not something you really feel at the time. In the moment, you’re just….living” -The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, VE Schwab

This quote just feels really apt for what we’re living through right now. Like sure, it’s going to be looked back on in the future as this big historical event, but at the moment it just feels like something we’re trying to get through to the other side of!

16. Shortest and Longest Books You Read In 2020:

Shortest Book: Coraline by Neil Gaiman-162 pages

Longest Book; The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty-766 pages

The first year since 2017 that Sarah J Maas hasn’t been in the top spot, actually I didn’t read any Sarah J Maas books at all this year!

17. Book That Shocked You The Most?

Probably The Empire of Gold, there were a lot of shockers in the final chapters of that book, it was an incredibly intense conclusion!

18. OTP Of The Year

Honestly I feel like the relationships I remember most from this year are friendships more than romances? But I think Severin and Laila from The Gilded Wolves had pretty great chemistry, so I’m going to go with them.

19. Favourite Non-Romantic Relationship of The Year

I’m going with a group here, and say Severin, Laila, Hypnos, Enrique, Tristan and Zofia, their group dynamic was super fun and I can’t wait to read more of their adventures in The Silvered Serpents.

20. Favourite Book You Read In 2020 From An Author You Read Previously?

Is anyone going to be surprised when I say The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue again here? Good, I’m glad you’re not. Honestly VE Schwab keeps knocking it out of the park with every book and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

21. Best Book You Read In 2020 That You Read Based Solely On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Bookstagram/Peer Pressure?

I saw A Song of Wraiths and Ruin on one of many lists of upcoming books by Black authors in June, and ended up reading it in November and really loved it! Looking forward to A Psalm of Storms and Silence next year.

22. Newest Cinnamon Roll Character From 2020?

I’ve actually tweaked this one slightly from Jamie’s original survey this year, since the further away I get from YA age, the weirder it seems to say you have a crush on a fictional teenager! So instead, I thought I’d share my favourite cinnamon roll character from this year, the character I want to protect at all costs, and that would be Malik from A Song of Wraiths and Ruin. Honestly poor Malik really needs a hug and a nap!

23. Best 2020 Debut You Read?

I read a few debut novels this year, but actually only one of them was from 2020, so it was a really easy choice: A Song of Wraiths and Ruin! It was a super fun read and I cannot wait for the sequel in 2021.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

S.A. Chakraborty’s Daevabad trilogy definitely had the most vivid worldbuilding of all the books I read this year. Everything was really brilliantly thought out, with all the different Djinn tribes, the food, the languages, and it really took me away and completely immersed me in a different place.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most Fun To Read?

The Dead Queens’ Club was definitely a super fun read, it made me laugh out loud at points and made me smile a lot, I definitely recommend it if you’re a Tudor history nerd like me.

26. Book That Made You Cry/Nearly Cry In 2020?

I definitely almost cried at the end of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, it was incredibly emotional.

27. Hidden Gem of The Year?

One of my favourite books that I didn’t really see very many people talking about this year was Addie Thorley’s Night Spinner, it was a really cool take on the Hunchback of Notre Dame and I loved the arctic tundra like setting.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Without meaning to sound like a broken record here, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue again. Honestly, I’m still recovering from those final chapters.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2020?

It might not have been as good as I was expecting, but The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult was definitely one of the most uniquely structured books I read this year, with the two parallel stories and the interwoven flashbacks.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad?

Men Who Hate Women, not because it wasn’t a great book, it was my favourite book of the year, but because it made me really mad that there are men out there who treat women in that way!

Your Blogging/Bookish Life

  1. New Favourite Blog/Bookstagram/Youtube Channel you discovered in 2020?

I’m so bad at keeping track of these, and even moreso this year because I’ve just sucked at keeping track at anything, but I think I started following Beth from BooksNest’s Instagram feed this year and she’s got such a lovely one, so definitely recommend following her.

2. Favourite Post You Wrote In 2020?

It’s quite a recent one, but I really enjoyed doing this Writing Corner post about being critique partners with my IRL best friend Hannah.

https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2020/12/20/writing-corner-on-being-critique-partners-with-my-best-friend/

3. Favourite Bookish Photo You Took In 2020?

I actually did take quite a few this year, I’m not the world’s best photographer, but I really liked this one I did of some naked hardcovers:

From left to right we have: The Gilded Wolves, The King of Scars and The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

4. Best Bookish Event You Participated In (author signings, festivals, virtual events etc)

Well as we all know, no YALC this year, so instead I’ll go with the online Tolkein lecture panel, with VE Schwab, R.F. Kuang, Terri Windling, Kij Johnson, Adam Roberts and Lev Grossman, they did a talk on Fantasy In Times of Crisis and I thought it was really great. Definitely check it out on the Tolkein Lecture Youtube Channel because it’s still up!

5. Best Moment of Bookish/Blogging Life In 2020?

I’m actually going to go with a writing one for this one, I’ve really enjoyed swapping chapters with my friend Hannah, so that’s probably my favourite “Bookish” thing I’ve done this year, it really got me back into the writing swing after a year away.

6. Most challenging thing about your blogging/bookish life this year?

Weirdly, taking a break! I was really worried that when I went to Cape Town in January and took somewhat of a step back from the blog for the first time in six years that I’d come back and none of you would be reading anymore! Thankfully that didn’t happen and I’m really grateful for all your support this year, and every other year I’ve been doing this blog.

7. Most Popular Post On Your Blog This Year (by comments or views)?

I’m going to do views again this year as it’s much easier to keep track of! This year my most viewed post was my review of Leigh Bardugo’s Ninth House, which was a massive surprise as I’m so used to my reviews being the least viewed of my posts!

8. Post You Wish Got A Little More Love?

I’d love it if my most recent Quarterly Rewind post got a little more love, as they take a very long time for me to write!

https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2020/12/21/quarterly-rewind-september-december-20-edition/

9. Best Bookish Discovery This Year?

You know what, I don’t think I actually had one this year? I discovered a lot of great new authors, so let’s go with them!

10. Did You Complete Any Reading Challenges or Goals You Set For Yourself This Year?

Yes, you’ll hear more about them when I post my End of Year Check In tomorrow.

Looking Ahead

  1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2020 But Will Be Your Top Priority In 2021?

It’s not actually a 2020 release, it’s a 2019 release, but I meant to read Sorcery of Thorns as part of a reading challenge I was doing this year and I just didn’t get to it, so it’s definitely one I want to prioritise next year.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2021 (non debut)?

The Mask Falling, the fourth instalment in Samantha Shannon’s Bone Season series. I read The Song Rising in 2017, and we’ve all been waiting a long time for this, so I’m super excited to find out what happens to Paige and Warden next.

3. 2021 debut you are most anticipating?

Honestly I have very few 2021 debuts on my radar, but I think the one I’m most anticipating is Jennifer Saint’s Ariadne, which I have an e-ARC for that I can’t wait to read.

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating In 2021?

Ah so many, but I think I’ll go with City of Spells here, the second and final book in Alexandra Christo’s Into The Crooked Place duology, I loved the first book when I read it in 2019 and am really looking forward to seeing how things end.

5. One Thing You Hope To Do/Accomplish In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2021?

GET MY NETGALLEY RATIO TO 80%. THE ELUSIVE GOAL. I’ve been stuck on or near 70% for years now, so I’d really like 2021 to be the year I finally do it.

6. A 2021 release you’ve already read and recommended to everyone?

None actually, I’ve been catching up on my final 2020 e-arcs at the end of this year, so haven’t got started on my 2021 e-arcs yet. Got a lot waiting though!

How was your 2020 reading year everyone? What are you looking forward to reading in 2021? Let me know in the comments!