21 December 2014

My 2015 Reading Challenges

I’ve never done a reading challenge before outside of the Goodreads reading challenge, which I mostly do for myself to see how many books I’m reading each year. Since I started my blog in like March I missed the usual beginning of the year excitement over new reading challenges to have for the next twelve months and I’m glad, another things added into the challenge of starting a blog might have been too much.

As it is my first year I am trying to be sensible, I will only do a couple of reading challenges and I will be realistic. I could say I’ll ready hundreds of books, but as I am not a planner when it comes to reading I don’t want to put the number too high and find myself having to dash through books to keep up with a challenge. I’ll keep the numbers realistic, no more than a book a month for any challenge and wherever possible I will try and find books that can work in crossover, I’ll explain that in a minute, though.

I plan to do the Fairytale retelling challenge, the fantasy challenge (you see what I mean about crossover books now?) and participate in the Blog Organisation Challenge, because God knows I need something to help guide in my organisation.

The Fairytale Retelling Challenge (Hosted by Mel @ The Daily Prophecy)

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How the challenge works:
  • The challenge runs from January 1st – December 31st 2015.
  • The goal is to read fairytale retellings, but if you want you can also pick other retellings. The books can be from whenever, not just new 2015 releases and rereads count!
  • There are 6 different levels you can aim for:
    -Prince Charming: 1 – 4 books.
    -Magic mirror: 5 - 9 books.
    -Big bad wolf: 10 – 15 books.
    -The wise princess: 16 – 20 books.
    -Wicked fairy Godmother: 21 – 25 books.
    -Bluebeard: you are killing it! 26+ books.
I am aiming to read 12 books, so I want to be the Big Bad Wolf. I will count any books that I read in this challenge which are fantasy books as part of the Fantasy challenge below.

Flights of Fantasy (hosted by Alexa Loves Books and Hello, Chelly)

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How the challenge Works:
  • The challenge runs from January 1st – December 31st 2015.
  • All you have to do is challenge yourself to read a certain number of fantasy books.
I, again, plan to read 12, I don’t know if crossovers from other challenges are allowed or not, but I’m doing it anyway. I will of course be trying to read books I already own in this challenge as well, because my TBR shelf is crazy. I know 12 is quite a low number because I know I often go one fantasy reading binges, but I’m being realistic and then if I read more I’ll feel proud.

Book Blogger Organisation Challenge (hosted by Brittany @ The Book Addict’s Guide)

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How it works:
  • The Blog Organization Challenge will run from January 1st to June 30th.
  • The idea is to help you stay organised on your blog and (hopefully) help you stay on top og things with themes for each month to help you.
That's it really, this one is not a reading challenge, just a normal challenge that is going to help guide me. I am terribly disorganised and love nothing more than organising myself (sounds a bit contradictory, I know) but I am so bad at knowing where to start. My attempts at organising myself often begin with me creating more chaos before attempting to tidy it all back up again, so I’m hoping the monthly themes will help me sort my blog out. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but I’m definitely not on top of things.

The themes for this organisation are as below. Each month I’ll create a round up post for myself about what I’ve been doing to contribute to my blog organisation.
  • JANUARY: Reading challenges & resolutions
    • Picking challenges, making resolutions, scheduling, forming plans, picking reading/blogging buddies,
  • FEBRUARY: Blog maintenance
    • Updating old reviews, pages, layouts, features/memes, contact info
    • Clean up images, broken links
    • SEOs
  • MARCH: Social Media + Review Outlets
    • Update social media accounts: bios, who you follow, delete old accounts you won’t use, resolve to use some accounts more
    • Organize Goodreads shelves: duplicate copies, version of books, creating shelves, removing shelves
    • Cross-posting
  • APRIL: Graphics, HTML, CSS, Plug-ins
    • Update graphics for posts/memes/events, update button, update header
    • Learn Photoshop/Gimp/PicMonkey
    • Brush up or try to learn simple HTML and CSS (for layouts, fonts, etc). Take this month to delve into the scary world of coding! (Or at least teach yourself one new thing!)
  • MAY: Book clean-up + spring cleaning!
    • Culling shelves, giveaways, donations, giving back borrowed books
    • Reading books you were given as gifts, ARC catch up
    • Rearranging shelves, updating Goodreads again, giving back borrowed books
    • More cross-posting & cleaning up GR shelves
  • JUNE: Freebie
    • Recapping what you’ve organized, focus on biggest area of need, review TBR list

Those are my challenge plans for this year. Here’s hoping it goes well.

Sunday Summary 21.12.2014

Sunday Summary
I plan to be honest with you guys today, I am going to be working right up until Christmas Eve so I’m not going to have lots of freetime to be blog writing over Christmas. I’ve got a few days after Christmas, and I am obviously going to try and do some writing and posting. I’ve got a review to write on I was Here by Gayle Forman that I really want to give you guys, and a review for My True Love Gave To Me, even though it will be after Christmas that I’ll be reviewing, I don’t even care. The thing is, I’m going to be busy. I’m going to be seeing family and friends and I know I won’t have enough time to properly dedicate to you nice people that come strolling around here.

I figure it’s best to be honest with you all so you can have suitably low expectations for me for the nest week or two, so then when I do post you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

I also want to say that I’m going to be more focused on the new year, getting myself ready for any reading challenges I want to do in the new year and getting myself organised basically, so I think there may be a marked absence. No Top Ten Tuesday from me, maybe now reviews, and probably no discussions. I’ll be back though, I promise.

Now, enough with the negativity and warnings about my absence, let’s get onto what I’ve been doing the past couple of weeks. Well, on Wednesday I had my works Christmas party where we had a free bar, a talent show, some pretty shoddy food and a chance to get my groove on. I had a great time, which surprised me, I got to know the people I’ve been working with for the past year a little better and I got to have a laugh dancing like an idiot with people I spend too many hours with on a daily basis. It was a great time, and the fact I was so tired the next day at work was okay because of it.

I finished all of my Christmas shopping this week, I hope so anyway. I’m hoping everyone likes their presents, now I just have to wrap them, which I hate doing because I am truly shocking at it. We also finished all our work this week at work, so we’re left with the boring filling time work which we hate doing each month, so it will be a fun couple of days next week at work, but regardless we got our months work done in just over two weeks, that is impressive if I do say so myself.

Apart from that I’ve just been reading and playing Final Fantasy XIII, so nothing too thrilling.

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As you can see, my new books I’ve even gone so far as to read some of them, a rarity in my normal book buying sprees. I’ve already got a review brewing for Since You’ve Been Gone. It may have taken me half a year to get around to reading this highly rated book, but I’m glad I did because with the hype dying down a bit I managed to go into the book with an open mind. I then preceded to buy Matson’s other two books upon finishing because it turns out I love her writing.

How has your week (or fortnight, I suppose) been? Have you read any of the books I’ve bought or read, and did you enjoy them? What are everyone’s plans for Christmas and do you have any advice on how to approach the New Year with my blog, I’m seeing so many reading challenges popping up lately and I know I need to be sensible about so any advise on organising myself would be appreciated.

20 December 2014

Do I Want My Blog To Be Popular?

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This post is inspired by the numerous blog posts which exist on the internet telling you how to get people to visit your blog, how to get people to like your blog, about writing to draw in an audience and how to be popular. These posts tell you what you should and shouldn’t blog, what you should and shouldn’t be doing and essentially help create an array of similar blogs.

I know it’s hard not to be influenced by the blogs which inspire us, but when we all have the same blog where is the variety and interest? I am influenced by various blogs on the internet, both books blogs, beauty blogs, personal blogs and lifestyle blogs. All influence me in different ways and influence the way I want to write and create things on my blog, but I try as best I can not to copy them, but instead take inspiration from them in what I post. I see the way another blogger may format their posts and it influences my own blog design. i see a post, or a discussion, someone else has written and it makes me want to write a response or expand upon the discussion, I try not to copy their idea, but instead allow their idea to develop into one of my own.

I see all the blog posts about increasing traffic and getting people to like you’re blog and I can’t help but think do I really want that? Do I want to appeal to the masses and be a popular blog? I don’t know that I do, because I’d feel responsible for visitors to my blog, I’d feel I’d be disappointing them if I fail to post, which I so frequently do. I’d feel there would be an expectation for me to stay current and relevant and post all about the new books being hyped, and I don’t always fancy doing that.

So often in book blogging I see the same books being posted about again and again. There are certain new releases that everyone has heard about due to hype, and others just get lost. The ‘big bloggers’ are talking about a book which gets everyone else excited, we go out and buy it and we blog about it, but I’m bored of seeing the same content and the same books on blogs. I’m not pointing fingers and I’m not blaming anyone, we are all guilty of this fact, I know I am. It’s easy to fall into the hype, but I don’t want to because I can’t afford it and I there are plenty of books I want to read, they can’t always be the shiny new ones.

I don’t want to have lots of followers and always be inundated with comments, I like having the regular visitors to my blog I have now. I Like slowly coming out and accepting that there are in fact people who come and read my ramblings on books and blogging and comment regularly regardless of whether I’ve been a good blogger and gotten around to commenting on that really awesome post I read two months ago and really loved and wanted to discuss. That’s just the kind of person I am, though. I don’t like being the centre of attention in my actual life so why on earth would I want it on the internet.

My fear is that if my blog got popular it would be less about me and more about meeting expectations. It would become an obligation rather than a thing I enjoy doing in my spare time to occupy hours, keeping me from feeling my brain is atrophying from having a 9 to 5 job. Popularity has never been my aim with my blog which is a bit strange. Instead all I want is to meet other bloggers. To chat with them and be a part of a community where others understand my impulse to keep buying books. I want to post about things which interest me and I just want to have fun.

Is it wrong that I don't crave blog popularity? I don't know, but I certainly don't care because being popular wasn't my reason to start blogging. What about you guys, why did you start blogging? Do you want your blog to be popular? If your blog is really well read (what are you doing here) and also do you feel pressure to keep your readers happy? I would love to read your thoughts on this.

18 December 2014

Reviewing Books In One Gif–A Tag


The lovely Rachel over at Confessions of a Book Geek tagged me a little while ago and I am attempting to not fall behind when it comes to being tagged in things, mostly because I’ll forget about it otherwise. Now, I love me a good gif, I am pretty shoddy at using them, but I do love me a good reaction gif.

The entire premise of this tag is that whoever tagged you will give you a list of ten books and you have to provide a single gif of your thoughts and a sentence on the book. You then tag others and provide them with a list of books and the tagging continues.
challenge-accepted

1. Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover

i just have a lot of feelings
This book gave me a lot of feelings, I was happy and sad and angry, and there were tears.
 

2. Delirium by Lauren Oliver

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I remember reading this books, and at first I thought it was rubbish, and then I thought it was aright, and then I promptly didn’t bother reading the rest of the series, so my general view is meh.
 

3. Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

laters
I’ve attempted to read this book a couple of times and it’s just not happened, I want to give it a chance though, I’ve heard good things.
 

4. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

dunno
I dunno, I’ve not read it, I’ve not even gotten around to reading all the Mortal Instrument books, let alone start these, I plan to investigate though… eventually.
 

5. Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

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I finished it and immediately wanted more, luckily for me the second book came out a couple of days later so I could satisfy that urge.
 

6. Tease by Amanda Maciel

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I wrote a review about how I did not like this book, it did not gel and I did not like, but that’s just me.
 

7. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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This book was such a fantastic read that stayed with me for a while, but that ending… seriously?
 

8. PS I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

cry it's so beautiful
This book gives me a lot of feelings and makes me rather emotional and I love and hate it for that reason.
 

9. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

smile nod
This book just gives me fond memories of school and reading these books and getting exited about and Michael and I kind of wish I’d carried on reading but I think I only got to about book six when I finished with this series.
 

10. Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

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I’m gonna be honest and say I had not really thought about this book until it was mentioned here, but it sounds interesting it could most definitely be fun.

Now, I am not going to nominate, I’m awful at nominating, but I will provide a list of books for any of you who fancy giving this a go.
1. Stone Cold Touch – Jennifer Armentrout
2. My True Love Gave To Me – Stephanie Perkins et al
3. The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion
4. Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell
5. If I Stay – Gayle Forman
6. American Gods – Neil Gaiman
7. Poison Study – Maria V Snyder
8. Bet Me – Jennifer Crusie
9. A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents – Liza Palmer
10. The Burning Sky – Sherry Thomas

If you do have a go please link me on twitter, here, wherever, I love seeing things like this.


16 December 2014

Top Ten Books I Read In 2014

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Choosing just ten books for The Broke and the Bookish’s top ten Tuesday theme this week was difficult. I’ve read over a hundred books over the past year, some good, and some less so, but regardless that is a lot of books to have to narrow down to just ten. I hope you like the books I’ve chosen and I’d love to find out what you loved this year, I love posts like this, it’s why I love books rounding up the year.
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1. Poison Study – Maria V Snyder – I will forever love and talk about this book, this entire series. I keep thinking back on it and remembering it so fondly so how could I not include it on my top ten list for this year? It is like the fantasy book I have begun to compare other books against in the genre.

2. Stardust – Neil Gaiman – This book was like an adult fairy-tale. It was in fact the first book I read in the new year, and I feel it was a perfect start for my reading journey in 2014. I am a huge fan of Neil Gaiman, his writing is so magical. He can be both serious and humorous in his writing and I love him for that. He creates such magical worlds that you don’t ever want to leave, and his characters are not good nor evil, he creates the best kind of characters, where they are shades of grey.

3. The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith - I wasn’t even going to read this book, but then it was on offer for kindle, so I thought why not. It was slow, for me. I love a good crime thriller novel, but this one was so slow in pace that I initially thought I might stop reading. Once the story truly began, though, I was hooked. I barely wanted to put the book down and I was left wondering about these characters long after I’d finished. I’ve to begin the next one, I want to appreciate it.

4. The Rosie Project – Graeme Simson - I’ve announced my love for this book before, and I will do so again. I loved it, it was so completely different and I loved it. The writing was so well done, you were immediately hooked, even if you did not know why. I’ve yet to read the second book, I’m nervous that it will not match my love for the first. I have major book fear.
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5. Open Road Summer – Emery Lord - I think the entire blogosphere loved this book, and I am no different. It was such a good summer read for me, and it combined two things I love, music and books. I became a fan of country music after discovering the TV show Nashville, I may not watch the TV show anymore, but I still love country music, so to have this fun Taylor Swift-esque popstar be in this book was a definite positive for me.

6. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before – Jenny Han - I loved this book for the cover initially, I even went so far as to buy it in hardcover so I could marvel at the thing. This book was one I had mixed ideas on, I loved the story, but it wasn’t what I expected so I was disappointed in a way. Either way, this book was excellent and is definitely in my top ten.

7. Where She Went – Gayle Forman - I preferred this book over If I Stay, and I think it may have been because If I Stay made me ugly cry and was just so emotional that it was too much to love. It was an excellent story, but Where She Went, it was emotional, but you got resolution at the end, I like that in a book. If I Stay ended so openly, which was good for that story, but this one was so much more. I adored it in every way. The characters were more real, they were people to me and I adored every moment.
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8. Duff – Kody Keplinger – I had never read anything by Keplinger, but her name kept popping up on my Amazon recommended books, and who am I to refuse Amazon? I read three of her books and adored each and every one for different reasons. I think this was my favourite because I could relate to some of the insecurities in the book, I sometimes feel I am the ‘duff’ in my friends, I know I’m not. I know we are all awesome together, but I think I liked that I could relate. I hear there’s a films, I watched the trailer in fact, it’s not the same but I’ll still watch it.

9. Seraphina – Rachel Hartman – I adored this book, another grand fantasy book with a whole new kind of dragons. I loved how this was very different to the fantasy books I’ve read in the past, it wasn’t attempting to be like other books in the genre, it’s just blazing it’s own both in being magnificent. It’s definitely a difficult book to get into, the writing is not approachable and the story can be difficult to get into, but when you’re hooked you are hooked and unable to escape the pages. I would highly recommend it.

10. How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True – Sarah Strohmeyer – Strohmeyer is an author I initially thought I didn’t like when I first tried reading her books, I then learnt I just wasn’t in the mood for her on my first try. When I finally got around to reading some of her books I was kicking myself for not buckling down and just going for it. She writes such awesome characters and she writes good YA writing. I think I loved this book because it was about friendship more than anything else, and it felt a bit magical. I just fell into the writing and the story and loved it.

11 December 2014

Review: Make It Count–Megan Erickson

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Genre: New Adult, Contemporary
My Rating:
Kat Caruso wishes her brain had a return policy, or at least a complaint hot-line. The defective organ is constantly distracted, terrible at statistics, and absolutely flooded with inappropriate thoughts about her boyfriend’s gorgeous best friend, Alec…who just so happens to be her brand new math tutor. Who knew nerd was so hot?

Kat usually goes through tutors like she does boyfriends—both always seem to bail when they realize how hopeless she is. It’s safer for her heart to keep everyone at arm’s reach. But Alec is always stepping just a little too close.

Alec Stone should not be fantasizing about Kat. She’s adorable, unbelievably witty, and completely off limits. He’d never stab his best friend in the back…

But when secrets are revealed, the lines of loyalty are blurred. To make it count, Alec must learn messy human emotions can’t be solved like a trigonometry function. And Kat has to trust Alec may be the first guy to want her for who she is, and not in spite of it
I started reading this book a couple of weeks ago. I had heard about it on a couple of blogs but never bought it because the whole falling for teacher thing did not appeal to me. I may be a big fan of the New Adult genre and I love me a good college set story, but there was just something that didn’t quite gel in the blurb for me. But then I saw it on offer for Kindle and I figured, why not? Good things had been said about it by those whose opinion I trust.

I’ve finished it now and I kind of feel like I should have trusted my gut, I liked the book, don’t get me wrong, but I seriously hated it in some ways. Maybe I expected too much or maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for it at the time, I don’t know. I liked it in many ways. I liked Kat, I got her weird quirks and fear of not being accepted for who she was. At the same time she blew many a thing out of proportion. I know that’s a very normal thing which folks do, but it was way too dramatic for my liking.

I’m going to reveal a spoiler, a spoiler that isn’t even a spoiler because it was glaringly obvious to me in the first chapter, but Kat had dyslexia. I feel like the entire first half of the book was all non-subtle hints about it until the big reveal. I don’t know if dyslexia is a thing that is less well known in America or what, but the huge deal made out of Kat’s learning disability was ridiculous. I have grown up being well aware of what dyslexia is. I’m aware some people have difficulties reading and writing and that it is a thing people have struggled with and have learnt to cope with, but I was never aware of it being viewed in such a negative light. I remember people at school with dyslexia who were given certain considerations in their learning due to their disability, it was not viewed as such a negative thing, there was not bullying and stigma, and maybe I went to a very understanding school, but I found Kat’s reaction to discovering it jarring. I felt like the dyslexia was a big issue that was being tackled in the book and I was being beat over the head that it was normal and many suffered with it but it did not mean a person was stupid and all I could thing was ‘I know’.

I think dyslexia was used as a plot point to create an obstacle between Alec and Kat. I know dyslexia is a very real struggle and since I don’t suffer with it I know I can’t fully relate to Kat’s reaction to discovering she was dyslexic, but I feel like it was exaggerated. She had some very legitimate concerns, her parents and her reaction to them I understood. I even understood her reaction to Alec and her believing that he was attempting to ‘fix her’. I did not understand her reaction to discovering she was dyslexic and her reaction to Alec though.

Apart from the dyslexia issue, though, I really liked the story and the relationship. I liked the character of Kat, apart from the dyslexia thing, because you understood her insecurities. I understood her concerns about nobody accepting her as she is, and being concerned that people will bore of her when they realise she is not the person she often pretends to be. Those things in the book I understood and embraced. I loved the cure adorable romance, I liked the secondary characters, but there were some glaring issues in this book for me which meant I couldn’t give it a higher rating, I would probably have given it 2 and a half, but I don’t do half star ratings.

Have you read this book, and if so am I being a bit weird about the things I didn’t like in the book? Are there any books you’ve read despite your initial view of them, and should you have trusted your gut or were you pleasantly surprised?

09 December 2014

Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2014

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It’s Tuesday again and an interesting look back on my 2014 by looking at some of the new-to-me authors I read this year. I would love to know where they get these ideas at The Broke and The Bookish, but regardless please see below where I do my pondering. Before I begin, though, I would like to say that I may have heard of these authors before 2014, but I had not read any books by them. I also would like to say there are plenty of other new-to-me authors of this year, but these are the ones I loved the most, I could have added a few more to the list, though. I’ve tried to narrow it down to my absolute favourites, the authors which will have been added to my ‘buy anything they write’ list.

  1. Gayle Forman

  2. Jennifer L. Armentrout

  3. Colleen Hoover

  4. Kristin Cashore

  5. Maria V. Snyder

  6. Renee Carlino

  7. Trish Doller

  8. Kody Keplinger

  9. Cora Carmack

  10. Marissa Meyer

  11. Emery Lord

  12. Jenny Han

I was going to list the books I read by them this year and explain the reasons why I am so glad I found these authors this year, but I thought I’d link you to their goodreads page and let their list of books do the talking for me. I’ll provide the names and allow you to look at what they’ve written and judge for yourselves whether or not you like them.

What do you guys think, read any of these authors? What new-to-me authors did you read this year?

07 December 2014

Sunday Summary: 07.12.2014

Sunday Summary
>Oh my God, it’s December! How did that happen? So I’ve been a busy little bee at work and at home. I’ve been finishing up my Christmas shopping, dashing about at work to get everything done before the holidays . I’ve been attempting to be social, seeing friends, doing things. It’s been hectic to say the lease, and it’s only been the first week of December. As such, my poor little blog has been neglected. Those posts I had all ready, written in advance and everything? Yeah, I didn’t schedule them to post and I’ve been too busy not being near my laptop during the week to get around to scheduling them. I need to sort my life out. Although, if things are like this now, until I break up for a weeks holiday and Christmas Eve there is every chance I will slowly disappear from my blog because I can’t see me finding any more time, if anything I’ll have less, but we shall see my blogging chums.

 

Anyway, I’ve been reading lots this week (I know, how have I read so much yet been so busy? I’ll tell you how, I’ve been going to bed late, getting up early and taking full advantage of reading opportunities on my commute. I think it helps that almost every night this week I’ve been sat at the bus station for a good half an hour waiting for a bus to turn up. I get there’s Christmas traffic but things be getting cray-cray.

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As I said, my reading had been increasing again, although the two books I started last weekend are unfinished. I’m taking My True Love Gave To Me at a steady pace as it’s short stories, I want to still have stories to read at Christmas. And my Joss Whedon reading is slow because I’m savouring it, and non-fiction is difficult to read on a lunchbreak.

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Now I’m not one to request ARCs or anything on the various places online, but I do like to browse Netgalley and Edelweiss to see which books I should be getting excited for, so when I saw I was Here by Gayle Forman available for request I figured, why not? I’m that kind of person, so when I saw the response in my inbox Friday night I assumed they’d said no as all bug books are refused when I request them. Imagine my shock that I was approved. I’ll be starting that today and will of course post a review for you once I’ve finished. Just on a side note, I don’t often request books because I simply don’t feel I’m good enough to review them, but when it is a book I’m excited for, I will always give it a chance.

 

I also have been book shopping, as always. I tend to buy and either read immediately, or don’t read at all. I’ve gone the not read at all route lately, I bought and read Roomies (no, not that one) and didn’t enjoy it, it was alright, but not phenomenal. And then the rest I’ve bought for one reason or another. The Magicians I bought after seeing SyFy are adapting it into a TV series and the premise intrigued me.

So how were your weeks this week? Can anyone believe it’s December already, where has the year gone? Anyone read some of the books on my bought list, if so let me know what you thought, it might motivate me to read? And if you want to hear my thoughts on the books I’ve read, all you have to do is ask.