17 January 2018

My Blogging Problems // No Pressure and Fewer Expectations (It’s OK To Be A Bad Blogger)

My Blogging Problems
So this post is going up a week later than intended and it’s not even going up on the day I intended but it’s getting posted and if that isn’t a prime example of what I’m trying to say with this post then I don’t know what is.
No Pressure
This is the time of the year when we start creating expectations for the year. We decide on the challenges we wish to take part in for the coming year and we make resolutions for ourselves as we have once more started a new year and as a whole, we create expectations for ourselves. This then leads to us putting pressure on ourselves towards the end of the year and for some, it can cause undue stress.

I am here to tell you that we need to stop doing that to ourselves! We might not complete a challenge but that is ok! Unless you know you can take the pressure don’t push yourself to do something just because that’s the thing bloggers do. Don’t set yourself a high Goodreads total if it’ll stress you out when you fall behind (why does that website feel the need to rub it in when you’re behind… I know I’m two books behind don’t keep telling me it just pisses me off). Also, don’t take on a bunch of challenges if you don’t think you can keep up (or don’t announce you’re participating in a challenge so the only person who will know if you don’t complete a goal is you then, it still sucks but less pressure).

One of my goals for the year is apologising less. I am late in posting always (although I don’t have a schedule so the only person who knows I’m late is me until I let you guys know that fact too). I think this is something we all need to learn. Less pressure. Fewer expectations. And no more apologising. 2018 is the year of being ok with what we can do. I’m all for stretching yourself and challenging yourself but no more shall we lost sleep over things. I know I’m making it sounds simple, I know I still feel annoyed when a post isn’t ready when I hoped and continually want to apologise when I’m not doing what I want to be doing as a blogger but I am trying and so I want this to be the reminder that it’s ok to be a bad blogger… I know Nereyda said that one best here. Even so, it’s true, we all suck at blogging sometimes and we all suck at reading and I know we all fail at challenges from time to time but it’s totally ok. The only person making you think otherwise is yourself so make this the year you’re nicer to yourself about these things, ok?

Anyone else stress themselves out over challenges and blog goals and question why they’re doing it? Who’s with me in being ok with failing?

14 January 2018

Sunday Summary // 14.01.2018

Sunday Summary
Guys, why didn’t you tell me I put the wrong date on my Sunday post last week? It just demonstrates how much I’d lost track of time when I wasn’t working (and also when I was). I was also so bone achingly tired I actually slept for 11 hours Saturday night so I need to remember to sleep more obviously.

This week has been another calm week where I have continued the planning of my nan’s funeral. We had to have it a little later than we’d hoped as my great uncle is going some treatment at the hospital so we don’t want to clash with his treatment. It does mean we’ve got a little bit more time for decision making. In fact, the only thing we have left to decide on is who the bearers will be and what music to play at the start and end of the service. They aren’t major decisions but the decisions are still hard to make. We also met with the reverend who will be doing the service and I cried all over the poor woman. She was perfectly lovely, though, so that made me feel better. And she had adorable little dogs as well so I spent a lot of time bonding with them. I am a dog person it seems (unless someone has cats then I am a cat person… I like animals).

One good thing about this week is my mom discovered a budget airline who does flights to New York. We’re hoping to take a short 5 night trip to New York in September and I’m so excited! I’ve never been to New York and I’ve always wanted to visit so it should be awesome. I definitely needed something to look forward to this year and I hope to buy a few books while I’m there as there are a couple of books I’ve not gotten as they simply aren’t out over here. Anyway, I have spent a whole lot of time looking at things online but I need to sort out both my passport and the dates we’re actually going so I can start planning what I want to do when we get there.

What I’ve Been Reading

Once more, I have read just one book this week. I finished of Wold by Wolf and I have now started Blood for Blood. Goodreads is reminding me I am two books behind schedule (rude really) but I’ve been busy starting a rewatch of all 12 seasons of Bones so I’ve been busy. I’ve enjoyed the two books I’ve read so far this year and I’m kind of liking the slow leisurely reading pace… I may end up amending my reading goal if this is how my reading year goes.

New To Me

Second Chance SummerThis Song Will Save Your Life23361244Sisters Red
So, I had grand plans this year and fate seemed to work against me a little. I didn’t intend to buy any books this week but one of my local book shops has a discount books section and I ended up walking out with 4 books for £13. I couldn’t resist. I can justify this by the simple fact that I have read three of these books before and the fourth was a hardback, who can say no to a hardback?
I See YouSecrets of the Lighthouse
I also got given two books by a cousin and whilst they aren’t my usual reading fare they do look interesting and I struggle saying no to books. They were only going to the charity shop anyway, I figured I’d read them before they got there (and maybe take a few of my own there as well).
The Duchess Deal
And finally, I got one RC this week. I don’t even feel bad about not sticking to the whole no ARC thing because I finally have the new Tessa Dare book to read! I really cannot wait, that is actually my next read.

What have you been up to this week? Am I the only one already planning a holiday even though I’ve barely started this year?

13 January 2018

Five Reasons To… Read The City of Brass

The City of Brass
Published: 8th March 2018 (UK)

Source: Book box/Edelweiss

Genre: Fantasy, Historical, Young Adult

My Rating:
Step into The City of Brass, the spellbinding debut from S. A. Chakraborty—an imaginative alchemy of The Golem and the Jinni, The Grace of Kings, and One Thousand and One Nights, in which the future of a magical Middle Eastern kingdom rests in the hands of a clever and defiant young con artist with miraculous healing gifts
Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass?a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.

In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.

After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for . . .
I can probably think of more than five reasons to read The City of Brass but I will attempt to be concise and give you the best reasons for reading this utterly amazing book, even if it does involve convincing you folks to read the first book in yet another series. Actually, I’ll probably just try not flail too much and actually write coherent sentences because this was me after finishing:

Complex and Interesting Characters

The characters in this book were the best. Nahri was this amazing con artist. She could sense illness in people and she also conned the rich out of their money to fuel her pursuit of moving to be able to pursue being a doctor. Despite her abilities and their unknown origin, she didn’t believe in magic until a djinn (daeva) arrives in her life and she discovers there is an entire city of djinn called Daevabad. I loved how Nahri may have discovered a world of magic, demons and djinn but she never loses who she is and wants to be. Sure, she takes moments to question what she wants but she is still her own person and tries to avoid being swept away.

Then there is Dara, the mysterious djinn Nahri summons who has a dark past he mostly can’t remember and the bits which he does don’t always shine himself in the best light. He remembers a different world to the one he arrives in and although he wasn’t always a good person I did love him and the connection he built with Nahri. He was the man who introduced her to this other world and the two built a bond from that and helped one another grow.

There was also Prince Ali, one of the sons of the current ruler of Daevabad. I didn’t always love his actions or agree with his opinions but he did add a whole other element to the story. I won’t reveal the reasons why but Dara and Ali didn’t get along or agree on all things. They were on opposite sides of things and I sided much more with Dara on this but Ali wasn’t all bad. He was blunt and interesting and he was a good friend to Nahri even if he was far too blind to the faults of those closest to him.

Amazing World Building

The world Nahri and all of the characters inhabit is such an interesting one. Seeing how the world of the djinn overlapped with the human world was so cool. And then there was the city of Daevabad, that entire city was so interesting. It genuinely felt like a real place. I could visualise that city and the people living in it. It was fully fleshed and so interesting. You can tell that research went into studying the historical period the book is set and also in learning about the cultures which influenced those of the djinn. It wasn’t just one culture but multiple ones which influenced the different types of djinn. I thought it was a highlight of the book how real the world the characters inhabited was.

Family Mystery

Nahri had no knowledge of her own family. She didn’t question her origins too much on the streets of Cairo as she had to spend far more time concentrating on surviving and passing under the radar of the authorities as not all she did was strictly legal. It meant that as time went on and she learnt more about her possible past (and Dara’s past) the more intrigued I was and I just know that this will get explored in the next book (which I totally want in my hands now… I cannot be wishing away the year though). I think the mystery of both her origins and those of Dara led me to get sucked in as you see small hints of the past but there is so much more to be explored as the series progresses.

Djinn! (Or Daeva if You’re That Kind Of Guy)

This was such an original take on djinn. I haven’t read a lot of books featuring djinn anyway, but this one was so unique. The djinn and their society were so interesting. It was so similar to human society anyway which is logical but it was also unique. Each type of djinn had their own culture and each was so individually defined by both appearance but also their beliefs. Their abilities weren’t just chalked up as being magic but instead, there were abilities which folks tended to and then the half djinn, shafits, who were treated as lesser beings. Some of the mixed blood people also possessed abilities and I would be very interested to see why some did and some didn’t. There was the daeva (who took on the original name of the djinn) who were fire-based djinn and there were a large variety of others. The different djinn tribes actually lead on to the next point.

An Interesting Take On Racism and Religion And Class Which We Can All Relate To

One of the elements I liked most about this book is that it showed the mirroring of certain elements of the human world in that of the djinn. As soon as we were introduced to the world of the djinn through the eyes of Ali and then later Nahri it was obvious to me that there was discrimination against the shafts with the view that full-blooded djinn as being superior to those of the half blood shafit. It was similar to the pureblood superiority seen in Harry Potter but in City of Brass it goes beyond that with those in the different djinn tribes having their own rivalries.

The corruption seen in the ruling class of the djinn also meant viewing full blooded djinn as superior to those of the half blood shafits. They also had the view that the Daeva tribe were backward as they had their own religion whilst the rest of the djinn had a new different religion which was adopted and these divisions split the focus of the djinn and weakened them allowing corruption to spread.

I have to say, whilst the divisions in djinn society weren’t always comfortable to read because it made me so angry but it is one thing I love about fantasy reads. Even with its historical setting it was brilliant at highlighting the ingrained biases which occur in society and fantasy is an excellent way of achieving this. It was brilliant!

Have you read this and if so what are your reasons for others to read (if you loved it as much as I did)? And what’s your favourite fantasy read of late?

08 January 2018

The Cruel Prince // You Should Buy This ASAP

The Cruel Prince
Published: 2nd January 2017
Source: Won
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
My Rating:
Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.
I am a fan of Holly Black and have been ever since I heard about one of her books. I didn’t even need to read one, I just knew she was an author I wanted to read. Ever since I read White Cat (and then didn’t finish that series!) I have loved her books and so when I saw she had another book out there was no doubt I would be getting myself a copy. I got lucky and managed to win a copy early and I am so thrilled I did but I would have been buying it regardless.

It was an insanely good book for so many reasons. It was an interesting storyline which had me drawn in straight away. There were complex characters with a whole bunch of moral ambiguity going on. And the world itself so was good! I will attempt to list the reasons you should read and avoid most spoilers (I think).

Morally Ambiguous Characters

The entire book is filled with characters who aren’t good or nice. The majority of them are faeries and the fae aren’t exactly known for being sweetness and light (at least not in the folklore I’ve heard). As such, these faeries are cruel and manipulative and they have such power over people, especially humans who they can glamour and manipulate and generally terrorise. And then Jude and her sister are both humans who have mostly grown up in the land of Faerie and they know the rules but aren’t living as humans. They have become much like the fae and are cruel and spiteful and make choices which leads you to question if they are good people but that is what they’ve had to adapt to become. I have to say I’ve never read a book where I spend so much time bouncing from disliking characters to loving them. They are all terrible people but I also really liked them.

Amazing World Building

The Court of Faeries was really interesting. It was like a whole separate world yet it overlapped with the human world and it was smartly done. Learning the rules and politics of the court and how faeries and humans interacted with one another was brilliant. I also loved the magic and abilities which the faeries possessed and the old wives tale type ways humans could counter the abilities and magic.

A Main Character You Connect With Immediately

As I said, there are a lot of morally ambiguous characters. There are characters who do bad things but seem like nice people. There are the nice seeming ones who you want to punch. There are selfish characters who attempt to save their own skin but end up doing things because of that. I liked how Jude was a character who made poor choices and helped those who probably didn’t deserve it but she was always attempting to make her own path in a world she didn’t belong. She tried to do everything she could for her family, for those who were suffering, yet she was also selfish and to those around her she could be so cruel. She acted far too rashly and often to the detriment to herself and those she was with.

Basically, It’s Awesome

I adored this entire book. I was sucked in right from the start and didn’t want to stop reading. Holly Black is the queen of faerie books. She is an amazing author anyway, but her take on the fae is always impressive. I cannot recommend this book enough. It’s dark and interesting and filled with such interesting characters. I am dying for the next book to be out and I am going to be reading everything by Holly Black until then.

Have you read anything by Holly Black? Do you have one book I need to read by her? And what’s your favourite book about faeries?

07 January 2018

Sunday Summary // 06.01.2018

Sunday Summary
How is the first week of 2018 over already? I don’t know where time is going, it’s crazy stuff!

The week began well, I stayed home on New Years and finished reading City of Brass and that book is so so good. I think I sat for five hours solid to get it finished. I was only interrupted by my poor dog getting scared by all the fireworks. It was a nice night of relaxing and exactly what I needed as I went back to work Tuesday. It was long and exhausting and I have not enjoyed getting up early in the mornings but it’s nice to return to a routine. I was losing my days over Christmas, I had the problem of continually not knowing what day it was which is always disorientating.

I saw some school friends Friday night and I’ve not had so much fun catching up with folks as I did then. We gossiped about all the people we went to school with and what we’ve heard is going on with them and we caught up on what we were all doing and it was great. I recommend catching up with old friends every so often because it’s so much fun.

Anyway, that is my week. A whole lot of seeing folks and being so very very tired from work and not a lot else. I’ve not even read that much (since fanfiction doesn’t count).

What I’ve Been Reading

Like I said, I’ve not really read all that much lately. I haven’t even finished my first book of 2018 and that’s a reread. Hopefully, I’ll have finished it by the time this post goes up and may even start the sequel (finally).

New To Me

Dating You Hating You
I’m almost breaking even with my reading, I guess. I saw Dating You Hating You on offer for 99p, though. Who could say no to that?

How has your first week of 2018 been? Everyone back to their normal life yet or is it just me?

01 January 2018

Hello 2018 // Resolutions and Challenges

Hello 2018
Happy New Year! It’s time to once again set our selves resolutions to inevitably break within the first few days of the year and challenges we will wither smash or forget about within days. I always end up forgetting about my challenges and resolutions and I always try and do a mad rush at the end of the year which always fails. I often question why I even bother. In fact, I never used to bother with resolutions because I knew they would never last.

It may sound like I don’t like the start of a new year but even though it is but an arbitrary method to track the passage of time there is something so lovely about that start of a new year. It holds so much potential, there are so many possibilities of how the next year will go. It may not always be a good year but I love the feeling that you can begin afresh and try and improve. And if all else fails I also treat September like a fresh start so I’ve got 9 months before I can attempt to set myself back on track for the end of the year.

2018 Resolutions

I may not have always been a fan of resolutions but I have a handful of bookish/blogging ones I wish to try and achieve.

  • Request fewer ARCs! – The continual theme of the end of 2017, for me, was complaining how behind in my ARC reading I was. I may have reached the elusive 80% response rate on Netgalley but I still have so many ARCs to read and a lot were for the middle to end of last year.2018 will be the year of me only requesting the books I really, really want to read. No more maybe reads or pretty cover requests for me (probably).
  • Buy fewer books! – I buy a lot of books and I don’t apologise for that fact. I am good at finding good deals and spending wisely (most of the time) but I have so many unread books that buying more feels hard to justify. I have no specific plan in place so this resolution is probably doomed to fail but I want to try and stop my gains from exceeding the books which I have read. I would be happy with breaking even at this point.
  • Stop apologising so much! – I apologise a lot to you guys on this blog. When I get busy, when I don’t post, when I don’t reply. There are apologies for the most ridiculous reason but no more! I want to apologise less when it’s beyond my control. I’m allowed to have a life outside this very fun hobby so it's ok.
  • Bring back posts I like on the blog! – So I realised I haven’t done a ‘Five Reasons to…’ post in a good long while and there are other little features and posts I haven’t done because they seemed like too much effort or I thought about it but never got around to so I am going to try and do the posts I like and not the ones which are easy.
  • Remember to post reviews on Amazon and Goodreads! – I am good at posting reviews on Goodreads but less good about making sure I put them up on places like Amazon but I am determined to try and get reviews up on those places once a week because this helps support authors too!
I don’t know about you guys but I feel like these are achievable aims. I’m not overreaching they are just good things to try. Will I succeed? Well… that’s a whole other question.

2018 Challenges

I always like to take part in a few challenges but I don’t want to do too many and overstretch myself. This year I may have chosen to do many but I am hoping I can cross books over for some challenges. Apart from the Discussion Challenge they are all reading based challenges and all should have some crossover (I hope).

2018 Discussion Challenge

This is my favourite blogging challenge which I take part in every year. I’ve done it for the past two, I think. It helps encourage me to write discussion posts which are always great and actually get a conversation going with you guys. It’s hosted by Nicole at Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon at It Starts At Midnight. They are both great hosts and I love the link up to see all the discussions folks are posting.

My aim is to be a Chatty Kathy which is 21 to 30 posts. Over the space of a year that should (hopefully) be achievable. I want to try and get two posts up a month which I (might) be able to do.

Monthly Motif Reading Challenge

Monthyl Motif
This is a challenge I stumbled across completely by accident but it looked interesting. It is simply a book a month I am attempting to read and that is totally manageable. And a lot of the monthly themes seem like ones I would actually be able to read anyway.
  1. JANUARY – Diversify Your Reading
    Kick the reading year off right and shake things up. Read a book with a character (or written by an author) of a race, religion, or sexual orientation other than your own.
  2. FEBRUARY – One WordRead a book with a one-word title.
  3. MARCH – Travel the World
    Read a book set in a different country than your own, written by an author from another country than your own, or a book in which the characters travel.
  4. APRIL – Read Locally
    Read a book set in your country, state, town, village (or has a main character from your hometown, country, etc)
  5. MAY- Book to Screen
    Read a book that’s been made into a movie or a TV show.
  6. JUNE- Crack the Case
    Mysteries, True Crime, Who Dunnit’s.
  7. JULY – Vacation Reads
    Read a book you think is a perfect vacation read and tell us why.
  8. AUGUST- Award WinnersRead a book that has won a literary award or a book written by an author who has been recognized in the bookish community.
  9. SEPTEMBER- Don’t Turn Out The Light
    Cozy mystery ghost stories, paranormal creeptastic, horror novels.
  10. OCTOBER- New or Old
    Choose a new release from 2018 or a book known as a classic.
  11. NOVEMBER- Family
    Books where family dynamics play a big role in the story
  12. DECEMBER- Wrapping It Up
    Winter or holiday-themed books or books with snow, ice, etc in the title or books set in winter OR read a book with a theme from any of the months in this challenge (could be a theme you didn’t do or one you want to do again).

2018 Romance Roundabout Challenge

This is another one I stumbled across. I was searching for a romance based reading challenge but most of them didn’t seem all that challenging. Like the Contemporary Romance one, or it was too challenging. This one has a set number of categories and I can make it as easy or hard as I like. This is a GoodReads based reading challenge which I don’t love but it is a really cool challenge so I’m not letting GoodReads put me off as it’s a site I should probably utilise as more than just as a way to track my reading.

I am just going to be a ‘dabbler’ on this one and aim for one book per sub-genre. Do read more than one romance book a year to fit into these genres? Of course, I do but as soon as a set a target for myself we all know I’m going to fail epically.
    • Paranormal Romance
    • Urban Fantasy
    • Young Adult (fantasy or contemporary both qualify)
    • New Adult
    • Erotic Romance
    • Sci-Fi (can be romance or straight sci-fi)
    • Historical Romance
    • Steampunk
    • Contemporary Romance
    • Romantic Suspense
    • LGBT Romance
    • Fantasy (not to be confused with paranormal romance!)
    • Mystery (not romance focused, can be cosy mystery or thrillers)

2018 Beat The Backlist

I also plan to participate in this Backlist books challenge because I have a lot of backlist books to read and a challenge which utilises teams and points as a method to encourage you to read is always good (and this way I can combine my other challenges into this one too).

I aim to read 50 books for this challenge. I will be in the team Story Sorcerers so fingers crossed with do well!

Personal Reading Challenge

personal shelf love
And (finally) there is my own personal reading challenge which I have created for myself to try and beat the mountain of unread books I own. This is a challenge of my own making created specifically for me and the many books I have bought. You can feel free to use (and adapt it) for yourself but it’s going to work for me.
    • A book I bought because of Nick.
    • A book I bought because of Danya.
    • A book I bought because of a Smart Bitches podcast.
    • A book I bought (and avoided) due to the hype.
    • A book I bought for the author.
    • A book I bought for the cover.
    • A book from a subscription box which I’ve not read.
    • A highly anticipated book I’ve just not read.
    • A book I was excited to read until a bad review put me off.
    • A sequel to a book I’ve loved but not read as I want to reread the first book.
    • A physical book with an ugly cover.
    • An ebook with an ugly/embarrassing cover.
    • A big ass physical book I’ve put off reading as I don’t want to carry it about.
    • A book I bought because an author mentioned it.
    • Any book off of my last chance pile (those books which get one more chance before they go to the charity pile).

What challenges are you participating in this year? Do you have any resolutions for the year or are you just going to take it as it comes?