Saturday, 4 April 2020

Books I Read during my Scribd Free Trial!

Scribd is a digital library subscription service, a little like Netflix for books. It claims unlimited and what that actually means that if you read/listen to a lot, your access to certain options is limited until your next month. It also means unlimited within the collection they have, which is quite a bit, but not everything. You also get Mubi, the curated movie subscription service and FarFaria, a kids book service included. And it does a free 30 day trial. So I gave it a go and thought it'd be fun to go over what I read while trying out the service.



A Boy Worth Knowing by Jennifer Cosgrove
This has been on my wish list since I read Autoboyography a year ago and desperately searched for something similar. M/M romance? In high school? With GHOSTS? All a thumbs up from me so I was really excited to see this on Scribd in eBook form.

As for the book? The internal monologue could’ve done with some editing, I read it very fast so I picked up on a lot of little repetitive phrases, but the realism of a teenager telling themselves off inside their head was on point. I loved boys showing emotions, the importance of explicit consent, and as someone who spent a lot of my school time worrying about my attendance, I really loved the aunt encouraging taking a mental health day.

It was a sweet, fluffy, slightly paranormal romance and I would’ve loved it if it wasn’t for: “-I wouldn’t risk that. Not on the word of a junkie ghost.” That was just incredibly disappointing to read, I really hate that term for one, and for another this was a complete throwaway line and the drug abuse of the character was more a plot point to get to his death.

You by Caroline Kepnes
This was one of those rare occasions when the adaptation was as good/ better. I've never felt the need to read this after marathoning the show in one day last Boxing Day while completely ignoring my family, but I saw the audiobook and decided to listen to it. The narrator is incredibly good, similar in tone to Penn Badgley who plays Joe in the show, and creepy. I haven't been so spooked by an audiobook since I listened to It.

I like a unreliable narrator but it can wear after a while because Joe felt frantic for the entire book. I found myself feeling physically stressed so I probably won’t read the sequel but I loved season 2 of You. I think maybe reading this physically might calm the pace.



Small Kingdoms & Other Stories by Charlaine Harris
I was really excited going into this as it was a short story collection of an interesting new character (at least for me) from Charlaine Harris. A high school principal with a shady past? Totally different from what I've read from Harris before and I loved it. The stories were short enough that I could get through one while I was winding down for bed and long enough that I really got a feel for the world and a satisfying story-arc.

Plus, Harris’s writing just works for me. Physical or audio, novel or short story (my least favourite format), I love her style and this was no exception.

After Dead by Charlaine Harris
This is the exception, however. I get that she did this ‘for the fans’ who wanted to know what came next but I am so glad I never bought this. The audiobook for this is 47 minutes. For comparison, the first Sookie Stackhouse book is nine and a half hours. And I know it’s not a novel but that is shockingly short.

This should’ve been published online for free, like Charlaine Harris has mentioned that she wanted to, not have the RRP of £8.99. Or it would’ve been a great blog tour! Think about fifty-ish blogs all posting one characters future and keen readers popping around, finding blogs they love that have the same taste as them! Although I’d feel sorry for whoever got the character who ‘contracted ghonnorea’ and that’s it!? This is both a missed opportunity and a disappointing cash grab.

This is tough to really review because I enjoyed the novella and some of the interviews, skipped the timeline for the books because I'm currently re-reading them, and found the fan club section a little weird. I don't think this is by any means necessary reading, but I could see that it had, at least, more content than After Dead.
And finally a full novel. I dived back into Harris with my heart open and this paid off. This is her second novel and a standalone so I was blown away by how many things changed and how many stayed the same when it came to her characters and her story structure, still the same old Southern charm I loved but a bit less detective-y than I expected. I prefer it when the main character has a big impact on how the case is resolved, but this would've ended up the same way without her input.

I will say though, for something written 36 years ago in 1984? This was surprisingly progressive about rape culture! So overall, it was okay but not something I’m clamouring to read again.

If you want two free months, here's a link! Or if you don't want to give them your card details, here's one month free!

Have you read any of these? Are you a Scribd subscriber?

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Audiobooks to Listen to while Playing Animal Crossing!

Animal Crossing came out yesterday and I am so so so glad. And I love listening to audiobooks while I play Animal Crossing. There is nothing better than watering your flowers, fishing and bug catching with a gentle story being told in the background. I tend to go for more relaxed audiobooks, nothing too complicated or full of action that might ruin the Animal Crossing ~vibes~ for me. So here are my recommendations, and a few I plan to listen to!



If you have a pig villager, or a hankering for pastoral mischief, look no further than The Blandings Castle series by P.G. Wodehouse. I cannot recommend a series more for listening while playing Animal Crossing because the stakes are very very low and every book follows a similar plotline of someone impersonating someone else and something nefarious to do with the pig. I've read eight or nine of these now and they're always read by very posh older gentlemen in very soothing tones.

If your luck ran out and your island is full of smug and snooty villagers, then I think you can't go wrong with a Jane Austen. Personally, I think Emma is a great pick if you're surrounded by gossips, and the new movie is out this year.

If you're in the Northern Hemisphere and are taken by the Spring vibes and the sound of water, Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome is the story of, you guessed it, three men (and a dog) in a boat taking a holiday down the river Thames. I just listened to this in February and recommend both unabridged and abridged (which is on Spotify, read by Hugh Laurie).

If you feel like leaning into the oddity of being the only humanoid on an island of talking animals, look to further than the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett. I really recommend the witches branch of this series, starting with Equal Rites, but Lianne has a great video breaking down the vast universe and all the best starting points. Oddball characters, magic, fantasy lands, I didn't really like the first book which I read physically but they shine in audiobook format.

Personally, I just started Lady Susan by Jane Austen but it's pretty short and two and a half hours is nothing when it comes to Animal Crossing. I'm really tempted to go back and listen to the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris on audiobook as I've been slowly re-reading them since I finished my first read of my favourite waitresses tales.

If you are looking to load up on audiobooks, consider Libro.fm as they're currently doing a deal where you get two books for the price of one and all the money goes to your local bookstore! Or you can get a free book using my link. Libro is a great alternative to Audible!

And what will I be listening to?

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Books I Read in February!

Despite taking part in Februwitchy this month, I actually didn't read as many witchy books as I planned. Although I loved having a themed TBR and finally getting to some of the books I've been meaning to read for a long time. I need to figure out a way to implement that in future!



The Witches of Cambridge by Menna Van Praag
This isn't the style of book I normally read. As I mentioned in my Februwitchy TBR, I want to read more romance but this just wasn't it for me. There were a lot of characters all having different dramas that were all very domestic and uninteresting to me personally, I couldn't get a handle on one character and her cheating husband before I was whisked away to her mother and her grief, then her sister and her fertility struggles.
Witchcraft was rarely used apart from a couple times and always seemed to take away peoples consent. I liked the focus on kitchen witchery but not how it was used. I can imagine why people would like this but in the end, it just wasn't my cup of tea.

Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout
I always know I can turn to Armentrout when I want the same vibes as the Twilight-era, and she's a prolific writer with various series so when I wanted something new, I picked up Half-Blood because modern day descendants of Greek gods? Sure! However, with the fun 2000s romp vibes, comes all the body-shaming and slut-shaming so common in those books. A truly mysterious phenomena!
I can't speak for if the demonising of addiction was deliberate or just part of the unfortunate cultural opinion but that was something that really stood out to me in Half-Blood. Literally, the daimons (pronounced like demon) are addicted to the life force of these children of gods and are described as "like a druggie going after her fix" and they "sounded high". Wild.
Its a shame because it's a fun read! And openly queer-positive. But I won't continue the series, I think when I'm next in the mood for an Armentrout, I'll go back to the Lux series that I've loved in the past (my review of the first book, Obsidian is here).

Pigs Have Wings by P.G. Wodehouse
These books are like the perfectly crafted tiny cake that you just eat, enjoy, and don’t have to dissect or think about too much. If you want a simple tale of the upper class English stealing pigs and having various visitors that aren't who they present themselves as, this is the series for you! The perfect audiobook to listen to when insomnia hits.

How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather
This was a birthday gift from the lovely Mols and it is truly one of my favourite books of the year, and it's only February! Full review coming!

Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica
This was released in English in February and when I wrote about 2020 releases I was most excited for, this was top of the list in my mind. This took me in places I didn't expect and couldn't wrap-up in a paragraph or two, so I'll be doing a full post!

Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome
I actually listened to the unabridged and the abridged audiobooks of Three Men in a Boat this month. I grew up listening to the Hugh Laurie edition but wanted to read the full book- boy, I was not expecting a dead dang body!
Even so, this book is truly one of my favourites, I've named kittens after the characters in the past. I don't think you can go wrong with this if you need light-hearted fun and charming 1800's travels down the Thames. One day I'll write an ode to this book but I've remembered how much I love it and will definitely be re-reading it again (and again (and again)).

What did you read in February? Have you read any of these?

Saturday, 22 February 2020

2020: The Year of No Star-Ratings

Hindsight is 20/20 as they always say, and let me tell you, I've been trying to figure out how to turn that into some kind of personal challenge for 2020 for ages. In the end, the answer was easy and the eagle-eyed among you might have noticed in my January reading wrap-up... I don't want to give star-ratings for books for a full year and see how it changes my reading and blogging.



There are a couple of reasons why I want to do this:

1. For the past few years, star ratings have gotten harder and harder to give. I'll finish a book and be overthinking about if I should rate a book three or four, did I like it as much as X which I gave four stars, but it didn't teach me anything like Y which I gave three. What was originally an impulse decision based on how much I enjoyed a book has become overly-complicated.

2. I'm trying to be less negative. I started book blogging to boost books I loved and lately I feel like I've become a real grump. I've become too critical to the point where I'm not enjoying reading as much because my brain is too busy thinking about star-ratings and reviews. Maybe it's the English Literature degree, but I need to re-evaluate a lot of things in 2020 and I think taking away this small thing will help with that.

3. My average star rating in 2019 was three stars. That's terrible. And I read some good books in 2020! I want to focus more on the books and less on the numbers, so I hope this will help! I've always liked star ratings, I've never understood why some people don't use them, but they've stopped working for me and I'm ready to try something new.

The only time I'm going to rate a book is if it belongs on my six-star shelf and I know it in my bones. If a book changes my life, my sheets and cleans the litter box, it'll get this rating.

What do you think of star ratings? Do you use them all the time?

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