Monday, 29 January 2018

2017 in Reading!

In 2017 I read 59 books, and according to Goodreads, that figured out at 17978 pages. Not half bad! I didn't manage my goal of 80 books but I read some really good books last year. The biggest change in my reading has actually been a format change! 2017 was the year of the audiobook with 22 of the books I read being listened to. In fact, my top three books this year were all read via audiobook! And all classics... Who am I?!

I rated 13 books as 
I rated 19 books as 
I rated 11 books as 
I rated 13 books as 
And 3 books as 

While I definitely had more one-star books than ever, I also had two reads that made it to my six-star shelf on Goodreads that I save for my absolute ultimate favourites and that's pretty neat. And my top three...

Third place goes to... Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
It's strange that this found its way onto my top three because when I first read it, I gave it four stars. But over the year I haven't been able to get this book out of my head. I've still not finished my review because my thoughts on it are so hard to pin down. All I know is that I loved it and I don't think I've ever wanted to re-read a book so much, despite having some problems with it.

Second place goes to... Lolita by Vladamir Nabokov
I've got many a strange look after telling people that one of my new favourite books is Lolita but it is. It's massively misunderstood and I think more people would really like it if they gave it a chance. But hey, all I know is that I really enjoyed it and I actually think I'll re-read this one too. Not something I do often!

My favourite book in 2017 was... The Tenant of Wildfell by Anne Brontë!
I read a book by each Brontë last year for the first time. I didn't like Jane Eyre, I liked Wuthering Heights, but The Tenant of Wildfell filled my lil' Feminist heart with joy. A woman taking her son out of an abusive situation at a time when everything she owned legally belonged to her husband? I love Anne, and I love this book. 

                                                        What was your favourite read from 2017?

Saturday, 20 January 2018

My Reading Goals for 2018!

I love setting reading goals for a new year. Even if we're twenty days in, but it's actually my birthday today so it's like a new year all over again for me! I start a new Goodreads shelf on this day anyway, to track what I'm reading at what age. The shelf of everything I read when I was 20 is vastly different to the shelf of what I read at 23!

1. Keep Replacing!
Last year I unhauled 20 books which, for me, is incredible. Part of the way my OCD manifests is in slight hoarding so getting rid of anything is hard. Getting rid of things that I have read in my childhood, or haven't read, really bothers me. But. I'm working on that and the motivation of only buying one book for ten I unhaul works. Plus, I want seven 2018 releases so...

2. Bigger and Better!
I want to read some chunky books. For me, big books are any over 400 pages but this year I'm looking at some 500+ page beauties. Maybe even 600+ pages. Who knows! I just feel like challenging myself to stick with a book for a good long time.

3. Read all of my 18 Books I want to Read in 2018 list!
My Goodreads goal is set to 18 this year after failing my first attempt at a challenging number last year, but in my mind, it's these 18. I really think I covered classics, non-fiction, new releases and starting and finishing series well.

4. Diversify!
I don't really read diversely. I do read mostly women but last year I only read two books written by a POC, and four that had LGBTQIA+ characters. That's pretty garbage! So in 2018, I want to diversify my reading more. I definitely want to read more books with characters that are LGBTQIA+. Hit me up if you have any recommendations!

5. Thread them all on Twitter!
I've seen a few of these threads over the last year and I was envious of those who had them for their 2017 reads. So I started my own. I'm hoping that I'll be able to see trends and patterns at the end of the year with it all written out linearly.

What are your reading goals for this year?

Monday, 15 January 2018

Under my Christmas Tree!

Another Christmas has been and gone! I really like seeing what people got for Christmas, mainly because I'm nosey, and I like writing this post every year. It's my way of looking at everything together and feeling ever so lucky. And I get to look back at what I got last year, the year before that, the year before that and the year before that. It's wild to see how tastes change and stay the same year after year.

Plus, I'll bet there are other people like me that just love reading these types of posts. Welcome!

Anyone who knows me, knows I do love a good mug. And this year I was treated to two; the My Favourite Murder podcast Toxic Masculinity Ruins the Party Again mug that I wished for. And one that my parents picked up on a trip to Copenhagen! It's a Royal Copenhagen design that has silicone to protect your hands from hot contents. Perfect for a chilly January cup of tea.

On the subject of podcasts; how brilliant is the Vermilion Minotaur pin from Hello from the Magic Tavern? I've really loved pins this year and I'm glad to represent the best tavern in Foon with this!

As I get older I find myself more and more excited about good skincare. So you can imagine my celebratory dance at finding the Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate in my stocking. It's a thinner oil then I'm used to and I love how quickly my skin absorbs the goodness.

The Konjac Sponge is so weird but so cool. It's solid when it's dry but after a couple seconds under the tap, it starts to soften up until you have this handful of sponge that is ever so slightly gooey feeling without the goo. I'm into it, and I can't wait to see the effect on my skin.

Since I only bought a few books in 2017 because of my self-imposed book buying ban (mini-haul here), I was really excited to get some fresh new books in my stocking. Books like the first Miss Marple novel; The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha ChristieWomen & Power by Mary BeardI Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora EphronTravels with my Sketchbook by Chris RiddellThe Faber Book of ChristmasIt Devours! by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor and the gorgeous Folio Society edition of Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome! Gosh, there's nothing better than a beautiful pile of books.

The entertainment continues with my new box-set of Golden Girls (in German because there's no UK full box-set). I couldn't be more excited to get to know Dorothy, Rose, Blanche and Sophia. And hello future foster cat/ Sims names!

The first expansion to Exploding Kittens; Imploding Kittens is going to make the game all the more fun. If you're looking for a quick card game for a few people, you can't beat it. This expansion also comes with a human-sized cone of shame too which is just brilliant.

Santa definitely had a theme this year! The royal cat socks are just fantastic, I'm wearing them right now and they're keeping my feet cosy as well as making me smile every time I look down. The 'Cat Lady' and cat mug patches are going to be sewn onto a boring jacket I have to snazz it up.

And the big man also treated my foster cats too. The heated pet bed is currently under my desk with two very happy cats napping, and the Snuggle Kitty is going to come in handy next time I have orphan kittens!

And, of course, chocolate! The Lindt Santa had an unfortunate squash but tasted good anyway. Probably better because I didn't have to deal with the guilt of a chocolate-y beheading.

What did you get for Christmas? Link me if you wrote a post like this!

Thursday, 11 January 2018

18 Books I want to Read in 2018!

My Goodreads goal for this year is 18 books, but in my mind, it's not just any 18 books, it's these 18 books. I'll be doing a full post on my other reading goals soon but these are the top picks that will be set aside from my shelves and hopefully, over the year will find themselves on my 'read' bookshelf.

Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
I bought the audiobook of this last year and have started it at least 3 times since. I need that last push to get me over that hour mark so I can really immerse myself in this story. It sounds like something I'll like; a woman doing her best as men try and complicate everything.

Villette by Charlotte Brontë
I have the Penguin Clothbound Classics box-set of 4 of the Brontë's works and the only one I didn't read in 2017 was Villette. So, even though Charlotte is my least favourite Brontë, I do want to read this and see if I prefer her more autobiographical work.

Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion by Jane Austen
Another box-set of Penguin Clothbound Classics I have (after it was put up for sale for £10!) is the Jane Austen complete works. I read Emma and Pride and Prejudice in 2017, and I'd quite like to finish her full novels this year. I really enjoy them, even though I'm still waiting for a favourite.

Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome
Spoiler alert for my Christmas presents post, I was lucky enough to get the gorgeous Folio Society copy of my favourite book and it seems like a very good time for a re-read!

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
I can't believe I haven't read this yet if I'm honest. I thought when I made my 'Stop Delaying' reading goal in 2017, that this would find it's way into my hands sooner or later. Seriously, these books have been to Norway, Milan, Germany... I even bought the audiobooks! I think it's book anxiety; when you really want a book to be good but you fear disappointment. Speaking of...

Empire and Dominion by Jennifer Ridyard and John Connolly
Talk about book anxiety! I first read Empire almost exactly two years ago and loved it, and since then these two have been to Northumberland, CorfuNorway and Mexico all without a page being turned. But 2018 is the year I find out what happens to Syl and Paul.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling
I've slowly been making my way through the Harry Potter books and since my library app has the audiobooks, I'm ready to finish my re-read with the two that I only read once on release days as a child. Of all the books on this list, these two are probably the ones I'm least looking forward to if I'm honest.

The Fear Within by J.S. Law
This is the much-awaited follow-up to Tenacity (now called The Dark Beneath) that blew my mind when I first read it. Released at the tail end of 2017, I didn't manage to pick it up but I am so ready to jump back into Leitenant Dani Lewis's world in these NCIS-type thrillers.

Coming Out Under Fire by Allan Bérubé
On the topic of the military, I want to read some more non-fiction this year and Coming Out Under Fire seems like the perfect blend of my interests in the military, the LGBTQIA+ community and WWII. I've only read the introduction so far but I can tell this is going to be fascinating.

Please Take Me Home: The Story of the Rescue Cat by Clare Campbell
As I've mentioned before, I started fostering cats and kittens back in 2017 and it's been wonderful. I just got an email today that a cat that needs a home will be joining me next week! So I'm taking an interest in the history. This covers how stray cats went from being pests to being what they are today: the best pet.

The Coffin Path by Katherine Clements
This is being published on February the 8th and I am so excited. I've been a big fan of Katherine Clements in past years. Her debut; The Crimson Ribbon was beautiful and The Silvered Heart was a heartbreaker, but she hasn't published anything since 2015 so news of a 2018 release was music to my ears. This Yorkshire Moors ghost story is top of the list for the cold winter nights in the early year.

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
Being published March 8th we read the story of how, in 1969, four children go out to learn their fortune. This is the story of what they do with that knowledge and I love this premise. I think this sounds really imaginative and I haven't read a good one of these long-term type of tales in a good while.

Never Greener by Ruth Jones
I adore Gavin and Stacey and Ruth Jones is such a funny woman that when I found out she'd wrote a book, you can bet I was waiting by the letterbox for my proof copy. It's another long-term, where do these two people who had an affair end up, type story and I'm hoping for some uplifting wise words from Jones. It's being released on April 5th so look out for it!

What books do you want to read in 2018?

Monday, 8 January 2018

Books I Want to Buy and Why #14: 2018 Releases!

Last year, I wrote my 2017 list and wondered what would make it to this years list of releases that I'd want to buy. Well, past me, here you go! In order of publishing date and everything! This is actually the longest of these new release lists I've made; 7 books. And since I'm going to continue my 2017 goal of unhauling 10 books for every new book purchase... I better get unhauling!

Missing Person by Sarah Lotz
I'll always be interested in anything Sarah Lotz is writing ever since The Three was such a mindblowing book. Admittedly, I didn't like Day Four as much but her 2017 release; The White Road was a good'un so I can't wait for Missing Person. I also find the real website this is based on fascinating, where anybody can help link up missing persons with unknown deceased; Lost & Found (TW: pictures of dead people).
Release date: 21st March

Six Tudor Queens: Jane Seymour, The Haunted Queen by Alison Weir
I said when I reviewed the first book in this series that Alison Weir had got me hooked when it came to this series. Six books in six years about all six wives? Count me in! And I'm really looking forward to the Jane Seymour book because I don't really know as much about her as Katherine and Anne.
Release date: 3rd May

Today by Felicia Yap
Yesterday was the thriller of 2017 and I really liked it so I'm looking forward to diving back into the world where everyone either has 24 or 48-hour memories. This is the prequel so I'm hoping for a lot more detail about how it all started.
Release date: 23rd August

Magisterium: The Golden Tower/ The Enemy of Death by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Now, there's one name for this on Goodreads and another on Amazon so who knows. However, I do know one thing and it's that I am both not ready for this series to be over, and desperately wanting to know what happens to Call in the final book.
Release date: 6th September

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by JK Rowling, Illustrated by Chris Riddell
Now, I'm not the biggest JK Rowling fan after my on-going re-read of the Harry Potter series and I do think they're really just mining this series for every penny it'll put out... But I'll buy pretty much anything Chris Riddell illustrates so this is a tough one for me. I might re-read my old copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard and see how I feel then.
Release date: 2nd October

An Easy Death by Charlaine Harris
Charlaine Harris is an auto-buy author for me, but when I saw that this is about "the disintegration of America" and "a surefire hit for fans of The Walking Dead"... I'm wishing away months of my life so it's October already. I need more of her writing in my life since I've recently finished all her series.
Release date: 4th October

Face Off by Brenda Novak
I just finished the second book in this series, Hello Again, and I'm already needing to know what happens next. I find serial killers and psychopaths fascinating and ever since reading the first book I've known that this is a series I will follow through on.
Release date: 29th November

What 2018 releases are you most excited for?!

Saturday, 6 January 2018

My 5 Reading Goals for 2017: One Year On!

A year ago, I posted up the 5 Reading Goals I had for 2017 in all my fresh new year enthusiasm! And 6 months ago, I had a little review of them because I like to check in with myself with goals or I'll completely forget them until the end of the year. And now, my final review, with a little haul as I only bought 2 books this year as one of my goals! Well, 2 and a bit...

My 5 Reading Goals for 2017: One Year On!

1. Stop delaying.
2017 was the year I read what I want to read when I want to read it. And I think this one was a major success! I've read so many books that have been sat on my shelves for years, and I've really started to enjoy types of books that I've always thought I didn't! It's been really interesting.

2. Goodbye comfort zone.

Classics, non-fiction and longer books were on the list for 2017 and classics was a slam-dunk! I read 15 classics, mainly through audiobooks and I loved exploring these books. I didn't always like all of them, but I never finished a classic and felt like the time was wasted. I also read 5 non-fiction memoir type books, but longer books remain my nemesis for another year.

3. Read a book in German.

Afraid not! I finished my German module and I'm afraid that I still don't feel confident enough to try this. Language learning isn't my strength and I really struggle with it. 

4. Replace.

I wanted to curate my bookshelves to reflect myself more accurately in 2017. I wanted to take away the bad, the old, the unread, so that the books I love could shine clearer! I pushed myself to do this by making a numerical challenge, ten books out and one book in. I unhauled 20 books (here and here) and I only bought 2. I'm happier with the way my shelves are looking. And as for the books I bought...

Magisterium: The Silver Mask by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare and Night Shift by Charlaine Harris. Anne Boleyn: A Kings Obsession by Alison Weir and Yesterday by Felicia Yap.

My mini-haul is Magisterium: The Silver Mask by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare and Night Shift by Charlaine Harris (which has disappeared so Day Shift is filling in). Both of which I also read this year. And I also bought hardcover copies of two books that I had proofs of; Anne Boleyn: A Kings Obsession by Alison Weir and Yesterday by Felicia Yap.
Obviously, I don't count my required reading books but you can see those here!

5. Read 80 books.

Well, lesson learned! I don't do well with these kinds of challenges. I ended up reading 59 books in 2017, which is still more than I read in 2014 and only two less than 2016. But not the 80 I read in 2015 and while I didn't let it pressure me, it was a little disappointing when I realised I wasn't going to make it. Never again!

Did you make any reading goals last year? How did you do?

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Hello 2018!

A fresh new year, a fresh new diary and a fresh new blog post! 2018 has arrived and I just managed to slump over that finish line when it came to 2017. I didn't think it could get much worse than 2016 but boy, 2017 sure showed me. It was a year of personal loss, bad health and just trying to keep my head above water. But we got through it, eh?

Things I wanted to do in 2017
Find a balance.
I tried, my gosh, I tried. And you know what? I felt kind of good in January. But it all slid away as the months past by, migraines became a weekly thing and I started my second year of university. It meant that I actually had great difficulty keeping up. I even had my first month since I started this blog where I didn't read a single book. But balance is difficult and maybe trying to find it in a single year isn't the most obtainable goal.
I wanted to see out with the old and invest in the new when it came to 2017 and I think I did that! I paid up for a new mattress, unhauled a few books (you can see these here and here) and after many many years, replaced the carpet in my study with beautiful wooden flooring that's ready for some new kitten fosters!
Blog less.

Well, I did blog less. In fact, I wrote 42 blog posts in the whole of 2017 which is less than half what I've been writing in the past. It felt strange to do it deliberately, even though I needed to prioritise my university work, and it felt even stranger when I realised it wasn't deliberate anymore. I'm hoping in 2018, I'll find a happier middle ground. 
Tick off the practical.
I did some pretty practical things in 2017; I got a student loan, I updated my computer, I finished my first year of university. But I didn't do a lot of other things so I'll give this a B+.

Things I want to do in 2018:
Keep trying for balance.
I see a lot of people talking about their word that represents their aim for 2018, and mine is definitely Balance. I can't keep running myself into the ground and have to recover over and over again. The scale has to stop tipping at some point.
Foster more kittens.
In 2017, I fostered kittens for the first time and I'd like to do a lot more of it in 2018. I now volunteer for both Cats Protection and the animal sanctuary that I adopted my first cats from which is a nice full circle. Kitten season starts in Spring and I'm ready to do my part.
Go to Texas. 
I met one of my best friends online 7 years ago and still haven't met her! Admittedly, she lives in Texas and I live in England so it's not the easiest trip but I'd like to make it this year. 
Write more.
While I did write some pretty great essays in 2017, I felt my creative mojo take a backseat. I haven't written anything resembling fiction in a long time, and I feel like my blog posts suffered as well. So in 2018, I'd like to write more, about anything. Just write.

What are your goals for 2018?

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