Tag: Goodreads Reading Challenge

Mid-Year Review of 2022 Goals/Resolutions

Hello everyone and welcome to my mid-year review post for 2022. In this post I’m going to take a look at the goals I set myself at the start of this year in my 2022 New Year Goals/Resolutions post. I’m going to evaluate where I’m up to so far, amend if necessary, and maybe even add another…

At the beginning of the year, I set myself three primary goals. After a year off, I wanted to take part in the Goodreads Reading Challenge once again. I enjoyed my break, however, I felt that taking part in the challenge provides me with some much-needed motivation. I also set myself a challenge regarding how I structure my reading. In previous years I have gone from one extreme of setting a static list for the month, to setting no list at all. I found that neither approach works perfectly for me, and so I challenged myself to take a more hybrid approach. Lastly, I set myself a challenge to get more organised with my blog post writing.

Of all the challenges set so far, I feel like the last of those is the only one where there is a lot to be desired. But, more on that below!

 

Existing Challenges

Goodreads Challenge – 40 books

40 books isn’t an overly ambitious target (for me), but it’s one that I felt I could reasonably achieve. When you consider that last year I only read about 25 books, it’s a step up. Equally, my record has been reading 72 books in one year.

That is a lot, and I don’t think it’s an amount I will ever achieve again. It’s partly because I went so hard at this that I ended up slumping last year. I’d rather take a slower and steady approach, and this is how I got to my target of 40.

At the end of June, I had completed 23 books and only DNF’d one! I’m pleased with this progress, as not only am I on track, but I’m also not so far ahead that I’ve made the challenge too easy. In previous years I have upped my goal because I had underestimated myself.

Here are the details of the books I’ve read in the last six months: 

Obviously, things can change in the next six months. I will be doing another review at the end of August with regards to my Goodreads challenge, but for now, it’s staying where it is!

 

Reading Lists

I have definitely been taking a more flexible approach to my reading list, although I don’t think I found the balance just yet. It may be that this is a constantly moving target and I just need to be a little bit adaptable with myself.

At the beginning of the year, I was setting myself a monthly TBR that was approximately 2/3 fixed and 1/3 flexible. I thought I would benefit from having more in the way of structure, with the opportunity to pick up anything I like at the end of the month if I get through those books. There are months where this worked, and there are months where this didn’t work quite so much.

It is only more recently that I have allowed myself a little more freedom. I was finding that a lot of the time, I wasn’t really getting to my mood reads, or I was only just getting to them towards the end of the month. That doesn’t really give me what I was setting out to achieve.

Quite by chance, I tried a different approach in June. When trying to set myself a TBR, I kept changing my mind as to what I wanted to read. I only had one real reading commitment, and so in the end I decided to set this as my only fixed read and to allow myself the flexibility with everything else during the month. As it happens, I did end up sticking with the books I’d penciled in, but I think the mentality that allowing myself the flexibility gave me motivation. This was also during a time when I had an exam to prepare for, and in theory, it should have been one of my worst months. But in reality, I think it was my best!

I want to continue with this more flexible approach in future.

So, in the meantime, I’m going to set myself a limit of only setting half of a monthly TBR as ‘fixed books’, although if I can be more flexible with myself then that is what I will try to do. This is dependent on reading commitments, so I’m not going to sign myself up for too much so that I can’t fulfill this goal.

 

Blog Post Writing

At the beginning of this year, I set myself the challenge to be more organised with writing my blog posts. Primarily, I wanted to pull my finger out and get my posts scheduled at least a week in advance. That way, if there are any unpleasant surprises, or I’m not in the mood, I had some leeway to get post out to you on time.

This is the only goal that I haven’t done so well with. I am still writing posts pretty much as and when they are scheduled to go up. This very post itself is already delayed from my original intended posting date, so that illustrates how I’m still struggling with this!

I’m going to make a concerted effort to start preparing my posts in a more timely fashion. It won’t take that much effort, but I just need to be a little bit more disciplined with myself in order to make this change a habit. Once it’s a habit, it’ll be golden.

 

New Challenge

Read more Non-fiction

I am well on the way with two out of three of my existing challenges. I have been considering adding an additional challenge for myself this year, and I have plenty of books that will allow me to do this.

As an avid learner, I would like to pick up more non-fiction books. Be it memoirs/biographies, histories or books aimed at personal development, I would like to explore the genre in more detail. It is one of the least read on my blog overall, and I would like to change that.

With this in mind, I am setting myself the challenge of reading/listening to at least one non-fiction book a month. I can either include this as part of my fixed TBR, or I can pick it up on a whim. Tying in with my existing challenge regarding reading lists, I’m going to make this fit within that. In June I listened to Hell by Jeffrey Archer, one of his prison diaries published in 2003. I have another non-fiction book ready for my July TBR, so this is a good start to this brand-new challenge!

So, that is where I am up to with my 2022 goals, and what I would like to make progress with in the next six months.

Have you set yourself any goals for 2022, and are you on track?

 

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Monthly Wrap-Up – May 2022

Welcome to today’s Monthly Wrap-Up for May 2022. Another month has just flown by, and it’s time to talk about the books I have read recently.

I set myself a TBR with slightly fewer books this month, purely because one of them was a large one. It’s also the read I enjoyed the most this month! If you’re interested to find out what that is, and you can check out what I’ve been reading below:-

 

Books Read

Crowfall

The beginning of this month I concluded a re-read of a trilogy that I dived back into this year. Around the end of February, I decided to pick up Blackwing by Ed McDonald as a means of escapism. I really loved picking that up again for the first time in several years, and at that point I committed to a full re-read. Given that I had not long finished my Harry Potter re-read, I had no other commitments in that sense. I read the second book of the trilogy, Ravencry, right at the end of April. I immediately picked up Crowfall as I was so invested, and nothing could hold me back!

I read Crowfall in just a handful of days… even quicker this time than the first (which took less than a week even then!) I’m glad I decided to pick up this series on a whim, and even more so that I have read the rest in quick succession. It really gave me the opportunity to delve a little bit deeper into the books. Even though I knew what was going to happen, I could appreciate the writing style and characterisation all the more!

 

The Duke & I

The next two books I read this month were almost read in tandem. I read approximately 70% of The Duke & I by Julia Quinn before going on holiday. I took my kindle with me, but I decided to pick up the physical book designated as my ‘holiday read’ whilst I was away and so The Duke & I was put slightly on the back burner. However, I picked this up again once I came back from holiday and finished the remainder of the book in one sitting.

The Duke & I is a bit of a strange choice for me. I picked it up because I’ve enjoyed the Bridgeton series on Netflix (against all odds). I knew I would go into this book and probably not love it, and I was right. I have niggles with it and I didn’t necessarily enjoy every aspect, but I didn’t hate it either. Obviously, I managed to finish the book, but I won’t be reading any more of the series either. I decided to read The Duke and I as a means of branching out and to explore whether my taste on the genre has changed. It hasn’t. The reading of it has served its purpose and I can say I’ve given it a go.

 

Empire of the Vampire

As I said in the above section, I ended up putting down The Duke & I to read my ‘holiday read’. Most people would probably go for something quite lighthearted and maybe even summery as a holiday read. I chose a big, thick Gothic fantasy. If that doesn’t tell you a lot about me, then I don’t know what does. I’m not normal to say the least!

Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff was also a slight branching-out for me. I don’t normally read books based around vampires as characters. I don’t know why, it’s just not something I gravitate towards. However, my love of the Nevernight trilogy, also by Jay Kristoff, was the motivating factor behind me getting this book anyway. I trusted that even though it was out of my comfort zone a little, his writing was going to help me bridge the gap. I’m glad in my resounding faith, because it paid off entirely!

I didn’t read as much of this as I intended to on holiday. I was away with my family and I ended up spending more time generally socialising with them and enjoying other hobbies. I was one of the youngest people there but I’m sure plenty found it funny that I took my knitting on holiday with me. No shame. Anyway, I read around about 300 pages (40%) before returning from holiday and I read the rest of the book the week after (after finishing The Duke & I).

Empire of the Vampire was a resounding five star read, and I can safely say that it has been my favourite read of 2022 so far! Sometimes stretching out of your comfort zone really does pay off!

 

Dune Messiah

The last book I picked up this month was Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert. I was hoping to get this finished just before month end, however, I didn’t quite achieve that despite my best efforts. Dune Messiah may be short, but it’s not light reading either. I’m glad it’s not longer to be honest!

I managed to read 245 pages out of 292, so I’m very close to the end. I expect to finish this today (1st June). Although I will technically be reading a portion of it in June I’m not going to include it on my monthly TBR – it’s only 40 odd pages!

 

All in all, May has been a good month of reading. I’m glad I didn’t include quite so much on my list this month as Empire of the Vampire was a large read. I’m really happy with my reading progress and my motivation to pick up a book hasn’t been greater. I’m exactly where I want to be with my reading and I’m looking forward to picking up some fantastic books next month!

What have you been reading this month? Have you got any good book recommendations? As always, I’d love to hear from you!

 

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Monthly Wrap-Up – April 2022

Welcome to today’s Monthly Wrap-Up for April 2022! We are already a third of the way through the year and honestly, time is flying once again! In today’s post I want to talk about the books I’ve been reading throughout the month of April, as well as provide a little commentary on where I’m up to with my 2022 Goodreads Challenge.

Get yourself a cuppa and make yourself comfortable!

 

Books Read

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

My first read of the month, carried forward from March, was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling. This is the longest read on my list so far this year; even having started and read a couple of hundred pages in March, I still had around five hundred to go to get to the end of this epic! And epic this story is! I’m glad that I’ve completed my reread of the Harry Potter series; it’s one that I loved as a teenager as I grew up with them. I’m pleased to say that even reading them through the perspective of somebody little bit older, they still have all the appeal they did when I read them first.

 

The Thursday Murder Club

Next, I moved on to something a lot more lighthearted, and a book that I was recommended to read. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman was a completely different ballpark, but I loved every second of this one as well! I say this one was lighthearted, but there was one section in the story really took me by surprise. There are a couple of chapters in the book that take a very sudden turn, and whilst their inclusion in such a generally lighthearted book meant that the chapters had more impact, they made me cry.

This was another fantastic read overall. I loved the characters and the story in general, because I had me questioning everybody and their motive to see if I could get to the bottom of the story before the end of the book. The writing had me questioning pretty much everybody had some point, so it was really good in that respect! I’m definitely going to continue to read more of these books. If you like the idea of a whodunnit, but with a private investigation being led by more geriatric members of society, then you’ll enjoy this one as much as I did.

 

Ravencry

Ravencry

Lastly, I read Ravencry by Ed McDonald in the month of April. Having read and loved Blackwing at the end of February/early March, I knew I wanted to continue the trilogy in full. I read these books originally over 3 years ago now and loved them – so much so that I’ve gone on to gift two copies of this trilogy to friends.

Picking this up again has been great for me. I have enjoyed having the confidence in knowing that I’m going to enjoy a book, especially at a time where things aren’t exactly all that great in the world, and a guaranteed pick me up is a blessing. You have probably gathered that my overall reading speed isn’t the same as it was a couple of years ago either, and whilst I’m certainly not trying to break any records or push myself too hard, I would like to be reading a little bit more than I am.

Picking up books by fantastic authors such as Ed McDonald really help motivate me to do so!

 

Ideally, I would’ve liked to have picked up Crowfall, the last book on my ‘set list’ before the end of the month. I set myself another ambitious list last month with the aim of trying to pick up my books. But, the beauty of having mood reads is that it doesn’t matter so much if I don’t get round to them. Naturally, I would like to get to a point where I have a little bit of freedom of choice with my reading (because that’s the format I’m setting myself this year – a fixed reading list and then potentially a couple where I have flexibility if I complete the set list).

At the same time, I’m not beating myself up about it either. You may not know, but I am currently studying for an exam that I’m sitting at the end of June. Whilst it’s not a large one by any means, I’ve been working through the content nice and early so I’ve got plenty of time to iron out the kinks and work out what I need to work on a little bit more. I’ve put in a lot of hours this month towards studying. In reality, if I had put that time into reading instead I would have completed my reading list very early this month. But, priorities are priorities. The fact that I’ve achieved both, as well as continuing to blog, is something I’m proud of!

 

Goodreads Challenge Update

In my monthly wrap-up posts, I am yet to comment on where am I with regards to my Goodreads Challenge for this year. I’ve therefore decided to add this review to this post, and I will also be looking at my progress in my August month-end review, and finally again at the end of the year.

As I say above, I’ve not been reading as much as I have historically, but the great news is I am perfectly on track with my Goodreads Challenge. As of drafting this post I am neither ahead nor behind. At this stage it’s a great confidence booster, because it means I don’t have to put any pressure on myself to catch up, but equally I’ve not set myself a challenge that is too easy. There have been a couple of years where I have set myself challenges and then up to them at a later date as I underestimated my capabilities. So far, it doesn’t look like I have to do that this year.

For a quick recap, here is a list of books I have read so far this year: –

  1. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
  2. The Feedback loop
  3. Dune
  4. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  5. Clockwork Magpies
  6. Son of Mercia
  7. The Diary of a Young Girl
  8. Blackwing
  9. Keep You Safe
  10. Lean In
  11. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  12. The Thursday Murder Club
  13. Ravencry

What I hope this list also demonstrates is that I am picking up a variety of books. There is fantasy and science fiction, mystery and thrillers, as well as historical fiction and even a couple of non-fiction books. For someone who doesn’t read a lot of non-fiction generally, I’m really happy that I’ve managed to squeeze two into such a short list!

So there you have it – my monthly wrap-up post for April 2022! I hope you enjoyed today’s post and you are looking forward to finding out what I’m going to be reading in May. If you are, keep your eyes peeled for a post going live in the next couple of days!

What have you been reading? Have you got any good book recommendations? As always, I’d love to hear from you!

 

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2022 – New Year Goals/Resolutions

2021 was a strange blogging year for me. I tipped everything on its head and tried a completely different approach. Part of this was because I burnt myself out in 2020 and I wanted a break. However, I also wanted to see how taking a less structured approach changed my reading habits. 

I read fewer books last year than ever before, but I knew that was going to happen. Ultimately, I got to read at a pace that suited me and also allowed me time to enjoy and take up new activities. If you follow me you’ll know that I’ve become a bit of a knitter and I’ve had the time to enjoy making so many projects. More recently I have also taken up doing Pilates as a way of getting fitter and a little bit stronger within myself.

Both of these hobbies are going to be carried forward into 2022, so I’ve been thinking about how I can maintain my efforts with all three and what changes I want to make to my reading/blogging in order to make that happen in a consistent way. I cannot tell you how much I’ve enjoyed taking a step back this year, but I am going to be reverting back to some of the methods I used to keep myself on track… But with some modifications for balance!

If you want to find out how I did in 2021 before jumping into my goals for 2022, you can find a link to my year in review post here.

 

Goodreads Reading Challenge

Last year I didn’t take part in a Goodreads Reading Challenge because I didn’t want to put any pressure on myself as to how much I was going to read. It was strange because I’ve set one for several years now, and I’ve decided to bring this back. I’m doing so without setting myself a huge target though, because ultimately I want everything to be kept at a sustainable pace. So, I’m setting myself challenge to read 40 books in 2022! That works out at a few books a month so it’s perfectly achievable whilst still allowing myself time to do all the other fun things I enjoy!

 

Monthly Reading Lists

I took a break from setting a monthly reading list at the beginning of every month so I had to complete freedom in my choice of reading material. It was fun and I enjoyed it, however I also benefitted previously from the structure of setting myself a list and the expectation of what I was going to read in any given month.

Going forward, I’m going to be taking a hybrid approach in order to give myself the best of both worlds. I am going to be setting myself a reading list, but I’m only going to be fixing a couple of books on the list every month. That means I have at least some set reading material, but I also have the time and opportunity to pick up any other books I fancy on a whim. That way I have a degree of choice of what I’m reading or listening to over the course of the month and by reading the fixed books first, I have an incentive to get them read to see what mood reads I can fit in at the end of the month! I think that’s a win-win situation!

 

Blog Post Writing

One of the goals I’m setting myself this year is to get a little bit more organised in terms of creating my blog posts. This is mostly a behind-the-scenes change.

Throughout 2021 I’ve taken a very relaxed approach to blogging and there were numerous occasions when I didn’t get a blog post ready for the expected publication date I set myself. I didn’t beat myself up about it; life happens and the most important thing to remember is that I blog for a hobby. I don’t make any money out of it and I do it purely for fun and the love of sharing all the bookish content; and, hopefully, encouraging for the people to read books I really enjoy!

That said, I do want to try and get myself a little bit more organised. Some blog posts, like my Sunday Summary weekly updates, can’t be written ahead of time. I will however be making an effort to write most of my blog posts at least one week in advance. That way you guys are less likely to be subject to disruption and my posting schedule is more consistent.

 

Are you taking part in the good read reading challenge this year? Have you set yourself any other reading or blogging goals for 2022? I’d love to hear in the comments if you are!

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Reading List – March 2020

I can’t believe it is the beginning of March and I’m writing my reading list post already! Last month just flew by. I know it’s a short one, but still! I’m happy with my reading progress last month given that I had a few bits on. I didn’t quite finish last month’s reading, so I am carrying one book over.

Shall we take a look at the books on this month’s TBR?

 

Good Omens – Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Goodreads – Good Omens

‘Armageddon only happens once, you know. They don’t let you go around again until you get it right.’

People have been predicting the end of the world almost from its very beginning, so it’s only natural to be sceptical when a new date is set for Judgement Day. But what if, for once, the predictions are right, and the apocalypse really is due to arrive next Saturday, just after tea?

You could spend the time left drowning your sorrows, giving away all your possessions in preparation for the rapture, or laughing it off as (hopefully) just another hoax. Or you could just try to do something about it.

It’s a predicament that Aziraphale, a somewhat fussy angel, and Crowley, a fast-living demon now finds themselves in. They’ve been living amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and, truth be told, have grown rather fond of the lifestyle and, in all honesty, are not actually looking forward to the coming Apocalypse.

And then there’s the small matter that someone appears to have misplaced the Antichrist…

 

Good Omens is my carryover. I only just started reading this at the end of last week, so it’s hardly surprising I’ve had to carry it over to this month. That said, I’ve managed to make a good start over the past day or two and I am enjoying the book so far! It’s definitely got the flavour of Terry Pratchett’s humour I love so I can see myself finishing this book pretty quickly!

 

Songbird – Karen Heenan

Goodreads – Songbird

Bess has the voice of an angel, or so Henry VIII declares when he buys her from her father. As a member of the Music, the royal company of minstrels, Bess grows up within the decadent Tudor court, navigating the ever-changing tide of royals and courtiers. Friends come and go as cracked voices, politics, heartbreak, and death loom over even the lowliest of musicians. Tom, her first and dearest friend, is her only constant. But as Bess becomes too comfortable at court, she may find that constancy has its limits.

 

My first blog tour related read of the month is this historical fiction novel. I love the Tudor period of history and I haven’t picked up a book on it in ages! Also, books with politics in them really interest me, which is funny because I hate politics! At least, I hate ours!

 

Helene – Karl Drinkwater

Goodreads – Helene

Dr Helene Vermalle is shaping the conscience of a goddess-level AI.

As a leading civilian expert in Emergent AI Socialisation, she has been invited to assist in a secret military project.

Her role? Helping ViraUHX, the most advanced AI in the universe, to pass through four theoretical development stages. But it’s not easy training a mind that surpasses her in raw intellect. And the developing AI is capable of killing her with a single tantrum.

On top of this, she must prove her loyalty to the oppressive government hovering over her shoulder. They want a weapon. She wants to instil an overriding sense of morality.

Can she teach the AI right and wrong without being categorised as disloyal?

Lost Tales of Solace are short side-stories set in the Lost Solace universe.

 

I’m definitely reading more in the way of science-fiction than I ever have before. I have been fortunate to have picked up some great books recently, which means I keep gravitating back to the genre.

I love the premise of this novel. Artificial Intelligence is definitely relevant right now and there are plenty of people sat on the fence about its benefits and drawbacks. It sounds like this book might touch on that, so I can’t wait to read it and share my thoughts with you in the upcoming blog tour!

 

Tooth & Blade – Julian Barr

Goodreads – Tooth and Blade

Parts 1-3 of the legendary TOOTH AND BLADE series together for the first time!

Two worlds. One destiny.

Dóta has dwelled sixteen years among the trolls. She knows nothing but the darkness of her family’s cave. Her mother says humans are beasts who would slay them all. Yet the gods of Asgard whisper in the night: Dóta is a child of men, a monster unto monsters.

To discover her human side, Dóta must take up her bone knife and step into the light above. Secrets await her in the human realm–beauty, terror, the love of a princess.

Soon Dóta must choose between her clan and humankind, or both worlds will be devoured in fire and war.

A monster sheds no tears.

Norse mythology meets historical fantasy in TOOTH AND BLADE. Step into a realm of haunted meres, iron and magic.

 

I love the idea of a mash-up of Norse Mythology and fantasy. Honestly, it’s so unlike anything I have read before that I wanted to give it a try.

 

Shadows of Self – Brandon Sanderson

Goodreads – Shadows of Self

Shadows of Self shows Mistborn’s society evolving as technology and magic mix, the economy grows, democracy contends with corruption, and religion becomes a growing cultural force, with four faiths competing for converts.

This bustling, optimistic, but still shaky society now faces its first instance of terrorism, crimes intended to stir up labor strife and religious conflict. Wax and Wayne, assisted by the lovely, brilliant Marasi, must unravel the conspiracy before civil strife stops Scadrial’s progress in its tracks.

Shadows of Self will give fans of The Alloy of Law everything they’ve been hoping for and, this being a Brandon Sanderson book, more, much more.

 

I really enjoyed reading The Alloy of Law back in January and I am keen to make even more progress with this series. It’s been on my TBR for a long time so it’s overdue! I honestly love every single Brandon Sanderson book I have ever read. The Alloy of Law was brilliantly reminiscent of the previous Mistborn trilogy, yet so much more! The change in setting and characters really worked for me. I can’t wait to get back to their adventures!

 

The God Game – Danny Tobey

Goodreads – The God Game

You are invited!
Come inside and play with G.O.D.
Bring your friends!
It;’s fun!
But remember the rules. Win and ALL YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE.™ Lose, you die!

With those words, Charlie and his friends enter the G.O.D. Game, a video game run by underground hackers and controlled by a mysterious AI that believes it’s God. Through their phone-screens and high-tech glasses, the teens’ realities blur with a virtual world of creeping vines, smoldering torches, runes, glyphs, gods, and mythical creatures. When they accomplish a mission, the game rewards them with expensive tech, revenge on high-school tormentors, and cash flowing from ATMs. Slaying a hydra and drawing a bloody pentagram as payment to a Greek god seem harmless at first. Fun even.

But then the threatening messages start. Worship me. Obey me. Complete a mission, however cruel, or the game reveals their secrets and crushes their dreams. Tasks that seemed harmless at first take on deadly consequences. Mysterious packages show up at their homes. Shadowy figures start following them, appearing around corners, attacking them in parking garages. Who else is playing this game, and how far will they go to win?

And what of the game’s first promise: win, win big, lose, you die? Dying in a virtual world doesn’t really mean death in real life—does it?

As Charlie and his friends try to find a way out of the game, they realize they’ve been manipulated into a bigger web they can’t escape: an AI that learned its cruelty from watching us.

God is always watching, and He says when the game is done.

 

I was very lucky to receive a copy of this from Gollancz in exchange for a review. Again, I love the science-fiction vibe. If asked what my second hobby was (because reading is my first, obviously),I’d say it’s gaming. I don’t have anywhere near as much time as I used to spend playing games on my laptop, but I do enjoy it now and then!

The premise of The God Game combines my two favourite hobbies, so I have very high hopes that I’ll enjoy it. It reminds me of another book I received by Gollancz and reviewed last year – Ctrl+S by Andy Briggs. That particular book blended these two together, as well as included virtual reality and I really enjoyed it.

So, that’s March’s TBR taken care of. Have you read any of the books on this month’s list? Have any of them caught your eye? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

 

 

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My 2020 Resolutions

A new year and a new decade are upon us! 2020 is finally here, and with a new year comes new opportunities. I’ve been considering my New Year Resolutions for a few weeks now… it’s time to share my plans with you all!

I’ve decided I want to take part in a few challenges this year. I have taken part in one of these challenges since 2017, the year my blog began. That’s not the only challenge I am setting myself, however.

 

Goodreads Reading Challenge

As I mentioned above, this will be the fourth year I take part in the Goodreads Reading Challenge. I will be going into the challenge with a larger goal than previous years though. Every year so far I have massively underestimated myself and set myself a goal that I achieve easily.

Year Original Goal Revised Goal Total Read in Year
2017 20 60 62
2018 40 50
2019 50 70 72

Fair enough, in 2017 I went from reading rarely to almost every day, without fail. Naturally, that goal ended up being really unrealistic and I revised it to 60 books at the end of April that year. That doesn’t really excuse the fact that I have underestimated myself in subsequent years though.

This year, I am going to be more ambitious and set myself a target that I have not reached yet. I came pretty close to it in 2019, but it means trying to set a new personal best.

In 2020, I want to try and read 80 books.

Up until the last couple of days of 2019, I’ve had 75 in my head. However, I think it’s too close to 2019’s final count to pose as a challenge. I don’t want to go too much higher than that; I don’t want to put myself in a position where I feel inclined to deliberately choose shorter books just to complete the challenge. That’s cheating a bit. This is where my second challenge will come into play and prevent that, to an extent…

 

Beat the Backlist

My TBR (To Be Read) list is seriously out of control. Often, I find myself swept up in new releases, blog tours and the like. Consequently, the older books on my TBR get neglected, and they really need some love right now. I’ve been hovering at around 200 books for a long time now and I need to work on that.

That’s why I am taking part in the Beat the Backlist challenge this year. As part of that challenge, I want to take on my TBR by reading, at the very least, the oldest 25 books on it. Sounds very abstract as it is, so to quantify it, here are the 25 books that I am challenging myself to read this year:-

  • Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson
  • City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
  • The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson
  • Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson
  • Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
  • Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson
  • The Talisman by Stephen King
  • Good Omens by Terry Pratchett
  • Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
  • The Psychology Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained by Catherine Collin
  • Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan
  • The Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson
  • Dune by Frank Herbert
  • The Women’s Room by Marilyn French
  • The Thief Taker by C. S. Quinn
  • The Feedback Loop by Harmon Cooper
  • Red Sister by Mark Lawrence
  • The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan
  • Hild by Nicola Griffith
  • The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales by Jacob Grimm
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  • The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

If I can squeeze in some more recent TBR additions as well as the above list, then that’s great. I want to have a lot fewer than 200 books on the TBR this time next year!

 

Borrow From my Local Library

Despite having a library membership, I’m not that good when it comes to making the most of it. I’ve only borrowed three books/e-books from the library in 2019. Dreadful right?

I want to step up on this in 2020 for two reasons. Firstly, I’m conscious that I am going to have to be mindful of my finances this year. There are some pretty big (and expensive) changes planned for this year and I don’t really want to be careless with my money. I won’t begrudge myself the odd book, but don’t be expecting mass book haul posts because it’s not going to happen.

Secondly, the advantage of using the library is that you can branch out of your comfort zone. I’m only really happy to buy books that I really like the sound of, or those by authors I have read before. However, if you’re only borrowing books you can try something new. There’s no obligation to like it and if you really don’t, you can take it back!

Those are my resolutions for the new year! Have you set yourself any resolutions? I’d love to compare them with mine!

 

 

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Sunday Summary – 22nd December 2019

Good evening everyone and welcome to today’s Sunday Summary – I hope you have all had a really good week? Mine has been really busy in the run-up to Christmas and I imagine a lot of folks are in the same boat! I can’t believe it’s next week… Before we jump into the excitement of next week, let’s take a look and re-cap the week just gone!

Considering the number of things I have had on outside of blogging, I’ve managed to fit in quite a few blog posts. My blogging week began with a Top Ten Tuesday post. It’s the first I have drafted for about two months now and I really enjoyed a more casual post. I also took the opportunity to look back at my blogging journey by discussing the Top Ten Bookish Changes in my Life since my blog began in 2017.

After looking at my backlog of reviews, I found an outstanding audiobook review for Scythe by Neal Shusterman, which has been outstanding since April. Yes, friends, April – you read that right! I have just finished listening to the sequel, Thunderhead, so it was the opportune time to revisit my thoughts on the first book of the series.

Friday’s Shelf Control post explored an unusual classic feminist fiction novel on my To Be Read list. It’s not generally the sort of material I am in the habit of picking up, however as it explores the history of the Feminist movement I would like to read it!

 

Books Read

I feel like I have taken a bit of a break from reading this week. With appointments, Christmas lunches, family coming home for Christmas and other festive plans, as well as the blogging, I’ve been a busy bee! That’s not to say I haven’t had time, because I have. I think with cramming in a lot of reading last week, I just wanted to do some other things. I don’t even feel guilty about it either. I’ve enjoyed adopting a more relaxed pace with it.

In terms of physical reading, I have only read about 20% of Tony Salter’s Sixty Minutes this week. Mostly today, in fact. I do plan to read more of this before going to bed tonight, now I am back in a reading mood. It’s not a very long book and very easy to read, so I’ll have it finished nice and quickly I imagine.

I have made more progress on Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris, though. More than usual. I had some extra commute time on Monday with an impromptu appointment, and my car share buddy was off work on Friday. It may not seem like much, but it equates to an extra hour and a half of the audiobook listened to. That means I am over halfway through the audiobook now and it feels like I have only just started it. I am really enjoying it. I loved The Tattooist of Auschwitz and Cilka’s Journey is living up to the standard of that book!

 

Books Discovered

So, I have a confession to make.

I got very lucky this week. For Christmas, my company donated 6 x £25 vouchers to a prize draw in which all employees were put into. I won one of those vouchers on Thursday. It never happens to me, but yes, I won! Well, it’s not that I never win anything… I won our Christmas Jumper competition on Wednesday as well! It’s just rare!

I had that voucher spent in about three hours, no word of a lie. That lunchtime I went to my local Waterstones and had a field day! A lot of books I liked the sound off were on offer too, so in all I put about £4 towards this lot!

There are a couple of books by authors I love in here. Stephen King’s Outsider is a reasonably new addition to the TBR, but the premise of the novel sounds great. Some of you may recall that Brandon Sanderson’s novel Starsight has not long been published with Gollancz. I really liked the sound of it, so I picked up its predecessor Skyward to start the series for myself.

There are a couple of new authors here too, because I do like to try new things. I picked up The Silence of the Girls as I enjoyed reading a similar book, Circe, earlier this year. To this day I don’t understand the hype of Circe, but it was still a reasonably good read.

I have never heard of The Ember Blade or its author, Chris Wooding. The synopsis sounds interesting though, and you can’t go far wrong with fantasy novels in my book! I didn’t look at the time, but this book has good reviews on Goodreads. A couple of authors I love, Ed McDonald and Edward Cox have rated it 5* as well, so I have every confidence I’ll enjoy it! It will be nice to try something new.

 

Coming Up…

I don’t think I need to tell you, but it’s Christmas next week! I have a lot of time planned with family, so I have taken the decision to take a brief blogging break for the festive season.

I’ll still be reading and publishing my weekly Sunday Summary next Sunday. I’m going to take the time to chill with the family, recharge my batteries and have a think about some of my plans ahead of the New Year.

That’s all from me in today’s post. I hope you have enjoyed this week’s Sunday Summary post!
What have you been reading this week?

 

 

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Sunday Summary – 15th December 2019

Good evening everyone and welcome back to this week’s Sunday Summary instalment! Have you had a good week? Between going back to work, getting ready for Christmas and reading/blogging, I definitely haven’t been bored!

My first post of the week was a book review of Moroda for L. L. McNeil. I received a copy of Moroda in exchange for review. After being really conscious that I had promised to read the book in October/November, but finished it earlier this month, I managed to get a quick turnaround on reviewing it. If you are a fan of classic fantasy novels and haven’t taken a look at my review yet, I really recommend it! The book, (and the review) that is.

The next day, Wednesday, I shared yet another book review. This time, my post was for the blog tour of After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks by Nancy Jardine. This is the third instalment of the Celtic Fervour series, which is predominantly historical fiction with the odd element of romance. Thankfully the later books of the series have less romantic emphasis than the first book. If you know me or read my blog regularly you’ll know that just isn’t my cup of tea! I love the history behind the novels as I am a newbie to the history of the Roman invasion of Britain. It’s never too late to learn something new!

Friday’s featured novel in this week’s First Lines Friday post has a little of a festive theme to it. I almost featured the book a couple of weeks ago; however, I decided to save it for December as it does have Christmas ties. This is also a fabulous historical fiction novel. I’d go so far as to say that it’s my favourite Netgalley download ever!

 

Books Read

I have some fantastic news to share with you all – this week… last night in fact, I completed my Goodreads Reading Challenge for 2019! I’ve read 70 books. Somehow, I’ve managed to beat my all-time record and with two-and-a-half weeks to spare! I’m amazed, but I’m also not done yet! If I finish this month’s TBR then my new record to beat will be 74 books. Do you think I can do it?

I also really like that the book that completed the challenge was the conclusion to Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, Dreams of Gods and Monsters. I don’t normally devour books like this, but it was worth it! Her writing is so funny, engaging, entertaining. I just love it! I’ve been reading this all week, pretty much, between everything else going on. Sometimes I put myself down a little if I have spent all week on a book (bear in mind my average is 1 book every 5 days). I shouldn’t though. I think I had read about 100 pages when I wrote last week’s Sunday Summary, so that means I’ve still read 500 pages this week alone!

This week I started a new audiobook – Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris. I listened to The Tattooist of Auschwitz last year. It was fantastically written, yet hauntingly devastating to hear what horrors people had to live through. The reminder at the end that it was a work of fiction but based on a real experience had me in tears. Cilka’s Journey is the same, but focuses on the treatment of women in Auschwitz/Birkenau and also in Soviet Russia after being convicted of assisting the Nazi’s later on. I have listened to nearly three hours of the audiobook already… which is a little more than average.

 

Books Discovered

I have been too busy to be looking for books, however, I have managed to acquire a couple this week. Lauren, the author of Moroda really liked my review published this week and has asked if I will read and review the next two books in the series, Palom and Amarah. I enjoyed the book, the fantasy world and the characters. Naturally, I said yes!

 

Coming Up…

It has been a little while since I drafted a Top Ten Tuesday post, so that’s my first post for next week coming up! For this post, I actually want to pick a topic that The Artsy Reader girl posted a few weeks ago – Top Ten Changes in my Bookish Life!

I have a few book reviews to catch up on and since I am finished with blog tours for the year, it makes sense to get some of those outstanding reviews done! On Thursday I am reviewing Scythe by Neal Shusterman, as I finished listening to the audiobook in April this year. Yep, it’s a late review guys. Sorry! Having just listened to its sequel though, I’m in the right headspace to review this.

On Friday I’ll be taking another look at the TBR pile and telling you about the next book on the list; what it is, what interests me about it and why, overall, I want to read it. I hope you can check-in for this post!

So, that’s all from me in this week’s Sunday Summary update! What have you been reading? Have you set a reading challenge or have you completed it? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

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