Bookish Ramblings: July Wrap Up

Well what a month July has been! I feel like a crazy amount has happened and I suppose that is partly down to the fact that we’re starting to move into a new normal of sorts. I’ve been back out to work rather than working from home which I has led to my body rebelling as it’s been mainly sedentary for so long, tied to a laptop and a dining room table!

Like so many of you, I attended #athomeyalc last weekend and had a blast – not by any stretch a replacement but everyone’s efforts paid off to make it a fantastic alternative – i’ll do a full run down of my experiences later in the week. Also, after 2 years of repping for Geeky Clean, I finally started playing D&D this month! I’m playing with them and most of the rep team and it’s honestly so much fun, I’m feeling so much part of it and everyone has been so cool with helping me learn – and there is a lot to learn! My Character is very loosely based on Victra from Red Rising although I’m not sure what Pierce Brown would make of me turning her into an Elf!

Reading wise hasn’t been the greatest month, I don’t know if lockdown has made me more grumpy, although it’s more likely that lockdown has given me more time to explore issues and be more aware, because I’m finding problematic content standing out to me more starkly and I’m feeling confident enough to call it out in my reviews. Last month I had no 5* reviews and this month only one sneaked into the coveted spot, and I’m still wading through the beautifully written treacle that is The Starless Sea.

My 5* Reads

Saga continues to just blow me away with it’s creativity, I find myself spending so long scouring the page in awe of the amazing art work (some of it stomach churningly graphic) I just wish it was longer!

My 4* Reads

An action packed, magic filled YA read! This was one that was sadly marked down for a problematic depiction of alcohol use but other than that one passage it’s a fantastic book, you can find my review in the reviews section of the blog.

My 3.5* Reads

Yes, I’m super sad to have to put Court of Miracles here, but it had a lofty height to fall from, whilst at it’s height it was dazzling, it often felt muddled and dare I say a little anti climactic. Axiom’s End was really hard to review because the premise and the execution was mind blowing, but again I found the depiction of consent very troubling. Reviews for both are on the review tab.

I’m currently Partway through The Starless Sea as I mentioned and I’m also trying to read Priory of the Orange Tree but this time on Audio. Where I’m back out at work more I’m getting the chance to listen again during my commutes, although Samantha Shannon mentioned on Twitter yesterday about there being incest in the book which i’m not looking forward to. My kindle read is All the Stars and Teeth which I’m actually loving so fingers crossed that continues!

At Home Yalc – bringing all the fun together!

This weekend was meant to be a joyful occasion for young adult book lovers as YALC rolled around for another fantastic experience of meeting authors, listening to panels, getting tons of books and meeting up with friends who many of us only get to meet virtually. We’ll forget about the heat and the fact that we won’t get to see Jason Momoa doing one of his usual rounds. For those of us who are sad to be missing out don’t fear, as #athomeyalc is here to sate your bookish needs. I’ve also included links to some of our lovely bookish small businesses too to fill our merch needs at the bottom of the post. I’ll be updating this as I gather more information!

You can simply follow the hashtag or you can first visit Taller Books where there is a ton of information about the virtual book fair that Rachel Churcher has set up! There’s a schedule where you can follow a live twitter feed from all all the 13 authors involved, there will be giveaways, live readings, Q&A’s and a ton of other fun stuff happening that you should definitely check out on Saturday.

Walker Books are putting together panels, giveaways and links to samplers going live on Netgalley for request. You can sign up to panels which will be hosted via Zoom and I’m particularly excited to the panel hosted by Lauren James because her circumstances meant that she couldn’t attend last year. You can find all the details on the Walker YA website including a link to enter a giveaway for a physical proof of The Mermaid, The Witch, and The Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall. Lauren James will also be doing readings of her new book The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker on Instagram!

UKYABA are hosting two free blogging and vlogging workshops via you tube on Friday 23rd, you can check out the link here you can also follow them on Twitter  to check out loads of great posts full of tips and tricks from their award nominees!

Hot Key Books YA are also putting together a whole host of fun and games across the weekend including giveaways and opportunities to bag some of those exclusive proofs! Make sure you’re hanging our on twitter if you’re after anything in their banner!

My Kinda Book (MacMillan) have released their schedule too, there will also be giveaways and cover reveals happening across the weekend!

Anderson Press have a you tube discussion with Ciara Smyth and L.C. Rosen which will be available to view across the YALC weekend!

The lovely people at Team BKMRK will be hosting a live Q&A on Instagram with Lucy Powrie and Juno Dawson on the 26th at 6pm!

Looks like the team over at Bloomsbury will be celebrating over on their Instagram!

Harper Voyager, Hodderscape, Harper 360 will also be celebrating as well during the weekend and I’ll update this page as more details become available, also the official YALC twitter account should be a one stop shop too!

Bookish Goodies!

With all the publisher excitement, lets not forget the lovely small businesses that we would usually see at YALC!

Geeky Clean are currently fully stocked an you can save 10% on your purchases using my code paperbacksandpinot10

Bookish Burns amazing candles are available on their Etsy Store

Paper and Word have all the gorgeous book sleeves available on their website!

 

Bookish Ramblings: WWW Wednesday!

Hi everyone! I feel like I have been terrible with my blogging recently, coming out of lockdown is making it very obvious how much my body has got used to be pretty much indoors all the time. I’ve been back at work and long days (even the short ones too) really take it out of me. I’ve been formatting as well in the evenings as well as doing that typical book blogger thing of signing up to more reviews than I have time for!

So for a quick post today I thought I would share with you 3 reads for WWW Wednesday.

What I’m Reading Now

I just finished Axiom’s End by Lindsay Ellis yesterday for part of an Instagram tour with Titan Books. Its a great read full of conspiracy theories, first contact and understanding of a complex alien race. I struggled with the relationship portrayal in the book especially when it came to the subject of consent (not in a sexual context) It kind of put a downer on what I felt was an otherwise intelligently written book.

What was my Last Read

The Knightmare Arcanist by Shami Stovall was another book tour read which I found to be great fun. It’s a fast paced and exciting story full of lots of YA goodness. Young people bonding with creatures named Eldrins in order to fulfil a magical destiny and battle a villainous plague – what not to love? Well there was one passage that I felt was unnecessary and was to do with peer pressure and alcohol – I think I’m just getting cantankerous in my old age though as no other reviewers seemed to pick up on it!

What am I Reading Next

After spending the larger part of July reading books for review, my next read will be one for me and tonight I’m going to start reading The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. The Night Circus has far and away been my favourite read this year so far so I’m really excited to dive into a new world created by this author.

Let me know what you WWW’s are in the comments!

Bookish Ramblings July TBR

It’s the start of a new month and I’m aiming for more positive outlook as things begin to return to the new normal! I’m going to try and be more present with my blogging and I’m hoping that will reflect in my reviews and I’ll find it easier to write them again! So what do I have planned this month!

The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant

A book that I feel like I’ve been waiting forever for! I wasn’t lucky enough to snag an arc but I did manage to get the simply stunning Illumicrate edition! I feel like I may have put this book on a pedestal but I’ve only seen great reviews for it so far, this will also be this months buddy read for me with @shamelessmoodreader.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

I seem to be picking Illumicrate books this month! One of my stand out reads of the year so far has been The Night Circus so I’m looking forward to getting into another beautiful and lyrical world.

Saga Volume Two

I received Saga Volume one as a birthday present from @shamelessmoodreader when she found out that I had never read a graphic novel before! Volume one was a 5 star for me so I can’t wait to see how the story continues – although I know I have a long way to go to catch up!

The Flight of the Spark by Evelyn Puerto

I’m am very grateful to the author for sending me a paperback copy for review, it’s been a while since I’ve read an Indie, which I feel disappointed in myself about and I want this to be the start of more regular reads. It’s a YA fantasy book so perfect for me!

I may add one more to the list but I think I’m going to see where the mood takes me!

Bookish Ramblings June Wrap Up

June has felt like the longest month for me, I’ve hardly posted to the blog, I’ve lost my review writing mojo and I’m honestly just tired of it all, yes I’ve reached that time of year where I’ve become disillusioned with blogging – it will pass, it always does but sometimes it’s hard to see past the fog you know? June started out in a bad way, an unfortunate exchange on Twitter – totally unsolicited in my inbox, shook me. I replied flippantly but then looked into things and realised I was in the wrong with my response – but then calling people out in a DM isn’t always wise either. The thing is that whilst well meaning, be kind, sometimes gets forgotten, and you never know what issues other people may have. This exchange sent me into a panic attack, I cried and then having spoken to my husband, decided to deactivate my twitter account for a couple of weeks to regroup.  When I returned to Twitter, I was met with a wave of cancel culture and book tour company drama – It’s made Twitter a difficult place to be around and I’m struggling to find anything positive – I know that I have to re-assess some authors, thankfully hardly any of them appear on my shelf.

I’ve not read as much as I’ve wanted and I’ve really struggled to articulate my feelings in reviews, I just feel pretty sad at the moment and I know that will unfairly reflect on anything I write, I started reading A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes this week and honestly it’s the first book all month that I’ve found myself desperately wanting to pick back up, I’m hoping that this will be the turning point!

But June hasn’t been all bad, things have been good personally, we’ve had some amazing family days, an especially glorious one at the beach, we’ve finally been able to get our fence fixed so we’ve been able to use our garden and make it look inviting again. Mr Paperbacks got a promotion which is so well deserved and the money we’ve saved on childcare during lockdown, means that we’ve been able to finally buy a new computer as our 10 year old work horse is ready to be put out to pasture. Now we’re focusing on making Biba’s room more grown up and I played my first ever game of D&D yesterday! I’m really hoping that all the positivity we’ve had this last week will reflect on my blogging moving into July!

So what about my reads this month, sadly no 5 stars for me this month, but I’ve had some close one’s!

My 4 and 4.5 reads
My 3 Star Reads

My Unrated Reads

Honestly I feel really bad putting these next to each other as they are unrated for 2 completed different reasons. Why I’m no longer talking to White People about Race is probably one of the most important books I’ve ever read – It’s given me a whole new understanding about a number of issues that are at the front of the worlds hearts at the moment. I’ve already started using what I have learnt to educate others and will continue to do so. I don’t have a rating system for non fiction as this is the first I’ve read in about a decade, if not more and part of me feels like it’s a little in bad taste to stick a shiny star on something which tackles such serious issues.

Once and Future just wasn’t the book for me at all, I should have DNF’d it but I kept reading because it was a gift and I was hoping that it would get better but it sadly didn’t grab me the way I wanted it to.

So that’s my June, It’s a much longer wrap up than usual so I’m sorry for rambling! I’m now heading off to put together my reads for July!

Bookish Ramblings: WWW Wednesday

Hey everyone, I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since I last wrote a blog post! I’ve been struggling a lot the past couple of weeks, I had to disconnect from social media outlets for a little while (I’m looking at you twitter) and I’ve even struggled to post on Instagram. I’ve left some engagement groups on the platform to just get back to posting for me, because honestly I felt like I was just logging into IG to do admin rather than enjoy content.  I’m still not back to feeling fully part of things but i wanted to post today and say a huge thank you to everyone who has been stopping by in that time! I’m back to a WWW Wednesday today for a mid month catch up with where my reading is at!

Whilst the WWW tag isn’t new, I’ve picked it up from the lovely Jemma at Fantastic Books and Where to Find Them! 

What am I currently Reading

I’m currently reading Vengeful by V.E Schwab, this is my monthly buddy read with @vegan_shiftworker – you’ve guessed it, we read Vicious last month! We couldn’t wait to dive back into the characters and we’re absolutely loving it, it’s so hard to put down at the end of our nightly chapters!

What did I Recently Finish Reading

In support of #BLM I featured black authors throughout my instagram last week, I changed up my set tbr to read Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron, I’m so glad I did because it was a fantastic book and I’m so cross with myself that it’s been sat on my shelf for so long. The only bonus of taking a bit of time to get to a book is that there’s less time to wait until the next one comes out! I also wanted to spend some time educating myself about black lives matter, I saw a number of books being circulated as ones to read to help understand the issues but I chose to read Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge. Honestly it’s the most eye opening book I think I’ve ever read, I’ve already adjusted my viewpoints of a number of issues and fully understand white privilege. I will continue to educate and White Fragility is next on my list.

What do I Think I’ll Read Next

I’ve tried hard to avoid spoilers, although I’ve fallen foul of one, so it’s time to read Aurora Burning so I can join in with discussions rather than running and hiding from them!  I adored Aurora Rising last year and I love a rag tag team and with mention of a heist again too I really can’t wait to jump back into this universe!

What are your WWW’s? Let me know!!

Bookish Ramblings: June TBR

Going into June feeling so much more positive about things! Little man went back to school today and for us it was the right choice, he was so happy and can’t wait to go back! Looking forward to so many of this months reads too, as two are from my 2020 most anticipated list, so carry on reading to find out what June’s picks are!

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

I feel like I have to boost this one up the Tbr to avoid spoilers for it. I’ve seen both a lot of a love and lot of hate for this book around and I know that Snow was an unpopular choice. Lets face it, we were all after a Mags back story weren’t we? But I’m going in with an open mind that I’m going to enjoy it because it would be silly not to!

It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the 10th annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to out charm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.
The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined – every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute… and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes

Aurora Burning by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

Another that I’ve been dodging spoilers for but I know it’s going to break my heart all over again. Squad 312 are such a wonderful bunch of misfits I can’t wait to get back into their universe and honestly they had me at heist!

First, the bad news: an ancient evil—you know, your standard consume-all-life-in-the-galaxy deal—is about to be unleashed. The good news? Squad 312 is standing by to save the day. They’ve just got to take care of a few small distractions first.
Like the clan of gremps who’d like to rearrange their favorite faces.
And the cadre of illegit GIA agents with creepy flowers where their eyes used to be, who’ll stop at nothing to get their hands on Auri.
Then there’s Kal’s long-lost sister, who’s not exactly happy to see her baby brother, and has a Syldrathi army at her back. With half the known galaxy on their tails, Squad 312 has never felt so wanted.
When they learn the Hadfield has been found, it’s time to come out of hiding. Two centuries ago, the colony ship vanished, leaving Auri as its sole survivor. Now, its black box might be what saves them. But time is short, and if Auri can’t learn to master her powers as a Trigger, the squad and all their admirers are going to be deader than the Great Ultrasaur of Abraaxis IV.
Shocking revelations, bank heists, mysterious gifts, inappropriately tight bodysuits, and an epic firefight will determine the fate of the Aurora Legion’s most unforgettable heroes—and maybe the rest of the galaxy as well.

Vengeful by V.E. Schwab

In May I buddy read Vicious and we both loved it so it seemed a no brainer to move onto Vengeful this month! I’m excited to find out how the story continues after that ending!

Sydney once had Serena—beloved sister, betrayed enemy, powerful ally. But now she is alone, except for her thrice-dead dog, Dol, and then there’s Victor, who thinks Sydney doesn’t know about his most recent act of vengeance.
Victor himself is under the radar these days—being buried and re-animated can strike concern even if one has superhuman powers. But despite his own worries, his anger remains. And Eli Ever still has yet to pay for the evil he has done.

Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan

Even though it deals with some tough issues, I loved Girls of Paper and Fire, I managed to grab the Fairyloot edition of this with the redesigned Icey cover – I love it! I’ve heard there’s a bit of a a love triangle in this one though so I hope I enjoy it just as much!

Lei, the naive country girl who became a royal courtesan, is now known as the Moonchosen, the commoner who managed to do what no one else could. But slaying the cruel Demon King wasn’t the end of the plan—it’s just the beginning. Now Lei and her warrior love Wren must travel the kingdom to gain support from the far-flung rebel clans. The journey is made even more treacherous thanks to a heavy bounty on Lei’s head, as well as insidious doubts that threaten to tear Lei and Wren apart from within.
Meanwhile, an evil plot to eliminate the rebel uprising is taking shape, fueled by dark magic and vengeance. Will Lei succeed in her quest to overthrow the monarchy and protect her love for Wren, or will she fall victim to the sinister magic that seeks to destroy her?

 

 

I also have some Netgalley books to get through

 

 

Books Ramblings: May Wrap up

It’s going to be a short wrap up today, I’m not in a great place with my mental health and I am finding social media far from “being kind.” I’ve deleted the twitter app from my phone and looking forward to just cuddling my kids when I’ve finished this post and leaving the book world alone for the rest of the day.

My 5 Star Reads

My 4 Star Reads
My 3 Star Reads

The only read from my TBR that I didn’t finish in time was Once and Future but I started reading it on Friday night but won’t get it finished today and I don’t feel I’ve read enough yet to give an idea of where my rating will sit.

 

Hopefully things will feel better tomorrow and I’ll get to posting my Tbr for June. Until then, please be kind.

What’s in an age anyway?

It’s fair to say that since turning 40 last December I have spent more time than ever preoccupied with my age. The age I am in comparison to the age I actually feel is like a gaping chasm.  I therefore do have to draw a comparison to the way I consider age in books, specifically in relation to YA. I make no secret that I love YA, even though with the presence of Upper YA and New Adult it feels like an often blurred line, many of the characters act with a maturity, physicality and presence of mind that 16 year old me would not even dreamed of. So it’s no wonder then that I never really picture these characters as the age they are written to be. I’ve been pretty accepting of my viewpoint until another blogger on Twitter said that YA was written for 16 year old girls, which was not said in a complementary way, and that kind of irked me. Not only because books are written to be read by any age or gender, you can take it’s categorisation as a guide granted, but ultimately as long as it makes you happy as a reader, whats not to love?

But me being me, I dwelt on it, and started to wonder more about age. I know I am not alone with being an older reader of books for a younger audience, and indeed the evergreen appeal of the Harry Potter books and also The Series of Unfortunate Events would show that too.

Lets start with the basics of why I love YA though and I’m speaking from a very much Fantasy and Sci-fi standpoint, I seldom if ever read contemporary for the exact same reasons I rarely read “adult” fantasy. I find it to be pure escapism, with wonderfully unencumbered characters who find themselves in easily accessible worlds. Personally I just struggle to get into more traditional fantasy which feels needlessly complex at times and lets face it, often (not always – calm down) with little respect for women. I have an upsetting day job so the easy escapism of YA is exactly what I need. So now we can move onto how I view myself. I still picture myself at what was probably best time of my life of late 20’s to early 30’s, and because I see myself mentally in that age bracket I will read pretty much every character in a book to that age too. Unless there are frequent and obvious reminders, like a school setting, I will rarely read a character as they age they are portrayed to be. Therefore I never really read a YA book feeling like I am reading a YA book if that makes sense? To me I’m reading adult fantasy, just with a story that is more fun and often with characters who are afforded an element of being more carefree.

I then started wondering if I was alone in this view, so what better way to gauge if i’m just weird than to do a poll. I asked on Instagram and overwhelmingly 74% of those who voted said that they read to their own age too, rather than book age. I know that the majority of my followers there read YA books so I feel that this is a good indicator. This to me would show that a lot of readers read YA for the same easy escapism, not because they are the age bracket the story is written for. So next time you look at a YA book and consider it’s not for you because it’s written for teenagers maybe think again about how you read characters in the genres you prefer. Age isn’t a barrier to dismiss an entire genre if you’ve never even tried it and honestly there is a lot to love within YA, well I think so at least. Also be kind to readers, if a genre isn’t for you don’t condescend and just move on.

I am happy to put forward recommendations of books that I have loved if you are looking for somewhere to start! Also please be kind to me, this is the first time I have written an opinion piece for a long time after another’s cruelty almost made me hang up my blogging hat last year and off the back of Mental Health week I think that kindness is more important than ever.

Bookish Ramblings: Five Things Friday

It’s the middle of the month so I thought I would do a mini roundup through a five things Friday today!

New To My Queue

I had exciting book mail today as my Illumicrate copy of Aurora Burning arrived! I do like the blue on the cover, although I have to say I do actually prefer the orange of the standard copy. It’s nice to be collecting the Illumicrate editions though. I can’t wait to catch up with Squad 312 but I know that my heart is going to get broken all over again!

Favourite Book This Week

After being all smug about how great my reading was in April, I’ve really struggled this month so far. I finished Starsight by Brandon Sanderson a couple of nights ago and I’m still mulling over my review. I did enjoy it, but it went in a completely different direction to Skyward and whilst it didn’t pack the same punch it was still a solid 4* read.

When I Wasn’t Reading

Everything is feeling a bit like groundhog day at the moment, with working, homeschooling and then leaving the kids in front of a screen. I am not complaining at all because I know I’m in a very privileged position to be able to stay home with my family, but it’s getting tough now mentally. We have to balance whether it’s safe to send my reception age son back to school on 1st June, whilst being on top of Biba’s needs as she learns to deal with the fact that she’ll likely not be able to hug her friends until the start of the new school year in September. It’s emotional a lot of the time but at least with the easing of restrictions we can go an visit my mum and chat from other ends of her garden.

Pic of the Week

I am loving Bookstagram at the moment! I am so happy with my feed, the light is good and I have the time to think about set up, we’ve been clearing out the attic and I’m finding new things to use as props. I think I’m going for the one that I posted yesterday as both Melinda Salisbury and Bex Hogan commented on it which has kind of blown my mind and totally brightened my week!

Looking Ahead

I’m excited to start buddy reading Vicious by V.E Schwab tonight, it’s the first of hers that I’ve read and I’ve heard good things! I’ve reached the point on my Animal Crossing Island where I can start to landscape and I am creating a Crow Club and Ketterdam dock area from Six of Crows, which is a lot of fun, although finding those kinds of items in the game is hard, but I’m going to continue on with that!