Reading Round-Up: January 2017 #MiniBookReviews

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Welcome to my new post where I discuss any books that I read in the month which for one reason or another didn’t warrant a full review. This is a way for me to keep track of what I’ve read but without the pressure of having to write comprehensive reviews for them all. 

There are quite a lot this month because I took January off from blogging and read anything I wanted. It was great!

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Bowie: The Story of Rock’s Enduring Enigma ~ Mike Evans

I got this book for Christmas and really enjoyed working my way through it. The text wasn’t anything spectacular but it was laid out well and the photographs and old gig posters/ticket stubs made it special. As a huge Bowie fan, I was surprised to see a few photos I didn’t recognise which is always a bonus.

unicorn rating 3

 

Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: The Novelisation ~ A.C.H Smith

Another Christmas book and one I had wanted for so long! I’m so glad I wasn’t disappointed. There were some notable changes from the film which made it fresh, but without a doubt the best part of this book is Jim Henson’s notes at the back and Brian Froud’s original sketches. A must for any fan of the ultimate ‘kids’ fantasy film.

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Heartless ~ Marissa Meyer

I was really excited about this Alice in Wonderland tale (mainly because it looks so pretty tbh) but also quite apprehensive to start it. The Lunar Chronicles was amazing, and something that I thought shouldn’t work (Cyborg Cinderella), and I worried that maybe Meyer was churning out another retelling on the back of that success. I’m pleased to say that I was wrong and found Heartless to be an enjoyable origin story for the Queen of Hearts. There were some really great bits in it, but I felt it dragged in places. Not hugely exciting, but enjoyable enough.

unicorn rating 3

Ruin & Rising ~ Leigh Bardugo

It’s taken me a whole year to read this series. I was quite disappointed with the second book so I kept putting this one off but I’m glad I finally picked it up. The third and final book in The Grisha series was a vast improvement and I couldn’t put it down. I loved Alina’s character arc, and her complicated (and very different) relationships with Mal, Nikolai and The Darkling. It’s a vivid, dark fantasy world that Bardugo has created here using elements from Russian folklore, which is what sets it apart from other YA fantasy.

unicorn rating 4

Pagan Portals: Merlin ~ Elen Sentier

I’m not religious at all but I like to think I’m pretty open-minded and I’ve always been interested in alternative religions, especially those which worship nature rather than a person. I’m also a fan of Arthurian mythology so I figured this book would be an interesting read.

Unfortunately it wasn’t quite what I was expecting (which I guess was something along the lines of exploring Pagan values in the stories of Merlin and King Arthur). However, what I actually got was what seems to be an eccentric old lady who is frequently visited (in real life) by the wizard Merlin who guides her spiritually, and goes on describe how we too can befriend him if we try hard enough.

It just wasn’t for me and I couldn’t finish it.

DNF – no rating

January’s Spotlight Review was A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Year in Books: 2016 End of Year Survey #2016Books #BookBlogging

I took a blogging break over Christmas and all the way through to the end of January so I never got the chance to do any of the yearly round-up posts that I really enjoy doing. But what with my new ‘blog what you enjoy’ mantra I’m going to post a few now – lateness be damned!

This End of Year Survey was started by Jamie @ The Perpetual Page Turner who also created the graphics. Many thanks to her!

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Number Of Books You Read: 69 – 1 short of my target.
Number of Re-Reads: 1 – A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
Genre You Read The Most From: YA Fantasy/Horror –  22 books

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1. Best Book You Read In 2016?

For the second year running my favourite book has been one I read right at the beginning of the year. This time it was Sanctuary Bay – an impressive dark and mysterious YA novel.

sanctuarybay

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

fellside I was disappointed with this one 😦

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

madwoman I didn’t expect to love it so much!

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

jacksparks I loved it and knew a lot of people who would too!

 5. Best series you started in 2016? Best Sequel of 2016? Best Series Ender of 2016?

Best series started – The Grisha series by Leigh Bardugo

Best Sequel – I didn’t actually read many sequels but Glass Sword was great.

Best Series Ender – I didn’t read any. Fail!

 6. Favourite new author you discovered in 2016?

Definitely Jason Arnott (The Last Days of Jack Sparks)

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

The madwoman Upstairs – I don’t often read general adult fiction, especially not ones about classic literature (The Bronte’s) like this one.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

The Last Days of Jack Sparks

 9. Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

sanctuarybay

Probably none because I never find the time but I’d love to re-read Sanctuary Bay again as I read it at the start of the year and have already forgotten lots about it despite thinking it was amazing at the time!

 

10. Favourite cover of a book you read in 2016?

merciless2 The real life gold hardback cover is purrrrty. And badass.

11. Most memorable character of 2016?

Probably Jack Sparks again. He was such a loveable, despicable idiot.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016?

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13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016?

Ooh this one was hard to choose. Tbh I didn’t read that many ‘serious’ books last year. I almost went for The Amber Fury by Natalie Haynes but I think I’ll choose The Hummingbird’s Cage for its interesting look at the afterlife  and having hope.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read? 

The Song of Achilles.

 15. Favourite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2016?

“I could recognize him by touch alone, by smell; I would know him blind, by the way his breaths came and his feet struck the earth. I would know him in death, at the end of the world.” ― Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016?

 

Shortest: The Book of Kringle – 32 pgs

Longest: The Crow Girl – 794 pgs

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)

Hmm this one has stumped me…maybe The Crow Girl just for the sheer dark, grimness of it.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)

My favourite romance had to be Achilles and Patroclus in The Song of Achilles.

19. Favourite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

I really loved the dynamic between Jack Sparks and his editor/agent in The Last Days of Jack Sparks. 

20. Favourite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

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21. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

summer16.7

 

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?

Sturmhond/Nikolai from The Grisha trilogy

23. Best 2016 debut you read?

It’s a tie between The Song of Achilles and The Madwoman Upstairs. Neither of which were YA. I’m surprised with myself!

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Definitely The Grisha Trilogy

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Jack Sparks

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016?

I definitely cried at The Song of Achilles, more than once. I can’t think of any others.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

a9 This was a heart-warming little gem.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Erm I wouldn’t be that dramatic but The Enchanted was depressing and beautiful all at once.

theenchanted

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016?

I think The Enchanted again. It was like nothing I’ve ever read before.

 

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

stealingsnow

Stealing Snow made me mad because it started off well then very quickly nose-dived!

 

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1. New favourite book blog you discovered in 2016?

I discovered lots of new blogs but I don’t want to single any out!

2. Favourite review that you wrote in 2016?

I liked my slightly ranting review of Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

I really enjoyed the discussion about why books aren’t promoted to teens enough.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

I didn’t go many last year, apart from events we hosted at work. My favourite of those was Mike Carey’s visit with the director and producer of The Girl with all the Gifts.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2016?

Probably just getting nice comments from authors/publishers, and the huge success that was Horror October. It’ getting bigger every year.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

Just keeping going in general. With a busy work and social schedule it’s really hard work sometimes, but worth it.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

By far the Flash Fiction Battle posts during Horror October. I’ve never had such high stats!

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

I guess a lot of reviews and also promo posts/blog tours that take a while to write but don’t end up being very popular. I think it’s fair to say that this is a bone on contention with a lot of bloggers.

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Hmm…I think just a lot of he vintage I’ve found which come with so much history. I find it really interesting and I’m going to incorporate that on my blog more this year. My vintage bookshop is here.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

Hmm I didn’t really set many goals last year. I was one book away from reaching my Goodreads total.

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1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2016 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2017?

Ha! Lots. But my first port of call is The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness and Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2017 (non-debut)?

marshking

3. 2017 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

wintersong It sounds so good!

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2017?

The only series ending I needed to read was the final Grisha book and I finished it last week. Loved it!

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2017?

Quality not quantity!

 

Blog-Life Crisis: To Blog or Not to Blog? #Discussion #Blogging #Bloglifecrisis

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Lipsyy Lost & Found is coming up to its fifth anniversary (in May). Which is a bit mad! It’s mostly been a joy, but it’s also felt like a burden at times and I’ve just emerged from what appears to be my annual slump/crisis/blog-meltdown.

I always like to take some time off at the end of each year and start of the next but every time I do I have this sudden feeling of relief and freedom which leads me to wonder if I want/need to keep the blog going.

Does anyone else have these melt-downs?

I’m completely aware that the pressure I feel is all self-induced but that doesn’t make it any easier. This year has been my biggest slump yet, and I was very seriously considering not coming back for so many reasons which I’m sure will resonate with many of you too…

The grand ole issue of time: 

This has always been a problem and always will be for those of us with full time jobs & commitments. I started the blog when I had a very boring office job and could work on it during the day. I haven’t had that luxury for three years now so all of my blogging (including reading/commenting on other blogs) takes place in the evenings and at weekends.

Also the more I blog, the less I can read and the less I can read the less I can blog…and I won’t even get started on writing – which leads me to…

What am I really achieving apart from unnecessary stress? Sure, getting free & advanced books is nice and all the other little perks that come along with book blogging but I really started the blog because I wanted to take reading more seriously. I was in desperate need to get a job I was passionate about, so I thought having a book blog would look good when looking for publishing/bookselling/library jobs (and I was right – it did, and I did and…see full circle!?)

But that wasn’t my only aim. I also wanted the structure of writing every day. I dreamed of being a journalist for years, then, whilst studying, I decided I preferred creative writing. After years of trying my hand at a few stories here and there it became obvious that I needed to improve on a myriad of things to ever hope of getting published. I hoped that reviewing books would force me to think about what makes a good story and why, and improve my awareness of story structure and language. I think that maybe it did at first. Back when I put a lot of thought into reviews and what I was reading. But I feel like I’ve just been churning them out lately, trying to get through as many books as possible and rushing through reviews.

This is my main issue at the moment. A lot of the joy has been stripped away. I feel like I’ve created a monster and lost sight of what I wanted to achieve. Before I knew it a hobby turned into a second job, and without the outcome I was hoping for. The all-important time issue has meant that I’ve been posting without editing, reviewing without thought and reading without enjoyment. Which is all a bit pointless really….

However, after a month of really thinking about it and weighing up the pros and cons I realise that I don’t want to give up my little blog, or give up on what I wanted it to achieve. I do think my writing style has improved, and will continue to improve with this blog. I would also miss all of you fellow bloggers who I am forever inspired and entertained by.

And so, the conclusion I’ve (finally) come to is to carry on blogging, but a little bit differently. 

  1. Restrict ARCs/ review requests to one a month leaving time to read what I want to read when I want to read them.
  2. Only reviewing a book when I have something to say: There’s nothing worse than trying to frantically get reviews done when you don’t really have anything to say about it anyway. I may do a summary of books that didn’t warrant a comprehensive review but I won’t be forcing myself to write them for everything I read.
  3. Quality not quantity: This is the big one. I mean it as far as reading and posting goes. No more power-reading! And posts will be written in advance and edited.
  4. No more self-imposed pressure: It’s hard not to get click-happy on Netgalley and to say no to review requests when you like the sound of the book but NO is my new friend. And if a book doesn’t get reviewed on time? Tough!
  5. Introducing new content: I have a lot of other things going on in my life that I love, such as my vintage bookshop on Etsy, my work in the prison library and my own writing (which I hope to do more of with this new approach to life- LOL) so I would like to include those on my blog more instead of just posting memes and book reviews.

What do you think, can it be done?

 

Join the discussion, leave a comment…

Why do you blog about books and what keeps you going?

Do you ever want to give it up?

Do you have any advice for bloggers like me who love blogging but find it difficult to fit into a busy life schedule? 

This Week in Books 01.02.17 #TWIB #CurrentlyReading #WoW

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Welcome to This Week in Books, where we share what we’ve been up to in bookland this week

Happy February! I’m back in action but with a much more relaxed approach to this blog. It all just got a bit too much. I’ll be posting about the changes soon. Good news is that I’ve been finding more reading time. Hurrah!

Here’s what I’ve been up to this week…

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Now: Calling Major Tom ~ David Barnett // The Time Machine ~ H.G Wells

I’ve only just started these. Calling Major Tom is an ARC that isn’t out until June but has been released for early reviews. And I picked up The Time Machine during my break at work as we were discussing the origins of Steampunk in the writing group I run and I realised I’ve never read it.

Then: Pagan Portals: Merlin ~ Elen Sentier // Ruin & Rising ~ Leigh Bardugo

I had to DNF the Merlin book. It wasn’t at all what I expected and just wasn’t for me. I also finished the last book in the Grisha trilogy which I enjoyed a lot! The second book wasn’t so great but this one really made up for it.

Next: ??? 

Definitely the Ness…probably… LOL.

 

New on the Shelves

 

oh, so many since I last did the full version of this post. I’m doing a separate haul post for the weekend, but will resume listing any new books here from then on.

I’m Waiting on…

The Marsh King’s Daughter ~ Karen Dionne

 

I love the sound of this dark thriller. The cover is wonderfully eerie too.


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  ‘I was born two years into my mother’s captivity. She was three weeks shy of seventeen. If I had known then what I do now, things would have been a lot different. I wouldn’t have adored my father.’

When notorious child abductor – known as the Marsh King – escapes from a maximum security prison, Helena immediately suspects that she and her two young daughters are in danger.

No one, not even her husband, knows the truth about Helena’s past: they don’t know that she was born into captivity, that she had no contact with the outside world before the age of twelve – or that her father raised her to be a killer.

And they don’t know that the Marsh King can survive and hunt in the wilderness better than anyone… except, perhaps his own daughter.

Packed with gripping suspense and powerful storytelling, The Marsh King’s Daughter is a one-more-page, read-in-one-sitting thriller that you’ll remember for ever.

Expected Publication: June 29th 2017 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons

 

So that’s my week in books, now why don’t you tell me about yours!?

Leave your answers or the link to your post in the comments and I’ll take a look 🙂