Horror October: Week #2 Wrap-up! #HO17

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Well, that was a busy week! I can’t believe we’re half-way through already!
If you missed anything, do not fret, here is a handy summary of all the goings-on.

Horror October Week 2

Review: Misery by Stephen King

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Top Ten Tuesday: Spooky Autumnal Book Covers

30 Days of Horror:

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Day #7: Some Will Not Sleep

Day #8: Interview with the Vampire

Day #9: Battle Royale

Day #10: You Die When You Die

Day #11: Goth Girl

Day #12: The White Road

Day #13: Universal Harvester

This Week in Books 09.10.17

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This Year in Horror (so far)!

Lazy Saturday Review: Killing the Dead by Marcus Sedgwick

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Posts from around the blogosphere

Review: S.T.A.G.S – A World of Books

Come for a walk through Bram Stoker’s Dublin – Come Here to Me

Review: Hell House – Ruined Head

Top Ten Scariest Towns You Never Want to Visit – Redmangorereviews

October Scary Book Recommendation: The Hallowed Ones – Reading in Winter

Movie Review: The Ritual – One Room with a View

Movie Review: Happy Death Day – Literary Dust

Up Next on Horror October:

Book Review: The Silent Companions

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Horror October: Misery by Stephen King #BookReview #HO17

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miseryTitle: Misery
Author: Stephen King
Series: N/A
Format: Paperback, 369 pages
Publication Details: July 7th 2011 by Hodder & Stoughton (first published 1987)
Genre(s): Horror
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it!

Goodreads 

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Misery Chastain was dead. Paul Sheldon had just killed her – with relief, with joy. Misery had made him rich; she was the heroine of a string of bestsellers. And now he wanted to get on to some real writing.

That’s when the car accident happened, and he woke up in pain in a strange bed. But it wasn’t the hospital. Annie Wilkes had pulled him from the wreck, brought him to her remote mountain home, splinted and set his mangled legs.

The good news was that Annie was a nurse and has pain-killing drugs. The bad news was that she was Paul’s Number One Fan. And when she found out what Paul had done to Misery, she didn’t like it. She didn’t like it at all.

Review

Whether you’ve read the book and/or seen the film, I’m guessing most people are aware of the story of Misery, so I won’t go into detail about the plot.

I have been meaning to read (or reread) this book ever since I got a World Book Night edition of it, but I honestly couldn’t remember if I’d read it before – as a teenager I suspected (yes, my memory really is that bad. I blame all the booze). It also doesn’t help that I’ve seen the film a bunch of times.

It wasn’t until I was about half-way through that it all started to come back to me. The differences between the film and King’s original novel are few, but certainly significant.

I really enjoyed giving this novel another go after what must be about 15 years. Once I got into it I couldn’t stop reading, but I am going to say something that might be a bit controversial…

I don’t think Stephen King should be called ‘a master of horror’.

Woah, I know, he is great, but hear me out.

King’s most successful books, for me, aren’t what I would class as horror, but as suspense. And I certainly think he’s a master of suspense! Don’t get me wrong, a lot of what makes something ‘horror’ is the suspense, but I’d say 90% of Misery is made up of suspense, followed by 10% horror.

He is also a master of characterisation. Everything he does is character-driven, and that’s why his books are so compelling. And why it’s so horrific when it all inevitably goes wrong. In this case, I didn’t find the main character, Paul Sheldon, very likeable at all, which makes it even more impressive at how sorry I felt for him.

The main thing that struck me when comparing the novel to the film, is that what happens to book Paul Sheldon is sooooo much worse than film Paul Sheldon, but I still found the film much scarier. Even after a few watches it still gets to me a bit. The penguin!!!

I’m not sure what that says about the novel, or maybe it just shows what a great film it is, and worthy of its Oscar (I defy anyone to not picture the terrifying Annie Wilkes as Kathy Bates), but essentially both mediums of this story are worth a go, and perfect for this time of year.

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Up Next on Horror October:

30 days of Horror: Battle Royale

 

 

Reading Round-up: August 2017 #MiniReviews

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Welcome to my monthly post where I discuss any books that I read during the month which for one reason or another didn’t get the full review treatment. 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 every single book. 

There were three books that I read but didn’t get round to reviewing in August…

Spectacles ~ Sue Perkins

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When I began writing this book, I went home to see if my mum had kept some of my stuff. What I found was that she hadn’t kept some of it. She had kept all of it – every bus ticket, postcard, school report – from the moment I was born to the moment I finally had the confidence to turn round and say ‘Why is our house full of this shit?’

Sadly, a recycling ‘incident’ destroyed the bulk of this archive. This has meant two things: firstly, Dear Reader, you will never get to see countless drawings of wizards, read a poem about corn on the cob, or marvel at the kilos of brown flowers I so lovingly pressed as a child. Secondly, it’s left me with no choice but to actually write this thing myself.

This, my first ever book, will answer questions such as ‘Is Mary Berry real?’, ‘Is it true you wear a surgical truss?’ and ‘Is a non-spherically symmetric gravitational pull from outside the observable universe responsible for some of the observed motion of large objects such as galactic clusters in the universe?’

Most of this book is true. I have, of course, amplified my more positive characteristics in an effort to make you like me. 

Thank you for reading.

This book was a total shock for me. I picked it up on a whim. I used to love Light Lunch (showing my age there) and also loved Sue in the Supersizers Eat series but other than that I didn’t know much about her, so I totally wasn’t expecting to get so hooked on this book. I couldn’t put it down and read it in about two sittings.

The beginning had me in stitches when Sue was talking about her family’s reaction to her writing a memoir, and there were lots of things I was surprised by in it, all carried off with Sue’s slightly self-deprecating, intelligent humour.

unicorn rating 4

 

Klaus Vogel and the Bad Lads ~ David Almond

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Fleeing persecution in his homeland, German refugee Klaus Vogel arrives in a small English town where the local gang take him under their wing. They call themselves the Bad Lads, but it’s all mischief and harmless tricks, never any real trouble.

But then leader Joe starts to encourage increasingly hateful pranks and Klaus has to make a stand for what he thinks is right.

Poignant and powerful tale set in the wake of World War II.

This was another one I picked up on a whim. It’s a short easy-read book which is dyslexia friendly that I found in my library. I’ve enjoyed a few of David Almond’s books before so I read this over a lunch break. It’s a nice story with a good message about bullying, persecution, and standing up for yourself and others.

unicorn rating 4

 

The Way it Hurts ~ Patty Blount

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There may be two sides to every story, but sometimes there’s only one way to set things right…

Music is Elijah’s life. His band plays loud and hard, and he’ll do anything to get them a big break. He needs that success to help take care of his sister, who has special needs. So he’d rather be practicing when his friends drag him to a musical in the next town…until the lead starts to sing.

Kristen dreams of a career on stage like her grandmother’s. She knows she needs an edge to get into a competitive theater program—and being the star in her high school musical isn’t going to cut it. The applause and the attention only encourage her to work harder.

Elijah can’t take his eyes off of Kristen’s performance, and he snaps a photo of her in costume that he posts online with a comment that everybody misunderstands. It goes viral. Suddenly, Elijah and Kristen are in a new spotlight as the online backlash spins out of control. And the consequences are bigger than they both could have ever imagined because these threats don’t stay online…they follow them into real life.

I’m afraid I didn’t get very far into this one. It’s nothing personal, I think I just wasn’t in the mood for a contemporary YA. The writing seemed fine but I didn’t gel with either of the protagonists at all, and all the integrated tweets and social media put me off. I’m sure this will be a hit for contemporary fans, but it wasn’t for me.

AOB

{that’s any other business for those of you that’ve never had the misfortune of having a job where people say that all the time}

 

 

Well, that really is a wrap on August now!  How did you get on?

Prince of Shadows by Rachel Caine #BookReview #YA

 

princeofshadowsTitle: Prince of Shadows
Author: Rachel Caine
Series: N/A
Format: Paperback, 368 pages
Publication Details: February 4th 2014 by Allison & Busby
Genre(s): YA; Retellings
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it from the library.

Goodreads 

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From the author of the bestselling Morganville Vampires series comes an exciting retelling of the classic love story, Romeo and Juliet.

‘A plague! A plague on both your houses!’

In the Houses of Montague and Capulet, there is only one goal: power. The boys are born to fight and die for honor and – if they survive – marry for influence and money, not love. The girls are assets, to be spent wisely. Their wishes are of no import. Their fates are written on the day they are born.

Benvolio Montague, cousin to Romeo, knows all this. He expects to die for his cousin, for his house, but a spark of rebellion still lives inside him. At night, he is the Prince of Shadows, the greatest thief in Verona – and he risks all as he steals from House Capulet. In doing so, he sets eyes on convent-bound Rosaline, and a terrible curse begins that will claim the lives of many in Verona.

Review

I have to say I was pretty sceptical going into this but I was intrigued regardless. Having read Caine’s Morganville Vampire series (or most of them at least), I was pretty shocked to find this in the library. A Shakespeare retelling, really? Hmm…

You can’t help but love the tale of the two doomed lovers, right? And you know what, this wasn’t a bad retelling. It’s told from Benvolio’s POV, who is forcibly entrusted to keep his cousin and Capulet heir, Romeo, on the straight and narrow. But that pesky boy has a habit of getting into serious trouble and falling in love with all the wrong girls. Then there’s his bff Mercutio with his own doomed love Tomasso, both of whom will be killed if discovered. Poor Benvolio has got a lot on his plate!

On one hand I really enjoyed this book. I liked reading from Benvolio’s point of view. It was an action-packed, fun retelling with a modern twist. The pages flew by. But on the other hand I did find myself cringing a lot. ‘Shakespeare turning in his grave’ was a phrase which often sprang to mind. But I guess there would be no point in retelling it without a new spin on the traditional.

I felt like the whole business with the curse was a double-edged sword. It made the story new and fresh, and Caine does paranormal very well, such is her remit! But for me, it meant that the story lost all its romance. Which is surely the point of any Romeo & Juliet story?

I really respect Rachel Caine for taking on such an iconic story and introducing a fantasy element. It’s a pretty bold move, and I think it mostly worked. Her writing is always so readable. Not one for the purists though, obviously.

unicorn rating 3

Retribution Rails by Erin Bowman #BookReview #YA

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Title: Retribution Rails
Author: Erin Bowman
Series: Vengeance Road #2
Format: Kindle Edition, 384 pages
Publication Details: November 7th 2017 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Genre(s): YA; Adventure; Historical Fiction; Western
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads 

 

REDEMPTION IS NEVER FREE
When Reece Murphy is forcibly dragged into the Rose Riders gang because of a mysterious gold coin in his possession, he vows to find the man who gave him the piece and turn him over to the gang in exchange for freedom. Never does he expect a lead to come from an aspiring female journalist. But when Reece’s path crosses with Charlotte Vaughn after a botched train robbery and she mentions a promising rumor about a gunslinger from Prescott, it becomes apparent that she will be his ticket to freedom—or a noose. As the two manipulate each other for their own ends, past secrets are unearthed, reviving a decade-old quest for revenge that may be impossible to settle.

In this thrilling companion to Vengeance Road, dangerous alliances are formed, old friends meet new enemies, and the West is wilder than ever.


Review

Vengeance Road was a tour de force, so I was thrilled when I heard there was going to be a sequel (of sorts – more on that later), and although it’s not released until November, I couldn’t wait. I devoured it ASAP.

And you know what, I wasn’t disappointed. Thank the unicorns!!

Retribution Rails is a companion novel, not a direct sequel, so if you missed out on Vengeance Road you need not worry (although you really should read it!), there are two new plucky main characters to focus on, and it’s set around ten years after the first book.

Charlotte Vaughn is a young aspiring journalist who is determined to succeed despite all the odds that are stacked against her. Inspired by her hero (and real-life feminist icon) Nellie Bly she takes matters into her own hands and heads off in search of a story worthy of being her big break. A story so big that the newspapers won’t be able to turn her down. Even if she is a woman.

When Charlotte’s train is targeted by the fearless and ruthless Rose Riders, it could be the answer to her prayers, or it could be the death of her. Her encounter with the infamous Rose Kid sets in motion a whole train map of trouble, leading her on a wild west adventure that’s a little more than she bargained for.

This book was a rip-roaring adventure full of heart. Erin Bowman’s ability to bring history to life with a fresh and modern outlook is nothing short of a revelation, and I really think she’s paved the way for a whole new strand of YA. It’s a great, empowering story for young girls, and full of action for any thrill-seeker.

I couldn’t remember the ins and outs of Vengeance Road going into this (probably because I’m old and drink too much), just that I really enjoyed it, but as we are reunited with Kate and Jessie from the first book it all slowly came back to me. It was so nice to back in their company and see how life had panned out for them ten years on.

I loved everything about it. The adventure, the romance, the historical accuracies, the suspense, the heart-break, the everything. More please!

Have ALL THE UNICORNS.

unicorn rating

This Month in Books: June 2017 #TMIB #BookoftheMonth

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June. Hmm…June actually felt like a lonnnng old month for once. We had the hottest June on record, although the heatwave only really lasted about 5 days. It did me in. I’m not made for hot climates and once again declared that I need to move to Iceland, as I do every year when it gets hot. LOL.

At the beginning of the month I went to visit my friend in Germany for her 30th, which was short but sweet. And I also finally went to Shakespeare’s Globe after over 15 years in London (shocking, I know) to see Tristan & Yseult which is one of my favourite stories ever. They certainly made it their own but I really enjoyed it.

June 2017 Stats

Total Posts: 9 (-4 from previous month)

Books Read: 4 (-2)
The Winter King ~ Bernard Cronwell
One of Us is Lying ~ Karen M. McManus
Broken Branches ~ M. Jonathan Lee
Fear ~ Dirk Kurbjuweit

The Breakdown:
Genres: YA (1/4); Historical Fiction (1/4); Crime/Thriller (3/4)

Formats/Sources: Advance Copy (3/4); Digital (2/4); Hardback (0/4); Paperback (2/4) // Owned (0/4); Borrowed (1/4); For Review/proofs (3/4)

Most Surprising: Broken Branches
Most Disappointing: The Winter King
Most Exciting: Broken Branches
Most Swoon-worthy: One of Us is Lying
Most Beautifully Written: The Winter King

Reviews

Most Viewed Posts

  1. This Week in Books 14.06.17
  2. This Month in Books: May
  3. Review: Broken Branches

Promos, Guest Posts and other Highlights

Awards

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TBR Shelf Update

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Earlier this year I decided I HAD to do something about my physical TBR shelves. Each month I’ll be doing a quick update to see how I’ve done. See my original post here, and my updated TBR list here. 

Previous TBR Count: 85

Books Added: 0!!! 🙂 

Books Read: 1

Remaining: 84

That was my month, how was yours?

Broken Branches by M. Jonathan Lee #BookReview #JulyReleases

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brokenbranches

Title: Broken Branches
Author: M. Jonathan Lee
Series: n/a
Format: Paperback ARC, 294 pages
Publication Details: July 27th 2017 by Hideaway Fall
Genre(s): Thriller/Mystery; Horror
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free advance copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads 

bookdepo

‘Family curses don’t exist. Sure, some families seem to suffer more pain than others, but a curse? An actual curse? I don’t think so.’

A family tragedy was the catalyst for Ian Perkins to return to the isolated cottage with his wife and young son. But now they are back, it seems yet more grief might befall the family.

There is still time to act, but that means Ian must face the uncomfortable truth about his past. And in doing so, he must uncover the truth behind the supposed family curse.

Review

The cover of this book is so perfect it’s hard to put into words. It’s dark, beautiful and mysterious, which is exactly how I’d describe the story within.

Broken Branches is about the Perkins family, in particular Ian and his wife Rachel, who move into the cottage where Ian grew up. The cottage with the huge, ominous looking tree outside; the cottage where bad things happen.

I found the book a little slow to start with but before I knew it couldn’t put it down. It’s one of those stories that never quite gives you the answers you want. You know the type; the type of story that drives you mad in the best possible way.

There had been talk of ‘the curse’ since Ian’s childhood when his uncle died, but he never truly believed it until he inherited the cottage himself. This threw up many questions in itself – why would he move into a house with such a bad history? Other curiosities in the story (and believe me when I say it’s full of them), surrounded Rachel who is extremely distant and aloof from the start – was she depressed? Mentally ill? We’re not quite sure.

Ian delves deeper into his family history, and that of the cottage, in order to learn more about the curse, thinking that proving the existence of it will solve everything including whatever it is that’s wrong with Rachel and his marriage. But of course it only drives them further apart as Ian get more and more obsessed. He loses his job and sinks into a frenzied, isolated existence where the tree is always lurking in the background, and someone keeps moving his research around.

I think Broken Branches’ success comes from the masterfully layered atmosphere that just gets creepier and creepier as the story goes on. M. Jonathan Lee has done a wonderful job in creating suspense and intrigue, and there are some great horror elements in it too. I’m not sure I’d even want to read this on a stormy night…

unicorn rating 4

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus #BookReview #YA #Mystery

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oneofusislyingTitle: One of Us is Lying
Author: Karen M. McManus
Series: n/a
Format: Digital ARC, 370 pages
Publication Details: June 1st 2017 by Penguin
Genre(s): YA; Contemporary, Mystery
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free advance copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads 

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Five students go to detention. Only four leave alive.

On Thursday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention. Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule. Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess. Nate, the bad boy, is already on probation for dealing. Cooper, the jock, is the all-star baseball pitcher. And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app. Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investi­gators, his death wasn’t an accident.

On Thursday, he died. But on Friday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they just the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose? Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

Review

One of Us is Lying is a super-fun, light read, perfect for the summer holidays.

Full of everyone’s favourite high school stereotypes, the story centres around five students who end up in detention for something they apparently didn’t do. Were they set up? During the detention, the “geek”, Simon, drinks a cup of water and dies. He’s severely allergic to nuts and it appears that someone spiked his water with nut oil.

And so, the four remaining students are suddenly murder suspects. There’s the pretty, goody-two-shoes, Bronwyn, the jock, Cooper, the bad boy, Nate, and Addy the insecure beauty. They all have reasons to hate Simon, as he had dirt on all of them and wasn’t afraid to post it online for all to see.

One of Us is Lying is written from the perspectives of all four suspects. Multiple narrative stories usually annoy me, but I think it was necessary in this novel, and it worked really well. Each character had their own, very different reasons to want Simon dead, and their own problems aside from that too, which brought a nice element of realism to the story.

I thought it was a really fun, quick read that kept me intrigued most of the way through. The only let down was that I guessed the outcome from about half-way through, but it was still enjoyable.

It has a bit of everything; mystery, romance and action all rolled into one. 

unicorn rating 4

 

Reading Round-up: May 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 get the full review treatment. 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 were only two books I read this month that I didn’t end up reviewing in full…

The Knife of Never Letting Go ~ Patrick Ness

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I loved this book the first time I read it and have wanted to reread it ever since but never seem to find the time to reread anything. I was therefore overjoyed when I got the audio book in my goodie bag at his new book launch. I enjoyed listening to it, but the narrator did annoy me a bit. He did a good job don’t get me wrong, but his voice was a bit irritating! This was my first ever audio book too, so it took a bit of getting used to. I haven’t been put off them, but I think I’ll stick to the books on this particular occasion.

The Time Machine ~ H.G Wells

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This was one of those books that I thought I’d read when I was younger but it turns out I hadn’t. I liked it a lot, especially seeing how much it has influenced science-fiction over the years and paved the way for sub-genres like Steampunk and Time-Travel novels. A true classic!

AOB

{that’s any other business for those of you that’ve never had the misfortune of having a job where people say that all the time}

Well, that’s a wrap on May, folks! How did you get on?

This Month in Books: May 2017 #TMIB #BookoftheMonth

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May was pretty busy IRL. Eurovision was a massive highlight, as was my blog turning four years old. 4!!! I didn’t even realise until WordPress kindly told me. Who would have thought it, eh!? I also went to the launch of Patrick Ness’ new book which was a great night, but unfortunately the book didn’t live up its greatness. I guess you can’t win them all.

May 2017 Stats

Total Posts: 13 (+4 from previous month)

Books Read: 6 (+1)
The Inexplicable Logic of my Life ~ Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Release ~ Patrick Ness
The Marsh King’s Daughter ~ Karen Dionne
The Knife of Never Letting Go (audio) ~ Patrick Ness
The Time Machine ~ H.G Wells
13 Steps to Evil: How to Craft Superbad Villains ~ Sacha Black

The Breakdown:
Genres: YA (3/6); Science-Fiction/ Fantasy (2/6); Crime/Thriller (1/6); Non-Fiction (1/6)

Formats/Sources: Advance Copy (2/6); Digital (2/6); Hardback (2/6); Paperback (1/6); Audiobook (1/6) // Owned (3/6); Borrowed (1/6); For Review/proofs (2/6)

Most Surprising: The Marsh King’s Daughter
Most Disappointing: Release
Most Exciting: The Marsh King’s Daughter
Most Swoon-worthy: The Inexplicable Logic of my Life
Most Beautifully Written: The Inexplicable Logic of my Life/ The Marsh King’s Daughter (too close to call!)

Reviews

Most Viewed Posts

  1. This Week in Books 17.05.17
  2. Review: The Marsh King’s Daughter
  3. This Week in Books 03.05.17

Promos, Guest Posts and other Highlights

Awards

botm-may17

TBR Shelf Update

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Earlier this year I decided I HAD to do something about my physical TBR shelves. Each month I’ll be doing a quick update to see how I’ve done. See my original post here, and my updated TBR list here. 

Previous TBR Count: 83

Books Added: 4

Books Read: 2

Remaining: 85

That was my month, how was yours?