Category Archives: Books

June Wrap Up

My reading picked up again in June with sixteen books finished – although eight were picture books!

The books I finished in June were:

Another good month. Scythe and Thunderhead were particularly amazing, and I can’t wait for the third book next year.

Heart’s Blood – second in the Pit Dragon’s Trilogy re-read (although now it’s a quartet, and I’ve bought the fourth book to read in sequence), and still as wonderful as I remember.

Skulduggery Pleasant: Midnight – I’m still loving the return of Skulduggery Pleasant, and will devour these as soon as they come out. In Midnight, Valkyrie’s sister is kidnapped by Gant, and there are omens galore for the future. Looking forward to how this develops.

The Lost Plot – Fourth in the Invisible Library series, I love this series, and the ending of this one made me very happy! I’ve got the fifth on pre-order already!

Little Mole is a Whirlwind – Anna Llenas’ art is wonderful. We adore Colour Monster. In this, Little Mole has ADHD, which is sensitively covered. Full review also overdue. Review copy.

In Other Lands – I saw this on YouTube and it sounded perfect. Thirteen year old Elliot is a cynic but he has the ability to see the border between worlds so ends up at magic camp learning to defend the border between magic and reality. He is sarky and snarky, and a bit of a git to start with, but he develops throughout. I think this book should be read by all teens because it is very diverse, throws some gender stereotypes on their heads, and has a deep message of consent. Perfection.

Scythe – Another YouTube recommendation I’m glad I tucked into, Scythe is about a perfect future world where there is no war, no hunger, no poverty, and no death. Almost all deaths can be recovered from, but to keep some population control there are Scythes, who are tasked with killing. This follows two young people on their journey to train as Scythes, in this far from perfect utopia. It is brutal in parts, compelling, and the world building is perfect.

Dark Matter – I read this while waiting for my order of Thunderhead. It was supposed to be an amazing twisting thriller, but it was standard SF stuff and a bit lame really. Okay, but not amazing.

The Last Chance Hotel – I’ve been waiting for this book for so long. Written by the ex-owner of my local indie, obviously I’d get it. It’s a bit of a worry reading a book by someone you know – what if I didn’t like it? I needn’t have worried, Nikki has created a magical world with believable characters you want to know more about. Seth the kitchen boy and his cat, the magical system, the strange hotel setting, the murder mystery… I was completely pulled into the world and the end left me hungry for more. I think there will be a sequel, this really needs to be a series.

Thunderhead – One of those rare sequels that are even better than the first. More world development, more of the Thunderhead, more danger and twists. The third book seems so far away!

May Wrap Up

May wasn’t a great reading month for me, I was in a bit of a slump. It took me two weeks to read The Gospel of Loki even though I loved it! I finished six books, although technically I DNF’d The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde.

These are the books I finished in May:

Quality over quantity this month with The Gospel of Loki, The Testament of Loki and My Box Shaped Heart being wonderful.

The Gospel of Loki – A re-imagined version of Norse Mythology, told from the perspective of Loki. I found this far more readable and enjoyable than Gaiman’s Norse Mythology, and felt like I learnt more. Harris has taken liberties with the original texts, but they are only fragments written from a Christian viewpoint, and I utterly respect that she learnt ancient Icelandic so she could make her own translation of the Eddas, so her version is much closer to the oldest texts available. Loki is of course wonderful, and hilarious.

The Testament of Loki – It’s not necessary to read The Gospel of Loki before The Testament of Loki if you have a vague knowledge of Norse Mythology, but it’s worth it. The Testament of Loki jumps from the mythology to modern times, providing a bridge to Runemarks. I’ve not read Runelight to see what happens next, but I really need to. The entire Rune series is wonderful, and I’m branching out into more of Harris’ writing. Received via NetGalley, and I bought in hardback.

My Box-Shaped Heart – Racheal Lucas’ second YA novel, and although not as appealing to me as The State of Grace, it was a heartwarming read I thoroughly enjoyed. Received via NetGalley, and I bought in paperback.

The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde – DNF’d at page 81. I didn’t care for the modern day female character and wasn’t interested in the history. I read some spoiler reviews to see if I’d care what happened, but I didn’t. Received via NetGalley.

Mary, Queen of Scots – a short funny read of historical facts, a read aloud for my 9yo who loves history.

Moon Mourning – second in the prequel series for Samantha Moon. Now the origin tale is told, I can’t see me bothering with this spin-off if there are more in the series.

April Wrap Up

In April I finished ten books, but they were mostly quick reads dominated by 1000+ pages of Saga graphic novel that I’ve only recently discovered.

These are the books I finished in April:

Obviously my favourites of the month were Saga Books One and Two (collecting volumes 1-6, or issues 1-36), followed by a childhood re-read of Dragon’s Blood.

The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day – Not quite what I was expecting from the title. Beautiful and heartbreaking. I deducted a star because of a throw away autism line (“Your sister’s such a freak. She’s practically autistic.”) because I’m a sensitive snowflake, otherwise it would be 5 star.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue – Fun read, I’ll probably read the sequel at some point.

El Deafo – My 11yo’s favourite book. I eventually got around to reading it and it is wonderful. Based on the author’s childhood experiences of becoming deaf and her “superhero” talent due to the electronic ear she needed to use to hear more.

Dear Ijeawele – Lovely short essay on bringing up feminist children. I adore Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

New Moon Rising – First in the prequels for Samantha Moon series because I’m up-to-date on the rest. My “guilty” reads”

The Wiggle Woshers and their Stolen Hearts – Picture book about an alien who steals the hearts from other aliens but eventually learns love. Beautifully illustrated by an autistic and learning disabled young man, this is let down by the writing. I appreciate what the aim was, and hope the illustrator does more work based on this, and I recommend it to support him, but it ultimately falls flat. Detailed review well overdue. Review copy.

Things a Bright Girl Can Do – Sadly I only found this an okay read. Following the lives of three very different young women around the period of the First World War and achieving votes for women. I wanted to like it more than I did, but can’t put my finger on what didn’t work for me.

Saga Book One – Collecting the first three volume (eighteen issues) of Saga, Book One is a beautiful hardback tome with extra information and artwork. Saga is hard to describe. It’s about a baby born to parents on opposite sides of a war, set in space across a large variety of worlds, with a huge diverse cast of characters.

Dragon’s Blood – Start of a re-read of a series of books I borrowed from the library hen I was about ten, and searched for until I found them to buy in my early twenties. Set on a planet with dragons, Dragon’s Blood tells the story of Jakkin, who steals a baby dragon in order to raise money to free himself. Wonderful world building, and stuck with me forever. Will always be 5*.

Saga Book Two – The next three volumes of Saga, another beautiful hardback tome. I can’t wait for Book Three. I could read Volume 7 and Volume 8 but I’m waiting for the collected edition (so I literally can wait I suppose!) Then after that, a year hiatus for the creators, so a very long wait for any more. Sob.

Two Months Later…

I’ve been listening to too much YouTube, I can only hear the title in a fake French accent.

Not sure where all the time was. I’ve gone from four posts behind plan to thirteen. Oops.

I have several in draft, so I’m off to do my monthly wrap-ups to catch up a bit.

Yes, this is a very short post to make me feel better about my post count 😉

Updated TBR

It’s three months since I wrote a planned TBR for this year, and it appears I’m definitely not a TBR person!

Of the 31 books I planned to read, I’ve read two, despite having read 33 books since making the list.

I’ve also already culled/unhauled five of the books on the list, and will probably cull at least one more.

Most of the rest aren’t in my sights for reading in the near future either.

My current TBR plans are probably:

The Gospel of Loki (currently reading)
Moon Mourning (Kindle borrow)
The Testament of Loki (Netgalley)
Heart’s Blood
Heart Shaped Box (Netgalley)
A Sending of Dragons
Dragon’s Heart (don’t own)
Children of Blood and Bone
Midnight (11th Skulduggery, published end of this month – will jump ahead in list when arrives)

Well, three of them are still the same! I started re-reading the Pit Dragon trilogy so will continue but I also need to get some review books read, and have added a quick read for light relief. To finish the now Pit Dragon quartet I need to buy the fourth book, and I so don’t need more books. But this series is special to me so I will.

I’m starting to get my head around getting rid of more books from my TBR piles that I’m unlikely to read in the next few years, and planning to cull as I progress with my “books wot i own” project.

I will hopefully end up with a library of just books that I love, plus Mr Chaos’ and my girls’ books of course. I’m writing this from a self centred view but MG & DG have books that I wouldn’t cull because they love them (I’m looking at you, Rainbow Fairies!) and Mr Chaos only has about three shelves of books, being less of a book person, all of which are meaningful to him.

Books Wot I Own #2

This is going to take a very long time…

Other posts in this series: bookswotiown 

I do have a habit of getting carried away with things when I get something into my head. Listing every book in this household is going to take a while. I have so far gone through the two boxes I have, plus 2/3 of one bookshelf, plus added most of this year’s gained books (I have already culled some of this year’s gained books – the book cull total rose to 230 by the end of April) and my total owned books on Goodreads is now 451.

Hmm. I’ve not really got through many at all. I’m going to estimate 3000-4000 books in total, let’s see what happens…

Scanning books with the Goodreads app is painfully slow. It might be my phone, but that’s fairly new, or the age of the books, or that I have UK editions? I don’t know, but it’s easier to search Goodreads where I have a series, add them all, and then edit the edition to the one I actually have. This might come under autistic obsession…

For my records, here is box two. The bulk of my Terry Pratchett collection, plus some Neil Gaiman, and a random Paul Gallico because it fit.

Right, I’m having a break for a few days, and a think about how stupid this plan is and whether I’m going to continue.

I really want to have this list though. Being obsessive sucks sometimes.

Books Wot I Own #1

I’d really love to have a “library” with all our books in one place. Partially because I love books and just want a nice peaceful spot surrounded by my beauties and partially because I’d like to have them all in one place instead of spread in every room in the house.

We have a large garage that we currently use as storage, mainly of junk. The roof was redone less than two years ago, and although it needs decluttering and cleaning, and probably new doors (front and back standard doors, not the garage door) and window, it could probably be converted into a library with minimal cost.

Mr Chaos wants it for a cinema room, but I think his plans will involve more expense than mine, because all I really plan to do is clean the place out and add some bookshelves.

It won’t be ideal, with books getting cold in winter but with some dehumidifiers and a heater for when actually inside in winter I don’t think it needs any actual structural changes.

Whether this will actually happen or not depends on whether I can manage to throw away clutter, and whether I can save up for bookshelves (and an offcut of carpet, and I was wondering whether I should cover the bare brick walls with something to help insulate, and whether I need to replace the doors…) but whilst dreaming about it I thought I need to know exactly how many books we do actually own.

Therefore I’ve decided to do a snapshot of the books we currently own. This will probably take me several weeks to collate in between all my other jobs, but I started yesterday with the first 65ltr box I have of books I love but don’t have shelf space for so put in a box.

I’m scanning them into Goodreads, and trying to match up the covers with the versions I actually have, but it’s not accurate in a few cases because some covers weren’t on as other editions. I also don’t have a few “mini” books that were in this box – I found four out of six mini Peter Rabbit boxes as one edition (they’re not) but not the mini Winnie the Pooh, or Joke books, or Puffin Poets, or a couple of others. Just mentioning them for completeness, but I can’t be bothered to actually add them to Goodreads or take pictures!

“Box 1” as I’ve called it has 103 items on Goodreads. You can find all of my owned books (at time of writing this, 103, but will increase as I continue my project) on my “owned books all” shelf.

This is very much a “vanity project” but it’s my current obsession so I may as well write about it!

Here are the books in picture format, screen printed from Goodreads:

Oops, just done all this and realise I forgot to add The Brightonomicon by Robert Rankin because I have an arc. I added it to Goodreads but not going to get another screenprint because I don’t care for the book much. I culled all my Robert Rankins except the Armageddon trilogy and my signed Rankins. I should cull The Brightonomicon because I DNF’d it but it is personalised for my 30th birthday so I haven’t.

Book Cull / Unhaul

For the last two years, I’ve tried to reduce the increase of books in my household. For the two or three years prior to that, I had a net gain of around 400 books per year. This is understandably not sustainable.

And I only have five years worth of data on my book buying habits, so no idea what it was like before that.

In 2016 I think I managed to cull / unhaul more books than I gained. I culled over 500 books. Yay.

In 2017 I think there was a slight net gain, but I did cull 320 books.

So far in 2018 I’ve gained 152 books. 102 physical and 50 digital.

It’s the physical books that I’m counting for net gain and culling, because they take up physical space. I did cull 200+ Kindle books last year too, because they were all free ones I got when I was being overzealous on collecting Kindle books, and I’m never likely to read them.

I currently have 373 Kindle books; plus another 6 eBooks that I need to find the files for (emailed from indie book shop); plus 51 NetGalley books; plus 20 from Humble Bundle. These 450 books take up no space at all. My husband loves them 😉

However, I have no idea how many physical books we have. Most are mine or kids books (that are mostly mine too, to be fair). There are 5 bookcases full to bursting. Plus two 65ltr books packed tightly. Plus quite a few piles of books around the house. Hmm, at an estimate maybe another 8m of books? I’m not very good at estimating though.

It’s quite a lot of space taken basically. So I need to reduce the books a library.

Okay, I need to reduce the books.

And a library.

I’d also like to know exactly how many books we have now. Because I really have no idea.

Yesterday, a whole 40 books left my house. My first cull / unhaul of the year. Woohoo!

I also have another pile of books to cull, and a box I sorted last year that I haven’t got out of the house yet (not counted in my cull, I only count them when they have physically left the building!) I mean to post some out to people, and sell some, then donate what’s left. Hopefully I’ll do some of that this week so I can get this year’s net gain down to negative.

And then the four physical books I’ve already  ordered / pre-ordered won’t count as a gain. Cough.

March Wrap Up

I finished 8 books in March. This may seem less than the 18 average for January and February, but they were all part of my goal total so I’ve read 23 books in three months. There might have been a couple of picture books towards the end of the month too that I need to add to my Goodreads.

Here are the eight books:

Frustratingly I am currently in a reading slump. Fly By Night took over ten days to read, and I’m only forty-something pages into my current read after five days. Sigh.

My favourite book in March was (of course) Obsidio. I utterly adore the Illuminae files trilogy and have BookTube to thank for looking them up. I’ll definitely be re-reading soon, and I even took a three month Audible trial to see if I can manage audio books when they’re a full cast recording.

My second favourite of the month was The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, another one recommended on BookTube, which is only just published in hardback but was ridiculously cheap on Kindle (under £3) so I bought because the premise sounded so good. It is so good. If it’s not already been optioned for a film I’ll be very surprised. Wonderful mix of historical murder mystery with convoluted time-repeating (main character can interact with his future/past self) body-swapping, redemptive, satisfying, philosophical, frightening, I’m not sure where I’m going with the sentence. It’s good. If I wasn’t in love with the Illuminae series, it would be a clear favourite so far this year.

I’ve reviewed The Hazel Wood as part of my last NetGalley roundup. It wasn’t really my kind of thing, although I liked the premise.

Moon Angel is the last in the currently published Samantha Moon series, which I’ve been borrowing monthly via the Kindle User’s Lending Library. They are pretty awful really but I still enjoy them, and will probably move on to the spinoff series if I can borrow them.

The Up-Side of Unrequited was another BookTuber recommendation / cheap Kindle try, and I actually really liked it. Wonderful to have a main character who is overweight but doesn’t spend the whole book trying to lose weight to get the boy. Cute and fun, and very diverse.

I read Ready Player One so I could see the film. Hopefully I’ll get to see the film. I enjoyed it. I know it’s problematic in places, but it was fun. I didn’t get all the references despite being a child and teen in the eighties but much of it was so nostalgic. I utterly hated the use of the phrase “suffers” in relation to autism, but it was a throw away single line and obviously no research behind it. I expect the film will be better.

1602 was a re-read to see if my eleven-year-old could read it, as she’s enjoying all the MCU films at the moment. It didn’t seem unsuitable, and I definitely got more out of it than on my first read now I’ve seen the films because I know very little of the Marvel universe other than via the films.

I was slumping by the time I got to Fly By Night so wasn’t at my best reading it. Frances Hardinge is a wonderful author, and I need to read everything she’s written (Fly By Night is my second of hers, The Lie Tree being the first.) The world was well imagined, Mosca was wonderful, the names were brilliant. I enjoyed it despite my mood, and will get to the sequel sooner rather than later.

I’m currently reading Children of Blood and Bone, but I think I might be putting it aside and finding something else because I need to be in a better frame of mind to get into a fantasy world so I need to look for something contemporary or alternate history or urban fantasy or near future because I think my brain is looking for something more familiar at the moment.

Women in History Statistics

I am loving the glut of books about women that are coming out for children. We may have bought quite a few. I’m planning to do a series on these books, starting with some stats because we haven’t read them all yet for a proper review.

We have the following:
A Galaxy of Her Own (61 names)
Amazing Women: 101 Women to Inspire You (100 names)
Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World / Fantastically Great Women Who Made History (27 names)
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls / Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 (207 names)
HerStory (50 names)
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History (40 names)
Little People, Big Dreams series (20 books – we own three)
Three Cheers for Women! (16 names)
Women In Science / Women In Sport (100 names)

I’ve grouped some because they are related and names won’t duplicate between them, so there are nine groups of books or series. For the Little People, Big Dreams series I searched online to find as many different books as I could. I have excluded additional lists of women at the end of books and only included the ones with full write ups. For example, Three Cheers for Women! has over 70 names in total but I’ve only included 16.

There are 430 unique women / groups named. Where individuals were named together I split them up if I could, there were about five groups I couldn’t do this for, all only mentioned once.

The “top twelve” historical women, according to this selection of books are:
Marie Curie (included 7 times)
Ada Lovelace (included 6 times)
Amelia Earhart (included 6 times)
Frida Kahlo (included 6 times)
Katherine Johnson (included 6 times)
Rosa Parks (included 6 times)
Valentina Tereshkova (included 6 times)
Anne Frank (included 5 times)
Coco Chanel (included 5 times)
Harriet Tubman (included 5 times)
Mae C Jemison (included 5 times)
Maya Angelou (included 5 times)

After these, there were 11 women included 4 times; 22 women included 3 times; and 58 women included twice.

There are five women of colour in the top twelve, although three would be moved to top 23 if I didn’t specifically have a book on Black history. There are no women from Asia or Oceania in the top twelve (and only two Asian women in the top twenty-three).

Only one of the top twelve lived and died before the twentieth century, and only four more were born before the twentieth century. Three of the top twelve are still currently living.

In future blogs I’ll compare the contents and styles of the books/series. They are all very beautiful but I’ve noticed some inaccuracies in the stories I’ve currently read, so I’ll need to spend some time if I’m going through over 600 entries!