And That’s a Wrap: March and April 2021

We are a quarter of the year down (somehow) and that means it’s time for another wrap up post. The last two months feel like they’ve passed quickly but I’m pretty sure I say that every wrap up. In recent months, I’ve had some good reads and some not so good reads, occasionally got off my butt and did some blogging, and as usual made frequent trips to the book store (I’ve gotta keep my TBR on its toes, after all). Here’s what’s been going on in March and April.

A bit of a mixed month in March – fantasy, thrillers, romance, even a classic. In the end though, there were a couple of eh reads and only one book managed to crack the 4 star rating threshold.

Chosen Ones – Veronica Roth ★★.5 | Review

I feel like I say this a lot but, a great concept with disappointing execution. I really loved the idea – looking at the trauma that comes with being a prophesied saviour of the world. However, the reality was a slog to get through until the last third or so, which was really good but too little too late. I also had difficulty connecting with and getting invested in the characters which brought down the enjoyment factor a lot. Although this is Roth’s first adult novel, the characters and writing still have a very YA vibe to them but this makes sense within the context of the story. The book’s use of redacted files, newspaper clippings, etc. to provide background and world building was a fun touch.

The One – John Marrs ★★★.5

I now understand why people make Black Mirror comparisons with this book. A test that uses our DNA to determine our soulmate? What an intriguing idea for a novel. Although The One is classified as a thriller, it didn’t really feel like one for most of the time I was reading it. Only really towards the end. The short chapters and approachable writing made it really easy to get stuck into but the frequent cliffhangers, which often turned out to be nothing, became frustrating after a while (I just want to go to bed, okay?!). There are quite a few character POVs in this book, probably one or two too many, and I experienced plenty of moments where I was annoyed to leave a character I was interested in at a dramatic scene only to go back to a character I wasn’t. Overall, pretty well done but I wanted more.

Kingdom of the Wicked – Kerri Maniscalco ★★★ | Review

Witchcraft, demons, murder, supernatural romance…there was no way I could resist giving this a read. It took me a while to really click with Kingdom of the Wicked and part of that was due to some issues with the writing style, however, I had a lot of fun in the second half. I found the lead, Emilia, frustrating and naive at times, and her love interest, the demon prince, Wrath, was interesting but underdeveloped. Still, I did like their interactions with one another. The atmosphere was great and I loved the transportive descriptions of Palermo. While the ending was rushed and confusing, I have really high hopes for an exciting sequel.

Final Girls – Riley Sager ★★

This was not what I was expecting. For a thriller, the pacing in Final Girls was extremely slow. Half the time the main storyline faded into the background in favour of monotonous scenes and an unnecessary side plot. Things did pick up eventually, thank goodness, but the ending didn’t really feel like it fit the rest of the story, which was a bummer. I’m still not sure how I feel about the MC, Quincy, as her journey was somewhat all over the place but I was happy with where she ended up. I also enjoyed Sager’s use of concurrent past and present timelines again which really served to increase the tension. Bonus points for the horror movie trope usage.

Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier ★★★★

I’ve wanted to read Rebecca for years so I’m super glad I’ve finally done it. The story is great – more psychological suspense than the Gothic romance critics classified it as. I loved the idea of a young woman struggling to find herself in a new marriage and stuck in the shadow of someone considered to have been the epitome of charm, beauty and wit. Rebecca has its slow points but they don’t overstay their welcome and ensure a gradual build up to the big reveals. I liked and disliked the writing. There were times where I was glued to the page and others I was bored with the overwhelming amount of descriptive detail. The ending was also too abrupt for my liking. Yet, I can’t deny, du Maurier’s prose is beautiful. I do wish that I’d read the book first instead of watching the 2020 adaptation though, as I feel like it ruined the mystery and tension for me. I probably would have rated it higher had I done so.

Layla – Colleen Hoover ★★.5

This was not what I was expecting. At all. I somehow missed the fact that it’s a paranormal romance so I was really surprised when a ghost showed up. That aside, I was pretty apathetic towards Layla for the most part. The plot was slow and most of the characters felt underdeveloped. I also wasn’t a big fan of the MC, Leeds, who’s an asshole for reasons I can’t explain without major spoilers, and this made being stuck inside his head a trial. However, the twists at the end turned it around for me somewhat and boosted my rating, even though they’re a little over the top, coincidental and try to absolve Leeds of his dick-ishness.


April was a good month of reading! My lowest rated book was 3.5 stars and I certainly cannot complain about that. I did happen to read mostly books I’d just bought which isn’t exactly great for my existing TBR but what can I say, I’m a mood reader – sue me.

Our Year of Maybe – Rachel Lynn Solomon ★★★★

This was a great YA contemporary read. It’s a slightly more mature young adult novel, which I enjoyed, and tackles themes like chronic illness, coming out, losing your virginity, co-dependency, religious belief, and the way friendships change over time. However, it does so in a way that doesn’t feel like it’s talking down to its audience or underestimating their ability to relate/understand. The writing is good and the two lead POVs, Sophie and Peter, sounded different from one another as well as felt like real teens just trying to deal with big changes in their lives. After this, I’m looking forward to reading Rachel Lynn Solomon’s other books.

The Good Daughter – Karin Slaughter ★★★★.5

This was fantastically written and I get why Slaughter has remained such a popular crime author for so long. While The Good Daughter does have an overarching crime plot – a school shooting – which is good but could have been slightly more meaty, where the book really excels is its complex, well rounded and emotionally crafted characters. The relationship between the two MCs, sisters Sam & Charlie, and the way the novel handles their shared trauma was really well done, especially the use of dual POVs. The pacing is great as well, starting out with a bang and, aside from a few overly lengthy conversations, retaining strong momentum throughout. If you’re not into graphic, dark and violent reads, this won’t be for you but otherwise, I really recommend it.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder – Holly Jackson ★★★★

There’s been a lot of hype around this book so I was cautious about getting my hopes up too high, but in the end this was a really enjoyable YA mystery read! I loved the use of mixed media with third person to tell the story and thought it was a fun and effective narrative choice that really made me feel like I was piecing the mystery together with the characters. The plot was engaging but still made room for emotional investment in the characters (Ravi and Pip were cute). My biggest thing, though, is that the climax wasn’t disappointing! Colour me shocked. There were definitely a few things that bugged me (the odd & corny epilogue, an unnecessary dog death, etc.) but I’ll 100% be reading the sequel.

None Shall Sleep – Ellie Marney ★★★.5

If, like me, you’re into Silence of the Lambs or Mindhunter, and are interested in seeing a YA approach, None Shall Sleep is the book for you. This was an addictive read and I loved how much tension Marney managed to instill into her scenes, especially the conversations between our lead Emma, and her sociopathic interview subject, Simon. The writing is on the clinical side which works well in some instances but lessens the emotional impact of character centered moments and may be why I feel like the book didn’t delve as deeply into the two main characters’ traumas as it could have. The climax is really gripping and exciting but I can’t help wishing that Emma and Travis’s investigative efforts had paid off more and that the actual investigation itself had been drawn out longer.


No ARCs this time but there’s always purchases. As usual, I bought more books over the last two months than I’ve got listed here but these are the ones from the bunch that I still have yet to read. Overall, not too bad, especially when I consider the fact that most of these aren’t ridiculously long reads. People in the Trees and A Ladder to the Sky are books by two authors I’ve already read something from and loved so I’m really hoping lightening strikes twice. Death on the Nile and The Nowhere Child were bought during my mystery craze in March and I have high hopes for them.


Here are the posts you may have missed over the last two months:


Stardew Valley

Lately, I’ve been spending more time on video games than I have in a while. I’ve recently gotten into Stardew Valley, something that’s supposed to be relaxing (it’s a farming sim) but I’ve come to realise that I’m too highly strung for relaxing games to actually be, you know, relaxing. I’ve also finished a couple of Nintendo switch games recently like Luigi’s mansion 3 and Pokemon Let’s Go: Pikachu, but my newest obsession is Fire Emblem: Three Houses. I’m addicted.

Grey's Anatomy: The Complete Twelfth Season: Amazon.ca: Ellen Pompeo;  Patrick Dempsey; Justin Chambers; James Pickens Jr.; Chandra Wilson;  Jessica Capshaw; Sarah Drew; Jerrika Hinton; Camilla Luddington; Kevin  McKidd; Sara Ramirez; Caterina Scorsone;

TV wise, I’ve been binge watching my way through seasons of Grey’s Anatomy (I’m still a million years behind airing television though) and season 2 of The Circle US on Netflix. I’ve also casually been watching this wonderfully sweet Australian series called Old People’s Home for Four Year Olds. It’s about a study which pairs elderly people with young kids to help improve the adults’ quality of life and the kids’ social skills. It’s can be sad at times but it’s mostly really uplifting and nice. Perfect for dark Covid times.

Over the last few weeks I’ve also been trying to incorporate more exercise into my routine. It’s been a challenge getting up an extra hour or so early in order to fit it in before work and I’m so unfit it’s ridiculous, but I know it’s really important for my health, physical and mental, so I’m going to do my best to keep with it. Even though a dodgy ankle is making it more difficult than expected…


That’s it from me! Last year I got a bit slack when it came to my wrap ups and by the time I wanted to do my end of year posts I struggled remembering everything. So, in 2021 I’m going to make sure I’m much more consistent with it.

How have your last few months been? What have you been reading? Any new favourites to report?

Let’s Talk: The Types of Blog Posts I Enjoy Reading Most

As a book blogger, I’m always trying to come up with interesting and different post ideas to explore. However, I also have a selection of post types that are favourites of mine to write. But are the posts I enjoy writing also the ones I gravitate towards the most as a reader? Well, yes and no. On occasion, I do find that there are some types of posts I really enjoy reading from others which I find tedious to write myself. Then, on the flip side, there are posts that I like writing even though I know I’m unlikely to read something similar from another blogger. Bizarre, but that’s the truth. So, here are the categories of book blog posts that I find I enjoy/click on the most.

Lists/Rankings

Now, this is a type of post that I both enjoy writing and reading. From a reader perspective, it’s always fun to see how other bookworms rank or organise certain books (or things connected to them) in relation to specific topics. You get a lot of insight into the types of books, narratives and characters bloggers enjoy and there’s nothing like finding someone else who has the same favourites as you do. Even better, a lot of the time I end up finding new books to read because people have spoken so passionately about them or ranked them so highly.

Book Reviews for Anticipated or New Releases

When it comes to singular book reviews, I tend to only check out book blogs for those dealing with new or upcoming releases. Sorry, guys! Normally it’s because I’ve been looking forward to these books and am interested in reading a somewhat lengthier and more in depth review about them. I know this isn’t the best approach as it means I’m cutting myself off from potentially being introduced to some amazing backlist books I have yet to hear about. Unfortunately, it’s just the way I am. Despite often writing backlist book reviews for my own blog, I find that I usually source my reviews for these types of books in bulk through Goodreads (in other words, if you’d like to be GR friends, hit me up & I will happily read your backlist book reviews!).

Wrap Ups/Mini Book Reviews

Being someone with questionable patience and a short attention span at times (I’m flawed, I know), I really appreciate a good wrap up or mini-reviews post. I love getting a broad overview of what others have been reading and seeing people’s brief thoughts on a bunch of different books. I’m not especially picky when it comes to the types of books covered, but I do tend to click on posts which feature books I recognise. Personally, I always find writing wrap ups and mini reviews tough because once I get stuck into writing a review, the words keep spewing out. Luckily many bloggers are much better at this than I am.

Book Tags

Like lists, this is another post that falls under the ‘enjoy reading and writing’ heading. It’s purely because they’re so much fun and, again, give you insight into bloggers’ favourite things. Depending on the prompts, the way certain tags are answered can also encourage me add books to my TBR for particular tropes, character types or qualities that I would never have known about just by reading the blurb. Tags with quirky themes which link into my other interests are super enjoyable, too, particularly when they involve prompts that are tricky or different from the norm. Bonus interest points for when people try their hand at creating new tags.

Book Hauls & TBRs

My reason for enjoying these types of posts is extremely simple: I love seeing what other people are excited to read! There’s something so uplifting about seeing a stack of books that you just had to splurge on because they all sounded so wonderful or a list of titles that you can’t wait to get stuck into this month, hoping they’ll all be 5 stars. I especially enjoy when that excitement rubs off on me and I end up going out to pick up one of those same books for myself. Added bonus, these types of posts are usually quick, easy reads and great for when you only have limited time to check in with other bloggers.

Blogging Guides & How To Posts

I’ve been blogging for a few years now so I have a basic understanding about many of the things associated with it (emphasis on basic though, very basic). But, there are always so many new things for me to learn and others that I could improve or be doing better at. This is where the experience of other amazing bloggers comes into play. I love reading helpful posts with tips and guides on content, graphics, photography, SEO, and everything you can possibly think of that could assist me on my blogging journey. Blogging can be hard work sometimes and it doesn’t always pay off in the way you hope, so it’s great to find a post to assist you in better achieving your goals and making you feel a bit less stupid.


Everyone enjoys something different so I know not all of my most enjoyable types of posts to read will be the same as yours. What are your favourite types of posts? Are there any post categories that you actively avoid?

And That’s a Wrap: Jan and Feb 2021 Edition

As hard as it is to believe, we’re already two months down on 2021. Summer is over and I am so ready for Autumn to hit me up. I’ve been watching less TV over the last few months and reading more than normal, which is why I’m around 6 books ahead of where I was this time last year. Who would have thought, in order to make reading goal progress you just have to…read more? I know, I’m shocked too. Now, before you scroll down and see for yourself, let’s just get it out of the way early: yes, there’s a lot of ACOTAR going on in this wrap up.

In January I read a total of 9 books. *blinks* I’m still confused as to how I did this, especially since several of them were pretty chunky.

The Duke and I (Bridgertons 1#) – Julia Quinn ★★ | Review

As you can already tell, I liked the adaptation better than the book here. I didn’t mind the first half. Sure, there’s A LOT of dialogue and we’re reminded that Daphne knows about men because of her brothers 50 million times, but the banter is good and the friends to lovers shift is nice. The second half, however, is.. icky. Simon telling Daphne that he “owns” her, NO. Daphne taking advantage of drunken Simon to get pregnant against his wishes, MILLION TIMES NO. Also my god, the last couple of pages are so sappy I was inwardly cringing. Not what I was hoping for.

The Last Time I Lied – Riley Sager ★★★★

I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would. The story revolves around the reopening of a summer camp that three girls went missing at 15 years before. The camp setting was a great choice and provided some quality, creepy atmosphere and tension. I really liked the way the book utilised past and present timelines and how these wove together. The idea of an unreliable narrator was good but I do think it could have been used to better effect. There are parts of the climax that feel unbelievable and lazy, although the epilogue is great. I only wish that the reveals presented in it had been integrated into the main story rather than just the last couple of pages. I’ll definitely be checking out Sager’s other books.

The Burning God (The Poppy War 3#) – R. F. Kuang ★★★★.5

This series is officially one of my favourites. I finished TBG and stared at the wall for ten minutes trying to process the emotional roller-coaster of it all. There were a couple of plot threads I wish had been handled more satisfyingly or with greater purpose (e.g. The Trifecta) but overall, this was great and I wasn’t disappointed. The writing and world building is still fantastic, and I continue to remain in awe over how complex Kuang’s characters, relationships and plotlines are. Nothing is ever easy or what it seems, characters always exist in shades of grey, and despite what the victors lead you to believe, there are no true winners in war. The Burning God is grim, compelling, bloody, and memorable right til the end.

A Court of Thorns and Roses (ACOTAR 1#) – Sarah J. Maas (REREAD) ★★★

This is the third time I’ve read this book and my thoughts haven’t changed much. It’s still a solid three star read for me – enjoyable but nothing mind-blowing. I think that’s mainly because most of the action doesn’t start until well into the book, many of my favourite characters aren’t introduced until book two and Feyre as a lead is on the boring side until later.

A Court of Mist and Fury (ACOTAR 2#) – Sarah J. Maas (REREAD) ★★★★.5 | Review

ACOMAF is my favourite of the original series, but I think that’s the general consensus. I still loved it but while my original review was 5 stars, on re-read I’m knocking it down to 4.5. The second time around I definitely felt the length of the book. As much as I adore the slow-burn of Feyre and Rhys, overall it’s a bit slow at times and probably could have been cut down somewhat. Also, the storyline outside the romance could be better handled and I still agree with myself that the climax is rushed and kind of convenient.

A Court of Wings and Ruin (ACOTAR 3#) – Sarah J. Maas (REREAD) ★★★.5 | Review

ACOWAR was also noticeably less enjoyable on re-read. Not hugely so, but enough to push it down from 4 stars to 3.5. I still had fun and love the characters but a couple of things impacted the enjoyment factor. First, the constant uses of ‘mate’, ‘female’ and ‘male’ bugged me more this time and were pretty uncomfortable. Second, there’s a few too many Feysand sex scenes. I love a bit of steam but there comes a point where it becomes repetitive and boring. Third, having just binge-read the previous two books, I found that the 700 page run dragged a lot more this time. And lastly, there are some major plot conveniences, especially when it comes to the death count of characters we know the names of.

From Blood and Ash (Blood and Ash 1#) – Jennifer L. Armentrout ★★.5 | Review

Blame Goodreads. The hype made me do it. While it may not have lived up to it, I had an alright time just the same. This book is a trope mine-field and very predictable because of it. The pacing is messy at times and the world building is questionable, too. There’s also a couple of noticeable and repetitive issues with the writing itself. Regardless, it’s a pretty addictive read with decent characters and an engaging enough romance. Not the best fantasy-romance I’ve read by a long shot, but fun enough for me to want to read the sequel.

A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire (Blood and Ash 2#) – Jennifer L. Armentrout ★.5 | Review

I’d heard that the sequel was better than the first book. Um, no. Definitely, no. My main issue with AKoFaF was the lack of plot. Almost nothing happens and for a 600+ page book, that’s saying a lot. The Poppy-Hawke angst was really frustrating and repetitive, and I will never understand why JLA decided that the fake dating trope route was the way to go. This felt a lot more romance based than book one and the vampire aspect was definitely played up more too (which I did like). I’m kind of annoyed because I wasn’t planning on reading the next book but then I got to the last few chapters and they were actually interesting so now…ugh. I think I’m in for more suffering.

If We Were Villains – M. L. Rio ★★★★★

To my surprise, I loved this book! There are a lot of similarities to Donna Tartt’s The Secret History but as blasphemous as it sounds, I liked this slightly more. The story follows a group of Shakespeare players/friends who slowly implode after they let one of their number die. Watching the lies, secrets and guilt slowly tear everything apart was enthralling and I was hooked. I love how Shakespeare’s plays were incorporated into the story (life imitates art) and the way the book was structured like a Shakespearean tragedy. The characters are designed to feel like stereotypes but Rio tries to get underneath the surface to explore their strengths, insecurities, and relationships. James and Oliver’s bond in particular was so good and their scenes were magnetic. Honestly, I’m shocked this was a debut and I’m positive I’ll re-read it in the future.


February was closer to my usual reading pace, still slightly ahead of normal though, and included two of my most anticipated 2021 releases. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up with as many high rated books as I did in January (then again, part of January was taken up by re-reads) and I finished up on 6 books.

Lore – Alexandra Bracken ★★★

I really thought I’d love this book considering it was pitched as The Hunger Games meets Percy Jackson but, in the end, I couldn’t get past a 3 star rating. I really liked the use of Greek mythology and world building (the NYC setting gave me serious Mortal Instruments vibes) but I found myself disinterested in the plot and characters for large stretches. My engagement picked up after the halfway mark but not as much as I wanted it to. One of the other problems I had was that the main villain of the story felt very flat in that there was barely anything to him aside from wanting power for power’s sake, which is super boring. Still, a fairly well-done YA urban fantasy.

The Project – Courtney Summers ★★★.5 | Review

I’d been really looking forward to reading The Project ever since it was announced because I loved Sadie. While this didn’t reach the highs of Sadie in terms of emotional intensity and immersion for me, I still enjoyed it. Well, as much as you can “enjoy” a book about a cult with such dark themes and content. It’s a slow read which takes time to really showcase what it’s trying to say but it’s also very clever, subtle and insidious in how it goes about it. I like that Summers isn’t afraid to use typically unlikeable heroines and that the heart of the book was another complex sisterly relationship. The ending may have let me down in some ways but overall, a strong and emotionally grounded story.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies – John Boyne ★★★★.5

I’m so glad I finally got around to reading this. It follows the life of an adopted, gay man named Cyril living in Ireland in the decades before homosexuality became legalised. The writing in this is so darn good! I don’t think I’ve ever read anything that’s managed to blend comedy and tragedy together as well as this book does. The dialogue is perfection – it’s so quick-witted and flows beautifully. It’s a quirky read and feels a little absurdist at times with the events that occur and coincidences that pop up, but it works. I only wish that I’d gotten to know certain characters better to properly feel the emotional moments surrounding them. I’ve already added two of Boyne’s other books to my to-read shelf.

A Court of Frost and Starlight (ACOTAR 3.1#) – Sarah J. Maas (REREAD) ★★★ | Review

Like the other ACOTAR books, ACOFAS has also gone down rating wise on re-read. I like that the novella tries to show the impact of the war, but it does feel a lot like fan-fiction-ish fluff. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing and as a lover of these characters it’s fun seeing them get drunk, have snowball fights and hang out. However, there’s a lot of shopping, talking about gifts for solstice and SO MUCH Feysand acting like sex-crazed teens for such a short read. Can you not for just two seconds? Feyre’s sections also felt more tedious this time through. I do appreciate the way it sets up Cassian and Nesta’s story in ACOSF though.

A Court of Silver Flames (ACOTAR 4#) – Sarah J. Maas ★★★.5 | Review to Come

What a ride. There were certain parts of ACOSF that I really liked and others that were a let down or just frustrating. In the good column was Nesta’s journey. I would have liked a teensy bit more gradual mental/emotional development to go with the physical, but overall I was really happy. Also in that category was the friendship element which I adored. Super sweet and so much female empowerment. In the ‘not so good’ column was the human queen/magician/Eris plot, which I honestly did not care about except for cool magical objects, and the over reliance on sex scenes to build the Cassian-Nesta relationship. Finally, in the GTFO column, we have the Feysand storyline. Like, why? Why are you trying to steal my babies’ limelight? And Rhys, you’re massively on my shit list after this book.

Piranesi – Susanna Clarke ★★.5

This is one of those ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ experiences. For the first 70 pages or so I was bored, confused and considered DNF. Yet, I decided to stick it out to page 100 and shortly after that it started to grow on me. There were definitely stretches of this that I enjoyed but l feel in the end that I wanted so much more from it. Viewed broadly, I like the basic concepts of Piranesi‘s tale (a labyrinth classical mansion in another universe, scholars with crazy theories, an unreliable narrator who has to unravel a mystery of sorts, etc.) but I feel like it either should have been shorter, to cut down the empty beginning, or longer to properly develop the background events, characters, and dramatic reveals. On the whole, different, weird, and something I see other people really liking but not for me.


So, I actually bought a couple more books over the last two months but since I managed to read them during this period as well, I’d rather not list them here again and double up. Besides, it makes me feel better about how much money I spent. Living in a state of denial works for me, thank you very much. A few very different types of books here and I’m looking forward to each of them. I’m so excited I got approved for an ARC of She Who Became the Sun. It’s due out in July which makes me want to hold off on reading it for a while but that may be difficult as it’s being promoted as Mulan meets The Song of Achilles which, as you can imagine, makes me do love heart eyes.


Just in case you missed them, other than my book reviews which are linked above, here are the posts I published over the last two months:


Not much to report so far. Lately I’ve been trying to get some online courses done which relate to qualifications I need to stay in my job. It’s been pretty time consuming and painful, and motivation is low. This month I also started posting the occasional photo to my bookstagram again. The effect my long absence has had on how the algorithm shows my posts to people now compared to how it did a year ago has been disheartening and frustrating but I guess the only thing to do is keep at it, I guess.

On the social side, I finally got to see one of my closest friends recently after not having seen her in over a year. I’m sure you can all relate to this – the struggles of Covid-19. We’re extremely lucky that we live in Australia where our government has managed the virus so well but border restrictions and closures since things first started have made it very hard to see people in different states. My friend and I had a good catch up and went to see Frozen The Musical which was a lot of fun but definitely an experience in having so few people in the audience.


I hope 2021 is treating you all well so far and that good things are in store for March. Let me know what your favourite reads from the last two months were and what you’re most looking forward to next month!

Let’s Talk: How Reliable Are My Past Book Reviews and Ratings?

This post is going to be several hundred words of me trashing myself. Just thought I would let you know in advance. Probably not the best decision for a book blogger, the whole basis of her blog being that people actually trust her reviews and ratings, but eh, let’s just go with it.

Book reviews and ratings are extremely subjective. What one person loves and gives five stars to, another person might hate entirely or not even bother to finish. Then there’s the fact that everyone has their own rating systems and ideas about what a specific star level means. It’s chaos, chaos I tell you! But what about the subjectivity between the reviews and ratings of an individual reviewer? If I look back at my reading, reviews and ratings of the last few years there’s definitely some major changes evident in the types of books I read, ways I review and things I consider in deciding my opinion of something. As you might expect, this makes me question the reliability of my past ratings and reviews.

Scaredy Pants Reviewer

I’ve mentioned in the past that, until recently, the idea of using low and really high star ratings was something that made me extremely nervous. Lord knows why. Where my silly brain was concerned, five stars was the god-tier reserved exclusively for Harry Potter and a one star rating was pretty much non-existent. Anything I loved was 4 stars, ‘okay’ or somewhat flawed reads got 3 stars, and to get 2 stars, heaven forbid, you really had to grind my gears. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, this isn’t something I worry about too much anymore. If I really love something, it’s five stars. If it sucks or it’s not for me, 1 and 2 star ratings exist for a reason. However, looking back at the large number of 3 star and 4 star books that make up the bulk of my Goodreads ‘read’ shelf, I can’t help but wonder where things would sit if I had rated them with my current attitude and closer to how I really felt.

Change in Interests, Tastes & Reading Experience

The things we enjoy and the reasons we enjoy them change substantially over the course of our lives. Music I had on loop as a teen, in most cases, isn’t my go to in my mid-twenties (except maybe Taylor Swift & The High School Musical Soundtrack – those will always bop). The same thing applies to books. Over the years, as I’ve read more books from different genres and authors I’ve been exposed to a range of tropes, clichés, character & story archetypes, and writing styles. As a result, things that I once thought were original, exciting or humorous are now…less so. With this experience, my tastes and interests have also gradually shifted toward other things. For these reasons, I’m almost positive that were I to read certain books from years ago now, I’d feel very differently about them. But does that make my reviews and ratings of them less reliable?

This is a bit of a tough call. Although older and more widely read Ashley has better taste and awareness (I hope), my younger self was: (a) experiencing those books for the first time, (b) for YA reads, closer in age to the intended target audience and better able to relate to the characters’ emotions and experiences, and (c) perhaps reading about certain tropes, stories & character types before they became overused. Would I still love Harry Potter as much had I read it for the first time in my twenties? Maybe, maybe not. I hope so, at least, but I guess I’ll never know.

However, with this in mind, I will say that I often have to resist the urge to go back and edit my old reviews (they’re tragic, really) and ratings to make them more in line with my current ideas. It’s extremely tempting, but something I know I need to avoid to prevent further damaging their reliability.

Memory Based Ratings

Now for another tricky one. Review websites have only existed for a certain number of years and it’s fair to say that most people will have read a lot of books before ever deciding to start formally rating, reviewing and discussing them online. By the time we begin to do so, there’s a degree of separation between now and when we actually read those books, leaving us to rely largely on our memory of the content and how we felt about it.

I don’t know about you, but I often forget whether I remembered to unplug my straightener and pack my charger of a morning. So the very suggestion that I’m also able to remember how much I liked a book I read five plus years ago well enough to accurately rate and discuss it seems like a pigs flying kind of scenario. Do I have a general idea? Sure, but is it detailed enough to consider my casual clicking of the Goodreads star buttons for books I read pre-the site entirely reliable ratings? Eh, probably not.

Don’t get me wrong, for books I obsessively loved or hated, this is probably less of a problem as the emotions associated with them are particularly strong, but with the ones in the middle, perhaps take them with a grain of salt.


So, how reliable are my past reviews and ratings? I suppose the answer is: it’s complicated. It all depends on the book, really – when I read it, what I rated it, how memorable it was, and so on and so forth. If that sounds messy to you, you’d be right! Then again, the fact that there are variations in the accuracy and quality of the reviews of an individual reviewer is no different than the mixed bag we usually sift through from multiple reviewers in deciding whether to read a book or not. I suppose it all comes down to finding reviewers who share your interests, tastes and views. When they recommend something, sometimes they’re on the money and other times they’re not. How reliable I am is up to you.

(But as a suggestion, maybe, just maybe check the year on individual reviews & ratings, and hold tasteless, illegible, teen Ashley to a lower standard. Please and thank you!)

Let’s Talk: Book Marketing Trends, Good and Bad

If you’re an avid reader, then you’re likely very familiar with many of the common trends utilised by publishers to market books these days. Where some methods seem to be effective from a sales perspective whilst also being enjoyable and useful from a reader’s standpoint, there are certain others that lean towards being deceptive or just plain annoying. After seeing a post by Michelle on Chelle’s Book Ramblings regarding how book marketing affects our reviewing, I thought it might be fun to look at the good and the bad of current book marketing methods. Let’s get stuck in.

For Fans Of

I’m almost positive that you’ve come across this method at one point or another because I know I have about, oh, a hundred times. You know the one, where a cover name drops one or two big name books, series or authors, claiming that if you’re a fan of them, you’ll definitely love this book. In all fairness, this trend has the potential to go either way depending on the book it’s being used to promote. Sometimes this can be helpful in finding something to read based on things you already like but my biggest problem is that the same books and authors are used over and over again just because they’re popular. This is the case even when the only commonality is genre. It’s a bit like a C-list reality celeb trying to name drop an Oscar winner at an actors party. Awkward. It’s also extremely deceptive to go into something marketed as being something it’s not. Hello, crushing disappointment and frustration. Sorry publishers, but as much as you’d like me to believe it, not every book in the YA fantasy genre is for fans of Leigh Bardugo or Sarah J. Maas.

Doppelgänger Titles

Is it just me or are book titles starting to look more and more like a game of fill in the blanks (E.g. [Something] of [Something] and [Something]) or as though publishers are only allowed to use words from a select list of specific terms (e.g. Shadow, Queen, Thorns, Daughter, Blood, Night, Ash, etc.)?Paperfury actually wrote an entire post about title based trends such as these if you’re interested. While I get that publishers are trying to stick with what they believe works in and appeals to the market, at the same time, I’m getting majorly confused here. I go looking for House of Salt and Sorrows and end up at Master of Sorrows instead, or how about Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone, and don’t even get me started on just how many ‘City of….’ based titles there are. Help a book loving girl out here! Try something a bit more memorable and original.

Sending ARCs to the Online Book Community

Photo: @readbydev

This is a marketing strategy that’s become very popular nowadays. From a reader’s perspective, it’s a great. Well, aside from making the wait for anticipated releases even more agonising. I love being able to read advanced reviews from people with similar attitudes to my own. It means I know what to expect going into something and whether or not it’ll be something I enjoy. With so much to read, I ain’t got time for disappointment.

For publishers, this strategy can fuel sales but also risks damaging them. In sending ARCs out, they almost guarantee that a book will consistently be on readers’ radars leading up to release day, fanning the hype flames. Even those who don’t ordinarily gravitate toward that type of read may buy it simply because they can’t get it out of their head. Add in a string of positive early reviews, and you’re pretty much set for success. However, there’s always the chance that early reactions to a book will be negative and widespread, severely damaging efforts for a strong release.

Embracing Cover Trends

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Every genre has its own set of cover trends. Modern romance? Cute, graphic designed people. Crime? Photographs of ominous buildings or female faces. Contemporary fiction? Large, funky looking title text. You get the picture. They’re all targeted to appeal to the audience that reads those books. By adhering to cover trends, publishers are able to package a book in a way that’s familiar to genre readers (especially with debuts), encouraging them to draw similarities between it and others in the genre they’ve liked. The problem is though, sometimes this can end up being misleading when it comes to content.

Just because a book falls under a specific genre doesn’t mean it also sits within the same subgenre as books which have previously embraced that cover trend. One example Michelle raised in her post was Meet Cute by Helena Hunting. This is a romance book whose cover makes it look purely like a fluffy, cutesy romance. In reality, it’s a lot more serious in that it revolves largely around a a custody case and involves multiple personal tragedies. While a book may still be enjoyable despite not being what you expected, it’s hard not to feel a little deceived and betrayed by a misleading cover.

Pre-Order Bonuses

This has to be one of the smartest book marketing strategies on this list. Why? Because there’s basically no downside to it for publishers (except perhaps printing costs or the like) AND readers (ecstatic because they’ve gotten something for nothing). Pre-order numbers are extremely important for authors, especially newish authors. So offering readers an incentive to pre-order is a great way of getting early purchase numbers up for a book, which can potentially impact the size of the print run. All the publisher has to do is throw in a free print or perhaps a chance at winning a signed copy and they’re golden. As a reader, all your doing is paying what you would have had you purchased the book post-release, so it’s pretty much a ‘why not?’ scenario. Win-win.

Author Tours/Signings

Author signings are another marketing strategy which usually work well for both readers and publishers. If there’s something bookworms love, it’s getting to meet the writers of their favourite reads and bombarding them with questions. Signings increase the hype for a release and encourage readers to buy the book purely so they can get a personalised signed copy. I will say, though, this does work better promotion wise when you have a charismatic, interesting or funny author. I’ve been to signings where people are there purely because of friends, having never read one of the author’s books, but come away buying a copy because they enjoyed an author’s personality and Q&A so much. Still, these tours seem to be the done thing for authors these days regardless.


It’s clear that book marketing methods aren’t always the best for readers and publishers simultaneously. And while these strategies may be all the rage now, it’s reasonable to expect that new approaches will develop in the near future. After all, if it works, it works, right?

Which book marketing strategies do you most appreciate from a reader’s POV? Which ones drive you mad with frustration?

Bookish Fun: 16 Book, Reading and Author Related Facts

It’s time for a few bookish, reading and author related facts. I thought this might be a fun post and something different from the usual parade of reviews, tags and top 10s I usually publish. Besides, you never know when you’ll get hit with a literary trivia question down at the pub. You’ll be thanking me when your team starts looking at you in awe.

BOOKISH FACTS

  • I’m never complaining about the cost of my book hauls again. The most expensive book ever sold was a scientific journal of Leonardo Da Vinci’s called The Codex Leicester. It was purchased by Bill Gates for $30.8M back in 1994. At least I know he would have made the money back quickly.
Harry Potter Wow GIF
  • The longest sentence in a book is over 800 words long (!!!) and can be found in Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. I don’t know about you, but I’d fall asleep long before ever finishing it.
  • Just in case you were wondering, three of the most read books in the world are The Bible (duh), Quotations from Mao Tse-Tung, and Harry Potter (the power of a boy wizard, folks).
  • The largest library in the world is the Library of Congress in Washington D.C, USA. It has over 168 MILLION books. My book loving, little heart just skipped a beat. Or two.
Beauty And The Beast GIF
  • Two banned book facts for the price of one: In 2015, Looking for Alaska by John Green was the most banned book in America, while Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carol used to be widely banned in China because of its inclusion of talking animals. Colour me confused.
  • There is an actual word to describe the fear of running out of things to read – Abiblophobia. I feel seen.
  • In Birmingham, UK, 2.5 million Mills and Boon books were pulped to create the top layer of the M6 toll road. Well, if you ever want to drive over some erotica, you know where to go.
  • In 2010, a cook book titled The Pasta Bible had to be reprinted due to a missed typo in one recipe calling for ‘freshly ground black people’ rather than ‘pepper’. I bet someone lost their job over that one…
Andy Samberg Jake Peralta GIF by Brooklyn Nine-Nine

AUTHOR FACTS

  • Before writing his novels, J RR Tolkien spent two years working for the Oxford English dictionary. Bonus: Apparently, his favourite phrase was ‘cellar door’. Your guess is as good as mine.
  • Dr. Seuss’s editor made a bet with him for $50 that he couldn’t write a book using 50 words or less. He won using Green Eggs and Ham which was exactly 50.
  • Sarah J. Maas first wrote Throne of Glass when she was only 16. At the time, it was a lot longer and contained plot points from books 1-4. She published it on Fictionpress.net before realising its issues and rewriting it closer to what she eventually published.
  • Stephen King holds the record for the author with the most books on the NYT Bestseller list at one time. In 1995, he had 4 on the list! Writer goals right there.
  • Brandon Sanderson originally had plans to be a doctor and only realised how important writing was to him during a break from his biochemistry studies as a missionary in South Korea. As soon as he returned home, he enrolled in English instead.
  • Charles Dickens had a secret door in his home through a bookcase. The shelves were full of fake books with bizarre names such as The Art of Cutting Teeth. Note to self: If I ever get a library, put a fake bookcase door in.
That'S Cool Scarlett Estevez GIF by Lucifer
  • Agatha Christie liked to think through  her stories while eating an apple in the bath. I mean, I haven’t tried this method but she was the queen of crime, so…
  • Amie Kaufman was introduced to Jay Kristoff because of her confusion over obtaining a US Individual Tax Identification Tax Number. Amie was told Jay could help her as he had recently had the same problem. She offered to buy him brunch and the rest is history.
  • Rick Riordan modeled Percy Jackson after his son Haley who not only has a similar sense of humour but ADHD and dyslexia. Bonus, Percy was originally written as a short story to entertain Haley who suggested that his dad turn it into a full book.
Aww GIF

Did you learn anything new? Because I certainly did. What’s your favourite piece of bookish or author related trivia?

Reading, Writing & Bookish Related Goals for 2020

After being so disorganised last year that I ended up publishing my goals in February, I’m looking much more on top of things for 2020. Before I get stuck into where I’m setting the goalposts for the new year, I thought I’d check in with how I went on achieving last year’s goals.

2019 Goals Review

  1. Read 80 books [✘] – Nope. I was too optimistic when I set this goal. In the end, I finished with 73 books which, considering how I was feeling mid-year, is pretty satisfying.
  2. More re-reads [✔] – I re-read 8 books last year which I was happy with. I’d like to do something similar or slightly more in 2020.
  3. Be less afraid of big books [✔] – I didn’t read as many as I would have liked but since I finished approximately 10 around the 500 pg mark or bigger, we’ll call it a win.
  4. Try an audiobook [✔] – YES! In fact, I finished 3 in 2019.
  5. Write [✘] – Er…that is a resounding no. I did nothing writing related. Again.
  6. Reduce my purchased TBR [✔] – Another success. I actually had my purchased TBR as low as 8 in December. Well, until I bought 3 books in the sales. But it counts!

4/6 – Not bad, if I do say so myself (and I do). With that out of the way, it’s time to look ahead to what I’m hoping to get done/out of 2020.

1# Read Broadly

One of the things which really helped me get out of my book burnout, slump, whatever you want to call it, is reading books from other genres and authors. I’m really looking forward to continuing this in 2020. I’d like to tackle some more crime/thrillers, non-fiction, romance, maybe even try a classic or two, but don’t worry, fantasy and YA will always hold my heart (& occupy the bulk of my reading list).

2# Write More Book Reviews (& Don’t be Afraid to Give Lower Ratings)

Over the last couple of months I’ve started to write more book reviews. In the past, my problem has often been that I spend ages writing individual reviews – tweaking, making them overly long – so it feels like a huge undertaking. This year I’m aiming to keep them shorter and more frequent. Something I also need to be aware of is making sure my ratings reflect my actual opinion. I tend to get scared by five and two (or below) star ratings. However, as I’ve recently re-organised and simplified my rating system, I feel much more confident about it going into 2020.

3# Keep My Purchased TBR Manageable

I’m continuing this over from 2019. Previously my purchased TBR has almost reached as high as 30. It’s not a good choice financially and it’s also not great for the stress levels. So it’s a goal I plan to stick to again this year.

4# Post to a Regular Schedule

One of the things people always tell you about blogging is to make sure you’re posting to a consistent schedule. I…don’t really do that. In recent weeks I’ve sort of found a groove with two posts a week usually put online at some random time on either Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. In 2020, however, I’d like to be more organised and make sure my posts are ready earlier and go live at set times each week. I can see this one being a challenge.

5# Not Worry About a Yearly Reading Challenge

After the ridiculously silly and unnecessary stress I had over my reading goal in 2019, in 2020 I’ve decided to set my Goodreads challenge at only 12 books. That’s right, just 1 book a month. I’m sure I’ll read well beyond this but I’m hoping that it’ll not only encourage me to fulfill my first goal on this list but also to re-read books, read bigger books, and DNF things if I’m not enjoying them. A motivator is nice but this year I’d like to do things differently and see how they turn out.

6# Track my Reading in More Detail

This year I’m aiming to keep track of my reading through the use of the Book Riot reading log spreadsheet. You can find it here if you’re interested. While Goodreads is great, it doesn’t give you info about everything. Provided you remember to enter all your info, the spreadsheet gives you everything from how much you spend on books, to author gender, to how diversely you read. I just feel as though this will give me a better idea about the types of books I read and how I go about reading them over the course of the year. It’ll also make my yearly wrap up a cinch!

7# Participate in More Readathons

Readathons are a fun way of knocking books off your TBR within a short time frame, bonding with other readers and encouraging yourself to try books outside your comfort zone (sometimes meeting the prompts can be tricky!). Over the last two years I’ve enjoyed participating in the magical readathons hosted by G at Book Roast but this year I’d like to try out some other ones just for fun.


That makes seven goals for the year. Hopefully I’ll have a tick next to each of them this time next year but time will tell. What are some of your reading & writing goals for 2020?

And That’s a Wrap: 2019 Edition

Happy New Year everyone! 2019 has finally come to an end and that means it’s time to look back at the year that was to get ready for the one ahead. This year was a different one for me. I read a lot fewer books than in 2018 and found myself stuck with some serious book burnout for a large part of it. I also feel as though there weren’t as many books this year that I can say I truly loved as there have been in the past. Still, that doesn’t mean it was a bad year – I re-read more books, read a couple of bigger books, and gave audiobooks a go. As for the nitty-gritty, here is my 2019.


Reading Stats

Favourite Covers


Books I Wasn’t So Keen On

  • Again, but Better – Christine Riccio: ABB had a cute premise and some funny/sweet moments but in the end was let down by multiple writing issues, an uninteresting first half, and the MC baring a little too much resemblance to the author…
  • The Unbecoming of Mara Dwyer – Michelle Hodkin: Tropes. Oh, the tropes. A damaged lead, a bad boy love interest, mean girl nemesis, and an outsider bestie. I had a lot of trouble finding & understanding the paranormal plot buried underneath the not so great romance in this one.
  • Middlegame – Seanan McGuire: While I appreciate what this book was trying to do, unfortunately the slow pacing, lack of connection with the characters, and confusing timelines meant it wasn’t the book for me. I’m in the minority here though.
  • After – Anna Todd: I only have myself to blame. I went into this one expecting it to be awful but curiosity got the better of me. The relationship is toxic as hell, there’s pretty much no plot to speak of (argue, have sex, and repeat) and the writing is atrocious.
  • Nos4A2 – Joe Hill: Disappointed is the feeling here. There were sections I enjoyed but overall, I found it too long, the tone confusing, characters not likeable enough, and the execution of an interesting concept not as enjoyable or gripping as I’d hoped.
  • Caraval – Stephanie Garber: Even on reread, I really wanted to like Caraval, but it just has so many issues – a boring protagonist, vague magic system, game that’s not really a game, and a melodramatic climax. It does get points for atmosphere & speed-readability though.

Most Frequented Authors

  • Holly Black (4): Technically 3 books though as I read The Wicked King twice in 2019.
  • Jay Kristoff (4): I re-read the first two Nevernight books, finally got to read the third, and also tackled Jay’s new collaboration with Amie Kaufman, Aurora Rising.
  • Cassandra Clare (3): I continued with my TMI re-read/read and now only have 1 more book in the series to go.
  • Colleen Hoover (3): Hoover was a new author to me this year. While she’s not likely to be a favourite, I’ve certainly enjoyed her books so far.

Surprises

  • Sorcery of Thorns – Margaret Rogerson: After a lukewarm reaction to An Enchantment of Ravens, I wasn’t sure whether I should read this. I’m so glad I did, because I ended up loving the characters and the world building. Magic, monster books, demons, sword fights, all the good stuff. Would 100% read a follow up if it were ever published.
  • Legendary (Caraval 2#) – Stephanie Garber: So, it turns out that people were right when they said the sequel was better. While I still had issues with Legendary, I enjoyed it more than I expected. The world & characters were better fleshed out, Tella was a more interesting protagonist than Scarlett, and, of course, there was Jacks.
  • Eggshell Skull – Bri Lee: As someone who previously avoided NF like the plague, I was shocked by just how engrossing, heartbreaking, and horrifying this was. To everyone out there who asks why women don’t report sexual assault, I wish I could make you read this.
  • The Boy Who Steals Houses – C. G. Drews: I’ve only ever been able to read PaperFury reviews in small doses so I went into this with low expectations. It ended up being a fantastic YA read with wonderful autistic rep, a sweet brotherly relationship, great use of the found family trope, and plenty of genuine emotion.

Disappointments

These 3.5 star entry disappointments can all be narrowed down to too high expectations on my part.

  • Aurora Rising – Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman: I LOVED The Illuminae Files so I was majorly looking forward to this release. AR wasn’t a bad read, just missing that spark. I had trouble connecting with the characters and found the choice of antagonist… odd. However, points for world building and plot momentum.
  • King of Scars – Leigh Bardugo: Another case of not a bad book, but unmet expectations. The characters, world and dialogue are great, but unfortunately the plot bored me in sections and by the time it picked up, it wasn’t really what I was looking for.
  • The Queen of Nothing – Holly Black: You have no idea how excited I was for QoN – this series has been my addiction. In the end, a lack of twists, scheming & violence, and several not properly/satisfyingly wrapped up plotlines put a damper on it for me.
  • The Gilded Wolves – Roshani Chokshi: I went in expecting a Six of Crows-esque heist in historical France with magic. What I got was A LOT of confusion. A great cast of diverse characters and good plot momentum certainly lessened the blow, though.

Favourite Characters

  • Spensa Nightshade & M-Bot (Skyward – Brandon Sanderson)
  • Alex Clairmont-Diaz (Red, White & Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston)
  • Daniel Arlington (Ninth House – Leigh Bardugo)
  • Louise le Blanc (Serpent & Dove – Shelby Mahurin)
  • Zoya Nazyalensky & Nikolai Lantsov (King of Scars – Leigh Bardugo)
  • Silas (Sorcery of Thorns – Margaret Rogerson)
  • Jude Duarte & Cardan Greenbriar (The Folk of the Air Series – Holly Black)
  • Declan Murphy (Letters to the Lost – Brigid Kemmerer)

Favourite Ships

  • Henry & Alex (Red, White & Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston)
  • Josh & Hazel (Josh + Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating – Christina Lauren)
  • Jude & Cardan (The Folk of the Air Series – Holly Black) AGAIN
  • Elisabeth & Nathaniel (Sorcery of Thorns – Margaret Rogerson)
  • Andie & Clark (The Unexpected Everything – Morgan Matson)
  • Owen & Megan (Always Never Yours – Emily Wibberley & Austen Siegemund-Broka)

Re-Reads

One of my goals for 2019 was to do more re-reads. In the end, 8 of the books I read this year were re-reads which is not too bad at all. I think I’ll try to aim for something similar in 2020.


2019 Posts I’m Proud Of


Favourite Adaptations

  • The Witcher – I was eagerly awaiting this one. Sure, they were things that could have been improved but I really enjoyed it. It’s even encouraged me to go back to the books.
  • Looking for Alaska – I liked this so much more than the book. It really added additional depth to the characters whilst still retaining the general flow of the novel.
  • Killing Eve – While I haven’t actually read the books KE draws from, I’m addicted to this series. The acting is fantastic, the twists keep coming and once I started, I couldn’t stop.
  • His Dark Materials – It’s always good to see an adaptation respect the book/s it draws from. The series looks fantastic and the casting is perfect.

And that’s a wrap on 2019! I’m looking forward to a new year filled with wonderful books (fingers crossed) and wish you all the best going in 2020.

Let’s Talk: My 2019 Book Burnout and How I Finally Sent it Packing

2019 has been an interesting year for me. I wish I could say it’s because I read more amazing books than any year before but, in reality, it’s because for a large chunk of it I was in the midst of a book burnout. Before this year, while I was very used to seeing the phrase ‘reading slump’ pop up around the web, I had yet to experience one for myself. Goodreads always seemed to be full of status updates of people lamenting how badly they wanted to read things and feeling unable to do so, and on WordPress I’d see blog posts labelled things like, ‘Tips for Surviving the Book Slump’, or ’10 Books to Beat Your Reading Slump’. At the time, I sat there going: That sounds like it sucks. I’m lucky that never happens to me!

And…here we are.

Now, Ashley, I hear you saying, that’s all good and well, but why are you calling this a ‘burnout’? How’s it any different from your average, run of the mill slump? That’s a great question and I’m glad you asked. When I say, ‘book burnout’ I’m not just talking about, oh, I had trouble reading a few books. I’m talking about slumpageddon! (Yes, I realise I’m being a bit dramatic. Just let me live). I’m talking:

  • Having trouble engaging with/enjoying books & reading them at snails pace
  • Being disinterested in buying books and unable to make it past the first two sentences of a blurb because IT ALL JUST SOUNDS THE SAME
  • Getting behind on my yearly reading goal and then having an existential crisis about the purpose of said goal
  • Feeling overwhelmed by the number of must read, new releases coming out that I need to cover in order to keep up with the book community
  • Being unable to muster excitement for many of these releases at all
  • Then remembering the number of popular books already released that I have yet to read and feeling crushed by that, too.
  • Taking multiple month-long breaks from blogging and bookstagram because the creative spark has disappeared. GONE. POOF.
  • Questioning the quality of the content on my blog and bookstagram and wondering whether it’s even worth continuing.

Do you see why book slump just doesn’t cut it?

Having reached December, I can safely say that I’m now in a much better place about all these things than I was six months ago. As you can see, I’ve returned to blogging, I’m posting the occasional bookstagram photo, enjoying reading again, and eagerly looking out for new exciting books to add to my TBR. I’ve even submitted in a few ARC requests. And now, you know what that means…it’s time for my very own version of the ‘how to beat the slump’ post! Here they are, my top tips on how to kick a book burnout (or slump) to the curb:

Try Something New

As it turns out, it’s very easy to get bored with books when you’re reading and writing about the same things over and over. Seems like an obvious one, I know. And it has an equally obvious solution: try books from different genres. While I love a good YA fantasy, after a while you do start to see recurring tropes, stories and characters. This is why it’s important to shake things up once in a while. Lately, I’ve tackled sci-fi, romantic contemporaries, thrillers, even some non-fiction(!), and not only have I enjoyed it, I’ve bought more. Better yet, for the first time in a while I’m genuinely excited to sit down and read both my usual genres and others.

Focus Your Excitement

With Goodreads on hand it’s very easy to get carried away adding upcoming releases to the to-read shelf, especially when the latest ‘it’ book seems to be showing up everywhere. The reality is, there’s only a short list of books that I’m genuinely super excited, race out to the shops on release week, for. To counteract my feeling of being overwhelmed it was important for me to work out what those books were. A few months ago, I did a Top Ten Tuesday post about my anticipated releases for the rest of 2019. While I could have padded out the list to reach the full 10, I instead ended up with only six and instantly felt better about (and even excited for) the next few months looking at it.

A Creative Break

There can be a lot of self-imposed pressure as a blogger/bookstagrammer. In a sea of talented creators, it’s easy to feel lost and get down on yourself. Trying to come up with content that stands out and still post regularly can be a challenge. This year I took some time off to recharge and when I was ready, I decided to spend some time writing and taking photos without posting. As someone who doesn’t usually have their posts prepared very far in advance, creating without posting was extremely liberating. Not only was I able to look at my work in isolation and feel confident about it, but I built up a decent library of posts, organised a schedule for posting them, and spent as much time editing and playing around as I liked. No pressure! I wrote more reviews, had fun, and remembered why I spend my time doing this. 

Lower Your Expectations

This was the simplest thing I did and it’s ridiculous that it took me so long. Reading goal stressing you out? Just lower it! That’s all! There’s no rule that says you cannot adjust your yearly reading goal as you go. When I first set my 2019 goal, it was based on my 2018 result, but lives and schedules change. In 2018 I was spending extra time on public transport and whizzing through shorter books. While The Selection and The Name of the Wind both count as one book, the time and energy which goes into reading them is vastly different. Sure, there may be readers out there easily able to read over 100 books a year but there’s no point stressing yourself out trying to keep up with them.

It’s OK to Netflix (And Other Things)

Another obvious one. Reading is a hobby. It’s supposed to be fun. If you don’t feel like reading, then don’t. Simple as that. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to go do something else whether it be baking, exercise, spending time with a friend, or browsing YouTube. Nowadays, if on the commute to work I feel like watching the show I’m currently bingeing instead of reading, then that’s what I do! You do you.

Re-reading Faves

One of the problems I had during my burnout was a tendency to pick up books and within only a couple of seconds dismiss them as something I wouldn’t enjoy. A way of getting around this was to read something I already knew I loved and use the momentum from that book to read something new. This tactic didn’t always go as planned (I was still slow on my re-reads) but it was certainly an improvement.

Read Something Short, Light and Fun

After getting bogged down by more serious books, I found that reading a bunch of fun and easy-breezy romantic contemporaries in a row was a breath of fresh air. It also gave me some great reading momentum. Sometimes being able to switch your brain off for a while is a good way to jump start it. So, go out there, find your book version of a trashy reality TV show, and have some fun!


While book burnouts (or reading slumps) aren’t exactly fun, they do pass. Eventually. At the very least, I believe I’ve learned a few things from the experience that will hopefully prevent it from happening to me again. Or, well, at least not as hard.

Have you ever experienced a book burnout or reading slump? And if so, how did you get out of it?

And That’s a Wrap: November Edition

Only one month to go before 2019 is over and we begin both a new year and a new decade. I recently reached my revised reading goal of 65 books and have managed to cross a few books off my purchased TBR of late, so I’m feeling quite relaxed going into December. Here’s how November went:

The Wicked King – Holly Black ★★★★.5 | Review

Why yes, this is the second time I’ve read this in 2019. I can’t remember as far back as January so a re-read was necessary to prep for The Queen of Nothing‘s release. As expected, still fabulous and once again finished it in the blink of an eye.

Darkdawn – Jay Kristoff ★★★.5

Having been putting it off since September, I finally hit up Darkdawn. It ended up taking me a while to get through because of some pacing issues, repetition and my reaction to a few plot choices. I admit, I’m just the tiniest bit disappointed because I love this series and have been waiting so long for this book. However, despite the negatives there were still a bunch of things I liked – Jonnen and Mia’s relationship, the new pirate characters, Mia getting revenge on SO MANY PEOPLE, Jay taking digs at his own writing, and the usual amounts of sass. Not my favourite, but not bad either.

The Queen of Nothing – Holly Black ★★★.5

Another release I’ve been dying to get my hands on & again one that didn’t reach my expectations. *sigh* I liked The Queen of Nothing, don’t get me wrong, I just have issues with it. The main ones are that I feel as though it (a) was lacking the drama, twists and scheming of books 1 & 2, (b) left some plot strands hanging while resolving others in quick, unfulfilling ways e.g. Taryn’s deceptions, Locke, Jude’s banishment, etc. (c) and…the ending was both a little anticlimactic & cheesy. Regardless, the pacing was good and Cardan & Jude turned out to be end game so I can’t complain too much.

More Than We Can Tell – Brigid Kemmerer ★★★

An enjoyable read but not as much as Letters to the Lost. I love the fact that Brigid isn’t afraid to tackle real issues and heavy themes in her YA novels. This book looked at child abuse, trauma, and online harassment/bullying, and I feel as though it largely handled them compassionately and well. I really like Rev as a character and it was great to see him in greater focus here but I wish the climax to his story had been different. I wasn’t a huge fan of Emma – despite what she was going through, I couldn’t get on board with how awfully she treated the people around her. There was also a side character’s story which I feel could have been handled better. Overall though, I still liked this one.

Three Women – Lisa Taddeo ★★★

My latest foray into non-fiction. I found the writing in Three Women to be stylistically odd but also a bit frustrating as it frequently got bogged down by tangents, mundane details and philosophical musings about life, people and relationships. Content wise, I enjoyed myself and easily maintained the motivation to read it from start to finish. The stories of each of these women are not”the norm” enough for this to be considered the case study on female desire that it’s been marketed as, nor is it the super feminist read it’s been claimed to be. However, if you look at it purely as three stories of women’s different, individual experiences with sex and relationships, it’s interesting and entertaining.

I only bought four books this month. One I’ve already finished, and another I’m a fair way into so I’m pretty happy with that. I’m sure I’ll pick up a few more in December with gifts, sales, and extra down time over the Christmas break to read.

After taking a few months off, I returned to my blog this month with some good momentum and I’m happy with how things turned out. Here’s what I published in November:

This month I’ve been eagerly counting down the days until my office shuts for the Christmas break. I’ll get an absolutely wonderful two weeks off and as someone who works in real-estate and doesn’t usually get even two days off in a row, I am beyond excited. Christmas is my favourite time of the year so I’m looking forward to stuffing myself with good food, spending time with my family & cats, and recharging my batteries. I could do without the hot, humid weather but you can’t get everything you want.

I’ve also started thinking about potential holidays for 2020. Even after Christmas, I’ll have a lot of annual leave saved up and as someone who hasn’t had a proper holiday since January 2018, my travel bug is getting antsy. I’m still not sure where I’d like to go, but I’ve got plenty of time to decide.

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Movies and TV wise, this month I completely fell in love with Lucifer. I binged all 4 seasons on Netflix in less than two weeks and let me tell you, the withdrawal has been HARD. I’ll just be over here, sitting in a ball until season 5 drops some time next year. In movie land, I went to see Doctor Sleep and Charlie’s Angels, both of which I really enjoyed, and also sat down to watch The Knight Before Christmas (on Netflix) which was…er…well, pretty darn terrible.


That’s it from me for this month. I hope you’re all doing really well and that November has brought you some good things. Happy reading for December, everyone!