Monday, 25 July 2016

Wrap Up // The Mellow Mid Year

Hey there folks! It's just past the middle of the year (this will be published a little later, I think) but I thought I would do my own little take on the Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag. I'm not doing it in question order and only choosing the categories I want to do but as I haven't been doing monthly wrap ups (something I want to change), this was a great way to share the most stand out books I've read so far. Without further ado, here is my wrap up!

So far this year (from 17th July when this is written) I have read 40 books out of a goal of 50. I will probably increase this goal to 65 in the very near future. One accomplishment I'm quite proud of is the fact I've completed 4 series! You can check out a whole run down of the series I've completed by clicking the tab at the top of the page!

Best Book
I've already had quite a few 5 star reads this year so it's hard to narrow down which one is my absolute favourite. I think I'm going to have to say that The Gracekeepers is my favourite book of the year so far just because of the beautiful writing and mystical story telling. I read this off of the recommendation of Jen Campbell (booktuber and author extraordinaire) and I must say, all of Jen's recommendations have led to at least 4 star ratings. This book in particular is whimsical and reminded me of The Night Circus in some aspects. I highly enjoyed this and would recommend it to anyone who wants to read something a bit more magical than normal.

Best Sequel
As I previously mentioned, I've finished a few series so I have a lot of choice! However, one of the sequels I read was How Hard Can Love Be? by Holly Bourne, my favourite author, and another was A Clash of Kings which is quite hard to beat. I'm going to call it a draw between these two wonderful books. Both are vastly different and I enjoyed them for different reasons so I don't feel I could directly compare them anyway. Bourne's second installment in the Normal Series is an adventure as the main character takes America by storm and finds love whilst talking about feminism with her best friends. Meanwhile, Martin's sequel to A Game of Thrones continues to develop the plot and keep you engaged, despite the massive size.

Biggest Disappointment
Unfortunately, this one isn't hard to choose. Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout has been recommended time and time again, but it did not live up to any of the hype by any means. I disliked the characters and the plot so the only redeemable quality was the writing. I'd been assured that this was an "addictive" read yet i struggled to read it and was counting down the page numbers, wishing they'd decrease at a faster rate. I won't be continuing on with the series but I hope I can find an Armentrout book that I can enjoy!

Biggest Surprise
I know I keep talking about Holly Bourne, but her book The Manifesto on How to be Interesting was a genuine surprise to me. I'd already read the first two books in the Normal Series and adored them, so I was sceptical to try anything else by Bourne in case the Normal Series were the only books I actually enjoyed of hers. Boy, was I wrong. I've never been more pleasantly surprised by a stand alone and the fact that this book had many Mean Girls elements in it made it all the more enjoyable. I think this is a great book to read and deserves much more hype on Booktube!

Favourite New Author
As I discovered Holly Bourne last year, she doesn't qualify for this so don't worry about anymore gushing about how much I love her! Instead, I think George R. R. Martin takes this title. Sure, I'd been a fan of the show for a while but I didn't really think the books could live up to their own hype. Quite strange considering I'm normally a firm believer that the source material is usually better than the adaptation. Therefore, I was thrilled when I started reading the series and discovered that not only were these books really accessible, but the writing and storytelling flowed really well! The multiple POVs didn't jar me and I think having it in third person really helped with that. I can't wait to read the rest of the series!

Most Beautiful Book
One of my most recent purchases was Othello by William Shakespeare in the beautiful 2005 Penguin Shakespeare editions. I love the whole drawing on each of the covers in this series, and I'm so sad that they're out of print and that I have to buy them second hand! Luckily I've already got Much Ado and Romeo and Juliet in these editions. They're also really small which means they're great for putting in bags and carrying around with you!

Books I Need to Read This Year
Funnily enough, I have a whole blog post dedicated to this coming out in the next week or two. It's going to be an update on my Book Bucket List for the year and how many of the books I've actually read!

What's been your favourite book to read so far this year?

Happy reading,
A x

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Booktube-A-Thon 2016 // Day Number 4

I finished a book today! Yayy! This now means I've read 5 books out of the challenge of reading 7 and I'm super excited about that and feeling rather accomplished.

Today's read was Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff and unfortunately it fell short of my expectations. I guess I'd assumed the main character would be at least 16 but, she was only 12 which meant the narrative was slightly different to what I'd assumed. Also, the story was just plain strange. it's about a girl and her dad who travel to New York to see one of her dad's friends, only he disappeared a few days before they arrived. Now, their trip turns into a search for this missing friend.

That summary sounds good on paper, but in 195 pages you don't get to know any of the characters enough to really care about anything that's going on. If I'm completely honest, I felt the "reveal" was rather anti-climatic. So, my first try of Rosoff's work wasn't a success but hopefully I'll find something by her that I can enjoy!

Today's Instagram challenge involved taking a photo of your book and a snack so I took a photo with my homemade truffles that I made yesterday (and didn't mention in my update :P). Unfortunately, hashtags are down on Insta so Ariel will have a tough time with all the entries!

I'm not too sure if I'll read anymore today. I may start Spot the Difference by Juno Dawson, but I bought the Hamilton Soundtrack today so I kind of want to listen to that again today. Also, there's 26 videos on my Watch Later playlist so I will most likely be watching at least half of those! Taking a break from reading shouldn't be a problem as I'm ahead of schedule and I don't want to burn myself out too early!

My plans for tomorrow are to (start and) finish Spot the Difference and maybe Saga Volume One. Saga wasn't originally on my TBR but I'd reserved it from the library and I want to read it before I go on holiday on Sunday so I might actually read it in the library!

What are you planning on reading tomorrow?

Happy reading,
A x

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Booktube-A-Thon 2016 // Day 3!

Hello hello hello!

Do you get it? I wrote "hello" 3 times because it's Day 3? Ha...ha. I'm such a comedic genius! I'm joking, obviously.

Shall we get back to the reading updates?

So, today I've been trying to work my way through the rest of The Martian and as it's only 8:20pm I think I should be able to complete it. As of right now I've read around 230 pages and I only have around 40 pages left.

I think that's some good progress right there!

After I've finished The Martian, I'll begin Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff which is just under 200 pages so hopefully I can whiz through that one!

In terms of social media and competitions today, I managed to participate in both Lorna's and Maddie and Bee's reading sprints throughout the day. This helped me get through the pages as it meant I put my iPod down for the duration of the sprints and caught up on the hashtags afterwards. As per usual, I entered the Instagram challenge which was to take a photo of your favourite quote. I chose a quote from The Book Thief which you may have read. It's the last line of the novel and simply says "I am haunted by humans."

I think that's about it for the daily updates, so I'll leave you here so I can get back to reading!

Hope you're all having as much fun with this readathon as I am, it's so great to be part of the community and to participate in something!
Happy reading,
A x

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Booktube-A-Thon 2016 // Day Two

Coming to you later than yesterday (oops) it's the daily BookTubeAThon wrap up!(!!!!!) So, how's everyone been doing today? Been reading? I hope so - we need to complete ALL THE CHALLENGES!!

The morning started with me finishing off The Square Root of Summer after breakfast. I ended up sitting outside to read, even though it was only around 9:30am and it isn't usually as warm as it was today!

Unfortunately I didn't participate in any of the sprints on Twitter but I did take a photo for the Instagram challenge and I'm happy with how that turned out which is good! Even though it's only day 2 of the readathon I'm already feeling really motivated to read lots and to post pretty photos of all the books! I'm thinking that once I've honed my "photography" (because, let's be real, all I'm doing is taking a dodgy photo and applying a filter :P) I'll be able to include more photos for my blog posts!

After finishing Square Root of Summer, I quickly dived into The Martian. I didn't initially enjoy this book from the get-go. It was getting super warm (29 degrees Celsius!) which was making me sleepy so I wasn't really taking in any of the space/science-lingo. I took a little break from reading, did the Instagram challenge and caught up on a few BookTube videos. Once I was fully rested and had eaten dinner I jumped back into The Martian and managed to make a bit of progress!

That brings us to now. Right here. This very moment. The sun has most definitely set so I'm going to pick Ode To London back up and hopefully plough through the last half of it. If not, there's always the next 5 nights!

I've been using a handy chart that I drew up. I colour in a little square each time I read 5 pages so it shows me how much I've been reading. It also helps to keep my book total up-to-date as I put an asterisk in the box when I've completed the book! Although I'm not a journaller (bullet or otherwise) I think I may continue using charts like this to track my reading!


What have you read today? Did you take part in any of the sprints?

Happy reading,
A x

Monday, 18 July 2016

Booktube-A-Thon 2016 // Day One Wrap Up

So it's 8:38PM here in the UK, and there's still a few hours left in the day before Day One is over. I thought I'd update you all on my progress with the BookTubeAThon so far!

I woke up in time this morning for a Twitter Sprint hosted by Ariel Bissett and that helped to get me started on my first book of the day: I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.

With help from Marlin's Sprints I was able to complete this book around 3:30PM today! I then got cracking on The Square Root of Summer. I'm around 120 pages into it and I'm hoping to read at least another 50 more pages before I swap to reading Ode To London which is the poetry collection I've selected for the "only read after sunset" challenge.

Hopefully I'll make some good progress tonight. I'd love to know how all of you are faring with the BookTubeAThon so far and what you've been reading!

I've been active on both Instagram and Twitter (and will continue to be so throughout the week) so if you want up-to-date facts about what I'm reading then I recommend following me on those!


I wish you the best of luck, and I'll catch you tomorrow with another update!

Happy reading,
A x

My TBR // How I remember the books I have to read

Oh, I bet this is unexpected, a post not too long after the last one? I must be taking that schedule thing seriously!

Today I wanted to talk to you about my TBR and what I use to make sure all the books I have to read are updated. Maybe this will be helpful, maybe it's just some basic knowledge, either way I hope you enjoy and tell me which book is the one you most want to read next!

Goodreads

Unless you've been living under a rock, or have just discovered the book community, everyone knows about Goodreads. It's a website where you can document you're reading and virtually "shelve" books. There's also giveaways, lists and reviews which gives a vast choice on how you want to use the site. 

For me, I always keep the Currently Reading shelf updated so that the books I'm reading have reasonably accurate dates for starting and finishing. The Read shelf is split into years (well, for 2015 and 2016 that is) but other than that, it's a bit of a free for all. 

But, the shelf you're interested in, mainly because it's the focus of the blog post is the Want to Read shelf. I like to split this shelf into two categories: Current TBR and Wishlist. This is only for my physical books because adding all the eBooks would panic me at all the unread things I have waiting for me. This means the Current TBR shelf is reasonably small whilst the Wishlist one is slightly out of control! I do this so I can keep a basic idea of what books I want to buy in the future and which ones I need to get to soon!

Lists

I wasn't a big list maker until recent months when lists have become everyone's aesthetic. Now, I like to keep track of CDs and movies as well as books. My biggest problem with my TBR is that I tend to forget about my Kindle books so don't end up reading them, even though they're some of the books I'm most excited for. This is why I decided to write down all the books on my Kindle and physical shelves so that I could keep an eye on what I have to read.

The list is currently right next to where I sleep so I've got a great view of all the books I have to read and it makes choosing my next title much easier. 

I've also included a handy key so I know whether the book is physical or not. This means I'll be able to decrease my eTBR pile as quickly as I diminish the physical one!




If you'd like, I can publish a full list of all the books I have to read at a later date but you'll have to let me know if that's something you're interested in as it isn't a priority!

How do you keep track of your TBRs? Let me know!

Happy reading,
A x


Sunday, 17 July 2016

Book-Tube-A-Thon 2016 // My TBR and general plans for the week

It seems as though I'm starting every blog post with a "I'm sorry I haven't posted in ages..." and this one is no exception! However, this time is different. I actually have a *sort of* schedule. By that, I mean I'm pre-writing a load of posts and scheduling them to be published for the weeks ahead. Therefore, you should be getting a weekly post for at least the next three weeks!

Back to the whole point of this then!

From the 18th to the 24th July I'll be participating in the annual Book-Tube-A-Thon event! Now, you may be thinking, "but Amelia, you don't have a BookTube channel?" That is true, but I love to watch BookTube videos and I couldn't miss out on the chance to take part in this event that celebrates the community. This event has daily video and Instagram challenges which I want to take part in. However, what with not having a BookTube channel, I'll be posting the video challenges on my Instagram as well... I think. Might have to check to see if that counts! But making the video will be fun anyway. If you want to keep an eye out for these challenges then I'd suggest following my Instagram account by clicking here. That should have all the updates you need!

The most exciting part of this readathon is the challenges that help make up your TBR and I'm so excited to share mine with you!
There are 7 challenges and I'll run through each one and the book I've chosen for it!

A Book With Yellow on the Cover: Spot the Difference by Juno Dawson
This is a short novella released on World Book Day this year and I thought this would be a great speedy read to help push up my book total by the end of the week! Also, I've never read any of Dawson's work and I'm really looking forward to trying it out.

A Book to be Read Only After Sunset: Ode To London edited by Jane McMorland Hunter
Poetry about London should be quick to fly through, especially when the book contains gorgeous artwork of the city inside! It contains poems from TS Eliot, John Betjeman and Wordsworth. Hopefully I'll find some female poets on the inside as well! But, I haven't read much poetry and I feel this collection will be a great way to find some new poets.

A Book Discovered Through Booktube: The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood
Considering I won my copy of the book through a giveaway hosted on Booktube by PippityBop you can't get much closer to discovery via Booktube than that. This looks to be a contemporary with a twist of time travel which I hope will be interesting and keep me hooked!

A Book by Your Favourite Author: Soulmates by Holly Bourne
This is the last of Holly's books I have to read and I'm both thrilled and nervous to read her debut novel. Once I've finished this one I'm hoping to do a focused post on Holly Bourne and why I love her books. As far as I'm aware, Soulmates is about a pair of teenagers who are soulmates (funnily enough) and an organisation is trying to tear them apart? I don't know exactly, but with Holly it's hard to go wrong!

A Book That's Older Than You: I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
I think this challenge is really great. First of all, it allows you to check out some of the classics you might have missed out on. Second, it draws the focus away from all the new releases and allows everyone to have a proper look at the books that have been sitting on their shelves for years. I had a couple of options for this challenge (either Maya Angelou or Barbara Comyns) and I decided on Angelou as I'd never read anything by her before.

Read and Watch a Book-to-Movie Adaptation: The Martian by Andy Weir
My options were quite limited for this. It turns out I don't own many unread books that are going to be turned into movies! Nonetheless, I have only heard positive things about this book and I hope I form a similar opinion once I've read it. Also, as chance would have it, I own the movie tie in edition so it's almost as if this book was made for me to read for this challenge.

Read 7 Books: Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff
I don't expect I'll manage to read all 7 books in one week but this one's fairly short so it should be doable and it could double up for some of the other challenges if I don't fancy the others! There is snow on the cover so I hope it isn't a Christmas read, but I'm sure the story will be good despite unfortunate seasonal timings. It sounds like it might be a bit of a road trip so I'm looking forward to where it'll take me!

I'm planning on reading both Soulmates and Spot the Difference last as they're both Kindle Books and as I go on holiday on the last day of the event (and am only bringing my Kindle to read from) it would be best if I leave those books as late in the read-a-thon as possible.
The physical TBR books I own (others are in eBook form)

So, that's my BookTubeAThon TBR all sorted out! What are you planning to read this week?

Keep an eye out for me on Instagram and Twitter as that's where I'll be posting updates about my progress throughout the week! Good luck to all those participating

Happy Reading,
A x