Posted in blog, books

Why I’m not doing the Goodreads reading challenge this year

A brief note this, just to introduce my approach to reading this year, which really is all coming from my approach to life in 2018 in general.

After smashing my 2017 Goodreads challenge by reading 43 books against a target of 35. I realised that I had begun to see reading as a numbers game, rather than the relaxing hobby it should be. I wasn’t re-reading favourite books as I couldn’t count them towards my totals, and I was beating myself up when I hadn’t read for a week or so.

Basically, it was getting in the way of my enjoyment of my favourite hobby. Not cool. I’m trying to be a lot more chill in 2018, reducing the pressure I put on myself, particularly around things that are inconsequential in the grand scheme of things!

This isn’t an attack on Goodreads, or people that enjoy the reading challenge at all. If it works for you – great! For years, I personally enjoyed it, and I will continue to use Goodreads to chart what I read, when, and find recommendations – it is a great site. I just don’t want to challenge myself to read when I read for pleasure regularly anyway. I’m shaking of the (self imposed!) shackles of the challenge, that’s all.

So book chat is going nowhere. In fact, I plan to include more book reviews, recommendations and updates this year than ever before! I’ve read so many great books whilst I’ve been afk, and can’t wait to share those with you.

Happy reading!

E x

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March Reads – Into the Woods

You know when you get in the mood for a certain aesthetic or theme and it consumes you? For me, that commonly happens with the woods. I crave that “cabin-in-the-woods”, lost amongst the trees, what-is-hiding-out-there feeling, and there is something just so mysterious and atmospheric about books set in this type of location.

In March, I somehow ended up in a woods-set books spiral – I skipped genres and countries and pacing but there were a lot of trees in what I read! I started off with Disappearance at Devil’s Rock, which I had been really looking forward to reading since I spied it in Waterstones during a lunchtime browse. I have to say, the book itself ended up being not quite what I imagined. From reading the blurb I expected quite a spooky horror book, but really this is a thriller. I enjoyed it, but it definitely turned out to be not what I anticipated. If you enjoy thrillers then I would recommend this, but it isn’t at all scary if that is what you are after. It also heavily involves missing children – something a lot of people find very upsetting so do be aware of that (not a spoiler it says it on the book!!).

From there, I continued the thriller angle with The Back Road, which was set in Cheshire – about 30 mins from where I live (I love Cheshire). It was an enjoyable, quick read, but I’ll admit that I was a little disappointed that I guessed the whole outcome of the book. I’m not usually an expert at that sort of thing, and generally try not to – but really you could see it coming a mile off. Perfectly fine entertainment, but not exactly challenging. A good purchase for 99p on Kindle when it was on offer though!

I read a couple more “woods” themed books, and then switched over to work through the immense pile of library books which I managed to accumulate. I tend to reserve books I want to read from the library rather than going in and browsing, and this month I was unlucky (or lucky, depending on how you look at it) enough to have 5 reservations all arrive at once. I started working on them right away, and found a couple of new series’ that I have gotten stuck into.

First up is Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. This is young adult – a genre I have read a lot of over the last few years, and am really quite enthusiastic about – especially when it comes to fantasy. This was fairly enjoyable, enough so that I will continue the series, but it wasn’t on a par with say the Sarah J Maas books (which I love so much I plan on dedicating a whole post to when the new ones come out!). There were some interesting ideas, but also frustrating moments. And can we have a young adult fantasy without a love triangle at some point? Please?

Much more successful was a new (to me) urban fantasy series by Benedict Jacka which I started this month with Fated. This is SO GOOD. I love urban fantasy at the best of times (Ben Aaranovitch is amazing) and it was great to find some more that I could really get into. The book grabbed hold of me instantly, and introduced some characters that I really look forward to seeing more of. I genuinely had no idea what was going to happen at some points, and the way that magic is dealt with is a really interesting and different take. Even better news is that I am really late to this series, so I have 6 more books to read and another coming out this year. Yay! I’d really recommend this, it is so accessible compared to a lot of fantasy and a great introduction to the urban fantasy genre.

Overall a good month. 6 books read in total, with one in particular that I really loved. April brings with it holiday, and I’ve already picked out some reads for the plane and pool. My kindle is fully loaded and ready to go – now to finish 3 more library books before I depart… wish me luck!

Posted in books

February Reads – Mischief Managed

In February I added a grand total of one book to my Goodreads challenge. Oops. The less said on that book the better (it was a bit of a trial), so without further ado allow me to launch into a really good excuse for not reading anything new in February (my rule for entering a book into Goodreads is it has to be the first time I am reading it): I was re-reading Harry Potter. All is forgiven, right?

As I mentioned in one of my Cosy Chat blog posts a couple of weeks ago, some friends and I took part in a Harry Potter quiz earlier this month. In preparation, I re-read up to Goblet of Fire and after the quiz was over I kind of just… kept going. Anyway, as this is a blog about “the things that make life nice” I thought I’d dedicate my February reads post to one of my happiest places – sat on my bum with one of JK Rowling’s finest in my hands.

What can I say that hasn’t already been said? As a HP fan I’m surely in the majority. I started reading the series in high school and from the fourth book onwards I was a midnight-release-read-in-one-day Potterhead. It is pure, magical escapism with characters you fall in love with and a story that keeps you guessing and changing your mind right to the very end.

I’ll admit that I am known for my love of the books within my group of friends – so much so that my utterly epic hen do was even a HP murder mystery party (yeah, it was awesome). Homemade alcoholic butterbeer, quidditch beer pong and floating candles really set the whole night off – I’ve got some incredible friends!

I honestly could ramble on about this series of books for as many words as they contain, but in an effort to actually retain some percentage of readers to the end, I’ve gone meta and have done a post within a post; my Harry Potter Fave Five. (SPOILERS OBVIOUSLY)

1 . Minerva McGonagall – my goodness, I love Professor McGonagall. She is the most kick-ass character. Fiercely intelligent, brave, loyal and with a sense of humour. She puts Umbridge in her place with brutal burns. She leads the defence during the Battle of Hogwarts. She takes on a team of aurors to defend Hagrid… and you just know she had to hide her amusement at the Weasley’s antics. She’s brilliant isn’t she?

2. Hermione Granger – this may come as a shock to you (arf arf), but I was a bit of a nerdy swot in school. Reading about a character that plays a huge role in saving the wizarding world through hard work, cleverness and a love of books was brilliant for me, and I’m sure will continue to inspire people similar to me for many years to come. Plus, she gets one of the best lines in the entire series; “I hope you’re pleased with yourselves. We could all have been killed – or worse, expelled” – I loved her for saying that then, and I love her for it now.

3. Dumbledore’s Army – one of my favourite occurrences in the series is when a group of students gets together to learn Defence Against the Dark Arts without Professor Umbridge finding out. The way the group work together to take control of their own need to defend themselves against a threat that those in power refuse to acknowledge is truly inspiring and gives you one of those ‘punch the air’ moments. It also introduces the Room of Requirement properly and starts Neville down the road of being a stone-cold badass. Which brings me neatly on to…

4. The Hogwarts Resistance – the moment that Harry emerges from the Hogs Head tunnel into the Room of Requirement in Hogwarts to be greeted by the students defying the Death Eaters and defending their own school is quite possibly my favourite moment of the whole series. Hearing Neville tell of his rebellion (and his Grandmother’s!) and seeing all the characters we love enter the room in swathes ready for the battle is fantastic, and when I read that I knew something big was coming. The battle itself was incredible, but the build up for me is the best bit (not least because all our favourites are still alive).

5. The little details – ok so I’m cheating a bit because this encompasses a lot but I really wanted to draw attention to the incredible world that JK Rowling created. From the book titles and authors, to the totally believable Ministry of Magic and the shops of Diagon Alley, you really became immersed in the wizarding world. You cared that Florean Fortescue went missing from his ice cream shop. You felt the nerves of the students taking their apparition tests. You really didn’t want to receive a howler. In short, you attended Hogwarts with Harry, Ron and Hermione – celebrated with them, grieved with them and grew up with them (literally in a lot of our cases).

I’ve had a bloody lovely month returning to Hogwarts and the friends I made there. Reading these books again has picked me up on my down days and has left me with that bittersweet sense of it ending all over again. Really JK Rowling said it best:


E x

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January Reads – a thrilling month

My 2017 Goodreads challenge (more on that in here) is well underway, with a nice round 10 books completed in the first month of the year. I’m not going to go through and review them all one by one, but below are some of the highlights and my #1 reading recommendation!

The general theme for this month has been “thrillers”. I normally mix up what I am reading to some degree or other, but since mid December I’ve been on a Linwood Barclay/Harlan Coben kick and it proved addicting. It all started with a Stephen King tweet:


I took his advice. I ended up buying the first two books (good old 3 for £10 on Amazon) and got the final one out of the library. The ones I bought have already been passed onto Mum for her enjoyment and from there will be posted to another murder and mystery-loving friend.

After I enjoyed Promise Falls so much, I ended up reading as much of his work as I could find in my local library, and from there expanded into reading Harlan Coben, who I knew wrote in a similar vein. He has a huge back catalogue of work and I was consistently able to get 2-3 from the library at once so have started working my way through them. I went into his books in a slightly haphazard way and unintentionally read book #10 in a series before reading any of the others! It wasn’t a real problem as they are all standalone novels, but now I need to go back to the beginning!

Similarly with Barclay – a lot of his novels are set around Promise Falls if not in the town itself. As such, characters crop up in other books and sometimes you do get hints of what might happen in other novels as you read. I think as long as you read the Promise Falls trilogy in order and No Time for Goodbye before No Safe House you will be ok though.

Neither author is over-graphic in terms of violence and gore. Some other thrillers I’ve read really focus on the forensics and police work – which I personally love – but these are more often than not from a civilian point of view which I find quite refreshing. They aren’t generally in the “twists for twists sake” style of thriller that I sometimes find annoying, but do tend to keep me guessing – more often than not I don’t realise what is going on or whodunit until the protagonists in the book do. I guess my armchair detective skills are a bit rusty!

I find thriller books easy to read and hard to put down, which explains the sheer number of books I’ve gotten through this month. I’ve been taking lots of baths to relax and read and going to bed early to fit chapters in before I sleep (it’s always “just one more” isn’t it?). I’ve read on my commutes and at lunchtimes. I’ve devoured books this month and have been introduced to some characters I love as well as two new authors with significant numbers of novels that will keep me busy for a while. Next month I do plan to diversify my reading more, as I have a backlog of fantasy calling my name!

So onto it, my #1 book pick this month. I really wanted to say The Twenty-Three but as it’s the final part of a trilogy it seems unfair! Instead start with Broken Promise and I promise you (ugh sorry, pun not really intended) that you’ll want to read the rest of the series.

I doubt I will read as many books next month, as I plan on getting stuck into some fat tomes of fantasy. I can only hope I find them as enjoyable as this month’s reads!

Have a lovely day!

E x



Posted in books

Goodreads reading challenge 2017

2017 is going to be my 4th year of undertaking the reading challenge on Goodreads. My past stats are:

2014 – goal 26 read 25 (I then re-read the Harry Potter series but as I’d read them before they didn’t count to my total!)

2015 – goal 35 read 35 – this one I set at 25 then kept upping the challenge

2016 – goal 30 read 43 – niiiiice

So in 2017 I’ve set myself the challenge of 35 which seemed reasonable based on my past history. I don’t want to set an unreachable target as I’ll only get anxious and stressed (not what reading is about) but I still want something to push for.

There are huge challenges out there, and mine is below the average (which is currently 45) but I can handle that! I read fast, sure, but I’ve got a lot of other things going on in my life and realistically the time where I could spend a day curled up with a book, a blanket and endless cups of tea is behind me.

I honestly don’t really know why I do the challenge. I don’t have many friends that interact regularly with Goodreads like I do, and most of those don’t do the challenge. It doesn’t change or influence my reading – I’d be doing it anyway – but it just feels great to see that total going up and a little virtual bookshelf of everything you’ve read that year. I also like the year end summary you get in December which outlines how many total pages you read, how well the books you read were received by other Goodreads users and similar stats.

Goodreads is free, a nice way to find book recommendations (although I’ve largely given up on reading the user reviews, nobody needs 18 gifs to review one book) and some authors even interact with their readers on there. I use it a lot, even going so far as to update what page I’m on of my current book – I don’t think anyone cares! Why not check it out for yourself – you might find yourself introduced to a book that you fall in love with.

I’ll be updating each month with a rundown of the reading I’ve done and my #1 pick of the books I’ve finished. Expect murder and mystery from the January instalment…

Have a lovely day,

E x