Why Am I Always So Behind on Goodreads?

My Goodreads profile is always a long way behind my actual reading. I like my short Goodreads reviews to compliment my more in depth reviews here on my blog, which means I tend to write them at the same time. But…I’ll be the first to admit that I’m pretty useless at keeping up. I even have a column on my reading spreadsheet reminding me to write reviews, but I still manage to fall behind. It’s just not that easy to write a long, detailed review when life gets in the way, and that means I don’t update my Goodreads either. I’ve been having some struggles recently (and not so recently) that have thrown me way off base, and I’m struggling to know what to do next. I still read but my reading is marred by reality’s ugly head, and having the time and mental energy to review has seemed impossible. While I can think all to well about what I want to say, when it comes down to actually getting it done and dusted I seem stuck. And that blows. A lot.

Just today I moved 6 books from my current list to my read list. I still haven’t reviewed them, but my head seems clearer today than it has in a long time so maybe I can blast some out and get back on track. Just putting a rating and “review to follow” on my books has allowed me to shift them off the current list, and it means I’m catching up to my Goodreads target again. Now I just need to start writing before I actually forget what I thought of the books. For this very reason, I keep rough notes on my phone as I read, so that I can build on them more, but still, it can be hard to remember weeks later what you planned on saying.

We all have our ups and downs, and for the most part reading helps me through mine. I like to review my books so that, later on, I can look back and remember why I enjoyed it (or didn’t), so that I can see whether it’s worth it to reread. It would be nice if my reviews introduced people to books they’d never read too, though reading is so subjective and I always think that it’s better to read and form your own opinion on a book instead of avoiding it because others didn’t like it (or worse, feeling as though you have to enjoy it just because everyone else thinks it’s the best book in the world). Most of the time, writing a review is just part of the reading process to me. It helps me slow down and consider what I’ve just read, rather than running from one book to the next without breath, without remembering what I’ve read or how it made me feel. In these times though, when life itself seems such a chore, reviewing can seem almost impossible. I’m trying though. I hope it picks up. I hope I can get some done before the next wave hits. And maybe this time I won’t fall so far behind.

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Book Review: Missing Abby by Lee Weatherly

This review may contain mild spoilers but will not talk in detail about any important plot points. I bought this book second hand from a used book sale sometime last year and just got around to reading it. The book is about a girl called Emma, who is the last person to see her childhood best friend, Abby, before Abby goes missing. The book is centred around Emma trying to find out what happened to Abby while also trying not to let the unsavoury circumstances in her past (that led to her “abandoning” Abby and moving to a different school) bleed through into her present. Check out the Goodreads page here.

missing-abby

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2017 Literary Goals

2016 has been a trying year. Much has happened in my personal life (and in the wider world) and sadly the majority of it has been bad. It’s hard to carry on with the things you love when you can think of nothing other than the bad stuff going on (or it’s hard for me anyway). Unfortunately I didn’t read much in 2016 and, even worse, I didn’t track any of my reading so I don’t really know what I did and whether I read what I wanted to. 2017, hopefully, will be different. And so, with this in mind, I made some goals for the coming year. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep up with them! Here’s to next year, hopefully it’s better than last year.

Goal #1 – Listen to at least 6 audio books. 

I’ve had an audible account for a while now and I’m racking up the audio books, but I haven’t actually listened to any for a while. I used to listen to them at the gym but then I discovered some amazing podcasts and they pretty much took over my life. I’d like to get back into listening to audio books, and hopefully one every two months will be a more than achievable goal.

Goal #2 – Keep up with reviews.

Reviews aren’t just fun for me, they’re actually pretty helpful. I like to read but unless I become obsessed with a book it can be hard for me to remember everything that happens and what I like and dislike. If I write it all down in a review I can look back on it in the future and know what I did and did not enjoy. I also know that reading reviews can be helpful for others when they’re deciding whether to pick up a book and I love being able to guide people into finding books they love. Hopefully I’ll be doing far more reviews this coming year so watch out for them!

Goal #3 – Start a spreadsheet to track my reading and read a wider variety.

Like I said before, I didn’t track my reading at all this past year and so I really have no idea what I read. In 2017 I may go a tiiiiiny bit overboard in the opposite direction – I’ve created a huge spreadsheet to document my reading. It has around 26 columns from title, author and date published all the way through to various forms of representation. I’m tracking a lot. It may end up being too much, and maybe half my columns will lie unused for most of the year, but I think it’s important to me to try and get all of this information down. It also ties in to the goal of wider reading. I want to read a wider variety of authors and characters (not just straight white teens written by straight white adults), I want to read more genres and get out of my comfort zone, and I really want to read more non fiction. Hopefully by charting all of this information I can really see whether I’m being more diverse and, if not, I can change things up so that I am.

Goal #4 – Participate in the POPSUGAR 2017 Reading Challenge AND the Book Riot 2017 Read Harder Challenge. 

I’ve never really done a reading challenge like this before, but I figure it may help me expand my reading a bit (and so ties in nicely with my previous goal). I probably won’t be able to read a separate book for each part of each challenge, but hopefully I will for most of them! I’m aiming to complete the Book Riot challenge fully, and complete the main section of the POPSUGAR one. I may not get onto the “Advanced” section for POPSUGAR but here’s hoping! If you guys are interested in these challenges you can find the Book Riot challenge here and the POPSUGAR challenge here.

Goal #5 – Read (at some point this year) THESE specific books.

I usually don’t make lists of books I “HAVE” to read within a certain month/year because it puts pressure on to just “get it done” and then I might not enjoy them as much as I would usually. There are certain books I really want to read this year so I really hope I’ll find time for them at some point in 2017. They are:

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – yes I still haven’t read it (not my fault, my copy was delivered to my parents home not my flat and this is the first time I’ve been back to my family home this year) but I need to. I. Need. To.

The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman – I started this book a while back but I never finished it and now I’ve forgotten most of it. Hopefully at some point this year I can restart it and actually finish it this time!

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult – Jodi came to do a talk about this book in Edinburgh and my flatmate and I went along. It was brilliant! She had great insight and her talk was beautiful. I can’t wait to get the chance to read this one.

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser // Bad Food Britain by Joanna Blythman // The Shape We’re In by Sarah Boseley – these all fit under the same category really, but they’re all factual books about the food industry that I’m really interested to read and see how accurate and unbiased they are. I haven’t really read much about the food/diet industry but it’s a field that does interest me so hopefully I’ll get my teeth into these three this year.

Do you guys have any reading goals for 2017? Mine aren’t very specific (apart from the last one) but hopefully I’ll get back into reading for pleasure and interest this year and it’ll be a great year! Here’s hoping, eh?

 

 

 

Film Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

I went to see Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (known forevermore as MP because who has time to write out huge titles?) on Friday but only just got around to doing a review – hopefully my memory has survived! Anyway, this review has a bit of a disclaimer at the start. I have read the book, although admittedly only the first in the series. Yes, the film is a bit different to the book. HOWEVER, this review isn’t about the book, and it isn’t a list of similarities and differences (I can do both of those things in separate posts if people are interested). When I go to see a film, I watch it FOR THE FILM. Not so I can sit there with a checklist noting down every tiny deviation from the book it was based on. Books and films are different mediums, and they require different things. In my opinion anyway, there are very, very, VERY few books that can be turned into successful, ENJOYABLE films simply by getting actors to recite all the words in the book. They are different art forms and I like to treat them as such. Obviously everyone has their own opinions on the topic and no one opinion is the “right one”, we’re all just different and have different views on the subject. Yay diverse thinking! But when I went to see this film, I put my liking of the book to one side and just concentrated on the film as a film. The people who work on films work just as hard as writers to create their chosen piece of art, and I think they deserve from me, an avid consumer, at least the courtesy to watch their film for what it is and not just write it off because it isn’t a carbon copy of the book.

So, the TL;DR for this disclaimer is this: Yay books! Yay films! However, there will be no books in this review. ONLY FILM. And with that, on with the show!

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Book Review: The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

Okay, I finished the book MONTHS ago but just haven’t gotten around to writing and posting my review until now. It’s a good job I made notes straight after I’d finished! The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency is about a woman, Mme Ramotswe, who opens a detective agency in Botswana, and follows both her interactions with other characters and the cases brought to her and how she solves them. This book was part of my Continent Book challenge (the Africa months). This review is spoiler free (I think, there might be a couple tiny ones but nothing that will spoil anything about the book for you in any way).

The book is structured so that in every chapter (near enough) there is another case for Mme Ramotswe to solve. There is also one overarching case that runs throughout the book (revolving around a missing child and a witch doctor – I didn’t find any of it too grim or overly descriptive though). Alongside Mme Ramotswe is a pretty large cast of supporting characters, from the people she is helping to friends who help her. The characters seemed well rounded and interesting – they all seemed 3d to me, with well-thought out reasons behind every decision. I don’t know much about African culture, but I imagine the way these characters talk and interact with each other would be pretty realistic.

The main chapters, as I’ve said before, are about Mme Ramotswe and the cases she is hired to solve. However, interwoven into the main story is chapters about Mme Ramotswe’s background, her disastrous marriage, and her now deceased father who’s money she used to set up her detective agency. Although these chapters do slow the story itself down slightly, they make Mme Ramotswe more solid and I don’t think I would have understood and rooted for her quite so much had those insights into her past not been there.

In all, the book was well written and entertaining. I liked the characters and was satisfied with the ending (although it didn’t leave me with any lasting feelings either way). Maybe I just went into it with my expectations set too high but it just wasn’t as good as I’d hoped. I can’t put my finger on anything WRONG with it, it just didn’t touch me, strike me, make me want to run back to the library and find all the sequels NOW. I mean, maybe if I saw the sequels in the library one day and was in a bit of a reading slump then I’d pick it up, but I wouldn’t go actively looking for it, nor am I particularly desperate to read it again.

I’m giving The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency 3 out of 5 – it was a pretty fun, pretty light read that was well written, but I’m not chomping at the bit to read more.

Book Review: Hamster – Family Pet Guide by David Alderton

 I finished this one a while ago but haven’t had time to update it yet. Now, I don’t own a hamster so I can’t tell you exactly how much of the information in this book is needed or useful, and how much is just “extra” BUT I will say that this was a very informative book. It has sections on the care and choosing of both pet hamsters and show hamsters, and even a separate section on how to breed hamsters successfully. All major pieces of information are covered here: sexing; which hamsters can be kept together and which are solitary; taming; feeding; cleaning out cages; basic first aid; and important signs of illness to name just a few of the more interesting sections. There were also separate sections on each variety of hamster and its particular needs, all with clear headers.

This book also had some beautiful photographs (my favourites are definitely the ones depicting the different varieties of hamster – I never knew there were so many colours!), and the ratio of text to images is very well balanced. The layout of the book is good and easy to read. It would also be easy to just skim through the book and quickly find your chapters of interest by looking at the clear headers at the start of each section. The chapters too are well marked. Hamster gives you all the basic information you need to know before buying a hamster (and it even includes “non essential” information, as well as information about breeding or showing your hamster if that’s your cup of tea) without overloading you with info.

In short, it’s a brilliant little book and a very well written guide, and I highly recommend it to anyone thinking of purchasing a hamster.

(You’ll probably note that this review is slightly shorter than my usual reviews, and I haven’t given it a rating. This is because it’s a non-fiction guidebook, and so I didn’t rate or review it as I would a fiction book, or a “based on a true story” book.)