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.

Holidays Book Haul

Every year since I started university I come home for Christmas but this year was special because I got to come back for a whole month!! A month of free food, no exams or uni work and constant DOGS! Utter bliss. I managed to see so many friends (and in fact a friend from Edinburgh came to spend a few days with me and my folks over Christmas which was nice) and I bought some books. In the sales. Because I have very little self control (read literally none whatsoever). I only bought 6 though! So maybe I’m getting better in my ripe old age?

(All book cover images were taken from google because my camera was being mean to me.)

Continue reading “Holidays Book Haul”

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?

 

 

 

Bout of Books 17 – Sign Up and TBR

Hello all!! Yes, I’ve been away for months now. I didn’t choose to abandon you all – I had a few personal problems I was trying to focus on and blogging took a back seat (an understatement really – blogging was being dragged along on a piece of string behind the car really). But things are better now and to celebrate I’ve decided to throw myself into reading with my first ever read-a-thon!! This is super exciting for me. I chose the Bout of Books read-a-thon because it seemed less intense than some other read-a-thons (which is good for my first one) and because it’s starting tomorrow, 22nd August 2016! If you don’t know what Bout of Books is, here’s the official blurb from their website:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 22nd and runs through Sunday, August 28th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 17 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

Sounds fun, right? I’m very excited for this, and I’ve set up a little TBR to share with you guys. I might not get through all of my list (in fact it’s really highly unlikely) but I’m going to try my best! My TBR is split into three sections: physical books, kindle books, and audio books. Continue reading “Bout of Books 17 – Sign Up and TBR”

Blackwells Book Haul

I popped into Blackwells bookstore for a little browse today and then I saw the fateful stickers… 3 for 2. Free book. FREE BOOK!! I couldn’t resist. I spent £16.98.

  
From top:

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – the world is divide into Reds (commoners) and Silvers (ruling elite), and Mare is a Red who possesses a mystery power that threatens to destroy this world and its power balance. The Silvers declare her a Silver princess in order to keep an eye on her, and Mare must navigate society so she can bring it down.

The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah – starring Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot who attempts to discover who is murdering guests at a fashionable hotel. I love Christie so I’m excited to read this one. 

The Singular & Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath by Ishbelle Bee – set in 1888, this book follows a little girl and her shape shifting guardian as they wash ashore in England, where a mysterious man, Lovelace, who serves a demon Lord is attempting to kill her.

I’m excited for all these books, but I think the Poirot one is the one I’m most anxious to start. Have you read any of these? Are they good?

Derby Shopping Haul and Rereading Harry Potter!

Hey everyone!! I took a little trip to Derby, a town in the Midlands about an hour from my home, on the train today and bought a few bits and bobs I thought I’d show you all!  

First though, can we all take a moment to look at the canvas bag (back right) I got from Schuh?! It was £2 (£1.80 with student discount) and half of that goes to charity. It’s adorable!! It’s sturdy and well made and has a lovely design of a shoe on it. I’m definitely taking it back up to Edinburgh with me.

The first thing I bought was this lovely skirt from Apricot. It’s a beautiful khaki/charcoal mix kind of colour with a brown belt, and it’s just shy of ankle length. I needed a new skirt from when I go to a festival in Lichfield next weekend, and also to wear up in Edinburgh when (hopefully) the weather will be lovely and sunny. It swishes around and is really nice and cool to wear. Plus it’s that fabric that’s naturally quite crinkly so I don’t have to worry about ironing it!  

Also from Apricot, and my only other clothing purchase, was this really nice top. It’s longer than a T-shirt and will go beautifully with jeans or my patterned trousers (of which I have many pairs). I don’t have a lot of plain tops, and this is a plain white colour with a beautiful lace pattern all over it and a sewn in slip underneath. It’s the perfect top that will transition easily from day to night just by adding some accessories and ramping up the makeup. The top was initially £20 and I think the skirt was £25, but Apricot do 10% student discount so make sure you take your student card with you if that applies to you!

Next up is this GORGEOUS purse from New Look. I adore anything related to world cities or travel and this is so cute! It’s just a little coin purse with a zip at the top and just the one compartment inside. All buses in Edinburgh are £1.50 so I thought if I got a coin purse I can put all my bus fares in there to keep them handy, with the added bonus of no longer having all that change straining my actual purse. I don’t know how much this was (my mum bought it for me) but New Look do of course do student discount.  

Next is the purchase that I’m probably most excited about – a travel journal/diary (told you I loved travel stuff)! It has such a stunning cover, and inside has different sections to write down details about your accommodations, itineraries, notes, graphs, maps you can highlight and so much more. I love it!! I’ll do a post about this in much more depth when I start using it (hopefully in July when I go to London).  I got this from Paperchase and it was £8 before student discount (I should actually mention here that I have an NUS extra card which is what I show for student discount, not just a regular student ID so some of these may not work for normal ID). I also signed up for a Paperchase loyalty card (it was free and you get rewards etc).

And finally, I bought a new pair of Toms! I love them for summer anyway, but I think the lovely daisies on this pair make them even more summery. I’ve been clinging onto my old pair for years but I’ve had to face the fact that they’re on their last legs. I think having this pair will make the goodbye easier though! These were £40 I think before discount (kind of pricey for canvas shoes I know, but they will be my only splurge item for a very long time).

In other news, I have finished about 5 books which I still haven’t done reviews for (I have notes for all of them though so will be writing and uploading them soon) and I’m in the middle of reading a couple more. I also need to read a few from my shelves before I go back to Edinburgh so my mum can take them on holiday to read. So I’m reading one of them, right? Nope of course not. I’m rereading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Obviously got my priorities sorted…

Hope you enjoyed this, and I’ll talk to you again soon!

Why the library is a dangerous place for me, and why it’s essential in my life.

ed libraryCentral Lending Library, Edinburgh (image from Google Images)

The library is a central and extremely important part of my life. However, it’s also a really, really, REALLY dangerous place for me. Think I’m exaggerating? You’ve never seen me scrabble around my room at 4:30pm because I just remembered I have 5 library books due and the library closes at 5pm. And I can’t for the life of me find the books. And I know they’re around here somewhere…

See, the thing is that I lead a very chaotic, highly disorganised life. And that’s fine, it really is. Truly. I recommend it. I know where the important things are. I know what I have to do each day. It’s fine. Except when I suddenly remember something I was supposed to do and then panic because it’s at this crucial moment that important stuff goes walkabout. Like library books (and incidentally also my hairdryer and clean socks). So you can bet that I spend 10 minutes frantically trying to find these library books (which almost always end up being in a stack at the end of my bed – and for some reason I still look everywhere else first. I’m waiting for the day I look in that place first and the books just won’t be there. Typical). I then run up to the library and arrive, breathless, sweaty, almost at closing time and plow into the self check out/return machines, where I spend a further couple of minutes trying to work out if I’m dying or if that double-vision-and-heart-palpatations combo is normal. It’s insanely stressful. But here’s the thing. The library is so important to me. I mean, it’s FREE BOOKS guys! That’s the stuff my dreams are made of! I just wish I was better at it.

BUT! My shining saviour in some ways and dark demon of Hell in others made itself known to me a few months ago. As some of you may know, I live in Edinburgh. And Edinburgh has A LOT of libraries, although I’ve only been into Central. Edinburgh also has this beautiful little beast of an App (simply called ‘Edinburgh Libraries’) that lets you access your account and see which books you have out and when they’re due. This is so useful for checking when I wake up so that I don’t have emergency dashes to the library 5 mins before closing, but it has an even more useful use – IT LETS YOU RENEW YOUR BOOKS!! It means if a book is due and I either haven’t finished it or don’t have much time that day I can renew the book from my phone, without having to go NEAR the library. This app has been a godsend. Seriously. It’s the best thing I’ve ever discovered.

However – there’s one thing that makes it dangerous. You can also reserve books on it. Of course you can go into the library and reserve books, but I always limited that luxury for when I was going to the library anyway. By having the ability to reserve books on my phone, I’m effectively ensuring that I always have at least 10 books on the go. One problem with this – the limit for checking out books is 12 at a time. I usually have 8-10 out at any one time. I am also now reserving 4+ each week. And reserved books are only held at the library for 10 days before being sent back to whence they came. I now spend an extraordinary amount of time reading books and trying to remember which of my reserved books arrived at the library first and therefore which I need to check out when I return my finished ones and which I have to read first and which I need to renew…the list of library tasks goes on. I think the staff probably think I’m weird at best (and a complete loon at worst) for sitting next to the reserved books pick up shelves and muttering to myself “no no, I need this one today I think not that one. No I can take that one out tomorrow as long as I don’t leave THAT one longer than Friday” etc. Hmmmm.

But of course I love it. Reading is my lifeblood and I’ve taken every advantage of the fact that Edinburgh library doesn’t charge you to reserve books (where I used to live before uni you had to pay 50p per book you order). Even though I might have to cut down a little now that exams are coming up. Hopefully not too much though… after all, I have a beautifully disorganised system in place.