Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016 Bookish Stats

Ah 2016. What a year! I think my 2016 has been better than lots of people's - I started Ninja Book Box, ran two bookshop crawls and gained a new brother in law along with other fun things. There's also been a lot of well documented awful this year, including closing the Ninja Book Swap to new participants which was a very sad day but necessary for my mental health! I've really found my friends in the bookish community this year though and I'm so grateful for everyone who's supported me in any way over the course of the year.

This being New Year's Eve, what better way to spend it than by collating the stats of all the books I've read this year? I was going to do Jamie's End of Year Survey (and may still) but my attention span is crap at the moment, so here we are.

I read 90 books this year and this pretty stats picture I made will give you the general idea. Basically...

The only stats on here that I'm proud of are the number of books I finished and the percentage of female authors I read. The rest are pretty shocking, but I turned them into a pretty picture because it's important to pinpoint where you need to do better.

I'm hoping my Read the World Project will help with some of these, and I'm signing up for #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks again in 2017, plus the Spending Freeze means I won't be buying books except for on bookshop crawls so that should help too. Besides that though I'm giving myself permission to read whatever the hell I want during 2017.

My year of reading indie has been a massive failure stats-wise, but in terms of awareness I'd call it a huge success. I spend far more time looking for independently published books in chain bookshops now and am far more aware of small presses and what's coming out from them. I also started a business dedicated solely to the promotion and discovery of independent publishers (Ninja Book Box, check it out) which has been a massive thing and is already causing big changes in my reading life so watch this space for more of that next year!

How's your reading year been?

#Discworldathon January Readalong Title & Schedule!

In case you haven't seen, January 1st sees the beginning of my year long celebration of everything Discworld related. January's theme (hosted by yours truly) is 'In the Beginning' and I'm going to be posting about reading order and all the various smaller storylines within Discworld. If you're new to the series (or if you're not but have thoughts) hopefully this month will be helpful to you. 

In the Goodreads group for the event - please come and join us there and chat to everyone - I put up a poll to see which title people would like to readalong in January and Wyrd Sisters got the most votes. This is technically book two of the Witches books, but Equal Rites has wizards too so I'm counting it!

Because Pratchett books don't really have chapters I've divided the book roughly into quarters and for each section I've given the page number from my edition (the Corgi paperback edition with the Josh Kirby cover) plus the quote that ends the section for that week. Each Sunday I'll be posting here on the blog with my thoughts and a link up for anyone who wants to add their own thoughts. Alternatively there's a thread in the Goodreads group which will be active all month so you can discuss the book as and when you like. 

If you are planning to join in and blog/vlog/whatever about the readalong you can add your link below so I (and others) can make sure we're following you. You can also use #Discworldathon and #wyrdalong on social media. 

Here's the schedule:

January 1st - 8th - Beginning to P82 "and to think she had expected it to be small..."

January 8th - 15th - P82 - P171 "and grinned a set of gums that were more menacing than teeth"

January 15th - 22nd - P171 - P248 "And as for thinking it could be controlled..."

January 22nd - end - P248 - end of the book!

It works out at approximately 82-85 pages a week so not a huge commitment really! The great thing about Discworldathon is you don't have to join in for all of it so if this is the only thing you do all year then that's totally fine!

See you tomorrow for kick off!

Friday, 30 December 2016

#LilttleHouseRAL: The End!

Apologies that we've been a little awol for the last month or so. We've had family weddings, unexpected trips home and lots else to deal with so the blog has been a bit quiet which has included Little House. As of yet I haven't finished A Wilder Rose but I'm hoping to put in some reading hours tonight now we're home from our travels and get it finished before the year is done.

Please use this post to link up for November as well as I never got around to putting up that post! Personally I enjoyed West from Home a lot more than I did On the Way Home, since I felt like more interesting things happened in it (and there was less about how much land cost and what kind of crops people were growing) and I found it really interesting to read about the fair and a part of history that I didn't know much about, although the more of the series I read the more troubling I find the casual racism. I don't know if it makes it more or less troubling that this was probably reflective of the general attitudes of the time but either way I've noticed it progressively throughout the series and it troubles me. Aside from that I thought the last story was a nice way to end the series - with Laura when she was older and her relationship with her daughter. It's like we've gone full circle with her.

I'll post about A Wilder Rose when I've finished it, but I'm very much enjoying fictionalised Rose Wilder Lane's take on her mother. The story is very entertaining and her view of Laura - 'Mama Bess' - is quite different from the image we've been given of Laura throughout the earlier books so that's fun.

I can't believe 2016 is pretty much over. In a year that's been difficult in lots of ways this read-along has really been a bright spot and I'm so glad I had the chance to discover this series for the first time. Thanks so much to all who have read along with us!

If you're interested, I'm hosting Discworldathon starting January 1st; a year long celebration of all things Discworld and Terry Pratchett related. Check out the schedule and/or join the Goodreads group - our first readalong title will be Wyrd Sisters!

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

2017: The Biggest Challenge Yet

If you've been a long time reader of this blog you've been with me through my boycott of Amazon (still ongoing), my 9 month long book buying ban, my decision to read more nonfiction and more diverse authors, my recent decision to participate in Louise's Read the World Project (a review of my Malaysia pick is coming soon), as well as being aware of Ninja Book Swap and Ninja Book Box from the beginning and dealing with all my rambling about both London and Bath bookshop crawls plus dealing with my massive love for Laura, Katie, Hanna, Ellie, Charlotte and Nahree among many other blogging friends. Which is to say you've put up with a lot from me, but 2017 is going to be, as the post title says, the biggest challenge yet.

Rhys and I have decided that in 2017 we are going to spend no unnecessary money. Yes, you read that right, and yes I am immediately going to state that this is with the exception of the two bookshop crawls (London is on February 18th, everyone's welcome so tweet me if you want info!) but I will be holding myself to a very strict one book per shop rule!

This year we've got rid of loads of stuff we didn't really use and cleared our house out a lot and we're both feeling so much better about everything. It's also changed the way we shop - before this year we were thrifty shoppers - car boot sales and charity shops are big favourites of both of ours - but we bought a lot of stuff we didn't need. This year we still do that but we're more likely to think about purchases more. We want to take it one step further next year and try not to really shop at all.

Spending Freeze

Here's what we're planning to do:

  • Get rid of our car. This is more of a stress thing than anything as Rhys does all the driving (because I'm a wuss) and although he loves driving he finds he's always really stressed and tired by it, plus the car is expensive so we're going to see if we can do without and use public transport and our legs instead!
  • Get rid of the TV licence (again). We only got it back just under a year ago but we barely watch TV and it seems like even if we were to buy box sets of the four or so series a year that we actually watch plus occasional CBeebies DVDs for the boys it wouldn't add up to £150 a year. Also means we'll spend less time watching mindless rubbish and actually do more productive stuff instead hopefully. 
  • Not buy books. With the exception of bookshop crawls as mentioned above and if we have book tokens. I have one more month of OTSP Secret Sister to go so I'll spend some for that but I'm not signing up for the next round, and though I'll be running at least two Ninja Swaps this year I'm undecided whether I'll participate or not. If I do it'll be only one parcel per swap and I'll do my best to gift homemade and preloved stuff. It also means I'll only be doing giveaways on the Ninja Book Box website and twitter on occasion and here not at all (because postage costs), but I will be doing lots of books for postage giveaways so watch out for those. 
  • Bring tea from home in a thermos. I have a terrible weakness for coffee shops because I get into work way too early for my shift (because buses) so I tend to go to a coffee shop at least twice a week. This will stop and I know I'll save more than I think from it. 
  • Bring lunch from home. We're generally pretty good at doing this when we're at work except when we're not and we're terrible at it when we go out for the day all together. I think this is because we get caught up in the mad rush of getting out the door and forget about food, thinking we'll just grab something while we're out. Hopefully public transport will help with this, as our days out will have to be generally more planned and that'll prompt us to remember a picnic! No restaurants unless we have a gift card! (So anyone who wants gift ideas for me for this year, I love Pizza Express...)
  • We can buy shoes & clothes only if they're absolutely necessary, so shoes for the boys are fine, shoes for us aren't unless we've actually worn them out. Also where possible we'll try to go to charity shops for clothes (we mostly do this anyway since you often get way better quality clothes for Primark prices!). 
  • We can buy only what's on the weekly grocery list. If we want treats that week we have to factor them in to the weekly shop, and we're going to try to make that stuff as much as we can. Ditto for beauty and cleaning products. Homemade stuff is way better for you anyway!
  • Buy bus passes and use them to get as many places as we can! If we can get a bus using our already paid for monthly bus passes rather than a train then we will. If we can get a bus part way and save some money, we will. If we can get a bus and hike across a field, we will. You get the picture. 
The reason this list is weirdly worded is that I didn't want to write a bit list of stuff starting 'no' or 'not', so I've rephrased things to make it feel more positive! I've started a Pinterest board full of Spending Freeze ideas. Let me know what you think of our crazy plan - I'll be keeping you all updated whether you like it or not (though seriously, if you don't want updates unsubscribe now, you've been warned!). 

Saturday, 10 December 2016

#Discworldathon January Readalong Title

I'm back with another post about Discworldathon! I'm in the full throes of planning January now and I've put a poll up in the Goodreads group so everyone can vote on a title to read-along together in January. In case you're a Discworld newbie and have no idea about the titles included here's a little more information to help you make up your mind!

The Colour of Magic is the first Discworld novel, but even Terry Pratchett didn't think it was that great (as he mentions in A Slip of the Keyboard and other places!). Not to talk it down, as it's a great book, but the majority agree it's not the best place to start - it's not as funny as some of the later books, and Pratchett hadn't really developed his Discworld style yet. It's about Rincewind (who you'll be encountering a lot more throughout the year!) a more than slightly inept wizard, and Twoflower, a tourist with a trunk called the Luggage which has hundreds of tiny legs... 

Image result for the luggage
Image credit

Mort - from Goodreads:

In this Discworld installment, Death comes to Mort with an offer he can't refuse -- especially since being, well, dead isn't compulsory. As Death's apprentice, he'll have free board and lodging, use of the company horse, and he won't need time off for family funerals. The position is everything Mort thought he'd ever wanted, until he discovers that this perfect job can be a killer on his love life.

This is the first book I fell in love with, and I continue to be a big fan of the Death books. I'm particularly excited about Hogswatch in December!

Equal Rites - from Goodreads:

On Discworld, a dying wizard tries to pass on his powers to an eighth son of an eighth son, who is just at that moment being born. The fact that the son is actually a daughter is discovered just a little too late. The town witch insists on turning the baby into a perfectly normal witch, thus mending the magical damage of the wizard's mistake. But now the young girl will be forced to penetrate the inner sanctum of the Unseen University--and attempt to save the world with one well-placed kick in some enchanted shins!

If you were reading in order of publication, Equal Rites is the book I'd start with because it's the first one that feels Discworld to me, and also it's funny and feminist as. So there's that. 

Guards Guards! - from Goodreads:

Here there be dragons . . . and the denizens of Ankh-Morpork wish one huge firebreather would return from whence it came. Long believed extinct, a superb specimen of draco nobilis ("noble dragon" for those who don't understand italics) has appeared in Discworld's greatest city. Not only does this unwelcome visitor have a nasty habit of charbroiling everything in its path, in rather short order it is crowned King (it is a noble dragon, after all . . .).

Meanwhile, back at Unseen University, an ancient and long-forgotten volume--The Summoning of Dragons--is missing from the Library's shelves. To the rescue come Captain Vimes, Constable Carrot, and the rest of the Night Watch who, along with other brave citizens, risk everything, including a good roasting, to dethrone the flying monarch and restore order to Ankh-Morpork (before it's burned to a crisp). A rare tale, well done as only Terry Pratchett can.

The first in the City Watch series which is probably my favourite of the mini series. 

Wyrd SIsters - from Goodreads: 

Kingdoms wobble, crowns topple and knives flash on the magical Discworld as the statutory three witches meddle in royal politics. The wyrd sisters battle against frightful odds to put the rightful king on the throne. At least, that's what they think...

Technically this is the second Witches book, but Equal Rites has witches and wizards so. 

You can vote in the poll here once you've joined the group, which I strongly encourage even if you're only planning to join in for a month or two (or less!). 

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

#Discworldathon 2017 Schedule

Hi everyone, apologies for the silence on the blog recently. Things will return to normal soon, and kicking that normalcy off will be Discworldathon! If you haven't seen I'm hosting a year long celebration of all things Discworld throughout 2017. Whether you're an afficionado, a total newbie or somewhere in between you're more than welcome to join at any point throughout the year.

We have lots of fun bookish stuff in store for you and fellow bloggers will be hosting events throughout the year. If you'd be interested in hosting a readalong, themed month or anything else get in touch as there are a couple of hosting spots open still. We're also looking to do lots of giveaways throughout the year so if you'd like to donate a prize towards that please fill in the form below:

The below schedule is just for structure for those who want it to help guide their reading or know where to start with a huge series. The event is only about celebrating Discworld so you can do that in whichever way you want and your reading doesn't have to fit in with the themes at all, it's entirely up to you. However, we're here if you want to join in! All year we'll be using #Discworldathon on social media - if you're participating why not tweet your intention using the hashtag then we can all follow each other and talk! At the moment the schedule is thus:

January: In the Beginning 
(hosted here at

There are many places to start with the Discworld series and it's generally accepted that this is one of the cases where 'at the beginning' isn't always the best option, so this month I'll be talking about all the first books. If you're not aware the series is made up of lots of mini series (sort of, although they can all be read in pretty much any order) featuring different characters, and I'll be discussing the first in each series in a brief kind of way and hopefully other participants will be weighing in with their favourites and thoughts about reading order. If you're new to the series this will hopefully be a helpful month for you!

We also have board game tie ins throughout the year which will be over at Tame the Board Game. If you own the board games you can play them during this month  (or sometimes over a couple of months) and feed back your thoughts about them, or you could see if any other participants live near you and organise game night!

The game for this month is Ankh Morpork. 

February: Wizards
This month will be about all things wizards so head over to Louise's blog to see what she has in store.

Board Game: Guards Guards!

March: March Magics 
(hosted at
Kristen is hosting her annual month of reading Terry Pratchett (and Dianna Wynne Jones but we'll let that slide and I might even use it as a chance to finally read my first DWJ book!) and there's all kinds of awesome involved. Nearer the time there will be lots of info on her blog, so head over there to find out more!

April: Small Gods
(hosted by
This month will be all about the standalone books, with a readalong of Small Gods and some other discussion hosted by Heather. It's been ages since I've read this one so I'm really looking forward to it!

May: The Watch 
(hosted at
The City Watch books are possibly my personal favourite of the series, and I adore Sam Vimes! Head over to Sue's blog for a month of Watch related fun!

Board Game: Thud

June: Tiffany Aching 
A perfect series of books to get you into Discworld if you've not yet made the leap, spend a month with the Nac Mac Feegles. There will be a readalong of The Shepherd's Crown later on in the year so this month will focus on the first four books. 

Board Game: Witches

July: Witches
(hosted by
It seems fitting to follow Tiffany with the Witches! Joy will be hosting and is new to the series so she'd appreciate all the pointers you can give her!

August: Moist von Lipwig
(hosted by
This month is dedicated to crook turned reluctant entrepreneur Moist von Lipwig. All sorts of fun stuff going on this month so head over to Jane's blog to find out all about it.

Board Game: Clacks

September: Pyramids Readalong
(hosted by @ShutUpBanks on twitter)
Come and read Pyramids with us (and marvel over how it took me almost an entire book to realise that it was jelly baby the first time I read it). Use #Discworldathon. 

October: Discworld Inktober
(hosted by C. Nick on Instagram)
If you're not familiar with Inktober, the idea is that you draw each day for a month. Artist C.nick will be hosting a Discworld themed inktober over on Instagram (but you can participate on twitter too I'm sure) all you have to do is draw, and share it using #Discworldathon!

Board Game: Cripple Mr Onion

November: Graphic Novels & The Shepherd's Crown Readalong
We're going to be co-hosting this month, my husband and I. He'll be talking about all the graphic adaptations of Discworld, and I'll be hosting a readalong.
I haven't yet plucked up the courage to read Terry Pratchett's final book yet and I feel like I'm going to need moral support for it, so during November we'll be reading The Shepherd's Crown together. I'll post a schedule closer to the time, but I hope you'll join me!

December: Hogswatch Month
Ellie will be hosting Hogswatch on her blog, which is pretty much the most exciting thing! Watch this space (and her blog) for details closer to the time!

Readalongs: We'll also be running readalongs throughout the year and we'll be taking votes for titles to read. If you have any suggestions for any you'd particularly like to read as part of a group please leave them below and I'll add them to the polls for the relevant months, going up soon! This will be just for those who like the motivation of group reading and discussion so don't feel you have to participate!

Twitter Chats: There will be some twitter chats during the course of the year. If you're hosting a month and would like to have a twitter chat as part of that that would be great, just let me know and I'll put it in the schedule!

Goodreads Group: Although lots of discussion will take place on blogs and twitter, I've also made a Goodreads group that you can join if you'd like to where we can talk about the books and all other Discworld related stuff and get to know each other a bit better!

So that's it for now! If you want to post/vlog etc about the event that would be excellent, and don't forget to use #Discworldathon. See you in January!

Thursday, 1 December 2016

#Runemarks Blog Tour

Today it's my turn on the Runemarks blog tour, for which I am the most excited because Joanne M Harris is one of my favourite authors. If you're not familiar, she's the author of Chocolat and many other excellent books, and Runemarks is a retelling of Norse mythology. Retellings are my favourite!

It's been five hundred years since the end of the world and society has rebuilt itself anew. The old Norse gods are no longer revered. Their tales have been banned. Magic is outlawed, and a new religion - the Order - has taken its place.
In a remote valley in the north, fourteen-year-old Maddy Smith is shunned for the ruinmark on her hand - a sign associated with the Bad Old Days. But what the villagers don't know is that Maddy has skills. According to One-Eye, the secretive Outlander who is Maddy's only real friend, her ruinmark - or runemark, as he calls it - is a sign of Chaos blood, magical powers and gods know what else...
Now, as the Order moves further north, threatening all the Worlds with conquest and Cleansing, Maddy must finally learn the truth to some unanswered questions about herself, her parentage, and her powers.
From the bestselling author of CHOCOLAT and THE GOSPEL OF LOKI comes a fantastical tale of magic, adventure and Norse mythology.

If this sounds intriguing there's an extract being run across all the blogs taking part. You can read yesterday's excerpt at Nut Press and then come back for mine: 

THEY MET IN THE SUMMER OF Maddy’s seventh year. It was Midsummer’s Fair Day, with games and dancing on the green. There were stalls selling ribbons and fruit and cakes; there were ices for the children; Mae had been crowned Strawberry Queen for the third year running and Maddy was watching it all from her place at the edge of Little Bear Wood, feeling jealous, feeling angry, but nevertheless determined not to join in. 

Her place was a giant copper beech, with a thick, smooth bole and plenty of branches. Thirty feet up, there was a fork into which Maddy liked to sprawl, skirts hiked up, legs on either side of the trunk, watching the village through the crook of her left thumb and forefinger. 

Some years before, Maddy had discovered that when she made this fingering and concentrated very hard, she could see things that could not normally be seen. A bird’s nest underneath the turf; blackberries in the bramble hedge; Adam Scattergood and his cronies hiding behind a garden wall with stones in their pockets and mischief on their minds. 

And it sometimes showed her different things – lights and colours that shone around people and showed their moods – and often these colours left a trail, like a signature for any to read who could. 

Her trick was sjón-henni, or truesight, and it was one of the cantrips of the rune Bjarkán – though Maddy, who had never learned her letters, had never heard of Bjarkán, nor had it ever occurred to her that her trick was magic. 

All her life it had been impressed upon her that magic – be it a glamour, a fi ngering or even a cantrip – was not only unnatural, but wrong. It was the legacy of the Faërie, the source of Maddy’s bad blood, the ruin of everything good and lawful. 

It was the reason she was here in the fi rst place, when she could have been playing with the other children, or eating pies on the Fair Day green. It was the reason her father avoided her gaze, as if every glance reminded him of the wife he had lost. It was also the reason that Maddy alone of all the villagers noticed the strange, dark man in the wide-brimmed hat walking along the Malbry road – walking not towards the village, as you might have supposed, but in the direction of Red Horse Hill. 

Strangers were not often seen in Malbry, even at a Midsummer’s Fair. Most traders were regulars from one place or another – bringing with them glass and metalware from the Ridings; persimmons from the Southlands; fish from the Islands; spices from the Outlands; skins and furs from the frozen North. 

But if he was a trader, Maddy thought, then this man was travelling light. He had no horse, no mule, no wagon. And he was going the wrong way. He could be an Outlander, she thought. She had heard that Outlanders travelled the Roads, where all kinds of people traded and met, but she had never actually seen one for herself; those savages from the islands and the oceans beyond World’s End, so ignorant that they couldn’t even speak a civilized language. Or he might be a Wilderlander, all painted in blue woad; a madman, a leper, or even a bandit. 

She slipped out of her tree as the stranger passed and began to follow him at a safe distance, keeping to the bushes by the side of the road and watching him through the rune Bjarkán. 

Perhaps he was a soldier, a veteran of some far-off war; he had pulled his hat down over his forehead, but even so, Maddy could see that he wore an eyepatch, which hid the left side of his face. Like an Outlander, he was dark, his skin burnt brown by the summer sun, and Maddy saw with interest that although his long hair was going grey, he did not move like an old man. 

Nor were his colours that of an old man. Maddy had found that old folk left a weak trail; and idiots left hardly any trail at all. But this man had a stronger signature than any she had ever seen. It was a rich and vibrant kingfisher-blue; and Maddy found it hard to reconcile this inner brilliance with the drab, road-weary individual before her on the way to the Hill. 

She continued to follow him, silently and keeping well hidden, and when she reached the brow of the Hill, she hid behind a hummock of grass and watched him as he lay in the shadow of a fallen stone, his one eye fixed on the Red Horse and a small, leather-bound notebook in his hand. 

Minutes passed. He looked half asleep, his face concealed by the brim of his hat. But Maddy knew he was awake; and from time to time he wrote something in his notebook, or turned the page, and then went back to watching the Horse. 

After a while, the Outlander spoke. Not loudly, but so that Maddy could hear, and his voice was low and pleasant, not really what she’d expected of an Outlander at all. ‘Well?’ he said. ‘Have you seen enough?’

Read more tomorrow at

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Beginning to Read the World

I've been talking about diversity for a while and I've even mentioned wanting to read a book from every country in the world more than once in the past on the blog, but now I'm actually going to do it. With a little nudge from my friend Louise I've been inspired to join her in her #readtheworldproject

I'm planning to read a book from every country in the world by the time my 35th birthday rolls around in 2022 (eek it sounds so far away!), so this is an ongoing project... I am going to include a couple that I've read fairly recently but mostly I'll be starting from scratch. The idea is that in as many cases as possible I'll read books by authors originally from that country, but where that proves difficult or impossible then I'll be going for books set in that country instead. 

For inspiration I'm reading Ann Morgan's Reading the World and her blog, A Year of Reading the World, along with other things.

First up I'm ticking North Korea off my list because in the last couple of weeks I finished In Order to Live; Yeonmi Park's incredible, inspirational memoir of how she and her family escaped from North Korea.

Today I went to my bookshelves and pulled off everything I could see that I owned which fit in with the criteria. I felt good about it until I realised that this pile represents less than 10% of the countries in the world... I have a lot of reading to do! I thought it would be good, since I've been such an absent blogger of late, to post about this challenge in small stages and set myself smaller, more achievable goals. A TBR of 15 doesn't seem too overwhelming to keep in the corner somewhere, so here's my starting line of countries! 

Argentina : The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto Che Guevara

Canada : How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti

China : Empress Orchid by Anchee Min

Croatia : Girl at War by Sara Novic

Finland : Moominland Midwinter (or anything else by her, really) by Tove Jansson

France : The Outsider by Albert Camus

Germany : Look Who's Back by Timur Vermes

Ireland : Philomena by Martin Sixsmith (I will probably find another book actually by an Irish author to read for this as well)

Italy : The Periodic Table by Primo Levi

Malaysia The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twang Eng

Mexico : I'll Sell You a Dog by Juan Pablo Villalobos 

Native American : The Bingo Palace by Louise Erdrich

The Netherlands/Australia/Scotland : The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber (who has a whole section on his nationality in Wikipedia because it's so confusing!)

Nigeria : Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Non White/Immigrant Experience: Sketcher by Roland Watson-Grant, The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

Spain : The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Thailand : (unpictured) The Sad Part Was by Prabda Yoon

I'm looking forward to the London Bookshop Crawl in February to stock up on some titles from other countries. Feel free to leave me any and all recommendation in the comments! 

Friday, 11 November 2016


I've been doing lots of talking about books on twitter recently and I stumbled across this diversity bingo running in December. It's a constant quest of mine to read more diversely and events like this are brilliant for that. I'll be posting about it mostly on twitter and it's pretty low commitment- you just have to complete a line of the bingo chart below.

I've picked a pile of four titles but only need to read two since three of my books fill three different criteria (sneaky, I know).

Secretly I want to read something for every category (and if you need suggestions there are some awesome ones on #DiversityDecBingo), but in the interests of actually being able to do the challenge I've picked the middle row. I have several choices, and I picked from my shelves because I have SO MANY BOOKS and need to read some of them, so here we go. 

Mental Health Awareness: The Silver Lining's Playbook by Matthew Quick (I may also watch the movie)

Asian Main Character/Own Voices/Non-Western (real world) Setting - In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park/The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng/The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri 

I'm probably going to compile a list of all the recommendations I come across during the event too,so look out for it! Let me know if you're taking part and where I can follow you to keep up with your diverse reading. So exciting!

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

#LittleHouseRAL: On the Way Home & November Link up!

Keeping with the tradition of this read-along I finished On the Way Home early last month and then totally forgot about it until I picked up West from Home to read yesterday!

So here's the deal: On the Way Home was much more enjoyable to me than The First Four Years, but still nowhere near as enjoyable as the rest of the series had been. It's Laura's diary of their trip from De Smet to Missouri and it's pretty much just what they did each day. How far they travelled, who they saw, how hot it was etc, and it's fine but I wasn't enthralled. I miss the storytelling of the earlier books if I'm honest, but they're short so I'll get through West from Home pretty quickly I'm sure.

Link up your posts about West from Home here. Just two more months to go, guys - next month we're reading Pioneer Girl, A Wilder Rose by Susan Wittig Albert or your choice of Laura related book!

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Book Chat

Hi friends! I'm still here, busy as always with Ninja Book Swap and wrapping a hundred things for the first Ninja Book Box, but here. My office space for the box is right next to my big bookcase of unread books, which means I've been getting a bit distracted but also really inspired to read my own books!

Lots of what I'm reading is still secret, but I wanted to finally mention a couple of books I read during DiverseAThon all those ages ago and haven't talked about here yet. Firstly I picked up Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, the story of a girl, Lydia, from a Chinese-American family, whose body is found in a lake. The book is about the ways that her different family members react to her death, and how their experience of their father being Chinese play into that. It's a really well written book and had an ending that I didn't see coming. Each of Lydia's family members has a really distinctive voice, and there's also flashbacks to when Lydia herself was alive so we get to see how the family functioned before her death, and how their father's feelings about his ancestry affected his relationship with his children. I bought it on the London Bookshop Crawl last year and I'm really glad I finally read it. Not an absolutely favourite, but a solid, recommendable book.

I also read Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho, which they've been talking about on the All the Books podcast for ages now. I picked it up in Bath (apparently Diverseathon was my time for reading books I bought on bookshop crawls!) and although I don't think I loved it as much as some of the Book Riot crew did, I did very much enjoy it and am looking forward to the next book in the series! Zacharias Wythe is the Sorcerer Royal in a regency London very similar to our own, except that it obviously has magic. However fairyland has been cutting off the flow of magic to England and Zacharias sets out to find out why. He has some assistance from the excellent Prunella Gentleman, and lots of stuff goes on. They also face a lot of bullshit along the way (Zacharias is black and Prunella is mixed race) that's sadly entirely believable. People are shit. Rhys is reading this now and keeps asking me if stuff will be explained, and I'm like 'well, lots of stuff is explained but lots of stuff is not...' so bring on book two!

In unrelated book news, Nonfiction November is (I think) not happening this year, but I've decided since I've loved it so much the past couple of years, to have a little unofficial event myself and make a pile of nonfiction to read next month. I think I'm probably going to start with Reasons to Stay Alive or Man Up. I'm really excited about it - I've got far too much unread nonfiction!

That said, I'm also thinking about putting myself back on a mad book buying ban again for 2017 and trying to get my TBR down to a manageable number (currently it's about 350). I'd have to make exceptions for the bookshop crawls though, and obviously books would still come into the house through swaps, but I'm thinking about it...

What bookish things have you been up to?

Saturday, 15 October 2016

A Response to All the Twitter Hate.

Before we start: everything in this post is serious. You're not missing any sarcasm or different meanings. What I am writing is what I mean, and I'm writing it just because I feel the need to somehow respond to the daily pain I see people going through out there in the blogosphere and on social media.

I know people say stupid things like 'I don't see skin colour, I just see the person'. The fact of the matter is that when you first meet someone you take them on face value. When people meet me they think 'ginger'. When I met my sisters boyfriend I thought 'black guy'. The importance for me is not attaching anything extra to those judgements. While a person's skin colour is part of their story it's not all of it and I'm not interested in seeing people only by race, gender identity, sexuality or any other way society can categorise them.

I care about people's stories, but honestly? I don't care who you love, as long as it's fully consensual just go ahead! I don't care whether you're a cis woman or a trans woman (or man), it's none of my business unless you want it to be. I don't care where you're from, just whether you're a good person. I mean, obviously that's not true because I care about people. I read to find out about experiences I'll never have, and I'm interested in understanding people's stories and empathising with their problems. I'm deeply interested in standing up for people when I can use my voice to affect some change or help someone out. What I'm not interested in is stupid people defining 'all black/trans/gay people' because why?

Since the whole Brexit thing here in the UK I've been fuming to the point of throwing inanimate objects whenever anyone uses the phrase 'the British people' to describe people who wanted out of the EU, people who are giant assholes/racists/ignorant twats or basically anyone else who is using the referendum result to say or do anything stupid or offensive. I hate that a tiny majority means that they think they speak for all of us when the reality is they haven't got the first fucking clue what I think. I want to tear myself away from it and shout and shout and shout at them that they don't speak for me, that I don't think what they think, that we couldn't be further apart in what we want for our country. So I think that even the idea that you could possibly be speaking for all of any group is just ridiculous. Before you bad mouth anybody for any decision they've made that hurts nobody and has no effect on you and that's probably been way harder for them to make because they know that far more people will have an opinion about it than say if I, a white, straight cis woman, were to make the same decision, maybe we should all take a step back and try to understand a bit more. About the context of where they're coming from, sure, but also about them as a fellow human being. 

I needed to get this off my chest because it's been stewing for a while. I see people shouting (on twitter, it's almost always twitter) about how sexual harrasment doesn't happen and gay people are 'asking' to be assaulted and my friends having to stand up for their friends again and again for things that are nobody's goddamn business and it makes me mad, so I just wanted to say... I don't know. That I don't understand because I don't have your experience, and I don't know as much as I should know about race issues, gender issues, or LGBTQ+ issues but I'd like to know more, and that to me you are a person first and foremost, and your business is your business.

And that's it.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Currently: All the Projects

You could be forgiven for thinking that this blog is being sponsored by reading events and blog tours lately, since it's been a while since I've posted about actual books and I really apologise for that. Because of Ninja Book Box I've been doing a lot of secret reading and there's not been all that much that I can actually talk about, but also I've just been really busy promoting and working on Ninja Book Box plus planning a few other fun things and also getting on with daily life, looking after the boys and adjusting to autumn, but this is my attempt at getting back into talking about more general things here on the blog!

Reading: I'm reading something for inclusion in a future Ninja Book Box (please keep buying them so I can keep making them, it's so fun!) as well as re-reading the title for November's box so as is becoming the norm, nothing I can talk about there! However when I need a bit of relief from 'required' reading I'm dipping in and out of Letters of Note still. It's lovely because you can just pick it up and read one letter and then put it down again. I'm doing a similar thing with Happiness by Matthieu Ricard - a good reminder of what's important! This week I also announced my DiscworldAthon 2017, so I thought I'd prepare for that by finally reading my sister's copy of A Slip of the Keyboard by Terry Pratchett (because every time I go to her house she says 'have you read any of those books you borrowed yet?' and then sighs). It's a collection of all of his non-fiction; journalism, speeches he gave, and other writings, and as expected it is hilarious and crazy and so wise and every other page I am sad that there will never be a new book by him again. What a loss.

Eating: Last week we randomly won a box of food at the supermarket and it had loads of Pick Up bars in it, which I hadn't had before but they're like a sweet biscuit with a massive layer of chocolate sandwiched between it and I am addicted to them! We also harvested a whole load of apples from our allotment so I've been doing things with them. At the moment there are apple chips in my oven - we'll see how they turn out!

Blogging: This week I posted this month's link up for the Little House Read-Along and wrote about how I didn't really get on with The First Four Years. So far I'm doing much better with On the Way Home, so we'll see. Along the same lines I also wrote the announcement post for DiscworldAthon 2017, a whole year of celebrating, reading, and talking about all things Discworld and Terry Pratchett. I'm seriously so excited to spend a year revisiting something I love so much but have read so little of lately. I haven't read The Shepherd's Crown yet and am sort of planning to do a readalong of it in December, more to give myself emotional support than anything! I'm planning all sorts - themed reading months, readalongs, giveaways, you name it. If you're interested in helping out with organization in any way (I need people to help with everything, from generating ideas to promoting the events to hosting themed months and holding giveaways - anything you can think of!) please fill in the form here. You also don't have to already be a die-hard Pratchett fan - everyone's welcome, whether you've ever read any Discworld or not!

Loving: We gave in to twitter pressure this week and started watching Stranger Things and it turns out people were right. I don't usually like creepy stuff but everything about it is just so well done that it's impossible not to love it I think. I'm not a Winona Ryder fan but oh my goodness she is  great in this series! We just finished episode 5 last night and it's getting seriously weird now! I'm also revelling in having Netflix and actually being able to watch Once Upon a Time episode by episode. At this point I'm too invested in the series to give up, but it is a little bit eye-rollingly ridiculous at times, however Hook is still there so I'm still happy :-D

I've also really been getting back into podcasts and listening to Spotify - if you're interested here's a playlist of every song I've ever thought was awesome (that I've remembered so far!). I've been really inspired by The Simple Show this week.

Promoting: Until the end of Monday you can get 10% off the November Mini Ninja Book Box. This is a side product I added for those who don't want or can't afford the full box (which is now sold out anyway) and it just contains an excellent independently published book plus one gift and access to any additional online content. It's £15 which includes UK postage, so get it for £13.50 using SURREAL10 at checkout.

Organising: I need this section to keep everything straight in my head! I've started shouting about London Bookshop Crawl 2017. It'll be either the first or second weekend in February and everyone's welcome! The only criteria is that you want to come book shopping with us - you don't have to be able to afford to buy lots of books, and please don't worry about not knowing anyone - last year almost nobody knew anybody, and a lot of us are fairly socially awkward. It's just a day of great fun, great bookshops, shoving the books you love into other people's hands, and often some fun extras and discounts. If you're at all interested in coming I'd love it if you'd add your email and any bookshop preferences here.

Also organising DiscworldAthon, as mentioned above, a bookish advent challenge for Instagram, and Ben's fourth (how??!) birthday next week!!

Autumn Ninja Book Swap sign up just closed so I'm doing some shopping for that, and today is Bookshop Day so we're hopefully heading out to meet Rhys from work later and do some bookshop supporting!

Image result for bookshop day

I'm also going to be reviewing the books I receive for Ninja Book Box consideration over on the book box blog instead of here, just to keep them a little separate, so look out for them there (and make sure you're following the box on Bloglovin!)

What have you been up to recently?