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