Goodreads 2020 Reads

Something I love about Goodreads is how easy it is to track my progress towards my reading goals. At the end of the year, Goodreads gives stats on my reads.

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2020 Reading Goals

My goal was set at 12 books, thinking I could easily read one a month but I hadn’t taken into account how busy I’d be certain months launching my own book, Ocean Heart. It turned out just 12 books was harder than I thought.

The year has include some books I absolutely loved, and one I hated. I’m pretty good at choosing books I know I will love that I wasn’t surprised that my average rating was high. I just don’t have time to read books I won’t like. 😂

Wiccan Romances: Amelia’s Story by Nicola Hebron

This was my first read of 2020. It was a book I’d been eager to buy, but was lucky enough to win a copy from the author on Twitter! Whoop! Whoop! I love fantasy set in the real world so it was a good start to my year.

My last two reads of 2020 were Garden in the Sands by Ellie Mitten and… I rather unusual choice for me… The Substantial Meal by Florence Green. I’ve rated them both on Goodreads but still need to write the review.

Garden in the Sands by Ellie Mitten

I think I preordered this book, but I’m such a slow reader, by the time I got to it, it’d been out a little while. I’m going to write a review very soon but as you can see from my 5 star rating, I LOVED THIS BOOK!

The Substantial Sandwich by Florence Green

I can’t remember how Florence & I got talking, but I was a bit glum I wasn’t going to make my pathetic reading goal of just 12 books. I was beating myself up. Then Florence cheered my up by sending me his recent release, an erotic satire using innuendos and puns about the Covid restrictions. It was a quick short read and succeeded at cheering me up. Review coming soon.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas is the most popular book I read. I’m not surprised as I saw it all over Instagram. I actually bought my copy in summer 2019 at YALC.

Another YALC buy was Sea Witch by Sarah Henning. It’s a historical fantasy/fairytale retelling of The Little Mermaid. I really loved the book, and hope to read book 2 in the series this year.

A book that should be more popular is Sorceress of Truth by J D Groom. It’s contemporary fantasy and has everything I love in a book. The MC was relatable, but all the side characters were well developed. With a modern day sorceress, fairies and vampires, what’s not to love?

2021 Reading Goal

To alleviate pressure, I’ve lowered my reading goal to 10 fiction books. I know, some people can read that amount in a month. But, I read for pleasure. And, I have to be in the right mood. If I’m too tired or engrossed in my own writing, I just can’t get into the book.

I also have a few resource books I need to read and review. I didn’t review any last year despite reading some. So, you can look forward to that. These are separate from my reading goal.

[kofi]

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2020 Book Reviews

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8 Reasons Why You Should Write Reviews For You

Book Review: Trust Me by Maddie James

The novel is set in the future. Cyan and her mother are hunted because they are the last Caucasian women. They are wanted for science, trafficking, etc. Cyan’s mother was lost, presumed dead, when she was younger during an attack in their home. Cyan has spent most of her life on the run with her dad until he was murdered. Cyan is then on the run getting help from an unlikely companion, her father’s murderer.

Beginning

The book starts off by showing us this futuristic world. As Cyan’s needs to live off the grid to keep her safe, they actually live a very simple life. Cyan grows up in an extremely sheltered life where her mum is her main companion.

The start of the book is a little disorientating as we jump back and forth in time and between the viewpoints. You best get used to this style of story telling as it is used throughout the book.

Middle

I’m not keen on books where the characters are travelling. As Cyan is never safe, she’s always on the move.

Cyan lost her mother when she was young during an attack in the family home. She then spent a number of years raised solely by her dad. Her dad is getting old and struggling to keep her safe so he gets Devin (someone who has hunted them for years to get the bounty) to kill him and take on the role of protecting Cyan. The promise Devin makes to Cyan’s dad forces them together.

It was uncomfortable to read at times. There wasn’t only one rape scene but several, told by different characters and at different times.

At first Cyan doesn’t like Devin, he killed her dad. Devin keeps their relationship strictly business as he worries that if he gets emotionally involved it will cloud his judgement. Cyan learns to depend on Devin for protection and Devin learns to trust Cyan and her premonitions. The romance between them grows and I enjoyed the steamy scene in the barn.

I also liked Cyan’s powers and would have liked to have seen more of this but then she would have been less vulnerable. She gets a vibration feeling when danger is coming and premonitions that cone true. She also has a very destructive power which she used to attack hunters when they hunted her family. All the time in hiding, they never thought to encourage her to practice her powers to use them to keep them safe. So sadly, Cyan can’t use them.

The End

There was a decent end to the book. There were two plot twists and Cyan finally used her powers to save them.

The ending is left open for possibly another book.

Final Thoughts

Overall, this book was not for me. I was provided this book by Net Galley for an honest review.

I wasn’t keen on the constant danger or the idea that being the last woman with blue eyes meant men wanted to rape you. I found it hard to understand and it felt racist at times because men of colour were unable to control their urge and behaved like savage animals. If these are trigger points for you, give this book a miss.

Another gripe was her father’s plan for her survival.  I found it a bit odd – why die. I couldn’t understand why Devin was risking his life for a promise to a dead man he had never really known. I didn’t believe Cyan would willingly go with Devin after seeing him murder her dad, especially as she didn’t know why and only had Devin’s word that it was what her dad wanted.

However, there are also many good points. The book is very well written with lots of showing and the world was brought to life in a natural way that sucked you in. I loved Cyan’s powers and wanted more. I loved the secret behind her necklace and it was a great reveal at the end. The slow burning romance kept me turning the page and I was thrilled when the pair finally got it on.

The author has written plenty of other books and maybe another title would be more my thing but I don’t think I will be in a hurry to read another one unless it comes highly recommended by someone who knows my reading tastes.

Have you read a book by Maddie James? Do you like novels set in the future or characters with powers?

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Book Review: The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa

I took my son to the library to exchange his books (or renewal and get more books).  Whilst he was struggling with the dilemma of  choosing his new books and returning books he loves, my husband pointed this book out to me.  I have always wanted to write a novel about faeries so this was to be a fun read and research into how someone else has done it.

The MC is a boy called Ethan Chase.  I don’t read many books with a male protagonist so this was a refreshing change and it was done well.   Skip to my final thoughts it you don’t want any spoilers.

Beginning

 Ethan is aware fae exist and has a troubled past with them.   In the opening chapters he shares how they are dangerous and the result of their interference in his life has lead to him being expelled from schools and blamed for a fire he didn’t cause. 

Ethan is starting another new school. On his first day, he stands up for a boy being bullied, Todd. Nobody else can see that Todd has long furry ears but it is because he is a half-fae.  Ethan doesn’t want to be friends with Todd as he distances himself from all fae.  He also doesn’t like Todd’s wee fairy companion.

Ethan also attracts the attention of Mackenzie, who wants to interview him for the school paper.  He tries to push Mackenzie away as anybody that gets close to him always gets hurt but she is persistent.  

Middle

A  deadly new type of fairy are consuming fae and half-fae.  Todd asks for Ethan’s help.  At first Ethan doesn’t want to get involved but he takes pity and agrees.  Unfortunately, Todd is taken and now the creatures are coming after Ethan.  Ethan is at a martial arts tournament where Mackenzie is trying to get his story but during the tournament the deadly fae come for him.  Nobody else can see them.  Ethan runs.  Mackenzie follows.  

Ethan needs to keep Mackenzie safe. He makes a choice to use a special object his sister gave him to transport into the fae world.  They are greeted by a cat, Grimalkin, who knows the way to the Iron Kingdom where his sister, Meghan, is queen.   The journey is dangerous but when they arrive his sister wants to keep him safe.  They are sent to a room to ‘rest’ but feels more like prison.  When Ethan and Mackenzie get the opportunity to escape with the help of Keirran. 

On their mission to rescue Todd, there are a lot of truths uncovered which I won’t go into.  Their are fights.  There were some very interesting characters along the way.  I liked Kierran’s love interest and the exiled queen and the cheeky little gremlin.  

They travel to the earth and are attacked again. They manage to escape to the in-between and learn how serious the problem is.  They visit Hyde Park to follow a lead but things get worse for the gang when the nephew is taken prisoner.

Something I really enjoyed was the slow burning romance between the Ethan and Mackenzie. There is plenty of conflict between them and good reasons why they hold back. I couldn’t wait for them to get together.  

The Ending

The build up to a battle where Ethan has to save his friends (and nephew) was worth it.  There were also some reveals that I hadn’t seen coming and I liked that the supporting characters were well developed too. 

Finally Thoughts…

There were a few times Ethan annoyed me.  He blames himself for Todd being kidnapped but I didn’t really see why it was his fault, after all, Todd was a fairy and hung around with the fae.  Ethan made it clear that doing that meant trouble was inevitable.  I got that he felt responsible for what happened to Mackenzie but she wouldn’t leave him alone.  She did bring it on herself too.  

What I loved was how all the characters were well developed.  You could easily tell who was speaking and they all had rich backstories.  There were plenty of magical creatures and I loved the world building especially the ‘in-between’ world.  

I hadn’t realised the book was part of a series (it’s book 5 in the Iron Fey series).  I was really pleased when I discovered that as I wanted to read more.  I wonder if some of the things that didn’t click with me is because I need to read the other books.  For example, I want to know more about Meghan and why she is the Iron Queen and why Ethan holds so much resentment for the Iron Fey.  


If you like this post, you will enjoy:

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Book Review:  Blind Tiger by Rachel Vincent


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Book Review: You stole my heart… Do I have to take your name?

This is a book I wouldn’t naturally pick up but Sarah Padfield-Neofitou sold it to me on the idea that it could help me with naming my characters. It certainly will make me think more about their surnames but there was more to this book than that.

What is it about?

The book is aimed at recently engaged, soon to be married couples. It addresses the different traditions and beliefs following marriage about names. It raises awareness that you don’t have to take your partners name and they don’t have to take yours and all the different options available to you both.

The book also has tips on how to announce your post-marriage surnames, things to watch out for like avoiding unfortunate initials.

The most eye opening part of the book was on how people judge others for their name decisions. You suddenly realise how many prejudices there are connected to a simple choice that doesn’t really affect anyone but the name bearer.

The real shocker I discovered is I have judged people for their choices and I’ve no idea where my ideals came from. I never thought I was a judgemental person until I saw myself in her words as that person.  I hadn’t expected to evolve as a person from reading this but I did and I’m a better person for it.  

Do I recommend it

I think this book would make a great engagement gift. When I got married I didn’t give a second thought to changing my name. It is what you do…

But now I realise how vast my choice was. I also think if I realised how difficult it is to officially change your name, I wouldn’t have bothered.  

I’m not sure I would have bought this book as a writing resource, although, now I have it in my collection I’m sure I will refer to it for inspiration when coming up with surnames.


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Tips on naming your character


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Reflecting on Goals set in January

To start the year, I set myself some goals for the year ahead.  I plan to check how I’m getting on with that periodically during the year to check I’m on track.  If you set yourself goals it is important to check on yourself to make sure you are on target and to re-focus yourself.

On Reflection

Summary:  Considering these were annual targets I think I’ve kicked off the year with a really good start at achieving them.  I’m not sure listing my goals as bullet points was the best idea, so to re-focus I shall put my goals into a table.

March 2018 goals

Blogging Goals Review

  • ACHIEVED:  I migrated both my blogs into one blog and I am using categories to split the content up from ‘writing’ topics and ‘beauty topics.
  • ACHIEVED:  I planned to post at least once a week and I have been exceeding this – posting two to three times a week.  Sometimes as often as four times.  Taking the pressure off has increased my productivity.
  • ACHIEVED:  I’ve reduced my scheduled posts on LoCal so that they only run for two weeks so if I run out of time to change them, I am not Constantly spamming people with the same things for weeks with no end.
  • ACHIEVED:  I have started including some personal posts on my blog such as my son’s World Book Day and What I’ve Been Watching.
  • ALMOST ACHIEVED:  I wanted to start vlogging.  This has involved researching how to do it and plucking up the courage.  In addition, I need the house to be quiet for recording which doesn’t happen often.  However, I have posted a video on YouTube reviewing Agent Hunter (see below) and I have a scheduled blog post about this coming soon.Wri
  • NOT ACHIEVED:  I haven’t approached any brands to see if they’d like me to represent them. However, my Instagram pics of my The Pip Box won and I got my March box free (review of the free box coming April).

Writing Goals Review

  • ACHIEVED:  I have stopped editing Drift and started querying.
  • NOT ACHIEVED:  I have not started work on finishing Glide. I have been really busy with my course at college and work.  However, I have three weeks off for Easter break and hope to re-visit this project over the coming weeks.
  • NOT ACHIEVED:  I have not started a new story idea – not that I’m not full of ideas.
  • NOT ACHIEVED:  I’ve not had time to read the programme for Felixstowe Book Festival but intend to buy tickets and go. I have decided to miss YALC this year (will explain more soon).
  • NOT ACHIEVED:  Completing a writing course is on hold until I finish my current course at college.
  • ALMOST ACHIEVED:  I have been reading more since getting my Kindle.  I have almost finished The Gender Game and will review the title and my Kindle once I have.  I am a slow reader with only a few chances to read.
  • NOT ACHIEVED:  I have not found out more about how Twitter queries work.  However, I have been networking more on Instagram and meeting lots of writers online this way.

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Goals for the year ahead – 2018

If you read my earlier post from today, you’ll know that I’ve reflected on how 2017 went.  This inspired me to set my goals for the year ahead.

Making 2018 even better

Blogging

I now absolutely love blogging.  I’m addicted.  It is has raised in my ranks of importance.  Here are my goals for 2018:

  • Categories:  Currently, I am running three blogs.  One for beauty review, one for anything related to writing and books and another that shares the posts by both.  It is very time consuming and exhausting!  I shall now be migrating them all to this blog and using categories to present content relevant to the readers interests.
  • Schedule:  
    • I was trying to post two articles a week and did pretty well but sometimes it was hard.   I need post regularly but once a week is sufficient and I can schedule posts.
    • I’ve been using loCal (free online calendar) to schedule my tweets.  I was unwell in December and never updated my tweets!  Aghh!  My poor followers had the same tweets for another month *cringe*.  Setting an end date is important.
  • Personal:  Keeping to my categories has meant that when life is busy I haven’t anything relevant to post whereas if I start sharing more about me (like being a mum or working in education), I could have more content and make my life easier.
  • Vlogging:  I did my first video blog this year and I was really impressed at how easy it was. I know I have more to learn to make my videos better but you’ve got to start somewhere.  I’ve also done some ‘unboxing’ videos on my instagram.
  • Product reviews:  I need to not be shy to contact brands that I love to see if they’ll support me reviewing their product.  I hope that in 2018 I will get the chance to review more products as I really enjoyed my experience of reviewing Saal Digital’s photo book.

Writing

My dream is still to be published and I still would love to go down the traditional route but not found an agent (or publisher) but some of that is my fault as I don’t query enough.

  • Drift/Jewel of the sea:  Stop editing and start querying!
  • Glide:  I know how this story ends and I need to finish it.  Readers who loved Drift (on Wattpad) want to read the next book in the series.  I have had so much support and encouragement and one user even sent me pictures of Scotland to help me.
  • Start a fresh new story:  I don’t want this to distract from the above goals but I’ve got lots of new story ideas and I really need to start something fresh.  I hope to make a start on this later in 2018.
  • Conventions: I love attending YALC and Felixstowe Book Festival last year and I would love to be able to go again.
  • Writer courses:  I’m very busy at the moment with a course for work but once that is out of the way I’d like to continue my studies with Write Story Books for Children and Write Romance fiction.  I’m enrolled on both these courses ready to complete when I have time.  I also would happily do another Curtis Brown Creative course online.
  • Reading:  I got a Kindle at last!  I plan to start reading more in 2018 and hope to discover some amazing reads to review on my blog (and Good Reads).
  • Twitter queries:  I need to learn when these are running so ~I

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