Feature

ARC Check In #1: December 2019

I wanted to start doing a regular feature to share the review copies that I have, which ones I’m planning on reading soon, and which backlist titles I’d like to aim to read. I figure this way the books get a little more promotion than they would just sitting on my shelves, especially if I don’t get to them immediately.

I would also really love it if you readers could tell me which books I should prioritise, either because you want to see my review or you highly recommend the book. This would be great motivation for me!

I’m still playing around with the format of this post, so the layout may change drastically next month once I’ve figured out what I do and don’t want to include. I’ll get into the groove at some point!

Current NetGalley %: 54% (99/185)

Current Edelweiss %: 70% (116/166)

I would just like to point out that I’ve been using NetGalley for nine years, and my percentage looks awful because some of the ebooks expired before I could get to them. Another reason I’m so behind is that I’ve taken several blogging breaks over the years, and that has meant that I’ve left a lot of review copies unread. I’m partly doing this post to shame myself into reading my e-ARCs, though, and so I’m hoping this percentage will increase by the end of the year.

ARCs for December and January

I don’t have too many review copies to get to for the next couple of months, so that takes the pressure off a bit!

Pending: Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez (blog tour & 2020 debut)

I have four (maybe five if I get approved for Woven in Moonlight) books that I really need to focus on as they’re either part of a blog tour that I’m participating in, or they’re part of a feature that I’ll be doing next year. These, plus the other two that I’d like to get to as a lowkey goal, are all January releases, so I should have plenty of time to get through all of them.

Expectations

I’ll be honest, I’m in more of a contemporary and thriller mood than anything else at the moment. Therefore I’m actually most drawn to the thrillers and mysteries on the list, especially Six Wicked Reasons. The thrillers are the ARCs that aren’t as urgent, so that’s just typical! I’m also drawn to Spellhacker since it’s a fantasy heist story, so that at least has a bit of mystery cross-over. There aren’t any on this list that I’m not at least a bit excited for, however I’ve never read a Tara Sim book before so I don’t know if I’ll connect with her writing.

Diamond City also sounds like it’ll be a quick read, so I’m feeling really motivated about all of these!

Backlist Titles

I’ve got quite a few backlist titles that I want to get to ASAP, for various reasons. I’ve picked out a few that I need to read in order to recap for Recaptains, and others I’m just really intrigued by but haven’t found the time to read them until now.

Renegades is one I’ve been putting off for ages, and I was going to try to read it before Supernova came out at the beginning of November, but I got distracted. I’ve been putting The Dragon Republic off as well because I’m SCARED, and it’s also freakin’ enormous. I want to prioritise it once I’ve read a couple of my January ARCs though, because I’m desperate to be back in Rin’s world.

I’ve been on a bit of a sci-fi kick, so I’ve added The Pioneer to my Urgents list as I think it’ll be one that I’ll enjoy now that I’m in the mood. I’m currently reading The Girl Who Came Out of the Woods, and I’m expecting to finish it fairly soon, so that’ll be another one knocked off the list. And, finally, I’ve added the graphic novel of To Kill a Mockingbird to the list because that should be a really fast read, especially as I’ve read the original novel before. I also LOVED the original novel, so I’m excited to read it in a new format.

Recently Read

There are a few ARCs that I read recently that I still need to review that should up my numbers a bit. Here’s a quick sneak peek before I get around to reviewing them!

As you can see, there are quite a few that I’ve read recently! I managed to smash through some of my ARCs in November, and a couple of these are from way back when that I never got around to. Look out for reviews in the coming month!

And that’s all! That’s my long winded post about my review copies and how I’m planning on tackling them. I’m really hoping that these posts will be interesting for you and motivational for me. Don’t forget to let me know which books you’d like to hear my opinion on, and I’ll prioritise those!

New Book Releases: December 2019

Every month I like to share my most anticipated new book releases. December is a slightly quieter month compared to the rest of the year (which is probably for the best because I have a lot of catching up to do), but I still have seven books to talk about in this post.

(The links are all affiliate links.)

1. Children of Vice and Virtue by Tomi Adeyemi

Admittedly, I probably won’t be reading this one right away. I didn’t love Children of Blood and Bone (in fact I found it quite boring!) so I’m going to wait for the reviews before I decide whether or not to read this one. Have you read it yet? If so, what did you think? Is it an improvement on the first book?

2. The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

The Wives is about a woman whose husband has two other wives. The main character knows this, but one day she finds a note from one of them and tracks her down – probably out of curiosity. It seems as though one of the wives is being abused by the husband, so I’m hoping the wives are going to team up together and become a badass team. It could go in completely the opposite direction, though.

3. A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh

Nalini Singh’s first adult thriller! I’ve been rereading her Psy-Changeling series and I had forgotten how easy her books are to read. I’m really looking forward to this one now! A Madness of Sunshine is about a woman who returns to New Zealand, to a town that a small detective is basically running himself. A jogger goes missing, and the two of them have to team up to investigate.

4. Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

A black woman is accused of kidnapping the white toddler that she is babysitting. The mother of the toddler wants to make things right again. I don’t know if this is going to be a small town drama like Little Fires Everywhere, but I’m here for it.

5. Would Like to Meet by Rachel Winters

This seems to be some sort of rom com about an assistant who has to help a screenwriter beat his writers block. If this is going to be cute, I’m here for it, but I’m worried it’s going to have the woman do all of the work for this really important guy then I’m going to be quite disappointed.

6. Reverie by Ryan La Sala

This is being pitched as Inception meets The Magicians. The main character is found half dead in a river, and after that reality seems a bit off. I loooove parallel universe and timey-wimey fiction, so I’m quite excited for this one!

7. The Weight of a Soul by Elizabeth Tammi

This is about Norse mythology and Vikings! The main hcaracter’s sister dies, and the main character makes a deal with Hela, aka the goddess of Death.

Which new releases are you looking forward to getting your hands on in December? Are you also glad that it’s a bit of a quieter month?

Monthly Wrap Up: November 2019

Life Stuff

November was such a fun month! Sure, it was really busy, but in the best way. First of all, Quill and I celebrated our anniversary by going to a spa and staying the night at a hotel. We also ditched our phones for the entire day, and it was lovely and relaxing. I didn’t get much reading done because I spent most of the time snoozing, eating, and trying out all the different facilities they had! We definitely want to go back soon.

My birthday came next, and while we didn’t do much to celebrate that, we did have a couple of friends over to watch the Christmas lights in town be switched on. Quill bought me a new Kindle (<3), so I spent a lot of time reading on that.

For Quill’s birthday, I bought him a gaming chair and the new Spiderman game. I’m excited to give both of those a go! He also had some friends over (which I found a bit stressful), and all in all it was a really nice weekend.

Aside from the birthday and celebratory things, we also had my mum and grandad round for dinner, and later on Quill’s parents visited. Now that everyone has seen the new house, maybe we will have a chance to enjoy it ourselves 😉

Lastly, we went to see The Woman in Black at the theatre, and while at the beginning I was a bit iffy about it, it soon got really good. It wasn’t as scary as I was hoping, but it was quite jumpy!

Books Read

  1. Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris ★★
  2. The Grace Year by Kim Liggett ★★★★
  3. Someone We Know by Shari Lapena ★★★
  4. The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson ★★★
  5. Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman ★★★★
  6. Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen ★★
  7. The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah ★★
  8. Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales ★★★★
  9. The Sky Weaver by Kristen Ciccarelli ★★★★
  10. Emily Eternal by M. G. Wheaton ★★.5
  11. Lock Every Door by Riley Sager ★★★
  12. Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things by Jacqueline Firkins ★★★
  13. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson ★★★

As you can see, I had kind of an average reading month in November. I read a lot of books, but most of them were just three star reads or below. I did get a few really good reads in, but I’m hoping for more in December.

On the Blog & In the Blogosphere

November was a slightly better blogging month for me than October was, but I’m still hoping to do better next month. I really want to get back into the swing of blogging again, but at the moment it’s very stop-and-start, even though I have lots of post ideas. I didn’t have a chance to do much blog hopping either! Here’s what I posted in November:

Movies, TV Shows, and Games

I haven’t done much gaming recently, probably because we’ve been so busy! I’m hoping to give Spiderman a go, and we’re also about to pick up the next Gears of War. Quill bought a gaming PC for his birthday, so when that arrives I’m planning on installing The Sims 2 (<3), and trying out Subnautica. I don’t know why I think that’s a good idea since I am terrified of deep water, but it looks so pretty!

We went to see Frozen 2 in the cinema on opening weekend, and I really enjoyed it. It was very empowering (I particularly liked the line “What do you need?” *SQUEE*), and I loved Kristoff’s solo song. LOVED.

We’re still making our way through Supernatural, and we’re currently about a third of the way through season four. We’re probably not going to catch up in time for the finale at this rate, but I’m glad we’re both enjoying the show. We’re also still watching Modern Family, and are currently on season three.

One new-to-us show that we decided to start was The Dragon Prince, which is written by the people who wrote The Last Airbender. I’m not as into it as I thought I would be, but can I just say that the animals in it are ADORABLE.

Looking Ahead

December is, well, December. I’m expecting it to be hectic. Aside from seeing family and friends for the holidays, there’s also our Christmas party, and also a secret surprise birthday thing that I arranged for Quill. Our weekends are pretty booked up, so I’m not sure how much reading I’m going to get in.

What do you have planned for December? Was November a good month for you?

Guest Post: Five Quotes to Live By by Natalie Hibberd

Today I’m kicking off the blog tour for Natalie Hibberd’s debut book, Inside Out! I’m slowly getting back into dystopian books after wearing myself out on them (possibly due to the current political climate), so when I was contacted about this book I was intrigued, and also a little excited. The blog tour will be running all week, so be sure to check out the other hosts later on in the week.

For this kick off post, Natalie has written a guest post about five inspirational quotes, aka five quotes to live by. You can read about these below the divider, and hopefully they’ll provide some inspiration for you! Continue scrolling after the quotes to read more about Inside Out and the author. – Amber

Like many writers I know, I have always had a fondness for inspirational quotes. My room is plastered with them and I read at least one every day. They may not be able to magic away the hard times in our lives, but I have found that they sometimes provide just that tiny bit of extra strength needed to gather your energies and confront any challenges in your way.

I hope some of these may inspire you, as they did me.

“You Can Steer Yourself In Any Direction You Choose” – Dr Seuss

This tiny extract from Oh The Places You’ll Go has been a motivation to me for as long as I can remember. As a young, disabled woman whose greatest desire is to write for a living, I have been bombarded with people telling me ‘you can’t do that.’ I’ve proved to myself that I can make my own dreams come true. Believe that you can too!

“Of Course It Is Happening Inside Your Head… But Why On Earth Should That Mean That It Is Not Real?” – J. K. Rowling

This one might sound crazy, but I know that my fellow writers (and book, TV and film superfans everywhere) will understand its power. The way in which fictional characters can influence real people’s lives never fails to amaze me. Imagination matters. It can change the world.

“No One Ever Made A Difference By Being Like Everyone Else” – The Greatest Showman

Rather self-explanatory, this gem from one of my all-time favourite films means so much to me I dissolved into tears right there in the cinema when I first heard it. Being different is hard – but never once has anything been achieved by extinguishing your own spark just to blend in with everyone else. Whatever you do, do it your way. If you do that, anything can happen.

“No One Can Make You Feel Inferior Without Your Consent” – Eleanor Roosevelt

There are bullies in every walk of life and the scars they leave can do so much damage to your self-esteem. At my lowest, I viewed myself solely in the light of other people’s negative opinions. Self-confidence is something I continue to work on, and these words really spur me on. They also take on a new poignancy in the wake of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, as they remind me every day that we must fight to make sure these words remain true for everyone.

“When Things Get Tough… Make Good Art” – Neil Gaiman

I have been telling stories since I was two years old but during my most severe bouts of depression, I found that I couldn’t do it anymore, which broke my heart. This quote (and the whole Make Good Art speech) was the first lifeline I found to claw my way back to my art and – by extension – myself. The things you love are precious, fight for them.

About Natalie

Natalie Hibberd was born in Portsmouth and has wanted to be an author since she was two years old. She is publishing her debut novel Inside Out, independently with Matador, aged 21. Natalie was born with cerebral palsy. When she isn’t writing and reading, she enjoys singing, amateur dramatics
and listening to podcasts. Natalie lives in Petersfield, Hampshire, with her parents and her assistance dog, Chloe. You can follow Natalie on Twitter.

About Inside Out

Guest Post: Five Quotes to Live By by Natalie HibberdInside Out Genre: Dystopia
Release Date: 30th November 2019
Publisher: Matador Publishing

In a divisive world of mistrust and murder, there’s only one thing that matters growing up: you’re either in The Inside or The Outside.

While the Insiders appear pampered and privileged, the Outsiders know only harsh realities. Believing themselves to be deprived of everything the Insiders have, the younger generation channel their rage into a terrorist group called The Freedom Fighters. Their
intent: overthrow the Inside at any cost.

Now the Insiders must watch as the world they love collapses around them while the government resort to increasingly desperate tactics to try and contain the Outside threat. When the latest initiative catapults one of the youngest into the heart of the war, everything is pushed to breaking point.

7 Changes In My Reading Life

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday is about the changes in my reading life. I’ve been around the blogosphere for nine years now, and I feel like my reading life and habits have changed a lot. How has yours changed?

1. I’m a more analytical reader

This is also partly thanks to studying English Literature, and also partly thanks to watching and analysing countless TV shows, but my reading life has also been greatly affected! Since starting blogging, I’ve become much more analytical with my reading because I need to think up things to say about the books I’m reading, whether it’s for a review or to discuss with friends!

2. I have a lot of people to talk to about books

Back before I started blogging, I had no one to talk about books with. That’s part of the reason I – and many others, I’m sure – started a blog. Now I have hundreds of people who are around pretty much every second of the day who will talk about books with me, and it’s an amazing feeling! I’ve made some incredible friends through blogging, but I also really appreciate all the acquaintances I’ve made on Twitter and Booktube. If we’re not considered friends yet, I hope we will be given the time!

3. I read a lot more diversely

Over the years my reading has become more and more diverse. I’m thankful to the people around me for this, because so many people I know are amazing advocates for diverse reads, and without them I don’t think as many diverse books would be on my radar. It also helps that the publishing industry is publishing more and more diverse books every year (although it has a long way to go).

This is irrelevant, I just love Max

4. I can discover books more easily

I used to have such a tough time discovering new books as I lived in a small village and could only shop for books in charity shops (poverty problems!), but now I have access to an amazing community who will recommend me books at the drop of a hat. If I’m not on Twitter, I can find books through Instagram, Goodreads, Booktube… almost anywhere!

5. I have more reading apps on my phone

What did we do without reading apps?!

6. I read less urban fantasy and paranormal romance

Related to the charity shops thing above, I used to read sooo much urban fantasy and paranormal romance books! I first got into the genre at about 16, and I blew through so many series. I think I kind of wore myself out in the genre, because now I rarely find myself picking it up. I’ve moved on to thrillers and epic fantasy now more than anything. This could also be related to the genre trends in publishing changing, rather than just me being different!

7. I read so many more books

Not to brag, but I went from reading about twenty books a year (that was my absolute minimum) to reading about one hundred and thirty. This might be because I’m not at school any more, but it also seems to be related to how much I have going on in my personal life. Is that obvious? I just noticed that when I first started blogging I jumped up to one hundred plus books a year, and then the first couple of years I was with my partner (and had a few rubbish things going on) I was back down to about fifty books. Now I’ve jumped up to over one hundred and thirty again and I don’t know how that happened because I’m still quite a busy person!