Memo Pad: January Wrap up

I’ve had an excellent start to my reading year this month. I finished a whole 6 books and that’s only because I made myself stop reading towards the end of the month so I wouldn’t have too many reviews to write! Four of them were five star reads although towards the end of the month things went down hill a little with a DNF.

Away from reading, I’ve been taking the month off from writing and by that I mean I draft zero’d a 10k short story, started writing myself an edit letter for #ExcitingSpaceWIP and did more planning and plot hole hunting for my next wip…..whoops. (i’m officially naming the new one #ChronicallyWitchyWIP). Anyway, it actually was a lot of time off even if it doesn’t sound like it hence all the reading.

Our house is also officially on the market, so we’ve had lots of people coming and going for viewings. All the waiting is very nerve-racking.

But back to books. I think one of the reasons I had such a good reading month is that I read whatever I felt like at that moment which meant I bought quite a few books but I did read most of them as soon as I bought them which meant I kept my owned books under 50 which is my aim.

Books Read: 6 DNF: 1 Books Acquired: 7

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37 Most Anticipated 2019 Books

This post is exactly what the title suggests. There are SO MANY amazing books coming out this year (my goodreads shelf has 82 books that sound amazing) but I managed to narrow it down to a top 37. Yes, okay, that might not sound much like narrowing it down but it was super hard. Hopefully there is something for everyone here but a few quick facts:

  • This list has a mix of YA & Adult books (with one MG squeezed in)
  • The majority (2/3) are queer
  • There’s a mix of fantasy, scifi, contemporary and historical (quite a few fit more than one) in lots of sub genres which is why…
  • I’m ordering this post by release date (according to goodreads) rather than deciding which book goes in which genre
  • I’m also sticking to standalone or series starters rather than sequels
  • All links go to goodreads and I’ve tried to include what rep I know about but have undoubtedly missed lots.

I’d love to know what your most anticipated releases are. Are they on this list or have I missed something?

January:

The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan

Adult //  Fantasy

A group of three young thieves are pulled into a centuries old magical war between ancient beings, mages, and humanity in this wildly original debut epic fantasy.

The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan

YA // Contemporary
LGBTQ (F/F)

Rukhsana is caught kissing her girlfriend by her conservative Muslim parents, who respond by forcing her to move from Seattle to Bangladesh. 

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

YA // Historical Fantasy
POC (Black, Indian) // Biracial (Algerian/French, Filipino/Spanish) // LGBTQ (Bi) // Autism // Jewish rep

Set in a darkly glamorous Paris, it follows a charismatic but cursed heir of a massive fortune as he plots to steal one of three ancient and powerful artifacts of fate. He and his crew will navigate the elite gatherings of secret occult societies, traveling through Paris’s catacombs where they must confront their worst secrets as well as a destiny they never imagined.

The Binding by Bridget Collins

Adult // Historical Fantasy
LGBTQ (M/M)

Bookbinders remove unwanted memories and trap them safely in writing where they can be kept from escaping. When Emmett is apprenticed to a binder, he starts to suspect his own recollections may have been tampered with.

February:

Immoral Code by Lillian Clark

YA // Contemporary Thriller 
LGBTQ (Aro/Ace)

For Nari, aka Narioka Diane, aka hacker digital alter ego “d0l0s,” it’s college and then a career at “one of the big ones,” like Google or Apple. Keagan, her sweet, sensitive boyfriend, is happy to follow her wherever she may lead. Reese is an ace/aro visual artist with plans to travel the world. Santiago is off to Stanford on a diving scholarship, with very real Olympic hopes. And Bellamy? Physics genius Bellamy is admitted to MIT—but the student loan she’d been counting on is denied when it turns out her estranged father—one Robert Foster—is loaded. Nari isn’t about to let her friend’s dreams be squashed by a deadbeat billionaire, so she hatches a plan to steal just enough from Foster to allow Bellamy to achieve her goals.

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

Adult // Fantasy
LGBTQ (F/F)

Ead, undercover as a lady-in-waiting, must protect the queen from lurking assassins; the queen, Sabran IX, theoretically belongs to a magical bloodline whose existence binds the huge and abominable dragon, the Nameless One, at the bottom of the ocean. Half a world away, young Tané, the rider and companion of a more benevolent sort of dragon, breaks her country’s strict ban on allowing seafarers through its borders. This sets in motion a chain of events that reveals that Sabran’s ancestry may not be the true source of the Nameless One’s bindings, and that tests all three women profoundly in their attempts to keep humankind safe from the beast. 

The Test by Sylvain Neuvel

Adult // Sci-Fi Contemporary

Britain, the not-too-distant future. Idir is sitting the British Citizenship Test. He wants his family to belong. Twenty-five questions to determine their fate. Twenty-five chances to impress. When the test takes an unexpected and tragic turn, Idir is handed the power of life and death. How do you value a life when all you have is multiple choice?

The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P Djeli Clark

Adult // Historical Fantasy
POC (Egyptian)

In an alternate Cairo where humans live and work alongside otherworldly beings; the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities handles the issues that can arise between the magical and the mundane. Senior Agent Hamed al-Nasr shows his new partner Agent Onsi the ropes of investigation when they are called to subdue a dangerous, possessed tram car. What starts off as a simple matter of exorcism, however, becomes more complicated as the origins of the demon inside are revealed.

Empire of Light by Alex Harrow 

Adult // Sci-fi
LGBTQ (Gay, Pan, M/M)

Damian Nettoyer is the Empire’s go-to gun. He kills whoever they want him to kill. In exchange, he and his rag-tag gang of crooks get to live, and Damian’s psychokinetic partner and lover, Aris, isn’t issued a one-way ticket to an Empire-sanctioned lobotomy. Then Damian’s latest mark, a suave revolutionary named Raeyn, kicks his ass and demands his help. The first item on the new agenda: take out Damian’s old boss—or Raeyn will take out Damian’s crew.

March:

Other Words for Smoke by Sarah Maria Griffin

YA // Contemporary Fantasy

Mae and her brother Rossa get sent to live with their Aunt and her teenage ward, Bevan, for the summer. There’s a dark power lurking in the walls that calls itself Sweet James and Bevan wants to magic it’s offering. Mae and Rossa are the only two people who know what happened after the house burns down. Told as a twisting fairytale with multiple timelines woven in. 

Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta & Cori McCarthy

YA // Science fantasy

LGBTQ (Pan, Gay, Bi, Nonbinary, Ace, F/F, M/M) // POC (Black, Arab, Latinx)

In a galaxy where corporation is king, an illegal immigrant crash-lands on Old Earth and pulls Excalibur, sealing her fate as the 42nd reincarnation of King Arthur, and awakening Merlin, who has aged backwards into a teenager; together they spark galactic revolution

The Perfect Assassin by K A Doore

Adult // Fantasy

LGBTQ (Asexual MC, F/F)

As a new assassin in the Basbowen family, Amastan’s already having second thoughts about taking a life. A scarcity of contracts ends up being just what he needs. Until, unexpectedly, Amastan finds the body of a very important drum chief. Until, impossibly, Basbowen’s finest start showing up dead, with their murderous jaan running wild in the dusty streets of Ghadid. Until, inevitably, Amastan is ordered to solve these murders, before the family gets blamed. Amastan must find this perfect assassin or be their next target.

A Time Travellers Guide to Modern Romance by Madeline J Reynolds

YA // Sci-fi historical contemporary….???

LGBTQ (M/M)

A Victorian-era boy travels to the future and must choose between the freedom to be with the modern-era boy who captures his heart and the fate of his family in the past.

Internment by Samira Ahmed 

YA // Contemporary

POC & Muslim rep

Set in the near future, Muslim Americans are forced into an internment camp, and 17-year-old Layla Amin must find the courage to fight back against Islamophobia, oppression, and complicit silence.

April:

The Boy who Steals Houses by CG Drews

YA // Contemporary
Autism 

Sam is only fifteen but he and his autistic older brother, Avery, have been abandoned by every relative he’s ever known. Now Sam’s trying to build a new life for them. He survives by breaking into empty houses when their owners are away, until one day he’s caught out when a family returns home. To his amazement this large, chaotic family takes him under their wing – each teenager assuming Sam is a friend of another sibling. But Sam has a secret, and his past is about to catch up with him.


Upon a Burning Throne by Ashok K Banker

YA // Fantasy
POC (Indian inspired) // Disability

The young heirs to the vast Krushan empire—one blind, one albino—are threatened by a powerful demonlord who’s determined to bring the empire down


A Place for Wolves by Kosoko Jackson

YA // Historical
POC’s (Black, Portuguese) // LGBTQ (Gay, M/M)

The story follows two boys who can only rely on each other as they travel through war-torn Kosovo in the midst of extreme violence that threatens to swallow the country whole.


Finder by Suzanne Palmer 

Adult // Sci-Fi

Fergus Ferguson has been called a lot of names: thief, con artist, repo man. He prefers the term finder. His latest job should be simple. Find the spacecraft Venetia’s Sword and steal it back from Arum Gilger, ex-nobleman turned power-hungry trade boss. But the planet he finds it on launches into civil war and his routine job evolves into negotiating a power struggle between factions. It doesn’t help that a dangerous alien species thought mythical prove unsettlingly real, and their ominous triangle ships keep following Fergus around

May:

The Lost Coast by Amy Rose Capetta

YA // Contemporary Fantasy
LGBTQ (Nonbinary, Queer, Ace, Bi)

17-year-old Danny is drawn to the redwoods of California by a spell. The cove of queer teen witches who cast it need Danny’s abilities to bring back their friend who’s gone blank—lost to the world


How it Feels to Float by Helena Fox

YA // Contemporary
LGBTQ (Bi) // Mental Health

Biz, who is floating through life after her father’s death, still sees her dad everywhere: he tells her about the little kid she was, and how much he loves her. But Biz doesn’t tell anyone about her dad. She doesn’t tell them about her dark, runaway thoughts, either, or about kissing Grace and noticing Jasper, the new boy. Biz knows how to float, right there on the surface. But after something happens on the beach, Biz comes undones Her dad disappears, and with him, all her comfort.


I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver

YA // Contemporary
LGBTQ (Nonbinary, Enby/M) // Mental Health (Anxiety Disorder)

A non-binary teen is kicked out by their parents after coming out, but learns that sometimes from disaster one can build a happier new life


Switchback by Danika Stone

YA // Contemporary Thriller 
LGBTQ (Aro/Ace)

An unexpected October snowstorm separates Ash and Vale from the rest of their class on a camping trip. By the time the teens realize they’ve missed the trail, they have wandered deep into the Canadian Rockies. Lost in the wilderness and hunted by deadly predators, their only hope is to work together. But with Vale’s limited supplies and Ash’s inexperience, can the best friends stay alive long enough to find their way back to civilization? 


Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

YA // Sci-fi
Biracial MC (Irish/Chinese) // LGBTQ

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch. Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

Deposing Nathan by Zack Smedley

YA // Contemporary
LGBTQ (Bi)

Structured around a deposition, in which the main character must testify about what really happened the night he was stabbed by his best friend.


Planet Earth is Blue by Nicole Panteleakos

MG // Contemporary
Autism

Nova, an autistic, nonverbal, space-obsessed 12-year-old who is awaiting the Challenger shuttle launch and the return of her big sister, Bridget, as she struggles to be understood, and ultimately, shines in her new foster family.

June:

The Grief Keeper by Alexandra Villasante

YA // Contemporary Fantasy
POC (Mexican)
LGBTQ (F/F)

Sisters Marisol and Gabriella Morales make it across the Mexican border only to learn their request for asylum is being denied, unless Marisol participates in a human study for a cutting-edge PTSD treatment.


The Outside by Ada Hoffman 

Adult // Sci-fi
LGBTQ (F/F)
Autism

In a galaxy ruled by AI Gods, an autistic scientist is kidnapped after an experiment goes wrong and is forced to hunt down her missing mentor.

July:

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

YA // Dystopian
LGBTQ (F/F)


A feminist Lord of the Flies about three best friends living in quarantine at their island boarding school, and the lengths they go to uncover the truth of their confinement when one disappears. This fresh, new debut is a mind-bending novel unlike anything you’ve read before.
For people who like survival stories, f/f, horror, boarding school, and thrillers.
 

The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H G Parry

Adult // Contemporary Fantasy


For his entire life, Charley Sutherland has concealed a magical ability he can’t quite control: he can bring characters from books into the real world. His older brother, Rob — a young lawyer with a normal house, a normal fiancee, and an utterly normal life — hopes that this strange family secret will disappear with disuse, and he will be discharged from his life’s duty of protecting Charley and the real world from each other. But then, literary characters start causing trouble in their city, making threats about destroying the world… and for once, it isn’t Charley’s doing. There’s someone else who shares his powers. It’s up to Charley and a reluctant Rob to stop them, before these characters tear apart the fabric of reality.

 

David Mogo, Godhunter by Suyi Davies Okungbowa

Adult // Fantasy
POC (Nigerian) // Muslim rep


Nigerian godpunk. Since the Orisha War that rained thousands of deities down on the streets of Lagos, David Mogo, demigod, scours Eko’s dank underbelly for a living wage as a freelance Godhunter. Despite pulling his biggest feat yet by capturing a high god for a renowned Eko wizard, David knows his job’s bad luck. He’s proved right when the wizard conjures a legion of Taboos—feral godling-child hybrids—to seize Lagos for himself. To fix his mistake and keep Lagos standing, David teams up with his foster wizard, the high god’s twin sister and a speech-impaired Muslim teenage girl to defeat the wizard.

August:

Swipe Right for Murder by Derek Milman

YA // Contemporary Thriller
LGBTQ (Gay)


A comedic thriller about a gay teen who gets caught up in a case of mistaken identity and is forced to go on the run from murderous cyber-terrorists and government agents, not knowing who he can trust even if they’re disarmingly attractive


Ziggy, Stardust and Me by James Brandon

YA // Contemporary/Historical
LGBTQ (M/M)


Set in St Louis circa 1973, the story follows a young man named Jonathan who spends his days hiding under his hoodie, imagining scifi scenarios to avoid all the awful things in the world. When he meets Web and the two boys fall in love, they struggle to maintain their identities in a world trying to tear then apart.

September:

A Treason of Thorns by Laura E Weymouth

YA // Historical Fantasy

In an alternate history England where the good of the land is tied to five magical and sentient Great Houses, one girl is tasked with serving as Caretaker of a Great House that’s slowly dying.


Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Adult // Science Fantasy
LGBTQ (Lesbian)


Gideon the ninth is the most fun you’ll ever have with a skeleton. The emperor needs necromancers. The ninth necromancer needs a swordsman. Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit. Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth unveils a solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers. A heart pounding epic science fantasy.


Chilling Effect by Valarie Valdes  

YA // Sci-Fi
POC (Cuban)


Captain Eva Innocente and the crew of La Sirena Negra cruise the galaxy delivering small cargo for smaller profits. When her sister Mari is kidnapped by The Fridge, a shadowy agency that holds people hostage in cryostasis Eva struggles through one unpleasant, dangerous mission after another to pay the ransom debt. To make things worse, she’s stuck with a hold full of psychic cats, a fish-faced emperor wants her dead for rejecting him, and her engineer is giving her a pesky case of feelings

October:

Tarnished are the Stars by Rosiee Thor

YA // Sci-fi
LGBTQ (Aro/Ace, F/F)


A queer outlaw mechanic with a clockwork heart must team up with her worst enemy – the son of the man responsible for a sweeping epidemic of deadly heart disorders and the alluring spy posing as his betrothed – to save her village and the planet.
 

November:

Refraction by Naomi Hughes

YA // Science fantasy
OCD


About a teen wrestling with OCD while working as a black market mirror dealer in a world where reflections spawn deadly cracks in the fabric of reality. Or, as the author puts it, “full of OCD rep and bromance and banter and creeptastic shadowy monsters that crawl out of mirrors”

 

…..

Phew, lots of books. The ones towards the end of the year don’t have covers yet but they sound awesome enough without them. I’m so excited.

Let me know what you think and what I’ve missed in the comments below! What is your most anticipated book of the year?

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First Finish of the Year

I’m starting the year off with a finish and no, it’s neither of the blankets I was working on last time I shared my crochet projects. Whoops! Instead I started a new blanket from the yarn I received from Christmas because it was new and exciting. 

My initial idea actually didn’t work as the yarn I bought has colour changes a lot shorter than I expected from the picture and ended up looking muddy and messy. So I frogged it all and had a think.

I decided to follow this pattern from raverly which is a corner to corner linen stitch. One of the projects actually used similar colours to what I had so I copied that and…..

Ta da….

The new idea used two instead of the the three yarns I was originally planning to use so it’s smaller. A good sized lap blanket.

I love the colours and the way it goes from rainbow to monochrome.

The pattern says it’s square /rectangle deepening on which you want but I’m not certain it truly is. It might be if I were to block it but currently it lies a little skewed. But then, it’ll be draped over someones lap when in use so it really doesn’t matter much!

Now that’s finished I should get back to those two linen stitch square blankets I need to finish, right? Well, ummm, I may have started a completely different blanket from more of the yarn I got from Christmas! Double whoops!!!

Too early to share it yet but the yarn, scheepjes colour crofter, is SO SOFT it’s actually ridiculous. It’s DK and pretty cheap especially considering how gorgeous it feels!

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New Year, New Project (SAL)

It’s a new year, and with finally finishing the stitching on my Christmas project (which no, I haven’t finished up properly yet), it’s also time for a new project.

I’ve only just got this started and is going to be a really simple design. A Latin quote, big letters, nothing fancy except I’m stitching it on black fabric for the first time (18 count aida, my go to).

The letters are really big (like 3 inches high) and I might do a smaller version to use up some of the left over fabric as the scraps are a bit too small to use for anything else.

I think the black would look amazing with bright colours like I’ve seen a few of the other stitchalongers do but I thought I’d keep it simple for my first time stitching on black but also because I haven’t had time to design anything else!

Here are the links to everyone else stitching something for the SAL:

Avis // Claire // Gun // Carole // LucyAnn// Kate // Sue // Constanze // Debbierose // Christina // Kathy // Margaret // Cindy // Helen // Steph // Linda // Heidi // Jackie // Sunny // Hayley // Megan // Catherine // Connie // Clare

Welcome back to Mary Margaret, and hello to our new stitchers Renee & Jenny !!

We post updates for all our individual projects every three weeks

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My Year in Books 2018

2018 is over which means I can finally get to my year in books. I didn’t want to share stats or best of lists until I knew they wouldn’t change. So here we are. 2018 was my most successful reading year yet in terms of books read. I set my annual goal at 52 books again, knowing I could meet it but I did even better than my personal best of 63 from 2017 by reading 68 books!

It is swayed by the fact I did read a handful of novellas (and one short story) as well as a few writing craft books which are both shorter and quicker to read. My pages read is actually lower than 2017 but only because for some reason The Queen of Air and Darkness is showing up as 350 pages instead of its 950 pages reality which would easily bring my to the top. It also means that the second longest book I read is showing as the longest.

But onto the most interesting stat, at least I think so. My average rating for 2018 was 4.1 stars. Which is much higher than it use to and i think this is for two reasons, 1) I’m getting much better at judging which books I will like and am more fussy about my picks, and 2) I’m getting less fussy about my 5 stars, I used to feel like only the best books ever should be rated 5 stars but have realised books can be brilliant 5 star reads without being my all time favourite.

My rating chart is also skewed because if I do end up reading something that I think will be 1 or 2 stars I DNF it (life is too short and there are too many books to read!) and I don’t rate DNF’s.

So 68 books read. An average rating of 4.1 stars, 23 of which were 5 star reads. All this means that my Best Books of the Year list was even harder to narrow down than usual but I did it. Here are my favourites of the year….

Best Books of 2018:

1. The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn – Tyler Whitesides

Adult fantasy

The Lies of Locke Lamora but with dragons

Ardor is a cocky con artist asked by a priest to steal the kings crown to save the world. Science-y Magic system but more chemistry than physics based which is something I’ve never seen before (except maybe in Mistborn). Its basically different types of powdered dragon poop that explodes. It’s so much more awesome than that sounds I promise. The book is very long but there’s no boring info dumping or world building and Ardor’s & Raek’s friendship is Goals (brotp). Recommend it for fans of Locke Lamora or ADSoM or Mistborn.

2. Darkling & Undertow (Port Lewis Witches) by Brooklyn Ray 

NA contemporary fantasy novellas

It’s Witchy & atmospheric & queer. The MC is trans male and it has a M/M friends to lovers romance. The second novella switches POV to the boyfriend. Theres going to be a whole series of novellas each with a different MC. And I can’t wait. The writing is gorgeous, the characters are real and amazing and the covers for the whole series so far are my favourite covers of the year. A queerer and more adult Raven Boys.

3. Isle of blood & Stone by Makiia Lucier

NA Fantasy

Map makers & explorers & sailors & all things wanderlust. It has 19 yo MCs (yay for older YA) with only a very minor romance subplot (nothing explicit) which is a plus from me. A cartographer goes on an adventure to solve a riddle about 2 missing princes. The friendship between Elias (mapmaker) & Ulises (the king) is everything. One of my favourite friendships ever not just in 2018 and the setting and wanderlust are palpable.

4. Baker Thief – Claudie Arseneault

Adult fantasy

About a fat bigender Baker by day/ thief by night & the cop who wants to catch her as they both investigate magic users going missing. It has a cool mix of science based magic, based in a French-Canadian inspired setting. Really great aromantic & demisexual rep but also lots of other queer & disabled rep in the supporting cast. There’s also lots of baking that WILL make you hungry. And cats….

5. Starship’s Mage series by Glynn Stewart (I read books 2, 3, 4 & 5 in 2018 and they are all amazing so I’m putting the whole series here)

Adult sci fi

This is my favourite sci fi series ever. All of the books are amazing (the first was originally written as four novellas and it’s all self pubbed). The MC is in his 20’s but this reads more like a YA adventure than a heavy space opera. I’d describe it as the navy fleet of star trek mixed with a YA harry Potter all overseen by space royalty (and space pirates) and there’s little to no romance plot through out the series.  I can’t wait to read the next books.

6. Paper and fire (The Great Library #2) – Rachel Caine

YA alt-historical fantasy

The library of Alexandria never burned down so it now, obviously, rules the world. There are huge automaton statues that protect books & chase/kill people. Jess is a thief who loves books. Do you see the problem? Anyway, it has a diverse cast of amazing characters, non-stop action and amazing settings (Alexandria, Rome, London…)

7. Lost boy, Found boy – Jenn Polish

Scifi novella

Futuristic fully queer Peter pan retelling where Peter is trans and in an M/Enby relationship at the start.(And Tink is a gay AI whose computer code extracts reminded me of illuminae). But when Peter’s partner enlists in military service that will kill them just to be able to fly Peter creates neverland for them. The writing is gorgeous and there are so many little nods to the original story, including Peter having the same ambiguous childish morals but with a different twist….

8. All Systems Red by Martha Wells

Scifi novella 

About a socially anxious security droid that has to save other humans on a strange new planet with things that want them dead. MC is so relatable it’s hilarious. It is short but felt the perfect length for the story with no unnecessarily long description of backstory to slow things down and it’s the first in a series.

9. Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli 

YA contemporary 

Adorable and fluffy read and I loved the email extracts between Simon and Blue. In fact all of the relationships in this are so good. It’s a coming out story where both families are accepting and loving and it has zero secondhand embarrassment which normally scares me off YA contemp.

Plus special mentions:

The City of Brass by S A Chakraborty, A Court of Mist and Fury & A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah j Maas, The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz

Quick Fire Round:

Favourite Character: Either Jess Brightwell (The Great Library) or Damien Montgomery (Starship’s Mage)

Favourite Friendships:  Ardor & Raek (The Thousand Lives of Ardor Benn) and Elias & Ulises (Isle of Blood & Stone)

Favourite World/setting: The Great Library or Isle of Blood & Stone

Favourite Magic System: Dragon Poop from The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn

Most Heartbreaking Book: I didn’t read any absolute heartbreakers in 2018 but there were plenty that had moments like The Poppy War or The City of Brass or The State of Grace

Happiest Book: Simon vs The Homesapiens Agenda

It was a good year in books. I’m looking forward to more amazing books in 2019 which brings me to…

Book goals for 2019

  • My annual Read 52 books challenge which you can keep track of on my goodreads if you so want. (I will because goodreads is the only way I have any clue what I’ve read!)
  • I’ve also made a “What to buy next” shelf which was me going through all backlist books (ie books that were released in 2018 or before) and picking the ones I most wanted to read. This ended up in a top 50 so this will be a rough 2019 TBR. I’ll hopefully be reading most of those books this year.
  • And finally but very importantly, I want to keep my owned books under 50 on my kindle.

Have you read any of my top books from last year and if so, what did you think? What was the best book you read last year? Hard question, I know, and it’s also unfair of me to ask because I really can’t pick one off my list. They were all so good! And what are your reading goals for the year?

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New Year, Same Me

I hope everyone has been having a happy holiday and I’m wishing you all a very happy new year. I got a load of yarn and books for Christmas, no surprises there, right? I love them anyway and I had a very exhausting but happy Christmas. I’m not going to show you the yarn, you’ll have to wait and see what I make with it (Hint: Blankets, it’ll all be blankets!)

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I kind of hate resolutions. Especially the ones that say to do something different. New year new you. Those never work for me but I do like seeing goals. Things I want to achieve which are normally a continuation of what I’m already doing. I guess my biggest struggle is to keep doing things not start (anyone who knows me know I start too many things!!). And goals help to keep me motivated and not give in.

But before we get onto 2019 I’m going back for a quick look at last year. I’m not actually going to go through the goals I wrote last year (they’re here) as I didn’t stick to most of my small goals instead I’ll focus on what happened. I did set one big one though and that was to focus on writing which I’m going to put a big tick next too even if the goal morphed throughout the year.

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2018 Happenings:

  • Finished writing my first ever proper book and edited it
  • Got feedback on my writing for the first time and learnt so much
  • Shelved that book which is an achievement for me to step away from something that was not making me happy
  • Wrote and edited a whole new book that I love so much (I’m getting feedback on it at the moment)
  • Moved back home (goodbye beautiful guernsey) and made our house ready to be put on the market (26 years worth of clutter and Wear and tear) but now we are just waiting for it to go live.
  • Got my autism diagnosis. The understanding it brings has already made such a difference to me
  • Read 67 books (I’ll go into this in my next post) 
     

So that’s my 2018 over. To be honest I’m really proud of myself. I’ve learnt so much and endured where it came to my writing without giving up. The feedback and doubts are hard. And I’ve also learnt where I should step back for my own sake. A lot of it hasn’t been easy but I wouldn’t trade other parts for anything!

Goals and Happenings for 2019

Again my main goal is going to be too focus on my writing. To keep going. To keep growing and not let myself give up. I love it so much but parts of it can be so very hard. I want to edit #ExcitingSpaceWIP based on the feedback I get. I want to get more feedback, edit it again and see where I end up. I want to also at least write a draft zero for my next story idea at some point during 2019 too. I’m not going to say I’ll write the first draft though as, while that may happen, it’s too far away to predict.

I’ll also be setting reading goals as always and also, as always, I won’t be setting it so high that is difficult for me. I like enjoying reading! My reading goal will be 52 books again and I want to keep the books I own on my kindle under 50. (Cross your fingers for me!)

The biggest event this year will be moving again. Only this time the plan is to move to Lanzarote. Finally. After so many years of planning. Which is all very scary right now with brexit happening so soon and so badly.

Linked to this is making ANOTHER attempt at learning Spanish (I think I’m on attempt 7 now? Edit: I just worked it out and this is attempt 8) I’ve downloaded a new app and am going to try to keep at it (again).

This year is going to be scary I think with the move and with brexit happening but it’s also very exciting. I have no idea what my look back at this year will look like!



So what about you? What are the biggest events of 2018 for you and what are you most proud of? I’d love to hear about them! I find that sometimes it’s the small things that we can be happiest about. My diagnosis is definitely up there for me. And what about next year? What plans and goals are on store for you?

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Memo Pad: December Book Wrap Up (+ Xmas Book Haul)

Merry Christmas everyone! It’s the end of the final month of the year which means my last 2018 book wrap up. I’ll be doing a bookish year post in the next week or so once 2018 is officially over (you never know what awesome books I’ll read between now and new year!) but for now my last reviews of the year.

Stats wise I went on a book buying ban in June in an attempt to get the 75+ books on my kindle down to a more manageable number. Well I can officially say I managed to get it down to under 50. Before Christmas it was down to just 44 (pretend with me that’s a low number please!) and it meant that I could allow myself to buy a few books for Christmas. I think my goal next year will be to keep it below 50 so I’m allowed to buy books up to that number.

The books I bought in my mini Christmas haul were:

Sometime After Midnight by L Philips (which I’ve already read. See below) / Vicious by VE Schwab (finally!) / Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare (Which I’m currently reading) / Failure to Communicate by kaia Sonderby / The Disasters by MK England / An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon

But onto books I’ve read this month…

Read: 5 DNF: 1

The City of Brass by S A Chakraborty *****

There is so much hype on this book that I had to put this on hold for months but I finally felt it was the right moment to read this and just wow. I really need the sequel now. I do have to say that it felt more like a solid four stars until the last third. But what an end it was.

Nahri is a thief living in the streets of Cairo when she accidently calls forth a djinn who tells her of a magical city and, with demons also accidently called forth, Nahri has no choice but to follow him.

I do have to mention the problematic start. I didn’t like that the story started by having an autistic girl possessed by a demon and murdered simply to earn the main character sympathy points and push her off on her journey. It could have used something else and I’m surprised that it hasn’t been mentioned anywhere which is disappointing. I also felt the pacing of the first half was a bit slow and things could have moved quicker but the rest of the story was griping and other elements kept me engrossed until then.

I am VERY invested in happy endings here (for some people anyway. Definitely not for others).  Dhiru better end up happy (I think I spelt that name wrong). I have a lot of other demands but I feel like that’s the only thing I can say without giving away spoilers and is the most important one anyway!

Personally I did find the characters a bit too flawed. It does make for more epic character arcs but means for quite a lot of the book they were annoyingly flawed and I rolled my eyes a lot. But the relationships between all of the characters and how they are all connected means you can’t help but love them anyway (even if they’re being annoying!) And as I said, it all came together so well in the last third of the book that I can’t wait to read more. I also loved the world created. The different cultures, names, and characters really made the world vivid and rich and set it apart from the same old western inspired fantasy setting. I’m looking forward to the sequel (although part of me is also dreading it because INVESTED)

Scardust by Suzanne Van Rooyen *****

This was a quick and engrossing read but it does hit a lot of heavier topics (Trigger warnings for rape, self harm, physical abuse and sibling suicide).

A near future sci fi set in the middle of nowhere texas where Raleigh dreams of joining the MarsLife program to escape his life but his plans get interrupted when a guy crash lands in a crater nearby.

I loved the mix of feeling like the world was on the edge of the future but it hadn’t reached this small place on earth yet. Raleigh’s dreams of escaping were very real and you definitely routed for him through all of the heartbreak. His life is absolutely tragic and you need him to make it through. The connection and way the relationship between both boys grew was really great. It wasn’t instant, there was plenty of mistrust and learning between them and it developed into such a caring and understanding relationship that it makes you physically scared about what will happen. I guessed the twist quite early on but it was very well written and just made me want to turn the pages quicker to find out what happened next and I wasn’t disappointed once I got there at all.

City of Strife by Claudie Arseneault *****

This isn’t the first book I’ve read by this author, in fact Baker Thief is on my list of best books of the year, and while this didn’t quite reach those heights for me it is still a brilliant book full of amazing characters. It’s set in an old city on the edge of an empire where old families rule from their towers and a sect of magic users are infiltrating and disrupting the peace. There are elves mixed in with the humans, and as most of Arseneaults books do, it focuses on family and friendship with a good dose of aromantic, asexual and nonbinary rep mixed in with other queer rep.

The thing I love about all the worlds that this author creates is that they are so real and fully realised that they feel normal. You really feel as if there are ordinary people going about their lives and living in these places beyond the characters and story. I loved all the characters and there were A LOT of them. I think there were ten point of view characters. But it’s very well written and I was never confused or lost. They were all distinct, I knew how they all related to each other and everything was well explained without slowing the pace down. There are lots of characters to love. The downside of so many povs though is that there wasn’t THAT much plot and I wasn’t expecting for it to just end there. There are sequels but I definitely felt it could have been a bit longer to round out the plot more. I guess I will just have to read the next books!

Pulse by Danielle Koste *****

The thing that drew me to this book was that it was vampires but not in your typical urban fantasy setting. Instead it focuses on a boy captured and kept in a laboratory. It’s all scientific experiments and secret testing facilities but at the same time focusing on the characters caught up in it and their interactions. It reminded me of the way The Girl With All The Gifts changed up the zombie idea and I really liked it. There’s also no love triangle which I was worried about for a while. I did feel the end was messy and I was a bit disappointed with how things went in the last quarter but only because I’d enjoyed the rest so much. Overall it was a really enjoyable read that I raced through and was a fresh and different take on an over used trope.

Sometime After Midnight by L Philips *****

This was such a cute, easy read. It’s a queer modern cinderella retelling where two guys meet at a gig but the rich guy only manages to snap a picture of the other’s sharpie decorated converse before he runs away. It gets put on social media and things explode. It’s all about music, guitars, singing, the record industry and the good and bad that comes with it. Also something to note is this is NOT a coming out book. Both main characters are already out and it’s fully accepted by both friends and family so it’s never used as part of the drama which is also really nice to read. If you like your YA fluffy and light then I’d definitely recommend this book. It was such a quick but engrossing read and all of the characters are loveable.

Trigger warning for mentions of a parents suicide


DNF

White Fire by Laurie Bell

I honestly can’t put my finger on a good reason why but I just didn’t connect with this book. It’s also split into parts and when it switched to two years later I couldn’t convince myself to keep going for no other reason than I just wasn’t invested. DNF @35%



Best book of the month goes to The City of Brass. What about you? What was the best book you’ve read recently? And how was your reading this year? Any new favourites that you would recommend?

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