The Testaments – Margaret Atwood

the testamentsThe Testaments is the sequel to Atwood’s outstanding novel. The Handmaid’s Tale, and takes us further into Gilead, allowing us to see more of the messed up, dystopian world ruled by the Sons of Jacob.

While The Handmaid’s Tale was told through one POV (Offred), The Testaments is told through three – Aunt Lydia, who expands on the treatment of women in the early days of the regime, Agnes Jemima, a young girl growing up in Gilead, and Daisy, a teenager in Canada.

Aunt Lydia’s sections read most like The Handmaid’s Tale, as she records her diary and hides it from prying eyes, giving the reader an insight into the function of the Aunts, and how they came to be in their position.

In contrast, Agnes’ and Daisy’s chapters read much more like a YA novel, presented as ‘witness statements’ as the girls reveal how they came to be in their current situations. The chapters switch back and forth, painting deeper pictures of what growing up in Gilead is like, and how the rest of the world views the situation.

One thing that struck me when I read The Handmaid’s Tale last year was how, after all this time, it’s still so scaringly relevant. With The Testaments, Atwood doesn’t shy away from current issues. Countries are too scared to step in and deal with Gilead, preferring to watch from afar as Gilead puts out its own propaganda, meant, at times, to make places like Canada feel better about doing nothing. Fleeing refugees are dealt with poorly, with some people resenting their presence. And children protest against Gilead, while others raised there see no wrong in the way they are brought up.

The contrast between the two girls works really well, especially when we get glimpses of Agnes’ school life, and her best friends. Gilead is very much a patriarchal (in the strongest sense) and classist society, Agnes’ classmates treatment of her affected by how many Marthas she has, by the fact her father gets a handmaid, and so on. Although things do not sit quite right with her, she accepts them, only acting to change things once she receives permission.

In contrast, Daisy is strong-willed and stubborn, keen to make her voice heard, though at most times she comes across as apathetic, almost like a mask to conceal what she actually feels.

The characters in The Testaments feel as real and vivid as Offred, from Aunt Lydia’s recollections of how Gilead started, to the words of the two girls who have never known a world without Gilead. Despite her sheltered upbringing, Agnes does have empathy for people around her. Lydia quietly works to maintain her place, and Daisy searches for answers once it becomes clear her parents haven’t always told her the truth.

At times, it becomes easy to dislike some of the characters, but questions are raised regarding whether you would take the same course of action, or do something differently. Whether it is worth risking your life for the innocents around you, or risk the life of people you love for the greater good.

The Testaments isn’t as good as The Handmaid’s Tale, and it is, in many ways, an easier read, feeling a little bit more removed, more with a dystopian YA feel than The Handmaid’s Tale, but it is still powerful in its own way, and still carries the threat of Gilead, showing how easy it would be for a regime such as that to take over, and for many to ignore the suffering happening right before their eyes.

Blogmas #11: Christmas Songs

blogmas 11

I love Christmas songs, I love listening to old favourites as well as hearing new ones, and listening to new takes on old classics. As soon as it’s socially acceptable, I put on Christmas music and listen to some great songs when I can – when writing and in the shower, mostly. Below are some of my current favourites for this year, and I’ve tried to mix it up as much as I could, rather than just include the standard set of Christmas songs we all know and love.

Fair warning: quite a lot of these are Disney, because Disney Christmas music is awesome.

Christmas is Here – Disneyland Paris Christmas Parade

 

I love this song so much. It’s catchy, and joyful, and just conveys exactly what Christmas should be about. I’m so glad we got to experience it this year, even if we watched the parade while queuing for Stitch, but it’s the last year they’re using it, apparently. Still, it’ll likely be one I listen to every year from now on.

Twelve Days of Christmas – Straight No Chaser

I absolutely love this version of Twelve Days, which I actually only heard for the fast time last year. It’s now an absolute must at Christmas – fun and original, and the kind of song you can entertain family members with when they hear it for the first time.

I Believe In Father Christmas – Greg Lake

 

I couldn’t do a list of Christmas songs and not include this. Did anyone else listen to this as a kid and, like, NOT pick up on the actual meaning? It’s my dad’s favourite Christmas song, so whenever it came on – on the radio, originally, then on TV when we got music channels – it gets turned way up, and anyone currently in the household sings along. I love this song – it’s one of those that sounds really happy and cheerful, until you actually, properly listen to it.

It Feels Like Christmas – Muppets Christmas Carol

 

To pick just one song from the whole film was a struggle – if you haven’t already, I definitely suggest listening to the complete soundtrack over the festive period. Muppets Christmas Carol is not only the best version of Christmas Carol, but the best Christmas film, period. It’s fantastic and heart-warming and with some amazing songs. Can’t go wrong with this one at all, and it’s a real shame I don’t have time now for a Christmas Films blog because this would have definitely been on there.

As Long As There’s Christmas – Beauty & The Beast: Enchanted Christmas

 

I really need to watch this filma gain. And I warned you there’d be a lot of Disney. This song is from the sequel to Beauty and the Beast, a film I really should watch again. Like Christmas is Here, it’s just a joyful song, and it’s less about all the extra stuff around Christmas, and more about making do with what you have around you, because it’s not the tree that makes Christmas, is it? It’s the people you spend it with, the memories you make, the magic feel in the air. The sneaking around behind a cursed beast’s back and – oh, wait, that’s kind of specific, isn’t it?

 

This will actually be my last Blogmas post, as I am going to Margate tomorrow to spend Christmas with my brother. I hope you’ve enjoyed these Christmas themed blog posts, and I would love to hear your thoughts on the songs I’ve picked, and if you have any particular Christmas song favourites, especially if they’re not the usual ones we often hear!

To all my followers –

Merry Christmas!

Whatever you do over the next week, I hope you have an absolutely lovely time, doing what you enjoy best, whatever that may be, and spending it with the people you want to spend it with. Have a good one!

Blogmas #8: End of Year Book Tag

Blogmas #8Again, big thanks to Jenn, for pointing me in the direction of her Blogmas list. One of the suggestions there was for an End of Year Book Tag, and you can read her post here.

If you read my previous tag post, you’ll know I don’t often do book tag things, but I did enjoy it, so maybe I shall do more in 2020. We shall see.

1. Are there any books you started this year you need to finish?

the testamentsSo far, just The Testaments and Cricket Hunters. I don’t tend to pick up then put down books for extended periods of time, unless it’s something really harrowing I can’t read straight through and need short gaps from. There are more books I’d like to read before the end of the year, but none I’ve actually started reading.

2. Do you have an autumnal book to transition to the end of the year?

I don’t get books for specific seasons, but if I get a book and it fits a specific season (such as my recently reviewed Season of Wonder) I will try and wait to read it. But right now, I don’t have anything like that on my TBR.

3. Is there a new release you’re still waiting for?

To be honest, so many great books come out so often, I don’t really keep track of new releases, or separate them from my other books. And if it’s a book I really do want, I’ll usually find an excuse to pick it up.

4. What are three books you want to read before the end of the year?

I maybe should have tried to do this earlier in the month. I’m not sure if I’m going to get acreature chance to read three books before the end of the year, but we shall see. If I can, I would love to read Ritual – Steve Stred, Creature – Hunter Shea, and other than that, I’m not quite sure. Depends how much reading I get done in the next week. If you saw my December TBR post, you’ll know I was planning on reading The Dragon Republic, but it’s so big I can’t really take it away with me Monday, so this will probably get left until the New Year now.

5. Is there a book that you think could still shock you and become your favourite?

Considering the amount of good things I’ve heard about it, it’s possible this happens with Creature.

6. Have you already made reading plans for 2020?

Not really, mainly because I don’t like to plan out what I’mm going to read and when, because I would really struggle to stick to it. That said, I am hoping to clear most of my now backlog of review books, and maybe possibly join Netgalley, if I have the time. We shall see. Other than that, more of the same, though with the way this year ended, I’ll be reading a lot more horror next year than this year. Which is definitely not a bad thing.

25-Post-Ideas-for-BlogmasBlogmas #1 – Christmas TBRBlogmas #2: The Most Wonderful Time of the YearBlogmas #3: Christmas ReadsBlogmas #4: Bookish Naughty or Nice ListBlogmas #6: 2019 Wrap Up & 2020 GoalsBlogmas #7: Favourite 2019 Books Part 1Blogmas #7: Favourite 2019 Books Part 2

Season of Wonder – Edited by Paula Guran

season of wonderSeason of Wonder is a winter holiday themed anthology, bringing together fantasy and science fiction stories centred around the darkest months. Christmas isn’t the only holiday contained in these stories, but it is the most prominent. Still, as a whole, I think this is a great festive read.

The stories vary enough to give a little something for everyone, with a mixture of science fiction, fantasy, and even some horror elements thrown in. There’s robots caring for the last man on Earth, a post-apocalypse society ruled by religion, a young boy who stands against an evil elf, a young woman who gets caught in the battle between the Holly and Oak king, a woman on a distant planet introduces the inhabitants to Christmas, and a story of mental health, a woman who believes in magic, told through the eyes of her best friend.

The absolute stand out story for me was The Christmas Witch, a story which uses horror and fantasy to do one of my favourite things those genres are capable of; drawing parallels to very real situations, and reflecting issues often faced, especially by younger people. In this story, a young girl grieves the death of her mother, and lashes out in her own way, but the adults all seem to turn a blind eye. Her father tries to help, but not in the best way, and no one actually listens to her. It’s a fantastic read, and one hard to forget.

Pal Of Mine was also particularly good, one of those stories where the fantastical element is in doubt, right until the very end. It was wonderfully written, and very bittersweet.

Home for Christmas is a very sweet story, about a young woman who can talk to objects. It’s wonderfully written, draws you right in with the MC and her unusual ability, and shows how even small acts of kindness can have a lasting impact.

Others I particularly enjoyed, and would have liked to have read more about their worlds, were The Night Things Changed and The Nutcracker Coup. Both wonderful tales with fantastic world building, especially for short stories.

Everytime I think I’ve listed the ones I really liked, more pop into my head. Okay, last one, I swear. Newsletter, the final story in the anthology, is another great read – it’s witty and engaging and had me laughing out loud at the last line. And it’s a really interesting way of telling the story, combined with an uncertainty at the end, leaving the reader with multiple questions, and no answers except for whatever they decide in their head.

I really do recommend this collection. It has interesting portrayals of Christmas and the various aspects associated with the holiday, with more than one take on Santa Claus and the legend of. It was an enjoyable, fun, sometimes downright dark collection, with stories to both warm your heart on these cold winter evenings, and make you snuggle under the covers, glad you’re safe in your bed.

Blogmas #7: Favourite 2019 Books Part 2

Blogmas #7Welcome to the second part of my favourite books of 2019! As explained in Part One, these aren’t books published this year, but books I’ve read this year, with one book picked from each month, and a note of other books I read that month so you can see what it was stacked up against. There will also be links to my reviews, so if any catch your eye, go check them out. As this is July – December, there will also be links to my reviews over at Dead Head Reviews, which if you’re a horror fan, is definitely a website you need to check out.

And onto part two! Enjoy.

July

spin the dawnSpin the Dawn – Elizabeth Lim

My Review

I only read three books this month, but the choice was really difficult, as I read both Spin the Dawn and Circe in July. In the end, I decided to go for Elizabeth Lim’s debut novel, a retelling of Mulan that weaves in some fantastic elements and beautiful imagery, and just absolutely swept me off my feet. This book is fantastic, and I really can’t wait for the sequel. Definitely check it out if you haven’t already.

Also Read This Month: Circe, Hysteria: The Biography

August

nos4r2.jpgNOS4R2 – Joe Hill

My Review

This is the month where I started reviewing for Dead Head Reviews, and therefore read a lot of horror. But NOS4R2 deserves a mention, because it’s a downright creepy, eerie read, with a creepy antagonist obsessed with Christmas, and a young woman desperately trying to understand her own abilities. It’s almost like X-Men meets Stephen King. That car, the Christmas songs, the way the protagonist questions her own mind and no one around actually believes her, it all adds up to a brilliant, if hefty, read.

Also Read This Month: Rose, The Blade Itself, The Deal Maker, Kakorrhaphiophobia

September

black rainbow.jpgBlack Rainbow – Edited By Scott Savino

My Review

This was a very difficult month, and my choice really came down to this, Midnight in the Graveyard, and Grind Your Bones to Dust, but Black Rainbow was pure gold. An LGBT horror anthology, the stories contained within it are unique and fresh, bringing new voices to the horror genre and giving us some excellent stories. Check it out – you really won’t be disappointed.

Also Read This Month: Carmilla, Mr Deadman Made Me Do It, Dangerous Women Part 1, Grind Your Bones to Dust, The Town That Feared Dusk, Fevre Dream, Midnight in the Graveyard

October

whispersWhispers in the Dark – Laurel Hightower

My Review

Another tough month. Basically, since I started reviewing for Dead Head Reviews, I’ve read some amazing horror novels, but Whispers in the Dark is one of my favourites I’ve read this year, let alone in just October. It’s a fantastic, gripping, haunting read, and I’m keen to see what Laurel Hightower gives readers next.

Also Read This Month: A Parallel Abyss, The Tunnellers, Under My Hat, In the Scrape

November

a curse so darkA Curse So Dark and Lonely – Brigid Kemmerer

My Review

This was the hardest month yet, as somehow I managed to read nine books. Considering I didn’t read for a few days as I was away, I’m kind of amazed at myself. But not only was it nine books read, the majority of them were really, really good. Still, I’m going to put this at the top of my favourites for this month. Just something about this Beauty and the Beast retelling really captivated me, and it helped me heal after finishing Queen of Nothing. A fantastic book, and I can’t wait for the sequel.

Also Read This Month: The Devil’s Apprentice, The Sea Was a Fair Master, A World of Horror, Esme’s Wish, Let It Go, Dear Laura, The Queen of Nothing, Various States of Decay

December

TBD

I’ve only finished two books this month so far, so I won’t make any decisions on December yet. Expect an update post from me later in the month!

 

So there we have it! Twelve favourites across two posts. And you really can tell when I started reviewing for Dead Head Reviews, can’t you? For reading, it’s been a really good year for me so far, with some fantastic books, new-to-me authors, a few old favourites and some debuts that absolutely blew me away. Let’s hope this trend of reading great books continues into 2020!

Blogmas #7: Favourite 2019 Books Part 1

Blogmas #7Yes, I’m a little behind, but I’m not going to stress about it. I’m not doing every day, anyway, so skipping a few days or falling behind doesn’t mean I’m going to stop doing Blogmas. We’ll just see how it goes.

2019 has been a really good year for me, in terms of reading. I’ve had the pleasure of reading fantastic books, some which I purchased for myself, others I’ve read for reviews, especially ones I’ve read for Dead Head. So picking just a select few is going to be hard. For this, I’m going to try and pick one for every month. And it won’t be ones just released in 2019 – it’ll be ones I read in 2019, instead. There might be some crossover with a previous post I did, but that was more books in general rather than specifically favourites, so we’ll see. And where I’ve done reviews for them, I’ll post the links here, too.

I’ll also include the other books I read that month, so you can see what, exactly, these favourites are being compared to.

January

city of ghostsCity of Ghosts – Victoria Schwab

This was my introduction to an absolutely amazing author, and soon after reading this I devoured the Shades of Magic series. I also have The Near Witch, and the first Steel Prince graphic novel. Basically, I’m slowly building up my collection. And City of Ghosts is an absolutely fantastic book, with some truly creepy moments and wonderful characters.

Also Read This Month: The Haunting of Hill House, And What Is Hell?, Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda, Gods & Monsters

February

hexHex – Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Spoiler-Free Review / Review With Spoilers

This book still haunts me. An absolutely fantastic horror novel, with an interesting premise and a really creepy execution. The contrast between the young and older generations works really well, as does the uncertainty around the witch who haunts this town. This book completely deserves some sort of adaptation.

Also Read This Month: Bird Box, Star Wars: Tales of the Bounty Hunters

March

the wicked king

The Wicked King – Holly Black

Picking one book for March was really difficult, as this was the month where I read The Wicked King AND two of the Shades of Magic books, with the third started in March and finished in April. It was also the month where I got to meet Victoria Schwab herself, and walked away with my first ever signed books and this is supposed to be about The Wicked King, isn’t it? The second in the Folk of the Air trilogy, The Wicked King bridges the gap between The Cruel Prince and The Queen of Nothing. I adored all three, and remembering The Wicked King reminds me of all the twists and turns involved, especially in this one. If you haven’t checked out the series yet, it’s a good time to do so, with all three now out in the world.

Also Read This Month: A Darker Shade of Magic, Mirror Mirror, A Gathering of Shadows

April

on the come upOn The Come Up – Angie Thomas

My Review

This was another fantastic month for reading, and included The Near Witch, but On The Come Up definitely deserves a mention. This and Thomas’ debut, The Hate U Give, are both fantastic, powerful books with strong characters at their core. Brilliantly written, highly engaging, if you haven’t checked out these YA novels yet, you really should. I’m still hoping for an On The Come Up film, eventually.

Also Read This Month: A Conjuring of Light, Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse, The Fever King, The Near Witch

May

the doll factoryThe Doll Factory – Elizabeth Macneal

My Review

Another signed book! This is Macneal’s debut novel, and it is haunting, beautiful, enchanting and eerie. A tale of a young woman in Victorian Era London, who falls in with a group of painters. I attended a short talk by Elizabeth Macneal and picked up my copy of the book there, and I cannot recommend it enough. The praise for this is all very well deserved, and I eagerly await her second novel.

Also Read This Month: The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School,The Queen of the Tearling, Hag-Seed

June

wicker kingThe Wicker King – K. Ancrum

My Review

I absolutely devoured this book, and read it within 24 hours. This is a really engrossing book, told in a unique way, and one that has you questioning the characters and events at every point. The twists and turns are fantastic, and it completely had me hooked from the very first page.

Also Read This Month: Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery, Suspicious Minds

And that is part one! I’ll try to get part two up as soon as I can. What about you? Any particular favourites from this year, or have you read any of the ones I particularly enjoyed?

[Double-Feature – Interview] – S.H. Cooper

Definitely check out this fantastic interview with the amazing S.H. Cooper.

Dead Head Reviews

By Garrett Witt

Dead Head Reviews (DHR): Hello, S.H. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us today. We are excited to have you here. 

S.H. Cooper (SHC): Thank you! I’m frankly shocked anyone would want to take the time to interview me, but very happy to be here!

DHR: We’re so happy to have you! Congratulations on your release of The Festering Ones. Can you tell us how the response has been so far? 

SHC: It’s been really positive so far! The reviews have started to come in and it’s getting some really great feedback. People seem to be digging some Lovecraftian vibes and the mostly female cast of characters. It’s actually been a huge relief because this is my first long form fiction release and I was very worried it might not hold up against my short stories, which is what I’ve built my little horror corner…

View original post 1,275 more words

Tabitha Sparks and the Door to Everywhere – Jae El Foster [Audiobook Review]

tabitha sparksI don’t really listen to audiobooks, but I was approached very kindly by Kathleen Powell, the narrator for Tabitha Sparks and the Door to Everywhere, and asked if I would be interested in reviewing the audiobook. I decided I would give it a go.

Blurb

Intelligent, kind Tabitha Sparks has a wonderful life, with loving parents, a kind tutor, and an unusual connection to nature. But one day, when returning from her favourite place, she finds her parents and house completely gone, without a trace. Child Services take Tabitha to live with her last living relative, Aunt Demonia. In a cold, lifeless house, Tabitha discovers something wonderful, something which could lead her to her parents – the Door to Everywhere. But someone else is looking for the door, too, and Tabitha must stop him before it’s too late.

Book Review

Tabitha Sparks and the Door to Everywhere is a delightful children’s book, with plenty of creepy characters, mysterious happenings, and adventure to keep children and adults entertained. Tabitha is an endearing child, one it’s hard not to like almost instantly, curious and intelligent and keen to explore the immediate world around her home. She looks to adults for guidance and help, but often comes up against brick walls, with those who are supposed to help her turning out to be either useless or downright cruel. But she does find other adults, who really are looking out for her best interests, or at the least, help her in small ways.

Then there is Lapis, Tabitha’s feline friend, named after the protective stone. Lapis is a really fun character, supporting Tabitha through her trials and assisting where he can, although as he is a cat, he spends more time jumping into Tabitha’s arms than anything else!

My only real gripe with this book, and perhaps it’s because it’s audiobook I picked up on it more, was that there were a lot of adverbs. Notably, ‘curiously’ is repeated fairly often, and it got a little annoying at times.

Other than that, however, this is a really sweet story about friendship and kindness and doing the right thing, and a young girl searching for her parents. The different worlds we’re introduced to are intriguing and imaginative, and sure to entertain readers, old and young, with the different inhabitants and worlds Tabitha accesses.

Audiobook

I’ve only listened to one audiobook before, and that was Camilla, in Podcast format, so I listened to it between other podcasts, in ten and twenty-minute snippets. With Tabitha Sparks, I basically listened to it when I would usually listen to podcasts. And it was great! It felt like reading while at work, an ability to do other things while also being entertained by an audiobook. Although I understood why people listened to audiobooks before, I can definitely see the appeal more now.

There’s just something wonderful in falling into a different world through someone else’s voice, and the narrator Kathleen Powell does a fantastic job with Tabitha Sparks, hitting the right notes and affecting slightly different voices for each character. She has an absolutely charming style, one that really conveys the wonder and fear Tabitha goes through in the novel. It was a pure delight to listen to, and really made me feel like a little kid, gathering around for storytime.

Overall, I found this to be a fantastic, lovely book with a brilliant narrator really able to bring the story to life. I can only imagine the joy children would get out of reading this, or listening to the audiobook! It is definitely one worth checking out.

Audible

Goodreads

Amazon: UK   /    US

Kathleen Powell’s Website

Blogmas #6: 2019 Wrap Up & 2020 Goals

Blogmas #6One: I know I skipped day five. Two: This will possibly go up late. Re the first point, I couldn’t think of much for the prompt (gifts) and I said at the start I wasn’t going to push myself to post every day. I’ve been feeling under the weather this week, so I avoided rushing something yesterday, and I won’t rush this to get it out before midnight. But we’ll see how that one goes.

So. 2019.

What a year.

And I mean that in a really good way.

yay.gifSo I started the year off kind of…lonely, I guess. Like, I have my BF, who is amazing, but in terms of networking, and connections to communities, I struggled. I was querying stories, but had very few published, and I didn’t seem to making many connections with the #WritingCommunity on Twitter. I’d see bloggers interacting, getting ARCs, doing blog tours, and had absolutely no idea how to actually be a part of all that.

I had a couple of short stories published at the start of 2019, and I updated the blog more and had a handful of followers, and, as I still do now, I mentally cheered whenever I had a new follower, on Twitter or the blog. It was just constantly amazing to me that someone would be interested in the words I wrote.

thank you.gifJust before the summer, my BF and I talked about going to Disney. Basically, he remembered me saying how much I wished I could spend my 30th birthday in DLP, or at least one birthday, and how it was probably the closest theme park open in the middle of November, and it sucked because theme parks/amusement parks for my birthday were not really a possibility.

See, I love rollercoasters, and on a trip to Blackpool a couple of years ago, we discovered Rich does too, even if he was terrified while we queued for The Big One, the moment we stepped off he turned to me with a grin and said, “Can we do it again?”

emperors new groove.gifWe booked the trip. And shortly after, I decided to try beta reading through freelance website Fiverr. Turns out, that was an absolutely fantastic decision. Through doing this, I have met some fantastic writers, and they’ve now gone on to have stories published or to self-publish books, receiving amazing feedback. It feels great, to be doing something constructive, and to help other writers along their journeys.  Because of this, I am now considering looking at joining The Society for Editors and Proofreaders next year, and maybe taking a couple of courses, as editing is something I really enjoy, and judging from the consistent 5* feedback, apparently something I might actually be good at.

Around the same time, Dead Head Reviews posted asking anyone would be interested in joining their team. Apparently, I was one of the first. And it’s been really exciting. If you”re a horror fan, you should definitely check out the site. Through Dead Head, I’ve been introduced to some amazing indie publishers and authors, and have got to fantastic horror books, from anthologies to novellas to full novels, it really has been amazing.

This year, I also joined TheWriteReads gang, with my mid-year wrap up post being featured as a blog of the day. This has not only increased my views and followers, but also introduced me to some amazing people, allowed me to participate in the blog tour for the fantastic The Devil’s Apprentice, and I am also a panelist for the upcoming BBNYA.

Talking of blog tours, I’ve been invited onto a few now, so look out for them in the New Year! And I’ve started getting a few review requests thanks to my review policy page, and it’s always exciting to see an e-mail come in for that dedicated account.

anna excited.gifWith my own personal writing, things have been a little up and down. I’ve had a couple of short stories published, but many rejected. But I will keep trying and, of course, keep writing.

But one thing this year has taught me is that even though I am in an early stage in my own writing career, that doesn’t mean I can’t help other beginner writers. Whether it’s through the beta-reading/editing work I do, or reviewing books, I feel really happy when I can give another writer feedback to make them smile, and when I do come across a really good book, you can bet I’ll shout about it from the rooftops.

And of course, we went to Disneyland Paris in November. It was amazing and magical and an absolute dream come true – I cried during Illuminations, because I was standing next to my fantastic, wonderful boyfriend, in Disneyland, on my 30th birthday, and it was everything I could have wished for and more. And Illuminations is just…it’s emotional, okay? Here’s hoping we get to go back soon!

mickey and minnie

2020 Goals

So here we are. It’s coming up to the end of the year and we are approaching 2020. I’m not a big fan of setting ‘goals’ as such, as if I don’t hit them, I tend to feel a little bad. But I do try to set myself small, achievable goals. Things I know I can do, and if I exceed them, I can feel really, really good about it.

One thing that happened this year I didn’t mention about was I hit 100 blog followers (and hoted a giveaway to celebrate!). So this year, maybe I can double that. Hitting 200 would be fantastic.

I’ve exceeded my Goodreads Reading Challenge Goal (set at 50, currently on 65) and would like to do the same next year. I am definitely reading more, so I’m going to up the amount to 55. Still a small number, but if I can read over 50 in a year, I’m happy.

Have short stories being queried at all times. This year, I set myself to have five out on submission every month, and I’m going to try to keep that up. If I don’t achieve that, it’ll be because I’ve had stuff published, so even if I don’t hit that goal, it’s not a bad thing.

Other than that, I’m going to keep doing what I’m currently doing. Helping writers, whether it’s improving their writing or promoting their books via reviews, updating the blog regularly, and working on my own writing when I can.

lets do this.gif

Huge thanks to Jenn for pointing me towards her Blogmas list.

Blogmas #1: Christmas TBR  /  Blogmas #2: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year  /  Blogmas #3: Christmas Reads  /  Blogmas #4: Bookish Naughty or Nice List

Blogmas #4: Bookish Naughty or Nice List

Blogmas #4I’ve really been looking forward to this one! And you should check out Jenn’s original list from 2017, too.

  • Received an ARC and not reviewed it  X

I will read them all! I just…got swamped, a little more quickly than I expected. I went from having no ARCs, never having touched an ARC, to having…a lot. It’s great, but yeah, I need time to get through them.

uh oh

  • Have less than 60% feedback rating on Netgalley X

I guess technically, I have 0% on Netgalley, as I’m actually not on there. I’m actually considering doing a post, maybe in the New Year, about why I’m not there. I want to be though.

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  • Rated a book on goodreads and promised a full review was to come on your blog (and never did)

Nope! Not done this one. I don’t write reviews on Goodreads until I’ve at least put them on the blog or on Deadheads, at which point I’ll add an extract, then link back to the original post.

well done.gif

  • Folded down the page of a book X

Okay, yeah. Guilty. Sorry! I used to actually do this a lot. It was just how I saved my place. Never to someone else’s books though! And I stopped doing it a long time ago. Now, I have a nice little collection of bookmarks to use.

angry

  • Accidentally spilled on a book

Nope! Not that I can remember, anyway. I don’t actually drink when I’m reading, so that helps a lot in avoiding accidental spills.

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  • DNF a book this year

Nope! I’ve finished all the books I’ve picked up this year. I very rarely – if ever – DNF a book.

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  • Bought a book purely because it was pretty with no intention of reading it

Nope! I intend to read every book I buy, and honestly, I just can’t afford to buy books I won’t read right now. Though there are some books I would love to have and probably wouldn’t actually read,  if I could.

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  • Read whilst you were meant to be doing something else (like homework) X

Yeah, I probably read when I should be writing, to be honest. But it feeds into one another, right?

pluto angel

  • Skim read a book

Nope! This is another one that I just don’t tend to do.

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  • Completely missed your Goodreads goal X

Well, 2016 I missed it by 8. 2015 was the first year I started doing it and I’ve hit over my goal since then. I tend to set it low-ish, based on how many books I read the previous year. Otherwise I’d just stress myself out trying to hit it.

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  • Borrowed a book and not returned it X

Errrr yes. A long, long time ago. Let’s not talk about it.

my bad

  • Broke a book buying ban X

Yep! I just can’t help it. I want all the books.

gasp

  • Started a review, left it for ages then forgot what the book was about

Ha nope. I don’t think so anyway.

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  • Wrote in a book you were reading

Ha NOPE! I WOULD NEVER! I fully believe in a book is yours, to do with what you will, and if someone enjoys writing in them, then fair. But I just couldn’t do it.

faint

  • Finished a book and not added it to your Goodreads  X

I might have done this with one or two ARCs I’ve received before they were up on Goodreads.

fed up max

So there we have it. I don’t think I did too bad!

Again, huge thanks to Jenn for introducing me to Blogmas and giving me an awesome list to work from.

25-Post-Ideas-for-Blogmas

Blogmas #1: Christmas TBR     /     Blogmas #2: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year     /     Blogmas #3: Favourite Christmas Reads