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

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?

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