Reading Year in Review: 2017

We got to do some pretty amazing things this year, all thanks to reading. Here are some of our bookish highlights of 2017! Continue reading “Reading Year in Review: 2017”

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Bee’s Star Rating Statistics 2017

I’m writing this on December 9th. This year, I’ve been keeping track of my reading on a spreadsheet, because I wanted more details than what Goodreads would provide. So far this year I’ve read 211 books, and I can’t see myself reading too much more. I’m not going to take out books re-reads like Maddie did, because that would take way too long! But the numbers won’t add up precisely because I didn’t rate things I read for university or that I DNF’d.

Continue reading “Bee’s Star Rating Statistics 2017”

On Reading Less

I thought seeing as we’re coming to the end of another year filled with books, it was time to talk about something that we haven’t gone into detail about yet…how much we read.

Screen Shot 2017-12-03 at 14.56.21Last year it was one of our goals to spend less time reading, which might sound crazy coming from two people whose whole lives are ALL about books. But we had good reason! We wanted to try and make writing more of a priority…except this didn’t really work out. We’re treating you to loads of stats this Blogmas, so here’s the breakdown of how many books we’ve read per year since starting a GoodReads account.

           |      BEE      |    MADDIE
2013 |       63        |         53
2014 |      143       |        139
2015 |      178       |        187
2016 |      231       |        240

We each somehow managed to read 60 more books in 2016 than 2015. Now that’s partly due to the ridiculously long summers you get at university, but most it’s because we procrastinated all other hobbies including writing. At the beginning of 2017 I really though we’d each read 300 books in a year, but looking back that’s absolutely crazy! Where would we have had to go from there? Finishing a book everyday? That’s just impractical.

Screen Shot 2017-12-03 at 14.57.25It’s obvious that our plan to read less in 2016 didn’t work out, so when it came to making our resolutions for 2017, we decided to try again. And this year it’s worked. We’ve still read an awful lot, but the point it, it’s not as much as last year. At the end of 2016 we realised we didn’t feel as successful as we thought having read over 200 books, and that’s because we’d let ourselves down in other areas. So, even though I’ve read less his year (not by much, admittedly) I feel so much better for it, because unlike last year we actually finished the first draft of our co-written novel, which definitely wouldn’t have been possible if we’d tried to push for more reading.

Next year looks like it’s going to be even busier for us writing wise, so when it comes to setting my GoodReads goal, I think I’ll be aiming for 150. Hopefully, this will also force us to be a lot more selective when it comes to what we’re reading. We’ll talk more about the benefits of DNF’ing (something we started doing in 2017) at some point in the future, but already its lead to us enjoying a higher percentage of what we read, since in 2016, I’m pretty sure I gave majority 2.5 star ratings, and I’d much rather be finding more 4/5 star books instead.

This year we definitely had the realisation that it’s not how much  you read, but what you’re reading. We’d 100% recommend in 2018, letting go of the pressure to read lots of books, you might just find yourself reading more anyway.

 

 

Favourite Book Covers of 2017!

After reading over 200 books each this year, we’ve seen our fair amount of pretty covers. *Round of applause to cover designers* We’ve recognised trends (a lot of pink, purple and blue, some silhouettes, gold lettering) and picked our favourites, so in no particular order:

 The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargave

Orange is my favourite colour and it’s not one you see often on books, so I was really happy that such a well loved book is forcing everyone to have more of it on their shelves! The silhouette could be pretty standard on other covers, but the fact that this one is so detailed, giving you a real fairy-tale-island vibe makes it a perfect fit for this book. The one thing that throws me off is the ampersand in the title, rather than ‘and’, but it just adds to this cover’s unusual charm!

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

To us, there’s no competition between the UK and US edition of this book. The UK, with it’s gorgeously rich blue and gold detailing wins hands down. There’s something really elegant about the single moth image and the fact that’s it’s facing down fits to the slightly weird and wonderful atmosphere of the book.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

We absolutely love the curled font chosen and the tiny star and teardrop details! Black covers are difficult to make stand out and the firework burst in the background makes this hard to ignore. The colour palette is delicious and the way the subtitle is curved is such a nice detail.

Wing Jones by Katherine Webber

This book came out at the very beginning of the year and I’m still not over the way Wing’s name is written in shoe laces. Shoe laces. This is a cover that perfectly speaks to the book and the colours all complement each other so well. I need more books to embrace the ombre fade! (Also, bonus points for the unbelievable pink-and-purple sprayed edges of the physical copy!) The only thing that would make this colour even better is if it were completely white in the background.

The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

G o r g e o u s.   S t u n n i n g.   B e a u t i f u l.   G l i t t e r.  That’s all.

lets-chat

Let us know if you agree with our picks and what some of your favourite covers of the year were. They don’t all have to be books published in 2017, either, just ones you had the joy of discovering this year!

Last Chance TBR: Read Before 2018!

HAPPY BLOGMAS, EVERYONE!

We’re so happy to be working on lots of blog posts again, after a few inconsistent months of posting…(we were doing so well at the beginning of the year *sigh*) But we’re back on the blogging bandwagon and continuing with one of our favourite traditions!

Bee and I have set ourselves a few TBRs over the year that we’ve been very proud to have mostly stuck too. Over the summer, we picked a rainbow of books to read from our shelves (prioritising physical books we own rather than library books/e-books/uni reading/books for review for what felt like the first time in eons.) And it was a success. We read books that have been on our TBRs for over two years (sorry, Magnus Chase, no hard feelings).

So with a few successes under our belts, why not set ourselves a final challenge to get some books read before 2018 is upon us? It’s not like we have two 4,000 word essays to write and a dissertation to get on with. *distant screeching* To make it manageable, we’ve each picked TWO BOOKS, so what are they?

MADDIE’S CHOICE

Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
I bought this for myself in June and read the first chapter in a Try a Chapter video, which I absolutely loved. But, I picked up If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo instead and have completely forgotten about how much I loved the start of this one. In might be completely out of season, but ice cream in winter is fine by me!

Ash by Malinda Lo
It’s been donkeys years since I read a fairy tale retelling, it feels like, so I picked the first one that caught my eye. It’s based on Cinderella (ah, my favourite!) and it’s an f/f romance (am I dreaming about how good this sounds? this can’t be a real thing!) So, fingers crossed I love this as much as I love the concept.

BEE’S CHOICE

The Last Boy and Girl in the World by Siobhan Vivian 
This book almost was going to be in my Top 5 to read in 2018, but why wait? I haven’t heard anything about it, but I picked it up when it was still a new release because Morgan Matson has blurbed it! It feel like it’s going to be something I really love, and I’m looking for another five star read to close out the year, so we’ll see!

Truth or Dare by Non Pratt
I’ve read all of her other books this year, so I need to close out this year by completing the set! I don’t think it’ll be as good as Unboxed which is one of the best books I read this year, and Maddie read it before YALC so I have her reading experience to adjust my expectations.

 

Nanowrimo 2017 | Our Plans!

I can’t believe it’s already the beginning of November and that time again! The time where a bunch of writers attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Is it possible? Well…

Bee and I attempted the challenge in 2015, (vlogging most of our struggle!) and managed to get 30k through each of our manuscripts before getting tired out and bogged down with university commitments. Unfortunately, that’s probably the way this year, too, but this time we’re joining forces and working on our joint project.

If we each manage to write 30,000 this month, then together that adds up to completing our manuscript (that sat at around 15,000 before November!) Hopefully by splitting the workload and writing as much as we can in the first week of the month, we’ll definitely be able to win NaNoWriMo this year.

So, what are we working on?

Here’s our Twitter pitch to give you an idea: Scott and Ronnie, teenage musicians, meet at a YouTube convention and sing a duet that breaks the Internet.

There’s so much more going on than that, including Own Voices asexual rep (and not just one character, but two! Yay!) but we hope you like the sound of that little teaser!

To any one participating in NaNo this year, good luck and we believe in you! And for any still unsure on whether they want to take part, we’d definitely recommend making the most of the wonderful community atmosphere to get that first draft that’s been swirling about in your head for ages finally done on the page!

(We’d also recommend checking out some of our favourite writing-based content creators, including: Kristen Martin, Lainey Kress, Natalia Leigh and the WordNerds!)

Top 5: Children’s Books

Although it’s a little late, I really liked the idea of sharing our favourite children’s books, based on last Wednesday’s (12th) Top 5 topic! I like to think of all of these books as the books that have made me the reader I am today, the books that have shaped my reading taste and drawn me towards young adult series that became my new favourite books.

(Backstory: Bee and I have always been readers, for sure, but it was never a huge priority in our lives until we were in secondary school. We spent most of our childhood playing role-play games with our dolls and watching Winx Club)

Fairy Dreams by Gwyneth Rees 

Because we loved animated fairies so much, it only made sense to seek them out in book form. When we were younger, I always wore my hair in bunches, so we thought that the two fairies on the cover looked like us! The story is about a girl who finds the fairies and when she goes to sleep, gets transported to the magical world! There was also something called The Book of Fairy Fun with every Gwyneth Rees character, full of word games and puzzles. When Bee and I shared a room, and when we were meant to be asleep, we’d allow ourselves to complete a couple puzzles a night, crouching up to our windowsill to get light from the streetlamp outside.

Anything by Jacqueline Wilson 

She was as big in the early 2000s as she is now. I have such fond memories of finding a Candyfloss hardback for 50p at a car boot sale with our grandparents, and reading Bad Girls for a reading level assessment. Of course, we lapped up Double Act and I always had a soft spot for Midnight (again, fairies. It’s a phase I hope to never grow out of!)

Anything by Cathy Cassidy

For our tenth birthday, I got Sundae Girl and Dizzy and Bee got Driftwood and Scarlet, and to this day, they will always be our favourite books by Cathy! Since then, we’ve been to three signings, one of which we won tickets to in a Mizz magazine contest. It was for the launch of Angel Cake and we got these glorious goodie bags and the chance to interview Cathy in a small group. It was one of the best days ever.

Judy Moody by Megan McDonald

I don’t remember how we got hold of these books, but they were fantastic. So great, in fact, that Bee and I are currently re-reading them just for fun! They’re about Judy, who really wants to be a doctor when she grows up, and each book is about her taking on these wild ideas like trying to get famous, or pretending to have ESP and running with them. Essentially a female Phineas and Ferb before the show existed.

Rose by Holly Webb 

Rose was Bee’s special thing. It was a four book series about this little orphan girl who discovered she had magical powers before she went to work for a renowned magician. She gets trained, along with the magician’s apprentice and helps to solve magical crimes like kidnappings and blood lettings. It was a bit more…grizzly than I was expecting when I first read it on a train back from London. I can remember, instead, choosing to focus on the scene where she goes to the candy store, and the big cat, Gus.

These are all the books that stick out in my mind as the ones we loved the best, and also the ones we’ve chosen to keep hold of, just in case we want to take a trip down memory lane.

Series To Read Before 2018!

What time is it? TBR Shame Time! Around the middle of the year, it’s always a good plan to re-evaluate what’s on your TBR and what your priorities are before 2018 rolls around, because it’s going to come sooner rather than later if January to June is anything to go by. I swear we were making our reading resolutions a week ago…

Tiny Pretty Things by Donielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra

This is only a duet, so really I have no excuse for not starting it because it’s not a lifetime dedication like Cassandra Clare series. But, it’s TOP of my list because I’m desperate to read about ballerinas at a boarding school. Ever since Bee and I got hooked on Dance Academy at the beginning of the year, ballet has been my favourite topic and this will be fabulous, I know it.  Continue reading “Series To Read Before 2018!”

Favourite Fictional Father Figures!

Richard Manners in Geek Girl

It just so happens that any one of these favourites posts can be used to promote the Geek Girl series. Funny, that. Richard is a fantastic dad. He may not always make the right decisions, or completely understand his daughter, but he’s there to support her (by taking free trips to Russia!) and generally be a maverick of the household. We absolutely love that Holly Smale wrote a family that inverts the tradition of the mother to be the one to stay at home and the dad to do the work. It’s so positive to see.

Hagrid in Harry Potter and Whatever He’s Up To

Every one who’s ever compiled a list like this is guaranteed to have any male character bar the Malfoys and Voldemort from Harry Potter. Out of every other contender for best father figure, I’ve chosen Hagrid because he’s the only one, in my opinion, who loves Harry because he wants to. Lupin and Sirius love him because he’s a miniature James, and brings back a piece of their shared past. Dumbledore cares for him because he turns out to be a selfish pusher of his own agenda. Hagrid loves him, full stop. Yes, he may put Harry in the radius of dangerous magical creatures, but whatever.

Dad Edwards in Second Chance Summer

I may not know his name, but he’s crucial to the story, and still manages to give Taylor some beautiful life lessons with the time he has left. This was a difficult father-daugther relationship to read about because illness gets in the way, and neither of them want to admit that their time is limited, but I think this story really proves how much loved ones matter to a person, and that no matter how much time you have with someone, it’s always worth being together. Excuse me while I go sob now.

Mr Bennett in Pride and Prejudice

A man that loves his daughters and irritating his wife. Although P&P definitely isn’t a comedy, Mr Bennett provided the light hearted jokes just when you needed them, and didn’t really care about what society thought of his family, as long as they were happy. I also really appreciated how he didn’t shame Lydia for what happened to her, whereas Mrs Bennett was distraught for days. No wonder everyone likes their father best!

Dad Marx in The Museum of Heartbreak

He just loved dinosaurs and wanted to share that love with the world, even in inappropriate scenarios. Dinner party conversation? Dinosaurs. Break up conversation? Dinosaurs. Definitely one of the stand out characters of a rather wishy-washy read.

Top 5: Side Relationships!

Before you wonder, this Top 5 Wednesday topic is not about your favourite relationship that had a side piece, like I first thought 😂 No one wants to promote disloyalty in relationships, for sure! This topic is all about your favourite couples that never got the spotlight. We’re big fans of secondary characters, and love it even more when they get their happily ever after. BUT, this week also meant that I had to delve back into the 2013-2014 archives of my reading tastes because secondary characters are only usually granted well developed relationships in series with three books or over, and seeing as I’ve managed to complete a measly two series this year, I was limited for choice. So, get ready for some oldies but goodies! Continue reading “Top 5: Side Relationships!”