I’m Back! (with goodies to share)

First of all, I am well aware it has been An Age since I last posted on my blog. Even my well intentions around June for Pride fell flat because of Reasons but I finally find myself in the right state of mind that I am not only excited but actually capable of posting things again (whoo!). Before you all panic, I will not be backlogging the last three months with posts, but I will be posting a lot of my posts that were meant to come out during that time i.e my AWW update, my book bingo update etc. So I will combine those into one post and the last couple updates can be done in one go and I can get back on track.

I am not coming back with nothing. I have a huge amount of reviews to share because while I have not been posting I have still been reading. One thing I am eternally grateful for is audiobooks, for which the last five months have been keeping me sane. For all those times I haven’t even been able concentrate on reading a physical book I have had my headphones in my ears with a book playing. I have kept up my Goodreads reading challenge by reading book after book and being able to do that when I have had such an intense 2020 has been an absolute life saver.

Of course, writing many of these reviews still need to happen but I will get there because I have been taking notes and once I get back into the swing of things I will be able to post with my usual schedule. I will be posting less than before but if I can I will post more, so don’t panic if I post something and then you don’t hear from me for a week. I don’t want to post everything I have and in a few weeks be back with nothing to share.

And it’s not just my prattling that you get to enjoy again, since I am back I can celebrate and reward everyone for sticking with me and not abandoning me on the socials and for still visiting my dormant blog – you’re all wonderful! I know I promised this months ago for the Facebook group but I am going to combine and join forces with the blog. I will be running two giveaways to thank you all – one here and one on Facebook. Full details will be below and you are more than welcome to enter both!

I will leave you with my gratitude again, and my apologies because while I know a lot of us have had a hell of a 2020 due to the pandemic and a whole bunch of other things, and so many people have been affected in one way or another, I’m glad I can come back here to this community, to my little corner of the internet and find some sense of normalcy in a year that has been far from normal.

Giveaway

Now for the fun part! I am giving you a chance to win one of the books off my Top 5 from 2019 list. The full list is below or you can visit the original post page for extra details and links to my reviews. To enter into the giveaway I will be running them slightly differently: Head over to Facebook to check out my pinned post and learn how you can enter that one, if you’d like to enter the blog one head over to Rafflecopter and get your entries in to win. The prize is the same but you can enter both.

The giveaway will run until 11:59pm AEDT 21st October 2020 and is open internationally

Good luck and thank you!

Titles Up For Grabs

The Dead Queens Club by Hannah Capin

How to Fight A Dragon’s Fury by Cressida Cowell

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson

The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited by Clint McElroy

Giraffe Problems by Jory John

Llama Destroys the World by Jonathan Stutzman

Little Puggle’s Song by Vicki Conley

The Rough Patch by Brian Lies

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

Two Weeks MIA

I’m going to keep this short and sweet. I know you all may have noticed that after a relatively steady posting schedule through April I have dropped off the map. There is a good reason for this which I won’t go into the full details because it’s long and personal, but even with all the Covid drama around, apparently I still felt the need to create some different drama for myself.

All intentions of writing my mass backlog of reviews for May has failed and as I’m still in a wonky kinda state within myself I hope I can get to these eventually. I am still reading a lot, audiobooks are a godsend, Animal Crossing New Horizons is a godsend, and doing them both together is fabulous when you can’t do much else.

I still plan to honour my announcement on my Facebook page about offering a giveaway for my followers there so if you’ve ever thought about liking my page now’s the time to do it. I only need to find the energy to create it and away we go.

I’m still reading, multiple books per day sometimes which is amazing, flying through some great books, rushing through some not so great ones. I miss being able to sit down and type out my thoughts immediately after but I have got many notes at the ready for when I am able to sit at my computer and get a proper post organised so hopefully that’s enough. In the meantime, if you’re after some more recommendations, feel free to browse the tags or categories and maybe you’ll find a new book to love from an old review.

As for next month, I hope to see you here in June. I am looking at dedicating the entire month to Pride and various LGBTQIA books I have read in the past and plan to discover. I have been looking forward to this since last year so I am really hoping I’ll be up for the challenge.

Until then, you can follow me on Goodreads to see what I have been reading or let me know what you’ve been reading in the comments. If you want to vent about isolation go for it, if you want to talk about Animal Crossing I’m up for that as well. As always I’m up for recommendations, at the moment if there’s an audio version I’ll be super grateful but if not, it may find a place on my growing TBR pile.

Putting my best foot forward and reminding myself this is only temporary, I will see you all on the other side.

2020 Goals

2020 has arrived and so the start of a new year of blogging goals commences. I’ve already looked back at the poor attempt I made with last year’s goals and instead of learning from that I am going to be bolder and reach wider because I have learnt nothing.

Some of these goals are ones I have thought about through the year and am going to strive and make them part of my reading habits. They aren’t completely extravagant, but even a small achievement in these areas is a win because at least I’m doing something good for myself and for the reading community.

All of these are my attempt to read more widely, more diversely, to spread the love, discover new reads and read the books, genres, and authors I love. Because reading and blogging isn’t just about making goals it is about reading good books, these are just the tools I am using to find and experience these good books. As long as I give it my best these goals can’t really be failed (some can but that is a whole other thing). As I enter my seventh year of this blog (what even is happening about that!) I am growing and evolving once more like a little blogging Pokémon and that can only be a good thing.

Read More Young Adult

There always seems to be more and more published every week while I am still catching up on those published in 2015. I want to try and read more of the YA books I’ve heard so much about, seen on my shelves every day, and bought with speed to own upon release only to never read it.

Read More #LoveOzYA

Adjacent category of the above is to hone in on our Aussie YA corner. Not only am I super keen to see if the #LoveOzYA team release another bingo (hopefully not waiting until October to do so), but in the meantime I want to discover all the Aussie writers have to offer.

Finish series

I will admit, this is my evergreen goal, but imagining the satisfaction of finishing a series is something I need to dream about to achieve this goal.

Finish a whole Bingo Game

I have done it once, I failed last year but if I remind myself I have done it once, it will also make me read these genres and stories I don’t read often which is usually how a card gets unfinished. Hopefully mixing up my card this year and doing more challenges will help as well.

Be more active on other blogs to share the love.

Despite being online and not actually face to face I still get a lot of anxiety interacting with people online but sharing a love of books and reading should hopefully push me out of my silently stalking mode into commenting and sharing the love a bit more around the blogging community.

Read more off my own shelf

A small part of me actually thinks I’ll achieve this where I have failed every other year because I keep adding books to my shelves and seeing these titles I’ve also wanted to read for years. I only need to pick them up. Maybe if I start, it will be a habit I won’t easily break. That or guilt myself into keep going. The key is to connect the books on my shelves to those in challenges or other goals because if I only used my shelves I have no doubt I’d fill every box and every goal and every genre required.

Looking at the list I think that is a decent approach to this 2020 year. If I use these as guidelines to other things I will hopefully be able to achieve them in a small way. I am already looking forward to seeing how far I can go. Do you have any reading goals you want to achieve this year?

So Long 2019, and Thanks for All the Fish

The end of the year has come around with the usual speed and promptness. From November and December flying by and now the last few days of my break over in the blink of an eye the end of the year is one of mixed feelings. As I write this my state and country is on fire, hundreds of fires, millions of hectares destroyed and an Emergency Warning has been issued for my area with a bush fire only a few kilometres away just this afternoon. This brings a lot of strangeness to this NYE and it’s a strange thing to be wrapping up my blogging year when so much is happening around me.

This is a blog about books and reading and this year has been a great reminder about the joys and magic books can bring. While the world has been falling apart around us this year with incompetent governments and a wide variety of imbeciles ruining the planet with their greed, it has been a wonderful escape to lose yourself in books. They are the distraction you need when you feel helpless and frustrated. Working in a library I have a fortunate advantage of seeing hundreds of books a day and getting to find some interesting reads and snagging new releases. Of course whether I get to actually read a lot of these is a whole other thing, but I have done my best.

My Goodreads challenge was won with a few hours left to go in the year, sneaking in a few incredibly quick reads of a couple picture books I have because the novels I’m in the middle of will not be finished come New Year’s night. I love seeing my Year in Books that Goodreads so beautiful presents for me each year. It is a great chance to look back and see all the books I’ve already forgotten I’d read, or ones I thought I read ages ago only to realise it was only in May. This year has certainly been going on for a lot longer than normal.

In preparation of this post I went back to look at my post where I laid out my 2019 goals. I probably shouldn’t have done that because frankly it was filled with incomplete goals. I only had three essentially:

  • Finishing Series
  • Recapping Books Events
  • Rereading

I didn’t finish a single series I had on my list to finish so fail there.

I think I started strong with my book events before they too were sitting unpublished in a notebook still. I do wonder if I could post them next year, a few (many) months late but still a nice revisit to the event. It may also be a great test of my note taking skills to see if I even know what I was talking about when I wrote them.

I will take a tiny win in that I reread Ready Player One (still amazing, read the book it’s better than the movie). But I didn’t reread the series I wanted to either so also tiny fail.

In a way, I was consistent in my lack of achievement though so…win?

Things to be Proud Of:

Away from my goals I do have things I am proud of that I achieved this year

  • I had more people visit my blog in the first 11 days of January this year than I had in the entirety of 2013. I also saw my total numbers of visitors grow immensely this year which was incredible and something I honestly never thought would happen.
  • I read 181 books out of my 180 set goal which I think is my highest number yet
  • I won AWW 2019 and not just scraping through at the last minute either, proper exceeded it
  • I had a steady blogging schedule which worked like clockwork 99% of the time
  • I won #LoveOzYABookBingo by finishing a line and a few more on top of that
  • I achieved two Book Bingo lines

Looking at that list I am quite impressed, though I didn’t achieve my goals, I did have a lot of wins.

My original plan tonight was to read my book, eat my fill of cheese and wine and enter 2020 with books on the mind and a keen spirit to read as many as I can in this new decade. In light of the events this afternoon, I fear my evening will be to have an eagle eye on the Fires Near Me App, and an eye out the window watching the billowing smoke grow larger.

Honestly, it’s an unideal way to end the year but this has been the reality in this country for a while. I remain hopeful towards 2020 though. I want to find new books to fall in love with, I want to read even more widely and diversely than I currently am, read more Australian, read more YA, read more heartbreaking books and more joyful books.

If you are in any of the fire affected areas I hope you stay safe, if you are fire free I hope your NYE is filled with festivities and frivolity.

Why the Audiobook is Not Always the Better Choice

I love audiobooks. I love that I can still read books while I am driving to work or shopping or otherwise unable to have a book in my hand. I also love that when you get good audiobooks with good narrators you can become so engrossed in a book you listen to it all day every day until you are done. But there is a flip side. There are risks to listening to audios. Not only if you have a bad book it can make it hard to skim and skip over the terribleness of it all, but you are at the mercy of the narrator and how they chose to interpret the text. This may mean you dislike a book you otherwise might have enjoyed.

 

The effect of the Wrong Voice

The voices a narrator chooses for a character can have immense effects on how you as a reader feel towards them. A voice that is too young, childish, and babyish make you look down on a character, makes you see them as childish and immature, something that may not have happened had you had your own voice in your head. If the voice is harsh and grating on your ears, and certainly not one you would ever feel suited that character then that too can be a turn off. I’ve turned off a couple audios recently because I could not stand the voices used for characters. It wasn’t anything I could get used to and it hurt my ears every time they spoke.

 

Bad narration

Connected in part to the wrong voice is also straight up bad narration. If a narrator does a bad job you do find you take it out on the book. Was the book bad, or was it just badly read? So often you can get used to a bad narrator, adjust your ears and your mind to their style and proceed as normal, or you focus more intently on the story and try to ignore their banality or slowness. Other times having a bad narrator can make you dislike a book, something that might not have happened had you had a physical copy in your lap instead. There is one upside to a slow reader though, the ability to put things on 1.5x or 2x speed on certain platforms which wonderfully makes the story play at regular speed instead of dragging on.

 

Changing narrators in the series

This one I cannot understand but at the same time I do. Narrator availability and time between books impacts this but it messes with your mind. Having spent ten hours imaging a character as a middle aged lady of reason, a bit of middle class, nothing too fancy but not that common either can jar the senses upon starting book two when a very different voice hits your ears with a twang and a jovialness that she never had before. Suddenly everything is less upper middle class, still doing the exact same things in the exact same house with the same cat, but the character seems different. It hardly seems right having this voice attached to the lady you had moulded in your mind to be a certain way. This is why I love when series have the same narrators, it makes everything more seamless and doesn’t mess with the characters in your head.

 

The Songs

When authors feel the need to fill our pages with songs, little hums, and all around general musical merriment, it is a fun thing to have a quick read, glance at the words, not worrying about rhythm or melody. Get the gist and off you go! With audio, to get the Full Experience, some narrators like to sing will full gusto and it makes you realise How Many Songs are in this book and Why Are There So Many Songs? It doesn’t do anyone any good having to sit through these things. It must be part of someone’s Beginners Guide to Torture having to sit through these songs in these books where they have no place being.

 

These are of course only my opinions, a few things that got me thinking after I listened to one of my favourite books as an audio and realised what a horrible mistake I had made. I have also had a lot more wonderful audiobook moments, but sometimes it is a little fun to point out that they aren’t always the best route to take. I suppose you only find out once you try, and thankfully 99% of the time there is another format you can fall back to when you decide your ears deserve better. 😛

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