Friday, 19 April 2013

Random Read-a-Thon Starting Line (#WWReadathon)

My blog has been abadoned for a while. I've been in a bit of a blogging slump and I have a scary review backlog, although I do have lots of posts started. Add to that health issues and me being distracted by craft projects and you can basically see the tumbleweeds dancing across the screen. So when I checked my email yesterday and saw a heads up about a mini read-a-thon I thought that would be a great way to spend the weekend.

I'm going to try and keep this low stress as I'm not feeling so great, so my goals are:

  • Finish Ghost of a Chance by Kate Marsh which I'm a grand total of one chapter into.
  • Write 3 reviews, including the one for Renegade which has been sitting partially written for forever.
  • Try and stop by the twitter party tomorrow.

Monday, 1 April 2013

March Wrap-Up/April TBR

My Monthly Wrap-Up posts are a place for me to talk about what I've read during the month as well as everything that has been going on at Project to be Read (including my reviews). It also provides a space for me to share this month's Best of the Bunch book and look forward to next month with my TBR pile :)

Looking back...

March was a really odd month for me. It seemed really long and packed with one stressful thing after another, but looking back I didn't really achieve much. I barely touched my blog, didn't write any reviews and didn't manage to knit anything. I did manage to get some reading done though - I read 9 and a bit books which came to a total of 2870 pages.

Best of the Bunch

Best of the Bunch is an awesome end-of-month meme created at Lyrical Reviews and now hosted by Sally at Always Lost in Stories. All you have to do is pick your favourite book of all the books you've read that month and share it with everyone.

My favourite book for March is Moon Called by Patricia Briggs.

Mercy Thompson's life is not exactly normal. Her next-door neighbor is a werewolf. Her former boss is a gremlin. And she's fixing a VW bus for a vampire. But then, Mercy isn't exactly normal herself.

Moon Called has been one of my favourite urban fantasy novels since I first read it when it was originally released. The seventh book (Frost Burned) was released in March so I've been re-reading the first five so I can finally read the sixth and seventh. I was thrilled to find I loved Moon Called (and the rest of the series) as much this time round as the first time I read them.
If you're looking for a really fun urban fantasy series with twisty plots and a sweet romance that isn't scared to get dark at times, why not give Mercy a go?

Looking forward...

In April I'm pretty much hoping to get caught up on all my outstanding reviews. I could easily not read at all this month and still have reviews to post :o I've got a grand total of 28 reviews to write up so my goal for April is to clear my backlog and stay on top of whatever I read. I've also got some planned posts that need to be finished, including a couple more Cooking the Books installments.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Quarterly Challenge Check-In (1)

One of my goals for 2013 is to do a quarterly update so that I don't lose track of the challenges I've signed up for. I've listed all the books I've read, but I'm really behind with reviews so only some titles link to their review.

2013 Book Bingo Reading Challenge

Sign up: Here
Goal: 73 books to complete
Progress: 24/73

So far I'm doing pretty well with the Bingo challenge. I've been able to count 24 of the books I've read so far this year and completed my first row.


2013 Outdo Yourself Challenge

Sign up: Here
Goal: Getting My Heartrate Up (1-5 more)
Number to beat: 115

So far I have read 30 books so I'm working towards my goal. Fingers crossed I reach it! I'd say I'm roughly on track at this point.

2013 Paranormal Reading Challenge

Sign up: Here
Goal: 12 books (one per category)
Progress: 7/12 categories

I'm just going to list the first book read for each category here as they are completed to stop these posts from being unreadably long, especially as I'm counting books across challenges.

Vampires: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Werewolves/Shifters: Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
Fey: Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs
Demons: Blood Bound by Richelle Mead
Witches/Wizards: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
Ghosts: Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs
Aliens: The Host by Stephenie Meyer
Other (sirens, unicorns, centaurs, time travel etc):

2013 Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge

Sign up: Here
Goal: Just a Drop (1-4 books)
Progress: 1/4

So far I've managed to just read (or reread in my case) Dead Until Dark but I'm looking forward to reading some more soon.

2013 TBR Pile Reading Challenge

Sign up: Here
Goal: A Firm Handshake (1-10 books)
Progress: 15/10

I've already completed my goal and even took part in January's mini challenge. I'm going to keep going and see if I can complete the next level up which is A Friendly Hug (11-20 books) because I'm loving working away at my TBR!

Frostbite by Richelle Mead
Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead
Blood Promise by Richelle Mead
Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead
Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Into the Nightside by Simon R. Green
The Host by Stephenie Meyer
Renegade by J.A. Souders
Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead
Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs
Sprinkle with Murder by Jenn McKinlay
One Bad Apple by Sheila Connolly
Rotten to the Core by Sheila Connolly

2013 Witches & Witchcraft Challenge

Sign up: Here
Goal: Initiate (1-5 books)
Progress: 3/5

I thought I'd made zero progress with this one until I realised that magic and witchcraft has been a key part of the Bloodlines series since the beginning :) So glad to be doing so well on this challenge!

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead
The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead

Cruisin' Thru the Cozies Challenge

Sign up: Here
Goal: Snoop (6 books)
Progress: 3/6

One recommendation from a Goodreads Pick-it-for-Me Challenge and I went on a mini cozy kick meaning I'm halfway to my goal and it's only March!

Sprinkle with Murder by Jenn McKinlay
One Bad Apple by Sheila Connolly
Rotten to the Core by Sheila Connolly

Dystopia Reading Challenge 2013

Sign up: Here
Goal: 24 total, split over 4 levels
Progress: 5/12

I'm a little behind with this one as I've just not been reading many dystopians lately. I'm hoping to catch up and be on track before my next update at the end of June, especially as I have a few more waiting to be read.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi
Renegade by J.A. Souders
Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Classic Double Challenge

Sign up: Here
Goal: Small (2 books/1 pair)
Progress: 2/2

I've managed to read both The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe and Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin and my comparison post (and review of Bethany Griffin's book) will be coming soon. I had so much fun I'm hoping to do another pairing before the end of the year.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Discussion: Amazon bought Goodreads

So news has been popping up all over that Amazon have purchased Goodreads for an undisclosed amount. Within minutes, threads started popping up all over Goodreads asking what this meant for users and lots of people have been leaving the site and deleting their reviews.
A fair amount of concern comes from the fact Amazon already owns a lot of websites - they own Book Depository, IMDB, Audible, Love Film and even other big reader sites like Shelfari and 40% of Library Thing. I use Book Depository and saw pros and cons to the Amazon takeover, although the majority of the site stayed the same. I honestly don't remember any big differences with IMDB, and didn't even know they were owned by Amazon, although it does explain the new "buy from Amazon" button on almost every page.
It does concern me a little that Amazon will own a massive chunk of the online book networking sites and it makes me start to question why they want so many. I know they each have pros and cons, and I use Goodreads as it's the one that suits me best. However there are readers who have been switching sites to get away from Amazon's influence and now will be leaving another network.
Before this, Goodreads was relatively independent. There was no preference to one retailer over another, but that could well change. Amazon have been slated a lot for censorship, with negative reviews rarely making it onto the site and reviews being deleted. I've not heard the same said about Goodreads before and so people now are predicting the same problems.
A lot of users are also very annoyed given that last year Goodreads stopped using Amazon data for the book catalogue and caused chaos in the process. I lost a bunch of books that were no longer recognized purely because the announcement came when I was away visiting family and had no internet. By the time I got home they were gone and replaced with "Unknown Book #..." I still haven't finished fixing that so I'm more than a little frustrated.
Some librarians (myself included) are reconsidering our position. Working for free for Goodreads to help improve the catalogue is one thing, working for Amazon for free is another. I'll be staying a librarian for a while, purely because I am a selfish librarian - I became one purely so I could adjust my own books to be accurate as UK editions are spotty and I hated constantly asking for help.
In some ways, this could be a good thing - Amazon's influence could lend itself to finally getting some of the major bugs worked out, particularly in the "recommendations" which haven't worked properly since they were introduced. It may also help with developing the catalogue to show more non-US editions.
Linking Goodreads and Amazon accounts could also be handy - purchasing a book and being able to add it to your TBR with a single click would be awesome. However I'm not sure I want my accounts fully linked (I like to keep social networking and shopping separate) and I don't want every book I buy added to Goodreads.
Essentially my concerns could all be answered through the following questions:
  • Will I be required to integrate my Amazon and Goodreads accounts?
  • How will this affect international users? I have both UK and US Amazon accounts.
  • How will this affect me as a librarian?
  • How will this affect me as a non e-book reader?
Will I be leaving Goodreads? I'm not sure. Until I know how this will affect me personally, I'm not making a decision especially as I can see potential pros and cons. I'm frustrated that Goodreads aren't being clear about what this will mean for users, and when they are talking they use phrases like "certainly will probably" (I wish I was kidding about that one) which leads me to worry more.
So do you use Goodreads and what do you think of the takeover?

Friday, 1 March 2013

Discussion: Battle of the Giants

When it comes to ordering books online, the first two companies that come to mind are usually Amazon and the Book Depository. I've been ordering online for the better part of a decade now and have experienced the pros and cons of each retailer so I thought I'd chat about my experiences. This is focused on Amazon UK specifically because that is where I have the most experience.

Oh, and the Book Depository is actually owned by Amazon. The takeover annoyed a lot of people back in 2011 (this article explains things) and it changed the company a lot. All my thoughts on the Book Depository below are from after that merger - there's no point discussing how they used to be (better in some ways, worse in others).


Pros: Amazon sell waaaaaay more than just books. You can order pretty much anything from them.
Cons: If you want a US edition of a US & UK published book, chances are Amazon will not stock it...even if it's available from the US months before the UK version is released. You have to order it from the US site. This also applies if a UK publisher has picked up the series, whether they've scheduled it for release or not.

Book Depository
Pros: Both US and UK options are usually available, which is perfect if you want matching editions or just a particular cover.
Cons: Just books.


Pros: Generally lower than retail. You also have the option of Amazon Marketplace where you can order items that are "fulfilled by Amazon" and third party sellers which can be cheaper.
Cons: Marketplace descriptions can be vastly innaccurate (like new books that are falling apart) and you need to be careful checking the origin of the book as many sellers aren't UK based. Shipping for these items is generally expensive.

Book Depository
Pros: Brilliant for preorders of US paperbacks in particular.
Cons: For UK published and already released books it's hard to find a price that beats Amazon.


Pros: The "Preorder Price Guarentee" which means you get charged the lowest price up to and including release date. If the price drops, so does what you pay but if it increases, you stay where you are.
Cons: Rarely dispatched before release date, especially if you choose the free delivery option.

Book Depository
Pros: Books tend to be dispatched so they arrive as near to the release date as possible. With their delivery method there are no guarentees but in my experience you'll get the book on release day or just before.
Cons: No price guarentee - if that price drops and you want the lower price you have to cancel your original order and place another.

Managing Your Account

Pros: You pretty much have full control and are able to change payment and delivery options right up until your order enters the dispatch process. You can cancel orders yourself whenever you need.
Cons: Any problems will be blamed on user error - I had an order switch from free delivery to next day without me touching it. Amazon blamed me and said the original confimation order stating free delivery must have been a glitch.

Book Depository
Pros: It's easy to control what emails you receive from them. You can also adjust your defalt payment and delivery options easily.
Cons: If you need to change anything with an order, you usually need to place a new order and have the previous one cancelled by staff.

Shopping Basket

Pros: Stuff placed in your basket will stay there forever. You have the option to "save for later".
Cons: Stuff stays in your basket forever - which means if you are anything like me, you end up deleting things or hitting "save for later" over and over whenever you want to order something else.

Book Depository
Pros: You can see estimated dispatch times before you place the order.
Cons: No save for later. Basket gets emptied spontaneously (sometimes things will stay for ages, other times it all disappears if you accidentally close the tab).


Pros: Lots of options - free delivery within the UK, first class, next day delivery and evening delivery. There is also the option for Amazon Prime, a subscription based unlimited next day delivery service.
Cons: Free delivery takes longer to dispatch than any other option and I cancelled my Prime membership when I realised the majority of packages were arriving late. The final straw was being told I had to wait three weeks before a "next day guarenteed" package was classed as lost. Delivery prices can be excessive.

Book Depository
Pros: Free worldwide delivery.
Cons: The dispatch estimates on the website can be inaccurate (I've had "usually dispatched within 48 hours" books take over a week to be dispatched). No other delivery choices so not good if you need something fast.


Pros: It's easily identifiable.
Cons: Packaging is very hit and miss. Sometimes it's too small and the item is crushed, other times it's vastly oversized and the item is damaged from rattling around. It's also usually filled with a bunch of junk flyers.

Book Depository
Pros: Occasionally you get a free bookmark :)
Cons: Books are usually dispatched and packaged separately (bad for the environment and annoying). Packaging can be hit and miss. Junk flyers are occasionally included.

Customer Service

Pros: You have three options - fill out a form on the website (tricky for older orders, especially preorders as it's done by newest date first, so that book you preordered last year is hard to find), call them or have them call you.
Cons: Pretty hit and miss - I've had helpful polite staff but I've also had incredibly rude responses. It's also common to have heavily accented call centre staff who put you on hold a lot and finding their phone number is awkward at best.

Book Depository
Pros: Staff are generally polite, helpful and respond in good time. Rapid responses from their twitter team.
Cons: All customer service is done via email. There is no phone number in case you need/want to talk to a "real person".

Damaged Items

Pros: You can file for a return by yourself without having to contact them first.
Cons: Damaged items are very common. The item must be returned AND received by them before you can get a replacement or refund. It's potluck as to which returns label you get - free through the Post Office OR free through a Collect Plus store which you can pay to return through the Post Office (Amazon can refund up to £2.75 but I couldn't find out how you apply for that).

Book Depository
Pros: Brilliant about damaged items! My experience has always been to send photos of the damage and be told to keep the damaged book and take your pick of a full refund or replacement. Damaged items are rare and they always apologise.
Cons: None that I've experienced.

So as you can see there are a lot of pros and cons to both retailers although I do prefer Book Depository on the whole. Their customer service is a lot better than Amazon's and being able to deal with an issue without causing more stress is enough to win my business most of the time. Occasionally I am seduced away by lower prices on Amazon or because I need to order something else and want it delivered with my books.

As a blogger Book Depository also means I can afford to do worldwide giveaways because of their free shipping, and using them is becoming more common which means I can enter more giveaways :)

Thursday, 28 February 2013

February Wrap-Up/March TBR

My Monthly Wrap-Up posts are a place for me to talk about what I've read during the month as well as everything that has been going on at Project to be Read (including my reviews). It also provides a space for me to share this month's Best of the Bunch book and look forward to next month with my TBR pile :)

Looking back...

I had a pretty slow month in February between not being well, rushing about to appointments and knitting for Nerd Wars. I read 6 full books which came to a total of 2197 pages and I reviewed only one book - Bite Me If You Can by Lynsay Sands.

I also took part in the Wicked Valentines read-a-thon which was really enjoyable, and I had the best time taking part in the Book Blogger Love-a-Thon. I've also posted a couple of Showcase Sundays.

Best of the Bunch

Best of the Bunch is an awesome end-of-month meme created at Lyrical Reviews and now hosted by Sally at Always Lost in Stories. All you have to do is pick your favourite book of all the books you've read that month and share it with everyone.

My favourite book for February is The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead.

In the aftermath of a forbidden moment that rocked Sydney to her core, she finds herself struggling to draw the line between her Alchemist teachings and what her heart is urging her to do. Then she meets alluring, rebellious Marcus Finch--a former Alchemist who escaped against all odds, and is now on the run. Marcus wants to teach Sydney the secrets he claims the Alchemists are hiding from her. But as he pushes her to rebel against the people who raised her, Sydney finds that breaking free is harder than she thought. There is an old and mysterious magic rooted deeply within her. And as she searches for an evil magic user targeting powerful young witches, she realizes that her only hope is to embrace her magical blood--or else she might be next.
Last month I read the entire Vampire Academy series as well as Bloodlines, so this month I continued on reading both The Golden Lily and The Indigo Spell. I loved Adrian in the Vampire Academy books so I was thrilled to see him continue on and I've even come to prefer the Bloodlines books to the first series.
I adored The Indigo Spell! I loved Sydney's character development and choices and pretty much every scene with Adrian was epic. I really like the focus on magic and the way the Alchemist society is being revealed. This series is getting better and better with every installment and I am so happy with everything that happened here. I can't wait for The Fiery Heart later this year :)

My review for The Indigo Spell will be posted next week :)

Looking forward...

In March, I'm hoping to read a bit more than this month but given my epic fail of February's TBR pile, I'm only including one book. My pick is Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas which I'm buddy reading with a Goodreads group around the 5th. I've heard good things and its been a while since I read any fantasy so I'm looking forward to it :)

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Book Blogger Love-a-Thon: Wrap Up (#LoveAThon)

I've had an awesome day taking part in the Love-a-Thon! I'm writing this a bit early as it'll post around 5 am my time when I will be snuggled up in bed fast asleep...unless The Archived forces me to keep reading late into the night in which case I'll either be reading or passed out with a book on my face again.

I've found so many epic blogs and been recommended soooooo many others. I've stashed all the addresses in a spreadsheet because it's going to take me ages to check them all out. I'm blown away by the epicness of all the bloggers taking part and I'm looking forward to hanging out on their blogs a bit more and staying in touch with them.

I've loved all the challenge answers I've seen - from creative poems to heartfelt letters - every one has been epic. I've picked up so many tips and added more books to my "perfect for book poetry" mental list, not to mention a massive list of books I really need to read :)

Anyways, it's late and I'm running out of brain power and positive adjectives so I'm going to sign off here. It's been a blast guys!

Book Blogger Love-a-Thon: Mini Challenge 5 (#LoveAThon)

And it's time for the final Love-a-Thon mini challenge!!!
Mini Challenge #5! It's relatively simple, this challenge. All you have to do is share about your top blogging moments so far! It can be the events you’ve gone to, the reviews you’ve written, the connections you’ve made because of blogging, or whatever else comes to mind. Once you have your post go live at 8 P.M., link up on either of our blogs and visit everyone else’s posts to see what their favorite blogging moments were!
There have been so many awesome blogging moments for me. It's hard to think of all of them because I get caught up in remembering how great each one was and then I get distracted lol :) So here are some of my highlights:

My first unsolicited review book. It was an interesting read but when I received a later review book that I adored that I tightened up my review policy. I'm fussy about leaving my bookish comfort zone and I don't want to negatively impact review books.

My first follower! I purposefully didn't tell anyone I knew about my blog until I had a follower purely because I wanted that first person to be following because of the blog, rather than because of knowing me.

My first comment was cool, but my second blew me away. It was on my review of Shiver so I wasn't expecting it at all. It was really polite and chatty and I was astounded anyone would choose to leave such an awesome comment on my shiny new blog :)

Taking part in the Magnificently Magic Read-a-Thon. This wasn't my first read-a-thon, but it was the first one I adored every minute of. I loved the twitter chat, met loads of awesome bloggy people and got a a little bit of reading done. I also managed to post daily updates which help when I'm looking back.

Getting my custom design done! I had my blog design done by Lori @ Imagination Designs and I absolutely love it. Lori was brilliant about getting things exactly as I wanted them and I love my design as much today as I did when I first saw the completed version, maybe even more given all the compliments!

Getting picked by Vicky @ Books, Biscuits and Tea as her favourite discovered blog of 2012. I pretty much ran around the room alternating between happy dancing and screaming. My Mum may need therapy lol :)

My first twitter chat. It was incredible, intense, insane...and introduced me to the joys of tweet chat :) I chatted with loads of bloggers about books, blogging, life, snacks and pretty much everything. I love twitter chats!

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Book Blogger Love-a-Thon: Mini Challenge 4 (#LoveAThon)

We're heading towards the end of the Love-a-Thon now. Here's challenge number 4:

Mini Challenge #4! Write a letter to your blogging self and post it on your blog at 4 P.M. For the blogging oldies, you can write about whatever you’d like - advice you would give your younger self, things you would tell yourself to stop doing, things you’d tell yourself to continue doing, or things you’d tell yourself to start doing. If you're a newbie blogger, your directions are a little different. Write a letter to yourself in the future. Talk about the stuff you like so far and what you hope to accomplish in the future. Once you have this posted, you can link up on either of our sites and then go around and check out everyone else’s letters!
Dear Claire,

It looks like you've made it through a bunch of Love-a-Thon challenges today! Go you! Here are some tips to help you keep up this streak:

When it comes to blogging, it's really easy to get overwhelmed which is why you need to schedule more posts in advance. So it means you won't be posting as soon as you've read a book - so what? It is pushing you waaaaaay past your limits trying to read and post like that and as awesome as blogging is, your health is more important.

Don't worry about gaps. The more you get used to scheduling, the less gaps will bother you because you will choose when they are. You can't change the past so let those past gaps go and move forward with a positive attitude.

Start keeping a closer eye on your review backlog. Yes that review backlog. The one that is almost at 20 books. Start chipping away at it - you've read the books, so organize your thoughts and get them all typed up. This will also help you with the scheduling thing!

Keep a closer eye on your comments - they are there, they are awesome! Respond to people who've taken the time to comment, and try and comment back on their blogs more whenever you can.

Try to tweet more. You've met some incredible bloggers on twitter so try using it to connect. Plus if you're having a bad health day/week/month, twitter is a quick and easy way to let people know you are still around.

Above all, remember why you love blogging!

Book Blogger Love-a-Thon: Mini Challenge 3 (#LoveAThon)

It's time for another Love-a-Thon Mini Challenge :)
Mini Challenge #3! For this mini-challenge, we are going to ask you to pump up the music with a book playlist post! Book playlists can be done in any number of ways. First, they can be made up using Spotify, YouTube, or just a list of song titles on your blog. Second, they can be one you made up for a certain book, one you made up for A LOT of certain books, or it can be one that an author made up for their book that you happen to be a fan of. Regardless of which way it is done, share your book playlist with us on a post set to go live at 12 P.M. As always, there will be a special place on both blogs for you to link up. Feel free to visit the other participant’s blogs to see what playlists they came up with!

I pretty much suck at putting playlists together because I have weird muscial tastes. My MP3 player has almost every kind of music on and what I listen to on any given day really depends on my mood. The idea of putting music to a book scares me, which is ironic because most of my music is from movie soundtracks. I do love reading the playlists put together by authors though!

I first came across the idea of a book playlist with Ill Wind by Rachel Caine and I adore that every book of hers includes a playlist so what better to pimp here?! Below is her playlist for the most recent Morganville book Bitter Blood (playlist belongs to Rachel Caine, all links lead to youtube where available - videos belong to youtubers, songs and lyrics to the musicians):

'Seven Devils' by Florence + The Machine
'Haunted' by Kelley Clarkson
'Cold Morning' by Kitty Kat Stew (couldn't find)
'Sonata Rapidus Revamp' by b.hantoot (couldn't find)
'I Disappear' by The Faint
'Big Wheel' by The Bridge
'Black' by Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi (feat. Norah Jones)
'Fresh Blood' by Eels
'Killing My Dreams' by Elysion
'Good Idea' by Peter Himmelman
'Immigrant Song' by Karen O, Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
'The Recluse' by Cursive
'Oblivion' by Winter in Eden
'Haunted' by Evanescence
'Things Have Changed' by Bob Dylan
'Afraid' by Sarah Fimm
'What If I Were Talkin' to Me' by Louise Goffin (couldn't find)
'Victoria' by Krypteria
'Snow White Queen' by Evanescence
'Somebody That I Used to Know' by Gotye (feat. Kimbra)
'Young Blood' by The Naked and Famous
'Stare into the Sun' by Graffiti6
'Second Chance' by Peter Bjorn and John
'Who Wants to Live Forever' by Queen
'Bullet in My Hand' by Redlight King
'Dark Horses' by Switchfoot
'Soldiers' by Otherwise
'Strangeness and Charm' by Florence + The Machine
'Ease My Pain' by Declan Flynn
'Gold on the Ceiling' by The Black Keys
'In My Veins' by Andrew Belle (feat. Erin McCarley)
'Natives' by blink-182

Book Blogger Love-a-Thon: Mini Challenge 2 (#LoveAThon)

It's now time for the second mini challenge of the Love-a-Thon.
Mini Challenge #2! This is your second opportunity to win something from us! For this challenge, we ask that you get deep and poetic (or not-so-deep but still poetic!) This is how the challenge will work: Grab some of your favorite books (it can be any amount) and make up a poem with the titles alone! That’s right people, we are doing some book spine poetry. We ask that you have this post set to go up at 7 A.M. There will be a place for you to link up this challenge, just like the previous one. If you have time, please go around and look at what others did for their book spine poems!

Insatiable killer hair
looking for Alaska.
A Breath of Magic,
no humans involved.

Book Blogger Love-a-Thon: Mini Challenge 1 (#LoveAThon)

So we are three hours into the Love-a-Thon and it's time for the first mini challenge :)

Mini Challenge #1! It's time for the first mini-challenge (and your first chance to win an awesome prize!). Since it's a bit early on in the day, we'll make it easy for you. Here's how it will work: There are four categories - best reviews, best book discussion posts, best blog design/layout and best random category (which you get to make up!). Your post should go live at 3 A.M. with 3-5 favorite blogs for each of these categories. There will be a place for you to link up to these posts on my blog and Katelyn's blog (and it's the same linky, so feel free to link on just one of our blogs!). You can then hop around and see who everyone else picked out for this challenge!

The award for best reviews goes to Mist @ Bookaholics Book Club. Mist always has awesome reviews. She manages to be fair and explain what she did and didn't like about the book, adding in her favourite quotes and thoughts on the cover. My favourite reviews of hers are Fever, Under the Never Sky and Need.

The award for best book discussion posts goes to Jenni @ Jenni Elyse! Jenni always has the best discussion posts on everything book related. Some of my favourite posts of hers are Distractions, Audio Books (Love Them or Hate Them) and Time to Move On. She's even inspired me to have the confidence to do my own discussion posts!

Books, Biscuits, and TeaThe award for best blog design/layout goes to Vicky @ Books, Biscuits and Tea. She recently revamped her blog and I adore her new design. It really fits with her personality, it looks professional and it's easy to navigate and use.

The award for best blog for making me smile goes to April @ Good Books and Good Wine. April has the best writing style ever and visiting her blog always makes my day. She balances snark, sarcasm and raving about awesome books perfectly :)

Book Blogger Love-a-Thon: Kick Off and Interview (#LoveAThon)

The Book Blogger Love-a-Thon is being hosted by Katelyn @ Kate's Tales of Books and Bands and Alexa @ Alexa Loves Books from 12am-12am EST today. It's a brilliant event where bloggers get to spend an entire day celebrating everything they love about blogging while connecting with new bloggers and finding great new blogs to follow.

Part of the Love-a-Thon is an interview swap with the awesome Faye @ A Daydreamer's Thoughts :) It's been great getting to know Faye better and the perfect way to kick of the event. So without further ado, here is Faye's inteview:

Name five bloggers who inspire you or who you just love.
Brodie @ Eleusinian Mysteries; Because she supported me from the start, I’ve known her for about eight years now and her blog posts always make me love her a little bit more.
Sarah @ Saz101; Another who supported me at the start when I really needed it, she’s a fun, lovely, and amazing person, and her blog posts are so spectacular that I try not to read them all the time to avoid the pores of jealousy.
Michelle @ Fluttering Butterflies; She’s been doing this for SEVEN years, if that’s not inspiration to every beginner blogger, I don’t know what is. But, on top of that, all of her posts are well-thought out and I love how personal her blog becomes. Oh, and she’s a smashing person herself!
Daphne @ Winged Reviews; Having met her a few times in person, I know that she’s someone I really like talking to and getting to know better, but I also know how hard she works offline and then how much work she also puts into the blog and it’s inspiring to me. Her posts are always really informative and interesting to read as well.
Alexandra @ Alexandra Scribblings; If there was ever an award for a blogger who could write in powerful, alluring, fantastic sentences, it would go to Alexandra, hands down. She always blows me away with her writing and makes me want to jump into her brain to share her most wonderful thoughts! And again, not to mention that she is also just a super lovely and incredible girl too.

Blogging can get tough, what makes you look past that to continue blogging?
It is also fun. It can get tough, especially when I’m busy (like I have been for like, the last month or so) so I struggle to get posts written in time or forget to send important e-mails, etc, but then I remember that when I do get that post written, people will be reading it and some will comment and respond, and I know that all that hard-work and tough parts will all be worth it. Besides, the blogging community is just... there are no words to explain how amazing the community is. They help to make it all worth it. Which is saying a lot as I never thought I would still be blogging almost a year and a half later!

Do you have a favourite genre to read? If so, what is it? If not, what are your top three?
I’m one of those readers that likes variety in my reading, because I’m usually a bit ADHD and need things to keep me interested. I would bawl my eyes out if I had to read the SAME genre over and over again. So choosing just one favourite genre is too difficult for me. So my top three are: Fantasy, Paranormal, and Contemporary.

Are there any books/genres that you feel you will never read?
Historical fiction, for some reason, is a genre that always makes my stomach sink. Not sure what it is about this one but if I hear the words “Set in Elizabethan times, Roman times, Victorian times, etc”, I usually stop reading the synopsis and carry on. I have no idea why because I love history and the few historical fiction books I have read, I absolutely adored. It’s very odd.
But the book I will NEVER read is Fifty Shades of Grey.

What do you love most about blogging?
Without sounding too repetitive, the blogging community is definitely high on my list. Especially now I’ve met so many of the bloggers I’ve come to know at blogging events. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming, and while we have our bits of drama, in general we’re a great bunch of people who all just want to share our love of books with other bookworms. It is the first time I’ve really connected with people over books and that, to me, is just the best thing about it all.

If you could travel back in time to when you started your blog, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
Don’t accept or ask for too many review books! I heard this piece of advice when I was starting out but I was certain it would never be a problem for me. But it turns out it was. It’s so easy to get caught up in the “shiny”new things but a lot of the books I’ve accepted haven’t been great reads, or have arrived along with others, or arrive when it just starts to get busy at work and so my reading and staying on top of it all just fell down the slide a bit. So, if I could stop myself from doing that in the first place, I would.

What are your top five books and why?
This was always going to be the trickiest question! How do I narrow it down to five? Here are five of my favourites, in no particular order.
- Harry Potter Series (Yes, this counts as ONE book)
- Noughts & Crosses Trilogy (See above)
- Divergent by Veronica Roth
- Black Heart Blue by Louisa Reid
- Lucas by Kevin Brooks

If you could live in the world of any book or series (as yourself), which would you pick?
It would make sense to choose a none-threatening series to live within but I think I’m going to have to pick the world in Seraphina by Rachel Hartman simply because the world sounds so fascinating! The idea of dragons and half-dragons is so amazing that I couldn’t not want to live there. I just think it would be so interesting and magical and brilliant. Yes. There is where I’d love to live.

Faye's blog is awesome so I'd definitely recommend visiting. Just click the button on the left to be transported :)

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Wicked Valentine's Read-a-Thon: Wrap Up (#WWReadathon)

Wicked Valentine's Read-a-Thon

I've had a great time this week with the read-a-thon! All in all I read 3 full books with a total of 1328 pages which is pretty good. I also took part in some of the challenges, but I sadly missed both twitter chats :(

The books I read were:

Showcase Sunday (4)

Showcase Sunday is a meme hosted by Vicky @ Books, Biscuits and Tea where you can showcase your newest books and book related swag for that week and share it with everyone.

I've not managed to do a Showcase Sunday for a couple of weeks so I have a bunch of new books to show you :)

Spud and Chloe at the Farm is a book of knitting patterns so you can knit a farm (barn, fences, hay bales, buckets etc) and all the farm animals (sheep, cows, chickens, pigs etc), as well as a doll called Chloe. I'm planning on working through it this year and making a farm for my niece and nephew for Christmas.

Cinnamon Roll Murder is the newest paperback release in Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swensen cozy mystery series. As much as I love the mysteries (and the included cookie recipes) I'm getting really annoyed with the love triangle, when you get to book 15 there really needs to be some kind of resolution. I'm now reaching the end of my patience and may have to give up on the series soon.

I preordered Dance of Shadows after seeing a fair amount of good press for it. The story sounds interesting and the cover is pretty. Now it's arrived I'm very impressed by the animated cover (it works with a free app on your phone), but the constant hype is starting to worry me as I've generally found the more hyped a book is the worse it is.

House Rules is the latest installment in the Chicagoland Vampires series and one I'm really looking forward to. This has been preordered (along with the August release) since last year and I'm super excited to read it as the last book has changed Merit's world a lot.

I popped into Waterstones last week on impulse and found The Indigo Spell sitting on the shelf before its release date! So I quickly cancelled my amazon preorder and snatched up a copy. Of all the books here, this one I read and absoluetely adored. My review will be coming very soon :)

The Indigo Spell was on a buy one, get one half price special so I also picked up a copy of  Seraphina which I've heard great things about. I haven't read any fantasy in ages and I love anything with dragons so I thought I'd give this a try.

I can't believe Sever is out and the Chemical Garden trilogy has come to an end. I loved the first two so I'm looking forward to getting stuck into this and seeing where everyone ends up. I want happy endings for Rhine, Gabriel and Cecily, a horrible end for Vaughn and honestly I'm not bothered by Linden.

Last up is Three Tales from the Sketchbook which I received in a knitting swap. I'm pretty impressed with it, especially as it contains The Legend of Sleepy Hollow which means I'll be able to use this for my Classic Double challenge :)

So what have you got to showcase this week?

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

TBR Pile Mini Challenge: January

I'm taking part in the awesome 2013 Reading Challenge (my sign up post with more details is here) and each month a mini challenge will be posted for even more fun :)

I'm really late in taking part in January's mini challenge! Evie @ Bookish has challenged us to create a book spine poem so here is my entry:

Vampire kisses linger,
unearthly silence
beneath a mountain moon.
If you are taking part in the challenge too, you can still take part in the mini challenge for January until February 20th by clicking here.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Wicked Valentine's Read-a-Thon: Tuesday (#WWReadathon)

Wicked Valentine's Read-a-Thon

Whenever I do a read-a-thon, I like to post daily updates which end up forming a kind of journal for that time. I'm keeping this tradition with the Wicked Valentine's Read-a-Thon. Each update will include something about my day and what I've been up to along with my thoughts on the books I've been reading and any challenge entries.

My Day

I'm beginning to think this read-a-thon is cursed. I had set aside most of today and tomorrow to curl up and read but when I went to wash my hair this morning, I found that the electricians have somehow broken the shower casing leaving a big hole right into the electrics. So now today was spent rearranging things and tomorrow is going to be spent getting workmen to fix the mess they've made :(

The Books

I finished reading The Golden Lily and I absolutely loved it! The forbidden romance between Sydney and Adrian pulling her away from the Alchemists. Her struggle between following their rules and being with her friends is heartwrenching, and I love the depth and development of the magic storylines. I definitely prefer Bloodlines to Vampire Academy, and I'm so happy Eddie's story is being continued (hopefully to a happy ending!).

As soon as I finished, I jumped straight into The Indigo Spell. Man am I glad I had this on hand! I've barely stopped reading since I picked it up, and I think I'm setting a record for the number of evil glares at anything that dare disturb me :o Either way I'm only stopping now so I can update here and then I'm straight back into it. I need to know how this all ends up!!! This has all the feels so I have a sinking feeling I'm going to be desperate for book 4 as soon as I close the cover.

Total pages read: 596

The Challenges

Today's challenge is hosted by Alicia @ Book a World and all you need to do to take part is figure out which 2013 YA releases are shown in the snippets and then enter by email. The challenge is open to 9am tomorrow, and you can see the images here.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Wicked Valentine's Read-a-Thon: Monday (#WWReadathon)

Wicked Valentine's Read-a-Thon

Whenever I do a read-a-thon, I like to post daily updates which end up forming a kind of journal for that time. I'm keeping this tradition with the Wicked Valentine's Read-a-Thon. Each update will include something about my day and what I've been up to along with my thoughts on the books I've been reading and any challenge entries.

My Day

I swear it feels like I'm not getting any reading done during this read-a-thon! We had electricians in this morning to do a safety check which meant lots of making coffee, showing them plug sockets and trying not to go insane from the beeping of the testing machines. I also had to pop to the doctors and it snowed! Only a centimetre or so but enough to look pretty this morning...and then be slushy this afternoon when I was walking about.

The Books

I made the decision after posting yesterday to restart The Golden Lily. I'd read the first three chapters before, but I wanted to start over and read from the beginning in case I'd forgotten anything. I'm loving it! Adrian Ivashkov is easily one of my favourite book characters of all time, and I definitely prefer Sydney to Rose which means I'm enjoying this series more than Vampire Academy.

There are starting to be hints of romance between Sydney and Adrian which is awesome and Adrian's snark and sarcasm to Agent Boring Borscht is hilarious :)

Total pages read: 112

The Challenges

Today's challenge is hosted by Pabkins @ My Shelf Confessions and the rules are pretty simple - the challenge is open to all Wicked Valentine's participants and all you have to do is flip to a random page in your current read. Then read four dice and add the numbers together to give your line/sentence number, and just make that line romantic in some way (using at least 50% from the line). You can still enter here.

The official challenge description is:
My challenge for you today should you choose to bandy words with me: Compile some Lines of Love to woo us, Or perhaps fill us with sadness, make our hearts bleed perhaps? Or nay give us a laugh that only comedic love can.

My current read is The Golden Lily and I rolled a total of 8 and randomly opened the book to page 63 which makes my sentence: "We had no right to manipulate the world like that; it was a hundred times worse than what Sonya had done to the red lily on the street."

My entry is (with quoted words in italics):

We had no right to avoid our feelings as we did, it was a hundred times worse than any punishment on the street: I love you, my beautiful red lily, my world.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Wicked Valentine's Read-a-Thon: Sunday (#WWReadathon)

Wicked Valentine's Read-a-Thon

Whenever I do a read-a-thon, I like to post daily updates which end up forming a kind of journal for that time. I'm keeping this tradition with the Wicked Valentine's Read-a-Thon. Each update will include something about my day and what I've been up to along with my thoughts on the books I've been reading and any challenge entries.

My Day

I've been feeling really tired today after yesterday so I've been trying to take it easy, but also helping get the house ready for the electrician who is coming out for a safety check tomorrow. He needs to get at the plug sockets, although some of ours are inaccessible because they're behind really heavy furniture.
I also wrote an article for the TM society's newsletter on life as a carer and they're thinking of running it on the front page! I did manage to get some reading done, and I've only really been pausing to answer the reading group questions as I've gotten to each stopping point.

The Books

I've finally finished Deja Dead. All in all, this was an interesting read. The forensic details are fascinating while the the mystery is clever and kept me glued to the page. The storyline is packed with twists and turns and it builds up to an action packed conclusion.

It did take me a while to get into though, as I was a bit thrown by how different this was to Bones but I soon grew to like it. I don't read much crime either so that probably contributed to my struggle to get into it. Once I did though I actually resented having to stop to take part in my book group discussion!

Now I've diving straight back into The Golden Lily as I managed to snag a copy of The Indigo Spell when I was in the city yesterday as Waterstones had it on the shelf! It's not even supposed to be out yet so I snatched up a copy straight away and resisted the urge to happy dance.

I only stopped reading because losing my grandfather triggered a reading rut but now I'm excited and ready to jump straight back in, mostly because of Adrian :)

Total pages read: 277

The Challenges

Today's challenge is hosted by Kimba @ The Caffeinated Book Reviewer, who has invited us to a ball! Her challenge is:
The Ball begins at 7 o'clock sharp and we promise wicked food and entertainment!

For this challenge and to receive your ticket using book covers show us your dress for the ball, your date and how you will arrive.
Here's my dress, date and transport:

For the ball I will be wearing the gorgeous white dress from Rapture and I'll be accompanied by Wren Tigarian. He's a total sweetheart and is drop dead gorgeous to boot. We'll be arriving in a midnight blue 1971 Mustang :)

This challenge runs till 9am Monday and is open to all Wicked Valentine's participants and you can enter here.
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