A few months ago I did a post where I looked at the books that I’ve collected over the years but haven’t yet got around to reading. Inspired by this, this year I really want to start making a dent in my backlist rather than constantly being seduced by shiny new books!
Last year I had the same goal, and so decided to take part in the Beat the Backlist challenge – where I aimed to read at least one book a month that I had owned since pre-2017 (it’s running again in 2018 if you’re interested). I didn’t do too well on this one, so this year I feel like I need to be more specific!
I’ve picked 8 specific books from my own backlist that I’m going to prioritise in 2018. I’m planning to review this after six months and see where I’m at with this list. Hopefully I’ll have made some good progress and will be able to add some more titles!
The books I’ve chosen are from all different genres, and there’s a good mix of page counts too – as I was conscious not to choose too many huge books that might feel intimidating! They’re all ones that I originally bought or acquired, in one form or another, because I really wanted to read them, so I’m really looking forward to starting to work through the list.
So, in 2018 I’m definitely going to read…
- A Little Life: I was desperate to read this book. Everyone I know that’s read it has told me how great it is. I originally downloaded it in audiobook form and struggled to get into it, but I’m really looking forward to giving it another go.
- The Stand: This one has been on my TBR for ages, but the size of it has been a bit off-putting! I’m sure I’ll enjoy it once I get started though.
- Notes from an Exhibition: I’ve actually had this one for years but haven’t yet read it. I recently read and loved Gale’s A Place Called Winter’, so that’s given me new motivation to pick this one up!
- Six of Crows: I really don’t know why I haven’t read this yet. I’ve heard only good things.
- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks: I picked this one up second hand a while back and I’ve heard so much about it. It sounds absolutely fascinating. I rarely read non-fiction and it’s one of my 2018 goals to read more in this genre, so this is a good place to start.
- The Blind Assassin: I love Margaret Atwood but I haven’t had a chance to get to this yet. Watching the TV adaption of The Handmaid’s Tale as well as Alias Grace on Netflix has made me really keen to read more of her works.
- Wrath: This is the final book in a series that I love. However, I left it too long and have forgotten so many details. I could really do with rereading the previous book to refresh my memory, but haven’t found the time. I’m going to have to find a summary online somewhere or a spoilery review before I start this one.
- All the Light We Cannot See: I’ve actually started this one a couple of times but never got further than the first chapter. I don’t know what’s been putting me off. It got so many great reviews though that I’m going to try again.
What are the books that you most want to read in 2018? Have you read any that are on my list?
I missed my wrap up post for September thanks to an unplanned break from blogging, so this month I’m combining both September and October into one big post.
Books read: 14
I’ve managed to read some really great books over the last couple of months. In particular, City of Circles, The Ninth Rain and American War all stand out as favourites.
- City of Circles, Jess Richards
- Three Days and a Life, Pierre Lemaitre
- The Last Tudor, Philippa Gregory
- The Ninth Rain, Jen Williams
- American War, Omar El Akkad
- Eligible, Curtis Sittenfeld
- Mercy, Jussi Adler-Olsen
- The Children Act, Ian McEwan
- The Break, Marian Keyes
- Elizabeth is Missing, Emma Healey
- The Thousandth Floor, Katherine McGee
- Artemis, Andy Weir
- Death is a Welcome Guest, Louise Welsh
- The Burning Page, Genevieve Cogman
Books acquired: 18
Over the past couple of months I’ve been on a tighter budget for book buying, so all of the books I’ve acquired have been ebooks on sale on Amazon (£2 or less), found in second hand shops or got through my Audible membership. Continue reading
Books read: 5
This month I read fewer books than usual, but those that I did read were longer and quite intense (4 3 2 1 was just under 900 pages while The Ministry of Utmost Happiness tackled some really complex social and political issues and was definitely not a quick book to read). I really enjoyed The Word is Murder – which was a really unique take on the classic detective novel.
- The Good Daughter, Karin Slaughter
- The Word is Murder, Anthony Horowitz
- The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, Arundhati Roy
- The Readymade Thief, Augustus Rose
- 4 3 2 1, Paul Auster
Books acquired: 7
I was much more reserved this month than I was last month – acquiring just 7 books compared to last month’s 24. I’m really looking forward to reading City of Circles and American War, both of which have been on my wishlist for a while. Continue reading
As book bloggers, writing book reviews is a core part of what we do. However, I’ve heard from lots of people who say that review writing is the most challenging or least fun part of blogging.
I’ve written posts in the past that set out some of the reasons that I personally find writing reviews difficult. There are a lot of times where I’ve gone to write a review but put it off – sometimes I can’t seem to get the thoughts in my head down on the page in a way that makes sense or think of the right phrasing, or sometimes just I draw a blank and can’t think of anything interesting to say.
Assuming that at least some other people out there also suffer from the same issues – I thought I’d share some of my experiences, processes and tips for writing book reviews.
I know that everyone writes their reviews differently and I’m by no means an expert! If you’ve been blogging for a while and already have your own style for review writing, this post might not be so useful for you!
However, if you are at all interested in hearing my thoughts and top tips for writing book reviews, please read on! Continue reading
We all know that sometimes reviewing books can be hard (I’ve written a post on this here), and that finding the right words to express yourself clearly and coherently is sometimes a struggle!
I’ve recently noticed that I tend to fall back on many of the same words and phrasing in many of my reviews because I know they work and help me to get from one part of a review to another more easily. At the risk of all of my reviews sounding the same, I have to actively try and not use these phrases when I’m writing.
Looking back over my posts from the last three years, these five expressions have popped up more times that I can count and stand out as being some of my most overused fall-back phrases…
- ‘It soon becomes clear’ – This is the perfect way to round off a plot summary with a bang and get onto the actual analysis of what I thought about a book, and I seem to be able to use it while talking about literally every book!
- ‘That said’ or ‘having said that’ – If I’m trying to write a balanced review that looks at both positives and negatives, this is a quick way to get from one to the other. I write it in every review and then have to force myself to go back and rewrite!
- ‘I wasn’t overly keen on…’ – Usually to be read as ‘I didn’t like this at all but I’m trying to be polite’.
- ‘Kept me gripped’ – If I’m scrambling to explain exactly why I was so absorbed in a book, this phrase inevitably pops up. It says nothing but hopefully conveys there was a certain something that kept me reading!
- ‘Ultimately though…’ – I sometimes struggle with ending a review. You can’t just stop, you need a way to round it all off nicely. This is my go-to last sentence starter.
Not using these phrases is harder than you’d think. My fingers type them automatically out of habit. As writing is literally what I do for a living (not the exciting creative writing kind though unfortunately), I feel like I should be better at finding alternative ways to express my opinions about books.
How do you write book reviews? Are there certain words you come back to time and time again? What are your most overused expressions?
Books read: 6
Compared to usual, I haven’t had a great month for reading. Of the books I did read, my favourite was probably Flame in the Mist, followed by Magpie Murders and How to Stop Time.
Books acquired: 5
I spent less on books this month than usual. Three of these books were reduced on Amazon and I got a couple of ARCs from Netgalley. I also put in a couple of pre-orders for May but I haven’t received them yet.
- Flame in the Mist – Renee Ahdieh
- How to Stop Time – Matt Haig
- The Roanoke Girls – Amy Engel
- Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo
- Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
Blog posts published: 9
April was actually my second best month for blogging in terms of visitor stats since I first began blogging in January 2013 – so thanks everyone for reading my posts and chatting to me! Unsurprisingly, my giveaway of A Court of Wings and Ruin was the most popular post. Other top posts were my discussion post looking at what makes fan fiction and a review of Hannah Tinti’s The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley.
TBR for May:
Realistically I don’t think I’ll get around to reading the last one on this list, as it’s been on my TBR list since January. But you never know, May might be the month I finally get to it. I’m already part way through The Green Road, so hopefully should finish this one off quite quickly.
- A Court of Wings and Ruin – Sarah J Maas
- The Green Road – Anne Enright
- House of Names – Colm Tobin
- The Ice – Laline Paull
- Into the Water – Paula Hawkins
- The Wise Man’s Fear – Patrick Rothfuss
Goodreads Challenge: My Goodreads reading goal is to read 50 books this year. I’ve now completed 27 books – meaning that I’m currently ahead of schedule by 11 books. (27/50)
Beat the Backlist Challenge: The Beat the Backlist challenge is all about knocking off titles that have been on your TBR for a while. Books need to have been published prior to 2017, and I’m only including books that I actually bought before 2017 and that have been sitting around waiting for me to read them – so no new purchases or library reads.
This month, none of my reads qualified, so my total remains at just two books towards a goal of twelve. (2/12)
How was your April? Did you read anything great? What do you have planned to read in May?