BEST BOOKS OF 2016

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Hello! I’ve been somewhat absent. Again. I’m trying very hard not to make this a habit, though I’ve really no excuse for my lack of posts. Obviously Christmas happened, and I work in retail, so I’ll let you imagine exactly how fun that was. I’d hoped to get this post up on Monday, but then New Year’s Eve happened and I was, perhaps, a touch hungover on New Year’s Day. Mostly, however, I was very full of cold, so my plans for a productive New Year’s unraveled very quickly. I promise I’ll be better at this (it is, actually, one of my goals for this year).

Anyway, it’s time to talk about my favourite books that I read in 2016! Much like my 2015 favourites, there’s not one single reason all of these books are on the list. Frankly, some of them are poles apart in terms of content and tone. This list basically consists of all the books I gave five stars this year, and some I gave four stars to (I’m remarkably stingy about five star ratings, for some reason). These books aren’t in any particular order, and there’s roughly ten books overall. This is very likely going to be a lengthy post, so I’ll get right into it!

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Dumbledore’s Army Readathon TBR

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The Dumbledore’s Army readathon is being hosted by Aentee @ Read at Midnight. This readathon aims to encourage people to read more diverse books. The readathon will take place between 1st-15th January, and you can join in by using the hashtag #DAReadathon on Twitter and Instagram. You can find out more information over at the original sign up post.

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I’ve decided to give another readathon a go! I participated in Lauren @ Wonderless Reviews’ Halloween readathon, which was my first ever readathon, and loved the whole experience. So when I saw this readathon I knew I had to give it a shot.I have absolutely no idea how many of these books I’m going to get to. Reading 7 books in 2 weeks is quite the undertaking no matter how you look at it, but it’s also my birthday on January 9th, so we’ll see how that goes!

One of my reading goals for next year is to read more diversely so I’m really looking forward to getting involved in this readathon and making my way through at least some of these books.

All the banners were made by Aentee @ Read at Midnight. The covers will take you to Goodreads.

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Top Ten Most Anticipated 2017 Releases

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, and this week’s theme is top ten books I’m looking forward to in the first half of 2017. I’ve gone by the UK dates for these, and I’ve tried to get the dates down as accurately as possible (if there are books without a date, it’s because Goodreads and Amazon were giving me completely different ones).

As always, the covers will take you to each book’s respective Goodreads pages.


STRANGE THE DREAMER BY LAINI TAYLOR

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Expected UK publication: 28th March 2017.

I’m a huge fan of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, so I’ve been excited for this book ever since it was first announced. I’m not even too sure what this new series is entirely about, but really I’d like to keep it that way. I think Laini Taylor’s writing is beautiful, and so absorbing. The world she created in her trilogy was so rich and imaginative that I have such high hopes for this book. In a way, I’m kind of glad that the publication was pushed back because it means that I can actually make time to read this book!


A CONJURING OF LIGHT BY V.E. SCHWAB

31671570Expected UK Publication: 21st February 2017

I read both A Darker Shade of Magic and A Gathering of Shadows this year and really, really enjoyed them. I’m so excited (and nervous!) to see how this series is going to finish and where the characters will end up!

 

 

 


RELEASE BY PATRICK NESS


Expected UK publication: 
4th May 2017

I’m automatically on board for anything Patrick Ness writes. His Chaos Walking trilogy ranks among my favourite series of all time, and More Than This is also one of my favourite books. Release sounds like it’s sure to be another favourite of mine as its partially inspired by Mrs Dalloway. It follows one character, Adam Thorn, during one day of his life. I’m really, really excited for this one—and I’m also excited to see what the cover will look like because I’m…shallow…


THE LOVE INTEREST BY CALE DIETRICH

31145148Expected UK publication: 16th May 2017

This book just sounds so cool. Not only is about a secret organisation of teenage spies, it seems to lightly poke fun at the common YA trope of the love triangle by making it a literal life or death situation. To top it all off, one of the boys starts to fall in love with the other, and honestly, I’m 100% here for LGBT romances.

 

 


CARAVAL BY STEPHANIE GARBER

30964236Expected UK publication: 31st January 2017

I feel like I’ve been seeing this book absolutely everywhere, and all the hype has definitely got me interested. I’ve seen it compared to The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, which I read last year and really enjoyed. It definitely sounds like a lot of fun, so I’m really interested in picking it up.

 

 


A COURT OF WINGS AND RUIN BY SARAH J. MAAS

23766634Expected UK publication: 2nd May 2017

Okay, so while I didn’t enjoy A Court of Mist and Fury as much as most people, the ending successfully sold me on picking up the next book in the series. I’m really looking forward to this new plot direction, and I definitely prefer this series over the Throne of Glass series, which I’ve indefinitely put aside. I find the world in this series to be wonderfully described, and I’m kind of invested in Feyre and Rhys’ relationship.

 


THE INEXPLICABLE LOGIC OF MY LIFE BY BENJAMIN ALIRE SAENZ

23447923Expected UK publication: April 2017

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is one of my favourite books, but for some reason I’ve never read anything else by him. Seeing that this book was being released has thankfully reminded me that I need to check out his other work!

 

 


GILDED CAGE BY VIC JAMES

26168646Expected UK publication: 26th January 2017

This is another book that just sounds really, really cool. It’s the first book in a fantasy series set in modern Britain, wherein the country is run by magically gifted aristocrats, and those below them must serve them for ten years. It sounds like an interesting mix between a fantasy novel and a dystopian novel, so I’m really intrigued by this one!

 

 


SAGA, VOL. 7 BY BRAIN K. VAUGHAN AND FIONA STAPLES. 

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Expected UK publication: April 2017

Honestly, there’s not much I can say about this. Saga is my favourite comic book series, and I start anticipating the next volume as soon as I start reading the one that came before it. I love the characters, and the plot always surprises me. I know that I could read these as single issues, but that doesn’t really work for me, and there’s something to be enjoyed about waiting for each release!

 


 

THE HATE U GIVE BY ANGIE THOMAS

32075671Expected UK publication: April 2017

This is a YA contemporary book inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, focusing on the protagonist, Starr after she witnesses her unarmed friend, Khalil, get shot and killed by a police officer. I feel like this is going to be an important, powerful book, and I’ll definitely be picking it up as soon as it comes out.

 


 

So those are my most anticipated books! I’m probably missing quite a few, but honestly I tend to be quite bad at keeping up with new releases, so more often than not I end up being surprised when I see a book is out.

I’d love to know if any of these books also made your list! 🙂

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BOOKISH CHRISTMAS GIFT GUIDE

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If you’re anything like me, you’ve barely started your Christmas shopping, and are frantically searching through gift guides hoping for inspiration. Today, I thought I’d share with you my go-tos when it comes to buying Christmas gifts for bookish friends. Though, honestly, they’re usually the easiest friends to buy for!

I know that this was a Top Ten Tuesday topic, but you’ll notice that it isn’t in the same format as my usual Top Ten Tuesday posts. There are way more than ten books in here, and I’ve split each of my recommendations into different categories. So while it isn’t in the same vein as TTTs usually are, I figured I’d give it a mention!

Without further ado, here are my recommendations!

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BOOK REVIEW | Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

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Read: October 2016

Publication Date: 5th January 2017 (UK hardcover)

Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction.

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Effia and Esi: two sisters with two very different destinies. One sold into slavery; one a slave trader’s wife. The consequences of their fate reverberate through the generations that follow. Taking us from the Gold Coast of Africa to the cotton-picking plantations of Mississippi; from the missionary schools of Ghana to the dive bars of Harlem, spanning three continents and seven generations, Yaa Gyasi has written a miraculous novel – the intimate, gripping story of a brilliantly vivid cast of characters and through their lives the very story of America itself. Goodreads.

I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Ever since first reading about Homegoing in, of all places, a Buzzfeed listicle, I’d been desperate to read it. Homegoing has an incredibly ambitious premise, spanning over 200 years in just 300 pages is no easy task, but Yaa Gyasi accomplishes it brilliantly. This book is astounding from start to finish, not in the least because this is Gyasi’s debut novel.

The novel begins with two sisters, Effia and Esi, who are unknown to one another. They are born to the same mother, but in different villages in Ghana. Effia is sent to be a slave trader’s wife, and Esi is sold into slavery. Each subsequent chapter alternately deals with the descendants of Effia and Esi, with Effia’s descendants mostly residing in Ghana, and Esi’s in the United States. Primarily, this novel is concerned with reverberating effects of slavery and colonialism throughout history.

‘That I should live to her my own daughter speak like this. You want to know what weakness is? Weakness is treating someone as though they belong to you. Strength is knowing that everyone belongs to themselves.’

One of the many things that’s so impressive about this book is how well-developed and rich each and every character is. There are twelve different perspectives in this book, and Gyasi’s ability to make each of them distinct and engaging is nothing short of masterful. More time is spent with Effia and Esi, I think, than their descendants, though this is necessary to lay out the main themes of the novel. Admittedly, I was surprised at how short these chapters were. Each chapter could read as its own separate short story, were it not for the bloodline that links all of them together. Sometimes I felt that they were a little abrupt, and it took me a moment to orientate myself.  I did find that sometimes I wanted more from certain characters, which is not to say that these chapters were lacking in any way, it’s just that I admired the way Gyasi managed to capture some of the time periods she explores.

Because this novel is, essentially, a history, this is why the shorter chapters ended up working so well for me by the end. It should go without saying that this book is not an easy read, and with it being so short, Gyasi brings the history of slavery uncomfortably close. In having these periods of extreme violence so close to the insidious racism of the present day exposes the long legacy of the slave trade. Homegoing does not permit the distance that, for instance, academic study does. It forces a confrontation with parts of history that we’re uncomfortable with—perhaps, more specifically, that we white people are uncomfortable with. While, of course, progress has been made, Homegoing highlights what still needs to be done.

The British were no longer selling slaves to America, but slavery had not ended, and his father did not seem to think that it would end. They would just trade one type of shackles for another, physical ones that wrapped around wrists and ankles for the invisible ones that wrapped around the mind.

In this, Homegoing has the benefit of informing people who were perhaps previously undereducated in the injustices suffered by black people, particularly in the United States. I knew about some of the things Gyasi discusses in the novel, but I was never truly aware of the extent of it. For instance, one of the vignettes deals with forced labour in mines, and while the white men are sent there for crimes as awful as murder, black men are sent there for something as minor as not crossing the street as a white woman passed them. It’s an eye-opening read for many reasons, and Gyasi weaves history into her narrative effortlessly.

Homegoing is a novel that should leave you feeling heartbroken, but I think that, first and foremost, is should be a novel that inspires thought and discussion. Gyasi is giving voice to many suppressed or underdiscussed aspects of history. As Gyasi discusses in the novel itself, history is frequently a story that’s being told, and it’s important to consider who has control of the narrative. Homegoing, then, readdresses history, and discusses it from frequently marginalised perspectives.

We believe the one who has the power. He is the one who gets to write the story. So, when you study history, you must always ask yourself, whose story am I missing? Whose voice was supressed so that this voice could come forth? Once you have figured that out, you must find that story too. From there, you begin to get a clearer, yet still imperfect, picture.

Gyasi is truly an incredible talent, and I really look forward to reading anything she writes in the future.

 

Ten Books I’ve Added to my TBR Lately

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I’m back with another Top Ten Tuesday. Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, and this week’s theme is ten books that you’ve added to your TBR recently. Today, I’m going to share with you ten recent additions to my wishlistrather than ten books I’ve actually bought. Until Saturday, when I bought three books, I’d been doing quite well at slowing down my book buying! I consider my wishlist my eventual TBR, so here they are in no particular order! As always, the covers will take you to the Goodreads pages.


1. EVERFAIR BY NISI SHAWL

26114130Everfair is an alternate history novel set in the Congo, exploring what it would have been like if the native populations had discovered steam technologies prior to the arrival of the Belgians, who colonised the area. This is neo-Victorian fiction, which I have read some of, but I do enjoy Victorian literature more generally. The premise of this sounds absolutely fascinating. After reading Homegoing I’ve been very keen to read more historical fiction from a non-white perspective, and I’ve really been wanting to read more books set in African countries. I’m sure curiosity will get the better of me and I’ll end up buying this soon.

 


2. INVISIBLE PLANETS BY KEN LIU (ED.)

30626608 Invisible Planets is a collection of translated Chinese science fiction short stories both edited and translated by Ken Liu. I actually eyed this up in Waterstones recently, and I have no idea what stopped me from buying it. Not only does it have a beautiful cover, it sounds really interesting, too. I’m admittedly not very well read when it comes to science fiction, but I though it would be really interesting seeing how the future is imagined in a different culture.

 

 

 


3. DIFFICULT WOMEN BY ROXANE GAY

30644520I read Roxane Gay’s essay collection Bad Feminist earlier this year and completely loved it. I was a huge fan of the style and tone of her writing, and I already own her novel An Untamed StateDifficult Women is a short story collection that I believe discusses a variety of women of different backgrounds and experiences. It isn’t released until January, so I’m hoping to have read her novel by then, and I’m sure I’ll love her fiction just as much as I enjoyed her essays.

 


 

4. THE GOOD IMMIGRANT BY NIKESH SHUKLA (ED.)

28668534The Good Immigrant is an anthology edited by Nikesh Shukla, focusing on what it’s like to be part of a minority ethnic group in Britain today. I was pretty much sold on this from the start, but after reading Riz Ahmed’s essay titled Typecast as a Terrorist, which features in the collection, it jumped straight to the top of my wishlist. As this focuses on Britain, I’m very excited to eventually read it, and hopefully I’ll discover some new writers in the process. (By the way, I’d highly recommend you read Riz Ahmed’s essay regardless!)


 

5. ANOTHER DAY IN THE DEATH OF AMERICA BY GARY YOUNGE

31819463This is a non-fiction book focused on one day in America when ten young people, aged between nine and nineteen, are killed by guns. None of these deaths made the national news. It is, essentially, about the consequences of the lack of gun control in America. Younge focuses on children as, on average, seven children and teens are killed by guns in America every day. I did a little research on gun violence for my dissertation, and I’m interested in taking that research a little further. While I’m sure that this will be a depressing read, I don’t doubt that it will be an important one.

 


6. THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD BY COLSON WHITEHEAD

30555488This book has been getting a lot of interest lately, and I’m very intrigued by the premise. The Underground Railroad is a slavery narrative wherein the historical Underground Railroad is an actual railroad. I’ve read some reviews saying that the content is brutal, and others saying the same, but that the writing was quite detached. If anything, this has made me more interested to read it. Especially since, as I said before, my background in historical fiction is very lacking.

 

 


7. THE KILLING MOON BY N.K. JEMISIN 

11774272After reading The Name of the Wind last month, I’ve really been in the mood to read more fantasy novels. I’ve heard so many amazing things about N.K. Jemisin, particularly about her novel The Fifth Season, and I’m desperate to read some of her work. However, I think the book of hers I’ll start with is The Killing Moon (though, if you think I’m better off starting with The Fifth Season, let me know!). This is, I think, loosely based on Ancient Egyptian mythology. It’s about a group of priests in service of the dream goddess, and their job is to harvest the magic of the sleeping mind. Again, this is another one with a really cool concept that I’m sure I’ll pick up soon.


 

8. THE GOLDFINCH BY DONNA TARTT

18692995My reasoning behind this one is pretty simple: I loved Donna Tartt’s writing when I read The Secret History and I’d really like to read more of her books. I’m not sure whether I want to read this or The Little Friend next. The Goldfinch is huge and generally well-loved, but people seem less fond of The Little Friend. If you’ve read either, or both of them, let me know which one you think I should read first!

 

 

 


9. THE WOODS, VOL. 1. BY JAMES TYNION IV & MICHAEL DIALYNAS

21412023I saw this over on Lauren’s blog, as she read it as part of her Halloween readathon, and I thought it sounded amazing! Honestly, I don’t know very much about it, but from what I do know it sounds like it’ll be right up my street! I’m so keen to read more comics and graphic novels, so I’m always happy to learn about a series I’d never heard of before.

 

 

 

 


10. VASSA IN THE NIGHT BY SARAH PORTER

28220892I feel like I’ve been seeing this book everywhere lately, so I know I’m eventually going to cave and end up buying it! So many reviews are saying that it’s really weird, so that’s honestly just making me more curious, and more likely to buy it. All I know about it, really, is that it’s set in New York, where the night is slowly getting longer. I also know that it’s inspired by a fairy tale, so I’ll have to make sure I read up on that if I ever end up buying it!

 

 


 

So there you are! There’s a glimpse into my frankly exhaustive wishlist. This probably covers less than 10% of the books that I have sorted into various wishlists on Amazon. I know I’ll never get around to buying or reading them all, but a girl can dream!! Though really, I do think I’ll eventually get around to buying these ones as I’m really interested in all of them.

If you’ve read any of these books I’d love to hear your thoughts on them! That way, it might make it easier for me to decide which ones I’d like to buy first 😉

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Halloween Read-a-Thon Wrap Up

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If you saw my TBR post, you’ll know that I participated in Lauren’s Halloween Read-A-Thon last month. This was the first readathon I’d ever participated in and I had so much fun! It was so cool checking the tag on Twitter and seeing what everyone else was reading, and it worked out to be a great source for horror recommendations! I also found that it really motivated me to read, when otherwise I’d have been putting even more hours into Skyrim, so that’s always a plus!

I managed to read three books over the course of the readathon. I was hoping to read more, but hit a wall with House of Leaves. Maybe the real horror of this book is that I will be reading it for all eternity. Jokes aside, for the most part I am enjoying it, and it is really cool, but it’s also a huge time commitment, and there’s no way I’m lugging it all the way to work with me. I also started The Loney, and could have finished it before the end of the readathon, but it’s not really what I was expecting, and I’m finding it a little slow and hard to get into. I’m aiming to finish both of these books in November –actually, I’m hoping to completely clear my currently reading shelf in November –so I’ll check in when I do finish them.

Now, though, here are mini reviews of the three books I did read! The covers of each will take you to their respective Goodreads pages.

Continue reading “Halloween Read-a-Thon Wrap Up”

NaNoWriMo 2016!

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I thought I’d just write a quick post announcing that I’ll be participating in NaNoWriMo this year! You may or may not remember that I announced that I was participating last year. I’d somehow managed to delude myself that I’d be able to write 50,000 words of a novel on top of the stress writing and giving a conference paper while I was studying for my masters degree. As you can imagine, this didn’t work out too well for me. I actually only managed around 15,000 words before I had to give up. All the same, you can read my post from last year here, and I talk a little bit about the things that have helped me win in the past.

At this point, I’m pretty much a NaNoWriMo veteran, having participated pretty much every year for the last six years now. I’ve won twice (three times, if you count the very first time, when I participated in the Young Writer’s version with a lower word count goal). So I know it’s something that I’m actually capable of, so I’m keeping my hopes high this year. I actually don’t have any other responsibilities beyond work, and thus, have literally no excuse.

If you’re also participating, I’d love to know! Here’s a link to my profile if you’d like to be writing buddies, and feel free to send me links to yours! Also, if you’re interested, here’s my Pinterest board for this year’s project! In my mind, spending an hour or so on Pinterest definitely counts as planning 😉

Good luck to everyone participating!! 🙂

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JULY – SEPTEMBER READING WRAP UP

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It’s time for me to do mini-reviews of all the books I’ve read over the last three months! You can read my January-March wrap-up here, and my April-June wrap-up here. My reading definitely slowed down over the summer, owing to writing the bulk of my dissertation during July and August, so the only reason I’ve actually been able to keep on track with my goal of reading 50 books this year is because I read a lot of comics/graphic novels over the last few months.

I started the last post by discussing the books that I said I was currently reading in the last one, and yes, I’m still not finished with either The Lies of Locke Lamora or House of Leaves. I’ve only recently picked up The Lies of Locke Lamora again, and I am really enjoying it, it’s just that I’ve been getting distracted by wanting to read other things. Hopefully I’ll definitely get around to finishing House of Leaves this month, as it’s on my TBR for Lauren’s Halloween Read-a-thon.

Now onto the few books I have read!

Continue reading “JULY – SEPTEMBER READING WRAP UP”

TAG | The Reader Confessions Tag

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I was tagged to do this (quite a while ago!) by Mystery Date With A Book! Thank you so much for tagging me! 🙂


HAVE YOU EVER DAMAGED A BOOK?

Never intentionally, but my books do tend to get damaged as time goes by. I do annotate books, and I have dog-eared pages in the past. I do try to keep my hardback books looking nice though, if only because they cost so much more! Probably my most damaged book is my first copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, but I’ve owned that copy since I was about seven years old. You can see how bad it is from this picture:

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There’s also my copy of The Stand, but that was my dad’s and is probably over 20 years old!

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To be honest, I do kind of like the look of a well-read, battered paperback!

HAVE YOU EVER DAMAGED A BORROWED BOOK?

I don’t usually borrow books but, no, I never have. As much as I don’t mind if damage my books, I know I’d be pretty mad if I lent it to someone and they damaged it, so I’m very careful if I do borrow books.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE YOU TO READ A BOOK?

It depends, really. If I’m taking notes, then it takes me a little longer. If I’m reading for fun, I tend to read quite fast. It also depends on whether I’m into the book or not!

BOOKS THAT YOU HAVEN’T FINISHED?

There’s definitely plenty of assigned books that I’ve just set aside. The most recent of these is The Sea, the Sea by Iris Murdoch. I also picked up Red Rising by Pierce Brown a couple of years ago and couldn’t get into it so I put it down. I know a lot of people love that book though, so I do definitely want to try reading it again!

HYPED/POPULAR BOOKS YOU DIDN’T LIKE?

Probably Sarah J. Maas’ books. I liked the first couple of books in the Throne of Glass series well enough, but I didn’t enjoy Queen of Shadows at all. I’ve been reading reviews of Empire of Storms in order to decide whether I want to the series or not but it looks like it contains a lot of the stuff that I really didn’t like about Queen of Shadows, so I’m probably going to drop the series! Her books are so hyped though, so I find that I’m always a little disappointed even when I do enjoy her books.

IS THERE A BOOK YOU WOULDN’T TELL ANYONE YOU’RE READING?

Not really, no. Although I didn’t tell anyone I was reading Captive Prince when I first started it, but I completely love that series, so I have no idea why.  I guess people get a bit embarrassed about reading romance or erotica so that might have been part of it, but to be honest, I’m mostly quite open about what I read.

HOW MANY BOOKS DO YOU OWN?

Uh.

Probably around 400? Maybe more? I honestly have no idea. I don’t have bookshelves so my books are just sort of…everywhere. I dread to think how many I actually own!

ARE YOU A FAST READER OR A SLOW ONE?

Definitely fast! I only read slowly if I can’t really get into a book.

DO YOU LIKE TO BUDDY READ?

I’ve never done a buddy read before! I’d love to do one though, they look like so much fun!

DO YOU READ BETTER IN YOUR HEAD, OR OUT LOUD?

In my head, definitely. I do like to occasionally read poetry aloud, however. I think a lecturer at university recommended reading poetry aloud, so I just took that advice on board.

IF YOU WERE ONLY ALLOWED TO OWN ONE BOOK, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Does my Kindle count? 😉

This question is so evil! I honestly have no idea. Part of me says The Book Thief because it’s very dear to me, and I’ve reread it so many times. I couldn’t just pick one Harry Potter book, so they’re out of the question. I think I’ll say Les Miserables? I’ve seen the musical twice, but I haven’t finished the book, so at least I’d be reading something new!


So those are the questions! I’m doing my usual and leaving this as an open tag, so if you’d like to do this tag, consider yourself tagged! 🙂

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This is a scheduled post as I’m currently away on holiday! I might not be able to respond to comments until I’m back, but I’ll probably be around on Twitter and Instagram 🙂