#20BooksofSummer20 and #ReadARainbow Midway Check-in

In which I do Summer reading challenges in my winter months because Dec-Feb is too busy and annoying a period to do challenges, and the Internet is all Northern Hemisphere-centric anyway. 😝

20 Books of Summer is hosted by Cathy at 746books.com and the aim, as you may have guessed, is to read 20 book in Summer (i.e. 1 June to 1 September).

How am I going? Well, if you mean in terms of the number of books I’ve read during this period… I’m going great!

If you mean, am I sticking to the TBR I set for myself at the start of June?

Um… I’ve read one of them. Honestly, this was always bound to happen. It’s happening with the low-pressure readathon I’m doing this July (see below). It happened with my first readathon last year. It happens.

So what have I read so far?

  1. Burn by Patrick Ness.
  2. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
  3. Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman
  4. What Unbreakable Looks Like by Kate McLaughlin
  5. A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan
  6. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
  7. Of Hair and No Hair by P. A. Mason
  8. Euphoria Kids by Alison Evans
  9. Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

Of these, Euphoria Kids was the only TBR read. And it’s not looking promising for the next little while. I’ve got a couple of ARCs to read. And my July book club book. Nyyyargh. 

I’m also doing the Read A Rainbow challenge on Twitter and Discord. This is  hosted by Books and Pixie Dust.

My original TBR for this one has gone out the window, too, but at least both my ARCs will count towards it! Here’s what I’m going for now: 

  1. Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant (red on the cover) (read)
  2. A Pocketful of Eyes by Lili Wilkinson (orange on the cover)
  3. Angel Mage by Garth Nix (yellow on the cover)
  4. The Opium Smuggler by Celine Jeanjean (green on the cover) (ARC)
  5. Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte (blue on the cover) (currently reading)
  6. The Lost City by Amanda Hocking (purple on the cover) (ARC) (currently reading)
  7. Scones and Spells by Rosie Pease (pink on the cover) (currently reading)

Unfortunately my July book club read – Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi – doesn’t fit any of those colours (only red, which I’ve already covered), so I’m also going to fit it in somewhere! I’m sure this is all fine! (*cries in the corner*)

So that’s where I am right now! Reading is going a little slowly at the moment because it’s been a bit of a busy week, but I’m hoping to be able to dive in on the weekend and make some solid progress. 

How is your reading going? Is lockdown helping or hindering your reading goals? 

#20BooksOfSummer20 TBR

I’m hoping that 746Books, the host of this reading challenge, doesn’t mind me taking liberties and making my own graphic for it. I wanted to make reference to the fact that it… is really not summer here right now.  😁 I am writing this in front of the heater, wearing woolly socks and with a blanket over my lap.

But why should that preclude me from a challenge?! Sure, I could start my own Southern Hemisphere version and run it December – February, but… eh. That sounds like work!

The 20 Books of Summer challenge is exactly what it sounds like. Between June 1 and September 1, participants can choose to read 10, 15 or 20 books.

I’m going to continue my 2020 challenge of reading all the Australian books that I own.

My Australian fiction bookshelf, showing a number of the books on my 20 Books of Summer list, as well as some I’ve already read, and some I’ll get to a bit later.

I find that even when I only do month-long reading challenges, my final result is always a little different from my intitial TBR, but these are the ones I’m going to try for:

  1. The Beast’s Heart by Lief Shallcross (fantasy)
  2. The Iron Line by L. M. Merrington (historical fiction)
  3. Rheia by Cassandra Page (fantasy)
  4. Where Shadows Rise by Amy Laurens (YA fantasy)
  5. Through Roads Between by Amy Laurens (YA fantasy)
  6. Mud and Glass by Laura E Goodin (fantasy)
  7. Harlequin’s Riddle by Rachel Nightingale (YA fantasy)
  8. The Grief Hole by Kaaron Warren (horror)
  9. No Limits by Ellie Marney (YA crime/contemporary)
  10. A Pocketful of Eyes by Lili Wilkinson (YA contemporary)
  11. The Grinding House by Kaaron Warren (horror/short stories)
  12. Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta (YA fantasy)
  13. The Dry by Jane Harper (Crime)
  14. She’s Having a Laugh ed. George McInroe (non-fiction)
  15. Maternal Instinct by Rebecca Bowyer (sci-fi)
  16. Beauty in Thorns by Kate Forsyth (historical fiction)
  17. One Summer in Santorini by Sandy Barker (romance)
  18. The Blood Countess by Tara Moss (YA fantasy)
  19. Angel Mage by Garth Nix (YA fantasy)
  20. Euphoria Kids by Alison Evans (YA fantasy)

This might be ambitious because I also have a couple of ARC reviews due in June, and a couple of books from the library still to get through. And book club! But I do have the first week of June off work. So we’ll see. See you on the other side! Or at least, at a June 30 check-in.

Down the TBR Hole #6

Down the TBR hole banner
Welcome to the Down The TBR Hole meme. The aim behind this game is to whittle your TBR down a little by going through and removing books you’ve lost interest in or aren’t truly likely to pick up.

My TBR is not as out of control as some of yours, but I figure it’s probably still worth trying to get it down a bit. I’d love your comments on any of my decisions.

Here’s how it works, feel free to join in!

    1. Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
    2. Order on ascending date added.
    3. Take the first 5 (or 10 — or even more if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
    4. Read the synopses of the books
    5. Decide: keep it or should it go?

So, without further ado!

Inconceivable! by Tegan Wren

I’m a bit torn about this one. It sounds cute and I enjoy a royal romance as much as the next person. But it’s a full on romance-to-marriage-to-trying-to-have-a-baby within 350 pages? Honestly sounds like it might be trying to do a bit too much and while I appreciate a book that explores infertility, I’m not sure it’s for me.   

~~ Decision:  GO ~~

5 to 1 by Holly Bodger

Honestly… as much as the idea of a dystopia set in future India feels different and fresh, I think I’d rather read one from an Indian author. Also a few reviewers that I follow say the world-building is sketchy, which means I’m bound to pick it apart and ask too many questions. I’m going to let this one go.

~~ DECISION:  GO ~~


The Forbidden Wish
by Jessica Khoury

This one sounds really good! I’m not sure if it’s a fairytale retelling exactly, but it has djinn! I love djinn! They’re one of my favourite mythological creatures and I am willing to read any book featuring them. So this is a kepeer.

~~ DECISION: KEEP ~~

Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet by H. P. Wood

There’s a note at the end of the blurb for this on stating that it’s not a children’s or YA book. Which is weird because the blurb totally reads like middle-grade. And based on some of the reviews, the things that would have drawn me to it – Coney Island, carnival oddballs – are not actually a major feature. Apparently it’s more about an outbreak of yellow fever, with a bit of magical realism thrown in. Again, I don’t think it’s for me.

~~ DECISION: GO ~~

Stitching Snow by R. C. Lewis

Fairytale retelling! Yay! Sci-fi? Yeeehhh? But it sounds intriguing? Gonna keep this one for now.

~~DECISION: KEEP ~~

TODAY: 2 keep, 3 go.

ALL TIME: 14 keep, 16 go.

What do you think of these choices? Have you read any of these titles? Would you have chosen differently?

You can read my previous Down the TBR Hole posts here.

See you next time!

The Animal Crossing New Horizons Book Tag!

Lately, I’ve been feeling like I am possibly the only person in the world who isn’t playing Animal Crossing? Who has never played Animal Crossing? I am not really a gamer but I seem to have many, many friends who are, so I always know when things like New Horizons are out, but I never touch them myself.

Anyway. If I keep up the schedule I am planning for myself, this will be the first of a few book tags based on fandoms I have no idea about! Wheee! I wanted to mix things up a bit so it wasn’t always just reviews and Down The TBR Hole all the time.

This book tag was created by Angharad and Becky over at Two Book Thieves and I am shamelessly stealing. So without furth ado, here we go:

Past Villager – Who is a character you found when you were younger that still has a place in your heart?

I always say Winnie-the-Pooh for these types of questions so I thought I’d mix it up a bit. But apparently I can’t get past the bears of my childhood. Paddington! I love the mischief he gets up to. Even reading this stories as an adult just makes me giddy with delight and happiness. When I visited the UK for the first time in 2013, I got off the airport train at Paddington Station and immediately went to find the Paddington Bear statue.

Blather’s Blatherings – Recommend a historical fiction book that you think everybody should read

The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore tells the story of “the war of the currents” between Thomas Edison, commonly considered the inventor  of  the electric light bulb, and George Westinghouse. It’s told from the perspective of Paul Cravath, Westinghouse’s lawyer, and most of the events described in the book actually took place in one way or another. I kept turning off the audio book to go and google people and events and I learned so much from this book. This is why I’ll take historical fiction over a non-fiction book any day.

Celeste’s Wish – What is a future book release you wish you could read now?

Definitely Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles. It’s a fantasy with elements of Moulin Rouge and Phantom of the Opera… gimme now!

Fun story: my phone wasn’t giving me notifications for the email I use for Netgalley for about a month… and when this finally occurred to me and I went in to see what I had missed, there was an invitation from Wednesday Books to join the blog tour for this book… but I’d missed the deadline to sign up. And then they’d already reached their limit on NetGalley so I was declined… so now I have to wait until August?  Ugh.

Timmy & Tommy – What is your favourite sibling relationship in a book?

Possibly this is an odd choice given that the Thornthwaite twins, Lorelli and Ovid, send the first thirteen years of their lives trying to kill each other? But deep down, they do care about each other. And they’re not trying to kill each other in the sequel, just dealing with other people trying to kill them. 😛 These books are lot of fun. Big Series of Unfortunate Events vibes, but British.

The Easter Bunny – A popular book character that you’re not a big fan of

Oh gosh I don’t read a lot of popular books (or the popularity has usually died down by the time I get to them, anyway). Does Harry Potter count? Does anyone actually especially like Harry or is everyone on board the “the wizarding world wouldn’t have been saved without Hermione” train?

Nook’s Loans – An author you’d give all your money to

I’m going to go with Patrick Ness for this one. His books can be a little bit hit and miss for me? But generally I have loved them and would take a chance on anything he puts out.

It can be a bit interesting… I loved the Chaos Walking trilogy (in the image) and A Monster Calls, but I DNFed The Crash of Hennington… and I haven’t even tried the whales one (I can’t remember the title. But it’s the Moby-Dick-from-the-whales’-POV one?). And there have been some in the 3-4 star range.

The Sisters Able – What is your favourite fictional family (found or otherwise)?

It’s a C+  – What is a book trope you don’t like that keeps popping up? 

Ugh. I hate in romance where the male love interest is a complete jerk but he’s ~sexy~ so the woman falls for him anyway? And puts up with his crap. And often the jerkiness is “justified” because of some ~deep dark past~. Ew.

The Wandering Camel – What is your favourite book set in a land far away from yours?

I absolutely loved Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia-Moreno-Garcia, which is set in 1920s Mexico and California. I felt like I was there. It was wonderful.

What Would Dodos Do?  – A fictional land you wish you could fly away to at any moment?

Growing up in Australia, I’ve always felt like I wanted to be in Narnia when it was always winter and blanketed in snow. It sounded (in the books) and looked (in the 90s TV series) so beautiful. I guess the White Witch was a bit of a problem. So I guess for my answer, I’m saying a regular winter in Narnia. Like when the Pevensies were monarchs. 😂

Well, this was fun! I’m not going to tag anyone but feel free to join in with your own post, or let me know in the comments what your answers would be! I’ll see you soon!

#Medievalathon – May 2020 – TBR!

Wheeenothing quite like finding out about a readathon the day before it starts and deciding to take part anyway!

During the month of May, I’m going to be participating in Medievalathon, hosted by Holly Hearts Books.

plan to read at least seven books this month and become divine Empress of the four corners of the globe. Or something. Anyway. Here are the levels you can aim for:

And I’m going to do that while wearing some pretty rocking outfits. I had a lot of books that fitted the outfit prompts. 😂

OUTFITS

A pristine book: The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

Under 300 pages: Greythorne by L. M. Merrington

Green on the dust jacket: Harlequin’s Riddle by Rachel Nightingale

A book with a dragon on the cover: Ochre Dragon by V. E. Patton

WEAPONS

A romance: The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross

A heavy book: Angel Mage by Garth Nix

A book I have high expectations for: The Dry by Jane Harper

Pet COMPANIONS

A scary book: The Grief Hole by Kaaron Warren

Orange on the dust jacket: A Pocketful of Eyes by Lili Wilkinson

And that’s it for not! I’ve spent way too much time putting this together this morning and I need to go get ready for work! At least it’s a work from home day. I’ll do a progress post about halfway through the month and see you then!

Cover Reveal! Blackbirch: The Beginning by K. M. Allan

Hello everyone! I’m really proud to be helping out with this cover reveal today.

The #6amAusWriters group over on Twitter are very special to me and K. M. Allan is one of our members. I’m so excited that you’ll all get to read Blackbirch: The Beginning, when it comes out on February 17.

I’ve been hearing great things about it from the ARC readers who are ahead of me with reading it, and I’ve dived into the first chapter myself today.

And of course, it doesn’t hurt when a book has a cover as gorgeous as this one:


Argh, it’ so shiny! Can’t wait until I have a copy on my shelf!

Here’s the blurb:

Welcome to Blackbirch. It’s a place no one forgets. Except for Josh Taylor.

The fatal car crash took more than 17-year-old Josh’s parents. It stole his memories and returned him to his birthplace, Blackbirch, a tourist town steeped in a history of witchcraft.

Amongst friends he’s forgotten and a life he doesn’t want, Josh is haunted by nightmares so believable he swears the girl in his dreams is real. Kallie is so captivating he ignores her blood-stained hands, but he can’t overlook the blue glow summoned to her skin.

Kallie says it’s an ancient magic they share and a secret worth hiding, because as Josh discovers, they aren’t the only gifted ones.

To restore his memories and find the true cause of the car accident, he must learn what’s real. And what secrets Blackbirch has buried in its woods.

IF that sounds like your cup of tea, you can add it to Goodreads here. Pre-order links will be available soon.

Watch out for my review in the next week or two!

Introducing #StartOnYourShelfathon! Dec 2019 – Dec 2020

Hello friends! Blogging has kind of fallen by the wayside for the rest of the year. I have two more books to read for the Australian Women Writers Challenge, plus one more general one, and they are the only ones I’ll be reviewing between now and January.

I’ve ended up in a bit of a reading funk, brought on by end-of-year exhaustion, a couple of books I didn’t enjoy, along with some other life-related stresses that don’t help. That meant I fell completely off the bandwagon with the Triwizard Readathon from a few posts ago, but that’s okay.

Anyway, I’m here to talk about a year-long readathon I’ll be participating in next year! Technically it’s already started, but it’s unlikely I’ll manage much for it between now and January 01.

#StartOnYourShelfAthon is all about reading the books you already own, be they physical or electronic. It’s hosted by The Quiet Pond and you can read all the info here.

What I appreciate about readathons like this one is that they have a lot of wriggle room for setting your own goals. This challenge ties in with some goals I was already planning to set myself for 2020, and this way, I’ll have some public accountability.

So what are those goals you ask? Easy!

  • Read 20 Australian books – this will tie in with my Australian Women Writers Challenge, as well as give me plenty of fuel for my Booktube Channel, where I talk about Aussie books.
  • Read 10 Discworld novels – I’ve had a whole bunch of Discworld novels sitting on my shelf that I bought off a friend who was going overseas… years ago. I’ve only read a few. And it’s ridiculous, because I know I enjoy them.
  • Read 10 other ebooks – I have all the unread books on my Kindle in a collection together, so it’s easy for me to see what I have and haven’t read, and I’ve got plenty to choose from.

I usually read about 75-90 books in a year, so aiming for 40 challenge books still gives me plenty of room for new releases, library books, that sort of thing.

In the coming weeks, I’ll set up a separate page here on the blog to keep track of the titles I read for the challenge. I don’t think I’m quite up for a star chart, so  a page will have to do.

Come join in the fun if you feel so inclined!

Triwizard Tournament Readathon – First Task Wrap-up and Second Task TBR

WElcome to the Triwizard Tournament Readathon!

This readathon snuck up on me so this is my first blog on the subject and we’re at the end of the First Task. Probably stating the obvious here, but the challenges for this readathon are based on the Triwizard Tournament tasks in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. You can find more info at Chapter Charms.

Teams were decided on by date of birth, and I am on Team Durmstrang. For the first task, I had to Swedish Short-snout.

The prompt: These dragons are sought after to use their skin to make shields and gloves, re-read a favourite that makes you feel protected.

When We Were Very Young by A. A. Milne

I’ve got to be honest, part of me was freaking out about this prompt because I’ve got so many books to read for the first time right now, and I didn’t think I had time to re-read anything. However, I can always count on the Winnie-the-Pooh books to give me warm fuzzies, and they are very quick reads.

There was also the method of defeating the dragon. I used distraction.

The prompt: Distract your dragon by transfiguring a rock into an animal, read a book with an animal on the cover.

Portable Curiosities: Stories by Julie Koh

With a cat on the cover! This was a really entertaining collection of short stories. There were some I didn’t really get, but others were fantastic. They were all a bit weird in some way or another.

So now that the first task is over, there is a week until the second task begins. In the second task, Harry and the other Triwizard Champions had to rescue a loved on from the Hogwarts Lake. Durmstrang team members will be rescuing a friend.

The prompt: Read a book about friendship.

Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray

I’m going to hope this works for this prompt anyway! Otherwise there’ll be a mad dash for me to find another one. But there’s such a large cast in the Diviners novels, I figure I’ll be able to make it work in one way or another.

And of course, the question is how do I rescue my friend from the lake? I’m going with transfiguration.

The Prompt: Partially transfigure yourself into a sea creature by reading a book about a sea creature.

Into the Drowning Deep by MIra Grant

I originally had this book down for the third task, under “read a book containing something you fear” because you can bet I am terrified of the ocean. I mean, I’m happy enough going to the beach, but anything more than a few feet underwater and I start getting bothered. But I didn’t really have anything else for any of the prompts for this challenge, so I’m moving it here. There’s till plenty of time to figure out my titles for the Third Task.

The second task runs from Monday November 25 to Sunday December 01, so I’ll be back with another wrap-up post sometime after that.

See you then!

Cover Reveal! That Night In Paris by Sandy Barker

Hello everyone! I go years without doing a cover reveal and then I do two within a couple of weeks. This is something I really want to get back into regularly, so hit me up if you have one coming up, I’d love to help!

Today we’re revealing the cover for That Night In Paris, coming April 2020. But first, here’s the synopsis:

Note to self: don’t sleep with your flatmate after a curry and three bottles of wine… especially if he’s secretly in love with you and wants you to meet his mum.

Cat Parsons is on the run. She doesn’t do relationships. After ten years of singlehood even the hint of the ‘L’ word is enough to get Cat packing her bags and booking herself onto a two-week holiday.

A European bus tour feels like a stroke of genius to dodge awkward conversations at home. But little does Cat realise that the first stop will be Paris, the city of love itself.

Joined by new friends, Cat has got two weeks, eight countries and a hell of a lot of wine ahead of her. As they discover hidden treasures and the camaraderie of life on the road, will Cat find a new way of looking at love?

Discover the beauty of Europe’s most romantic cities in this uplifting and laugh-out-loud novel for fans of Samantha Parks, Alex Brown and Mandy Baggot.

Sounds like something I will be picking up asap! Well, next April.  (I say that, but I am The WorstTM, and still haven’t read Sandy’s first book, One Summer in Santorini, though it’s been sitting on my Kindle virtually since  it came out! It’s been getting great reviews, though, so you should also check it out!).

But regardless, you’re here for the cover and you’re going to love it.

Here we go!

Agggh, it’s so cute! And I’m sure the words inside will be amazing to match! Pre-order now on Amazon for Kindle or in paperback!

Cover Reveal! Christmas Australis: A Frighteningly Festive Anthology of Spine-Jingling Tales

Hello everyone! It’s been ages since I did a cover reveal on this blog, and this one is especially exciting because I’m one of the authors!

Christmas Australis: A Frighteningly Festive Anthology of Spine-Jingling Tales brings together eight stories that reflect the Australian experience of Christmas: it’s summer here in December and we spend December 25 at the beach or under the air conditioner, gorging on seafood and lemonade.

Over the past few months, I’ve got to know some fantastic other Australian writers via our hashtag #6amAusWriters, and I’m super-proud to be included!

There’s something for everyone in Christmas Australis, whether you are a fan of contemporary stories, sci-fi, fantasy, or even steampunk!

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for! Here it is!

The fabulous cover was designed by Cassi Strachan at Creative Girl Tuesday. Thank you so much, Cassi!

The contributors are V. E. Patton, Darren Kasenkow, Emily Wrayburn (that’s me!), Lyn Webster, Andrew Roff, Natasha O’Connor, Madeleine D’Este and Belinda Grant.

My story is called Operation: Sugarplum, and it’s a modern-day retelling of The Nutcracker.  Here’s a bit about it.

Clara gets more than she bargained for when she plays a new virtual reality platform with boy-genius developer, Max Drosselmeier.

Suddenly virtual characters are coming after her in reality and the only way to stop them is to play the game to the end…

It’s a bit of this:

Combined with a bit of this:

To great effect if I do say so myself. 😉

You can find out more about the other stories on the Amazon Page.

You can pre-order now by clicking the button below for the special pre-order price of $3 US, before it bumps up to $3.99 US on release day, November 11.

And
don’t forget to add it to your GoodReads TBR shelf!