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! 

#HocusPocusReadathon – Wrap-up Post

Hey Team Undead! The Hocus Pocus Readathon has come to an end! And I made it to the end! I’m pretty chuffed, honestly!

This readathon is hosted by Tiffy and Alyssa. I have chosen to participate as part of Team Undead, since those are the prompts that worked best for me. Our team leaders are Nox and Fyrekatz.

I have clearly got over my reading slump as I’ve been flying through books this week. With travel and moving house, I was feeling really down about how little reading I’d done, so it’s making me really happy to see these totals building up.

You can read my halfway point check-in here. And now, here are the rest of my titles for the readathon.

  1. Zombies, Graveyards and Cats. Oh my! Read a book with a non-human main character. (5pts)
    Vampire Islandby Adele Griffin was a random digital library find and a short read. I listened to the audio book while I was cooking. The phrase “vegan vampires” caught my eye and sounded amusing, but I couldn’t work out what the book was trying to do… partially it seemed to be making an environmental statement, but other parts of it seemed to go against that, and I wondered if it was just trying to be funny.
  2. The Sanderson Sisters have risen. Read a book with a female protagonist. (5pts)*Ahhh!

    I loved The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg so much! I was on the edge of my seat the whole time and when I got to the twists at the end, I realised all the clues had been there all along! I want to read a sequel with a Fantasist uprising, but this one does end kind of perfectly, so if there is no sequel, I will still feel satisfied.

    * The Team Undead strength gives us the ability to swap out one of our prompts for one from another team, so this prompt replaces Winifred Sanderson raises you from the dead. Read a book that can bring someone back from the grave (5 pts). I was initially going to use the “Read a fantasy novel” prompt from Team Sanderson but I rejigged my TBR and this one worked better.

  3. Help your team stand up to Winifred Sanderson. Read the Group Read. (10pts)


    I chose Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin for my group read. So this was unexpected! For a while it felt like a 3 or 3.5 star read, then somewhere along the  way, I got totally sucked in and had to actively force myself to put it down and go to bed on Friday night so I could get up for work on Saturday.If I were rating it purely on how it gripped me while I was reading it, it would be a five star read… but I only gave it four because there were things that bothered me when I wasn’t reading it but when I was thinking about it… some of the language was anachronistic, and I also had no idea where or when it was set… is it a fictional kingdom in this world? Somewhere else? And they have indoor plumbing but no cars or electricity or anything…

    And as much as I enjoyed reading the romance, I could never *quite* believe in it… even if he is the first person to ever treat you well, and he’s pretty sexy, how do you develop feelings for someone who is honour-bound to kill you if he learns who you really are? How do you get past that?

The only thing left to do now is watch the movie to celebrate! I am writing this post on Saturday but by the time it goes live on Sunday I will have done that.

I’ve had a really good time doing this readathon. I’ve met lots of new bloggers and added a whole bunch of books to my TBR. I’ve definitely got the readathon bug now, so I’ve signed up for the Triwizard Tournament Readathon, which starts on October 31! Maybe I’ll see you there!

#HocusPocusReadathon – Halfway Point Update

Hey Team Undead! We’re halfway through the Hocus Pocus Readathon so it’s time for a check-in.

This readathon is hosted by Tiffy and Alyssa. I have chosen to participate as part of Team Undead, since those are the prompts that worked best for me. Our team leaders are Nox and Fyrekatz.

It’s not quite halfway through going by the dates, but I am halfway through the prompts! So here I am!

I have clearly got over my reading slump as I’ve been flying through books this week. With travel and moving house, I was feeling really down about how little reading I’d done, so it’s making me really happy to see these totals building up.

The prompts I’ve managed so far are:

  1. Not all Undead are monsters. Read a book with paranormal or supernatural elements. (5pts)
    Evangeline and the Spiritualist by Madeleine D’Este. The spiritualist was a fake but there was obviously a real ghost in the room, and she knew a lot about Evangeline. This is the third book in the Antics of Evangeline series of novellas, and my favourite so far!
    .
    I was actually going to read a different book for this prompt, but I realised pretty early on that Dreaming Anastasia wasn’t for me. I haven’t returned it to the library yet, and I may still read it after the readathon, but I didn’t want to waste precious time.
    .
  2. The Graveyard is especially spooky on Halloween night. Read a spooky atmospheric book. (5pts)
    .
    .
    I’ve got to admit I was a bit disappointed in  The Dead of Winter by Chris Priestley. I think maybe I was too old for it? I think I would have found it a lot spookier if I read it when I was ten. As it was, it felt more like the author was checking off various haunted house tropes without really giving them much depth. And the skull on the cover has nothing to do with the story at all. :\
    .
    Since it was short, I used this book to cover the Team Undead weakness, which required us  to read a book all in one spot. I read it only when I was travelling on the bus this week.
  3. Catch those kids, but don’t lose your head! Read a random book from your TBR. (5pts)
    .

    I was going to read Briar Rose by Jana Oliver for this prompt, but I only got to page 47 before it irritated me too much to keep going. I hadn’t even really got the Sleeping Beauty aspects yet. As I said on GoodReads, maybe at another time I might have perservered, but I didn’t have the patience for it this week.
    .
    Instead, I read Songbird by Ingrid Laguna, about  a young refugee girl from Iraq who is struggling to fit in at her new school in Melbourne and worries about her father, who is still in Iraq. She finds a place for herself when she joins the school choir. This was such a sweet book! It’s really short and I read it all in one sitting and I loved it! This books kills two birds with one stone as it will also count towards my Australian Women Writers Challenge.
    .
  4. Currently reading:
    .

    For the group read, I’m reading Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin. I’m at about 15% at the moment and enjoying it so far. It feels a bit like what I hoped The Gilded Wolves would be (I didn’t manage to finish that one). I’m not the biggest fan of having multiple first-person narrators, but these ones are distinct enough for it to be okay.

Well, that’s it from me for now, but I’ll be back next Saturday with a wrap-up post.