Down The TBR Hole (Again)

I last posted one of these near the end of 2019 and I just looked at it and…I have not thought about a single one of those books. It is 2021 now and I do not want to lie to myself anymore so I will be restarting this tag/trend again and reducing my Goodreads TBR shelf to a pile of dust because if I haven’t read it since my previous post AND I haven’t thought of it? Not worth the digital space it’s taking up, be GONE!

Down The TBR Hole is a blog tag made by Lost In A Story and has some rules!

The Rules: • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf. • Order on ascending date added. • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books • Read the synopses of the books • Decide: keep it or should it go? • Keep track of where you left off so you can pick up there next week!

Book 1: The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt

Added: 17th March 2014

Decision: Delete! I haven’t read it, nor have I been inclined to do this one is for deletion and donation.

Book 2: Farenheight 451 by Ray Bradbury

Added: 9th April 2014

Decision: Keep! Still because it’s my mother’s favourite and I have it on kindle so it takes up no physical space!

Book 3: Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris

Added: 9th April 2014

Decision: Delete! I actually already donated my copy of this last year so this was an easy decision.

Book 4: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Added: 12th April 2014

Decision: Delete! I tried reading Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Capote and I know that fiction and nonfiction are different and that In Cold Blood can be considered a blueprint of modern true crime nonfiction…but I didn’t like his writing at all and it was not very nice to read either. I know Holly isn’t exactly the best and most flawless character but I forgot the era in which it was written and so was not expecting slurs in my reading that day (should I have guessed it from the uncomfortable and overtly racist Mickey Rooney performance? Probably).

Book 5: The Valkyries by Paolo Coehlo

Added: 27th April 2014

Decision: Delete! This is another that I donated last year so this was easy peasy!

You can find me on Instagram @bukisibecca and in Goodreads @beccaggray if you want to befriend me and see my photos of the books I talk about here 🙂

Book Review: The Deathless Girls

The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hagrave is a 2019 fantasy release depicting the lives of twin sisters captured and enslaved by Boyar Valcar, eventually learning of the Dragon – Dracula – and becoming the brides briefly mentioned in Bram Stokers novel.

I really enjoyed this book! I admit that it took a bit to get into as I’m not a huge fantasy person but the level of fantasy/magic within this is not as in depth as other modern fantasy novels so if you’re familiar with the Dracula tale then it is a similar level of supernatural- just enough but not too out there.

I loved the twins and their dynamic, Lil’s understanding of Kizzy’s anger with her as they approached their capture and enslavement at the castle in different ways. I was also surprised at Lil’s queer/lesbian love story in this as I wasn’t expecting it! The relationship with Mira is developed quietly and isn’t full of pining as many characters in fantasy/TYA do, probably due to all of them having been forced from their homes and made to work at the castle so any romance would realistically take a backseat in that situation.

The twins are ‘othered’ from the beginning of the novel, their traveller community is attacked by the Boyar’s men and their family is killed before they are carted off to the castle. ‘Othered’ as travellers and called ‘gypsy’ then forced to perform once their gifts are revealed, Lil and Kizzy are interesting leads with a lot of potential that, in a series, I think would do quite well but as this is only a stand-alone that exists within another text that is limited.

Things definitely picked up once the Dragon character was properly introduced. This is Dracula and seeing the fear from the workers in the castle as they mention him in passing built the character up nicely too. I don’t want to give away any spoilers but the depiction of vampirism in this book is great and completely unlike what we’re used to in a modern vampire tale – no sparkles or seduction, these guys are upside down sleepers and I’m all for it.

WWW Wednesday!

Hi everyone!

WWW Wednesday is a tag/meme/thing created by Sam at Taking On A World Of Words to discuss your recent, current and imminent reads!

1. What are you currently reading?

At the moment I’m reading two books and listening to one audiobook so I’ll start with the book I began first.

The first is Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, if you’re familiar with true crime podcasts then you’ll be familiar with these two ladies. SSDGM is a mantra from the show and now a memoir of their experiences, I’m enjoying it so far and I’ve only reached about 30% so looking forward to carrying on.

The second is Mother May I by Joshilyn Jackson, this is an upcoming release in April so I will write a full review closer to publication but I’m 11% in and really enjoying it. This is about a mother dealing with a kidnapped son and her efforts to find him and the kidnapper, I previously read Never Have I Ever which I loved (here is my review) and recommend if you enjoy works by Celeste Ng or similar suburban dramas.

The third is not super exciting but it’s Pimsleur Korean Lessons 1-5, I’m sure it’s clear what kind of audiobook this is so I won’t go into detail. This is good for practicing basic useful phrases for travelling and meeting people and is to be listened to daily so that’s what I’m doing to supplement my language course studies.

2. What have you recently finished reading?

I recently finished Earthlings by Sayaka Murata as well as The Deathless Girls by Karen Millwood Hargrave, both of which I really enjoyed! Murata’s writing is fantastic, if you’ve read Convenience Store Woman then this is a level up in oddity but still wonderful – I’m amazed and mystified by translators who deliver these works too! I’ll write full reviews for each as well and post later as I’m going to try and make Friday into a regular review day 🙂

What are you reading? If you’ve got any recommendations let me know or if you also do this tag please comment and I’ll check out your post as I love being nosy! You can find me on Instagram @booksforbecca

What I saved in 2020 by using my local library

Wow, who knows what this post will be about? I posted my 2019 savings last week so I wanted to have a look at my 2020 reading because although I know I did not have a great year for reading or enjoying books, I did still rely on my library in person before lockdown and then online after the start of the pandemic to find new books.

In 2020 I finished 50 books and lowered my Goodreads goal in order to not feel so bad about my reading habits while working from home! Of these 50 books, 21 of them were borrowed from the library as either audiobooks or ebooks (mainly audio).

The Furies: Amazon.co.uk: Lowe, Katie: 9780008288976: Books

The Furies – Katie Lowe – £7.31

Snatched – Karin Slaughter – £0.99

The Good Daughter – Karin Slaughter – £4.50

When I Find You – Emma Curtis – £6.55

Men Without Women – Haruki Murakami – £7.39

The Treatment – CL Taylor – £6.54

My Sister, The Serial Killer – Oyinkan Braithwaite – £5.99

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton (*borrowed as audiobook) – £7.37

Pretty Girls – Karin Slaughter – £7.37

Blindsighted – Karin Slaughter – £7.37

Kisscut – Karin Slaughter – £7.37

A Faint Cold Fear – Karin Slaughter – £7.87

Midnight Sun – Stephanie Meyer – £20.00

No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference – Greta Thunberg – £3.59

BlacKkKlansman – Ron Stallworth – £6.55

The Lifechanging Magic of Tidying Up – Marie Kondo – £8.99

Spark Joy – Marie Kondo – £9.79

Loveless – Alice Oseman – £7.99

Murder & Crime: Leeds – Margaret Drinkall – £3.50

Home – Salman Rushdie – £2.97

Diamond Ring for the Ice Queen – Lucy Clark – £13.99

With a grand total of………£153.99 which is less than previous years but not surprising as I read less this year and also used Kindle Unlimited quite a bit rather than the library as I’ve been using short study guides on there since they have quite a few so I can try a variety of them.

You can find me on Instagram @bukisibecca and in Goodreads @beccaggray if you want to befriend me and see my photos of the books I talk about here 🙂

Book Review – Loveless by Alice Oseman

I was not ready to be as emotionally invested or devastated by this book as I actually was.

That being said, I loved it.

Loveless is about Georgia, a girl who is starting her first year of university in Durham and has to navigate new friendships, new feelings and new struggles as she explores and comes to terms with identifying as asexual.

One sad thing outside of this book is that when the synopsis was posted on Goodreads there was an outcry from online commenters that said that a story depicting asexuality should only be written by someone identifying as such themselves which in turn, forced the author to come out before they were ready and before they had spoken to their family and friends about it themselves. Forcing someone to out themselves before they are ready in order to defend their work, work so heartfelt as writing, is truly awful and the storm of angry tweets and comments were not deserved.

Oseman’s novel Loveless is a deeply emotional book that has stuck with me since I read it and I connected to it so much. Though I am now 28 (ew), I can see so much of my younger self in Georgia and though my university days were less focused on my sexuality or romantic identity and more focused on what the hell am I going to do with an English degree, I saw parts of myself in Georgia that I did not recognise for a long time. Not having or wanting a first kiss or relationship seems so alien when everyone around you is exploring relationships, I know that I myself don’t feel romantic connections that often and a lot of my dating life felt forced and unhappy which I have come to realise is just how I am, I don’t want to date around a lot and when I was younger I didn’t want to either. The pressure from those around you to fit into the dating world when you’re young and find a partner (or partners) is something that Georgia struggles with from the very start of the novel. She feels the pressure to conform to expectations and believes that she is attracted to people and then the reality of kissing them or dating them becomes too much. Her relationships with her friends are one of the best parts of the book, it is realistic in that relationships change and expectations from others can be stressful and damaging as the person does not want to upset or disappoint those that they love by not meeting those expectations. I did not always love the relationship with Georgia’s childhood best friend, but her determination to keep her friendship with Pip was quite nice throughout.

Parts of this book may be triggering or upsetting for people who are ace though and so as good as it is to read characters that you identify with, it may be important to note that there are instances of acephobia or derogatory comments from members of the university LGBT society regarding the legitimacy of asexuality as a queer identity.

You can find me on Instagram @bukisibecca and in Goodreads @beccaggray if you want to befriend me and see my photos of the books I talk about here 🙂

Reading Goals for 2021

Hi again, it’s Becca.

This year I want to do what everyone with a blog wants to do: blog more. I want to be consistent in writing and posting book reviews and a variety of bookish content but as I am currently waiting on a visa to move abroad (though this has just been temporarily suspended so that’s exciting and worrying), I also want to post more about that once I am living abroad so that when I’m older and more boring I can look back at my time working away from the UK.

To further support that, I also want to revive my Youtube channel. Last year I posted a few episodes of my podcast that I co-host with my friend, Reading Between The Spines – a bookish podcast that you can find on Spotify, Stitcher, Apple Podcasts or any podcatcher that you may prefer. I also posted a couple of art practice videos while I tried my hand at digital art but they’re private and just for me because they’re VERY bad but I’m still learning how to do that as it’s something I haven’t done before.

For my bookish goals, I want to read more this year AND I want to read better books. My average rating on Goodreads last year was 3.3 stars and I know for a fact that I had a lot of 1/2 star reviews because a lot of my picks last year were complete duds. Not to be offensive if you happen to be the author of one of those but I don’t think that 2020 was a good year for anyone, maybe it’s just a bad year for me as a reader.

I also want to read more translated works from a range of countries, although I try to read more foreign language works they do tend to be from East Asian authors and I want to read from a wider variety of countries as I know that since university I have read A LOT of white women stories (and even at university there are still too many white MEN stories). So far this year I have read one book and it was a Japanese translation, Earthlings by Sayaka Murata, which I absolutely loved and I think she’s a fantastic writer. As I am currently in the long process of learning Korean, I’d also like to read a book written in hangul. I do have a practice textbook with hangul and English translations which is apparently quite good for learning sentence structure and language practice but I’d like to read at least one novel in hangul by the end of the year (I’m guessing it will be easier to find a Korean book in Korea than it is to find one over here in the UK).

I haven’t picked a specific reading challenge yet but I would like to complete a challenge such as the Reading Glasses challenge or the Popsugar challenge, as well as the standard Goodreads challenge which I have set at 50 books for this year.

So now I want to ask you! If you’re reading this are these goals anything like yours? Have you set yourself any new goals for this year and are you using Goodreads?? If you’d like to connect on social media then you can find me on Instagram @bukisibecca and on Goodreads @beccaggray 🙂

What I saved in 2019 by using the library

Hey, so I made a post about using my local library in 2018 and how I managed to save £317 so I wanted to do this for each year as I love my library service (I think I’m the number 1 fan judging by how much I talk about it on here).

I read a lot of books during 2019 and managed to exceed my Goodreads goal of 70 books by reading 78. Of these 78 books, I borrowed 37 from the library and now that I’ve gone through this list of titles and counted up all the pennies that I would have spent on these books using the paperback prices (*unless a new release in which case I used the hardcover price) on Amazon which leads me to the tidy sum of money spent on being a nerd in 2019.

Here’s a rundown on the savings:

On Balance – Sinead Morrissey – £7.69

An Amorous Discourse In The Suburbs of Hell – Deborah Levy – £7.99

You Do You – Sarah Knight – £6.73

Hinch Yourself Happy – Mrs Hinch – £6.49

Invisible Women – Caroline Criado Perez – £7.99

Postmortem – Patricia Cornwell – £7.37

Codename Villanelle – Luke Jennings – £6.99

The Five – Hallie Rubenhold – £12.99

Dark Matter – Blake Crouch – £7.37

Weight – Jeanette Winterson – £3.20

The Leper House – Andrew Taylor – £0.99

The Binding – Bridget Collins – £16.99

Why We Sleep – Matthew Walker – £5.99

Fox 8 – George Sanders – £7.99

The Meg – Steve Alten – £7.54

Develop Your Assertiveness – The Sunday Times – £13.55

The Killing Lessons – Saul Black – £8.19

Cut To The Bone – Alex Caan – £7.99

Penhallow – Georgette Heyer – £7.89

A Manual for Heartbreak – Cathy Rentzenbrink – £6.49

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls – Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo – £18.05

The Life Plan – Shannah Kennedy – £11.99

The Vampyre – John Polidori – £5.59

Crazy Rich Asians – Kevin Kwan – £5.72

Mansfield Park – Jane Austen – £5.39

The President Is Missing – James Patterson and Bill Clinton – £4.50

We’ll All Be Murdered In Our Beds – Duncan Campbell – £10.44

Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert – £7.38

Mean Girls – Nicol Ostow – £7.40

Picnic at Hanging Rock – Joan Lindsay – £6.95

Give Me Your Hand – Megan Abbot – £6.49

Everything I Know About Love – Dolly Alderton – £7.37

The Corset – Laura Purcell – £6.55

Melmoth – Sarah Perry – £7.31

Good Muslim Boy – Osamah Sami – £6.02

The Little Snake – AL Kennedy – £5.94

Final Girls – Riley Sager – £7.15

This gives me a total of £288.66 of savings in 2019! Not as much as in 2018 but this was a really good reading year for me compared to 2020 which isn’t much of a surprise because of how 2020 treated us all.

Current Library Haul/TBR

Leeds City Library has the best online/digital service I’ve seen, I’m not being biased as a loyal Leeds citizen, I am speaking based on fact. The selection of books available from Leeds Library is just perfect and they do everything right. Also they’re really nice in person and the Central Library is gorgeous bd I love being there. That bit was biased.

Pine by Francine Toon – this is an audiobook version of a spooky eerie Halloween mystery set in the Scottish Highlands and I’m hyped for some modern gothic literature.

Loveless by Alice Oseman – I remember the drama that this caused when the synopsis was released that forced the author to come out under pressure in order to defend her right to write based partly on her own experience. Aside from that, reviews suggest that this is something that resonates with people a lot which I might not be ready for but I’ve heard excellent things about Oseman’s writing so will pick up Radio Silence if I enjoy this.

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins – I went to an event with Sara Collins and Laura Purcell last year following the publication of Purcell’s Bone China (which I reviewed here) and Collins’ description of her writing process, her inspiration and her reading made me want to pick up the book immediately but my TBR was just not having it so when I saw it on the library app I reserved it and will be getting to it ASAP as it has just downloaded!

Reading Goals Check In December 2020

I’m not going to say that it’s completely the global pandemics fault but my reading habits have definitely been impacted by a large scale unprecedented and mishandled global pandemic…to say the least.

I’m an NHS worker and work from home in an administrative capacity so I am not saying that I have in any way experienced the things that frontline healthcare workers have gone through during this period. The exhaustion, the unending stream of patients, the inability for our government to support and staff our hospitals with adequate resources as and when needed. Unfortunately hospitals run on money and a portion of that money is lost or saved by our department based on our performance in achieving targets set by NHS England, these goals never took into account that things could be delayed for months because we had to basically stop people from entering the hospital unless they had to. Our department has not had a quiet period during this time and have been under pressure to ensure that targets were still met even when facing a critical bed shortage, reduced capacity for every necessary diagnostic investigation and then further reduced capacity to treat patients. Even working from home, I would finish the day with exhausted eyes and a stiff body from not moving as much as I would at work, it was far too easy to move from the desk to the sofa and try not to use my eyes or look at any screens.

At the time of writing, I have finished 39 books this year. At my last check in, I had finished 7 books and was nearly done with an audiobook (kinda meh) so that is far fewer books than I intended to read this year and I honestly thought that being at home would make me read more. NO. I reduced my Goodreads goal from 90 to 50 because I didn’t like opening the app to see that I was a massive failure, now I’m only a bit of a failure and that’s fixable if I find the right books!

Other reading goal highlights include: 10 of these 39 books are written by authors of colour/BIPOC writers – some of these are nonfiction and more lifestyle focused (Marie Kondo) so I’m not sure how that assists in my goal to read less white-focused narratives and actually actively learn to not whitewash my own bookshelf – another book I read that I’m not sure if I reviewed was written by a white literature student focusing on common Japanese literary motifs which is what happens when you don’t look at the author (you end up with a cliche rehashing of literary tradition), got a snazzy new kindle.

I tried to think of another goal highlight and could not, I have neglected my library at a time when they need me most AND they purchased extra titles for this time just knowing they were a necessary public service. Thank you Leeds City Library, you are a gem.

If you’d like to follow my bookstagram then you can understand me on Instagram at @bukisibecca where I post pretty books, story updates of me throwing books and fun stuff I like!

Oops

I forgot that I had this blog which sounds bad but in my defence…global pandemic.

wfh vibes when you dress like the kindergarten teacher you are in your HEART

I finish my job this week and have plans that I’m very excited about (a smidge delayed because of the aforementioned pandemic but I’m getting there) so I thought I would resurrect this poor forgotten corner of WordPress and also hopefully get back into reading because I haven’t finished a book in a few weeks and I’m in the middle of Helter Skelter, the book about the Manson ‘family’ and it’s kind of not very fun so I’m struggling to stay motivated.

Anyway if there is anyone still out there from my last post in April, how are you? I hope that you are well, feeling thirty, flirty and thriving in this 2020 hellscape! I will post before Christmas!