monthly wrap up · reading challenges

2023 Reading Wrap-up

I ended up having such a good reading year in 2023 and I’m still completely and utterly gleeful about it. I read 86 books, which is over 25 more than in 2022 – I set it at 50 and adjusted it many times because I kept hitting and exceeding it which honestly felt AWESOME.

I’m also pretty happy with how I kept up with this blog – well, right up until The Great Hip Injury of Summer 2023 but the less said about that the better, but I have a good idea of how I want to continue using this site going into 2024.

I’m not going too much into goals now because I know that’s an upcoming Top Ten Tuesday prompt so I don’t want to end up repeating myself too much. But I’ve been playing around with Canva and have ideas for Instagram which are exciting me!

So, looking back at my 2023 stats on storygraph combined with some of the survey that Jana posted gives us:

2023 Reading Stats
Number of books you read: 86 – this is a 43% increase on 2022 which is fucking MINDBLOWING!
Number of re-reads: 4
Number of books you DNFed: 5
Number of pages you read: 27,820
Most read genre: Fantasy (26 of them!)
Number of new-to-you authors you discovered: 51

Firsts and Lasts
First book you read: Jenny Kane – Midsummer Dreams at Mill Grange
Last book you read: Stel Pavlou – Decipher
First 2023 release you read: Christina Baker Kline – The Scenic Route

The average length of book I read was 312 pages, and it took me an average of 57 days to read a book – this was somewhat warped by Natalie J Case – Thanatou which took me 387 days to read.
I definitely want to work on improving this quite a bit in 2024 – however I’ve been reading MT Clanchy – From Memory to Written Record since April 2023, so I’m not holding my breath LMAO!

My most read authors were Andrea Penrose, Nancy Warren and Meik Wiking.
My average rating was 3.7
I had nine 5* reads which were:

  • Jenny Kane – Midsummer Dreams at Mill Grange
  • Jeremy Clarkson – Diddly Squat: A Year On The Farm
  • Jeremy Clarkson – Diddly Squat: Til The Cows Come Home
  • Taylor Jenkins Reid – Daisy Jones & The Six
  • Christie Barlow – Love Heart Lane
  • Alix E Harrow – The Once and Future Witches
  • Nancy Warren – Stitches & Witches
  • Nancy Warren – Crochet & Cauldrons
  • Matthew Reilly – Temple

I did pretty well on my reading challenges:

  • 101% of my 2023 reading goal
  • 92% of 50 women, 70% of Around The World
  • 94% of On The Cover, 100% of Reading Rainbow
  • 100% of the 2023 Genre Challenge
  • 77% of the Alphabet Challenge
  • 67% of The StoryGraph’s Onboarding Reading Challenge 2023
  • 90% of The StoryGraph’s Genre Challenge 2023

And I’ve signed up for like 12 challenges again this year!

The main ‘moods’ of my reading were reflective, adventurous, informative, mysterious and emotional.
60% of the books I read were medium-paced, 27% fast-paced and 13% slow-paced, which is not a surprise.

My favourite book of the year was Temple by Matthew Reilly – It was terrible and entertaining, completely OTT and ridiculous, with serious abuse of exclamation points and reminded me how much I love Hollywood blockbuster movies with shit blowing up, and I’m now on my third book of his with 2 more on my TBR.

monthly wrap up

June 2023 Reading Wrap-Up

I had quite the good reading month in June and finished 9 books

Kaleb Cooper – The World According To Kaleb
I am honestly not sure what the point of this book was. Other than to make money.

Like most fans of Clarkson’s Farm, I utterly adored Kaleb but this book was… well, it was exactly what you’d expect of a sheltered young man who’s never left the village he’s grown up in or experienced any kind of life outside of his circle.

There were a couple of points that were really interesting, and the bits of the book where he was talking about farming, the tone totally changed and you could feel his love. But as an overall reading experience, it fell flat

A 1.25 star read

Andrea Penrose – Murder at Half Moon Gate (Wrexford & Sloane #2)
The second of the Wrexford & Sloane regency mysteries and another excellent read. All the characters felt more fleshed out and real, even the secondary ones, and I’m not even hating the flirting between Wrexford & and Sloane, which I normally HATE. The mystery kept me guessing, and the story kept the pages turning

Now to wait ~patiently for the next 15 weeks for the next one to be available at my library

A 4 star read

Tim Marshall – Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics
Not my usual topic of choice when reading non-fiction, but it had been on my radar as something I thought I’d like to read for years. Goodreads kept recommending it, and I’ve picked it up in the bookshop a couple of times but it never made it home. I spotted it on the Libby app and it was checked straight out. Annoyingly, neither of the library services I’m a member of have the rest of the series electronically, but Devon libraries does have them physically.

The book was absolutely fascinating and very information. I swear I learned more about the conflicts in the Middle East in 1o pages than I’ve ever learned in my entire life. I’ve also never been more ashamed to be a white British person – like, I knew colonialism caused a whole bunch of shit and we were responsible for it, but not quite to this extent.

I was also blissfully unaware of quite how close the world is to devolving into entire chaos, and how many different countries either Russia or China have a hand in. It now feels like the slightest hair-trigger could cause what now feels like the entire world to spiral into war – because no matter where it happens, either China, Russia or the US is involved and then India or Japan or the UK would get involved

It actually started to trigger my main agoraphobia symptoms – the one I’ve spent the last two years working on of ‘the world outside isn’t safe – so I had to put it down for a while, which is why it’s lost a half point.

I will, however, still be picking up and reading the next book – but with the proviso it’s going to be alternating read with something a little light and fluffy for the sake of my mental health

A 3.5 star read

Ransom Riggs – Library of Souls (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children #3)
I’m really liking the mythology Riggs is building and weaving into the world of Peculiardom he’s created, but the stories themselves are getting repetitive. And I found the ending of this one to be particularly unsatisfying.

A 3.75 star read

Neil Gaiman – The Ocean At The End Of the Lane
My first reaction was ‘well that was bloody weird’, but it’s Neil Gaiman, so you kind of expect it. I’m not usually a fan of Gaiman’s style, which is a shame because I think he’s a fantastic storyteller and this was a wonderful, whimsical, fantastical tale which I thoroughly enjoyed. I think magical realism might have to be a genre I investigate a little more!

A 4.25 star read

Peter Ackroyd – Foundation (History Of England #1)
I have taken my time savouring this book because it is utterly fantastic! Also, hi, special interest, anyone? It covers everything from the neolithic through to the Wars Of The Roses and the death of Henry VII. I was filled with complete and utter glee for most of the reading and loved that even though he covered a HUGE amount of info, he didn’t get bogged down in the details. Straight-forward, to the point and a really good overview of the history of England. Ackroyd has this ability to bring the past to life in his narrative and I loved reading about the bits I didn’t know – and falling back in love with the Plantagenets and the Wars all over again (which, y’know, I always do!)

A 4.25 star read

Wendy Jago – How to Manage Your Mammoth: The Procrastinator’s Guide to Getting Things Done and Bringing Ambitions to Life
I picked this up from the library purely based on the title because it kind of intrigued me – I’m a terrible procrastinator, although how much of that is ADHD I don’t know. Also the cover made me laugh. I found a few useful pointers about figuring out what kind of worker you are, and how to use it to your advantage, and it didn’t feel particularly like it was talking down on me so it was definitely worth picking up

A 3 star read

Susan Cooper – Over Sea Under Stone (The Dark Is Rising #1)
Even though I’ve never read it before, this books reminded me of my childhood. I grew up in the West County, and played a lot of make believe/mystery-solving games, based a lot on Enid Blyton, and this had those same vibes. I also adore Arthurian mythology and the Grail.. so it was a no brainer really. I’m really glad Li recommended the series to me

A 3 star read

Alexis Caught – Queer Up: An Uplifting Guide to LGBTQ+ Love, Life and Mental Health
With the world rapidly turning back against not-straight and not-cis people like myself, it’s nice to actually read a really positive, uplifting, book about being queer. While it was definitely aimed at a younger audience, it’s a book that teen me would have been over the rainbow to read so I indulged. I couldn’t not pick it up from the library, I mean really!

A 3 star read

Looking more at the stats side of things:
9 books, 2608 pages – 56% between 300 & 499 pages long, 44% <300 pages
The main moods were mysterious & informative
78% medium paced, 22% face paced
56% non-fiction, 44% fiction
My most read genres were fantasy, young adult, and history
My average rating was 3.33

book reviews · monthly wrap up

April 2023 Reading Wrap-Up

I read 7 books in April which seems to be about my average in 2023

Jeremy Clay – The Burglar Caught by a Skeleton: And Other Singular Tales from the Victorian Press
A collection of extraordinary, bizarre and morbidly funny stories from the Victorian press. There were farces and tragedies and a lot of misfortune and some utterly heart-wrenching stories – and everything in between. The book was absolutely fascinating and I couldn’t put it down, but at the same time it got a little repetitive with many similar stories featured.
A 3.5 star read

Ruby Wax – A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled
I usually struggle with mindfulness books but I found this very easy to read. It felt like Wax was sitting down and talking with me, her voice was so clear and the information about how the brain works and what mindfulness can do was thorough and detailed without getting bogged down. Her own experiences were utterly harrowing but at the same time helped to contextualise the mindfulness she was writing about. And I found the 6 week course to be really helpful – and will definitely be a practice I continue, and come back to.
A 3.75 star read

Andrea Penrose – Murder on Black Swan Lane
What’s not to love about a Regency murder mystery with a scientist who’s an earl and a fearless artist investigating crimes relating to alchemy?! While it wasn’t exactly historically accurate, that didn’t actual detract from the reading for me which it quite often does, but it was a whole lot of fun with entertaining characters that I ended up really loving. There’s quite the wait at the library for the second book in the series and I’m getting impatient now!
A 4 star read – and my book of the month

Holly Black – The Queen Of Nothing
Honestly, the best month of the series in my opinion. I struggled through The Wicked King, but I really loved the machinations in The Queen of Nothing. It wasn’t the most neatly plotted book, it wasn’t particularly original but the story was still engrossing, had a few twists and surprises and was a very satisfying end to the series.
A 4 star read

AF Steadman – Skandar and the Unicorn Thief
There are some downsides to reading a kids book as an adult, and that is a lot of frustration with the behaviour of the pre-teen characters but other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved the different approach to what a unicorn is, loved the whole vibe of the riders and the Eyrie and wasn’t at all bothered that I’d worked out the plot twist.
A 4 star read

Jeremy Clarkson – Diddly Squat: ‘Til The Cows Come Home
A bit like the first one, I read this in one afternoon, completely devoured it and loved it. Clarkson’s voice is very clear through his writing, it was a good mix of events that were featured on the show (but a slightly different telling of) and ones that happened off camera. For all his bull, you can tell he does genuinely care about the farm and I hope we get to keep hearing the stories about it.
A 5 star read

Ben Aaronovitch – The Hanging Tree
I’ve now hit the point in the series where I’m not re-reading, I’m reading for the first time. The Hanging Tree didn’t have a lot of the pacing issues I’ve found with the previous books, the action scenes felt smoother and easier to follow, and I really liked finding out more about some of the other magic paths in the world. I found there was a fair bit of callback to the previous books, and only small things, that I didn’t really remember which was a little frustrating but I loved how it’s all tying the series together and it didn’t detract too much from my enjoyment. I’m looking forward to the next one.
A 4 star read

Looking more at the stats side of things:
7 book, 2666 pages – 71% between 300 & 499 pages long, 29% <300 pages
The main moods were dark and adventurous
43% fast-paced, 43% medium-paced and 14% slow paced
57% fiction, 43 non-fiction
My most read genres were fantasy, mystery, historical, young adult, and self-help
My average rating was 4

monthly wrap up

February Reading Wrap-Up

After a not-great January where I only finished 3 books, I had a bloody fantastic reading month in February.

I finished reading NINE books:

Holly Black – The Cruel Prince
Frederick Joseph – The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person
Bill Bryson – Mother Tongue: The English Language
Madeline Miller – The Song of Achilles
David M Gwynn – The Roman Republic: A Very Short Introduction
Nicholas Cook – Music: A Very Short Introduction
Juliet Ashton – The Fall and Rise of Sadie McQueen
Talia Hibbert – A Girl Like Her
Ransom Riggs – Hollow City

56% fiction, 44% non-fiction
55% owned, 45% library and 55% physical 45% digital
The main genres I read were romance and history, followed by young adult, historical, fantasy and contemporary.

And my favourite book of the month is between Mother Tongue, The Fall and Rise of Sadie McQueen and A Girl Like Her. After a lot of careful deliberation, and rambling at Li, I think the single favourite would be A Girl Like Her.

My TBR for March 2023 looks something a little like:
Mary Beard – The Roman Triumph
Holly Black – The Wicked King
Mira Grant – Chimera
Alix E Harrow – The Once And Future Witches
Talia Hibbert – Untouchable
Taylor Jenkins Reid – Forever, Interrupted
Jenny Kane – Autumn Leaves at Mill Grange
Sarah J Maas – A Court of Mist and Fury
VE Schwab – Gallant
AF Steadman – Skandar and the Unicorn Thief

monthly wrap up

April Wrap Up

April has been incredibly stressful, I’m not going to lie. My mental health hasn’t been great but I’m powering through and y’know, I’m still alive and kicking so there’s that. I’ve started therapy which is much more work than I thought it was going to be and we’re already working a few things out… but it’s exhausting.

I have been pretty consistent with reading – even if not blogging about it quite as regularly as I would like. I’m contemplating maybe pre-writing some of the weekly link-up answers, I don’t know. But I am pleased with myself for keeping going for four months and have bought myself a domain name as a reward. My betrothed is going to host me (and maybe design me a layout) and we’re hoping that should happen later this month.

But the books I finished in April were:

And I’m impressed seeing it laid out like that, I read more than I thought I had. Go me!

I DNFed:

I spent a great portion of the month reading but not finishing:

but I’m on track to finish reading in early May

Looking back at my April goals:
finish 4 books I finished 5, hurrah!
submit assignment 5 – due on the 7th, 800 words of plan for my independent investigation I submitted it on the 6th April and got 96% which, as you can imagine, I’m thrilled about
lose 6lb I did lose weight but not that much, just under 4lb – I comfort eat and I’ve been stressed. I’ve been pretty good at getting out and walking though… just need less chocolate!
sort out my morning routine. Hah! Nope, not at all. I’m still not sleeping great so I’m struggling to get out of bed – I eventually fall asleep around 3, so when the alarm goes off at 7, I hit snooze, sleep until just before 8:30, roll out of bed and start work. Although, frustratingly, I do know that sorting out my morning routine can help with the sleeping thing.

My goals for May
* Write, edit and submit my End Of Module Assignment – 2500 words on ‘How can the study of ancient places help us to better understand religion in ancient culture?’ I’m using Sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi and Sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia as examples, and arguing that the lived experience of religion was the same across poleis.
* finish 4 books
* lose 4 lb
* start practising daily mindfulness and gratitude
* figure out using tiktok

How was your April and do you have any goals for May – bookish or otherwise?
monthly wrap up

March Wrap Up

I’m not going to lie – March hasn’t been the best reading month for me. Well, no, that’s not quite true. I’ve read most days but because I’m trying to read ALL THE THINGS, I haven’t done very well at actually finishing things.

But the books I did finish in March were:

I DNFed:

I spent a great portion of the month reading but not finishing:

but I’m on track to finish reading at some point in April.

I’ve already finished two books in April so… yeah, March wasn’t great LOL

I think I’m starting to find a rhythm with blogging. I’m definitely enjoying it and feel like I’m getting more confident with writing reviews.
I also love linkups like Top Ten Tuesday, Weekly Wednesday Blogging Challenge and Book Blogger Hop that allow me to also enthuse and flail about the books I love.
I want to figure out how (if?) I’m going to use instagram alongside the blog.
And I want to try and get over my fear of tiktok/my hatred of how I look and sound on video to join in with the bookish side of things over there – I watch and enjoy so many booktokers and it looks so much fun!

Healthwise, I’m still struggling with my mental health (depression, anxiety, agoraphobia) but have received a date to start ‘intensive CBT’ later in April. I’m still waiting for a date for my adhd/autism assessment but have been told if I don’t hear from them by the end of April, to give them a call. I’ve been managing to get out for walks with my betrothed 3-4 a week (thank the Gods for Pikmin Bloom), I’ve been cooking and eating well at least 5 nights a week and I’ve lost 5.6lb in weight

Schoolwise, I had a creative writing assignment – short story of 900 words based on a provided first line from an existing book and a 300 word reflective piece. Absolutely thrilled that I got 98% on it and my tutors comments were absolutely fantastic!

My goals for April:
* finish 4 books
* submit assignment 5 – due on the 7th, 800 words of plan for my independent investigation
* lose 6lb
* sort out my morning routine.

How was your March and do you have any goals for April – bookish or otherwise?