Read and Rated: January 2021

First month of 2021 saw me reading quite widely and consuming a bunch of different genres! Hopefully the start of the year, saw your enjoying a bunch of books too. So scroll on down to check out all the books that I read in January, rated.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Happily Ever After & Everything In Between by Debbie Tung

First book of 2021!

I am a big fan of Debbie Tung and Happily Ever After does not disappoint. Made up of cute comics about her relationship with her husband, Tung illustrates personal and quiet moments that feature in her day to day life. These quiet moments are so lovely, as they are often the funnier or more intimate representations of her relationship.

Continue reading “Read and Rated: January 2021”

Eighth Blogiversary

Woah! Without even realising it, another year working on this site has gone by 😱

When I started this blog it was for a university assignment, who knew that it would awaken such a passion and sense of fulfilment in me? I am hoping 2021 will go a lot smoother than 2020 and look forward taking one step closer to a decade of the blog!

Just in case you missed them, check out some of my favourite posts, or ones that I am particularly proud of, from last year.


New Year, New You: Start a Book Club

Book Clubs

A book discussion club is a group of people who meet to discuss a book or books that they have read and express their opinions, likes, dislikes, etc. 

Taken from Wikipedia.

How to start a book club

Alright, so you want to ring in the new year by starting a book club? Good for you!

I am a big advocate for book clubs because they get you out being social, make you read more books, and engage in some fun book based discussions. If you’re looking at starting your own book club, then you need to ask yourself a few questions.

The below are some of the things to consider when starting a book club.

  • Who wants to join– The first and main task in starting a book club is finding members to join you. You may be lucky and have a few like minded friends who wish to also start a book club, or you may need to round them up, or even sweeten the deal with the promise of wine.
  • Will you have a theme or be genre specific? – This is an important question to ask as it helps your put a frame around the book club. What I mean by frame is that, if you’re selecting only books of classic literature, the impression of that book club to people who may want to join is that there may be a focus on in depth discussions of the work, rather than a book club that reads only crime novels which could involve talks around the whole genre and subject matter.
  • Picking a book – For your first book, it is my suggestion that you pick choose an easy and accessible book. Pick something that everyone can find, whether this is a bestseller or a classic, just so long as it is something everyone can access and actually read. I have seen a number book clubs fail due to an obscure book selection – make the first book a low effort one. You need to pull people in, show them how much fun the book club is before making them put in extra effort.
    Don’t worry though, once you’re past the first meeting you can narrow down or broaden the book selections and pick more nuanced options as a group.
  • How will you meet? – You can gather a group of your friends and hold a physical book club, you could join an established and public book club, or you can engage online in digital book clubs. However you choose to meet, know that there are a number of options open to you.
  • Your first meeting – The hardest part of starting a book club is that first meeting. If you can organise people, pick and read a book, and then actually meet – congratulations! Now all you need to do is stay organised and meet consistently (the second hardest thing to do 😋).

Book Club Checklist

Feel free to use the below graphic as a guide when starting your own book club.

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New Year, New You: Self Care

Self Care

The practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.

Taken from Oxford Languages

In a general sense, self-care refers to activities undertaken with the intention of enhancing energy, restoring health and reducing stress. There are many ways to do this and self-care is something that can be personalised for every individual.

Taken from Everymind.org.au

2020 was a difficult year across the globe. On top of your usual every day stresses, the year threw sickness, natural disasters, and the stress of constant change. If you are anything like me, 2020 was exhausting not just physically but emotionally and mentally.

In environments that are out of your control and ones that you must return to each day, it is important to look after yourself. During these times, self care is so important. Looking after yourself, and taking the time to put your needs first is important.

As we head into a new year, one hopefully less stressful and taxing, the below information is designed to quickly inform you about what self care is, self care activities, further reading, and some of my own old self care posts.

Self Care Activities

  • Have a bath – A favourite of mine is the relaxing bath. Often I will use a bath bomb, bubble bath, bath salts, or a bubble bar. Just taking a moment to relax in warm water often gives myself a chance to catch my breath and unwind.
  • Leave your place of work for lunch – Gran your lunch and head outside. In warm weather there is nothing better than sitting on a bench and just getting away from work. I know not everyone can leave during their lunch break so any moment that can get you to refocus from the workplace and truly separate yourself is ideal.
  • Reconnect with or learn a hobby – Do you no longer spend time doing things that make you happy? Not enough hours in the day to draw or play an instrument like you used to? Make the time to reconnect or learn something that makes you happy.
  • Have a cuppa – Another favourite of mine is to take the time to make a nice cup of tea. Steeping the tea, using a nice tea pot, and doing nothing but focus on the treat is a nice way to make time for and spoil myself.
  • Technology Detox – If you work a lot on a screen or if you are constantly glued to your phone, why not take a moment to put the tech down. Take an hour where you read a book, go for a walk, or cook yourself a nice meal. Sometimes getting away from the constant presence of a work inbox or the non stop alerts from social media can help you take a breath and refocus.
  • At the end of the day self care can be anything that you value or makes you feel better about yourself or your situation.

Want to know more? Self care book recs

The Complete Guide to Self Care: Best Practices for a Healthier and Happier You by Kiki Ely

The Complete Guide to Self Care features 100 accessible activities that help you reconnect with your body, mind, spirit, and surroundings, and leave you feeling refreshed and ready to face the world again.

Taken from book blurb

Make Yourself Cozy: A Guide for Practicing Self-Care by Katie Vaz

Embrace the cozy pleasures of life with Katie Vaz’s interactive guide to self-care.

Freshly baked bread. Cloud-like pillows. Lavender tea. Katie Vaz’s book on self-care shows readers how slow, cozy warmth can help them deal with the anxieties and challenges of everyday life. Filled with tips for creating the perfect atmosphere of coziness (super soft blankets, fluffy robes, and something binge-worthy on TV) as well as sweet, gentle prompts that inspire readers to fill in their own content (“Fill these clouds with words that make you feel light and free”), this book encourages all of us to slow down and find joy in the little things.

Taken from book blurb

The Art of Wellbeing by Meredith Gaston

The new illustrated collection of inspirational meditations, inspiring words and plant-based recipes from bestselling author Meredith Gaston.

Building on her uplifting philosophy of thankfulness and gratitude for what we have and enjoy, Meredith shows us how to live well and enjoy a healthy life in her highly anticipated new book, The Art of Wellbeing.

Taken from book blurb


Ally’s Goodreads Year in Books – 2020

Every year I challenge myself on Goodreads to read a certain number of books. In 2020 I gave myself the goal of reading 150 books and despite the tough and stressful year, I was able to complete this goal, plus a few more.

So check out what I read in 2020 and I hope to see you again in 2021!


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Recap of 2020 and Visions for 2021

I think the whole world would agree that 2020 was a bit of a shit show.

I’m happy to write if off as a garbage fire and failure of a year. Currently my job is in jeopardy and all plans I have for the future have been put on hold until I find out if I will continue to bring in money. But having said that I’m healthy, my partner is healthy, and comparatively to the rest of the world Australia seems to be handling the pandemic. So at least there is that.

So when faced with all this negativity and a very long 12 months, I present to you some of my favourite things from 2020 – with some sneaky hopes and dreams for 2021 thrown in.


Recap of 2020

Reading

  • The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee – The character arch and romantic pairing of this book was amazing and is what made this a standout of the year. If you do read this book, I would 100% recommend the audiobook as the narrator brings Monty to life!
  • The House of the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune – A romantic slow burn set in a urbanesque fantasy that centres around magical children that are classed too dangerous for society. Klune’s story is so deeply emotional and enriching that I would recommend it to anyone, fantasy fan, romance fan, and general fiction fan!
  • Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given – Honestly if you only read one non-fiction book in 2020/2021 then let it be this gem. Given presents us with issues in bite size and personal chapters that challenge you to view the world outside of the toxicity that clouds topics. Honestly do yourself a favour and read this book, it has something for everyone.
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12 Tropes of 2020 – The Winter Prince by R. Cooper

Ice King/Queen from
12 Tropes of 2020

The Ice Queen is aloof and, well, frigid. She may not want to get emotionally close to anyone, or it may just be men she disdains. There are a few different ways her icy qualities can manifest themselves, ranging from slinging nasty remarks at anyone who crosses her to simply coming across as emotionless and “cold”. In romance, the hero strives to “defrost” her and win her over so they can embark on a relationship. 

Taken from Thea Landen 

The Winter Prince by R. Cooper

At seventeen, the noble Prince Arrow had his heart stolen by a powerful pari’s magic, which earned him the name Kişin Bey, the Prince-in-Winter, as his veins slowly filled with ice without a heart to keep him warm. Three years have passed since then, and Kişin is not expected to survive another winter. In a last, desperate attempt to save his life, Razin, the court wizard and Kişin’s childhood best friend, convinces him to travel in search of the pari, to ask for the return of his heart. What Razin doesn’t know is that Kişin’s heart was never stolen; he gave it away to the pari to escape the pain of an impossible love—his love for Razin.

Smart and stubborn, Razin has never accepted Kişin’s fate, continuing to address him by his childhood name of Arrow and doing everything he can to keep Kişin warm despite the distance Kişin has put between them. Bitter and sharp of tongue, he is nonetheless determined to ensure Kişin’s survival. The prince needs him, Razin insists, not knowing the truth of his own words, or how painful it is for Kişin to be near him. Kişin agrees to the desperate quest, out of duty and a need to protect Razin, but it isn’t long before Razin realizes saving his prince will require more than simply getting his heart back. Razin will have to convince him to want it

Taken from book blurb

My thoughts

In The Winter Prince we are presented with as cold and emotionless character, Kişin Bey. Having had his heart stolen not only is Kisin not expected to live past next winter but he has become an emotionless and hard person to be around. Across the story, one of our romantic leads set out to return Kisin’s heart and save him from an early grave.

Continue reading “12 Tropes of 2020 – The Winter Prince by R. Cooper”

2020 Goals Recap

Happy end of 2020!

So 2020 has been a huge shit show but hey, I’m healthy and safe. I am so happy that Australia is going as well as it has, especially considering I am still working my full hours. I hope everyone is staying safe and remember, you’re not superhuman – stay inside, wash your hands, and if you’re sick stay at home.


The below are some of the things I had hoped to achieve in 2020. What with the way that 2020 played out, a lot of these goals became unattainable. Any motivation to read or continue my two a week blogging schedule was comtopletely wipoed out by the pandemic – I’ve just been too tired and too overwhelmed by everything.

But having said this I am still proud to have achieved what I have this year and look forward to getting stuff done in 2021.

Blogging

Until recently I had been staying pretty up to date with my ARC reviews but since COVID-19 hit, it has really been on the back burner. Sadly, I neglected my ARCs after the lockdown and did not request anymore after March.

After taking a month long hiatus in May, I returned with a reduced schedule of one post a week. I am happy to say that I have not missed a week and the relaxed schedule has led to be taking advantage of my inspiration but also being able to not panic when I don’t feel up to posting.

Reading

I have definitely read more non-fiction this year. If we count cook and craft books then I have really been hitting that genre hard! Recently I’ve read a bunch of mindfulness, self care, sustainability, and personal finance non fiction books, which have been nice easy reads.

Sadly I did not read The Folk of the Air series. After reading Tithe I was very motivated to continue on with the series and start Folk of the Air but sadly I read Valiant. The second book in the The Modern Faerie Tales series really demotivated me from reading further. I don’t want to say the book was bad but it is different, less engaging, and so quite uncomfortable to read. So sorry Holly Black, I probably won’t be returned to your work.

I read 10.5 of the 16 books in my Hopeful Reads of 2020 so I am counting that as a major success. Bring on next year!

Gaming

I started Surviving Mars and the tutorials were so complicated and boring – so I stopped. I really need emotional engagement to really connect with games like this, certainly while the Tropico series is no less complicated, it does have the humour and story to pull you through.

Not progress on Mass Effect 3. I do need to sit down and dedicate a whole week or two to reemerge myself in the series. Also yay! I finished Pokemon: Sword!

Personal

Still slugging along on that house deposit. Sadly PAX was cancelled so I wasn’t able to get my geek on in Melbourne. Also double sadly there has been no movement on the blanket front as I am not in the mood to work on it or focus after work.

Hopefully 2021 is kinder to us all!


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BLOGMAS Day 11: Top Historical Romances featuring Ally from Ally’s Appraisals

Hi Everyone, check out this blog post that I guest starred in with the lovely Jess from The Neverending Bookshelf!

The Never Ending Bookshelf

Today I’m teaming up with Ally from Ally’s Appraisal’s to bring you our top historical romance recommendations and what we are looking forward to reading most in 2021.

I’ve been loving historical romances this year once more thanks to Ally’s brilliant recommendations. So make sure you check out Ally’s blog Ally’s Appraisal’s and especially check out her 2021 Historical Romance Bingo Challenge; I for one can’t wait to start marking off books on this bingo board!

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My Hopeful Reads of 2021

Due largely to my enjoying the graphic, rather than my ‘success’ of last year – I will be attempting again my Hopeful Reads reading challenge.

The image below will be on display in a sidebar widget of my blog for the entirety of 2021. The books featured are ones that I want to hopefully read by the end of 2021, thus the ‘Hopeful reads of 2021’ title. If you see a tick on the cover, it means I finished the book, if you see a cross, sadly it means I wasn’t able to finish the book.

The books that are featured are potentially ones that:

  • potential Historical Romance Book Bingo selections
  • have been recommended to me
  • have caught my eye
  • are books that have remained from last year
  • or simply are ones I want to read.


See any books in there that you want to know more about? Do you want a similar template for your blog? Leave a comment and let me know 😊