Thoughts #62: An ARC Related Conundrum


Recently, I received an unsolicited review copy from a publisher, that was the third book in a science fiction series. Whilst I have read the first book, I haven’t read the second.

This has happened a couple of times – I’ve been sent books that are halfway through a series, or I receive the first and then a later installment. And this got me thinking: what do my fellow reviewers do when they receive a book that’s part of a series, and they haven’t yet read the previous installments?

I’m a bit torn about this. Firstly, it was an unsolicited review copy, not one I’d asked for, so I don’t feel there’s as much pressure to review it. But I also really love this particular publisher, and appreciate the crazy amount of books they’ve sent me over the past (almost) five years. I suppose I would have a few options here:

  • do not read the book
  • offer the book to a fellow blogger who has read books one and two, so that they can provide the publicity I cannot
  • buy or borrow the second book in the series as soon as possible, so that I can catch up before reading the third
  • just read the third as it is and review it, but then chances are I won’t enjoy it as much as I’ll have missed out a whole chunk of the story
  • read the third book after reading a detailed plot synopsis of the second book – but I don’t like the idea of this because what if I have a chance to read the second book later on? And it kind of feels like cheating
  • keep the book, read the second if I can get round to it but do not rush or prioritise it, as it was an unsolicited review copy

To be honest, the last option feels like the best one for me. I’m already quite behind on reviewing books I requested (story of my life), so this doesn’t feel like a big priority. It still leaves me feeling a bit guilty though!

Have you ever been in this situation? What did you do, or what would you do in my shoes?


Thoughts #61: The State of the Blog


Hello, lovely followers! I am sorry that I have abandoned you for so long. As you may now, in March I moved to a new city and began a new job. I have my own little flat (which I love!), really enjoy the job (working in university admissions), and I’m living in a gorgeous city.

And whilst I’ve read quite a bit, thanks to my commute and lunch break, I’ve not really been sharing my thoughts so much. Over the past year or so, my love and passion for book blogging has waned. If that wasn’t already obvious. And I know it’s the same story for many of you bloggers out there, in fact a lot of the bloggers I met when I first started blogging nearly six (!) years ago no longer seem to be around.

Now, this is not a ‘this is the end’ post. This is more of a ‘things are going to be a little slower around here’ post. I don’t like the thought of giving up on the blog; it’s a huge part of my identity (I feel like ‘book blogger’ is one of my big defining characteristics, and it’s actually also a pretty nice ice-breaker!) and I am way too proud of it to just give it up. But I put unnecessary pressure on myself to get things done, even when I don’t want to.

So it’s time for a change. If I want to post, I post. If I don’t feel like it for a few weeks, I won’t. Simple. I just wanted to let you know, as so many of you have been following me for nearly my entire journey, and I don’t want you to think I’ve just disappeared.

I’ll start off with catching up on reviews (five or six review copies read since March and not reviewed oops), and then move onto other posts when I feel like it. Maybe I could even start posting more about comparisons between The Lord of the Rings Online and Tolkien’s works, since I’ve starting playing it again – and we’re getting Mordor this summer. 😀

See you around, lovelies!

Are you also a fellow blogger who is struggling to stay motivated? What do you do in these situations?

Thoughts #60: Book Sources


Recently I’ve been thinking about where all my books come from. According to my last count (last month, so it has most likely changed since then), I own 520 books (excluding e-books). And I normally get these in a variety of ways:

  • Gifted: of course my friends and family know I’m a bibliophile, so books are – or rather were – frequent birthday and Christmas presents. Now though, it’s a bit of a risk as chances are I might already have the book, so people are more likely to give me book tokens than actual books.
  • Brand new: I don’t tend to buy my books brand new unless I’m really treating myself, they’re part of a special offer that I just can’t resist (3 for £10 on paperbacks!), or I REALLY want the book and don’t think I’ll find it second-hand very easily.
  • Second hand: this is how I get most of my books. My local charity shops are excellent, my favourite selling books for as little as £0.50 each. I’m not bothered about buying second-hand – as long as the book isn’t falling apart. Why spend £8.99 on one book when I could buy 18 for that price second-hand??
  • ARCs and finished review copies: as a book blogger, I get sent books from publishers on a regular basis – some ARCs, some finished copies.

As I was so confident about how my book buying would break down, I wanted to look into my collection to see just how many books come under each of these categories – and here are the results:

What surprised me is that I own nearly the same amount of brand new books as second-hand ones – and I think this is entirely down to book blogging. I’m much more aware of new releases since starting this blog, and in a way I guess I feel more pressure to read them sooner rather than later, because of all the hype.

For such an avid book buyer, I’m also pretty good at getting rid of books, mostly due to available space. I happily send ARCs that I’ve read on to friends for them to enjoy, if I don’t think I will re-read the book, and donate back to the charity shop from which I get many of my books. I’m also more likely to donate second-hand books than new ones, which might be why my new book collection is larger than I thought it would be.

Where does your book collection come from? Do you tend to buy new books over second-hand, or vice versa?


Thoughts #59: Why Bookworms Hoard Unread Books


Have you ever looked at the bookworm in your life and wondered why they hoard books like a dragon hoards gold? Have you ever suggested that their collection might be getting a *bit* out of hand, only for them to snap at you like a Rottweiler? Are you confused and upset by these events? Well let me explain to you just why bookworms feel the need to hoard unread books, books that may or may never be read…

  • To the bookworm, the idea of having NO books to read is far scarier than the idea of having more books than you could ever read. Like panic attack inducing. So please don’t suggest to the bookworm that they might have a problem, at risk of endangering their health.
  • There’s something really satisfying about having all that choice.
  • Bookworms secretly hope that if we stare at our amassed unread book collections for long enough, we’ll learn the entire contents through the power of osmosis.
  • In an apocalypse type situation, book hoarders will be all smug. We’ll have months and months of entertainment in our unread books, although sadly we probably won’t be able to blog about our thoughts and share status updates on Goodreads…
  • Bookworms must be prepared for every situation. Need to escape for a bit? Got a fantasy for that. Need some cheering up? How about a romance. Need something gripping? Here’s a thriller! Sorted!
  • Got a wobbly table or other piece of household furniture? Pop a book under it. Bookworm to the rescue!
  • You never know what sorts of life skills might be in those unread books. The Heimlich Manoeuvre, how to cook the perfect omelette, where dragons are most ticklish… things that could be useful one day, you know.

So remember, hoarding books is GOOD! It might save your life one day 😉


Thoughts #58: A Work Related Rant


I’ve wanted to write this work related post/rant for a couple of weeks now, but I wasn’t too sure about it. However, this BBC news article about how ‘receptionists put people off seeing the doctor’ has pushed me over the edge.

Two years ago, when I was working full-time in order to save enough money for my Master’s degree, I worked as a medical receptionist in a busy GP surgery in my home town. Since I moved back to my home town from Oxford at the end of August, I’ve been helping out there, both in reception and with some admin work, as they’ve been rather short-staffed, until today. And all of the following has happened in just those 4 short weeks, so imagine what it’s like when that is your full time job:

  • I have been shouted at more times that I can count
  • I have been sworn at at least once a day
  • I have been screamed at
  • I have had the phone slammed down on me countless times
  • I have been told that it will be my fault if someone dies because they couldn’t see the doctor immediately, on numerous occasions
  • I have been asked ‘what I would do’ if someone died because I couldn’t offer them an appointment there and then
  • I have been treated like a piece of dirt on the bottom of someone’s shoe, every single day, multiple times a day

And through all of this, I have to react with professionalism. I have to stay calm, even when someone is screaming at me. I have to be respectful, even if the person on the end of the phone is being incredibly rude. I have to ignore the guilt-trippers, rude comments and everything else. Even when I want to scream back, swear, or slam the phone down myself, I do nothing but remain professional and try my utmost to help. As does every (or nearly every, I’m sure) medical receptionist out there. I try and do the best I can, offer the best solutions – but I can only offer what is available. Yet every single day, medical receptionists go out of their way to help someone, whether it’s seeing if a patient can be squeezed in to see a GP or nurse that day, process a prescription on the spot, and deal with other last minute matters.

We are lucky in the UK to have a free health care system. But of course this does not come without its drawbacks: it can be hard to get a GP appointment. I understand that. I’ve experienced it myself. But screaming and shouting at the person at the end of the phone or at the front desk is not going to help. They can’t just magic up another appointment for you. We can’t force the doctors to add even MORE hours to their already ridiculous schedules. Just because a GP isn’t seeing patients doesn’t mean they aren’t working.

Oh, and receptionists normally have to ask about the problem. It is for the GP’s benefit – not theirs. The GP wants to know what they’ll be dealing with, the nurse needs to know what procedure they’ll be doing next so they can prepare for it. This article has made me so, so angry, and incredibly glad that I no longer do this thankless job on a permanent basis, because I just can’t deal with the Great (ha!) British public anymore.

How to deal with those pesky patients.
How to deal with those pesky patients.

Thoughts #57: How ‘Controlled’ Is Your Reading?


Lately I’ve been thinking about how I miss the pre-blogging days of reading, where I felt less pressure to read certain books and reach goals, and often re-read a lot of my favourites. Even though I can choose how I read now, I do feel like there are a lot more influences and pressures than before. Here’s how I think my reading is ‘controlled’ by blogging and websites like Goodreads:

  • I always try to read books to fit the DC vs Marvel Challenge villain each month, which means three books on a certain theme/with a certain element or cover feature. Then there’s the books to fit the heroes, which I read throughout the year – three books per hero, twelve heroes total.
  • I’ll try and read at least one of the Books of the Month for Dragons & Jetpacks, my book group, although I haven’t done too well with it this year.
  • Unlike when I first blogged (and requested every book under the sun), I’m trying to get to review copies as they come, or at least sooner.
  • My feature A Novel Experiment can dictate how I read for a month – although of course I choose this myself!
  • My Goodreads and blogger friends might encourage me to pick up a book sooner because of their wonderful reviews.
  • My Goodreads yearly goal is always 100 books a year, which I often end up increasing – because once I set a goal, I HAVE to achieve it. This means that sometimes I’ll pick books because they’re quicker reads, or sometimes I’ll rush through something just to add one more book to my list.
Not how reading should make us feel!
Not how reading should make us feel!

I’m sure I’m not the only one who can feel the pressures to read certain books or a certain amount of books due to blogging, or other factors like Goodreads. As bloggers, we often get sent books to review, and should aim to review these books before or around their release date – although that’s not always possible!

I’m now trying to take more of a ‘read it when I want to’ attitude, which means I’m turning down a lot of review copies, and I haven’t touched Netgalley since the beginning of the year. I went through a few months this year where I had a bit of a reading slump, and feeling like I had to read certain books at certain times didn’t help. So here’s to reading freedom! 😉

Do you feel your reading is ‘controlled’ by other factors in any way? Do you ever feel pressured to read certain books, or a certain number of books?


Thoughts #56: What Do You Do With Your ARCs?


This is something I was thinking about recently, and also probably something that has caused a little bit of a stir in the book blogging community, because not everyone agrees on what the current thing to do is. So, here is the big question:

When you have finished reading an Advanced Review Copy of a book, what do you do with it?

For me, it really depends on the situation, including what I thought of the book, what it means to me, if I think I will re-read it and (sometimes) how pretty the cover is. Mmm, pretty books, my favourite.

  • If I enjoyed the book a lot, then chances are I will keep the book, especially if it has a gorgeous cover.
  • If I liked the book, then I might keep it, depending on shelf space, or I might pass it on to a friend who I think would enjoy it.
  • If I disliked the book, then I’ll most likely get rid of it after reading – either donated to charity or sent to a friend who I think would enjoy it.
  • Occasionally, if there’s a book I’ve really enjoyed but don’t see myself re-reading, I’ll send it to one of several friends (including Claire from Bitches With Books).

I would never, ever sell an ARC. It seems wrong. I will happily trade them for other books, send them to friends or donate them to charity for others to read – but I’ll never sell them. Publishers have entrusted me with these books, and I don’t want to profit off that.

What do you think? What do you do with your finished ARCs?

reading gif


Thoughts #55: The Life of a Bookworm (in GIFs!)


Who doesn’t love GIFs? They can be used to demonstrate a wide range of situations, and you can express so much through them. So what about the life of a bookworm, as shown through GIFs? Obviously this post is image heavy!

When you don’t want to be disturbed whilst reading


When someone says they don’t like reading


When you think about tackling your TBR pile


On entering a bookshop/library


On finishing an amazing book


On finishing a rubbish book


Packing for your holiday


When you REALLY want your friends to read a certain book


When you both love and hate an author for writing such amazing, heartbreaking stories


The smell of books, new and old


Have you got any others to add? 🙂


Thoughts #54: Past Post Love


Do you ever spend ages working on a post, and then are a bit disappointed by the response? Maybe it doesn’t receive as many comments or views as you wanted, or maybe your readers don’t seem as enthused as you expected. Or perhaps there are posts you wrote a long time ago, which were popular at the time but have since quietened down – but you’re proud of them and want more people to read them. Your best content shouldn’t just disappear, it should be there for all readers to find. That’s why today I wanted to share some past post love – linking to some of my most popular posts from the past, or ones I’m most proud of.

I hope that these pique your interest! Do you have any old posts of your own you would like to share?

If you post something similar to this on your blog, let me know so I can check it out! 🙂


Thoughts #53: The Problem with Reading Slumps


This post was written at the beginning of April, and doesn’t apply to me so much now – but I still wanted to share it!

As well as struggling with a blogging slump lately, I’ve been having a bit of a reading slump. I’ve decided that this comes down to my most recent reads being nothing special, and also feeling a little bit pressured to read certain books because of review requests and other commitments.

The Fantasy Book of the Month in March for my Goodreads book group, Dragons & Jetpacks, was The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. I was really excited to read this one, having never read any Mitchell before. He is an author that a lot of people seem to love or hate, and I was convinced I’d be one of the former. Sadly, I was wrong. What sounded like a fantastic premise (and was accompanied by a lovely cover) turned into a big ol’ mess that, quite frankly, had me bored for at least one third of the book.

This was then followed by attempts to read various Marvel comic books that had been sat on my shelves for a while, all borrowed from the library. Needless to say I couldn’t get into any of them but one, despite having read and loved many before. The one I did manage to finish was the second Guardians of the Galaxy book, Angela, and it just didn’t live up to the first volume. I’m just a bit bored of skimpy female superheroes. And don’t even get me started on female chest armour (or lack thereof…).

bored gif

And then, most recently, The Vagrant by Peter Newman. A book that had sat on my Goodreads ‘to read’ shelf since before release, one that immediately drew me in via its cover and blurb. But oh, what a disappointment. I couldn’t concentrate on it at all, meaning I missed important plot points, and was pretty confused when I did actually tune in. I don’t think I deal well with silent protagonists…

My current read is a similar story. Sounded great, is actually boring me quite a bit. I’ve started reading another book alongside it that I’ve been waiting for since it was announced (albeit another review copy), and I’m actually now only reading the first book at work during lunch, if I get a chance.

So okay, maybe only one of these books was a ‘commitment’. But it took so long for me to read because I just wasn’t interested that I feel I could have read so many more interesting books in that time. It’s time to crack down and finally read those books that I’ve been waiting for, instead of feeling pressured into reading ones that I’m not hugely interested in!

Note: After writing this post in April, I decided to read what I WANTED, instead of what I thought I should read. This has worked really well for me so far!

Do you ever feel pressured to put off the books you really want to read just because of other reading ‘commitments’?