Blog, Vlogs

Read the Rainbowthon Reading Vlog

I have had such a fun time taking part in Roll the Rainbowthon 🌈 and read more than expected which made me very pleased. So this week I took part in a Readathon which is one of my favourite things. I love a themed reading week!

I drank a lot more coffee this week than the thumbnail suggests 😸

I may have also found a new favourite book which is always lovely 💕

Who could have imagined that I would read and love another Silvia Moreno-Garcia book..? Everyone! I love this author and she did it again with Signal to Noise.

I managed to get through four books this week which was more than expected. There was no chance of me getting through the six books I’d hoped to read but four feels very good.

Blog, Vlogs

September Reading Goals

I don’t usually do anything fun when deciding my reading goals for the month. I basically choose a day to pick a bunch of books that I fancy reading soon, add any books I need to read for readalongs and that’s basically it.

September is a little different as I got to have some fun picking my TBR pile. There are two different TBR games that I am participating in this month as two creators over on YouTube are opening up their TBR games and I just had to join in. I do love a TBR game!

Timings and links to creators

Setting my ridiculous reading goals

First up, I’m joining in with Becca’s Bookopoly and playing Bookoplathon. This is a month long list of intended reads. I decided to roll as many times as it took me to do a loop of the board, this ended up being eight rolls.

Secondly, I’m joining in with Christy Reads’ Roll the Rainbowthon which lasts one week of September. I’ve ended up with six options, most of which overlap with my Bookoplathon picks because no way will I be able to read six books in one week!

So I ended up with eleven books…but this isn’t my full TBR . I have my Agatha Christie pick for Read Christie and a book tour, plus I have another four books that I have been planning to read in September. This brings my total number of books I plan to read in September up to seventeen and over 5,000 pages.

Doable? Who knows! All I know is that I’m giddy with excitement about reading all of my hopefuls so I feel like September is going to be a good month.

Blog, Vlogs

Reading Vlog

This last week I have been participating in the Summer Mixtape Readathon. This has been such a fun week and I’m so excited that there’s one more week to go.

My weekly reading vlog

This readathon involves reading books that match up to some very summery songs. I’m not a summer loving person, so this has been an excellent way of feeling involved in the summer excitement that my friends have had.

Unfortunately, shortly after filming my previous vlog, I tested positive for coronavirus. This meant that I didn’t manage to read as much as I usually would. However, I did manage to read two books which ticked off 2/5 of the book related prompts so I’m very much on track! Plus, the two books that I read also technically tick two more of the prompts so I’m entering a new week feeling very positive about reaching my reading goals.

The Readathon Prompts
Blog, Vlogs

February Reading Goals/Intentions

I am so late to planning my February reading. I am a person who very much needs a plan and every month I find myself getting mildly stressed about my TBR. This month I tried to plan my TBR slightly differently and and possibly totally over-planned but I’m feeling pretty good about my February reading goals as I’ve sort of given myself reading intentions which doesn’t include specific books but the chosen books relate to a specific goal of mine. I’m excited to see if this way of forward planning works for me

TBR and Reading Intention Vlog

The books I’m planning to read this month are based on the following reading intentions:

I really want to read more Classics. With the exception of my festive rereads, and some october rereads, I don’t feel like I read a lot of Classics last year. I really enjoy reading Classics and I joined a reading group with the aim of reading a Classic every month. The pick for February is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen so I will be aiming to read that book this month.

Next up is a romance that I put aside with the aim of reading it in February. This was based 100% on this book being a romance. I have chosen to aim to read A Glasgow Kiss by Sophie Gravia. I’ve heard a lot of excellent things about this book and as it’s based in Glasgow, I’m so keen to give it a read.

I then chose a book that has been on my TBR for literally months, honestly I’ve been aiming to read this book for about 6 months…it remains unread. So with the aim of leaving no book behind on the TBR, I’m planning to (finally) read My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh.

In the last few weeks I have seen multiple recommendations to read The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan. This all came about because of The Scottish Bookclub, we read Luckenbooth by Jenni Fagan in January and a few people mentioned that they wanted to read more books by the author. Flash forward a couple of weeks and it now feels like I’m the only one who hasn’t read it and it sounds amazing. So I’m giving into the best kind of peer pressure-book recommendation peer pressure.

While reviewing my Year in Books 2021, I noticed that I’d barely read any rereads. Usually when I love a book, I want to read it again and again and again. Not straight away but maybe a year or two later. So I’m hoping to dedicate time to enjoying a reread every month this year. Last month I reread Luckenbooth by Jennni Fagan and this month I plan and hope to reread The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. I have adored that book since I first read it in 1999 when I was 13 (in the vlog I say I was 14 because I thought that 10 Things I Hate About You came out in 2000 but it was a year earlier. I bought the book immediately after watching the first showing of the film in Galashiels).

I am loving joining in with Read Christie 2022 and the February pick is Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie. Probably because the film came out this month. I also plan to go to the cinema (if cases here are low enough to feel safe to stay socially distanced). To say that I’m excited about rereading this book would be an understatement, I utterly adore this book!

My final intention of February is to finish a book that I’ve been reading since September. September! I’ve been reading this book for 5 months and still have about a small novel worth of pages left to go. But I’m ready for this book to be read, the book in question is Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer. My sister and I used to read the Twilight series together and chat about the books. When this book came out in 2020 I felt a bit weird about reading it as my sister passed away in 2013 so it felt strange to finish the series without her. Then I thought some more about it and spoke to my mum about it and she thought that my sister would have wanted us to finish the series together so I’m finishing it for the both of us. It totally counts!

A TBR almost the size of my head

How do you plan your monthly reading? Do you overthink it, like me? I’ve been thinking about making a TBR game because I enjoy whimsy and leaving it to the fates. The drama of having no control both appeals and terrifies me!

Blog, Vlogs

Book Series I Want to Finish in 2022

Hands up if you enjoy starting a new series, read a few books, then get distracted and forget to go back to the series?

I love a good series! if given the option of a series or a standalone, I feel more drawn to a series…and yet I’m so bad for actually finishing them. I have taken a note of all of my active series and I think I have 28 active series right now, although I’m super sure that I’ve missed a few off of my list because I thought I had many more. This year, I have set myself some pretty lofty goals of finishing 5 of my active series.

My wee vlog of the series I want to finish this year

I had originally thought of putting the Symphony of Ages series by Elizabeth Haydon on this list since it is a 9 book series of which I’m 5 books deep after reading those books in 2021. However I only own book 6 and books 7-9 are really difficult to get in the UK. It would cost around £100 to get the last three books and I thought that seemed a bit silly when I own many books that would allow me to complete other book series. So I chose my 5 series based on books that I already own since I just need to read books that I already own…should be an achievable goal!

So, the 5 series that I’m aiming to finish this year are:

Crowther and Westerman by Imogen Robertson – 2 books left to read

Dr Greta Helsing by Vivian Shaw- 1 book left to read

Magic 2.0 by Scott Meyer- 4 books left to read

The Vampire Genevieve by Kim Newman/Jack Yeovil- 2 books left to read

The Witches Series by Terry Pratchett- 5 books left to read

I’d love to know if any of you have read and enjoyed any of these series? Or are aiming to finish some of your own active book series.

Blog, Vlogs

Most Anticipated Reads of 2022

I absolutely love a pre-order! I have a terrible habit of forgetting that I’ve pre-ordered books and then get surprise post. I like to look at it as gifts from me of the past. Despite only being less than 3 weeks into the new year, I already have 5 pre-orders that I’m waiting for and am very excited about.

While I love ordering books so that I can receive them on their date of publication, I’m really bad at actually reading them in a timely manner. In fact, 7 of my 22 Books That I Want to Read in 2022 were pre-orders that I just never got around to reading. Who knows if that will be the case with the releases that I’m currently very excited about, only time will tell!

I am going to be honest and say that this list will grow as the year progresses because release dates are announced regularly and I fully expect to make more pre-orders in weeks to come. I’ve got a few sequels that I’m hoping will be announced soon and then I will definitely be ordering those too.

I’ve recorded a vlog where I tell you all about the 5 new releases that I’m ridiculously excited about

I’d love to know any preorders that you’ve made so that I can feel better about making so many so early in the year! What other new releases should be on my radar?

The books and their UK release dates as at the upload date of this post:

The Christie Affair- Nina de Gramont

20 January 2022

The Paris Apartment- Lucy Foley*

3 March 2022

The Thursday Murder Club 3- Richard Osman

15 September 2022

This Wicked Fate – Kalynn Bayron

21 June 2022

Young Mungo- Douglas Stewart

14 April 2022

*please note that I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley last year, in exchange for an honest review. I was not obliged to include this book in any video, I just really loved it and am excited to own it

Blog, Vlogs

22 to Read in 2022

Happy New Year! Yes I know it’s so late in the year to be saying that but I realised I didn’t actually wish anyone a Happy New Year-how rude of me!

I have so many goals this year! Most of my goals involve using things that I already have such as; painting some more of my Nighthaunt army, lots of crafty goals…and actually reading books that I own. I’m not going to pretend that I won’t buy more books (I will. I’ve already got many preorders for 2022) but I do aim to read more of the books that have spent the last year waiting for their chance to shine. My goal is to read 22 specific books from my own shelves. Here’s my wee video where I chat about my 22 in 2022 picks (I’ve also popped a list of them right at the end of this post for anyone who doesn’t want to listen to my shrillness)

My blethering through my 22 in 2022

I aim to read 120 books in 2022 so having 22 books preset seems good, like it will help me with my monthly TBR. January has no TBR as I took so long picking my 22, I feel very out of control without a plan

I feel like I’ve got a pretty good selection and a variety of genres and themes so I’m feeling really good about them…I may feel differently in a few months. If you’ve read any of these books, I’d love to hear recommendations of books to move right to the top of my pile!

Blog, Vlogs, Wrap Ups

2021 Wrap Up

What a year 2021 has been! I have a tendency to read more during times of stress or anxiety and in 2021 I made my way through 202 books. This is a stupidly large number of books and is o way sustainable I will no be aiming for anywhere near this number of books any time soon. My Goodreads goal for 2021 was actually 60 which I reach somewhere around Easter but I chose not to change my target so that I could feel a sense of accomplishment by meeting my goal so early in the year.

My fun stats are as follows:
202 Books
63,928 pages
Average Book Rating of 3.6 Stars

I’ve either had a smashing year or have been extra kind with my ratings. I think it may be a little of both as I do tend to round up rather than down.

When it came to picking my favourite reads of the year, I honestly thought that it would be as simple as just looking at my top read of each month…it was not that simple though! I knew that I didn’t want to include a reread in my top reads of the year and I was also positive that I wanted to have a top 10. I also had gone slightly off of one of my top picks since reading more books in the series plus I had 5 more books that I wanted to include. So suddenly my Top Ten had become a Top Fourteen. The easiest part was whistling this down to ten and honestly, deciding my Top Ten took me the best part of December!

My Top 10 Reads of 2021
(My copy of Duck Feet is currently on loan which is why it’s not in the stack)

As you can see, my Top Ten includes 7 Reads of the Month plus 3 books that I just couldn’t stop thinking about and very much deserved to be in my Top Ten. It’s pretty cool to see three authors on my 2021 Top Ten who were on my 2020 Top Thirteen (2020 was a tough year, I didn’t have the energy to whittle it down to just 10): Lucy Foley, Ayisha Malik, and L.L. McKinney have done it again.

If you want to see which book took which spot, this is all in the video below. but if you just want to know which book took my Number One spot…keep scrolling down past the video and all will be revealed. I honestly knew straight away that this book was going to be at least in my Top Four. I almost just went with a Top Three but then I had two books sharing a spot and Top Four felt weird.

My 2021 Wrap Up and Top Ten Reads of the Year

My winner of Caley’s Book of the Year goes to…

My Number One Book of 2021
Blog, Wrap Ups

December Wrap Up

Well it seems like all I did in December was read and eat festive food. I read 22 books in December (and ate about 220 candy canes).

At the start of December I checked my Goodreads 2021 challenge for the first time in ages and saw that if I read 20 books in December, I could end the year on 200 books. I liked the idea of that so decided to set myself a little goal of reading 20 books in December. This was a pretty big feat since I didn’t start my Christmas break until the afternoon of Christmas Eve.

I managed to read 22 books in December which is just as big a shock to me as it is to anyone else. One of my books was only 36 pages but it was a super festive book and I’m still counting it.

It was impossible to hold all of my December reads without looking pained

I had a really good reading month, not just in terms of quantity, the quality was super high! In December I do like to reread my Christmas favourites so The Adventures of the Christmas Pudding, A Christmas Carol, and Hercule Poirot’s Christmas were guaranteed 5 star reads for me. I was so happy to find that I had more 5 star reads in December too!

For the rest of my reads, my ratings were as follows:

5 Stars

A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig
Hogfather by Terry Pratchett
The 13 Yule Lads of Iceland by Brian Pilkington
The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley*

4 Stars

Away With the Penguins by Hazel Prior
The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan
The Enchanted Sonata by Heather Dixon Wallwork
Equal Rights by Terry Pratchett
Snow-Kissed Proposals by Jenni Fletcher and Elisabeth Hobbes
# FollowMe for Murder – Sarah E Burr *

3 Stars

Christmas at the Beach Hut- Veronica Henry
Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery- Jenny Colgan
Midnight in Everwood- M.A. Kuzniar

2 Stars

The Chalet – Catherine Cooper
A Christmas to Remember- Anton du Beke
Clara at Christmas- Lacey London
Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Golden Samovar- Olga Wojtas
Stalker- Lisa Stone

1 Star

Twelve Slays of Christmas- Jacqueline Frost
A Merry Little Christmas- Julia Williams

My Book Recommendation of the month aka #caleysbookrecommendationofthemonththatnobodyaskedfor was Hogfather as this book was just utterly magical and whimsical and I think it’s going to be a new annual festive reread!

December’s Book of the Month

* These books were ARCS received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Blog, Reviews

A Tale of Two Nutcrackers

So I know that Christmas is technically over but I think it’s ok to talk about a Christmas book (in this case, 2 Christmas books) during that weird time between Christmas and New Year. If the Christmas tree is still up, it’s ok

My two Nutcracker inspired reads, perfect December reading!

I love The Nutcracker! In the before times, I had an annual tradition of going to a viewing of the ballet at one of my local cinemas. I listen to the soundtrack from November onwards. It’s safe to say that I’m a big fan of The Nutcracker! So when I saw that there was a new book, inspired by The Nutcracker, I decided to read it. While buying it, I also found another book inspired by The Nutcracker so I decided to read both for double the festive fun!

Clara Stahlbaum has her future perfectly planned: to marry the handsome pianist, Johann Kahler (ah!) and settle down to a life full of music. But all that changes on Christmas Eve, when Clara receives a mysterious and magical nutcracker.

Whisked away to his world—an enchanted empire of beautiful palaces, fickle fairies, enormous rats, and a prince—Clara must face a magician who uses music as spells…and the future she thought she wanted.

The Enchanted Sonata a retelling of The Nutcracker Ballet wit a dash of The Pied Piper. Will captivate readers of all ages.

I absolutely loved this retelling. It followed the plot of the original ballet pretty closely; after receiving a nutcracker, a young girl found herself whisked away to a magical world where she had to fight the rats to save the kingdom.

I really enjoyed the characters in this book. Clara, while rather young, was a disciplined musician and was very independent. I really enjoyed them being involved in finding a solution to the problem at hand. Clara was utterly obsessed with a fellow pianist, despite barely speaking to them, I felt that this really helped me as a reader to remember that she was young as her character was pretty mature. I’m fairly certain that 15 year old me was convinced that Benji Madden (of Good Charlotte fame) was going to be my future husband despite never meeting them and being a lot younger. I thought that both Clara and Prince Nikolai had a huge amount of character growth during this book.

In addition to the two main characters, so many of the secondary characters were so fun to read about. I was so invested in Pyotr, who was the Tiny Tim of this book. I absolutely loved him and just wanted good things for him. I also loved Zizi who worked at the bakery/sweet shop, she was so cool and smart. The nuns in this book were basically an army who were ready to protect the orphans and their church, no matter how many laws they had to break and they weren’t afraid to shout at their Prince. It really felt like all of the characters in this book were described fully.

The big bad in this book was like The Pied Piper and I felt that his backstory did a great job at making sense of why he was terrorising the kingdom in such a way. I’m not saying it was rational but super villains rarely are, but you could see why they took the path they did.

The world building in this book was wonderful, the author really captured the magic of The Land of Sweets, all i want is to eat those peppermints! The forest was also described really well, i almost felt cold reading this, despite being tucked up with a hot water bottle.

I enjoyed the unpredictable fairies, there was method to their madness.I liked that the characters knew that they couldn’t rely on the fairies to save them and that they had to work together.

The ending of this book was completely unique to this book as it was not related to the ballet and I thought that it was perfect. I didn’t think it was going to happen, I wanted it to happen but I didn’t see it coming.

I thoroughly enjoyed this retelling and gave this book 4 stars and I will definitely be reading this again.

There’s nothing Marietta Stelle loves more than ballet, but after Christmas, her dreams will be over as she is obligated to take her place in Edwardian society. While she is chafing against such suffocating traditions, a mysterious man purchases the neighbouring townhouse. Dr Drosselmeier is a charming but calculating figure who wins over the rest of the Stelle family with his enchanting toys and wondrous mechanisms.

When Drosselmeier constructs an elaborate set for Marietta’s final ballet performance, she discovers it carries a magic all of its own. On the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve, she is transported to a snowy forest, where she encounters danger at every turn: ice giants, shadow goblins and the shrieking mist all lurk amidst the firs and frozen waterfalls and ice cliffs. After being rescued by the butterscotch-eyed captain of the king’s guard, she is escorted to the frozen sugar palace. At once, Marietta is enchanted by this glittering world of glamorous gowns, gingerbread houses, miniature reindeer and the most delicious confectionary.

But all is not as it seems and Marietta is soon trapped in the sumptuous palace by the sadistic King Gelum, who claims her as his own. She is confined to a gilded prison with his other pets; Dellara, whose words are as sharp as her teeth, and Pirlipata, a princess from another land. Marietta must forge an alliance with the two women to carve a way free from this sugar-coated but treacherous world and back home to follow her dreams. Yet in a hedonistic world brimming with rebellion and a forbidden romance that risks everything, such a path will never be easy.

Unlike The Enchanted Sonata, this book was classified as Adult Fiction. This book was not a retelling of The Nutcracker, it was more…very loosely inspired by the Nutcracker which did make me feel a little disappointed but also a little cheated. This book kept the theme of ballet and the Land of Sweets but that was about it.

The book started with an introduction to Marietta, a 20 year old dancer, daughter of a wealthy family. Marietta dreamed of being a dancer but her father wouldn’t hear of her dancing after her 21st birthday and was ready to marry her off. Their new neighbour, inventor Drosselmeier (in this book he was not her godfather, like in the ballet) seemed like a good candidate, Marietta was not keen and after some events, they ended up in a snowy forest near to a Land of Sweets where a large castle was visible.

I found Marietta to be one of the most irritating characters that I have read about in recent history. She was entitled and rude and very childish. I kept forgetting that she was 20 because her actions would have suited a 12 year old protagonist far better. For example, after being repeatedly warned to stay away from the King, she crashed a ball and did ballet around the dance floor which drew the attention of the King, she then agreed to a request that obviously was going to lead to a bad time. She then had the audacity to blame other people for not protecting her.

The additional characters in this book were most interesting- a stolen princess and a…demon? An immortal being who was referred to as being a fairy but said that demon was a better description. I would have loved to have read a book about these characters instead.

It really felt like all of the relationships in this book were forced. The three prisoners suddenly became the best of friends, like sisters, despite there being nothing to show why they bonded so quickly. The assumption was that people locked up together with a common enemy would bond but none of the bonding was included. The romantic relationship also felt like it came out of nowhere and I didn’t buy it.

I enjoyed the big bad in this book, it was a nice twist. It didn’t feel like the reason behind his super villain status was really explained and I enjoy knowing how a character became a baddie. Maybe I just love an origin story.

I absolutely loved the forestry landscapes in this book. They sounded so vast, cold, and full of danger. The caste sounded so grand and absolutely massive!

I felt tht this book went too far with the sugary sweet descriptions. Perhaps due to the Land of Sweets. Every meal was sugar based and so sweet, everything smelled sickly sweet too. They even dusted their bodies with sugar. This book had me craving some celery in order to offset the sweetness.

The grand finale of this book was very short. The whole final event happened over just a few pages and just felt like there was a long build up to a sharp, short full stop.

I am a huge fan of ballet but often in this book, Marietta tried to solve things with the power of dance…which wasn’t something I enjoyed. It just felt forced. I suppose she was using her strengths but it just didn’t do it for me.

I didn’t enjoy this book anywhere near as much as I’d hoped. From the blurb and the gorgeous cover, I expected to love this book but it fell short for me. I needed up giving it 3 stars, rounded up from 2.5. I think that a lot of my disappointment was due to the immature main character and one dimensional characters because the plot was really interesting. The ending of the book was ambiguous as if leaving space for a sequel, I don’t think I’d be picking that up though.

Of the two The Nutcracker inspired books that I read this month, The Enchanted Sonata was my favourite.