Friday, 31 July 2020

Pottering: A Cure For Modern Life (ARC Review)

This book was novel change of pace for me mostly because it was a non-fiction book but also because it falls into the category of "Health, Mind and Body" or "Self-Help" which I normally avoid.

The reason I opted to request a review copy is that I was curious. The concept of Pottering is a very British thing, imo, and it has a very specific meaning. To me, you are not pottering around your house at the weekend if you're spending it harrassed and running around, or playing computer games or mindlessly watching tv and movies. 
Pottering, to me, was about getting stuff done but almost absent-mindedly getting stuff done. 
It's soothing, calming... Peaceful. 
It's not about attacking an unending to-do list with single-minded purpose. 
It's not about large scale projects like re-painting a kitchen or laying a patio, it's slower and more subtle than that. 

Pottering: A Cure For Modern Life re-enforced my perception of what it means to potter but it also broadened my view and made me realise that aimlessly going for a walk and staring at the ducks on the river - just because - is also pottering. 
The book defines it as, "to occupy oneself in a pleasant way but without plan or purpose."

The first chapter explains the basics: Making do with what you've got, don't try too hard, movement, keeping it local and keeping it digital free.
While I'd never have categorised it in those terms myself they make perfect sense as do the examples and explanations the author gives for each point.
I found myself nodding away in agreement as it's pottering in a nutshell but so is the point that not all elements are of equal importance and the emphasis on each will vary person to person and task to task. 
The subsequent chapters explore each element in more detail. 

The book is easy to read, relatable, amusing and makes perfect sense. 

The take away points for me are that:
- Pottering is not a chore. 
Yes, you may be pottering doing household tasks but you're deriving some pleasure/satisfaction from it.
- What you want and what you need are very different things.
Improvise and compromise!
- Don't try too hard
Pottering is not about pressure, it's not supposed to be stressful, it's a productive calming activity.
- It's not all about household tasks!
You can potter around local shops. You can potter around a park. It's not all about the house.
- Everybody potters whether they call it that or not
- There is no one way to potter
- We could all do with more time away from digital devices and social media
- Pottering helps you think and mentally declutter
- Pottering around is not procrastination
- Pottering is good for the soul

Ultimately, pottering is about finding peace and joy in the little things. 
It's about switching off from the stresses of the world and being happy with what you've got, living in the moment, appreciating the little things. Many "self-help" techniques (like mindfulness) try to impart a similar principle but because of how they're presented they become a "thing" and just another something that you're "failing" to do or keep up with. 
Pottering... It's just a way of life. 
I find I'm happiest and more relaxed when I've spent a day pottering around the house so I guess my take away from reading this book is I need to switch off the electronics a little more often and just potter! I'd be happier and more content for doing so.

Ultimately, I recommend giving this book a read and seeing if adopting a pottering approach would be a positive thing for you. I don't see how it could fail to be a positive thing for anybody and I feel a little bit sad that with the pace of life nowadays we're losing the subtle art of it. 


PS - Sitting down for 10 minutes, drinking a cup of tea and reading a book in between tasks is a valid pottering action! πŸ˜‰

PPS - The only truly weird suggestion I found was writing a cheque to pay for something just for funsies... Do retailers still accept cheques?! Banks in the UK aren't even issuing cheque books as standard anymore so I'm confused by this one. *shrug*


Pottering is written by Anna McGovern and illustrated by Charlotte Ager.
Publication Date: 26 Oct 2020
Review copy received via NetGalley.
Format: ebook

Thursday, 30 July 2020

Mini Reviews: Four Shifters and A Stranger & A Damsel and A Demigod by Annette Marie

You all know how much I love the Guild Codex and getting two short stories/novella prequels just makes my day!


*Newsletter Sign Up Treat*

When a bounty hunting job goes wrong, a mysterious aeromage saves Aaron's life...

Delve into the three mages' pasts in this exclusive Guild Codex short story, available as a free download for subscribers of the author's newsletter.

This is a short novella that shows how Ezra met Aaron and Kai, how they learned his secret, and how he joined the Crow and Hammer Guild!
It's told from the POV of Aaron and getting to peek inside the fire-mages head cemented my opinion that he is an awesome dude who deserves all the nice things.
He may be a hot-headed eejit at times but he has a heart of gold.
I don't know how Annette Marie does it but she packs a coherent and engaging story into a tiny number of pages... It's got character development, action and engages the emotions.
The story could be read by anyone no matter what they know/have read about the series but I think it packs the best punch if you're already familiar with the characters and world... Probably why it's a freebie gift for being part of her mailing list!

If you're a Guild Codex fan, you've got to read it. It's perfect to inhale over a single lunch break.


*Read via Kindle Unlimited*

Only one thing matters to Kai: getting the job done, and doing it better than anyone else.

But when a beautiful thief crashes his security gig, claiming she's trying to protect the valuable artifact he's guarding, all his careful plans go up in flames. He doesn't believe a word she says—until the item is stolen right out from under them.

Recovering the artifact before the real thief can unleash its ancient magic requires insider knowledge—information the mysterious trespasser possesses. Teaming up with a stranger isn't Kai's idea of smart, but he'll need all the help he can get to take on a notorious rogue and arcane power from the time of the gods.

Originally published in the limited-time charity anthology, Love Potion.

First up, let me say that this can be read as a standalone novella completely separate from the main Guild Codex series. It's told from the pov of Kai and is set a couple of years before Tori stumbles into the Crow and Hammer Guild and the main series begins.
However! This is the story of how Kai met Izza and anyone who has read the GC books is going to want to read this if you have any interest in that particular (apparently doomed) ship...

The story is set during a Crow and Hammer mission. Kai and co have to prevent the theft of an artifact and when it goes wrong, retrieve the artifact before a rogue mythic unleashes untold chaos.
It's packed full of banter, action and magic. Romance is firmly on the down-low but the sparks are definitely there.
Izza is different in this novella from the Izza we get to know in the GC series. She's younger, less experienced and just starting out with her guild (Odin's Eye) but the path to how she becomes the Izza we know is laid out clearly here.
The novella left me a little bit sad that we don't get to see her grow into the badass she becomes but happy that we got to see this first meeting with Kai.

It's a wonderful little read for fans of the series and a taster for those who have yet to dive into this world.

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

TTT: Books By My Favourite Authors That I Still Need To Read.

Oooh, I like freebie topics! Only, I couldn't think of one for myself... So, I went back into the archives and plucked one out and here we are!

Books by my favourite authors that I still need to read.
(It would probably be more accurate to call it, "books by frequently read" authors because I struggle with calling any author a favourite but whatever. Let's not split hairs!)

Kulti & Hard Pass by Mariana Zapata

Kulti I have owned for a couple of years now and Hands Down is her new release that I downloaded immediately via Kindle Unlimited... I have no excuse for not having read them yet beyond I've got to be in the mood!

Fates Edge & Steel's Edge by Ilona Andrews

I love Ilona Andrews books... All of their series, but the Edge series is my least favourite and I have no idea why I never finished the series beyond they're interconnected standalones so I felt no compulsion to jump onto the next one after finishing the one before. *shrugs* I'll finish off the collection at some point, I'm sure. Just need the mood to strike.

Spellweaver Series by Annette Marie

I discovered Annette Marie via her Guild Codex series and while waiting on the next book(s) to release worked my way through her back catalogue. People rave about her Steel and Stone series but I wasn't as enamoured with it as her Guild Codex series so decided not to read the spin-off of Steel and Stone (aka Spellweaver) until I'd sufficient "cleansed my palette" and could appreciate it. Needless to say, I haven't been bothered to read it yet but I will!
Annette Marie can write.

The Turn by Kim Harrison

A novel set in the world of The Hollows. A novel featuring Trent Kalamack's mother at the beginning of the Turn, an event that spawned the entire premise of the Hollows.
I've owned it for years but, again, haven't read it. I don't even know why at this point...

Shatter The Night by Karen Chance

I was super dooper excited for this book. I bought it as soon as it released... Then I never read it. I guess I'm waiting to find out when the next one is due for release before I dive in. That, or the mood to strike. I find I've got to be in a specific mood for Chance's brand of UF.

Repeat by Kylie Scott

Another book I have and another book I just have not read yet.
I have an addiction. I'm only a little bit sorry...

Trials of Apollo & Magnus Chase by Rick Riordan

I blame coronavirus and my lack of commuting time in the past four months for not having listened to these books yet.

As for why I haven't listened to/read the Trials of Apollo series... First, the kid was listening to the audiobooks and I can't listen to them at the same time or the app gets confused with who is where in the book. Second, after the kid started dying inside and demanding to know when the final book releases - because he neeeeeds it - I decided to time listening to them so I was ready for the final book right about the time the kid will have finished listening to it.
I don't need the added suspense of this series hanging over my head. I have enough series torturing me book to book as it is! πŸ˜‚

Monday, 27 July 2020

Mid Year Freak Out Tag (Better Late Than Never!)

I don't think I've ever taken part in this tag! Honestly, I probably wouldn't have taken part this year either but TΓ’nia tagged me so I figured, why not?
Yes, it's super late for "mid-year" but who cares? 😝

What is the best book you've read so far in 2020?

Nope, can't choose just one...

So I choose: Druid Vices and A Vodka and Lost Talismans and a Tequila by Anette Marie, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller and Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

What has been your favourite sequel of the first half of the year?

I could have chosen Lost Talismans and A Tequila but since I already listed that as one of my favourites this year I switched it up. πŸ˜‰

Hunting Fiends for The Ill-Equipped was awesome!

Is there a new release that you haven't read yet but you're really excited for?

Not Like The Movies by Kerry Winfrey. I haven't read anything by the author before but I love the sound of this one and the cover is amazing!

What is your most anticipated release for the second half of the year?

No, sorry, can't give just one... There are LOTS. 
Seriously, the second half of the year is going to ROCK! But, more than a few of them don't have covers yet so I'll restrain myself and only choose a couple. 

Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews releases in August and Grave War by Kalayna Price releases in November.

What is your biggest disappointment so far?

Dear Ava by Isla Madden-Mills. It was a perfect example of a misleading cover and blurb.

What is your biggest surprise so far?

The Rich Boy by Kylie Scott. 
It surprised me how much I enjoyed it (5-stars) given how... underwhelming I'd found some of her more recent releases. 

Who is your favourite new to you, or debut author?

Hailey Edwards. 
Her Beginner's Guide To Necromancy series is awesome and saved my sanity during the early days of lockdown.

A book that made you cry?

I haven't cried at a book this year. To be fair, I don't often cry when it comes to books as I tend to avoid those I suspect will be tear-jerkers unless that's the mood I'm in.

A book that made you happy?

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang. How could anybody read about Khai and Esme and not be happy?!

Your favourite book to film/TV show that you've seen so far?

Erm... Pass?

What is your favourite post that you've written so far this year?

What is the most beautiful book that you've bought?

You're asking me to remember what I've bought this year?! Oh man... I'm going with Of Curses and Kisses because it's the most recent.

What are six books you want to read by the end of the year?

I'm going to exclude books I don't own and books that haven't released yet from this one and choose six from the bookshelf that I want to get to...

Of Curses and Kisses, House of Earth and Blood, Fangirl, Brooklynaire, Well Met, and Cinder.