Friday, 22 January 2021

Book Spending in 2020 & A Book Budget

It's no secret that I buy a lot of books. Most of them are ebooks and I tend to buy them when they're on sale. In a normal year, I probably add acquire more than double the number of books than I actually read but it doesn't deter me. However, it really should... So, I decided to do something a little masochistic and I tallied up how much I spent on books last year.

Up to December 23rd, I spent;
 £178.69 on kindle ebooks. 
£395.02 on physical books 
£32.47 on Audiobooks
£95.88 on my kindle unlimited subscription
£95.88  on my Audible subscription

This brings me to a grand total of £797.94 
(Which tells me is around $1100 USD)

I genuinely have no idea whether this is "good" or "bad" when compared to other book lovers, nor do I know whether it's possible to quantify such things for everybody's circumstances and preferences are different, but what I do know is that - excluding Kindle Unlimited reads and ARCs - I added 290 books to my shelves in 2020 which averages out at around £2.75 a book and I don't think that's too bad... Except, I read 133 books last year and 30 of them were KU. More than 20 were ARCs. About 30 were books I already had on my shelves/kindle before any 2020 buying... Yeah, do that math. I added 290 books and read about a sixth of them in the year they were purchased. 

This means, no matter how good the deals, I spent a load of cash I really didn't need to... Spending close to £800 on books over the course of the year wasn't something that stung my bank as it was spread out... A little bit here and a little bit there, but it's totally wasteful. I have no idea how many of those books I'll ever read especially when I keep adding to the pile so I have to institute some controls. 

This year, I'm bringing in a book budget!

I'm keeping my Kindle Unlimited and Audiobook subscriptions (~£190 for the year) and I'm imposing a £100 cap on all other book purchases backdated to December 26th.
The very idea freaks me out and makes me want to search for loopholes but I'm not giving myself wiggle room, guys. On top of the budget, I'm instigating the rule that I need to read more books than I acquire in a year! 
That way, I can't gorge on freebies or go on an ARC rampage.
  It's time to hold myself to account and that's why I'm sharing this... Accountability. 
I plan on updating my progress quarterly and I have no doubt what-so-ever that it's going to be a challenging year breaking habits acquired over many but it needs to be done for the sake of my sanity!

The bonus of it all is that, assuming 2020 is a "normal" year for me in terms of book buying, and it's actually probably a light one what with book stores closed for a good chunk of the year, I'll be saving close to £500! That'll be a nice addition to the holiday fund for when all the covid-madness is over.

Now, I have questions... 
Do you know what you spend on books in a year?
Do you have a book budget?
Do you think I'm a little bit mad? 
Wish me luck?

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Blitz: Bjorn Cursed by N. J. Walters

For fans of sexy paranormal romance, NJ Walters has a new book for you!
Bjorn Cursed, book 4 in the Forgotten Brotherhood series, is out now!

Lucifer is up to his old tricks, causing problems for the Forgotten Brotherhood. This time, he’s had a woman removed from the Norse afterlife and placed her right in the path of Bjorn Knutson. After the slaughter of his wife and family centuries ago, tortured and broken, Bjorn was cursed as the first Norse werewolf. Now he’s been tasked by Odin himself with killing the woman who escaped. Failure is not an option.

Before he can track her, he stumbles across a woman being accosted by three men in the middle of the night. Even though she’s human, he intervenes and is shocked to recognize the face of the one woman he could never kill — his wife Anja.

She’s also the one he’s hunting…and if he doesn’t kill her then both their lives are at stake.

“Can we discuss this later? We have company.”
He’d always had a sixth sense about such things. It was one of the reasons he’d been such a fierce warrior. “Where?”
“Two behind and at least one ahead.” Bjorn jerked his head to the left. “Across the street.”
She didn’t need him to point out which man he meant. Over six feet tall, he wore jeans, boots, and a leather jacket. He looked similar to the ones who’d accosted them earlier. “Do they all look alike?” she muttered. “Is it a requirement or something?”
Bjorn’s fingers tightened around hers, but he was smiling, his lips tilted up slightly, his eyes filled with laughter. He hadn’t forgotten for one second they were being stalked and hunted, but he’d always been good at living in the moment. It’s how they’d been raised, as much a part of them as their physical appearance.
Laugh when you could, cry when you needed, revel in the joys of life, fight for honor and glory, and die well.
“What can I do?” She would fight alongside her man, no matter what they faced.
“Stay close. When I tell you to run, you run.”
“Where are we going?” It bothered her that she had no idea where they were or where they were headed.
“My truck isn’t much farther. About four blocks up the road. When we get there, turn right. It’s the black one.” He rattled off some letters and numbers. “Crap, can you even read them?”
“Yes. I have some knowledge of this world. Not everything, but I understand much, including how to read the language.”
“Good. The truck will have a piece of metal on the back with those on it. Here are the keys.” He reached into his pocket and pulled them out. “Hit this button when you’re close.” He showed her which one. “That will unlock the doors. Get in, hit this other button, and wait for me. I’ll be right behind you.”
“Got it.” She gripped the keys and had her thumb near the button he’d showed her. Her heart was racing as they kept a fast steady gait. She wanted to run, but that was the wrong thing to do. Any animal would take that as a challenge, see her as prey and sprint after her. And these men were essentially animals in human flesh.
Werewolves? They were the stuff of myth and legend but, like the gods, were real. Their kind never came to Freya’s Hall. Odin was rumoured to have all sorts of beasts in Valhalla, but she’d never seen proof, as she’d been unable to leave. That had been part of her pledge to the goddess, which is what made her being here all the worse.
Her vow had been broken.
“Another one just ahead.”
“Should we detour?” She pulled her attention back to the present situation. Her immediate goal—protect her husband.
“That’s what they want. They’re trying to herd us down that street, which means there are likely more of them. We go straight. They’ll do nothing until we make the turn onto the quieter street. As soon as we do, you run. I’ll hold them off and be right behind you.”
“I won’t leave you.”
“I know.” He dropped a quick kiss on her mouth. It was over far too soon. She licked her lips, wanting to savor his taste. It was familiar yet strangely new. Maybe because of all the years they’d missed. They were both different people than they’d been when they’d wed and started a family, shaped by their experiences. But one thing hadn’t changed. He was still a hunger in her blood.
He groaned. “Stop looking at me like that, woman. Now is not the time.”
She knew he was trying to lighten her spirits. Tension radiated from his big frame. He squeezed her hand. “Get ready, Anja. It’s just there on your right.” He kept his voice low. “As soon as we reach the corner, run hard and fast, and don’t look back.”

Once upon a time N.J. had the idea that she would like to quit her job at the bookstore, sell everything she owned, leave her hometown, and write romance novels in a place where no one knew her. And she did. Two years later, she went back to the bookstore and her hometown and settled in for another seven years.

One day she gave notice at her job on a Friday morning. On Sunday afternoon, she received a tentative acceptance for her first romance novel and life would never be the same.

N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author who has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks--all vie for her attention. It's a tough life, but someone's got to live it.

Sunday, 17 January 2021

Weekly Update #135

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer
It’s a chance to share News. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog.

Now that's explained, it's on to my weekly recap!

After avoiding the world for over two weeks, I'm slowly poking my head back into it and I'm not really liking it. However, I'll persist as I can't live on a fictional farm forever... I also want to read and need to tidy my house and stuff so... Back into the world, I go!

There's not much else to say here. We're in lockdown so can't go anywhere. I'm working from home, so there isn't anything to report there. The kid is currently homeschooled, and will be until Feb half-term at the earliest, so... Yep! You guessed it - nothing to report there. 
It's a big cycle of eat, sleep, do whatever and repeat.

At least we're safe and healthy, right?

Oopsie Daisy by Iris Morland (Free)
Down Beat by Max Henry (Free)
Blood Heir by Ilona Andrews (Pre-Order delivery)
The Stalking Jack The Ripper Collection (4 books) by Kerri Maniscalco (£3.99)

PS - I've decided not to include any KU books in this section going forward as they're returned after being read... Same would apply to library books.s

The good news is that I actually started reading this week! 
I'm listening to Lancelot by Giles Kristian (and it's so addictive!) but it's a long one (22hrs) so it's going to take a while to get through it... Luckily, I've a lot of cleaning to do! 😉

Plus, I read my first book of the year, To Kill A Fae by C.S. Wilde. 

I quite liked it so I'll be making the most of my Kindle Unlimited and continuing with the rest of the series.

I've been terrible at keeping up with your blog posts (again) while in my hiding phase but I've been trying to work my way through them all via my Feedly over the past 3/4 days... Needless to say, I have a long way to go but I'll be dropping by as I work through them this week.

We've been continuing watching Modern Family but the peace has slowed... We only got through one season this week! 😆 (We began s5 yesterday.)

We also watched the first two episodes of WandaVision and I'm intrigued! It's not the Marvel TV show I was dying to see (that would be Falcon and The Winter Soldier) but I'm definitely on board with it now and can't wait for next week's episode. 

Another show I've been watching on and off is Ghosts. It's a BBC show made by the people that make horrible histories except it's for adults... Think haunted, crumbling manor house, ghostly shenanigans and the poor folks who inherited it. I'm not 100% sold on it yet but the episodes are short, there's only 6 in a season, and it's amusing in small doses so it breaks up everything else quite nicely. 

I don't have a song but I've been watching this video almost daily lately as it just makes me feel happy and makes me want to dance... Oti (the pro) is my favourite Strictly dancer and I'm still salty and confused over how she didn't win it the year she danced with this guy... (Danny Mac)

Seriously, you should watch it. It's just under 2 minutes and it'll bring joy!

Kiddie's Corner: The Pugly Duckling, I Can Do Magic, Rissy No Kissies, and A Beary Rainy Day
Book Blogger Hop: Post Scheduling and Other Blogging Behaviours

Book Blitz: Bjorn Cursed by NJ Walters

(I have no idea what else I'll get scheduled...)

Have a great week all!

Friday, 15 January 2021

Post Scheduling and Other Blogging Behaviours

 This week's question for the Book Blogger Hop is: 
How many posts do you schedule for your blog on a weekly basis?
In an ideal world, I get all my posts scheduled for the coming week on the weekend before. So, for posts next week, I'd have them finished by Sunday. If I don't get them finished and scheduled for the week then I rarely have time to sort them out during the week and I end up only posting whatever was finished and the draft posts would move to the next available slot. 

Whenever I schedule a post, I schedule a social media post for it at the same time otherwise I'd forget and never "promote" any of my posts... If you can call sending out a tweet (or two) promotion but whatever. This is a hobby, not a job. 😉

I like to have three posts a week (excluding my Sunday wrap up post) but sometimes there are less and sometimes there are more. I really try to avoid more though... I struggle to keep on top of things at three, never mind more!

I tend to be quite organised at setting up post "shells" for any weekly memes I plan to take part in as and when I spot a question/topic I like. 
I do the same when it comes to signing up for blitzes, cover reveals or tours too. 
As for reviews, I only set up the post shells for those when I'm ready to draft the review... Although, I do tend to write a quick review draft asap after finishing a book - especially if it's a review copy - as I don't take notes and it can take me a while between finishing a book (and drafting my review) to actually finalising the review and publishing. 

If I'm feeling particularly creative, inspired or motivated, I sometimes get posts scheduled weeks or even months in advance! It's never a full week/month's worth but sometimes I finalise and schedule blogger memes or tags well in advance as they can be time-consuming to create and I chip away at them as I feel like it. I do tend to review any of these long-ago scheduled posts the weekend before they go live and make any tweaks if things have changed though.
However, if I was ever hit by a bus you'd likely get a few more posts from me from "beyond the grave" because of this habit... 👻

Thursday, 14 January 2021

Kiddie's Corner: The Pugly Duckling, I Can Do Magic, Rissy No Kisses and A Beary Rainy Day

The Pugly Duckling by Carla Siravo

Jean and Joe Duck were oh-so-surprised, When their duckling hatched, not quite the right size, With a curly-swirly tail and hairy-scary paws, And furry fat rolls and sharp beast claws. They loved their son, though he was ugly, Not quite a duckling, and a little bit pugly.

My Thoughts:
I wanted to love this book. I mean, look at the cover! Look at that little pug! It's adorable and part of me did love it. It's a sweet story about a bird couple and their adopted child and it imparts an important lesson about being yourself and accepting who you are. The book is full of alliteration and onomatopoeic words which would appeal to younger children and the illustrations are great.

However, this book would seriously get on my nerves if I had to read it regularly to a small child who adored it. There are only so many times I can read the phrase "ugly-wugly" before I want to poke my eyes out and the other duckings were so mean to the pug! More importantly, DOGS DON'T HATCH FROM EGGS. Plot device or not, it's stupid and I'd be explaining to any child who reads this story how dogs are mammals, not birds, and thus don't come from eggs! Seriously, the pug could have been adopted by the birds in any other way! It didn't need to be shoved into an egg! 

All in all, I could see why kids would like this... But as a parent, I'm not convinced I'd buy it for them. 

Wow! I Can Do Magic by Mack van Gageldonk

This series is full of animals, plants, and phenomena that are so spectacular that you’ll be left in awe!

Have you ever seen a real magician? A magician who can make himself invisible, change his shape, or walk on water? Take a good look around you in nature, because magicians might be closer than you think. In this book, you’ll meet incredible plants and animals: chameleons, butterflies, black panthers, mushrooms . . . And they can all do magic!

Mack takes the reader on a journey discovering animals that appear to do 'magic.' Mixing fantastic photography and illustrations, the reader can expect to learn about chameleons, hummingbirds and their ability to stay still in the air or even fly backward, the magic of fireflies shining bright, trees and animals living for many years, and so on. It is a fantastic trip with loads of facts about fauna and flora.

The first book in the wow series. Let the best animals and plants enchant you. For little biologists ages 5 years and up.

My Thoughts:
This book isn't a story book for children and more an educational book aiming to highlight the magic of the natural world. It explores natural phenomenon such as how Basalisk lizards walk on water and how iguanas camouflage themselves. The pictures are a mix of actual photographs and "hand drawn doodles." It's quite wordy, and some of the vocabulary is more complex than you'd expect, so I think it would work beautifully for slightly older children (6-10) but could also work for younger children when you're reading to them. 
All in all, I think it's a book that feeds the natural curiosity of children and acts as a gateway to science. It makes science - biological science in this case - and makes it accessible. 
I liked it and I'd definitely buy it for my son.

Rissy No Kisses by Katey Howes

A lovebird who doesn't like kisses? Rissy's friends and family wonder if she's sick, confused, or rude. But kisses make Rissy uncomfortable. Can one little lovebird show everyone that there's no one right way to show you care?

My Thoughts:
This was a super sweet book about a little lovebird called Rissy who didn't like kissies. The book explores the topic of consent, respecting people's boundaries and acceptance in a way that anyone can understand. It has cute pictures, simple vocabulary and imparts an important message without being preachy. I liked it and would definitely recommend for young children. 

A Beary Rainy Day by Adam Ciccio

Wallow the Bear lives a comfortable life deep in the woods. But when it rains, Wallow gets sad. He becomes gloomy and doesn't know what to do. When it starts drizzling, he hunkers down in his cave. One rainy day, he hears splashes and giggling coming from outside. What can that be? He takes a peek out the window and sees owl emptying water with a bucket. More of a reason to stay inside! And then he hears more splashing and giggling. Will Wallow have the courage to come out of his cave?

My Thoughts:
This is a tale of Wallow the bear who feels sad whenever it rains and how he learns to look past the negative for the positive and not let the rain make him sad or stop him from having fun.
It's a sweet and simple tale designed to encourage children to make the best of any situation.
I loved the illustrations but I found the text to be clunky. The vocabulary was pretty simple though so it would work well for young readers.