Towards the end of last year I decided that I wasn’t going to attempt monthly TBR (to be read) lists any more as it’s something I am just not good at sticking to.  I am, hands down, 100% a mood reader, preferring to approach my shelves and have a browse before pulling out a book which appeals to me at that time.

I think there is a lot to be said for reading a book at the wrong time.  My own personal experience has been that I simply don’t enjoy a story if I didn’t feel like reading it but was making myself plough through for the sake of it.

Of course that doesn’t mean that I want to wander aimlessly through my reading life in 2018 with no thought or purpose.  I do want to read the books that I want to read, without worrying about how it will appear when I record videos or have discussions but I also want to set myself a couple of loose goals.

books to read in 2018

The first is that I want 2018 to be the year I finish series’.  I have so many that I’ve started and never got to the end of, even when I own all the books, so if I have begun to read a series in the past couple of years then I want to read those to completion.

The second is that I want to re-read some books.  You can see I have pulled out Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo and A Game of Thrones by George R R Martin.  Six of Crows is a re-read because I simply LOVED the books and I know for a fact that I raced through the second, Crooked Kingdom, just to know what happened in the end.  I’d like to take my time with reading them a second time around.  Re-reading the Song of Ice and Fire books is a BIG commitment but prior to having children every time a new book in the series was released I would go back and re-read all of the previous books.  I haven’t read the very last book, A Dance With Dragons: After The Feast and I feel like it has just been too long now.  We will have to see how that one goes.

The Storm Sister by Lucinda Riley and Fool’s Quest by Robin Hobb both fall into the completing series task although Lucinda Riley hasn’t yet finished writing all the books in her Seven Sisters sequence.  The Robin Hobb book is (wait for this…) the second book in her final trilogy about Fitz and the Fool.  The third book was released last year and I already have the paperback on pre-order…hurry up March!  I have heard nothing but great things about it and I am honestly preparing myself to be utterly ruined by the final chapter.  I have cried at the end of every one of her trilogies featuring the Fool and Fitz and I have no doubt this will be the same.  If you’ve never picked up anything by Robin Hobb and you are into fantasy then I would highly recommend it.

The final two books which feature here, Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi and Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng are recently acquisitions but both are books I have been waiting to read for a long time and which have been recommended to me on countless occasions.  When the time feels right in 2018 I am aiming to pick them up.
Reading this back it does seem like I am committing myself to reading an awful lot of books in 2018, so we will just have to see how it actually turns out!
And, as always, I’d love to hear your recommendations if there are any books you are particularly looking forward to picking up this year.
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It’s no secret that I am an avid reader. It forms a major part of my every day existence and has, therefore, naturally spilled over into every aspect of my life including my blog and Youtube channel. Connecting with people online has been fantastic, especially when you have a shared interest such as reading; it was reading which sent me all the way to Chicago after all!

Connecting with people over a passion for reading is also what drove my desire in 2018 to take it one step further and create an online book club. In truth, I had wanted to create or join a real life book club but couldn’t find anything suitable; perhaps that is a goal for next year!

I reached out to the wider blogging community to see whether it would be of any interest to people and managed to connect with two lovely ladies: Naomi and Lucy, who got in touch to say that they also had plans to start a book club and would I like to collaborate. Three heads are always going to be better than one when it comes to this sort of thing so of course I snapped up the opportunity.

And so Bookish Mamas was born. You don’t have to be a blogger or a mum to join; it just so happens that the three of us fall into that category. You just need to share a love of reading and the desire to be part of a community. We will be reading and discussing one book a month initially and January’s book has just been announced: we are going to be reading The Power by Naomi Alderman and quick tip it is currently only £3.99 for the paperback version on Amazon! I am already 100 pages in and really enjoying it so far, although it’s certainly not what I was expecting.

There is no pressure to read each and every book, but we will announce each book at the start of a month and then discuss our thoughts in the last week over in our Facebook Group.

I would love to bring as many people from my community over there as possible, and would love for anyone who wants to join an online book club in 2018 to get involved. Who knows, you might even find someone from your area in the group and be able to actually meet up and drink wine and have a good natter on the night we discuss the book! 

 
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Although I am a particular fan of lazy days spent reading in the sun, I also think there is nothing greater than curling up under a blanket and losing myself in a good book, preferably with a cup of tea in hand and the sound of the rain hitting the windows outside.  Living in the North West of England means that throughout autumn (and also spring, summer and winter) there is no shortage of grey and rainy days to enjoy reading.

I had planned to pull out some of my favourite reads to show off but as my books are still mostly packed away *sob* you will have to make do with copies of the covers instead!  One day really, really, really soon I will get all my books out and displayed once again.

The main criteria for the perfect rainy day read for me is that it has to be a book I can get swept up in.  Although with the kids I don’t often get the chance to sit and read for hours on end, I still crave the possibility that I could find the time to read a book from cover to end in an entire day.

The StorytellerJodi Picoult
No surprises here that a Jodi Picoult book is my first suggestion but if you haven’t yet picked up The Storyteller then you need to sort it out!  I am a big Picoult fan anyway but this is hands-down my favourite book.  A dual timeline, a World War Two mystery, the usual conflict and grey areas all mixed together with a love interest which ticks along gently in the background but complements the rest of the story perfectly…this is a book which will have you drawn in and turning the pages to find out what happens next.

The Thirteenth TaleDiane Setterfield
If atmospheric, family-sagas with a strong focus on book lovers are your jam then you will love The Thirteenth Tale.  This is one of my favourite reads of the year so far and I have recommended it countless times since I put it down.  Again it’s a dual timeline story with an historic mystery and a present day setting but I LOVED.THIS.BOOK.

Harry PotterJ.K.Rowling
I feel as though you could pick up any of the seven Harry Potter books and devour them on a rainy day.  If you can get some HP common room music going in the background as well then you will really be onto a winner.  Adult or child alike, these books are just so so good and you can easily find yourself caught up in the story; imagining the rain hitting the window pane as you curl up in front of the fire in Hogwarts and not in your living room.

Six of CrowsLeigh Bardugo
Fantasy is one of my all-time favourite genres when autumn comes around as I love the idea of diving into another world, preferably one with a kick-ass magical system.  I ummed and ahhed over which fantasy series I would recommend as there are so many I could have chosen other than Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology; the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson, the Pendragon Cycle by Stephen Lawhead, the Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb…but this series just pipped the others to the post.  Morally grey characters, an impossible heist, an interesting backdrop and a clever magic system…if you haven’t yet read Six of Crows then I would highly recommend you do this autumn.

Station ElevenEmily St.John Mandel
Station Eleven may seem like an odd choice because it happens to be one of the bleakest books I’ve ever read but it is because of the writing style and the setting that this is the perfect book to read on a grey and cloudy day.  Of course, I should probably also mention that this post-apocalyptic story is laced with hope and humanity, and although there are dark moments there are also plenty of moments which fill your heart as well.

What are your recommendations for books to read on a rainy day?

Don’t forget you can purchase any of the books mentioned here using my affiliate links (it won’t cost you anything extra and it helps support my book buying habits!!):-


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Happy Reading!


Currently reading:- Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon

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Some of you may have spotted from my Instagram that I recently went on a trip to Chicago.  This was a huge deal for me; my first time in the US and a meet-up with some ladies which I met through being on Youtube.

It sounds so strange to say it out loud in that way…it certainly sounded strange at immigration when I landed at O’Hare airport as well!  But although I never quite believed that I would actually travel to America when we planned the trip well over a year ago, somehow when we were altogether it felt entirely natural.

These are women which I speak to on a regular basis, outside of just commenting on each other’s content.  Women whose lives I knew about, and who I felt I have come to know fairly well so although it was odd to think we’d never actually physically all met, as soon as we were together it was just a whole lot of fun!

madison capitol building

Of course with us all being on Booktube the obvious reason behind our meet up was to enjoy some of the more bookish delights in the city but we also did a number of touristy things as well which was ideal for me and my first trip across the pond.  I spent a couple of days in Madison with Katie before heading into Chicago to meet up with Mollie and Julie.  Although this wasn’t our original plan I feel like it worked out so perfectly as I got to see some of the Mid-West as well as the HUGE city which is Chicago.

chicago skyline

chicago marina boats

We went on an architectural boat tour in Chicago which was probably one of the highlights of my trip.  It meant that we got to see parts of the city we would probably never have discovered otherwise as well as getting some insight into the history of the city and the surrounding area.  When I say that Chicago is HUGE, I really mean it.  Everything, buildings included is on a vast scale and just looking up made you feel really, really tiny.

chicago bean

chicago night skyline

Shockingly I didn’t take too many pictures of the trip but I did a whole lot of filming and I have shared the vlog at the end of this post if you fancy a more in-depth look at what we got up to.  We filmed a number of collaborative videos too which will also be uploaded soon by the other ladies.

3 arts restoration cafe

chicago bookstore

3 arts restoration cafe

I will also hopefully be sharing separately the experiences we had of the bookstores in Chicago as we visited a good number and I feel they very much deserve their own post!

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With our week long holiday in Italy, I had actually expected to read more than I did in the month of June.  Then again, the book I took away with me was almost 900 pages long so broken up into ‘normal’ book size that’s probably about 3 books worth in one!

I enjoyed almost all the books I read this month which is pretty good going, especially the way things have been just recently and I’d probably go as far as to say I would recommend them all for one reason or another:-

Cold MountainCharles Frazier
This book was absolutely stunning.  It was so vivid and so descriptive and although it was a quiet book and one which was pretty slow in terms of plot, it just drew me in completely and I loved the journey we went on.  Set during the American Civil War we predominantly follow the stories of Inman, a wounded soldier who has deserted the army and is trying to make his way back home and Ada, a woman of privilege whose life is turned upside down when her father dies and she is left to manage their farm on her own.

Ship of MagicRobin Hobb
This was the humdinger of a book I read this month.  I am a huge Robin Hobb fan but I had avoided picking up any of her books outside of her Farseer books as I was worried I wouldn’t like them as much.  How wrong I was!  As with all Hobb books, it is really difficult to summarise succintly because there are multiple layers but, in short, this is an adult fantasy with pirates, trader ships, magic and plenty more.

1984George Orwell
I picked up 1984 as I had heard it was quite similar (and in many ways the inspiration for…) The Circle by Dave Eggers.  If you aren’t familiar with the story: it is a sci-fi dystopian classic in which the world has been divided into three super-states.  Our protagonist Winston lives in Oceania which is the UK and the USA combined.  Oceania is governed by the all-knowing, all-seeing, infallible ‘Big Brother’.  Big Brother is all about suppressing the individual and freedom of thought as well as removing any relationships which may take focus from your commitment to the regime so when Winston meets Julia and love begins to blossom…our story ensues.
This was a lot harder to read than I was imagining for a modern classic and it felt very dense and quite slow.  But I thought it made interesting observations which are still relevant today and I’m pleased I can tick it off the list!

Fault LineRobert Goddard
After wading through Ship of Magic and 1984 I needed something a little more fast-paced so I turned to a go-to author, Robert Goddard.  This was perhaps not my favourite of his books but I still enjoyed that he manages to mis-direct and twist things so well that you never really see the ending coming.  Fault Line is about a family owned company who work in china clay and who experience their unfair  (some might say…) share of tragedies and misfortunes and the young man whose life gets caught up in their story, quite incidentally.

Don’t forget you can purchase any of the books mentioned here using my affiliate links (it won’t cost you anything extra and it helps support my book buying habits!!):-

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Happy Reading!

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