Where Have I Been?


*looks at date of my last post* 

Well... This is awkward. 

If it was not entirely noticeable, by my complete lack of posts last year, I took a little break from the book community last year. It wasn't intentional until about October when I tried to write comprehensible reviews for two books I had adored and just couldn't do it. I had somehow lost my love for sharing my thoughts about the stories I was reading; Book Twitter (where I predominately lurk) has felt less and less about reading and more about the drama, the 'tea'. And while sometimes things need calling out it's the same three topics that keep coming back up. I just couldn't take it anymore. So I put my Twitter into semi-hiatus mode, ignored as much as I could, and just let myself read when I felt like it or play video games.`

It did me a world of good! In 2020, I picked up a crochet hook for the first time since I was 15. I didn't think I could still do it, but within moments of getting the hook and wool home, I had the starts of a granny square blanket. I've since made a cardigan, a few octopuses, completed a commission for Dragon Egg Dice Bags and I would love to maybe do some ivy and forget-me-not garlands for my shelves. 

Just at the end of the second lockdown, I began to cross stitch for the first time ever! Currently, I am working on some silhouette pieces of Geralt of Rivia, Yennefer, and Ciri (pictured below). I've always wanted to learn to embroider and I'm slowly making my way there. I think I'm going to try blackwork next and then start practicing harder stitches. 

I am loving it as something to do while I watch something on the TV or chat with friends over discord. Oh, Discord, my salvation when I needed to socialize outside close circles and talk books, music, and crafting. To all the new servers I joined in 2020: thank you for adopting me into the pride with great warmth and love.

So what next?

Well, I don't know. I've missed this. Writing about stories... writing stories. I want to take it easy in 2021, even though I may have signed up for Susan Dennard's Story a Month challenge on top of everything else. I might share what I write ... probably not though. We will see.

My two biggest goal for 2021 is posting once a week. Sometimes it'll be a review, sometimes a blog tour, sometimes a few thoughts, sometimes something else completely. The second is something I've always aimed for, but am yet to achieve: reaching that "owned TBR zero". I woke up one morning in November, and just took one look at my shelves, and began piling books into an unhaul bag. ARCs that I felt if I really wanted to read them, I could rebuy them, or I'd owned for years and lost all interest. Tastes change and my shelves weren't reflecting the types of books I love anymore. I'm now under 90 books and considering I read 100 last year, it's entirely possible to at least half that. If I reach that then I've succeeded. 

When I started blogging, you feel like you have to have these grand shelves and unbroken spines. Or at least when I first started. But at the end of the day, all that matters is that I've bought the books, or have been gifted to read and do what I want with (ARCs excluded - stop overpricing books to sell ARCs Ms. Alsberg) so in short: fuck it. 

For now, though, I'm off to reread The Bone Season series for the fourth time in preparation for The Mask Falling to come out at the end of January. 

Come find me on my socials, Twitter, and Instagram.

Until the next time, stay safe.

TBR | Series Scaredown and Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon

Lauren attempts another readathon? More likely than you think.

I don't know how or why, but I always forget about Dewey's Readathon until it's about an hour before starting. I literally have it penned on my phone's calendar. Thankfully, my cider-addled brain preemptively thought of buying snacks before the 10pm curfew a fantastic idea.

I haven't been reading as much as I was at the start of the year, and already know there is no way I'm going to be able to read all of these in the next 24 hours, so what I don't finish will be continued through the week for TheBookMoo's Series Crackdown - Scaredown edition

  • Ghosts of the Shadow Market by Cassandra Clare; Sarah Rees Brennan; Maureen Johnson; Kelly Link and Robin Wasserman (I need to finish the last two short stories in this collection)
  • The Bone Garden by Heather Kassner
  • The Deck of Omens by Christine Lynn Harman
  • Wychwood by George Mann
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. 

Series Scaredown 2020 is running from October 23rd - November 1st. Run by TheBookMoo, the goal is to get to those series that we always say we're going to read and never do. However, as it's Hallowe'en, this round has a spoopy twist. You can still sign-up, here.

Depending on how much I get run during Dewey's, in the best-case scenario, I will be adding these to my TBR:
  • One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake
  • Time of Contempt by Andrezj Sapkowski
What have you been reading whilst I've been away from my blog? Will you participating in Series Scardown or Dewey's? Let me know! 

This post was fun - why don't I blog more often? 

Book Review | The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Suzanne Collins

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UK Publisher | Scholastic Books

UK Release Date | May 19th, 2020

Format | Hardback

Page Count | 517

RRP | £18.99

It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-almighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.

The odds are against him. He's been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined -- every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favour or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute... and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.

The Hunger Games were not always the revered spectacle the Capitol annually celebrates; but rather we see them as the stark, cruel reminder of the cost of war, and the way in which people in power use it to exert control over freedom of will. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes follow Corialanous Snow, later to become President of Panem, as he embarks on a mentorship to District 12's 10th Hunger Games tribute, Lucy Gray Baird.

Let's start with: I'm not as bitterly disappointed as I was anticipating; three stars is still a good rating.

I touched on this in my Heartless review, but books of 'villain origin' just don't interest me. I don't find them interesting as someone who loves well-written antagonists, as they often leave me feeling like they are redundant stories or whatever the inverse of creativity is. Especially with scenarios like this one, in which the crying out for a prequel has always been there. But, as they say: "be careful for what you wish for".

I thoroughly enjoyed how Collins engaged in worldbuilding, especially over the allusive start to the Games that gets glossed over in the original trilogy as it is expanded upon in this book. Suzanne Collins’ has a gift for creating a vision of a government that is struggling to enforce a totalitarian regime and regain strength after an act of people’s rebellion. This dichotomy between control and chaos makes for an engaging read, drawing the reader in to pay attention to the political landscape and form a discourse to current affairs.

Here are my problems with Ballad: I didn't think this book benefitted from being from Coriolanus's perspective AND I thought this book was too long.

Coriolanus Snow grated on me for being everything I despise, which I knew we were going to get, but his background story didn't make for a compelling or necessary read. I feel like I would've gained more insight into this era of politics in Panem without Snow, by giving me a protagonist to connect with. Furthering on from this, Lucy Gray Baird felt nothing more than a manic pixie dreamgirl and would have benefitted from having her perspective, giving her agency in the story other than the writing songs and being a love interest.

Overall, this is a novel of contemporary making, forming a commentary on capitalism and the current political landscape. For this, I still think The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is a worthy read, however, I think it could have benefitted from a different angle.

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