Feature | The Bookish Savings Jar

Whilst taking part in my very first #SundayYA Twitter chat, I stumbled across a brilliant idea via Charlie (@charlieinabook), originally courtesy of Aoife (@prettyPPD) and Steph (@eenalol) , whereby you put £1 in a jar for every book read. ‘My oh my,’ I thought, ‘even if I only just about reached my Goodreads goal, that would be fifty-two whole English pounds extra to spend!’ You can imagine my delight; I love saving money and forgetting about it so you end up with a nice little pot of surprise at the end of the year.

Of course, this being me, I’m never be satisfied with not being a little bit of a masochist too so I decided to make it harder for myself. Thus the Bookish Savings Jar was born. Capitalised letters mean business. Do you see the jar? Does it look scary? Maybe I should decorate it accordingly…


This seemingly innocuous little jar is going to be my windfall come the end of the year (/when I go to Disney World because, let’s be real, I’ll probably use this money anyway to pay off the bills I will rack up when I’m there). The reason for this? Observe the 3 simple rules of the Bookish Savings Jar:

  • For every book read, £1 must be surrendered to the jar.
  • For every book that is reread, an additional £1 supplement must be surrendered to the jar.
  • For every book purchased, £1 must be surrendered to the jar.*

* Exceptions: eARCs and audiobooks do not incur charge, since they’re not adding to my physical TBR. (May revise this ruling if my audiobook buying goes off the charts!)

Reading these rules, you may well think I was trying to read less this year, since it seems as though I’m basically punishing/fining myself for reading. I did worry if that would be the case, whether I’d purposely not read as many books or else not read shorter books or graphic novels and instead opt for long tomes like War and Peace and A Dance with Dragons because then I could put off the inevitable £1 surrendering until a much later date. However, based on January’s progress thus far, I can safely say I needn’t have worried about that being the case at all. As of 19th January, this is how the humble jar looks:

Purchased: Artemis Fowl series (8 books)  = £8
Purchased: Down and Out in Paris and London = £1
Purchased: Fragile Things = £1
Purchased: Saga, Volume 8 = £1
Read: The Wicked Cometh = £1
Re-read: Princess Diaries, Take Two = £2
Read: The Winner’s Crime = £1
Read: The Fandom = £1
Read: Sourdough = £1

Already, I stand at a healthy £17 for and we’re only 19 days into the year. Imagine if I kept up this pace and averaged £20 a month – that would be £240 for the year which is definitely nothing to be sniffed at. I already save a portion of my monthly paycheck (I set it up so that it leaves my current account and pings into my savings account on pay day, before I’ve even had a chance to check my balance) but this will make a nice little bonus pot of money that I fully intend to spend on fun treats. A little reward at the end of the year. A fund with which to ‘treat ma self’, you might say… Let’s see how it fares over the coming months, shall we?

Do you have any savings tactics related to reading? Or maybe you have a plan to help you limit your book buying this year? Let me know in a comment, I’m curious!

Also, would you guys be interested in hearing how the savings jar is going periodically, each month maybe, in my wrap up posts? Let me know!

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Review | Sourdough by Robin Sloan

Title: Sourdough (2017)
Author: Robin Sloan
Publisher: Atlantic Books
Read: 15th – 17th January 2018
Genre: contemporary; magical realism
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

“Lois Clary is a software engineer at General Dexterity, a San Francisco robotics company with world-changing ambitions. She codes all day and collapses at night, her human contact limited to the two brothers who run the neighbourhood hole-in-the-wall from which she orders dinner every evening. Then, disaster! Visa issues. The brothers close up shop, and fast. But they have one last delivery for Lois: their culture, the sourdough starter used to bake their bread. She must keep it alive, they tell her – feed it daily, play it music, and learn to bake with it.

Lois is no baker, but she could use a roommate, even if it is a needy colony of microorganisms. Soon, not only is she eating her own homemade bread, she’s providing loaves daily to the General Dexterity cafeteria. The company chef urges her to take her product to the farmer’s market, and a whole new world opens up. When Lois comes before the jury that decides who sells what at Bay Area markets, she encounters a close-knit club with no appetite for new members. But then, an alternative emerges: a secret market that aims to fuse food and technology. But who are these people, exactly?” (Synopsis from the publisher)

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Down the TBR Hole #13

Welcome folks to the thirteenth round of Down the TBR Hole! That’s right, I’ve somehow reached unlucky number thirteen of this blog post series and I kind of can’t believe it. The previous twelve posts from 2017 have really helped to clean up my Goodreads TBR and start to get it to a point where it’s a little more honest and realistic about what books I’m ever actually going to read rather than just saying I want to read. I hope to continue this spirit well into 2018 so, for now at least, Down the TBR Hole is staying as a semi-regular feature!

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, check out my twelfthmy eleventhmy tenthmy ninthmy eighthmy seventhmy sixthmy fifthmy fourthmy thirdmy second or my first round post or check out Lia at Lost in a Story who is the creator of this wonderful meme/project.

I’m trying to make this a regular feature of my blogging schedule because it’s good to regularly reevaluate if/why you want to read a book – that way you don’t come back to your TBR years later and have no clue why a title piqued your interest in the first place. I’ve also added a summary of results bit at the bottom of each round so I can track how many books I’ve kept and ditched from my TBR shelf in each round and overall.

Just a reminder of how this works:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

Outside of doing these posts semi-regularly I have also been culling my TBR list at random points when I’m bored – all of this is good in terms of getting my TBR to a reasonable amount of books but it also means that these posts are getting harder for me to do as I’m beginning to really agonise over whether to ditch or keep books on there. Not that any of this is a bad thing! Let’s get going on the 10 books under scrutiny today…

1. The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

Why is it there? Honestly? Not even sure… I’m sure there was a stage at which I kept seeing Jonas Jonasson books everywhere, online and off-line, so I guess I must have added this then. Since then, I haven’t really heard anything super inspiring or encouraging about Jonasson’s books and I’ve never had the urge to buy this so I guess that answers the next couple of questions…
Do I own it? No
Verdict? Ditch

2. Don Juan by Lord Byron

Why is it there? I must have added this at the point I was studying Byron at school or university, because I feel like there’s no other reason for me to have done so. As it turned out, I liked studying Byron enough but not enough to actually actively pursue any of his stuff other than what I’d been assigned as required reading. I think that says it all really… especially since I graduated from my BA back in 2014 and my MA in 2015 and I still haven’t read any more Byron in the interim.
Do I own it? Yes (in one of my many literature anthologies, I’m sure)
Verdict? Ditch

3. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Why is it there? It’s an alternative history set at the time of the Napoleonic Wars about a pair of magicians (I presume, the titular characters)… like why wouldn’t this be on my TBR? It also apparently is inspired by like Romantic literary tropes and stuff and is written in the style of a 19th century novel. I’m all about that.
Do I own it? Yes
Verdict? Keep

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Best Books of 2017

Welcome one, welcome all, to the downright obligatory Best Books of 2017 post – my name is Emma and I’ll be your cruise director for today. As you can see, this post didn’t quite make it out into the world on New Years’ Day as I intended, because apparently I took a fortnight to reflect on my 2017 reading and really think about what the very best books I read in the last year were, rather than just picking out all the books that I’d given 5-star ratings. These books are the ones that have stayed with me, for one reason or another, and were the best books that I read in 2017. Obviously, not all of these were published in 2017, but just made it firmly onto my radar (and bedside table) in the last year.

(If you’re looking for my more stats-based wrap up of 2017 then please do pop over to my 2017: A Bookish Year In Review post!)

Just fyi, because these posts are long enough already, I won’t be posting synopses of all the books I’ve chosen, since Goodreads can do a much better job than I can about being concise, but I’ll be sure to link to their blurbs and to my review, if I’ve done one! But I will make sure to explain why each book has earned a place on this hallowed list…

Without further ado, let’s do this like the music charts, in reverse order, shall we?

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2017 | A Bookish Year In Review

It’s that time of year again – the time when I wrap up all of last year’s reading into one handy post for reasons.

But first, how did 2017 in general go for me personally?

As far as years go, 2017 was much better than 2016. For a start, no beloved family members passed away so woo, congrats family, you hung on in there. The fallout from my nanna’s death is still lingering though, which sucks, but that’s life… unfortunately. Elsewhere, 2017 was the year that I finally felt like my life was getting sort of to the point I wanted – I feel on top of the house and bills that go along with it which I share with Liz (check out her blog here if you’re so inclined); I sometimes exercise and eat well (emphasis on the sometimes); I travelled to the US for the first time and loved it; I booked a holiday with Liz to go to Disney World (!) in 2018; I saw The Killers live in Liverpool (best night ever); I got to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (the magic is SO good), Phantom of the Opera (twice!), Les Miserables again (my fav) and Hamilton (in a word… phenomenal); and, perhaps most importantly, I finally got a job in my chosen field and I feel like I’ve settled into it well and I’m valued as a member of the small team in the office. So, 2017, despite an overwhelmingly crap year for politics, the uncovering of disgusting levels of sexual harassment and abuse in Hollywood, and the world at large generally going to shit, for my own little blinkered view of the world, it was alright.

But that’s not what you’re here for, is it? This post is aaaall about the books. If you want to see what my top books of the year were, please see the companion blog post: Favourite Books of 2017. This year I surprised myself by not just necessarily including all of the books that were my favourite in any given month – some slipped off my radar as the months ticked by and others stayed with me for longer than I expected.

But, first things first, let’s take a good look at every single book I read this year, because the graphics and statistics are deeply satisfying to me.

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T5W | Books I Didn’t Get To In 2017

Welcome one and all to this week’s Top 5 Wednesday post! For those of you who don’t know Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme/challenge which was created by the wonderful Lainey from gingerreadslainey and is now overseen by the equally lovely Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. Every Wednesday, participants devise their Top 5 based on a given topic.

This Wednesday’s topic is 10th January: Top 5 Books You Didn’t Get To In 2017. It’s pretty self-explanatory – this is the top 5 books that I didn’t manage to get to last year and that I want to prioritise this year. I am the queen of putting off reading books, especially sequels in a series that I never want to end, so this list was pretty easy to write since I never get to the books I mean to. Without further ado, let’s see the books…

5. How Not To Be A Boy by Robert Webb

hownottobeaboyI’m not a big fan of Robert Webb. I’m not not a fan of Robert Webb. I’m mostly neutral. I’ve never been hugely into Peep Show but I’d also never turn it off on TV so I’ve seen episodes here and there. But aside from Peep Show, I know precisely zero about Robert Webb. And yet I bought this book because I hear some very promising buzz about it on Twitter just before it was released. As you can guess from the title, it deals with gender and expectations and, especially (I think), about how we tell boys to be boys (and, I assume, girls to be girls) and how that’s damaging to our children. I’m looking forward to it having heard from reliable sources that it is, in fact, ‘one of the good ones’ when it comes to books about gender. I have this on audiobook and in hardback form so hopefully that will work in its favour. Continue reading

Review | The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin

Title: The Wicked Cometh (2018)
Author: Laura Carlin
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release Date: 1st February 2018
Read: 1st – 6th January 2018
Genre: historical fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

‘This newspaper has taken note that the past month has been remarkable for the prevalence of cases where men, women and children are declared missing. Scarcely a week passes without the occurrence of an incident of this type’ – The Morning Herald, Tuesday 13 September 1831

Down the murky alleyways of London, acts of unspeakable wickedness are taking place and the city’s vulnerable poor are disappearing from the streets. Out of these shadows comes Hester White, a bright young woman who is desperate to escape the slums by any means possible. When Hester is thrust into the world of the aristocratic Brock family, she leaps at the chance to improve her station in life under the tutelage of the fiercely intelligent and mysterious Rebekah Brock. But whispers from her past slowly begin to poison her new life and both she and Rebekah are lured into the most sinister of investigations, dragging them into the blackest heart of a city where something more depraved than either of them could ever imagine is lurking… (Synopsis from publisher)

“My advice is don’t rely on a man to be on time and don’t trust all what the newspapers write in their dailies.”

The Wicked Cometh marks a departure for me – it’s the first time in quite a while that I’ve chosen to read a book that has no hint of fantasy or magic, and is purely historical fiction, albeit with a generous helping of the Gothic. The Wicked Cometh is the kind of historical fiction I enjoy – it doesn’t sugarcoat or glorify the Victorian age, instead it presents a London that is more about the blood and excrement in the back alleys of the busy thoroughfares than the refined drawing rooms of the elite in society. It proclaims to be “a novel of darkest London” and this book goes to some very dark places indeed, with the book opening with its protagonist, a parson’s daughter, now down-and-out, Hester White, asleep in an outside shed with only the ragged clothes she’s wearing as protection against the cold wind of the night that whistles through the slums in which she lives, a slum from which many people are going missing, with no explanation, or concern raised. What emerges from this less than auspicious start, via the fortuitous happenstance of a carriage accident putting Hester in the path of the aristocratic Brocks, is a story about how far it is possible to rise and fall and what nature of crimes both the upper and under classes commit in everyday life. It concerns the question of the period – can the lower classes be educated and, therefore, have a better “value” in the eyes of the government and society at large? These macrocosmic concerns are, naturally, dealt with through the journey of the novel’s protagonist Hester, as she meets some unsavoury characters along the way, in the slums and drawing rooms alike.

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Bout of Books 21 | Sign Up & TBR

Hi everyone, it’s the first readathon of the year for me – it’s Bout of Books time! Having felt a bit bogged down with readathons and reading challenges in the last quarter of 2017, I stopped putting so much pressure on myself to participate in every readathon and instead had a nice little break, so I missed out on the last Bout of Books round back in August. However, now, I’m fully rested and raring to go again with readathons so Bout of Books 21 has come at exactly the right time for me!

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 8th and runs through Sunday, January 14th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 21 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog.
– From the Bout of Books team

I like Bout of Books largely because it’s so low-key that there aren’t really reading challenges or any restrictions on what you can or can’t do – so long as you just read, you’re already winning at the readathon! So here we have it, this is officially my very low-key sign up. Although there aren’t specific prompts or challenges, it’s still probably advisable to have some kind of TBR in mind so I don’t go rogue and start reading something utterly ill-advised like Les Miserables or something. Here’s the stack I’ve impulsively decided on – I’ll (try to) read from this selection of books over the course of the readathon.


    1. The Fandom  by Anna Day
    2. The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo
    3. The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski
    4. How Not To Be a Boy [audiobook] by Robert Webb
    5. Princess Diaries: Take Two [audiobook] by Meg Cabot

I’ve tried to include a range of genres and mediums so hopefully no matter where, or when, or what mood I’m in, I can do a bit of reading for the Bout of Books readathon in some form or another. Plus this should help jump-start my audiobook listening which was lacking, to say the least, in the latter half of 2017. Hopefully anyway… fingers crossed!

If you want to keep up with my (admittedly sparse) updates during the course of the readathon, I’ve started a Twitter thread of my updates.

Are you participating in this round of Bout of Books? Comment below if so, I’d love to chat books and we could help cheer each other on!

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Review | This Is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay

thisisgoingtohurtTitle: This Is Going to Hurt (2017)
Author: Adam Kay
Read: 5th – 12th November 2017
Genre: memoir; non-fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

“Welcome to 97-hour weeks. Welcome to life and death decisions. Welcome to a constant tsunami of bodily fluids. Welcome to earning less than the hospital parking meter. Wave goodbye to your friends and relationships . . .

Welcome to the life of a junior doctor.

Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, comedian and former junior doctor Adam Kay’s This Is Going to Hurt provides a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line. Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking by turns, these diaries are everything you wanted to know – and more than a few things you didn’t – about life on and off the hospital ward. And yes, it may leave a scar.” (Synopsis from publisher)

Book awards aren’t everything, but there is a reason that this book smoothly scooped the Books Are My Bag Non-Fiction Book of the Year, Books Are My Bag Readers’ Choice Award, Blackwell’s Debut Book of the Year, and iBooks’ Book of the Year awards – it’s immensely readable. At times tragic, at times side-splittingly hilarious, Adam Kay’s diaries from his time training and working as a doctor (one and the same) are glib and matter-of-fact and you definitely don’t need to be a doctor to find them compelling and addictive, but I’m sure if you are, this book would resonate on every single sleep-deprived level.

“Whatever we lack in free time, we more than make up for in stories about patients. Today in the mess over lunch we’re trading stories about nonsense “symptoms” that people have presented with. Between us in the last few weeks we’ve seen patients with itchy teeth, sudden improvement in hearing and arm pain during urination.”

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December 2017 | Wrap Up

Welcome one, welcome all to my slightly belated Wrap Up post for December. Now I am  back in Liverpool after being at home for Christmas, I am reunited with my laptop and its image-editing software so I can finally bring you my wrap up for how I did with my reading in December. As we got into December, I had quite a few reading challenges left to complete for the Around the Year in 52 Books Reading Challenge but I was determined to complete it because I knew I’d already failed one reading challenge (the Book Riot Read Harder) and I didn’t want to fail another. Therefore, a lot of the books I read in the month were specifically chosen to fulfil the parameters of the prompts I had left in the reading challenge – I even got super serious and devised a December TBR to make sure I’d get it done, look at me all organised!

In December, I read a total of 8 books fiction and non-fiction – and were re-reads (marked by *).

In terms of format: 1 was hardback, were paperback, 1 was an ebook, and 1 was an audiobook.

And as for genre, very broadly speaking, 2 books were thrillerswere YA fantasy, 1 was historical fantasy; 1 was young-adult contemporary1 was non-fiction, and 1 was a classic.

Onto the books themselves…


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