When book excitement turns into a crash landing

Photo by John Weinhardt on Unsplash

I know we’ve said it before with blog posts like this but this is a post for readers, not authors. No offense is meant to any author named here but we aren’t going to like all books and often we want to talk about disappointments, the fails and the incredulous. This is one of those posts, so look away now if you want to.

Micky and Hollis here again charting some of our epic failures that almost hurt with disappointment. Sometimes I feel like I particularly hurt over a crashing fail when I’ve hyped the book up to myself. Often I’ve waited a year or six months for a particular book, new or part of a series, and the sadness when it doesn’t work out is intense. Where appropriate, we’ve linked our reviews so you can see what our problems were.

We recently read a book at the same time that we’d both been anticipating, it wasn’t a buddy read as such but turned into a finish on the same night situation. The utter relief at feeling the same about this book when it has about 750 positive reviews (prior to release) was wonderful. What was this book you ask? THE GRACE YEAR by Kim Liggett.

Following up the previous day’s disappointment was another sorta-buddy read, this is a week where we both just happened to be behind on the same ARCs, and literally hours after THE GRACE YEAR, we found ourselves slogging through INTO THE CROOKED PLACE. This had an okay end for Hollis, wrapping it up with a two stars but willing to read on, but for Micky it was a dnf, she just couldn’t go on, key dramatic music.

THE BEAUTIFUL by Renee Ahdieh was another where we’ve been in tune in epic disappointment, although this was a 3 star read for us both (review here). It’s just we wanted it to rock our world with 5 stars, we’re greedy like that. We also kinda wanted vampires from this vampire book? We think that was less of an ask.

Another fantasy crash landing came in form of follow-up from Natasha Ngan in GIRLS OF STORM AND SHADOW, the sequel to GIRLS OF PAPER AND FIRE. Micky really enjoyed book one but kind of hated book two, Hollis saw the writing on the wall with book one, so it was less of a disappointment for her when book two didn’t work. We both gave it 2 stars and our review is here.

Another one where we black sheeped on was CALL ME BY YOUR NAME by AndrĂ© Aciman. This is a well-loved, and much hyped, book we both absolutely loathed. Neither of us really want to relive it so here are our one-star reviews if you’re curious.

THE UNHONEYMOONERS by Christina Lauren makes our list because, well, Hollis really struggled with this (it’s her least favourite CLo!) and Micky wasn’t far off in her thoughts either. Hollis diligently wrote her review here and Micky copped out of writing one for the blog but they were both 3 star thoughts.

Come tell us about your book disappointments, we all have them and it cheers us along to know it isn’t just us!

SLUMP-BUSTERS

Photo by Tonny Tran on Unsplash

We don’t know one bookie in the world of books and worms that doesn’t hit a slump for one reason or another. When books are life and they are your rudder, it is the most jarring experience when you just… can’t….

We’re here to share our experiences of slumps, reasons why they happen to us as individuals, how we navigate the slump when it’s happening and what we would recommend as a book to get you out of a slump. That said, we are all different and we would love to hear your experiences of slumps and busting it.

Micky here. First, I’m going to define my version of what I think a book slump is and I have two alternatives on offer for you here. I think I have two kinds of slumps, the first is what I’d call a ‘true slump’ where I CAN’T read anything for a period of time, sometimes over a week. I cannot focus on the page in this kind of slump. I’ve had true slumps when I’ve been grieving for someone or in times of very high stress.

The second kind of slump I experience I call a ‘slumpy-slump’ (I know, I’m sorry, I’m ridiculous) where I might not read for a few days then pick up various books, I’m kind of reading but not enjoying. I might even finish a book in a slumpy-slump but I’m never going to like it beyond meh because the slumpy invades my mood. I go into slumpy-slumps because I’ve read an amazing book and nothing will compare, I’ve read a bunch of meh books and I’m sick of them or background work/home stress.

Like lots of people, I try lots of things to try and bust the slump and most consistently successful approach is to re-read a light, romantic favourite. Sometimes this turns into a re-read of a series…oops. I find that a challenging book, a new book, an ARC or audio just won’t work for me when I’m in slump town. I’ve added my recs below. Hollis, what says you?

For me, I feel like I only have two modes : on or off. When I’m on, I’m reading relentlessly, one book after another; I might not like everything I read, but it doesn’t stop me from keeping on. Same on the other side of the equation. I might find a book I absolutely love that would give someone else a hangover but.. I don’t really get those. I’ll write my review and keep on keepin’ on.

My off mode, however, is where.. I just have no drive to read. I might get a little time to pick up a book, might even finish one, but if I don’t immediately reach for another? Or if it’s days before I feel inclined to read again? Yup, I’m off. This is definitely exacerbated by my life-slumps which are generally a result of work kicking my ass and sucking the energy, and focus, out of me day in and day out. But I won’t get into that. This isn’t therapy. Wait, is it? Could blogchat posts on a book blog be a form of therapy? Stick a pin in that.

Either way, I have no tricks or tips for busting slumps. Because, sadly, there’s no tip or trick that works for me. It is or it isn’t and I just have to ride it out.

Books To Reread (or read for the first time) That Might Kill Your Slump :

THE HATING GAME by Sally Thorne
Grip series by Kennedy Ryan
RADIANCE by Grace Draven
ENTREAT ME by Grace Draven
MAYBE SOMEDAY by Colleen Hoover
PERSUASION by Jane Austen
Wild Aces series by Chanel Cleeton
The Wishes series by GJ Walker-Smith
A COURT OF MIST & FURY by Sarah J Maas
RULE by Jay Crownover
OBSIDIAN by Jennifer L Armentrout
REPEAT by Kylie Scott


Are you prone to slumps? Do you have any recommendations to beat them or favorite books/series you turn to? Let us know!

TBR housekeeping – to do or not to do…

Photo by Lysander Yuen on Unsplash

Everybody’s shufflin’… are you old enough for that to start an earworm? I feel like I’m always arranging, rearranging, organising and shuffling my books and also my virtual books. What is this craziness about which I speak? Let me share.

Micky here. Let’s start with the physical books. If you’re a book spender, a book blogger with arcs or both, that creates a space problem unless you’re living in the Beast’s mansion. So it’s inevitable that you’re going to have to shuffle in and shuffle out. With physical arcs, if I really liked the book, I’ll keep them, otherwise I’ll give them away or, on the rare occasion, I’ll trade. It’s the same really with the books I’ve bought that I don’t end up liking, they’ll go to a charity shop. All making room for the new.

I do have a collecting problem when it comes to classics that I love and special edition copies from Goldsboro and The Folio Society if I really love a book. I’m always going to find a place for these. I recently bought a book tree (shelf) just for my tbr…

Now onto the virtual books. I recently did some serious autumn cleaning, what is this fall thing you guys keep talking about? Said clean up was necessary because I have a problem as follows. I had two audible packages on the go – US and UK, usually because I’ve had cheap offers, on top of which I had an audible escape package that had gone past the free trial. I CANCELLED THEM ALL because I’ve spent the last month mainly listening to audio through the library. What the hell, Micky?

Then I went on the biggest tbr clean-up project ever on Goodreads. I went and deleted over 300 books that I would never read now. These books stemmed back from 2012 when I first joined GR and I had rather different taste in books then to now. I cannot tell you how good that purge felt and that I am sadistic because I enjoyed doing the purge, it wasn’t laborious to me. This is on top of the regular kindle clean ups I do. As soon as I’ve read and reviewed a book, I delete it off my kindle, to go live it’s final days in the cloud.

Am I crazy? Am I alone? Do tell.

Hollis says no, you aren’t alone. Last year, probably shortly after the not-yet-repeated unread kindle book count and unread physical book count of 2018, of which we’re quietly just ignoring, I went through and deleted.. at least two hundred books of my GR “want to read” shelf. It was cathartic. Cleansing. Also.. confusing. Who was this person that added so much random, weird, and unknown books to her shelves? I didn’t know her! But I bet she knows the girl who one-clicked all those whacky freebie or dollar books onto my kindle. I bet they are in cahoots.

I had also done a bit of a physical cleanse, too. I had so many books I had been carting around, from move to move, convinced I would read.. but, in my heart of hearts, I knew I probably never would. I got rid of those, too. Sadly I did that purge before counting my unread books so there was no satisfying drop in numbers the way there was for my GR shelf.

But with ARCs, wow. This is an unreal privilege, one I’m not deserving enough to have but will accept anyway, but it’s definitely becoming a problem. Not so much the eARCs, though unlike Micky I don’t delete anything off my kindle because I r a hoarder, but the physicals? I do my best to never request more than I know I can read but the reality is they are just as present as my actual books, the ones I want to keep, so, like Micky, I’m trying to offload, trying to trade, definitely swapping with local bloggers. At least for the ones I’m not hoarding for reasons. But also do I need reasons? See above RE hoarder. But I do collect for certain authors, certain series, and some do become precious to me if I’ve loved them enough.

And so the shuffle continues, the space gets tighter, and I end up searching on wayfair (not sponsored) for shelves that I never get around to buying because I continue to convince myself I’ll get rid of more books.. only for even more to find their way into my home.

What was the point of this blog post again? Beyond baring my bookish soul and confessing to all my bookish sins? Oh right. That’s exactly what it was.


Weigh in below! Do you move out as many books as you bring in? Do you swap with friends? Do you clean off read books from your kindle? Do you have an ARC problem? Hollis will stop asking questions now so you can actually let us know.

And the best series award goes to… Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews

Micky here. The Kate Daniels series has been a non-labour of love for me this year. After about 2.5 years of Hollis telling me to read this, gifting me book one, I finally bit the bullet and started MAGIC BITES (see what I did there). From that point on, it has been a lesson in restraint as I would have liked to have binged the series one book after another. What I’ve done in the main is one or two per month. I actually think this has made me enjoy it more, savouring the stories, anticipating the next…

If you don’t know anything about the series, let me enlighten you. This is a paranormal/fantasy series with the most kick-ass heroine I have ever adored – Kate Daniels herself. This is a world of crazy, powerful magic and Kate is an elusively special person, you don’t know for quite a while who or what she is but that’s all part of the charm. She is full of snark and humour, she’s super strong, honed like a weapon but she has a heart that shows sometimes. This is a world of shapeshifters, vampires (like you’ve never known them before), witches and many weird and powerful beings, good, bad and definitely ugly. I also want to say as a bit of a scaredy cat, this series can be pretty gory.

There is a love story woven through this series but I am not going to say who. It is deliciously slowly burning and it has taken my breath away many times. However, let me just say, the love story is rarely in the fore, it is the foundation and it is superb.

This is a series with Kate at the fore in the main books and quite a number of novellas, usually dedicated to the side characters, many of whom I love and was delighted to get some focus on. We have put a series list at the bottom for anyone wanting to know the series reading order.

Hollis, you know this series better than me, having read then re-read it. Give us you thoughts, musings and adoration please.

I mean, I can’t say it better than Micky herself already has. This series really has something for everyone. For the die hard PNR or UF fans, those who are fascinated by other cultures and the various mythology and folklore and want to see more than the standard Irish/Celtic infusions come out to play, for the modern day snark and humour, and definitely the Shippiest of Shippy couples. And there are a lot of them!

For me, though, I think what makes this series so great, and so enduring, and definitely rereadable, is the ensemble cast. Not only do these authors offer up novellas and extras but the non-leads get plenty of time in the main books, too. They triumph, they suffer, they find love, they lose it, they die, all alongside Kate. They are an integral part of her and her world and they make it all the richer for it. Sometimes they are her friends, sometimes they are in her way, and sometimes bonds are tested and may break. But it’s always interesting, often fun, and occasionally heartbreaking. Also, there are plenty of cameos. Thought this one character was nothing more than a footnote in a random scene and you’ll never see them again? Hah! Guess again. The eater eggs, the follow ups, the relevance to the big picture.. it’s all meticulously planned. It’s scary, really.

If you want a series that will make you laugh (and laugh and laugh.. and laugh), cry, will creep you out, break your heart, and have you clamouring for more, you definitely need to give Kate Daniels and her crew a try. And, once you’ve run out of things to read (because sadly this is our reality now..), there are plenty other fascinating and funny series by these authors still to try.

Recommended Order of Full-Length Novels & Novellas/Shorts

A QUESTIONABLE CLIENT (book 0.5, found in the bind-up SMALL MAGICS)
MAGIC BITES (book one)
MAGIC BURNS (book two)
MAGIC STRIKES (book three)
MAGIC MOURNS (book 3.5)
MAGIC BLEEDS (book four)
CURRAN POV (with alt-POVs [1-9] taken from books one to four)
MAGIC DREAMS (book 4.5)
MAGIC SLAYS (book five)
MAGIC TESTS (book 5.3, also found in the bind-up SMALL MAGICS)
MAGIC GIFTS (book 5.4)
GUNMETAL MAGIC (book 5.5)
RETRIBUTION CLAUSE (book 5.6, also found in the bind-up SMALL MAGICS)
Curran Twitter and/or Curran Texts (book 5.7)
MAGIC RISES (book six)
MAGIC STEALS (book 6.5)
MAGIC BREAKS (book seven)
prequel to MAGIC SHIFTS (book 7.5, Curran POV #10)
MAGIC SHIFTS (book eight)
MAGIC STARS (book 8.5)
MAGIC BINDS (book nine)
IRON AND MAGIC (book 9.5, also first in The Iron Covenant series)
MAGIC TRIUMPHS (book ten)


Are you already a fan of this series? Do you have a favourite character or book? Or, if you haven’t yet started, do you think we convinced you to give it a try? Let us know!

CLASSICS FAN OR NOT?

For someone like me (Micky here), English classics are integral to why I like reading. I studied Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte for two years in high school and rather than putting me off, Jane Eyre became my favourite book and remains so to this day. The analysis of the characters, narrative, context and storyline only made me fonder of the book as a whole. That truly started off my love of books but it also got me inquisitive about English classics. Also, I am English, so reading about my country and the culture in a different era is usually enjoyable and sometimes discomforting.

I’m definitely a romance fan and so my leanings in this era of writing do tend towards those with a love story as part of it. I have often struggled with Dickens and Thackerey for example but I adore the Brontes, Austen, Gaskell, Eliot and Hardy. Here are my top ten English classic favourites.

  1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  2. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
  3. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  5. Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
  6. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte
  7. Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
  8. Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
  9. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
  10. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence

I’m also a fan of some international classics and here are my top five.

  1. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  3. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  4. Little Women by Louisa May Allcott
  5. Beauty and the Beast by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont

I find that now if I am going to read a classic, I have to readjust my expectations of how the read will pan out. With contemporary fiction, things often happen fast and with classical fiction you have to invest more time to the pacing. If anyone ever asks me where to start with English classics, I always recommend Persuasion by Jane Austen, its a shorter read and easy to get into with one of the best and original second chance romances ever created.

Hollis, for once, has little to say! Personally my all time favourite is PERSUASION by Jane Austen. I love the book, I love the adaptation (the Sally Hawkins version!), and I will forever recommend it. The only other classic that has come close, for me, is PRIDE & PREJUDICE. I want to say that NORTH & SOUTH by Elizabeth Gaskell makes this non-existent list, as I’m a huge huge fan of the adaptation, but the book put me to sleep after twenty pages. Yikes. I’ll just bow out now while I’m ahead and before admitting to how few classics I’ve actually read.. oh, too late.


Are you a classics fan? Do you have a favourite?