Trying to Tackle My Currently Reading Pile: Reading Check-in 📚

Helloo! And welcome to my first ever Reading Check-in 🥰

I’m hoping to make this a new blog series to hold myself accountable in tackling my dangerously high currently reading pile. I have had a bad habit of mood reading a lot lately which has led me to pick up a book after book to pile on my nightstand. I’m in love with most of my current reads and I really want to finish them, but it’s difficult when I have so many books I’m reading at once! These posts will also help me in keeping track of readathons and reading challenges 🤩

Here are the reading challenges that I’m currently working on:

The format of these posts is largely inspired by WWW Wednesday by Taking on a World of Words. I used to do them quite a lot, but I wanted to mix the format up a bit (and post anytime – not just Wednesdays 😁). Each post (which will happen maybe bi-weekly?? weekly? Monthly?) I’ll detail what I’m reading, how much progress I have made, what I think about the reads so far, and what else has been keeping me busy 😌 It’s a perfect chance for me to gush about books as well as games!

Without further ado – let’s get into it!

Gif of a girl reading on a couch and chuckling
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So Many Books to Finish – So Little Time! 👀 End of the Year Book Tag

Hello there!

I’m amazed by how quickly the months are flashing by. I had a gazillion fall blog ideas, but somehow the autumn just flashed by and we are already a good chunk into November! The whole year has rolled past in the same way for me, and I’m sure that my grand reading plans are not going quite as I hoped. Today I’m doing the End of the Year Book Tag (created by a booktuber, Ariel Bissett), and maybe I can still get myself together before the end of the year 😁

Let’s go!

✨End of the Year Booktag✨

Are there any books you started this year that you still need to finish?

I’m currently reading about eight books at the same time just because I’m really indecisive and impatient — all those amazing books in my shelves? I want to read the at this moment, right now! This mindset leads to a lot of unfinished books piling on my nightstand, and lots of books I still need to finish by the end of the year 😅

Although I take a FOREVER to finish a book while juggling multiple current reads, I can usually go through fiction pretty quickly. Nonfiction I tend to drag around with me for a long time — reading nonfiction requires me to have a bit more brain power (which I usually have none of after a day of PhDing), which means that I continue reading nonfictions much less often than fiction. I have two nonfictions that have been hanging out in my currently reading shelf for some time which I would love to finish this year:

Cover of The Emperor of All Maladies
Cover of The Universe in Zero Words

The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee.

This is a nonfiction about the history of cancer and why it is so difficult to treat. This is a thicc one with more than 500 pages, but the writing flows off the page and the text has been very accessible so far. I’m enjoying it and I’m about 70 pages in.

The Universe in Zero Words: The Story of Mathematics by Dana Mackenzie.

For real – this is a book about mathematics, and I’m as surprised as you are that I’m reading this 😆 But there’s a good reason! The book dives into the history of mathematics and where it all began, building up to more difficult theorems and explaining the historical context of them. Just think about — how could anyone just randomly come up with an equation on how to count the circumference of a circle? Or how to multiply numbers? I find this all really intriguing, and The Universe in Zero Words has done a great job in feeding my curiosity. I’m currently about 200 pages in, but I have been losing a lot of steam in reading this as the mathematics have become more and more difficult and less accessible.

Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year?

Cover of Threadneedle
Cover of The Atlas Six

I have been reading a couple different autumnal books lately. I rarely read horror, but White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson caught my eye after everyone seemed to be raving about it. I’m currently a bit over halfway, and although I’m not fully immersed in the story, it has been an exciting read.

I’m also buddy reading Threadneedle by Cari Thomas with the amazing Stephen from Stephen Writes (make sure to check his blog, all of his reviews are always spot on!). It has a bit of a mysterious, spooky vibe as well perfect for dark November nights.

Other than that, I don’t have specific plans to pick up other autumnal reads, but I’m slightly intrigued by The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake which has been receiving rave reviews. I wasn’t convinced until Eva at Read While it Rains (check her amazing book blog here, and beautiful bookstagram over here) mentioned that she gave the book 5-stars 👀 Maaaybe I’ll fall in love with it too?

Is there a new release you’re still waiting for?

YEEES! A couple of my most anticipated new releases of 2022 have yet to arrive in my hands. These include The Dragon’s Promise by Elizabeth Lim which is a sequel to my favourite book of 2021, Six Crimson Cranes. The book came out already in August, but I preordered the amazing Fairyloot exclusive edition which won’t arrive before the end of November. Completely worth it though!! Look how pretty it is!!

Picture of the Fairyloot promotional graphic for The Dragon's Promise. The book has a pastel cover and beautifully sprayed edges

Another book that I’m HIGHLY anticipating is Heart of the Sun Warrior by Sue Lynn Tan. I read the first book in the series, Daughter of the Moon Goddess, together with Stephen at Stephen Writes and we both ended up loving it! I can’t wait to buddyread this second instalment too. Again, I went with the Fairyloot exclusive edition which is just all around gorgeous. The book comes out on November 10th but I don’t expect to get my hands on the exclusive copy before close to the end of the year.

Picture of the Fairyloot promotional graphic for Heart of the Sun Warrior. The book has a colourful cover and beautifully sprayed edges

What are three books you want to read before the end of the year?

Oh there are so many, how I can just pick three 😱 I want to finish my current reads for sure, but I also want to make a bit more a dent on my 2022 reading challenge. Some of the books on that list of 5-star predictions are calling to me more than others, and I would really like to read The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty (the sequel to City of Brass). I loved City of Brass, but I have been saving the sequel for some unfathomable reason. I would also like to pick up The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson and start a new epic fantasy series. Finally, I predicted that I would give 5-stars to Notes from the Burning Age by Claire North, and I’m very intrigued to see if that prediction holds true.

cover of The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty
Cover of The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
The cover of Notes from the Burning Age by Claire North

Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favourite book of the year?

I think many of the books I’m planning for the rest of the year could turn out to be my favourite books of the year – although that wouldn’t be very surprising as my TBR consists largely of my 5-star predictions. I tend to mood-read a lot though, and it would be really exciting if one of the books I pick up randomly from my bookshelf ends up being my favourite book of the year!

Have you already started making reading plans for next year?

Definitely! I love making lists and plans although my reading rarely follows any pre-set TBRs. Regardless, I love doing reading challenges and annual TBRs, and so I’ll do some for 2023 as well. I would love to do some bigger challenges to get myself to read certain types of books every month, such as classics, nonfiction, tomes, or a genre that I have neglected like scifi or romance. It would also be really nice to set out monthly reading and blogging challenges for myself at the beginning of the year, something along the lines of ‘get a random book from the library and write a diary-blog post on reading it’. Overall, I want to incorporate a lot more book blogging in 2023 🥰

That was the End of the Year Book Tag! I’m excited for the reads to come and whether the end of the year holds any new favourites. What are your responses for these questions? Let me know below, or consider yourself tagged and go do the tag yourself. Link back to this post so that I can see your responses!

Hope you are having the most magical late fall! I’m already starting to get to the Christmas mood 🎅

Thank you so much for reading!

-Pauliina

Everything I Have Read During My (way-too-long) Hiatus ✨

Hello there!

Well oops it has been a minute since I posted 🙈 I got busy with my PhD, which caused me to sit by a computer for such long hours that my brain couldn’t handle blogging on top of that. I’m still working on the PhD (and the horrid deadline is getting real close yikes) so I’ll probably still pop in and out – but I haven’t been able to stop thinking about blogging and couldn’t resist to jump in again 🥰

Long story short – I’m back! How are you all? Let me know what you have been up to this year!

I have been on a long reading slump this year, but over the past few weeks it has finally started to clear. In this post, I get to talk about the books I have read so far this year and overall how I’m doing with my reading challenges 😎 Let’s jump in!

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Best Reads of 2021: My Top 5 ✨

Hello there!

Time to jump into a quick time travel trip back to 2021 because I’m (finally) here with my top reads of last year 😊 I read some great books and it was pretty difficult to prune the list into the very best 5, but I managed! First I’ll present to you these lovelies and then jump into why I loved these so much (and a bit about why you should read them too).

Your Top Books 2021 (presented similarly to Spotify wrapped in a pretty graphic, the graphic by Julie (Struck by Stories)). #1 Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim, published by Hodder & Stoughton on July 6th 2021. #2 Mrs Death Misses Death by Salena Godden, published by Canongate Books on January 28th 2021. #3 Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, published by Grove Press on June 12th 2019. #4 A Psalm for the Wild-built by Becky Chambers, published by Tor on July 13th 2021. #5 The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna, published by Delacorte Press on February 9th 2021

A huge thank you to Julie @ Struck by Stories for making available this gorgeous graphic for listing top books 2021! You can check it out here.

Let’s dive in to this list!

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Challenging myself to read ✨EVERYTHING✨ in 2022: My Plans for Out of Your Comfort Zone Reading Challenge

Hello there!

I posted my reading challenges for 2022 at the beginning of January, but already a couple weeks later I’m back, desperate to add just one more challenge in there. I came across the Out of Your Comfort Zone Reading Challenge by the amazing Caro @ bookcheshirecat, and the challenge looks so fun that I cannot not take part!

I’m a keen fantasy reader, but I would like to broaden my horizons to ward off reading slumps and keep me engaged. So the challenge is perfect for me! (also Caro made such CUTE graphics and badges and everything that it would be a crime not to take part) In this post I’ll outline which genres I want to expand on and what I hope to achieve during 2022 for the challenge!

Out of your comfort zone banner (2022 reading challenge). A pink wood background with an illustration of a cat wrapped in a blanket. Text says:  #OOCZ2022. Reading more adventurously, hosted by Bookcheshirecat

You can find the announcement post right here: Out of Your Comfort Zone 2022 Reading Challenge Announcement by Caro @ bookcheshirecat Find all the graphics, banners, challenges, tips and tricks there, in addition to a sign up form!

Let’s get into it!

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February TBR: Blackathon

Hello there! Happy February and happy Black history month!

February is the time for Blackathon! The readathon runs for the entire month, and the idea is to simply read books by Black authors. The challenge is hosted by the wonderful Jesse @ Bowties and Books and cohosted by Starlah @ starlahenjoys, Shane @ luxuriousblu, Fadwa @ wordwoonders, Arri @ boriqueerreads, Nina @ the_wandering_reader, Anna @ never_withouta_book, and Chanelle @ chanelletime. Check out the readathon Twitter here to get all the deets.

Blackathon banner that says "blackathon. A Black history month inspired readathon"
Picture by the organisers of blackathon. I don’t own this picture. Link here.

I’m really excited for this round of Blackathon, especially because there is also a competition aspect! Teams of different genres (lit/contemporary, thriller/horror, romance, and sff) compete over which group reads the most pages in their team’s genre. As a fantasy buff, I have predictably landed myself in the SFF group. Here are the SFF group challenges:

Picture of the Team SFF challenges. Text says: "Team sff, hosts: starlahenjoys & boriqueerreads 1. A book that explored the duality of loyalty/betrayal. 2. A book with Trans spectrum representation 3. Read a book between 312 and 387 pages 4. Group book: Escaping Exodus by Nicky Drayden
Picture of Team SFF challenge prompts. Image by the organisers of blackathon, I don’t own this image, link here.

In addition to teams, Blackathon will also host a 24 hour readathon on 12th-13th February, and the organisers also have a bunch of fun challenges, reading sprints and watchalongs planned!

Only books that are scifi or fantasy will be added to my group’s total page count, so I’ll try to prioritise reading sff — but I think I won’t be able to resist picking up some other ones too!

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2022 Reading Resolutions & a TBR of 5* Predictions ✨

Happy 2022! I hope the year has gotten to a great start for you (and if it hasn’t, I hope it changes gears to something great right now!).

I love the New Year because it feels like it offers a fresh chance to try something new. Today I’m going through everything that I hope to achieve by reading in 2022! (and a sneaky check-in on how I did with 2021 resolutions as well!)

Similarly to 2021, I decided to set a couple reading resolutions and a yearly TBR for 2022. Let’s get into it!

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ARC review: The Key in the Lock by Beth Underdown

the cover of The Key in the Lock by Beth Underdown (title in the middle with a picture of a key, surrounded by a layout of a house)

The Key in the Lock by Beth Underdown

I received an advance reader copy for free in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author! Receiving a free copy has in no way influenced my opinions on the book.

Expected publication date: January 13th 2022

Historical fiction, mystery

304 pages

Goodreads page

Buddy read with the amazing Stephen from Stephen Writes

I still dream, every night, of Polneath on fire. Smoke unfurling out of an upper window and a hectic orange light cascading across the terrace.

By day, Ivy Boscawen mourns the loss of her son Tim in the Great War. But by night she mourns another boy – one whose death decades ago haunts her still.

For Ivy is sure that there is more to what happened all those years ago: the fire at the Great House, and the terrible events that came after. A truth she must uncover, if she is ever to be free.

I requested The Key in the Lock in no time after I saw it being advertised for fans of The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal and The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton. I adored both of these books, and so I expected The Key in the Lock to provide a rich atmospheric tale with eerie twists. Although my hopes were pretty high to begin with, The Key in the Lock also seems to intentionally build up the readers’ expectations at the beginning of the book. The characters tip toe around a great mystery and something monstrous that happened in the past. Unfortunately, I felt that the Key in the Lock suffered badly from both the comparison to books by Elizabeth Macneal and Jessie Burton, and from the hype in the beginning of the book. In the end, the revelations don’t live up to the hype, and I couldn’t sense why anyone would compare The Key in the Lock to the Doll Factory or the Miniaturist.

The tale seemed very interesting to begin with, partly because the characters felt odd in a very curious way. I was certain that a lot of red herrings and Easter eggs were hidden in the narrative, and I couldn’t wait to find out why the characters behaved in certain ways. Sadly, the hints and tips and twists never appeared. The characters felt odd and distant, which made it difficult to root for them. I also couldn’t understand their reasoning at times, the main character, Ivy, being the greatest mystery of all.

The story is told in dual timelines that touch on both the mysterious events in 1888 and the first world war in 1918. I usually like time jumps such as this, but here it felt like the separate timelines took away from the story. The narrative jumps around, and the earlier timeline felt much more engaging throughout the book. I sometimes audibly groaned when a new chapter begun in 1918 rather than 1888. The timelines also discount some of the tragic events, making them seem less important and inconsequential for the story.

In addition to the separate timelines, I was confused by occasional changes in the writing style. While most of the narrative was typical of a novel, one of the chapters made it seem like Ivy was actually writing the story in a diary or letter format. This didn’t make any sense in the context of the previous narrative, and I feel that it was an odd choice from the author.

Regardless of my issues with The Key in the Lock, I must say that it was a delightfully quick book to read. The chapters were short and engaging which made the book whizz by. Also – I had a particularly great experience reading this (although the book was far from a favourite) because I buddy read it with Stephen @ Stephen Writes 😊 I loved our discussions of the sections and we came up with some crazy twists (that sadly didn’t come to fruition haha)

I also enjoyed the setting and timing of the events. The book is mostly set around Christmas in both timelines, which made it a great read in December. Not exactly a festive book – but nice to pick up around winter!

Overall, I think The Key in the Lock would make a great quick-read when you are looking for an intriguing mystery. Although the book doesn’t provide the depth that I wish it had, it is a good one to pick up and read in one or two sittings – just don’t go in with too high hopes!

picture of my rating: 2.5/5 stars
2.5/5 stars

Are you planning to read The Key in the Lock? Although it wasn’t for me, I’m sure that many readers will fall in love with it. Most of all, it would make a really good rainy day read (or even better, a snowy day read!).

Thank you so much for reading!

- Pauliina

November Wrap-up & December TBR: Trying to hit all of my yearly goals 💪

Hello there!

Hope you have had the loveliest beginning to December! I’m over the moon that we are in the Christmas (and my birthday!) -month now, and I’m ready for all things Christmas ☺️🎅

Today I’m going over all the books I read in November (which was way more than I expected!), and what I’m hoping to get to in December. Throughout these last two months of 2021 my goal is to crush my yearly reading goals. If you missed my recent look into how I’m doing with my goals and resolutions so far, check out the post here.

Without further a do – let’s get into it!

A gif of a stack of books, a ribbon and christmas ornaments appear and make the stack into a christmas tree
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2021 Reading Resolutions Check: Am I completing my reading challenges?

Hello there!

In November I have been taking part in Destiny @ The Howling Libraries Devour Your TBR reading challenge, Remember November, in which the idea is to read books that were part of yearly challenges and pick up books that have been waiting for a long time. This challenge got me excited to check on the challenges that I’m doing in 2021 and whether I’m on route to hit them!

GIF of a woman dancing and saying 'be the goal, do the goal, become the goal'
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