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BLOGTOBER Day 17: 10 favourite Booktubers

Every evening while eating dinner, Sean and I wrestle the TV remote away from Zophia so that we can watch some Booktube. For today’s Blogtober post I thought I’d shine a light on the 10 Booktubers we enjoy watching the most, so that you can 

BLOGTOBER Day 16: Most anticipated 2021 releases

I’m going to be showcasing a whole bunch of 2021 releases that I’m excited for during Bookmas, but I thought I might as well get the 2021 ball rolling with a post today. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for 2020 to be 

BLOGTOBER Day 15: Review: Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

BLOGTOBER Day 15: Review: Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

Establishing a centuries-old conflict between the two countries of Kalyazin and Tranavia, Wicked Saints is a dual perspective novel following a Kalyazi cleric and the Tranavian prince.

When we meet Nadya she’s in the cellar of the monastery where she lives, peeling potatoes as a punishment with her best friend, Kostya. They hear cannonfire in the distance and are dismayed to discover that the Tranavian army are at their door (despite the fact that the monastery is at the top of a very high mountain in the hidden depths of Kalyazin).

Serefin is the leader of the Tranavian army, and when Nadya flees the monastery he pursues her… Only to be called back to Tranavia by his father, the king, who has decided that it’s the perfect time to begin the search for a wife for Serefin. Such inconvenient timing!

On the road Nadya meets two Akolans and a Tranavian who are scheming to end the war. Nadya finds herself drawn to the Tranavian, Malachiasz, and subsequently drawn into his plot to infiltrate Tranavia and kill the king. Nadya must masquerade as one of the women vying for their shot at marrying Serefin, while trying not to completely alienate the Kalyazin gods who guide her.

Wicked Saints is a book which tries to do far too much.

I loved the fact that the story began with a bang, but I was hoping that Emily A. Duncan would work some lulls into the story to deeply craft her world. Unfortunately, it felt like the world-building was still lacking when the story finished, so I’m wondering whether this might be coming during one of the later installments. As the characters explore both Kalyazin and Tranavia you do get a bit of an idea about the differences between the countries, but although we travel with two characters from Akola their country is not described at all, which makes the world seem poorly fleshed out.

Before we know Nadya well enough to care about her character, her life has already been threatened multiple times and she’s managed to escape unscathed. Her ability to escape any situation eases a lot of the novel’s tension. Emily A. Duncan attempts to keep the adrenaline high for too long – ambushes, battles and bloodshed abound throughout the novel – but those scenes start to feel boring because they’re happening with such frequency.

Nadya is also mourning the loss of her friend Kostya, who is hardly described and only appears in a scene right at the beginning of the book. It’s hard for the reader to care about her loss. If the characters and location had been established before the action kicked off, this would have packed an emotional punch.

The magic in this novel can be quite triggering as it’s blood magic and involves the characters cutting themselves frequently, so if you’re opposed to reading scenes of self-harm or bloodletting then this is a book you should definitely avoid. Although I thought that the Tranavian blood magic system was well-crafted, Nadya’s magic was sorely lacking in substance; she calls upon many, many gods (I believe there were at least twelve, possibly more) and asks if she can use their powers for whatever she needs. Not only does this make Nadya a bit of a Mary Sue, but it also means that the gods aren’t fleshed out. Too many of them are introduced too quickly for them to have an impact, and I can only remember the name Marzenya out of all of the gods which were referenced (and I only finished the book yesterday!).

I did enjoy the fact that each chapter begins with an excerpt from a book from the world – primarily Vasiliev’s Book of Saints or the Codex of the Divine – because that added a lot of history to the world, but I was desperate for this to be more integrated into Nadya and Serefin’s story.

There’s a dramatic twist at the end of the book which was pretty predictable, but I was expecting it to be a twist on a twist (once you’ve read the book you’ll know EXACTLY what I was expecting to happen!) so I still found myself pleasantly surprised by the way that Emily A. Duncan concluded the first installment in the Something Dark and Holy trilogy. This wasn’t the best series opener that I’ve ever read, but it has a lot of potential and I’m looking forward to seeing where the story goes in the next two books.

If you’re a fan of the Grisha trilogy or The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, I think you’d enjoy this novel.

See you tomorrow!

Alyce

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BLOGTOBER Day 14: TOP FIVE WEDNESDAY REVISITED: Top five anticipated pre-orders

After participating in Top Ten Tuesday yesterday, it made me really miss Top Five Wednesday. Unfortunately Lainey and Sam put Top Five Wednesday on haitus so there are no new topics to take part in. Instead I’ve decided to do TOP FIVE WEDNESDAY REVISITED – 

BLOGTOBER Day 13: Top Ten Tuesday: Super long book titles

It has been such a long time since I participated in Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl) but I thought I might as well hop back on the Top Ten Tuesday train for a few weeks at least. This week’s 

BLOGTOBER Day 12: Tips for reading more

I read a lot. I’ve read over 200 books this year already (admittedly I was on maternity leave until the middle of February and then on furlough during lockdown between March and July, so this is better than it would have been in a normal year!) and I’m ahead of target to hit my Goodreads goal of 240 books.

With that in mind, I thought that today I’d share some hints and tips on how to read more. Some of these might seem pretty obvious, but when people ask me how I read so much these are the first suggestions I make. Hopefully they’ll help you to fit a little bit more reading into your life.

1. Prioritise reading

I know I’m not alone in saying I want to read and then getting waylaid by other things. The world is a distracting place, especially during the hellfire that is 2020. It’s easy to get sucked into a vortex of terrible news and Twitter threads (aka reading arguments between strangers) and waste your entire day away.

However, when you’re choosing ways to fill your leisure time, start prioritising reading above anything else. Rather than scrolling on Twitter, flicking through Netflix or looking at beautiful Bookstagram posts, put your phone down and turn the TV off and force yourself to pick up a book.

It’s guaranteed that the first few times you do this your mind will wander and you’ll struggle to get through even a few pages, but the more you do it the more natural it will seem and the easier it’ll be to get swept up in a story.

2. Read with your cohabiter

I read aloud to Sean and it means I get a lot more books read a year than I would otherwise. If you have a cohabiter (a parent, sibling, roommate, partner, anyone!) who is interested in the same books as you, instead of reading separately and discussing them together try reading them together instead! You’ll notice that instead of watching TV or chatting, if a book is gripping you both won’t be able to resist picking it up. Sometimes that’s all the motivation you need to carry on with the story.

Alternatively, if you aren’t enjoying a book but the person you’re reading with is loving it, their enthusiasm might redeem the story for you. I think this is one of the reasons I’ve finally been brave enough to attempt huge adult fantasy series.

3. Read little and often

Because I read out loud to Sean, it’s hard for me to read as many books by myself as I would like to. That means that when I get a little bit of time to myself, I squeeze in as much reading as I can.

I mostly read on the Kindle app on my phone, so I read on the walk to work (if you do this, be careful when crossing roads and don’t bump into anyone!), but I also read on the toilet, while brushing my teeth and when trying to fall asleep at night. Some people don’t like reading before bed because it keeps them awake, and this can be a problem if a book is really gripping. However, if I’m in the first half of a book and things are moving slowly then a couple of chapters can be all I need to drift off.

If you read for five minutes a few times a day you’ll notice that you’re getting through books much quicker than you’d expect, and when you eventually sit down to do a chunk of reading you’ll fly through!

4. Try different formats

When my grandad first gave me my Kindle, I hated it. I am a fidgety reader, always subconsciously turning the pages before I get to the end of the page or running my fingers over embossing or shiny bits on the covers. I didn’t realise I was a fidgety reader until I got my Kindle, and it made it so hard to go back to reading physical books that I didn’t read for a few months in some kind of mental protest!

However, when I joined NetGalley I learnt to love eBooks and now I’m a massive fan. If you’ve only ever read physical books, try downloading the Kindle app on your phone. Then if you ever get restless during the day and feel like loading up Facebook or playing a bit of Pokemon Go, instead you can click on the Kindle app and get a bit of reading done.

This is probably also true for audiobook listeners. I’ve tried audiobooks a couple of times and have never been able to get into them properly – my brain just can’t concentrate and I blank out for swathes at a time and lose track of the story – but if you are a very aural person then an audiobook will be ideal for you. It also might make reading on the way to work a bit safer.

5. Set yourself reading goals

This one can backfire, so be lenient with yourself to start.

I find that a great way to motivate myself to read more is to set myself little reading goals each day. This might be something simple like finishing the book that I’m reading, or it might be more complex: if we have a few books on the go at once I might set targets for each one and skip between them when I achieve each goal.

A good way to start with goals is to realistically think about your reading patterns. If you normally read for an hour in the morning, your reading goal could be to also read for an hour in the evening. If you’re someone who reads 50 pages a day, try to up it to 75 – that way you’re reading 3 days worth of pages in 2 days so it’ll take you 1/3 less time to read that book!

However, the major focus needs to be on making them realistic. If you normally read 10 pages a day and suddenly aim for 100, then you’re not going to manage to succeed and you’re going to be disheartened. It’s much better to aim to read 25 pages and accidentally read 100 than the other way around.

Those are my top tips for reading more. I do have a couple of other ideas so might do a sequel to this post later in the month – let me know if that would be something you’d find helpful, or if you think these tips will help you in any way!

See you tomorrow,

Alyce

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BLOGTOBER Day 11: 10 series I can’t wait to continue

Yesterday I discussed ten book series which I can’t wait to finish, so I thought I’d use today’s post to talk about the ten book series which I can’t wait to continue… Once their sequels have finally been released! I had considered doing this a 

BLOGTOBER Day 10: 10 series I can’t wait to finish

At the start of the year, I was doing a great job of binge-reading series. I have always been the kind of reader who starts a series and never ends up finishing it, so I was proud that within the first couple of months of 

BLOGTOBER Day 9: Booktube goals

This post should have gone up yesterday, because that was my official one year anniversary on Booktube, but I got too excited about beautiful book covers – oops!

I’m not someone who likes setting goals or targets for this blog or my channel, because if I don’t achieve them then I feel horrendously deflated and uninspired. That then makes me less likely to achieve any goals I set myself in the future… It’s a sad cycle.

Writing a post like this is really out of character for me, but I thought for once I’d go ahead and try manifesting positivity. We’ll see this time next year whether I manage to stick to these goals, or whether I’m making a huge fool out of myself by putting these out here…

1. Figure out an uploading schedule

My first year on Booktube has been… a mess. I’ve missed posts, I’ve uploaded things out of order, I’ve gone from posting a few times a week to hardly posting at all for a month. It’s one of the perks of being a parent: sometimes the children just will not let us film, and sometimes Sean (my patient, loving partner and video editor) doesn’t have time to edit our videos because there’s too much to squeeze into a day.

Ideally, I’d like us to have an uploading schedule where we post a few times a week – possibly on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays – and those are the consistent days for our posts. Having listened to advice from big Booktubers, having a schedule seems to be one of the best ways to grow your channel, so this is something easy we can put in place (and hopefully stick to).

2. Hit 100 subscribers

100 subscribers might seem like a small target, but in my first year on Booktube I only gathered 10 subscribers. I’m grateful for all of them – and if you are one of those subscribers, thank you so much for letting me inhabit your little corner of the internet! – but I would love to grow that number, even if just a little bit.

This will probably be helped by having a posting schedule, so if I manage to achieve goal #1 then goal #2 should be pretty easy, but I’m not going to count my chickens before they hatch.

3. Get 100 views on a video

Again, a small target, but I would rather set myself small, achieveable goals than aim for the moon and end up plummeting through space to my death. That’s the metaphor, right?

My Bookopoly TBR got nearly 100 views, so I’m hoping that I’ll be able to hit that milestone at some point in the next 12 months.

4. Create a TBR game

One of the most fun parts of Booktube is the TBR games that everyone plays. I watch them all – Wheel of TBR, Bookopoly, Play Your TBR Right, TBR Pursuit, Dart Attack and countless others – and I absolutely LOVE them. I played Bookopoly for Bookoplathon at the start of September and had so much fun – even though it was ridiculously stressful – and I’d love to be creative enough to make my own TBR game.

In fact, I’ve just had an idea while writing this… You’ll have to wait and see if it works!

5. Continue having fun

This is probably the most important goal for me. When I first started Booktube my anxiety was still pretty bad when I was in front of the camera – I’d pretty much have a panic attack as soon as Sean suggested filming, flip out and refuse to do it, then calm down after an hour and feel like a right idiot – but now I really enjoy filming.

It’s hard to find the time to blog (this whole post has been written with a very wriggly boy on my lap, attempting to use/eat/smash the laptop) but sitting down in front of the camera and talking about books for 10-20 minutes is much more manageable. I love talking about books – I’ve been doing it for six years now, so I should probably enjoy it! – and as long as my channel continues to be fun for me then that’s the only thing which really matters.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Do you have any goals for the next year? If so, share them down below – I’ll meet you back here in 12 months to see how we all did!

See you tomorrow,

Alyce

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BLOGTOBER Day 8: 2020’s most beautiful books

Today we’re going to get materialistic. Forget what’s inside these books, let’s just enjoy the covers that the publishers gave us! It was hard to choose – there have been so many gorgeous covers released this year – but these are my top 20. Can