catch up [2]

ugh, it’s been a hot minute!

january seemed to last forever, and i mostly split my time between reading and wandering. i somehow managed to read 36 books and for a second i had aspirations of reading a book a day for the rest of the year.

as i’m finally wrapping my head around having some form of structure in my life for the first time in four months, i’m hoping to get back to blogging regularly. i’ve got a ton of arc reviews lined up, but i’d also like to put together some stats for 2020 and set the tone for 2021.

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let me know what you’ve been up to in the comments below!

colourful fun embroidery : an e-arc review

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free e-copy of this text in exchange for an honest review courtesy of Pen & Sword – White Owl via NetGalley.

Colourful Fun Embroidery by Clare Albans is a bright embroidery guide that contains 24 inspiring patterns.

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Colourful Fun Embroidery showcases that being creative is energising, and that crafted is ultimately about taking the time to enjoy the process rather than focusing on the end result.

The patterns are split into three categories: ‘crafternoons’, ‘medium makes’, and ‘pick me up projects’, and each pattern suggests a length of time to set aside for completion. I really enjoyed this set up as it’s so easy to underestimate how long something will take and become frustrated with the process.

In terms of the designs offered, the first few are mostly just stitched words, and whilst they were cute they can easily be found on Pinterest. Following that, the designs do become a little more complex, and they’re quite twee. If you enjoy bright and clashing colours or visually busy pieces, you’ll enjoy the designs. If you like more muted designs, you might want to look into other books by this publisher such as Floral Embroidery.

The instructions provided alongside each pattern are high quality and, as with Floral Embroidery, there’s plenty of photos to follow along with if you get stuck as the photos are numbered to match up with specific steps.

What surprised me about this collection is how useful the tips were. Usually, you just receive a generic selection, but this contained a few that I’d never even considered and will definitely be giving a go.

My biggest criticisms for this book is that a sewing machine is required for some of the pieces (this isn’t mentioned on the blurb and may lead to disappointment upon purchasing), and that the materials and stitch guides are at the back. I always find this nonsensical as it’s the most important information.

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Colourful Fun Embroidery was published on August 30th 2020. I’d recommend reaching out to your local bookstore to order a copy.

slug in love : an e-arc review

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free e-copy of this text in exchange for an honest review courtesy of Simon & Schuster Children’s UK via NetGalley.

Slug in Love by Rachel Bright (author) & Nadia Shireen (illustrator) is a short illustrated children’s book following Doug’s rhyme-based quest to receive a hug.

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Doug’s story is a heartwarming tale all about finding your perfect partner. It might not be an easy journey, but once you’ve found the one, there’s nothing better than getting cosy and having a cuddle.

Rachel Bright’s written voice is fun and engaging, and Nadia Shireen has done an excellent job of illustrating this one! Each critter was simple but displayed an enormous amount of character. Gail’s glasses are absolutely iconic!

Slug in Love is simple, sweet, and very easy to follow. It’s the perfect combination of adorable and weird!

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Slug in Love will be published on January 1st 2021 in the UK. I’d recommend reaching out to your local bookstore to order a copy.

catch up [1]

short walks? not an option.

an emotional menagerie : an e-arc review

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free e-copy of this text in exchange for an honest review courtesy of Duckworth Books via NetGalley. If you make a purchase through my Bookshop affiliate link, I may earn a commission through Bookshop.org whose sales support independent bookshops.

An Emotional Menagerie: Feelings from A to Z by The School of Life is an illustrated children’s book on understanding emotions. It reminded me of old Victorian glossaries in the best way!

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An Emotional Menagerie is brilliant for both learning and understanding emotions, and generally expanding your vocabulary. It’s the kind of book which children can grow into.

Each poem takes up one page, and the illustration occupies the opposing leaf which reflects the emotion discussed so that the child can have a visual reference. I think that this will be a great tool for emotional literacy especially as negative emotions are validated and there is a pathway to a brighter feeling.

Every few pages I found a new favourite illustration as they’re all incredibly imaginative and evocative, but overall, I think that the cow which goes alongside tranquillity is my favourite. I did also wonder which emotion X would be, and it’s a fun little cheat!

It took me a while to realise that synonyms were underlined with dots. As they’re often misaligned, I thought that they were to symbolise that this was an arc copy, so my only criticism is that these should have been better defined.

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An Emotional Menagerie: Feelings from A to Z will be published on April 6th 2021. You can pre-order this graphic novel through my Bookshop affiliate link if you’re in the UK. If you live elsewhere you can reach out to your local bookshop to see if they can order a copy in for you!

delicates : an e-arc review

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free e-copy of this text in exchange for an honest review courtesy of Oni Press via NetGalley. If you make a purchase through my Bookshop affiliate link, I may earn a commission through Bookshop.org whose sales support independent bookshops.

Delicates by Brenna Thummler is a superbly crafted graphic novel on grief, anxiety, and bullying.

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Let’s get straight to the point, this was brilliant, I feel like I’ve not shut up about it since I finished it!

The colour palette Thummler opted to use was absolutely stunning, and the use of matte colours with a focus on blue, pink and purple hues creates such a warm and safe atmosphere which perfectly balances out the story. On a somewhat unrelated note, can I say that I want to own every outfit featured? Because I do.

I’ll be honest though, going into this I didn’t expect it to be so emotionally charged, and I certainly didn’t expect to cry whilst reading it, but it’s an emotional ride that you quickly become invested in. The book deals with bullying in a nuanced way and it explores how the most pain can come from the bystanders surrounding bullies, which is something that is rarely found in literature.

I would have liked to have seen more of an exploration of Marjorie’s father and his depression/coping mechanisms, but perhaps that will be explored in the next instalment.

I’d wholeheartedly recommend this if you’re able to handle the topics that it covers. TW for: suicidal thoughts, bullying, and grief.

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Delicates will be published on March 16th 2021. You can pre-order this graphic novel through my Bookshop affiliate link if you’re in the UK. If you live elsewhere you can reach out to your local bookshop to see if they can order a copy in for you!

being a super trans ally : an e-arc review

I was provided with a free e-copy of this text in exchange for an honest review courtesy of Jessica Kingsley Publishers via NetGalley.

Being a Super Trans Ally! by Phoenix Schneider and Sherry Paris is an interactive workbook on trans, nonbinary and gender non-conforming identities.

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This workbook is targeted towards those in primary school and beyond and encourages you to read or talk through the book with a friend of loved one. However, it’s poorly structured for the audience and presents itself in a very juvenile manner (one example being that key concepts were framed as ‘bubble gum’ ideas so that you can ‘chew’ on them), yet the text itself leans more towards a young adult audience with prior knowledge of trans identities. If you were to bring this to a friend or loved one, there is no reference section for them so that they can support a discussion.

Another display of poor choices is in the chosen acronym which is LGBTQIAPNBGD+. This is quite clunky and a little overwhelming when it’s just stated as the acronym to be used and not explained. A few problematic terms such as ‘sapiosexual’ were also discussed. An acrostic explaining what each letter stands for would have made a great focal point, and then LGBT+ or LGBTQIA+ could have been used throughout. This not only helps to streamline the reading experience but also makes it easier to discuss the term to normalise its use. Whilst definitions were eventually a part of the book, many were borderline transphobic which is outrageous given the aims of the workbook. For example, there’s the implication that nonbinary people cannot identify as lesbian or gay, and the definition of bisexuality was straight up transphobic indicating an attraction to the two binary genders. Bisexuality is the attraction to two or more genders, or even regardless of gender.

Whilst I believe that this book is well-intentioned, it only further plays into negative stereotypes and could put many young people at risk.

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Being a Super Trans Ally! was published on May 21st 2020.

a world full of dickens stories : an e-arc review

I was provided with a free e-copy of this text in exchange for an honest review courtesy of Frances Lincoln Children’s Books via NetGalley.

A World Full of Dickens Stories by Angela McAllister is a gorgeous anthology of Dickens stories.

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A World Full of Dickens Stories contains eight classic Dickens stories: Oliver Twist, The Old Curiosity Shop, David Copperfield, Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, A Christmas Carol, Nicholas Nickelby, and Hard Times. This was my first introduction to half of these tales, so it was wonderful to be able to dive into them and experience something new!

I absolutely loved that a cast of characters is provided for each story as it allowed you to easily differentiate them.

I’m not sure that I would recommend that children devour this in one go as it may make for a somewhat draining experience (Dickens isn’t the happiest!), rather it should be relished, and each tale given its own time and space.

Personally, I would have liked to have seen more full-page spreads of artwork as the illustration style is gorgeous, and it would have helped to further break up the text.

Overall, despite the brevity, the spirit of Dickens is not lost, and I’m sure that this will lead to a whole new generation of children reaching for the classics!

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A World Full of Dickens Stories was published on May 19th 2020. I would recommend that you reach out to your local bookshop to see if they can order a copy in if it’s not currently stocked, it’d be a wonderful gift!

end of year tbr

my book buying habits may have gotten somewhat out of hand…

i started 2020 with 285 books on my tbr, and now i’m at 408, with 270 of those having been purchased this year. 270! what is wrong with me?

in an effort to tidy this number up, and get it into the slightly more manageable 300 range, i’ve complied an end of year tbr. it’s kind of ambitious, but given that i have nothing else to do but apply for jobs, i think i can handle it.

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this tbr is split into two parts, the first (below, on the left) is everything that i’ve already started and need to finish. there’s not much to be said about this pile, i just need to get on with it. the books i’ll be reading as part of this pile are:

  • tell me how long the train’s been gone – james baldwin
  • don quixote –  miguel de cervantes
  • the decameron – giovanni boccaccio
  • the clergyman’s daughter – george orwell
  • the complete short stories: volume one – roald dahl
  • mansfield park – jane austen
  • waverley – walter scott
  • the collected poems – thomas hardy
  • medieval woman – ann baer

the second part of my tbr is books i’m actually excited to get to! it’s not that i lack enthusiasm for those in the first half, but if i was truly excited about them, i’d have probably finished them earlier this year.

winter holiday – arthur ransome

who doesn’t love a good wintry read in the build up to christmas? i’m somewhat concerned that this is the fourth book in the swallows and amazons series, but hopefully i’ll be able to dip in and enjoy it nonetheless.

christine – stephen king

i’ve drifted away from king this year which is expected after the duds i’ve enountered, but also pretty annoying as i still have 16 of his books on my shelves. i’m hoping that christine will re-ignite some sort of passion so that i can make my way through them.

the eaten heart: unlikely tales of love – giovanni boccaccio

this collects together 11 tales from the decameron, and it’s here just in case i can’t find the time for the decameron!

the best short stories of dostoevsky – fyodor dostoevsky

the latter half of this year has been filled with short story collections and i couldn’t resist this lovely little edition. i love dostoevsky’s style, and it’ll be interesting to see how he approaches writing short narratives.

the penguin book of japenese verse

i’ve absolutely loved exploring the early japanese canon this year! i’m hoping that this will help to broaden my horizons so that i can figure out who i’d like to read more from in 2021.

les misérables – victor hugo

this was on my list of classics to read in 2020. hopefully the seventh times the charm!

anna karenin – leo tolstoy

uhh why did nobody tell me that i’d love tolstoy? i’ve devoured a bunch of his shorter works this year so it’s time to tackle a tome now!

the three musketeers alexandre dumas

i haven’t stopped thinking about this book since i got it last weekend! it’s a lot longer than i expected, but if it’s anything like the count of monte cristo it’ll only take me a few days to get through.

imaginary friend – stephen chbosky

i’ve been a little apprehensive about reading this as it’s so chunky compared to perks of being a wallflower. whilst i do enjoy tomes, i absolutely hate bloated books (yes, i’m looking at you king). that said, it’s time to give this a fair shot as i’m in the mood for a horror after a long run of thrillers.

born to run – bruce springsteen

this is the book that i’m least excited for, it’s kinda just been hanging out on my shelves. i haven’t really got any expectations for it, and if i hate it, it’s fine because it was free from our book exchange.

reset

when i planned to return from my hiatus in october, i was kinda aiming for october 1st rather than 31st, but life very much got in the way.

i’ve missed blogging, but i’ve not really had the heart or the capacity for it. lockdown and the months following it took a much larger toll mentally than i was expecting, and the only thing i seemed to be able to do was read. and boy did i read! as i write this i’ve finished 222 books so far this year.

now feels like a period to reset though. redundancy has come with the unexpected bonus of having time to just exist. whilst it is stressful not knowing what the future holds or when i’ll get a new job, i’m simultaneously feeling quite relieved and like a burden has been lifted. i’m once again excited to create!

prior to the hiatus my posting schedule was all over the place, and i have a feeling that the chaos will continue, but i’m going to roll with it; i want this blog to be bright, fun, and honest. and honestly, my brain is a mess right now.

i’ll catch you soon with some book reviews, craft posts, wrap ups and reflections!

-matt