2020: The Year of No Star-Ratings

Hindsight is 20/20 as they always say, and let me tell you, I’ve been trying to figure out how to turn that into some kind of personal challenge for 2020 for ages. In the end, the answer was easy and the eagle-eyed among you might have noticed in my January reading wrap-up… I don’t want to give star-ratings for books for a full year and see how it changes my reading and blogging.

There are a couple of reasons why I want to do this:

1. For the past few years, star ratings have gotten harder and harder to give. I’ll finish a book and be overthinking about if I should rate a book three or four, did I like it as much as X which I gave four stars, but it didn’t teach me anything like Y which I gave three. What was originally an impulse decision based on how much I enjoyed a book has become overly-complicated.

2. I’m trying to be less negative. I started book blogging to boost books I loved and lately I feel like I’ve become a real grump. I’ve become too critical to the point where I’m not enjoying reading as much because my brain is too busy thinking about star-ratings and reviews. Maybe it’s the English Literature degree, but I need to re-evaluate a lot of things in 2020 and I think taking away this small thing will help with that.

3. My average star rating in 2019 was three stars. That’s terrible. And I read some good books in 2020! I want to focus more on the books and less on the numbers, so I hope this will help! I’ve always liked star ratings, I’ve never understood why some people don’t use them, but they’ve stopped working for me and I’m ready to try something new.

The only time I’m going to rate a book is if it belongs on my six-star shelf and I know it in my bones. If a book changes my life, my sheets and cleans the litter box, it’ll get this rating.

What do you think of star ratings? Do you use them all the time?
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Books I Read in January!

After a rough 2019, I was ready for a good January and the stack of books by my bed that I really wanted to read. I ended up reading four books; one short story, a play and two 2020-release novels. The old seasonal depression caught me at the end of the month but I can actually say I enjoyed everything I read in January!

The Embassy of Cambodia by Zadie Smith
I always like to start the year with a short book that I think I can learn from so I can go in with a new perspective. The Embassy of Cambodia was perfect for that. It’s focus was on modern-day slavery which isn’t something I’ve ever read a book about.
It’s a short story, which I normally shy away from because I find they can feel quite unbalanced, but it felt complete and easy to read even while dealing with a serious topic. The characters were quickly formed and felt real, which makes the plot all the more affecting.
This was also my first Zadie Smith and I’m definitely going to read more.
Waterstones | Amazon

The Playboy of the Western World by J. M. Synge
This is required reading for my current university module and it was a bit of a weird one because reading plays is such a different experience to other fiction. I think I’d enjoy it if I saw it performed. It’s a fun study for sure as it had a massive backlash from audiences at the time! I’m currently writing an essay on it so we’ll see if I still like it in 1500 words…
Waterstones | Amazon | Book Depository

A Messy Affair by Elizabeth Mundy*
You can read my full book review here!
Waterstones | Amazon | Book Depository

Six Tudor Queens: Katheryn Howard, The Tainted Queen by Alison Weir*
I’ve got a full review of this coming sooner the release date!
WaterstonesAmazon | Book Depository

Have you read any of these? What did you read in January?

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My Februwitchy TBR!

My wonderful friend Asha is hosting a month-long readathon; Februwitchy (you can read all about it here) and I, of course, needed to join. Mainly because I love witches but also because I bought a lot of witchy books for my Hallowreadathon, which Asha helped host, and never got around to reading them! I don’t normally do TBRs because I’m a huge mood reader but I think I’ve covered all my bases with this one…

If I feel like romance; The Witches of Cambridge by Menna Van Praag and Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman both blend magic with love. I’ve wanted to read more romance lately and I think these will help me dip my feet in with a familiar urban fantasy feel.

Both The Witch’s Daughter by Paula Brackston and The Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan are a blend of historical fiction and romance ending up in modern day (from what I can gather from blurbs) and if you search for witch-y books, I guarantee any list will include both of these so I want to get into at least one of these chunks.

If I feel like a historical fiction book that is more on the side of history, Her Kind by Niamh Boyce* is about the 14th century Kilkenny witch trials in Ireland. I don’t think I’ve read much of this time period before so I’m looking forward to learning more about it.

Hex Life, edited by Christopher Golden and Rachel Autumn Deering was a Secret Santa gift from Kate and I think it’s going to be the star of this readathon for me because if I can just read one of the eighteen stories every day, then I’ll finish this in no time. I love discovering new authors as well so this might end up making my TBR longer…

And if I feel like YA, I’ve got How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather, a birthday present from the wonderful Mols. Naondel and Maresi: Red Mantle by Maria Turtshaninoff which have been intimidating me ever since I read the first incredible book in this series, so I need the readathon themed push! And Perfectly Preventable Deaths by Deirdre Sullivan was a book I bought last year because I was seeing Maria and Deirdre at the Edinburgh Book Festival but never dived into it. For shame!

What are you reading in February? Anything witch-y?
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