That Was The Month That Was… January 2019!

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January is a month that I’ve struggled with in recent years but actually this January didn’t weigh on me quite as much so I feel like I’ve made progress in coming to terms with some things. I also turned 40 this month so am determined that my 40s will be fabulous!

I always plan ahead to keep my mind occupied in January so this time my plan was simple… read lots of good books! And I definitely succeeded with this! I read more books in January then ever before (since I started keeping record of what I read) and ended up finishing 34 books over the month! I can’t pick a single favourite as pretty much every book was really good but I have to give a special mention to Ideal Angels by Robert Welbourn because that book was incredible and it won’t let go of my thoughts!

I also managed a lot more blogging in January than I’ve done for a while and I’m really enjoying it. It feels like my blogging mojo is fully back now after the wobble I had over the summer so hopefully it will stick around now!

 

Here are the books I read in January:

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

This was a Christmas present from my husband. I’ve been wanting to read it for a while and it was worth the wait because I loved it. I already feel that this will make my favourite books of the year so 2019 was off to an amazing start!

Ivy and Abe by Elizabeth Enfield

I had an ARC of this book but I decided to listen to the audio book while I was feeling unwell and I very much enjoyed it. I’m fascinated by the idea of fate so this book was right up my street. I do plan on reviewing it when I get a chance.

The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard

This was another excellent book that I just couldn’t put down! I’ve already reviewed this so you can see my full thoughts here if you’d like to.

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

This book a really good way to pass a cold, wintery day when I needed some escapism! My review is here if you’d like to know more.

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

I’ve had this book on my TBR for ages and so I decided to part listen to the audio and part read it and I adored it. It was everything I hoped it would be and more!

The Rumour by Lesley Kara

This book was brilliant, it more than lived up to my expectations for it and is another book that I think may well be on my top books of the year! My review is here if you’d like to read it.

The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola

This book is so atmospheric and had me gripped from start to finish. Find out more in my review here.

No More Plastic by Martin Dorey

This was an interesting introduction to reducing plastic but I was hoping to learn more. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking for somewhere to start though.

The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton

I’d had an ARC of this on my TBR for quite a while and I finally picked it up in January and I ended up reading it in one sitting, it was so good! Here’s my full review!

The Second Sister by Claire Kendall

I bought this book sometime last year and I spotted it when I was tidying up my shelves last month so kept it out to read. It was a good thriller, it kept me turning the pages!

Ideal Angels by Robert Welbourn

This book is incredible. I loved it, even though it broke my heart. I know this book will be in my favourite reads of 2019, it just won’t let go of me. My full review is here if you’d like to know more.

The Party by Lisa Hall

This book was an okay read, it was one I read over the space of a couple of hours but it wasn’t as thrilling as I’d hoped.

Storyteller: The Authorised Biography of Roald Dahl by Donald Sturrock 

I’ve had the audio book of this for ages and it caught my eye when I was going through my Audible app recently. I very much enjoyed learning more about Roald Dahl, and I now want to read all my favourite of his books!

The Language of Kindness by Christie Watson

I’ve wanted to read this ever since I first heard about it so when I spotted it on an Audible deal recently I snapped it up. I listened to it over a couple of days and found it really interesting. It didn’t have the same lasting impression as Adam Kay’s book but it was a good listen.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

I was lucky to receive an ARC of this last year and finally picked it up a couple of weeks ago and I devoured it in one sitting. It is such a brilliant novel, I loved it! My review is here if you’d like to know more.

Into the Silent Sea by Claire Stibbe

This was a really good thriller and another book that I flew through as I simply had to know how it would all end. Here’s my review!

The Suspect by Fiona Barton

I’ve read and enjoyed Fiona Barton’s previous two novels so I was delighted to receive a copy of this one. This is a brilliant novel, definitely Fiona’s best yet and I loved it. My full review is here if you’d like to know more.

Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

This is another ARC that has been on my TBR longer than it should but when I did pick it up I devoured it. I was gripped from start to finish. I hope to get my review finished and posted soon.

Only Child by Rhiannon Navin

This was a really good read, although I struggled at times with the child narrator. Here’s my review.

Need to Know by Karen Cleveland

I read this novel in one sitting over the course of an afternoon and I loved it. I was intrigued from the opening chapter and it had me hooked right to the end. I’ll be reviewing this one soon.

Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce

I had an ARC of this so I read it while also listening to the audio book and I really enjoyed it. It’s such a wonderful novel, one that I think I might re-read in the future. I hope to get my review posted soon.

Bring me Back by BA Paris

Sadly I didn’t really get on with this book, it was too far-fetched to me and it just didn’t gel at all. I have enjoyed a previous book by the author so maybe this just wasn’t the right book for me.

The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

This book has been on my TBR since it was first published but I’ve put off reading it because it felt like it was no longer for me. I’m so glad that I gave it a go though as I got a lot more out of it than I was expecting to so I recommend it.

Diversify by June Sarpong

This book was hit and miss for me. There were chapters that really struck a chord and others that didn’t. I’m glad I read it though, it was interesting for the most part.

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

I finally read this book and I can totally see why it got so much praise last year! I loved it too, it was so different to other books in this genre and I really appreciate how much work it must have taken.

Dead Girls by Graeme Cameron

This was a good read, it wasn’t as good as the previous book Normal but it was still a book that I read in just two sittings.

Notes on A Nervous Planet by Matt Haig

This was another Christmas present and I’m glad I picked it up when I did. I found it even more useful than I was expecting to and I think it is a book that I will go back to in the future.

A Very English Scandal by John Preston

This audio book was fascinating, shocking but really interesting. I already knew some things about this case but there was so much I didn’t know. I was hooked all the way through this book, it left me reeling!

Senseless by Anna Lickley

This is such a good novel. It’s got a great storyline, which I really enjoyed and it also has excellent disability representation, which I very much appreciate in a novel. I’ll be reviewing this in February for the blog tour!

Tilly and the Bookwanderers: Pages & Co. by Anna James

I got this book for Christmas and I saved it to read on the anniversary of my mum’s death when I knew I would need a comforting read. This book was everything I hope it would be and so much more besides, I adored it! I’m hoping to get a chance to re-read A Little Princess soon as it’s reminded me how much I loved that novel as a child.

The Six Loves of Billy Binns by Richard Lumsden

This book was beautiful, so much more more than I was expecting it to be and I loved it. I’ve already reviewed this so you can see that here if you’d like to know more.

The Cactus by Sarah Hayward

This book is gorgeous! I read it in one sitting and I completely and utterly fell in love with it. I’ll definitely be reviewing this one soon but in the meantime I highly recommend it!

Someone Like Me by MR Carey

I was sent an ARC of this and was told it was a thriller so I was a bit discombobulated when I started reading it. I’m still not sure what I think of it but I did read it in just a couple of sittings so it definitely gripped me!

Spare Room by Dreda Say Mitchell

I read this book in one sitting and it kept me up way past my bed time as I just couldn’t put it down! I reviewed this one yesterday so you can find that here if you’d like to know more.

 

January Blog Posts & Reviews:

My Favourite Novels Read in 2018

My Favourite Non-Fiction Read in 2018

Reading Bingo for 2018! Was it a full house for me??

2018 Reading Reflections, Statistics and Plans for Tackling the TBR

 

Stacking the Shelves (5th Jan)

Mini Crime and Thriller Book Reviews featuring A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay, The Mystery of Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah, All The Hidden Truths by Claire Askew and Bluebird Bluebird by Attica Locke)

Review of The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Hyde

New Year Book Tag

This Week in Books (9 Jan)

Review of The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola

Review of The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton

Review of The Rumour by Lesley Kara

Stacking the Shelves (12 Jan)

Review of The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Review of The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

This Week in Books (16 Jan)

Review of Only Child by Rhiannon Navin

Review of Ideal Angels by Robert Welbourn

Stacking the Shelves (19 Jan)

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up and How the #KonMari Method Changed My Life!

This was a much more personal post than I normally share on my blog but I wanted to share how following Marie Kondo’s de-cluttering methods had actually made a huge difference to my life!

Music Monday: In My Life by The Beatles

Review of Into the Silent Sea by Claire Stibbe

Review of The Suspect by Fiona Barton

This Week in Books (23 Jan)

Stacking the Shelves (26 Jan)

The Six Loves of Billy Binns by Richard Lumsden

This Week in Books (30 Jan)

Review of Spare Room by Dreda Say Mitchell

 

The state of my TBR:

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Well, in 2018 I succeeded in reducing my mammoth TBR… but 2019 has been the month with all the books. I started January with 2447 books (this is books that I own, I don’t add books to my TBR if I don’t own them) and have ended the month with 2464 books. Oops! This is in spite of me reading 34 books off my TBR this month, the fact is that I’ve acquired 51 books so overall my TBR has increased by 17 books. My plan is to reduce my TBR by 20 books every month so I need to do some serious reading and/or unhauling (unhauling keeps autocorrecting to unfailing and I was so tempted to leave it at that! Haha!) in February to get back on track! In all seriousness though I’m not worried as last year the reduction of my TBR happened over the course of the year so I feel sure I’ll be back on track come December 31st!

 


 

How was your January? I hope you all had a good month and that you read lots of good books. Did you read many books? What was your favourite book of the month? Please tell me in the comments, I’d love to know. Also, if you have a blog please feel free to leave a link to your month’s wrap-up post and I’ll be sure to read and comment back. 🙂

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2018 Reading Reflections, Statistics and Plans for Tackling My TBR in 2019!

You deserve the best and nothing less. We love you!

So this week I’ve posted my favourite novels read in 2018 and my favourite non-fiction books. Yesterday it was Reading Bingo time so today that means it’s my chance to reflect on my reading through 2018 and to share some of my stats!

I always set a reading goal on Goodreads as I enjoy tracking my reading on there throughout the year. I set my 2018 goal at 200 and I’m gobsmacked that in the end I read 290 books! This is the most I’ve read in a year since I started keeping track of my reading so I’m delighted.

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The longest book I read in 2018 was Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke – my copy had 1006 pages in it! It’s not my normal type of book but I very much enjoyed it and I flew through it. The shortest book was a Christmas short story called Once Upon a Christmas Eve by Mary Jane Forbes at just 13 pages. I read quite a lot of longish books in 2018 but a lot of the Christmas books I read were short which brought my average page count down a little. I still averaged 324 pages per book over the year though, which I’m really happy with as it means I’m not reading short books to get my numbers up (something I have done in the past!). I actually read 93,863 pages over the year (Goodreads has a couple of books that don’t seem to have a page count).

 

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The above picture shows all of my four and five star reads from 2018. It’s lovely to have read so many great books over a year. I have rated some books lower than that but I just wanted to show the books that I’ve really loved. 🙂

 

I’m still hooked on tracking my reading on a spreadsheet and actually use two as I found them both online and each one tracks different data (and I’m nowhere near savvy enough to know how to combine them so I shall continue to use them both!).

 

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Out of the 290 books I read last year 222 were by female authors and 60 were by male authors. The remaining 8 were co-authored. In 2017 I read 72% female authors and in 2018 this increase to 78% of my reading. This isn’t conscious and it was a surprise to me that the percentage was so high for female writers. I am wondering if I should try to balance this more this year or whether to carry on just reading as I am and seeing how it goes.

 

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I read fairly steadily throughout the year but my December reading has skewed things a bit. I did read a lot of books in the run up to Christmas but quite a few were really short books or poetry collections so it seems like I read more than I did. Having said that I did read a lot of pages in the month so it’s averaged out.

 

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I am pleased to see that I’ve read a reasonable spread of genres in 2018. I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t read more non-fiction over the year – I did read 79 books but that only makes up 26.5% of my reading. I aim for around a third of my reading to be non-fiction so I want to focus more on this in 2019. I did feel like I’ve read a lot of thrillers last year and on this graph you can definitely see that this was my go-to genre over the year. I am pleased that I did get some other fiction, some poetry and even some science fiction in there though as I’m trying to keep trying different things with my reading. Overall I’m happy with the spread of what I read, and most importantly I enjoyed such a lot of what I read.

 

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I’ve been tracking the diversity of the books I’ve read in 2018 because the spreadsheet I used had it on there. It’s quite interesting to see how diverse (or not) my reading has been. I’m pleased that half of the books I read were diverse in some way but part of me wishes the percentage was greater. I don’t want to become too focused on these stats but I will make more effort to read more widely over the year ahead.

 

My TBR at the start of 2018 was 2757 books (this is print, ebooks and audio combined), which is all the books that I already own but haven’t read yet. I did want to try and be more mindful of my reading to book buying ratio over the year as I wanted to try and get to some of the books that have been on my shelves for a long time. I was hoping to reduce my TBR by around 200 books over the course of the year and so I’m really pleased to see that I ended 2018 with fewer books than I started with! I ended up with 2447 owned books, which is a reduction of 310 so I’m happy with that. This is from a combination of reading so many books over the year but also as part of my decluttering I accepted that there were books on my shelves that had been there for years that just don’t interest me anymore (so they went to the charity shop). In 2019 I think I’ll keep the same approach to my huge TBR – not to be too hard myself but to try and balance reading new books and review books with getting to books that have been languishing on my shelves for a long time.

 

So all-in-all 2018 was a great reading year and I’m really looking forward to reading my way through 2019 (and attempting to reduce my TBR even further)! How was your reading last year? Did you have any goals, and if so did you achieve them? What are your reading plans for 2019? If you’ve written a post about your reading reflections please feel free to leave a link in the comments and I’ll make sure that I read it.

 

 

 

 

 

My January Wrap-Up post!

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January has been a strange old month. I always struggle with January as it comes filled with a lot of sad memories for me.

It was my birthday though, which I find tough but my husband made it really lovely for me. He cooked a lush meal in the evening and we shared a bottle of wine while I opened the pile of presents that he gave me. I got some fab new books so will be doing a book haul very soon!

I read a lot of fabulous books in January so my reading year is off to a great start! I can’t pick a favourite from the books that I read, they were all very enjoyable reads.

I didn’t manage to review as many books in January as I’d hoped to as I had a wobbly MacBook but I did get a few blog posts up and now my MacBook appears to be fixed I’m hoping to catch up on my reviews very soon.

 

Here are the 19 books I read this month:

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

I hadn’t read this in many years and couldn’t remember whodunnit so it was great to read this again with fresh eyes in a new edition. I really enjoyed this mystery and it got my reading year of to a brilliant start!

The Deaths of December by Susi Holliday

This was a really good crime thriller novel. It was ideal to read around the festive period but it could be read at another time of year if you’re keen to get to it.

Forgiveness is Really Strange by Masi Noor

This was an ARC so I will be reviewing it soon. I found it really made me think about the nature of forgiveness and gave me a lot to ponder on.

Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

I’d had this ARC on my TBR for a while but when I finally read it I enjoyed it. It was an interesting novel about family dynamics and how and why people disappear.

South and West by Joan Didion

I read Blue Nights last year and found it to be a really honest memoir about the loss of her daughter so I was keen to pick this travel memoir up. I find that I get utterly engrossed in her writing and I adore it.

An Act of Silence by Colette McBeth

I got completely lost in this novel, it was such a prescient book and one that I’m still thinking about. I have already reviewed this one so you can read my thoughts here.

Friend Request by Laura Marshall

I read this novel in just two sittings (and the only reason that it wasn’t one sitting was because it was late at night and I needed sleep), it had me hooked right to the very end!

Out of Orange by Cleary Wolters

This was an audiobook and once I got into it I really enjoyed it. It’s definitely a must read for fans of Orange is the New Black.

The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie

I’ve had this book on my TBR for a long time and was hesitant to pick this up as I’d seen mixed reviews. I’m kicking myself for leaving it so long though as I really did enjoy this quirky and interesting novel.

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

This book was so good! It grabbed me from the start and had me engrossed into it right to the very end.

This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay

I got this book for Christmas and was so pleased as I’d been keen to read it. I read it in one sitting and it was such an interesting book – both funny and heartbreaking at the same time. It was certainly eye-opening!

In The Days Of Rain by Rebecca Stott

I’ve kept hearing about this book and when it won the Costa biography award I had to pick it up. I got the audiobook and found it really engrossing listening to this true story.

Three Things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon

This book was just incredible. I read it on a weekend when I badly needed solace and this book gave me that and so much more as well. I’m still struggling to finish my review because I loved it so much. This is definitely a new favourite and I already want to re-read it!

Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald

I listened to this book on audio and really enjoyed it. I’ve already reviewed this book so you can find out more of my thoughts here.

I Let Him Go by Denise Fergus

I bought this book on release day and read it in one go. It’s a heartbreaking read but it’s such an honest and open memoir.

This Is How It Ends by Eva Dolan

This is another book that I’ve loved this year. It was so refreshing to read a book that is told in two timelines going in different directions and I very much enjoyed it. I hope to get my review written and posted soon.

The Break by Marian Keyes

I struggled to get into this the first time I picked it up but I gave it another chance at the weekend and I’m so glad I did because I loved it.

Spaceman by Mike Massimino

This was a book that I got for my birthday at the weekend and after looking through all of my birthday books this was the one that called me to me the most. I read it in two sittings and I loved every minute of reading this book.

Winter by Ali Smith

This book took me a little while to read as I was struggling to physically hold the hardback but the novel itself was brilliant. This is another book that I feel sure will be in my favourites list at the end of this year!

 

January Blog Posts & Reviews:

My favourite novels that I read in 2017

My Favourite non-fiction books that I read in 2017

My 2017 reading reflections and plans for 2018, and the state of my TBR

My reading bingo results for 2017

Review of An Act of Silence by Colette McBeth

My Christmas book haul

My January book haul

An additional January book haul (oops!)

Review of Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald

 

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The state of my TBR:

I made the decision to work on my TBR more seriously this year; to try and read more of the books I already own rather than accumulating a lot more. I started the year with 2756 (this is books that I own)! Over the month it’s held steady-ish as I’ve been good at resisting buying too many books and I’ve also been better at DNFing books that I’m not enjoying. I had a little clear out too and got rid of a few books. Then at the end of the month it was my birthday and I got some books and also some book vouchers so my TBR has gone up again. I’m really pleased with myself overall that my current TBR is now 2752, which is four books less than it was on the first day of the year!

 


 

How was your January? I hope you all had a good month and that you read lots of good books. Did you read many books? What was your favourite book of the month? Please tell me in the comments, I’d love to know. Also, if you have a blog please feel free to leave a link to your month’s wrap-up post and I’ll be sure to read and comment back. 🙂

2017 Reading Reflections, Bookish Plans for 2018 & The State of my TBR!

 

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I set myself a goal to read 200 books in 2017 and that felt like a good number – one that would push me to read instead of faffing about but also one that would allow me to read some bigger books that have been languishing on my bookcases for a while. I ended up reading 252 books, which is the most books I’ve read in a year since I started my Goodreads account and began tracking my reading in 2010!

 

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According to Goodreads the shortest book that I read was Christmas Poems by Wendy Cope, which was 39 pages long. It’s such a gorgeous book and was a joy to read in the run up to the festive period. The longest book I read was The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton at 849 pages long. I devoured this book over the course of a few days and I loved it. I was expecting it to be a bit of a trudge at times but it it really wasn’t. I do think it’s a book best enjoyed in big chunks though, I don’t think I would have followed it so well if I’d dipped in and out of it over a longer period. My average page count for the year was 325 pages, which I’m really happy with because that’s roughly the length of an average-ish book so it means I wasn’t reading short books to make up numbers.

I took on the Mount TBR 2017 challenge on Goodreads last year and I chose to try and read 100 books from my TBR that I owned before the 31 December 2016 and I’m so pleased that I achieved this. One of the books that made it onto my favourite novels of the year was The Poisonwood Bible, which I had owned unread for around TWENTY YEARS! I’m kicking myself for leaving it so long because I loved it and it’s a book that has really stayed with me. I haven’t signed up for the 2018 Mount TBR Challenge as yet but I probably will do as it’s a good way to give some attention to books that have been on my TBR for a while.

2017 was the first year that I properly tracked my reading in a spreadsheet and I have to say that I have ADORED being able to see how my reading pans out in much more detail and to track things that Goodreads doesn’t really enable me to do.

 

 

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I discovered from my spreadsheet in 2017 that of the 252 books I read over the year 182 of them (72%) were written by women. I didn’t consciously seek to read more female authors over the year so it was interesting that I read so many more women than men. I’m now interested to see if this is usual pattern in my read as I go into my second year of tracking my books on a spreadsheet.

 

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I read more books in December than any other month… 29 books! This is because around Christmas I do like to read some poetry and also some children’s Christmas books, which are often shorter than novels for adults. My page count for December was still high at 8480. Going by page count February was my biggest reading month coming in at 8495 pages spread over 26 books!

 

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It was interesting to see where my reading tastes lie over the course of a year and to see what genres I read the most of too. 31% of my reading was non-fiction (spread over general non-fiction and memoir), which works out at 79 books. I’m pleased with this in the sense that I did push myself out of my comfort zone a bit more with non-fiction and read some harder books. I would like to increase the ratio of non-fiction to fiction in 2018 if I can. My fiction reading is mostly split between general fiction and thriller/crime fiction, which doesn’t surprise me. I love thrillers and knew I’d read a lot of them last year.

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This is a breakdown of my entire owned books TBR by page-length…

As some of you may remember I started tracking my TBR part way through 2017 as I was trying to force myself to get it under control. I thought it would be interesting to do TBR maths on my wrap-up posts to try and stop buying more books than I was reading. This ended in complete and utter failure! I had a couple of months in the summer where I wasn’t really reading or blogging much but I was still buying books to cheer myself up. Then during a de-clutter of my house I found a whole load of books that had never been added to Goodreads so had never been counted on my TBR. It all felt a bit overwhelming so after my blogging break I decided to scrap tracking my TBR but I promised I would start again in 2018 and I will. This year I’m using Portal in the Pages‘ fab spreadsheet again and she has now included a page where you can add your entire TBR of books owned before the start of the year and the spreadsheet will keep a running total. I am excited beyond words at this… Well, I was until I realised just how big my TBR is! My entire TBR of books owned-but-not-read-yet stands at 2756 books! Eeeek! I really am going to curb my book accumulating this year and am going to make a real effort to reduce this number so will be tracking my TBR on my monthly wrap-up posts, and possibly on my weekly posts too.

So all-in-all 2017 was a great reading year and I’m really looking forward to reading my way through 2018 (and attempting to reduce my TBR)! How was your reading last year? Did you have any goals, and if so did you achieve them? What are your reading plans for 2018? If you’ve written a post about your bookish reflections please feel free to leave a link in the comments and I’ll make sure that I read it.