Q: Have you read self-help books?


I’ve not purchased any myself, but my mum likes to buy me them sometimes as presents, especially when I was younger. This is one of those books!

A book from the late naughts that talks about health and beauty, when I delved back into this I wasn’t expecting much. I was expecting some decent advice, along with some questionable content and a lack of representation. I was pleasantly surprised!

This book has genuinely good health advice, there’s representation in the girls they photographed, and the makeup and hair sections make a point of also providing ways of looking after Black hair and Black skin. It’s not perfect by any means but it’s definitely better than I’d expected!

Image ID: Be Beautiful by Alice Hart-Davis and Molly Hindhaugh laid flat ona white background. Above the book is “growing” spelt in scrabble letters , around the book are generic beauty items like nail polish, makeup brushes, and a balck skirt with roses

Cover Buying Books

We all do it… right? We see a beautiful cover and we just can’t resist!! So today there are 10 books that are on my tbr purely because of their beautiful covers!

This post (and most likely the posts that I put up all this week) are going to be from my VEDO videos, because this is my first week at my new job, as well as my birthday week!! So unfortunately I’m all creatived out hahaha. Hope you enjoy the videos this week!!

Dead or Alive, a review

The most recent Skulduggery Pleasant novel!!


If you follow my reviews you might be wondering why I’ve jumped from book 3 to book 14 in this series. So I’m one of the co-hosts for the Dead Famous Readalong where we’re reading the full Skulduggery Pleasant series, one book at a time. But I wasn’t going to not read this just because I’m rereading the beginning of the series!!!

I post my reviews in chronological order of when I read the books (unless it’s an ARC with a time limit) and so here we are. Dead or Alive. Book fourteen in the series.

This is so. So. So different to the early books! Of course I knew that logically but seeing it side by side with the early books put it into stark contrast!

This book is even darker than the ones that came before and has so much character development within it. Val herself? Wow. So much. And so much about so many side characters that I don’t want to mention because they might not even have been introduced depending on where you are in the series! This really goes down a certain route and leaves us on a cliffhanger that’s painful and I NEED the next book now thank you Landy.

There are so many plot points and strings all converging together by this point, and yet Landy is handling them deftly. Interweaving them to create a rich tapestry of utter chaos and I fucking love it.

I can’t even begin to explain how complicated this is becoming. Party because of spoilers and partly because I just don’t want to. That is too much effort. But Landy has managed these plot developments and twists and turns so well that it feels natural to read. You already know all of the information, you have all the puzzle pieces, Landy is just slotting them into place.

I’m so so excited for the final book in this series. I do hope we get some sort of happy ending. It’s Skulduggery so of course it’s not going to be sunshine, rainbows, and kittens. But I hope there is some vague semblance of peace. Both for the reader and the characters. But unfortunately, that’s not up to me.

For my CAWPILE ratings I gave this book:

Characters: 10

Atmosphere: 8

Writing: 8

Plot: 8

Intrigue: 9

Logic: 8

Enjoyment: 9

Which gives us an 8.57 and a pretty high 4 star rating!!

Highlight here for trigger warnings: violence, death, guns, mental illness, police brutality, xenophobia

I’m both so so excited and so sad that this series is coming to an end! Here’s hoping it’s a good one!!

How To Read More

Everyone is a little different when it comes to reading, so not every tip will work for everyone. But here is how I’ve found myself able to read as much as possible and still enjoy myself!

A quick little background about my reading. On average I can read 100 pages an hour, although of course that goes up and down for younger books/smaller writing/difficult texts. I also read mostly fantasy books, although I do dip my toes into almost every genre. I read mostly adult, although again I do still read from the YA (young adult) and MG (middle grade) age brackets.

So. Now you know a little bit about me and my reading, let me tell you how I can read the most without feeling bogged down!

My first “tip” is to start a book as soon as you finish the one before. Now I don’t necessarily mean within 5 seconds of it! But within the same day, and ideally within a few hours, of finishing a book I want to pick up my next one and read a chapter or two. This keeps me in the swing of reading and whilst I’m still in the mindset of being invested in a story switches my brain over to a new one.

Secondly, I want to read the first 50-100 pages of the book pretty quickly. So within the first few days I want to have read at least 100 pages of this new book. Again this is about keeping me in the story, this keeps my mind within the fictional world and gets me wondering about what is happening within the book. I’ve found that for me around the 100 page mark is where I know that I’m invested, but of course it could be higher or lower for you!

These, when I’m not struggling or am not busy with other life things, work great on their own to keep me reading consistently and getting through a lot of books while enjoying them. Sometimes, though, things get in the way and I need little extra kicks to get me going.

My first little kick is to tab up my books. I’ll put tabs in for [x] number of pages, or [x] number of chapters and then aim for that amount each day. It means I can physically see my progress (this of course only works with physical books) and it encourages me to keep reading as it doesn’t seem like too much more to read.

Second up, read a chapter a day. There are certain books where that is all I’ll do. I’ll limit myself to one chapter a day (that’s a story for another day). But with your standard novel, what this actually is, is a minimum. At least one chapter a day. If worst comes to worst, I’ve “only” read one chapter but that’s still progress! But ideally I’ll realise that I’m actually invested in the book after that one chapter and read a few more!

My third tip is to set a timer. Reading sprints are super popular and there is a reason for that. If you set a timer where you force yourself to sit down and read you’re going to get through more pages than if you didn’t! Even if it’s just half an hour, at my reading speed that’s 50 pages. That’s totally do-able! Set whatever time/page goal works for you!

Accountability can work like a charm. Buddy reading is fantastic for this because you “have” to read your pages each day. But even just letting a friend/family member know that you’re reading something and that you want to get it finished can keep you moving! You know they’ll ask about it, and you want to be able to tell them that you’ve made progress, so you’d better get moving!

There are also some tips that can work really well for people that I don’t use. But I want to mention one here cause it could be quite helpful for you.

And this is to listen to the book on audio either instead of reading with your eyes or whilst you read with your eyes. Now of course this is only helpful to those who don’t use audio as their primary reading method, but people find it can help them focus, and if you’re doing other tasks a lot that don’t require too much thinking it can be a great way to squeeze more reading in.

I work in a call centre, from home, and we’re in a pandemic. So I don’t go out much, therefore I don’t have much time in my life for audiobooks. And because I read at a decent speed it is a lot slower for me to read via audio, even sped up. This means that this isn’t a trick for me. But if you’re a slower reader, or one who doesn’t have hands free but who can listen to something whilst doing other tasks? This could be a great option for you!

Tell me, do you use these tips already? How do you make sure you keep the motivation to read and to not slump? I’m sure we can all do with some more tips down in the comments below!!

Samuel Nowak – a review

Samuel Nowak, by Caitlyn J Bolton, is a historical fiction which follows one young man as he immigrates from Russia to England. He has a hard childhood, with rocky relationships. He does however have a wonderful friend with whom he goes to university and then they both go on to start families of their own. This is in the early 20th Century however, and a weak man must learn to live through hard times, and a Great War. How will he survive?

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I’m going to tell you straight off that I’m biased in this review. Caitlyn is the wonderful woman behind Mad Cheshire Rabbit and one of my best bookish friends. So yeah, just a wee bit of bias here! However, I’ve done my very best to be subjective in how I rated this book. So fingers crossed this is still a decent review, but I thought I should let you know upfront.

Now onto the review of the book itself. I liked it! I will say, to start with a negative, that from the synopsis I had been expecting the book to take place more within the setting of the Great War itself, rather than leading up to the event. And I also wasn’t expecting as much discussion and philosophising. I have read more classics since reading this, however. Which is a genre that Caitlyn loves and I hadn’t been overly exposed to, and this really does fall in line with those. I think the book that I could closest match it to in emotive feeling would be Frankenstein. It has the same layout of discussing family, discussing the wrongs that were carried out with the best of intentions but which hurt people, and being focused around, but not on, a large event.

If you enjoy reading classics I really do recommend picking up Samuel Nowak, genuinely. I know I’m biased but I really do think that this is a great first book from Caitlyn and I can’t wait to read more books that she writes!

For my CAWPILE ratings I gave:

  • characters: 7
  • atmosphere: 5
  • writing: 6
  • plot: 7
  • intrigue: 7
  • logic: 6
  • enjoyment: 6

For an overall 6.29 which is a 3*. To be quite honest, this was me trying not to be too biased. I would much rather rate it 4*s, but I’m worried that if I rate it too highly people will think I just like it cause I like Caitlyn!

Please do give this book a go, barely anyone has read it and I need more people to give their opinions on the book!!!

Highlight for trigger warnings: child abuse, alcohol abuse, war, war trauma, physical injuries, miscarriage, mental illness

If you have read this please let me know what you thought!

Borrowed Time – a review

The same as the last time I read a Doctor Who fiction book, I expected it to be just… eh… and I actually really enjoyed it!!

In Borrowed Time we not only follow the Pond trio, but also the lives of two bankers who want to out-compete each other to get that promotion. But they never seem to have quite enough time to get everything done.


Of course, capitalism has a solution for that! Buy time! The world will freeze around you as you sort out that powerpoint for the presentation tomorrow as well as do the boss’ work and spend time with your family. It’s all so simple! Until it isn’t.

I’m sure you can guess the repercussions of this, and that it’s not risk free. Well the Doctor, Amy and Rory happen to stumble upon a group of people using these devices and they attempt to save them.

This was such a fun book! I didn’t expect to be so absorbed and to enjoy it so much, I think I need higher expectations for these Doctor Who books! I only have one left from this 3 book box set so I’m looking forward to picking it up!

My CAWPILE ratings were:

  • Characters: 8
  • Atmosphere: 7
  • Writing: 6
  • Plot: 6
  • Intrigue: 7
  • Logic: 6
  • Enjoyment: 7

Totalling 6.71 for a nice 3 stars!

Highlight for trigger warnings: sudden onset of aging, mild violence

These books are definitely just for Doctor Who fans (or potential fans), but within that bracket they’re really enjoyable and I might have to pick up more in the future!

Waistcoats & Weaponry – a review

One perk about being so far behind on my reviews is that I get to tell you that this is the highest rated book I’ve read so far this year!

I use CAWPILE to rate my books, and it gives you a number between one and ten (using decimals) for the rating, and so far in 2021 this is my highest rated book!


The 3rd book in the Finishing School series, this book continued on the fun of the first two! I of course don’t want to spoil anything (and I’m trying to make my blog reviews less academic) so I won’t say too much about the book but I adored every aspect of it of course! And I was actually crying at the end! Hence the high rating! I was very concerned about a specific thing (spoilers) and I couldn’t hold it in!

My CAWPILE breakdown:

  • Characters: 10
  • Atmosphere: 9
  • Writing: 9
  • Plot: 9
  • Intrigue: 10
  • Logic: 10
  • Enjoyment: 10

Total: 9.57!

Highlight here for trigger warnings: violence, blood, gun violence, serious injury

Thank you so so much Kari (from Kari-ng for books) for gifting me both this and book 4, Manners & Mutiny, because these books are ridiculously fun, silly, and impactful all at the same time!!

Top 5 Reads of 2021 So Far!!

We’re officially halfway through the year! (okay I’m a little early so sue me) Already this year I’ve rated 15 books 5*s so far! Maybe you think that’s too many, but I’m just happy that I’m enjoying reading so much! Today I’m going to be listing my top 5 reads so far. I won’t be including re-reads, and I’ll be using CAWPILE stats to rate them.

Straight up, one issue is that I have 6 books all with the same rating on CAWPILE. 9.29. However, there are a few repeats from series on here so I’m just going to squash all those together and that should help!

First up we have Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger, a Finishing School Series book. 9.57!! Such a high rating!!! This was such a fun romp through steampunk Victorian England in a school for spies and I adored both this book and the 4th and final in the series (Manners & Mutiny, which got 5*s with 9.29), I’m definitely going to be picking up more by Carriger in the future!

Next up, the first of our 9.29 ratings, is Forest 404 by Timothy X Atack. This is actually an audiobook/podcast situation I read from NetGalley which discusses climate change, the increased usage of machines and more! It’s fantastically done and I’m so glad I picked it up!

Another series, taking the top spot for it is The Dawn Chorus by Samantha Shannon in The Bone Season series! Both this and The Mask Falling got 9.29, and The Pale Dreamer got 9.00, meaning all were 5* reads! This is an adult sci-fi/dystopian/fantasy series that honestly covers so many bases! I adore it and most likely will give every single book 5*s!

Time for a standalone! We have Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor! This YA fantasy is one I was expecting to be just fine, but I was completely obsessed with the worldbuilding throughout and I’m so excited to learn more about this world and continue with the series! Another 9.29 rating on CAWPILE.

And finally for my top 5 (cheating but shhhh) is The Skulduggery Pleasant Grimoire by Derek Landy! This is the last 9.29 rated book so it worked out quite well! (I also reread book #1 and rated that 9.29 and book #2 and rated that 9.00). This Grimoire covers the entire series from before it’s start to past the last book and not only covers the details from each book but adds more in there as well! It’s utterly fantastic, something that every Skulduggery fan needs in their life, and I’m so glad I had it on pre-order!

And those are my top 5 reads so far of 2021!!! Some fantastic books and I’m so excited to read more from all these authors!! And just to be fair to the rest of the 5* reads I’ve had so far, here are my wonderful runners up!!

  • An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon – 9.14
  • All Systems Red by Martha Wells – 9.14
  • Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela – 9.00
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – 9.00
  • Pet by Awkaeke Emezi – 9.00

What’s the best 5 star book you’ve read in 2021?! Let me know!

Meet the book blogger!

Hey! My name’s Abi, and I like reading!

I mostly like reading fantasy books, although I’m trying to branch more into sci-fi as well. I do love a good non-fiction book and sometimes I’ll pick up mysteries, classics and a few historical fictions.

I’ve been reading all my life, yeah I know. I’m one of the annoying ones. My mum remembers me as an infant with the newspaper in my hands cause I was always wanting to read something. I used to read every single road sign we passed as we drove because I wanted to constantly read! (and I can’t read in cars or I’ll vomit. Trust me. I’ve tried. Repeatedly)

You can find me a few places online. Here, of course. But also on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. I publish a video once a week, on Sundays, on YouTube. And I post a picture every day on Instagram. So if you want something a little more consistent than my blog I recommend you check me out there!

I own probably 1000 books. I can’t actually count them at the moment. Currently I live with my parents again and they don’t have the space for me to have all of my books out, so they’re packed away in various boxes with just my tbr (well most of it) and a hundred or so of my read books out on display. I also try to unhaul my books, with kids books going straight to the primary school (4-12 years old) that my mum works at and the rest going to charity. Which essentially means I have no clue how many books are in this house anymore! I’ll count them one day once I move in with my partner and can have them all on display.

Out of all my books, I would estimate I have about 140 on my physical tbr. Books on my shelves that I’ve not read. One day I want to get this number to be around 40! But it’ll be a while before I hit that!

I mainly read physical books, and mainly in paperback (that’s cause of cost and cause paperbacks are more common in the UK than the US). I do have a kindle, gifted to me by my lovely partner, that I read arcs on and books that I want to grab quickly and cheaply. I do sometimes listen to audiobooks but I can struggle to focus on the plot through audio so it’s a rare format for me.

My favourite book until I was 18 was The Gift by Alison Croggon (which is the first book in the Pellinor series). I still adore the book but there are a few other contenders now for the top spot including Before the Coffee Gets Cold, The Bone Season, Priory, and more! One day I’ll need to reread them all together and pick a favourite!

So that’s me, my bookish aspects summarised. This doesn’t even include the mess that is my life! But tell me about you, what’s your favourite genre? And do you own physical books or ebooks? Let me know!!