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My May

May was pretty good to me. Apart from constant sleep deprivation, we had some great weather and managed to go on some good trips.

In Kiddo news: He’s doing good. Sometimes, he’s jealous of his little brother and also annoyed because he keeps trying to steal his toys (I think this will be a recurring theme for years to come). He talks a lot, he’s mastered complex sentences and it’s really funny to hear him repeat back phrases that we use or read in books. He’s in a Peppa Pig phase, which is cool because that cartoon is awesome. Dinosaurs and tractors (and combine harvesters) are still a thing. He’s also potty trained, which is a relief. :D We planted some beans and cucumbers on our balcony and he’s very diligent with watering them with his yellow watering can.

In Baby news: We had his 9-month check up last week and he’s great. He’s really big for his age and it’s hard to carry him sometimes if he decides to squirm. He still doesn’t understand what we want from him, obviously, so it’s impossible to keep him away from Kiddo’s toys, for example. He’s also very different, personality-wise – he’s very determined and…brave? By which I mean reckless when he wants something and just goes after it, even if it’s out of his reach. Then he dangles from the tabletop or the sink by his tiny fingertips, waiting to be rescued by us. He also started saying mah-mah, which is adorable, of course! He can clap (clumsily) and if asked what sound cows make, he blows out his cheeks and makes a sort of bwuh sound that vaguely resembles “moo”. So that’s a win. ;)

In personal news: I’ve really been enjoying the weather. Being outside and taking day trips is so much easier in the summertime. And I’ve been taking photos of flowers everywhere, they’re gorgeous and early this year. I don’t bake as much bread anymore, though, because it just seems stupid heating the oven to 350°C every other day when it’s 30°C outside… I’ll start baking again in the autumn. I did bake a chocolate cake (with Kiddo’s help, of course) yesterday because my husband and I celebrated our 30th birthdays together (mine was in April and his is in 2 weeks but we invited everyone together).

We went to two medieval fairs these past two weeks – one at Ljubljana Castle, where we witnessed a sword fight demonstration (Kiddo watched, transfixed, and I had to explain to him that the gentlemen hacking at each other weren’t actually trying to hurt their opponents…), and the other at Bled Castle, where we saw a smithy and my husband tried his hand at flinging throwing axes at a battered wooden target (He hit it more than once! And the guy who gave the demonstration reminded me of Jean Tannen so much.).

I’m going to try and post a book haul/recently read post soon because I got so many books this month. I bought some for myself, I got some gift certificates for the bookstore for my birthday, I got a couple as gifts…and it’s been a while since I did one of these posts. Let’s just say that my reading slump still hasn’t gone away completely and I’ve been self-medicating with easy-to-read romance, which isn’t exactly healthy for my book budget. *sigh*

How are you doing? How was your May?

What was the best thing that happened to you last month?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

 

Let’s be friends: emailbloglovin’twitterinstagramgoodreads.

Happy Holidays!

Happy holidays, dear readers! I know I’m a little late for Christmas, but I hope your celebrations were full of great food and good company. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, I hope you’re still relaxing at home, enjoying a good book and a warm/alcoholic drink.

While 2016 will probably go down in history as a really crappy year, it was a good one for me and my family. We got our second son and he’s a great little guy. Kiddo is also healthy and smart, so we have a lot to be grateful for.

We celebrated with both sides of the family already, so I’m looking forward to having a quiet celebration of New Year with just the four of us at home. It’ll be our first year as a four-member family, and though the little ones will probably go to bed like it’s any other ordinary day, we’ll be watching the fireworks and eating a good dinner. We also have a tentative date with The Return of the King, since we’re in the middle of a LOTR re-watch.

Hugs for all and I wish you a calm last week of 2016. How will you be celebrating on New Year’s Eve?

Challenges and Resolutions Update #3

challenges3

December is here and it is time to take stock of what I’ve been doing on this blog in 2016. Given that I had a baby and worked a lot, I think I did well with these, even if I didn’t necessarily stick to all of them.

Resolutions

  • I want to succeed at my reading challenges. I finished my Discussion Challenge and I’m really proud of that. I will definitely be participating in next year.
  • I want to read more classics. I didn’t do well with this one. I read one tiny Penguin Classics edition of Christina Rosetti’s poetry and I re-read Pride and Prejudice. I’ll be keeping this resolution for 2017.
  • I want to finish more series. Okay so I’m not doing too bad with this one. I’ll consider this one a mediocre success. I also dropped some series because I decided not to purposefully read bad books anymore, which was pretty liberating.
  • I want to get better at using Instagram. Er, no. I’m still posting stuff from our trips and some Lego creations, but I haven’t been all that consistent.
  • I want to read more non-English books. I aced this one, I think – especially compared to previous years. I have read eleven (I think?) non-English titles (though one was an English translation of a Finnish book).
  • I want to keep up-to-date with my ARCs. YES! I am doing great at this. Woop! :) I’ve kept my NetGalley ratio above 80% for the entire year and I am not requesting many books, only those I’m genuinely interested in. YAY!
  • I want to post more of my reviews to Goodreads. Yes. I am doing way better with this. Putting reminders into my Google calendar for each review really helps.
  • I want to buy fewer books and read more of the ones I already own. I’m not QUITE keeping to my 3-to-1 ratio but let’s say I’m making some progress.
  • I want to post at least twice a week. Yep, apart from the break in November, which I needed badly, I’ve kept this up!

I’d say I was pretty good with these. I’ll have to think of new resolutions for 2017!

srcek

Challenges

2016-Discussion-Challenge

The 2016 Discussion Challenge is hosted by Nicole at Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon at It Starts at Midnight. My goal was to write at least 13 discussions this year and I made it!! So this challenge is definitely a success and I will be participating in it next year for sure – it makes me write better posts that get the most engagement and I also met some great new people through it!

You can see my discussions here: Supernatural Love Interests, Should Romance Be Realistic?Are Bloggers Really Introverts?, How Are You?, All the HypeHigh Expectations, Watching People, Reading Novellas, Super Long Books, What Makes a Fantasy, Reading Bad BooksRe-reading Childhood Favourites, and Friends.

And I participated in the Retelling Challenge 2016 again. It was hosted by Mel at The Daily Prophecy. I am failing this one – I thought A Court of Mist and Fury would count towards this challenge but it really isn’t a retelling of anything as far as I could tell, despite the fact that the first part of the series was a loose retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I also read Son of the Shadows by Juliet Mariller – the first book of the series was a retelling (The Daughter of the Forest), but this one just isn’t. So the only retellings I’ve read were Lock & Mori, a YA contemporary version of Sherlock Holmes, and The Wrath and the Dawn.

See – I won the challenge that isn’t dependent on my mood swings and current tastes in books. I think I’ll choose more challenges of this sort for 2017. More on that next week!

srcek

How did you do with your challenges and resolutions?

Do you feel guilty if you didn’t succeed?

What challenges will you be joining in 2017?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

Let’s be friends: emailbloglovin’twitterinstagramgoodreads.

Challenges and Resolutions Update #2

challenges-resolutions-2

As the year has passed well into the second half, I thought it would be a good time to check what progress I’d made on my challenges and resolutions for 2016. In May, I bemoaned my lack of progress and felt kind of bad that I wasn’t doing as good as I’d thought I would be. But now, I just can’t bring myself to feel bad about this kind of thing – blogging is and should remain a hobby and as long as I’m enjoying it, I’m good. The same goes for reading. Let’s see how I’m doing:

Resolutions

  • I want to succeed at my reading challenges. Well – I finished my Discussion Challenge already but the others are less of a success.
  • I want to read more classics. Abysmal. I read one Little Black Classic which hardly counts because it has 40 pages, I think (it was Christina Rosetti’s Goblin Market, a really great poem – accompanied with several more of her poems that I never read before and I really liked them).
  • I want to finish more series. Okay so I’m not doing too bad with this one. I’ll consider this a good work in progress. I also dropped some series because I decided not to purposefully read bad books anymore, which was pretty liberating.
  • I want to get better at using Instagram. Er, no. Nope.
  • I want to read more non-English books. This isn’t too bad. I have already read six (I think?) non-English titles (though one was an English translation of a Finnish book).
  • I want to keep up-to-date with my ARCs. YES! I am doing great at this. Woop! :) My NetGalley ratio is currently 82% and I am not requesting many books, only those I’m genuinely interested in. YAY!
  • I want to post more of my reviews to Goodreads. I am doing way better with this. Putting reminders into my Google calendar for each review really helps.
  • I want to buy less books and read more of the ones I already own. I’m not QUITE keeping to my 3-to-1 ratio but let’s say I’m making some progress.
  • I want to post at least twice a week. Yep, doing okay with this most of the time!

So the tally is: 4 resolutions are a success, 3 are a work in progress, and 2 are fails. This is better than with my May update, which I’m counting as an overall success! :)

srcek

Challenges

As I said, I am doing very poorly with the Back to the Classics Challenge (hosted by Karen at Books and Chocolate). My goal was to read six books and so far I can’t even say I’ve read one. I want to change that soon but I don’t know if I’ll manage. We’ll see. I’m such a mood reader it’s difficult to plan my reading in advance, though I’ve had some success with my Summer TBR list.

2016-Discussion-Challenge

The 2016 Discussion Challenge is hosted by Nicole at Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon at It Starts at Midnight, and it’s the only challenge I’m acing so far. My goal was to write at least 13 discussions this year and I made it!! So this challenge is definitely a success and I will be participating in it next year for sure – it makes me write better posts that get the most engagement and I also met some great new people through it!

You can see my discussions here: Supernatural Love Interests, Should Romance Be Realistic?Are Bloggers Really Introverts?, How Are You?, All the HypeHigh Expectations, Watching People, Reading Novellas, Super Long Books, What Makes a Fantasy, Reading Bad Books, and Re-reading Childhood Favourites.

And I’m participating in the Retelling Challenge 2016 again. It is hosted by Mel at The Daily Prophecy. I am failing this one – I thought A Court of Mist and Fury would count towards this challenge but it really isn’t a retelling of anything as far as I could tell, despite the fact that the first part of the series was a loose retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I also read Son of the Shadows by Juliet Mariller – the first book of the series was a retelling (The Daughter of the Forest), but this one just isn’t. So the only retellings I’ve read were Lock & Mori, a YA contemporary version of Sherlock Holmes, and The Wrath and the Dawn, which I’ll be reviewing soon.

So. One in three challenges – not horrible but not good, either. See – I won the challenge that isn’t dependent on my mood swings and current tastes in books. I think I’ll choose more challenges of this sort for 2017.

srcek

How are your challenges and resolutions coming along?

Do you feel guilty if you aren’t succeeding at them?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

Let’s be friends: emailbloglovin’twitterinstagramgoodreads.

Mini Reviews #3: The Romance Edition

Here’s another batch of my mini reviews. They’re dead useful for whittling down my massive pile of books to review and I love them for the books that I didn’t love – those mediocre books are always the hardest to review. But there are a couple of jewels in here as well, so take a look! Check out my NA romance mini reviews!

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entice-enchantress-karen-hawkinsHow to Entice an Enchantress (The Duchess Diaries #3) by Karen Hawkins, published in 2013 by Pocket Books. Goodreads. Author.

Source: purchased (paperback).

My rating: 4.5/5.

My mini opinion: This was actually a re-read. I lovelovelove Karen Hawkins’s books, she’s one of my auto-buy authors, and How to Entice an Enchantress is one of her best. It’s a Beauty and the Beast retelling (though in a very loose sense), and is the quintessential comfort read. It has fluff, it has banter, it has a grumpy-but-swoony hero and a smart heroine. What more can you ask for in a romance? :)

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viscount-lived-down-lane-elizabeth-boyleThe Viscount Who Lived Down the Lane (Rhymes with Love #4) by Elizabeth Boyle, published in 2014 by Avon. Goodreads. Author.

Source: purchased for Kindle.

My rating: 3/5.

My mini opinion: Ahh, romance covers… Always with the improbable abdominal and pectoral muscles… He looks like he’s in pain. This was a fun read with the usual “dark and damaged hero doesn’t want to be saved by quirky and unpopular herione” twist. It also features a rather bleak view of the London society at the time (what with the vicious rumors of Louisa’s mother’s behaviour marring her debut) – but I imagine the people were quite cruel in this regard. Especially since the upper classes didn’t do much beside dancing and gossiping. But yeah, this is a good one-evening entertainment if you run out of light stuff to read!

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secrets-sir-richard-kenworthy-julia-quinnThe Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy (Smythe-Smith Quartet #4) by Julia Quinn, published in 2015 by Avon. Goodreads. Author.

Source: purchased for Kindle.

My rating: 3.5/5.

My mini opinion: Well, Julia Quinn is one of my favourite historical romance authors but this one fell short of my expectations. I mean, it’s ok and all, but not the witty, funny prose I usually encounter when I read her novels. Let me just say: I would murder Sir Richard in his bed if I was Iris and he kept a secret like that from me (now you all have to read it to see if you agree with me, HA!). But I loved returning to the known characters (the scene with the play that the kids put on is hilarious) and I understood Iris’s actions. She’s one of those quiet heroines that’s not quite a wallflower but likes to listen more than she likes to talk if that makes sense. See Quinn’s and Lark’s reviews if you want more info on the book!

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talk-of-the-town-karen-hawkinsTalk of the Town (Glory NC #1) by Karen Hawkins, published in 2008 by Pocket Books. Goodreads. Author.

Source: purchased for Kindle.

My rating: 3/5. 

My mini opinion: This is the first contemporary novel by Karen Hawkins that I read and I have to say I prefer her historicals. I do like a good small-town romance (Jill Shalvis owns my heart), but this one just didn’t speak to me. Maybe it’s because I didn’t connect with the heroine, Roxie, who is on a sort of a bender to revolutionise herself after a nasty divorce caused by her finding her husband in bed with his cross-dressing lover. She returns to her home town (with her older brother in tow – hello book #2) to take care of her ailing mother and meets “the one that got away”, Nick, the town sheriff. She takes on her mother’s charity work, which throws her into a murder investigation, helped by a bunch of geriatric busy-bodies. Maybe it was all a bit much for me (there’s a really silly scene with the mayor’s girlfriend that involves showing off their boobs). Hawkins is the queen of historicals for me and that’s that.

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master-kresley-coleThe Master (The Game Maker #2) by Kresley Cole, published in 2015 by Gallery Books. Goodreads. Author.

Source: purchased for Kindle.

My rating: 2.5/5.

My mini opinion: This is straight-up erotica, no doubt about that. This book doesn’t even pretend it’s anything else, because the heroine takes her first job as a prostitute in chapter one and meets the hero, a Russian mobster who likes to play rough. She doesn’t follow his script, which is, of course, hugely entertaining for him, so he wants her back. And then things spiral a bit because he thinks she wants to entrap him by having a baby, becomes a controlling freak, and basically imprisons her (but leaves her the use of his credit card, naturally). Eh. I really liked Cole’s If You Dare and her Immortals After Dark series, but this is just a bit too much (not the sex parts, the story that goes with it).

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Have you read any of these romances? What did you think?

Do you have any good recommendations for me? I’m always looking for new stories! :)