30 November 2016

Monthly Wrap Up // November

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I wish I knew where my November went but it was lost in work drama, Christmas shopping, and reading and blogging slumps. It’s been busy and passed with a blink of the eye. I mean, how has it gotten to December already? Before you know it the year will be over and I will be talking about my favourite books of 2016 and what I’m looking forward to read in 2017.

I honestly don’t know where the year goes but it’s exciting to look back on the month and with just one more month left in 2016 I’ve got a lot of reading to catch up on and I need to start thinking about my resolutions for this year and next. Is it a bit early to already be planning for next year when there’s still a month left in the year? Don’t be silly.

Can’t Stop Listening

Love My Life – Robbie Williams
On What You’re On – Busted

November Reads


November Posts

November Links

Confessions of a Book Geek | 2016 Bookish Gift Guide With Exclusive Discounts (I look forward to this post every year as Rachel gets the best discounts, great place to get gift ideas for bookish friends)
The Book Voyagers | Stop Using POC As Plot Devices (a great collection of books which have diversity and show POC should have the starring role in their own stories because we’re approaching 2017 and this shouldn’t be so difficult)
It Starts At Midnight | Does Social media Competence Equal Blog Success? // Bookish Self Care (because it’s been a crazy month and we all need a little self care to get us through)
The Perpetual Page Turner | Phase 1 Is Complete (For Now) (Jamie talks about getting rid of books she’s not going to read and clearing her shelves)
The Fictional Reader | On Diversity, Privilege And Feeling Uneducated (I saw this post last month and forgot to link but it’s actually a really interesting read)
Nick And Nereyda’s Infinite Booklist | Books I Love With Covers I Hate (And it features a few books I agree wholeheartedly with)
The Innocent Smiley | All About Self-Care
The Daydreaming Bookworm | When Blogging Becomes Overwhelming
All About Books | Spreadsheet: Books 2017 (I look forward to this spreadsheet every year and every year it improves. If you want a way to track your reading and spending this is for you)
Boats Against The Current | Are You A Serial Hobbyist?

My November has been crazy (I mean, Trump won an election and I’ve suffered some reading ups and downs) but how has yours been? Anyone read any good books lately or seen anything interesting online? Tell me all below, I’m honestly interested.

27 November 2016

Sunday Summary // 27.11.2016

Sunday Summary
Welcome to another Sunday. I hope you’ve had a good week. Mine has been interesting.

So, what has happened since last time? Well, work has been… work. There has been some uncertainty flying around with a few folks at one of our other offices losing jobs. They’ve already stated all year that they’re making cut backs on unnecessary things so, yeah, that has meant a great mood in the office. I mean, we all know we’re pretty safe but it’s disconcerting seeing people you’ve worked with and spoken to over the past couple of years just go. We’ll see what happens.

Any of you here from last week will know I planned Black Friday shopping. I actually had a lot of fun. It was nowhere near as busy as I’m sure the shops were in the US simply because people have to work here, we don’t have a Thanksgiving weekend to look forward to. That, and shops were really encouraging folks to shop online to avoid the chaos. I got a lot of good deals and enjoyed myself. I am over halfway there with my gift buying and I am insanely impressed with myself. Especially as I have even successfully gotten my Secret Santa gift when the challenge is we have to buy gifts that begin with the same letter as the person’s initials. It’s a nightmare! I do need to buy gifts for the friend I went shopping with but that’ll be easy and I need to get my stepdad a gift. How hard can that be?

I do feel the need to speak about blogging today, though. I don’t usually mention blog things as this is where I normally talk about my week but I want to say now I’ve been absent. I’ve not commented on blogs as much and I’m over a week behind on replying to comments on here and I feel bad about it. It’s simply because I’m going through a clump. That and we’re getting to the busiest time of year and I don’t have time to blog as much. As such I want to tell you all now I am not going to be around as much in December. I may get two weeks behind on things and I may only get one post up a week but I am going to get back to the regularly scheduled programming in the New Year. I just want to tell you this now in case you’re wondering why I’m being a bit absent.

What I’ve Been Reading

As you can see, I’ve not been reading much this way. I think it’s linked to the fact I’m busy, but also because I’ve not felt as motivated to blog and for some reason that puts me off my reading. I did enjoy both books which I’ve read, though. After The Kiss was such a good fun book that gave me a strong urge to rewatch How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days, it definitely reminds you why Lauren Layne is such a great author. And Far From You was the perfect little mystery YA gem that kept me guessing until about halfway through. It was great, I love when a mystery isn’t blatantly obvious from the beginning

New To Me

As you can see, I may not be reading as much but I’m still getting a few new books in. I’ve already got the first two books in The Sullivan series on my Kindle so when the third went on offer for free I had to get it. I saw Fixing Delilah go on offer for 99p and I already really enjoyed other books by Sarah Ockler so bought that too. As for The Diabolic, it came in a book box and I couldn’t resist. I also got another book in that book box because I’ve been subscribed since the beginning, it was the sequel to the book in the first box… only problem is I already own it. I may have to host a giveaway or something.

Anyway, that is my week. Shopping and work drama. How has your week been? What do you do when you’re in a blogging slump? And any advise for what to do with a duplicate book?

23 November 2016

For Better Or Worse // A Cute Contemporary With A Fantastic Romance With Sparks Flying

Published: 30th August 2016
Source: Publisher (Headline Eternal)
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
My Rating:
Sex and the City meets The Wedding Planner in For Better Or Worse, the second sexy contemporary romance in Lauren Layne's The Wedding Belles series. Will a budding wedding planner and her bad boy neighbour stop banging heads and start hearing wedding bells? For fans of Jill Shalvis, Julie James and Rachel Gibson.

When small-town girl Heather Fowler finally gets promoted from assistant to actual wedding planner, she's determined to make it as one of Manhattan's elite Wedding Belles. Unfortunately, her first client demands an opulent black-tie affair at the Plaza...in five months' time. Heather's days quickly become a flurry of cake tastings, dress-fittings, RSVP cards, and bridal tantrums. But what she's really losing sleep over is the live music blaring from her playboy neighbour's apartment all night.

Five years ago, Josh Tanner was an up-and-comer on Wall Street, complete with the penthouse and the migraines. But a grim cancer diagnosis made him realize there is more to life than the corner office. If only he could convince his pretty, workaholic neighbour to let loose, too. As Heather lets down her guard, Josh is surprised when he starts falling for the sweet, vulnerable woman hiding beneath those power suits. Soon, it's Heather's turn to convince Josh to take the biggest risk of all: love.
Okay, I admit this book was pretty damn adorable (and also very sexy, can we all say yum to Josh?) and I really enjoyed it. I was in one of those weird ‘I don’t know what to read’ ruts. I was picking up and putting down books like crazy and then I grabbed this off of the shelf and just sank into it. I needed this contemporary serving of loveliness. It was light but serious and everything I wanted. The reviews were not lying.

I Had A Few Reservations

When I first started reading I was a bit concerned I wouldn't like workaholic Heather and lackadaisical Josh. They were both personalities which I don't always love as one is doing too much and burnout is obvious and then the other needs a great push to actually move forward and do something. In a man, it can make me think too much of someone who needs to be led in life. Thankfully, Layne is skilled in her characters creation and the reasoning behind each of them having such opposite personalities. And when the two were put together? Well damn, there were sparks.

I think the driving force to keep me reading were the characters of Josh and Heather and how fun they were together. I already knew they were friends first rather and insta-romance from Nereyda’s review and I loved that time they spent getting to know each other with their antagonistic friendship, it was so interesting to read. I love good banter between folk and it was spot on in this. They were fun and they drew out another side of each other. That relationship just worked for me and they made it a joy to read each page.

Good Characters Didn’t Help Me Ignore One Thing Though

As much as I loved the characters there was one thing which annoyed me. As I was reading we all knew Josh had a secret and as we learnt more about him and his time as a cancer survivor you learnt more about why he was so laid back and indifferent to a serious career, especially learning about his past life choices. What bothered me is that he kept his concerns so secret. I mean, I got not wanting to be known as ‘that sick guy’ because that would have been a tedious period in his life and the way people have treated him differently because of it, but it frustrated me to hell at how he allowed his illness control him. I know it was a defining moment for him and I’m glad it wasn’t ignored and there was a different take on the cancer survivor but it annoyed the heck out of me too. This is a good thing as it made me care enough but, damn, Josh wanted some sense knocked into him.

In The End, Does It Even Matter?

I had grumbles and complaints. No book is perfect, but I enjoyed this book. Josh and Heather annoyed me, as I knew they would, but whenever they were on page together I was utterly charmed by them. This is a romance for those looking for a lighter read that has a relationship which grows and sparks and doesn’t immediately erupt out of nowhere.

Have you read this, what were your thoughts? And have you read any other Lauren Layne as I am planning to explore more of her books soon!

20 November 2016

Sunday Summary // 20.11.2016

Sunday Summary
I thought about talking about work in this post, but honestly, I’d be repeating stuff from last week. Let’s just say it’s still a bit tense and it still looks like we’re going to be losing at least one member of our team.

One work related thing which is nothing to do with work and everything to do with my commute, though. Can I just say buses are the worst! I was late to work Monday as my bus was half an hour late. How does that happen? I do not know but I felt like throwing all my toys out of the pram and just going back to bed Monday morning but I knew that was crazy and irrational. I took my lateness on the chin and made up the time and then wrote the bitchiest angriest email to my bus provider to explain themselves. I’m still waiting on a response. They’re about as fast as their buses are. And the buses have been just as rubbish all week. I’m beginning to walk more and managing to beat the bus I’m waiting for.

Some might say the solution to my problem would be to learn how to drive but I just have no strong motivation to. If you think you can convince me of the joys of driving please try in the comments. I do sometimes think it should probably be a skill I possess even if I don’t have a car.

Let’s move on to more fun things. Let’s talk about the fact I have to wait two weeks for the next episode of Pitch and the fact that ending happened (no Mike, what are you doing? Don’t do it!) and the trailer for the next episode! My little fangirl heart is flailing over it and I seriously cannot wait even though it will be December before it’s out! It looks so good, though. Like amazingly good. I just can’t even. I am a Bawson fangirl through and through and it is just perfect. And also, can we discuss how Livan is just an awesome little Cuban angel that I adore have he was all full of himself before. And just ugh, all of it. I am loving that show it better come back next season Fox otherwise I will never forgive you. We’ve still not gotten past that whole Firefly debacle so don’t renew my grudge against you!

I haven’t really done much else, though. I preordered Pokémon Sun which doesn’t get released in the UK until the 23rd of this month so I am eagerly awaiting that release. Also, I only learnt this week there were no gym badges this time around! That’s going to be weird but I’ve heard good things so we shall see. Yes, I know, I still play Pokémon at 25 years old. Don’t judge.

I have started getting serious about Christmas shopping. I’ve got a shopping trip planned for my weekend off. I’m going to be shopping on Black Friday (I know, brave) it’ll probably be a busy shopping day but as it’s not a holiday weekend in the US I’m hoping it won’t be too bad. If it is I’ve recently been told Costa has a pretty epic festive menu going on. I mean they have Lindt hot chocolate and a honeycomb latte so I’m escaping there is it all goes wrong to help power me through. And apart from that shopping trip I’ve also got some other gifts ordered online. I won’t reveal what in case family and friends snoop at the blog but they are pretty damn good if I do say so myself.

What I’ve Been Reading

It was a slower reading week this week. I finished The Bear and the Nightingale on Sunday night and fell in love, even though I can’t ignore the obvious flaws from the beginning. I then turned to a fun read in the form of The Chase and that delivered perfectly. It was a light fun read that you don’t take seriously and I finished it quickly. I couldn’t think of any good reason not to start reading Lyrebird and once I got going with it I didn’t want to put it down. I know Ahern has a struck a couple of bum notes with some of her past books (I liked them but I didn’t love them) but this one demonstrates her skill in writing because I was enchanted. I then read The Trouble With Mistletoe and it was the perfect fluffy read. It was just utterly lovely and it was like a big old fluffy blanket on a cold Saturday so I didn’t leave the house.

New To Me

Okay, hands up all those impressed by my book buying restraint. In fact, one of these books is a preorder so I hardly think it counts as book buying and really I know investing in a book which is part way into a series is stupid but I had to buy the Kleypas book, it was on offer and I’ve heard so much about her books and this book that I couldn’t help myself. No more books now (maybe).

And there is my week. Anyone else left a little lost with the two week wait for another episode of Pitch? Or is there any other show that has just left you flailing lately? And has anyone else taken to roaming their house wrapped in a blanket because cold weather has taken over or is that just me?

18 November 2016

My Thoughts // Where I Dream Of A Perfect Book Shop

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This is a thought triggered by reading The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend and by How To Find Love In A Book Shop. I mean, I have often considered what I would want in my perfect (independent, of course) book shop, much like I have idly wondered what my perfect library would be like. I want to know what makes a book store hold a special place in your heart? What do you look for in that perfect book shop you want to return to time and time again?

Now, first of all, I have to say there are very few book stores round by me, all we seem to have is Waterstones and the little Foyles at New Street Station in Birmingham so I don’t really have a vast knowledge of what makes a perfect bookstore, I just know what is available by me. That being said, I feel I have read plenty of books and seen plenty of films and TV shows to be able to recognise what would be awesome though.

Comfortable Seating Area For A Bit Of A Read

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I like being able to sit down and relax once I’ve decided on my bookish purchase. If my nice comfortable seating areas could also have a coffee shop of some kind that would also be great. There is nothing better than a nice cup of coffee and a good book. I like to be able to just relax. I also really like the atmosphere you get in book shops. I don’t want to be sat with a cup of coffee chatting, I just want the quiet peaceful atmosphere you get there.

I Want To Be Able To Sit And Not Be Disturbed

I like to be able to relax in a book shop and I like to know that when I’m sitting folks aren’t going to be talking to me. I want a silent seating section (along with my comfort seating for relaxing). The quiet carriage in book shop form. A place where you get shushed almost like at a classic library. Where you don’t have to put up with people talking and laughing and screaming children. It just needs to be a quiet corner, but where words aren’t used and you move sharpish if your phone starts ringing.

I Want The Shelves To Be Well Labelled

One of the things I most adored in The Readers Of Broken Wheel was the unique shelving system. It wasn’t defined by genre, which is so limiting, but instead it had unique shelves with things like warning about unhappy endings and needing tissues. I need my shelves to be a bit more unique and I think that was best seen in Broken Wheel and so I want my imaginary book shop to have that too. It could be a different shelf each month to keep things interesting as well. I loved she had shelves like ‘Sex, Violence and Weapons’ and ‘Small Town Life’ or ‘Warning: Unhappy Ending’.

My favourite part of the whole naming system was the below quote:
If more bookshop owners had taken the responsibility to hang warning signs, her life would have been much easier. Cigarette packets came with warnings, so why not tragic books? There was wording on bottles of beer warning you not to drink and drive, but not a single word about the consequences of reading books without tissues to hand.

But I Want Someone Knowledgeable And Friendly To Speak To Too

i excel at not giving a shit
Look, I know I want my book shop quiet carriage, but I do still want smart friendly people to help me out when necessary. I want someone who can make recommendations, but only when asked. I want them to say they don’t know something but smile and help you out anyway. I just want nice people working in the book shop, not the frowning youths who are angry at having to get a part time job like you get in most shops.

And there you have my dream book shop requests. If you happen to know a shop which meets these criteria please say below, I may try and visit (if I can). What would your perfect book shop be like? Would you want cosy and intimate or do you like how impersonal big book shops are and getting to be a bit anonymous as you browse?

16 November 2016

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend // A Book For Readers And Small Towns

Published: 1st September 2016 (this edition)
Source: Bought
Genre: Contemporary, Chick-Lit, Women's Fiction
My Rating:
The New York Times Bestseller

Sara is 28 and has never been outside Sweden – except in the (many) books she reads. When her elderly penfriend Amy invites her to come and visit her in Broken Wheel, Iowa, Sara decides it’s time. But when she arrives, there’s a twist waiting for her – Amy has died. Finding herself utterly alone in a dead woman’s house in the middle of nowhere was not the holiday Sara had in mind.

But Sara discovers she is not exactly alone. For here in this town so broken it’s almost beyond repair are all the people she’s come to know through Amy’s letters: poor George, fierce Grace, buttoned-up Caroline and Amy’s guarded nephew Tom.

Sara quickly realises that Broken Wheel is in desperate need of some adventure, a dose of self-help and perhaps a little romance, too. In short, this is a town in need of a bookshop.

'This adorable book is a peach. It's built on the same lines as Cold Comfort Farm or Chocolat... Wise, thoughtful, funny, warm, moving; all that stuff and more' Wendy Holden, Daily Mail
There are some books you start reading and connect with straight away. They enchant you with the characters and setting so you feel you are a part of the story. This was one of those books for me. I met Sara and the town of Broken Wheel and knew I was going to fall head over heels for them and their stories. I simply couldn’t get enough and even upon finishing, I’m a bit sad to see this book end.

This books is all about Sara, a Swedish visitor to the US, going to a small town, Broken Wheel, to visit a woman she has been writing letters to only to discover she had died. She finds herself at a loss as to what to do next but the residents of said small town don’t seem to want to see her go. They interfere and meddle and basically befriend her by force. Sara finds herself trying to find something to fill her days and ends up opening a bookshop in memory of the friend she never got to meet and who was central to this small community and somehow Sara and her little shop become central to the community too.

So How Did I Fall In Love?

I think the reason I enjoyed it so much is I can really relate to Sara in so many ways. Not all readers are shy reserved people who prefer books over people, but some of us are and I could relate to that about to her. I could relate to her life back in Sweden of working and reading and doing little else and I understood her need to find more in her trip to the US. I loved seeing her break out of her shell and become this heart of a community she was initially disappointed by.

It wasn’t just the character of Sara, though. I mean, I have little in common with an unemployed former bookshop employee from Sweden travelling to small town USA. It was the entire town of Broken Wheel which I fell in love with, From George the recovering alcoholic who missed his daughter to Caroline, the forceful paragon of the church who is always on you for something and judging you for something but who you put up with as she is one of the town. I don’t think there was any resident of this small town who I didn’t love. I think I knew I was in love when the residents of Broken Wheel, who had been adamant they had no need for the book shop Sara started, banded together to prove to the residents of nearby Hope they were not illiterate and uneducated as it was implied when they came to visit and marvel that Broken wheel had a book shop! I mean, any town which bands together to show up the slightly richer nearby town where they can shove their superiority complex is a town I want to visit.

The other great thing about Broken Wheel is that they didn’t only support one another when it came to proving other wrong. They helped one another out daily, giving away food and helping repair things without expecting anything return. This may be a town filled with interfering busybodies, but it’s also a town of people who are good and will always help each other out because they know no one else will.They are kind even though they are all suffering after the recession with little or no money to spare and barely anything to offer. They have each others backs. Who can blame Sara for being charmed by this small town, I was as well?

The Question Is Would I Recommend It?

Of course I would. This is a book for reader and I adored it. I adored the book shop and the characters and the town and the slightly farfetched story which just seemed to work. I loved the various shelf titles and the bookish quotes and references and the fact Sara admitted to preferring books over people sometimes. I have that feeling often. I was charmed by the book and wanted to highlight so many things because this book just got me as a reader and I loved it for that fact. There is no guarantee this book is for everyone but it was pretty damn enjoyable for me.

Have you read this book, what did you think? What was the last really good book about a bookshop which you read? I’m noticing it’s becoming popular in books and I think I want to start a little bookshop reading list.

14 November 2016

How To Find Love in A Book Shop // An Utterly Charming Read Which Had Me Tearing Up At The Start (Although, No Tears Were Actually Shed)

Published: 22nd September 2016
Source: Netgalley
Genre: Contemporary, Chick Lit, Romance
My Rating:
Everyone has a story . . . but will they get the happy ending they deserve?
Emilia has just returned to her idyllic Cotswold hometown to rescue the family business. Nightingale Books is a dream come true for book-lovers, but the best stories aren't just within the pages of the books she sells - Emilia's customers have their own tales to tell.

There's the lady of the manor who is hiding a secret close to her heart; the single dad looking for books to share with his son but who isn't quite what he seems; and the desperately shy chef trying to find the courage to talk to her crush . . .

And as for Emilia's story, can she keep the promise she made to her father and save Nightingale Books?
I don’t fully remember asking for a review copy of this one (oops?) but I was so excited to get approved for it on Netgalley. I then felt a wain in my interest in it for some reason. I began reading it on the way to work a week before I actually read it in full and I found myself tearing up within the first couple of chapters and promptly stopped reading for fear of embarrassing myself on public transport (you just can’t be crying on a bus at 7:30 am). When I began reading again on a Sunday evening after rereading Chamber of Secrets I was just looking for something to escape into. I didn’t expect to finish that evening.

What Made It So Good?

I wish I could pinpoint one part of the book which hooked me but I can’t. It was just an utterly charming read. I don’t know if it was the fact it centred around a book shop or if it was the likability of the characters or a combination of everything but something just clicked for me.

I really enjoyed the fact this was centred around several characters and you got to see lots of different perspectives. It’s what kept me reading, I think. The way this large group of people or seemed to be linked in the town and how their lives seemed to revolve around this book shop in some way. For some they never ventured in but they were connected to it by someone else and that was amazing. You forget the connections you have in your life so reading about it in this book was amazing. It was also seeing how another characters actions influenced another person as the story progressed. I loved those connections and influences. I mean, who doesn’t?

In The End I Loved It And You Might Too

This book had my tearing up from the beginning and I knew I was in for a blinder. I was right. This is the perfect cute autumn/winter read. It's the kind of book you read in one sitting with a hot drink wrapped in a blanket preferably by a roaring fire. I cannot praise it enough.

Has anyone else noticed the trend in book shops in books? What is your favourite book shop read, I’m thinking of making a list for myself. And has anyone else been put of reading a book because it made them tear up only to learn they loved it?

13 November 2016

Sunday Summary // 13.11.2016

Sunday Summary
My week has been interesting. I spent the beginning of the week watching too much TV and reading (although only sporadically) and generally it was pretty chilled. At least home wise it was, anyway. The most exciting thing which happened was having a roast dinner mid week and Friday night me and my best friend went out drinking, we got to try some new bars around town we’ve not been to before. It was fun to do something a little different.

Work wise, well… it’s been a little bit more than interesting. We had a couple of members of my team apply for an internal job this week which came as a bit of a surprise. I mean, we expected the one, she’d spoken of wanting a change already, but the other was a surprise. She explained her reasons and it’s not us or the job at least. We’re hoping that means things can be done to keep her but we shall see. The thing is, if both go we’re left in the lurch and I hate that. The thought of all the work and training that will happen doesn’t fill me with joy. It’s stressful, but we have to hope that things will work out.

I’m sure everyone has been rocked by the whole Trump election, as well. I mean, I’m not even from the US and I am rocked by it. I knew that the political feelings weren’t stable and that America was angry, but I did not expect an untested business man to be elected to the highest position in the US. Especially not after the numerous comments he has come out with which are just simply offensive. People joked about him being elected but God damn, who knew it would happen? It’s a scary time, but people are just the same today as they were yesterday and there is a new generation who voted against what Trump represents so we just have to hope that we can continue to do better.

What I’ve Been Reading

As you can see, my reading week has been a bit hit and miss. I’ve just not been able to get truly stuck into a book. I begin to and then have to stop reading (normally because I’m at work) and then I don’t get back into it for a while next time I pick it up. It’s an actual nightmare.

I read Doctor January and totally enjoyed reading it. It was an interesting romance that was fun to read. I loved friends to lovers and it was a slow one. Then I began reading Claimed… that was less enjoyable. It just wasn’t my kind of book but at least I tried. I read The Sun Is Also A Star and loved it (although I was wary at first). I’m glad I read that one, it was definitely the favourite of the week. Then there is The Bear and the Nightingale, I am enjoying it but it’s a hard book to sink my teeth into. I’m loving the small (if not entirely accurate) history lesson I’m getting with this book, though. I hope to finish it by the end of next week and it’s my first 2017 read. I am also reading Searching for Someday and that’s a sweet romance that is a little farfetched but my disbelief is firmly suspended.

New To Me

This is the only book which I’ve bought this week. I am proud of that fact because I’ve been buying way too many lately. This is a pretty looking book by an author I love. I’m excited to get reading as it sounds like Ahern has returned to some of her more fantastical reads.

Sadly, I can’t say I was as restrained when it comes to my book borrowing from the library. I borrowed five books and renewed my lending of two more. I have too many books already, I don’t know why I took out so many but I kept seeing books I’d been meaning to read and could have taken more if I hadn’t restrained myself. So many books so little time!

So how have your weeks been (outside of the obvious)? Anyone read anything which I should have on my radar? And has anyone else begun reading some 2017 reads (with it being so close now)?