How is it already August?!?
The second Tuesday of each month is new episode release day for the Turn The Page podcast, our monthly podcast where we talk about our latest reads, book news and bookish events.
Thank you so much to everyone who's listened to Episode One and Episode Two! You can subscribe to the podcast right here!
We also launched our very first Twitter Book Chat last month. We get together on the Friday after the podcast goes live to talk about the month's book club selection! You can catch our last book club chat for Hour of the Bees here and don't miss the next one on Friday 14th August!
In this episode, we talk about DNFing books, #YALCathome, The StoryGraph and our July Book Club selection, The Ten Thousand Doors of January.
Here's a little of what you can expect from episode three:
On not finishing books:
"I can't not finish a book, if that makes sense. So, I can't not finish it. I've never, ever been able to. Even to the point where I dread picking it up, and I know it sounds completely, a bit weird, but I'm always paranoid that if I don't read it, I'll still be thinking about it a week later, because I'll be like, well, I wonder what did happen? Did it get better? Have I missed out on something? So, like, that fear of the unknown and never, ever finding out where it ends, for me, it's too much."
On chickens and goats:
"So, if you get your own goat, you're just going to call it goat?"
Listen to the podcast below, feel free to comment and tune in again on the 2nd Tuesday of each month for the latest episode! Subscribe on your favourite podcast platform here!
Happy listening and happy reading!
Read the transcript:
Kayleigh: Welcome to the Turn The Page podcast, I'm Kayleigh and I run the My Endless Shelf book blog. I'm joined by my lovely co-host and sister, Sophie.
Hi Sophie, how are you? Anything new going on?
Sophie: Hello! Work, work, work.
Work's taking over my life at the moment. I'm doing a lot more hours than I'm used to.
Kayleigh: Yeah, okay.
Sophie: So, yeah, apart from that, and I did the odd bit of fishing, which I love; being outdoors and that. Nothing exciting.
Kayleigh: Well, that's boring.
Sophie: I know. How about you?
Kayleigh: Actually, I've been doing loads. No, I haven't. Not a lot of them. I finally got some library books for the first time since lockdown. I'm missing going to the library and actually Iooking around.
Sophie: Yeah, I saw your little picture the other day.
Kayleigh: Yeah, because our library has actually started a new recommendation service. So, you can write to them and say, Oh, this is the kind of stuff I like, this is what I want to read, recommend me a load of books and they will. So, I tried it out for Rosie, my kiddo, and she got loads. She got really great books. So, we've been reading those for the first few days. So, that was really good.
I'm back on bookstagram for the first time in forever.
Sophie: Are you?
Kayleigh: Yes, I've decided to do a bookstagram challenge to try and get me to actually do something instead of being completely lazy. So, yeah. So, I'm doing that.
Sophie: You might have to tell me a bit more about those then, because I don’t know about those.
Kayleigh: Oh, what? The challenges?
Kayleigh: Okay. Well, the one I'm doing is called the #bookbookowlemotionalAugust challenge. And basically, it's just like, anyone can do it really. So, somebody will create like a little graphic that says...so, there's like a prompt for each day of the month. So, I think the first day of this month it was adventurous, and it was a book where you'd like to go visit, if you could, and then one was generous. So, a book you'd recommend, and then todays was a book that made you think.
So yeah, and then you just pick a book or multiple books that fit each prompt and then just take a nice picture of them. But I'm doing it a little bit different than I did before. So, I'm not doing the whole like staged photo with all the props kind of thing, because I just don't have the time.
So, I thought, my books are pretty enough. So, I'll use those as like a backdrop instead.
Sophie: Yeah, you’ve got a nice bookcase, though, haven’t you?
Kayleigh: Thank you. So, yeah, I've just been trying to do them against the bookcase. But I've been enjoying it because I haven't done Bookstagram for ages because I just ran out of time, because I was making it such a big thing where it took me so long to do each photo.
Whereas, now, I'm just like, yeah, I'll just take a quick photo of the book that I want to use. And that's it, no frills kind of thing.
Sophie: See, I quite like the idea of getting all your props and everything set up.
Kayleigh: Yeah, I did, and I loved it, really, really loved it. And I've got like two big storage boxes full of props, but I just haven't got the time to do it all. So, I just figured I'd try and just ease my way back into it and then maybe work up to using the props again at some point.
Sophie: Yeah, that sounds good.
Kayleigh: I'm enjoying it at the moment. Yeah, and as well, just with the library books, as well. So, what I've started doing is, I'm doing daily kids' book posts as well on Instagram. So, I'm doing like one bookstagram challenge post, and then a kid's book post. So, if anybody wants more kids’ books for their kids, you can see some on there as well.
Sophie: Yeah, I did see that the other day it looked really good.
Kayleigh: Yeah, I'm just having fun with those. I think I would use more props with the kids' books actually, because I’ve just been using all of my kids' toys. So yeah, that's been fun.
And then I've started to watch some booktube videos because, I tried to watch them a while ago, and kind of got fed up that everybody was talking about the same books over and over again, but then I stumbled the video by, I think it's Noria Reads, really sorry if I'm pronouncing that wrong, which really made me laugh. And so, I started watching those, and I love those videos. So, I'm kind of addicted to those now, and I think I showed you one of them actually.
Sophie: Yes, you did. It was good.
Kayleigh: It was really funny. Yeah. Brilliant. But yeah, before we move on, I just wanted to mention that last month in the podcast, about 11 to 12 minutes in, I made a little snafu and accidentally named the wrong title of a book. I was talking about a book saying that it was really good, and it had really good epilepsy representation, and I completely mentioned the wrong title. The book that I had meant to mention was Charlie Sunshine, and instead I called it Project Hero, which was a different book that I did enjoy, but just not the one I was talking about. So, that's what I get for not updating my Goodreads and forgetting which book I’ve read.
So, yeah. But, what have you been reading over the last month?
Sophie: So, I finally finished The Bone Houses, which was amazing, and my review is now live on the blog, if anybody wants to check that out.
Kayleigh: It is, and it's a very good review, it made me laugh and instantly made me want to read the book. So, it was a very good one.
Sophie: Good, but no, I loved everything about it, and I was really sad by it ended because I didn't want it to.
Kayleigh: Yeah, I remember you saying that you actually kept putting off the ending.
Sophie: I did, I dragged it out for so long and I thought, it got to the point where I was like, this is ridiculous, you can't keep putting this off. You need to read it. And I wanted to read it. I just didn't want it to end really, but all good things come to an end.
Kayleigh: Yeah, I know that feeling, sadly.
So yeah, it's really annoying, isn't it? Because sometimes you read a giant book and you're like, God, when will this end? And then you read a short book and you're like, I just want this to go on forever.
Sophie: Yeah, it was just a really, really good story. And like I said in the last show that we did, obviously, I think with me traveling to Wales and seeing the mines and the slate caves, I was able to imagine it and set out the scenes so well in my mind.
Kayleigh: Yeah, so it just bought the setting to life.
Sophie: So yeah, it was really effortless, which obviously helped the book.
Kayleigh: And obviously, there was the goat.
Sophie: Oh, the goat was amazing. I want a goat. Yeah it was wicked.
Kayleigh: What's the goat's name?
Sophie: It's just 'goat'.
Kayleigh: Oh, right, okay. So, if you get your own goat, you're just going to call it goat?
Kayleigh: Fair enough.
Sophie: Yes, to go with my pet chickens - Garlic and Kiev.
Kayleigh: That's really mean.
Sophie: No, I only want one, but I do want to call him Kiev. But I won't ever eat chicken in front of him.
Kayleigh: You've given yours really awful names. I name my pets after cool things. My turtle is called, Jack Shellington, but he's actually really mean, he keeps eating the fish that are in the tank with him.
Sophie: My pet snake has got a cool name. He's not got a nasty name...
Sophie: Joseph. So yeah, so that's what I read. I also read our book of the month.
Kayleigh: Yes, which we shall talk about later, let's not go into that right now.
Sophie: Okay, and then I've recently started one called-
Kayleigh: Oh, you picked one, I know you weren't sure what to read next.
Sophie: That's the thing, it just takes me so long. But yeah, I found one on NetGalley called, From Fire and Shadows, it's got a really pretty cover.
Kayleigh: Yes, because I got you into NetGalley, so hopefully you can get more ARCs and things.
Sophie: Yeah, because I live under a rock and don't know what anything is on the web.
Kayleigh: That's okay, I think we all live under a rock in terms of certain things, we can't all know about everything that exists. So, I wouldn't worry too much.
Sophie: Yeah, but I just don't know anything about anything.
Kayleigh: I don't believe that for a second but, okay. So, how's that going so far?
Sophie: It's really good, I don't want to give too much away, and I'm not that far into it at the moment, but yeah, I'm liking it, really liking it. It's got aspects of magic in there and a bit of mystery and things. So yeah, I'm enjoying it.
Kayleigh: That's really good. Well, I actually have something that might help you to choose what books you want to read in future. So, remind me of that later because I'll tell you about that.
But yeah, so I read a couple of books last month. I finished A Deadly Education, which was the ARC that I was reading from NetGalley, and it was so good. I know when we spoke last month, I was like, oh, I'm not sure where it's going, I like it, but I don't know why. And then it just became amazing and I just loved it and I gave it five stars because it's really, really good. And it's all because of the main character, El, who's just hilarious. She's really funny and sarcastic and witty, but she's also really powerful, but she's really good morally as well, and I don't think we very often get like a really good, morally good character in fantasy, but that's also really powerful. Because usually, if they're really powerful, they sort of aren't great, or at least have a bit of an ego, and she's not like that at all. She's really, really funny and really down to earth, and I really just loved the way that she was portrayed. And I think as well, the world of the book, so it's set, so they're at a magic school, which is inside a void and basically when it's time for them to join the school, the school just literally sucks them out of their lives, whatever they're doing, into the school. They've got no way out, they're literally trapped in there, no way of getting out, no communication with the outside until they graduate.
But when they graduate, because the school as well, it's built on sort of tiers, but each tier has a different year level, and there's a hall in the middle, which is the graduation hall and that slowly rotates every year and moves up for each graduating year, if that makes sense. And when the year graduates, they enter the hall, and the hall is full of these creatures called Mals, which are like demons almost, who basically consume magic and will consume anyone who has magic.
So, upon the graduation, the students all get released into this hall, where all these creatures are that are basically wanting to kill them, and they've got to fight their way out. But the school itself is really dark as well, and is really, almost, it's got its own mind, all of the rooms don't have like an outer wall, it just leads into this void, which they then like ask the void for things. So, say they're studying something, they'll ask it for a spell to help them do something, and the void will just toss through a spell book and it could be really malicious, like it's in another language, and then they've got to learn that other language to learn the spell. And it's really, really well done.
It's also got a really good antihero. So, you know how you usually get like the hero who's usually, you know, usually the guy who comes in and saves everyone, it completely tips that on its head, and it's really good. And the dynamic between the two main characters, it's a bit like, do you know, you've seen Lord of the rings, right?
Kayleigh: You know, Legolas and Gimli when they're always just sort of like, oh, you know, when they're counting how many kills they've had. Yeah, the friendship is a bit like that, and it does really make me laugh, it's really good.
Kayleigh: Yeah, exactly, and it's really, really good and, as you can tell from the fact that I haven't stopped talking for the past two or three minutes, it was really, really good, and I can't wait for the next one.
Sophie: Oh, that's good though.
Kayleigh: So, that was, yeah, it was really, really good, and I would highly recommend it. I think that's out later this year. I'm not sure exactly when, in my head I'm thinking September.
Sophie: Yeah, I remember you mentioned it to me not long ago and based on your feedback from before you'd finished the book, you made me want to read it.
Kayleigh: Yeah, but if you add it to Goodreads, they should send you an email when it's released anyway. So, hopefully you won't miss it.
Sophie: I hope not, which I have a tendency to do.
Kayleigh: Yeah. Yeah, we all do, I'm saying now that I've read that one and I can't wait for the second installment. You watch, that second installment will come rolling around and I won't even know. So, yeah. But yeah, and then I got another ARC, this time directly from the author, which was May Day by Josie Jaffrey.
And that was sort of a detective novel, but with a twist. So, it was all about vampires, which was really cool actually. Because, at the beginning, truthfully, it did start a bit slow. The pace was a bit slow and I was like, Oh, I'm not sure if I'm going to like this, but then actually it picked up really quickly. And I think that was because the main character is really good. She does carry the story well, she's really sarcastic and just kind of ballsy, if that makes sense. She just kind of runs into all these dangerous situations, and she's got her own agenda and she's sort of fighting the system. So, that's really cool, and she's also a really realistic character. So, you know, like obviously you read a lot of stuff and it's, they're all very well put together and all very glamorous and they always look like they've freshly showered. She's not, she's usually wearing the same un-washed clothes, she's never had a shower, she's always running late, she's almost always hung over and she just doesn't care what anyone thinks, and so she's a really good character.
Sophie: I like characters like that, but you don't come across them very often.
Kayleigh: No, exactly, and I think that's what won me over with this book, to be honest, is it at the beginning I was thinking, you know, I'm not sure if I'm going to like this, but she, the character did just win me over. And actually, as well, what I really liked about this was the love interest. So, the main character is bisexual. So, it's like a love triangle with a woman and a man, which I thought was really interesting. So, you've got sort of two love interests. One's sort of like a nerdy doctor, and then the other is like this vampire Baron. And truthfully, I'm like more swaying towards one side than the other, because I think the chemistry was better one way, if that makes sense. But yeah, it was really, really good, and also it was like, in terms of, because I don't read a lot of mystery and crime and things like that, but what I really enjoyed was sort of trying to guess who the murderer was the whole way through. So, I was just there, just like, ah it's this person, and then you get a new piece of information, and I was like, no, it's this person.
And I was completely wrong all the way through. And I don't think I've ever been as caught off guard by a reveal at the end, because I had no inclination that it was this person, that it was this character who was the murderer. So yeah, it did a really great job of that.
Sophie: Good, you read anything else?
Kayleigh: I read a book called Fakers by Lucy Lennox and May Archer, and that was all right. I gave it three stars because it was really, it was sweet, and it was really fun and lighthearted. There just wasn't a lot of plot to it, if that makes sense. So, it was a romance novel and it was just nice and just fun and just easy, just like a break. Yeah. It was kind of a break between the big fantasy books that I've been reading. So, that was good. And then at the moment I'm reading two books, which I've just started. So, I've started No Big Deal by Bethany Rutter, which I got from NetGalley as an ARC a really long time ago, and I just never got around to reading it. So, I'm reading that at the minute and that's meant to be sort of a body positive YA. So, I've only just started that. And then the other one is the Fat Girl Finishing School, which is a book of poetry. Again, body positive book of poetry.
So again, I've only just started that, so we'll see how they go. But they're both very well rated and they both sound really good. So, yeah, I'm looking forward to getting into those.
Sophie: Good, good.
Kayleigh: Yeah. Okay. So, I thought the next thing, the next thing I wanted to talk about is a little bit of a sensitive subject, actually. Well, it will be for you anyway, because I wanted to talk about DNF-ing books or 'did not finish', which is the name of your did not finish shelf on Goodreads. If you start reading a book and then you decided not to finish it.
Sophie: Yeah, can I go first on this one?
Kayleigh: Well, you can in one second. So, I just ran a quick poll on Twitter to ask other people's opinions on this. And so, I just basically said, do you DNF books? Yes or no? And the yes's won by a landslide. We had a few votes and so yes won by 83.3%. But go on, I'll let you carry on for now.
Sophie: No, no, it’s alright. Go on, say what you were going to say.
Kayleigh: Are you sure?
Kayleigh: Okay. No, I was just going to say that, for me, I used to have a really hard time not finishing books because I used to feel like, especially if I'd paid for the book, if it was a library book it was a little bit easier, but especially if I'd paid for the book, I used to get the feeling that if I didn't finish it, I was completely wasting my money, and so I would force myself to finish it, regardless of whether I enjoyed it or not. Now, lately I've been less inclined to do so because of how much it bothers my mood. So, obviously I mentioned before that I'm a mood reader. So, if something just doesn't interest me, I just can't force myself to read it.
I don't know if that's because I read a lot of, I have to do a lot of that for work where I have to force myself to do things I don't want to do, and to read stuff I don't want to do. But yeah, so I have a hard time reading things I'm not interested in. And if I do get to a certain, I've not got in my head...So, when I did the poll, I asked people if they had a set point where they stopped if a book didn't appeal to them.
And I had somebody say, you know, if a book doesn't appeal to me by chapter two or three, or 10 to 15% of a Kindle book, yep, I stop. And they said, you know, it's usually because the writing voice isn't a style they enjoy, or they don't feel that there's a clear goal or anything going on, and that's fair enough. And I don't have a set, sort of, number of chapters or percent. I've sometimes read a book up to like almost the last couple of chapters and then thought, this is doing my head in, and got rid of it. And I know that seems like a complete waste, because I'm almost right at the end, but I just feel like now I'm at the point where I'm like, I'd rather not waste my time on something that I'm not enjoying, basically.
Sophie: Yeah, I do get that.
Kayleigh: Yeah. So, I've got no set limit but if a book isn't, usually it will be like if I don't like the main character, if I can't relate with them or if I just find it really dull, because sometimes you just do, and I'm saying this being a firm believer that there is a reader out there for every book. I know how much effort and dedication goes into creating a book and I will never say to people do not read this book because I didn't like it, because somebody else might love it. And I've done that before, I've read books that have been really badly rated and I've loved them and vice versa, I've read books that have been really well rated, and I've hated them. So, I'm not saying that, you know, you shouldn't read the book, but for me, I'm just trying to, you know, if I don't enjoy it, I just can't, it's just not going to happen. What about you? How do you feel about not finishing books?
Sophie: I can't not finish a book, if that makes sense. So, I can't not finish it. I've never, ever been able to. Even to the point where I dread picking it up, and I know it sounds completely, a bit weird, but I'm always paranoid that if I don't read it, I'll still be thinking about it a week later, because I'll be like, well, I wonder what did happen? Did it get better? Have I missed out on something? So, like, that fear of the unknown and never, ever finding out where it ends, for me, it's too much. I'm just like, no, I'll just finish it. At least then I can make up my mind properly knowing that I've read the entire thing, do you know what I mean?
Kayleigh: Yeah, no, and that does make complete sense, and you can then review the book a lot more objectively if you do that, and I completely understand that. And to be honest, I tip my hat to you because you've got more dedication than I have. I just can't. I just can't do it because if I feel my mood slipping-
Sophie: Yeah, that's where I do my own head in because, obviously, at the same time, if it's making me really miserable, and I'm detesting picking up to read it, and I'll sit there and argue, and I'll be like, just going and read something else. Just find something else but no, do you know what I mean? I still need to finish it.
Kayleigh: I get what you mean, and there is that whole fear of missing out thing, like you just said, you know, you do want to know if it gets better, you do hold out this hope that something's going to happen to make you like the book. But for me, I think-
Sophie: That's the thing, I think you secretly hope, like if you're reading a book that doesn't particularly grab you, you're hoping all the way through that there's something more, that there's something that is going to change your mind, and it's going to live up to your expectations.
Kayleigh: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, for me, like I said, I work a lot and my free time is just so precious, and if I read something that I'm hating, I just instantly feel like I'm wasting all my free time.
So, I'm just like, yeah, it is a bit of a difficult one for me. So yeah, I do personally choose that if I'm not, I will give it a fair chance, it's not like I'll read the first page and then toss it. I mean, I suppose you do that in the bookshop anyway, though, if you read the synopsis and then read the first page, and if that doesn't interest you, you don't buy it.
But if I have bought something and committed to buying it, I will at least try and give it as long as I can. But if it, and usually, to be honest, they do pick up if they start slow, like I said, with May Day, to me, that did start slow and I started to get that niggly feeling in the back in the back of my mind, Oh, I'm not going to enjoy this, but it did pick up.
And usually that's the case, usually I do quickly get into them or at least over a little bit of time. And I think for, for that, for May Day, it must have been, I must have been about 20% in, at least, thinking, Oh, is this going to go somewhere? And then it did. But then there's other things where I've literally read a chapter and I'm like, I really hate this book, or I really hate this character, this character is so annoying and frustrating and I just don't want to read it anymore, and then at that point, like I said, if it's really bothering my mood, I can't do it. If it's not bothering my mood, and I'm still curious, because sometimes a character can be not likable but the plot can still be good enough to keep you going or vice versa, a character could be amazing and the plot could be a bit, meh. Yeah. And you'll keep going anyway for the character and hope that the plot improves. That's fine, and I will keep going, but if it really makes me miserable and I sort of dread reading it, I just can't do it. I just have to have to put it down and move on.
Kayleigh: Which leads us to this month’s book club. So, this month we decided, well, you decided, I'm going to lay the blame at your door.
Sophie: Oh thanks, you were like, oh, it was a joint decision. It's alright, don't feel bad about it.
Kayleigh: No, no. You decided to read The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow. And again, before we begin, I'm not telling anybody not to read this book. It's been extremely well rated on Goodreads. Everything I say from here on in is just my personal opinion and how the book affected me.
Yeah, do you want to begin or should I?
Sophie: Yeah, this one really tested my, I don't ever not finish a book.
Kayleigh: It tested your resolve.
Sophie: Yeah, but to be fair, I didn't know the rules of the book reading thing...
Kayleigh: You didn't know you were allowed to not finish it?
Sophie: No, because it was what we were going to talk about it, and I thought, well, there's no way we can both not finish it because then, that's it, the podcast would be-
Kayleigh: Well, no, that would still give us something to talk about. Believe me, I have a lot to say.
Sophie: Well, so do I because the entire thing. Yeah, I don’t know, I just I had such high expectations for this book and obviously, okay, so I may have chosen it on the pretty cover, again.
Kayleigh: Yes. Which may be a lesson here on in.
Sophie: Yeah, because it is really pretty.
Kayleigh: It is, it is beautiful.
Sophie: I just felt like it was so complex and confusing, and the main character I did not like, and in fact, I don't think I liked any of the characters in the book. I found the plot of the whole thing confusing; the style of writing just was not for me.
Like I said, I detested picking that book up and reading it because it was just hard work, do you know what I mean? And like I said, I don't know if there's something wrong with us or...because it is so highly rated on Goodreads and Amazon and everybody seems to love it.
Kayleigh: It is, it's highly rated everywhere. As I said, when I, you know, I said I started watching some booktube videos by Noria Reads, she rated it fantastically well and said that she loved it and it was brilliant. So, like I said, it's each to their own, but for me, I actually wrote on my Goodreads, I got to 30% in and I literally wrote, am I missing something here? This book seems so well rated and reviewed, but I'm not enjoying it at all. It feels like there are too many characters with similar voices, so I don't know who's talking and I'm just bored. I'm actually dreading picking the audio book back up. And that is how I felt.
I suppose that's just one thing I should mention is, we did actually both end up listening to the book. Originally, I was going to read it on Kindle, but I had an Audible credit and decided to listen to it instead. And the thing is, the narrator wasn't bad, she was clear, she was emotive. I thought she was fine.
The first opening chapter you think, oh, this is different. This is going to be good.
Yeah, because there's a really solid foundation idea, and also the language is beautiful and I'm not going to deny that at all. It's flowery and it's descriptive and it is absolutely gorgeous. But I don't know what happened, I just felt so disconnected from it. I didn't connect with the characters, and like I said, there was, so at one point, I think there was a character who were introduced to at the beginning, then the author was almost a separate character because they were speaking as themselves, and then there was another character introduced, and these were just like points of view characters, I should say, sorry, not secondary characters or characters in the story. So, these were characters who were speaking from their point of view. So, we got to sort of three characters who were speaking, and there were that similar I just couldn't tell who was talking. I couldn't differentiate between the three and I just sort of got lost. I was sort of just thinking, I don't even know what's happening or what has happened, I just didn’t have a clue.
Sophie: No, it wasn't until I got about, it must have been halfway through the book, and like it started to make a little bit more sense and things were developing with the story and I thought, Oh, okay, this could go somewhere now.
And, like I said, I just didn't like it at all, I thought the main character was just annoying to put it bluntly. I felt like there was nothing likable, she wasn't heroic. For me, there was just, it was just nothing going for her at all. I don't-
Kayleigh: See, I did find her interesting because, obviously, her situation was really difficult and really unusual. So, she was basically the ward of a wealthy man who her dad worked for. And also, I do think, I'm sure it was mentioned somewhere that she is multi-racial, as well. So, she was treated like a curiosity and like something unusual and she was treated very poorly whilst at the same time being told that she was being rewarded and cared for and had the best of everything. And all she was looking for, throughout the 30% that I listened to, was an escape. And that I understood, I related to that, and I did think that she had an interesting story. For me, it just all sort of flitted off when the other points of view characters came into play, and I just sort of, I was just very confused. And I know that it's sort of a book within a book, and I think that's where I got a bit lost. So, you do start off with this one character who then finds a book, and then you are told the stories within that book, and that's where I sort of got a bit lost, because I think I was more interested in the original character and just wanted to focus on her.
So again, I think that was more my preference than the way it was written.
Sophie: Yeah, the concept of the story, I liked the idea of, and I don't know whether it's because, I think it was quite similar to Phillip Pullman's Northern Lights.
Kayleigh: Okay, I haven't read that in years, so I can't really compare the two.
Sophie: In the second book, I think it is, they go onto explain how they find these little doorways that leads to different worlds.
Kayleigh: Yeah. Okay.
Sophie: And I don't know whether it's like, I read that not so long ago, and like I said, it is a different story, but I just think, because I've read that and obviously Pullman's was the first that I read, straight away or to can instant liking to that. So, this was kind of, it just wasn't parring up to it at all. So, out of the two, I was just like, this is like a really bad version of the Northern Lights but with a different twist.
Kayleigh: Yeah, I don't really like comparing books to other books, especially, I don't know if this is just a me thing, but I don't like comparing books by women to books by men, because I think that's done all too often and I don't do that.
Sophie: I don't, I think that's just my perception of it. I don't know if that's why I didn't enjoy it that much, because-
I mean I really liked the idea of where the story was going, but I just couldn't enjoy it.
Kayleigh: Yeah. See, for me, I thought it was going to be, based on the synopsis, I thought it was going to be a little bit similar to The Starless Sea, which has a very, very strong theme of doors and doors to other places. And that book I absolutely adored. It was a really, really great read for me. It was a five-star read. It was amazing. The characters were brilliant. The plot was great. I loved everything about it; the imagery, the world building, and I'd hoped that this was sort of going to run along a similar theme, but again, like I said, I don't know whether it's because I listened to the audiobook, which I don't do a big amount of, I don't listen to a lot of audiobooks. So, I don't know if I'd have felt differently if I'd have read it on Kindle.
Sophie: Yeah, I did think that at one point but then, like I said, I didn't think the narrator was bad.
Kayleigh: Yeah, I don't think she did a bad job at all. I just think I became disinterested. And again, like I said, it just started really making me miserable and to be honest, it really affected me for ages. When I decided not to finish it, it took over, almost two weeks, for me to pick up anything else because I just couldn't get into anything. I started reading about four different books and just couldn't get into them because I just felt so just down. I just couldn't do it. But yeah, and I know, to be honest, I've seen a few people, quite a few people, who have a big problem with this book. Now, I'm not speaking for myself here because I can't really relate.
So, the big problem that people have with this is that it's a white author who's writing a multicultural character. Now, I'm not saying they shouldn't do that, and I don't think anybody else is because that's, you know, that would be like saying that, you know, a woman can't write a male character or a male author, can't write a female character, and I think that's ridiculous. You can write whoever you want. But I think the problem with this is that there are a lot of racial slurs and a lot of issues, and it raises a few red flags as to how well that's being portrayed by someone who doesn't have that experience. So yeah, that was something to think about.
Sophie: No, I thought that while I was reading it.
Kayleigh: But yeah, so we will chalk this one up to, you know, a book that we didn't enjoy, but it was still an experience, and we've still had lots to talk about, and the book chat on Twitter will still be going ahead on Friday, which is Friday the 14th of August at 7:00 PM. So again, if you have read it and you loved it and you think we've completely missed the point and you want to let us know what you thought, come and join us.
We'll be doing a load of questions and stuff.
Sophie: Yeah, please come in and tell us your opinions as well.
Kayleigh: Yeah, because actually, we had a really fun book chat last month, but it was just me and Sophie. We had a great time, it was really fun, and if you do want a recap of that, it is up on the blog, you can read through all the book chat, but it would be really nice to have some other people there as well.
So yeah, if you have read The Ten Thousand Doors of January, come along, and let us know what you thought. Did you agree with us? Did you not? How was your experience? Yeah. So, next month we have decided that we are going to read the Extraordinaries by TJ Klune, which is TJ Klune's new YA novel which, as with all things TJ Klune, is an LGBT, and it's about superheroes, which sounds really awesome, and I'm really, really looking forward to reading that. Yeah. So, if anyone wants to join in with the September book club, I can't believe what I'm saying September already, yeah, just grab a copy of The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune and read that with us. Cool.
So, next up, I had a couple of things to talk about, and this actually brings me back to telling you about the thing that I found that might help you to pick books more easily.
So, I stumbled across something on Twitter. Again, see, I don't find things or know about things from my own means, somebody else usually says about something and that's how I find it. That's how I found Book Sloth and, you know, all these other things. So, I saw somebody on Twitter mention something called The StoryGraph, and they shared a picture of the dashboard of StoryGraph and said how much they loved the layout, and I thought, Oh, this looks interesting, I'll go and have a look.
And StoryGraph is basically a book recommendation service. So, it's meant to be, so you know how Goodreads can recommend you books based on the books that you have read.
Kayleigh: Yeah, this is meant to be a better version. So, a better method of doing it, and actually I'm really, really enjoying using it. So, you basically sign up and it's in beta testing at the moment, which means, if you don't know, that it's not been fully released yet. Basically, anyone who signs up to do the beta testing, who signs up to the site at the moment, is a beta tester.
So, you're testing to see how it works and you just report any issues, any recommendations you have for improvements, and eventually when they've run through all the testing, it will obviously get its official release. So, that's just something to bear in mind if you do come across any bugs or any issues, it is still in testing and it hasn't been fully released yet.
But I signed up and it was, well, the first thing I thought was, with BookSloth, I don't want to have to manually input all of the books that I've read on Goodreads. Whereas, I've signed up to The StoryGraph and the first thing it says to you is, do you want to import all of your Goodreads books, and you can literally just import a file and it puts them all in for you.
And it was like, phew, it's done, and it was so easy. So, it's now got all of my Goodreads books in, which is great. And then, you fill out a questionnaire which asks you, obviously, questions, which basically asks you what you look for in a book. And if you're a mood reader, StoryGraph is sort of built for you.
So, it's trying to find books that you will enjoy because of the things that you like to read and the moods that you're usually in. So, you'll put in things like, Oh, I mainly read fiction, I like books that are lighthearted, adventurous and emotional. I like books that are fast paced, and that are less than this number of pages long, so less than 300 pages long.
Or obviously you can change that, I like slow pace books that are more than 300 pages long. You can put in loads of different information-
Sophie: So, you can have it completely personalized to you then?
Kayleigh: Exactly, and once you've done that, it takes a little time. I think it took a few hours or a day for them to process all of my Goodreads imports and my questionnaire answers. And then it just gives you personalized recommendations. So now, if I go on sort of 'Find a Book', which is the main page, it will show books just for me, based on the questionnaire that I filled out. Underneath that, it will show books from my TBR. So, if you want to clear out your TBR and you only want to read books from your TBR, it will show you the books there that it thinks that you will enjoy next.
And what's really interesting, so at the moment, it's recommending for me, The Priory of the Orange Tree, which is on my TBR and it’s recommending that to me, and when I click on it, it gives you these little tags and it says things like, it's fiction, fantasy, but then it also says it's adventurous, it's challenging and it's medium paced.
So, straight away, I look at that and I'll think, Oh, maybe I want something faster paced, that might not be for me right now. So, I'll look for something else, and if you scroll down, it gives you even more things as well.
So, it's got like a mood list, a mood category, and it'll say things that the community, so all the other readers have said, it's 99% adventurous, it's 11% dark, it's 2% funny. So, if I'm thinking, Oh, I want something really funny that's going to make me laugh, that's not the book I'd choose, and I'd look for something else. Again, so pace, it says 73% medium, 5% fast. So, if I wanted something fast, I probably wouldn't pick that one.
And then there's even more things. So, when you review a book on there, you get to put all of these things; in what you felt the pace was like, what you felt the mood was like. And then you answer questions like, was there strong character development, were there lovable characters, was there a diverse cast of characters, and you answer all those things and all of those things then go into the algorithm and become available for other people who are looking to choose the book.
And so far, the recommendations it has given me are sort of spot on, and are a lot of things that I've said, I'm going to read that next. So, it's recommended A Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter, which I said last month that I was going to read.
Sophie: That's what I was going to say, you said that last month.
Kayleigh: Yeah, and All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace, which sounds really, really good. Again, that's like fiction, fantasy, young adult, adventurous, fast paced, which sounds perfect for what I want. And then you can look at sort of, so like I said, it ties into Goodreads. So, it'll show you what you're currently reading, what you've recently added to your TBR, books you've recently finished.
There are reading challenges on there. So, if you want a bit of a boost, you can pick any of the reading challenges that you want and take part in those, and there is like a community section as well so you can follow people and you can take part in discussions, all that sort of thing. So, actually I think it's really good.
Like I said, for the recommendations feature alone, I think it's really, really good. I think it's good, much better than Goodreads because it's much more personalized and the reviewing system as well, I think is better because you can put in way more detail, which will then help other readers to find that book.
Kayleigh: So, if you've got a spare minute, I would definitely recommend having a look at The StoryGraph. So, if you just go to thestorygraph.com, it will just redirect you, I think, there might be a button that you need to click which will take you to the Beta site and then you just sign up, and it gives you instructions on how to import your Goodreads library and then you just fill out the survey. And I think somebody must manually import it or review it, which is why it takes a little while, and then that's it you're good to go. So far, I've had no issues with it at all. With BookSloth, I was having a few issues where it wasn't opening the books I wanted, it was signing me out all the time and with this, I've had absolutely no issues. The only downside, and I am hoping that they release something, is it's only available on desktop. So, only available on the internet, it's not available as an app. So, it'd be great if, yeah, really hoping they bring out an app, which I'm sure that they will at some point.
Sophie: Yeah, no, that sounds really interesting. I'll have to have a look at that myself.
Kayleigh: Yeah, it is. Like I said, it can help, it's great for recommendations, but it also can help clear out your TBR as well. So yeah. But yeah, I don't think I'll ever completely, anything will ever completely replace Goodreads, but I would use those two and I have, over the past few weeks, been using those two together.
So, yeah. It is really good.
Sophie: Yeah, I was going to say because I always struggle to find my next read. I think, I think about it too much.
Kayleigh: Yeah. Well, with this, like I said, you can click on the 'Find a Book' tab and it will give you three books immediately that it's recommended for you. You can then click on 'see more' and it will give you a whole list, or you can scroll further down and then it will recommend books off your TBR.
So, you know, you can...I think, for me, that’s a great way of finding books that I'm in the mood for, definitely.
Yeah, and then the other thing I wanted to talk about is the Young Adult Literature Convention, YALC, which happened this month, no, last month on the 24th to the 26th of July. Now, normally that's a big convention that happens at the same time as Comic Con in London.
I don't know what I was saying, then, in London. I've never been, but I always wanted to go, I think we were talking about going at some point either last year or this year. Yeah, I think actually, I think what we did is we missed the tickets last year and said that we were going to go this year.
Sophie: Yes, I remember now.
Kayleigh: But we never got the opportunity.
But yeah, so they took that online and it was brilliant. It was a full weekend, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, just, it was so much fun. Everything was on Twitter or Instagram and they had giveaways of new books and un-released books, they had cover reveals of books that are coming out soon. They had book excerpts so you could read those. And there were loads of panels as well, where a load of authors virtually got together and did talks about books and different topics, and I think some of the stuff's still available on YouTube and Twitter. So, if you missed it, just search for #YALCathome. The hashtag was #YALCathome, and you should be able to find everything. But yeah, that was loads of fun, and I think that was the first example I've seen of sort of an online event done really well, where loads of people got involved. It was really, really good.
Sophie: Good, I'm hoping we get to go to the one next year.
Kayleigh: Pardon? Sorry.
Sophie: I said, I'm hoping we get to actually go to the one next year.
Kayleigh: Yeah, I know, fingers crossed. I know we were supposed to be getting to the NYALitFest, as well, in Preston, which again, got canceled, so I'm hoping that will be on again next year, because they were a lot of fun.
Sophie: Yeah, that'll be good.
Kayleigh: But yeah, so is there anything that you are looking forward to reading, any upcoming books you're excited for? You've already said what you're reading at the moment, but anything new?
Sophie: I'm hoping to finish that this month, if work doesn't get in the way of it again. No, I'm definitely going to finish that. I found one-
Kayleigh: And The Extraordinaries.
Sophie: Yeah, well, I might do. I might just DNF like you did. No, I couldn't do that to TJ Klune, his books are amazing.
Kayleigh: Yeah, I was going to say, I'd be very surprised, I'd actually be astonished, really.
Sophie: You'd have to disown me. Yeah, I found one called, The Sisters Grimm, I actually told you about it the other day.
Kayleigh: Yes, you did, which I got very confused by because there's a kid's series called The Sisters Grimm, which, I thought that's what you were talking about, no.
Sophie: So, I'm looking forward to reading that.
And I will also-
Kayleigh: On that note though, if anyone does have children who want, who are a bit older, who want sort of spooky fairytale stories, the Sisters Grimm is actually a really fun kid's series where there's two girls and lots of fairytale creatures sort of come to life and they have to sort of deal with them. That's a really good series. Continue.
Sophie: So yeah, I also found another one called A Throne of Swans, which gives off the impression that it's got shape-shifters in. So, you know how you have like a family name?
Sophie: Well, these have got like, an animal that represents their family and they are able to transform into the animal that represents their family bloodline.
Kayleigh: Okay, I have mixed feelings on shapeshifter books, but yeah, I'm always looking for a good one.
Sophie: I've never really read any, but again, the cover is pretty as well. So, yeah, I think those are the main two.
Kayleigh: Cool, they sound good.
Sophie: And I also still need to read Skyward, which I've been looking forward to reading since last November. So, I'm hopefully going to get around to that as well this month.
Kayleigh: Yeah, that sounds really good. You'll have to let me know you get on with those, but yeah, for me, like I've already said, so, All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace, that one is kind of a cover buy for me because, well, not buy, I haven't even bought it yet, but the cover looks really, really cool. And that is one that I think StoryGraph recommended to me. Yes, they did. Yeah. So, StoryGraph recommended that to me, it says it's fast paced and adventurous. So, that's one I want to read.
A Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter, which again, I mentioned last month, which I do want to bump up my TBR because it sounds so good, and again, StoryGraph keeps telling me to read it. So, like I said, it does seem to be quite in line with what I like. So, it just keeps saying, read this, read this.
And then, I did a Twitter poll, because I was trying to decide whether to read Deeplight by Francis Hardinge, which I think we got together on a book haul once and, I was trying to decide between that and Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb, which I have read, but not for a really long time, and the votes swung towards Deeplight. So, I'm going to read that, but then I've also put Dragon Keeper on my list anyway, a re-read, because I remember it being so good, and I really want to just reread it.
And then a really new one that I'm looking forward to is, Heartbreak Boys by Simon, James Green. And I love Simon James Green. If you haven't read any of his books, I'd highly recommend that you start with Alex in Wonderland, which is amazing. And I think I did talk about that last time, actually. Yeah. So, his books are really fun. Really, really nice to read. So, yeah, I'm looking forward to those, and I'm also looking forward to, as long as we don't go into another stupid lockdown, looking forward to going book shopping this weekend with you for the first time in forever for the first time, since my birthday, which was December. So, yeah, really looking forward to that.
Sophie: Yes, me too. Sunday, we're doing that.
Kayleigh: Is there anything you've got your eye on that you want to pick up when we go?
Sophie: Yeah, I'd actually like to get a copy of The Sisters Grimm. Okay, and I'm not telling you-
Kayleigh: I want to pick up The Extraordinaries if it's there.
Sophie: Yeah, I'm not telling you what the others are because you tend to steal them.
Kayleigh: That's true. Do you know what else keeps popping up for me actually on StoryGraph, is the Unwritten Library, which is the one you were talking about last month, wasn't it? The library of hell.
Sophie: Oh, the Library of the Unwritten? Yes. That's one that I still need to read as well.
Kayleigh: Yeah, and StoryGraph keeps telling me to read that, and the more I keep seeing it on there, the more I want to read it. The only thing that keeps putting me off is it just says, I think, does it say horror?
Sophie: Oh, I hope not.
Kayleigh: I think, or something like that, maybe I'm making that up, but I thought I'd seen something that said horror or something.
Sophie: I think it's got more of like a dark twist, but I don't think it's horror. If it is, I've bought a book on bad judgement.
Kayleigh: Okay, maybe that's me. I don't know, you said The Bone Houses was categorized as horror though, and you said it wasn't at all.
Sophie: No, it wasn't, it really wasn't.
Kayleigh: Oh, there we go. No, I'm talking rubbish. It doesn't say that at all. It doesn't say horror. That's just me making things up, as usual. Yeah, it doesn't at all. It says 37% dark. So, it's not going to be that whatsit, is it? But yeah, this is the thing, on the StoryGraph it's really good because you look on there, so for that book in particular, The Library of the Unwritten, it'll tell you all the moods. So, it's 93% adventurous, 62% mysterious, 37% dark. And then people have rated it 92% for strong character development, 83% for lovable characters, 100% for a diverse cast of characters, and it's got a 4.3-star rating.
And that's another thing with the StoryGraph is you can give half stars and points of stars instead of just full stars, which you can't on Goodreads. So yeah, lots to ruminate on and try out then.
Sophie: Yeah, I would also like to get a copy of Serpent and Dove in hardcover copy.
Kayleigh: Okay, yeah. I keep seeing Serpent and Dove, and that keeps being recommended to me, and then I watched the rant video that Noria Reads did on booktube about books that were hyped that didn't deliver and she just slated Serpent and Dove. So, now part of me is like, should I read it? But then again, I probably will because, as I've said, everybody has a different experience when they read a book, and nobody feels the same way about a book that someone else does.
Sophie: I think I'm definitely going to read it.
Kayleigh: Yeah, that's the thing, it does sound really good. And again, it has been rated really well, there was a lot of hype around it. So, you know, it could turn out that we really enjoy that one.
But yes, we are running out of time because I'm trying to keep these under an hour. So, we'll have to wrap up now.
Kayleigh: No, that's okay. We'll have to wrap up now, but yes. So, next month's book club book is The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune. We'll be talking about that next month, the second Tuesday of September.
Sophie: Which Kayleigh promises to finish.
Kayleigh: Yes, I promise to finish. I'm sure I will. I've never not finished a TJ Klune book before, and I don't plan to start now, but yes. And then our Twitter chat about The Ten Thousand Doors of January will be this Friday, the 14th of August at 7:00 PM. So, come and join us, just use #TTPBookChat on Twitter.
Thank you for listening and we'll see you next month.
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About Kayleigh (She/Her)
Book addict, film mad, music lover, business owner, writer and mum (not necessarily in that order), living in the UK.
About Sophie (She/Her)
Sophie loves books (obviously). She has a passion for photography and spotting wildlife, and is interested in anything made with passion and creativity.
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5 Stars - AMAZING!!
4.5 Stars - Almost perfect!
4 Stars - I really loved it
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3 Stars - I liked it
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