Hi everyone! I’m sure many of you have noticed that I’ve been away the last few weeks. Although my posts have gone out every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’m sure many of you have noticed how I haven’t been around to answer comments and read and comment on many other people’s blogs. Some of you may have read my previous post in February where I explained what’s been happening, well today I have an update.
The last month or so has been a bit of a nightmare for me. Apart from the boiler breaking down during the coldest part of the last month (yes that snowy frozen part of February – great time for the boiler to pack it in!), in February I also suffered some kind of strange injury around my rib cage which left me in such great pain I’ve found it hard to move. The most basic of movements like turning around in bed or even lifting myself out of bed has been super painful that I’ve come close to screaming it’s been that painful. I was told by one doctor that I might have dislocated something in my rib cage. The doctor was a little difficult to get a straight answer out of so I found another who said I might have pulled a muscle. Well, this pain wasn’t going away so I was sent off to the hospital for two days of tests!
I’ve been prodded and poked, had numerous blood tests, x -rays, and other checks done. The results of which showed that I haven’t broken something…phew, but I do need to rest and relax completely and not strain myself in the area which is hard as it means I can’t pick up anything heavier than a bag of flour as I feel pain if I pick up anything heavier! The doctors then sent me home….
Once I’d got home though I got a call that I needed to come back into hospital, and quick! This was bizarre, I’ve been told by a GP to go to hospital but never had the hospital themselves call me back. So off I went to the hospital as it was getting late. When I got there I was subjected to yet more tests before the doctors finally told me I had a dangerous imbalance of electrolytes in my body! I’m now taking these tablets to help balance out my electrolytes and I’ve been allowed to go home but it was quite dramatic at the time! My mum actually likened it to an episode of ‘House’ as the doctors were constantly trying to figure out what was wrong with me!
I’m now back home and taking it easy. The complete rest seems to be doing my body good, I think I’m recovering as I’m able to turn in bed now without shooting pain, but I’m taking it very slowly as I don’t want anything to flare up before its fully healed. During this whole time I’ve tried spending time on my laptop or phone but to be honest my mood has been so low the last few weeks that I decided to just rest and sleep more than anything else 😮 !
But now I’m officially back 😀 although it will take me some time to catch up with everything. I’ve written just one review today, the only one in the last three weeks, but am now enjoying myself a lot more, feeling positive and far better so I’ll be returning to my normal blogging hopefully soon in the next few weeks. For now I’m still taking my time so I hope you won’t mind if I am not fully active here yet (no daily blog posts just yet) but I will post as often as I can and post more than just reviews. I’ll also start visiting blogs more often too and reply to you guys.
Thank you for all the support you’ve all given me in the last few weeks and this past year. To add to the celebration WordPress gave me this anniversary badge for registering a year ago. It’s not quite the time I launched my blog but it’s still something to celebrate :)
In the meantime, while I get my bearings and back into things why not tell me about any exciting news you’ve had, or been doing this last few weeks while I’ve been away?
Don’t forget to follow me in these places too if you’d like, just click on the link(s) below to visit 🙂 !
Hello everyone. I hope you are all well and having a great February. I’m sure plenty of you know or if you didn’t might have spotted that I’ve been less active than usual. I’ve reduced my posting schedule to just three a week (going out on Monday, Wednesday and Friday), been slow to reply to comments and I’ve not been around much on everyone else’s blogs. No it hasn’t been a love of the Winter Olympics that’s kept me away, although I will admit that I am a fan of watching both the summer and winter Olympics. First I’d like to apologise for being away for quite a bit. Things have been a bit uphill in my personal life lately. Apart from planning a move and the stress and complications of that and other things, I’ve had a bit of an accident too which has put me in a bit of a low mood recently.
So the first month of January feels as if it has flown by and I’ve been very busy. Not only have I managed to post a lot of stuff on my blog and get back to pre-scheduling most posts, but I’ve also been busy in the offline world. My time with blogging is going to be hampered a little bit though over the next month as I’ll be away for a bit, but I’ll still keep reading (I just can’t help but love reading!) and do my best to not let it look like I’ve disappeared. To those kind friends who worry, don’t worry, I’m not pushing myself or anything, I have a lot of pre-saved posts all ready to go so you might not even notice I’m gone! lol In the online world I also have some more exciting news to share but I want to save that until a little later when I’m sure everything’s going well. So anyway, on to what’s happened in the last month…Read More »
This is my last post looking back at 2017 and what a year for books! According to Goodreads I managed to read 37 out of the 60 books I had hoped to read. The problem with this figure though is that I only marked some books as ‘currently reading’ while others including lots of picture books I went straight to reviewing on the website. This means Goodreads only counted the ‘currently reading’ books into the 2017 challenge rather than the total 95 I had put on the website. So maybe I have reached the Goodreads Challenge after all. Should I mark all books as ‘currently reading’ from now on? What do you think?
Anyway, 2017 has been an amazing year of books and most of the ones I’ve read have been new releases. I wanted to put up a list of my very favourites of the year. The following are books I would recommend to anyone interested. They are brilliant and in my own opinion, some of them are exceptional! Some have even managed to obtain the very prestigious Phoenix’s Favourite Stamp 🙂
So here are my favourites. Although most of these came out this year, the list may include others. I’ve done this in a weird sort of format, not sure if I’ll do it again! I’m going to put down my favourite followed by the runner up, however I don’t have many books I’ve read this year in certain categories so they may not include two or even any books 😮 Click on the reviews to read more about each book!
Favourite Grown-up fiction
(These may be considered YA by some but I go by who they are aimed at according to publisher’s website which doesn’t list them as teen books).
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
How could I not include Strange the Dreamer in this list. It’s a fantasy book I read early in my year of blogging but I’ve loved every single moment, engrossed in its pages. Lazlo Strange is a character you can’t help but love and the beautiful way the story is told, with the mystery of Weep and the emotional pull this has on you makes this a book you’ll remember.
Yes it’s another fantasy book but I can’t help but love this book for the lasting memory it’s given me. I’ve always loved circuses, carnivals and magic, etc. and this book doesn’t disappoint. Scarlett’s character did grow on me but what really kept my attention was the constant twists and turns this book put me through, you never quite know what will happen. The ending was one I didn’t enjoy, the last scene setting up a future book but spoiling the magic, I think, of the true ending, but it’s a minor hiccup in an otherwise magical tale.
The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James
This science fiction book really held my attention and was surprisingly compelling to read. I felt connected to Romy, the only surviving inhabitant of the spaceship Infinity, as she lived out her everyday life, deciding to make her own entertainment. It’s something I’ve had to do myself in the past but the psychological story that comes about later is what really made me enjoy this book above any other. I felt chilled, almost scared, at times and freaked out when it became dark in my own home. The combination of science fiction and psychological thriller makes this one great read!
This book has still stayed in my mind and is one I don’t just feel makes a brilliant read but it’s a book that should be read by everyone as it’s not afraid of showing the sad truth of what happened to the Jewish people during the Second World War while being uplifting enough to contain a beautiful and magical story of Karolina, the doll that comes to life. I’m sure it will be loved by all who read it.
This series of books has now been given the Phoenix the Peacock Favourites Stamp as I just can’t get them out of my head! The humour in this book is just perfect for me, there’s a bit of traditional slapstick as well as just bizarre silliness. Every time I pick up a Julius Zebra book I can’t help but be cheered up as I laugh aloud and I would recommend them to anyone who enjoys that kind of British humour. I couldn’t decide on a favourite so I’m voting them all favourites.
(There have been too many picture books I’ve enjoyed to pick a favourite but here is a few of the ones that stick in my mind or have touched me/made me smile. )
Curiosity: The Story of the Mars Rover by Markus Motum
This lovely book is a non-fiction tale but told by Curiosity, the Mars rover herself. Something about the way this book is told, and the sweet way that Curiosity has been humanised to appeal to us just makes this a fun read. The book has an amazing way of engaging the reader and I just found myself thinking of this book long after I’d stopped reading it.
I’m not sure why this book made me smile so much but it’s a beautiful tale of friendship and has added fun flaps which really make you enjoy the story. The illustrations always get me if they look particularly cute or sweet but there’s a lovely tale in this book too and one I just really enjoyed reading. I’d recommend it for very young readers, it’s a story that really made me smile.
(I don’t have enough books to give the others their individual categories but here are some other books that I found my favourites).
Norse Myths: Tales of Odin, Thor & Loki by Kevin Crossley-Holland & Jeffrey Alan Love
I think anything Norse related is always going to be tough to not put as a favourite! But this set of Norse Myths aimed at children (but certainly readable by all ages) stuck in my mind. The illustrations have a lot to do with how the stories feel as you read them and there’s just something about these being the original Norse Myths retold in an easy to understand way that makes this very compelling to read.
Terrible True Tales from the Tower of London by Historic Royal Palaces
This non-fiction is brilliant and reads just like any Horrible Histories book. There are lots of gruesome and weird facts about the Tower of London and its history but they are all told by the ravens, the birds that guard the Tower. I couldn’t help but enjoy this book and something about it made me really smile as well as feel a bit weird when I read some of the more gory facts. It’s nothing too off putting and perfect for anyone who enjoys finding out historical facts in a funny way.
So that’s my list of my very favourite books of this year. I’ve found it hard to pick out some favourites as most of my 5 feather reviewed books feel worthy of being favourites, but I had to choose something so here it is 🙂
This is the end of posts looking back to 2017. From now on let’s enjoy 2018 and hopefully some more memorable books. I’m looking forward to several coming out including the new Julius Zebra and hopefully if a sequel to Caraval or Strange the Dreamer is due this year I’ll be keen to get my hands on them too 🙂 Which books are you looking forward to this year? Which were your favourites of last year?
Another year has passed by and with it I want to take a brief look at last year, the things that happened as well as a look at what I hope will happen in the future.
2017 has been a year of ups and downs for me personally but I ended it on a high. It’s my first year of blogging here at My Peacock Books and I’ve loved it! I’ve developed a blog that feels personal to me, shows off my personality and I enjoy having fun with it but at the same time I’ve been able to connect with some amazing people out there, including some brilliant bloggers.
For less than a year of blogging (I started here in April) I’m amazed that my blog has had nearly 6,000 views, well over 3,000 visitors, 2,567 likes and a total of 510 followers (social media included)! Thank you so much to everyone who has visited, liked, commented and followed. You’ve really made me feel welcome in the blogging world and I can’t thank you enough.
So which posts have been the most viewed of all last year?
The most viewed post with over 200 views is What Makes A Book Young Adult / YA Versus Just Adult? This post was my first real article/discussion post and has been read again and again. I still haven’t written up a follow up to this, apologies, but I will do this year and hopefully soon. It’s a post I’d still love to hear new opinions on so please do visit and comment if you haven’t already.
The next most popular post with 143 view is Free Books/ARCs Help the Publishing Industry so Stop Complaining! This post has had a bit of a mixed reception. Some people agreeing with my view that books given free for review are nothing to complain about, but it’s brought up some interesting debates over book piracy and it’s something I plan to look into more in future.
In third place for most viewed thing, with just under 90 views is Does Editing in Books Matter? I’ve always had issues with books and editing, personally believing that books should be as well edited as possible, but there are varying views and it’s great to read some of them and see what others think.
So all three of my most viewed posts have been articles. In fact virtually all my articles have topped all other posts as being the most popular proving I should write more 😉 However I want to show off a range of my posts and I can’t help but laugh at the 4th most viewed thing on this blog…my About page!!! 😮 Sure if you want to know more about me please do visit (I’ve recently updated it) but really, I didn’t expect that to be so popular with 85 votes!
One of my poems got very high views (47) Is This The Final Goodbye? It was written for Metal Health Awareness week and there’s more than just a poem in this post but a lot about mental health awareness, as well as a true story of some of what I’ve been through. It’s never easy to write about yourself but I hope it was well received and if you do take a look I hope it doesn’t upset too much.
The book review with the highest votes (45) is for a book I would still recommend today and that’s The Lost Sentinel by Suzanne Rogerson. I know the author’s brilliant ability to immerse you into a dark and exciting fantasy world, having read her previous book Visions of Zarua, however The Lost Sentinel is her newest work and so much happens in this story, it’s a really great read!
And a fun one to end with. The arty post with the most views, a photograph, is this one, Pedestrian Pigeons, for the weekly photo challenge ‘pedestrian’. It’s of a fun photo of pigeons! So please take a look if you want 🙂
So, that’s a look at some of my best posts of 2017. Other news from last year include the fact that I’ve been approached by a new publisher for reviews. I don’t know if it’s a one-off thing but I’m hoping it’s a regular thing as they have some very interesting books and I’d love to have more to read! Along with the ups I’ve had some downs though, the worst being my diminishing ability to read digital books. It’s just something that I can do in small bouts but it gives me headaches so I can’t do it often.
So what do I hope for 2018? To be honest, more of the same would be wonderful! I’ve received around 500 followers (more than I imagined I would) and wouldn’t it be amazing to double that? But in reality even if nobody else followed this blog, I’d still write here as often as I can because I just love writing, blogging and sharing my thoughts with anyone who cares to read them 🙂
One of the big things I’d really like to do is to get writing more. I know I have a lot of posts in my head on different subjects but it’s getting around to the actual writing that’s hard. It’s not just the confidence issue, especially around creative fiction writing, but also a case of not having the time. Like many of you I’m busy a lot with offline life and sometimes things crop up that means I can’t always write when I want. Reviews seem to come to me easily, but writing not so well.
I’d like to be able to visit more of your fabulous blogs. This though is completely dependant on my time and I admit that I am struggling at times. I’m not able to visit everyone I like as often as I like but I certainly want to get into the groove of being far more active with your blogs so I hope you’ll forgive me when I can’t attend and like to hear from me when I do, lol 🙂
Another thing is social media…I’m hopelessly lost on some of them. I’m not the most active online at least that’s how it looks, it shows when I disappear for days (or occasionally weeks) at a time This is something I hope to get fixed, and get into the habit of knowing how to use these platforms better for my blog so that my channels aren’t boringly repetitive. The key is to knowing how to use each platform, that way I won’t be entirely lost. I think maybe I should have just put: be more organised – that seems to be the real goal here!
I plan to set a lower goal of books to read in the Goodreads Challenge. If I’m honest I’d also like to take a chance or at least a look at some other book challenges too. Not sure if I’d take part but if you know of any you enjoy let me know 🙂
One more thing that I think I need to work on is the tagline of my blog as well as making it clear to people that Phoenix the Peacock is a mascot (as some have called me Phoenix in 2017! 😮 ) My tagline used to be Books, Art, Poetry & Peacocks! It’s now changed to Books, Art, Poetry, Peacocks & Lots of Other Stuff! but I’m not sure if that’s imaginative enough or not? I want something memorable and instantly recognisable. What do you guys think?
I do have a personal resolution too…I want to work at being happier. That sounds weird and silly but I make it no secret on this blog that I do sometimes suffer from horrible bouts of depression. I’m not naturally a depressive person, I don’t want to be at least, but at times it can be overwhelming. It’s at these times that I struggle personally the most, although it’s also a time of great creativity with much of my darker poetry becoming a cathartic experience and lifting me out of that low. So this year I hope will be a happier one for me personally…and I also wish that for all of you ❤ 🙂
I may even write more about this subject in the future, it’s not always popular but mental health is a topic that can be misunderstood and can be hard to talk about and I would like to break that barrier, especially on this blog.
So that’s it! A look back at the best of 2017 and a look to the future of 2018. There will still be lots of book reviews, poetry, the usual types of posts and hopefully you’ll all continue to enjoy reading 🙂
What are your best moments of last year? What are you looking forward to this year? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you and love to have more interactions and blogs to read 🙂
I plan to do a years round up at the very start of 2018, to get the final stats on what’s happened this year but for now the monthly round-up of what’s happened to me and this blog in December.
December’s been a hectic month for me with Christmas having been at the forefront of everything but despite that it’s been a great month and I’ve felt my writing take off again. Not only do I feel more like writing but I’ve found myself confident enough to write about new things and have even been approached by a new publisher to review! Overall a good month 🙂
The second most popular post, actually posted in December so possibly December’s most popular post written is Christmas 2017 Recommended Reads & Gifts. Although posted only a few days ago it’s netted a lot of views and worth checking out even beyond Christmas as I still recommend these books as gifts for yourself and others.
The only poem I have written and that’s had some popularity has been yesterdays! The Cold Winter is a poem I really wasn’t sure about but I’ve received some wonderful encouraging messages from you guys so thank you 🙂 I wasn’t sure as it came to me in when I was feeling a bit off but please tell me what you think.
I’m also personally proud of the few shares and likes that this post, When Talent’s Worth a Shout Out, got. It’s about talent in my local area and some wonderful music I hope you’ll all enjoy hearing regardless of your usual music tastes. If you believe in supporting local talent then please do me a favour and help by sharing this post as I feel this is talent worth shouting about 🙂
Next month I’ll be doing a round-up of 2017 as well as my favourite books of the year as recommendations for you to read, they’re not necessarily the same as the ones in my Xmas recommended list!
I do plan to do some new things as well as concentrating far more on writing article and discussion posts on both writer/book things and others. I want to concentrate on making my blog even more to my own taste and I hope you’ll enjoy sharing that with me.
As well as some new blog posts I hope you’ll continue to enjoy my mix of book reviews, both children’s and older, poetry and arty posts! Oh and I can’t forget to of course mention the fact I want to include Phoenix the Peacock in more of my posts as the site mascot, especially as some people have mistakenly called me Phoenix 😮 😮 !!!
What have you enjoyed doing this December? Did you get any presents you wanted or treat yourself? If you don’t celebrate Christmas what else have you enjoyed doing?
Christmas is coming,
The goose is getting fat,
I won’t be eating it,
I’m vegan that’s a fact.
That’s right, apart from learning something about me (though I’m more vegetarian than vegan as I can’t quite give up a little milk in my tea) 🙂 , it’s also Christmas soon and with a week to go before the big day, most of us are frantically shopping for Christmas presents. If you’re somebody who’s still struggling to find something for a loved one then fear not for I’m bringing you my list of recommended reads to gift to yourself or a loved one this Christmas! The following are a selection of books, and activity kits I believe would make an excellent gifts this year 😀
For those of you looking for something with a Christmas theme to read you can’t go wrong with these titles (click on the titles to see more about each book and in some cases pictures too):
This is the perfect book to curl up on the sofa with. It’s set at Christmas and is all about the lost puppy who’s looking for his forever home and just happens to appear on the doorstep of a family who seem perfect…He just needs to convince them that he’s meant to be their dog.
It’s a heart warming story and told from the point of view of the puppy it’s the perfect book for any age to read and definitely one to read this Christmas 🙂
This book begins on Christmas day and also ends on Christmas day too and is the perfect magical adventure to immerse yourself into this year. Although written for children this book has an appeal even for adults and teens and is all about Number Thirteen, a groundling (a mix of fox and human boy) who lives at a horrible orphanage but one day is forced to do something brave and this sets him on his destiny and helps him discover who he really is.
This amazing tale has a Christmas setting in part of the story. Again a book written for children however it’s set in 1940s Poland, during the war and is all about Karolina, a doll who is given a heart and comes to life thanks to a kind Dollmaker. Together they find a bond and try to help their Jewish friends whose lives are slowly being destroyed by the Germans. The book has magic and an uplifting end however it is honest about the treatment of the Jews during the Holocaust and will make you cry.
For those of you looking for some great Christmas picture books then I recommend these:
This pop-up book is exquisite as its title suggests. It’s an amazingly detailed and beautiful book to open up at Christmas time and one which will be treasured for years. The basic Christmas story is told however its the beautiful pop-ups that capture your heart. Far from being plain the paper craft is stunning and you have to see it to believe it so please take a look at my review to see some amazing pics!
This is such a beautiful story of two cardinal birds who nest every year in the same fir tree. Red and Lulu love their tree but one day when Red is off looking for food, something happens to their tree and they are separated and Red must go on a journey to find Lulu. It’s the perfect Christmas tale and has such beautiful illustrations everyone will love.
If you’re looking for some great non-Christmas themed reads then you can’t go wrong with these great titles:
I know this is one of my favourites so I’m mentioning it again but if you really want the perfect fantasy escape then you can’t go wrong with this book. Lazlo Strange is a librarian who is obsessed with a mythical place called Weep, a place who’s real name has been stolen. He finds an opportunity to travel there and to discover the truth but there are a lot of mysteries surrounding the place including blue skinned Gods. It’s just an amazing epic fantasy but not so much a fantasy with blood, gore and fighting as one of a more beautiful immersive tale.
This also has a magical feel to it although is far less of the high fantasy and more a magical tale of the mysterious Caraval. When sisters Scarlett and Tella receive an invite to Caraval, a one a year magical performance, a sort of old-fashioned circus, they decide to visit. But Tella soon disappears and Scarlett must find her by winning the game. But nothing is quite what it seems at Caraval…This book has magic and is a wonderful tale with lots of twists you’ll be surprised until the end.
Julius Zebra by Gary Northfield
This (so far) three book series is the perfect set of books to give someone who enjoys a laugh. Aimed at kids and filled with really silly pictures and a silly story, it’s all about Julius Zebra and his adventures in ancient times. This series has become a favourite of mine and it just made me laugh so much I think it’s the perfect gift for anyone who wants something funny this Christmas.
-In Rumble with the Romanswe’re introduced to Julius who lives in Africa until the Romans kidnap him. He has to fight as a gladiator to win back his freedom but with lots of slapstick humour and silly animal antics from Julius and his friends you do wonder if he’ll make it.
-In Bundle with the BritonsJulius and his friends find them selves in ancient Britannia and must fight against the Britons but things don’t go according to plan.
-In Entangled with the EgyptiansJulius and his friends wind up in ancient Egypt where Julius is mistaken for a Horse God! But will he admit to the mistake or enjoy the fame and luxuries it brings?
This stunning and very heavy book is filled with amazing illustrations and wonderful stories. The tales of the Norse myths told in this book are exciting and very engaging and although written for kids many adults have themselves enjoyed this book. I love the artwork in this book and the whole atmosphere the myths produce, it’s definitely one I’d recommend for anybody interested in a bit of mythology.
Classic Tails by Eliza Garrett
If you’re interested in the classics or want to try reading them for the first time why not try a simple illustrated classic instead. These books make great gifts, they contain some very fun illustrations and some funny stories, adapted into animal versions. The Great Catsby, Pugs & Prejudiceand Romeow & Julietare suitable for all ages while The Picture of Dorian Greyhound is a little darker but perfect still for older teens and above.
If you’re looking for non-fiction books I’ve read a few but for me these are definitely worth considering for yourself or a loved one.
This brilliant 3-book set is filled with pop-ups, flaps and lots of little extras to keep you and any Harry Potter fan engaged. Each book covers a different aspect of the Harry Potter universe and features all the details of not only the props, creatures, etc. you can find but how they were created for film. there are lots of interesting facts about the filming of the Harry Potter universe of movies, including Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them. Click on the title above to see more about each individual book.
This book is a great one to give to teens who are worried about social situations like school or who are feeling a little alienated or lonely. Not only does the book provide some key information on how to better make friends and deal with social situations but it also talks about things you can do and be aware of in yourself like how you can make yourself appear open or closed to other people or how to better get along with others when you meet them. It’s something I would have loved reading as a teen and can help someone with confidence issues.
And if you’re thinking of a more activity based gifts this year then how about these:
This fun kit is designed to help kids create their own play and with everything to get them started including how to come up with ideas it’s the perfect kit to keep them busy this year. It’s a really fun box of things and it’s something I would love getting at Christmas and using right away!
Why not combine a the fun activity of looking for Wally and his friends with all the fun or colouring too? In this small and handy travelling size collection you get pages and pages filled with scenes from the famous books with virtually nothing coloured in. Not only is it a chance to put your own spin and colour on the classic scenes but while colouring in you also see lots of details you may have previously missed. It’s a great book for any age and comes with an added poster to colour in too!
So that’s it for this post and I hope you’ve enjoyed some of my personal recommendations for Christmas this year. I will be doing a best of 2017 post where I speak about my ultimate favourite books of the year but this is my list of top books to gift yourself or a loved one this Christmas.
What books and gifts would you recommend for Christmas? Are there any in my list that pique your interest? Let me know I’d love to hear from you. You can also find me in these places 🙂 :