Balancing My Books · Books · Monthly Reading Wrap-Up

Balancing my Books #26: March 2023

March was a stellar reading month quantity wise. Quality wise it was a really mixed bag with some really strong reads mainly during the middle of the month, but quite a few ‘meh’ reads as well.

Anyway, let’s balance things up, shall we?


Start 2023: 343
1 Feb: 339
Acquired: 14
Read: 11 + 1 DNF (+ 2 extra unhauls)
Balance: 339


Start 2022: 175
1 Feb:179
Acquired: 5
Read: 6
Balance: 178

I bought way more books than I meant to this month. More than the five I was allowing myself in any case. There were a few special edition pre-orders for a start… I read two of the books that came in March and I hope to make a dent in April. I planned in time to read these books, so fingers crossed I can justify these purchases. I read the first in a series of which I had the first three books. I did not like it enough to continue, and I have unhauled all three books, which luckily meant I was able to balance those books! There was also DNF right at the start of the month.

As for digital books, I read one more than came in (though one of them I also owned in physical form, so it was a double whammy). I did request a couple of NetGalley books, but neither of them are due this month. I am enjoying getting back into NetGalley, but I am careful not to overdo it. I spent €2 total on three Kindle books, all of which I am excited about!

I am ok with things this month.


I read 16 books! That is a lot for me. To be honest, I did a lot of reading to alleviate stress this month, and I have never been more grateful for my books. As usual I read quite a variety of books across March. I am enjoying my fantasy at the moment and I actually read two books from the same series, which is something I rarely do in one month. I also read some sci-fi, some romance, some natural science non-fiction, some classics and some excellent literary fiction as well.

  1. Zofloya, or the Moor (Charlotte Dacre) 8.43 (4.25*) audio/paperback
  2. The Little Book Café: Tash’s Story (Georgia Hill) 8.07 (4*) eBook
  3. The Elves of Cintra (Terry Brooks) 7.71 (4*) paperback
  4. To The River (Olivia Laing) 6.57 (3.25*) audio/eBook
  5. Coraline (Neil Gaiman) 9.00 (4.50) paperback
  6. Alone With You in the Ether (Olivie Blake) 9.43 (4.75*) hardback
  7. Violets (Alex Hyde) 9.43 (4.75*) eBook
  8. A Fortune for Your Disaster (Hanif Abdurraqib) 8.50 (4.25*) paperback
  9. An Immense World (Ed Yong) 9.86 (5*) audio/hardback
  10. Skyward (Brandon Sanderson) 9.14 (4.5*) paperback
  11. My Grandmother Sends her Regards and Apologises (Fredrik Backman) 7.64 (3.75*) eBook
  12. Daggerspell (Katharine Kerr) 6.57 (3.25*) audio/paperback/eBook
  13. The Gypsy Morph (Terry Brooks) 8.43 (4.25*) paperback
  14. Fictions (Jorge Luis Borges) 7.57 (3.75*) paperback
  15. The Wind in the Willows (Kenneth Grahame) 8.00 (4*) audio/hardback
  16. Ship Wrecked (Olivia Dade) 5.64 (2.75*) eBook

I also DNFd one book 150 pages in, which was An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears. It wasn’t bad, but it just was not for me. I unhauled four books in total.

I continue reading several audio books a month, usually once that are on my shelves and utilizing the books that included in my Audible Membership. For example The Wind in the Willows, To The River and Daggerspell were all included. I used credits for Zofloya, or the Moor and An Immense World.

Using my TBR game to read a wide variety of books from my shelves has been very helpful. There was one book from my March TBR I did not get to, but I plan to read that one in April or May, depending how things go. I am ok with that. I read a couple of other books instead. I am doing ok with my 2023 TBR, so I am not feeling any pressure. It helps that I am genuinely excited about the books on that TBR.


An Immense World by Ed Yong was incredible – loved it! So educational and yet very easy to understand. Fascinating stuff. A shout out to Alone With You in the Ether and Violets as well. I loved both of those so much!


I have started three new books today, all of which will roll over to April of course. First of all my main read is Silver Under Nightfall by Rin Chupeco. It’s been a while since I read a vampire book and this one I have seen highly recommended. Besides, I was sold by the cover!

My first NetGalley ebook of the month is a little quaint book called Second Star: and Other Reasons for Lingering by Philippe Delerm. It has little musings on every day things and I am hoping it is my kind of thing. It’s only short, but I hope I will get something out of it. It’s one that has been translated from French.

Finally, I picked up Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Mind & Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake. How The Last of Us is that? Anyway, I have the lovely hardback of this one, but decided to listen to it on audio, whilst leafing through the hardback to look at the illustrations. After that one I will probably pick up a classic of some sort on audio.

Apart from that, I have a small TBR for April that leaves room to get to some of the books that have come into my home in the past couple of months. I am looking forward to all of those. I do have Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobb on my TBR in April as well and that one is a 900 page book, so I may not have as much time as I think I have.

I am excited about April. Are you?

Books · Read in 2023 · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Ship Wrecked (Olivia Dade)

This could have been so much better if it was so much shorter!

★★★☆☆ – CALSPIE 5.64

Title: Ship Wrecked
Author: Olivia Dade
Genre: Fiction / Contemporary / Romance
First published: 2022
Edition: Kindle e-book

Maria’s one-night-stand–the thick-thighed, sexy Viking of a man she left without a word or a note–just reappeared. Apparently, Peter’s her surly Gods of the Gates co-star, and they’re about to spend the next six years filming on a desolate Irish island together. She still wants him…but he now wants nothing to do with her.


So I was in the mood for romance and this one sounded like a good time. And I guess it would have been a good time if it had not been so damn long!

I like a slowburn romance book, I like a romance with some depth to it. This one should have been that. But it was not. For a 400-page romance book, it just kind of waffled a lot without much substance.

Not that there was a complete lack of substance. I actually really liked the main characters and the supporting cast (appropriate term, as you know, it’s about a TV show). The romance at its core was actually quite nice as well. I have no qualms with either the couple itself or the majority of the writing style.

However, HOWEVER, there was a six year time jump that did not quite make sense, because you cannot tell me that there was no character or relationship development during that time, even if it’s longing from afar. I did not like that the author chose to just shift six years and nothing was supposed to have changed during that time… It made no sense! It completely threw off the pace for me.

Sometimes the plot would develop quite nicely and then suddenly there would be this big lull with nothing really happening for pages and pages. And I don’t mean smut wise. I don’t much care about that. There was some of that, but not an awful amount. I did not mind it and did not love it either. It was fine and was not super cringy (that’s a compliment). It was just that the story seemed to get stuck every few pages.

It made that by the end I lost interest almost completely and it left me feeling very disappointed and deflated by at its heart could have been a pretty good romance.

2.75 out of 5 stars



  • Characters: 8
  • Ambience: 7
  • Language: 7.5
  • Story: 6
  • Pacing: 2
  • Interest: 4
  • Enjoyment: 5
Books · Read in 2023 · Reviews

(audio) Book Thoughts: The Wind in the Willows (Kenneth Grahame)


★★★★☆ – CALSPIE 8.00

Title: The Wind in the Willows
Author: Kenneth Grahame
Narrator: Michael Hordern
Genre: Fiction / Classic / Middle Grade / Childrens
First published: 1908
Edition: Audio & hardback, published by Methuen & Co

Reflecting the freshness of childhood wonder, the story still offers adults endless sophistication, substance, and depth. The animals’ world embodies the author’s wry, whimsical, and unfailingly inventive imagination. It is a world that succeeding generations of both adult and young readers have found irresistible. But why say more? To use the words of the estimable Mr. Toad himself: “Travel, change, interest, excitement!…Come inside.”


I never really thought of reading this novel to be honest. I remember the movie from when I was little, and I was given an old hardback copy of this book after an elderly family member passed away. I liked leafing through it. It has lovely illustrations by Ernest H Shephard.

The audio book was included in my membership, so I decided to listen to it on a whim. First of all, the narrator’s old fashioned voice fits the story very well and I enjoyed listening to him. The story itself… It’s very charming and it definitely was a fun time. At the time it was published, in 1908, Toad’s obsession with cars must have been pretty exciting!

Now, over a century later, the story has not lost any of its charm, but I found it a bit too silly in places. I know it’s ridiculous, but the inconsistent way animals were portrayed throughout the book bugged me. Silly, I know, but obviously the main characters are animals, but then there were also animals that are kept as pets as well and a horse is just… well… a horse.

Anyway, aside from a couple of silly niggles like that, I enjoyed the read/listen.

4 out of 5 stars



  • Characters: 8
  • Ambience: 8
  • Language: 8
  • Story: 8.5
  • Pacing: 8
  • Interest: 7.5
  • Enjoyment: 8
Books · Read in 2023 · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Fictions (Jorge Luis Borges)

Was this just a little too literary? For now?

★★★★☆ – CALSPIE 7.57

Title: Fictions
Author: Jorge Luis Borges
Translator: Andrew Hurley (from Spanish)
Genre: Fiction / Short Stories / Modern Classic
First published: 1944
Edition:  Paperback, published by Penguin Modern Classics in 2000

Jorge Luis Borge’s Fictions introduced an entirely new voice into world literature. It is here we find the astonishing accounts of Funes, the man who can forget nothing; the French poet who recreated Don Quixote word for word; the fatal lottery in Babylon; the mysterious planet of Tlön; and the library containing every possible book in the whole universe. Here too are the philosophical detective stories and the haunting tales of Irish revolutionaries, gaucho knife fights and dreams within dreams which proved so influential (and yet impossible to imitate).


This was a peculiar collection of stories and I am not quite sure how to feel about it or how to put together my thoughts on it. I enjoyed it. At least I think I did.

I liked the tone of the stories and I liked how quickly the characters embedded themselves, even if you were mostly just dropped into a story somewhere apparently random. Some of the stories are magical realism of some sort and the overall tone is kind of strange, not quite grounded. I am not sure how to describe it.

This collection does read very literary and although I don’t mind that, sometimes it felt like the author was being too high-brow, even for me. I am not entirely sure what made me feel that way, but something did.

I have to admit that though in general I enjoyed these stories just fine, I could not possibly pretend that I ‘got’ it all. I liked that there was a running theme through both sections (‘Fictions’ and ‘Artifices’). Obviously literature was a big theme in Fictions, as well as writers of all sorts. But religion and existential crises also featured in a big way.

I may well need to revisit this collection in the future to fully appreciate it. I would like to think I will do so.

3.75 out of 5 stars



  • Characters: 8
  • Ambience: 7.5
  • Language: 8
  • Story: 7
  • Pacing: 7
  • Interest: 8
  • Enjoyment: 7.5
Books · Read in 2023 · Reviews

Book Thoughts: The Gypsy Morph (Terry Brooks)

A solid finale to a strong enough trilogy

★★★★☆ – CALSPIE 8.43

Title: The Gypsy Morph (Genesis of Shannara #3)
Author: Terry Brooks
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy / Dystopian
First published: 2008
Edition: paperback, published by Orbit in 2010

The last cities have fallen. Demons and once-men swarm the ravaged landscape of the former United States. A small band of survivors – the elves of Cintra and a ragtag group of human children and their protectors – flees northward toward a safe haven promised by the mystical King of the Silver River.


This final book in the Genesis of Shannara trilogy gives a strong finish to this trilogy of books in a long running series of books. I am reading the whole Shannara saga in chronological order and this is the final book in the first trilogy.

I enjoyed this one better than the middle book. The story is stronger and things come together quite nicely. Terry Brooks’ books will never be the best written, but I really enjoy the tone of them. There were a few writing choices that irked me, some pet names people had for each other and the random Spanish words to denote that a person was in fact Mexican (I think that’s right), was a little bit unnecessary, but overall it was absolutely fine.

The stories of this author’s books all kind of follow a similar format and it is a format that, though maybe a bit formulaic, works for me. I always know what I am getting into and sometimes that is exactly what I need.

This series, like another epic fantasy series I love, is set in a future world where civilization is destroyed and gets rebuilt into this fantasy world. I really enjoy that trope and it is nice to get that background in this series before moving on into, eventually, the original Shannara books. That does mean that this series certainly begins more dystopian than fantasy, but it really ends up firmly in fantasy territory.

All in all, I enjoyed this series and this was a solid final book. I am looking forward to continuing this journey into Shannara with the Legends of Shannara duology, which I have never read before.

4.25 out of 5 stars



  • Characters: 8.5
  • Ambience: 8.5
  • Language: 8
  • Story: 8.5
  • Pacing: 8.5
  • Interest: 8.5
  • Enjoyment: 8.5
Books · Read in 2023 · Reviews

(audio) Book Thoughts: Daggerspell (Katharine Kerr)

This was just not the story for me

★★★☆☆ 1/4 – CALSPIE 6.59

Title: Daggerspell (Deverry #1)
Author: Katharine Kerr
Narrator: Ruth Urquhart
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy
First published: 1986
Edition: Audio & paperback, published by Harper Voyager in 2019

Even as a young girl, Jill was a favorite of the magical, mysterious Wildfolk, who appeared to her from their invisible realm. Little did she know her extraordinary friends represented but a glimpse of a forgotten past and a fateful future. Four hundred years-and many lifetimes-ago, one selfish young lord caused the death of two innocent lovers. Then and there he vowed never to rest until he’d righted that wrong-and laid the foundation for the lives of Jill and all those whom she would hold dear: her father, the mercenary soldier Cullyn; the exiled berserker Rhodry Maelwaedd; and the ancient and powerful herbman Nevyn, all bound in a struggle against darkness. . . and a quest to fulfill the destinies determined centuries ago


Going into this, I knew this would be an old school fantasy book and I was actually looking forward to it, but though I liked some of the characters unfortunately the story itself never really grabbed me.

This is very much a classic fantasy book and considering I like the characters themselves just fine I should have liked this novel more than I did. However, for me the interactions between the characters felt quite stale and the plot fell a little flat and was just not that interesting to me. Maybe this type of fantasy with Celtic roots is not my favourite. I have read books in the past in this type of setting that I have enjoyed, but they had more interesting plots than this one. The setting and the lord-and-lady type background was just a little on the boring side.

There were a couple of plot devices I did not really care for. Maybe this whole reincarnation/destiny thing does not do it for me. Then there was the much-discussed incest in this book that I already knew about going into it. To be honest it felt a bit unnecessary, but it did not overly bother me. It is meant to be disgraceful, so of course it is. Did it add anything to this book? Was it needed? No, I don’t think so. Still, I guess it makes for a talking point.

I am well aware that this book is almost forty years old and much has changed in the fantasy genre. Had I read this book twenty years ago, I may well have enjoyed it better. As it stands, it just felt a little on the dry side and I found myself a little bored.

I listened to this one on audio. The narrator suited the story very well and did help me to finish the story.

I have book two and three in this series, but I will not be continuing and the books are going on my unhaul pile.

3.25 out of 5 stars



  • Characters: 7.5
  • Ambience: 6.5
  • Language: 7
  • Story: 6.5
  • Pacing: 6
  • Interest: 6.5
  • Enjoyment: 6
Books · TBR

April 2023 TBR

I did roll for my April TBR earlier this month, but I now I would like to concentrate on reading the books I bought in the past couple of months. So, of course I am going to do a combination!

So, I will have a bunch of books that I rolled for that I would still like to read this month, some of which are NetGalley ARCs (which I am not sure why I am doing that to myself again – but they are ones I am actually really interested in!) and then I will add a number of new books.

So, the ones I rolled for that I will read are:

Apart from those I am definitely planning to read:

And hopefully a number of these, but I don’t want commit to any in particular:

I also have Book One of The Sandman by Neil Gaiman, but I forgot to add it to the stack, as my husband has been looking at it. That’s an option as well.

The other books that I rolled for earlier in the month will get read in May or June. They will just get moved up a bit. They still stand. I just need a bit of space to moodread, even if it’s from a fixed stack. It’s actually good I have left this stack out, cause it makes me notice them and it makes me want to pick them up!

By the way, Entangled Life is a non-fiction about fungi – perfect The Last of Us vibes 🤣.

Books · Read in 2023 · Reviews

Book Thoughts: My Grandmother Sends her Regards and Apologises (Fredrik Backman)

Me and the story did not quite connect

★★★★☆ – CALSPIE 7.64

Title: My Grandmother Sends her Regards and Apologises
Original title: Min mormor hälsar och säger förlåt
Author: Fredrik Backman
Translator: Henning Koch (from Swedish)
Genre: Fiction / Contemporary
First published: 2013
Edition: Kindle e-book

When Granny leaves Elsa a mysterious series of letters apologising to those she has wronged, her stories come to life in ways Elsa could never have imagined, sending her on a breathtaking adventure of her own…


I had quite high expectations going into this one, as I have absolutely adored other books I have read by this author, but although I still enjoyed this one, I did not love it as much as I had hoped.

My first issue was that Else, although a main character that I liked, definitely doesn’t read like an almost-eight year old. Not even a precocious one. To me she reads like precocious ten-year-old. That bothered me more than it should have done.

Apart from that, I did like the way the author interwove a contemporary story with fantasy elements in the form of a fantasy world that Elsa’s grandmother had created. However, I felt like it didn’t always gel that well with the story the author was telling.

I think this one just was not really for me. Although I definitely liked elements of the story and I enjoyed the slow reveal of the the relationships between all these people in Elsa’s life, I felt it all just took a little too long.

This was one was just a good read to me.

3.75 out of 5 stars



  • Characters: 8
  • Ambience: 8
  • Language: 8
  • Story: 7.5
  • Pacing: 7
  • Interest: 7.5
  • Enjoyment: 7.5
Books · WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday: 22 March 2023

It’s spring!!! Yay, yay, triple yay! It’s raining though…. Booooo!

It’s been a tough week, because my beloved pony is not well and we’re not quite sure how it’s going to pan out. I’ve been quite emotional and my reading has been a bit all over the place because of that, but at the same time it’s good to get lost in a book for a while to forget the stress of having an animal that is suffering unless she is on painkillers.

WWW Wednesdays’ home is at Sam’s blog Taking On A World of Words. Check it out!

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you will read next?



My main read at the moment is Fredrik Backman’s My Grandmother Sends her Regards and Apologises. I am enjoying it ok. I am almost 150 pages in and it is has not quite sucked me in the way other books by the author have done in the past. I am sure it will make me cry at some point though…

As a ‘side quest’ I am reading Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges. That one is on my 2023 TBR and one of my Spanish translation books I am reading a bunch of this year. I am a few stories in. They’re all stories about fictional books and it’s kind of interesting and weird. Not quite sure what to make of it yet.

Finally, I am listening to Daggerspell by Katharine Kerr on audio. It’s a book that is actually on my April TBR, but I am reading it early. The audio book was included in my Audible subscription and I was just in the mood for it. I am getting up to halfway. It’s quite an old fashioned style of fantasy – it was written in the 1980s – and it took some getting used to. Some questionable plot devices for sure. I am enjoying it ok though.


I only finished two books in the past week, but they both ended up really great. Skyward by Brandon Sanderson was a really fun read and it scored 9.14, whilst An Immense World by Ed Yong was a super interesting non-fiction book about animal senses and a scored 9.86!!!


The only book left on my March TBR after the ones I am currently reading is Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo, another one from my 2023 TBR and translated from Spanish. If I have time left to read another book this month I will likely read The Gypsy Morph by Terry Brooks to finish out the Genesis of Shannara series. Audio book wise I am not sure what I will pick up next.

Books · Seasonal TBR · TBR

Spring 2023 TBR

My spring season include Q2, so the months of April, May and June. I set a seasonal TBR of 9 books.

This spring I had to include some NetGalley books, as I requested a few earlier this year and towards the end of last year. Anyway, let’s get to the 9 books I want/need to read over the next few months.

1 – Small World (Caleb Azumah Nelson)

This is one of the said eARCs from NetGalley. I never got around to Open Water, his debut novel, but when I saw this one up for request, I knew I wanted to read it. I am very excited about this one.

2 – Dragonfall (L R Lam)

A fantasy book about dragons. Give me more! An easy request from NetGalley and one I am excited to get to. It has a release date for early May so I will probably read it in the latter half of April.

3 – Where Ivy Dares To Grow (Marielle Thompson)

A time travel novel that I ended up requesting. This one is due at the end of June. It sounded like a good read and one I would enjoy.


Let’s continue with some books from my 2023 TBR that I would like to read in Spring.

4 – The Makioka Sisters (Jun’ichirō Tanizaki)

I read a short non-fiction essay collection by this author and absolutely loved it, so I put this one on my 2023 TBR. It’s quite a big book and will likely take some time to read. However, I am confident that the writing will be beautiful and I am looking forward to it. I am tentatively planning this one for May.

5 – When All Is Said (Anne Griffin)

This one is set in June, so I will try and read it in June. This book sounds a bit existential, so I better be in a good mood at the time!

6 – A Good Scot is Hard to Find (Angeline Fortin)

I read the first book in this series (A Scot to Remember) was a pleasant surprise. I expected one thing from the cover and it really was much more than that. This is a historical romance with time travel elements. I guess a bit like Outlander, but I wouldn’t know – I haven’t read Outlander! I think I will enjoy a bit of a lighter book that still has a bit of substance to it. It will make a nice change.


And finally, I want to add three fantasy series I want to continue.

7 – Ship of Destiny (Robin Hobb)

I am hoping to finish this trilogy in April. I’ve really enjoyed the first two books, so hopefully this one will be just as great!

8. Starsight (Brandon Sanderson)

I plan on continuing (and hopefully finishing) the Skyward series this spring.

9. Bearers of the Black Staff (Terry Brooks)

I am hoping to finish the current series I am reading by Terry Brooks this month and then I hope to continue with the next series in the chronological order of reading the Shannara books, which is the Legends of Shannara. This is actually one I have never read before, so I am looking forward to it.


I am so looking forward to reading those 9 books!

I will be posting my April and possibly May TBR some time in the next week.

What are you reading this spring?