New Year, New You: Start a Book Club

Book Clubs

A book discussion club is a group of people who meet to discuss a book or books that they have read and express their opinions, likes, dislikes, etc. 

Taken from Wikipedia.

How to start a book club

Alright, so you want to ring in the new year by starting a book club? Good for you!

I am a big advocate for book clubs because they get you out being social, make you read more books, and engage in some fun book based discussions. If you’re looking at starting your own book club, then you need to ask yourself a few questions.

The below are some of the things to consider when starting a book club.

  • Who wants to join– The first and main task in starting a book club is finding members to join you. You may be lucky and have a few like minded friends who wish to also start a book club, or you may need to round them up, or even sweeten the deal with the promise of wine.
  • Will you have a theme or be genre specific? – This is an important question to ask as it helps your put a frame around the book club. What I mean by frame is that, if you’re selecting only books of classic literature, the impression of that book club to people who may want to join is that there may be a focus on in depth discussions of the work, rather than a book club that reads only crime novels which could involve talks around the whole genre and subject matter.
  • Picking a book – For your first book, it is my suggestion that you pick choose an easy and accessible book. Pick something that everyone can find, whether this is a bestseller or a classic, just so long as it is something everyone can access and actually read. I have seen a number book clubs fail due to an obscure book selection – make the first book a low effort one. You need to pull people in, show them how much fun the book club is before making them put in extra effort.
    Don’t worry though, once you’re past the first meeting you can narrow down or broaden the book selections and pick more nuanced options as a group.
  • How will you meet? – You can gather a group of your friends and hold a physical book club, you could join an established and public book club, or you can engage online in digital book clubs. However you choose to meet, know that there are a number of options open to you.
  • Your first meeting – The hardest part of starting a book club is that first meeting. If you can organise people, pick and read a book, and then actually meet – congratulations! Now all you need to do is stay organised and meet consistently (the second hardest thing to do 😋).

Book Club Checklist

Feel free to use the below graphic as a guide when starting your own book club.

Continue reading “New Year, New You: Start a Book Club”

Ally’s Goodreads Year in Books – 2020

Every year I challenge myself on Goodreads to read a certain number of books. In 2020 I gave myself the goal of reading 150 books and despite the tough and stressful year, I was able to complete this goal, plus a few more.

So check out what I read in 2020 and I hope to see you again in 2021!



12 Tropes of 2020 – The Winter Prince by R. Cooper

Ice King/Queen from
12 Tropes of 2020

The Ice Queen is aloof and, well, frigid. She may not want to get emotionally close to anyone, or it may just be men she disdains. There are a few different ways her icy qualities can manifest themselves, ranging from slinging nasty remarks at anyone who crosses her to simply coming across as emotionless and “cold”. In romance, the hero strives to “defrost” her and win her over so they can embark on a relationship. 

Taken from Thea Landen 

The Winter Prince by R. Cooper

At seventeen, the noble Prince Arrow had his heart stolen by a powerful pari’s magic, which earned him the name Kişin Bey, the Prince-in-Winter, as his veins slowly filled with ice without a heart to keep him warm. Three years have passed since then, and Kişin is not expected to survive another winter. In a last, desperate attempt to save his life, Razin, the court wizard and Kişin’s childhood best friend, convinces him to travel in search of the pari, to ask for the return of his heart. What Razin doesn’t know is that Kişin’s heart was never stolen; he gave it away to the pari to escape the pain of an impossible love—his love for Razin.

Smart and stubborn, Razin has never accepted Kişin’s fate, continuing to address him by his childhood name of Arrow and doing everything he can to keep Kişin warm despite the distance Kişin has put between them. Bitter and sharp of tongue, he is nonetheless determined to ensure Kişin’s survival. The prince needs him, Razin insists, not knowing the truth of his own words, or how painful it is for Kişin to be near him. Kişin agrees to the desperate quest, out of duty and a need to protect Razin, but it isn’t long before Razin realizes saving his prince will require more than simply getting his heart back. Razin will have to convince him to want it

Taken from book blurb

My thoughts

In The Winter Prince we are presented with as cold and emotionless character, Kişin Bey. Having had his heart stolen not only is Kisin not expected to live past next winter but he has become an emotionless and hard person to be around. Across the story, one of our romantic leads set out to return Kisin’s heart and save him from an early grave.

Continue reading “12 Tropes of 2020 – The Winter Prince by R. Cooper”

My Hopeful Reads of 2021

Due largely to my enjoying the graphic, rather than my ‘success’ of last year – I will be attempting again my Hopeful Reads reading challenge.

The image below will be on display in a sidebar widget of my blog for the entirety of 2021. The books featured are ones that I want to hopefully read by the end of 2021, thus the ‘Hopeful reads of 2021’ title. If you see a tick on the cover, it means I finished the book, if you see a cross, sadly it means I wasn’t able to finish the book.

The books that are featured are potentially ones that:

  • potential Historical Romance Book Bingo selections
  • have been recommended to me
  • have caught my eye
  • are books that have remained from last year
  • or simply are ones I want to read.


See any books in there that you want to know more about? Do you want a similar template for your blog? Leave a comment and let me know 😊

Hopeful Reads of 2020 Rundown

It’s finished, it’s over! 2020 has been a very different year than what I was expecting, so I am happy to see it over. Hopefully 2021 will see everyone living a safer and healthier life. At the start of the year I challenged myself to try and read some of the books I was hoping to read in 2020. Check out how I did!


I am proud to have gotten through so many of the below books. I will admit that I wasn’t reading much as during the Australian lock down I was still working and when we opened back up I was quite frazzled (the nicest word for what I was feeling) with the public push back at opening restrictions – so combined this all together it was safe to say I wasn’t feeling all that up to reading.

So when I say proud, I do mean I am proud and surprised that I got through so many of the books.

Check out how I did:



The books that I was able to complete and read were:

The book that I did not finish was:

  • Embrace Your Weird: A Guided Journal for Facing Your Fears and Unleashing Creativity by Felicia Day.

The book was good and I enjoyed the content but I just wasn’t in the mind set to benefit from the content of the book, so I stopped reading 😓

In addition to this I am half way through Mr. Know-It-All by John Waters and since I’m not the biggest fan of biographies, I think this one will take me a little longer to get through.

So as it stands, I have finished 101/2 books out of 16.

One of my 2020 Goals was to read at least half of my Hopeful Reads, so I have smashed it! As I’ve said, I enjoyed this passive challenge, so I’ll make one for 2021 – keep an eye out for that!


It’s been a tough year, were you able to get some reading done? Were there any book you were happy to mark off your TBR pile? Comment and let me know!

12 Tropes of 2020 – The Only Option by Megan Derr

Marriage of Convenience from
12 Tropes of 2020

A marriage of convenience is a mutually beneficial agreement, with both parties profiting from the binding – it may even involve a contract – but not always. Sometimes, only one of the partners may be in it for something other than love.

Taken from TV Tropes.

The Only Option by Megan Derr

A desperate dragon. A lonely necromancer. A marriage neither wants.

When he is summoned to the royal castle, Rochus anticipates nothing more than a particularly difficult assignment. The bothersome journey is almost made worthwhile when he is propositioned by a young, beautiful dragon, Tilo, who seems untroubled by the fact that Rochus is a necromancer.

When Rochus arrives at the castle he is ordered to marry the very same dragon he spent the night with. Though Rochus would rather sign papers and return home, he is helpless against Tilo’s pleas for help, even if it means spending more time around a man he is desperately drawn to but who doesn’t seem to want him.

Taken from book blurb

My thoughts

Megan Derr is a master at crafting in-depth fantastical locations and lore – in The Only Option were are introduced to a necromancer who is quite different from other magical users. Rochus, said grumpy necromancer, has pearly white skin, so black its blue hair, black teeth, and an appetite for blood. Due to his different and off-putting appearance and diet, Rochus is ostracised and feared by people.

Continue reading “12 Tropes of 2020 – The Only Option by Megan Derr”

12 Tropes of 2020 – A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole

Free Choice: Royalty from
12 Tropes of 2020


A Princess in Theory
by Alyssa Cole

Between grad school and multiple jobs, Naledi Smith doesn’t have time for fairy tales…or patience for the constant e-mails claiming she’s betrothed to an African prince. Sure. Right. Delete! As a former foster kid, she’s learned that the only things she can depend on are herself and the scientific method, and a silly e-mail won’t convince her otherwise.

Prince Thabiso is the sole heir to the throne of Thesolo, shouldering the hopes of his parents and his people. At the top of their list? His marriage. Ever dutiful, he tracks down his missing betrothed. When Naledi mistakes the prince for a pauper, Thabiso can’t resist the chance to experience life—and love—without the burden of his crown.

The chemistry between them is instant and irresistible, and flirty friendship quickly evolves into passionate nights. But when the truth is revealed, can a princess in theory become a princess ever after?

Taken from blurb

My thoughts

I have mixed feelings about this book – I enjoyed it and am really keen to read more from Alyssa Cole but some parts of the story were problematic for me. Without going into too much detail there were some actions that really bordered on dubious consent with actions taken and the power imbalance between the romantic couple.

Outside of this though was a great story which made for a compelling read. I enjoyed the world building and loved the main character, Naledi. The whole cast was really engaging and, as I read this years after it was published, I was excited to see characters who got their own books.

Continue reading “12 Tropes of 2020 – A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole”

Hyped Up? Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given

Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given

WOMEN DON’T OWE YOU PRETTY will tell you to…
love sex, hate sexism,
protect your goddamn energy,
life is short, dump them,
And that you owe men nothing, least of all pretty.

Florence’s debut book will explore all progressive corners of the feminist conversation; from insecurity projection and refusing to find comfort in other women’s flaws, to deciding whether to date or dump them, all the way through to unpacking the male gaze and how it shapes our identity.

WOMEN DON’T OWE YOU PRETTY is an accessible leap into feminism, for people at all stages of their journey who are seeking to reshape and transform the way they view themselves. In a world that tells women we’re either not enough or too much, it’s time we stop directing our anger and insecurities onto ourselves, and start fighting back to re-shape the toxic structures of our patriarchal society.

Florence’s book will help you to tackle and challenge the limiting narrative you have been bombarded with your whole life, and determine feminism on your own terms. After all, you are the love of your own life

Taken from book blurb

The Hype

Currently Women Don’t Owe You Pretty has a long reservation list at my library. After processing the book and checking out the blurb, not only was I intrigued but I began to see it pop up all over the place.

I am seeing a lot of hype about Given’s book on the internet and have had a few conversations with people who has read the book who rave about it. After having researched the book, I figured that it would be perfect to use my not often used, Hyped Up feature!


“Up until now we have been bombarded with the same stories that either make us subconsciously hate ourselves or hate others. It’s time to change the narrative, and the power lies in your hands. Consume diverse content. Reinvigorate those tired taste buds.”

Florence Given, Women Don’t Owe You Pretty.

The Verdict

Women Don’t Owe You Pretty is so incredibly worth reading!

From front to back the book was so engaging and relevant! A number of issues are covered over the course of the book and are broken up into very easy to read chapters. You can devour this book in one sitting or you can return to it chapter by chapter and ruminate on the issues raised, how they affect you, and what you can do with your new knowledge.

While the content is by no means new or revolutionary, the accessible way in which Given communicates these issues really speaks to a wide audience. Seasoned feminist pros, people who need a refresher, people new to the idea of feminism, people who don’t want to feel so alone with modern issues, or people who want to better themselves by reading about privilege and how to view the world outside of the toxicity that clouds certain topics. As the blurb says, Women Don’t Owe You Pretty is for people at all stages of their journey.

Towards the end of the book, I found out how old the author is and it pulled me up. I did think, how could someone that age have valid insight into these issues BUT THEN I realised that no, this is exactly what the book is talking about – I need to stop and push through my ageist prejudice and view these from an objective viewpoint. Given’s age doesn’t detract from the validity of her book and comments.

Do yourself a favour, pick up Women Don’t Owe You Pretty and discover for yourself how the book deserves the hype. You’ll thank yourself ❤


Have you read Women Don’t Owe You Pretty? What do you think – do you agree with me or do you think the book is over hyped?

2021 Reading Challenge – Historical Romance Book Bingo

I’m very excited to introduce you to my 2021 Historical Romance Book Bingo Challenge!

I had so much fun last year with my 12 Tropes of 2020 challenge but wanted to expand out again and broaden the challenge by creating a ‘normal’ bingo card.

So without further adieu, check out my 2021 Historical Romance Book Bingo.

Alright so the action plan for my 2021 Historical Romance Book Bingo is to, you guessed it, read a bunch of historical romance novels and reach a bingo. Knowing myself through I’ll try and mark off each square. I tend to read a lot of regency romance but these prompts should span across a number of different subgenres.

As an added bonus, I’ve included the top line of circle prompts which feature some of the British Noble Ranks. These shouldn’t be too difficult to cross off as they feature predominantly in the genre!

If you’re interested in taking part in my bingo challenge all you need to do is:

  • Use my Challenge Card or make/ask for one of your own (I have happy to customise colours and/or include your own logos)
  • Add a link and pingback to this post
  • Use the hashtag #HistoricalRomanceBingo and
  • Have fun!

You may notice a lack of diversity prompts, I have chosen to not include these as I feel that I should be reading broadly anyway and do not need to include these specific prompts as they can be quite problematic. So you want to include characters or authors of backgrounds, sexualities, or voices different from your own – read away and fit them within the offered prompts!

If you’re interested in using the above challenge card, you can download the .png file in the button on the left.


Generic comment card

Read and Rated: October

I haven’t been quite as productive as September but I’ve been hitting the non-fiction books a lot more this month so it all evens out. So here is a quick rundown of the books I finished during the month of October.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Skincare: the Ultimate No-Nonsense Guide by Caroline Hirons

Firstly I am going to say that I have no clue who Caroline Hirons is but I did find their Skincare book quite informative. I could have done without the near constant references back to her YouTube channel but Hirons spelt out skincare issues in easy to understand language and included a lot of helpful pictures.

I have been trying to get a better handle on my skin which has always been a nightmare, so this book was very informative in helping my choose products that would suit my skincare needs – which were also detailed in the book. Win-win!

Continue reading “Read and Rated: October”