I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find that ARCs can be a bit like buses – You don’t get any for ages and then suddenly you get three all at once. Or sometimes considerably more than three.
ARCs are one of my favourite things about being a book blogger. I mean, what booknerd wouldn’t like getting their hands on something before it is published? I am thrilled when I get accepted and try my absolute utmost to be a good little book blogger and review them in a timely manner.
Sometimes that is easier said than done!
In my bid to get more organised in 2020 ( and – let’s face it, what else do any of us have to do other than getting organised at the moment? Thanks Covid-19), I have decided to start jotting down more, and keeping on better track of the publish dates of my ARCs. I am also just generally getting myself into a better and more structured place for updating this blog and working on some of my other projects.
Since I am on an organisational streak at the moment and really enjoying creating planner printables, I’ve been at it again. This time, an ARC Tracker Printable, wahoo.
This is what it looks like:
I’m quite a visual person, so I have created something where I could quickly note down any ARCs I receive per month, and have the book publishing date VERY visible. I work best to a deadline, so highlighting that was important for me. I like to colour in the boxes once I’ve completed a review, but that’s because I love colour. (Who doesn’t?!). I also own more coloured pens and pencils than is healthy. Anyone else?
I’ve made this ARC Tracker A4 so there’s plenty of space to fill them in. They also work in A5 as well, just adapt your printer settings accordingly. (I haven’t tested it yet, but since US letter size isn’t far off A4, that should work fine too). If you have any problems with any of them, just contact me and I’ll play around with the files. Also happy to customise them if you’d like, so get in touch. I don’t bite.
Let me know if you like it and if you use it! You can tag me on Instagram (@copyandtea) or on Twitter (@copy_tea). I’d love to see how you use it and if you get creative with how you fill it in.
You may have noticed I’ve been messing about creating printables rather than actually just… reading my ARCs and reviewing them. Well observed. I have no defence and I will get back to my TBR list presently.
I’m going to build up a library of free printables, so if there is anything that you’d like to request please contact me. The more details you can include, the better chance I have of providing useful things for you.
Pssst – I have recently started a small shop here for some of my multi-page planner printables. Currently they’re all book themed and available for instant download. Check it out if you like. I am going to add general planner inserts soon, but for the time being books are my jam.
Happy ARC tracking! Now there is no excuse not to get on top of that list.
I had a request to make the bookshelf printable into an ARC friendly version – so I have done exactly that. See below for details – there is space for Title/Publisher/Publish Date and Star Rating, with a check box for when you’ve completed reviews. There are any number of options with these printables, so if there’s a variation on what you’d like to be included I am more than happy to accomodate (within reason). Just let me know!
I thought this would be a post that I wrote after my wedding had taken place, after all the confetti had been tidied away, thank you notes had been penned, and photographs oooh-ed and aaahh-ed over, and I wanted to relive the excitement.
I was meant to be getting married in June.
That was the plan.
But coronavirus had other ideas.
Now there’s a little bit of a question mark over when we’ll get to do it. (There’s another blogpost in here on my opinion of unreasonable wedding suppliers, but I’ll save you the boredom). We hope for June 2021, but that’s by the by.
To lift my spirits a bit, I thought I’d share with you some of the things I had planned for our big day, to make it a book themed wedding. I still have a few things up my sleeve so I won’t be spoiling anything for our guests – but I’m terrible at keeping secrets so I have to share somewhere.
As with anything wedding things can cost a lot, and this is where etsy, eBay, charity shops and a little bit of DIY fun have come into their own.
The obvious place to start is with invites. I was lucky enough to come across Feel Good Invites early on in my search. These are the ones they designed for us, and I love them so much. Even if book-themed stuff isn’t your thing, I would wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone. They’ve got loads of amazing designs and have been a joy to work with. We were really pleased with the speed of delivery and the quality of the final invites – and as someone who works in marketing and deals with a lot of printed material, I’m pretty hard to impress (No, this isn’t an ad, but they’re just brilliant).
Although we haven’t been able to get to that stage, we were also going to get orders of service in the same design as well as the table and place names. (They do bookmark designs for place names, I mean, I am putty in their hands).
Which brings me nicely to the tables and decorations. Obviously there will be books. And also teacups, because I think I need to live up my blog name at all times. All the tables will be named after books. I’m not going to share them – yet! But they all have either significance to the people on the table (e.g. school related books for school friends…) or they’re a favourite of mine. My fiance isn’t really a reader, it’s not that I’ve just bullied him out of the proceedings! The top table name I will share, because it’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Well – I could hardly have anything else?
For decorations, I have been scouring ebay and charity shops for the classic style penguin books. It can be tricky to get hold of these for a reasonable price as they have become very fashionable for house decorations etc. That being said, if you don’t mind them looking a little shabby (which I didn’t), you can find them for a smaller price. It’s worth getting job lots which have a range of penguin books in (there have been a number of different designs over the years) – chances are you will get more of the type that you want for less than if you just try to buy sets of a specific type. It does depend how particular you are – I’m rather more on the shabby end of shabby-chic, so the mix match style didn’t bother me too much. You can get really nicely preserved penguin editions too, if you are prepared to spend a little more. My top tip here would be to look for any charity shop listings on eBay. They tend to be better value for money as well as having the feel good factor as it’s going towards a good cause.
We weren’t going to have book themed wedding favours, as we had something else in mind. (I had to let me non-reader fiance have some input). However, that didn’t stop me looking at them. Etsy was my go to for browsing.I really liked some little boxes that had book page details, there are also boxes decorated to look like books, and a personal favourite were book-shaped charms to mark your drinks glass.
An honourable mention goes to book-page confetti. I planned to use this as part of the wedding table decorations. I suppose this would be fairly easy to make yourself, but I genuinely don’t think I could bring myself to destroy books myself. The ones I bought were from ForLoversWithLove on Etsy and I was really pleased with them. They also sell a lot of other really cute book related things. (I have to remind myself that I’m running out of storage space or we really would be in trouble).
The last place we were going to incorporate literature was in the service itself for the reading. I hadn’t completely finalised what I wanted because there’s so much choice! I’m taking some time to really think about it again – since I’ve got more time now. Shakespeare is very popular, I’ve had friends take extracts from Bronte novels, or Austen before. I love poetry too, particularly 20th Century poets – so there’s a lot to choose from. Unfortunately my specialism when I studied Literature at university veered towards the depressing (political novels, death poetry to name but two) so that’s not too much help! Love has inspired much of the best literature – I could listen to the words of talented writers all day.
Although I’m calling my wedding ‘book themed’, I didn’t want it to become a gimmick. I opted to have a plain cake, not a book one, for example. Partly because I don’t really like icing, and I imagine a book themed naked cake would be pretty hard to come by, and partly because I’m relatively traditional at heart. There are some beautiful examples of book-cakes out there (especially if you’re a Harry Potter fan) but I wanted more of a light touch with everything.
So, there’s a little bit of insight into how I was planning my big day. Now I’ve got an extra year or so, I’ll have to think of some more ideas!
Let me know if you had any book themed elements at your wedding, or have any ideas for what else I could incorporate. I’m trying to distract myself from all the rubbish surrounding having to postpone our wedding but thinking of new ways to make it even better when it does come around.
One of my favourite things – other than books of course – is stationery. I love a planner. I love fancy pens. I love organisational fun. As lockdown continues, and my reading list gets longer and longer, I wanted something to help me keep track of it all. That’s where these free printables come in!
I couldn’t find anything that was quite right on etsy and through google, so I decided to have a go at making bookshelf reading lists for myself. I wanted a quick reference point so I could see what I was reading, when I finished it and what rating I’d given it.
As you lovely readers are also bookworms, I thought I’d offer them to you too as a free printable download. Just click the image of the design or designs you like best and print them off and fill them in.
They’re available in four different options – if you have any requests for additional colours let me know and I’ll try my best to accomodate (and I’ll update this page accordingly).
These free printables are A4 sized, so are slightly different to US Letter size but should still print reasonably well. If you want to use them in a medium sized planner, print them out at 50% size.
I would love to see if you use these, so please tag me in any pictures of your lists on instagram at @copyandtea or on my brand spanking new twitter account @copy_tea. (Not least because I’m always interested to see what other people are reading and how they rate books. Okay, yes, I know I have a huge to-read pile, but a girl can always add to it).
I’ll be adding to the printables available on this site in the next few weeks so keep your eye out. I’m making the bits and pieces that I’ll find useful, but if you have any ideas of what you would like to see here, drop me a line and I’ll do what I can.
I think there’s quite a lot of us that need something to occupy our minds from the never-ending anxiety-enducing doom and gloom from the news. There’s also going to be a lot of us stuck at home for quite a long time, without anything to do. I’ve been trying to think of something productive to do, or share, and as it would turn out, I seem to have very few useful skills.
However, there is one thing I know lots about, and I’m more than happy to chat about constantly… books.
In order to try and stop myself from checking Twitter, the News, Facebook, and other even less reliable sources for constant coronavirus updates, I have pulled together my list of books which help me escape a little, when the world seems terribly dreary.
I don’t know if anyone else is struggling a bit with concentration, but I know I certainly am, so I’ve chosen books that I find ‘easy’ to read. (Which doesn’t necessarily mean they’re easy books – but more that they’re easy to absorb yourself into. Some are, of course, cosy comfort reads.).
I’m babbling, so, with no further ado, and trying not to repeat myself too much… here goes!
A fairly broad category. I keep saying that I’m not particularly into fantasy, but then seem to read quite a lot of it.
Philip Pullman: His Dark Materials
I’ve blogged before about how much I love the His Dark Materials Trilogy, so I’ll try to keep this relatively brief. For me, the world that Pullman has created is the most vivid and cleverly constructed that I’ve ever read. I was completely absorbed in it, and if you’ve never read it before, you’re in for a treat.
There’s an excellent audiobook dramatisation too, which I’d thoroughly recommend. The books can be more challenging – I quite like to alternative between the audiobook and the novel.
Patrick Ness: Chaos Walking Trilogy
In this dystopian world, everyone can hear each other’s thoughts. When Todd is forced to flee Prentisstown, his world is turned completely upside down…
I came across Patrick Ness’ work when I was doing some work experience with his publisher. I was gripped – I read The Knife of Never Letting Go on the train on my commute, and on at least one occasion started sobbing. It’s brilliant, gritty, and captivating. (Though possibly not the best to read if you’re actually feeling very anxious).
Terry Pratchett: Discworld
I’d recommend anything from Terry Pratchet’s Discworld. They’re just so deliciously silly. Mort, Thief of Time, The Truth and Moving Pictures are some of my favourites, but I don’t think I’ve yet been disappointed by anything from Pratchett that I’ve read.
The abridged versions read by Tony Robinson are an excellent option, if audio is more your thing.
Good Omens: Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
In Good Omens, an angel and a demon team up to try and save the world from the apocalypse. Great, fantastic. Except… they’ve lost the Antichrist. Well, he’s bound to turn up eventually, isn’t he?
I enjoyed the TV series with David Tennant and Michael Sheen, but you really can’t beat the book. Some of the word play gets lost a little when it’s put on screen. So, if you’re starting to feel like the world really might be ending – this’ll cheer you right up.
Douglas Adams: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
It starts with Earth being blown up to make way for a hyperspace bypass, and gets increasingly more mad from then on – via Vogon poetry, two headed aliens and the restaurant at the end of the universe, to name but a few. Reassuringly, the actual Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy comes with the words ‘Don’t Panic’ in large, friendly letters on the front cover. Something all of us could do with at the moment.
The novel format of Hitchhikers, I believe, came after the BBC Radio Play. Both are excellent, but if, like me, you’ve got a shortened coronavirus-induced attention span, I’d recommend getting a hold of the radio version first. It’s technically Sci-Fi, but it’s definitely comedy first.
The Comic Novel
Comic novels are my absolute favourite type of novel and they make up about 90% of what I read at any given moment. They are also absolutely perfect for if you’re stuck inside and what to be cheered up. Luckily for us bookworms, there are an awful lot of good ones about.
P.G. Wodehouse: The Code of the Woosters
Bertie Wooster is a well-to-do English…well, idiot, who is constantly getting into scrapes that his man, Jeeves, has to extract him from. Whether it’s being henpicked by his fearsome aunts (Agatha, the one who eats broken bottles for breakfast, or Dahlia, a slightly less frightening proposition); finding himself engaged to females against his will; or trying to outwit Steggles to win big on the Great Sermon Handicap, Jeeves never lets his man down. It’s hard to capture the brilliance and madness of the PG Wodehouse novels in a few lines, so I’d simply say read them! They’re not long and the characters are great.
I’d actually recommend any of the Jeeves and Wooster novels, I did name my cats after their main characters after all. (Bertie and Jeeves say hello, and are wondering why they’re not the main focus of this blog. It’s only a matter of time, if I’m honest). I think Right Ho, Jeeves is a fantastic introduction if you’ve not read any of PG Wodehouse’s books before, but The Code of the Woosters is probably my absolute favourite. The Wodehousian metaphor is a thing of beauty. Do read.
Kingsley Amis: Lucky Jim
One of the funniest books I’ve ever read. Lucky Jim follows the hapless Jim Dixon, a lecturer who has not made a good first impression on his faculty. His career is at the mercy of the officious Professor Welch, and the more he tries to impress., the worse the situation he gets himself in. It’s a farce in novel form.
Lucky Jim has been known to make me howl with laughter on more than one occasion. In particular, the description of a hangover (we’ve all been there), and a passage about a bus journey. Pure silliness. Best enjoyed with a warm cup of tea.
Evelyn Waugh: Scoop
If you want to be reminded of a time when you could leave your house and travel – Scoop might be just the ticket! After a case of mistaken identity, William Boot, a completely inexperienced journalist, is sent to be the foreign correspondent at the Ishmaelia Civil War. Chaos ensues.
Sharp, biting, funny. It’s a great read – To a point, Lord Cooper.
Nancy Mitford: Wigs on the Green
Anything by Nancy Mitford is worth reading – Wigs on the Green is the one I know best because I wrote a chunk of dissertation on it. It was also out of print for a number of years due to its content (Nancy’s sisters, Unity and Diana were furious at the way she poked fun at Diana’s husband, Oswald Mosley) – which to my mind is a blooming good reason to read it.
Eugenia Malmains is one of the richest gals in England, mad as a box of frogs and an ardent supporter of Captain Jack and the Union Jackshirts. Noel and Jasper are in search of a rich heiress to save them the bother of working.
When they meet – the scene is set for farce…
My absolute weakness. I love a good romance story. Preferably one which is funny too. I won’t hear anyone tell me that they’re not good enough to be included on lists. I am thoroughly convinced that there is not much that a nice romance novel can’t solve (temporarily at least).
I’m going to recommend three books by Sarah Mason, because she is brilliant. They are all witty, have characters you actually care about, and are really well written. There are lines in all of them which have had me laughing out loud.
The Party Season: When Isabel Serranti, party planner extraordinaire, is asked to help plan a charity ball at the Monkwell country estate, she has mixed feelings. On the one hand, she grew up near there, and loves most of the members of the eccentric Monkwell family. On the other, Simon Monkwell, the oldest son, is her best friend turned bully and she never wants to see or hear of him again. But, determined to put the past behind her, Izzy decides to go for it, and it’s not long before she remembers why she loved the Monkwell estate so much.
Playing James: Holly Colshannon’s career as a journalist hasn’t exactly, er, hit its peak yet. So, when she is made the Crime Correspondent – the poisoned chalice of the Bristol Gazette, she’s determined to make the best of it. A fortunately timed conversation with the new Police PR officer, leads to Holly shadowing a detective for a new diary column. There are only a couple of downsides. For starters, Holly is exceptionally accident prone, and then there’s Detective James Sabine’s immense displeasure at having to take her around with him.
High Society: Clemmie Colshannon (sister to Holly), doesn’t really know where her life is going, when she ends up back at the family home. Luckily, there’s never a dull moment at the Colshannon residence – which can be the only explanation for how she gets embroiled in helping/hindering Holly solve the mystery of the disappearance of her fellow journalist, Emma. All is not as it seems…
Liz Young: Asking for Trouble
When Sophy dreams up an imaginary boyfriend to get her mother off her back, she thinks she’ll have plenty of time to dump him before he is summoned to meet the family. That is until she receives an invite to her sister’s wedding, and a firm insistence that he also attends. She does what any rational woman would do in her situation – and hires an escort. What harm could it possibly do?
Don’t be put off by the terrible film they made, vaguely based on this, called The Wedding Date. Asking for trouble is funny, emotional, and just plain brilliant.
Melissa Nathan: Persuading Annie; The Waitress; The Learning Curve; Acting Up; The Nanny.
I’ve really enjoyed anything I’ve read by Melissa Nathan. Smart, contemporary books – yes they’re romantic, but they also have enough plot that it doesn’t feel like the women protagonists are helpless until they find a man to sort them out. Another author I discovered thanks to my love of charity bookshops, but I’m about to place orders to fill up the gaps because these are just so good!
For real cosy country feels, I’d recommend anything by Jill Mansell, or the earlier books by Katie Fforde. (I don’t know why, but I’m just not enjoying her more recent ones half so much). My rule of thumb -prior to coronavirus – was that if the copy you found in the charity shop was well thumbed, it was probably a good bet. It’s served me well so far.
Kaye Umansky: Pongwiffy
Pongwiffy – a witch of very dirty habits – always seems to be getting into scraps that her beloved familiar (Hugo, the hamster) has to dig her out of. And there’s normally some goblins lurking about to cause trouble, and some meddling wizards who think they’re better than everyone else…
I may be approaching 30, but I will not make any excuses for the fact that I still have a soft spot for the books I loved as a child. I still find Pongwiffy hilarious, so if you want something that slips down as easily and as comfortingly as a warm cup of tea, I really can’t recommend this highly enough.
Diana Wynne Jones: The Chrestomanci Series
This is another series which is fantastic on Audiobook (and is indeed where I first discovered it!). A Charmed Life is book one, and a fantastic introduction to the Chrestomanci world of sorcerers, witches and other magical beings. They’re both gently written and exciting at the same time. There’s a lovely wit about them – and absolute hardingers of characters too.
Roald Dahl: To be quite honest anything
I don’t think I need to explain this one, do I?
I know they’re dreadful, but I also love them. Sue me. I really wanted to be in this club when I was younger. They all had cool names, like Claudia, Stacey, Kristy and Mary Anne. I think these were the first books that I read where I was aware it wasn’t set in England and America just seemed fantastically exotic. Those were the days.
Add a pinch of Jacqueline Wilson, Enid Blyton and, well JK Rowling, and you’ll have a lot of my childhood covered.
That should be enough to keep you occupied for a while! Luckily for us, lots of independent bookstores are still delivering – so I’d definitely recommend seeing if you can get your next book from there. Failing that, e-books are a blessing for when you have a sudden insatiable need to re-read a book from your past RIGHT NOW.
I’ve still got plenty more I can say about books so … I may follow up this with more recommendations or witterings. It’s hard to tell what this actually comes under. Hey ho.
If anyone has any recommendations for me, any cosy classics you love – do let me know! Also recommendations for independent book stores – please send me any links you have and I’ll gladly add them here.
In the meantime – stay safe, and at home. We’ll get through this, eventually.