March Wrap Up ’21

Somehow it is April, and I’m enjoying a much needed long weekend this bank holiday! I’ve actually been using this weekend to work on some cosplay stuff, which has been lovely, and playing a bit of Persona 4 Golden and Hades (again) rather than picking up a book. It’s nice to do other things sometimes right? I think I may be in a bit of a rut reading-wise, and I’m struggling to pick anything up after being so thoroughly gripped by Luster (review incoming) earlier in March. I’ve been reading some really punchy contemporary literary fiction lately and I think it’s hard for me to switch back to a young adult lit mentality, which is slightly ridiculous because I have read many fantastic YA books, but it’s the only thing I can think of that could cause it.

Anyway, onto the blog related stuff! I’m actually planning a bit of a publishing q&a post and I’ll be putting a call for questions up on twitter in a week or so, but if you’ve got a burning publishing question and you think I could answer it drop me an email over here. I also have a clutch of books I’ve read recently and just never reviewed, so I’m hoping to bombard you with reviews including my thoughts on Gideon the Ninth and A Touch of Darkness! But let’s get back to what went live in March:

February Wrap-up | Review: Reaper of Souls
My Webtoon Top Ten | One Year Working from Home

What I read in March

Okay, so I’m adding in a new segment to these posts to talk about what I read alongside what I plan on reading! I haven’t been good at reviewing everything that I’m reading each month, so I thought this would be a great way to let you guys know what could be coming your way. We can also be friends on Goodreads as that bad boy is usually completely up to date.

This month I managed to make it through four whole books! Gideon the Ninth, The Other Black Girl, Luster, and A Touch of Darkness, but I don’t want to spoil my upcoming reviews so I won’t say much more about these. The addition of a What I Read In… should really highlight my inhability to stick to any kind of plan when it comes to what I’m reading, and hopefully encourage me to pick up what I’d planned to read.

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One Year Working from Home: Publishing Edition

So, as of the 16th of March it’s officially been one whole year of working from home for me. Oxford University Press actually shut a whole week earlier than the country, we only really expected to be out of the office for a couple of weeks at most, and I haven’t been back to the office since. I then, rather quickly after that, moved back home to Wales and my parents rather than continuing to pay my exorbitant Oxford rent. I got incredibly lucky that my flatmate and I were already planning a move, and so had decided not to renew our lease, but this pandemic has certainly taught me the value of negotiating a break clause! The move home has definitely had its pros and cons, but I’ve surprised myself with the fact that I’m in no real rush to return to Oxford and my commute.

I don’t know if it’s been the same for you but work from home has been a revolutionary experience. It’s highlighted the chasm between entry-level and the upper echelons of publishing in London, but has also opened the industry up to hiring candidates that don’t want to make the overpriced south-east their home. I’m hoping to make the situation a little more permanent post-pandemic, I love the Oxford office and the ducks but not its impact on my wallet and I have very little interest in returning to a house share, so I’m hoping to remote work with just one or two days in the office when we eventually return. Will getting up at 5am to catch a train to work suck? Yes, but it’ll still be cheaper than returning to Oxford full-time and I’ll actually be able to afford my own home some day.

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Webtoon has taken over my life.

So I made the mistake of getting into Lore Olympus towards the end of the summer. A couple of friends had mentioned pulling together a cosplay group and wondered if I’d be interested, and so like a fool I went ahead and started something that my group chat were in love with.

Unsurprisingly it was a hit. I was instantly in love with the comic and devoured all the available chapters in just under 48hrs, but once I was finished I desperately wanted more. For those who haven’t used Webtoon before you can buy early access to chapters using coins, but I’m strictly opposed to in-app purchased and so that wasn’t happening. This is where my love got slightly out of control. Lore Olympus is the weed of Webtoon, the gateway drug into a land filled with weekly updated comics, and there’s just so many fabulous ones to choose from.

I start reading Webtoon before I’ve even made my first cup of tea in the morning, I open up the app to check which comics have been updated and read the chapters instantly. Webtoon is bringing me romance in graphic form, and some of my faves are definitely ones I didn’t expect to love. It’s also been the thing that has been pulling me away from my to be read recently (usually this is a job for fanfiction), so I figured that I may as well get some content out of it. Yep, this is a list post with a reeeally long lead in…anyway here are a few of my fave Webtoons of the moment!

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Review: Reaper of Souls by Rena Barron

Series: Kingdom of Souls #2
Goodreads: Reaper of Souls
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Buy: Bookshop.org UK | US
Synopsis: After so many years yearning for the gift of magic, Arrah has the one thing she’s always wanted—at a terrible price. Now the last surviving witchdoctor, she’s been left to pick up the shattered pieces of a family that betrayed her, a kingdom in shambles, and long-buried secrets about who she is.

Desperate not to repeat her mother’s mistakes, Arrah must return to the tribal lands to search for help from the remnants of her parents’ people. But the Demon King’s shadow looms closer than she thinks. And as Arrah struggles to unravel her connection to him, defeating him begins to seem more and more impossible—if it’s something she can bring herself to do at all.

Review:  I received this digital copy in exchange for an honest review, thanks HarperVoyager.

So, when I got an email from HarperVoyager offering me an eARC of Reaper of Souls I swiftly broke my Netgalley ban so I could read it. I managed to win a physical ARC of Kingdom of Souls back in 2019 (you can read my review here), and it was a series that I definitely wanted to continue reading.

Reaper of Souls picks up pretty much where Kingdom of Souls left off, so just in case you hadn’t realised there’ll be spoilers for the first book ahead! Arrah is dealing with the fall-out after her families betrayal and attempt to free the Demon King, and with her role as the last remaining witchdoctor. In this book we also get a few other perspectives in the form of her love interest Rudjek and the Orisha Dimma’s memories, their perspectives are a great and necessary addition as Arrah and Rudjek split from each other and go on their own journeys.

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February Wrap Up ’21

Hi, hello, anyone actually ready for March yet? I cannot believe that February has been and gone, how has this happened. My office in Oxford closed officially on the 23rd of March, so it’s quickly becoming a whole year since I’ve sat at my desk at OUP and I miss seeing peoples faces. I love the freedom work from home has given me, lunch time naps have been a newfound ability that I love, but I miss my independence and friends.

The part I’m finding scariest, I suppose, is the worry of what the heck I’ll do when lockdown lifts and we’re free to move. Work from home allows me to live anywhere, but I’m so worried that moving away from the southeast will limit my career options. I really am hopeful that more publishing companies will be offering more remote opportunities at all levels, but the closer we get to even the vaguest hint of normal the less likely this seems. It’s a real shame because the industry has proved that it can function without forcing people to exist in London, but hey maybe they’ll get there eventually.

Anyway, lets end this little pity part and push on with the wrap-up. It was a quiet month on the blog, but here are the two lovely posts I published this month:

January Wrap-up | Review: Mexican Gothic
Prioritsing in Publishing: Trade, Impact, and Monograph

Currently Reading

My whole getting my “advanced reader copies read” thing didn’t really work out last month. I did manage to read Reaper of Souls though (review incoming), and I started a book I’ve been waiting forever to read Gideon the Ninth so hopefully that review will come out this month too! My copy of Klara and the Sun arrives this week too, I probably won’t be reviewing it but I’m so excited to read another Kazuo Ishiguro book.

To Be Read

So I need to carve out some real time this month to get through arc’s! This time we’re going to focus on Hall of Smoke and The Cup and the Prince, but I really want to make an earnest attempt at There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job before I dnf it. Hopefully, my mental health will improve and we’ll be powering through books and reviews like a beast!

February has been a bit of a mess, but I’m hopeful that as we come out of the darker winter months I’ll feel much better. Vitamin D and longer days really do make me feel better and more productive, so look forward to more from me this month!

Prioritising in a Publishing: Trade, Impact, and Monograph

Working in publishing can feel a little like spinning plates. You’re madly dashing from plate to plate trying to keep them all in the air with some plates needing more attention than others, and learning which plates need that extra tlc is a very important part of the job.

I’m going to be making this post into two parts, due to the fact that the length is getting rather out of hand. We’ll use this first one to explain how publishing helps me decide what to prioritise using examples from the wonderful Oxford University Press, who publish around 6000 titles a year across Academic, Education, and English Language Teaching. This means that as marketers we have to know where to put our money and which audiences to target when we spend it, and how to correctly harness the free channels that we use to get our books seen by the right audience. With academic publishing your looking at a much smaller marketing budget, or no budget at all for some books so harnessing organic social media reach and email is vital.

Fortunately, in Academic at least, they’ll tell you which books you should be spending time on and pushing to your audience. These classifications have names, Trade, Impact, and Monograph, and we use them to explain what market we’re aiming for when we’re marketing the book e.g. monographs are usually bought by libraries and researchers rather than the general consumer. I’m going to try my best to explain how we use these classifications in my department, and give you just a few examples of each book to shed a little light on academic marketing.

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Review: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Goodreads: Mexican Gothic
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Buy: Bookshop.org UK | US
Synopsis: After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemí’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

Review: It’s rare that a book becomes a five star read for me just a few chapters in, but this book is one of those few. Mexican Gothic is the haunted house thriller I’d always dreamed of, it’s so unassuming and just as you think you know what’s happening this book will twist round and bite you.

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January Wrap Up ’21

Well this first month of the new year has been a wild mess to say the least. It’s taken me nearly the full month to really feel human again after my brush with COVID, and I’ve been struggling a lot with brain fog ever since. I did manage to read some wonderful books this month though, and got a rather good start on my Goodreads challenge for this year. There should be some rave reviews coming your way this month because everything I’ve picked up has been top notch, but that does mean the end of “Nia reads what she wants” January and the start of “Improve your Netgalley rating” February.

January has been a rather bookish month on the blog with no publishing posts in site! This blog has always been a book blog first so it’s been nice to take a break from writing about my career, and instead review some lovely books and talk about what I’m excited to read this year.

2020 Wrap Up | Best of 2020 | Review: Piranesi
2021 Most Anticipated | Review: These Violent Delights

Currently Reading

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Review: These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

Series: These Violent Delights #1
Goodreads: These Violent Delights
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Buy: Bookshop.org UK | US
Synopsis: The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

Review: I received this digital copy in exchange for an honest review, thanks Hodder & Stoughton.

I’ve been struggling with this review in the same way I struggled to finish this book. I think it may be a case of covid brain and an ill-timed Hades play-through that meant I read this in bits and couldn’t settle into it, but I’m going to try my best to explain why I didn’t click with this book.

The Shanghai that Chloe Gong developed was so intricate and interesting, and I really felt as though I was walking the city streets alongside Juliette and Roma. It’s vivid, and the clashes between the different cultures alongside the colonisation of Shanghai, and Juliette’s discomfort with the westernisation of her home is palpable. Juliette was certainly my favourite part of the These Violent Delights. She’s tough, whip smart, plus I loved the fact she was torn between her loyalty to the gang and working with Roma to save Shanghai. Juliette returns to the city from America with something to prove and a lot to lose, and you can really feel how on edge she feels walking round an often unfamiliar Shanghai. She’s wonderfully well developed, and I was always disappointed when we moved away from her perspective!

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My 2021 Most Anticipated Reads

There are already so many exciting books that have been announced for 2021, it’s lovely to see so many interesting new stories coming out and so you know I just had to do a list. This list could honestly be so long but I’ve tried to keep it concise by only highlighting books coming out in the next six months, so here are just a few books that I’m really excited to read this year!


Persephone Station by Stina Leicht

Persephone Station, a seemingly backwater planet that has largely been ignored by the United Republic of Worlds becomes the focus for the Serrao-Orlov Corporation as the planet has a few secrets the corporation tenaciously wants to exploit.

Rosie—owner of Monk’s Bar, in the corporate town of West Brynner—caters to wannabe criminals and rich Earther tourists, of a sort, at the front bar. However, exactly two types of people drank at Monk’s back bar: members of a rather exclusive criminal class and those who sought to employ them.

Angel—ex-marine and head of a semi-organized band of beneficent criminals, wayward assassins, and washed up mercenaries with a penchant for doing the honorable thing—is asked to perform a job for Rosie. What this job reveals will affect Persephone and put Angel and her squad up against an army. Despite the odds, they are rearing for a fight with the Serrao-Orlov Corporation. For Angel, she knows that once honor is lost, there is no regaining it. That doesn’t mean she can’t damned well try.
Goodreads | Publishing 5th of January 2021

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