Bookish Goals for 2020

Hello readers! Two posts in one week? Who am I!? Someone who is avoiding folding laundry, that’s who.

Anyway, with the new year it’s time to set some new goals. As always, I want to keep these goals reasonable so that there is a chance I can actually meet them, but I also want to challenge myself.

Goodreads challenge:

I’m working full time as a high school teacher now, so I don’t have nearly as much time to read as I used to. When I get home from work, I am exhausted and can barely keep my eyes open. I sometimes listen to audiobooks in the car during my commute and I have some time on the weekends. I’ve been steadily increasing my goodreads goal over the past few years, but this year I am going to step it down a bit and set it at 50 books. After all, I do still have the summer off from work, so there is tons of reading time then.

Supporting Independent Bookstores:

It wasn’t a goal that I set for myself, but in 2019 I only purchased physical books from independent bookstores and used bookstores. I definitely want to keep this up. I love my local independent bookstores. They helped me out a lot with Christmas and birthday presents over the past year. I also worked on my social anxiety a lot in 2019 and bookstores provided a nice safe-feeling place to start to push myself out of my comfort zone a little bit. I joined a couple of book clubs, went to several all day events, and met a lot of authors. I want to keep supporting these bookstores in the new year. I still get a fair number of ebooks from Amazon, and I still subscribe to Audible, so I’d like to try to ease up even further on my Amazon use this year. At some point I want to switch over to Libro.fm, but I’m not sure that I’m quite ready yet (I’m still using that Audible romance package and enjoying it).

Keeping Up with the Blog:

In past years, I have set goals for myself to post once a week or twice a month or maybe even twice a week? Let’s be real, there’s no way that’s going to happen. Sometimes I just don’t have the energy or the ideas, or everything I write for a period of time is stuff I don’t feel like sharing. That’s fine. This is a hobby, so I am only going to do what I feel good about. I just want to keep posting every so often and not forget about this blog completely.

Book Club:

I joined a really fun book club in 2019 and I want to keep going to meetings this year. Honestly, book club is the highlight of my month, so even though I am always tired after work, I am going to make sure I go to as many meetings as possible.

Diversifying My Reading:

Some of these are genres and categories that I have already been trying to read more of, and some of these are going to be brand new to me this year. I don’t want to make any monthly goals this year because I am reading a lot fewer books each month than I used to. These numbers are rough goals for myself for the whole year, so I want to make sure to revisit them about midway through the year and see if they need adjusting.

3 self-published books

5 non-fiction books

7 adult fantasy

5 2020 releases

3 graphic novels

1 book of poetry

10 classics

1 book written in French

Controlling My Book-Buying:

I don’t feel guilty about buying books when I am supporting local independent businesses that I love, but my book-buying has gotten a little bit out of control. I have absolutely no room for books, and even though chances are high that I will move out of my parent’s house somewhat soon and into my own place with more bookshelves, I also want to make sure I’m not just hoarding books, but actually reading them. My goal/limitation this year will be that I can only buy one book if I read two books I already own. Rereads don’t count, but e-books and audiobooks do. Wish me luck! I think this will be my hardest goal out of all of them.

 

That’s it for my 2020 bookish goals. I go back to work tomorrow, so who knows when you’ll hear from me next. Until then, happy reading!

 

 

2019 Goal Reflections

Hello readers! Long time, no write. I got a new job in August and I’m still working on the whole work/life balance thing. I do want to make one last post before the new year so that I can do a bit of reflecting on my reading-related goals for 2019.

I set several goals for myself in January and then re-evaluated in June. Here they are:

Mid-Year Check-in:

I wanted to make sure to give myself some room to change any goals that weren’t working for me anymore. I’m happy to say that I did this, and some of my goals did change a bit.

100 Books Goodreads Challenge:

I met and surpassed this goal with a current total of 116 books and the possibility of finishing one last one before the end of the year.

One Classic Per Month:

I set this goal to challenge myself to read outside of my comfort zone. I didn’t read a classic every single month. I actually only managed 6 classics this year, but Jane Eyre was one of them and I have always found that book a little intimidating, so I am proud of myself even though I didn’t meet this goal.

One Adult Fiction Per Month:

This goal’s purpose was the same as the previous one. I didn’t read much adult fiction until this year, but now it’s something I am much more comfortable with. I read 26 adult fiction novels this year that I bothered to track in goodreads, plus a handful of romance that I read this past fall and forgot to put into my goodreads tracker.

Read 5 Non-Fiction:

I changed this goal in my mid-year check-in to 3 non-fiction by the end of the year. I read How to be a Good Creature and The Soul of an Octopus both by Sy Montgomery. I’m halfway through my third. You know what, 2.5 is better than nothing.

Read Some Adult High Fantasy:

Check! I started the Mistborn series this year and also read some V. E. Schwab. Also, it might not technically be high fantasy, but my current read is The City of Brass and boy am I loving it.

Romance Wrap-Ups:

I did this for a while, but then I took a brief romance hiatus. Then I started my new job and haven’t posted anything since then, so this goal kind of fell apart. I’m at a point where I think I need to suck it up and start tracking my romance reads in goodreads so I don’t forget what I’ve read. I also am at a point where I read maybe 2.5 books a month, so wrap-ups are something that might be over for a while.

Participate More in the Online Book Community:

I guest-hosted a couple of readathons and participated in several others, but that was kind of the extent of my involvement in the online book community. I enjoyed hosting the readathons and I did have a few ideas for one that I could start, but I never got around to fully fleshing out my ideas. If you want an idea for a readathon or reading challenge, hit me up, because I’ve got several!

Read at Least 2 Books I Already Own Each Month:

Boy did this not happen. I think I read at least one book that I already own each month, but I can’t be sure. I also acquired a lot of books. It’s kind of ridiculous.

 

Okay, so I didn’t meet every single goal, but I do think they helped me out a lot. I will be setting some new goals for myself soon, so stay tuned! Until then, happy reading!

July 2019 Wrap-Up

Hello readers! July was a great month for reading because I participated in both the final Biannual Bibliothon and the Reading Rush. I read a lot of books in the month of July, so let’s get started.

First up, I read Before the Devil Breaks You, the third book in the Diviners series by Libba Bray. It was great. I adore this series and can’t wait for the next book! The imagery was amazing, as always. The plot was a little less cohesive than in the first two books, but it still worked. I love these characters so freaking much.

Next, I read the new Buffy graphic novel by Jordie Bellaire. This series brings the same old Buffy we all know and love from her high school days into the modern era. It’s different in a lot of ways, but it also feels like the same old Buffy in a lot of ways. I enjoyed it and I will probably pick up the next one.

I then FINALLY read my first Mackenzie Lee with The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. I heard a lot of incorrect things about this book before I read it, most notably that it takes place during the Victorian Era, and that it follows the general plot structure of a historical romance. False and false. This book takes place several decades to possibly a century before the Victorian Era even starts. The clothes are different, the slang is different, the politics are very different. So right off the bat, I was thrown, but it didn’t take long to resituate myself in the correct time frame. I only bring this up because if, like me, you really enjoy reading books that take place in Victorian England, then you should know that this isn’t one of those books. There also is some romance, but the plot doesn’t hit the typical beats of a romance novel. It’s much more of an adventure with some light fantasy, and some strong romantic themes. Now that we’ve cleared that up, I did enjoy this book. It was fun, funny, and touchingly sweet. I didn’t love Monty as the narrator. I found him crass and sometimes annoying, but I still wanted him to have a happy ending. I loved Felicity, and I am so excited that the sequel follows her because she is the coolest.

Next, I did something very unlike me and read some poetry. I read Fierce Fairytales by Nikita Gill. I am very unfamiliar with poetry, so I don’t really know what to say about it other than I thought it was really neat.

I then read Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Overall, I enjoyed it, but there were a few very specific plot points and character arcs that I could have lived without. I couldn’t help comparing parts of it to These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner, and Skyward by Brandon Sanderson, both of which I think are better YA Sci-Fi books.

I read another couple of Agatha Raisin books this past month. They were both pretty good. Agatha is still up to her old tricks and I still want to give her a big hug.

I also read The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston. I loved Geekerella, which was the first book in this series. It was adorable, and wonderful, and just basically everything I could ever want in a modern-day, fandom inspired, Cinderella retelling. This second book was somewhat disappointing. The Prince and the Pauper has never been one of my favorite fairytales for retellings, and this version suffers from the same problem most of them have, namely, the lack of character development. In the end, each character learns to appreciate their own life a little bit more and be a little less grumpy, and that’s about it. We only spend a few days with these characters, so we can’t really expect much more from them, but part of what I loved about Geekerella, was the slow build of the romance and both narrators learning throughout the novel how to be the best versions of themselves. Princess was still a well written and generally well-executed version of the fairytale, but it didn’t shoot to the top of my favorites the way Geekerella did. The next book in the series is going to be based on Beauty and the Beast, so I am very excited for that.

After that, I read another graphic novel, Ladycastle, by Delilah S. Dawson. If you like fantasy and fairytale tropes thrown on their head, jokes poking fun at Disney movies, heart-warming friendships and sister relationships, and also a well-witch, (because, why not?), then this is the book for you.

I am going to go out of order for a second to talk about the other graphic novels I read this month, because there are a few more. Papergirls, which I really liked, but also found kind of confusing; Nimona, which is probably now my favorite graphic novel of all time; and Umbrella Academy Vol. 1, which I kind of liked, but mostly had a really hard time following. I have come to the conclusion that I have a strong preference to funny, character driven graphic novels over the more serious and plot driven ones. If you have any recommendation for more things like Nimona, I would love to know!

Okay, next up, I finally finished my re-read of East by Edith Pattou. I have now read this book three times and I still adore it. I then read the sequel, West, which was kind of a disappointment. In my opinion, it would have been way better as a totally separate novel with different characters. The magic system felt completely different, the ending of the first book was retconned to make the sequel possible, the whole experience was just totally bizarre. I wanted to love this book, but sadly, I didn’t. Edith Pattou has said she’s thought about doing a South or North, but would probably do it from the perspective of the next generation. I kind of hope she does keep writing so that West can just be a slightly weird middle book. We’ve already introduced an entirely new kind of magic, so why the heck not? Exploring the world further might make it better. Anyway, none of this takes away from my enjoyment of East. It remains one of my favorite books ever.

August will probably be another crazy reading month for me because I am participating in the month-long NEWTs Magical Readathon. We’re only one week in, and I’m already on my sixth book. Until next time, happy reading!

Every Unread Book on My Bookshelf – Midyear Update

Hello readers! Earlier this year, I wrote a list of every unread physical book I owned. I have since read many of these books, and acquired a lot of new ones, so I’ve wanted to do an update post for a while. I haven’t purchased that many ebooks or audiobooks since then, and the ones I did buy, I have already read, so I don’t think I will be making an update post for either of those yet, but maybe at the end of the year?

First up, the books that I have read from my shelf since the last post:

HUNTED BY MEAGAN SPOONER
THE BELLES BY DHONIELLE CLAYTON
WEST BY EDITH PATTOU
THE DIVINERS BY LIBBA BRAY
PAPER GIRLS VOL. 1 BY BRIAN K. VAUGHN
THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY VOL. 1 BY GERARD WAY
INKMISTRESS BY AUDREY COULTHURST

I really thought I had done a much better job of chipping away at the books I already owned, but I guess most of them were books I bought after making the original post, like the rest of The Diviners series, Sherwood by Meagan Spooner,

 

Next up, the old stuff that I still haven’t read:

THE TWO PRINCESSES OF BANMARRE BY GAIL CARSON LEVINE
A TALE OF TWO CASTLES BY GAIL CARSON LEVINE

I will probably be reading one or both of these books by Levine for the NEWTs Magical Readathon.

THE PRINCESS BRIDE BY WILLIAM GOLDMAN
EXILE BY ANNE OSTERLUND

I really want to re-read Aurelia before I start the sequel, but I just keep not doing it. I started during the Re-Readathon earlier this year, but didn’t get very far.

ALL OUT BY SAUNDRA MITCHELL

A short story anthology about LGBTQ+ teens. I haven’t really been feeling short stories lately, but I probably will someday.

HOLLOW CITY BY RANSOM RIGGS
LIBRARY OF SOULS BY RANSOM RIGGS
MOXIE BY JENNIFER MATHIEU
THE WORLD’S GREATEST DETECTIVE BY CAROLINE CARLSON
EMMA BY JANE AUSTEN
MANSFIELD PARK BY JANE AUSTEN
NORTHANGER ABBEY BY JANE AUSTEN

Still not any further on reading Jane Austen, but I’m also way behind on my classics for the year, so there is hope for these books.

FRANNY AND ZOOEY BY J. D. SALINGER
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
THE NEVERENDING STORY BY MICHAEL ENDE
TUCK EVERLASTING BY NATALIE BABBITT
BEL CANTO BY ANN PATCHETT
DOING IT BY HANNAH WITTON
BONK BY MARY ROACH
THE OMNIVORE’S DILEMMA BY MICHAEL POLLAN
THE BOTANY OF DESIRE BY MICHAEL POLLAN
THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP BY MARIE KONDO

Guess what! I have only read one non-fiction book so far this year, and it was a brand new one instead of any of the ones I own.

I CAPTURE THE CASTLE BY DODIE SMITH
TO KILL A KINGDOM BY ALEXANDRA CHRISTO
REIGN THE EARTH BY A. C. GAUGHEN
WINTERSONG BY S. JAE-JONES
ILLUMINAE BY AMIE KAUFMAN AND JAY KRISTOFF
GEMINA BY AMIE KAUFMAN AND JAY KRISTOFF

I’ve been holding off on buying Obsidio until I read these two, but knowing me, I’ll probably get it anyway just to have the full set.

FEAR THE DROWNING DEEP BY SARAH GLENN MARSH

I got this book signed by the author, who is super sweet, so now I really have to read it.

THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS BY ANNA-MARIE MCLEMORE
THE CRUEL PRINCE BY HOLLY BLACK
BEFORE SHE IGNITES BY JODI MEADOWS
MIDDLESEX BY JEFFREY EUGENIDES
ARE YOU MY MOTHER? BY ALISON BECHDEL

Still trying to read Fun Home first, but still haven’t.

LAB GIRL BY HOPE JAHREN
THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY VOL. 2 BY GERARD WAY

I read the first one at least!

WILD BEAUTY BY ANNA-MARIE MCLEMORE

Kind of scared to pick this up because I don’t have a lot of positive experience with magical realism, but I still really want to read it.

UNRAVEL ME BY TAHEREH MAFI

I’m starting to come to terms with the possibility that I might never finish this book.

SCARLET BY A. C. GAUGHEN
DRAMARAMA BY E. LOCKHART

I mostly only keep this because it’s signed and personalized. I love E. Lockhart, but I just don’t think this book is for me.

A NORTHERN LIGHT BY JENNIFER DONNELY
THE MUSICIAN’S DAUGHTER BY SUSANNE DUNLAP
THE BERMUDEZ TRIANGLE BY MAUREEN JOHNSON
A TYRANNY OF PETTICOATS BY JESSICA SPOTSWOOD

 

Okay, now onto the new stuff that I have purchased or received since the original post, but haven’t read. Many of these are from the American Library Association Annual Conference. There were lots of giveaways from various publishers, and I don’t remember what most of these are even about. Someone pitched it, and I was like “cool, I’ll try that” and then forgot everything they just told me. Many of the others are from author signings that I attended, so I wanted to buy the book while I had a chance to get it signed. I’m actually kind of scared to know how long this list is going to be.

No Place Like Here by Christina June
It Started with Goodbye by Christina June
Everywhere You Want to Be by Christina June

Christina June’s books are all fairytale inspired, so I obviously had to get them. Plus, she’s a local author, so these are all signed.

That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E. K. Johnston

I checked this one out from the library with several other books and didn’t get around to reading it before I had to return it. So when E. K. Johnston was in the area, I just bought this and got it signed.

The Tesla Legacy by K. K. Perez

Met the author at a book event and this sounded really cool.

Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix

A friend’s childhood favorite, and a retelling of Cinderella. Also, I’m not actually sure that I haven’t read this. It sounds super familiar, and I might have checked it out from the library as a kid.

The Affair of the Falcons by Melissa Rivero

An ARC I received on Independent Bookstore Day

Red Tails in Love by Marie Winn

Adding to my collection of non-fiction that I may or may not ever read. But it’s about birds, so this one has a better chance than most.

Outrun the Wind by Elizabeth Tammi

From ALAAC

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

There is no way I’m not going to love this, so I just bought it.

A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

ARC from ALAAC, and see above re: no way I won’t love it.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

ARC from ALAAC, and I adored The Night Circus, so I have very high hopes for this one.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

ARC from ALAAC

King of Fools by Amanda Foody

Kind of surprised I haven’t read this yet because the first book was so good!

Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton

ARC from ALAAC. It’s about a crow, so, duh.

Our Wild Calling by Richard Louv

ARC from ALAAC.

Courting Mr. Lincoln by Louis Bayard

ARC given for Independent Bookstore Day

Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

ARC from ALAAC

Cogheart by Peter Bunzl

From ALAAC. The cover is gorgeous and it sounds like the kind of middle-grade that I love.

The Beholder by Anna Bright

I received the e-ARC of this one for review, but I’ve been getting headaches from screens, so I didn’t finish reading it. And now I can just read the final version anyway.

The Star Shepherd by Dan Haring and MarcyKate Connolly

ARC from ALAAC

Sisters of Shadows and Light by Sara B. Larson

ARC from ALAAC

Crown of Coral and Pearl by Mara Rutherford

ARC from ALAAC

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin E. Craig

ARC from ALAAC

Beyond the Shadowed Earth by Joanna Ruth Meyer

ARC from ALAAC

The Lady and the Highwayman by Sarah M. Eden

ARC from ALAAC

The Wickerlight by Mary Watson

ARC from ALAAC

The Princess Who Flew With Dragons by Stephanie Burgis

ARC from ALAAC

The Bookwanders by Anna James

ARC from ALAAC

The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

ARC from ALAAC

Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez

ARC from ALAAC

The Starspun Web by Sinead O’Hart

ARC from ALAAC

Cursed by Thomas Wheeler and Frank Miller

ARC from ALAAC

The Library of Lost Things by Laura Taylor Namey

ARC from ALAAC

Bright Burning Stars by A. K. Small

From ALAAC

A Crash of Fate by Zoraida Cordova

ARC from ALAAC

The Quiet You Carry by Nikki Barthelmess

ARC from ALAAC. Nikki was super sweet and we now follow each other on social media. She has a really cute dog. I basically never read the hard-hitting contemporaries, but I will have to make an exception for this one.

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Bought this for a giveaway and ended up with an extra copy that is now just mine.

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

Too many good recommendations not to buy this.

Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

From ALAAC

Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson

My book club’s book pick for August.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

The book club’s pick for July, but I couldn’t go to the meeting, so I never finished the book.

Virtually Yours by Sarvenaz Tash

From ALAAC

Midnight Beauties by Megan Shepherd

ARC from ALAAC

Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody

Ace of Shades was so good that I just wanted everything she’s ever written.

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsa Faizal

Fierce Reads Tour

The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg

Fierce Reads Tour

City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty

Everyone keeps saying how good this is, and I am trying to read more adult fantasy.

Beast – A Tale of Love and Revenge by Lisa Jensen

It’s a fairytale retelling with a gorgeous cover, so, well, you get the idea.

Nocturna by Maya Montayne

Recommended by the women who run my book club.

Ghosts of the Shadow Market by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, Kelly Link, and Robin Wasserman

To be fair, I am a good way into this one, but I’m spacing out the stories so that I can enjoy it more.

Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

Another retelling, and also I have like Jennifer Donnelly before, so when I was in a bookstore and saw it, I bought it.

Queen of Ruin by Tracy Banghart

I just finished the first book a couple days ago and DAMN was it good.

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Everyone loves this book. I will probably also love this book. Might as well just own it, right?

Slayer by Kiersten White

Just bought this last night. I’ve been in a very Buffy mood lately ever since I read the new comic, so this was a must.

 

Okay, I promise I actually read the things I buy! Now I want to list the new books I’ve bought that I have read, just to make myself feel better:

Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray
Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray
Archenemies by Marissa Meyer
Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Okay, so maybe I read it before I bought it, but I re-read it, so it still counts!

Undying by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Sherwood by Meagan Spooner
Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo

Also from the Fierce Reads Tour, but it was a bookclub book, so it got bumped to the top of the TBR.

Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody

See above re: Geekerella, and also this book is so good.

Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart

THIS BOOK IS AMAZING

The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu

I do a pretty good job of keeping up on the Shadowhunters stuff, if nothing else

Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death by M. C. Beaton

I think I technically read this before I bought it, but by like a day.

Fierce Fairytales by Nikita Gill

Finally read some poetry!

 

So I’m definitely bringing in more books than I’m reading, but hey, someone has to support local independent bookstores. Until next time, happy reading!

Final Biannual Bibliothon TBR

Hello readers! Like many, I was sad to hear that the upcoming round of the Biannual Bibliothon will be the last, but I am determined to make it great! This round of the readathon will span 9 days starting on July 11th. As usual, my TBR is not set in stone and is very likely to change. I’m doing my best to pick mainly books that I already own because my list of owned and unread books is getting so long that I’m starting to feel itchy. The rules are that you can double up on challenges, but tripling up is discouraged.

The first challenge is to read the group book, which is Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I don’t own this book, and I’m hoping to get the audiobook from Overdrive, but we’ll see.

The next challenge is to read an adult book. I’ve been reading a lot more adult books lately, so I don’t think I’ll have too much trouble with this. I plan on picking up Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern, or Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren. Both of these books are ARCs that I picked up at the American Library Association Annual Conference, and I am very excited about both of them.

The third challenge is to read a graphic novel. I have quite a few, including some I picked up at ALA, so I will probably read one of those. I currently own a new Buffy comic book, Umbrella Academy, which I have been meaning to get to for years, Nimona, which I tell myself I’m going to read for almost every readathon, and Paper Girls, which is supposed to be really good. I also might end up re-reading Hyperbole and a Half because that’s always a fun time.

The next reading challenge is to read a book based on the cover. I have a few books that I know very little about and have picked up over the years just because I liked the cover. A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly and The Musician’s Daughter by Susanne Dunlap have been on my shelf the longest. I also have Fierce Fairytales by Nikita Gill, which I recently bought partly based on a bookseller’s recommendation, but mostly because the cover is gorgeous. Then there are a few other books I picked up from ALA because the covers were pretty, but I don’t feel like sorting through that stack, so I’ll go into more depth if I end up picking any of them.

For a book that you were excited for but never got to, I’m really hoping to pick up West by Edith Pattou, but in order to do that, I really need to finish my re-read of East before the start of the bibliothon. East was one of my favorite childhood books, so I was thrilled when the sequel was announced. I actually won a signed copy of West, but I still haven’t gotten around to it because I really wanted to re-read the first book. I’ve really been struggling with reading physical books lately, and have only been reading about one a month, so hopefully I can push through on East in time for the bibliothon.

Next up is a host’s 5-star read. For this challenge, I am either going to read Scythe by Neal Shusterman, A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee, or The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken. I own all three of these in audiobook format and I could go for any of them, but I’m leaning towards Mackenzie Lee.

Next up is an author you’ve never read from before. For this challenge, I am going to double up and either use Aurora Rising, because I have never read anything by Jay Kristoff, or use whichever of the three books I pick for the host’s 5-star, because I’ve never read any of those authors.

Next to last is a predicted 5-star read. This is another good one to double up on, so I’m planning on using whichever of the two books I pick for the adult genre challenge.

And finally, the last challenge is a free choice. This is kind of a weird “challenge” because you can choose anything, and with the doubling up rule, it basically ends up not existing as a challenge. So I’ll double this challenge up with either the cover challenge or the graphic novel challenge.

There you have it – my very loose reading plans for the biannual bibliothon. Let me know if you plan to participate and what’s on your TBR. Happy reading!

June Wrap-up 2019

Hello readers! I’m back for my June wrap-up and this month I’m on time!

I started out the month really well with Skyward by Brandon Sanderson. I had such a good time with this book. It’s only my third Sanderson, but it was really great. It has a lot of the same world-building strength that Mistborn has, but it’s Sci-fi and young adult, so it also brings something new to the table. I loved learning about this world, and having Sanderson shoot down every single theory I had. The characters were so well developed, and had very distinct personalities. There’s also one character that I would talk about forever because they are the most wonderful, funny, and loyal character ever and I love them so much, but I don’t want to spoil anything, and even the character’s name is kind of a spoiler.

Next, I re-read Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody. I got the chance to meet Amanda Foody and get finished copies of both Ace of Shades and King of Fools, and I got them signed. I read the ARC for Ace of Shades back when it first came out, and I really liked it, but I did think that there were some places where the feelings came across as telly instead of showy. Upon re-read, it definitely seems like a lot of these places were fixed in the final version, so I’m glad I gave it another go. I really love this world and this magic system, and I am so excited to dive back in with King of Fools when I get the chance.

The next book I read was for my in person book club at one of my local indie bookstores. I read Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo. Now normally I wouldn’t pick up a YA contemporary romance centered around Kpop, but I’m glad I did. This book is actually inspired by Roman Holiday, one of my favorite movies ever. It’s a great modern take on a classic story and I really liked what the author did with it. If you like YA contemporary romance, Hong Kong, Kpop, or Roman Holiday, then you will probably like this book.

Next I picked up Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembley. As always, Agatha Raisin books are a solid 4-star read for me. Great cozy mystery.

After that, I FINALLY picked up Inkmistress by Audrey Coulthurst. I am obsessed with Audrey Coulthurst’s debut Of Fire and Stars, a YA fantasy featuring a female-female romance, elemental magic, and an assassination plot. Inkmistress is a prequel set in a neighboring kingdom. I’ve heard a lot of mixed things about this book, but it seems to boil down to, it’s a fun read, but it doesn’t feel like it takes place in the same world. I went into this book with that in mind, and spent the whole time trying to figure out how a magic system could have changed so much over the years. Listen, I get that it feels like a different world, but it’s all explained at the end, so just don’t worry about it too much. The characters are completely wonderful, the magic and religion is super neat, and I am always here for a fantasy with LGBTQ+ relationships. Also, Hal is the perfect man.

The next book I read in June was Undying by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. This is the sequel to Unearthed, which I read back in January of 2018. The first book ended on a major cliffhanger, so I was highly anticipating this sequel. It did not disappoint. I spent the better part of a year perfecting my theory as to who the Undying were and how they came to be, and let’s just say, I was mostly right. This book has a great fast-paced plot, but is definitely not as character focused. I also would have liked the ending to be a bit longer so that I could have a bit more time to take in how all the loose ends were tied up, but overall, this was a really fun duology.

Okay, so I totally failed at my goal to read a classic this month, but I did read a non-fiction book, which should count for something. I read How to Be a Good Creature by Sy Montgomery and I cried on public transportation. Each chapter is an incredibly touching story about what animals can teach us. There are some sad parts, but man is it worth it. I’ve already got The Soul of an Octopus because I love the way Sy Montgomery writes about animals and I can’t wait to read more.

I then read the next two novellas in the Ghosts of the Shadowmarket series. I am loving these characters and can’t wait to see more of them in The Last Hours. Anna Lightwood is especially fun. I also really like Sister Amelia and I hope she comes back at some point.

The last book I read in the month of June was A Script for Danger, the next book in The Nancy Drew Diaries. I always enjoy these books and this one was no exception.

I also read a handful of romance novels this month, but like I explained in my last wrap-up, I can’t quite remember which ones I read in May and which ones I read in June, so I will be combining my romance wrap-up. Check back soon if you’re interested in that!

Until then, happy reading!

 

Mid-Year Goals Check-in

Hello readers! At the start of 2019, I set a bunch of reading goals for myself, so let’s see how I’m doing.

My first goal was to do a check-in mid-year to see how I was doing with my goals and re-evaluate the effectiveness of some of them if needed. Great, I’m doing that now!

Goal the second was my Goodreads reading challenge to read 100 books by the end of the year. I’ve read 59 so far, so I’m also doing fairly well there.

I wanted to try to read at least one classic and one adult fiction novel per month. I haven’t met this goal every month, but I read multiple classics and multiple adult fiction novels in some months, so it does kind of average out. I want to keep this goal, because I have been enjoying the challenge!

I also said I wanted to read more non-fiction and set myself a goal of reading 5 non-fic books by the end of the year. I’m part-way through my first one. I’m going to step this goal back to 3 and see if I can manage that a little better. I’d like to have at least finished the first one by the end of the summer.

In addition to classics, adult, and non-fiction, I wanted to try to read more adult high fantasy. I’ve read two books so far, and have enjoyed them, and I have a lot more on my TBR, so this might actually become one of my most read genres eventually.

My next goal was to start doing romance wrap-ups, which I have been doing. I missed the one for May, but I’m planning on doing a combined May/June post. I definitely want to keep doing these posts because it really helps me to think about romance as a genre, what makes a good romance novel, what tropes are fun, and which tropes are problematic, etc.

My (almost) last goal was to participate more in the online book community. I’ve done this some by guest-hosting 2 readathons. What I’ve done a lot more of is participating in my local real-life book community. I’ve been attending a lot more author events, I went to independent bookstore day, I volunteered at a book festival, I now have a weekly volunteer gig at a used bookstore that raises money for the library, and I even joined a book club. Getting out of the house to go hang out with bookish people has done wonders for my anxiety, and I’ve also gotten a lot of new books to read!

I made one final goal for myself at the end of January to read at least two books I already own each month. Some months have been better than others. I definitely want to keep this goal because I really don’t want to turn into one of those people who buys every book and then never reads any of them. I also might need to update my posts on the unread books I own. So look out for that post, and until then, happy reading!

May Wrap-up 2019

Hello readers! Please excuse my very late May wrap-up. We have a new dog, and I’ve been getting basically nothing done.

I started the month coming off of the Magical Readathon, so I took it easy at first and read a couple more Nancy Drew Diaries books. First I read Once Upon a Thriller, and then Sabotage at Willow Woods. The books in this series are pretty consistently 4-star reads for me. They are pretty good, feel totally authentic to the characters, and I would definitely recommend them to middle-grade readers looking for some fun mysteries.

Next up, I scrambled to read my new book club book in less than 2 days because I am a procrastinator extraordinaire when it comes to book club. The book was The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf. This story follows Melati, a teen in Kuala Lumpur in 1969, who struggles with undiagnosed OCD. She thinks she has an evil djinn inside her head telling her that she must do its bidding in order to keep her loved ones safe. When race riots break out throughout the city, Mel does everything she can to reunite with her mother and help her new friends. This book is a lot heavier than anything I would normally pick for myself, but I thought it had a great representation of OCD, and I learned a lot about Malaysia in the 1960s that I didn’t know before.

After that, I went back to some easier reads, and picked up the next few Nancy Drew Diaries books: The Secret at Mystic LakeThe Phantom of NantucketThe Magician’s Secret, and The Clue at Black Creek Farm. Again, these were all 4-star reads for me.

Still in the mood for mysteries, but looking for something a little more mature, I went for the next book in the Agatha Raisin series by M. C. Beaton, Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener. Much like the Nancy Drew Diaries, these books are enjoyable and fairly well written, and are typically a 4-star read for me. Agatha only gets better with time, so I’m happy that my library carries quite a few books in the series.

My last book of the month was Cast Long Shadows, the second novella in the Ghosts of the Shadowmarket series by Cassandra Clare. These novellas provide interesting information and context for the rest of the Shadowhunters world, but this one is nothing special on its own.

I also read 5 or 6 romance novels in May, but I’ve completely lost track of when I read which books and have started to confuse them with my June reads, so I’ll probably do a combined May/June romance wrap-up.

Some hauls and event wrap-ups might be coming soon! Until then, happy reading!

 

Monthly Goals Check-in

Read at least one classic: nothing

Read at least one adult novel: Agatha Raisin

Read at least two already owned books: nothing

bad month for my goals, oh well.

Independent Bookstore Day Recap and Haul

Hello readers! I’m trying out something new today based on some feedback I got on instagram. April 27th was Independent Bookstore Day. Here in DC, there are so many local indie bookstores that I had trouble deciding what to do. I wanted to hit up some of my favorites, visit some of the ones I haven’t been to before, and maybe even try the full DC bookstore crawl. In the end, I realized that my anxiety needed me to take it a lot more slowly than that. I have been making progress on dealing with my anxiety since I started therapy again last fall, and it’s going pretty well. When I started, I was at the point of feeling full blown panic every time I broke from my routine. Now I can leave the house, go to a new place, meet new people, and still feel anxiety, but not have it turn into an awful panic spiral. But visiting 12+ crowded bookstores all on the same day sounded, well, not at all fun. So I reassessed, and decided to go to just my favorite bookstore – One More Page Books. I’ve been to OMP a bunch of times before. I know the booksellers there, I’m familiar with the layout of the store, the parking situation, the drive to get there. The wild card here was the potential for it to be super crowded, which I was willing to deal with.

I made the right choice, because I had lots of fun. One More Page had lots of fun events going on all day long. There was the Book Seller Bake Off, where each of the booksellers baked a dessert and brought it in for everyone to sample. The cake-pops won, but I didn’t try anything because I’m paranoid about my food allergies.

There was also Battle of the Books. Each of the booksellers picked one of their favorite books to represent, and whoever sold the most copies won. I was convinced to pick up Fierce FairytalesRed-Tails in Love, and Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of DeathFierce Fairytales is a collection of feminist poems inspired by classic fairytales. I’m not a big poetry person, but I’m always trying to challenge myself and try new things, and I thought this would be the perfect book for that, since I already love fairytales. I already talked about Agatha Raisin in my April wrap-up. I borrowed the book from the library, and loved it, so it went into the pile too. Red-Tails in Love is the story of birdwatchers in Central Park and how they followed a pair of nesting hawks over several years. If you know me, you know I am terrible at reading non-fiction, but I challenged myself to read 5 non-fiction books by the end of the year, and if anything is going to keep me interested, it’s birds.

Speaking of birds, I also picked up a book that I have been eyeing since early this year. It’s called The Field Guide to the Dumb Birds of North America. It’s amazing and hilarious. All of the birds are renamed to reflect their true selves, and have an accompanying illustration. My current favorite is the European Shartling. Check it out, and get it for any friend who likes birds.

One More Page was also running a pet scavenger hunt. There were pictures of pets hidden all throughout the store. If you found one, you could take a picture with your phone and once you had found them all, you could pick from the prize box. I was doing pretty terribly at the scavenger hunt until I teamed up with a 3-year old, who luckily didn’t realize that I was the only one benefitting from the partnership. Anyway, we (she) eventually found all the pets and we each got a prize. I took home a slightly damaged, but still beautiful, MinaLima edition of The Little Mermaid.

Lastly, I picked up several books that are on my immediate TBR or that I’ve already read, and know that I want to re-read:

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows – I don’t know much about this book other than it’s a historical fantasy re-imagining of Lady Jane Grey’s story, and everyone keeps telling me that it’s amazing and I need to read it. I also read The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand, and loved that, so I have a pretty good feeling about this one.

Archenemies by Marissa Meyer – the sequel to Renegades, and one of my favorite reads of the year so far.

Undying by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner – the sequel to Unearthed, which is like Indiana Jones in space.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer – a Beauty and the Beast retelling that everyone is raving about, so of course I need to read it and also have it for my retelling collection.

The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu – the first book in the new Eldest Curses series which follows Alec and Magnus as they get up to typical shadowhunter/warlock mischief.

Anyway, that’s all for my recap of Independent Bookstore Day. Let me know if you like this type of post or want to see more event recaps or hauls. Happy reading!

April and OWLs Magical Readathon Wrap-up 2019

Hello readers! In April, I participated in the OWLs Magical Readathon. This readathon is themed around the OWL exams from Harry Potter. There are 12 subjects, and one prompt for each subject. There’s also a really neat Wizarding Careers booklet, so you can decide which OWLs to do depending on which career you want. I went ahead and took all 12 OWLs, so I didn’t read much outside of this challenge in April.

First up, I read Sherwood by Meagan Spooner for the Ancient Runes challenge, which was to read a re-telling. I had every intention of reading this book for the Fantasy Adventure-a-thon at the end of last month, but I barely read any of it, and decided to take it back up for my first OWLs challenge. This book is a retelling of Robin Hood. Robin of Locksley is dead, and Marian decides to fill his role and protect the people of Nottingham. I was kind of confused by this book at first, because I was under the impression that it was fantasy. I thought that Robin was still alive and was using the magic in the ring to communicate to Marian. Thinking that, I was totally rooting for the wrong ships. I ended up reading some spoilers for the end of the book because I was so confused about where the plot was going. But there is no magic in this story, and once I knew where the plot was headed, I was totally on board for the ride. All in all, I didn’t love this book quite as much as Hunted, but it’s still a great retelling.

Next up, I read Rebel Angels by Libba Bray for my Defense Against the Dark Arts challenge which was to read a book starting with the letter R. Rebel Angels is the second book in the Gemma Doyle Trilogy. I am not totally in love with this trilogy, but I like it enough to keep reading it. I love Libba Bray, but you can tell this is some of her earlier work.

The next challenge I completed was Divination, which was to read a book set in the future. I chose Wires and Nerve, a graphic novel sequel to the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer. The storyline was enjoyable, but I would rather see these characters in a traditional novel format.

Then, if you follow me on instagram, and you were watching my stories, then you followed along with my intense 24-ish hours of trying to read this entire book before a bookclub meeting that I wanted to go to. The book was The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton. I really enjoyed this book, even though I read it so quickly. And luckily, there are flowers on the cover, so I could also count it towards my Herbology reading challenge to read a book with plants on the cover. I had a few nitpicks with this book, mostly that certain plot elements were set up and then there was no follow-through, but I expect a lot of the loose ends will be addressed in the sequel. This book also falls into the “burry your gays” trope (meaning that all of the openly queer characters are killed off). I think a lot of my issues with this book can be chalked up to the author’s first time writing fantasy, so I’m not too upset about it, and I will definitely be picking up the sequel.

Then, for the Charms challenge to read an adult novel, I finally read The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson. This is the second book in the Mistborn series, and boy was it good! Apparently, a lot of people don’t like this book as much because they say the plot moves much more slowly, but I was on the edge of my seat pretty much the entire time. The ending was amazing, and I am so amped to read The Hero of Ages.

Next, I read Libba Bray’s Lair of Dreams for the Potions challenge to read a sequel. This is the second book in the Diviners series, and I loved it even more than the first. We got so much more character development, the villain was amazing, and much like in the first book, the imagery is so vivid that I felt like I was watching a movie instead of reading a book.

For Muggle Studies (read a contemporary), I read Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death. If you like cozy mysteries, the English countryside, quiche, and unlikeable characters that just need some love to help them be better, then this book is for you. Anna Bright, author of the upcoming debut, The Beholder, recommended this book, and it was just what I needed. I immediately picked up the second book, Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet and used it for my Care of Magical Creatures OWL – read a book with a land animal on the cover. I now have the third book checked out from the library, and I see myself binging on the entire series at some point, so thanks Anna!

For History of Magic, the challenge was to read a book published at least 10 years ago, so I picked up the third Anne of Green Gables book, Anne of the Island. This series is so soothing. I don’t want to spoil anything, even though this is a classic, so many of you probably already know how certain events play out. I won’t give away any details, but I was so happy with the ending of this book. I actually teared up.

Transfiguration was the hardest challenge for me, because I don’t own any books with sprayed edges. Alternatively, you could read a book with a red cover, which was my plan, but all of my red books are on the heftier side, and I didn’t leave myself that much time to complete this challenge. So, I headed over to Overdrive, and checked out a copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz that happened to have a mostly red cover. I listened to this audiobook fairly quickly. It was interesting to see the differences between the book and the movie, and I am definitely interested in reading the next book in the series.

For Arithmancy, I had to read a book written by more than one author, so I finally got around to reading Son of the Dawn by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan. This is the first novella in the Ghosts of the Shadow Market series. It was good. My heart squeezed for little Jace.

For my very last challenge, Astronomy (read a book with “star” in the title), I read The Curse of the Arctic Star by Carolyn Keene. This is the first book in the Nancy Drew Diaries series, which is a modern, middle-grade take on Nancy Drew. I loved this book. It has a lot of the same feel as classic Nancy Drew, but it’s in the first person, which for me makes it a bit more fun. And even though the target audience for this book is meant to be younger people, Nancy is still in her late-teens, so it feels like something anyone could enjoy. At this point, I had completed all 12 of my OWLs, so I went ahead and read the second book in this series, Strangers on a Train. I also really enjoyed this book, and I have been bingeing on this series ever since.

Because I was so focused on the OWLs readathon, I didn’t read any romance this month, so there won’t be a romance wrap-up. I’ll be back soon with a recap of Independent Bookstore Day! Until then, happy reading!

 

Monthly Goals Check-in

Read at least one classic: Anne of the Island, and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Read at least one adult novel: The Well of Ascension and both Agatha Raisin books

Read at least two already owned books: The Belles, and Son of the Dawn. I also own Sherwood and Lair of Dreams, but those are very recent acquisitions, so I won’t count them.