Discussion: My Recipe for Writing Book Reviews

 

My Recipe for Writing Book Reviews

 

It has been a while since I’ve written a discussion post so today I want to talk about book reviews and how I write mine.  Let me preface what I’m going to write with this:  I don’t honestly think that there is any right or wrong way to write a review.  It’s not an academic paper and there are no rules to follow.  That’s one of the great things about blogging. It’s your blog so you write your reviews any way you want to.

My formula is pretty straightforward and is probably similar to what many other bloggers do. I always start out with a brief introduction to the book. I want to give my reader a little taste as to what the book is about, but I try not to give away too much.  My goal is to hopefully entice but not spoil.  I pay careful attention to the synopsis because I don’t want to accidentally give away some important detail that isn’t already stated there.  I may also use my opening paragraph to talk a little about my previous experiences reading the author’s other books, especially if it’s a favorite author.

I’ve thought about just skipping that opening and just jumping into my reaction to the book, but it just doesn’t work for me, even though I’m totally fine reading other bloggers’ reviews that do exactly that.  I just feel like having that teaser in the introduction provides my reader with some context for all of the comments I’m going to make in my reaction paragraphs.

So what do I talk about in my reaction paragraphs?  I of course want to share everything I really enjoyed about the book but that said, I tend to stick with a few main areas of discussion – First, I like to talk about the characters, how well they’re developed and whether or not I find them easy to connect with.  In addition to characters, I also like to talk about any themes/tropes that really stood out for me.  In historical fiction, for example, that might include me talking about whether a dual timeline was effective or not. Lastly, I also like to mention the writing style. What about the author’s writing kept me reading (or what didn’t work for me since I also like to write balanced reviews and not sugar coat things if there were areas that didn’t work).

And what don’t I talk about?  Well, while I do like to write balanced reviews that are my honest opinion about books, I tend to only mention little things that bother me, especially if I think it’s a case where it just wasn’t a book for me but many others will love it.  If I truly hated a book so much that I have nothing nice to say about it, I’ll usually just skip writing a review and will just jot a sentence or two on Goodreads as to why it didn’t work for me.  I’m just not a big ranter so going off about how awful a book was just isn’t something I’m drawn to do.  It doesn’t bother me at all when others do it; it’s just not for me.  I also try to steer clear of spoilers and of anything that could be considered a personal attack on an author.  I’m reacting to an author’s book, not to the author themselves, so there’s no place for anything like that in my review.

Once I’ve talked about everything I want to talk about, good and bad, I close my reviews with a statement about what kind of reader I think will really enjoy the book.

Is my formula perfect? No, of course not. But it does work for me and I’m comfortable with it for the most part.  One area I’d like to improve on when it comes to writing reviews is writing more informally.  I recently read somewhere that the best reviews are very conversational in tone and sometimes I can be a little too formal or borderline academic in what I write.  I blame that on having been an English major in college.  I feel that pull to analyze everything about the books I’m reading rather than just reacting to them.  I’m working on it though!

 

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So, how do you write reviews?  Is your method similar to mine or do you do something completely different?

Discussion: LIKABLE MAIN CHARACTERS, YES OR NO?

 

 

LIKABLE MAIN CHARACTERS – YES OR NO?

 

Every once in a while I get into random conversations with my coworkers about books.  Not many of them are readers so it doesn’t happen often, but I always embrace those rare moments when it does happen.

This week’s topic of conversation was about whether or not we need likable main characters in the books we read, the movies we watch, etc. so I decided to use it as a jumping off point for a long overdue discussion post on the blog.

For me, the short answer to this question is no, but I guess it’s really a little more complicated than that.  Of course I love to read books where I fall in love with the main character.  I’m a huge fan of lovable scrappy underdogs and socially awkward characters that I just want to hug, which tends to be why I’m drawn to YA contemporaries like Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.

That said, however, I don’t need characters like that in books to enjoy them.  I also love characters that are messy and flawed and oftentimes not so lovable.  The more realistic characters are, the more I tend to enjoy them, especially if they remind me of people I know in real life.  It makes them relatable for me and makes a book all the more compelling.  Those family dramas that I love so much, like Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, fall into this category.

I also love books that feature well written villains.  Whether it’s a retelling, origin story, or just a story that has a morally gray character, again it’s all about whether that character can capture my attention.  I especially love a story where a villain is complex so that I can kind of see where he or she is coming from.  I may not necessarily cheer them on, but I at least have some understanding of why they’re doing what they’re doing and that’s enough to keep me invested in a story.  Heartless by Marissa Meyer comes to mind. It’s a Queen of Hearts/Alice in Wonderland retelling and I just loved the way Meyer portrayed the evil queen.

The characters that I actually tend to fare the worst with are characters that I just feel nothing for.  I don’t feel invested at all in anything that they’re going through and instead, feel like I’m just an outsider looking in.  I don’t know if it’s the writing style or genre, but I tend to encounter this issue more with thrillers than with any other genre.  The Escape Room, which I recently reviewed, immediately comes to mind.  As in the case of that book, I can still enjoy the book when the plot is well written and suspenseful, but looking back through my thriller reviews, it’s that indifference to the main character that will make me knock a star or two off a book.

Bottom line:  I need to feel something for the main characters, whether it’s like, dislike, or somewhere in between.  The kiss of death for me is definitely characters I don’t care about at all.

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So, what about you?  Do you need the main characters you read about to be wholly likable?

 

Top Ten Tuesday – My Top Ten Favorite Cover Makeovers

 

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.  Top Ten Tuesday has been one of my favorite memes ever since I started blogging, so huge thanks to Jana for taking over the hosting duties!

This week’s TTT topic is Cover Redesigns I Loved/Hated. Honestly, until I started blogging, with very rare exception, I never noticed how many different covers the same book can have.  I knew there were occasionally special anniversary editions, etc. but that was about it.  Blogging has been very eye-opening when it comes to book covers, among other things.

Now that I do pay more attention to the different covers out there, I do have some favorites and some where I prefer the earlier version over the newer one.

 

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My Top Ten Favorite (and Not So Favorite) Cover Makeovers

 

 

1. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

The one on the left is the older of the two covers, and I’m not a fan. Celaena just looks too doll-like.  I much prefer the fiercer looking cover on the right.

 

 

 

2. Vicious by V.E. Schwab

I’m actually torn on this one because I really like them both.  The one on the left is the one I own so I feel very nostalgic towards it and I love how atmospheric it is. That said I also love the vivid red, black, and white on the newer cover, not to mention the skulls and bones all over it.  Both of these are winners for me.

 

 

 

3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

This is another set of covers I’m torn on. The one on the left is the one I own and I believe the first cover that was issued in the U.S.  It’s a great cover and of course there’s that nostalgia factor again.  On the other hand though, look how truly gorgeous that cover on the right is.  It’s stunning and I honestly think I prefer it to the original.

 

 

 

4. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

This series has actually had me conflicted about its covers as well, both because they changed and because I don’t think any of the versions matched each other well.  In the case of the first book though, I think the original on the left is my favorite  I do love the blue on each one, but I like the pop of the yellow on the original and I prefer the way the moths look versus the giant one on the other cover.

 

 

 

5. The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk

Although I really did love the one on the left, which is the original cover,

I do feel like the second one does a better job of conveying what the story is about and what age group it’s geared toward so thumb’s up to the newer cover design.

 

 

 

6. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

There’s a lot to love about both of these covers.  Overall though, I think I prefer the newer cover on the right. I love the colors on that version and on the other two books in the series.

They’re vibrant and eye catching.

 

 

 

7.  What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

I actually love both versions of this cover too. They’re both just adorable.  I do like that the newer cover references their meet cute at the post office though so maybe give a slight edge to that cover.

 

 

 

8. Seafire by Natalie C. Parker

This is another where I really love both covers. I love all of the vibrant colors in the original on the left, but how badass does the one on the right look?  If I hadn’t already purchased the one on the left, I’d totally prefer to own the one on the right.

 

 

 

9.  The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

This is one of my favorite books and if I had it my way, I would own all three versions of the cover.  The one on the left is my favorite because I love the atmospheric quality – the glow from the cottage, the snow the night sky, etc.  The second one is also gorgeous though and I always find myself staring at it because of all of the amazing details.  The third cover is probably my least favorite. It’s still pretty of course but just doesn’t have the special qualities that the first two have.

 

 

 

10. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

I’m sure there are many more versions of this cover out there, but these are the three I see most often.  My least favorite of this bunch is the one in the middle. Something about it – the rectangle in the middle, I think – just makes it looks like some dated required reading book for high school.  I think if the picture in the rectangle just took up the entire cover, it would be much improved.  I think in this case I actually prefer the original on the left with the direwolf on it.  The one on the right is nice too but it just screams generic fantasy novel to me, not to mention the ugly HBO advertisement at the top of it.

 

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So there you have it, some of my favorite cover make overs.  What are some of your favorites?

Top Ten Tuesday – 10 Books I’d Love to See Adapted for the Big or Small Screen

 

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.  Top Ten Tuesday has been one of my favorite memes ever since I started blogging, so huge thanks to Jana for taking over the hosting duties!

This week’s TTT topic is a Freebie so I decided to with books I’d love to see made in TV shows or movies.  This has been on my mind a lot lately because of all recent announcements about new streaming services.  Between the big screen, the small screen, and streaming giants like Netflix and Hulu, it seems like there is more and more opportunity out there for great books to be adapted.  Several of my favorites like Daisy Jones & the Six and The Grisha Trilogy are already being adapted, but here are a few more I hope to see adapted as well.  Now I’ll confess here that I didn’t research these very thoroughly so if you’re aware of upcoming adaptations for any of these that I haven’t heard of yet, please let me know! 🙂

 

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10 Books I’d Love to See Adapted for the Big or Small Screen

 

1, THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Evelyn Hugo is a character who is larger than life, and as a movie star, I think it’s only fitting that this book should be made into a film. I think it would be glorious!

 

2, LETTERS TO THE LOST by Brigid Kemmerer

I think any of Kemmerer’s YA contemporaries would be wonderful as films, but Declan and Juliet’s story has a special place in my heart and I think it would make for a very moving film.

 

3, WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING by Delia Owens

I just finished reading this beautiful, heartbreaking story yesterday and all I could think about was how I wanted to see it on the big screen.  This is the book that actually inspired this week’s topic.

 

4, LOCK EVERY DOOR by Riley Sager

I love a good, atmospheric film as well and I think this book set in a creepy Gothic NYC landmark hotel would be perfect.

 

5, CARAVAL by Stephanie Garber

How fabulous would this be as either a film or limited series?

 

6. THE ILLUMINAE FILES by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

This amazing science fiction series would also make for an exciting limited series on any of the steaming services. I’d totally binge watch it!

 

7. THE GIRL HE USED TO KNOW by Tracey Garvis Graves

I think Annika and Jonathan’s story would make for a beautiful movie about second chances.

 

8. THE BOOKISH LIFE OF NINA HILL by Abbi Waxman

At first I was thinking film, but the more I think about it, I would definitely watch an entire series devoted to Nina and her bookish antics.

Heck, I’d watch just to see her have conversations with Phil the cat, lol.

 

9. ASK AGAIN, YES by Mary Beth Keane

This was another moving story about family and forgiveness that the entire time I was reading, I kept picturing it on the big screen.

 

10. WARCROSS by Marie Lu

Ready Player One is one of my favorite films and I keep thinking that the virtual reality world of Warcross would be equally epic on the big screen.

 

 

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What are some books you’d like to see adapted for TV or film?

Top Ten Tuesday – 10 Book Settings I Need More of in My Reading Life

 

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.  Top Ten Tuesday has been one of my favorite memes ever since I started blogging, so huge thanks to Jana for taking over the hosting duties!

This week’s TTT topic is Settings I’d Like to See More Of (Or At All).  I’m giving the topic a tiny twist because I can’t speak to how many books with the settings I’m thinking about already exist in the world.  There could be plenty of them out there that I just haven’t discovered yet.  So I’m going with book settings that I just need more of in my reading life.  That said, if you have any recommendations that fit any of the settings I’ve listed, I’d love to hear them.

 

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10 Book Settings I Need More of in My Reading Life

 

1, Books set in colleges and/or universities.

I don’t know what it is about the college setting – maybe it’s just nostalgia – but I can never get enough of books that are set there.

 

2, Books set in bookstores and/or libraries.  

Of course I want more books to read that set in my favorite places in the world. Enough said.

 

3, Books set in quaint small towns. 

As much as I love reading books that are set in big exciting cities, I’d actually love to read more books that are set in small towns.  They just tend to have such charm.

 

4, Books set in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Australia, and Asia.

I always enjoy reading books that are set outside the United States, but I have tended to migrate towards those set in familiar cities like London and Paris.

I’d love to branch out and read more from other regions around the world.

 

5, Books set in the 1920s.

I read a lot of historical fiction but most of what I read tends to be set around WWII and sometimes WWI.

I’d love to read more set in the 1920s because I find it to be such an interesting period in history.

 

6. Books set in pre-Civil War America and Colonial Times

I think my obsession with the musical Hamilton has me wanting to read more historical fiction that is set much earlier in my country’s history.

 

7.  Sci-fi books set on other planets in our solar system besides Earth and Mars.

Maybe it’s a little far-fetched, but it seems to me that with sci-fi, anything is possible, even life on planets that in reality can’t sustain life.

 

8. Books set in restaurants, bakeries, cafes, etc. 

Basically any place that features delicious food that the authors can then describe in mouth-watering detail.

I don’t know why I like reading about food so much, but I really do, lol.

 

9. Books set in big cities other than NYC, Paris, and London

These are my three favorite big city settings, but I’d love to branch out and find books set in other cities that I’m not as familiar with.

 

10. Books set in lesser known seaside/oceanside locales.

Of course books that are set on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard immediately come to mind,

but I’d love to see some that are more off the beaten path but equally as charming.

 

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What are some book settings that you would like to see more of?

Top Ten Tuesday – Authors Who Have Become Auto-Buys for Me

 

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.  Top Ten Tuesday has been one of my favorite memes ever since I started blogging, so huge thanks to Jana for taking over the hosting duties!

This week’s TTT topic is Auto-Buy Authors, those authors you love so much that you don’t even need to read the synopsis when they have a new book coming out because you already know you’re going to buy it.  My list of auto-buy authors has really grown since I’ve started blogging because I’ve branched out with my reading and tried a lot of new-to-me authors based on excellent reviews from my fellow bloggers.  I couldn’t narrow down to just 10 authors this week so I’m sharing 13 of my favorite auto-buy authors.

 

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Authors Who Have Become Auto-Buys for Me

 

1, V.E. SCHWAB

V.E. Schwab is one of my all-time favorite fantasy authors.  I’ve read and loved 7 of her books so far.

 

2, KRISTIN HANNAH

Kristin Hannah is my favorite writer of historical fiction.  I didn’t start reading her books until The Nightingale,

but I loved that one and The Great Alone and look forward to reading both her new releases and going back and adding her backlist to my collection.

 

3, BRIGID KEMMERER

With Letters to the Lost, More Than We Can Tell, and Call It What You Want, Kemmerer has become one of my favorite YA contemporary authors.

 

4, RILEY SAGER

Three books in and I’m still in love with Sager’s thrillers.  He needs to write faster because he is my go-to author now when I want a twisty, suspenseful read.

 

5, LEIGH BARDUGO

Bardugo is another favorite fantasy author.  I loved her Grisha trilogy, her Six of Crows duology, and I’m very excited for her adult debut this fall.

 

6. CHRISTINA LAUREN

I used to always say I didn’t like to read romance until I tried my first Christina Lauren book.

So far I’ve read and loved three of their books and already have two more sitting on my shelf waiting to be read.  I definitely like Christina Lauren’s brand of romance.

 

7. SANDHYA MENON

Menon is another favorite YA contemporary author.  I love her feisty female characters and her soft, cinnamon roll boys.  Her stories are perfect when I’m in the mood for a cute, fun read.

 

8. ANGIE THOMAS

Where I look to Menon for those cute and fun reads, I look to Angie Thomas to deliver when I want a powerful, hard-hitting book.

Her first two novels, The Hate U Give and On the Come Up, were both incredible reads and I can’t wait to add more books from her to my collection.

 

9. TAYLOR JENKINS REID

I’ve had two 5-star reads from TJR already this year with Daisy Jones & the Six and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.

As with Kristin Hannah, I want to buy all of her new releases and I want to go back and get her entire backlist too.  I need to read every word she has written.

 

10. S.K. ALI

S.K. Ali has become another favorite YA contemporary author.  Her writing is gorgeous and she always explores such relevant and timely topics.

 

11. JAY KRISTOFF

Kristoff is a favorite sci-fi/fantasy author.  I love his solo writings, I love it when he pairs up with other authors like Amie Kaufman, I just love everything he does.

I’ve read 7 of his books so far and can’t wait to get my hands on the rest of them

 

12. JENN BENNETT

I love Bennett’s YA contempory novels because they’re just always so easy to relate to and they usually feature the sweetest friendships and relationships.

They are auto-buys when I want a book that will make me smile.

 

13. BLAKE CROUCH

Blake Crouch has become my go-to guy when I want a sci-fi book that just makes me go WTF did I just read?!

Dark Matter and Recursion were both mind blowing reads and I look forward to see what he comes up with next.

 

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Who are some of your auto-buy authors?  Do we share any?

Discussion: Writing Reviews – What My Star Ratings Mean to Me

 

 

Do you ever find yourself overthinking what rating to give a book you’ve just finished reading?  Usually the rating comes to me pretty easily, but there are definitely times when I find it hard to settle on one.  It always gets me into that deep thought mode where I really start to think about what those star ratings even mean for me.  What makes a book a 5 star rating vs. a 4 star?  If I rate a book 3 stars, what am I really trying to say about that book?  If I was able to finish a book I didn’t particularly care for, how low does it make sense to rate it?  Should I even rate a book I didn’t finish? What would it take for me to actually rate a book only 1 star? Yep, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, I tend to overthink things a bit.

For me, I think the easiest ratings to settle on are the 4 star reads.  I give 4 stars to any book that I really enjoyed. If the writing is good, the characters are dynamic and complex, and the plot is interesting, you can pretty much count on me giving at least 4 stars.  I looked on Goodreads and I think the majority of the books I’ve reviewed over the years have been 4 star reads.

So if a good book is at least 4 stars, what does it take for me to award 5 stars?  These are usually pretty easy for me as well because for me, it’s an emotional reaction.  Is this a good book or a book that really blew me away?  Did it make me cry, or better yet, was it an emotional roller coaster ride for me?  For me, the 5 star reads really resonate.  They tend to be the stories that stick with me long after I’ve finished reading.  I’ve also gotten stingier over the years about giving out 5 star ratings and have a tendency to award many more 4.5 ratings than actual 5s. More and more I feel like those 5 star ratings should be saved for books that I think are really special.

The 3 star rating is the one I struggle with the most.  Why?  Because I actually kind of hate it.  Even though in my mind, 3 stars indicates that I liked the book but didn’t love it, it still feels like I’m really just sitting on the fence and not stating a firm opinion on the book. Looking back through my ratings over the years, I actually seem to choose one side of the fence or the other.  Rather than give a lot of 3 star ratings, I instead tend to go with either 3.5 stars or 2.5 stars.  Either I lean toward liking it, or I lean toward it not being a good fit for me.

I usually reserve 2 star ratings for books that I was able to finish but that just weren’t my cup of tea. I’ve actually not had many of these over the years. I seem to have either gotten pretty good at picking out books that work for me or else I’ve gotten better about DNFing books that aren’t working. I don’t rate books that I’ve DNFed unless I made it to at least the halfway point.

1 star ratings are pretty easy for me too, mainly just because I rarely, if ever, give them.  I think I would have to have an extremely negative emotional reaction to a book to actually slap a 1 on it and that just doesn’t usually happen.  As I mentioned, I don’t tend to rate books I DNF and if I am able to finish a book even if it’s not a good fit for me, I feel like the fact it was compelling enough to finish ought to allow for at least a 2 star rating.

What I also find interesting is that as I’m reading, I do find that I assign a tentative rating as I’m going along and kind of adjust it up or down as I go, depending on how much I’m connecting with the story.  So sometimes a book starts off slow and feels like it could be a 2, but then it starts to pick up and the ending feels like a 5 star.  I ponder those for a while and usually settle on some kind of average like maybe a 3.5 overall.

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So, what about you?  Do you find yourself thinking about what your star ratings mean?  Do you struggle with certain star ratings more than others?

Discussion: Authors I Plan to Read in 2019 That Wouldn’t Even Be on my Radar If Not for Book Bloggers

A couple of weeks ago, Grace at Rebel Mommy Book Blog wrote a post where she shared some authors she’s planning to read for the first time this year.  Her post really got me thinking about all of the authors I really want to try this year.  I’ve had some authors sitting on my to-read list for a couple of years now and still haven’t gotten around to them.  Others are fairly new additions, but I’ve just heard such great things about them so I’m anxious to give them a try. As always, there are also authors from a variety of different genres represented.

The one thing all of these authors have in common though is you guys.  As I scrolled down my to-read list, it really impressed me just how many books I’ve added to that list since I started blogging and reading other book blogs.  I literally add numerous titles based on your recommendations and reviews every single week, and although I hadn’t really given it a tremendous amount of thought before, it really adds up!  It’s no wonder my TBR is so enormous, haha!

I think back to those ‘Must Read’ or ‘Most Anticipated’ book lists from major publications where I used to get most of my recommendations before I started blogging and just cringe on how many bad books I suffered through.  I finally gave up on those because the selections were almost always awful and I really started to wonder if people had bought their way onto the lists. Thinking about this just really makes me want to give a shout out to all of my fellow book bloggers.  Whether you love or hate a book, I love that I can trust that you’re giving me your honest opinion. In fact, I trust your judgment so much that I rarely add books to my TBR that haven’t been recommended by a fellow blogger.

All of that said, whether you run a big blog or a small blog, don’t ever let anyone tell you that you’re not an influencer because every single author on the following list of authors I plan to try this year is an author that wouldn’t even have been on my radar if not for recommendations from you.

Authors I Plan to Read for the First Time in 2019

 

1. ABBI WAXMAN

 

 

2. EMMA MILLS

 

 



3. MARTHA WELLS

 

 

 

4. KRISTY WOODSON HARVEY

 

 

5. SABAA TAHIR

 

 

6. SUSAN MEISSNER

 

 

7. BECKY CHAMBERS

 

 

8. ILONA ANDREWS

 

 

9. ANNETTE MARIE

 

 

10. RENEE AHDIEH

 

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Do you plan to try any new authors this year thanks to recs from fellow bloggers?

Discussion: Tackling the Series That Have Lingered on my TBR

 

While setting my reading goals for this year, it struck me that the biggest culprit that keeps my TBR so mountainous is that I struggle so much with the series.  I really have a love-hate relationship with them.  I read one book from a series and even if I love it and the next book is available, I still flit off and read something else rather than continuing with the next book.  I’m also famous for saying that I want to wait for at least two books in a series to come out before I even start reading so that I can then binge read them both.  Yeah, that doesn’t happen either.  Instead, I end up with series on my TBR where I was waiting for the second book, promptly forgot about the series altogether, and now the series has 3, 4, and sometimes even 5 books out.  I’ve been a series failure for years but because one of my goals this year is to read more of the books I already own, I’m really going to make an effort to get through a bunch of series. Even if I don’t finish them, I need to see progress, preferably well beyond the first book.  If there’s no progress, I think it’s probably time to take them off of my TBR and move on with my life.

 

THE SERIES I’VE MADE PROGRESS ON

 

I plan to start with the series that I’m closest to being caught up on and that’s The Illuminae Files.  I read and loved the first two books but then just never got around to reading the final book.  Once I get through my February ARCs, finishing this series is my number one priority.

THE ILLUMINAE FILES by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

 

Once I’ve finished with that series, I plan to continue with the Throne of Glass series.  I’ve had most of the books on my shelf for years but just finally pulled the first one down in December.  I read it and immediately felt like a jackass for having ignored the series for so long, I don’t know that I’ll get the entire series read in 2019, but I plan to get through as many as possible since it’s the biggest series sitting on my shelves.

THRONE OF GLASS by Sarah J. Maas

 

Another series that has been sitting on my shelves for years is The Raven Cycle.  Just like with Throne of Glass, I either ignored the hype or else worried that the books wouldn’t live up to the hype. I couldn’t even tell you which at this point, but regardless, it took me until this month to finally read the first book.  Also, like with Throne of Glass, I felt like a moron for putting it off because it was brilliant.  I started and plan to continue this series on audio and hope that I’ll finish it this year since the first book went so quickly.

THE RAVEN CYCLE by Maggie Stiefvater

 

The next series I really want to get caught up on is the DC ICONS series.  I thought Wonder Woman: Warbringer was great, but then saw a lot of meh reviews for the Batman book so I lost interest in the series for a while.  My sister texted me last week though to tell me how much she loved Catwoman: Soulstealer so my interest is renewed.  Worst case scenario is that I skip Batman and move on to Catwoman but there will be progress, darn it, before the Superman book comes out in March.

DC ICONS by Bardugo, Lu, Maas, and de la Peña

 

A Song of Ice and Fire has the honor of sitting on my bookshelves the longest unread.  I have slowly but surely made progress on the series though and only have to read one more book to be all caught up.  The problem?  That one brick of a book is as long as some of the complete other series I want to read.  The good thing is that Martin takes so long to come out with each book that I’ll probably be caught up for years once I finish A Dance with Dragons, lol.

A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE by George R.R. Martin

 

The Clash of Kingdoms series is one I started but then honestly just completely forgot about until I won the second book in a giveaway this past fall.  The third book is also out now, so I’d like to go ahead and wrap this one up as soon as possible too.

CLASH OF KINGDOMS by Erin Summerill

 

A final series that I’ve made some progress on and would like to wrap up this year is The Nevernight Chronicles.  I really enjoyed the first book but haven’t gotten around to the second book yet.  The third book comes out in September so I’d like to be caught up by then.

THE NEVERNIGHT CHRONICLES by Jay Kristoff

 

 

THE SERIES I HAVE YET TO EVEN START

 

In addition to all of the series that I’ve started but not finished, I also have a pretty ridiculous list of series that I keep saying I’m dying to start but then keep ignoring.  Below is a list of series I still haven’t started yet that have been on my TBR the longest.  If you’ve read any of these, which ones do you think I should prioritize once I make some progress on the series I’ve already begun?  Are there any you think aren’t even worth starting at this point?

 

THREE DARK CROWNS by Kendare Blake

 

 

ARC OF A SCYTHE by Neal Shusterman

 

 

AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir

 

 

FLAME IN THE MIST by Renee Ahdieh

 

 

THE GREAT LIBRARY by Rachel Caine

 

DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE by Laini Taylor

 

 

WAYWARD CHILDREN by Seanan McGuire

 

 

THE WRATH AND THE DAWN by Renee Ahdieh

 

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Question:  Do you struggle to complete series too?  Do you have a plan of attack for this year to try to knock some series off your TBR that have been there for ages?

Discussion: Setting Blogging Goals and Managing Expectations in 2019

 

It’s that time again.  Time to reflect on what I accomplished with my blog last year and where I hope to take it in 2019.  Overall, I’m very happy with where I am with my blog.  After almost three years of blogging, I feel like my blog is a good reflection of what I’m all about, at least in the bookish sense anyway.  Every year I feel like I become a little more comfortable with what I’m doing and worry less about comparing myself to others.  I know what I am and I know what I’m not, so this year I’m gearing my goals towards tweaking a few things here and there about myself as a blogger that will challenge me a little without turning blogging into a chore rather than a love.

  1. CONSISTENCY.  I have long since figured out that I will never be one of those amazing bloggers who is able to post every day of the week.  I’ve only accomplished that a couple of times in my nearly three years of blogging and I just found it to be way too stressful.  So instead of trying to post every day, my goal for this year is continue to improve on my consistency.  Four posts a week is usually easily manageable for me, even if I have a lot going on in my personal life, but I’d like to stretch myself a little more this year and try to consistently get to five posts every week and occasionally even six as time allows.
  1. REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS. I always aspire to be one of those super organized bloggers who has their posts scheduled way ahead and every year I fail miserably.  2019 is the year to finally admit to myself that blogging way ahead is just never going to happen. Although I might be a great planner in my own mind, I’m the absolute worst at actually executing the plans I make.  The majority of the posts I write are done the night before they are scheduled to go live.  I’m just a procrastinator at heart. Always have been, always will be.  So, my goal in this area is basically to take an organizational baby step and try to get three or four posts scheduled ahead.  I’ve done it for the past two weeks and although it will take some getting used to, I do like that it has freed up my time each evening so that I can more easily blog hop and/or read.  We’ll see how long I can keep it up. Wish me luck!

 

via GIPHY

 

  1. FOCUS.  When it comes to social media, I’ve tried and failed at pretty much every platform.  I’m just a socially awkward person and I’m never going to do more than sporadically post on either twitter or Facebook.  In 2018, however, I did finally start my own Bookstagram account, and while I don’t have many followers yet and don’t post as often as I probably should, this is actually a platform that doesn’t make me feel like the Queen of Awkwardness.  I love taking bookish photos and looking at everyone else’s photos. I find it almost therapeutic.  All of that said, my goal for 2019 is to focus my social media attention on that Bookstagram account (posting more consistently, commenting on other posts, etc.).
  1. SELF CONTROL. Yep, you probably know where I’m going with this one.    I’ve finally gotten to the point where I do get approved for a fair number of ARCs on Netgalley.  The temptation to go hog wild and request everything under the sun is always there, but I’m determined to exercise better self control in 2019.  I love to read and review ARCs but I also have a major goal this year of clearing out more of my backlist so I’m aiming for a better balance between ARC reading and reading books I’ve purchased.
  1. BE MORE SELECTIVE.  Along similar lines with not requesting too many ARCs, I’m also aiming to be more selective in terms of the blog tours I take part in and in the challenges I join. My goal is to only take part in tours for ARCs I already have a copy of, or for books I’m definitely interested in reading that publishers I work with have invited me to take part in.  I’m also trying to be more selective in the challenges I take part in. I want to read more audiobooks this year, read more from my backlist, read more retellings, and write more discussion posts so I  have chosen only those challenges that I think will help me achieve those goals.

 

via GIPHY

 

So that’s what I’m hoping to see on my blog in 2019.  Wish me luck!

 

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Have you set goals for yourself for the upcoming year?  Do we share any?