Top Ten Tuesday – My Reading/Blogging Goals for 2020


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 actually supposed to be Bookish Discoveries I Made In 2019 (these could be books, authors, blogs, websites, apps, products, etc.).  I wasn’t really feeling that topic so I decided today would be a good day to talk about my reading and blogging goals instead.  Those goals are driven by things that happened (or probably more accurately, didn’t happen) in 2019, so it’s not totally off topic, right?

Anyway, I don’t have a ton of goals because I honestly just want to have fun and enjoy my reading and the bookish community in 2020, but there are still a few things I’d really like to focus on in my bookish life.


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My Reading and Blogging Goals for 2020


1)  My number one goal this year is to read more of the books I own.  ARCs are great of course, but I have so many unread books piling up around me that I don’t really even have room for more at this point.  Something’s got to give.  To that end, the only challenge I’m taking part in aside from Goodreads is the Beat the Backlist Challenge.  I’ve set a goal there of reading at least 50 books from my backlist so here’s hoping I put a serious dent in my unread shelves. (Of course so that I can make room for more unread books, lol).


2)  I really want to only participate in blog tours where I have already requested a review book.  As of right now, I have three more blog tours on my calendar for January and February but they are specifically for books I had already been approved for and I really want to stick with this so that I don’t accidentally over commit and create stress for myself.


3)  Finish or at least make major progress in the following series:

  • Throne of Glass
  • An Ember in the Ashes
  • The Nevernight Chronicle
  • Arc of a Scythe
  • Red Winter
  • The Wrath and the Dawn
  • The Folk of the Air
  • Cursebreakers


4)  Aside from wrapping up those series, I actually really want to focus more on standalones this year.


5)  I really want to focus more on my Bookstagram account.  Right now I typically only post once, maybe twice a week so I’d like to bump that up to 2-3 times a week.  I’d also like to focus more on actually interacting more with the bookstagram community.  Sometimes I’m just so short for time that I just ‘like’ photos without commenting and I really want to make more time for commenting since I think it’s important.


6)  Try books by at least five authors who have been on my TBR for years.  My priorities are as follows:

  • Martha Wells
  • Becky Chambers
  • Ilona Andrews
  • Louise Penny
  • TJ Klune


7)  I’m not officially signing up for the Discussion challenge this year, but I would still like to aim for at least 12 discussion posts this year.  I always feel bad because I love doing the discussion posts, but when I’m short on time, those are always the ones I kick to the curb since they take longer to do.

8)  I really want to be more consistent when it comes to blog hopping.  I’m still debating the best method to achieve this – devoting specific days to it vs. just trying to squeeze in a bit here and there as I have time, but I need to figure out a better system for myself.  Right now I’m just consistently inconsistent.

9)  Blogging ahead more is another big goal of mine. I doubt I’ll ever be one who has weeks and weeks’ worth of posts ready to go, but I’d love to at least get to a point where I get all of my posts for the upcoming week ready to go over the weekend.  I get so stressed when I wait until the last minute to work on posts.

10) Finally, my overall reading goal for 2020 is to read at least 150 books. I managed to read 153 in 2019 and that was with 2 1/2 George R.R. Martin bricks thrown in the mix, so I’m hoping 150 will be doable this year, especially since I have now fully embraced audiobooks.

It’s New to Me – Favorite Authors I Read for the First Time in 2019


Today’s post is inspired by the wonderful Angela at Musings of a Literary Wanderer who, earlier this week, shared a list of authors she finally read for the first time in 2019.  As I read through her list, I thought it would be fun to look back over my own reading year and see what authors I read for the first time and share my favorites.  I had actually made a list of authors I wanted to try for the first time in 2019 and while I didn’t get to them all, I did get to quite a few and I’m happy to say that I enjoyed them all immensely.  Below are some of my favorites.




When my son came home from school telling me that I just had to read Scythe, I decided to make trying Neal Shusterman’s books a priority this year.  My son rarely ever gets excited over books that he’s reading so I knew there had to be something special about this Arc of a Scythe series. And my hunch about this series was right. I loved Shusterman’s characters and his incredible world building. I was also intrigued by the unique premise about a world that has become so advanced that people no longer die.  The idea of these scythes who are chosen and then trained to kill enough people each year to keep the population under control fascinated and creeped me out at the same time, especially the politics of it all and the consequences of abusing one’s power.  I was also equally fascinated and a little creeped out by the whole concept of the Thunderhead. It reminded me a bit of the A.I. AIDAN from The Illuminae Files.  I enjoyed Scythe so much that I immediately picked up Thunderhead, the second book in the series, and devoured that one as well, and then picked up a copy of The Toll, the third book, which just came out a couple of weeks ago.  Those who know me know I’m the slowest series reader on the planet, so it’s a big deal for me to have actually read this one as quickly as I did.  Since my son is the one who turned me on to this author and series, I’m letting him read The Toll first, but as soon as he is finished, I’ll be diving in that one as well.




I actually just finished As Bright As Heaven right before I sat down to draft this post and the book was so incredible that I just had to add Susan Meissner to my list of new favorites.  What drew me to this book was that it’s historical fiction that is set around World War I and that focuses on the Spanish Flu epidemic that killed so many thousands of people both in the U.S. and globally.  I thought Meissner did an incredible job of exploring a topic that I didn’t know much about and I loved that she showed us the story from the unique perspective of a family who happens to work in a mortuary.  We see the fallout from the Spanish Flu from their eyes as it impacts the city of Philadelphia where they live and how it impacts each of them personally and then we follow them in the years after. The story Meissner tells is one of great heartbreak but also one of great resilience.  I shed more than a few tears while reading this, both of sadness and of joy.  I’m really looking forward to reading more of Meissner’s historical fiction novels in 2020.




Fiona Davis is another author I read for the first time in 2019.  I love historical fiction and I also love Manhattan, so when I learned that Davis loves to write historical fiction that features iconic New York City locations, I knew I just had to try one of her books.  The Chelsea Girls was my first read from Davis and I immediately fell in love with her beautiful storytelling and her complex characters.  You can read my 4.5 star review of The Chelsea Girls here, but suffice it to say, I enjoyed it so much that I’ve already picked up a copy of The Dollhouse, another of Davis’ popular novels.




I’ve been hearing great things about Lisa Jewell’s thrillers and have added several of them to my TBR over the years. It took me until 2019 though to finally actually read one.  Man, am I hooked though!  The Family Upstairs had everything in it that I love in a good thriller – a compelling mystery, tons of suspense and twists and turns, as well as a healthy dose of complicated characters and haunting family secrets.  You can read my 4-star review of The Family Upstairs here, but all you really need to know is that Lisa Jewell is definitely going on my go-to list of authors for when I’m in the mood to read a riveting thriller.  Ruth Ware has been a favorite of mine for a while now, but she’s got some serious competition from Jewell.




I honestly didn’t read nearly as much fantasy this year as I usually do.  I hit a major fantasy slump and just tended to shy away from it after a few meh reads.  I had promised myself that I would try an Annette Marie book this year though so a few weeks ago, I finally gave in and picked up the first book in her Red Winter series.  I’m really glad I did too because Red Winter turned out to be a slump busting novel on every level.  I loved Annette Marie’s storytelling, her exquisite Japanese inspired world building and folklore, and all of the unique magical creatures that are encountered throughout the story.  The characters really drew me in as well. Emi, the protagonist, is a young woman who is meant to sacrifice her mortal body so that it can serve as host to a goddess.  As the day of sacrifice fast approaches, Emi starts to have doubts as to whether or not she really wants to go through with it.  I found this internal struggle to be very compelling and realistically portrayed.  I mean, really. Who wouldn’t question whether or not they wanted to die so that someone else can inhabit their body?  I also found Spiro, the kitsune who may be able to help Emi escape her fate, to be an especially fascinating character.  He has magic and can shapeshift from a human-like form into that of a fox.  It becomes clear as the story progresses that Spiro is not exactly what he seems, which has Emi (and me as well) determined to find out more about him and what he appears to be hiding. And not only is the story itself riveting and filled with these fantastic characters, it’s also filled with beautiful artwork that really complements the story and helps bring everything into an even more vivid focus.  I enjoyed Red Winter so much that I immediately purchased the other books in the series so that I can dive even further in to the world of Red Winter.


Question:  So what about you?  Did you read any new-to-you authors this year?  If so, who were your favorites?






Top Ten Tuesday – Ten Changes 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 Changes In My Reading Life (Maybe you like different genres or topics, maybe you read faster than you used to, maybe you only like standalones now).  This was a pretty easy topic for me because my reading habits have definitely changed a lot over the years and most especially since I started blogging.  Here are ten changes that came to mind right away as I considered this topic.


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10 Changes In My Reading Life


1. My books read per year count has increased dramatically, especially since I started blogging.  

I used to set my Goodreads goal at 40-45 books a year and sometimes struggled to reach that goal. In the past three years, however, I’ve now read close to 100 books a year.  This year has been my best reading year by far with a total of 131 books as of the time of me writing this post.


2. I read more new releases.

This change is a double-edged sword because while I love read ARCs and all of the latest releases, my backlist has gotten out of control from where I’ve neglected it so much in recent years.  One of my goals for 2020 is to really increase the number of backlist books I read.


3. I have a new appreciation for Romance.

I attribute this change to finally choosing better books that feature romances. I apparently sucked at picking them on my own, but thanks to some great recs from my fellows bloggers, Sam and Tanya in particular, I’m having much better luck with romance reads than ever before.


4. I read less classics.

I have mixed feelings about this change too because I actually enjoy reading them and still have a list of ones I hope to get to at some point.  I’ve just pushed them aside in favor of newer books for a few years now.


5. I read more ebooks than printed books.

This is probably one of the biggest changes in my reading habits because I was very old school for a while there. I completely rejected anything to do with ebooks. No particular reason other than I’m stubborn as a mule and sometimes hate change, lol. I’m all about the ebooks now, to the extent that sometimes even if I own a paper copy of the book, I’ll still get the ebook because I love the portability of it.  Those behemoth George R.R. Martin books immediate come to mind.


6. I now embrace audiobooks.  

I know, right?  This old schooler has really gotten on the technology bandwagon in 2019, lol.  The first time I tried audiobooks, it was back when you could only get them on CD.  I’m lazy and that was just too much work for me.  I also struggled because the narrator’s voice was so slow.  Enter e-audiobooks and apps where you can speed up the narration and color me sold on audiobooks!


7.  Reading isn’t just for nighttime anymore.

This one is definitely a change that took place once I started blogging.  For me, reading used to pretty much exclusively happen at night right before bedtime.  Even though I’d always carry a book around with me, I rarely made time to read during the day.  That all changed when I started blogging and now I try to sneak a few pages here and there at every opportunity throughout the day.


8. I buy more books.

Part of this is just due to the fact that I’m better off financially now than in the past, but it’s also because I consider myself a book collector as well.  I want that home library feeling where I’m surrounded by all of my favorite books.


9. Less re-reading.

I have a few favorites that I still like to re-read occasionally, but by and large, I rarely find myself re-reading these days.  I think this is mainly just lack of time because I’m reading and reviewing so many new releases.  I even tried to do a re-reading challenge a couple of years ago and failed miserably at it.


10. I read more seasonal/holiday themed books now than ever before. 

With the exception of A Christmas Carol, up until recently, I’ve never had much interest in seasonal or holiday reads, but I’ve developed an appreciation for them in recent years.  Like with so many other changes I’ve noticed, I attribute this to getting some great recs from bloggers and realizing that holiday reads, especially Christmas ones, can be all kind of fun.  This change has also been accompanied by a newfound love for Hallmark Christmas movies.  Maybe I’m just the Grinch and my heart has grown three sizes lately, lol.


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What are some changes you’ve noticed in your own reading habits over the years?

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!




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






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



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.



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.



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



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



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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



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.



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?