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?






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.

* * * * *

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


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!




  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.




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


* * * * * *


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


Discussion Post: Are You a Scrooge When It Comes to Lending Your Books to Others?

In most aspects of my life, I like to think of myself as a pretty generous person.  I frequently donate to good causes. I try to be as helpful as possible to my friends and family.  And if anyone I cared about needed it, I’d lend them the shirt off my back.

What I wouldn’t lend them, however, is any of my books.  That’s right. None of them, lol.  When it comes to my books, I become downright Scrooge-like. 


In my defense, I don’t do it to be mean.  It’s just that my books are one of my most cherished possessions and I’ve been burned in the past by lending them out to people I thought I could trust to take care of them.  What I got in return was either books that were never returned or books that were so severely damaged that they needed to be replaced.  That said, my trust in others has become pretty much nonexistent when it comes to my books.  In many cases, it was because I thought I could convert a non-reader into a reader and I have long since learned my lesson.

There are, of course, exceptions to my no-lending rule.  My mother and sister are probably at the top of the list. They’re both avid readers who treasure books the same way I do so I will happily lend them any books from my collection and feel secure that they will come back to me in the same condition I lent them. 

I also have a couple of close friends that I would be comfortable lending books to.  Those friends have earned my utmost trust and I know they’ll take care of and return my babies intact, lol.

And then there are my blogger friends.  Thus far, I’ve never actually loaned a book to a fellow book blogger but I could see myself being comfortable doing that if the opportunity ever arose because I know full well that book bloggers feel the same way about their books that I feel about mine. 

* * * * *

So, what about you?  Are you comfortable lending your books out to others or are you a Book Scrooge like me?

Discussion: “Wow! Every Time I See You, You Have a New Book.” – Conversations with Non-Readers


I always have the most interesting conversations with people about my reading habits.  Usually the conversations come about because most of the people I’m talking to aren’t big readers and even those who do read a bit can’t get over the fact that pretty much every time they see me, I’m not only reading, but I’m also rarely ever reading the same book.  Sometimes it’s fun to just let them think I’m some kind of super speed reader, but if they were to take a peek into my tote bag, they would discover the real secret, which is that I usually have two or three books that I’m working my way through all at the same time.


Reading more than one book at a time has pretty much been a life-long habit for me.  I majored in English Lit in college and continued my studies in grad school, so juggling multiple books at a time was a necessity.  I did drop back to one book at a time after I started working full time, but as soon as I started blogging, I went right back to my multi-book habits.  I use the same basic survival skills that I used in college too – just taking a few basic notes along the way so that I don’t get characters, settings, and the basic plot confused while I’m juggling multiple books.

Aside from baffling my friends and family with my “speed reading” talents, reading multiple books at a time serves actually two purposes for me these days:  1) It keeps my inner mood reader pretty happy because I usually choose the books from different genres, that way if I’m not feeling it for one of the books I have going, I can swap out and read a few chapters of something else, and 2) I use it as a multi-pronged approach to attacking my TBR.  How?  Because I always have a physical book (either a recent release or a backlist title), an e-book (either ARC or backlist), and an audiobook that is usually also a backlisted title.




Right now, for example, I’m reading a physical copy of The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, an ebook of Salt to the Sea, and I just finished listening to the audiobook for Everything I Never Told You.  The attacking my TBR part still needs a bit of fine tuning because I tend to fail a little more with the ebooks.  My physical books are sitting there staring me in the face and Netgalley sends me those nice, regular reminders of what I need to read soon.  Those pesky ebooks though…they’re all nicely hidden away on my kindle so it’s out of sight, out of mind if I don’t make a conscious effort to keep track of them.  I’m trying to be better about that but, man, the struggle is real.  Darn Amazon and their awesome ebook deals! LOL!

So, where do you fall on the reading spectrum?  Are you a one-book-at-a-time reader or are you an all-the-books-at-the-same-time reader?

Discussion: Why You Should Give Audiobooks Another Chance Even If You Think You Dislike Them


I used to think that audiobooks were just not for me.  I had tried them several times over the years but each time came away disappointed.  My number one complaint was that I constantly found myself losing track of what I was listening to and having to backtrack to figure out the last thing I remembered listening to.

This year, however, I made it my mission to give audiobooks another try, especially since as a blogger, I’m reading so many more books than I used to and would love to be able to enjoy the potential for multitasking that audiobooks provide.


Guess what I learned?  I LOVE THEM!


So, why the change of heart?  What did I do differently this time that I had never tried before?

Well, what I realized was that it wasn’t an audiobook problem, it was a ME problem.  See, I had been trying to listen to them while I was at work, to help pass the time.  The problem?  Every time I was trying to concentrate on a job-related task, I would almost unconsciously stop listening to the book.  And since my job primarily involves proofreading, I was ALWAYS concentrating on job related tasks.  It was just dumb of me to even think that listening to audiobooks in that environment was a good idea.

So, how did I discover that audiobooks are actually fabulous if you’re audiobooking (Is that a word? It is now!) the correct way?

  1. I realized that while they may not work all that well while doing job-related tasks, audiobooks make mindless household chores like folding and putting away laundry so much more tolerable. They are actually a Godsend in this particular area.  I still hate doing chores, mind you, but getting lost in fiction while doing them helps so much.
  1. I learned that audiobooks are a fabulous way to pass the time while exercising. Maybe not with strenuous exercise, I’m not sure, but I’m a walker and for me, the worst part about walking is that it can be lonely and boring, especially since I have to walk for so long to burn a significant number of calories.  Listening to an audiobook while I’m racking up the miles really helps to make that time so much more enjoyable.
  1. I also discovered audiobooks can make a long commute to work or school go by so much quicker. I had never tried this before because my usual commute is less than 15 minutes.  This year, however, I have had to make several trips to some of my company’s other offices and those commutes have been well over an hour in each direction.  I ran the audiobook through the Bluetooth in the car and it made the long drive so much more enjoyable.
  1. I always tend to have trouble falling asleep at night. That’s the time when my brain seems to decide to run through any and all things I’m currently stressing about and then I end up too keyed up to sleep.  I’ve been finding it very helpful to have an audiobook handy for bedtime as well.  I start listening while I’m getting ready for bed, putting my PJs on, etc. and then I just get into bed and keep listening.  It soothes and relaxes me to the point where I usually fall asleep while listening.  So yes, there is some backtracking involved in the morning to find my place again, but that’s so much more preferable to tossing and turning and stressing out half the night.
  1. This is probably also another dumb ME thing, but I learned you can now change the speed of your audiobook narration. When I first started listening to audiobooks back in the day, another initial audiobook complaint of mine was that the narration was always so slow.  I found myself sitting there like ‘OMG, read it faster, please!”



Most of the audiobooks I was initially listening to back then were CDs from the library, but now with the mp3 audio files you can download from the library, there are options to speed up the narration.  Best thing ever!  I use 1.25x and it’s the perfect speed for me.  Fast enough to move things along but not so fast that I can’t keep up.  Love it!

  1. Lastly, I realized that not all genres work well for me on audiobook so I just needed to find out which ones worked the best. What I discovered was that fantasy doesn’t work all that well on audio for me.  There’s something about the worldbuilding and sometimes the unique character names, etc. that I feel like I need the actual print book in hand to keep track of everything.  Again, another ME thing.  Man, there are lots of those, aren’t there?  LOL!  Anyway, while fantasies didn’t work well at all for me, contemporaries work beautifully!  I can breeze right through those on audio and don’t feel like I need the print book to refer back to.  I guess maybe it’s the familiarity that goes along with contemporaries since they’re set in our time, etc., but they are just such a great fit for me on audio.

So, there you have it.  Several reasons to consider giving audiobooks a second look even if you’ve rejected them in the past.


Question:  Have you tried audiobooks?  If so, what has been your experience with them?

Discussion Post: Romance Tropes That Work for Me




If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ve probably seen me mention on more than one occasion that I don’t typically read or enjoy romance books.  I’ve tried them in the past and they’re just not my thing.  I have no idea why, but if I had to hazard a guess, I’d say it probably springs from my childhood.  My parents got divorced when I was ten and their relationship for years before that was absolutely horrible.  I can only recall actually seeing them kiss one time and it was such a shock to see them actually being affectionate with one another, I remember that I actually stood there gaping at them for the longest time.  Screaming and yelling was the norm, so much so that when they finally told my sister and I that they were divorcing, I remember being ecstatic about it and couldn’t pack my suitcase fast enough. I love both of my parents dearly but they were clearly just not a good fit.

So yeah, that’s way too much information about me, but as you can see, my relationship views were negatively shaped at a pretty early age.  And I don’t know if that experience has made me the way I am, but when I read most romances, I just find them so unrealistic that I can’t even enjoy the story.  Insta-love is the number one offender and will almost always get an eye roll out of me, lol.

I also want to add that I mean no disrespect to everyone out there who loves romance novels.  This is definitely one of those ‘It’s me, not you and not the books themselves either” situations.

With all of that said, however, that doesn’t mean that I hate all romance.  I’m not sitting here like Grumpy Cat or the Grinch wishing for all of the fictional characters I read about to be miserable and alone.  In fact, there are several romance tropes that I very much enjoy.  And the key to all of them is simple…I find each of these kinds of relationship to be incredibly realistic.  Today I’m sharing not just the tropes I love, but also some of my favorite reads from each.



The Enemies to Lovers trope is probably my favorite just because, as I said, I find it so realistic.  I also love that the chemistry is always so intense, whether they’re on the hate end of the spectrum or the love end.  Sparks are always going to fly, and there’s usually some guaranteed barbed banter that it super entertaining.





A close second favorite is Best Friends to Lovers.  I just think this trope is so sweet.  I love it because the couple obviously has a long history together if they’re best friends. That friendship bond guarantees that there will be chemistry even if things get a bit awkward when they start to realize their feelings for each other have moved past the friendship stage.  And that awkwardness makes it all the more realistic for me because it’s a situation that I can easily envision playing out.





When it’s well written, I think the Fake Relationship to Lovers can be one of the most fun tropes out there.  The idea that you start off trying to fool someone else only to realize that the joke is on you always amuses me.






This is another favorite for me because, even though I’m telling you I don’t like romance, I’m actually a romantic at heart, especially if it involves someone getting a second chance at love.  We all make mistakes and/or sometimes circumstances that we can’t control get in the way of what could have been a great relationship, so I find second chance stories very reassuring.  It’s nice to know people can find their way back to each other.





When this trope is well written, it’s also a favorite of mine.  I guess it goes back to my days in high school reading Romeo and Juliet, but there’s just something that really appeals to me about two people trying to be together even when they know they shouldn’t because they’re supposed to be sworn enemies.





* * * * *


So, what are some of your favorite romance tropes? 


DISCUSSION: Challenge Fatigue – Can One Have Too Many Reading Challenges?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, mainly because I’ve signed up for more reading and blogging challenges this year than I ever have before, and although I only chose challenges that I felt aligned with goals I already hoped to achieve on my blog this year, I now find myself struggling to keep up with a few of them.  In my mind, I’ve labeled this Challenge Fatigue.

What’s funny though (or at least it’s funny to me anyway) is that it’s not the actual reading part of the challenges that has me feeling a little burnt out.  No, instead it’s the “housekeeping” aspect of the challenges that are bogging me down.   You know, the part where you have to remember to go and do the linkups to show that you’re actually keeping up with the challenges, etc.  Yeah, I totally suck at that.  I try to be organized about it and have a tabbed spreadsheet to keep track of my challenges and make sure I remember to submit everything, but sometimes I just forget and then I have to backtrack and see what I’ve submitted and what I haven’t.  It gets a little tedious at times.  (Did I also mention that becoming more organized was also a goal of mine for 2018? Ha!)



So anyway, all of my struggles have me wondering at least for myself, how many challenges is too many?  Right now I’m doing these five.

  • Goodreads Challenge (Goal – 90 books, I’ve read 58 books so far)
  • Debut Authors Challenge (Goal – 12 authors, I’ve read and reviewed 8 debuts so far)
  • New Release Challenge (Goal – 30 books, Read and Reviewed 31 books)
  • Beat the Backlist Challenge (Goal – 30 books, Read and Reviewed 16 books so far)
  • Discussion Challenge (Goal – 12 posts, As of this post, I’ve done 5 discussions)

When I chose to do this many challenges, my first thought was to set the goals low so that they wouldn’t stress me out.  I was torn though because there’s the other part of me that asks “Then what’s the point of even doing it if you’ve set the goal so low that you’ll easily achieve it?  What’s challenging about that?  It’s called a challenge for a reason!”  Yeah, I hate that part of me too.

Out of the five challenges, I’ve already achieved my goal of 30 new releases and am over the halfway point on all of the other challenges, except the Discussion Challenge, where I’m only at 5 including the post that you’re currently reading.  Discussion posts are not easy for me so this challenge has been the toughest, but in many ways, also the most valuable for me because it does truly challenge me to step out of my comfort zone.  The others, rather than truly challenge me, have really just functioned more as just reminders of the goals I hoped to achieve on the blog:  read and promote more debut authors, read more new releases but also keep moving through my endless backlist of books, etc.  Did I really need challenges for those?  Looking back, I honestly think I probably would have read the same numbers of books in each of those areas whether I had the challenge or not.



And now comes the quandary of what to do now that I am starting to meet my goals on them.  Do I bump up the goals and continue or do I stop and call the challenge completed?  I’m leaning toward just marking them complete and moving on to something else, but I guess we’ll see how I feel as I get closer to the finish line on each one.  I have to admit I did feel a bit of relief when the host of the Beat the Backlist Challenge announced some changes to that challenge which translated to less “housekeeping” on my end.

Even though I’m okay overall with the 5 challenges, moving forward, I think I’ll probably do less of them, especially the ones that are meant to run all year round.  I’ll probably stick to one or two of those, especially since I’m actually finding that I prefer the challenges that only last a month or two and also the shorter readathons.  They feel like more a challenge because the timeframe is shorter, which also means less of the “housekeeping,” but the goals are usually still flexible so I can make them as challenging as I want to.  Some favorites from the past two years for me are the Summer TBR Wipeout Challenge, the March Take Control of Your TBR Challenge, and the HoHoHo Readathon.


How about you?  Have you ever found yourself suffering from Challenge Fatigue?  How many challenges is too many for you?

Discussion Post: Who are You?  Finding Your Voice as a Blogger

Who are You?  Finding Your Voice as a Blogger

I’m celebrating my 2nd Blogoversary this week (I’ll be hosting a giveaway soon to celebrate that, by the way, so stay tuned!) and as I start my third year, it really has me thinking about how far I’ve come and what some of my biggest challenges were starting out as a newbie.

I think where I struggled most, aside from the actual mechanics of setting up a blog and getting started, was figuring out who I am as a blogger – finding my voice, so to speak.  When I first joined the community, I was easily intimidated because there are just so many bloggers out there with these confident, energetic personalities who have amassed tons of followers.  All I could think was “Who is going to pay attention to shy, awkward little me when there are all of these amazing and vibrant personalities out there?”


Now, that said, while I know it may be tempting to try to model your blogging voice after bloggers like that, if I could offer one piece of advice to new bloggers, it would be this…don’t do it.

Why?  Here are my thoughts on the subject as they have evolved over the past two years, every time I have doubted myself and felt like maybe I should do something differently:

  • Even the biggest blogger started out small and had to find his or her way as well. Maybe they now have thousands of followers but chances are, it has taken them years to build that kind of following. It doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with personality. It’s all about putting in the work to make your blog and online following grow.
  • If you model yourself too closely after a “big” blogger, eventually someone is going to notice and probably say something and, ugh, who needs that kind of stress and awkwardness in their life? Not to mention if what you’re trying to do doesn’t really reflect who you are as a blogger, are you really going to be able to keep it up long-term?  Or want to, for that matter?
  • Why would you want your blog to reflect someone else’s personality and style when you have a personality and style of your own?
  • Wouldn’t the blogging community be boring if we all sounded exactly alike?

When I think about the bloggers I enjoy interacting with the most, it’s not necessarily the bloggers with the most effervescent personalities that I’m most drawn to.  Yes, of course I enjoy those vibrant and energetic bloggers too, but the ones that reel me in and keep me coming back are those blogs, big or small, where I feel like I’m getting to know the blogger a bit each time I visit and read their posts.  Whatever their personality happens to be, it comes shining through and I feel like I’m making a real connection with someone.  And I honestly don’t think I’m alone in this.  Aren’t many of us in the blogging community trying to make connections with people we think we’ll like and share interests with?

So, that said, the point of my post is that even when we’re having doubts about whether we’re good enough, we should still strive to be ourselves, no matter what.  If you’re a bubbly, energetic person, then by all means, make your posts reflect that, but if you’re quieter and more subtle, that’s cool too.  And if you’re a ranter, rant away! In short, you be you and your confidence as a blogger will grow, and, best of all, your tribe will find you. ♥