Category «Features»

DNF December Review Blitz: Introduction Post

Ever since 2015 when I decided to be more proactive and smarter about my TBR list, I’ve found myself DNFing more books than ever. I’m sure some people will read that and think “how awful” but I don’t see it necessarily as a negative thing; if anything, it has improved my reading life in an extremely positive way. Ever since I wrote a post explaining why I wanted to DNF more booksI’ve found myself in less reading slumps because I’m not reading books simply because I feel like I have to finish them. If I don’t find myself interested in one book, I simply stop it and read another until I find one that sticks.

>> SERIESous Discussion: DNFing ARCs

According to the “My Reading Habits by Month” post earlier this year, I nearly tripled the amount of books I DNF’d in 2017 compared to 2016 (going from 7 books to 17). Which also means I have more DNF reviews sitting in my “posts to publish” queue than ever before.

Which is how I came up with the idea for this review blitz! I had imposed a rule on myself to only post one DNF review a month–which is hard! And thanks to other commitments, I often moved those post around and they never seemed to see the light of day. I also found myself running out of spots for reviews I had fully completed and ready to go. So I needed a new solution. After I posted my Trilogy Termination Blitz in the Spring this year, I decided to do a similar thing with DNF reviews. And because I like alliteration (and the idea of yearly wrap-ups in December) , I picked December.

Now: what is a DNF’d review?

For me these are reviews of novels I never finished. Meaning I started them but stopped reading before I reached the end. These are not reviews for series where I read the first book completely and then opted to not read the sequel. Those get the regular “series review” treatment on my site as I have a conclusion card to tag them appropriately. I’ve also excluded those DNF reviews for brand new book series that had their inaugural title released this year. Those series get a special “Fresh Friday” review post.

These true DNF reviews get a bit of a different review format in comparison. In them, I list what I liked, what I didn’t and if I ever plan on finishing the series. I always find these reviews helpful when I’m deciding whether or not to add a book to my TBR and that’s what I aim for these reviews to do and why I publish them.

What Reviews are on the Way?

These are reviews that I wrote in 2017 and 2018. Some of these reviews were written a long time ago (ie early 2017) and got lost in various shuffles. But I wrote them immediately after I stopped the book so my feelings and thoughts are fresh.

Here are the reviews you will see over the next few days (note the links may be “broken” as the reviews aren’t published yet):

         

While I never want to DNF books (especially when most of these are ones I’ve spent my money to buy), I know it is an inevitable fact of being a book reader. I hope to make this more of a yearly feature as a part of my December year-end-wrap-up going forward but you might see the occasional one pop up throughout the year.

I hope you enjoy the reviews I post over the next week! And if you read and enjoyed these books, I would love to get your takes on them! Who knows, maybe I’ll pick them up again!

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Monthly Inventory: November 2018

November 2018

It’s crazy to me that we are already in the last month of 2018! Where did the time go?!

November wasn’t the best reading month for me (nor writing, I didn’t even attempt NaNoWriMo this year like I usually do). There were definitely days I didn’t even pick up a book; which had been so foreign to me until this year. Even my blog got neglected for most of the week–thankfully I have all my posts scheduled in advance! But work and life have a funny way of doing that to you. It has inspired me to write a post about a reading slump due to life…if I ever get around to it 😛

This December is all about wrapping up the year. I’ve got approximately 20 titles I need to read to finish all my challenges by the end of the month and I’m not sure if I can do it. I have created a list to follow and I’m hoping I can stick to it!

What else can you expect this month? On the blog I have started to do my first ever DNF December Review Blitz. More often than not, my DNF reviews don’t see the light of day (they get moved around in the schedule to accommodate blog tours, etc) so I wanted a way to get them out there. This year’s reviews are a mix of titles I DNF’d this year as well as in the last two years (or so). I also have a few year end wrap-up posts including my annual Reads in Review for 2018.

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Total for November 2018: 12 Books Read + 2 Novellas Read

DNF’d: 1 Book

Last November: 15 Books Read + 3 Novellas Read + 1 DNFs

Standout Read (★★★★★)


This series was a standout read for me in 2018. I loved the drama, sabotage and intrigue of the first novel and this sequel definitely measured up!

Biggest Let Down (DNF)


I definitely waited far too long to read this sequel. I just couldn’t bring myself to be invested in a series I hadn’t really loved during my first foray into it.

 

posted reviews

Most Viewed Post

Monthly Inventory: October 2018

Most Viewed Review

Standalone Review: American Panda

View this year’s archives for more posts and reviews!

 

thoughts

Previously posted series reviews that got updates:

thoughts

You can always get the full details on all my challenges on my dedicated page but here is a quick update:

5 Year 5 Book Challenge: 17 of 25 Titles Read – Behind!
Goodreads Challenge: COMPLETED!
52 Sequel Challenge: 45/52 Sequels – Behind!
Tackling the TBR Challenge: 28/36 Books – Behind!

View my Challenge Progress Here!

 

Created by Lia @ Lost in a Story

I’ve seen this meme floating around and thought it was a great idea to help me tackle my TBR list and reach that less than 500 goal. The idea is to go through 5-10 books on your Goodreads TBR list chronologically and decide if they should stay or go. I usually do a big Goodreads Purge twice a year but I like the idea of doing a little bit at a time and have decided to do this on a monthly basis.

This month (7 new to me series + 3 previously started series):

Pass

Keep

Keep

Keep

Keep

Keep

Keep

Keep

Keep

Pass

Pass: 2 | Keep: 8

Did I give up on any too soon? Let me know in the comments below!

 

December is all about wrapping up the year! I’ve got some new and returning year-end favourite posts in store that I hope you will enjoy! As for books, here’s what I have on my immediate TBR list:

Dirty Filthy Rich Men (Dirty Duet, #1) The Forbidden Wish (The Forbidden Wish, #1) Little Black Book (Little Black Book, #1) Twice Burned (Love is Messy Duet, #2) Arrogant Master (Arrogant, #2) Game for Marriage (Game for It, #1)


What were your biggest reading or personal accomplishments of the past month?
Leave a comment below!

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SERIESous Tips: Post Templates

I have a set way I like my posts to look.

I knew very early on when I created my blog that I liked my posts to look uniform. I didn’t want my readers to have to search for the details throughout the post or have to read a different format all the time. While my blog is a blog, I’ve always viewed it as a bit of an archive for series reviews so people can use it as a resource for all their book series needs. Which is why consistency is a huge thing for me.

Of course, over the years my blog has changed its formats. Series reviews used to be big chunks of text where I described what I liked about each installment in different paragraphs. Now, they are broken up into various component subheadings to provide more of an overview. The stats about each novel (like publishing date, author, etc) now appear at the top of the post, as does the book’s synopsis. I’ve also included new graphics along the way and updated the colours scheme.

Writing blog posts can take a long time; especially book ones!

You’ve got to include book images, synopsis and stats; and if you’re doing a blog tour, there are certain aspects you have to add as well. So how do you make sure you include everything in your posts?

Answer: Templates.

I started creating and using templates back when my blog was still on the free WordPress.com platform but I continue to use them even now that I’ve become self-hosted because they are so easy!

I know that self-hosted blogs have various plug-ins to help you blog faster–especially ones that import from sites like Goodreads–but I have a certain look I like and I just find it easier to add the details myself.

>> SERIESous Tips: My 5 Favourite WordPress Plugins

Which is why I use a Word Document to keep and create my master post templates. I do have my basic templates as a saved draft on my blog for when I don’t have access to Word, but the master copy is a Word Document. I use Word for a variety of reasons:

  1. I can create Headings that make it easy to jump to a particular template
  2. I can access the document without WiFi
  3. I can access the document anywhere via my OneDrive Cloud
  4. It keeps things in HTML format
    • There is a setting to make sure the ” ” marks are correct so be aware!
  5. It’s easy to Find and Replace things in bulk
    • Perfect for updating annually!

Here’s an example of the template I use for my standard Series Review posts:

A portion of my Book Series Review Template.

Everything is written in its HTML code so all I have to do is paste the full template into the “Text” section of the WordPress processor (I’m not sure how other blogging platforms work but that’s the HTML coding section for WordPress). It includes all the styling I want (like heading styles or if the text is italicized); image placeholders for covers; review heading images; and also includes the default internal links I use. Anything that needs to be customized to the specific post is written in CAPS so that it is easy to spot within the code or if I am looking on the “Visual” page (the post builder that shows what the HTML looks like).

Once the template it in, I just build everything accordingly!

I also use Word templates for other, everyday things I do/use on my blog including:

  1. Code for updated reviews
  2. Review Conclusions
  3. Subheadings for DNF or Nonfiction Reviews
  4. Text Disclaimers for Cross Posting on External Sites (source is author/Netgalley/etc)
  5. Disclaimers for conversions of reviews (formerly a post about first book…)
  6. Netgalley Notes to the publisher (when blog post is released; cross post to other sites)
  7. Reading Challenges

Everything is in that one Word Doc with the appropriate heading so I never have to search for it. I’ve shrunk every template to a single page to make for an easier select and copy. And while I compose my posts, I often have my template document on my second screen (I have a second monitor attached to my laptop) so that I don’t have to minimize and maximize the windows all the time. It makes it easy to move back and forth.

I also have template documents for my Series Recap pages and custom HTML codes for plug-ins that get updates and change.

Why do I love Templates?

Templates are great for a forgetful person like me. I never have to worry if I’m forgetting to add something to my Blog Tour posts (though I do use checklists in Trello as a double-check) or if my end signature is included.

It also saves me a ton of time because I don’t have to code/format everything from scratch every time. Instead, I just put the bones of my post down and fill in what needs to be filled. And by making it obvious what I need to fill in, it’s great for creating drafts that I will be finishing later on.

Do you use templates for creating your blog posts? What tips do you have to share?

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Monthly Inventory: October 2018

October 2018

Like most month’s this year, I feel like October came and went in a flash!

Between life, work and vacation, I didn’t get much reading in. (That’s also why this post is happening super later than normal!). It helped my numbers a lot that I read a lot more novellas or shorter novels than I usually do. But, that still didn’t stop me from completing my Goodreads Goal ahead of schedule! Once again, I underestimated my reading prowess for the yearbut given the last few months, it’s a good thing I got ahead of schedule earlier this year because I’m not sure I would have reached it otherwise.

thoughts

Total for October 2018: 11 Books Read + 4 Novellas Read

DNF’d: 4 Books

Last October: 16 Books Read + 0 Novellas Read + 1 DNFs

Standout Read (★★★★★)


This book was everything I wanted it to be–it’s one of the best contemporary romances I’ve read in a long, long time!

Biggest Let Down (★)


I was super excited to return to this world with a brand new set of leads but this story took a turn/approach I did not appreciate in the slightest. What a disappointment!


posted reviews

Most Viewed Post

Monthly Inventory: September 2018

Most Viewed Review

DNF Review: Kens

View this year’s archives for more posts and reviews!

 

thoughts

Previously posted series reviews that got updates:

 

thoughts

You can always get the full details on all my challenges on my dedicated page but here is a quick update:

5 Year 5 Book Challenge: Only Between Us | 17 of 25 Titles Read – Slightly Behind
Goodreads Challenge: 15 books added | 202/190 Books – COMPLETED!
52 Sequel Challenge: 5 Sequels | 43/52 Sequels – Slightly Behind
Tackling the TBR Challenge: 2 books added | 26/36 Books – Slightly Behind

View my Challenge Progress Here!

Created by Lia @ Lost in a Story

I’ve seen this meme floating around and thought it was a great idea to help me tackle my TBR list and reach that less than 500 goal. The idea is to go through 5-10 books on your Goodreads TBR list chronologically and decide if they should stay or go. I usually do a big Goodreads Purge twice a year but I like the idea of doing a little bit at a time and have decided to do this on a monthly basis.

This month (7 new to me series + 3 previously started series):

Pass

Keep

Keep

Pass

Pass

Pass

Keep

Pass

Keep

Pass

Pass: 6 | Keep: 4

Did I give up on any too soon? Let me know in the comments below!

 

The main focus this month is to clean up my ARCs and get some reading challenge titles under my belt. Fingers crossed!

What were your biggest reading or personal accomplishments of the past month?
Leave a comment below!

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Blog Tour: Want (Ryder Brothers #2) by Kayti McGee

Synopsis for Want (from Goodreads):

Welcome to Hollywood, where wet dreams come true.

I fell for Marlee the second I met her- gorgeous smile, unimpressed by my stardom… bendy.

Not even remotely interested in me.

Of course the girl of my dreams has to be engaged to her hometown high-school sweetheart. Nothing’s ever easy, right?

Until they break up.
And she moves in with me.
The only person who can help her practice for her next role is me.

Because Marlee isn’t just new to Hollywood.

She’s a virgin.

Other books in the series:
book3

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Contemporary Series 2018
Series: Ryder Brothers
Author: Kayti McGee
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, More, to be published in December 2018
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Celebrity
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: October 10, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Candi Kane PR–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

After such a strong start in this series, I couldn’t wait to get Jake’s story! I love it when our hero is hopelessly in love with the heroine…but she doesn’t really know it yet. There’s just something about the tension it brings that sucks me in.

What I Liked:

–The Friends to More Relationship–

I loved that these two had already established a friendship before the book started. They are great friends who support each other and just have a really solid relationship. And that translates well in the first few chapters of the book. I was able to see their great connection–not simply be told it existed–and that set up a great foundation for the rest of the story; especially when the romance begins to develop.

–Jake Will Make You Swoon–

Jake is everything you want in a romance hero. He’s sweet (seriously, he says the nicest things about Marlee), confident but not overbearing and ridiculously sexy as a result. By the end of the first chapter, he had completely won over. It doesn’t hurt that he is hopelessly in love with Marlee either–there is just something so attractive about that!

What I Didn’t Like:

–Marlee’s Reason for Getting Jake’s Help With Romance–

I don’t want to give too much away but I think it’s fairly obvious early on what type of situation Marlee finds herself in and why she needs Jake’s help. Regardless, I just wish the ramifications of her situation was elaborated on a little more; especially in the current climate we are in socially. Marlee gives a somewhat valid reason for her decision but it just gave me a bad taste in my mouth and one that stayed throughout the novel.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I cannot wait to get the last story! Jonas has been such an enigma that I’m super excited to learn more about him!

My Rating: 4/5

Close 5/5 | Want 4/5 | More TBR

overall

Simply put, this is just another really great contemporary romance novel–this series is fantastic!

Read if You Like: contemporary romances, celebrities
Avoid if You: dislike sexy times

similarreads

 


Kayti McGee

Livin’ deliciously in beautiful Kansas City Missouri, where everyone else loves the Royals as much as I do. I like wine and murder shows and mountains and art.

I’m represented by Rebecca Friedman at Friedman Literary because I am a lucky, lucky girl. Call her if you want me to do Iron Chef, otherwise just hit me up on FB at http://www.facebook.com/kaytimcgeeauthor on Insta @KaytiMcGeeWrites, and stay sexy.

Author Links: Facebook | Readers Group | Bookbub | AmazonGoodreads | Instagram

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Blog Tour: I Bet You (The Hook-Up #2) by Isla Madden-Mills

Synopsis for I Bet You (from Goodreads):

Wall Street Journal bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills returns with an all-new swoon-fest of a novel about what happens when you look beyond labels and take a chance on love.

Sexy Athlete: I bet you…
Penelope Graham: Burn in hell, quarterback.

The text is random but Penelope figures out exactly who “Sexy Athlete” is. And why she shouldn’t take his wager.

Ryker Voss.
Football star.
Walks on water and God’s gift to women.
Just ask him.

His bet? He promises Penelope he’ll win her the heart of the guy she’s been crushing on. His plan—good old-fashioned jealousy. Once her crush sees her kissing Ryker, he’ll realize what he’s missing. Sounds legit, right? The only question is…why is Ryker being so nice to her?

Penelope Graham.
Virgin.
Lover of sparkly vampires and calculus.
His mortal enemy.

Penelope knows she shouldn’t trust a jock, but what’s a girl to do when she needs a date to Homecoming? And Ryker’s keeping a secret, another bet, one that could destroy Penelope’s heart forever.

Will the quarterback score the good girl or will his secrets mean everyone loses this game of love?

Other books in the series:

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: The Hook-Up
Author: Isla Madden Mills
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Unsure
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 28, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Social Butterfly PR–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

thoughts

Catch my review of book #1 of The Hook-Up, I Dare You, Here!

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

The first book in this series, I Dare You, was such a great read! It just had this great blend of characters, romance and story and I couldn’t wait to delve back into this world Madden-Mills has expertly crafted!

What I Liked:

–Their Chemistry–

These two just had instant, palpable chemistry from the get-go. The result is wickedly entertaining banter and swoon-worthy moments that will have you as a puddle on the floor. They were such a great match and the tension between them as they tried to figure that out–addicting!

–The Tropes Used–

Penelope and Ryker have this whole hate-to-love you vibe going on at the start of the book that I love so much. It really sets the tone for their entire relationship and romance. Add to that the betting aspect (which was rather refreshing because of Ryker’s approach isn’t one we often see with heroes with that particular set-up); the “I’ll help you get the guy you want” scenario and the player/virgin trope and you’ve got a very entertaining read on your hands.

–The Evolution of Their Relationship–

I just loved how these two got to know each other as people so much! Their communication was fabulous! Most of this book is spent watching these two talk to each other about anything and everything and I totally fell in love with them as a couple because of that.

What I Didn’t:

–Lack of Ryker’s POV–

Don’t get me wrong, Ryker is a swoon-worthy book hero who you will no doubt love. He had me swooning from the get-go.

It’s slightly ironic that in my review of I Dare You, one of my chief complaints was the fact that having Maverick’s POV and knowing his secrets dampened the dramatic element of the plot; whereas in this book, I feel like I didn’t get enough of Ryker’s POV to get a solid read on his character. His development to me was slightly stifled as a result.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really hope Charisma gets her own story–she is quite the character!

My Rating: 4/5

I Dare You 4/5 | I Bet You 4/5

overall
A super cute romance that you will no doubt devour in one sitting!

Read if You Like: college romances, jock heroes, hot romance
Avoid if You: dislike sport romances

similarreads

Ilsa Madden-Mills

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills writes about strong heroines and sexy alpha males that sometimes you just want to slap.

She’s addicted to dystopian books and all things fantasy, including unicorns and sword-wielding females. Other fascinations include frothy coffee beverages, dark chocolate, Instagram, Ian Somerhalder (seriously hot), astronomy (she’s a Gemini), and tattoos.

She has a degree in English and a Master’s in Education.

When she’s not pecking away on her computer, she shops for cool magnets and paints old furniture.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon

 

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Blog Tour: Royally Yours (Royally #4) by Emma Chase

Synopsis for Royally Yours (from Goodreads):
Princess Lenora Celeste Beatrice Arabella Pembrook had an unusual childhood. She was raised to be a Queen—the first Queen of Wessco.

It’s a big deal.

When she’s crowned at just nineteen, the beautiful young monarch is prepared to rule. She’s charming, clever, confident and cunning.

What she isn’t… is married.

It’s her advising council’s first priority. It’s what Parliament is demanding, and what her people want.

Lenora has no desire to tie herself to a man—particularly one who only wants her for her crown. But compromises must be made and royals must do their duty.

Even Queens. Especially them.

**

Years ago, Edward Langdon Richard Dorian Rourke, walked away from his title and country. Now he’s an adventurer—climbing mountains, exploring jungles, going wherever he wants, when he wants—until family devotion brings him home.

And a sacred promise keeps him there.

To Edward, the haughty, guarded little Queen is intriguing, infuriating…and utterly captivating. Wanting her just might drive him mad—or become his greatest adventure.

**

Within the cold, stone walls of the royal palace—mistrust threatens, wills clash, and an undeniable, passionate love will change the future of the monarchy forever.

Every dynasty has a beginning. Every legend starts with a story.

This is theirs.

Other books in the series:

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author, Fav Couple, 2018 Fav
Series: Royally Trilogy; Royals Trilogy

There is a Spin-Off Series titled The Bodyguards!

Author: Emma Chase
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order)

There is a free novella: #2.5 Royally Raised

Book Order: Connected but Chronological Events

Technically, Royally Yours (#4) is a prequel

Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Humour
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: October 2016 – October 2018
Source & Format: Inkslinger PR–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: AmazonKobo / iBooks / B & N

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

If you read my review of the original trilogy, you know that I absolutely loved this series. I gave every book 5/5 and I plan on rereading them in the years to come. After devouring them all earlier this year, I made it my gold standard for contemporary romance. I just couldn’t get enough of these books!

So I was BEYOND EXCITED for Royally Yours. Getting that insight into such a formidable character like Queen Lenora? YES PLEASE!

What I Liked:

–I Cried–

Seems like a weird thing to like about a book but this book definitely brought out the emotions in me. Lenora’s story isn’t a lighthearted one: she’s gone through a lot. And I just thought it was amazing that I got so involved in her story and what happens in it.

And to be fair, I also laughed and swooned along the way as well.

–Fresh Plot–

I don’t read a lot of books set in the 1950s or 1960s so that was a refreshing setting to have. The culture–specifically the attitudes towards women–is so different from what we see today (well, in some ways). So it was intriguing to get the part of Lenora’s story and the struggles she faces when she becomes the first governing female monarch of her country.

–Great Character Development–

The first half of this novel definitely focuses more on Lenora but you need it to. Her experiences really set the stage for the rest of the story, and in particular Edward’s character development as well. I thought the second half of the novel focused more on Edward and his life. Which was awesome because it really helps to tie together their shared story when all is said and done.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The End Came Too Quickly–

I seriously could have read another 50 chapters on these two: they are just too perfect!

When to Read:

Honestly, you could read this book at any time. I think though you might get a little more out of it by reading it as the 4th book in the series because by then, you are super intrigued by Lenora’s story.

My Rating: 5/5

Royally Screwed 5/5 | Royally Matched 5/5 | [Royally Raised 5/5] | Royally Endowed 5/5 | Royally Yours 5/5

overall
This was EXACTLY what I wanted from this novel! Just a solid romance with great characters and a fabulous story!

Read if You Like: romances involving royals, humour
Avoid if You: don’t enjoy romance novels

similarreads

readingchallengesbook


Emma Chase

Emma Chase is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the hot and hilarious Tangled series and The Legal Briefs series. Emma lives in New Jersey with her husband, two children and two naughty (but really cute) dogs. She has a long-standing love/hate relationship with caffeine.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter

 

Add: Goodreads | Buy: AmazonKobo / iBooks / B & N

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SERIESous Tips: Book Blogging When on Vacation

Finding the right balance between relaxing and being productive while on vacation isn’t always easy.

I’m a huge fan of travelling. I love exploring the world and experiencing new adventures. I’ve been very fortunate to see so many things over the last few years and I always try to go some place new every year.

I do a lot of prep before I go on a trip. Of course I do all the stuff pertinent to my trip (like packing clothes and printing itineraries) but I also get my reading and blogging habits in order as well.

>> SERIESous Tips: Picking the Perfect Travel Read!

My Philosophy:

I didn’t travel across the world (or wherever) do to things I do at home. I want to embrace everything about the place I’m travelling to and that means busy itineraries in order to see everything that I can. I travel with the philosophy that I might never return to that place and I never want to regret not doing something.

So that means I won’t be spending hours blogging or reading like I would at home. Sure, I do that stuff in my downtime or while en route to a new location while away; but I don’t plan for me to have those moments during my trip. If I do manage to get some stuff done it’s a bonus.

Basically, my blog gets neglected in the sense I’m not visiting daily while travelling but I do think about it and my content while I’m away.

Here are some of the things I do before and during my vacation to keep up with my blog’s content and reviews:

Scheduling Posts

I schedule all the posts on my blog well in advance of their posting dates. I’ve been doing this since my first year of blogging and it has paid off immensely. As I write this (February 2018), I have posts scheduled well into October 2018! (And at the time that this is published in October 2018, I have posts scheduled well into April 2019). That means I can leave my blog for a few days and not worry about posting new content on a regular basis (or getting internet access to do so). You probably didn’t even know I was away because I had been posting regularly 😉

Learn More: Scheduling Blog Posts |  How to Start Scheduling Posts

So of course, I recommend that you schedule some planned posts while away on vacation. Sure, they can be reviews but I recommend special content like tags or memes instead. This is the stuff that isn’t necessarily date specific and you can write well in advance and keep in your draft folder until you need them. It will require a bit of planning and time on your end to write some extra posts but you’ll thank yourself later when you find out you won’t have the time to hit “publish” while away.

Access to my Schedule via OneDrive

I keep track of all the book deadlines I have as well as my blog’s posting schedule in one Word Document. If anyone but me opened that document, they’d probably be confused out of their minds but it makes sense to me!

>>SERIESous Tips: Keeping Organized

OneDrive is basically a cloud for Microsoft products–it’s like DropBox or Google Drive. Now that I’m no longer in school, I don’t use it as much but I still use it for my blog. In it, I have my blogging templates, common book themes, book summaries/recaps, and my master schedule. It syncs anytime I have internet to any of my devices and I can also access it via the web. I can even access the documents offline on my phone if I need to.

My point here is that I like having my Master Book/Blog schedule handy so that I know what books to read and when. Can I start a random book or do I need to read something else for review purposes? Having that document handy wherever I go has really helped me be more productive when it comes to reading both before and during my trip.

I do have post templates saved as draft posts on the blog as well but the master/most-up-to-date file is the Word document.

Avoid Deadlines / Posting Commitments

Most of the time, you know well in advance when you are going to be on an extended vacation. Sometimes you don’t but that’s ok. My point here is make sure you don’t schedule yourself for any blog tours or promotional posts while you are away. I make sure to keep track of all tours/ARCs I’ve requested so I have a general idea of what I might be committed to reading and posting in the future.

>>SERIESous Tips: Keeping Organized — ARCS

Not only will you create pressure for yourself by creating a deadline to read something but you might find yourself in a bit of a pickle in terms of content. While most blogging tour groups provide you the necessary media and such a week in advance of a tour, some don’t! So take that into consideration before you hit request–especially if your time and/or internet connection is up in the air! You might not be able to fulfill your reviewer obligations and that may dampen future opportunities.

>>Discussion: Lessons Learned from Doing Blog Tours

Jot Down Reviews/Thoughts After Finishing a Novel

One of the biggest factors in terms of blog maintenance is my internet connection. I don’t always have one wherever I go or one readily available at all times. That means I can’t access my blog or even the Goodreads App on my phone. In the last two years, I’ve come to rely heavily on the Goodreads App to jot down some of my thoughts after finishing a novel so I have a base to create my review. But without an internet connection, I can’t really do that.

What I started doing was using my Note App on my phone and writing my thoughts there. I’d mark my start and end dates; write some common themes; note some similar reads; and write my full review. Basically, I’d do everything I normally would do in a post just without the HTML and the book’s metadata. Then, I send that to myself via email when I return home or have internet connection and copy and paste into my templates.

When I came back from my trip in February, I had 7 reviews to write. Normally this would take me hours and I would be pulling my hair out because I wouldn’t remember everything about the books I read. However, thanks to my notes, I was able to churn out reviews like a boss. All I had to do was paste in my thoughts (tweak them a little but not much) and format the post accordingly. What should have taken me a full day only took 2 hours! Amazing!

Keeping Up With Emails / Requests

I don’t get a lot of emails pertaining to my blog but I do subscribe to a lot of email lists for blog tours, book deals and author newsletters. I never realized how many until I didn’t check my Gmail account for a few days and found my inbox stuffed!

One of the nice things about Gmail is that you can separate your inbox into 4 folders that emails are automatically filtered into upon arrival. I’ve sorted mine like this:

  • Primary: Publishing contacts; request submissions on my blog; other
  • Social: commenting feeds; Bloglovin’; Hellobar updates
  • Promotions: author newsletters; book deals; giveaways; Netgalley
  • Updates: blog tour lists; review opportunity lists

I’ve found that this helps me tackle my inbox when I have to go through lots of emails. First, I glance through and delete anything that has “expired” (ex. deals for a specific day). Then I go through and swipe my way through all the emails and star anything that needs follow-up. Then I do a massive delete and work my way through the ones that need my attention.

I have a plug-in for Gmail called Boomerang which lets me pause my inbox (though I’ve never used it). I also use that plug-in to schedule emails to send out. This is especially helpful when I have some review opportunity follow-ups that require the emailed links when the post goes live.

Creating a Worklist via Trello

I’ve praised this online tool before but I wanted to share how I use it while I’m away. The great thing about Trello is that you can use it offline. I’ve got it on my phone so I can create review cards and file them accordingly offline and they will be synced when I get an internet connection. That way, I have a worklist of sorts to complete when I return and I know what I need to do for my blog.

>>SERIESous Tips: Using Trello to Keep Track of Reviews


I hope you found some of my tips and tricks helpful!

What do you do while away on vacation when it comes to reading and blogging?

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Blog Tour: Off the Ice (Breakaway #4) by L P Dover

Synopsis for Off the Ice (from Goodreads):

He’s always made the scoring plays, both on and off the ice, but this time he has a new goal … the one for Meghan’s heart.

I’m Justin Davis, all-star center for the Charlotte Strikers. For years, I chased the spotlight, not only with hockey, but through television as well. That’s why I decided to play the bachelor on Rich and Single. Unfortunately, I was stuck with a fake fiancée from hell who I couldn’t stand to be around. Now that our contract is up, I’m allowed to do whatever I want, with whoever I want. I plan to take full advantage of my newfound freedom.

After being on the show, people don’t recognize me for hockey anymore, even with just winning the Stanley Cup for my team. That’s why I’m spending the off season in a remote cabin in Wyoming where the chances of people knowing me are slim. Space is what I need, but when a down to earth beauty needs help on her ranch, I can’t resist. Meghan Taylor is exactly what I’ve been looking for, even though I’m not the kind of man she wants.

Getting her to see the real me has its challenges, but the more time I spend with her, the easier it is for her to see that I’m not the same guy she knows from TV. Being away from the media is one thing, but as soon as I’m back in the spotlight, I’m afraid it’ll change what we have. I don’t want to lose her, but I also can’t hide away in Wyoming forever. It’s a choice I’m not ready to make.

Other books in the series:

breakdown

Series: Breakaway
Author: L P Dover
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Sports, Hockey
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: June 2017 – October 2018
Source & Format: Enticing Journey–eARC (Off the Ice)

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / iBooks / B & N / Kobo

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I randomly stumbled upon this series earlier this year when I picked up a review copy of book #3, Playmaker. I then backtracked the rest of the series because I loved this great cast of characters. Also, each book has its own unique take on the romance novel so always know I’m going to get something fresh in the next book.

I actually thought book #3 was the last–but I’m so happy it wasn’t because I really wanted Justin’s story! So I was eager to dig in and wrap up this world.

The Plot:

To me, this was a very character driven story. Justin has been a side character throughout the series so it was great to get that insight into him. And I really loved Meghan and her story.

As for the drama: it surprised me as well. There were quite a few things at play and that kept me on my toes, eager to see what would happen next. Somethings wrap up a little too quickly for my taste but I liked how they were handled (ie communication) so I didn’t mind in the end.

The Characters:

Like I said above, I really liked these characters! They were well developed and just genuine people so you can’t help but like them.

The Romance:

I’m not a fan of insta-love and that is an aspect of other novels in the series that I didn’t particularly enjoy. However, that wasn’t the case here. These two spend a lot of time talking and getting to know each other so I got where these feelings were coming from.

Read my review of the rest of the series!

Series Rating: 3.5/5

Hard Stick 3/5 | Blocked 3/5 | Playmaker 3.5/5 | Off the Ice 3.5/5

overall

If you are looking for some quick sports romances that feature some hot hockey players, check this out!

Read if You Like: sports romances, quick reads
Avoid if You: dislike insta-love

similarreads

 

L P Dover

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author L. P. Dover is a southern belle living in North Carolina with her husband and two beautiful girls. Before she began her literary journey she worked in periodontics, enjoying the wonderment of dental surgeries.

She loves to write, but she also loves to play tennis, go on mountain hikes and white water rafting, and has a passion for singing. Her two youngest fans expect a concert each and every night before bedtime, usually Christmas carols.

Dover has written countless novels, including her Forever Fae series, the Second Chances series, the Gloves Off series, the Armed & Dangerous series, the Royal Shifters series, the Society X series, the Circle of Justice series, and her standalone novel Love, Lies, and Deception. Her favorite genre to read and write is romantic suspense, but if she got to choose a setting in which to live, it would be with her faeries in the Land of the Fae.

 

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / iBooks / B & N / Kobo

Book Tour Organised by:

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Top Ten Tuesdays: Favourite Book Villains

memefulthoughts1
Top Ten Tuesdays: Is a weekly meme feature hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl where bloggers post their Top 10 List for an assigned topic! I will not be participating every week, but I will occasionally take a shot at it! You can always find these lists (past, present and original) on my Riffle Page!

This Week’s Topic:

Top Ten Villains from Books!

One of the best things about Halloween is that it gives us the chance to give a shout out to all the great villains out there. Sure, you hate them and all the evil they do but there is not denying the fact that a good villain makes for an even better book!

(In no particular order):


Links to My Reviews:

Rook | Shatter Me | City of Bones | Shadow and Bone | Fairest | I am Number Four | Red Rising | Warcross | Beautiful Creatures

Who are your favourite villains?

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Leave a Link to your TTT in the comments below!