Category «Features»

Riffle Lists: Slow Burn Romance

Riffle is an independent book site that keeps track of what books you are reading and want to read. It’s similar to GoodReads but it keeps things simple and is super easy to use. One of my favourite features is the ability to create and share lists! It is a great way to create your own list of books that have a certain theme for your own records AND a fantastic way to discover new books through other users’ lists!


Happy Valentine’s Day!

I love (no pun intended) romance themed lists around Valentine’s Day every year. I’m a sucker for a good romance novel and I read them all the time.

This year, I was inspired by my recent Trope Thursday Feature where I looked at the slow burn romance. Normally, I want things to happen fast in my novels but the slow burn romance is the exception. There is nothing I love more than some great sexual tension between leads!

Here are some notable books with slow burn romances:

Read my reviews:

Smut | The Raven Boys | A Stardance Summer | The Wall of Winnipeg and Me | Defy the Stars | Duels & Deception | Unknown | To Win Her Heart | Idol | Play | Cross the Stars | Blackhearts | Schooled | The Mad Tatter | Lost & Found

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The Perfect Match: Winter 2018 Edition

Winter 2018 Edition

The Perfect Match: A seasonal feature where I play matchmaker but with books! What happens when you take Book A and combine it with Book B? The answer is Book C!

I did a bit of a fail with this feature last year, forgetting to do posts for the summer and fall of 2017. But never fear! I’ve returned with some romantic reads just in time for Valentine’s Day!

This time I’ve paired up books with some of my favourite rom-com movies!

Why This Match?

All these stories feature lead heroines who are escorts who fall in love with the client. While The Arrangement definitely has a flare for the darker dramatics, whereas Pretty Woman and the Calendar Girl Series are much lighter. But all these stories have the same female empowerment vibe to them thanks to their strong heroines.

Why This Match?

Rush was a favourite from last year. Like Brokeback Mountain, it shows the relationship between two men who feel like they can’t share their true feelings for each other. Actually, Rush inspired Leveled to a certain extent but I actually read Leveled first (plus, it is a novella compared to the novel that is Rush). Regardless, it has a lot of the same themes of sexuality and societal pressures.

Why This Match?

Ok, I know I am cheating a bit with A Walk to Remember since it was a book first. BUT, the novel takes place in the 1950s whereas the movie is the 1990s so it has more “contemporary” themes. Pushing the Limits features a once popular girl who is now a bit of a social outcast falling for the school bad boy. Of course, there is more than meets the eye and these two find a deeper connection and understanding. It’s darker than the other two but features a great romance and story. Chloe from Where the Road Takes me reminded me so much of Jamie from A Walk to Remember. They are both these quiet, determined girls who suddenly get noticed by someone from the “in-crowd” and try their best to not fall in love.


Agree or Disagree with my picks?

Feel free to suggest some of your own in the comments below!

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Trope Thursdays: Slow Burn Romance [2]

Trope Thursdays: A monthly feature where I look at various reading tropes. Each month I will pick a trope and examine all aspects of it. I’ll discuss the classic features of the trope, what I love (or hate) about it and share some books that use the trope in their plots.


Round 2 of my new feature!

As I said in the description above, the idea is to look at common book tropes and dissect them each month. I’m going to pick a variety of tropes–including ones I hate–and dig a little deeper. First, I’ll define what that trope is and then list some common features. Next, I’ll pick some examples of the trope in action and why it works (or doesn’t work) for that particular story. And then finally, I’ll open the floor to you to tell me your thoughts on the trope or recommend some reads to me.

Slow Burn Romance

Definition:

A romance that develops gradually over time as the characters get to know one each other more.

Common Features:

  • Friends to Lovers
  • In Love With Client/Coworker/Partner
  • Hate to Love You
  • In Love With the Enemy
  • Teach Me to Love
  • In Love with Someone “Forbidden”

What I Love About The Slow Burn Romance Trope:

I’ve only recently come to realize that I love the slow burn romance trope. For me, one of the things I need to see the most in my romances is a deeper connection. Insta-loves don’t work for me because the connection is usually superficial or based on something “unspoken”. But slow burn romances let you see how these characters work together over time. How they compliment each other; how they slowly realize the other person is what they have been looking for all along. That’s when the looks become a little longer; and the thoughts turn into attraction; and the tension between the two leads becomes palpable.

While researching this post, I read some other bloggers’ thoughts on the slow burn trope and I think Liana @ Coffee Time Romance sums it up very nicely:

The slow burn romance means the characters can flirt with the idea of love before ever admitting they are in love. It gives them a chance to learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Most importantly, it gives the readers a chance to see the couple through the good days and the bad so that when the characters finally reach Happily Ever After there is no doubt that they will really have forever together.

~Liana @ Coffee Time Romance (Post: The Beauty of the Slow Burn Romance [Sep 4, 2015])

What I Dislike About The Slow Burn Romance Trope:

Sometimes I can be a little impatient when it comes to my romances. There is only so many “near-misses” a girl can take before she’s screaming at the pages for the couple to kiss!

Like I mentioned in my last Trope Thursday Posts about Fake Relationships, the problem with the slow burn usually lies in the characters or the plot itself. If the plot isn’t very strong, I usually want the romance to be of a greater focus so that something is happening in the book. But if it too is just puttering along, well, that can make for a boring read. And when it comes to the characters, I want to like them. So if I find one character is “undeserving” of another, slow burn romances can drive me nuts because I don’t see that deeper connection.

But it’s also important to note that having the characters wait a long time to establish that romantic relationship doesn’t always make a slow burn romance. You need to have those moments that show a connection happen along the way. It isn’t enough to just stick a couple of calendar days between their first meeting and that moment when they finally take the next step. You’ve got to develop it in some way.

Another time slow burn romances can fail is in a series where the romance is spread out over multiple volumes. Once the couple gets together, that tension often disappears because they get into that “honeymoon” phase of the relationship. Their relationship becomes this inevitable fact and you lose a bit of that “will they or won’t they” thrill. Either they become this perfect couple or they have to break up for the sake of the plot. It can make for a boring read in the subsequent sequels if their slow burn romance was the main focus/plot-point of their first book because what else do you have to look forward to?

Books that Use the Slow Burn Romance Trope Well:

The Marriage Bargain (Marriage to a Billionaire, #1)
I found Blackhearts to be a very character driven story–which isn’t surprising because it is an origin story of sorts. Anne and Teach are both such intriguing characters on their own but when they share a scene, the magic really happens. They just have so much in common and watching them discover that was such a treat as a reader.

Their romance follows along the lines of one that is almost forbidden due to their positions in society. So while the attraction might always be there, they really do try and fight it in order to stop their hearts from breaking.

>>Series Review: Blackhearts

 

 

Not only is this one of the longest romance novels I have ever read (the Kindle version has over 600 pages which is absolutely CRAZY!) but it also has one of the slowest burning romances I’ve ever seen.

Why? Well these two don’t start as friends and they aren’t even that attracted to each other but that’s what happens over time. You watch their relationship evolve from boss/employee to partners to friends to lovers. It’s a hard thing for these two very independent people to learn to trust someone else but over the course of the novel, they learn to do that.

>>Standalone Review: The Wall of Winnipeg and Me

 

 

I had already written this post before I started this book. But as I was listening to the audiobook, I knew I just had to include it in this list.

The slow burn of Royally Endowed takes place over the course of years. This is a case where calendar days in between works as there is a never ending list of (realistic) obstacles along the way. It toys with the “will-they-won’t-they” idea until you know something has to give. And when it does, you can’t help but exclaim in joy.

 

Others: Play |  Smut

Books that Didn’t Use the Slow Burn Romance Trope Well:


This one is more a case of a slightly misleading synopsis and the idea of sticking calendar days in the way. I went into this book thinking the romance was going to be the main focus of the story and it wasn’t. In fact, the leads don’t even meet each other until the 50% mark. And when they do, they ignite pretty quickly. So despite the great chemistry and tension that we do finally get, the romance left something to be desired for me due to its execution.

Review: Crossing Stars

 

 

OK! Before everyone gets mad at me for this one hear me out! When I read the synopsis for The Raven Boys, I thought the main plotline was a romance between Blue and Gansey (all that stuff about her true love it mentions). So imagine my surprise when there is nearly zilch in the romance department in The Raven Boys!

I know that the romances are all slow burn and grow over the next 3 volumes but I needed something early on. I found the plot to be slow so this was one of those cases where I would have appreciated something else (like a romance) to focus on to keep the plot moving.

>>Series Review: The Raven Cycle

 

Others: A Stardance Summer |  Changling


Can’t get enough slow burn romances? Be sure to check out my Valentine’s Day Post!

Riffle Lists: Slow Burn Romance (Live February 14th)

 

As this is only my second post for this feature, please let me know what you think about its structure/topics be commenting below. I am more than willing to modify it in the coming months!

Do you enjoy the Slow Burn Romance Trope? Any recommendations?

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Monthly Inventory: January 2018

January 2018

January was an interesting reading month for me. I created my 2018 Reading Plan so I had a few “to-dos” to accomplish this past month. Did I meet them? Yes for the most part! I did request more ARCs than I anticipated (and set for myself)…oops. I also had to squeeze in a few other books because my “big city” library card expires mid-February now that I no longer live there for school. I tried my best to take out the books I don’t have access to with my local library and read them.

Thanks to my excellent planning, I managed to read all the books on my set TBR list according to my Reading Challenges while simultaneously reading those “big city” books (ie I made sure the books for this month’s reading challenge were the titles from that library).

I’ve also changed this summary post as well! There are some thing I’m only going to do every quarter and I’ve introduced some new features like my participation in the Down the TBR Hole meme and introducing the titles I have set to read for the new month. Enjoy!

thoughts

Total for January 2018: 24 Books Read + 2 Novellas Read

Last January: 21 Books Read + 2 Novellas Read

DNF’d: 3 Books

Standout Read (★★★★★)

Sixth Street Bands #4

I’ve been reviewing Jayne’s work since her first novel in the Sixth Bands Series and it is CRAZY how much her writing has evolved since that first book! This story was absolutely awesome and I felt every emotion reading it. Love!

Biggest Let Down (DNF)

Frigid #2

JLA is in my Top 10 most read authors according to Goodreads but the last few of hers I’ve tried haven’t been overly successful. I didn’t love the first book in this series, Frigid, but I was really excited to read about the next set of leads in Scorched. Unfortunately, their immaturity really bothered me and I ended up DNFing the book.

 

kobostats

Every quarter I take a look at my Kobo stats to see how I’m doing. My Kobo is my main reading device, used for personal and library books. My Kindle is used for ARCs but it lacks the statistic features of my Kobo.

As of:

January 31, 2018

January 31, 2017

Total % of Library Complete

23%

20%

Total # of Books Finished

270

531

Total # of Reading Hours

2511

2150

*Note: After an update midway through 2017, the statistics changed for my Kobo. It no longer counted library copies towards the Total # of Books Finished (though it still counts the hours). Hence, there is a decrease in my current numbers for that statistic!

posted reviews

Most Viewed Post

My 2018 Reading Plan

Most Viewed Review

Blog Tour: Fake Wife

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: Royally Screwed & Loop | 2 of 25 Titles Read
Goodreads Challenge: 26 books added | 26/190 Books
52 Sequel Challenge: 6 titles added + 1 DNF | 6/52 Sequels
Tackling the TBR Challenge: 4 books added + 1 DNF| 4/36 Books

View my Challenge Progress Here!

 

In February 2017, I created a challenge for myself to bring my “Want to Read” Goodreads Shelf to 500 books. By the end of December 2017, I had brought the shelf down from 1205 to 511 books! The ultimate goal for 2018 is to get that number lower than 500 and also bring down my “sequel” shelf as well. I’ve decided that every quarter I will check my stats to see how I’m doing when it comes to cleaning up my TBR:

Currently

December 31, 2017

Want to Read (New)

510

511

To Read (Sequels)

312

301

Clearly, not a big improvement. I picked up a few freebie reads this past month, including some sequel novels. But, it’s only month one and I hope that my upcoming vacation in February will help decrease those numbers.

 

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. I usually do a big Goodreads Purge twice a year but I like the idea of doing a little bit at a time.

It works like this:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if youre feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

 

I will be going through 10 books each month (7 “new” books/series and 3 previously started series) to see if I am going to keep them or move them to my “pass” shelf. I’m going by the date I added them to Goodreads, starting with what I added in 2012 and working my way towards 2018. Here are this month’s contenders and what I have decided to do:

The Kite Runner
Keep

The Diviners (The Diviners, #1)
Pass

The Seduction of Phaeton Black (Paranormal Investigator, #1)
Pass

Ironskin (Ironskin, #1)
Pass

The Demon King (Seven Realms, #1)
Keep

Tempting the Best Man (Gamble Brothers, #1)
Pass

Game for Marriage (Game for It, #1)
Keep

Dream Dark (Caster Chronicles, #2.5)
Keep

Angel Fever (Angel, #3)
Keep

Endlessly (Paranormalcy, #3)
Pass

Pass: 5  |  Keep: 5

Did I make any mistakes? Let me know in the comments below!

 

discussions

You can still join in on these discussions:

Here are some of my favourite posts that I’ve come across the past month:

Each month I have a list of 11 books I’ve selected to read for that particular month as per my 2018 Reading Plan. These books include review copies and reading challenge picks. Here are some of the books I have ready to go for February:

Free Me (The Found Duet, #1) Maid of Secrets (Maids of Honor, #1) Paper Hearts (Hearts, #2) The Savage Blue (The Vicious Deep #2) Darkest Night (Sons of Broad, #1) The Amber Elixir (A Two Realms Novella Book 1)

 

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

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Trope Thursdays: Fake Relationships [1]

Trope Thursdays: A monthly feature where I look at various reading tropes. Each month I will pick a trope and examine all aspects of it. I’ll discuss the classic features of the trope, what I love (or hate) about it and share some books that use the trope in their plots.


Thanks for reading!

I’m super excited to finally share this feature with everyone! This was a feature I thought up in the summer of 2017 when I was creating a discussion post about tropes. I’ve been slowly working on bringing it to life ever since. It took me awhile to figure out what I wanted to do exactly in the post as well as come up with a banner for the feature. (Don’t ask why I picked an owl, I just think they are cute and I wanted to know if I could create my own in Photoshop. Answer: yes).

As I said in the description above, the idea is to look at common book tropes and dissect them each month. I’m going to pick a variety of tropes–including ones I hate–and dig a little deeper. First, I’ll define what that trope is and then list some common features. Next, I’ll pick some examples of the trope in action and why it works (or doesn’t work) for that particular story. And then finally, I’ll open the floor to you to tell me your thoughts on the trope or recommend some reads to me.

So let’s begin! For my first ever Trope Thursday, I picked a personal favourite:

Fake Relationship Tropes

Definition:

Relationships that are formed between the leads for some purpose that requires the pair to appear to be in a romantic partnership. This purpose can be mutually beneficial or one-sided but both parties agree to fake romantic feelings to reach the end goal.

Common Features:

  • Fake girlfriend/boyfriend
  • Fake marriages (marriage of convenience)
  • Fake fiances
  • Slow burn romance

What I Love About The Fake Relationship Trope:

If I had to pick one trope to only read forever, it would likely be this one. I just love it so much! The main reason I can’t get enough is the development of the romance. In my romances, I want to see that deeper connection happen between my leads and I find I almost always get that in fake relationship novels. These characters become so ingrained in each other’s everyday life (and often in an accelerated way or during a time of high pressure) and they start to see the other person for who they are as a human being. They pick up on the quirks or the motivation for certain actions and that’s why they start to fall in love.

But don’t forget all the delicious tension of stolen kisses or lingering touches that may mean a little more! Usually the tension is just boiling over and the lines between love, lust, fake and reality begin to blur. I just love those moments where caution is thrown to the wind and the leads get carried away…

What I Dislike About The Fake Relationship Trope:

I generally don’t have any problems with the trope itself, usually it’s the plot or the characters that cause me to rate a fake relationship book lower and not the use of the trope.

Often time these stories can be cliche but I don’t particularly mind.

I do find that sometimes these novels can suffer from the time-frame of the novel depending on the situation and/or character development. Because people often need a fake boyfriend/girlfriend for a couple days or a month, the relationship can be too accelerated if not properly expanded upon with character development or a reasonable set of circumstances.

Books that Use the Fake Relationship Trope Well:

The Marriage Bargain (Marriage to a Billionaire, #1)
The chemistry between these two is off the charts! This is the classic “I’ve known you forever” type of situation with a shared past of hurt.  I adored their connection and how they use their marriage of convenience to grow as people and as partners for each other.

>>Series Review: Marriage to a Billionaire Series

 

 

One Week Girlfriend (One Week Girlfriend, #1)

One of my all time favourite New Adult reads. What I loved about this one is that these two don’t know anything about each other. But that quickly changes as they are thrown into a tense situation. Again, these two just got each other and watching them start from nothing to build such a great foundation had me swooning throughout!

>>Series Review: One Week Girlfriend

 

 

Others: The Wall of Winnipeg and Me  |  The Matchmaker’s Playbook

Books that Didn’t Use the Fake Relationship Trope Well:


It’s a shame the synopsis is so grossly misleading for this story. Regardless, this one failed to deliver on a few key things. For one, I felt like our hero wasn’t as developed as he could have been. Things also happen at a very quick pace and that stopped me from being a huge fan of the romance.

>>Series Review: A Billionaire Love Story Series

 

 

Despite great sexual tension between the leads, this story didn’t work on a lot of levels. For one, both leads were incredibly irritating. It’s hard to root for something more between them when you don’t like either lead. It also suffered from an overly dramatic (and quickly resolved) plotline.

>>Series Review: Billionaire Series

 

Others: His Hired Girlfriend


Thanks for reading my first ever Trope Thursday monthly feature! I hope you come back next month to see what I have in store!

As this is my first post for this feature, please let me know what you think about its structure/topics be commenting below. I am more than willing to modify it in the coming months!

Do you enjoy the Fake Relationship Trope? Any recommendations?

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Blog Tour: Breaking the Ice (Juniper Falls #2) by Julie Cross

Synopsis for Breaking the Ice (from Goodreads):

Haley Stevenson seems like she’s got it all together: cheer captain, “Princess” of Juniper Falls, and voted Most Likely to Get Things Done. But below the surface, she’s struggling with a less-than-stellar GPA and still reeling from the loss of her first love. Repeating her Civics class during summer school is her chance to Get Things Done, not angst over boys. In fact, she’s sworn them off completely until college.

Fletcher Scott is happy to keep a low profile around Juniper Falls. He’s always been the invisible guy, warming the bench on the hockey team and moonlighting at a job that would make his grandma blush. Suddenly, though, he’s finding he wants more: more time on the ice, and more time with his infuriatingly perfect summer-school study partner.

But leave it to a girl who requires perfection to shake up a boy who’s ready to break all the rules.

Other books in the series:
book3

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Juniper Falls
Author: Julie Cross
# of Books: 3 (Off the Ice, Breaking the Ice, Book 3)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Book 3, to be published
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports, Small Town
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: February 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Chapter by Chapter via Netgalley–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon // Kobo // iBooks

thoughts

My Expectations:

I was really excited to read Haley’s story! She was a character that really grew on my in Off the Ice the more I learned about her and I couldn’t wait for her to meet her match. Plus, I’m a sucker for the “fall for your school partner” trope…

The Plot:

Like its predecessor, this book is a coming of age story for our leads. They each have their own things to work on as people so this story has a great balance between romance, character growth and just a touch of drama.

For this book in particular, I felt like the plot took a while to get established. I guess I just didn’t know where the plot was going to go and so it took me awhile to get into it. However, once we get there, the book is fantastic! The latter half of the novel is great and had me turning page after page.

The Characters:

I’ll start with Fletcher because he really surprised me. Talk about layers! He was unlike any other character I’ve ever read and I immediately fell in love with him. I loved all his secrets and his little Fletcher-isms. He has this confidence about him yet he’s vulnerable at the same time and I loved how Haley brought that out in him.

I’ll be the first to admit, I didn’t like Haley when we first meet her Off the Ice. But she had this great character development in that first novel and it carries right on into this one. This series really succeeds in focusing on individual character stories and growing these characters in a way that doesn’t rely solely on the romance but enhances it.

The Romance:

My favourite part about the romance between these two is that they challenge each other in a variety of ways and that drives their individual character growth. They aren’t changing to be with the other person; they’re changing because they need to grow up as people and break the box they’ve put themselves in to be a better individual–something I think gets lost in a lot of YA contemporaries but doesn’t here.

It works here because this is very much a slow burn romance. These two have fantastic chemistry and attraction from the start but they take their time getting to those romantic feelings. Instead, they learn about each other and develop this understanding and respect that brings them closer together. You can’t help but root for them to fall in love as you watch that.

Read my Review for Book 1: Off the Ice Here!

My Rating: 4.5/5

Off the Ice 4/5 | Breaking the Ice 4.5/5

overall
If you want a YA romance that focuses on great characters and less on petty drama, I can’t recommend this series enough! It has a great balance between romance, characters, sports and just a touch of drama. Perfect for fans of small town romance!

Read if You Like: sports romances, slow burn romance, more character focused
Avoid if You: want more romance focused stories
similarreads

 


Julie Cross

Julie Cross is a NYT and USA Today bestselling author of New Adult and Young Adult fiction, including the Tempest series, a young adult science fiction trilogy which includes Tempest, Vortex, Timestorm (St. Martin’s Press). She’s also the author of Letters to Nowhere series, Whatever Life Throws at You, Third Degree, Halfway Perfect, and many more to come!

Julie lives in Central Illinois with her husband and three children. She’s a former gymnast, longtime gymnastics fan, coach, and former Gymnastics Program Director with the YMCA. She’s a lover of books, devouring several novels a week, especially in the young adult and new adult genres.

Outside of her reading and writing credibility’s, Julie Cross is a committed–but not talented–long distance runner, creator of imaginary beach vacations, Midwest bipolar weather survivor, expired CPR certification card holder, as well as a ponytail and gym shoe addict.

Author Links: Website | Goodreads | Twitter

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SERIESous’ Reading Plan for 2018

2017 Was the Year I Had Been Working Towards

2018 Is the Year I Keep the Momentum Going

You can read all about my journey to read smarter, not harder in last year’s reading plan post. But the gist is that I was overwhelming myself in a lot of ways which, in turn, was creating a lot of reading slumps and not so much fun.

Since 2016, I’ve worked very hard on changing some of my reading habits. I’ve cut down significantly on my library holds, I’ve limited the number of requests I read in a month and I’ve become more comfortable with DNFing books when I’m not interested. Overall, it’s led to a more positive reading experience that has resulted in less reading slumps and more flexibility.

So I want to keep that momentum going and I’ve come up with 3 goals I want 2018 to be all about.

#1 – Read More Owned Novels

While I may have achieved my goal to read books I own with my #ShelfLove Challenge in 2017, I still want to clean up my eReaders and bookshelves when it comes to unread novels. If you compare 2017 (51 books) to 2016 (79 books), I actually read less books from my personal collection and that is a little disappointing. (Mind you, I did DNF at least 8 titles from my personal collection last year as well).

>> 2018 Reading Challenge: Tackling the TBR Personal Reading Challenge 2018

I did a good job of not buying too many books in 2017 so hopefully I can continue that trend and give myself a shot at upping my “% of library complete” on my Kobo.

>> Fun Fact: It takes me approximately 11 read books to complete 1% of my Kobo library!

#2 – Read More Sequels

As I write this, I currently have 131 book series on the go which totals nearly 179 books when all is said and done. Mind you, a third of that are series that will be releasing their Book 2 in 2018 so it’s not totally daunting. (It totally is!).

>> 2018 Reading Challenge: 52 Sequels Personal Reading Challenge

But that being said, I still have a lot of series that do have all their books released and I’d love to update and publish some of those series reviews I’ve had sitting in my draft folder for awhile…

>> Sneak Peek: Look for a post in the next few months detailing how I keep track of all my series sequels!

#3 – Stick to my ARC Limits

I allow myself 3 ARC copies a month (this includes author requests, personal requests, review opportunities and blog tour commitments) but I often increase that limit…with mixed results. I’ve already been tested when it comes to January 2018 commitments but I’m hoping I will stick with my reading plan and not get too request happy this year.

Introducing my 2018 Reading Plan

It’s very similar to my Reading Plan for 2017 only it’s tweaked for more sequel opportunities. The idea is that each month I have a total of 11 books that are the foundation for my reading. Since I usually average 12-15 books a month, I’m using the other books as a “what I want to read when I want to read” option. At the end of each month, I determine what books I want to select and make the appropriate arrangements (like going to the library or purchasing the book) to make sure I can complete the selection.

The Highlights:

  1. TBR Picks – purchased novels on my Kobo/Kindle/bookshelf
    • I’m keeping this at 2 as a minimum
    • Hopefully once I fill my monthly checklist, I can read more books from here
  2. 5 Year 5 Book Challenge — a Personal Challenge to read 25 books from the last 5 years
    • While I might not have gotten to all the books I wanted to on my 2017 challenge list, I’m bringing it back once again to get some titles off my TBR
  3. Sequels — 52 Sequel Challenge
    • I’d like to read (at least) 1 sequel novel a week for the entire year
  4. Netgalley
    • In an attempt to curb my requesting habits, only one book per month!
    • This includes review opportunities and/or personally requested novels
    • It does not include provided copies for tours
  5. ARCs/Tours/Requests
    • I’m setting a hard limit of 2 books per month
    • I’m going to take my time considering what tours I want and not be so quick to sign myself up all the time
  6. Library Holds
    • I’ve done a great job of not putting every book I see at my library on hold. Instead, I use the various wishlist features to keep track of titles I’m interested in and saving them for a later time.

Going Forward:

I’ve done a spreadsheet like this for the last 2 years and I’ve found it’s a great foundation. I don’t always stick to it (especially following the summer) but I’ve promised myself I will re-evaluate it once I stop using it or need to make some changes.

Overall, I’m very excited to see what 2018 has in store and I truly hope I can accomplish some of my reading goals for the year!

Do you create a yearly plan or do you just go with the flow?

What are some of your 2018 reading goals?

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Year’s Reads in Review – Top Picks for 2017

For me, 2017 was all about reading what I wanted when I wanted to.

Two years of attempting to curb my TBR had allowed me to go into 2017 with a more carefree attitude than I was used to. I got more comfortable DNFing books and learning to say no to every book I meet. Audiobooks became an everyday avenue for reading, cutting down my TBR one listen at a time. I even got to a few Jane Austen novels! My challenges might not have gone entirely to plan but I read more books than I anticipated so I can’t really complain.

> > Check out which books I read this past year HERE!

As always, I’ve decided to compile a list of my top picks (and not so great) from the various categories that I read this past year. Most categories deal with books published only this past calendar year (2017) but there are some noted exceptions. Click on the cover to read my review of the book/series–if available! Lots of these won’t have reviews until early next year.

Without further ado:

(Books are in no particular order; click on cover for review if available)

– Novels that were first published in 2017 –

– Series that were first published in 2017 –

– Series that were first published in 2017 –

– Novels that were first published in 2017 –

– Series that ended in 2017 –

– A series sequel book published in 2017 –

– Movie Adaptions Released in 2017 –

– Novels I read in 2017 that were hyped by the community & met expectations –

– Best audiobooks I listened to in 2017 (not necessarily their publication year) –

– Favourite New Adult Series Read in 2017 –

– Best standalones I read in 2016 –

– Favourite YA Series I read in 2017 –

– Favourite Adult Standalones read in 2017 –

– Books published in 2017 that I DNF’d –

– Books I gave 2 Stars or Less to in 2017 –

– Books that I enjoyed more than I expected! –

Have a fabulous 2018!

Do we share any titles? Agree or Disagree?

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Monthly Inventory: December 2017

December 2017

Can you believe it’s the end of 2017 already?

I know I can’t! This was a year of big changes for me. I (finally) said goodbye to the student life and hello to my career in healthcare. Starting shift work has brought a lot of challenges my way but it has also been super rewarding.

One way it has been rewarding is in terms of my reading and blogging! I really didn’t think I’d get to read that much this year now that I wasn’t a student but I definitely proved myself wrong. While I might not always get the chance to read first thing in the morning (my favourite time to read), I still find plenty of time to sit down with a book or two and get some pages in. I even got into audiobooks which has helped immensely in terms of reading stats and keeping me entertained during my commute.

As for blogging, I was able to schedule posts well into April 2018 so that’s been a huge burden off my shoulders. There are some days I don’t get a chance to check in at my blog so it’s nice to not have that worry on a regular basis when work and life get in the way.

I don’t know what to expect for 2018. I have a few plans when it comes to reading (expect that post the first week of January) and I’m introducing at least one new monthly feature to my blog so I’m very excited.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for my annual recap of my favourite books from 2017!

thoughts

Total for December 2017 (as of Dec 31st): 21 Books Read + 3 Novellas Read

Last December: 22 Books Read + 0 Novellas Read

DNF’d: 1 Book

Standout Read (★★★★★)

Rebel Belle #1

I didn’t think I’d like this book as much as I did but I loved every minute of this! The premise was so much fun, I laughed a lot and I was just plain entertained! I highly recommend this as an audiobook!

Biggest Let Down (DNF’d)

The Unnaturalists #1

I’ve had my eye on reading this for nearly 5 years and it was a huge let down. I felt extremely lost in what was happening and the world and because of that, I just couldn’t get into it.

kobostats

I thought it would be fun to keep track of my reading progress on my Kobo every month (and compare it to last year’s numbers). While I do own a Kindle now, I mostly use my Kobo for everyday reading. As per my #ShelfLove Challenge, I really want to increase the Total % of Library Complete by the end of the year.

**NOTE: Due to a new update on my Kobo, it looks like my past library reads don’t count (hence the drop in nearly 300 books) as they don’t remain on my Kobo. Now only Kobo books I own are counted towards my Total % of Library Complete stats.**

As of:

December 29, 2017

December 31, 2016

Total % of Library Complete

22%

20%

Total # of Books Finished

264

523

Total # of Reading Hours

2511

2107

 

posted reviews

Most Viewed Post

Service Review: Kobo Super Points

 

Most Viewed Review

Blog Tour: Fragile Chaos

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 finalized summary (as of December 29th):

5 Year 5 Book Challenge: 2 titles this month |  10 of 25 Titles Read // 1 Year Complete!
Goodreads Challenge: Completed as of September 6  | 237/175 Books
#ShelfLove Challenge: 5 TBR Items added this month  | 51/50 Books
Judge By the Cover Challenge: None — what a fail of a challenge!
Classics Challenge: None |  3 books this year

View my Challenge Progress Here in detail!

Overall: This was perhaps the my worst year in terms of reading challenges. I usually blow them right out of the water and I didn’t really do that this year (with the exception of my Goodreads challenge). I really think the mood reader in me took over so I kinda just read what I wanted when I wanted–which truly was my goal for 2017. After years of reading according to deadlines it was nice to just pick up a book on a whim because the synopsis intrigued me (as opposed to adding it to my neverending TBR and getting to it years later). I’ve taken my experience this year to heart and have used it to craft my 2018 Reading Challenges which you can read more about below:

2018 Reading Challenges:

I’m keeping it simple this year and sticking with 3 (plus Goodreads of course) challenges for 2018. I like to do different reading challenges each year but this year, I couldn’t find any that met my specific goals for 2018. So I opted to create my own challenges based on my 2018 Reading Plan (look for that post in January!).

My Goodreads Goal this year is 190 Books.

5 Year 5 Book Challenge 2018 Edition!

I decided to bring this personal challenge back because it focuses on specific titles. I also like that it helps me get some of those backlisted titles off my TBR. This makes it easier to do a purge when I’ve read all the titles from that year that are still of interest to me. The goal is the same: read 25 selected books I’ve been “highly anticipating” from the last 5 years (5 for each year).

>> View the titles I’ve selected here!

52 Sequel Challenge 2018

After I couldn’t find a reading challenge to meet my sequel needs, I just created my own to hold me accountable. The idea of this one is to read at least one sequel novel from a previously started series a week for 2018. That means I hope to read a grand total of 52 sequels (minimum!) in 2018.

Tackling the TBR – The 2018 Challenge

I’d like to get a few titles I’ve had on my eReaders off my TBR list this year–as I do every year. For this challenge, any title I own prior to 2018 will count once I read it. The minimum goal is 24 titles in 2018. However, I’ve also combined this with my sequel challenge where 1 book each month is a sequel from my personal collection so in theory I should reach 36 books by the end of 2018.

 

In February, I brought back my Tackling the TBR feature and announced my plan to get my Goodreads TBR down to 500 books. And I’m happy to say that I got my results down to 511! It’s a little more than 500 but considering some of those are ARCs that will be finished in January, I call it a success!

So how’d I do it? If you followed my monthly inventories, you would have noticed my numbers had really fluctuated since February. Some months I was up; others had me down. In November I said I was going to do a purge and that was exactly what I did this month.

One day, I went through all my titles on Goodreads and brought my “Want to Read” (the shelf I use for inaugural books and standalones I would like to read) from 619 to 513. Here were some rules I used to remove books:

  • Date added — if it was in 2012 (and not a classic novel), I removed it
  • I marked it as “unsure expectations” and it had been there for 3+ years
  • I didn’t mark it with any anticipation tags — especially if it was a “freebie”
  • I didn’t have a source to read it and it had been there for 3+ years
  • I read the synopsis and wasn’t excited to read it

Without further ado, here are my current standings:

  • Current TBR Shelf: 511 books (YAY!)
  • TBR Shelf at end of November: 619 books
  • Initial Number in February: 1205 books
  • Total # of Books Removed: 694 (WOWZA!)

Note: When I say “remove”, I moved these books to my “Pass” shelf so I know if I had considered reading them at some point in case I ever revisit them.

For 2018, I’d love to get that number below 500 but who knows! My main goal for 2018 is reading sequels so my focus will be moved to my other “to read” shelf and bringing it closer to 200 titles (it currently sits at 300).

Here are some great posts that caught my eye around the blogosphere this month:

So what type of posts can you expect in 2018? Here’s a preview of what I have in store for the first quarter:

  • A new monthly feature looking at book tropes
  • New Tips posts for enjoying audiobooks and keeping track of sequels
  • New Discussion posts about reading slumps and hosting blog tours
  • The return of The Perfect Match!
  • A Trilogy Review Blitz!
  • Lots of great series reviews!

How would you sum up your 2017 reading/blogging year? Did you accomplish everything you wanted to?

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

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SERIESous Discussion: Where Do my Books Come From?


SERIESous Discussions: Every once and awhile I will post my random ramblings about a bookish or blogging topic. Feel free to join in by making a comment below or linking back!


Do 80% of my books come from the library like I think? I investigate for the truth!

I was inspired to do this investigation after I read Lauren @ Bookmark Lit‘s post “Whose Books Am I Reading?”In it, she looks at where she gets her books that she reads on a daily basis. Are they purchased? Are they from the library? Review copies? Friends? And it got me curious about my own book acquiring habits.

See, I always say that 80-90% of my books come from the library. But I’m not sure that is entirely true; especially now that I read ARCs on a more regular basis and have a greater focus on reading books I already own.

So let’s break it down!

Book Sources for 2017

(Between January 1 to November 29, 2017)

Source:#%2016
Grand Total:221100233 (100%)
Purchased4520.379 (34%)
Library10647.985 (36%)
ARCs7031.669 (30%)

When I broke this all down, I was a little shocked. I really thought I got more of my books from the library. I was curious and looked at my breakdown for 2016. And again, I couldn’t believe it!

Lauren @ Bookmark Lit goes into further detail about release dates, borrowing sources, cost and more in her post but I’m going to leave it at this for me. However, I’m going to look at whether I’m reading sequels, standalone or inaugural series novels as it pertains more to my blog and its posts.

Types of Novels

(Between January 1 to November 29, 2017)

Type: #%
Grand Total221100
Standalone7433
Series14766.5
Book 1(53)(36)
Book 2(44)(30)
Book 3+(37)(25)
Novellas:(11)(7)

I was surprised when I got the totals back in two ways. One is that I really didn’t think I read that many standalone novels this year but in hindsight, when I first started listening to audiobooks I was mostly picking standalones so it makes sense.  (I mean, I did know that I had read more than I had post slots for and that’s why I stopped reading them after August but the number actually shocked me!)

The other surprise was the number of sequels I read. I really felt like I was lacking when it came to getting to the sequels this year. There were so many sequels releasing this year but I never got to them. In fact, when I was creating my 2018 reading plan, I focused almost entirely on sequels because I felt like I was failing at this…and I’m a blog that focuses on book series so it’s important!

Conclusion?

I think I sometimes fail to see the bigger picture. Doing my Monthly Inventory Recaps gives me an overview of the month but not necessarily the grand scheme. Perhaps in 2018 I’ll look more at the previous month as opposed to the previous year like I currently do. Because I’m really not doing as bad as I think I am when it comes to reading and I think it is a nice thing to remind myself of from time to time.

Ultimately, reading is a hobby that feeds my other hobby of blogging and I never want this to feel like a chore or like I have to meet a certain quota to be “successful” because “success” is very relative and personal when it comes to being a book blogger when it is all said and done.

Where do most of your books come from?

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