Category «Features»

SERIESous Tips: How I Read 200+ Books a Year!


Since 2014, I’ve read more than 200 books in a year…

I really struggled with a way to start this post without sounding like I was bragging because I know that the number of books people read in a year varies–whether you’re a book blogger or not. Everyone reads at a different pace; not everyone has the time; and that’s what makes it such a personal number.

I read a lot of books in a year–it even shocks me–and that’s why I want to share some tips with you on how to increase the number of titles you read in a year! You might not reach 200 but wouldn’t it be great to fit in 4 more books in a year?

Years ago, I wrote a Guide for my blog: How to Read MORE! I wrote that guide back when I was a full time student. But since then, I’ve left school behind and have a full time career (complete with shift work, a dog and a house) on my hands.

You should still check out that post though because I have recently updated it! But I also wanted to highlight the 3 main reasons why I surpass the 200 books mark every year.

#1 – Get Into Audiobooks

I’ve shared my audiobook experiences many times over the years on my blog. I didn’t have the greatest start with them but they’ve become such a staple to my reading life that I can’t help but share my joy now.

> > SERIESous Discussion: How I Fell in Love with Audiobooks

Why are audiobooks so great? The fact that you can multitask while you listen!!! You can’t do much while you read a physical novel besides eat and ignore the world around you. But with audiobooks? You can drive your car to work; walk your dog; do laundry and chores; etc.

How It Helps Me: I choose to listen to an audiobook instead of music while I’m doing my chores or driving for more than 10 minutes. (I listen to the radio when I’m at work so I get my fill of music in a day.) I always have one audiobook on the go in addition to the physical book I am reading. There’s a reason why 33% of the books I read in 2018 were audiobooks and that’s because I could complete some of my daily responsibilities while listening to them. (Plus, I had a 2 hour commute to work 5 times a week!)

> > SERIESous Tips: 5 Ways to Get Into Audiobooks

#2 – Set Deadlines

This can be interpreted to be many different things and I mean it in many different ways. Deadlines could be anything from blog tour dates, to ARC publication dates, to simply the date the book is due back at the library. But by setting a “deadline” to finish a book, you have a goal in mind and you can start to plan for it.

> > SERIESous Discussion: Why I Love Participating in Blog Tours

How It Helps Me: Approximately 40% of the books I read in a year come from the library and another 40% come from review copies. Having those due dates allows me to focus on what I need to read and when. I get more motivated to find the time to read that particular title because I have to finish it by a certain date. Even just telling myself that I want to finish a book I own by the end of the weekend reminds me to pick it up when I have the time.

#3 – Embrace Novellas

For simplicity’s sake, I classify anything under 140 ebook pages to be a novella. And did you know that they count as a book read for your Goodreads total even if it is only 20 pages long? Novellas made up approximately 8% of my total reads for 2018.

How It Helps Me: I think novellas (or short stories) are super underrated as a book form. I love novellas for a lot of reasons besides inflating my reading stats for the year. For one, they help me overcome reading slumps. For another, they don’t require as much time as a full novel; so when I’m short on reading time, the shorter book helps me feel accomplished by finishing it.

I’m not entirely sure if I will reach 200 books read this year. I haven’t been reading as much as I usually do by this point in the year. But I do know that these 3 habits have helped to keep me on track and keep my numbers consistent from month to month. So we will see what the summer brings. That’s usually when I can kick things into gear since I spend every free moment outside reading when I’m not at work.

What habits do you think contribute to your reading numbers?

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SERIESous Discussion: Book Formats by Month [2]

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!


Last year, I wanted to take an in-depth look at some of my reading stats. I looked at how many books I read in a month (and did a year to year comparison); I investigated where I get my books from (library, own, ARCs, etc); and I wrapped everything up with a look at what type (audio, eBook, etc) of books I read the most in a month. Lots of things change in a year, so I thought it would be interesting compare 2018 to my previous years to see what type of reading year 2018 actually was.

I already wrote my post on the number of books I read in a month — you can find it here.

For this post, I’ve decided to combine my Book Sources and Book Formats posts together since they pretty much go hand-in-hand.

 

What I Learned From Last Year’s Post — and What I Did About It:

  • I requested more ARCs than I should have
    • now have stricter limits on the # I can request a month
  • Audibooks have a huge impact on my monthly reading
  • I need to read more books that I own
    • more readathon participation & reading challenges

But did I actually stick to those? Find out…

Comparing 2017 to 2018:

Instead of my crazy line graphs that I used last year, I simply tabulated my results:

 eARCsKindleKoboPhysicalAudioeLibrary
SUM:7686221539265543665231
201720182017201820172018201720182017201820172018
Jan4102193010645
Feb395244100658
Mar11120013204408
Apr8100131014541
May771020004682
Jun467162204730
Jul3511550157100
Aug685321015541
Sep340102013541
Oct680012004451
Nov1060210004630
Dec1111353006524

The Highlights:

The one thing that stands out the most to me is the fact that I read less of the books I already owned in 2018 vs 2017. I truly thought I read more than that. Even if I add in the 9 titles I DNF’d from my personal collection, I still fell really short of my 2017 numbers.

The decrease in library books initially shocked me but then I thought about what happened last year. At the start of 2018, I had three library cards from 3 cities. My “big city” library card (my post-post-secondary school location) expired in March. I did a mad binge-read of a lot titles that were available from there in February and March (which explains the increases there). I also lost my second library card (where I did my placement for school) in September. My hometown library is great, but it shares its eBook collection with the entire province so it can make getting the more popular titles tricky. Having that second card from a town with a smaller pool of eBook users helped a lot. I have since renewed that card (since I moved) for 2019 so I’m excited to utilize it once again.

Things that didn’t shock me? I’m not at all surprised by my Audiobook numbers. Even though I was part-time for most of 2018, I worked a lot of hours so I was constantly driving to work (which is when I did most of my audio listening) in 2018. Nor was I surprised about my ARC numbers. I definitely read a lot of ARCs in 2018; so much so that I was getting a little bit of burn-out from it all near the end of the year.

Moving Forward:

I had set my reading goals and challenges for 2019 wayyy before I ever tabulated this all up but I had a general idea of what those numbers would be when I created them. My goal for 2019 is to read more of the books I already own and I’ve made that the focus of my reading challenges for the year. And although I say it every year, I’m really sticking to my ARC limits for the month. Learning to say “no” to great opportunities is hard but I’m starting to feel a lot lighter when it comes to “reading pressures” like deadlines etc. I’m really enjoying just going with the flow when it comes to my reading.

One thing that I know will change is my audiobook listening. I’ve moved closer to my job and have since reduced my commute time by 91%. I plan on listening to audiobooks on a regular basis, but I won’t be able to power through as many as I have in the past. What I’m hoping will happen is that I will see in increase in the other reading formats because I have more time now to read eBooks and physical novels.


 

When I did this breakdown last year, I was shocked to learn that less than half of the books I read came from the library. I had always had the firm belief that 80+% of my books came from there so it was a total surprise. I also learned that I read more standalone titles in a year than I thought I did; though series still made up the vast majority (obviously).

Source:2018
# (%)
2017
# (%)
2016
# (%)
Grand Total:229 (100%) 240 (100%)233 (100%)
Purchased46 (20%)52 (21%)79 (34%)
Library97 (43%)114 (47%)85 (36%)
ARCs86 (37%)80 (32%)69 (30%)

Again, I’m not shocked by these results. I would have liked to have seen my Purchased percentage to be higher but I knew coming into 2019 that I needed to improve that value.

Another thing I looked at in last year’s post was the number of series, sequels and standalones I read in 2017.

Type: 20182017
Grand Total224 [100%]221 [100%]
Standalone35 [16%]74 [33%]
Series187 [84%]147 [66%]
Book 1(71) [32%](53) [36%]
Book 2(59) [26%](44) [30%]
Book 3+(46) [20%](37) [25%]
Novellas:(13) [6%](11) [5%]

Overall, I was pretty consistent with what I read. I did decrease the number of standalones I read last year and that was something I was actively conscious of doing. Once I had enough Single Sunday Posts for the year, I made sure to rarely read standalones and instead focus on series. While I completed a lot of series, I wasn’t the best at reading sequels.

Moving Forward:

My main goals for 2019 are to increase the number of owned books I read in a year and to reduce the number of book series I have on the go. My reading challenges focus on reading owned titles unlike previous years where they were the minority of the challenges. To reduce sequels, I’ve dedicated 4 months of the year to read only sequels. Of course, I will read sequels in all months, but I find that having it a set focus really helps motivate me to grab that sequel I’ve been putting off for months.

What book formats do you read in a month? Where do they come from?

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Monthly Inventory: April 2019

April 2019

I definitely thought April might go a different way for me in terms of reading (ie I would be reading more) but it was pretty par for the course. I was hoping to have more free time during my vacation but I ended up playing navigator so I couldn’t spend my time in the car reading or listening to my audiobooks like I had hoped.

I also set a goal for myself to not sign up for more ARCs and I was somewhat successful. I caved when a review opportunity showed up for one of my favourite authors. Otherwise, I’m really happy with where I am when it comes to my ARCs.

Happy 6 Years to Me!

I totally didn’t realize that this anniversary was coming up but it’s been 6 years since I started my blog!

This year, I really hummed and hawed about keeping my blog as a self-hosted site and opted to keep it that way. While I don’t blog or read as much as I did 6 years ago, I’m still content with hobby. I’ve been contemplating my post scheduling system (since I’m posting more than I’m reading it seems) but I don’t have any current plans for a hiatus.

thoughts

Total for April 2019: 12 Books Read + 1 Novellas Read

DNF’d: 0 Books

Last April: 18 Books Read + 1 Novellas Read + 1 DNFs

Standout Read (★★★★)


I love dark romances and this series is quickly becoming my all time favourite. I just love everything about Kai and Enzo’s story. I’m two novels in and DESPERATE for the rest!

Biggest Let Down (★★★)


I definitely had different expectations for what I wanted this novel to be. I was very close to DNFing it because it was so slow at the start. Add to that an underdeveloped romance and I just didn’t overly enjoy my reading experience.

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: 2 books added | 6 of 25 Titles Read – Slighty Behind!
Goodreads Challenge: 13 books added | 51/200 Books – 14 Books Behind!
Tackling the TBR Challenge: 0 books added | 4/24 Books – Behind

View my Challenge Progress Here!

Created by Lia @ Lost in a Story

I used to do a big Goodreads Purge twice a year but I like the idea of doing a little bit at a time and had great success last year doing this on a monthly basis. The idea is to go through 5-10 books on your Goodreads TBR list chronologically and decide if they should stay or go. My 10 titles consist of 7 “new to me” titles and 3 “previously started series” titles.

This month:

Deadly: Part 1
Pass

The Year We Fell Down (The Ivy Years, #1)
Keep

Off the Record (Record, #1)
Keep

Miss Taken (Miss Taken Identity #1)
Keep

Rock the Heart (Black Falcon, #1)
Pass

Love Edy (Love Edy #1)
Keep

Forbidden Attraction (Forbidden Trilogy, #1)
Pass

Do You Want to Start a Scandal (Spindle Cove, #5; Castles Ever After, #4)
Keep

Wild Kisses (3:AM Kisses, #6)
Pass

Soleil (The Illumination Paradox, #3)
Keep

Pass: 4 | Keep: 6

Grand Total YTD: Pass: 12 | Keep: 28

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

Originally, May was supposed to be about book sequels but I have a few too many ARCs to read so I’m going to focus on those and save the sequels for June instead. I’m also hoping to play some catch-up with my reading challenges as well.

Just a short recap of my month this time around. How was your April?
Leave a comment below!

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SERIESous Discussion: My Reading Habits by Month [2]


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!


Last year, I was inspired to put this post together by the fabulous Cristina @ Girl in the Pages. She created this amazing post looking at her reading habits by month and I got curious about my own. So, I compared my 2016 and 2017 reading years to each other and I thought it would be fun to add my 2018 reading stats to the mix.

>> SERIESous Discussion: Where do my Books Come From?

What I Learned From Last Year’s Post — and What I Did About It:

I learned a few things from my post last year:

  • August is my most productive reading month
  • I averaged less books per month in 2017 than 2016
    • 2017: 20 books/month ; 2016: 22 books/month

In combination with my Discussion Post about Book Formats I Read in a Month, I started to do the following:

  • Started an Excel sheet to track what books I read in a month (in addition to Goodreads)
    • Break down: Books, ARCs, Audiobooks, DNFs & Novellas
  • Started editing “edition type” on Goodreads
    • Break down: Kindle, eBook, Hardcover, Audio, etc

 

My Thoughts Before Looking at the Numbers:

Last year was the first year in 8 years that I haven’t been in school for any of it. I’ve just been working at my job and trying to have a social life. So I’m really curious to see how my reading habits have changed…because I certainly think that they have!

>> SERIESous Discussion: How “Adulting” Changed my Reading Habits

While I only read 11 books less in 2018 than 2017, it felt like I read a whole lot less. I’ve said in many times in my recap posts for the last few months but there were times in 2018 I didn’t pick up a book at all. It’s all thanks to audiobooks that my numbers were as strong as they were — something I will investigate in my follow-up post to “Book Formats per Month”.

The Actual Results:

The Breakdown:

What does that all mean? I’ve summed it up here:

 201620172018
Total # Read260240229
Monthly Avg222019
Total # DNF'd71729
# of Kobo Reading Hours40040479

 

My Thoughts After Looking at the Numbers:

Nothing really shocked me here when I look at the breakdown; with the exception of my Kobo reading hours. But when I think about it, it makes sense. I read a lot of ARCs last year and I read those on my Kindle. I’ve also significantly reduced the number of books I get from my library (which are read on my Kobo) in an effort to read books I already own. And I also DNF’d a lot of titles from my Kobo last year.

Which brings me to the DNF numbers. Again, I’m not shocked by this increase. My reading preferences and tolerances as a reader have changed a lot over the last three years. What I liked (and bought) years ago isn’t necessarily what I enjoy now and I think my DNF numbers for 2018 reflect that.

Moving Forward:

Again, it will be interesting to see how the results for 2019 compare to 2018. I now have a more consistent schedule for work so I do have more free time. But with that comes more social calls and trips as well which doesn’t always equal more reading time. I recently moved closer to work so my commute (and audiobook time) has decreased significantly; however, in theory, I have more time to read physical books. We will see if that all pans out…

>> Be on the lookout for an updated post next month where I look at what formats of books I read in a month!

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Monthly Inventory: March 2019

March 2019

I’m only 3 months in, but I can tell 2019 is going to be a different sort of year for me.

Get ready for a long, reflective post 😛

Compared to previous years, I find I visit my blog only a handful of times during the week to write new posts and do upkeep. And that probably goes hand in hand with the fact that I seem to be reading less than ever before. I’ve read significantly less books in these first 3 months of the year when compared to last year (there’s like a 10 book difference!). This is the first time in years where I’ve been severely behind in my Goodreads challenge.

I do my best to remind myself that there are a lot of external factors that have impacted my reading in 2019. I recently moved and getting settled takes up every spare moment I have. Plus, my responsibilities have changed as a result of my move (and just the fact that I’m getting older). My work schedule is insane–which is why every spare moment has been going towards my house chores because if I’m not living at work, I’m trying to get my actual living space in order. And because I moved closer to work, I’m listening to less audiobooks in a month and I think that has drastically impacted my monthly reading stats.

>> SERIESous Discussion: Reading Formats by Month

I’m optimistic about the next few months though. I’ve almost finished everything I want to do to my new place, so I’m hoping to get more time to read as a result. My work schedule is also going to change in May and I have a nice vacation scheduled for April so I should see some improvements there.

But I think the biggest factor is that I’m getting more and more comfortable with this shift to my reading habits. I always knew that as I got older, the number of books I would read in a year would dwindle as my responsibilities and interests changed. And when it comes to what I read, I find myself craving flexibility. I want to just pick up a book on a whim because it sounds good not because I need to read it by a certain date.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love doing ARCs and review requests–and I will continue to do them. But I think in the months to come, I’m really going to start to limit the number I do in a month so I can have the option to read that eBook that has been sitting on my eReader for 2 years untouched; or pull that sequel from the library shelves I’ve been avoiding for months. So what’s in store? I’ve outlined what I’m going to do going forward in my “State of the ARC” and “On Order” sections of this post.

 

thoughts

Total for March 2019: 10 Books Read + 2 Novellas Read

DNF’d: 0 Books

Last March: 27 Books Read + 3 Novellas Read + 1 DNFs

Standout Read (★★★★)


I’m so happy to return to the world of Briar U!!! While this one took me a few chapters to get into, I had a hard time putting it down by the end. I just loved the slow burn!

Biggest Let Down (★★)


While I think we can all agree that Chaol needed a serious reboot as a character, I found that the vast majority of this novel was filler. You could have easily accomplished everything this 600 page novel did in 150 pages.

 


For Black Friday this year, Kindle had a promotion for new Kindle Unlimited Subscribers where you got 3 months of reading for only $0.99!!! Usually, we don’t get these deals in Canada so I made sure I locked in ASAP. I started my subscription at the start of December and it ended within the first week of March. I wanted to keep track of what books I read to see if what I read is worth the monthly fee just like I did when completing the free trial a few years ago.

  • Aced $3.91
  • Spiked $3.95
  • Pan $5.30
  • MVP $1.31

I made these books a priority and it paid off. I’m adding a total of $14.47 to my $25.78 total since December for a grand total of $40.25. Pretty good for a $1 purchase!

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:

March 31, 2019

March 31, 2018

Total % of Library Complete

%

23%

Total # of Books Finished

#

284

Total # of Reading Hours

#

2511

 

posted reviews

Most Viewed Post

TTT: Standalone Novels that Should Have Sequels

Most Viewed Review

ARC Review: Friends with Benefits

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: 2 books added | 3 of 25 Titles Read – Behind!
Goodreads Challenge: 11 books added | 11/200 Books – 11 Books Behind!
Tackling the TBR Challenge: 0 books added | 4/24 Books – Slightly Behind

View my Challenge Progress Here!

 

Every quarter, I check the status of my Goodreads shelves to see if I’m reducing (or increasing) the number of items on my TBR. My goals for 2019 are to reduce my “New to Me” TBR to ~400 as well as my “Sequel” shelf to less than 250.

Currently

December 31, 2018

Want to Read (New)

465

472

To Read (Sequels)

261

263

 

Created by Lia @ Lost in a Story

I used to do a big Goodreads Purge twice a year but I like the idea of doing a little bit at a time and had great success last year doing this on a monthly basis. The idea is to go through 5-10 books on your Goodreads TBR list chronologically and decide if they should stay or go. My 10 titles consist of 7 “new to me” titles and 3 “previously started series” titles.

This month:

Beautiful Oblivion (Beautiful Oblivion, #1)
Pass

Losing Control (Kerr Chronicles, #1)
Keep

More Than Music (Chasing The Dream, #1)
Keep

Full Steam Ahead (Sea Swept, #1)
Keep

Solo
Pass

Crossing the Line (World Apart, 1)
Keep

The Hook Up (Game On, #1)
Keep

All Closed Off (Rusk University, #4)
Keep

Unhinge (Fairfax, #2)
Keep

Beautiful Boss (Beautiful Bastard, #4.5)
Keep

Pass: 2 | Keep: 8

Grand Total YTD: Pass: 8 | Keep: 22

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

While this is a monthly meme hosted by Avalinah’s Books, I only update every quarter.

My Progress for March 2019:

ARCs Read: 10 | ARCs Overdue: 1+1* | Upcoming: 3

(January State: ARCs Read: 5 | ARCs Overdue: 1+2* | Upcoming: 3)

*Titles given to me as a member of an author’s street team to read ASAP.

Going Forward:

While I already have a limit of no more than 2 ARCs per month (and I’ve been doing a pretty great job sticking to it!), I plan on accepting less ARCs on a monthly basis in the coming months. As per my 2019 Reading Plan, I allow myself to request 2 ARCs (blog tours, Netgalley, review opportunities, requests) every month. However, I didn’t book myself for any ARCs this past month in an effort to play catch-up…and I really loved it.

It’s a little hard to explain but I’ll try. See, it used to take me 2-3 days to read a book but now it’s taking me an average of 5 because I don’t always have the time to read everyday. I try not to read multiple books at a time because my reading time is already sparse (though I do often overlap) and so I don’t always get to my ARCs as soon as I should. And then I feel pressed to read them by the deadline and that dampens my enjoyment.

So what’s my new plan? I’m going to further limit my ARCs until I can get a better grasp on reading and life. How am I going to do it?

  • Only look at review opportunities every other month
    • delete emails from review opportunity groups without reading them
      • ex. In the month of April I won’t be signing up for any tours for future dates regardless of if those dates fall outside of the month of April
  • Only read books from Street Teams I’m truly interested in
  • Start reading ARCs ASAP once received!

 

What were your biggest reading or personal accomplishments of the past month? Have you broken any resolutions yet?
Leave a comment below!

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SERIESous Discussion: How I DNF Books


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!


The Art of DNFing a Book

DNFing a book is not something I take very lightly. Sure, I’ve made a concerted since July 2016 to “DNF more books” but that is more of a method to stop myself from getting into reading slumps. See I found that by forcing myself to finish a book I would end up in a slump soon after because I was reading books I wasn’t truly enjoying. But the simple fact of the matter is that I do DNF books from time to time. So how do I decide whether or not to continue on with a book? That’s what I’m going to share today.

The Cut-off Point: The 50 Page Rule (aka the 20% Rule)

I’ve had this rule for a very long time because I need to have a line where I can say “that is enough of this” or else I will just push through and (often painfully) finish the book. The idea is that I give the book 50 pages (or 20% if I’m reading an eBook or audiobook) to see if I’m interested in the story. In my experience, if I’m not invested in a book by the end of the first quarter, I likely won’t be going forward. I don’t mind books that take their time to build up, but if I don’t see where the plot is going (or if I do and I don’t like it) by the first quarter, it’s time to call it quits.

But what if I’m on the fence?

The rule isn’t flawless and I’ve definitely DNF’d books before and after those points. Sometimes, I know by the end of the first chapter that a book isn’t going to work for me, but I do give it a few more chapters (usually) to confirm these suspicions. However, I’ve also reached that first quarter mark and am just not sure what I want to do. So I have a few tactics I employ to see whether or not to continue with the book.

Tactic #1: Start a Second Novel

For the most part, I’m a serial monogamist when it comes to reading (I don’t really count the audiobook I listen to in the car while I read a physical book) though that has definitely changed over the years. So most of the time, I really only have one book on the go. But when it comes to DNFing a novel, sometimes I start another book as a way to gauge my interest for the book in question. As I explain in my Discussion Post About Becoming a Two-Timing Reader:

One strategy I employed for books I was on the fence about DNFing was starting another novel I wanted to read. I found that by stepping away from the book in question, I was able to determine if I was truly invested in finding out how it all ends and if I wanted to keep reading. If I wasn’t, I stopped and marked it as DNF’d. And because I had already started another book that I was enjoying, I didn’t go into that slump of “what do I read now?” and dwelling too long in the disappointment that can surface when DNFing a book you were excited to read.

I would say that I employ this tactic for about 80% of the books I start to read and don’t know if I want to continue with. It helps a lot and I find that by breaking up that slower book (the one I’m thinking about DNFing) I can often finish it. Now whether or not I pick up the sequels is another story…

>>SERIESous Discussion: Becoming a Two-Timing Reader

Tactic #2: Read Reviews

Maybe this is a weird thing to admit as a book blogger but I don’t read book reviews all that much despite that fact that I write them. Most of the time, I like to keep myself in blissful ignorance, so if it’s a book I know I’m already interested in, I don’t read the review because I don’t want to have any preconceived notions but my own before starting. The exception to this rule is if I’m deciding whether or not to keep/buy a book on/for my TBR, because I usually don’t get to the book right away so anything I read in a review, I’ll likely forget when I actually read the book.

But I find reviews are most helpful when deciding whether or not to finish a book. First, I gauge what all my friends on Goodreads have said about the novel. Then, I usually read 1 negative and 1 positive review to figure out the pros and the cons of the story and to get a feel for if the book is for me or not. Most of the time though, my worries about the book are confirmed and I end up DNFing but that isn’t always the case.

>>SERIESous Discussion: DNFing ARCs

Tactic #3: Putting the Book Down for Now and Returning to it Later

As a mood reader, sometimes I just know when I’m reading the right book for me but at the wrong time. I can tell I’d be super invested in the story if it wasn’t for X, Y and Z external factors going on. So I usually put the book down, and will either start over fresh in a couple of weeks or pick up where I left off.

Sometimes I don’t return to the book because I realize I just don’t care after the time has passed but most of the time, I get back into it and enjoy it much more than the first time.

>>SERIESous Discussion: Reading Book Purchases ASAP

Does the Genre of the Book Make a Difference?

Upon reflection, I noticed that I use this Tactics #1 and #3 the most when it comes to non-contemporary reads. I think I do this because non-contemporary genres (like fantasy, science fiction, etc) usually have more complex plots and characters than, say, a contemporary romance. So in that regard, I think I am a little more patient and will let the plot (hopefully) develop a bit before I make my final decision.

Now that isn’t to say that contemporaries can’t have these more complex stories/characters. I should be upfront and say that most of the contemporaries I read are romances. I read a lot of them and that experience has allowed me to know what works and doesn’t work for me pretty early on in the novel to make a decision I can be completely comfortable with.


So those are some of the thought processes I go through when deciding whether or not to keep reading a book. I’d say for the most part, Tactic #2 (reading reviews) is my go-to method for all genres because I trust what my fellow readers have to say about their experience and it gives me a great idea for what my own experience would be.

What do you do when deciding to DNF a book? Do you find your tactics differ by genres?

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Top Ten Tuesdays: Standalones that Should Have Sequels

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 Standalones That Should Have Sequels

I could have sworn I had done this very topic for a TTT many moons ago but a quick search of my posts proved me wrong. The reason I could have sworn that I had done this before is that I keep a shelf on Goodreads dedicated to standalones that need sequels. Why? The main reason is so that I can keep an eye out for any possible sequels. I periodically go through all the titles on that shelf and double-check to see if any new works in that world have been released by the author. Goodreads isn’t always the best about keeping sequels under the same series bracket and some authors take years between books. And you know what? Sometimes my wish comes true and a sequel appears!

(In no particular order):

I’m going to be honest and admit that some of the specifics for why these titles need sequels is lost on me. It’s been years since I read them. But they all fall under the same general reasons for why I want a sequel. Usually, it’s all about the characters; either it’s a group I can’t get enough of or I see the potential for some spin-off stories with certain secondary characters. Other times, the plot seems to be on a roll (or end in too open of a way) and I just some stories I want to see them continued (and eventually resolved).

Fun Fact: When I was going through my Goodreads shelf to pick out titles, I discovered that quite a few of the ones I had sitting there did indeed get new sequels in last 2 years! EXCITING!


Links to My Reviews:

Strangely Normal | Breathe Into Me | Violins of Autumn | Devil’s Kiss | Friday Society | Every Other Day | Wentworth Hall | Ugly Love

What Standalones do you wish had sequels? Have you ever had your wish granted by an author?

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Leave a Link to your TTT for me to visit in the comments below!

Monthly Inventory: February 2019

February 2019

Well, it’s no surprise that the shortest month of the year seemed to fly by!

For me, February was a weird mix of things. I moved closer to work in January so I’ve been using every spare moment since then unpacking, painting and setting up my ideal living space. I try to read a chapter or two before bed but sleep wins out. I also lost about 4 good days of reading thanks to my Lasik surgery at the start of the month. Thank goodness I had audiobooks to listen to because there isn’t a whole lot you can do when your vision is all over the place. Things have become much more manageable in both regards now so I was able to play catch-up on those days I missed by the end of the month.

And catch-up was an important thing to do! I was able to get Kindle Unlimited for 3 months for $1 (!!!) back in December but I haven’t been the best about reading anything from it. (I read ZERO books from there in January!).  That all changed this past month! February was also the first of four months I plan to dedicate solely to series sequels in 2019. With the exception of a few ARCs, every title I read this past month has been a sequel for a series I’ve already started, which was GREAT! I should have done that years ago!

 

thoughts

Total for February 2019: 14 Books Read + 2 Novellas Read

DNF’d: 0 Books

Last February: 21 Books Read + 7 Novellas Read + 3 DNFs

Standout Read (★★★★★)


I really loved the hazing aspect to the plot. It handles the topic so well and was so relevant. Plus, the romance was super cute!

Biggest Let Down (★★★)


While I still enjoyed this novel, I had different expectations for the type of story it would be. This just had too many pages in it and that led to some pacing issues.

 


For Black Friday this year, Kindle had a promotion for new Kindle Unlimited Subscribers where you got 3 months of reading for only $0.99!!! Usually, we don’t get these deals in Canada so I made sure I locked in ASAP. I started my subscription at the start of December and it will end the first week of March. I wanted to keep track of what books I read to see if what I read is worth the monthly fee just like I did when completing the free trial.

  • Twice Burned $4.90
  • Logan $6.33
  • Acting Brave $4.99
  • Be Mine $1.27
  • Aced $3.91 — in progress

If you add that to my December total of $8.29 (I didn’t read any in January—oops!), I’ve read a total of $25.78 for the price of $1! Fantastic!

 

posted reviews

Most Viewed Post

Discussion: 3 Year Reflection of Self Hosting

Most Viewed Review

Series Review: His Fair Assassin

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: 1 book added | 2 of 25 Titles Read – 2 books behind!
Goodreads Challenge: 13 books added | 25/200 Books – 6 books behind!
Tackling the TBR Challenge: 2 books added | 5/36 Books – On Track!

View my Challenge Progress Here!

 

Sequel Month!

In an effort to reduce the number of book series I have on the go (123 and counting!), I’ve decided to dedicate 4 months of 2019 to sequels. I usually do this with what I dub “Sequel September” but I wanted to spread out the love throughout the year. Februrary, given that it is the shortest month, was a good month to test this new project on. And I had some fabulous results! Approximately 78% of the books I read this month were sequels! You can see the breakdown of what I read below:

  • # of Sequels Read: 11
    1. Chasing River (Burying Water Series #3)
    2. Twice Burned (Love is Messy Duet #2)
    3. Logan (Preston Brothers Series #2)
    4. Surviving Ice (Burying Water Series #4)
    5. Satisfaction (Travesty Series #5)
    6. Acting Brave (Fenbrook Academy #3)
    7. The Traitor Prince (Ravenspire Series #3)
    8. On Thin Ice (Juniper Falls Series #3)
    9. Losing My Balance (Fenbrook Academy #1.5)
    10. Be Mine (Jackson Brothers #2)
    11. The Heart of Betrayal (Remnant Chronicles #2)
  • # of Series Finished: 6
    1. Burying Water
    2. Love is Messy Duet #1
    3. Travesty
    4. Fenbrook Academy
    5. Juniper Falls
    6. Jackson Brothers

 

Created by Lia @ Lost in a Story

I used to do a big Goodreads Purge twice a year but I liked the idea of doing a little bit at a time and had great success last year doing this on a monthly basis. The idea is to go through 5-10 books on your Goodreads TBR list chronologically and decide if they should stay or go. My 10 titles consist of 7 “new to me” titles and 3 “previously started series” titles.

This month:

Broken (Assumption #1)
Pass

Savor You (Savor Us, #1)
Pass

Meeting Trouble (Trouble: Rob & Sabrina's Story #1)
Keep

Man of My Dreams (Dreams, #1)
Keep

Hard Knox (The Outsider Chronicles, #1)
Keep

The Edge of Darkness (Darkness Duet, #1)
Keep

Dear Rockstar (Dear Rockstar, #1)
Pass

Velvet Kisses (3:AM Kisses, #5)
Pass

Paper Hearts (The Heartbreaker Chronicles, #2)
Keep

A Mad Zombie Party (White Rabbit Chronicles, #4)
Keep

Pass: 4 | Keep: 6

Grand Total YTD: Pass: 6 | Keep: 14

Did I give up on any too soon? 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. These books include review copies and reading challenge picks. Here are some of the books I have ready to go for March:

Aced (Blocked #2) Friends with Benefits: A Steamy College Romance Mister Romance (Masters of Love, #1) China Rich Girlfriend (Crazy Rich Asians, #2) Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass, #6)

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

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SERIESous Discussion: A 3 Year Reflection on Self-Hosting my Blog

I was recently updating the various guides I have on the blog and one of them is my Self-Hosting Guide. And as I was going through it, I realized I’ve been self-hosting my blog since February 2016…

That’s more than 3 years!

It was a big decision for me to go self-hosted back then. It took a lot of time and research; I talked to a lot of fellow bloggers as well. My experience prompted me to compile a guide to help others make the decision (or not to).

For the last 2 years in February, I contemplate whether or not I want to remain self-hosted as my renewal notice comes. I think when money is involved, you always get a little hesitant and take a little extra time to think your decision over. And of course, life changes from year to year so there are many factors at play.

So where do I stand as I enter Year 4?

I seriously considered not renewing my hosting this year for a variety of reasons.

 (1) The Cost to the Usage Ratio

When I started blogging, I was working on my blog everyday but that certainly isn’t the case anymore. I was a student back in university and I had a lot of downtime (and it served as a good stress reliever). Skip ahead a few years to 2018 and there were times where I didn’t touch my blog for days (let alone a book!). It’s a stat that seems unbelievable to me because in theory, I should have more free time since all I do now is work (no school). But it’s my reality so I started to ponder if I was getting enough value from my self-hosted blog ($$) when I have the option to return my free site.

I pay for my domain name annually in November and hosting is paid annually in February. I don’t mind paying for my domain every year because I like the shorter, easy to remember domain. It costs me $13 USD a year but I use my earnings from Branded Surveys (referral link) to pay for it. My hosting costs work out to $10 USD a month which I think isn’t very expensive for a hobby you enjoy and (usually) do multiple times a week. And considering I don’t buy a lot of books (I use my library for the most part or participate in promotional opportunities), I don’t have a lot of other associated costs with my blogging/reading. Even better, I use my earnings from Swagbucks (referral link) for PayPal giftcards and use that to pay for part of my self-hosting invoice so it really doesn’t cost me that much in hindsight.

While I do work more now (and shift work to boot), I no longer have to commute (2 hrs) to work everyday so I have more free time on my hands to spend blogging and reading–and I hope that will be the case shortly.

 (2) Customization

One of the biggest draws to going self-hosted in the first place was the ability to do more with the design of my blog. While the free themes on WordPress.com are great, I wanted more flexibility with colours, feeds and plug-ins and only a self-hosted site could do that for me.

I love my theme and I don’t feel the itching need to change it like I did before on my WordPress.com site. Though I had found a theme for my wordpress.com blog just before I made the switch so I know I could find something that works if need be.

The plugins have been a great addition as well; though I’ll be the first to admit that I probably don’t use them as much as I should. They can be tricky too since they often have limited features until you purchase the premium version; they might not work with your theme; or, I can’t find exactly what I am looking for. While some save me lots of time, others require some troubleshooting that I don’t always have the time to execute.

>> SERIESous Tips: My Favourite WordPress Plugins

(3) Do I Still Enjoy Blogging?

I wrote about this sentiment in my Monthly Inventory: December 2018 edition where adulting seems to have transformed my blogging and reading experience in that last year. But my so-so feelings about the last year and the fact that I have to renew my hosting for another full year made me start to question my blogging experience and if it is something I want to continue going forward.

Perhaps it’s just part of the reflective nature of the new year and new resolutions, but it’s something I often ponder around this time of year. Of course I would still read and I’d probably continue reviewing on Goodreads; but the appeal to have no commitments to regular posting and promotional deadlines is enticing.

My Final Decision?

In April, I’ll be celebrating 6 years of blogging! I can’t believe it myself…but if there is anything I’ve learned about blogging in that time: you can make this experience whatever you want it to be.

I’m having no problem churning out content on a regular basis even if my reading doesn’t always reflect that. Yes, sometimes writing those posts feel like a chore because I get behind, but I still love sharing my thoughts on what I read. I have enough posts scheduled that I have some buffer time before I need to panic about not having enough content; and even then, I can reduce how many times I post in a week. Flexibility is key and I definitely have the ability to execute that.

Another big resolution: I also plan on reducing the number of promotional opportunities I undertake this year. I love promoting all the books I request but I’m at the stage in my blogging career where less is more. And I hope that by reducing those deadlines, I can take a lighter approach to blogging and reading.

So in the end? I’ve decided to renew my self-hosting for another year. While January has been a dicey month, I’m hoping the rest of the year will be smoother in all things.


Check out my mini-guide to self-hosting complete with help links!

Check it out here:

selfhost


What are your thoughts on Self-Hosting?

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Trope Thursdays: Forbidden Love [8]

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.


Valentine’s Day being on Thursday this year was the perfect excuse to bring back this monthly feature!

The featured trope this week is perhaps my all time favourite romance trope. Now, it helps that it can be a little broad and encompass a variety of scenarios. But there is nothing better than some good ole sexual tension–and usually this trope delivers!

February’s Trope: Forbidden Romance

Definition:

Forbidden relationships can take many forms: Parents may forbid their children from engaging with certain friends or significant others; friends or family members may disapprove of our relationship partners; or we may fall in love with a coworker, supervisor, or someone who is already committed to a serious relationship. The obstacles to these relationships may be explicit or implied, but these obstacles may actually serve to strengthen our forbidden relationships.

~Psychology Today (“The Allure of Forbidden Relationships“)

 

Because it is Valentine’s Day, I’m sticking with the romantic side of forbidden relationships.

Common Features:

  • Possibly Dark love
  • Perhaps Taboo Love
  • Loyalty
  • Drama
  • Secrets
  • Workplace Romances
  • In Love with a Rival
  • In Love with a Partner
  • Family Rifts
  • Slow Burn
  • Perhaps Cheating

What I Like About The “Forbidden Love” Trope:

There are a lot of things I like about this trope! The main one is the sexual tension it brings to the story. There is just something about longing glances and the anticipation of that “big moment” when their feelings come crashing to the surface.

If you bothered to read the article I quoted above, you’ll see that it touches on another aspect I love about the forbidden relationship: the “forbidden obstacles” help to strengthen the relationship. For a romance/partnership to be a “win” for me, you have to convince me that these two belong together and share something more than just a mutual physical attraction. Forbidden romances provide those roadblocks that challenge couples as partners and as individuals and I find you get a much stronger, genuine relationship as a result.

What I Dislike About The “Forbidden Love” Trope:

Sometimes, these stories get caught up in the forbidden attraction and those opportunities for character growth get lost in the heated moment. Other times the petty drama gets in the way as well.

But my biggest worry when reading forbidden romances is the potential for unhealthy relationships. If those issues/reasons are addressed within the story, I’m more than happy. I do enjoy unconventional romances and sometimes those romances have their toxic moments. But I go in knowing that and it’s usually presented in a way to the reader that this isn’t an ideal relationship. However, not all author’s take that approach or use the opportunity to create that dialogue about what is good and bad about the relationship.

Books that Use the “Forbidden Romance” Trope Well:

When forbidden is in the title, it better live up to it…and this one certainly did! Not only did the “forbidden” element add a layer of suspense to the story, but it also made the story and characters richer. This one had me on the edge of my seat!

>>Standalone Review: The Forbidden

 

I avoided reading Forbidden for years because of the topic of incest, but once I finished it I immediately chided myself for such a colossal mistake! If you want a story that will put you through every type of emotion, this is the one for you.

>>Standalone Review: Forbidden

 

Others: Royally Series  |  Sweet Black Waves

Books that Didn’t Use the “Forbidden Romance” Trope Well:

I was really excited to see how a romance between the Genie and Aladdin would work in this retelling…but it flopped so hard for me. I truly saw no connection between these two besides attraction and in turn, that made me think less of them as characters their “feelings” motivate a lot of their actions. This was just a miss for me.

 

When I read the premise for Undone, I was excited to start it. But I promptly stopped reading at the 36% mark. Why? The romance was a little toxic and didn’t bring out the best in the characters. I quickly learned I like when both characters know they are embarking on a forbidden romance or both are oblivious to the off-limits nature of their relationship. Our hero just came across as slimy to me as a result and their lack of chemistry didn’t help any either.

>>Series Review: Disclosure

 

Others: The Cage  |  Bad Romance


Do you enjoy books with the “Forbidden Romance” Trope?

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