Tag «monthly features»

SERIESous Tips: Using Trello to Keep Track of Reviews

*I want to be clear that this post isn’t affiliated with Trello in any way, this is just my personal experience!*

I first talked about how I use Trello in 2016 during a Keeping Organized Tips Series I ran. At the time, I mostly highlighted how I use Trello to keep track of ARC Requests and only briefly mentioned my Review Board. That’s about to change here!

Back in university, a co-coordinator for an event I was running showed me Trello as a tool for keeping organized. The list-maker in me loved it and I used it a lot while organizing various things. But I never thought about using it for book blogging until I read a post by Brittany @ Book Bumblings about Trello. After that, everything just clicked and I created my own boards to keep track of things!

>> Check out Brittany’s guide here!

Trello is great for a number of reasons. First off, it’s free (there is a premium version you can buy with more features) and the options are endless for the free version. It is a very fluid web-based program. It’s super easy to move things around and has a ton of customizing features (which I’m going to highlight a little more below). It also has an app for your phone so you can use it on the go if you are so inclined.

Let me introduce my Review Board:

Every post that is created for my blog has a card on this board. I have 7 main lists I use to keep my reviews/posts organized depending on what stage they are at.

What are you looking at?

These are my lists I used to keep track of reviews and blog posts. I’ll break it down for you:

  1. To Do
    • This is my brainstorm list where I keep track of ideas for blog posts I might want to do in the future
  2. ARCs
    • This is where I create review cards for Request copies I have received
      • I’ll detail what’s on those cards below
  3. In Development
    • These are reviews/posts I am currently writing
  4. Started
    • These are reviews that are finished, they just need something else before they can be published
  5. Cross Post
    • This is where review cards go after I’ve finished writing my blog post
    • This is where I keep track of what other review sites I need to post my review to
  6. Pending Sequels
    • These are drafted series reviews that I’m holding off on posting until I’ve read all the available sequels
  7. Done
    • This is where all review and post cards go after I have completed all their requirements

As I’m sure you can predict, when I’m writing a post from my To Do list or from my ARCs list, they get put in the In Development column. After they are complete, they either get put in the Cross Post, Pending Sequels or Done columns depending on their posting requirements.

What’s On a Review Card?

An example of a review card for an ARC request

There are 4 features I use the most when it comes to creating my review cards.

  1. Labels (colour codes)
    • This is great for seeing things at a glance. I colour code all my reviews based on their source (ARC or Blog Tour), if they require a Recap, if I need to Cross Post or if I need to Update a previous review and/or stats. I also have a special colour for Promo posts like blitzes.
    • If a card gets a certain label, it usually has an accompanying checklist (see #3).
  2. Due Date
    • This is the date I plan to post on my blog, not necessarily the book’s publishing date.
    • This is super handy because you can sort lists by their due dates chronologically. I do this for posts that I have to cross post to external sites.
  3. Checklist — My FAVOURITE Feature!
    • We do a lot of repetitive things when it comes to blogging and sometimes it’s hard to remember them all.
      • See the section below for more details!
  4. Comment (not pictured)
    • I use this mostly for post cards for Tags or posts inspired by other blogs and I want to remember the source or ideas for the post

Why the Checklist Feature is the BEST!

Certain reviews require certain things. For example, when I write a series review, I need to make sure I’ve added a recap section (if applicable) to my Recap Page and put the series on my Series Sequel Spreadsheet. If it’s a review for Netgalley, I need to make sure I’ve added my review to the site as well as the links to my cross posted reviews. I even have a list for those cross posts! And the lists go on and on…

What I love about Trello is that you can create unique checklists for every card and you can see at a glance how many items you’ve completed from that list.

But the greatest thing is that you can copy checklists from other cards to your current card!

I have a card I’ve titled Master Checklist. On it, I’ve created all the checklists I use on a regular basis and when I create a new card, I import the lists from this card. If I need to make a change, I do it on this list so that a new cards going forward have this newly changed list.

Other Notable Features:

  • Assign Tasks by Team Member
    • This would be great if you have multiple blog contributors!
    • You can leave notes too for each other on the card and see what others have done.
  • Calendar
    • You can enable a calendar that will put your cards on those respective dates
      • I don’t use this feature as I use a Word Doc do keep track of my dates for everything (posts, library due dates, etc). Learn more here.
  • Tracks Activity
    • Any changes you make to a card (and when) are noted at the bottom

This way, I always know where I am when it comes to my reviews!

While I try to do a little bit of blogging each day, I don’t always get the chance to with my job. But Trello makes it easy for me to pick up where I left off and to see what I need to get done and when. It truly has become an essential tool to my blogging experience.

>> See how Carrie @ Reading is My Super Power was inspired by my other Trello post!

How to you keep track of the reviews/posts you have in the works?

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Trope Thursday: Love Triangles [5]

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.


It’s Back!

I wasn’t able to get a Trope Thursday post up for May so the feature took a brief hiatus. While most of my posts are scheduled far in advance, certain features posts (like this one) are usually written a few days before I plan to publish them.

For the month of May I planned to tackle the one trope I can’t stand with a passion. Seriously, if I could abolish one trope from the world of writing, it would be this one.

June’s Trope: Love Triangle

Definition:

love triangle (also called a romantic love triangle or a romance triangle or an eternal triangle) is usually a romantic relationship involving three people. While it can refer to two people independently romantically linked with a third, it usually implies that each of the three people has some kind of relationship to the other two. The relationships can be friendshipsromantic, or familial.

~Wikipedia (“Love Triangle“)

Common Features:

  • Possibility for Forbidden Love
  • Torn between two friends/brothers/sisters
  • Unrequited love for a best friend
  • Rivals
  • Possibility for unfaithfulness

Quick Note Moving Forward:

I’m going to mostly be using the pronoun “she” as the Person of Interest when I write my opinions and assume that her potential suitors are “he”. This is really just to keep it simple and clear what I am trying to convey. I’m not saying that men don’t find themselves torn between two girls or whatever combination you want to imagine, it’s really just a matter of keeping things clear and consistent to emphasize my points 🙂

What I Love About The “Love Triangle” Trope:

In this case, love is a strong word. I don’t particularly care for the love triangle (and I’ll get to why below) but I can admit that there are certain aspects of the love triangle trope that can contribute to the story in a positive way…and not simply for filler.

One of the reasons I think we see so many love triangles in fiction is for their ability to emphasis the “torn” nature of the person of interest. What I mean to say is that in most novels, the Object of Affection (OOA) must choose between two suitors much like the idea that she has to choose the path for life she must follow. Does she stick with the path she has always known or does she embrace the new “her” and the future it could bring?

Take Twilight for example. Bella is torn between Jacob (a werewolf) and Edward (a vampire)–and don’t forget for a little while Mike (a human). Each suitor represents a different path for Bella. With Mike, it’s the acceptance of the human world and the casting aside of the paranormal one. With Jacob, she can remain human, be in love with a close friend while still acknowledging the paranormal world. And with Edward, it’s accepting his immortality and the question of whether or not he is worth her mortality.

(Now Twilight isn’t the greatest love triangle example [it’s included on my worst list below], but it’s one most readers are familiar with without spoiling other series).

Now, not all love triangles follow this ideal. But I think at the heart of most of them, they represent a choice for the characters that is deeper than simply who they want to kiss at night and, if done correctly, they can contribute positively to the character development.

What I Dislike About The “Love Triangle” Trope:

Where do I start?!

One of my biggest peeves about the love triangle trope is when it is throw in simply for the sake of some “drama”. Not every romance needs to be challenged by a rival. There are other obstacles that couples can overcome that don’t involve a third person and that can still provide depth to the characters and their relationship.

My other dislike about love triangles is the back and forth nature of them. Suddenly the “ugly duckling” is seen by two amazing boys and she simply can’t choose between them. Thus ensues chapter after chapter of flip flopping between her feelings. I find this usually distracts from the large plot (especially in middle books of trilogies) and can make for a dull read.

But perhaps my biggest issue with love triangles is their unrealistic nature. I’m not saying that love triangles can’t exist in real life. The reason I liked the definition Wikipedia provides is that it emphasizes that those relationships between those three people don’t have to necessarily be romantic in nature. Rather, what I find unrealistic about most love triangles is that suddenly, two suitors are simultaneously in love with the OOA seemingly out of nowhere. Now I get that there are certain circumstances that can bring this on (like the end of the world for example). But the whole transformation of “ugly duckling” to “most loveable person ever” is one I readily dislike.

Books that Use the “Love Triangle” Trope Well:

This goes back to my first argument where love triangles can be used to emphasize the torn nature of a heroine. What I like about the love triangle in this series–besides the fact that it never overshadows the rest of the plot–is how much it contributes to Ember’s character development. Throughout the series Ember is struggling with her dragon nature (thus her draw to Cobalt) as well as her human nature (thus her draw to Garret) and her attempts to reconcile her feelings for each guy also reflects her growth as a person and dragon as she tries to save the world.

>>Series Review: Talon

 

This is one of the only books I have ever read that has a “true love triangle” element to it (ie all three characters are in love with each other). The heart of this novel is Laney’s identity crisis and her relationships with both Armin and Blythe play crucial roles in that. The love triangle here provides an interesting dynamic to the story and one that keeps the reader on their toes as they watch Laney’s plan for revenge unfold.

>>Standalone Review: Black Iris

 

Others:  No One Needs to Know | Suitors and Sabotage | Shatter Me

Books that Didn’t Use the “Love Triangle” Trope Well:

There is actually a love square in this book but that’s besides the point. My main peeve with this one comes from my intense dislike of our lead heroine, Harper and the inexplicable reason why she has two boys chasing her down with only two sentences spoken between them. (Oh, and her token male BFF who has always loved her). Harper flops like a fish with her feelings and it does nothing to develop her as a character.

>>Series Review: Taking Chances

 

This one had the potential to be good. I mean Calla is torn between duty and her heart when it comes to her suitors…but it’s her actions and reactions that sink that ship pretty quickly. Calla’s relationships become a sole focus for the story and for her. She becomes this self-obsessed heroine who flits back and forth between guys (ie making out with each of them) and subsequently feeling guilty for doing so but does nothing to solve the problem. Frustration to the extreme.

>>Series Review: Nightshade

 

Others:  The Vincent Boys | A Beautiful Dark | Twilight


Do you enjoy books with the “love triangle” Trope?

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Monthly Inventory: May 2018

May 2018

Throughout the month of May, I felt like I never read a book for longer than 20 minutes at a time. Books I should have finished in 2-3 days took me over a week (something unheard of for me); ARCs began to pile up (though I was good on my promise not to request more); and I scarcely visited my blog (thank goodness for scheduled posts!). My stats for the month don’t really reflect this though when you compare them to last year (16 books last May and 15 this May). But the fact of the matter is, if it wasn’t for my audiobook listening (contributing to 40% of the books completed), my stats for May 2018 would be pretty dismal.

On a more positive note, I did a great job finishing up some series I had on the go so I’m very happy with that! I’m also on track to finish most of my ARCs for the end of June which didn’t seem like a possibility 2 weeks ago. Moving forward, I’m definitely limiting myself for ARCs (work is only going to get crazier now the the summer is here) and that means truly sticking to 2018 Reading Plan limits of no more than 3 ARCs per month max. As for the library, I’ve stopped putting books on hold and will focus on getting the books that are readily available and meet my various reading goals for the year.

I don’t know what June will have in store but I know that I want to get back into the blogging and reading game. And since June is also the halfway point of the year, I also plan on re-evaluting my 2018 Reading Challenges and Goals to see if I am on track or if I need to adjust my numbers.

thoughts

Total for May 2018: 15 Books Read + 0 Novellas Read

DNF’d: 1 Books

Last May: 16 Books Read + 6 Novellas Read + 3 DNFs

Standout Read (★★★★★)


I’m really kicking myself for not starting this series earlier because I love it! (Well, I don’t have to wait for the sequels as it is now finished so maybe there was a method to my avoidance). This was my favourite in the series so far and I can’t wait to see what will happen in the last 3 books.

Biggest Let Down (DNF)


After waiting a crazy amount of time on the waitlist for this title, I was super disappointed to have to DNF this one pretty early into it. Despite my love of a good jackass hero, I felt zero chemistry between the two leads and the plot was just too far-fetched for me to enjoy.

 

posted reviews

Most Viewed Post

Monthly Inventory & 5 Year Anniversary Post

Most Viewed Review

Blog Tour: I Dare You

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: 0 titles added | 5 of 25 Titles Read — Behind
Goodreads Challenge: 15 books added | 115/190 Books — Ahead
52 Sequel Challenge: 7 titles added | 12/52 Sequels — On Track
Tackling the TBR Challenge: 0 book added | 11/36 Books — Behind

View my Challenge Progress Here!

Created by Lia @ Lost in a Story

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

This month (7 new to me novels + 3 continuing series):

Keep

Pass

Keep

Pass

Keep

Pass

Keep

Keep

Keep

Keep

Pass: 3 | Keep: 7

Should I reconsider any of my decisions? Let me know in the comments below!

discussions

You can still join in on these discussions:

 

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 June:

 Furyborn (Empirium, #1)  At Any Price (Gaming the System, #1) Him (Him #1) 

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

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Monthly Inventory: April 2018 + 5 Year Anniversary!

April 2018

When I first thought of starting a blog 5 years ago, I really didn’t think I would still be with it 5 years later. Hobbies for me usually come and go thanks to my attention span. But reading is something I’ve been passionate about since high school and it’s that passion that has driven my blogging over the years.

I’ve shared my story many times over the years but I feel like it’s ok to reminisce for your 5 years anniversary. I’ve come a long way from my early days of a free wordpress site. I’ve (somehow) kept this blog going through 2 post secondary degrees; the beginning of my career and as I navigate this tricky world of adulting. I’ve changed the format of my reviews, redid my site design and moved my blog to a self-hosted server as well.

I might not read as many books now as I did 5 years ago or work on my blog everyday like I used to, but I’ve come to accept that things change and sometimes you just have to go with the flow. And in honour of 5 years, I wanted to share 5 lessons I have learned about reading and blogging since I joined this community:

  1. Blog hop and comment on other’s blogs whenever you can
    • I really neglected to do this in my first year of blogging and it’s my biggest regret.
  2. You can’t read all the books and that’s ok
    • Grow your TBR but don’t be afraid to remove those that don’t interest you
  3. Followers and ARCs aren’t everything
    • Stats can be helpful but you need to be happy first and foremost
  4. It’s ok not to read or blog everyday
    • I’ve really come to grips with this over the last year
  5. Never be afraid to be honest about your thoughts/reviews
    • Don’t say what is expected but rather what you truly feel

Cheesy perhaps, but I think they are important things to keep in mind. Even a 5 year veteran like me can still get caught up in the envy and the like but you work on it a day at a time.

Thank you everyone!

Whether you are a new reader or a returning friend, thanks for 5 fantastic years! Who knows, maybe I’ll still be here in 5 more 😉

My Reading Month of April

I think I said it best when I tweeted out this:

April was a month I dedicated to getting things back on track. I was behind in ARCs and my reading challenges so my focus was really on reading those key books to contribute to my reading goals for 2018. For the most part, the first two weeks of April were extremely successful. The last two sucked thanks to life getting in the way but I was still in OK shape when all was said and done.

I think for me, May is about finding that healthy balance between reading, blogging and life and I can’t wait to see what it brings!

 

thoughts

Total for April 2018: 18 Books Read + 1 Novellas Read

DNF’d: 0 Books

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

Standout Read (★★★★★)

When It's Real
This book was everything I wanted it to be! I love the fake relationship trope and this one executes it perfectly! The audio version is also AMAZING! So amazing I’ve got it on my list to buy since I borrowed it from the library.

Biggest Let Down (★★)

Wrecked (Clayton Falls, #3)
I love a good “bad-boy-turned-good” romance but this one just fell flat. It felt rushed and not much was done with the characters either.

 

posted reviews

Most Viewed Post

Top Ten Tuesdays: Books I Loved But Will Never Reread

Most Viewed Review

Suitors and Sabotage

Blog Tour: Suitors and Sabotage

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: 3 titles added | 5 of 25 Titles Read — Behind
Goodreads Challenge: # books added | #/190 Books — Ahead
52 Sequel Challenge: 4 titles added | 11/52 Sequels — Behind
Tackling the TBR Challenge: 1 book added | /36 Books — On Track

View my Challenge Progress Here!

Created by Lia @ Lost in a Story

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

This month:

Sometimes Never (Sometimes Never, #1)
Keep

Sins & Needles (The Artists Trilogy, #1)
Keep

Keep

Fear of Falling (Fearless, #1)
Keep

Lark (Lark, #1)
Pass

One Perfect Night (Seattle Sullivans #1; The Sullivans #9.5)
Pass

The Art of Racing in the Rain
Keep

Flock (Stork, #3)
Keep

Belladonna (Secrets of the Eternal Rose, #2)
Pass

Highlander Taken (Clan Mackenzie, #2)
Keep

Pass: 3 | Keep: 7

Did I make any mistakes in letting some go or by keeping them? Let me know in the comments below!

discussions

You can still join in on these discussions:

 

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 May:

One More Time Furyborn (Empirium, #1) Challenge Accepted (Cleat C... At Any Price (Gaming the System, #1) Him (Him #1) Iron Gold (Red Rising Saga, #4)

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

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Trope Thursdays: New to Town [4]

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.


Welcome Back!

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.

April’s Trope: New to Town

Definition:

One of the lead characters has just moved to a new town where our second lead is currently residing.

Common Features:

  • Mysterious Strangers
    • Possibility for Forbidden Love
  • Insta-Love
  • Angsty Teens
  • Secrets
  • New Family Unit
  • In Love with the Neighbour
  • In Love with the Roommate
  • Character “Soul Searching”

What I Love About The “New to Town” Trope:

I actually relate a lot to this trope as my family moved when I was a young kid to a completely new town. It’s an experience that truly defined who I am as a person and I learned a lot about myself from the whole ordeal as well.

Which is why I find it to be a fascinating trope to include in books. There’s a lot you can play with as it provides ample opportunity for character growth and self-discovery. But it also sets the stage for a sweet (or perhaps unknowingly forbidden?) romance to grow.

I think my favourite aspect is when it’s the entire family unit that has to move and the strain it can put on relationships. Not everyone is 100% on board with moving (I know I wasn’t) so it creates an interesting family dynamic.

What I Dislike About The “New to Town” Trope:

The somewhat sad memories it brings up for me?

No, in all seriousness, it’s hard to do this trope wrong. Most of the time it’s an introductory element that we slowly forget about as the story progresses. Obviously, sometimes the things I mentioned above aren’t capitalized upon but it just depends on the story and what it is trying to tell.

Books that Use the “New to Town” Trope Well:


HEAR ME OUT!

While the reader knows that Edward is a vampire, Bella doesn’t (and that’s just one of many things she doesn’t have a grasp on). Because Bella is new to town, Edward and the Cullens are these mysterious people to her. BUT, I enjoyed the anticipation of her finding out.

You can also throw in her relationship with her estranged dad too.

>>Series Review: Twilight

 

 

I picked this one because I think it really highlights the romance and family aspects of this trope. Strain has been placed on Layken’s family thanks to her dad’s sudden death and her mom’s decision to move them to a new town. It creates an interesting dynamic.

Add to that her new relationship with their neighbour and the consequences that follow and this is a great “New to Town” trope execution.

>>Series Review: Slammed

 

Others: Did I Mention I Love You?  | Wallbanger | No Pants Required

Books that Didn’t Use the “New to Town” Trope Well:

Honestly, I couldn’t think of anything! Usually books I dislike books with the trope for other reasons and not for the fact that they moved. But two of my lowest rated books with this trope are:

Anything by Minor by Kate Stewart (2 starts) & Just Breathe by Rachel Brookes (DNF’d)


Do you enjoy books with the “New to Town” Trope?

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Monthly Inventory: March 2018

March 2018

I’ve known March was going to be a weird reading month since late January this year and it definitely lived up to that expectation.

As I mentioned in my February Recap post, my “big city” library card from my school days expired mid-February. I did my best to read as many books as I could and quite a few carried over into the first two weeks of March. I read a lot of books over those 5 or so weeks. Sometimes averaging 2 books a day–which is crazy even for me! But I managed to get most of them in (even squeezing in some books I already own so I could read the sequels from the library) so it was a great success.

Me for most of February and March

However, that means everything else went by the wayside a bit. My challenge targets for the month of March (and February too to be honest) got neglected and I spent the last two weeks of March (and will be using the first week of April as well) catching up on ARCs I had committed myself too. Luckily, January proved to be more productive than I anticipated so I’m not too far behind on everything and thanks to my speed reading, I’m wayyyy ahead on my Goodreads Challenge.

So April is all about getting back on track! I’ve got some great sequels up next (including one I had to stop in February just as it was getting good) and some hotly anticipated titles I’ve been waiting to dive into. With a slightly more regular work schedule, I’m hoping I get get myself back into my everyday reading routine and checking off those “to-read” titles.

A Notable Change to my Reviews:

On all my reviews, I like to include a “Heat” rating so people know what type of sexual content they can expect in a book.

My Old Scale Looked Like This: (chaste) cold, cool, warm, really warm, hot, smokin’/steamy (very sexy)

I wanted to clean it up a bit because I was struggling a lot with the “cold” & “cool” as well as the “really warm” label. To me, cold and cool are the same thing (chaste kisses if any at all) and if a book has zero romance I just delete the field. I also found that “really warm” didn’t really suit the books I was labelling as such because they are descriptive.

So, going forward, I’ve merged my “cold” and “cool” tags into one (I’d already done that to the “smokin'” and “steamy” tags). I’ve also eliminated my “really warm” tag and have replaced it with “toasty” as I feel it better represents those novels that have your standard 3 sex scenes and not much else. I’m hoping that these more defined parameters will help me label books appropriately.

My New Scale: (chaste) Cool, Warm, Toasty, Hot, Smokin’ (very sexy)

Please note though that some upcoming posts will still have the terms “cold” and “really warm” in the post breakdown itself. I have so many posts scheduled (I’ve got things scheduled into December already!) that I just don’t have the time to go through them all and update them individually. But all the tags on my site have been appropriately adjusted.

thoughts

Total for March 2018: 27 Books Read + 3 Novellas Read

DNF’d: 1 Books

Last March:  16 Books Read + 3 Novellas Read + 5 DNFs

Standout Read (★★★★★)


Winter Renshaw has become a must read author for me and her latest just reaffirms that statement. In fact, this was the only 5 star review I gave this month!

Biggest Let Down (★★)


I should have listened to my gut when I felt like I should DNF this book. It’s never a good thing when you guess the “big twist” by the end of chapter one.

 

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 29, 2018

March 31, 2017

Total % of Library Complete

23%

20%

Total # of Books Finished

284

542

Total # of Reading Hours

2511

2289

*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

Trope Thursdays: My Family Member Hurt Yours

Most Viewed Review

Series Review: Sons of Broad

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: 0 books added & 1 DNF’d | 2 of 25 Titles Read
Goodreads Challenge: 30 books added | 83/190 Books
52 Sequel Challenge: Blood of a Thousand Stars & 1 DNF| 13/52 Sequels
Tackling the TBR Challenge: 2 books added | 10/36 Books

View my Challenge Progress Here!

2018 Take Control
Take Control Wrap-Up – March 2018

I had so much fun with this month-long challenge! It worked out really well that I lot of the titles I binge-read at the start of March were titles that met the challenge guidelines as well as my self imposed ones. (We were to read books that were published before March 1, 2018 but I also gave myself the stipulation that they had to be books I had on my TBR before that date as well.)

My goal was to read 15 books that met these requirements and I ended up surpassing that!

>> See everything that I read 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)

502

511

To Read (Sequels)

316

301

It’s nice to know that my “new” TBR shelf hasn’t grown. I know I’ve added a few titles to that category since the start of the year so I’m pleased that I seem to be reading more items than I’m adding. As for the “sequel” shelf, again, I’m assuming that it is increasing due to the fact that I’m starting new series (and want to read their sequels). My hope for April is to get a few more sequels (especially finale ones) in to reduce that shelf.

 

Created by Lia @ Lost in a Story

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

This month (7 New-to-Me Series + 3 Previously Started Series):

If I Lie
Keep

The Testing (The Testing, #1)
Keep

Wicked Games (Games, #1)
Keep

The Impact of You
Pass

Catching Liam (Good Girls Don't, #1)
Pass

Flat-Out Love (Flat-Out Love, #1)
Pass

Beauty from Pain (Beauty, #1)
Keep

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Millennium, #3)
Keep

The Savage Blue (The Vicious Deep #2)
Keep

Every Never After (Never, #2)
Keep

Pass: 7 | Keep: 3

Grand Total since January: Pass: 14 | Keep: 16

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

 

I saw this meme the other day and thought it would a great way to keep track of my ARCs and keep me more accountable. While this is a monthly meme hosted by Avalinah’s Books, I will only be updating every quarter.

Every month I give myself the allowance of requesting 3 ARCs as per my 2018 Reading Plan. Now, that doesn’t always happen (as you’ll see below). I’m a member of a few street teams and there are always surprise releases or opportunities so I end up reading more ARCs than I plan. Honestly, I mostly use that 3 ARC limit for requests on my blog so I can pace myself and give authors/publishers an approximation.

My Progress for January to March, 2018:

ARCs Read: 31  |   ARCs Overdue: 4*  |  Upcoming: 12

*Some of these books are from my Street Teams and they are “read ASAP” but I consider them to be overdue.

Going Forward:

I’m imposing an ARC hiatus for April and May. No more impulse clicks for this girl! I’m really overwhelmed with all the review copies I’ve signed myself up for this month. And while I love helping with the promotion of books, I feel like I’m not doing a very good job of saying “no” or reading those challenge books I’ve prioritized.

So for the months of April and May I’m not going to sign up for any future review copies or blog tours or take requests. I’m going to make a few exceptions for the Street Teams I’m a part of and the Publishers I work closely with, but otherwise, I want to focus on books I already own and utilizing my library more to read already released novels.

How am I going to accomplish this? Basically I’m going to be deleting all the review opportunity newsletters I subscribe to as they come into my inbox. I also will not be browsing the Netgalley catalogue for the next two months. Out of sight and out of mind is my philosophy for accomplishing this.

 

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 April:

Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin, #2) Hot Mess (Love is Messy Duet, #1) When It's Real Suitors and Sabotage Cursed: The Hunter Inside (Cursed, #1) Gunslinger Girl

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

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Trope Thursdays: My Family Hurt Yours [3]

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 3 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.

My Family Member Hurt Yours

Definition:

A situation where an unlikely bond (or romance) develops between two leads (A & B) in a novel despite a shared history of Person A’s family member hurting/betraying Person B’s self or family.

Example: Sara and John fall in love despite the fact that John’s father was the one driving the car that killed Sara’s sister 5 years ago.

Common Features:

  • Plan for revenge
  • Plan for redemption
  • Forbidden love
  • Focus on family
  • Unexpected plot twists

What I Love About The “My Family Member Hurt Yours” Trope:

While it doesn’t have a nice name or an easy to explain definition, this is one of my favourite tropes to read for a variety of reasons.

For one, I always find these stories have well developed characters. They often have complex characteristics and situations given the past and that provides ample opportunity for growth. Through meeting this “new” person, they start to question their beliefs and perspectives and I find that the result is stronger characters and a solid connection between the leads.

I also like the focus on family. Lots of books create a tragic past by having negligent parents or the like–and while those are important stories–it is nice to see cohesive families in novels as well. Sure, they might not be in the healthiest of places but that’s another great aspect of these stories–the growth of the family unit as a whole.

What I Dislike About The “My Family Member Hurt Yours” Trope:

One of the hardest sells of these novels is the romance. You have to convince me that these two people should overcome all the obstacles in their way in order to be together. They have to learn the lesson of forgiveness and moving on. Which means I don’t want to see superficial connections forged between them. I need to see why these two belong together and why their love is stronger than the past of hurt.

Note: All these examples mention the shared past in some respect in their synopsis. I didn’t pick any books that have this trope as a hidden twist in their stories in an effort to prevent spoilers.

Books that Use the “My Family Member Hurt Yours” Trope Well:


This is one of the first books I ever remember reading with this trope to it. What I liked about these two was who they were as people. They both have their flaws and their setbacks due to their shared past. I really enjoyed watching them work individually on those weakness while at the same time watching them fight this fantastic connection between them. It’s such a beautiful story about letting go of the past and seeing what the future holds.

>>Series Review: Games

 

 

Ok, this one might be cheating a bit since the person directly affected is the heroine but the shared past does have an effect on her family as well.

What I really loved about this one was the focus on what the outside world thought as opposed to what the characters thought about their love. It was an interesting perspective for the novel to have. While their connection could have been a touch stronger, I really enjoyed watching them overcome their shared past.

 

Books that Didn’t Use the “My Family Member Hurt Yours” Trope Well:


I love a good “need for revenge” story and I was hoping this book would have it. Unfortunately, it focused way too much on the sexy times of the relationship and seemed to leave the plot behind in favour of heated sex scenes. It didn’t help either that the relationship was pretty insta-connection.

Series Review: Fifth Avenue Trilogy

 

 

Despite a promising start, this one lost me in the middle and never got me back. This is one of those cases where the romance wasn’t developed enough to convince me these two belonged together despite all the obstacles.

Series Review: Finding


Please let me know what you think about this features structure/topics be commenting below. I am more than willing to modify it in the coming months!

Have you read any books with the “My Family Member Hurt Yours” Trope?

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Monthly Inventory: February 2018

February 2018

Looking back at the month of February, I didn’t get everything done that I wanted to. I blame a few key factors.

First, the Winter Olympics were on! I’m OBSESSED with the Olympics, and in particular the Winter ones (the Canadian in me likes the ice sports what can I say!). For those who follow me on Twitter you probably got annoyed with all my retweets but Canada had a great games and I’m not sorry 😉

Secondly, I went away on an extended vacation and I wasn’t able to read as many books (or watch as much Olympic events) as I would have liked. I still managed to squeeze a few reads in while en route so I was in a good place once I returned. Which is important because:

Third, my “big city” library card from university expired mid month so I had a lot of books I wanted to get through. Thanks to eBooks and some strategic planning, I still have a mountain load of eBooks waiting to be read in the next two weeks. Which means, my 2018 Reading Challenges went by the wayside but I got through a lot of titles I had had sitting on my TBR for years so I consider that a win!

thoughts

Total for February 2018: 21 Books Read + 7 Novellas Read

Last February: 13 Books Read + 4 Novellas Read

DNF’d: 3 Books

Standout Read (★★★★★)

It’s no secret I’m a huge Monica Murphy fan. I haven’t had the greatest luck with her YA stuff lately but I always enjoy her New Adult titles and this one was no exception. No one else could write this story like she could and it lived up to my every expectation!

Biggest Let Down (DNF’d)


I was SO SO excited to read this one! It had Shakespeare; forbidden love and was set in Toronto! I really wanted to love this one but I couldn’t tolerate the petty heroine and the not-burning-at-all slow burn romance.

 

posted reviews

Most Viewed Post

Monthly Inventory: January 2018

Most Viewed Review

Blog Tour: Amber Elixir

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: NONE | 2 of 25 Titles Read
Goodreads Challenge: 29 books added | 55/190 Books
52 Sequel Challenge: 5 Titles Added | 11/52 Sequels
Tackling the TBR Challenge: 4 books added | 8/36 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.

 

Created by Lia @ Lost in a Story

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

This month (7 New Series + 3 Previously Started Series):

Deeper We Fall (Fall and Rise, #1)
Keep

Music of the Heart (Runaway Train, #1)
Keep

Breathing Underwater (Breathing Underwater, #1)
Keep

Going Under
Keep

If He Had Been with Me
Pass

The Secret of Ella and Micha (The Secret, #1)
Keep

Shattered Promises (Shattered Promises, #1)
Keep

Endure (Need, #4)
Keep

Jessica Rules the Dark Side (Jessica, #2)
Keep

Dawn of the Dreadfuls (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, #0.5)
Pass

Pass: 2 | Keep: 8

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

Take Control 2018 Button

I’m taking part in the Take Control of You TBR Pile Challenge, hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer for the month of March. The challenge is simple: read books that have been published before March 1, 2018! That won’t be hard for me since I have a list of backlisted titles I have out from the library and it lines up with my reading challenges for this year. There aren’t any new releases for March that I have on my immediate radar either and I only have 1 ARC that will be published this month.

For me, I’m only going to count titles that I’ve already added to Goodreads. These means sequel novels for newly started series (even if they were published before March 2018) will not be counted though the inaugural novel will be counted.

My Goal: 15 Titles

You can track all my progress on my 2018 Reading Challenge Page here!

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:

Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin, #2) Hot Mess (Love is Messy Duet, #1) The Scorpion Rules (Prisoners of Peace, #1) Deadly Secret (Sons of Broad #2) The Divinity Bureau Chase Me (Broke and Beautiful, #1)

 

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

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SERIESous Discussions: Lessons Learned from Blog Tours


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!


Truth: I didn’t know that blog tours existed until my 2nd year of blogging.

Embarrassing, I know, but I was in such a bubble during my first year of blogging (2013) that I didn’t know what was out there. Anyways, I started slowly with taking review requests in 2015, joining Netgalley and then in 2016, I officially joined the community of being a tour host.

I thought about making this a tips post but I really think this is more a reflection on my experiences being a tour host and how two years of hosting blog tours has changed my blogging and reading habits.

Lesson #1: I LOVE Helping Authors!

There are so many great books out there, from big-name publishers to self-published, and I love the idea that my blog post might help one person discover a book they never knew about. Exposure is everything, especially for those debut authors who are just emerging onto the scene. Just getting the email sign-ups for tours has exposed me to a lot of books I might never have seen otherwise.

More often than not, I often get to connect with these authors after the fact and I love that! I’ve had some great discussions and fantastic opportunities present themselves as a result. Those interactions remind me why I love blogging and reading in the first place: a shared passion for stories.

>>Some Blog Tour Organizers: Audiobookworm Promotions |  Lola’s Blog Tours  | Chapter by Chapter | Social Butterfly PR | Xpresso Book Tours | YA Bound Book Tours

Lesson #2: Keep an Eye on the Number of Requests

I’ve talked in the past about some of the tactics I use to minimize the feeling of reading as a chore but it is so easy to sign-up for blog tours when you are getting emails daily. Like I said, there are a lot of interesting books out there and it can be hard to resist clicking the “request” button for every title that gets your attention. But you don’t want to overwhelm yourself by creating more deadlines and commitments than you can handle.

I personally aim to do no more than 2 requests (blog tour or review request/opportunities) per month. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail but I find that ground rule keeps me from requesting all the books.

Using a calendar to keep track of all my posts allows me to see the bigger picture. Can I fit that tour in on those specific dates? Have I already applied/committed to review something that day? You have to be careful because most blog tours want their post to be the “top” post of the day and that may mean shuffling your schedule around to meet that requirement.

>>Tip Posts: Using Trello to Keep Organized | Organizing Requests | How to Start Scheduling Blog Posts

Lesson #3: Read the Book ASAP!

Most blog tours give you a month or more notice before your scheduled date and you often get the review copy a few weeks before the posting date. When I put in my book deadlines on my calendar, I aim to have the ARC finished at least a week before my tour stop…but that doesn’t always happen.

Reading the review copy at the last minute can have some unfortunate consequences. For one thing, you might not be able to finish the review on time. For another, you might end up DNFing the book or are unable to give it a favourable review (which defeats the purpose of a promotional tour though you are always encouraged to post your review later). Or something comes up and you just can’t post anything for the tour.

All the touring groups I deal with are great with recognizing that you won’t like every book you read and are very accommodating with changing the date or type of tour stop and/or making alternate arrangements. But my point here is that it can be stressful for all involved if you leave your reading to the last minute and arrangements can’t be made. You have to remember that it is a privilege to be awarded a spot on a tour, not your right as a blogger. If you are hard to work with or can’t make your commitments, it might affect your opportunities with that company later on.


Those are just a few of the lessons I’ve learned over the last year. Although blog tours can be a bit of work, I’ve found them to be extremely rewarding! I’ve discovered a ton of amazing books and authors over the last two years and I hope you have to by following my blog.

Do you participate in Blog Tours? Why or why not?

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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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