Tag «monthly features»

Top Ten Tuesdays: New to Me Authors in 2018

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 New to Me Authors I Read in 2018

It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these but I couldn’t resist this topic when I read it! While I spent a good portion of last year attempting to finish series I had already started, I was able to find some new authors who rocked my literary world! Check them out!

(In no particular order):


Links to My Reviews:

Grad Night Series | On the Edge Series | Beauty of the Beast | When It’s Real

Who were your new to you authors of 2018?

connect Twitter GoodReads Riffle Bloglovin' Google Plus Amazon.ca Reviews RSS Email

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

Monthly Inventory: December 2018

December 2018

2018 was quite the year; I don’t know how else to describe it. I had a lot of big life changes along the way and they truly did impact my reading in ways I didn’t expect…

I’ve had many hobbies over the years but reading (primarily) and blogging are the ones that have stuck with me the longest. But there were days in 2018 that I didn’t pick up a book at all; and there were even times where I didn’t touch my blog at all during the week. Practically unheard of just a short year ago. I’ve talked about “adulting” before on this blog but 2018 was truly the year that phrase really meant something to me.

I know that last paragraph may sound a little bleak but I promise lighter times are on the way! Even with a shift in my priorities as my personal life evolves, I’m counting on a great 2019 in all things–but especially reading!

I have a new plan of action for reading in 2019you’ll be able to read all the specifics here–and one that I really think will work well with my life moving forward!

thoughts

Total for December 2018: 15 Books Read + 2 Novellas Read

DNF’d: 2 Books

Last December: 21 Books Read + 3 Novellas Read + 1 DNFs

Grand Totals for 2018:

74 Books + 86 ARCs + 66 Audiobooks + 20 Novellas + 29 DNFs = 231 Books

*Note some ARCs were audiobooks or novellas so they maybe have been counted twice

Standout Read (★★★★★)


I’ve been dying to read this book ever since I finished the first novel in its series and this did not disappoint! It was exactly what I needed to remind me what a good contemporary romance is!

Biggest Let Down (★★)


I love the Disney movie Aladdin so I was excited to see what a retelling focusing on a genie would be like. Unfortunately, the lacklustre romance pulled the magic carpet out from under this unique premise. (See what I did there ;))

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.

  • Bad Romeo Christmas – $1.03
  • Arrogant Master – $2.99
  • Arrogant Playboy – $3.99

So I was just shy of reading books that would total the regular monthly fee but I definitely made back my $1!

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:

December 27, 2018

December 29, 2017

Total % of Library Complete

25%

22%

Total # of Books Finished

294

264

Total # of Reading Hours

2590

2511

Moving Forward: Cleaning up my Kobo eReader is my main priority for 2019 and I hope that will be reflected in my stats by the end of next year.

 

posted reviews

Most Viewed Post

DNF December Review Blitz: Intro

Most Viewed Review

Standalone Review: When It’s Real

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: 6 titles this month alone! | 25 of 25 Titles Read – Completed!
Goodreads Challenge: 231 of 190 — Completed!
52 Sequel Challenge: 7 titles added | 52/52 Sequels – Completed!
Tackling the TBR Challenge: 5 books added | 33/36 Books – Incomplete!

View my Challenge Progress Here!

Overall: After such a dismal reading challenge year in 2017 I really wanted to get my TBR numbers down in 2018 and I think I managed to do that. (You’ll find the specific TBR stats below). Despite the fact that it felt like I rarely had a moment to read in 2018, I somehow managed to complete nearly all my reading challenges! The one exception is the Tackling the TBR challenge where I fell a little short. However, I still consider it a “success” when I take into account that by DNFing 9 novels from my personal collection–with the ones I finished–I did “remove” 36+ titles from my owned TBR so WIN!

2019 Reading Challenges:

For 2019 I wanted to make the focus be books I already own. It’s so easy to get caught up in the new releases and new library books; and that’s what I often do. But I have a TON of books waiting on my Kobo and Kindle eReaders (~100 on EACH device). Mind you, a lot of those are freebies I probably won’t ever read but who can resist free books?! Anyways, I’m bringing back my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge and my Tackling the TBR Challenge from 2018 to help me get the job done and clean up those eReaders.

My Goodreads Goal this year is 200 Books.

I read 40 more books than I expected this year (only 10 short of last year’s target) but the last few months have seen a drastic decrease to my reading numbers–and I only expect it to get worse come 2019. So I think by setting my goal to 200, it’s still an obtainable goal but one that I will have to be actively thinking about to achieve.

5 Year 5 Book Challenge 2019 Edition!

I really like doing this challenge ever year because it helps me get some of those backlisted titles off my TBR. It gives me specific titles to read and focus on. This year, 15 of my 25 selected books are from my personally owned collection!

>> View the titles I’ve selected here!

Tackling the TBR – The 2019 Challenge

I’m following the same guidelines as last year by only counting titles that I owned prior to 2018. The minimum goal is 24 titles in 2019. Titles from my 5Y5BC do not count towards this challenge (unlike last year).

 

 

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 was 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–and now it’s time to see if I reached my goal!

Currently

December 31, 2017

Want to Read (New)

472

511

To Read (Sequels)

263

301

I DID IT! It would be nice to say that I reached my goal by only reading the books but that isn’t solely the case. It was a combination of reading; DNFing titles I just wasn’t into; doing the Down the TBR Hole meme monthly as well as general housekeeping (removing sequels from series I don’t want to continue, etc) that truly helped get my numbers down.

Moving forward: I’m really happy with where my “New” TBR shelf stands but for 2019 but if I could get it closer to 400, I’d be one happy reader! I’d like to see my “Sequels” shelf dip below the 250 mark for sure though. I would also love to see a significant decrease to my Kobo and Kindle owned shelves (they currently sit at 80 and 70 titles respectively).

 

Created by Lia @ Lost in a Story

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 and will continue this into 2019.

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

Pass

Keep

Pass

Keep

Pass

Keep

Pass

Pass

Pass

Keep

Pass: 6 | Keep: 4

Grand Totals YTD — Pass: 45 | Keep: 55

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 usually only update every quarter.

My Progress for January to December, 2018:

ARCs Read: 86  |   ARCs Overdue: 2+1*  |  Upcoming: 4

(September’s State: ARCs Read: 71  |   ARCs Overdue: 2+2*  |  Upcoming: 3

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

Going Forward:

I’m sticking hard to my 2 ARCs a month for 2019. I might even limit the amount of ARCs I read by an author for the year (the exception being Street Teams I’m a part of) if I find it gets too much. I’ve also limited my requests from authors for the time being as well. My focus this year is really on books I already own and so I want to be more selective about the ARCs I pick up.


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

connect Twitter GoodReads Riffle Bloglovin' Google Plus Amazon.ca Reviews RSS Email

catchphrase

Disclaimer | Request a Review | Contact

Monthly Inventory: November 2018

November 2018

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

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

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

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

thoughts

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

DNF’d: 1 Book

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

Standout Read (★★★★★)


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

Biggest Let Down (DNF)


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

 

posted reviews

Most Viewed Post

Monthly Inventory: October 2018

Most Viewed Review

Standalone Review: American Panda

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

 

thoughts

Previously posted series reviews that got updates:

thoughts

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

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

View my Challenge Progress Here!

 

Created by Lia @ Lost in a Story

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

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

Pass

Keep

Keep

Keep

Keep

Keep

Keep

Keep

Keep

Pass

Pass: 2 | Keep: 8

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

 

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

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


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

connect Twitter GoodReads Riffle Bloglovin' Google Plus Amazon.ca Reviews RSS Email

catchphrase

Disclaimer | Request a Review | Contact

SERIESous Tips: Post Templates

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

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

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

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

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

Answer: Templates.

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

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

>> SERIESous Tips: My 5 Favourite WordPress Plugins

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

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

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

A portion of my Book Series Review Template.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why do I love Templates?

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

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

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

connect Twitter GoodReads Riffle Bloglovin' Google Plus Amazon.ca Reviews RSS Email

catchphrase

Disclaimer | Request a Review | Contact

Monthly Inventory: October 2018

October 2018

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

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

thoughts

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

DNF’d: 4 Books

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

Standout Read (★★★★★)


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

Biggest Let Down (★)


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


posted reviews

Most Viewed Post

Monthly Inventory: September 2018

Most Viewed Review

DNF Review: Kens

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

 

thoughts

Previously posted series reviews that got updates:

 

thoughts

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

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

View my Challenge Progress Here!

Created by Lia @ Lost in a Story

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

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

Pass

Keep

Keep

Pass

Pass

Pass

Keep

Pass

Keep

Pass

Pass: 6 | Keep: 4

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

 

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

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

connect Twitter GoodReads Riffle Bloglovin' Google Plus Amazon.ca Reviews RSS Email

catchphrase

Disclaimer | Request a Review | Contact

SERIESous Tips: Book Blogging When on Vacation

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

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

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

>> SERIESous Tips: Picking the Perfect Travel Read!

My Philosophy:

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

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

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

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

Scheduling Posts

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

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

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

Access to my Schedule via OneDrive

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

>>SERIESous Tips: Keeping Organized

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

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

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

Avoid Deadlines / Posting Commitments

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

>>SERIESous Tips: Keeping Organized — ARCS

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

>>Discussion: Lessons Learned from Doing Blog Tours

Jot Down Reviews/Thoughts After Finishing a Novel

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

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

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

Keeping Up With Emails / Requests

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

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

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

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

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

Creating a Worklist via Trello

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

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


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

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

connect Twitter GoodReads Riffle Bloglovin' Google Plus Amazon.ca Reviews RSS Email

catchphrase

Disclaimer | Request a Review | Contact

Trope Thursday: Crime Families [7]

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.


So I haven’t been the most proactive about getting these posts out on a monthly basis but that’s ok! I’m back this month with a new trope!

I dunno how I came up with this trope but it was on my list of topics for the year. I think as a society we have this fascination with the law and the people who break it. You see it everywhere from court trials of infamous cases to fictional TV shows based on crimes (Criminal Minds, Law and Order, CSI) to the people/families who commit the crimes (Sons of Anarchy, The Sopranos). I know I’m a sucker for a good “crime family” story and I’ll explain why below.

October’s Trope: Crime Families

Definition:

crime family is a unit of an organized crime syndicate, particularly the Mafia (both in Sicily and in the United States), often operating within a specific geographic territory. In its strictest sense, a family (or clan) is a criminal gang, operating either on a unitary basis or as an organized collection of smaller gangs (e.g., cellsfactionscrews, etc.). In turn, a family can be a sole “enterprise”, or part of a larger syndicate or cartel.

~Wikipedia (“Crime Family“)

 

For the sake of this post, I’m sticking with books or series that involve families that perform syndicated crime. I’m not focusing on characters that have had run-ins with the law or simply have a criminal past. I’m focusing on books that have organized groups that perform crimes.

Common Features:

  • Dark love
  • Possibility for Forbidden/Taboo Love
  • Loyalty
  • Violence
  • Crimes
  • Mafia
  • Revenge
  • Motorcycle Clubs
  • Debts to be Paid

What I Like About The “Crime Families” Trope:

I love books that have me on the edge of my seat and I find books that centre around crime families have that suspense to them. You never know who to trust; there’s always the risk of mortal danger; and the stakes always seem to be higher. It makes for a thrilling read.

I’m a sucker for a good villain and I find your crime family stories supply some truly evil and despicable bad guys.

I also like the aspect of family and loyalty to that family. Some of these families can be so dysfunctional that they work so it’s a neat aspect to watch unfold. They say blood is thicker than water and I think that always rings true in novels that focus around crime families.

What I Dislike About The “Crime Families” Trope:

I sometimes find that the books can go too far with the “shock factor” and things seem out of hand. Then that just makes the whole plot seem ridiculous.

While I do enjoy the occasional dark romance, I sometimes find romances in crime family stories really straddle that line of toxic and unhealthy. Yes, fiction is fiction but I don’t overly enjoy how normalized and romanticized some of these toxic relationships get in these books.

Books that Use the “Crime Families” Trope Well:

Perhaps one of the darkest novels I’ve ever read, I loved this serialized series for many reasons. A kick-butt heroine bent on revenge, a passionate romance and some pretty dire circumstances, this novel will keep you on your toes! It’s the darker side of a motorcycle club.

>>Series Review: Gypsy Brothers

 

This series is all about family and the loyalty you feel to that family (or maybe why you don’t). There’s just so many layers to this series and it provides ample character development throughout. Add to it an overarching plot with the motorcycle club and you’ve got yourself one wild ride.

>>Series Review: Thunder Road

 

Others: Son of the Mob  |  Heist Society

Books that Didn’t Use the “Crime Families” Trope Well:

This series is here for two reasons: 1) the somewhat abusive romance and 2) the boring leads. Sometimes I thought these two had great chemistry and then our “hero” would “show his dominance” and it just turned me off immediately. It was cringe-worthy–even though I had prepared myself for the darker romance.

>>Series Review: Kingpin Love Affair

 

“You know when teenagers attempt to act like adults and it just makes everything a little awkward? That’s what the plot is in this story.”

Everything here is super over dramatic thanks to the young ages of the cast. It just pushed the drama and the like over the top and made everything seem unbelievable. I think if this was a New Adult Series with older leads, it would have been better. This was definitely a guilty pleasure read for me because it’s like a bad, cheesy TV show.

>>Series Review: Made Men

 

Others: Once Upon a Crime Family  |  Crossing Stars


Do you enjoy books with the “Crime Families” Trope?

connect Twitter GoodReads Riffle Bloglovin' Google Plus Amazon.ca Reviews RSS Email

catchphrase

Disclaimer | Request a Review | Contact

Monthly Inventory: September 2018

September 2018

September got off to a very rough start. I nearly DNF’d more books in the first 2 weeks than I did in all of August. So understandably, I felt myself getting into a bit of a reading slump by mid-month. Not fun. Was my crazy work schedule to blame? Was it my plan to only read sequels for the month of September? I’m not sure but it has been a long time since I’ve gone through what I consider to be a major reading slump so it was an unwelcome feeling.

>> SERIESous Discussion: 5 Reasons Why Novellas Stop Reading Slumps

But my mid-month, I seemed to be back on track. Like last September, I decided to make this past month all about reading sequels. Overall, with the exception of a few audiobooks and a reading challenge title, I did a pretty good job. Out of the 15 books I started and finished within this month, 10 were sequels. That’s means 67% of the titles I read this month were sequels! And while I didn’t read near as many books as I wanted to (or any of the ones I had actually listed to read), I’m still really happy that I was able to finish some pending series reviews and make a dent in my 52 Sequels Challenge.

In other news, I discovered that my new default audiobook speed is now 1.5X! When I first started listening to audiobooks, I kept the speed at 1X but I found that some narrators were talking too slowly so I sped it up to 1.25X in the last few months. But lately,even that’s too slow too! It’s crazy to me because even last year that would have been wayyy to fast to listen to. It’s been a great change though because (obviously) the books don’t take as long as to finish so I’m able to get through more in a month. Which I think is improving my overall enjoyment of the novels because they don’t seem as dragged out as they would otherwise.

 

thoughts

Total for September 2018: 13 Books Read + 2 Novellas Read

DNF’d: 5 Books

Last September: 10 Books Read + 0 Novellas Read + 0 DNFs

Standout Read (★★★★★)


I had an absolute blast listening to the audiobook! This was such a charming contemporary story and exactly what I wanted–and needed–it to be!

Biggest Let Down (DNF)


This book had all the right checks for me–Canadian Author, Fantasy, Competition–but it fell terribly flat. I don’t think it helped that I had a mediocre reading month either. This book just couldn’t hold my attention with its stiff writing and insta-love romance.

 

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:

October 2, 2018

October 9, 2017

Total % of Library Complete

25%

10%

Total # of Books Finished

288

120

Total # of Reading Hours

2551

2445

 

posted reviews

Most Viewed Post

Tips: List of Blog Tour & Review Groups

Most Viewed Review

Standalone Review: Rush

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: DNF’d 1 Selection & 2 Sequels | 16 of 25 Titles Read – Behind!
Goodreads Challenge: 15 books added | 185/190 Books – Ahead!
52 Sequel Challenge: 7 titles added | 39/52 Sequels – Behind!
Tackling the TBR Challenge: 2 books added | 24/36 Books – Behind!

View my Challenge Progress Here!

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

Currently

December 31, 2017

Want to Read (New)

490

511

To Read (Sequels)

302

301

I feel really good about my numbers as they stand. I’ve been consistently under 500 for my “new” TBR items for the last few months so I’m optimistic I can meet my goal of less than 500 by the end of the year. It would be nice to see my “sequel” reads decrease a little more by the end of the year. I think some of those numbers are inflated (I haven’t been the most proactive in removing sequels from series I’ve decided to pass on from that list) but in some ways, it’s expected that when I read books from my “new” shelf, the sequels will be added to my “sequels” 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):

See Me (See Me, #1)
Pass

Nearly Broken (Nearly, #1)
Keep

Weekends Required (Danvers, #1)
Pass

Beautiful Chances (Beautiful, #1)
Pass

Breaking Nova (Nova, #1)
Pass

Beneath Your Beautiful (Beautiful, #1)
Pass

Fall into Forever
Keep

Star Struck (Lights, Camera, #2)
Keep

The Heart of Betrayal (The Remnant Chronicles, #2)
Keep

Playing with Her Heart (Caught Up in Love #5)
Keep

Pass: 5 | Keep: 5

Grand Totals YTD — Pass: 31 | Keep: 39

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 usually only update every quarter. However, since I participated in ARC August, I decided to do an update last month to see if the challenge had an impact on my ARC review status and I wanted to continue with my quarterly tradition by doing one for the month of September.

My Progress for January to September, 2018:

ARCs Read: 71  |   ARCs Overdue: 2+2*  |  Upcoming: 3

(August’s State: ARCs Read: 66  |   ARCs Overdue: 1*  |  Upcoming: 4+1(u))

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

Going Forward:

ARC August helped A LOT in getting my ARC list under control. This is definitely a much more manageable TBR list. So far, I’m right on track when it comes to sticking to my 2018 Reading Plan of limiting my ARCs on a monthly basis to 3. I’ve really gotten better at not signing myself up for every blog tour that peaks my interest and I haven’t been browsing Netgalley for titles either. I have a silly work schedule for October and a vacation planned where I won’t be reading much so that really helped me stick to my limits.

 

discussions

You can still join in on these discussions:

 

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


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

connect Twitter GoodReads Riffle Bloglovin' Google Plus Amazon.ca Reviews RSS Email

catchphrase

Disclaimer | Request a Review | Contact

SERIESous Discussion: How I Became a Two-Timing Book Reader


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!


Five years ago, if you asked me how many books I was currently reading, I would have said one.
If you asked me today, I’d say at least two, if not three.

Over time, many of our habits evolve and my reading habits are no exception.

I was a pretty serial monogamist when it came to reading a few years ago. Meaning: I’d only read one book at a time. Why? Well, I liked the idea of getting through books quickly and efficiently. It seemed more productive for me to keep my attention on one book at a time so that’s what I did.

There were really only 2 reasons why I would start a second book while reading another.

One: I needed to read it for school.

Two: my current read was very long (or not completely holding my attention) and I needed to split up my reading time. I found that by reading only bits at a time, as I read something else, helped to keep me interested and subsequently finish the long/not-fully-invested-in book. DNFing a book was something I rarely did then; I toughed out nearly all the books I read (with some disastrous consequences).

Fast forward to now and you will see my reading habits have changed quite a bit.

Now, I have at least 2 books on the go at all times. Sometimes, I even have a third! Gah! The old me wouldn’t recognize the reader I’ve now become! It’s amazing how something you do everyday can change over the years without you really noticing the shift immediately.

Why the change?

I think there are a number of reasons why I’ve become a bit of a two-timer when it comes to reading.

ONE: I listen to audiobooks on a regular basis.

Now that I commute to work multiple times a week by driving, I need something to keep me entertained in my car. I went with audiobooks instead of the radio or my iPod and I am so glad that I did! Listening to audiobooks as I drive allows me to feel productive while simultaneously making the trip feel faster.

>> Learn how audiobooks have changed my monthly reading habits!

>> SERIESous Tips: 5 Ways to Get into Audiobooks

So now, I always have a physical book on the go as well as an audiobook that I usually reserve for car rides (or dog walks) only.

TWO: I’m a Mood Reader

I’ve always had a bit of a pattern when it comes to reading. Say I just finished a YA fantasy novel, I usually pick up a New Adult romance right after. And after that, I pick up another non-contemporary novel and alternate back and forth. Other times, I read multiple books in that genre because I’m just in a genre-binge phase.

But sometimes, it depends on the type of novel I’ve just finished. For example, if I just finished a dark romance, I usually read 2 “lighter” romances right after to bring me back to a more happier place. Sometimes I’ll even start that lighter book while I read the darker one just to balance out my mood and give me something else to think about. That’s how I often find myself with multiple physical books on the go.

THREE: ARC / Request Responsibilities

For the most part, I usually only stick to one physical book at a time plus my audiobook. I find now that I take on more ARCs and participate in more blog tours, I’ve integrated my various deadlines into the order of books to read.

When I read an ARC, I usually try to only read the ARC and not pick up something else. I want to give the ARC my full attention because I’m being asked to write a fair review of it. But sometimes, I get last minute requests or the street teams I’m on have a sudden, surprise release and I try my best to get my review done in a timely manner to help the author out. So that might mean I start that ARC while finishing another novel in order to meet my deadlines.

FOUR: I Have More Time to Read in a Day

Because I my job involves shift work, I often have couple days off in a row after completing a stretch. While I love nothing more than to stay in bed all day and read, I sometimes find I don’t have the attention span to read only one book in a day. I liken it to watching TV. I love a good binge-watch as much as the next person, but sometimes, you’ve got to mix it up a bit and watch something else or do something else in between episodes.

>> SERIESous Discussion: My Reading Habits by Month

This idea goes hand in hand with the mood reader in me. I enjoy reading a couple chapters of one book and then switching to another within the hour and repeating the process throughout the day. Sure, it’s probably more productive to only read one book at a time but I find the changes keep my mind and attention fresh for each book.

FIVE: It’s Part of my “To DNF or Not to DNF” Strategy

I mentioned before that in the past, I used to break up “Book A” into smaller chunks at a time while reading “Book B” so that I could eventually finish “Book A”. Three years ago I rarely DNF’d books and pushed myself to finish them regardless of my enjoyment. As a result, I went through a lot of reading slumps and that wasn’t cool with me.

I worked really hard on becoming comfortable with DNFing books in 2017; on putting down books that just weren’t capturing my attention or weren’t enjoyable to me. And in turn, I had a great reading year in 2017 with only a few minor slumps every couple of months that I quickly got over.

>> SERIESous Discussion: DNFing ARCs

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 know that reading multiple books at a time isn’t a ground-breaking thing. Lots of people have been doing it for years. But for me, it’s a method I’ve really only embraced in the last year or so as a regular habit of my everyday reading and I wanted to investigate why. I can’t wait to see what my habits are in 5 years from now!

How many books do you read at one time and what is your reasoning?

connect Twitter GoodReads Riffle Bloglovin' Google Plus Amazon.ca Reviews RSS Email

catchphrase

Disclaimer | Request a Review | Contact

Monthly Inventory: August 2018

August 2018

What a jammed packed month this turned out to be! Between readathons and vacations, I had a lot on the go. So August was never a dull month (and if it was, I just DNF’d the book I was reading :P)

August was all about my personal TBR list (ie books I own) with the Make Me Read It Readathon and cleaning up some long overdue ARCs for the various Street Teams I’m a part of via ARC August. Overall, I had a great time with both challenges and accomplished what I wanted to do. (You can read my final recaps on each further down).

Otherwise, August was a little bit out of the norm for me. A lot of the books I’ve had my eye on purchasing went on sale (YAY!) so I bought more books in a one week span than I have all year, but the deals were too good to pass up. I had also imposed a “no borrowing from the library” ban on myself for the summer and I stuck with it (surprisingly). The only time I broke that was to get some specific books for my challenges.

Like I did last September, I will be exclusively reading series sequels for the month of September. I’ll list some of the books I plan to read below but the idea is only read books for series I’ve already started. This year, I’m alternating between series I’ve read over the years and series I just started this year.

thoughts

Total for August 2018: 19 Books Read + 0 Novellas Read

DNF’d: 4 Books

Last August: 17 Books Read + 4 Novellas Read + 2 DNFs

Standout Read (★★★★★)


This book just blew me away! I loved every minute of it! It was like the perfect hybrid of some of my favourite Science Fiction/Dystopian novels.

Biggest Let Down (DNF)


I’ve had this ARC forever and the personal hype was high but I just couldn’t get into this story at all.


posted reviews

Most Viewed Post

Monthly Inventory: July 2018

Most Viewed Review

Blog Tour: The Right Fit

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: The Cage & The Diabolic | 14 of 25 Titles Read – Slightly Behind
Goodreads Challenge: 19 books added | 169/190 Books – Ahead
52 Sequel Challenge: 4 Sequels | 29/52 Sequels – Slightly Behind
Tackling the TBR Challenge: 3 books added | 19/36 Books – Slightly Behind

View my Challenge Progress Here!

Created by Lia @ Lost in a Story

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

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

Escaping Me (Escaping, #1)
Pass

Let Love In (Love, #1)
Pass

Forever Innocent (The Forever Series, #1)
Keep

Reckless Longing (Reckless, #1)
Keep

Vain (The Seven Deadly, #1)
Keep

The Art of Catching a Greek Billionaire (Greek Billionaire, #1)
Pass

Just One Song (Just One Song, #1)
Keep

The Right Moves (The Game, #3)
Pass

Losing My Balance by Helena Newbury
Keep

Killer Frost (Mythos Academy, #6)
Keep

Pass: 4 | Keep: 6

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

 

My goal was to read 3 of the most voted for books during the readathon (and read the rest by the end of the year). Unlike last year, I managed to read all three books in the timeframe and complete my goal! I even attempted to read a 4th book from the list after the readathon but ended up DNFing it 🙁 But still, I’m really happy I managed to get meet my goal (and contribute to my other reading challenges in the process) and plan to get to the rest in October.

  

My goal for this challenge was to read a total of 6 ARCs and I ended up reading a total of 7 and DNF’d 2.

The Emperor's Daughters Pretend I'm Yours War and Love You Promised Me Forever (Forever Yours, #1) Heart of a Liar (Unforgivable #2) Heart of a Prick (Unforgivable #3)

 

While this is a monthly meme hosted by Avalinah’s Books, I usually only update every quarter. However, since I participated in ARC August, I decided to do an update to see if the challenge had an impact on my ARC review status.

My Progress for January to August, 2018:

ARCs Read: 66  |   ARCs Overdue: 1*  |  Upcoming: 4+1(u)

(June’s State: ARCs Read: 54  |   ARCs Overdue: 2+6*  |  Upcoming: 7)

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

(u) Unreceived ARC

Going Forward:

I’m really happy with the progress I made this month with my ARCs! It was great to get some of my backlogged titles out of the dust and read. I’ve done my best to stick to my limit of no more than 3 ARCs a month and have limited my review requests on my blog to only author’s I have reviewed in the past. Hopefully, I can maintain that for the rest of the year so I can concentrate on getting my reading challenges met for the year!

 

discussions

You can still join in on these discussions:

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

 

September is all about the sequels! This upcoming month, I’ve decided to alternate between series I started before 2018 and series I’ve started in 2018 as well as alternating genre types (contemporary then non-contemporary). Of course, I’ve integrated some of the my other reading challenges with my picks. Here are some of the books I have ready to go for September:

East (History Interrupted #2) Beautiful Redemption (The Maddox Brothers, #2) Twice Burned (Love is Messy Duet, #2) Angel Fever (Angel, #3) Maid of Deception (Maids of Honor, #2) By Referral Only (Whitman University, #2)

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

connect Twitter GoodReads Riffle Bloglovin' Google Plus Amazon.ca Reviews RSS Email

catchphrase

Disclaimer | Request a Review | Contact