Tag «monthly features»

Monthly Inventory: April 2019

April 2019

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

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

Happy 6 Years to Me!

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

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

thoughts

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

DNF’d: 0 Books

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

Standout Read (★★★★)


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

Biggest Let Down (★★★)


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

thoughts

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

5 Year 5 Book Challenge: 2 books added | 6 of 25 Titles Read – Slighty Behind!
Goodreads Challenge: 13 books added | 51/200 Books – 14 Books Behind!
Tackling the TBR Challenge: 0 books added | 4/24 Books – Behind

View my Challenge Progress Here!

Created by Lia @ Lost in a Story

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

This month:

Deadly: Part 1
Pass

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

Off the Record (Record, #1)
Keep

Miss Taken (Miss Taken Identity #1)
Keep

Rock the Heart (Black Falcon, #1)
Pass

Love Edy (Love Edy #1)
Keep

Forbidden Attraction (Forbidden Trilogy, #1)
Pass

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

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

Soleil (The Illumination Paradox, #3)
Keep

Pass: 4 | Keep: 6

Grand Total YTD: Pass: 12 | Keep: 28

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

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

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

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Monthly Inventory: March 2019

March 2019

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

Get ready for a long, reflective post 😛

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

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

>> SERIESous Discussion: Reading Formats by Month

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

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

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

 

thoughts

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

DNF’d: 0 Books

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

Standout Read (★★★★)


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

Biggest Let Down (★★)


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

 


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

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

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

kobostats

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

As of:

March 31, 2019

March 31, 2018

Total % of Library Complete

%

23%

Total # of Books Finished

#

284

Total # of Reading Hours

#

2511

 

posted reviews

Most Viewed Post

TTT: Standalone Novels that Should Have Sequels

Most Viewed Review

ARC Review: Friends with Benefits

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

 

thoughts

Previously posted series reviews that got updates:

 

thoughts

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

5 Year 5 Book Challenge: 2 books added | 3 of 25 Titles Read – Behind!
Goodreads Challenge: 11 books added | 11/200 Books – 11 Books Behind!
Tackling the TBR Challenge: 0 books added | 4/24 Books – Slightly Behind

View my Challenge Progress Here!

 

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

Currently

December 31, 2018

Want to Read (New)

465

472

To Read (Sequels)

261

263

 

Created by Lia @ Lost in a Story

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

This month:

Beautiful Oblivion (Beautiful Oblivion, #1)
Pass

Losing Control (Kerr Chronicles, #1)
Keep

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

Full Steam Ahead (Sea Swept, #1)
Keep

Solo
Pass

Crossing the Line (World Apart, 1)
Keep

The Hook Up (Game On, #1)
Keep

All Closed Off (Rusk University, #4)
Keep

Unhinge (Fairfax, #2)
Keep

Beautiful Boss (Beautiful Bastard, #4.5)
Keep

Pass: 2 | Keep: 8

Grand Total YTD: Pass: 8 | Keep: 22

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

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

My Progress for March 2019:

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

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

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

Going Forward:

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

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

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

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

 

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

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SERIESous Discussion: How I DNF Books


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


The Art of DNFing a Book

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

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

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

But what if I’m on the fence?

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

Tactic #1: Start a Second Novel

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

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

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

>>SERIESous Discussion: Becoming a Two-Timing Reader

Tactic #2: Read Reviews

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

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

>>SERIESous Discussion: DNFing ARCs

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

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

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

>>SERIESous Discussion: Reading Book Purchases ASAP

Does the Genre of the Book Make a Difference?

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

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


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

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

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Top Ten Tuesdays: Standalones that Should Have Sequels

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

This Week’s Topic:

Top Ten Standalones That Should Have Sequels

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

(In no particular order):

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

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


Links to My Reviews:

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

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

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

Monthly Inventory: February 2019

February 2019

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

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

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

 

thoughts

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

DNF’d: 0 Books

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

Standout Read (★★★★★)


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

Biggest Let Down (★★★)


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

 


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

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

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

 

posted reviews

Most Viewed Post

Discussion: 3 Year Reflection of Self Hosting

Most Viewed Review

Series Review: His Fair Assassin

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

 

thoughts

Previously posted series reviews that got updates:

thoughts

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

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

View my Challenge Progress Here!

 

Sequel Month!

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

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

 

Created by Lia @ Lost in a Story

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

This month:

Broken (Assumption #1)
Pass

Savor You (Savor Us, #1)
Pass

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

Man of My Dreams (Dreams, #1)
Keep

Hard Knox (The Outsider Chronicles, #1)
Keep

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

Dear Rockstar (Dear Rockstar, #1)
Pass

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

Paper Hearts (The Heartbreaker Chronicles, #2)
Keep

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

Pass: 4 | Keep: 6

Grand Total YTD: Pass: 6 | Keep: 14

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

 

discussions

You can still join in on these discussions:

 

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

 

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

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

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

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Monthly Inventory: January 2019

January 2019

Well, what a start to the new year! I’m not sure everything went to plan for me in January but I had a lot of changes this past month and it’s no surprise that my read reflects that.

I recently moved closer to work–which has been fantastic with the weather of late (I shovelled more snow in 5 days than I did all of last year). But with a shorter drive, that means I don’t listen to as many audiobooks anymore. Audiobooks really maintained my reading numbers last year because I could listen to 2+ hours a day with my drive. I still listen to them (because I really do love audiobooks!) but only a little bit at a time so they take me longer to finish.

The other reason my reading is so abysmal is that I’ve been so busy readying my new place while working full time that I can only manage a chapter (if I’m lucky) of my book before sleep calls my name. I’m nearly there putting the finishing touches on my new place so I’m hoping I can churn out a few more books this month.

 

thoughts

Total for January 2019: 10 Books Read + 1 Novellas Read

DNF’d: 0 Books

Last January: 25 Books Read + 0 Novellas Read + 3 DNFs

Standout Read (★★★★)


I love thrillers/suspsense novels but I’ve never had a great experience with romantic suspense–until I started K A Tucker’s Burying Water Series. This was a fantastic follow-up to the first novel!

Biggest Let Down (★★)


In theory, this novel should have been a knock out of the park for me but boy, did it sure not work for me. It took me nearly two months to finish (a sign I should have DNF’d it ages ago).


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.

  • NONE

Despite stocking my Kindle with many books, I didn’t get to any! This month is all about the sequels so I hope to get a few in before my subscription stops.

kobostats

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

As of:

January 31, 2019

January 31, 2018

Total % of Library Complete

25%

23%

Total # of Books Finished

296

270

Total # of Reading Hours

2598

2511

 

posted reviews

Most Viewed Post

Reading Plan 2019

Most Viewed Review

Blog Tour: Between the Sea and Stars

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

 

thoughts

Previously posted series reviews that got updates:

 

thoughts

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

5 Year 5 Book Challenge: 1 book added | 1 of 25 Titles Read – Slightly Behind!
Goodreads Challenge: 11 books added | 11/200 Books – 5 Books Behind!
Tackling the TBR Challenge: 3 books added | /36 Books – On Track!

View my Challenge Progress Here!

 

My main mission for 2018 was bringing my “Want to Read” shelf (new to me books) on Goodreads to a number below 500—and I totally did that! So this year, I’m aiming for a “Want to Read” shelf that is less than 400 titles. I’ve also set a goal to get my “Sequel” shelf below 250 titles.

Currently

December 31, 2018

Want to Read (New)

473

472

To Read (Sequels)

267

263

 

Created by Lia @ Lost in a Story

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

This month:

The Lost Sisterhood
Keep

Tall, Tatted and Tempting (The Reed Brothers, #1)
Keep

Uncovered
Keep

Debt Inheritance (Indebted, #1)
Keep

Never Been Kissed (Never Been, #1)
Keep

V-Card (Sharing Spaces, #1)
Pass

A Risk Worth Taking (Grayson County, #1)
Pass

Keep

Keep

Keep

Pass: 2 | Keep: 8

Grand Total YTD: Pass: 2 | Keep: 8

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 2019:

ARCs Read: 5 | ARCs Overdue: 1+2* | Upcoming: 3

(December State: ARCs Overdue: 2+1* | Upcoming: 4)

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

Going Forward:

I probably bit off more than I could chew for January all things considered but I made do. I’ve decided not to do any promotional reads in March so I can catch up and start fresh in April.

 

discussions

You can still join in on these discussions:

 

Each month I have a list of 6 books I’ve selected to read for that particular month. These books include review copies and reading challenge picks. This year, I’ve decided to make 4 months throughout the year sequel only months (excluding ARCs and 5Y5BC picks). Here are some of the books I have ready to go for February:

Chasing River (Burying Water, #3) Five Days Until You (One Week Girlfriend, #4.5) East (History Interrupted #2) Mister Romance (Masters of Love, #1)

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

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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?

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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!

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Monthly Inventory: November 2018

November 2018

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

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

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

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

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!

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SERIESous Tips: Post Templates

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

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

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

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

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

Answer: Templates.

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

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

>> SERIESous Tips: My 5 Favourite WordPress Plugins

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

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

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

A portion of my Book Series Review Template.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why do I love Templates?

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

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

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

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