Tag «reading habits»

SERIESous Tips: Using Trello to Keep Track of Reviews

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

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

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

>> Check out Brittany’s guide here!

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

Let me introduce my Review Board:

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

What are you looking at?

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

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

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

What’s On a Review Card?

An example of a review card for an ARC request

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

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

Why the Checklist Feature is the BEST!

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

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

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

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

Other Notable Features:

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

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

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

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

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

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SERIESous Tips: Keeping Track of Series Sequels

Maybe you haven’t noticed, but book series are kind-of my thing.

When you dedicate your entire blog to book series reviews, you need to be a little organized when it comes to sequels. With this post, I’m going to share some of the ways I keep track of what sequels I have read, what sequels I need to read and what sequels have yet to be published.

>> Tips Post: Learn how I keep track of all my various book sources here!

Method #1 – Goodreads

Like most readers, Goodreads is my go-to for keeping track of my TBR. There are a lot of things to like about the various features of the site. For one, it’s great at listing book series or telling you if a book is a part of a series. That’s actually how I first found the site: I was looking into the sequels for a book series. Another is that it usually has the publishing dates or estimates. And you can’t forget about the shelving feature.

The shelving feature is my main way of keeping track of everything I read…and what I have yet to read. When it comes to book series, I have 3 primary shelves:

  1. “Want To Read”
    • This is the default Goodreads shelf but I’ve always used it more as a “To Read” shelf
    • These are the books that are sequels to series I’ve already started
  2. “Waiting-For”
    • These are books (standalone or series) that have yet to be published
    • While any yet to be published book is here, I use it specifically to keep track of what sequels will be published and when
  3. “Want-to-Read”
    • This is the shelf I use for any book I am interested in reading
    • For the inaugural novels in a series that I haven’t read, they get put on this shelf

I also have some shelves I use for labeling. While most highlight certain book characteristics or how excited I am to read a book, I do have a “best-of-the-series” shelf to distinguish the standout novels of a series.

Method #2 – An Excel Spreadsheet

Until last year, I had an excel spreadsheet that kept track of blog posting types for various series reviews. But that didn’t help me keep track of what sequels I actually needed to read. So I created this lovely spreadsheet to keep track of all the series I have on the go!

I created this file in Excel. Each series gets its own heading and lists all the novels in the series as well as other information. I also use formulas to give me numerical stats.

Let me break it down a bit.

This spreadsheet is divided up into headings for each “Series“. Underneath that heading, I list all the books I have read or have yet to be published (“Novels“) in the series. Once they are read, they get a strikeout or are simply deleted from the heading. I then use the “# TBR” to keep track of the unread novels in that series (more on this later). The “Post” heading is to note whether or not I have a blog review already created for that series. I don’t use the “Source” column that much unless I don’t have a way to access that particular book and I need to remember.

You might have noticed that little table titled “Total Series“. I use that to provide me with a few stats on my reading progress (the scientist in me craves it!). I use the numbers in my “# TBR” column to keep track of how many series have just one book left to go versus how many have 2+ to go.

Is it Hard to Maintain?

This spreadsheet did take me awhile to create but once I had all the information typed into it, it’s been super easy to maintain. Now when I start a new series or finish a sequel for a previously started one, I immediately update this spreadsheet (it’s even a checklist item on my Trello account so I never forget!). For titles I’ve listed as “waiting for”, I go through once a month or so and change the “w” to a “1” or whatever number it is now.

> > Tips Post: Learn how I use Trello to keep track of all my reviews on the go!

So you might be thinking: That’s a Little Extreme, Lauren!

Perhaps. But I have a lot of series on the go thanks to this blog and my need to have fresh content whenever possible. I also love making lists!

This spreadsheet has come in hand for my 2018 Reading Plan to finish more sequels. In case you don’t know, I’ve created a goal for myself to read 1 sequel novel each week for 2018. I use this spreadsheet to help me decide what series I should tackle next.

>> Check Out My 52 Sequels Challenge Progress!

Wait: I Thought this was a Tips Post?

You’re right! It is. We all have such extensive TBRs that it can be hard to keep track of everything all the time. My hope is that by sharing my methods, it’ll inspire my fellow bloggers to think about how they keep track of sequels and perhaps make some positive changes.

Plus, I’m always open to helping people out. If you have any questions about using Goodreads or Excel, let me know! I’m happy to teach you some tricks or come up with a method that works well for you!

How do you keep track of book series you have on the go?

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SERIESous Tips: 5 Ways to Get Into Audiobooks

Last July, I published a post declaring my love for audiobooks.

But it took me a long time to reach that conclusion. As I mentioned in that post, it took me 7 years to get comfortable listening to audiobooks. That’s a long time!

Audiobooks are a growing tend in the publishing industry. In 2017, audiobook sales increased by nearly 30%! That’s crazy! And I can only imagine that they are doing the same (if not better this year). I’ve noticed that a lot of my favourite authors have been releasing audio versions of their new books months before they published versions hit the shelves.

Which is why I wanted to created this post today. I know that for some, audiobooks are a daunting format to even consider reading. But I’m hoping that with some of the tips below, you are encouraged to at least try and see why audiobooks can make a great addition to your reading habits.

Below you’ll find some of the tips that I have tried and tested over the last 8 years. My previous post focuses more on my journey to find that all important first book but the tips below focus more on the actual reading experience.

1 – Start With Nonfiction

This is a tried and true method for me. Nonfiction novels are a great starting point for a number of reasons. Some of those reasons are listed in more detail for Tip #2 and Tip #3, but this biggest reason is their subject matter.

I found nonfiction audiobooks didn’t require me to listen all the time. Seems counter-intuitive I know, but what I mean is that I was able to teach myself to listen to the book but not berate myself when I missed something important. You can easily discourage yourself when you get angry for missing certain parts and in turn, it can make for a horrible listening environment and experience.

For example, celebrity memoirs are great to listen to because you don’t need to listen to every detail. You can zone in and out if you have to and not miss too much. (And you can always use the rewind button if you need to!) I found by listening to these stories, I got used to focusing on the words and putting things together as well as remembering past topics without having the ability to flip back and check the previous pages.

Consider it audiobook training if you will.

2 – Find a Narrator You’re Familiar With

I read of a lot of celebrity memoirs when I first got into audiobooks because I enjoyed the familiarity of a voice I already knew. It’s especially true with actors because you are used to hearing their voices and deliveries on TV or at the movies. With audiobooks, all you’re doing is removing the visual but your brain can do the rest and you can easily visualize it in your head.

>> Tip: Listen to an audiobook sample before taking the plunge. You can usually tell pretty quickly if you will get annoyed by the narration or not simply by listening to a couple of minutes of the production.

But a lot of actors narrate fiction novels as well. When I made the jump to fiction I first picked up Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line because it is narrated by Veronica herself, Kristen Bell. Best decision EVER! Again, I felt like I was watching an episode of Veronica Mars without the visuals and it just really allowed me to immerse myself in the narrative and world.

>> List: Here’s a list of some classic novels as audiobooks narrated by celebrities!

3 – Start With Shorter Novels

If you’re like me, you might have a shorter attention span. I don’t do so well with books that have more than 300 pages because I often find myself getting bored (I’m looking at you Throne of Glass Series). That isn’t always the case but I do get distracted easily.

After listening to a few audiobooks, I soon learned that I didn’t enjoy books that had a length greater than 11 hours. So when I’m contemplating whether or not to choose the audio verison or the print, I take into account the length of the narration.

But, if you really want to listen to the audiobook you can always…

4 – Bump Up the Delivery Speed

I rarely used this feature before I started listening to fiction novels. But once I started using it, I couldn’t stop!

Bumping up the speed can help in a variety of ways. One is that it shortens the amount of time you have to listen to the novel. This is great for novels that are just that little bit too long for my attention span. For example, when I wasn’t totally enjoying Kingdom of Ashes, I bumped of the speed to get through it a little more quickly because I did want to see the ending.

But I also use the increased speed when the dialogue seems a to be a little stifled. Again, I used the speed initially in Kingdom of Ashes to help smooth out the awkward dialogue of the narrator. I did the same thing in West as well. Both times, it increased my enjoyment of the novel as I wasn’t as annoyed or distracted by the slower delivery.

Now, by default (unless it is for review copy purposes) I listen to all audiobooks on 1.25X to help smooth out the dialogue and help me finish that little bit faster.

>> Tip: If you find that audiobooks are too fast, most audiobook applications have a 0.5X speed to slow things down!

5 –  Listen to a Previously Read Series

Finding that first audiobook to dive into can be daunting. I detail how I came to pick my first fiction novel in my post last year–it took me (at least) an hour to whittle it down to one.

Which is why I think returning to an old favourite is a great start. I’ve never done this per say but it was in my mind when I picked up the Veronica Mars series as audiobooks since I was already familiar with all the characters thanks to the show.

In a similar idea, I ended up picking up the audiobook version of Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? after not being fully invested in the print version. Again, this goes back to Tips #1 & #2 but I just knew the stories Mindy tells would be much more entertaining if I heard her tell them to me in her voice. And they were!

Returning to a world or story you are already familiar with can help you get accustomed to the audio version. You can teach yourself to listen without having to worry that you will unintentionally miss something (and if you do, you already know what it is!). Familiarity in something that is new to you can be a great asset and that’s what a reread provides when it comes to audiobooks.

>> Tip: If you don’t want to pay to try out an audiobook, try you’re local library or an audiobook subscription service. Read my Service Review of Audible here!

Bonus – Listen to an Audiobook Instead of Music

When I first started listening to audiobooks 3 years ago, I started listening to them while running errands and doing chores because I was tired of listening to the music I had on my iPod. Sure, I could listen to the radio but I hate listening to commercials and music streaming services weren’t my thing. Listening to audiobooks was the equivalent of listening to the TV while it played in the other room and I quickly became engrossed in the story.

Which is why I started listening to audiobooks on my drive to work instead of the radio (which I listen to for my entire shift at work). When you drive by yourself, you can’t really spend that time reading or doing other things because you have to concentrate on your surroundings. And given the fact I was losing 2 hours commuting back and forth, I wanted to do something productive and make up for my lost reading time. Audiobooks were the answer.

Of course, there are times when audiobooks instead of music might not be the best idea. For example, I can’t listen to an audiobook and write a post for my blog at the same time (I can’t even listen to music with lyrics when I write). I don’t mind listening to books while doing cardio exercises but for some people they might need the beat of music to keep up their motivation. But the next time you reach for the playlist, why not try out an audiobook instead?


I hope you found some of those tips helpful!

Be patient as you try audiobooks. They are a very different reading experience and it’s something that takes time to get used to–especially if you are hesitant to try or go in thinking you won’t enjoy them. I had to teach myself to listen (it helps when you are driving by yourself and have nothing else to do but listen) while others can dive right in. Don’t be discouraged if that first book doesn’t work. Keep an open mind and try different things (i.e. genres) to see what works for you. 

Here are some recommendations of audiobooks I loved in the last year:

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda When Dimple Met Rishi The Hate U Give Fragile Chaos Rebel Belle (Rebel Belle, #1)

Do you listen to audiobooks? Why or why not?

Any Tips?

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SERIESous Discussion: 5 Reasons Why Novellas Stop Reading Slumps


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!


Reading slumps happen to everyone.

From preventing them in the first place to getting yourself out of one, everyone has their own tactic for beating reading slumps. In the past, I’ve shared a lot of my strategies to thwart off reading slumps because they were a frequent occurrence in my reading life two years ago (i.e. reading year 2016).

>> SERIESous Tips: How to Prevent the Chore of Reading

Now, they don’t happen as much thanks to the changes I’ve made to my reading habits. But they still do happen, just not as long. In fact, as I write this (in November 2017), I consider myself to be in a slump and one that I would classify as my first major one in 2017. Which is pretty good to only have the first major reading slump in the 11th month of the year!

But as I am in this slump, I became inspired to write this post. I’ve shared how I avoid reading slumps in the past but I wanted to talk about how I get out of them when they do happen and why they don’t last for too long.

Answer: Novellas.

I’ve tried lots of things in the past and have had varying success (like reading a book from a favourite author or reading a book I normally wouldn’t). And these do often work but my tried and true method is reading novellas. Novellas are great anytime of the year, but I find them particularly helpful when I’m in a bit of a reading slump.

Reason 1: Quick Reads

I classify novellas as anything that has 20 to 150 pages. These are the books I can read easily in one sitting or in less 3 hours. Meaning, you aren’t giving up a huge time commitment but you get the satisfaction of completing something. More importantly, are getting yourself back in the habit of reading once again. And hey, if you don’t enjoy the book, you didn’t waste too much of your time!

Reason 2: Faster Plot Lines

The quick plotlines of novellas can be both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it cuts out the unnecessary drama and descriptions but a curse because sometimes things can feel rushed or incomplete. But what I want to highlight here is that you get to the main plot a lot quicker than some full length novels and that gets you invested early to see how it will all resolve.

Reason 3:  Often Leave You Wanting More

This idea works in two ways. One is that if you are reading a serialized story told in parts, they are notorious for ending on cliffhangers because they want you to read the next installment. And because of Reason 1, you can find yourself burning through a lot if you get yourself addicted.

The other reason–which is slightly negative I’ll admit–is that reading a novella may make you crave a full sized novel. Full size novels have the benefit of working out those slightly more complicated plotlines which can be missing in a novella depending on the style. Novels can also feature a larger cast of characters, and if you are like me, you often get drawn to these side characters. So reading a novella where these may be lacking may inspire you to pick up that novel you’ve been putting off for awhile.

Reason 4: Lots of Book Series Have Them

Novellas are often a part of your larger series. They can be short stories about side characters or alternative POVs or prequel stories to help build the world. The point is, sometimes returning to a world you are already familiar with–and likely enjoy–can remind you why you love reading the in the first place.

>> Fun Fact: This reason is how I got out of my November reading slump. I returned to the worlds of A Season for Scandal, Wolf by Wolf and Sins & Scandals by reading their novella installments.

Reason 5: Often Free!

Yes, FREE! Lots of author’s write novellas for their series as bonuses for readers. If your library has the series as an eBook series, they may have the novellas already. And you can often find the first one or two installments of a serialized series for free as a hook to get you into the series. Having an eReader can help but you can also use your tablet or computer or phone as most eBook retailers have apps.

>> Guide: Tips for Buying an eReader //  Guide: Using a Tablet for eReading

My point is, you don’t have to break the bank to get out of a slump. You can grab something that catches your eye and dive right in without worrying about spending your money!


Do you read novellas? How do you stop a reading slump?

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SERIESous’ Reading Plan for 2018

2017 Was the Year I Had Been Working Towards

2018 Is the Year I Keep the Momentum Going

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

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

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

#1 – Read More Owned Novels

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

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

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

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

#2 – Read More Sequels

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

>> 2018 Reading Challenge: 52 Sequels Personal Reading Challenge

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

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

#3 – Stick to my ARC Limits

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

Introducing my 2018 Reading Plan

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

The Highlights:

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

Going Forward:

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

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

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

What are some of your 2018 reading goals?

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SERIESous Discussion: Where Do my Books Come From?


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


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

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

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

So let’s break it down!

Book Sources for 2017

(Between January 1 to November 29, 2017)

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

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

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

Types of Novels

(Between January 1 to November 29, 2017)

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

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

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

Conclusion?

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

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

Where do most of your books come from?

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Meme-ful Musings: The “Just One More Chapter” Excuse

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Meme-ful Musings: Once a month I’ll post a book-related meme that I think brings up an interesting discussion about books. Feel free to join in by making a comment below or linking back!


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(Meme from: http://www.memeaddicts.com/stupid/reading-books-memes/)

Put your hand up if you’ve ever done that before…

We all have our reading quirks and one of my most compelling is to always stop reading at the end of a chapter (or if it’s one of those books with really long chapters, a page break). I don’t like stopping mid-scene because you lose the feel for it as soon as you step away and then you have to reread to get the vibe back. I like stopping at the end of chapters of page breaks because the scene has wrapped up and a new scene is just about to unfold.

Which is a great plan except for those damn “cliffhanger” chapter ending. You know the ones where a big plot-bomb has been dropped and you can’t even process this fantastic turn of events, meaning you must continue on with the next chapter immediately…

But that repeats itself at the end of this new chapter and so on. And before you know it, you have finished the book!

This is how people end up staying up all night reading a book (something I talked about last July) or missing the bus, etc. since time escapes you as you read (so long as it’s a good book).

I personally love books like this! Anytime I actually groan aloud that I can’t finish a chapter, the book automatically goes up a star rating for me. Sure, I get a little angry at myself for being late but a good book is worth it to me–to a certain degree.

Which brings me to the second part of that meme “I’ll see you when I see you”.

I’ll be the first to admit I am a reading addict but I do possess the power to put down my book and join the “real world”. Fictional worlds are great but it is important to remember that there is a real world out there and you should enjoy it!

Let me put it this way: while a friend who is a fellow reading addict will understand your need to finish a book, not everyone will. How would you feel if someone made plans with you but they had to cancel because a TV show they were addicted to was on? You would probably be a little understanding but at the same time you would probably be angry. You might even ask yourself/them “why do you have to watch it now when you can stream it later?”. The same can be said about a book: you can leave and return to the exact same moment in a book no matter when and where you put it down, but you cannot do that with your real life or people!

Reading is great (so is blogging about it!) but remember that there is a world away from your books! It is a world that is definitely enriched by reading but a world that doesn’t require you to be reading all the time in order for it to function!

So every once and a while, why not just simply read “a few pages” and actually mean it?

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SERIESous Tips: Avoiding the “Chore” of Reading

tipsCHORE

I would categorize myself as a “mood reader”. While what I actually read varies, the cycle I follow is pretty much YA non-contemporary, NA contemporary then back to YA. Sometimes I throw in an Adult Contemporary along the way and if I feel brave enough, I might risk a YA contemporary but I’m a creature of habit.

Still, last year I went through more reading slumps that I ever had before.

While it wasn’t one of those slumps that turned me off of reading completely, it was one of those slumps where I just wanted a book to take me away; to get me so absorbed in its story and characters I would drop everything and read it all day long. Eventually I would find it, but it took longer than I thought and I hated the infrequency in which it would happen.

movies man question frustration taio cruz

So last year, I took a good hard look at my reading practices. I came to the conclusion that I was requesting too many books. Whether these books were from the library or through review programs, I was asking for too many.

It was draining.

Instead of being excited to finally get that book in my hands, I felt obligated to read it and finish it before I had to return it or publish a post. And because I am of the mentality that you should “seize every opportunity”, I had a huge list of books I had to get through on a regular basis. So while the books I had were ones I wanted to read at some point, I felt like I was forcing that “point” to be now.

I wanted to change that.

First, I started by telling myself that it was OK that I didn’t read every book that I could get my hands on. Books will always be there and just because I don’t read it now, doesn’t mean I can’t read it later.

I think that is the most important lesson a book blogger and book addict can learn.

It’s OK to say “no” to requests if you aren’t interested or don’t have the time. It’s OK to not grab that book from the library even though it is staring you in the face and you think it is a sign that you have to read it because why-else-would-it-be-there-right-now-in-this-moment…

Hey, I said it’s OK–not that it was easy!

Next, I did a series of posts called “Tackling The TBR” where I came up with specific goals I wanted to accomplish every two months. Overall, I thought it went really well. I was at the place I wanted to be heading into January this year. I had limited the number of books out from the library, controlled the need to hit the “request” button on Netgalley and shifted my focus to reading more books I had purchased instead of the ones I borrow or get for reviews.

And I needed a new way of keeping track of what I was reading in order to do that.

When I was creating my tracking sheet, I had to have a way to keep track of TBR items for Rock My TBR, my 365 Days of YA Challenge, the Netgalley requests I received and what books I was going to put on hold at the library (as per my 2016 resolutions). I played around with Excel cells until I got what I currently use.

Now, this is how I keep track of what I plan to read on a monthly basis:

readinglist

By having a limited number of books that I can take out from the library or request, I find that I have more time to read those TBRs I’ve been putting off PLUS I have the freedom to be a “mood reader” and grab what I want to read, when I want to read it and not simply because it is expiring soon.

But by no means is this a perfect plan or system!

January this year went really well but February hit and I seemed to go a little off course. Part of the problem was I signed up to be a Blog Tour Host which meant more deadlines and books to read. School also became a lot busier than I anticipated so my reading time diminished. As a result, my challenges for this year took a bit of a nose dive.

Luckily, the challenges I set or signed up for are pretty flexible and so I planned to have some lull months. Honestly, my summer semester was/is so much lighter (I only have class 3 days a week) that it was easy to make up a lot of my reading.

In Short: What do to if Reading Becomes a Chore?

  • Look at your reading patterns:
    • Are you reading too many ARCs or Library Books?
      • Maybe tone-down the number of requests.
    • Are you only reading a particular genre?
      • Try changing it up!
  • Learn to say “No” or “Not Right Now”
    • Reduce the number of Review Copies or deadlines you request
  • Plan out those reads with a deadline in advance
    • Be sure to include some books you really want to read in that list to keep you satisfied
  • Read multiple books at once or read a set amount of pages/chapters a day
    • If you have a book you can’t get through, set mini-goals for each day

 

Share Your Thoughts!

How do you beat the “chore” or reading? Do you wing what books you read or are you a planner? How have you tried to avoid reading slumps?

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SERIESous Tips: Keeping Organized Part 2 – ARC/Requests

tipsORGpt2

When I participate in Twitter chats, a common question people ask each other is “how do you stay organized” and so I decided to share my methods with everyone (not that anyone asked me specifically). Normally, I post this sort of thing as a guide but I wanted more interaction and felt like a post would be better.

I’ve separated this post into the various sources I use: library (Part 1), ARCs/requests (Part 2-today) and purchases (Part 3–tomorrow) as well as scheduling posts (Part 4–day after). Each part will be posted over the course of four days.


 Part 2: ARCs & Request Copies

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

To keep track of my ARC requests and reviews, I use Trello first and foremost. For those who don’t know, Trello is basically a virtual to-do list board that allows you to create different categories and cards to put under those categories. In addition to tracking ARCs and reviews, I also use a Trello board for site maintenance and reminders.

My first board is the one I use to track all NetGalley Requests, Blog Tours and Other ARC Requests:

trellonetgalley

As you can see, I use it to keep track of books I want to request from NetGalley (don’t you wish NetGalley had a wishlist feature?), books I have placed a request for (this is really helpful when thinking about signing up for blog tours and the like), books I have received for review as well as books I have reviewed. The “no longer available one” is basically for me to remember what books I saw on NetGalley and want to read now that they are published/removed.

I have different coloured labels that mean different things (mainly the source of the book) and I note the publishing date or the date I have to have the review published. That last part is what is helpful when trying to sign-up for Blog Tours or ARCs because it gives me a rough idea of how many review posts I have for that week/time-frame.

Once I get approved for a review copy, I move that title over to my “Review” Board:

trelloreviews

This is where I keep track of all my posts for my blog. I write down various ideas in my “To-Do”column, note the ARCs I have to review, what reviews/posts are in development, cross-posting and a few other boards.

What I really like about Trello is that each card can have mini checklists, a due date, a place to write notes and of course, coloured labels.

trellochecklist

The checklists feature is really, really helpful when it comes to cross posting my reviews on other sites or making sure I hit all the requirements of a blog tour post. It’s also super easy to copy checklists from previous cards so I don’t have to rewrite all my checklists every time I add a new card.

Because it is a web-based system, I can access Trello anywhere so long as I have internet. I can get it for my phone and tablet so that makes it super easy to add cards while on the go.

I also keep track of all my review posting dates on my master list which I will be talking about in Part 4 of my series.


 

There you have it! Join me tomorrow when I explain how I track my eBook purchases.

Do you have a specific way for keeping track of your ARCs/requests?

Let me know below!

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SERIESous Tips: Keeping Organized Part 1 – Library

tipsORGpt1

Nowadays, there are so many places that you can get books! Whether it is through your library, ARC programs or purchases, book bloggers and book readers have many avenues to explore.

When I’m not blogging, reading or watching TV, I’m making lists or creating some other organizational tool for these activities. I love organizing things–which may surprise you if you ever enter my messy room.

This is not my room but sometimes it sure feels like it!

When I participate in Twitter chats, a common question people ask each other is “how do you stay organized” and so I decided to share my methods with everyone (not that anyone asked me specifically). Normally, I post this sort of thing as a guide but I wanted more interaction and felt like a post would be better.

I’ve separated this post into the various sources I use: library (Part 1–today), ARCs/requests (Part 2–tomorrow) and purchases (Part 3) as well as scheduling posts (Part 4). Each part will be posted over the next four days.


 Part 1: The Library

I am actually a member of two different libraries (my hometown’s and the one where I live for school) AND I read eBooks; so all in all, I have 4 sources for library books.

Early last year, I had almost 30 books on hold across all four places and to make things worse, they each had a different hold line and/or checkout time. What I wanted to know was: “which place will get me the book faster?” and “when can I expect it?”

I was able to find a formula for an Excel document that helped me estimate when books I put on hold would come in based on where I was in the holds line. While it wasn’t always 100% accurate (it didn’t factor in people returning books early for example), it did help me determine the best location for placing a hold or when I needed to suspend my holds to prevent all the books from coming in at once (Murphy’s Law at its finest).

 This is what my Library Hold Excel sheet looks like currently:

libraryholds

What I Keep Track of:

  • # of books I have out
  • # of books I have on hold
  • # of books on hold that are pre-release
  • # of audiobooks
  • # of novellas
  • # of suspended
  • Where I have books on hold
  • What books I have on hold
  • How long it will take (approx) to receive

I love organizing things, so I think this is definitely more extreme than most people need or want to do. I’ve got it to a point now where everything pretty much calculates itself thanks to various formulas (ah, the beauty of Excel) so it doesn’t require too much input or work. I then update my place in the holds queue on a weekly basis.

Yes, it’s a little complicated. So you can understand why I needed a change.

Last year, I made it a mission to Tackle My TBR and came up with a set of rules to limit myself from over requesting library books and ARCs. It’s been pretty successful so far.

Now, I can only put 5 books on hold at a time as per my 2016 Resolutions. In an effort to finish previously started series, 3 of these holds must be a continuing series and the other 2 can be new releases. I keep track of these books and what I want to put on hold next on a separate Excel table (I will be showing that one off later this summer for a different Tips post).

Why bother with all of this? It seems like a lot of work.

It can be at times, but I actually find it very stress-relieving! When I’m bothered by school, doing menial tasks like this helps me calm down and get my focus back.

And by doing this, I am also getting more time to read. That may seem counter intuitive so I’ll explain. I’d say about 85% of the books I read are from the library and so I’m at their mercy when it comes to availability. By having a better grasp on when I may or may not get a book, I can plan my other reads accordingly. And now that I limit how many books I have out or on hold at a time, I have more time to dedicate to my other book sources.

Wishlists

I just want to make a quick note about library Wishlists options. My eCatalogues use the Overdrive system which has a great wishlist feature. You can put any book on your wishlist and it tells you how many are available for instant download. I’m starting to use this a lot more so I can keep track of what books my library has and what to put on hold next. Highly recommend it!


There you have it! Join me tomorrow when I explain how I track review copies and the like.

Do you have a specific way for keeping track of your library reads?

Let me know below!

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