SERIESous’ Reading Plan for 2022

2022 Is the All About Staying the Course!

Like many people, the last 2 years have been a little rough personally. Last year, my reading plan was to get my reading (and blogging) groove back. Looking back, I would say I had moderate success with that. While I didn’t obtain my GoodReads’ goal for 2021 (which was 150 books and I read about 110), by the end of the year I was reading (and blogging) on a more regular basis.

>> SERIESous Discussion: Getting my Blogging Mojo Back

>> SERIESous Discussion: How I Fell Back in Love With Reading

Gone are the days of creating elaborate spreadsheets to keep track of my various reading challenges. I still maintain excel spreadsheets for tracking my ongoing book series and the books I read for statistical purposes. But I didn’t participate in any reading challenges last year and I found I really enjoyed that freedom of not being bound to read something specific.

In the past, I used to be someone who needed to list those specific titles in order to find success; but the mood reader in me has really come to the forefront in the last year and a half. And with that, I’ve discovered it’s better to listen to her than to ignore her.

For the latter half of 2021, I shifted my focus to integrate reading into my everyday habits and had great success. So that is something I want to continue to do in 2022 and here are some of the ways I plan to do that:

#1 – Continue Bullet Journaling (BuJo)

I started bullet journaling in January 2021 to help me keep track of my certificate coursework (for my job) as well as foster healthy daily habits. While my pages and tracking guides evolved over the year (the fact that you can change things as you go is the beauty of a BuJo if you ask me), keeping track of my daily and weekly habits hadn’t.

The feeling that comes from successfully crossing off something I have accomplished has been a great morale booster for me. It also helps me to identify my weaker areas or things I need to change (like maybe I do something once a week instead of daily).

When it comes to reading, I’ve added tasks like reading at breakfast and reading before bed to my daily task-tracking list. When it comes to blogging, I make sure I log in at least once a week to update my blog or write posts. I’m also thinking about adding a reading hour to my daily routine (perhaps expand my “reading before bed” habit) to help me get through books faster.

#2 – ARC Commitments Now Limited to Street Teams Only

I’ve really declined my ARC commitments over the last few years and this upcoming year is no different.

I’m the member of a few ARC teams for some of my favourite authors. These are my must read authors; books I would be picking up even if I wasn’t on their ARC team. These are books I tend to enjoy and have been looking forward too so I find they contribute positively to my reading experience.

I also find that their deadlines help keep me focused and encourage me to pick up the sooner than later books so I can fulfil my review commitments.

#3 – Binge Read Backlogged Series

While I’m not signing up for a specific reading challenge, I really want to focus on finishing up some long overdue series. In 2021, I rediscovered binge reading series again. So while I may not have been reading the newest releases, I found that I enjoyed series more when I read the books closer together and could still remember what happened in the last book because I just read a few days prior (instead of a year ago).

I have approximately 50 series that were published before 2018 (that’s the year I started keeping track of series I had in the works) that I need to finish and I really want to see that number get smaller by the time 2023 starts.

Going Forward:

I have a lot of trips that were supposed to happen in 2020 get rescheduled to this year, but who knows if they will even happen. If they do or don’t, my biggest focus is on my everyday routines. Now that I no longer work shift work, I’m hoping I can establish better after work routines, with reading and blogging being a part of those new routines.

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

What are some of your 2022 reading goals?

Disclaimer

Year’s Reads in Review – Top Picks for 2021

2021: The Reading Year that Really Wasn’t

When I set my Goodreads goal for 2021 last year at 150 books, I knew it was a lofty one. Sure, I’ve hit over 150 books for the last few years but after a rocky 2020, I felt like 150 was reaching for the stars. Perhaps I should have stuck with my gut instinct of 125 books (which is likely what I will set my 2022 goal at) but I had hoped that setting my goal to 150 would push me to read more.

Life really got in the way of my reading this year. From working in healthcare during the pandemic amidst the constant waves of COVID; to having to nurse my dog back to health for months after a horrible attack by another dog, it was a rough 2021. Reading and blogging took a backseat for most of the year.

I learned a lot though this year when it came to blogging and reading! Here are some positives:

  • I reread a few books — something I haven’t done in YEARS!
  • I only DNF’d one book the entire year!
  • I found a balance between reading and blogging

I think 2022 will see lots of improvements for me in lots of ways. My dog is healthy once again which means I can continue to listen to audiobooks when we walk. I also have to drive a little more for my job so, more audiobooks! Audiobooks account for nearly 50% of the books I read in a year so I think those two factors will improve my overall reading numbers in 2022. I’m also hoping we are on the last leg of this COVID thing but with new variants emerging, it is really hard to say but I remain optimistic!

> > Check out which books I read this past 2021 HERE!

As always, I’ve decided to compile a list of my top picks (and not so great) from the various categories that I read this past 2021. Most categories deal with books published only this past calendar year (2021) but there are some noted exceptions. Click on the cover to read my review of the book/series–if available! Lots of these won’t have reviews until early next 2022.

Without further ado:

(Books are in no particular order; click on cover for review if available)

Adult Genre:

New Adult Genre:

Young Adult Genre:

Additional Categories:

 

Burn, Rewrite or Reread Tag – 2021 Edition

Burn, Rewrite, Reread Tag 2021

As I’ve done for the last few years, I’m doing this tag as part of my annual wrap-up traditions. I just love doing it! It’s great to highlight some of the titles I read this year that wouldn’t necessarily make my Year’s Reads in Review list. I always find it interesting to see if my thoughts about a book have changed much since I read it.

Here’s a recap of what you are supposed to do:
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Single Sundays: Whiskey Moon by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: Whiskey Moon by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Whiskey Moon (from Goodreads):
Bogie had Bacall. Carrie had Big. I had Wyatt.

Growing up, he was the handsome cowboy next door, an unlikely confidant, my best friend, my first kiss, and my favorite person.

We were just a couple of small town kids with ambitions bigger than the stars in our eyes. The summer after graduation, we made a pact: I’d go to college in New York and he’d stay and take over his daddy’s ranch. If by twenty-eight we were both still single, we’d get married …

But as we stood in our high school gymnasium the night of our ten-year reunion, Wyatt told me he loved me too much to marry me.

He’d never broken a promise to me in his life, but in a single heartbeat he broke the only one that ever mattered.

He said it would all make sense someday, that there would come a time I might even be able to forgive him.

But then I stumbled upon the truth.

And there was no forgiving a secret this shattering—one that made me question if I ever knew him at all; one that only made me want him that much more.

Bogie had Bacall. Carrie had Big. I had Wyatt.

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Winter Renshaw
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: October 29, 2021
Source & Format: Booksprout–eARC

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m very picky about second chance romances but I always know that Winter Renshaw can deliver when it comes to her romances and so I just had to pick up her latest release when the opportunity presented itself.

The Concept:

Now the synopsis made me think we started this story on the night of their high school reunion. That really isn’t the case at all. This story really is about a girl who returns to her small town and her first love after she left to go to college and never returned. Of course there is more to the reason(s) why she didn’t return but I think it’s important for readers to know that this isn’t a romance about two people fulfilling a marriage pact but a second chance romance.

The Plot:

Once I got a grasp on what the plot actually was, I enjoyed it’s slow burn, slow reveal approach. You get little inklings of what actually transpired to drive these two apart so I enjoyed the suspense that brought to the story.

The Characters:

I liked that Blaire and Wyatt were complex characters. I really enjoyed that their characters developed independently of each other, despite the fact that they were only re-evaluating because they had returned to each other’s lives. I became engrossed in their stories and their struggles and I liked that they seemed like real people, even if their circumstances seemed extraordinary.

The Romance:

One of the reasons I’m picky about second chance romances is the romance itself. Usually some time has past between the break-up and the reunion and I don’t enjoy couples that just pick up where they left off despite the lapse in time. That doesn’t happen here. Those feelings are definitely still there, but they have to be coaxed out of each of them over time. I was a big fan of these two because we got to know them so well as characters but that spark between them was always obvious.

My Rating: 3.5/5

I like a novel that can make me feel every emotion and this one definitely tugged on my heartstrings. I went in expecting a marriage pact novel so I had to readjust my expectation, hence the slightly lower rating.

Series Review: The Rite of the Vampire Saga by Juliana Haygert

Series Review: The Rite of the Vampire Saga by Juliana Haygert

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

Synopsis for The Vampire Heir (from Goodreads):

A young woman with a secret. A man with a death sentence. And a terrible fate that threatens to destroy them both …
When I was invited to the secretive castle DuMoir, I knew I’d end up dead. The guests might be excited by the exclusive tour around the estate, and the ending ball that concludes it, but I know better.

The castle’s inhabitants are vampires. And they want our blood.

I must find a way to survive their feast, because I’m not here as a clueless visitor. I’m here for a reason. Undercover work can be hard, but I’ve been through worse. That is until I unwillingly become a blood slave to Drake, a mysterious, brooding vampire prince.

Tragedy strikes the castle and chaos arise. Despite the new dangers surrounding us, I soon find out there’s more to Drake than he lets on, and feelings I’m not supposed to have stir in my chest.

But I can’t afford any distractions or everything will be lost. After all, I’m hiding a secret-a dark secret that might save us all … or doom us forever.

Series: Rite of the Vampire Saga

Part of the Rite World collection

Author: Juliana Haygert
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance, Magic, Non-Contemporary
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: March – May 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Non-contemporary New Adult reads are hard to find — or maybe I just look for them in the wrong places? Regardless, ever since I binged Blood Type and Vampire Royals last year, I’ve kept my eye out for anything remotely similar. That’s how I stumbled upon Rite of the Vampire when browsing my library’s audiobook collection.

I had read Haygert’s Playing Pretend years ago and enjoyed the straightforward story. The synopsis for The Vampire Heir was intriguing and the audiobook time was just over 5 hours so it seemed like it would be worth a shot!

The Concept / The World:

At first I thought this story was going to be strictly vampires but we meet Drake, our hero, after he returns from a battle with a werewolf pact. I thought the world here was a cool blend of all paranormal creatures. It kind of reminded my of Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld Series for its blending of modern and paranormal.

The series itself is set in a universe that has other books published within it. So each series follows a specific set of leads but they all intermingle and crossover since it is set in the same world. That’s always fun, especially if you like to read series like I do. It’s nice to return sometimes to a familiar world and after completing this series, I’m really interested in the next one, The Rite of the Warlock!

The Plot:

Given the many paranormal creatures and the various hierarchies within their groups, I thought this story would be harder to follow but it wasn’t. However, I think it’s important for readers to know that it isn’t going to be a straightforward, only vampires story. Look elsewhere if you only want to read about vampires.

The Rite of the Vampire (#1) is pretty mellow, focusing more on the suspense for the first 3/4 of the book and then things change. It has a very different vibe than the rest of the series which is more action packed and lots of twists and turns. The overarching series plot is simple to follow but nevertheless entertaining.

The Characters:

I found both Thea and Drake to be super dry at the start of the series. They just seemed like cookie-cutter molds of lead characters but I think that was intentional given the setup of the first book and it’s suspenseful, mystery approach. As the series progresses, their characters evolve a bit more and break away from those stiff shells.

I also enjoyed the rest of the cast as well. Despite the many characters we meet, it was easy to remember everyone and get attached to some and hate others.

The Romance:

So I didn’t really like the romance in the first book; well, I should say that I didn’t like the way it materialized. It would have liked a little more tension, more “I hate you but I’m attracted to you” chemistry between Drake and Thea. It just seemed like they never interacted and then BAM, love. I just craved a little more from it especially when it’s a “I shouldn’t love you” type of relationship.

However, I did enjoy the romance as the series progressed. I thought there was a good balance between it, the plot and the character development we get from it.

My Audiobook Experience:

The audiobooks were a lot of fun. I liked that the annoying characters that you weren’t supposed to like had nasally voices and tones that suited their delivery. It was an easy series to listen to and I think I finished them super quickly because they weren’t very long. I felt like I was listening to a TV show which is always fun.

Series Rating: 3/5

The Vampire Heir 3/5 | The Witch Queen 3/5 | The Immortal Vow 3/5

If you are looking for a quick but satisfying non-contemporary romance in the new adult genre, this is a great one for you to pick up!

Series Review: All-Stars by Katie McCoy

Series Review: All-Stars by Katie McCoy

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

Synopsis for Royal Player (from Goodreads):

Charlie Davenport is the bad boy of British sports – and third in line to the throne. He’s a beast on the courts, and a wild animal in bed (according to all the tabloids). Girls are lining up for chance at his crown jewels, and when I stumble into the wrong Wimbledon dressing room and catch a glimpse of his game, set, AND match, I can see why.

So what’s a little good luck kiss between f̶r̶i̶e̶n̶d̶s̶ strangers?

I know better than to get involved with a bad boy like Charlie. But now he’s on a winning streak, he thinks I’m his lucky charm – and you know what’s luckier than a kiss?

Everything.

Suddenly, I’ve got paparazzi on my trail, exes coming out of the woodwork — and you don’t know ‘cutthroat’ until you’ve seen a pack of hungry socialites set loose near the Royal Family.

I’m in way over my head, and even worse – I’m falling in love. Can this American girl win her Prince Charming? Or will we both crash out of the championships in flames?

Series: All-Stars
Author: Katie McCoy
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: April 2017 – February 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I read a few of Katie’s earlier novels and really enjoyed them. I did start her Rascals Series but the first book didn’t do much for me. So when I saw that my library had the audiobook version of her All-Stars Series, I thought I would given them a try.

The Plot:

If you like romances that read like Romantic-Comedy movies or you love the trope of an every-day girl falling for a hottie celebrity, this is the series for you! These books are simple in their execution, where we don’t delve too deep into the characters’ pasts but instead focus on the chemistry between the leads. It read like a Hallmark movie: fast romance and soapy drama.

The Characters:

Like I said, we don’t delve too deep into the character pasts. We just get enough surface to keep the story moving and to prove that even celebrity heroes have some baggage.

The Romance:

I liked all the pairings. You could see the chemistry even if the romances occurred only over a couple of weeks.

My Audiobook Experience:

I did NOT enough the male narrator for Royal Player at all. He just made everything Uber cheesy. I think they were going for a Westley from Princess Bride approach with his style but it didn’t work for me.
The rest of the series had great audio productions though.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

Royal Player 3/5 | Hot Bachelor 4/5 | Heartthrob 3/5 | Sex God 4/5

If you want quick, rom-com reads, this is a great series to pick up!

Read if You Like: rom-coms, contemporary romance, celebrity romances
Avoid if You: want deeper character development