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Throwback Thursdays: Blogging Year 2013


Throwback Thursdays: I’m taking a look back at some of my reviews and discussion posts from the past to see if I still feel the same way about them now as I did then.


Welcome to my first Throwback Thursday post ever!

Last year I had this idea to look back at some of my old posts to see if I still feel the same way about things now as I did then.

For most of my reading life (or at least since I started this blog in 2013), I’ve been a bit of a read, post and move on type of person. I have a terrible memory and sometimes I think I look back at things with a fondness or a blinding dislike based on that selective memory. So I thought it would be a cool thing to look back at some of my past reviews and see what my thoughts were then compared to now.

How does this work?

For each Throwback Thursday Post, I’m going to pick a particular year to go back to. Within that year, I’m going to search through my posts and pick 5 that I think are worth a look back at. Before I read my old reviews, I’m going to share my current thoughts about what I remember. Then I’m going to share some highlights from the original post. And once I revisit that post, I’ll share my updated thoughts/comments.

I’d love it if you would share your thoughts as well with a comment below!

This month’s featured year is:

2013

What do I remember about my 2013 reading year?

I really only had discovered the online book reading community in the summer of 2012. Before that, I relied on scanning the bestsellers list on the Indigo/Chapter Books (the Barnes and Noble chain of Canada) website to get my reading fix. But in 2013, I was in my 3rd year of university and was LOVING having a big city library card. I would be on the Dean’s list for my non-academic reading if that was a thing!

This was also the year I started this blog! I was inspired to start this blog after reading the series I am featuring below as Throwback #1. I had always enjoyed HTML coding and designing things in Photoshop so starting a blog was a lot of fun for me. I took a brief review hiatus in the fall of that year to focus on school but I picked up where I left off soon after and have kept it going since.

When I think back to my reading for 2013, it seemed like a big year of big titles — or maybe I just posted reviews for those big titles to draw in readers 😉 Regardless, t was hard to narrow down the posts to throwback to just 5 (which is why I did 6).

Here are my throwbacks:

My Original Series Review Here

Throwback #1: Delirium Series by Lauren Oliver

Opening Thoughts: This is the series that inspired me to start my blog about reviewing entire book series. I had enjoyed the first two books in the series but hated how things wrapped up in the third book — I felt like it negated everything I had read and the time I had dedicated to the series. I also don’t really remember loving our lead heroine (her name escapes me!).

Original Review Summary: I loved the world building and really enjoyed the second novel in the series for its twists. But the third book was a struggle for my to get through and I felt let down by how things wrapped up. Lena (the heroine) also failed to win me over.

Throwback Reflection: Because I don’t write spoilers in my reviews and it has been so long, I really don’t remember what the huge disappointment was. I think with the ending I felt like a lot of things were left hanging and not wrapped up properly? I also think there was something about the romance I didn’t like. I hadn’t realized I enjoyed the second book so much. I honestly don’t remember being a huge fan of the books in this series — clearly the subpar ending for me overshadows my previous enjoyment of the other books in the series.

Worth a Reread?: No.


My Original Series Review Here

Throwback #2: The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins

Opening Thoughts: Ah, this series was HUGE! I remember buying myself the boxset for my birthday and then letting everyone borrow the books (I have never even read the copies I own since I had read them all through the library). I think it is still such a popular culture staple as well — or at least the movies are when it comes to book adaptations. The original trilogy was great! I remember being made at some things in the final book (a certain character’s death) but my choice for the love triangle “won” so yay! I just read the prequel last year but it didn’t do much for me.

Original Review Summary: I loved the world, I loved the action and I would tell anyone who would listen that you should read the books in addition to the movie(s)!

Throwback Reflection: I had never really read a character like Katniss before; someone who was strong but imperfect. I think her character attributes–particularly her vulnerabilities–are more common now as readers gravitate towards characters that seem more human than perfect Barbie dolls. But she was a refreshing character for me to read. Looking back though, I actually have mixed feelings about the romance between Peeta and Katniss. Like maybe she really didn’t love him in the end but just settled? Maybe it has just been too long since I read the books so I am missing some of the finer details…

Worth a Reread?: Yes!


My Original Series Review Here

Throwback #3: The Sullivans Series by Bella Andre

Opening Thoughts: I distinctly remember hating the first book; it was just so cliché! But I really liked the lead for the next book and so I decided to try the second book–and really loved it! There are wayyy too many books in this series, I definitely didn’t read them all nor did I read the various spin-offs.

Original Review Summary: I almost stopped reading the first book in the series but pressed on since it was on the shorter side of things–only to have it end on a cliffhanger! However, the rest of the novels I read in the series improved the romances with deeper connections between the characters. The subplot drama would irk me though because it always seemed to wrap up to quickly and easily for my tastes.

Throwback Reflection: The biggest lesson I learned from this series–particularly when it comes to contemporary romance series–is that if you didn’t like the leads in book #1 but liked the other characters, you should definitely give the other books a chance. It’s like watching a TV pilot. Sometimes you just have to give it another episode to see what will happen next with the characters, plots and romances. The only reason I never finished the series was that I had to wait for new releases and my library just didn’t get them quick enough so I kinda forgot about them. I don’t plan on revisiting it though anytime soon, but I do look back fondly on this series as one that got me into the contemporary romance genre where the leads differ from book to book.

Worth a Reread?: No.


My Original Series Review Here

Throwback #4: The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare

Opening Thoughts: I always think this series got better with each book. I think Cassandra Clare has an amazing talent for evolving characters over time. I remember not really liking Simon at the start of the series (for obvious love triangle reasons) but then being so addicted to his storyline by the end of it. I love this series so much–I should actually reread it sometime soon!

Original Review Summary: I binged this series hard and got super addicted to the characters and the stories. I highlighted why people might not like this series (the claims it “borrows” plots from other stories or that they might not like characters) but explained why it should be given a fair shot (tropes are common throughout the literary world, its just how you spin them that makes stories unique–which Clare does).

Throwback Reflection: For years, I would make sure I was on the holds list for the newest Cassandra Clare book so I could read it as soon as it was published! Life has gotten in the way the last few years but I still love this series and its worlds so much. It’s a gold standard for YA fantasy and paranormal reads for me. I didn’t really love the TV show though…

Worth a Reread?: Yes!


My Original Series Review Here

Throwback #5: Wondrous Strange Series by Lesley Livingston

Opening Thoughts: To this day, I still think of this series as one of my all time favourites. The covers reflect this beautiful world Lesley Livingston has created. The blending of Shakespeare and faeries by this Canadian author is unlike anything I have ever read.

Original Review Summary: This trilogy just delivers in every book. From the characters, to the drama, to the romance — I was a fan!

Throwback Reflection: This series made Lesley Livingston a must read author for me! I’ve read quite a few of her other series since but this throwback has reminded me that I really should get around to finishing The Valiant Series!

Worth a Reread?: Yes!


My Original Series Review Here

Throwback #6: The Selection Series by Kierra Cass

Opening Thoughts: I remember the first book of the series, The Selection, was super polarizing amongst my two friends. One loved it, the other thought it was the worst thing she had ever read. I was of the camp that is was so bad, it was good. There was just something weirdly addictive about this book even though I didn’t like any of the lead characters!

Original Review Summary: The idea of a dystopian Bachelor-esque competition with royalty was a cool idea to explore in this series. I hated the heroine, America, and I hated the love triangle she was in (neither choice was great). Overall, I felt like this series lacked something to take it to the next level. I also didn’t enjoy the spin-off series either thanks to its crappy ending…ugh.

Throwback Reflection: I think that “missing piece” is the lack of focus on the dystopian world. I’ve been reading another series that has a similar premise of a dating competition but with a paranormal spin and I’m enjoying it a lot because it has found that balance between the competition and the politics of the world. The Selection really lacked that for me. I still think of this series as a guilty pleasure but I can’t say that I will ever pick this series up again.

Worth a Reread?: No.


Agree to Disagree?

Did you love (or love to hate) any of these reads? Share your thoughts on my throwbacks below! 

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SERIESous Discussion: Office Romance Reads After the #MeToo Movement

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 you read Office Romances differently in the post-#metoo Movement?

I’ve raised this question to myself a few times in the last few years but I really only felt compelled to write a post about it after I finished reading Bossy Brit.

Now, there is nothing even remotely related to sexually abuse/harassment in that book at all. I want to make that very clear. It’s more about its premise that the assistant and boss start up a romance and the dynamic their working relationship has on that romance.

Now obviously, in this book, the attraction and desire to be romantically involved goes both ways. And in most contemporary office romances that is always the case.

I’m a sucker for forbidden romances and office-romances usually always contain a policy about bosses dating the people working under them, adding to that trope and fueling the dramatic plot because “how can they be together when that’s in their way?”. It’s clearly an appeal to readers and that’s why that trope hasn’t gone away.

It’s just that now, I find that it takes me longer than before to get comfortable with a boss dating their employee.

In that particular book, the first paragraphs of our hero’s first POV chapter goes right into him talking about how attractive he finds his assistant. And to be fair, the book opens with the heroine imagining a pretty hot-n-heavy fantasy of him. Our hero also doesn’t make any untoward advances to her or anything either. But it still took me a minute to get comfortable with the whole idea because he does have authority over her and it feels like she would risk more (ie her job) starting a relationship with him. Of course, this aspect evolves as the story and their relationship does but I felt very hesitant about it at the start of the book.

I’ve always been aware of power imbalances between women and men. As a women, you can’t not notice it. I also work in a field where 70-80% of the work force is female, yet the management teams are nearly entirely male. So it’s something I see everyday and its at the forefront of my mind.

But since the #metoo movement has become so powerful, I’ve noticed that I’ve started applying it to worlds of fiction–whether it be movies or TV or books–because doesn’t art often reflect reality?

Let Fiction Be Fiction

I bring this up all the time in my discussion posts–heck, I even wrote a post dedicated solely to it–but there is a point where we need to Let Fiction be Fiction. The beauty of fictional characters, plots and worlds is that we can explore different themes and generate discussions through these fictional novels. And there are some great books out there that explore abusive relationships or show characters coming to terms with those relationships afterwards. They’re compelling reads and have definitely influenced my world views and opinions by providing me new perspectives.

Just before the start of the #metoo movement, I wrote a post discussing why sexual assaults were not often reported in fictional novels. In hindsight, that post was perhaps a bit tone-deaf given when it was published (though I had scheduled it months in advance and how was I to know that the journal article would come to light). But I still feel like my point that fictional worlds can be vehicles for change and points of discussion in the real world is true.

Why do we see these things in our novels at all? Particularly, if the book is labeled as contemporary (meaning it takes place in a time similar to ours) then it is clearly a part of our societal views. I wrote a post last month asking if Contemporary Romances Needed to Be Realistic. It was partially inspired by reading another office romance where the characters struggled with the power imbalance of their relationship. And my conclusion was that it really depends on why you are reading that book, when you are reading that book and what your expectations of it are.

It’s not groundbreaking news that books become outdated.

Some books have aged terribly and that’s no secret. But often they become vessels for how we study that piece of history and the views of society at that time. And I think it will be interesting to see how romance novels in particular will evolve over the next 20 years as our societal norms change. Heck, I’m sure you can even see it now with novels that were written 20 years ago from today!

Have the recent changes in societal views/discussions changed how you read books?

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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?

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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:

– Best Adult Novels published in 2021 –

– Favourite Adult Contemporary series read in 2021 –

– Favourite Adult Contemporary Standalones read in 2021 –

– Favourite Adult Non-Contemporary books read in 2021 –

New Adult Genre:

– Best NA Series first published in 2021 –

– Best NA Standalones that were first published in 2021 –

– Fave NA Standalone read in 2021 –

Young Adult Genre:

– Best YA Standalone novels first published in 2021 –

– Favourite YA Series I read in 2020 –

Additional Categories:

– A series sequel book published in 2021 –

– Series that published their grand finales in 2021 –

– Best audiobooks I listened to in 2021 (not necessarily their publication 2021) –

– Books I gave 2 Stars or Less to in 2021 –

 

Have a fabulous 2022!

Do we share any titles? Agree or Disagree?

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Burn, Rewrite or Reread Tag – 2021 Edition

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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:

The Rules:

-Randomly choose 3 books.

-For each group, decide which book to burn, which one to rewrite, and which to reread.

-Repeat until you completed three (I do 5) rounds

To get the books for each round, I used a random number generator to pull titles from my “Books Read in 2020” excel file. This includes any DNF’d titles for the year; and if a number repeated itself (or landed on a heading), I reran the generator until I got a fresh title.

Round 1

Burn: I actually have nothing against The Immortal Vow, it’s simply that I rated the other two books as a 5-stars! It was a fun paranormal romance, it just doesn’t compare to the other two!

Rewrite: Despite giving it 5-stars, I did struggle with some of the content in Ruin. Maybe things didn’t have to be so intense with Celia and we still could have achieved the fantastic character evolution we get from her.

Reread: Colin’s book was one of my most anticipated reads in the Bridgerton Series, so it should go without saying that I loved Romancing Mister Bridgerton.

Round 2

Burn: I honestly think that every woman should read Long Shot. It’s a powerful story about how you can get trapped in an abusive relationship but not realize it until it’s too late. The only reason I would “burn” it is that I hope it never becomes anyone’s reality.

Rewrite: I wasn’t overly pleased with how one character’s story wrapped up in particular in A Sky Beyond the Storm so that would be what I rewrite.

Reread: The reason Rivalry is even on this list is that I reread it this year before I finished the rest of the series. But I loved it just as much the second time and it’s the start of one of my favourite contemporary romance series ever.

Round 3

Burn: Again, I really enjoyed Washed Up Royal. I thought it was a fresh take on modern royals. I guess I just wouldn’t reread it and there was nothing I would change about it so here it is in the burn pile.

Rewrite: I adore Ana Huang’s work and Twisted Love was no exception. My only “low” for this book was that the pacing of the plot felt choppy at times so if I could smooth that out, I would!

Reread: I’m a sucker for forbidden romance and I really loved the Romeo and Juliet take Enemy Dearest had. And I think I might have to reread it when Soren’s book comes out!

Round 4

Burn: Even if I did enjoy the simplicity of High Society, it could have used more development for its characters and plot.

Rewrite: I really thought These Violent Delights would be a 5-star read for me thanks to its 1920s Shanghai retelling of Romeo and Juliet. But I was left disappointed in the romance and I struggled at times with the plot.

Reread: As I said, I love Ana Huang and Twisted Games was everything I wanted it to be!

Round 5

Burn: While I loved the wild ride that was The Burning Kingdoms, I felt like the ending was rushed and almost a cop-out so I was left disappointed.

Rewrite: There were parts of Never is a Promise that didn’t work for me when it comes to the romance so I would rework that second chance reunion.

Reread: I like a good happy ending it was quite the read to see if that was what we would get in Fighting for You.


What would you Burn, Rewrite and Reread from 2021?

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SERIESous Discussion: Do Contemporary Romances Need to Be Realistic?

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!


I’m an avid contemporary romance reader. The hopeless romantic in me just loves love.

What I love about the genre is that is can take on many different forms. There really is something for everyone in the romance world — which is probably why it is so successful as a literary genre. You can have your Harlequin Romances or you can read some dark erotica. You can read about first loves or second chances. Anything that suits your fancy really.

But my question is: does Contemporary Romance need to be realistic in order to enjoy it?

Ever since I started this blog, I’ve been an advocate that fiction should be fiction. One of the great things about fiction is that you can explore various topics and watch how they play out. Does that mean the events of the novel should take place in real life? Perhaps not, but isn’t it interesting to imagine if they could?

Part of the appeal of fiction is that it provides an escape from the every day. After a hard day at work, the last thing I usually want to read is something depressing. I want something to lift up my spirits. I usually turn to Contemporary Romances because they don’t have epic world-building or crazy new terms I have to keep up with like fantasy or science fiction novels would. They mimic reality so I can focus on the characters and the plot instead of getting lost in the magical world the heroine may or may not live in. I’m always familiar with the world because it is one I live in.

So, what is “Contemporary Romance”?

I did some research to find out why “contemporary romance” is labeled as such.

I first started with the definition of the word “Contemporary”:

existing or happening now:

Cambridge Dictionary

I then moved to the definition of the genre. Wikipedia defines Contemporary Romance as:

Contemporary romance is a subgenre of romance novels, generally set contemporaneously with the time of its writing.[1] The largest of the romance novel subgenres, contemporary romance novels usually reflect the mores of their time. Heroines in the contemporary romances written prior to 1970 usually quit working when they married or had children, while those novels written after 1970 usually have, and keep, a career.[2] As contemporary romance novels have grown to contain more complex plotting and more realistic characters, the line between this subgenre and the genre of women’s fiction has blurred

Wikipedia

So clearly, Contemporary Romances are inspired by the realities of the world during the time they were written.

But how closely should these contemporary romances mimic reality?

I was inspired to write this post after reading Laurelin Paige’s Slay Quartet. It’s a spin-off of one of my favourite contemporary romance series, Fixed on You. Both are darker contemporary romances with flawed characters and both really play with the idea that money can buy you power and influence. The Slay Quartet is also extremely gritty, particularly in the second novel, Ruin. And that’s coming from someone who loves dark contemporary romances.

One of the reasons I loved this series so much (honestly, I rated all four books 5-stars) is that despite the grandiose of the rich elite, there were some inklings of reality in there. Just enough to ground the characters and their stories to make me believe that this series could happen in real life; even if it seems far-fetched at times.

This sentiment was highlighted shortly after I finished that series and started The Renaldis Series. I lowered my rating because some of the plotlines seemed a little too improbable to make them seem plausible. In fact, for the 2nd novel in the series, Kidnapping His Bride, one of my reasons for rating the book so low was this:

His approach is something that would work more in a historical romance when society was different but it just felt icky in a modern romance.

~SERIESous Book Reviews, Kidnapping His Bride (Goodreads Review)

Let’s Go Back to the Wikipedia Definition for a Second…

When I first read that definition from Wikipedia about Contemporary Romances, the line that really stood-out for me was this one:

As contemporary romance novels have grown to contain more complex plotting and more realistic characters, the line between this subgenre and the genre of women’s fiction has blurred

Wikipedia

I thought this was a really interesting thing to mention. I don’t read many books that I would consider pure “Women’s Fiction”. For me, I classify those as books by Emily Giffin, where romance/relationships are an important aspect of the story but the focus is more on the heroine as she navigates her life and her subsequent struggles. They feel more like they are the coming-of-age stories women 25+ as they go through the next stage of their lives. Some other examples for me would be Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You or Bridget Jones’ Diary.

Some of my favourite contemporary romances though are the more character driven ones where we really see the characters grow; either through the new romance or through the plot. The Slay Quartet’s heroine, Celia, has fantastic character growth throughout the series though the book feels very much like it focuses on her romance with Edward. I suppose someone could classify that series as Women’s Fiction as I’m sure women are the target audience.

Clearly, as the definition states, the lines between the genres are getting blurred.

Conclusion?

For me, it comes down to managing expectations before I start the novel. I’ve read enough Ella Miles novels now to know her books skirt the line for realism — but that’s why I pick those books up! They’re entertaining and thrilling in a way that needs the over-the-top moments.

And sometimes, I just need a cheesy, sweet romance to get lost in for a couple of hours. Maybe that’s when I will remind myself that fiction can be fiction and let those little illogical moments go for the sake of pure entertainment when it comes time to rate those books.

What about you? Do you sometimes struggle rating or reading Contemporary Romances based on their realism?

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DNF December Review Blitz: Introduction Post 2021

I am a firm believer that if you aren’t enjoying a book, you should be able to DNF it and not feel guilty about that decision. You aren’t going to enjoy every book you pick (even though we all want to) and there is not shame in that.

I also like to review my DNFs. Some of the most helpful reviews I come across are ones for DNF reads. Now some reviews are just trashing the novel but the ones that look at it critically give me a better idea of what I can expect and help me anticipate if I will enjoy the book or not.

>> SERIESous Discussion: DNFing ARCs

Since 2018, I’ve made it part of my annual-yearly-recap to do a posting blitz of all the books I DNF’d for one reason or another. I think it’s just a great way to wrap up my year of reading.

What Reviews are on the Way?

Interestingly enough, I actually didn’t DNF as many books as I usually do. I have some “unfinished” reads but they are books I plan on finishing in the near future. I just didn’t finish them because life got in the way, not that I wasn’t enjoying them.

As I write this post (November 27, 2021), I had only DNF’d one book in 2021! And it was last week!

So I didn’t think that was enough to warrant a whole review blitz. I’ll be posting my review of that book early next year. Therefore, DNF December is going on a brief hiatus for 2021–which is a good thing if you think about it. It means I picked up some great books this year that I enjoyed reading!

I’ll see you all here next year! (Hopefully? Maybe?)

SERIESous Discussion: Do I Follow A Reading Pattern?


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!


I consider myself to be a mood reader. But does my reading follow a pattern as a result? Or do I simply answer the whims of my current mood when it comes to my next read?

Approximately 3 years ago, I wrote a discussion post about how I went from reading one book at a time to reading two to three at a time. I’d say that’s still very true to this day: I always have one eBook/physical book on the go AND an audiobook I listen to. And when I was analyzing the sudden switch, one of the reasons I mentioned was my mood reading tendencies:

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

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

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

Now that I keep track of the books I read in an Excel Document, I wanted to see if my hypothesis was correct:

Do I follow a pattern when it comes to the genres that I read?

To gather the facts, I looked at the first 50 books that I read in 2020 and classified them by “Age” (Young Adult, New Adult, Adult) and by “Genre” (Non-contemporary, Contemporary, Nonfiction, Historical Fiction). For me, non-contemporary is a broad term to encompass Science Fiction, Supernatural, Paranormal and Fantasy; Contemporary means Romances or Coming of Age stories; Historical Fiction is usually only Regency Romances for me.

I then assigned these classifications a numbered value in order to create graphs to visually see what my reading patterns are. So I created one graph based on the “Age” of the books and another based on the specific “genre” of the book. Here are my results:

Reading Pattern Based on Target Audience Age

Age Breakdown: 38% YA | 18% NA | 44% Adult

I have to say, this graph really surprised me! I honestly thought I would see more back and forth oscillation between the YA and NA/Adult ranges. I don’t read a lot of YA contemporary but that’s usually all I read from the Adult and New Adult genres. I assumed that I alternated between contemporary and non-contemporary reads, and this graph shows that isn’t really the case. I tend to read 2-3 books of an age range before changing it up.

I was also shocked to see that I read more Adult reads than anything else. When I look back at the titles, I think that is from my audiobook listening and the fact that my library has more contemporary audiobooks than non-contemporary. I find I can read romance audiobooks much faster than scifi or fantasy — not only because they tend to be shorter books, but also because I can put them on while I do chores and not have to devote 100% of my brain to keep track of the story.

Reading Pattern Based on Genre Type

Genre Breakdown: 6% DNF’d | 32% Non-Contemporary | 54% Contemporary | 4% NonFiction | 6% Historical Fiction

There’s a lot going on in this graph and I apologize for that. I struggled with a way to format the chart to encompass what I needed it to show.

Again, I was surprised by these results. I really don’t alternate genres after every single book I read. This graph suggests in most cases, I read two books of the same genre before switching to another and then repeat. It’s a really interesting pattern and it helped cement something to me about my reading habits which I will discuss below…

What About DNF’d Titles?

I did include the some of the titles I DNF’d in my first 50 reads of 2020. I wanted to see if I could tell anything from the genres I read before and after I DNF’d a title.

One title was an Adult Contemporary romance. I read a NA Contemporary romance before it but switched to an Adult Historical Romance after I DNF’d it. Another title I DNF’d was a YA Non-Contemporary. I read a YA non-contemporary before it and read a NA contemporary after it.

There really isn’t a specific pattern here, but it’s obvious that when I DNF a title, to avoid a reading slump, I switch genres completely to try something else.

Conclusion:

As is often the case when I do these investigative posts about my reading habits, my assumptions are proven wrong.

I assumed that I alternated back and forth between contemporary and non-contemporary titles when I read but that isn’t correct. I often read multiples of each genre before switching back and repeating the pattern. So yes, I alternate between the genres but it isn’t a book-by-book case.

I also learned that I read more Adult novels than I expected. I’m getting older now and I think that is being reflected in my reading. I’m a firm believer that you don’t have to be a teenager to read and enjoy “YA” novels but I do think there are certain stories that appeal to readers based on their ages. I’ve also struggled with reading in the last year and I find that adult contemporary romances are quicker reads that allow me to focus for a shorter amount of time and so I gravitate towards them, especially for audiobooks.

But my biggest conclusion: I am definitely a mood reader. I listen to my reading whims and pick books that I’m interested in reading right now. So if that means I read 3 contemporary romances in a row, that’s what I do. There really isn’t a pattern to my reading — it’s all just dependent on my mood.

Do you have a pattern to your reading? Are you a mood reader?

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SERIESous Discussion: When to Give Up on a Series

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!


If you haven’t guessed: book series are kinda my thing.

It goes with the territory of running a blog that reviews entire book series. In order to generate content, I need to read a lot of book series and sequels. And it can become difficult to read and keep track of everything. As I write this post, I have 113 series on the go. (How do I know that? I’m an avid fan of Microsoft Excel and its ability to create formulas for me to whip out stats like that on a whim.)

But when you have that many series in progress, some are bound to get left behind. It can take me a long time to get around to sequels. Sometimes it’s months between; other times it’s years. Sometimes that my fault; sometimes its the publishing schedule. Regardless, things fall through the cracks as life goes on.

There is a phenomenon about humans inability to forget things we leave unfinished:

According to the “Zeigarnik Effect,” you are much more likely to recall uncompleted tasks than one you completed. In a 1927 study, Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik asked subjects to complete a set of tasks. During some of the tasks, the subjects were interrupted before they could finish. When asked later about the tasks, they recalled the tasks during which they were interrupted at a much higher rate than those they were able to complete.  

It turns out that the brain has a powerful need to finish what it starts. When it can’t complete something, it gets stuck on it. […] This can include getting closure to issues (James and Kendell, 1997).

” Why We Hate Not Finishing What We Start ” Psychology Today, Mar 31, 2014

I always think about the series I’ve left in the dust. Ok, maybe not as often as I should or else they wouldn’t have been collecting dust…but the fact is: I want to finish series I started because I’ve dedicated time to them and I want to know how things will finish.

In the last few years, I’ve made concerted efforts to wrap-up those lingering series. I’ve introduced “Sequel Months” where I only read sequels throughout the month. I pick up the audiobook instead of the paperback to get to the sequel faster. I also usually try to make one of my annual reading challenges series based to keep my focus on my TBR backlog. And with all those combined efforts, I’ve definitely noticed improvements when it comes to my series numbers!

But I’ve also had some mixed results about my enjoyment of those series sequels.

Sometimes, it’s like I never left the world I’ve reentered. There are some authors out there who seamlessly transport you back into their worlds within the first few chapters. Other times, I feel like an outcast returning after a revolution. To prevent this, I try to keep summary notes on all the book series I read but I’m not always as proactive about it as I should be for one reason or another.

Which leads me to this discussion question:

When is it time to give up on a series?

1) Before you even start it!

A little negative I know, but that’s the whole premise of my blog! I remember finishing Lauren Oliver’s Delirium Series and being so angry at the way it wrapped up that I had wished I had never started the series in the first place! That series is what inspired me to write my blog and focus on reviewing the entire book series to see if it was worth picking up in the first place.

And that isn’t to say that my opinion is the gold standard. Clearly we all have different tastes when it comes to reading but I think sometimes reading someone else’s thoughts can help make a final decision.

2) When Your Gut Tells You To

After reading many romance series over the years, I can usually tell if I am going to enjoy a series based on how I feel after book one. I start to get a hunch about where the series is going to go and if I like that trajectory, I keep with it. But sometimes I know as soon as I read a synopsis (and maybe a couple reviews on Goodreads), that my gut instinct to stop this series now pushes through. Example: the More Than Series.

3) How Long Has it Been Between Sequels?

Sometimes the time between sequels just can’t be helped. One series I really enjoyed was the Nevermore Series but the publishing time between sequels was 2 and 3 years respectively. Even if I wanted to read the sequel right away I couldn’t! Other times my library is slow to get new titles or it isn’t available at my preferred retailer right away.

I used to reread books all the time before picking up the sequels but not so much anymore. I’ve found that as I get older, if I could have picked up a sequel right away and didn’t, chances are I probably won’t ever. Or, I won’t enjoy it if I do because my reading tastes have evolved. A prime example of that is the Fallen Series by Lauren Kate: I just didn’t care for angsty teenaged angels when I attempted to finish the series a few years later.

4) What About Those Series Without Any Confirmed Sequels?

When I was updating my Series Tracking worksheet I started to notice how many series (26 series to be exact) I had started but had unknown sequel release dates. Some of these titles are listed on Goodreads; some I wrote down because they were listed in the back of the book. I started to ask myself the question: do I continue to have hope that these titles would ever be published?

I get it, things happen! Books are dropped by the publishers (ex. Book #3 in the Lovegrove Legacy); authors may have personal/health issues that prevent them from writing; indie authors may have other jobs or didn’t have a successful debut so they don’t write the sequels right away; some author’s just don’t enjoy writing anymore or are pursuing other passions.

But as a reader, it can be hard to let those stories and characters go unfinished. I know I try to subscribe to author newsletters to see if I can find any more info. And every couple of months, I go through all the series and see if I can search for any updates (on Google, Twitter or author’s webpage/blog).

5) When You Didn’t Enjoy the Last Book

I know for me, it’s hard to give up on something I’ve put the time into. Before I started blogging (and even for the first two years), I used to just push through book series even if I didn’t love them just to say I finished them. But as I got older and–dare I say–wiser, I started to realize that wasn’t a good thing for me. It would lead to negative reflections on the series and progress into reading slumps. (Case and Point: The Throne of Glass Series)

I’ve worked really hard the last few years on becoming more comfortable with DNFing books. With saying goodbye to series that just aren’t working for my any more and being ok with leaving things unfinished. Sometimes, I will Google the spoilers or spoiler-filled reviews or see if there is a Wikipedia Page to get some closer. Other times I flip through the book to get a feel for what happens. But lots of the time, I just stop reading and successfully walk away without thinking about it ever again.

By no means are these hard and fast rules. There are lots of series where I’ve gone back to read the sequels years later and enjoyed them (like my most recent review of Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side). But at the same time, there are series that I haven’t thought about in years that I’m content to keep that way. Reading is such a personal thing that the only thing you really can do is follow your instincts and your tastes at the time to maintain a positive reading experience.

When do you give up on a series? Do you stick with it until the bitter end or is it out of sight, out of mind?

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SERIESous Discussion: Getting my Blogging Mojo Back

Getting my Blogging Mojo Back

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!


I started this blog in April 2013 and that seems absolutely bonkers to me! I can’t believe it has been that long!

I’ve done and experienced a lot in those 8 years. I moved my blog to a self-hosted site (and contemplated moving back to a free site); changed my review format and posting schedule; I started reviewing ARCs; did some blog tours… In that time, people I started blogging with years ago have either changed their blogs to suit other interests/hobbies or have just stopped posting altogether.

I can understand that last part a lot. It can be hard to come up with fresh content all the time. One of the nice things about being a book reviewer is that your posts come from the content (books) you read on a regular basis. I don’t have to travel somewhere exotic or chronical my daily life (which is not that exciting). I can stay home, read and volia! A post for my blog!

(We all know it is a little more complex than that simple statement.)

But, that can become monotonous after awhile. Sometimes I feel like I say the same things over and over again in reviews. Other times, I’m in a reading funk and my source of content just isn’t there. In the last 3 years, every time my self-hosting comes up for renewal, I contemplate if I’m still interesting in keeping my blog self-hosted. Perhaps going back to a free site is best for the number of times I blog…but I end up paying my dues and pressing on because I still love to blog and promote books I love. (And moving my site back seems like a big chore)

I’ve only ever gone on one other hiatus in my blogging career and that was in the fall of 2013 when I had a tough academic semester in university and stepped away to focus on school. Otherwise, I’ve always had enough content to keep posting months ahead of schedule so I didn’t need to write posts all the time but could still generate content for my blog.

Until the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020.

I explain more about why this was a particularly rough time for my reading with my How I Fell in Love With Reading Again post last month. The gist is: I work in healthcare and my attention span just couldn’t focus on books to finish them. So while I wanted to write posts for my blog (because I found I physically had to do something), I didn’t always have the content for my blog.

For the next few months I’d go through blogging sprees and managed to schedule posts up until mid-April 2021. However, from about November 2020 to June 2021, I didn’t log into my blog at all except to write my Year in Review Summary and my Reading Plan for 2021.

My hiatus wasn’t something I consciously thought about. It’s just something that happened as my area of Canada went into a 3rd, more intense wave of COVID-19 and work once again consumed me. Netflix became my go-to stress relief. (I also had some issues with my site hosting)

Eventually, I got back into reading around May 2021, which I detail in that previous post about How I Fell Back in Love With Reading. I gave myself the rest of that month to really focus on my reading and told myself I would come up with a plan for blogging in June/July 2021 once I was satisfied with my reading progress.

Here’s How I Got my Blogging Mojo Back:

1. Using my Bullet Journal

I first brought up the idea of a bullet journal in my Reading Plan for 2021 as a way to keep myself accountable for my reading habits. And it has really worked for building up a lot of healthy lifestyle habits and routines thanks to its flexibility to be tailor-made to whatever you need it to be.

I created a habit tracker and give myself a point every time I log into the blog. I aim to login to my blog 3 times a week. Sometimes I set specific days, other times I just go with the flow. Now, it doesn’t have to be just writing reviews to get a point; cross posting reviews or updating my series spreadsheet also gets a point. While I don’t reward myself with something physical every time I get a point, just seeing that tick makes me feel like I accomplished something I set out to do.

2. Hone in on the Backlog

At first, I couldn’t remember what reviews I had written for my blog and which ones needed to be drafted. I’m a Type A person so I get excited by creating lists and that’s what I did for the first two weeks of my “get into blogging again” mission. I had a list of tasks that I set out to do:

  • Update my personal Excel “Books Read” tracking sheet with the titles on Goodreads
  • Focus on ARCs that had been read in the last few months
    • Create posts and cross-post if overdue
  • Go through books read and see if review posts have been drafted or not
  • Update Trello (how I keep track of review posts) with reviews that:
    • Needed to be Written
    • Needed Sequels Read to Complete
    • ARC due dates

I would work on these a little bit at a time, often getting really focused on one task a day before moving to the next.

3. Create a New Posting Template & Due Dates Tracker

One of the reasons it took me a while to get back into blogging was that my main blogging laptop suddenly crashed and I lost all my files. I keep my posting templates, blogging schedule, common book themes, books read spreadsheet and more as Word documents on my laptop. So I was really at a loss there for a bit but I was able to recover the files and reinstall Windows so I could use my documents once again.

From my professional job, I’ve really become obsessed with Microsoft Excel. I always appreciated the program but after learning more about what it can do (and taking a certificate course in it), I loved its potential for maximizing my efficiency when it came to formatting an all in one calendar for my blogging life.

Now, I have an Excel Workbook that is super easy to maintain and incredibly easy to read thanks to some customize formatting (lots of colours!) and keeps track of everything I need when it comes to library due dates, ARC due dates and posting schedule. I’ll share what it looks like in a future post!

4. Focusing on Different Aspects Depending on my Mood

I’m a mood reader so it shouldn’t be a surprise that I’m also a bit of a mood writer for my blog. If I’m really inspired to write a post or a review that day, that’s what I do. If I don’t feel like that, I’ll do something else for my blog: like cross post old reviews to Goodreads or Amazon; or create a brand new Series tracking sheet.

Just doing these tasks a little bit at a time helps me feel productive. I find that if I force myself to write a review post, I don’t enjoy it which in turn creates animosity–not what I want to do at all. If I don’t feel like doing anything or don’t have the time, then I don’t. Every little bit helps in the long run, even if it isn’t directly writing the review.

5. Scheduling Posts

One of the biggest lessons I learned for my personal blogging (in the last 8 years) is that I don’t need to post every single day. (Kudos to those that do!). Because of the nature of my blog, I condense the reviews of 2+ books into one single post, whereas some bloggers would post individual reviews of each book. That means I reduce the number of posts I can write in a month. So in order to keep content generating, I schedule posts way in advance.

I created a generic monthly template for how I want my blog posts to be scheduled within a month. Because I have certain features for specific days of the week, I find planning those posts out in advance keeps things fresh and stops me from posting 30 “Fresh Friday” posts in a month and keeps posting content spaced out.

But what scheduling also does is give me breathing room if I can’t log into my blog for some reason. Because I work shift work, I don’t always have the time to login to my blog. But because I usually have posts scheduled 1-2 months in advance, I don’t have to worry that I need to finish a post by tomorrow. Chances are, that post was written a month ago and the post I’m currently working on can be finish sometime in the next 2 weeks stress-free.

Moving Forward

Right now, my returning blog mojo is pretty self-centered. I’ve been focused on my content and I haven’t been exploring the blogosphere like I used to. That one really hit close to home when I was browsing my library’s new additions and realized that I knew nothing about the titles that have been released in the last year or weren’t written by an author I am already familiar with. By the fall, I hope to be blog hopping once again!

Overall, I’m just taking this all day by day and not putting any pressure on myself. It feels good to write again and get those creative juices flowing.

How has the last year affected your blogging habits?

Let me know in the comments below!

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