Category «Features»

SERIESous Tips: How I Track my Book Series in Excel

I’m highlighting some of the ways I use Excel to help my blogging productivity. Today, I’m sharing how I keep track of all the book series I have on the go!


Why I Keep Track of My Book Series Progress

Another spreadsheet I keep in my Books Read Workbook is my Series Tracking Spread. Because the bread and butter of my blog is book series, I needed something to help me keep track of all the series I had on the go and where I was in those series sequel-wise.

My first version of this spreadsheet was pretty basic. I basically just typed in things as I went and formatted along the way. But once I learned more about the drop-down boxes and conditional formatting features of Excel, it has made this spreadsheet super easy to maintain.

Series are sorted by the year I read the first series title. # TBR = number of books that have been published that I still need to read. Series Titles are listed with their position in the series. I also note when the sequels will be published; where I can access the title and if I have a blog post already made. Unknown status is for series that I suspect will have sequels but don’t have official publishing dates.

On this spreadsheet, I keep track of what series I have on the go, how many sequels I have to read, their publishing statuses, and the year that I started the series. I don’t track what year they were published in because I don’t really care for that.

From that information, I can get:

  • how many series I have on the go
  • how many series are waiting for sequels to be published
  • how many series I started in a particular year and have yet to finish
  • the total number of series I had on the go at the end of a calendar year

Why do I love using Excel for this spreadsheet instead of a Word document? It is super easy to add titles as sequels are announced by inserting new rows and letting the worksheet shift equations and entries automatically. A Word Document would still be great to use because you can add headings to quickly find a Series Name. But I like seeing my stats and having Excel automatically run those statistics as I add titles is the key.

This concludes my Excel Tips Series. I hope you found it interesting to read and perhaps I’ve inspired you to try some Excel Spreadsheets yourself! Let me know if there is anything else you’d like to see in the future.

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

Excel Tips: Why I Love Excel  |  Post Calendar  |  Books I Read in a Year  |  Tracking Book Series

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SERIESous Tips: How I Track my Reading in Excel

I’m highlighting some of the ways I use Excel to help my blogging productivity. Today, I’m sharing how I keep track of the books I read in a year!


How I Track My Reads for the Year

While I do keep track of everything I read on Goodreads, I like to keep a separate document for my own records of all the books I read in a year. I did this wayyyy before I started blogging and it’s a habit I’ve never stopped. But when I got into blogging, I started to get more interested in my reading statistics (like how many books I read in a month or how many audiobooks in a year) and I found Excel made things much easier to find out those statistics with very little effort (ie not counting all the books in my Goodreads Read list).

This is what my spreadsheet looks like:

The main data entry portion of my Reads in a Year Excel Spreadsheet.

In this spreadsheet, I keep track of all:

  • the book formats I read (ARC, audiobook, novella, book, rereads),
  • where I got the book from (library, hoopla, subscriptions, own)
  • what # it is in the series or if it is a standalone
  • when did I start that series sequel (last year, current year, completed all books in series)
  • how many books I read in a year, month and season
  • rating for the title

Thanks to the formula features in Excel, any stats I want to run on these values auto-calculate with the formulas I’ve created! Before I used to count up each line in my Word Document table and do the math with a calculator. So now it’s so easy for me to whip up stats anytime I need them for my blog posts because the spreadsheet does it for me!

Some of the stats that auto-calculate based on the main data entry of the spreadsheet

How I’ve Updated It Over the Years

My first Reads in a Year documents simply listed the books read within a seasons. Then it evolved to months and then eventually separating the titles out by their formats within a month.

I used to manually calculate the totals for each month by creating the formula every time but know I’ve learned how to name cells for calculations, allowing the worksheet to do the work for me, even if I add titles to the month after the fact.

When I started doing more analyses of my reading, I added columns for book sources, series tracking and eventually ratings. Only in the last year have I made the Series Tracking a drop-down menu instead of obscure text codes that would calculate in another part of the spreadsheet.

Do you only use Goodreads or another online service to track your annual reads? Or do you use something else? Let me know below!

Excel Tips: Why I Love Excel  |  Post Calendar  |  Books I Read in a Year  |  Tracking Book Series

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SERIESous Tips: My Excel Post-Scheduling Calendar

I’m highlighting some of the ways I use Excel to help my blogging productivity. Today, I’m sharing my Blogging Calendar!


Why I Needed a Blogging Calendar

Back in the day when I first started using WordPress for my blog, the posting calendar wouldn’t tell you if a day already had a post scheduled. Which was a real pain for someone like me who schedules posts well in advance! (Now, WordPress does show you on the publish calendar upcoming posts but I like to know what the post is.)

The New WordPress Calendar indicates days with previously scheduled posts with a blue dot.

I tried a paper and pen method with a spare planner when I first started blogging, but I was constantly shuffling posts around for different deadlines so it wasn’t ideal to erase things all the time. I also tried Google Calendars but didn’t really like it because it felt like a lot of steps to add things. In the end, I had great success with a Word Calendar template and used this for years.

My Old Word Calendar

On this calendar, I kept track of all my ARC due dates, library book due dates and blog posting dates in a Word Document Calendar Template. Depending on what the items was, it was colour coded accordingly for quick glances:

Here’s what my old calendar looked like. Red text = library due dates | Blue text = ARC due dates | Black text = blog posts | Purple text = planned blog post | Crossed Out Text = Completed reads | Italic Text = renewed reads

This calendar was great and I used it for years with only a few colour changes over the years as my blogging and reading schedules evolved. Using a Word Template meant that the basics (table/month/dates) of the calendar were already formatted so it wasn’t a lot of work for me to set up intially.

Though for anyone who isn’t me, I’m sure this looks uber overwhelming and a lot of work. Eventually I came to the same conclusion: I found I was spending so much time formatting it–from adding new months to changing text colours by hand–that it became more cumbersome than helpful and I needed a change.

My New Excel Calendar

When I discovered how conditional formatting (rules for how data in cells should appear based on their values) worked in Excel for cells, I knew my next calendar had to be done as a spreadsheet. Using Excel meant I could create a system of rules to continuously format my data cells without me formatting each cell individually. Basically: I could type and go, letting the worksheet do the formatting for me. And once I found a template that worked, all I would have to do is copy the worksheet for additional months over and over again.

So, I found a generic Calendar Template in Excel that I could format to my liking and for what I needed it to do. I was able to have the program add the dates to the correct day of the week based on the Month I selected on the top. I added two rows for each date: one for reading due dates and another row for blog posts. I also created a button for to clear all scheduled posts without deleting each one. It took me some time and some trial and error with the formatting, but I finally found a master template that worked and this is what it looks like:

My New Excel Calendar. It features a Blog Row for Posts and a Due Row for ARCs and Library Book Due dates. Pale Yellow Boxes = Scheduled Posts | Bright Yellow Boxes = Theoretical Blog Posts | Red Boxes = To be Finalized Blog Posts | Light Blue Text = ARCs | Red Text = Library Book Due Date

My calendar tracks all the same due dates as my previous calendar. I’ve also included a pre-determined template so I know where I should be posting (since I do certain posts on specific days of the week). But the key is that I have a master formatting template that I can copy for every month that I need. Then, when I use it, all I have to do is enter in my text and the spreadsheet does all the formatting work for me! It honestly saves me a ton of time by just plugging and chugging as I go.

One of my favourite features of this calendar is that it can show me the scheduled blog posts from the last and/or the next month (dates in gray). That has saved me a few times from scheduling posts too close together since I can see it all on one screen.

When I’m done with a month, I just hide the tab from view. I’m not sure if I will delete the old tabs at the end of the year or not, I’m still deciding. But for now, I’m enjoying my simple calendar–even if it took a lot of work to find what I like!

How do you track your blog posts? Paper, digitally or wing it? Let me know below!

Excel Tips: Why I Love Excel  |  Post Calendar  |  Books I Read in a Year  |  Tracking Book Series

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SERIESous Tips: Why you Need to Use Excel for Your Book Blog!

I know that lots of people love using a pen and paper to keep track of their books and blogging posts but I’m a digital girl. Way before I discovered Goodreads and even in the time since, I’ve always kept a list of the books I read in a Word document on my computer.

While I use a lot of other online tools–like Trello for blog posts in progress and Goodreads to track my reading dates–over the years, I’ve upgraded from my basic Word Documents to Excel Worksheets.

Just a note: I use Microsoft Excel simply because I have the program from my university days on my laptop; but I have used Google Sheets in the past too which is free if you have a Google account. It has very similar features and works in a similar way so it is a great option if you don’t have the Microsoft Office Suite.

I love reading my fellow bloggers posts about how they stay productive and so I thought that I would share how I do the same. Over the next few days, I’m going to share some more Tips posts about my experiences using Excel to help increase my blogging productivity and track my reading.

But in this post, I want to share some of the reasons why I love using Excel and how you can learn to love it to!

Don’t Be Intimated!

You don’t need to be an Excel Wizard to create a good spreadsheet! I really only knew the basic features of the program when I first started using it a few years ago. Honestly, my first spreadsheets were pretty simple and were really just me typing things into cells because it was easy to create tables in Excel than in Word.

It really has only been in the last year that I’ve learned a lot more about using Excel thanks to my job where I’ve started to use it more. I did take a basic Excel course through my library (for free!) but Google and Youtube make it super easy to teach yourself how to use Excel to its max potential. If you want to know how to do something, a quick Google search will usually do the trick!

Why I Love Using a Spreadsheet (or Two) for My Blog:

Easy to Format Cells

I’m a very visual person so I love colours in my agendas and calendars. Excel makes it super easy with its conditional formatting features to have cells or text change colours based on their contents. You can also create drop-down boxes with preset values which makes it easy to create tables for tracking things and updating them as needed.

The Worksheet’s page itself is very open unlike a Word Document. I like to think of it as a blank canvas that allows you to freely add text in any of the cells and then merge, move or erase anything you want.

An example of the conditional formatting you can apply to Excel cells

Calculate Statistics Automatically

Within an Excel cell, you can create formulas to calculate values or even create charts based on information you’ve entered. It’s a great feature for bloggers who want to see their progress at a quick glance once they’ve set up the equations. And you can really calculate anything you want in one way or another.

An example of a table that calculates stats for me based on entries to the main document table

Have Multiple Spreadsheets Within a File

I love that I can have multiple tabs within a single file! A lot of my spreadsheets are created for the year so it’s great that I can keep previous years within the same file to easily compare contents without having multiple files open at one time.

Lots of Templates To Play With!

From budgets to calendars and more, the beauty of Excel is that you can create whatever you want and need in a workbook!

Examples of Spreadsheets I Have Used for My Blog:

Here are some of the ways I’ve used Excel spreadsheets in the past and present:

Stay tuned for future tips posts where I share my Posting Calendar, Annual Reading Lists and Series Tracking spreadsheets!

Do you use spreadsheets for your blog? Let me know below!

Excel Tips: Why I Love Excel  |  Post Calendar  |  Books I Read in a Year  |  Tracking Book Series

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Throwback Thursdays: Blogging Year 2015


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.


I missed last month’s thanks to a hectic work schedule but I’m back with another edition of Throwback Thursdays!

How does this work?

For each Throwback Thursday Post, I pick a particular blogging year to go back to. Within that year, I search through my old posts and pick 5 that I think are worth a look back at. Before I read my old reviews, I share my thoughts about what I remember. Then I summarize my original review and then I 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:

2015

What do I remember about my 2015 reading year?

Well, clearly I still found a lot of time to read despite being in the midst of my post-post-secondary career. According to my Goodreads Challenge that year, I read 233 books! Which was the most I’d ever read in a year up and to that date. It was a great year for books, I read a lot of big blockbusters. Oh, and it was the year I joined Netgalley! So I really got into reading ARCs and discover some new authors that I continue to review for to this day.

As for the blog, I started to include more discussion posts in my posting schedule. I used to do a Meme-ful Monday post where I would find a bookish meme and write a discussion post about it. I also used to do a lot of those blog award posts that were all the rage back then. (Do people still do those?)


My Original Series Review Here

Throwback #1: Alienated Series by Melissa Landers

Opening Thoughts: I remember this book being a lot of fun to read! It reminded me a little of a Meg Cabot book for just being purely entertaining. And aliens weren’t a common occurrence in YA at the time; I’d only read the Lux Series by Jennifer Lynn Armentrout. I can’t remember how I learned about this series but Melissa Landers quickly became a must read for me when it comes to YA SciFi reads.

Original Review Summary: I adored the banter between the logical Aelyx and the sensible Clara in the first book. It was just a great blend of everything you like in a YA novel (first love, humour). I enjoyed the second once I got into it; it definitely is more plot than romance though. I didn’t love the third book though with its complicated plot.

Throwback Reflection: I often think back fondly on Alienated(#1) as a great book. I loved Melissa’s next series, Starflight, and I’m waiting to see what her new release this year will be like because it has been too long since I’ve read her workds.

Worth a Reread?: No.


My Original Series Review Here

Throwback #2: The Arcana Chronicles by Kresley Cole

Opening Thoughts: Kresley Cole’s adult novels were always popping up at my library but they didn’t interest me. So when her new YA series was being released, I was really intrigued. Oh boy, did I HATE the first novel though! Poison Princess (#1) was everything I detested in a YA story with its cliché heroine, love triangle allusions, and a misleading synopsis. But I decided to read the sequel and I immediately fell in love with this series and its subsequent sequels!

Original Review Summary: These books have their moments of greatness and their moments of dullness. But overall, I enjoyed the series once all the groundwork was laid in the Poison Princess. All the books in the series are now published but I have yet to read the last two so I’m not sure how everything will wrap up!

Throwback Reflection: This series is one of the best examples for why I write reviews for entire series. Reading the first book in a series can be like watching the pilot episode for a TV. You may or may not like what you see in that first episode but it’s really the second episode that will determine if you press on now that the groundwork is laid out.

Worth a Reread?: No.


My Original Series Review Here

Throwback #3: The Vincent Boys Series by Abbi Glines

Opening Thoughts: I think I read this series after binge-reading everything else Abbi Glines had wrote to that point. I don’t like reading about love triangles but I wanted to give it a shot since I had enjoyed her other romances and melodrama.

Original Review Summary: So I had actually marked this books as a pass before I ever read an Abbi Glines novel because of the love triangle but I decided to give them a shot after I read some of her books. Maybe I shouldn’t have. The immaturity of these characters inspired by their raging hormones was a little too much melodrama for me. They were all selfish and vain but I suppose that’s what you get for reading about 17 year olds.

Throwback Reflection: Looking back years later and having read more Abbi Glines novels, she has a flare for melodrama so this is definitely par for the course. Some people really love the angst, I don’t enjoy this type of angst in my novels.

Worth a Reread?: No.


My Original Series Review Here

Throwback #4: Marked Men Series by Jay Crownover

Opening Thoughts: Rule(#1) was on the list for many New Adult recommendations so it was obvious that I would read it at some point. This series really got me invested in the romance series that follow a group of friends and not just the same couple for all the books. It also showed me that both characters could be flawed and find love.

Original Review Summary: I adored all the characters in this series (well, maybe not so much in Jet [#2]) but I loved the strength these characters had. And when the romance blossomed, WOW! I also liked that we get hints of what’s to come in the next books. Every book had its own unique spin, yet they all still shared the same underlying tones that made the series so special.

Throwback Reflection: After this series, Jay Crownover become a must-read author for me. I have a few of her new releases on my TBR that I hope to get to by the end of the year.

Worth a Reread?: Yes! Not all of the titles but some for sure!


My Original Series Review Here

Throwback #5: Where Rainbows End (aka Love, Rosie) by Cecelia Ahern

Opening Thoughts: I remember my friend and I being so excited to see the movie Love, Rosie. I chose not to read the book until after I watched the movie because I didn’t want it to be spoiled. I remember loving the movie, hating the book. It’s one of those rare instances where I think the movie is better than the book (or at least, the movie characters are more likeable).

Original Review Summary: My friend had read the book and warned me beforehand that Rosie becomes really annoying so I knew that going in. I probably would have stopped reading the book if I hadn’t had that in the back of my mind. Rosie is just incredibly selfish and I didn’t like that at all. And it overshadowed the romance of two friends who are clearly something more if life didn’t get in the way all the time.

As for the movie, the characters are more likeable and I enjoyed watching the drama unfold. I preferred watching things unfold in front of me instead of having them be described through letters like they are in the book. It just played with your emotions more in the movie.

Throwback Reflection: An entertaining movie, a so-so book.

Worth a Reread?: No. (Would I rewatch the movie, maybe)


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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Service Review: Kobo Plus Subscription

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Kobo Plus Subscription Service

**This is in no way affiliated with Kobo! It is simply my take on using the service!**

I’ve been a long time Kobo eReader User and, if asked, I’d say that I prefer my Kobo to my Kindle if I had to choose. I love the reader friendly features of the device and that they were originally a Canadian based company. Also, in Canada, I can only put library books on my Kobo since they are ePub files–which can’t be opened on Kindles.

>> SERIESous Guide: How to Buy an eReader

But one of the features I do like about my Kindle is the option to use the Kindle Unlimited Program. The ability to read as many books as I can for one price is AMAZING. A lot of the books I read are independently published and when you read 100+ books a year, Kindle Unlimited offers a great way to read those books without breaking my bank — but still be able to support the authors monetarily.

I’ve been waiting (and begging) Kobo to have a similar service for years. So I was very, very excited when Kobo launched its own unlimited reading service in the summer of 2020.

As I do with all my book Service Reviews, I’m going to lay out the basics of the Kobo Plus Service and give my take on it independently (ie this is not a paid promotional post by Kobo). At the end, I will do a comparison to my Kindle Unlimited and Scribd experiences just to give some context.

How Does it Work?

Kobo Plus is a monthly eBook only subscription service. For $9.99 CAD (plus tax) a month, you can read as many titles from the Kobo Plus catalogue as you want. You can send and hold 15 books at a time on your device, but once you’ve “returned” one, you can take out another as long as you have an active subscription.

Here is the schematic of how it works:

You don’t need a Kobo eReader to read the books; using the reading app on your phone or tablet will do the trick. (The Kobo App is great on phones from my experience!). You can sync books and send them directly to your device of choice via wifi. However, you can read the books without wifi once they are downloaded to your device.

My Experience:

–Signing-Up–

For Black Friday/Cyber Monday in November 2021, Kobo had an incentive to get a 60-day free trial of Kobo Plus if you signed up during the promotional period (instead of the usual 30-day free trial).

>> Sign up for cashback & get $30 back when you sign up for Rakuten! (referral link)

I already had a Kobo Account and I made sure I went through Rakuten (referral link) to get cashback for trying the service as well.

–Title Selection–

Like Kindle Unlimited, most of the titles available with the service are self-published; independently published or small publishing house titles. That was perfect for me because those are typically the books I buy from Kobo since they aren’t often available at my library (unlike major publishing house titles).

It’s super easy to see what titles are a part of the program throughout the site. Listed beside prices are the words “Free with Kobo Plus”. You can also add a filter to your searches that will only show Kobo Plus titles based on your search term. And when you click on a title to read more about it (and you are a part of the program), there is a button on the side that says “Available with Kobo Plus — Add to My Books”.

I had 2-3 series that I knew were are part of the program on my TBR so I made sure to add those to my list when I got the service. It was easy to find them with a quick search on my desktop and as soon as I synced my Kobo, they were on it!

–Downloading Titles–

However, I struggled finding what titles I had already downloaded from the service on their website. I would have liked to have been able to just click the Kobo Plus menu at the top of the website and be brought to my subscription homepage. But when you do click that, it brings you to the sign-up page and you start to think your subscription isn’t valid.

If you want to see your active titles all in one place, you have to click on the My Subscriptions menu under My Account. There you can see what books you have out and when your next billing date is. I really liked that they tell you exactly when your next billing date is so if you want to cancel, it’s easy to see.

They say in their spiel about the program that you can only have 15 books out at a time but I never ran into an issue when I had more than that selected from the program. However, I hadn’t opened that many books, I had just simply added them to my account and hadn’t necessarily downloaded them to my device. I think if I tried to download all of them, I would have run into issues.

–Reading Experience on my Kobo–

When I first started using the Kobo Plus program, I was using my old Kobo Aura. It doesn’t have the best store experience interface directly on the device. So I had some issues finding the titles on my device using the store interface and then some issues downloading the titles. But it wasn’t anything a quick power off/on couldn’t fix. Eventually, I bought a new Kobo Libra 2 (which I LOVE!) and I found the store interface was much smoother to use.

Once downloaded, you can filter your My Books to only show Kobo Plus titles. Unlike Kindle Unlimited, you can’t return a Kobo Plus title from your device which was a pain.

One feature I really did love when reading on my eReader is that anytime I finished a title, my eReader would prompt me to read the next one in the series. If the book was a part of the Kobo Plus program it would say “Read Now With Kobo Plus” and I could download it right away. That worked well for me because it saved me from searching for it on my device afterwards.

–Did I Read $9.99 Worth of Books?–

I kept track of all the books I read and their cost so I could see if I would read $9.99/month for the two months I had the service ($19.98 total).

  • Grand Total: $40.88
    • The North by Leigh Walker ($4.98)
    • The Siege by Leigh Walker ($4.98)
    • The Realm by Leigh Walker ($4.98)
    • The Uprising by Leigh Walker ($4.98)
    • The Crown by Leigh Walker ($4.98)
    • Wild War by Laurelin Paige ($7.99)
    • Wild Heart by Laurelin Paige ($7.99)

So I definitely would have gotten my monies worth for the two months I would have paid for. I rarely reread books so it doesn’t bother me that I pay and don’t get to own the title to read at a later time. I can see how some people would struggle with that. But I think of these services as the “Netflix of Books” so it’s just the reality of what the service is.

How does it Compare to Other Book Subscription Services?

I’m going to break it down a little by some of the notable Kindle Unlimited and Scribd features:

  • Kobo Plus: eBooks only; separate audiobook experience (Kobo Audiobooks)
    • Scribd: eBooks and audiobooks with one subscription
    • Kindle Unlimited: eBooks only; separate audiobook experience (Audible)
  • Kobo Plus: read books on your Kobo eReader, computer, phone or tablet
    • Scribd: can listen & read books on your computer, phone or tablet
    • Kindle Unlimited: Kindle eReaders and on any device you can download the Kindle App to
  • Kobo Plus: has some exclusives but you can still buy books in the program on other digital sites
    • Scribd: lacks exclusives but has access to Sheet Music, Magazines and other streaming services like MUBI, AUDM and more
    • Kindle Unlimited: any book in the program can only be found on Amazon
  • Kobo Plus: pay for one month of use at a time
    • Scribd: pay for 30 days of use at a time
    • Kindle Unlimited: pay for one month of use at a time
  • Kobo Plus: once downloaded you can read the title for 30 days (or until subscription ends); regular Kobo books available to purchase
    • Scribd: no option to purchase titles to own
    • Kindle Unlimited: once downloaded you can continue to read the title even if you are no longer subscribed to the service; otherwise, regular Kindle book purchase available
  • Kobo Plus: can download 15 titles at a time; no restrictions on titles within the program
    • Scribd: can download unlimited number of titles but popular titles have caps for how many users can download them in a month
    • Kindle Unlimited: can download 10 titles at a time; no restriction on titles
  • Kobo Plus: need a credit card on file but can use gift card to pay the fee when you have added it to your account (shows up as store credit)
    • Scribd: can use PayPal to sign up; unsure if your PayPal balance can be applied or if it charges your credit card no matter what
    • Kindle Unlimited: can only use a credit card to pay

So, Am I Keeping It?

So when I (accidentally) found out I could use a gift card to pay for an additional month, I did keep my subscription for a little longer. Originally, my plan was to cancel after 3 months but then I discovered the Midnight Dynasty Universe was in the program and there are a ton of books in that series (and I found some others I wanted to read) so money-wise, it made sense to keep the program. Especially when I realized I had a lot of gift card money to burn so I kept it for an additional 4 months.

It’s not a service that I will continue using monthly after those additional months. I think I will subscribe for a month at a time in the future or if there is a promotion (like I often do with Kindle Unlimited) to get my hands on some titles. Because even reading 2-3 books from the service a month pays for itself. I just find when I subscribe to book reading services, I focus exclusively on that and forget about the books I already own or can get elsewhere. And usually, by the time a resubscribe a few months later, there is a turnover in titles so new items are available to read.

However, I found that it shared a lot of the same titles that are available on the Scribd service. So I will probably resubscribe to Scribd next because of the option for audiobooks.

Do you use Kobo Plus? What about another Reading Service? Any tips or feedback on the service?

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Throwback Thursdays: Blogging Year 2014


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.


How does this work?

For each Throwback Thursday Post, I pick a particular blogging year to go back to. Within that year, I search through my old posts and pick 5 that I think are worth a look back at. Before I read my old reviews, I share my thoughts about what I remember. Then I summarize my original review and then I 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:

2014

What do I remember about my 2014 reading year?

Well 2014 was my first full YEAR of blogging, having started my blog in April 2013. I didn’t think I had ever done this in my blogging history but for most of 2014, I posted a new review EVERY DAY. I think that’s because I was still reading and creating content during my hiatus of Fall 2013, I just wasn’t posting. And so I had a bunch of reviews to release when I returned to blogging on a regular basis.


My Original Series Review Here

Throwback #1: Fixed Series by Laurelin Paige

Opening Thoughts: This is one of my all-time favourite contemporary romance series. It’s the gold standard for me that I compare all others to. I picked it up as a freebie and I’ve read every Laurelin Paige ever since!

Original Review Summary: I thought this was just going to be a knock-off of the Fifty Shades Trend but this series impressed me with its writing style, complex characters and addictive drama.

Throwback Reflection: I still love this series and its various spin-offs. (Slay is fanatastic!) I recommend it to everyone, even years later!

Worth a Reread?: Yes!


My Original Series Review Here

Throwback #2: The Lovegrove Legacy Series by Alyxandra

Opening Thoughts: I always remember this series as the one that got canceled before its prime. The Whisper Witch (or Whispers of the Dead as it was called when I read it) was such a great read and ended on a huge cliffhanger…only for the publisher never to pick up the 3rd book for publication. Thankfully, Alyxandra Harvey self-published a novella to quickly wrap things up but it just wasn’t the same as a full book.

Original Review Summary: While I’m not normally a fan of witch novels, this one won me over with its fun cast of characters. I noted that sometimes the details would be a little much and I would lose focus. The second book had better pacing, likely because as a reader you were familiar with the world.

Throwback Reflection: I really wish we would have gotten to see the full potential of this series with a full length finale. I think this series shows us readers the power of buying and promoting titles we love and how that can influence publication of future titles.

Worth a Reread?: No – unless a full length finale is ever published!


My Original Series Review Here

Throwback #3: Pushing the Limits Series by Katie McGarry

Opening Thoughts: I think this was one of the first truly angsty YA novels I ever read. Everything up until that point seemed so light and fluffy and Pushing the Limits was far from that. It had teen characters suffering from mental health issues as well as sexual content–something I really hadn’t seen much of in YA novels at the time.

Original Review Summary: This series is one of those that straddles the New Adult — Young Adult line. Because they are in high school, I would tend to classify it as Young Adult but the subject mature is very mature and so are the characters so I don’t have a problem calling it New Adult. I loved the maturity of all the characters we meet and I really connected with their stories. It is the perfect blend of character driven romance.

Throwback Reflection: This series made Katie McGarry a must-read author for me. I would wait all year for these books to be released so I could read them. It’s still a series I recommend those who are looking to try the New Adult genre pick up because it straddles the line between YA and NA so easily.

Worth a Reread?: Yes!


My Original Series Review Here

Throwback #4: Peaches Monroe Series by Mimi Strong

Opening Thoughts: I remember being really excited to read this book when I first picked it up for free on Amazon. I thought it would be a funny and light contemporary romance.

Original Review Summary: Have you ever read a book and then looked at the reviews for said book and go “did I read the same thing?”. That was me with this book. It had so many great reviews that I thought I must be the delusional one for not enjoying it! The characters were so horrible in this and the humour was completely lost to me. I ended up DNFing it before I reached page 50.

Throwback Reflection: Yeah, I’m pretty sure I deleted this book from my Kindle after I stopped reading it before Chapter 5.

Worth a Reread?: No.


My Original Series Review Here

Throwback #5: Across the Universe Series by Beth Revis

Opening Thoughts: I LOVED this series! It’s another gold standard for me, only this time its for YA Science Fiction. I adored the suspense of the first novel and had never read anything like it before.

Original Review Summary: Despite a slow start in Book #1, I soon became addicted to the story and mystery of the Godspeed. There were so many great twists along the way! I also liked how the romance was there but not a huge focus, enhancing the story but not distracting from it either.

Throwback Reflection: While I don’t remember the finer points of the plot, I do remember not putting these books down when I got them.

Worth a Reread?: Yes!


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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Throwback Thursdays: Romance Reads of 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.


How does this work?

For each Throwback Thursday Post, I pick a particular blogging year to go back to. Within that year, I search through my old posts and pick 5 that I think are worth a look back at. Before I read my old reviews, I share my thoughts about what I remember. Then I summarize my original review and then I 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

Why did I pick this year and why Romances?

For my first Throwback Thursday post, I did the year of 2013 which was the inaugural year of SERIESous Book Reviews! Since it is the month of February and Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be fun to focus on the romance books I read that year.

In order to drive traffic to my blog, I read and posted about some big name romances my inaugural year. 2013 was also the year I discovered the New Adult genre of books–a genre I would almost read exclusively for the next few years afterwards. It’s pure coincidence that 3 out of 5 of my picks had movie adaptations made. And pick #5 is one of my favourite YA series of all time!


My Original Series Review Here

Throwback #1: Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Opening Thoughts:
This is one of those (rare) instances where I prefer the movie to the book! I remember liking the plot of the movie a lot more and it’s still one of my favourite movies to watch whenever they show it on TV.

Original Review Summary: I couldn’t connect as much with the characters or the plot when I read the book versus when I watched the movie. I just thought the movie was much more charming!

Throwback Reflection: I really don’t remember much of the book but I remember the movie! I own the book but I have no desire to reread it.

Worth a Reread?: No – but I will rewatch the movie!


My Original Series Review Here

Throwback #2: Juliet by Anne Fortier

Opening Thoughts: I think a friend told me to read this or maybe a coworker? All I know is that I loved it so much, I made my mom read it! I know it was a blending of the past and the future for the plot and a rather long book. I remember thinking it was one of the coolest retellings of Romeo and Juliet I’d ever read (and I’d say that holds true to this day!)

Original Review Summary: It was a coworker who recommended this! I was enthralled by the current and the historical timelines and had a hard time putting this book down as the two weaved together!

Throwback Reflection: I think I actually own this book? I should check my bookshelf. I really don’t remember the finer details of the plot since it has been so long so I would love to reread it to see if I can solve the mystery!

Worth a Reread?: Yes!


My Original Series Review Here

Throwback #3: Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer

Opening Thoughts: I’m pretty sure I was in love with Edward Cullen the first time I read Twilight. Like I actually think I was love sick after I finished the book — super embarrassing but I was 15 so what can I say. I actually reread Twilight (#1) immediately after finishing it because I enjoyed it so much. I honestly enjoyed the series a lot until I read Breaking Dawn (#4). I still get super angry when I think about that book to this day. What a horrible way to end the series in my opinion. It felt like fan-service but in the worst way by introducing numerous fan theories into the plot. Ugh.

Original Review Summary: I was totally Team Edward, thus I hated New Moon (#2). Bella irritated the crap out of me in all 4 books. Eclipse (#3) was my favourite of the series. “In my opinion, the series could have ended as a trilogy and I would have been satisfied. I get the distinct impression that Breaking Dawn (#4) is bonafide fan fiction.”

Throwback Reflection: There is something addicting about Twilight. As a grown woman now, I can see the faults in the messages it gives its younger readers about relationships. It also isn’t the best writing of all time but I think it goes to show that stories don’t have to be masterpieces to resonate with an audience. Plus, a lot of well-known authors wrote Twilight fan-fiction back in the day so I can’t deny the influence it had on the literary world.

Worth a Reread?: No.


My Original Series Review Here

Throwback #4: Beautifully Broken Series by Courtney Cole

Opening Thoughts: I LOVED If You Stay (#1) when I first read it. I had honestly never read a story with such flawed characters before and it opened me up to the genre of New Adult and the somewhat darker side of contemporary romance (ie not Harlequin romances) that I hadn’t discovered yet.

Original Review Summary: I originally reviewed If You Stay (#1) (which I really enjoyed for its mature take on handling romance and addiction by communicating); and then updated the post for the rest of the series. I really loved books #2 and #3 but then the series started to go in a direction that was more dramatic than I wanted.

Throwback Reflection: I read Book #5, My Peace, only two years ago and I didn’t really remember the finer details of the series when I picked it up. I remember thinking it was super overdramatic and I’m curious to know that if I went back to read the first three books in the series now, would I find them to be too much now? I’ve read a LOT of New Adult novels since and I wonder how they would compare now based on my experiences with the genre since.

Worth a Reread?: No.


My Original Series Review Here

Throwback #5: Beautiful Creatures Series by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Opening Thoughts: I adored this series when I first read it. Like I BALLED my eyes out reading Beautiful Chaos and I think I went through every emotion reading this series. I didn’t love the movie but it was great seeing this world brought to the big screen (I think the casting was hit and miss which was part of the problem). I don’t usually like books about witches but this one is a rare exception and one of my favourites. And the romances are so sweet!

Original Review Summary: I loved the weaving of the families’ history throughout this series. Everything was so intricate and complex that it really drew me into this world and the characters within it. The suspense had me flipping pages constantly, I was never able to put them down! Except the finale: I didn’t want the series to end!

Throwback Reflection: The movie was cheesy and didn’t do the complexity of the series justice. I think I should buy these books because I loved the series so much that I want to keep it with me always.

Worth a Reread?: Yes!


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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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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