Tag «seriesous discussion»

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 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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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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SERIESous Spoilers: Spindle Glass Series

seriesousspoilers
SERIESous Spoilers: A feature where we discuss what happened in our favourite (or maybe not so favourite) books. Did you like the plot changes? The romance? What surprised you? What angered you? And what do you think will happen next?

This SERIESous Spoilers Pick:

Spindle Fire (#1) and Winter Glass (#2) by Lexa Hillyer | Spindle Fire Series

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Please Note: I discuss the series as whole below. While I have included what books are discussed in each point by putting a (#1) and/or (#2) in the heading, if you plan on reading the sequel Winter Glass at some point and don’t want it spoiled, perhaps don’t engage in the discussion below.


Aurora`s Romances (#1, #2)

So in the first book, I thought it was obvious Aurora was trying to force something for Health. And to be fair, maybe she did feel something platonic for him and couldn’t distinguish that from romance but I never really saw that romantic connection. So going into the sequel, I thought maybe she will just choose to go it alone. (Like the idea of “true love” was her love of her sister).

However, she started to develop feelings for Wren and that just felt like it came out of left field to me. Now, I listened to Spindle Fire as an audiobook so I definitely missed a few things and maybe that’s the case here. But I just didn’t see where on earth those romantic feelings came from. And as a result, I kinda felt like the author was just trying to check off a book of inclusivity instead of making it seem organic like it should have been.

Please tell me if I am wrong about that and I truly missed something in the first book?

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Isabelle`s Journey to the North (#2)

I thought a lot of Isabelle’s travels throughout the series felt like filler (like the boating trip in the first book even if the whole narwhal thing links back to her mom) but I was so ANGRY about her journey to the North.

At first, I thought it was great that she had learned the true identity of the Hart Slayer (because at this point, Wren had hypothesized it was Aurora’s mom the Queen) but when Aurora and Wren discover the identity on their own, I had to wonder what was the point of Isabelle’s journey at all? The glass slipper was useless really. All she learned was that it held memories…which she didn’t need to know other than the fact it explains where her mother disappeared to.

And I know at the end she uses the slipper on Malefleur when she kills her but I’m not really sure what the point was other than melodramatics. She was the last of the blood line so she could have killed her without the slipper or knowing what winter glass was.

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Isabelle`s Love Triangle (#1, #2)

Unlike Aurora, I really liked both of Isabelle’s love interests. Gil was super sweet and I was on his team until I saw more of William and Isabelle together. So I’m really torn on who is the better fit is for her.

I’m glad Gil found love later, though maybe companionship is the better way to describe that. I’m not really clear if he found love or simply settled for what he felt he had to do.

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Isabelle`s Need to Find Her Own Story (#2)

After all the obstacles she overcomes, I was super upset that Isabelle felt like she needed to find her “own story”. What else had she been doing all series?

Sure, she ran away with Gilbert so she wasn’t “alone” and for her return journey in Spindle Fire she was with William. But most of what she did in Winter Glass was by herself and she learned all about her heritage. I can appreciate the fact that she maybe hadn’t had the most time to digest all that info since there was a war going on. However, it irked me that she felt like she had to go off an find herself even though both of these novels–from my perspective at least–seem like they have been about cementing her own identity from Aurora.

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The Epilogue (#2)

I hate vague epilogues and this one had the unfortunate added bonus of flowery language as well.

So do Wren and Aurora end up together? Same with Isabelle and William. It sounds like no? Maybe my anger blinded me to truly interpreting was was happening. I just know that I left with more questions than answers and some anger.

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What are your thoughts? Agree or disagree? Did I totally miss the point of this series?

Please leave a comment below!

SERIESous Discussions: Book Formats by Month [3]

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!


For the last two years, I’ve been curious about my various reading stats. Like how many books I read in a month throughout the year? Do I start more series than I finish? And the topics for this discussion: What book formats do I read the most? Where do they come from?

You are probably wondering how I gathered all this data. Throughout the year, I keep an Excel file running where I keep track of:

  • What books I read
  • What format it was (ex. audiobook, eBook, physical, ARC, etc)
  • Where I got the book from (ex. library, ARC, owned)
  • What number it is in the series or is it a standalone
    • Is it a new series or a previously started series

What I Learned From Last Year’s Post — and What I Did About It:

  • I need to limit the number of ARCs I request
    • I unsubscribed to a majority of Blog Tour mailing lists
    • I focused on street teams for authors I love
    • I limited the request availability on my site
  • Continue to read audiobooks but don’t rely on them for numbers
  • I need to read more books that I own

But did I actually stick to those? Find out…

Comparing 2019 to 2018:

The first time I did this investigation I compared each month by a line graph; last year I did a table for each month. This time around I’m going to a bar graph of the year as a whole so it is easier on the eyes!

The Highlights:

One thing that is glaringly obvious is that I definitely read fewer books in 2019 than in 2018. Last year was the first year where I didn’t finish my Goodreads goal (I was 28 books short) so I’m not surprised to see the large contrast on some formats.

When I did this last year, I really anticipated that my audiobook numbers would take a major nosedive. But audiobooks honestly saved my reading last year. Even though I no longer commute to work, I’ve integrated audiobook listening into doing my chores, walking my dog and long travel times.

The last thing that really shocked me was the number of eBooks I checked out from the library. I had to triple check my numbers were right when I was making the graph. But if you look at my Kindle and Kobo numbers (which are books I own), it makes sense and balances out. My 5 Year 5 Book Challenge for 2019 used books I already owned so I didn’t need to go to the library on a regular basis.

Moving Forward:

I set my Reading Challenges for the year back in January but I like to use these posts as a check-up or mid-year review of sorts to see if I am on track with my goals or what I need to change going forward.

I truly adore audiobooks and they’ve become such a staple to my everyday reading. Because chances are, if I didn’t pick up my eReader I probably listened to an audiobook at some point. The whole idea is crazy to me because 5 years ago I really struggled with the concept of audiobooks.

>> SERIESous Discussion: How I Fell In Love With Audiobooks

For the most part, this year I’ve been going with the flow and following my moods more. During the Covid pandemic in the Spring, I was checking out a lot of books from the library’s eBook selection but I didn’t necessarily read them if I wasn’t in the mood. And I tried not to get myself upset if returned the book unread (which is a hard habit to break!)


When I first did this breakdown, I was shocked to learn that less than half of the books I read came from the library. I had always had the firm belief that 80+% of my books came from there so it was a total surprise. But in the past few years, I’ve worked really hard on reading more of the books I already own and not just buying books willy-nilly and never reading them. Last year in particularly, my main focus was reading books I owned prior to 2019.

Source:20192018
# (%)
2017
# (%)
2016
# (%)
Purchased69 (38%)46 (20%)52 (21%)79 (34%)
Library74 (41%)97 (43%)114 (47%)85 (36%)
ARCs38 (21%)86 (37%)80 (32%)69 (30%)
Grand Total:181 (100%)229 (100%) 240 (100%)233 (100%)

Again, I’m not shocked by these results. To break it down a little further, 81% of the library books I took out were audiobooks. I’m happy that some sources went down (like ARCs and even the library) as planned since I read more books that I already own.

>> SERIESous Discussion: How Many Series Did I Really Read in 2019?

Moving Forward:

Like last year, my main goals for 2020 are to increase the number of owned books I read in a year and to reduce the number of book series I have on the go. And to accomplish these goals, I’m slowly changing my reading habits. Instead of reaching for that library book, I’ll check my Kindle or Kobo first for a book that will suit my mood. I resist ARC temptation but not checking Netgalley regularly and unsubscribed from review mailing lists. I’m making a lot of progress and positive changes since I first started blogging 7 years ago!

What book formats do you read in a month? Where do they come from?

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SERIESous Discussion: How Many Series Did I *Really* Read in 2019?


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!


In the past, I’ve done some investigative discussion posts on Where my Books Come From and What My Monthly Reading Habits are year to year. And while I still plan on doing those specific posts later this year, I thought it would be fun to find out what I actually read last year when it comes to book series and standalones.

>> SERIESous Discussion: Where do my Books Come From?

Thanks to the super handy formulas of an Excel spreadsheet–which is how I keep track of all the books I read in a year in addition to Goodreads–I was able to answer some burning questions I had about my reading habits when it comes to book series for the year 2019.

How Many Books Were Part of a Series?

Obviously, my blog is about Book Series and in order to generate content, I really have to keep my focus on reading books that are a part of a series. But I also love a good standalone novel from time to time. So, what’s the ratio of series novels read to standalones?

Novels/Novellas in a Series = 86% | Standalones = 14%

That’s right around what I expected. Usually, once I fill up all my Single Sunday posting slots for a year, I stop reading standalones and focus again on series novels.

Here is a specific breakdown of what parts of series I read last year:

Type: 201920182017
Standalone24 [14%]35 [16%]74 [33%]
Series148 [86%]187 [84%]147 [66%]
Book 145 [26%](71) [32%](53) [36%]
Book 241 [24%](59) [26%](44) [30%]
Book 3+45 [26%](46) [20%](37) [25%]
Novellas:17 [10%](13) [6%](11) [5%]
Grand Total172 [100%]224 [100%]221 [100%]

 

Do I Start More Book Series than I Finish?

Before I updated my Excel spreadsheet last year with a few other calculable parameters, I used to just keep track of how many book series I had on the go (and approximately how many books that was in total).

  • At the start start of 2019:
    • I had 124 series on the go, totalling 174 books.
  • At the end of 2019:
    • I had 120 series on the go, totalling 160 books.

In theory, it looks like I finished more series than I started new ones but is that really the case?

According to my data:

  • Brand New-To-Me Series:
    • Started 37 brand new to me series
    • Finished 13 of them
    • Opted not to finish 9 of them
  • Continuing Series:
    • Read 37 sequel novels
    • Finished 29 series
    • Opted not to finish 1

So really, the drop in my numbers came from the fact that there were brand new to me series that I opted not to continue with and not solely because I was more proactive about reading “newer” book sequels.

Slight Disclaimer:

Now, my system isn’t perfect. Some of the numbers might be slightly skewed because I only use one code for each book. For example, Dread Nation was a new to me series that I read completely but have opted not to read the sequel for. It got classified as a “DNF series” and doesn’t get counted in the “brand new series” category.

Also, I didn’t account for book series that are ongoing publications. If there is still a sequel to be published, I don’t count the series as “complete” even if I have read all available books.

Summary:

Much like when I started my blog nearly 7 years ago, the vast majority of what I read in a year is book series! I’m not particularly shocked by that fact; though I felt like I read a lot more standalones than 14% last year. So I am pretty happy with the number breakdown as it stands.

How many book series do you read in a year?

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SERIESous Discussion: My Reading Habits by Month [3]


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!


For the last 2 years I’ve been doing this comparison post to check in with my reading. I always to month-to-month comparison for my Monthly Inventories but it’s interesting to reflect back on the entire year as a whole.

>> SERIESous Discussion: Where do my Books Come From?

I break things down like this:

  • What I learned from last year (2018) and any changes I made for 2019
  • My thoughts before I look at 2019’s numbers
  • The actual numbers & their breakdown
  • What I learned and moving forward

What I Learned From Last Year’s Post — and What I Did About It:

I learned a few things from my post last year:

  • February was my most productive reading month
  • I averaged 1 book less per month in 2018 than 2017
    • 2018: 19 books/month; 2017: 20 books/month 
  • My DNF #s have increased exponentially since 2016
  • I read less on my Kobo

In combination with my Discussion Post about Book Formats I Read in a Month, I started to do the following:

  • Focused on reading more books I already own by
    • Reducing holds at the library for non-audiobooks
    • Creating specific reading challenges for owned books
    • Requesting less ARCs
  • Dedicated 4 months of the year to only read sequels

 

My Thoughts Before Looking at the Numbers:

Without a doubt, 2019 was a terrible reading year for me. I didn’t complete my Goodreads Challenge for the first time ever because life simply got in the way. Moving closer to work and reducing my commute time did nothing to improve my reading numbers like I thought.

>> SERIESous Discussion: How “Adulting” Changed my Reading Habits

I’d go days without picking up a book which would have shocked me 4 years ago. Gone were the days of getting up early just to fit a few chapters in. As a shift worker, I milk every minute of sleep I can get now. And if I’m lucky, I can fit in a chapter or two before sleep takes over for the night. So I know my numbers are not going to be stellar.

The Actual Results:

 

The Breakdown:

What does that all mean? I’ve summed it up here:

 2016201720182019
Total # Read260240229173
Monthly Avg22201915
Total # DNF'd717298
# of Kobo Reading Hours40040479144

My Thoughts After Looking at the Numbers:

Moving into a new home meant that most of my free time was spent getting the house (and yard) sorted. So I’m not shocked by these numbers. It was also my first year of being completely full time and one where I didn’t have the nicest rotation to follow. And I’d like to think my social life was more active than previously so that leads to less time reading.

Fun fact: I actually went 6 months into 2019 before I DNF’d my first book! I’ve been going through my TBR monthly and completing the Down The TBR Hole meme and removing books that I’m just not interested in throughout the whole year so maybe that has helped keep me satisfied with the books I do pick up.

The months I completed my Sequel Only months were February, June, September and November. And for the most part, I did see an increase in the number of titles I read for those months but it didn’t cause massive spikes.

Moving Forward:

I was much more realistic with my Goodreads Goal this year based on last year’s numbers. I’m realizing as I get older that there are other things that take precedence over reading. 

I’m really curious to see how my formats read are impacted though. I seem to be reading a lot of audiobooks (which was a foreign concept to me merely a few years ago) and if I wasn’t, my numbers would be near what they are in a year.

>> Be on the lookout for an updated post next month where I look at what formats of books I read in a month!

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SERIESous Discussion: Reading Formats for 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!

Are you a Format Loyalist? If you start the series in one format, do you stick with it until the very last novel?

I was inspired to write this post when I was looking at sequel novels in June 2019. One of my goals for 2019 is to complete some of the many series that I’ve started over the years and to do that, I decided to dedicate 4 months within the year exclusively to sequels.

Audiobooks are a relatively new thing to me. In the last two years, I’ve started listening to them on a (nearly) daily basis. So I always have one print book and one audiobook on the go.

Finding printed sequels to read for the month was easy. Between my physical public library; their eBook selections and my own eBook collection, I was never without a novel to read. But trying to find an audiobook to read during the month: that was the hard part. Why? I don’t have a lot of “unfinished” audiobook series because I binge-listen to all the sequels or they are newer series with sequels still to be published.

>>SERIESous Tips: 5 Ways to Get Into Audiobooks

If I was in this predicament last year, I probably would have looked at half of the books I read this past June and said “nope” to the audio version. I was adamant that if I started a series as an eBook one or as a hardcover, that’s how I was going to finish it.

But then this thought occurred to me: who cares?

Obviously, I do to some degree. I have some “golden rules” when it comes to my reading. I refuse to read any of Cassandra Clare’s novels as anything but the beautiful hardcovers. I have a few series that I’ve started as audiobooks (like The Diabolic and Dividing Eden) that I want to continue as audiobooks. So clearly I have a few holdouts because I feel like the format of the novel contributes to my overall reading experience.

But what about those sequel novels to series I haven’t touched in years? You know the ones where you barely remember anything but the main plotline and the characters mentioned in the synopsis? Why wouldn’t you pick up the audio version instead (or maybe the eBook)? Why not rejuvenate your experience with the series by trying it in a new way?

My thoughts exactly.

This year, I’ve been listening to the audio versions of sequels for quite a few series I originally read in print years ago–and I’m having tremendous success with it!

Obviously, I’m finishing series that have been on the back-burner for years, making room and time for new TBR items. And who doesn’t love cleaning up their TBR?

I also think that I’m enjoying these sequels more because they are audiobooks. If you’ve never read an audiobook before, they bring stories to life in a way that you just don’t get through a print version.

It’s not just audiobooks though that you can change to. Sometimes it just comes down to convenience and what format(s) is(are) available. When eReading was starting to become a thing, I made the switch from printed novels to eBooks because it was easier to get my hands on the copies. I know that for me, reading the novels back to back instead of waiting keeps my momentum and enjoyment going. So if I have to read Book #1 as a paperback, Book #2 as an eBook, so be it!

And sometimes, depending on the format, there are bonus features (like maps or glossaries or deleted scenes) available that can enhance your reading and you might not get those in a different format.

So I guess you can say that I learned that sometimes change is good.

What about you? Do you stick to one type of book format when you read a book series? Or do you jump around depending on the availability of your titles?

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